By Tomas Palmieri
Just last weekend my friends and I found ourselves caught in the dead of night being attacked by an unseen assailant who was after one of our party members. Several days prior we had attended a “Festival of Unification” in which we celebrated the ending of wars between humanoids. During this festival, we met with a fortune teller who informed our party member that someone was after them, but it somehow slipped our minds as we traveled out of the city and eventually set up camp for the night in a nearby forest. Now, put into an unfavorable battle due to our absent mindfulness, what would we do?
Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a deeply rich storytelling adventure created by one person called the Dungeon Master (DM) who leads the players through a dangerous, magical, and dramatic campaign. The players of the game create their characters who are then implemented into the DM’s story. When it comes to character creation, there really is no limit to what you can do. For example, D&D characters can range from a swashbuckling pirate with a devilish heritage, to a nature-loving turtle person who draws magical powers from the earth.
Although D&D is known as the dorky 80s adventuring game, it can very much help people with useful social skills. One of the most important skills in D&D is leadership, which also happens to be one of the more important skills in life.
The players lead each other to keep the party on the right track and make productive decisions. For example, in my campaign, my friends and I made the decision to investigate the house of a criminal we are tracking down. He had thrown us off his track, but after entering his house we found a map tucked away with his next two destinations, which allowed us to get back on track, showing that the players leading each other help us make productive decisions.
The DM also has a heavy leadership role due to the fact that they have to guide the players through the game.
Important for leaders and other participants, D&D also requires other social skills such as cooperation and communication.
“Cooperation is very helpful, as a party generally works together. Communication is also important because your party won’t know everything about your character, so communicating what you can do can provide everyone a better idea of what their options are,” senior Troy Brown said.
Although creativity is not a must, it is another social value that is heavily valued in D&D. When making a character you can be as creative as you like, but the same thing goes for the DM when they are making their campaign. For example, DM’s can create all sorts of towns and non-player characters (NPCs) for the players to interact with such as a traveling merchant who sells strange potions or a brawny owner of a large ostrich farm.
D&D also allows many people to personally improve themselves through the playing of the game. D&D has very much helped me make more meaningful and trusting connections with others.
When you play, you are putting yourself in a very vulnerable position. Due to a large amount of improvisation and almost acting when playing D&D, you put yourself in this vulnerable position emotionally and socially, but when you have the trusting connection with everyone you play that feeling of vulnerability slowly starts to fade the more you play.
It has also helped me learn to visualize more, which very much assists me when it comes to school and memorization.
The game also helped me and many others get through the COVID-19 quarantine by allowing players to spend time with friends.
“Personally, I believe that D&D is how I really got through quarantine. It gave me an outlet for my time and creativity, and friends to share those with,” Brown said.
Aside from the personal improvements D&D offers, there are many people within the community that use their love of the game to spread awareness for charity and other good causes as well.
For example, “Critical Role” is a group of voice actors who stream their D&D game every Thursday. They stream to spread their love of the game, but also to support many causes they feel are important.
With their nonprofit named “Critical Role Foundation,” they have raised over $600,000 for charities such as “826LA,” “Red Nose Day,” and “Shanti Bhavan’s Music for Good” program in India. Within their campaign, they also tackle many problems we see in real life, which can lead to the social improvement of themselves, as well as their viewers.
Next time you find yourself bored with extra time to spend every week, maybe try joining a D&D campaign to free an underwater city from the grasps of a terrifying leviathan.