D&D - Part I - Around the Campfire
Oh, hi friend. Didn't see you there. Welcome. Make yourself at home. Are you cozy? Grab some hot cocoa and a blanket and get yourself nice and goddamn cozy because we're about to embark on a beautiful journey. A journey where I'll be journaling many of my thoughts, opinions, and advices on the beautiful game that is D&D. But first, two things. Who am I? And what is D&D? Let's answer those in reverse order.
What. Is. D&D? What is it?! D and D? There are two D's??
Don't you worry your pretty little socks. I'm here to help. Follow along with me and we'll get ya sorted.
D&D stands for "Dungeons and Dragons," and it is the most famous and most popular -as well as the first- TTRPG.
Oh god, another acronym??
TTRPG stands for "Table-Top Role-Playing Game." So what does that mean?
Okay, now that we got the acronyms out of the way, let's go back a bit...
Hopefully, you can look back on a time in which someone sat you down as a child to tell you a story. Maybe it was a parent, grandparent, sibling, or babysitter. Maybe you had someone read to you as you fell asleep; or maybe you remember a favorite camping trip in which you told ghost stories around a crackling campfire.
These are examples of traditional storytelling, and storytelling is a human experience as ancient as time itself. As long as humans have interacted with one another, they have told stories. Whether it be through spoken word, or the creation of shadow images, or the depictions of figures etched into the cave wall, stories are an integral part of the human experience. However, in traditional storytelling, there is "the storyteller" and "the audience." This is true when you read a book, watch a movie, or listen to your grandpa read you "Little Red Riding Hood." But what if this wasn't the case? What if everyone around the campfire was involved in telling the same story?
When I pitch D&D to people, the phrase I have used for years is
"cooperative storytelling experience."
So imagine if your wrinkly ol' grandpappy sits you down and instead of saying, "Red Riding Hood goes to the forest and walks straight to her Grandma's cabin," he says, "Red Riding Hood goes to the forest and... What do you think Red Riding Hood does?"
And you say, "I think Red Riding Hood is gonna pick some mushrooms and trip ballzzzz."
Blam. That's it. That's D&D.
Okay, obviously D&D is more than that, but honestly, that's the gist! You sit around a table with some friends (Table Top) and you each pick a role to play -Red Riding Hood, The Woodsman, Grandma- (Role playing) and you tell a story together, and it's fun (Game). Is it starting to make sense? D&D was literally created by some nerds who read The Lord of the Rings and were like, "What if... what if we sat around and pretended that we were these characters going on an epic adventure?!" - "I'll be Legolas!" - "I'll be Gimli!" - "I'll be Aragorn!" Yup. That's pretty much it. There's a lot more to the game, but from my perspective, this that I've just described to you is the absolute heart of what D&D is all about, and all the other stuff -dice, numbers, math, rule books, etc- is superfluous, if you don't understand what you're really there to do. Which is to enjoy telling a story with some friends.
So, that's all I want to talk about today. Come along with me, and we'll dive into more details of the game, how to play, and eventually we'll get to the good stuff. Like my own opinions and advice and stuff! Oh yeah, speaking of which, why the hell should you listen to me?
Tariq Aamir Malik is a professional actor, voice over actor, writer, and professional Dungeon Master. For the past several years he has taught people how to play Dungeon and Dragons. He continues to run games for folks on a weekly basis. You can learn more about him at www.tariqaamirmalik.com