Here Be Dragons

...and Dun­geons, as Bon­nie Bur­ton ex­plains her love of the rPg

SFX - - Opinion -

Ever wish you had a mag­i­cal spell to mute loud strangers? Or does drink­ing too much mead in a rowdy tav­ern suit your idea of the per­fect night? Then again, loot­ing a se­cret trea­sure room in an aban­doned cas­tle sounds like fun too. Luck­ily, you can ex­pe­ri­ence all of th­ese things and more if you delve into a game of Dun­geons & Dragons with your friends. Some of you read­ing this un­der­stand com­pletely the lure of this iconic role-play­ing game, orig­i­nally cre­ated in 1974. While oth­ers may be rolling their eyes think­ing, “Ugh, nerd stuff.” Don’t be too quick to dis­miss the idea of sit­ting around a ta­ble with other play­ers pre­tend­ing to be an elf, troll, ogre, wizard, knight, witch or vam­pire for hours on end as “too geeky”. You don’t have to dress up as your char­ac­ter’s race or species. There’s no pres­sure to be an ex­pert in elf lore or dragon anatomy. And the skills you learn while play­ing this game will last a life­time.

When I stum­bled upon my first Dun­geons & Dragons game, I was a shy 12-year-old geek with­out a posse. I felt alone in my love for The Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars, Doc­tor Who and Red Dwarf. And liv­ing in a small town where sports ruled didn’t help. I couldn’t have a con­ver­sa­tion with any kids with­out some­one say­ing, “You’re so weird.”

So when I came across a group of older kids yelling about throw­ing fire­balls at a mob of deadly druids, I stopped in my tracks and asked them if I could watch them play their mys­te­ri­ous game. As a bud­ding writer, I loved the sto­ry­teller as­pects of the game. Each player can cus­tomise his or her char­ac­ter’s look, pow­ers, lan­guage skills, per­son­al­ity quirks, strengths, weak­nesses, com­pli­cated fam­ily his­tory and love life. If you have the hon­our of be­ing the Dun­geon Master (DM) for a cam­paign, you get to de­cide what the quest or ad­ven­ture will be for the play­ers.

I love D&D be­cause it not only taught me how to let my freak flag fly, but it showed me that be­ing dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­one else can make you feel like a su­per­hero in­stead of a su­per loser. Thanks to D&D, I found my­self of­ten fig­ur­ing out more cre­ative ways to trick bul­lies and mean girls out of fight­ing me. When con­fronted with a kid who kept push­ing me around phys­i­cally, I con­vinced him I had a weird con­ta­gious skin dis­ease. I ap­plied my newly-found D&D skills for cre­at­ing an imag­i­nary al­i­ment that put a stop to shov­ing me into lock­ers.

D&D cam­paigns are also about the im­por­tance of team­work. When you are alone, every­thing feels like an im­pos­si­ble ob­sta­cle. But when you join up with a group of peo­ple with dif­fer­ent tal­ents who all have the same goal in their sights, any chal­lenge can be over­come. In real life, un­der­stand­ing the fun­da­men­tals of team­work is es­sen­tial in the work­place. I also came away from D&D with a new set of friends I could rely on not just to bat­tle orcs in our games, but peo­ple I could ask for real life ad­vice on every­thing from first dates to ca­reer choices.

I highly rec­om­mend D&D for both kids and adults. Par­ents might find D&D daunt­ing at first, but once you get the hang of cre­at­ing a cam­paign fam­ily game night will never be the same again. When you teach your­self and oth­ers how to use your imag­i­na­tion when sur­rounded by an­gry vil­lagers or when you’re trapped in a sink­ing pi­rate ship, you learn how to ap­ply cre­ative think­ing to the real world. And that kind of gam­ing is price­less.


Bon­nie re­alises that when fac­ing dan­ger, us­ing brains over brawn is cru­cial.

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