Here be Dragons

By Nicholas Fredrick
dungeons and dragoonsA musty basement, the overwhelming smell of body odor climbing out of every orifice of an acne-ridden teenage chubster from the 1980s, some ridiculous combination of dice that would never be used for anything practical, and a lot of paperwork: These are the things that come to mind when one utters the phrase “Dungeons and Dragons.” However, once you get past the stigmas and the centrifuge that is the term “DnD,” you are introduced to a world of free choice and a feeling of bonding with your friends that you can’t get any other way. There’s no feeling like getting together with friends, sipping some cheap wine, and slaying an ice dragon with six of your closest friends.
The year is 1974 and the nerds are bored. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson publish the first edition of “Dungeons and Dragons” through the publisher Tactical Studies Rules. It is a simple wooden box with three manuals inside of it: “Men and Magic,” “Monsters and Treasure,” and “Underworld and Wilderness Adventures.”
Gygax and Arneson made 1,000 copies upfront and sold out within the year. The next year they made 5,000 more, 10,000 more the year after that, and it kept rising and rising throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s and started to fall off at the turn of the century.
Flash forward to the modern day, and “Dungeons and Dragons” is making a comeback in a major way, so the question on everyone’s mind at this point is, “What exactly is Dungeons and Dragons?” The answer to that question is really up to interpretation; most agree that it is a group imagination-based game that should be set in a world that includes dungeons and dragons. Normally the destiny of each character is decided by a 20-sided die; if it lands on a 20 that’s a critical success, but one major failure anywhere in between is up to the interpretation of the Dungeon Master.
A group of seven guys gets together every Friday night, and the roster of this team is as follows: a giant half-dragon half-man with a bloodied blade and a taste for the finer things in life; an alcoholic assassin with no regard for human, dwarf, or elven life that lives only to drink and kill; an 8 ½ foot-tall bird man with a pimp cane that spews locusts; a quick-talking bard that has a habit of introducing innocent people’s skulls to his handmade daggers; a pyromancer that spews fire over villages and their inhabitants; and a crazy potion master that steals people’s identities in a more entertaining way than Melissa McCarthy ever could. The team rounds itself out with an anthropomorphic lemon man with an eye for business.
“Anything can happen, and that’s what I love about the game,” the Dungeon Master explains. Everything from a pine cone that takes over people’s minds and bends their wills to do dastardly deeds, to a Frost Dragon crushed by a well-endowed statue thrown by a giant bird and a lemon man.
When asked about what Dungeons and Dragons has done for him, the Master replied, “Since I’m in college I realize I should do things I enjoy. DnD is a good example of embracing something people have a stigma against. You’re learning, you’re playing and having fun and you don’t care what people think. The fun that I have with my friends and the fun that I have playing this game is a lot stronger than the ridicule that comes from the stigma.”
In short, Dungeons and Dragons is a great way to stop acting like a high schooler, ironically enough. You can stop caring about what others think and start doing what you truly enjoy; this is a life lesson anyone could use. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and embrace new things and lifestyles. Follow your heart and your dreams – it doesn’t matter how old you are if you love what you’re doing you’re doing it right. Peace and love. Namaste.