“Roll Initiative!” How Dungeons and Dragons cast revivify on itself among the youth in the midst of a global pandemic


Allyson Ingram, Contributor

Upon hearing “Dungeons and Dragons,” you’ll mostly think of basement dwellers and middle aged men, but recently, this is often not the case. In the world today, and especially in the midst of this pandemic, Dungeons and Dragons is becoming more popular than ever with people of all ages. 

Thanks to digital shows like Critical Role, Dimension 20 and The Adventure Zone, people all over the world are becoming exposed to a vast world of storytelling, adventure and magic. Especially teens today.

“Dungeons and Dragons is honestly very fun,” junior Viviana Phan said. “You’re limited to your imagination, basically. It’s roleplay, and I like how it’s fun because with the rules it’s more contained, because there are rules for battle, and you have to play by those rules, which makes- figuring them out and making cool moments in battle or making cool moments in the campaign on the fly- it’s just very cool. I like it. It’s a good escape from reality. It’s just fun.”

Especially in the world today, an escape is just the thing people need. With the game’s heavy roleplay mechanics, and the encouragement to become a character you’ve created, Dungeons and Dragons provides you with just the escape you could want, dragons and magic included. In the game, when creating your character, you’re able to pick a class and a race that will determine how powerful or magical your character is.

“I’m kind of down with any class,” Phan said. “I’ve played rogue, barbarian, a few more. I honestly don’t really have a favorite. I’m leaning more towards bard because I get to have fun writing songs for the bard, but I think my feelings might change.”

A bard, a musical magic user, is a very enticing class to play for people who are fans of theater, music, and just about anything creative. No matter what type of person you are, there is a class out there that you can play and play well. Even if it takes you a while, and your opinions may change, everyone has a class that caters to their liking. Especially when the Dungeon Master introduces homebrew classes, which are classes that they have made themselves to better fit the story.

“I got to have a lot of fun making up my own world, because D&D is like that- Tabletop RPGS are just like that,” Phan said. “You can sort of make up your own rules, but I was still sort of in D&D parameters, it was sort of fun but also stressful because I have to have a satisfying story, but also not be too constricting.”

Being the Dungeon Master is hard work, and not many are up to the challenge. Some prefer to play the game as a player character, while others prefer to take the reigns and spin the story for their friends. Taking on the role of Dungeon Master can be frustrating, but volunteering to host the game for your friends can also be seen as an act of love.

“What’s most fun about D&D is probably getting to hang out with- talk with virtually, and getting to hang out and have fun with friends,” Leander High School junior Ishika Bhasin said.

Amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, seeing friends is discouraged and dangerous. Many groups meet up over Zoom, Discord, Skype, Facetime and many other virtual sources to play some D&D with their friends. It provides a way to keep in touch with your friends while remaining socially distant, and the experience is almost the same, except the chance to throw dice and popcorn at your friends when their character does something stupid.

“I follow this Dungeons and Dragons art account on Insta,” Bhasin said. “But also I was listening to spotify one time and it auto played the theme song to this show called Critical Role, and I was like ‘That sounds interesting, I might give that a try’ but I haven’t actually started it yet.”

As mentioned earlier, shows like Critical Role have been essential in introducing people to D&D. Not only that, platforms like Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, and Discord have massive platforms for people who play, and welcome new players to the fold every day. Within the community are artists, musicians, cosplayers, and sometimes people who just like to sit back and watch these people do their work. All components of the community are vital to drawing in new players, and it’s a wonderful community to be in.

Over the course of the pandemic, Dungeons and Dragons has become more popular than ever thanks to various streaming services and video chat software. No longer does the game belong to the basement dwelling neckbeard. Now, the game belongs to everyone.