Defying the decades

Groups of students around Northwest continue to play the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons 44 years after its initial release.


Eden Kurr

Information from the Dungeons and Dragons official site.

Ethan Knauth, Staff Writer

After finding the time to enjoy a timeless tabletop game, some students indulge in Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D for short. Created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, the first edition of D&D was released in 1974, and the game is now on its fifth edition.

Four decades later, people continue to play it, and senior Gabrielle Nabors said the game’s sustainability is due to word of mouth.

“I don’t think it has maintained as much popularity, but it has been passed down through the generations,” Nabors said. “People play it, and then they introduce it to their kids.”  

The lack of structure is one reason why senior Maddie Nobrega enjoys playing D&D. Nobrega plays characters in the game as well as Dungeon Masters – meaning she narrates the game and controls the mechanics for the players.

“It is so completely versatile,” Nobrega said, “You can play D&D in space, and you can set it in the Wild West, in medieval times, or in a fantasy world.”

A D&D campaign can take place for months on end, with sessions, where a group playing the game gets together to accomplish tasks, filtered throughout the campaign. The tabletop game involves a Dungeon Master, who dictates what will be done throughout the game, and the players, who will have to adapt and improvise in order to accomplish the tasks set forth by the Dungeon Master.

Playing Dungeons and Dragons for three years now, Nobrega, who is also a Dungeon Master, said she was introduced to the game through a mutual friend.

“My best friend and I decided, kind of spontaneously, that we both had an interest in this nerdy game from the ‘80s,” Nobrega said. “We both decided to learn the rules and get started on playing.”

Nobrega is a Dungeon Master for a group of senior girls, but also plays as a player with another group that includes senior Andrew Grant.

Using the game as a way to hang out with friends, Grant said the game offers a chance to role-play. The intro page on the official D&D website also talks about how important acting as the character is.

“It’s improv, and it just gives you a chance to explore a side of yourself that you probably didn’t know you had,” Grant said. “It has a means of bringing it out.”

The generational activity has also been featured in pop culture, according to Nabors. There are even entire Youtube channels centered around the game, such as the popular series Critical Role and The Adventure Zone.

According to Grant, D&D has a geeky stereotype attached to it, but that does not bother him. He even recommends those unfamiliar with the game should test it out.

“You’ve ascended to full nerdhood when you play Dungeons and Dragons, which I’ve fully come to terms with,” Grant said. “There’s aspects that can appeal to various amounts of people. Give it a shot.”