Dungeons and Dragons: Friends and foes in a fantastical world

Scattered across Calgary, many dedicated gamers and fantasy lovers alike regularly gather together to explore their imagination playing Dungeons and Dragons.

Before technology took over the populous, people who loved fantasy and role play didn’t have any option in regards to gaming.

That is why in 1969, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson decided to introduce the game.

The main goal of D&D is storytelling. This interactive display of imagination allows friends to create scenarios that both challenge its players and bring them together as a team.

Red Sheil, an avid player says, “My favourite part of the game is how interactive it is. You make your character, and the more you play, the stronger your character gets.

“It’s a nice escape from your daily reality, and it’s fun to play with your friends.”

Each game can last from an hour to six hours, depending on the intricacy of the quest.

Every game also has a team member that is neither friend nor foe, called the Dungeon Master.

The Dungeon Master creates the quests, brings up challenges to the players, and guides them in finding treasure and creatures that can help move the game forward.

Nick Hale, the Dungeon Master for many different groups, says that this game is great for the mind.

“It’s challenging for the DM to be able to create a story both interesting and accessible for all kinds of characters,” Hale said

“Each character has weaknesses and strengths and they all vary. Trying to get everyone to be on the same page is challenging, but it’s good for my mind,” Hale said.

Stranger Things, a Netflix TV series that follows a story of young boys trapped in the “Upside Down,” features this game in every episode.

Subsequently, since the media frenzy over the show, Dungeons and Dragons members have seen a huge influx of new players.

Andrew Vervena, a frequent player at Sentry Box in Calgary, said, “Before the show came out we’d have normally one or two new players in our midst per month. But lately I would say one or two new players per game night.”

Tournaments happen monthly at Sentry Box Cards, and members from all over the city attend to show off their characters, or watch their friends kick some butt with their little figurines.

“I love being able to be someone else for a while. It’s fun because I know in real life I wouldn’t be able to command trees and plants, or summon a fireball against my enemies. I can be whoever I want to be,” Vervena said.

Perhaps that is why this game is so widely popular. It seems that most players value the creativity involved before anything else.

“It’s funny nowadays because even 10 years ago if you played D&D you were considered a nerd, or an outcast. But it’s changing for the better. Now people are eager to try it out without being worried they will be ostracized. Nerds are the new cool,” Hale said.

For over 40 years the game has seen a roller-coaster ride in terms of the number of players.

Gamers are hopeful the numbers keep rising, as the more people that want to play, the better the games.

Nick Hale shows off his Dungeon and Dragons book during an in-house tournament in Calgary on Feb. 4. Hale is a Dungeon Master, which means it is his responsibility to ensure the fairness and challenges the players will have to face. (Photo by Amanda Stanford/The Press)



About Amanda Stanford 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Amanda Stanford worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.