You should play Dungeons and Dragons

As an English major, there are few things I love as much as a good story. Being raised on a healthy diet of Tolkien, Le Guin, and Gaiman, you can probably guess my predilection for fantasy and immersive world-building. I love being totally absorbed in a tale, but over the years I found it harder and harder to set aside space to indulge such engrossment. By the time I reached college, reading for pleasure was all but absent in my life.

And then I was asked to fill in at a D&D session.

The campaign had already started several sessions before my arrival, but one of the players had to skip due to personal matters. Not wanting to postpone, the group offered to let me fill in as their character for an evening. I was hesitant to accept. The only exposure I had had to the game before was Stranger Things, and I wasn’t quite into the idea of sitting around in some dorm room pretending to be on a mythical quest. However, my friends were persistent, and I was too lazy to make other plans. So, I went. 

And I saw something I hadn’t in a long time.

I saw people plunging into another world and shutting out our own, however briefly. I witnessed friends I had known for years become different people entirely, reflections of the individuals they aspired to be or the ones they knew they’d never become. I watched as they were able to express ideas and emotions more freely than they would have done without the shield of a character sheet. And I knew I wanted to be a part of it. 

There are a lot of reasons why one may want to play D&D. In addition to everything above, many find the experience as a player or a game master to be incredibly rewarding as a creative. It is a chance to develop storytelling skills without having to consider every word choice, it is a story in action. You recognize and implement tropes without even meaning to, and follow them to their natural conclusions. You describe the world only you can see to the extent that those around you can discern its edges too. There is also something to be said for the community itself (there’s even a whole episode of the show Community about this very thing). Nowhere have I encountered such a large gathering of people interested in the same thing with so little drama. It is a community that supports newcomers who have no idea what they’re doing and wants to make sure they succeed and have fun while doing so.

If you are still in need of convincing, let me give you just two more bits of wisdom: one, if you are unsure how to get started, there are a bunch of resources out there. My personal recommendation would be for you to watch a campaign, and there are so many parties on YouTube and Spotify who have great content (personal favorites include Dimension 20, Critical Role, and Trials and Trebuchets). My last tip? Just play. One of the many virtues of D&D is the accessibility of its gameplay. All you need is six dice and a couple of friends, and you’re on the way to becoming your own hero.