Game of the Week: Dungeons and Dragons

I play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. Over the 4 years I’ve been playing (a fifth of my life, if you want to feel old), I’ve played with many different groups and been Dungeon Master more often than not. Getting to play it for college credit? A dream come true. For my character I decided to try something new to me, playing a human barbarian (who was also a little old lady who worked in an archive). Our DM, Nick, did a fantastic job of introducing the game to the new players in our group. The world he created was both immersive and interactive, allowing our characters to have agency as well as lots to discover. Over three weeks our rag-tag party of heroes killed goblins, befriended goblins, unionized goblins, mourned exactly one goblin (RIP Rushwater you will be missed), and killed a bugbear (basically a large hairy goblin).  There was a healthy mix of cave exploration, social negotiation, and good old-fashioned fighting. 

The hardest part of this game is basic math. I’m not joking. I’m so bad at adding a number to another number. I keep a calculator on hand just to make sure everything goes smoothly. Aside from that, the other major difficulty in this (and other social games) is finding the balance between leading by example and knowing when to step back and let other people have the spotlight. This is especially relevant when the other members of the group have less experience with role-playing games and may be more shy about jumping in. 

Dungeons and Dragons is not a game for everyone. It has many moving parts and numbers to keep track of, and it’s designed to tell a very specific type of story. However, it is undoubtedly the most ubiquitous of the tabletop role playing games. Everyone and their grandma has heard of it. This combination doesn’t always work out; many times people will try to hack D&D to make it do what they want, when better alternatives exist. The same thing applies to leadership! There are nearly infinite styles of leadership, and not every one will work for any given group. It’s important to fit the leadership tactic to the situation and the people who are involved. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, you have to know when to take charge of a situation and when to sit back and let other people take initiative.