Deep dive into your new favourite hobby
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Welcome to Dinguses and Dragons, a weekly column aiming at demystifying and introducing the game of D&D to new and potential players
It’s 2020 folks, and if you aren’t already, it’s time for you to get into Dungeons and Dragons.
D&D, as it’s oft’ affectionately shortened to, is a tabletop roleplaying game where players (along with someone dubbed the Dungeon Master) collaboratively tell a fantasy-based story. Doesn’t sound appealing to you yet? What if I told you it’s a great chance to just goof around with your friends, make dumb jokes, and improvise absurd scenarios?
I would be genuinely shocked if anyone reading this hadn’t at least heard of Dungeons and Dragons. The game was first published in 1974 and has stood the test of time, often considered the most popular roleplaying game in the world. It’s usually portrayed in pop culture as the ultimate nerd game, with dorks of all ages gathered around a table laughing insistently (a somewhat accurate depiction, I might add.). D&D’s popped up in shows like The Simpsons, Freaks & Geeks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and was even the focus of two Community episodes.
But over the past several years, D&D has enjoyed a resurgence: between 2016 and 2017, Wizards of the Coast, the company that publishes D&D, reported a 41 percent jump in sales, and a similar spike (52 percent) in 2018. This initial bump likely had something to do with a little show called Stranger Things debuting in 2016, which heavily featured D&D as the gang’s go-to activity. This couldn’t have been better timing either, as a new edition of D&D was introduced in 2014 with updated and streamlined rules, making the game easier to play for newcomers. The point is: people fucking love this game, and in case this hasn’t been made obvious, I’m one of those people.
What makes Dungeons and Dragons so great is how malleable it is. You can be as serious or as silly as you want to be, depending on who you play with. A troll’s taken over a nearby castle? You can develop a plan to siege the castle walls and fight the troll, or you can try and become friends with the troll. Or maybe your group decides to leave altogether and just go drink in the local tavern. These might sound like wildly different approaches to the same situation, but they’re examples of how much the game can diverge, depending on who you play with.
Unlike some hobbies, D&D is also a relatively low-cost hobby to get into. Sure, there are many things available to purchase (rulebooks, dice sets, campaigns, expansion stories) but a lot of this information is available online, meaning it’s not an immediate money pit.
Another great thing about D&D is that it’s quarantine friendly. Most of the game is imagined and conveyed through talking, so it’s one of the few games that can be played through a group video call. You can embark on an adventure with your friends and never have to leave the house (or even put on pants). Plus, with so many businesses and organizations closed for the foreseeable future, what else are you going to do with your time?!
I know a game with 46 years’ worth of history and content can look intimidating, but that’s one of the reasons I’m excited to be starting this column. Your games can be as intricate or as simple as you want them to be, and I’m here to help demystify a lot about D&D.
I’ll be sharing the cheapest ways to get started with D&D, how to assemble your group or party, what some of my favourite D&D-related media is, and even discuss the uglier sides of the game (in particular, its history of whitewashing and “gatekeeping”). There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s meet back here next week to get started.