A half demon, two elves, a robot and a birdman walk into a tavern for work. They then go out on a wild adventure through a mystical land, fighting, fleeing and learning, and all without leaving their houses. How? A fantasy tabletop role-playing game called Dungeons and Dragons. The recent global pandemic has hit local clubs and sports hard, and with many events being cancelled, the Biddeford Dungeons and Dragons club has been incredibly successful with it’s 12 members and quick to adapt to the current climate. Held over the video conferencing app Zoom on Wednesdays and Fridays, this hobby is now increasingly becoming more and more popular as a result.
The idea behind the game is simple, you and up to five of your friends gather together. If you are in person or online, it doesn’t really matter which makes it perfect for these uncertain times. One of you or your friends will be something called a Dungeon Master, sometimes called a DM will be responsible for making the game come to life. It is recommended that they have a good understanding of the game rules and a story planned before starting. The Dungeon Master for Biddeford D&D, James Grover, noted in an interview “There’s a large spectrum of dungeon masters who each do something different to prepare for whatever game they might be running, but on the spectrum of preparation, I probably fall towards the overprepared [side]. I spend anywhere from 5 to at most 20 hours a week preparing for games, but I prepare longitudinally. I prepare for weeks and sometimes months in advance, but I enjoy every minute of it.” D&D can obviously be unpredictable given the game’s collaborative nature, and that is what makes it fun for Dungeon Masters like Grover. “[Player unpredictability] is something I’ve never felt like I have to ‘deal with.’ I very rarely have students that are looking to ruin a game, so unpredictable actions almost always only make the game more fun. As a dungeon master, I am in charge of the world at large, but the characters being played are the ones that everyone at the table or on Zoom cares about, they are the ones who ultimately decide where the story goes.” When asked how people can prepare to be Dungeon masters, he gives this advice. “For anyone looking to be any sort of [DM], whether it be for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) or some other [role playing] game, most of the materials are relatively affordable! They’re also typically written in a way that’s accessible and designed to have low floors of entry for the beginner and infinite ceilings for creativity for even the most veteran players.”
In our example, the rest of you and your friends will create characters to play in the world the Dungeon Master creates, then, the game can really get started. A player currently playing as Ezrad the Wizard under Grover, Anthony Gendron had this to say when asked about character creation, and how the story affects how you play the game. “When I’m making a character I think about what kind of person they are and what attributes would come from their personality. The story has a pretty big sway over how [I] play the game because I’m always curious about what will happen next. I try to follow the story to find out”. This all culminates in a unique form of collaborative storytelling that is truly amazing to behold. As said by Grover in our interview “I might be fairly creative on my best days, but I will never be more creative when telling a story than a group of people creating that story together. Player unpredictability is what gives the game of D&D its beauty. The1 same story will never be told twice, even if I happen to be running the same module with the same group of people for the nth time. D&D thrives on the unpredictability of player choice.” Whether it be from taking down a tyrannical king, rescuing nobles from ogres, or building a living potato. Anything is possible in this game and that is what makes it interesting.