Welcome hipsters, geeks and gamers to the inaugural Hipsters & Dragons post! I’m really excited to launch this blog and share some of my gaming know-how and experience with you guys, and hopefully as well be part of bringing roleplaying (and specifically my favourite roleplaying game – Dungeons & Dragons) to a wider audience.
I first started playing D&D back in the late 80s when I was a small boy (I’m 39 now!) and loved it so much that I carried on playing it right up until adulthood, ie. long after it was socially acceptable to do so. However I did eventually hang up my dice around the time I went to University – mostly through lack of time, but partially at least because playing Dungeons & Dragons wasn’t the kind of association I wanted at college when I was trying (very hard) to be cool and attractive to women.
…playing Dungeons & Dragons wasn’t the kind of association I wanted at college when I was trying (very hard) to be cool and attractive to women.
It’s a shame that roleplaying has such an awkward reputation in this regard, because, as I will no doubt repeat many times in the course of this blog, roleplaying is in fact primarily a social activity. The rules and events of the game are in some ways just a platform for a group of friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company whilst solving the game’s problems, making jokes, acting a little and of course enjoy sharing some food and beers. The elements of make believe and the innumerable rules (which aren’t that important actually) can make things a bit nerdy, but it depends a lot on your group and their approach to the game. The humour and camaraderie is about as nerdy as you are. At any rate if you’re having fun, none of that should matter, and I honestly believe that 90% of people would enjoy some kind of roleplaying game (there are many that exist in real world, historical or sci-fi settings if you hate fantasy) if they gave them enough of a chance and met with the right players who share their style of play.
The good news for secret or ashamed roleplayers out there, as well as curious onlookers, is that Dungeons & Dragons seems to be enjoying a huge renaissance at the moment, making it possibly even more popular than in its 1980s heyday. The game is being repeated referenced in modern culture, such as this episode of Community, in several episodes of Stranger Things, in the IT Crowd and Big Bang Theory, to name but a few. And whilst these references often contain a healthy dose of mockery at some of the peccadillos of the game, they do with a knowing fondness that feels much more of a tribute than a parody of the game. Meanwhile many celebrities are also championing the roleplaying cause (when once you felt they may have stayed shtum) and stars like Vin Diesel, Tim Duncan, Matt Groening, Chris Hardwick, Stephen Colbert and Kevin Smith have all “come out” as gamers. Such is the epic rise of D&D, that in fact I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before roleplaying zones start to make an appearance in zeitgeist-sensitive bars, so that hipsters can roll dice whilst stroking their beers and enjoying a craft beer. I certainly hope that’s gonna happen anyway. It’s got to beat cereal cafes right?
The rules and events of the game are in some ways just a platform for a group of friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company…
This fantastic renaissance has been boosted by the publication of a 5th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons core rulebooks by the brand owners Wizards of the Coast (they bought it from TSR many years ago and also publish Magic The Gathering the card game). Without going into too much detail now, the D&D rules have changed many times since they were first published in 1974, and each edition of the rulebook has aimed to improve the way the game is played to make it more entertaining. A bit like a new version of Windows, sometimes the publishers have succeeded, sometimes everyone has groaned, clicked on uninstall, and stuck with the old rules. But certainly this new 5th edition of the core rules has garnered praise from nearly everyone for its (relative) simplicity and its emphasis on roleplaying through creating interesting three dimensional characters (rather than geeking out on complicated combat skills etc.). It seems everyone in the D&D community has got behind these new 5e rules, and Wizards of the Coast I believe on are their fourth or fifth print run by now as sales have matched reviews by going through the roof.
It’s an exciting time for D&D and for roleplaying in general and if you fancy joining the ride Hipsters & Dragons will be here to stamp your ticket and help set you on your way… no minimum height requirement. You can read a bit more about my personal relationship with D&D here and how I got back into it after a 20 year hiatus, or you can wait eagerly for my second post.