A Little Fun – Dungeons and Dragons!

A Little Fun – Dungeons and Dragons!

Choose your weapon!

So today’s article isn’t going to take us too deep, but it’ll be fun.

For some of you it’ll be nostalgic, to others a cheer of agreement, some will scratch their heads with bemusement.

For today I am going to be writing about Dungeons and Dragons.

Back in the day Tipper Gore got a load of ‘concerned’ Mothers together and campaigned for little stickers to be placed on CD covers warning that the CD contained lyrics that might be deemed offensive, or lead children to the ‘occult’. Well I have to thank Tipper and those Mothers for without that sticker I might have missed out on some amazing Metal growing up. Seriously that little sticker was like a red rag to a bull. To my teenage angsty brain it merely said “if adults are afraid of it, I want to hear why”. So I’m not entirely sure that worked in the way they were intended…

In the opinion of these conservative activists, the other activity that would lead children to explore the ‘occult’ was role playing games. Before I continue, maybe we should spend just a little time exploring that word, occult. Some people reading this might have a negative emotional reaction to it. Probably because of a religious upbringing, or too many Dennis Wheatley novels, or Hammer horror films in the 70s. But occult simply means hidden or concealed. The word speaks of mystery, magic, and the supernatural.  When I was growing up most boys seemed to be into football, but I wasn’t, at all. I was into music, but I was also into fantasy fiction, comics, mythologies, magic and the supernatural. Some of the other kids around me were as well, and most of us grew to be the nerds and geeks of today. A severe case of what does this button do? So the word occult isn’t one to be feared, in my opinion.

So, onto Dungeons and Dragons. For those who don’t know D & D is a role playing game set in a fantasy universe. Within the game, the players take the roles of adventurers and ‘roll’ these characters’ attributes using dice. Among the ‘classes’ the characters can be rangers, barbarians, wizards, warlocks, clerics, rogues, druids, bards etc. The characters also have races such as Human, Dwarf, Teifling, Elf, Orc etc. When I play all of the action takes place within the imagination, but others play the game with table-top models. The game’s guide is called the Dungeon Master (no, not Mr Grey. That’s altogether another set of games…) who reads out the details of what the adventurers see and hear, and also control the various monsters that populate the dungeon, or adventure. It’s great fun.

I played D & D at school. A lot. I then took it into my twenties and used to play a cut down version on the production line when I worked as an assembler in a factory. For whatever reason I stopped many years ago and hadn’t thought much of it, until just over a year ago. My Metal-fan buddy is also a geeky bloke, and a couple of years ago, whilst drinking a beer in the rain at Download festival we began to talk about D & D. Suddenly it all came flooding back so I suggested it might be fun to have a go again. He was very keen, so when I got back I bought the new intro pack for D & D 5th edition.

As I read through the new book I remembered why I had stopped – it had all got really complicated. It got to the point that I felt the mathematics of the encounters had taken over from the sense of adventure. However, I was delighted to find that the 5th edition was a much more slimmed down version of the game, that did indeed focus more on the adventuring side. I invited two other friends who I knew would be interested, and had played before, my eldest son, and amazingly Cerri was interested too! So we had our adventuring group. The rules suggest a group of five plus the DM is best as too small means they will probably keep dying, and too many means the rounds of combat take too long.

I took the reigns as DM for our first adventure. The group arrived, out came the chips and dips, a barrel of ale was bought for our refreshment, along with purpose-bought tankards (not a necessity, but adds to the fun), and off they went. Within a few hours one adventurer had been caught in a rope trap and was hanging upside down over a pit. Another adventurer decided to fire an arrow to cut him down, which they did, and the adventurer rolled the dice, and fell on their neck. In another encounter the esteemed High Elf Mage (who shall remain nameless here) fired a spell called Burning Hands at the massive foe. Unfortunately without checking who was in the way. Later her scorched fellow adventurers were not much pleased.

But we all got better.

