For the longest time, people have seen Dungeons and Dragons as the epitome of nerdiness. I too once thought that I would never get into D&D and no matter how nerdy I might feel at times, I felt comfort in thinking “well, at least I don’t play Dungeons and Dragons, that’s for nerds.” All I knew about it was that it was something lame guys do in their basements in teen movies.
In case you somehow don’t know what Dungeons and Dragons is, it is a tabletop role-playing game in which each player controls a character and progresses through a story set up by the Dungeon Master (aka the DM). You make a character sheet, get together in a group, and roll some dice for a few hours.
Dungeons & Dragons has experienced a renaissance of sorts the past few years with the fifth edition. Nathan Stewart from Wizards of the Coast told USA TODAY “I think we’re seeing more players than ever. We’re seeing more mainstream mentions and more exposure, impressions, if you will, in terms of the number of references and times D&D comes up in a pop culture TV show or movie, or even just someone’s Twitter.”
Its boost in popularity is also due to Wizards of the Coast making the game more and more accessible to people by putting more resources online. The ability to stream D&D campaigns, whether it’s listening to the dozens of podcasts out there or watching Critical Role, is another reason why more people are getting into the game.
I was first introduced to D&D through a podcast called The Adventure Zone in which three brothers and their dad play D&D. It opened my eyes to how creative and fun the concept of role-playing games is. The only limit to what you can do is your imagination (and your rolls). After that, I started a group with some friends of mine who also loved the podcast, so we could go off on our own adventures.
One of the reasons why D&D is hard to start is that the materials you need can be quite expensive, and it’s hard to find a good group to play with. From my personal experience, the biggest obstacle in starting a D&D group is having everyone get their stuff in order. The dice, the character sheets, the books– all that jazz.
However, the issue of getting resources is eased by all the free, accessible resources online like the Dungeons & Dragons official website that has a PDF of the rule book, character sheets, and tons of other digital resources. D&D Beyond is also an extremely useful resource for learning the rules of the game, creating characters, and having access to different tools and homebrew content.
You don’t even really need to buy dice; you can google “dice roller” and you’ll immediately be able to roll any dice ranging from a d4 to a d20. Personally, I prefer having a physical pair of dice, and a decent set isn’t that expensive anyway, but it’s useful for people who don’t want to invest too much money in getting started in the game.
Above all, the biggest issue in playing D&D, or any role-playing game, is actually getting everyone together to play. Depending on the size of the group, trying to schedule sessions can be incredibly headache-inducing. But just like the issue of getting materials, the problem of getting a group together is solved by the internet. With sites like Roll 20 and other communication methods like Discord, it’s easier to do sessions without having to bend over backward trying to meet up in person.
However, if your group is somehow miraculously able to get together but you don’t have a place to do it, try checking out a local gaming or comic book shop. Nerd havens like those sometimes rent out space specifically for role-playing groups. Finding a group and a space you are comfortable in is extremely important, especially for new players who usually feel awkward at first. In Raleigh, one such place that rents out tables is Game Theory, a store that specializes in RPGs and board games. Fortunately, there is less of a stigma surrounding Dungeons and Dragons, so more people feel comfortable playing it. D&D, and RPG games in general, are great ways of escapism that forces you to collaborate with others to create the world you escape to. The creators of D&D worked hard to make it accessible to a wider audience, and hopefully, they will continue to ensure that.