Dungeons & Dragons – From the Phoenix’s Ashes

Dungeons & Dragons, commonly referred to as D&D, is a TTRPG (tabletop role-playing game) whose popularity is certainly on the rise. As a matter of fact, according to Forbes, 2018 was the fourth year in a row that D&D sales grew by more than 30%.


There are many possible reasons for this increase in popularity, one of which is the inclusion of D&D in popular media, such as the hit show Stranger Things. Several celebrities have proudly admitted that they play the game, including Stephen Colbert, Vin Diesel, and Kevin Smith. Similar to the previous point, if someone who is idolized by people all over the globe plays D&D, it just makes that celebrity’s fans more eager to experience it for themselves. 


Dungeons and Dragons’ resurgence has partly been caused by the web series, Critical Role, in which a group of prominent voice actors get together and play D&D. According to sophomore and avid D&D player Neil Palmieri, the popularity of this series has “brought D&D into the limelight again.” To Neil, “a dial down in the ‘Satanic Panic’ and overall religious culture in a majority of the world” has made it more socially acceptable to play the game. Critical Role introduces newer players to D&D while making its concepts easier to understand. 


Clearly, there are many external reasons as to why D&D is once again relevant, but what about internal reasons – the game itself? One of the key elements is the new 5th Edition which focuses more on storytelling rather than the mechanics and rules of the game, streamlining them and making it much simpler for anyone to learn the rules. Additionally, many users value the creative freedom available to them with the press of a button. D&D is a game where you can be whatever you want, literally! You could take the traditional route and be a human wizard if you wanted to just get a feel for how the game works or play as a loxodon druid if you wanted to take a more exotic route.


For some people, such as sophomore James Steigerwald, the complexity of D&D serves as a deterrent for their involvement in the game. According to James, he has never played Dungeons and Dragons before because “it seems complicated.” He does, however, think that it’s “a great pastime if you’re really devoted to the game” because it can encourage “bonding with friends.”


Luckily, despite any preconceived notions about the difficulty of D&D, if you’re interested in giving the game a try, getting started is quite simple. There are hundreds of tutorials online; plus, most of the important rulebooks, such as the Players Handbook (PHB), are easily found online as free PDFs. No expensive equipment or figurines are required, although they are definitely optional. Most of the important rulebooks, such as the Players Handbook (PHB), are easily found online as free PDFs. In D&D, you roleplay and act as how the character you created would react to certain events, not yourself. This makes the game unpredictable, even for the Dungeon Master whose job is to plan out the sessions, create the story, monster encounters, etc. This makes the bounds of the game near-limitless, and as shown by its surge in popularity, millions of people around the world appreciate that.