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Spectator Dungeons and Dragons: In the Eye of the Beholder

GoldDragonI’m sad to say that a few years ago, I’d stopped playing Dungeons and Dragons.  Late nights filled with drinks, snacks, character sheets and kobolds were gem-like memories from younger days.  Life and time had seen the party scattered to the four winds, but we always looked back fondly on our adventures.

Then one lazy night cruising YouTube, I saw Dungeons and Dragons pop up as a suggested video.  Soon my husband and I were watching Chris Perkins, Dungeon Master to the stars, run an Acquisitions Incorporated live game at one PAX or another.  Come to find out, a group of friends bullshitting, laughing and fighting monsters makes for some fun entertainment, even if you’re not at the table yourself.

Dungeons and Dragons has exploded since then.  Thanks to the purity of 5th Edition, the game is more accessible than ever.  Pop culture references to the game abound, and YouTube and Twitch campaigns flourish and multiply.

If you love D&D, you’re might already be watching a game or two.  But if you’re wondering what the game is like, watching online is a no-risk, free way to familiarize yourself with game and see if it’s something you’d like to try.

Some things I’ve picked up along the way:

Learn from the Master

My favorite online Dungeons and Dragons would be Chris Perkins’ Acquisitions Inc. campaign, whether it be a podcast, a YouTube short series, a Christmas Special on Amazon Prime, and especially the spectacles created for the PAX live games.  Featuring a variety of players, amazing costumes (or jeans and t-shirts), audience participation, and grand set pieces, these games are exuberant celebrations of Wizard of the Coast’s  adventures.  Why not start with the PAX West 2016 game, the inspiration for my drawing above, which was actually broadcast in movie theaters across the country in 2016?

Chris also has a game on Twitch/YouTube called Dice Camera Action, in which he plays with a group of fun players that seem to be actively trying to annihilate themselves.   It’s very informative as a DM to watch Mr. Perkins balance the spotlight between players and weave the Waffle Crew’s questionable decisions into the story without requiring new characters to be rolled up each week.

D&D; the New Soundtrack of your Life

The nature of D&D games is to play for a decent stretch of time.  I can’t honestly encourage anyone to take up watching D&D like television, but D&D is great to listen to while you work on creative projects, do home improvement, exercise, etc.   I listen to Critical Role when I work out, clean house, draw, or have insomnia.  Critical Role is a different kind of game that is played by a group of professional (nerdy-ass) voice actors for equal parts drama and laughs.  This has also been very helpful learning the 5th Edition mechanics for many different kinds of characters.  Both Matt Mercer and Sam Riegel had great advice on learning improv to improve your mental dexterity, which led me to pick up a book on the subject.   Also, listening to Sam Riegel hype the sponsor of the week is truly a joy.

The Only Winning Move is to Play

This story has a happy ending; we got our old group back together and play online using Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop and Mumble voice chat.  We use official adventures for minimal prep time in our busy grown up lives, but still get into just as much trouble.  I DM my own campaign thanks to all I’ve learned watching these great adventures online.  There’s a plethora of tools to choose from, so check into what would work best for you and your beloved party and get back to the dungeon soon.  Watching is great and all, but nothing compares to creating your own insanity with your nearest and dearest!

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