Why should YOU play D&D? Reason #1

Maybe you’ve only heard of Dungeons & Dragons in passing. Maybe a friend or two are badgering you to give it a try. Maybe you’ve only experienced the stigma of a game that is supposedly only for the nerdiest of nerds. Maybe you tried it in your youth years ago but have lost touch.

Whatever your standpoint today, if you are a gamer in any capacity (video or board game), enjoy storytelling or creativity, or you just like hanging out with geeky people, you should give D&D a try. If you need convincing, or want convincing, here’s the first reasons to try, and usually the main factor in why people choose not to:

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Saint George – Different Perspectives

Teacher – This is an image of the Patron Saint of England, soldiers, farmers and much more. St George isn’t English; he was most likely born in what was Cappodocia (modern day Turkey). He is almost certainly a martyr, dying for his faith rather than making a sacrifice to pagan gods. The dragon was added to his story much later.

Video Gamer – The horse has clearly glitched over the dragon. Horses in video games are always difficult to steer properly. I hope that’s not the final armour or costume St George gets, and that weapon upgrades are available. Not that impressive a monster either. Is this meant to be a boss battle? Pfft. Unique animation style though.

Dungeon Master – that’s not a proper dragon, more like a Wyrmling. They’re only a Creature Rating 2, not that big a deal. And green dragons breath poison, not fire. I’m guessing St George is a paladin? Not sure what class the woman in the background is, but the fact that she has the wyrmling restrained means St George has advantage on his attacks. Not a tough fight.

When do you Fast Travel?

The ability to skip sections of a video game has been around for a long time. Think about this mechanical feature for a moment. The creators of a game have poured their sweat and tears (I hope there’s very little blood involved) and spent a considerable amount of time writing and coding, only to give the player an exit. Take cut-scenes for example. Lots of love went into a visual spectacle that drives story and inspires excitement for the gameplay to come. And then the creators add a “press _ to skip” feature.

In one respect, fast travel feels a lot like this. An entire gaming world has been forged for your entertainment, but with built-in a feature that lets you teleport. “We made this to entertain you.” The developers say, “But we put in a button that lets you skip it in case you don’t find it entertaining”. If it can be passed by, why is it in the game?

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The Geek is a Dad: Baby VS D&D

I seemed to start playing Dungeons & Dragons as it began its surge in popularity. I can hardly say that I was “playing D&D before it was cool”; the game has been around for longer than I have. Nevertheless, when I was first introduced by a fellow teacher in 2015, the current edition of the game was only a year old, the massively popular Critical Role was just rolling out episode number 6 of campaign 1, and the vast majority of people I spoke to had barely even heard of D&D.

Four years later, D&D has evolved from a minor interest to a major hobby. Up until a few months ago, I was playing several times a month, most of which I was hosting. As the Dungeon Master of these games, I was either pouring over official campaign books or tinkering with my own, far-too-detailed homemade story. I enjoyed creating and playing D&D so much that it even took over the time that I usually reserved for playing video games or watching a good movie. I play other ‘Table Top Role Playing Games’ from time to time, but Dungeons & Dragons has its claws in me.

That was until six months ago, when I began to close the book on all my adventures in preparation for the arrival of my baby daughter. By Christmas, all of my groups knew that once we got to a satisfying place in the story I would bow out. My little lady was on her way and rather than string each game along until we ran out of time, I wanted to choose where the line in the sand was drawn. It was tough, because we all really wanted to play, but there’s nothing worse than a campaign that just fizzles out.

The games I was a player/character in would continue without me, but the games I ‘DMed’ would be gone for a long, long time… or so I thought.

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Stealth is a Gentlemen’s Game

The bullets fill the air as you tumble down the corridor. You curse your own lapse in judgement. You timed your approach perfectly, took the guard down from behind with one swift and surgical strike, but you failed to spot that second guard. After so much careful espionage, after so much sneaking, one blunder has led to chaos.

For one brief moment, the guards lose sight of you. You change direction abruptly, diving for cover behind a set of unmarked crates. Your pursuers are right on you; it won’t be long before they find out where you went. Crouching low, you scramble to check your ammunition and patch your wounds.

The guards are still searching furiously, moving closer to your position. You take a breath and prepare to defend yourself with maximum efficiency. The nearest guard, mumbling to himself, looms over the crate, tentatively moving to a position where he can see your hiding place. You begin to raise your weapon…

…and then he turns and walks off.

“Well, he got away. Back to my guard post.” He practically doffs his hat in recognition of your skills of evasion, checking his pocket watch to check that, yes, it has been exactly sixty seconds since the chase began. Should you slip up again, he will commence the chase anew, but until then, good day to you, sir or madam.

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The Geek is a Dad: Baby VS Video Games

“Can you remember what life was like before?” That’s the curious question I have heard so many times since becoming a dad four months ago. The notion that life would become so unrecognisable because of a baby is not without its merits. I’ve certainly never in my life had this many conversations about sleep patterns or bowel movements. I do however find some fault in the query. Life has changed and is changing, but I don’t believe it will change so much that I cannot enjoy the things I did before, or that I can’t be the same gamer-teacher-geek I’ve always been.

Admittedly, it’s early days. I think part of the reason I’m writing this is so that I can look back at the ‘father of four months’ version of me further down the line. He’s probably going to seem so naïve (and less grey haired). For now, I am that hopeful sole that sees his fatherhood as a life equally nerdy as what came before. How, when and why I enjoy my geekiness – my video games, Dungeons & Dragons, history and teaching – will change, but the last few weeks have taught me that the Geek is a Dad, and the Dad is always going to be a Geek.

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Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party – Guest Number Six

At last, the table is set. The drinks cabinet is stocked, and the starter is ready to go. The first of my five fictional characters are on their way to my home. There is just one final video game guest to invite to the dinner party.

If you want to see who else I picked, look right here:

It would be presumptuous for me to state that I have ‘saved the best for last’. This sixth and last dinner guest is, however, my first and favourite choice for a video game guest.

I’m not inviting this character because of their personality; compared to the other five guests I know very little about them as a person. I’m also not asking them to join the party because of their legacy. Whilst the other five characters reside in iconic gaming franchises, I’ve only ever played one game which featured this last guest. I only have one, very significant reason to invite this individual: she is from the most integral game of my video gaming life.

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