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Happy 40th birthday to Dungeons and Dragons, Mary Hamilton | The Guardian

Stashed in: Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones!, LEGOS!!!, Dragons!, Gamers!

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At its best, D&D is amateur dramatics crossed with fantasy fiction, created collaboratively among a group of friends. It’s a superb hobby for creative types who enjoy both systems and stories, who have the confidence and wit to respond quickly to unexpected things, who can give and take and negotiate time in the spotlight, who enjoy puzzles and the process of exploring a character, an environment or a scenario.

At its worst, it’s hours and hours of casting Magic Missile against goblins, rattling dice for every choice, and looking up complicated grapple rules because no one can ever remember what happens when you try to actually grab a monster. If the wizard can’t remember what spells they have, the rogue is playing Candy Crush on their phone and the games master can’t plot their way out of a wet paper bag, then chances are it’s not going to be a fun afternoon for anyone.

The core of tabletop games is always the other players. In the wake of D&D’s popularity, games have been designed to tell simple or complicated stories, with different emphases on setting, chance, improvisation or achievement. But every system is only as good or as bad as the people you play with. At its core, like every social hobby, it’s all about people.

So pretending to be a mildly psychic biker with a flamethrower for four hours in a custom game of Cyberpunk 2020 was, it turned out, the perfect way to make friends. As with sports and other social hobbies, playing together is a superb icebreaker, andan excellent way to introduce yourself to folks with whom you share at least one interest. It’s also a great way to feel welcome in a strange place; there’s something very comforting about shared jargon, shared cultural experiences, and those are hard to find 10,000 miles away from home.

Dungeons and Dragons was the bridge between the Tolkien books and the Tolkien movies.

They set the stage for Game of Thrones to be able to happen, too.

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