Dungeons and Dragons is how to fill your Saturday night uni void
It’s Skyrim in a living room
“Ugh, there’s nothing to do on a Saturda-”
Shut up, hypothetical Yik Yakker. Cry me a river. Get some friends together, and play Dungeons and Dragons. And don’t be snide, unless you were going to do something productive instead like drink until basic motor functions are harder to get than a First.
Dungeons and Dragons is simply splendid. And it’s not as if it hasn’t probably intruded upon your life, appearing as it has in standout episodes of Community, The IT Crowd and its own movie series (all of which are astoundingly bad, but the first of which features a game-changingly hammy performance from the titanic Jeremy Irons). Besides, you’ve probably watched all six Middle Earth movies, so don’t tell me you don’t know the difference between a dwarf and an elf.
Also, that thing I said about motor function loss? Yeah, you can totally do that during a Dungeons and Dragons game and it makes it possibly more fun.
Make sure you have a good Dungeon Master
The Dungeon Master is your head honcho, your guide, and your mentor. They are usually well versed in the art of the game, and thus own the player’s manual and the many, many dice required to play. They will show you the ropes and help you set up your character (which can take longer than you think).
They are also enthusiastic to a degree that will put you to shame if you ever thought you really really liked something. A good example of such commitment to their hobby will not only be putting up with a group of first time players, but also drawing the entire game map.
As if that wasn’t enough, he also voiced several characters which our merry band (fellowship?) of adventurers ran into, including but not confined to a sort of Germanic civic official, a seven-foot half-orc circus performer, and an elf nobleman. Not only that, but he also came up with and improvised all of their lines and personalities. Appreciation for this dedication to craft really helps you immerse yourself in the game.
Make sure to set the tone
DnD, unsurprisingly, requires a certain amount of imagination to pull off, as evidenced by the Dungeon Master’s chameleonic acting skills. Furthermore, while the character you choose will be arbitrarily assigned many attributes and statistics, it’s up to you to provide your own backstory and motivation, which can be difficult.
This is why it’s important to establish a layer of immersion. Obviously dressing up in armour or a wizard’s robe is optional and probably quite pricey, but a backing soundtrack is a great start.
Every game of DnD starts in a tavern (obviously), so some nice ambience goes a long way to establishing the locale. Once you set off on your journey, some nice overworld tones will make you feel like you’re trekking along in a fantasy realm.
Fighting can be surprisingly fun
At the end of the day you are just sitting round a table, but if you’ve created a character which you’re trying to inhabit, combat in DnD can be quite exhilarating, with the threat of death being quite real. I’m almost embarrassed by how much satisfaction I felt when I took off half a demon’s face with my warhammer, while my companion lobbed a javelin through an orc’s throat.
You never know what might happen
To be honest, while your group may set off with an established goal in mind, anything can happen in the game world to put paid to it. For example, we were sidetracked on our quest to deal with goblin incursions when our wizard (and regular Clubbers of the Week star) decided to kill a member of a circus troupe whose show we were watching while en route, which caused a slight ruckus and presented several other avenues of exploration.
This may all sound terribly sad to the uninitiated, but it simply takes a bit of getting used to. If people can watch Lord of the Rings or play an Elder Scrolls game, why can’t they play DnD? The only difference is having a bit more agency and using your imagination. We don’t all have to attend Sunday Swords to slay trolls.