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  • This is me.

  • And these are some of my co-workers.

  • Tonight, we're on an epic adventure,

  • defending a village from an army of dog monsters

  • and trying not to get ourselves killed.

  • Welcome to the magical world

  • of Dungeons & Dragons,

  • the best game I've ever played.

  • Chapter 1: What the f*ck is D&D?

  • D&D is a tabletop role-playing fantasy game.

  • You and your friends sit around a table

  • and pretend to be heroes going on an epic adventure together.

  • This is a role-playing game.

  • It takes place entirely in our collective imagination.

  • Every D&D game is run by a DM -- Dungeon Master.

  • You arrive at a small village on the outskirts of the forest.

  • The villagers watch you nervously as you enter.

  • They seem tired, worried.

  • The DM is the main storyteller in D&D.

  • They create and describe the adventure the heroes go on,

  • giving them goals to accomplish

  • and rewards to motivate them.

  • The mayor of this town wants someone

  • to investigate strange sounds coming from a nearby abandoned mine.

  • He's offering a thousand gold pieces to anyone

  • brave enough to take the job.

  • And while it might look like the heroes and DM

  • are playing against each other,

  • they're actually playing with each other.

  • The goal of D&D isn't to kill the other players.

  • There's actually no winning in D&D.

  • The goal is to hang out with your friends and

  • act like weirdos together.

  • So the DM's job is to create an adventure that's

  • exciting, fun, and challenging,

  • and the heroes' job is to work together to survive

  • those challenges and explore the world the DM has created.

  • Which brings me to my favorite part of D&D.

  • Chapter 2: Creating A Hero.

  • Before you can start adventuring in D&D,

  • you need to create your very own hero.

  • Using the D&D handbook, you pick a race:

  • human, elf, dwarf, etc.

  • And you pick a class, basically your job:

  • fighter, wizard, rogue.

  • I play Amelia human warlock.

  • Oneshoe, rock gnome sorcerer.

  • I play Isla, druid elf.

  • Harriet, tiefling rogue.

  • Blaze, dragonborn paladin.

  • Once you've decided what you want to be,

  • you fill out one of these bad boys, a character sheet,

  • which is just a piece of paper that keeps track of

  • your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Stuff like that.

  • That character sheet is important,

  • but way more important is what makes your hero unique.

  • Deciding what your hero looks like:

  • she has a septum piercing, violet eyes.

  • She looks like a devil,

  • like a fun devil.

  • Think about Predator.

  • Think Predator in your mind.

  • How they dress: big sorcerer floppy hat on.

  • A rotting werewolf pelt.

  • She doesn't wear a lot of clothing.

  • And whatever little quirks make them stand out:

  • I hand out pamphlets like a Jehovah's Witness.

  • I carry a warhammer that's as big as my body.

  • I have a demonic imp who follows me around.

  • And what's her name?

  • Mother Teresa.

  • You also create a motivation for your hero,

  • something that calls them to adventure.

  • It can be as lofty as rooting out evil doers

  • or as simple as

  • getting treasure.

  • Once you've decided who you'll be,

  • the DM weaves your stories together and you start playing.

  • You pass through the dark entryway of the abandoned mine.

  • The passageway is narrow.

  • Suddenly you see a dark figure in the corner.

  • And you keep playing for a long, long time.

  • Playing D&D.

  • I know it seems really complicated,

  • and this thickass rulebook doesn't help.

  • But, at its core, all of D&D is just three steps:

  • describe, decide, roll.

  • The DM describes what's happening:

  • in the corner of the mineshaft you find a sleeping goblin.

  • He's lying down on a pile of coins.

  • He doesn't seem to have noticed you.

  • What do you do?

  • The heroes decide what they want to do:

  • I want to steal the coins.

  • Excellent.

  • And then the player rolls one of these:

  • a 20-sided dice.

  • Is it dice or die?

  • I don't know.

  • Singular of dice.

  • Historically, dice is the plural of die.

  • Die is singular, you're right.

  • I'm going to try it again from earlier on.

  • And then, the player rolls one of these,

  • a 20-sided die,

  • to find out if they succeeded or failed.

  • The higher you roll, the better.

  • I rolled a 2.

  • Not good.

  • While sneaking, you knock over a pile of rocks

  • and the goblin shoots up wide awake.

  • Then, the cycle starts over.

  • The goblin grabs his club, looks at you

  • and yells "INTRUDER!"

  • What do you do?

  • That's D&D in a nutshell.

  • And it's that second step, "decide,"

  • that makes the game so special.

  • In most games, how you play is limited

  • by the options the game designers give you.

  • Run this direction.

  • Fight this thing.

  • Save this princess.

  • Essentially being railroaded down a story

  • that someone else wrote for you.

  • In D&D, what you do is totally up to you.