We now have a new DM and I am adventuring again. My Wood Elf Ranger Hunter called Gwynn is badass, and I love him. In the age of Facebook it’s wonderful to have a hobby that brings people together, physically together, in the same room, for a few hours. The feeling of friendship and community is not only there among us in that room, but also has developed with the characters on the adventures, as they get to know each other’s back stories too.

Also, now that I’m playing again I can see what a boon D & D was for my later magical training. The ‘imagination’ is an extremely powerful tool in not only magic, but also in inner journeying and meditation. Being able to see things happening within a role playing game can really lay a good foundation for that work. But the real blessing is the fun. I’m hooked again. If you have ever thought about giving it a go I would check with a few of your friends if they want to as well. If you can get five others, then go for it.

Get the starter pack of the 5th edition, set a date, get in the ale and nibbles, and have fun!

22 responses to “A Little Fun – Dungeons and Dragons!”

  1. Fantastic!!! 🙂
    I have always loved D & D. I have a ‘group’ of people who play with me for many years, far too many people to tell the truth, and slowly over the years I started writing fantasy stories and playing them together: they are born my fantasy books that I published and publish now . I like them a lot because they are the result of a ‘shared imaginary’: a part of us all together that ‘lives’ in a different world, where the symbols become alive and everything (or almost) is possible. I would say that besides being funny it is almost … therapeutic! 😉

  2. Oh my, this takes me back. I first met my husband at D&D. It was 2002; I had recently been retired from work on medical grounds at the age of 41, and I had recently joined Mensa and found the D&D group advertised in the Mensa magazine. My first character was an Elven Fighter, Lyssa Blackthorn; and the clumsy wizard Harris Tweed promptly fireballed her, trying to hit a Bugbear and not realising she was in the blast area (much like your mage with the Burning Hands spell) Luckily Lyssa survived, thanks to intervention by our resident Cycle Path – sorry Psychopath – who was also Elven and gave up 200 years of his lifespan to bring her back.
    We enjoyed many adventurers, always as a couple within the game after that first time; Stella Artois and Straffe Hendrik; Douglas Fir and Hazel Nutt; Jack Daniels and Fionnuala Na Yallochan.
    Sadly the gentleman who hosted the evenings, and was DM most of the time, left us for the Summerlands in 2007; we started playing at another group member’s house, but it was never the same; and when his marriage started to fall apart, the group disbanded.
    These days Peter (my husband) and I generally stick to video gaming (currently re-playing Dungeon Siege 2 which is something of a blast from the past) although we do sometimes do board games – we still have an old Talisman set – but I confess I’d love to play D&D again. We still have the little painted figures, some of which we painted ourselves.
    Thank you Damh for a wander back into the past. 🙂

  3. Sometimes people forget that there are RPGs besides DnD. If you don’t like the number crunching, go to something lighter, maybe less combat-focused! There’s the meta rule sets Cypher System and Fate, for instance. I can only recommend to try out many different games; many have free or at least check quickstart booklets.

  4. Thanks for sharing Damh. I grew up longingly watching the kids in the library playing D&D, knowing that my fundamentalist christian parents had forbade anything remotely paganish. This year marks 12 months of my son running a D&D group for his school friends, writing his own campaigns, even building his own models. I am in awe of his ability to keep five 14yr olds laughing, shouting and completely engaged for 3 hours with no iPhones, playstations or reality TV. It is definitely magic.

  5. This made me smile. Been playing D&D and related games since the early 80’s. You are absolutely right D&D, after I think it was the 2nd Edition, got way too “Rulesy” for my taste (Though each to their own)…

    The wife & I still play not always D&D though, each week as you said its great to get out of the flat and meet with a group of similar minded human beings in person! Its still tremendous fun even after all these years 🙂

    • The general feeling amongst our group was that it was getting too – as you say – “Rulesy”. So we stuck to using 2nd edition. 😉

      It’s amazing how many people have responded to Damh’s blog post with their own reminiscences of playing!

