I Think I’ve Fallen In Love With Dungeons & Dragons

I Think I’ve Fallen In Love With Dungeons & Dragons
Image: Wizards of the Coast

Until this week, my experiences of Dungeons & Dragons consisted of confusion, ramshackle groups and poorly organised sessions that quickly crumbled under their own weight. That’s no fault of my companions. To kick off a good session of D&D you need to be dedicated, imaginative and have boundless energy. My own circumstances had never been quite right to enjoy a game and have personal investment in it — but after a recent D&D event, I’m totally on board.

To celebrate the upcoming release of the Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons crossover card set, Adventures in the Forgotten Realmsthe Wizards team recently invited a bunch of journos to try out a hybrid D&D session with custom-created characters.

I made a lazy tiefling blood hunter named Aleister, mostly because they sounded cool and I’m a big fan of the wrestler formerly known as Aleister Black. To make the session more fun, the Wizards team actually commissioned artist Will Kirkby to draw everybody’s D&D characters, and they had a miniatures artist create tiny figurines.

Here’s my boy, in all his glory:

While not all Dungeons & Dragons session require this level of detail and finesse, it was a great touch that really helped with the visual side of imagining our epic D&D adventure.

In this case, I and four other journos (including Kotaku Australia’s own Chris Neill and former contributors Steph Panecasio and Amanda Yeo) were sent off an a grand quest to rescue two dwarves from the clutches of deadly orcs and claim the power of a mystic treasure trove. It was aided by a miniature dungeon set depicting every room, creature and object we’d face.

It was my first time playing D&D with a model set and honestly, it made all the difference in the world.

I’m a visual learner. I love seeing what’s in front of me, rather than imagining it. So my experiences with Dungeons & Dragons so far have consisted of major struggles to really understand what’s going on, who I’m facing and where to explore. If you’re in a similar boat, a drawn map, illustrations or dungeon set may help you really get into the ‘mood’ of the game. It sure helped me.

Once I had my orientation, I had an absolute blast with this session of D&D.

dungeons & dragons first experience
Image: Supplied

As we ventured through the Lost Mine of Phandelver (one of the new locations included in the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms), the Wizards team used Magic: The Gathering cards to determine RNG monster encounters and items found, while D&D Beyond tracked our progress and lost hit points.

Between the visual aids and the simplicity of D&D Beyond, gameplay was so enjoyable I wish I’d had this version of Dungeons & Dragons to introduce me to the game in the first place. While the inclusion of Magic cards was more to show off the new set than anything else, they added a great sense of adventure and randomness to our journey. Plus, they also feature awesome, slick art.

It meant when our party encountered a Baleful Beholder, we could see it in all its slimey, eye-filled glory. It also made the experience that much more satisfying when I successfully used a Thaumaturgy spell to disguise myself as the creature’s ancient master and convinced it to abandoned its 500-year post with a good D20 roll.

I still have a lot to learn about Dungeons & Dragons, but this event gave me a taste I want more of.

It also helped me hone my tactics.

It appears to me the best way to play Dungeons & Dragons is to be as lazy and creative as possible by using every trick and tool in your arsenal to avoid head-on combat and defeat monsters.

In one instance, a Gelatinous Cube was described as “slug-like” by our DM, so I used a meal kit to pour salt on my sword and attempted to dissolve it just like a slug. In another, I put Thaumaturgy to good use to impersonate an Orcish god.

mtg gelatinous cube
Image: Wizards of the Coast

Once you really get into Dungeons & Dragons, there’s a creativity and excitement in the game you can’t really get anywhere else. In the hands of a good DM, your unhinged creative energy can be turned into a wild and twist-filled story.

While I was initially hesitant to get involved in a new D&D adventure after having such shaky experiences in my first few rounds, my latest adventure has me completely sold on the game. In fact, it has me baffled as to why I didn’t get into it earlier.

As it turns out, I’m rather good at D&D and it’s something I very much enjoy. While it took a formal press event to make me realise that, it’s knowledge I will carry gladly into the future.

I’m ready for my next adventure.


This article has been retimed since its original publication.

Comments

  • Having the right group to bounce things off is vital to having a good time with D&D, I’ve found.

    You need a group that won’t give you an odd look when you announce that you’re going to fly over that enemy and drop a boat on their head.

    • I’d wonder if I was even playing D&D if there weren’t any perfectly normal ideas such as flying around and dropping boats on things.

      • This is why D&D can never really be recreated as a video game. The best part of it is coming up with outside-the-box solutions to problems like using an intentionally poorly guarded slow-acting-poison food caravan to wipe out a goblin infestation, or shock-and-awe door kicking a bandit hide-out with good intimidation rolls to force their surrender, room by room so you have all your spell slots when you make an example of the boss, then enlisting the survivors as your own private gang with fairer pay, better conditions, and the occasional display of incredible violence. The video game isn’t going to throw a bunch of physical-immune encounters at you when three of the party can only do physical damage, causing the party to derail the campaign for literally dozens of hours as they turn the criminal underground upside-down in search of black market (free) magical weapons.

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