Dungeons & Dragons, a great game to try this winter

If you have never played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), allow me to give you the rundown. Dungeons and Dragons is essentially guided make-believe. Players use their imaginations and instincts to explore the world around them, which is created by a “Dungeon Master” (DM). Everyone besides the Dungeon Master is a character in that fictional world and can interact with it in whatever way they see fit.

Take this scenario, for example: The Rhemoraz before you raises its head, its snake-like hood rippling in anticipation of its next meal, the spikes along its spine glowing bright red. It strategically places its long body in an attempt to use it as a corral and releases a high-pitched screech, its blue, insect-like maw darting at you like a bolt of lightning. Everything that has transpired in the past several hours flashes through your mind. It has come down to you.

You react to the attack, combat rolling to the perfect position for an attack of your own. Fortune smiles on you, and the Rhemoraz’s attack misses. Now, you move in for the attack, and roll your dice. A success could mean the difference between surviving this night and losing everything. It’s a critical hit. Springing into action, you perform moves only seen in the best of action films, and a heavy-handed swing of your blade vanquishes the monster. Everyone sits back and puts down their dice, sighing in relief with some smiles showing here and there from what you all just accomplished. This adventure will come to a close soon, but there are more quests on the horizon.

The game’s rules give it structure, such as movement and combat, and the success of a player’s actions depends on the roll of a dice. Sometimes the game can be quite fantastical, but other times very relatable. After a hard-fought battle, it is common for players to want to take some time to heal up. The same could be said of students at the end of a semester. It is almost that time for us here at Valpo. There are finals still to be taken and grades yet to be made, but we are definitely in the home stretch now. That means it is almost time to relax and recuperate before next semester, so I would take this opportunity to pose a question to all students and staff directly. What are you going to do to “heal up?”

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, was the first to develop play theory, and studies have shown D&D to have those same therapeutic qualities for adults. Those who already play can attest to this. Not only does it present players with scenarios in which they can escape the confines of our reality by using their imaginations, it simultaneously puts players in situations that allow them to explore their motivations and feelings in a low-risk, safe manner. Get that frustration out because to be relaxed and comfortable with oneself is invaluable, and we all know how our classes can stress and strain our emotions. By playing a game that allows us to express ourselves in another world, we can rise above the things that drag us down in our own world. That’s what makes Dungeons and Dragons the perfect game to play over break.

If you haven’t tried D&D, I highly recommend it. If I had to choose two tips to give first-time players, it would be the following. First, watch the veterans in your party. D&D can be pretty violent, and, just like in movies and books, characters can die. It’s never fun when your first character dies before you really get to explore who they are. Second and most importantly, have a good time. Make a spontaneous decision every once in a while. Sometimes you can catch the DM off guard, and that’s when things really get fun.

Now, there’s a decent-sized player base on campus, so finding someone who can point you in the right direction shouldn’t be too hard if you’re interested. Just ask around. Most D&D players I know are more than happy to talk about it, and who knows? You may just meet someone who will turn into a friend for life. There’s no find in any monster’s lair, imagined or real, that could compare to such a treasure. I hope everyone has a great winter break.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.

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