Here Be Dragons
...and Dungeons, as Bonnie Burton explains her love of the rPg
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.
“I CAME AWAY FROM D&D WITH FRIENDS I COULD ASK FOR REAL LIFE ADVICE"
Bonnie realises that when facing danger, using brains over brawn is crucial.