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D&D Thrives On Creativity

Samuel McConnell

Last night I had five friends over to my house. We sat around my table, armed with pencils, paper and 20-sided dice. We were getting ready to play Dungeons and Dragons, the new fifth edition release.

At a very basic level, not much has changed in D&D in the 40 years since its original publication. Each player creates a character of their own design, choosing from a number of races and classes, and then rolling dice to determine the strength, wisdom and other characteristics for their character. In the meantime, at the head of the table, the Dungeon Master leads the story, and plays all the characters that the other players aren’t playing, including the bad guys.

The freedom you have in this game is so much different from anything ever found in a video game. In video games, you’re limited to playing the characters that the game’s writers have created for you, and only experiencing scenarios that they’ve written into the program. D&D, on the other hand, is much more improvisational, and each player can play how they like. Our group now has a half-elf con-artist wizard, an orc war-cleric, a pirate halfling monk, and an elven ranger who got her archery badge from the Girl Scouts.

Any one of us, with the Dungeon Master’s help, can steer the story in an unexpected direction. In that way, Dungeons & Dragons is really an exercise in collaborative storytelling, with the dice-rolling elements just a framework to inject unpredictability. No two D&D campaigns are the same, and that’s my favorite part about it. There are just as many ways to play as there are people to play.