Letter Of Recommendation: Dungeons and Dragons


Joshua Villalpando

Dungeons and Dragons has exploded in popularity in the last couple years.

Joshua Villalpando

So. Dungeons and Dragons. Yes, that one game that those kids in Stranger Things play. Yes, it is also the game that was involved in the Satanic Panic that gave parents everywhere a scare in the 80s. That game. Now that you know what we are talking about, you may be asking yourself: What is this game even about? How do I play it? Should I play it?

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in the 1970s. The game hooked tons of players from the start, drawing from the strategy and board game crowd as well as fantasy nerds. It saw its ups and downs throughout the years, but stayed a fairly small but consistent community. It is well known to have been the center of controversy in the 1980s as parents feared for what their children were playing, thinking the game was promoting all manner of things from violence to satanism and witchcraft. The paranoia eventually died down, and the game continued to fluctuate in growth until recently.

Over the last few years, Dungeons and Dragons has exploded in popularity all around the world. The internet age has treated the fifth edition of the game very well. Nowadays, you can find plenty of game stores like Gryphon Games and Comics or Haunted Game Cafe that have areas where people play D&D games all the time. If you have no one who will play with you in person, you can play online on sites like roll20.net or fantasygrounds.com. You can now watch Dungeons and Dragons played by professional voice actors on live streams, such as Critical Role on Twitch. Even popular celebrities such as Steven Spielberg and Dwayne Johnson openly talk about how they play D&D regularly.

So, now that you know where all the hype is coming from, the next step is how you play. Well, it is both complicated and not. All you need to play is the Player’s Handbook (found in-store or online in pdfs for free), a seven-dice set, something to jot down notes with, a table to play, and some friends. That is it. Well, that is the basics. Sure, the rules are long and seemingly complicated, but in the end the game comes down to a simple concept. One player, The Dungeon Master (DM), gives the other players (generally between three and seven) scenarios that they must solve in the DM’s world using their characters. The scenarios can range from fighting a horde of skeletons to helping find a lost treasure. The DM responds to the player’s actions. This means that you could theoretically do anything in D&D. You can go anywhere or be anyone. Whatever you can imagine, you can do. There is no set objective or story; you as players make your own story.

Now that may sound scary, but trust me: give it a try. Get with some friends and sit down; get a copy of the rules and play. If you are not sure of how or want to join some others to dip your foot into the water, go to Game Society. There are tons of people who play and would love to teach others how to. Or, maybe get online and look around for others who can teach you how to play. No matter what, if you are even a bit curious about D&D, find a way to try it out. You will find an experience like no other, and you will make some great friends. After all, that is really what D&D is all about—playing a game with a bunch of friends.