Introduction to Dungeons and Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons.
People often ask me if they can join a game, watch, or just take part in the magic. I oblige, but my hopes that they'll continue to play are low.
Dungeons and Dragons, to most of it's true fans and players, is a way of thinking. To take part in a campaign- to save a king from an evil Lich- is invigorating.
People in this day and age are far too self-conscious. Imagination and intuitive thinking are drowned out by monotony and attempts to 'fit in'. Sophisticated games like Dungeons & Dragons are reduced to fairy dust and unicorns. People scoff at it's mention, without even the slightest clue to it's maturity and complexity.
You see, Dungeons & Dragons intimidates people. Kids, Teens especially, play their video games almost religiously. Their minds become molded to the world of these video games. Hanging on the latest innovation, praying for more intuitive controls, rioting for more immersible worlds. But they laugh in the face of Dungeons & Dragons. The truth is: There is no game more innovative, more intuitive, or more immersible than Dungeons & Dragons. From creating your character to rolling your dice, D&D is entirely based around your interaction as a player.
Dungeons & Dragons begins like anything typically does; A leader. The leader of a D&D group is called the Dungeon Master. Dungeon Masters have the most stressful role of the entire group. Their role deeply depends on their ability to bring the world of Dungeons & Dragons to life. You see, D&D isn't a gameboard. It's not a mat, tile or a book, though there are books you can purchase that have officially released worlds specifically designed to compliment the unique aspects of Dungeons & Dragons. Dungeon Masters bring to life the ancient- and practically extinct- art of story telling. The following is an example of a simple, beginner's level Dungeons & Dragons setting, as described by a Dungeon Master;
"Your party walks up the winding path to the Wizard Karthato's castle. It begins to storm, you can see the white blaze of lightning off in the distance. The smell of the thick, rotten double doors permeate your nostrils. The doors seem unperturbed. No one has ventured to this castle in decades. Today you will find out why."
As you can see, Dungeon Masters are artists in of themselves. To create and weave a tangible world from words alone is a fine art in which few can find success. They need to be quick on their feet, able to adapt to any situation, and here's why: The Dungeon Master may seem like the Maestro in this Concerto of Horror, but in truth, the Players are the ones in full control.
Players of Dungeon & Dragons are everyone that isn't the Dungeon Master, typically 4-6 people. These are the members of the group who have taken the time to create, mold, shape, and bring to life their own, personal Characters. Characters that, 90% of the time, reflect their true, inner-self. Players use a special system of mechanics called the D20 system [more on that later] to create their characters within the rules of Dungeons and Dragons. Think of it as if you're trying to build a car for a big race; The car has certain requirements and restrictions, right? Well the D20 system is exactly that, a system to regulate characters and their abilities, but on a much, much simpler scale than cars.
[Sidenote: Dungeons & Dragons provides people with a means to embody their wild desires. From personal experience, I once played with a fantastic group that consisted of the following, very unlikely people: A morbidly obese man who played a small, agile Thief. A Quiet, introverted teen who played the party's charismatic leader. A Brilliant scientist who had created himself a wild, diehard Barbarian, and myself, a very scientific, factual person who was raised to life in the D&D world as a Holy Paladin, defending his god and slaying evil. It lets people truly experience other sides of who they are, and often brings out their best characteristics.]
Yes, Players are in control. Unlike Video Games, which are based around a specific storyline or script [There is NO exception to this statement], Dungeons & Dragons isn't bolted to any particular, predesignated sequence of events. What makes D&D so hard to grasp for Video game aficionados is it's sheer, entirely limitless freedom of choices. I mentioned a castle and a set of double doors earlier in the discussion. At this point, the Party is free to do whatever they like, [suffice to say that their character must be skilled enough to perform the task proposed] such as: Kregor the Lawful Good Fighter may want to just knock on the door, to see if anyone is home. Whereas, Yuric, the Chaotic Good Barbarian, may want to smash down the door, and raid the house in search of the Wizard Karthato. Even further, still, Laurenae, the respectful Paladin, may just want to turn around and retreat to the village at the base of the hill. It is up to the players to come to an agreeable consensus about what to do.
Millions upon millions of decisions lie in the players' hands. But it is up to them to decide their fates. Dare you open the door to the left with the monstrous growl behind it? Or will you open the door to the right, which may be the true lair of the Dragon?
The choice is yours, just open your eyes and give it try. What's the worst that could happen?