One of the main reasons to do anything with a group is the moments created. Whether we’re gamers, sporty or other manner of socialite, time spent together leads to those shared, spectacular events that either make great stories, or personal, you-had-to-be-there moments. Nothing, in my opinion, generates these moments like Dungeons & Dragons.
The three reasons I’ve given so far deal primarily with YOU, as an individual. This time, let’s talk about YOU as a group, the friends that play together. Whether you decide to join an existing group or form a new one with an interested band of friends, D&D is a game designed with a team (or ‘Party’) in mind. It is a cooperative game at it’s heart, the Party tackling the Dungeons Masters challenges together. One of the mantras of the game is “never split the party”, which highlights the need for teamwork with dangerous dungeons. This is where Reason Number Four comes in…
Reason #4 – D&D is a Magic Moment Generator
However you play, D&D is a game that creates moments, from awesome action pieces to ridiculous nonsense. Failing in D&D is just as poignant as succeeding; roll a 1 on a 20-sided dice and your group will witness tragedy or something really, really, stupid happen.
A lot of these moments fall into the “you had to be there”, shared experience that your group will enjoy together, others are so great or funny that they are worth sharing. To prove this quality of Dungeons & Dragons, I present to you a series of random events and quotes of my 4+ years of playing the game:
Suggestion ends a Siege
A great and prosperous city was under attack from an army of monsters in the dead of night. The roads and townhouses were swarmed by Gnoll, gibbering hyena men with a chaotic bloodlust. The eastern gates had been battered down by twenty-foot tall, animated statues. High above, huge mosquito-like demons filled the air with their buzzing. Horrifying as it was, this battle was just beginning.
The heroes were at the western gates. Having fought to defend the city centre, they had answered the warning bells that signal danger; this was about to become a two-sided assault. When they arrived, the gates were sealed, but they were beginning to buckle. As demonic creatures climbed up onto the castle wall to butcher the guards, the reinforced gates were thrown asunder by a monstrous creature. The gigantic creature had to bend to fit its muscular frame and curving horns through the gateway, it’s hooves crunched stone tiles into dust. The party stared up at the powerful force of fiendish nature known as a Goristro.
The dice were rolled to determine who would go first in what would assuredly be a deadly encounter. First up was the Warlock (a magic user with power gained from a deal with an otherworldly creature). He raised his hands with a confident smile and cast ‘Suggestion’, a beguiling spell that forces a weak minded creature to complete an instructed task.
“Defend this city”, the Warlock boomed, and despite being very resistant to magical attacks, The Dungeon Master (me) rolled terribly.
Just like that, the fight was over. The Goristro turned and began to thrash the other evil creatures that followed it into the castle. What should have been an epic fight for the ages, ended with a magically-infused sentence. With a triumphant cry of glee the party ran off to deal with the next Big Bad.
As DM, you might think I’d be annoyed that my plan for grand battle were thwarted. Far from it. It was an almost impossible moment that changed the course of the battle, and gave the group a smug moment to remember.
Sentences You Never thought You’d Say:
Dungeon Master: You don’t know… you have never balanced on a dead shark before…
Player 1: What did you do with my hand?
Player 2: Hmm? Oh, I burnt it.
Player 1: That’s a relief.
Shark Vs. Ox
An adventuring party wanted to cross between two islands connected by a natural lagoon. Rather than convince the ship’s crew to lend them a small boat, one of the group cast ‘Control Water’. They parted the sea, in a very biblical fashion, allowing the group to stroll along the lagoon floor.
The lagoon was inhabited by sharks. These creatures were charmed – they would attack anyone who crossed. The fact that the party were walking a path devoid of water was not doing to dissuade the magically manipulated creatures. As the adventurers strode through the open channel, the sharks flung themselves through the water like missiles.
The group were understandably perturbed by the sharks launching themselves from the watery walls into their midst, but they handled themselves well. The Monk’s martial arts made short work of one shark before it even hit the ground, but it was the Ranger’s companion that made the greatest impact.
Rangers are a type of warrior that excels in tracking, combining nature-based spells with combat prowess, and they have the option to tame an animal companion that fights by their side. This particular Ranger had looked at all the options – wolf, eagle, poisonous snake, etc. – and decided to go with an ox.
So it was in this wonderful moment that a bull went head-to-head with sharks. You might argue that the sharks were more disadvantaged the longer the fight went on, but ‘Box the Ox’ fought three sharks and killed two of them before the ranger finished off the third.
Trying to see danger without eyes
Player: I rolled a Natural 20! That’s a 27 total.
Dungeon Master: For what?
Dungeon Master: Oh I see. You will need to roll again.
Player: What?! Why?
Dungeon Master: It’s pitch black in here.
Player: …I perceive through my skin!
Honesty in Battle
There is a spell in D&D called ‘Zone of Truth’. It’s a very useful tool, and would be great in real life. If you stand in the area the spell is cast over, you are magically influenced into telling the truth and the spell-caster is aware of anyone that does manage to lie.
A friend once played a Cleric – a magical warrior granted powers by the god they worship – who was determined to play his character as peacefully and nobly as possible. So, one game session we were exploring an underground lair when we came to blows with a band of orcs. Combat began, two of the party leaped into the orcs with weapons aloft, and the orcs hacked and slashed at them.
Then it was the Clerics turn. He could have used a bolt of radiant energy against the nearest orc, or used his magics to heal his allies. Instead, he told the DM that he wanted to cast ‘Zone of Truth’. As the group sat opened mouth, the Cleric explained that he wanted to know why these orcs were attacking them.
The rest of the group took their turns, swinging swords and firing off spells, until the it was time for the Orcs to respond. Strangely enough, the orcs ignored the Cleric’s query, and continued to draw blood from the heroes, clearly angered by the party’s presence in their lair, hell-bent on murdering us all.
The Orcs’ actions were described by the Dungeon Master. As the battle raged on, it came back around to the Cleric’s turn. Despite the violence in front of him, he persisted and asked the same question once more.
And so, as adventurers and orcs cut each other to ribbons, amidst the blood and the screams, the Cleric stood at the edge of battle, quietly demanding that someone answer his questions…
D&D can be spooky sometimes
Player: Nope. Nooope. I veto this.
Dungeon Master: Pardon?
Player: I veto this. It’s too creepy and I veto it.
Dungeon Master: You want to veto the monster?
Dungeon Master: That will take an action. Roll to veto.
Player: [checks sheet] What do I roll for that?
Dungeon Master: …
I never think it’s enough to ask “is X fun?” when thinking of trying something new. Every game is fun. It’s more significant to ask, “is X my kind of fun?” or “what makes X stand out.” D&D is a game where conversation creates an imaginary world of monsters and spells and dice rolls determine whether your characters’ actions succeed or fail.
There are those that will find this conversational table-top game enjoyable, and it will fail to gel with others. Anyone who enjoys fantasy stories, board/video games or even random discussion should at least try the game. Just know that if you do give it a go, you will share some amazing moments with other players.
You can read the previous reason to play D&D here.
Thank You For Playing
Written by Rufus Scott.