In this article, we discuss the popular Dungeons & Dragons book and its influence on the world or Role play games. 

When the first Dungeons and Dragons book was published in 1976, nobody could imagine that it would eventually become a worldwide phenomenon, spawning a new way of gaming for nerds to come- which is ironic because it’s game of imagination. A game of imagination, cunning, teamwork, problem-solving, and much like real life, luck. With the roll of a 20 sided die, or a D20 for short, your fate is decided.

This image shows the cover of the popular Dungeons & Dragons book - first released in 1971. It later became a role play game

While D&D is the most famous tabletop RPG (Role Playing Game) of all time, countless other games have followed in its wake and an entire subculture has developed and evolved over the past 40 years. RPGs are more popular than ever, from tabletops to laptops, from Pathfinder to World of Warcraft- even TV shows like Community dedicated 2 episodes to Dungeons and Dragons. We’re a long way away from the days where playing D&D would have people scared you could actually cast spells on them.

At RetroRabbit, colleagues regularly get together to play Dungeons & Dragons and Space Chronicles. Matthew Orr, who got into tabletop RPGs whilst studying at Tuks, plays the role of Dungeon Master for one of the D&D teams and for Space Chronicles. His role is the most important as he’s the one plotting and planning the scenarios players find themselves in. Matthew does it because he enjoys the creativity of it. “I get to create whole worlds and fill them with characters that I can give a funny voice to. I get to create problems and situations for my players and watch how they address and solve them.” It’s a challenging role but Matthew really enjoys “the challenge of players coming up with ideas and solutions I didn’t expect and seeing where the game will go because of it”.

The great thing about roleplaying is the variety of games on offer and the unique experiences each provides. Matthew explains the differences between D&D and Space Chronicles and why he runs both, “One is science fiction in the style of Firefly and the other is black powder fantasy with a bit of Lovecraftian horror. The rules systems are also very different. That was an intentional decision, as I wanted to run two very different styles of game.” Wayne Scott plays both games and appreciates the differences: “The differences between the games are as big as night and day, Space Chronicles is based on the 2D20 system where the lower rolls are better, whereas D&D the higher rolls are where you want your dice to land. The worlds are completely different, one is set in a future with space travel, surviving from day to day, and one is set in your typical fantasy setting with magic, and wizards and dark gods from other worlds, it’s all about saving the planet.”

This illustration shows a battle scene based on the popular Dungeons & Dragons role play game

While might not actually save the planet, they have many positive effects on the people who play them. “I think roleplaying has allowed myself to be more ‘me’,” Wayne explains. “It has given me a place where I can be more silly and creative than I can normally be, it has allowed me to crawl out of my shell and transform from a silent awkward person to a louder awkward person. It has definitely contributed in my quest to gain more confidence in myself and who I am.” Matthew feels similarly: “In terms of personal skills, playing and running RPGs has been really great at developing communication and creativity. The game is essentially making stuff up and talking around a table so you have to learn to express yourself well.” It might sound unconventional, but if you want to work on your confidence, creative thinking and communication skills, playing RPGs are one of the more fun ways to do so. Not only that, RPGs are great for camaraderie and friendship-building. Wayne’s roleplaying life started at Retro and was not something he considered doing until, in his words, “I was presented with an opportunity to play, and spend some time with the people I consider friends. I welcomed it with an open heart, and in all honesty, it’s one of the better choices I’ve made in my life.” “I play D&D and Space Chronicles for the same reason- the people,” Wayne continues, “They’re not games I would be able to play with a bunch of strangers, knowing I’m amongst friends that accept me for who I am and allows me to be as silly as I want, and sometimes as obnoxious as I want, is what makes the time spent roleplaying worth it for me.”

RPGs might not be for everyone, but if you like using your imagination and having fun with friends (who doesn’t?), they might be for you. If any of this sounds like something you want to give a try, go for it. According to Matthew “They are really easy to get into and you shouldn’t think that you have to be marvelous to try. You just have to be willing to do it and come back for the next session. There are hundreds of different types of games, in different genres and enabling different styles. So if one doesn’t suit you, there are many others.” There’s never been a better time to start, as Matthew explains, “Currently, RPGs have a sort of golden age of exposure to mass media. A D&D game was used to serve as an analogy for the plot in Stranger Things for example. There are also some great video podcasts and streams where people play RPGs such as Mark Mercer’s Critical Role and HarmonQuest.” So what are you waiting for? Roll that dice…