  6. This is so great! My three siblings (and their spouses) and I started a D&D game four months ago as a Way for us to all reconnect and get some time together that wasn’t centered around everyone’s children. My oldest brother is the DM, and is fabulous at it. We are having so much fun! And it definitely has the added bonus of f getting everyone’s creative juices flowing!

  7. My husband and I play a game called Harnmaster. It has a lot of crunch (i.e.math), but we and our players like the detail this allows.
    I met my husband when I was a new player and he was a gamemaster with 20 years experience. He and I rolled a character for me that will never be forgotten (seriously. She’s part of Harnmaster canon now!) . How could I not fall in love with a man who gave me a whole new world to play around in!
    I seriously love that my favorite bard is also a gamer!

  8. Excellent! Spent part of Yule holiday teaching D&D to the teen and 20s nephews and niece. Much fun was had by all.

  9. Damh, did you ever have a go at playing “Stormbringer” FRPG in the world of Elric? You may like that, it was very easy to play. The Magic system was very simple and so was the combat. It was very character lethal though!

  10. Lol! Oh Damh you have brought back some truly wonderful memories of my youth, misspent as it was! My best friend Dale (sadly, no longer with us) introduced me to the madical world with two of his older brothers, the oldest being the DM. Many a night was spent deeply entrenched in our created world, battling, casting lethal if not sometimes misdirected spells, building characters that seemed almost real the longer they lived through the campaigns.
    And of course, the ale did flow! We also created that “magical fog” (ahem) that enveloped the realm! It helped with the imagination. No…really.
    Sometimes I wish we could recreate those campaigns with all our mates again. Everyone has moved on with their lives and we have all lost touch. Perhaps someday I will find another buch of twisted mead swilling ston…um…lads, to adventure once again.
    Thanks Damh.
    Peace, Love and Mead!
    Jeff Stilson

  11. Thank you for the reminiscence! I played D&D and AD&D from 1979 until 1995 once marriage and family took all my time. I still miss playing. One day…

  12. Would love to get the family together and try this game. I have never played D&D before but would love to give it a go. Thanks for the recommendation Damh. Brightest blessings to you and your family.

  13. WOW another blast from the past! It is simply amazing how many people have a history with this great game. I played in the 70 and 80s. I have found that it was not just a good background for our path. As a small unit leader in the USMC it was amazing how many of the better leaders had a history playing these games. They are a great teaching tool in general.

  14. I suspect many of the folk here that called the 80’s their youth may have experienced D&D in some form or another. This fascination with a game turned into a hobby and expanded to many other RPG’s that have been created over the years.
    That said, I still enjoy gaming to this day, with many friend near and far, especially with the introduction of the internet and Viop programs.
    I also have introduced my eldest son to the hobby as well so I can relate the joy it brings and the imagination that breaths reward as a shared experience and time well spent. Great reading your articles Damh, as always, the story continues.

    A shared spirit in Gaming

  15. Well, would never have figured you to be one who shares this hobby with me but elated to know I was wrong. Enjoy your adventures, with good group the game can give you more stories to tell than most hobbies. To this day I have stories from my days of gaming, still going ever since I was twelve. Though, since my groups weren’t the best, I usually tell them as “this could be you if you don’t clean up your act” spooks, heh. Blessings to you and your gaming group.

  16. Ever since I could read I’ve always loved fantasy and mythology and have always been a Tolkien fan. I remember picking up my first board game Middle Earth played in the same manner as D&D but unfortunately I just couldn’t find anyone to play. You could say I was the only female “ nerd “ in the village so to speak So settled for just painting a few RP figurines and read my books/comics etc. Nowadays it’s a lot easier as I can play The Lord of the Rings online, Skyrim and Dragonage on my computer. It sounds like you’re having a lot of fun there Damh. It’s great escapism from real life and very therapeutic too. Blessed Be xxx

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