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With hanging out canceled, playing Dungeons & Dragons online is a respite in these trying times

This is going to be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever written, and I write about Animal Crossing like once a week. 

Dungeons and dragons dice and keyboard
Image: Josiah Motley / KnowTechie

I’m relatively new to the world of Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve been in a bi-weekly campaign for about six months now and am just now starting to feel comfortable with many of the rules and things that dictate how the game is played.

Sadly, right as the campaign was starting to get into the main story, the coronavirus hit the US, abruptly stopping our on-going game. While that is (selfishly) a bummer to be sure, there has been a silver lining and that has been in the form of a new group of players and the introduction to Roll20, an online resource that has made D&D not only extremely accessible but possibly more enjoyable than the actual tabletop experience.

I will admit that the lockdowns have hit me harder than expected. I have worked from home for years, so not much has changed on that front, but damn if I didn’t like going to one or two places during the week. I also enjoy laughter, something that filled our in-person D&D sessions. While there will always be something different about physically spending time with people, playing with this new group has helped with some of that.

And that’s something we probably all need a bit more of right now. While many of us are holding it together, the state of our country and world is definitely dragging me down more than I realize and the escapism brought forward by D&D is hard to replicate in other “traditional” video games. Our game DM, Stuart (CasualTerror) told me recently, “D&D is a great way to escape the four walls that everyone has been stuck in these past couple months and be someone else for a couple hours,” and I couldn’t agree more.

This online game has also given me a chance to connect with old friends and I have been extremely thankful for that. A friend from my college days, Adam, has joined our game and it’s been great catching up with him. It also makes me regret not embracing more of my nerdiness when I was younger, but that’s a thought for another article. Adam is also digging the online experience, telling me that it’s “definitely a nice break from the craziness of real life right now. I’ll take goblins and orcs over the Karens and toilet paper hoarders I meet at work, any day.”

Amen to that.

Don’t be intimidated by playing Dungeons & Dragons through something like Roll20

Dnd roll20

Image: Josiah Motley / KnowTechie

Prior to this online campaign, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of using an online resource to play Dungeons & Dragons, but those worries were erased within minutes of loading up the web application. It has truly been a treat, and if you have been on the fence about playing D&D, this may be the perfect time to find an online game as you spend more time at home. So much of the work is done from you, from help with character creation and leveling up to uploading campaigns to play.

The service definitely removes some of the barriers that originally made me hesitant to start playing and I imagine it would do the same for many likeminded individuals.

Our DM, Stuart, has seriously made this experience a memorable one, adding music for different maps, sound effects, and even voice modulators to make each non-playable character come to life. Using technology has also made the games more dynamic, allowing things like lighting and languages to be a dynamic experience for each player. Find you a DM like Stuart, you won’t regret it.

If this all seems too intimidating, don’t worry, there are plenty of resources you can watch to learn about Roll20 (with basic accounts being free), or if you need a group, there are subreddits out there that can help you find a group of likeminded adventures.

At the end of the day, Dungeons and Dragons is about comradery, it’s about getting together with friends (physically or digitally), laughing, and slaying monsters and crushing White Claws (ok, that was once and it was terrible) and right now, we could all probably do with a little bit more of all of that.

What do you think? Do you play Dungeons and Dragons? Are you interested in playing in an online campaign? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Former KnowTechie editor.

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