Dungeons and Dragons at 50: the collaborative fantasy roleplaying game that builds you up

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Once the centre of fear campaigns, the classic tabletop experience is now more popular than ever – and even Australian educators are rolling with it

‘It’s collaborative escapism – the world I’ve built goes where the characters want to take it.’ Rose Herden runs a game of D&D each weekend at the Fortress gaming centre in Sydney. Photograph: Isabella Moore/The Guardian

Unlike a video game, where rules dictate a limited range of choices from a set of options, each player contributes to the flow and shape of the game based on a character they create or choose – from a sneak thief, a sorcerer or, in Anderson’s case, a barbarian.

Nearly every week one of the many D&D tables has been overseen by dungeon master Rose Herden, 34, who began playing during lockdown in 2020 and found it was the perfect way to connect socially during the pandemic. It also stretches creative muscles that often aren’t exercised in her job as a cyber security expert.Herden works with an artist who creates figurines using 3D printing. She then paints them herself to fit each new storyline.

The game was adapted for the big screen in 2023, with John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein’s Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, with the Guardian calling the film a. An earlier 2000 movie was less well received, while the 80s D&D animated series was also, well, of its era. As the game has grown, so has professional dungeon mastering. Matt Brown, who lives in Melbourne, started playing D&D a decade ago with a group of friends when he was 21. Later he discovered the allure of being a DM, drawn in by the ability to create worlds and narratives.Brown now works full-time as a DM – both online and table-top – after making D&D content on YouTube and Twitch since 2017.


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