Dungeons and Dragons

Debunking Dungeons and Dragons: Stereotypes and Misconceptions

A Brief Explanation Of Dungeons and Dragons:

Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop fantasy role-playing game that was first published in 1974. The game was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the 1971 game Chainmail serving as the initial rule system. D&D’s publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.


D&D – Dungeons and Dragons

DM – Dungeon Master

Most people will know that the most common stereotype about the people who play D&D is that they are social outcasts, that still live with their parents and dwell in basements. This stereotype has waned in recent years with the help of such media as; Stanger Things and Critical Role. But there are still many misconceptions about the game and the people who play it. I hope that I will be able to debunk some of those misconceptions in this article.

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Joe Manganiello and the cast of Critical Role | Credit; NBC News/Mat Hayward / Getty Images for Dungeons and Dragons

A common fear amongst new players, or people interested in playing D&D for the first time, is that they need an in-depth knowledge of the races, classes, spells, and greater lore of the game. This is not true. Yes, it will help you in character creation, if you have some knowledge of the game, but it will not hinder you if you don’t. D&D is supposed to be a learning experience and part of the fun for me was learning as I went, with no outside influence about the world of Dungeons and Dragons. I was able to discover my favorite races and classes through my own research, and my favorite spells and weapons from playing the game.

While media such as Stranger Things, The Big Bang Theory, and Critical Role have helped in diminishing the prejudice around D&D, they have also inadvertently caused misconceptions about the game too. Because of these shows, a lot of people now assume that in order to play D&D you need to dress up, alter your voice, have acting skills, and have a tight-knit group of like-minded friends to play with.

Now, none of these things are wrong as there are people that do play like this, but it is not a requirement. Most D&D groups don’t dress up, nor do they change their voice or overact while playing, as a majority of people find that difficult to do and your DM shouldn’t expect that of any of their players; of course it will make starting a campaign (game) easier with close-knit friends, again it is not a necessity.

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Credit; BBC News

There are many comic book shops that hold campaigns, online groups, and clubs that play, you only need to look for them or ask around for them. In fact, in my first campaign, I knew two people out of a group of eight, and one of them was the DM. But I got to know everyone well and enjoyed my time playing with them, I also believe that, at least for me, that playing with people I didn’t know for the first time was easier because I didn’t feel as though I needed to meet expectations, but that is just my own experience.

The biggest misconception that has come from recent media about D&D is that a DM must have a detailed, elaborate world and lore ready for their campaign, must know this information like the back of their hand, and be able to answer any absurdly specific questions about said world. Or that players must provide a novella’s worth of backstory for their character because ‘it makes it easier for the DM’. These things are just not true, at all. However a DM wants to run their campaign, is completely up to them. In fact, the D&D ‘rule book’ states that they are less rules and more guidelines so that players can alter certain aspects to make them more comfortable.

Stranger Things | Credit; BBC News/Netflix

Most people I know that have DMed campaigns start with a vague storyline and world and expand on that week by week depending on what their party (players) do. There are also many ‘canon’ campaigns that have been put into various books so that you don’t have to create a story or world if you don’t want to.

In terms of player backstories, some DM’s would probably find it helpful for some backstory, but that doesn’t mean you have to write an entire character history. A brief summary about who your character is, where they are from, and what they are hoping to achieve will usually suffice. Sites like dndbeyond.com have helpful character builders that will assist you in making a backstory for your character if you find yourself struggling.

D&D is a fantastic game, it’s a creative outlet and a great way to socialize. I would encourage anyone interested in fantasy games, books, films, and other media to look into D&D, try it out and see if it’s something you enjoy.