20 SIDED DIE — My dice set for D&D, including the frequently used d20. Losing sets of dice has become a regular habit for me, as this is the third Ive bought.
20 SIDED DIE — My dice set for D&D, including the frequently used d20. Losing sets of dice has become a regular habit for me, as this is the third I’ve bought.
Harry Stine/NW

Opinion — Tabletop RPGs: The nerdy poker night in college

The other week, I was at Iron Golem Games with a friend of mine, where I picked up a rulebook for a tabletop RPG called Mork Borg. Flipping through it, the rulebook looked like a death metal album cover with plenty of rules outlining the ins and outs that go into a game of Mork Borg.

Quick flashback to the rest of my life pre-2022. I had always heard about Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) and other tabletop roleplaying games and thought they were the nerdiest, lamest thing imaginable. In my mind, you could just as easily sit down in front of your console of choice and play an equally nerdy video game, although complete with high-definition graphics and voice acting. Whereas D&D looked like some weird nerd thing where you rolled dice to see if you were allowed to describe a fireball to your pimply friends. 

Then about a year ago, I joined my friend’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign. It was a homebrew, so he created the story and characters himself, without the help of prepared adventures. During the game, I listened to dark ambient beats from my favorite artists, setting a spooky dark fantasy atmosphere, reminiscent of nerd stuff I liked, such as horror movies or anime like Berserk.

I was quickly hooked. I realized that the game was not watching your friend’s attempt to describe a video game, but more of an in-depth cooperative game that had a dash of amateur theater mixed in. I was soon very excited for Sunday nights, when we would meet over a Discord call to have our ragtag team explore abandoned cathedrals, hunt monsters and bicker amongst ourselves. 

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One of the core things that has kept my (many other) D&D groups going is that it acts as a fun group activity with your friends that can be done on a regular basis. Think poker night for people who have seen “The Lord of the Rings” extended cuts. I think that is why it is especially fun in college, when you need something to get away from the stress of exams, papers and working multiple jobs. It is not surprising that 24% of people who play D&D are between the ages of 20-24, according to a 2020 study

On top of that, as a journalism major and someone who writes in their free time, it gives me a fun way to exercise character writing, especially personality and proper use of motivation. I would not be surprised if that has affected the way I organize information to write an article. 

Do not get me wrong, stuff like D&D is for dorks. If you are not a dork, you might not enjoy stuff like this. But if you are looking for something to do with your friends that is cheaper than the bar and features less screen time than video games or movies, there are worse things you could do. Especially if you have a knack for character, whether that be writing one or putting on one.

Cut back to the present day, I brought the Mork Borg rulebook to the counter and let my debit card unload $30 towards it. Later at work, I was writing a Mork Borg homebrew campaign on break when my coworker asked about it, leading to some of the harshest roasting I have felt since admitting I watched the first six seasons of “Doctor Who” in middle school.

This stuff is for dorks, and I am a dork. If you are good at hiding how lame you are, you will have a lot of fun with D&D. If you are not, you still will, but you will definitely have to sacrifice the respect of your peers as well. Otherwise, meeting up with friends every week or so to describe your often ineffective group of adventures makes for a pretty fun way to pass the time.

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