  • Maybe you panic and try to run away.

  • Maybe you draw your weapon and prepare to fight.

  • Or maybe you try to trick the goblin.

  • Okay, I look at the goblin and I say "we come in peace, as friends!"

  • 17?

  • The goblin lowers his club, raises his eyebrow,

  • and says "friends?"

  • The DM sets the stage,

  • but once the game starts,

  • no one person controls where the story goes.

  • Session after session,

  • the DM builds an adventure that

  • reflects the heroes choices.

  • That goblin you tricked last week might tell you

  • about a dragon's lair nearby.

  • That dragon's lair may contain a valuable treasure

  • you can steal.

  • And stealing that treasure might attract the attention

  • of an evil wizard who wants to use it for his own schemes.

  • As the game goes on,

  • the decisions you make will shape the world you play in.

  • We won a karaoke competition.

  • Closed a rift to the Nine Hells.

  • We were slaughtering this band of peasants.

  • It was a total, like, misunderstanding.

  • D&D doesn't just give you the freedom to choose,

  • it asks you to own those choices.

  • Before long you might find yourself thinking less like you

  • and more like the hero you're trying to be.

  • Roleplaying.

  • All of us are roleplayers.

  • We go through our lives playing different parts

  • for the people around us.

  • Some we get to choose.

  • Video producer.

  • Podcaster.

  • Co-worker.

  • Some, we have no control over.

  • Black.

  • Female.

  • Queer.

  • Even with our friends, we can fall into patterns of behavior

  • that eventually become expectations.

  • The wisecracker.

  • The cool girl.

  • The shy one.

  • Roles we're so used to playing

  • we don't even think of them as roles anymore.

  • They're just us.

  • D&D gives you permission to be something different.

  • To surprise yourself.

  • And that can be really scary.

  • When you do something in D&D,

  • We come in peace!

  • you're trusting everyone at the table to take you seriously.

  • And you're trusting the other players to have your back.

  • I pull a flower out of my hair,

  • hand it to him and give him a wink.

  • I produce tiny rainbow over Harriet's head?

  • Mother Teresa does her best goblin impression and says

  • "it's cool, they're with me."

  • 16.

  • 18.

  • Natural 20.

  • The goblin looks at you more relaxed and says

  • "FRIENDS!"

  • That shared vulnerability is what makes D&D different

  • from any other game you play with your friends.

  • We can spend our whole lives wandering alone

  • through the corridors of our minds.

  • D&D asks you to wander together.

  • To believe, for just a few hours,

  • that there is more to us than what meets the eye.

  • More silliness.

  • More warmth.

  • More bravery.

  • And yeah, just a little more magic.

  • Should you play D&D?

  • D&D is ridiculous.

  • But when I ask my friends why they play D&D,

  • they don't talk about the monsters or the dungeons.

  • They talk about how the game makes them feel.

  • It just feels so freeing.

  • I'm not thinking about, you know,

  • I have to do this tomorrow or I need to take care of this at home.

  • It just kind of, like, brings your inner child back out.

  • Nobody makes fun of anybody.

  • Nobody feels self-conscious about it.

  • The older that you get,

  • the more expectations people have of you.

  • D&D, there aren't any expectations.

  • I can just be free.

  • I feel like the rest of the world doesn't matter,

  • like, I'm always super stoked to play.

  • It's like a fun, really creative way to connect with each other.

  • It's made us really grow closer.

  • The way that you look at the people you were

  • just playing with is really different than other people

  • in the real world because you've engaged in something

  • so collaborative and imagined together.

  • The point of D&D is obviously, like, adventures and

  • "oh we're world-building together!"

  • But the real point of D&D is, like,

  • you're in this bubble with these people

  • and you're entirely focused on each other

  • and remembering all the reasons that you like

  • spending time with their characters but also

  • spending time with them as human beings.

  • If you look past the wizards,

  • past the dungeons and magical creatures,

  • D&D is a game about the people you play with.

  • A game where everyone agrees to bring their weirdness

  • and creativity to the table.

  • Byrd, not now.

  • To help build a world that belongs to all of you.

  • A world shaped by your triumphs, your defeats,

  • your personality quirks, and your stupid inside jokes.

  • A world that could not have existed

  • if you and your friends hadn't sat down

  • at a table one day and said

  • "let's play."

  • Believe it or not, this video is not sponsored by D&D.

  • We're just huge nerds.

  • But if you're interested in playing,

  • you should check out the D&D starter set.

  • It comes with a premade campaign, character sheets,

  • a mini rulebook, and dice.

  • And if you're interested in seeing more videos about games,

  • check out our sister site Polygon.

  • They have this cool new series called Fiend Zone

  • which talks about how games shape and reflect our culture.

  • Killed it that time.

  • That's a wrap baby.

This is me.