While Dungeons and Dragons has connotations of being a game for nerds (and maybe rightfully so), this role-playing game can help us get through the pandemic. With video chats, cellphones, and instant messages, there are numerous ways to socialize during isolation, but working from home and trying that new recipe seem to be our biggest talking points during COVID-19. So what can you do when you want to spend quality time with your friends and loved ones? That’s where Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) comes in.
The game allows you to escape reality and create new worlds to explore in the comfort of your own home—in person or remotely. In D&D, there is no COVID-19, there is no working from home, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to dine in (plus some goblins to kill). The stories that arise from great D&D campaigns, the thrill you feel when your fate hands on a roll of a dice, and the friendships that are built along the way make the game worth the hype. It’s exciting, adventurous, and it’s what we need to make life more interesting in these mundane and uncertain days.
Players to take on roles of adventurers, from wizard elves to human fighters and everything in between. Get a group of friends who want to share time together and are interested in telling a story. In D&D, you create a character that is a certain race (such as a half-orc, gnome, or dwarf) and a class (such as a sorcerer, paladin, bard, or ranger). Then you create a backstory for your character. Are they a young elf trying to break away from their family traditions and make a name for themselves? Are they a retired gnome wanting to settle down but just can’t thanks to their old boss constantly bothering them? This is where you can get really creative, but if you’re struggling, don’t worry. You’ll get a feel for who you want your character to be as the game goes on.
One person in the group has to the Dungeon Master. They create the story and narrate where your group is, what they see, and who they interact with. (Although they don’t have one set character like the rest of the party, they have more than enough role-playing opportunities.) Stories can be inspired from a book you’ve read, a show you’ve watched, or completely original. There are also pre-built campaigns for people who want to play without the stress of building their own world, like Lost Mine of Phandelver, which is about a party searching for a missing dwarf. It is a great introduction to role-playing, fighting, and the world of D&D.
Playing D&D is easy: the most common version is the 5th Edition, whose rules are laid out simply in books and online. Other common versions include Pathfinder and Edition 3.5. No matter which you choose, the basic game is the same. Players describe their actions and what they want to do and explore. You can retrieve relics, fight dragons, and so much more. All you need is your imagination. The game can be done online or in person, and depending on how you play, it can be completely free.
There are multiple platforms people use to play remotely, most notably a website called Roll20. Once you set up an account, you can create a map where you can move your characters around. There is a dice roller on the site, along with other resources to aid in playing the game. The information to build characters and play the game can be found in various online PDFs and websites such as the Dungeons and Dragons website or Roll20’s compendium. Video or audio chat help see your group, talk to them, and be social while playing the game. Other resources for playing online include Wizards of the Coast’s tips for playing remotely and the communication site Discord.
Being social during isolation is hard but important. If you find yourself running out of things to talk about, try your hand at Dungeons and Dragons. At first it can be intimidating, but soon you realize it is just a group of friends coming together to tell a story. Dungeons and Dragons is a perfect way to put a little bit of adventure in your life.
For More Game Nights…
If Dungeons and Dragons is not your thing, try these other games that you can play online:
- Cards Against Humanity (called Remote Insensitivity on this site) and more card games are always popular ways to pass time.
- Jackbox Games are hilarious and creative paid games played on your phone with others on a shared screen.
- Tabletopia has a large selection of board games you can play online with friends, strangers, or alone if you so choose.
- And if you do end up watching Netflix, you don’t have to watch alone! The Netflix Party extension lets friends watch the same show or movie on Netflix and share their reactions. Check out Minnesota Monthly’s recommendations here.