Dungeons & Dragons and rumors have gone hand in hand since Gary Gygax released the game in 1974… and yet, the core idea of the game is to get together, make friends, and tell stories. The game’s parent company, Hasbro, even works hard to make D&D family friendly. This weekend, Hasbro is hosting its first convention called HASCON, where families can join in on short, family-oriented campaigns with experienced DMs and pick up things like a custom My Little Pony dice tin with a set of sparkly pink dice inside. You can even have your photo taken with a friendly, cuddly goblin on the D&D floor! D&D players also frequently stream campaigns for Extra Life, playing strictly to raise donations for children’s hospitals. This year, players will be streaming on November 3rd and 4th from all over the globe to raise money for the kids!
D&D isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however. It’s meant to be fun, but D&D is also frustrating after the initial rush wears off. Wheelhouse Workshop, a therapy group formed by two self-proclaimed geeks, uses tabletop role-playing to teach coping mechanisms to players for things like conflict resolution and frustration tolerance, among others. The safety of *playing* D&D means you get tired of the rules, but have to focus on controlling your frustrations to get your character out of a tight spot. You get sick of the limits, but have to work within the [relative] safety of those limits to work with your adventuring companions to defeat monsters. You have to add up your character’s attack bonus – or worse, calculate how much damage they just took, and man, things aren’t looking too good – and hold on, when did math come into this?
When you look past the role-playing aspects of Dungeons & Dragons, there are countless skills a player must rely on in order to make the game function: mathematics being one of the most vital. Nearly every aspect of the game relies on math in order to work, although it may not seem that way at first – you roll four six-sided dice six times to determine your character’s base ability scores, which then determine how you continue to flesh them out for the rest of the game. For example, my half-elf rogue, Bree, has scores of 12, 15, 13, 9, 14, and 12. The Dungeon Master may ask for a for a wisdom check (to use her knowledge of Medicine to stabilize a wounded teammate). Bree would then use her score of 15, plus an additional +2 modifier for a total of 17 for either ability check.
There’s a huge educational benefit to D&D that often gets ignored as people focus on the “game” and “monster” aspect of it, preferring to focus on the stereotypes that are traded around. As Adam Davis and Adam Johns show, there is a therapeutic quality to the games as well, and with younger players creating their own campaigns, lore, and rules, the possibilities are endless as they ask questions and rediscover the world they live in to ensure that things make sense. One common fear is that kids playing role-playing games won’t be socialized, but the very nature of D&D is social: you cannot play without socializing with the others on your team. You learn how to problem-solve while playing D&D – and that, my friends, is perhaps the most important skill of all.
Beginning Saturday, September 9th at 1pm, the Bowman Library will host teen groups playing Dungeons and Dragons. Because of the need to keep groups consistent, there will be registration, but all new groups will be formed from the waiting list, so be sure to register.
Now that you’ve learned so much, grab your dice and your character sheet, and get to playing!