Dungeons and Dragons is a team game in which several players cooperate to complete quests. Each player controls a single character in the game world, acting the part of that character. The game rules decide what happens if an action is in doubt. (Example: A wild dog attacks my character, so I need to fight back. The game will decide what I need to the role to successfully slay the wild dog, and how successful I am in dealing with damage to the dog.)
One player acts as a referee or “Dungeon Master”. The Dungeon Master does not have a character of their own, but instead, they play the part of every other character the players encounter. They also make rules and adjudications about the world they are playing in.
The board is typically a map of the scene, with counters or playing pieces showing the positions of the players, bystanders, and acquisitions.
So D and D is like a typical board game. The rules tell you when it is your turn to act. There is a list of standard actions your character can take, with clear rules covering what each one does. But D and D is also Not as a board game, because your capable of making creative moves that aren’t explicitly in the rules. The dungeon master can then use the existing rules as a guideline to handle the situation.
A good starting place is a ‘learn to play set, designed to get a small group going. It has re-generated characters, information on how to begin being a Dungeon Master, and a beginner’s adventure to play through. It only covers characters up to level 5.
The game has been around since 1974 and has gone in and out of fashion, people from many generations have and still enjoyed the game. The game is different for whoever is playing, and a new experience, it’s a game that can evolve and change with the ages and the people interested in it. It’s even a way to meet people around the world. Even a favorite teacher at our school, Mr. Minner, loves the game and has been playing for years.
Interview with Mr. Minner
Q: How did you get into DnD, and When did you start playing it?
A: A middle school friend of mine, had this brand new book one day and said “hey I know this brand new game” and I said alright tell me about it.” Then there were these really large rule books, hundreds of pages each, and I spent the entire weekend reading through them cause they were just so cool and new and this was in middle school that I first started playing.
Q: So what role did you play in the game when you first started playing?
A: I was a player at first. That is a much simpler role because basically all you have to do is say ‘I am a barbarian, I have an axe, and I am going to cut off the goblins head.’
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a dungeon master?
A: After playing for maybe a year or two, because you really want to know the rules very well before you can say “Hey now I am good enough to referee and create my own worlds and tell you guys what is happening” you need to know how to play the game first. So it was in maybe an early high school that I started “DMing”
Q: Have you been playing since middle school forward or did you lose interest at some point and take a break?
A: I would say I never lost interest, but the interesting thing about dungeons and dragons is that you can play them in many different ways. So for instance the traditional way is sitting around the table in person, with your friends, rolling dice, and stuff. But as we all drifted apart, (but you know physically not necessarily friendship wise) you can potentially play online, there are common applications where you can all enter a room and (you know just like zoom) you are looking at a map together you’re moving your pieces and attacking the ogres, you’re on zoom talking on microphones. Then after college when I had kids and absolutely no time to even either zoom with friends or meet with friends in person, I started doing what’s actually called play by post. If you imagine chest by post being a very simple example where someone says I move my Queen or King right into texts, and then the other person says alright I move my pawn. You can technically do that with dungeons and dragons its just a more complex affair because you’re basically writing a novel at that point where I might say you see five goblins before you and then another person says in the play by post will say I attack them. So then I say NO but there is an ambush or some sort of thing. So it’s just very, very slow but now all I have time for these days is 15-20 min of writing as opposed to 3-4 hours of d and d play.
Q: So do you play with the same people you played with when you were in high school or are you with new groups of people?
A: I am with new groups of people because the high school people I am still friends with them we just have gone on our separate ways and just do not have the time necessarily, my college friends were mostly what I was doing with the online portion of my life and of the play by post they are all honestly strangers that I have never met in my life and yet I have been telling stories with them and writing thousands of or hundreds of thousands of words with basically strangers that I have never met.
Q: When you first started playing did you make your own character?
A: Yes, absolutely. My favorite was a wizard, definitely my favorite, you know I love magic, I love the idea of being able to use your intelligence to create or do great things in the world. So that is something I have always been drawn towards. I’ve played lots of characters, but wizards are my favorite.
Q: Would you recommend this game to anyone?
A: Literally everyone. When I see people having fun with a game like among us I know that those people would like d and d if they were given the chance. When I see people playing computer games on their computers at the end of class or whatever all these people who want to tell a story, who want to spend time with friends, who want to conquer things and solve problems and do great things and have a little bit of fun with friends t can potentially be for anyone as long as you have the right person to introduce you to the game.
Q: Any tips for new players, to people who want to give it a try?
A: You have to find someone who knows how to play because it is rather intimidating to sit down and there are three main books one of which is just filled with monsters. Which is only for the dungeon masters, number two is the dungeon masters guide filled rules and treasures and whatever. So there is then still a player’s handbook which is 200-300 pages and if a person just picks it up and says hey I wanna learn how to play D and D. Then opened the book, I believe they would be discouraged, because they would ask how do I play? And because Dungeons and Dragons are such an open-ended game there are no simple rules that are always true. So it’s up to the dungeon master to say now you see this, now you do that. It’s very free form and difficult to learn, but if you have a guide to just say let me make this as easy as possible for you.
Q: Is there anything you would like to tell those who are reading the article?
A: Try D and D! Ask me or ask a friend who plays to try it, because I swear once you get into it its one of the most fun and rewarding games I have ever played because what you have put into it you will get out of it in full.
As Mr. Minner has said the game is a great experience, the work you put in you will get out. It is a game that anyone can play, and it can be bent to anyone’s interests and personalities. It’s a game that is personal to every person and is recommended to everyone.