Dungeons & Dragons played an outsize role in popularizing fantasy literature, ideas, and themes, as well as inspiring many of its devotees to create their own. Roleplaying, as a formal activity, owes nearly its entire existence to the phenomenal success of D&D. Even more remarkable is the extent to which the computer and video game industry, which is bigger and more profitable than the music and movie industries combined, owes a huge debt to the example set by D&D. If you play any game with classes or levels or experience or hit points today, that’s because of Dungeons & Dragons.
I started playing D&D in high school in the mid-80s. Does that make me a Stranger Things kid? I’m still trying to figure that out, but D&D significantly impacted me growing up. It probably didn’t save my life like it did for others, but to an introvert like me, it offered an incredible opportunity to go out, meet and talk to people, challenging myself and my imagination.
Right before Christmas, I presented myself with an AD&D 5th edition complete set, partly out of curiosity but also nostalgia. I loved browsing the modern editions of the Player Handbook, Master Manual, and Monsters Book—so many good memories. I later bought the Starter Kit, hoping to play at least an evening session with my “kids,” as two of them were about to return home from University (the third is still with us.) We never played that session. In hindsight, it was a stupid idea.