Today is a stupendous day, today is the day we celebrate the great heroes of the past, the vast wealth and repour of all the great adventurers over the times. We give thanks to the many slaughtered enemies who gave their lives valiantly for the progression of experience. Yes today we give homage to the countless hours of unexploited fun the great game known only as Dungeons and Dragons has brought so many of us.
What is Dungeons & Dragons? Why is it so popular? And why is it just as popular if not more popular today than when it was initially released?
Well to simply answer the Question of “What is D&D?” is to say that it is Fantasy Table-Top Role-Playing game in which you and a group of friends can get together and complete adventures to acquire fame, fortune and glory. But, if you have ever sat down and played a good game, one that pulls you in and is so captivating you never want it to end. Then you know firsthand that D&D is so much more that just a Basic roleplaying game.
In 1972 Dave would travel with good friend David Megarry to meet with Gary Gygax. Initially Dave thought that Gary would be more interested in Davids board game Dungeon over playing a game of Blackmoor but much to his surprise Gary insisted they play around and ultimately fell in love creating his own world to play in called Greyhawk. Gary and Dave would continue to stay in contact collaborating together to create the game of Dungeons and Dragons.
The concept of D&D as we know it started with a man named David Lance Arneson. Dave was introduced to Wargaming as a teenager when his parents bought him a copy of Gettysburg by Avalon Hill. This would be the game that sparked the creation of the systems used today to play Table-Top Role-Playing games. After Dave learned to play the game he began to make his own rules and design his own style of games he could play out with his friends. This would be where that idea of having players create individual characters and having a referee between players and the consciousness of characters needed for the progression of the story and to develop the story and scenario in which the other characters are playing. Around 1970 Dave would become tired with the Napoleonic style of play that was commonly found in the war games of the time, he had enough with the rigid rule sets and the repetitive and mundane setting of the games. That is when he started working, he says in a 2 day period he filled himself with watching “Creature Feature” on Channel-5, and diving into Conan books of which he cannot remember. He used a lot of the rule mechanics that Chainmail did but after several play tests he decided to make his own versions that suited his form of game play. Through all of this Blackmoor was created, it was a place inhabited by unimaginable monsters where adventures could quest for rewards, fight against massive invading monsters, help towns and villages fend off hordes of evil, or to dungeon crawl beneath the castle of Blackmoor.
Now the journey wasn’t over yet they still needed to get their game out to the public. At the time Dave was not able to financially support the venture, but Gary wanted to push publication fast because of other competing games in the market. They brought the game to Avalon Hill but they denied them but that didn’t hold them back eventually Brian Blume would provide the funding necessary to publish the first edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The first launch consisted of 1000 copies being distributed. All copies sold within the year and paves the way for more modules, supplements and the advancement throughout the game.
So a commonly asked question around the pop culture phenomenon is how did it become so popular and how has it stayed so popular? Well that question is difficult to answer there have been so many changes over the years to the core mechanics, the game has grown to incorporate so much from fantasy and Science fiction culture, that it’s like an ever changing entity. But, looking at it from the base mechanic of the game is where I think you find this answer.
I think that for a lot of people D&D became an outlet. It became a place of haven were outcasts and seemingly nobodies could be seen in a brighter light they could accomplish great feats and be rewarded for them. Its no secret that the majority of early D&D players were seen as being weird, socially awkward, and relatively nerdy compared to their peers, and the game provided them with an outlet were they could be the victor, others could look up to them and no one could make fun of them for the things that made them truly great at the game. Now as the years went on and the game began to develop more content the amount of people playing the game changed and also they types of people playing the game changed. This is were the true magic happened where people who you would never think would play the game began to start and sparked a flame, the game exploded!
When I think about this I think it happened because people are tired of their mundane routines, being told who to be and how to act being told to fit into a box and be like everyone else. Well in D&D these constraints don’t exist you can be who you want to be you can accomplish things by yourself or with others. Yes of course this isn’t real and its all make believe but I don’t think that matters its an escape where for a small portion of time you can truly be who you want to be and I feel every person on this planet deserves to feel that and for those blessed enough to have found that in Dungeons & Dragons i hope you know how truly blessed you are.
So coming to a close I think Dungeons & Dragons has been a pivotal creation this century. Its provided an outlet for people to get together put down the screens and enjoy each others company while exploring terrifying caverns or helping old ladies find there sons. It’s a safe place for people to play out fantasies, become valiant heroes and to be free to be themselves. D&D has also provided the entire nerd community with endless amounts of inspiration that will be utilized for generations to come.