We celebrated my boyfriend’s birthday today, but that’s not what makes this date special to millions of gamers around the world. Today marked the 40th anniversary of one of the most recognized dragon-related names around: Dungeons and Dragons, also commonly called by its initials, D&D. On January 26, 1974, the world got its first look at the role-playing game that would be the first to make it big, paving the way for countless expansions, revisions, and spin-offs.
For those who aren’t familiar with the system, Dungeons and Dragons is tabletop role-playing game (RPG). In basic terms, that means that it’s a game where players gather together around a table or other comfortable space to role-play their fantasy characters. Under the direction of the storyteller and game organizer, known in D&D as the Dungeon Master (DM), the party of players will verbally act out adventures together. While adventuring, dungeon-delving, and monster-killing (typically over multiple sessions), characters will use and earn skill points, collect loot, and level up into stronger characters. The game is flexible, with plenty of opportunity for creative story-telling and unique character designs, so it’s no wonder that fantasy-loving, game-loving individuals of all ages find themselves drawn to Dungeons and Dragons.
Not all of D&D’s publicity has been good–because the game has a big spell-casting element to it and included demons and naked human-like creatures in its early monster guides, many religious communities have protested it over the years. If there is a difference between the magic of a fictional world and the spells of witchcraft, they didn’t care to see the difference. Despite such biases and stereotypes, though, the company kept making the game–and fans kept playing it.
I love fantasy stories and games of all sorts, so I’ve cautiously set some of my preconceptions aside to take a stab at D&D and other table-top RPGs. If I’ve enjoyed PC role-playing games like Knights of the Old Republic and the Elder Scrolls games, why not try out one that gets me away from my computer and interacting with other people? My first experiences have been amusing and bumpy at best, and I’ll share a snippet of them with you in my next post. Yes, there will be dragons involved!
Until then, happy birthday, D&D! I may not have given you nearly as much consideration today as I did to a certain man who shares your birthday, but congratulations nonetheless on making it to the big four-zero!