The Dungeons and Dragons Handbook for Casual Nerds

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I don’t consider myself a major nerd. I’ll wear the Harry Potter apparel occasionally and read books in between homework. Like any nerd, I am drawn towards science fiction and fantasy worlds. I’ll even find myself randomly debating about books and movies that I am particularly passionate about. Sometimes I’ll dabble in a bit of Minecraft on the weekends and Pokémon Go when I’m in a new location where I might find Pokemon I don’t already have.

But all in all, not a major nerd. I could easily be an even bigger nerd. I don’t actively seek out nerdy things, nerdy things find me. I blend into the masses. I don’t even have glasses, which I’m told is the pinnacle of the nerd life. But yes, it is possible to be a nerd when you have 20/20 vision.

This was proven when I decided that what I really wanted to try was Dungeons and Dragons.

Warning: Dungeons and Dragons is not for the casual player.

As a recent example of Dungeons and Dragons that can easily be referenced for most audiences, picture the beginning of Stranger Things. There’s a bunch of kids piled around a board with character sheets and a figurine of a monster to fight. I was missing all of these things. 1) I didn’t have a group, 2) I didn’t know how to create a character, and 3) I didn’t have the setup. With no other nerds around me, I couldn’t fathom how I would even begin to set such an interactive game, much less how to actually play.

If I was any less of a nerd, I would have quit while I was ahead.

Pro tip: The internet is a deep dark and scary place. And if you dive deep enough, you can find pdfs of these things called “The Player’s Handbook” and also online communities that you can play Dungeons and Dragons with.

Before you can begin a quest, as you might expect, you need a character. This can get very complicated. There are ability scores and attack moves that vary both according to the class and race of your chosen character. Not only that but you need this thing called a background. You need motivation and something that made your character who they are when they start the quest.

No wonder people like this game so much, there are thousands upon thousands of options for your character. By the time you are through with the character making process, you have created a fully functioning human being (or any other race of your choice).

I had to ask a lot of questions. A LOT of questions. It was a long and tedious process.

Another Warning: Dungeons and Dragons is a long time commitment.

We began the quest. By this point, I was digging myself further and further into a higher nerd status with every day that my online group met. I learned how to attack and fight in battles against goblin raids. The DM had sent up a large overarching plot which would end in us slaying a dark evil power.

Each battle was around three to four hours. Yes, I was shocked too. Or maybe you aren’t shocked because you have already played and this seems like a reasonable amount of time. Or maybe it’s way too long but in my defense, I was learning.

Because I was in a group of other various new people to the craft, many people quit because of the time commitment issue. In the end, a couple weeks later when the DM had decided to restart the campaign due to major losses, I quit too. The art of pillaging and heroics in the world of Dungeons and Dragons is something that I, the casual nerd, was not prepared for.

However, I was very disappointed to see it go. Dungeons and Dragons is a game I wish I had the time for but that I’m glad I tried in the first place.

If you do have large chunks of time on your side or are willing to put some aside, embrace your inner major nerd and give it a try.

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