Virtual Monsters: A Look Inside D&D

Dungeons and Dragons

Since the 70s that name has made the general public think of two things: Groups of nerdy high school or college students that didn’t fit in socially, and satanic cults, dark magic, and troubled youths. Today, the game known as Dungeons and Dragons (or D&D) has fully entered into pop culture, and is slowly becoming more prevalent to various  groups of people. Many films and hit TV shows (such as Community, the Big Bang Theory, and Stranger Things) have helped increase the popularity of the game. There has also been a rise in celebrities, comedians, and internet personalities playing D&D and sharing it with their fans through things such as youtube series and podcasts, with popular examples being Critical Role, Harmon Quest, and The Adventure Zone. A hobby that had once confused and frightened many has now become much more accessible and accepted.

So, what IS D&D?

Dungeons and Dragons was created in 1974 by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and is something called a Tabletop Roleplaying Game. Unlike board games, where you move figures around a board and can win or lose, Dungeons and Dragons is a story telling experience with a focus on describing and developing your character, as well as interacting with the game world. Players will create characters, choosing a Race (such as Humans, Elves and Dwarves), and then a class, which is the character archetype they fall under such as Fighter, Wizard, or Bard, which gives the players specific rules and abilities. The game is played out verbally, with someone in the group called the Dungeon Master (or the DM) acting as the referee and storyteller, describing the world and the conflicts that the players face, and the players will in turn say what their characters would do, and how. Contrary to popular belief, playing the game does not require acting, and a good chunk of players find themselves more comfortable simply describing their characters actions and speech, instead of speaking for the character or acting things out.

Players make use of various Dice to determine whether the action they want to take will succeed or fail, which adds a fun and unpredictable nature to the game. Dungeons and Dragons has very specific rule books that contain information on how to make characters, the statistics and information about monsters the players will face, and rules for combat and exploration, two of the main activities done in the game. Despite that, the game is made in a way that fans can create their own monsters, races and classes, items, and so on. A large portion of Dungeon Masters like to create their own worlds, rather than using the D&D setting or pre-written adventure books. Finding this fan-made content, known as Home-Brew, is incredibly easy, and has made Dungeons and Dragons a creator friendly community, with people often sharing their ideas and creations on the internet.

Why is D&D important?

While it may be a bit awkward to step into the role of a character and verbally dive into a fantastical, magical world, D&D is a great experience for people who love storytelling, acting, or simply making fun memories with their friends. The game teaches teamwork, problem solving, and key-social skills, despite it being labeled in the past as a game for the socially awkward. Coming a long way from when it was labeled as a coverup for devil-worship, or blamed for the suicide or disappearances of many college kids, Dungeons and Dragons has a bright future ahead of itself as a game that brings people together, and lets people explore worlds of fantasy and magic.

With all that in mind, I hope you enjoy Utah Valley University’s production of She Kills Monsters