Playing a board game during a global pandemic might seem strange, but it’s addictingly fun. It definitely gives me something to look forward to during quarantine. And with modern day technology, it might actually be easier online than in person.
Playing Dungeons and Dragons gave me a chance to stretch my imagination and thinking muscles during repetitive pandemic fearing days. It gave me a semblance of in person connection, and a good community. It’s no wonder that this game has been popular for decades.
What Is Dungeons & Dragons?
As the rule book describes it, “Driven by imagination, the Dungeons & Dragons role playing game is about storytelling in worlds of swords and spells.” It’s a game where you roll 20 sided dice and create unique characters. You might’ve heard of it from Stranger Things.
It’s a game where you can be a wizard fighting an evil horde of bugbears. Or you could be a 3 foot tall frog that steals cheese. Same with the setting. You can choose to have it be a fantastical medieval setting with kings and duchesses. But you can also have it be in a world with bubblegum lakes and candy cane forests. Your game, your choice.
Unleash Your Inner Nerd
I’ve wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons. But I was scared that it was too childish, or nerdy, or hard. Looking back, I should’ve told myself to relax. People playing Dungeons and Dragons with you will definitely not judge. After all, they’ll be doing the same thing. You can fake a British accent and call everyone swash bucket snuggling shoehorn slugs, and it’d all just be part of the game.
It’s nice to goof around like a kid every so often. Immersing yourself as a fantasy hero can be a breath of fresh air.
Nerdy things are lots of fun too. Doing a bit of math, and drawing on graphing paper wasn’t something that I thought I’d like. But it’s part of the game, and I learned to enjoy it. It was nice to feel smart.
If money is tight, all you really need to play online is a computer and WiFi. Everything else you can get for free. There are lots of good online programs you can use to play, like roll20, DnDBeyond, and Discord. You can get the simple rules from online, or borrow the rule book from a library. Although you can play for free, I would highly recommend getting real dice, they’re a lot cooler than the online dice. There are lots of different patterned and colored dice, and I absolutely love how they feel like precious jewels.
YouTube and other tutorials were the easiest way for me to learn how to play. If scrolling through mountains of words is not for you, that may be a good option.
You can also get the DnD Essentials Kit for around $15, which includes basically all you need to play, and also a pre-made adventure if you don’t want to have to think of your own story.
Meeting new people
If you already know a few friends who want to play some DnD, then you’re all set! But if you don’t know anyone who wants to play, or, like me, only knew one, then this is a good time to go online and find some people who want to play.
I recommend using the r/lfg Subreddit. Once you find a group, you can schedule a discord call and see if you get along well. If not, that’s okay, just find a different group.
Usually, when making friends you might be limited to people who you interact with daily, and so it might be hard to branch out. Or, if you don’t have many friends and feel lonely, quarantine can make it even harder to make friends. But it’s okay, all hope is not lost. You can easily find some people to play DnD with, and believe me, within a few sessions you guys will have inside jokes, great memories, and lots of fun. When it’s safe to do so, hanging out in person will be great too.
This is not the only way to hang out with new or old friends, but I think it’s one of the best ways virtually. You of course still have the option to do Zoom calls with friends, or text, but having a common activity to do together can give you something to talk about, as well as being able to explore a fantasy world.
The communities of every game has it’s toxic members, but overall I think the Dungeons & Dragons community is welcoming. It has people ranging from 8 year olds making their first game to 60 year olds who have been using the same dice for 50 years. A lot of people draw beautiful art for their characters, some cosplay, other people build their own gaming tables, and there’s lots of wonderful and unique things you can learn how to do.
There’s also content for when you’re not playing, and from animated YouTube channels to podcasts, there’s plenty of entertainment and things to get inspiration from.
Of course, there are some toxic people. Some parties might not let women join, or fetishize every woman character they come across. Dungeon Masters can be power tripping tyrants, and some players can be whiny brats and fudge dice rolls. If you meet any of these people, just run for the hills. They’re not worth your time.
Sometimes websites crash, are confusing, or lag. This happens, but can be even more frustrating if you aren’t tech savvy. Or, if the audio echoes, and video glitches, the whole session could be ruined.
In addition, players might not show up, or constantly ghost you. People can be busy too, and it can mean waiting weeks between sessions.
Confusing rules. If you aren’t an expert, knowing all the rules of Dungeons and Dragons is impossible. It can make games less fun when you’re always confused and you can feel like you’re annoying everyone else. To combat this, you can search up rules you were confused about after sessions so that when you play next time, you’ll be prepared.
All in all, Dungeons and Dragons is a great hobby to pick up that will be entertaining during and after the pandemic. You can make new friends, use your imagination, and pick up a few skills. Unleash your inner nerd, and don’t be afraid. It’s definitely better than doing nothing. Why not give it a shot if this sounds interesting to you?