The earliest notions I’ve had of Dungeons & Dragons was probably on the TV Show, Angel – where a tech millionaire came to them dressed as a wizard after just having played a DnD (Dungeons & Dragons) session. Then there was Big Bang Theory, of course, with Howard doing all those Iconic voices during a campaign. As hilariously awesome as it was, it seemed complicated. Other than that the game always seemed inaccessible to me or I just didn’t know of anyone in my life who played it.
When Stranger Things was released, it sparked a whole new interest in the game for me, reminding me of my childhood when I had friends like Dustin, Lucas, Will and Mike. We would get together to play something super geeky like Yu-Gi-Oh or Larping (live-action role-playing) in the backyard. Just seeing how much joy and fun it brought, with them screaming over fireballs and the Demogorgon hunting them, had me reeling. I had to find a way to play Dungeons and Dragons.
Thankfully in 2022, all it took was posting and asking “who plays DnD?” Even more, fate was finding a Dungeon Master that lived just down the road from me.
We became fast friends and he came over to show me how the Dungeons and Dragons Essentials Kit I got from Unplug Yourself and Solarpop Go Play worked. Essentially, the game is about learning which dice to use and that every decision and choice in the game is ruled by the throw of the dice.
What I really enjoyed about DnD were the images that began to form in my mind the more we played. Especially as the DM (Dungeon Master who sets up the campaign and controls the actions and flow of progression) described the scene and as we fought the monsters or were chilling in the taverns. The way that my imagination was automatically triggered into creating this whole world for me in my mind of where we were in the game and what we were doing. Making it literally the most immersive fantasy experience to date for me.
From here, I knew I had to form my own party so that we could fully tackle the Dungeons and Dragons Essential Kit Campaign: Dragons of Icespire Peak. This started with the winner of a giveaway I hosted. I gave away a copy of a DnD Essentials kit plus a starter kit. Cosplayer Hayley_Quinnyx won the competition.
She was already friends with some fellow geeks who hadn’t played in a while so suddenly our Dragon slaying party started to form. By the use of Discord, we started planning our DnD sessions at available times. It was easier to meet online and campaign there. A party member, Devon the Viking gave me this legendary Dice tower and I was set.
Everyone hops on the Discord voice channel. We also use sites like DnDBeyond for our campaign plus character sheets and the site roll20.net to play through campaigns. DnDBeyond even does an awesome animation of dice rolling giving you the digital experience of rolling a dice. Since my Dungeon Master lives so close, I still get to enjoy the experience of live-action play while the other party members join the session through Discord.
The famous dice tower
The odd thing about this is that it’s just you, some people, a bunch of dice and all of you are using your imaginations. Yet as simplistic as that sounds, it creates such an unbelievably compelling experience. It’s a game of choice and chance, whereby you can choose to do anything you want, provided your dice can back you up with their chance rolls. I have officially joined the Hellfire club. Even have the T-shirt to boot.
So, if you are looking to get into Dungeons & Dragons, I would suggest finding a DM nearest to you or even online. Give a one-shot campaign a try. If you watched Big Bang Theory or Stranger Things, you have an idea of what a DM is. Think Leonard, Eddie Munson or Mike at the beginning of Stranger Things Episode 1. They are the storytellers. They are the guides that lead you on an epic quest.
It’s easier with them guiding you along. Use premade characters based on which race and class you like the most. For example, the High Elf Wizard. You can then own the character by coming up with the name and describing how they look. Think of it like a Character Creation system on most RPG games with some preset looks that you can tweak from the get-go.
The Essentials Kit comes with a premade campaign to get you started while the starter kit has more wiggle room to create whichever kind of campaign you want to start with. This is where Unplug Yourself & Solarpop Go Play come in. Unplug Yourself is making tabletop gaming (DnD, Yugi-Oh, Pokemon, Magic) more accessible all through South Africa. They currently have DnD Bootcamps running where you can learn how to play & even learn how to become a DM yourself.
You’ll get to meet some cool people as well as ones who have been playing DnD for 20+ years. We had so much fun at our first session, which was actually where I first met Marco here from GLITCHED. He was there with some friends and we got paired with them. We each got a turn to be a DM ourselves and lead a campaign to fight some goblins. Unplug Yourself will be at Comic Con Africa this year, hosting many tabletop games from the 22 to 25 of September 2022. Come stop by, we’d love to hear your best DnD stories or help you get started in this amazing world of Dungeons & Dragons. There may even be a giveaway or two in store for you. Wink Wink cough cough hint-hint.