D&D at your local library

Hi everyone! Julia from Jackson County Public Library here with my first blog for Shelf Life of the Mountains.

For this first post I had originally thought to write about ghost writing, comparing and contrasting it to best selling writers that use co-authors, such as James Patterson.  I quickly realized that the content was well… boring. After lamenting to my coworkers about my blog that was going nowhere, Tony Romine, Library Assistant II and JCPL wizard, suggested I type up what I bombard him with every Tuesday – unsolicited updates on the Dungeons and Dragons campaign I participate in every Monday night.

I know what some of you may be thinking- “D&D? Isn’t that some geeky game that died in the 1980’s?” Well, no. The game, created in 1974, is a high-fantasy storytelling and role-playing game that is actually gaining popularity after the game’s 5th Edition rule books were released in 2014. In fact several actors, including Vin DieselDrew Barrymore and Terry Crews, are self proclaimed D&D players.

Interested in D&D’s origins? Check out this graphic novel available at Jackson County Public    Library.                              Rise of the Dungeon Master

Here at Jackson, we even have a group of highly hip home schooled teenagers who reserve one of our rooms once a week to host their group’s D&D campaign.

So why the resurgence? Well, though I am no expert, here is my theory. Dungeons and Dragons provide opportunities to dive into magic, battles, and world building in ways similar to popular RPG video games, such as Skyrim, Witcher and Dragon Age. However, in D&D you are afforded almost unlimited control in who your character is, what she/he does and even where you would like your story to go.

Truly, only three things limit you in D&D:

  1. Your Dungeon master, or DM, she/he is the one who controls the story. Do not anger the DM. (Or anger them, and face the consequences.)
  2. The fellow members of your party, or those who play the game with you. 
  3. How well you can roll a twenty-sided die commonly referred to as a D20.

Take my own campaign for example: Five friends and I sit around a table every Monday, with ample snacks, and spend hours in a universe where the whole world exists on a massive tree. My companions and I were magically transported there (as you do) and are what the natives refer to as “Fruitborn”- a group of prophesied heroes. A blight is slowly taking over the tree killing branches, which are the size of countries, and bringing all sorts of nasty monsters into a previously peaceful realm. (We are talking wights, firey ghouls, and giant spiders that teleport.) The group and I must figure out what is causing the blight, and how to stop it by fighting these monsters and learning the history of this world we suddenly appeared into.

That is only the beginning of it. Fire is banned everywhere (which seems logical seeing as everything is made of wood or some sort of foliage).  Dragoons: humanoid dragon people, find anyone who can wield fire magic and lock them away. However, there is also a super sneaky magic user who is concocting a plot that our party is just now beginning to uncover.

This super sneaky magic user tricked us into breaking into the Dragoons’ prison to assassinate a fire mage, who we recklessly decided to rescue along with about five other mages. We may have also accidentally burned the building to the ground… So, we are technically fugitives.

Is this fire mage connected to the Great Tree’s disease? Why did she want us to kill this person? Why does she have the same face as one of the women we rescued? SO MANY QUESTIONS- and only by playing do we figure it all out.

“Well what if I hate this world, and don’t want to have to play a game on a giant tree?” – No problem. This isn’t the only story you can play, that’s the beauty of this game; you can play any story in any realm that would interest you. It’s all up to you.

Interested in playing?

Image result for dungeons and dragons

Awesome! If you’re into games where you have to work as a team, and appreciate the thrills of high fantasy then it’s definitely a game for you.

The campaign I am currently a part of is my first experience with D&D, and I will admit there is a learning curve. You really have to put in some time, especially in the beginning, to get acquainted with the rules.

Luckily, the creators of the game print books that break down everything. As I mentioned before, the fifth edition is the most updated version, and the one I personally utilize. That doesn’t mean that the other versions are obsolete! It just means two campaigns playing with different versions won’t look exactly the same, and the game play will be different. I know a group who prefers the 3.5 edition, and chooses to play under those guidelines, again it’s really whatever your group decides.

The most important book for party members would be the Player’s Handbook. For our lovely readers who are Fontana Regional Library patrons, NC Cardinal does have 13 copies of the fifth edition rule book available.

Fifth Edition Player’s Handbook

The other editions are more widely spread throughout the system as well, including Third Edition, 3.5 and Fourth Edition.

Now, this player’s handbook will cover everything you need to know about creating and playing a believable character, including interacting with the world the Dungeon Master, or DM, builds and fighting monsters with your character’s particular class and type.

Another great book, though totally unnecessary, that I would recommend having a glance over is Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. While the Player’s handbook will tell you everything you need to know, Xanathar’s Guide will show you really cool, not completely vital, tips and tricks that you can use to enhance and personalize your character.

For example, my character, a sorceress, has all of the spells listed for my class in the Player’s Handbook. However, there are a couple of really cool exclusive spells in the Xanathar’s guide that I personally use each week.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

For brevity’s sake, I’ll wrap this particular post up here. Next time, I’ll talk about the different classes and races you – members of the party – can consider as you begin to create your character. I will also break down the most important member in any person’s campaign- The Dungeon Master.

In the meantime, for any reader who is interested in seeing what a campaign looks like and how D&D is played. I recommend checking out a show called Critical Role through Geek and Sundry. These guys are pros.