The Surprising Popularity of Dungeons & Dragons at WA

Dungeons and Dragons, known more commonly amongst its players as D&D, was created in 1974 by American game designers Ernest Gray Gygax and David Areson. The fantasy and roleplaying game has become one of the most popular games of its genre over the years. Though D&D was popular early after its creation, the game’s story is continued forward to this day by its players and in popular culture, most recently in  the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, which opens with the main characters playing the game. Although people know about Dungeons and Dragons, many do not understand its qualities or even play. So what exactly is Dungeons and Dragons? 

Dungeons and Dragons is a medieval fantasy game in which multiple players form a group to create a campaign or adventure, led by a single player who assumes the role of the storyteller or Dungeon Master. There is no set limit to what a player can do (unless you roll incorrectly), leading players to manipulate and respond in countless ways to create their own unique gaming experience.

While the Dungeon Master makes up the story, players can design their characters, including race, class, and special skills–though these terms have different meanings in the D&D universe (for example, ‘race’ could include elves; ‘class,’ magicians). The players’ skills and attributes (constitution, strength, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma) determine how effective a character is in performing various types of actions, whether it be climbing a wall to escape, or playing a sweet lullaby to put the guards to sleep. As these actions are performed successfully, points are gained to the corresponding attributes.

Although Dungeons and Dragons is a game, it promotes values and skill, such as strong communication and teamwork. Arguably, the point of Dungeons and Dragons is to work through problems with corresponding players through difficult situations. 

Even though Dungeons and Dragons may seem like a game meant for Friday nights with friends, it stands as one of Worcester Academy’s many clubs. Recently, The Vigornia reached out to Worcester Academy’s very own Dungeons and Dragons club to get their perspective.

“It gives the opportunity to become a different person and do things you never thought of doing in the real world,” says one Dungeons and Dragons member.

When asked about what the game means to them, Owen McCarthy ’21, one of the Dungeon Masters, replied with this: “I really love D&D because it connects fantasy worlds with the real world with the ability to create a single story from imagination. I can write out my own story – I, the Dungeon Master, am almost like a guest author – I am writing most of the story; however, things come up that I would have no idea would happen, so the story is constantly changing – you can try to do anything. If you think of something, you can make it happen. When you make a character, you think of what are the goals, who are they really, and what drives them? You can do this as a character or make an NPC when I am a Dungeon Master. Interestingly, you can explore the world too. The world can be made with anything you make of it, whether you choose to explore it or not.”

WA students interested in trying the game for themselves can contact any member of the D&D club to learn more!

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