The Best Things Come In Threes: The Books of D&D (Wyrd & Wonder Day 3)

Don’t worry folks, I’m not gonna sit and bore your earholes in by talking about the nitty gritty rules of Dungeons & Dragons, I’m just using today’s prompt as a slightly stretched excuse to talk about one of my favourite hobbies 😉

The alternate (and much cooler) rule books for 5th edition D&D.

I first dipped my toes into D&D around 2016 when I started watching an online campaign called Acquisitions Incorporated, helmed by the fantastic Chris Perkins and featuring fantasy’s very own Patrick Rothfuss, who plays Viari, a Rogue with a penchant for stabbing and swinging from chandeliers. It follows a band of adventurers who have ‘incorporated’ their adventuring business and take on dangerous quests in return for gold. Gotta make a living somehow right? Chris Perkins is the senior producer for the game and is a fantastic Dungeon Master. Even if you’ve never played D&D, Acquisitions Inc. is just super entertaining to watch and you can dip in and out as the adventures are largely self-contained, though there are some recurring threads, characters and jokes that are more rewarding if you’ve watched the full gamut.

I didn’t actually play the game until a couple of years ago, when a pal of mine organised a game for his birthday. In true ‘me’ fashion I spent hours coming up with a character with a full backstory, a motive for adventuring and long term goals I wanted to achieve over the course of our long term campaign that would definitely happen (Narrator: it did not happen). It was a ton of fun, but ultimately most of the players in that original game weren’t interested in a long term game and, while those of us who were continued to play for a few more sessions, it ultimately fizzled out.

By this point I’d started watching Critical Role, an online streamed game that has become a pretty major phenomenon even outside of typical D&D spaces and honestly, Critical Role is one of the best pieces of fantasy media I’ve ever had the pleasure to take part in. It started out as a home game between a group of friends and professional voice actors, who were invited to stream their little game on the internet and just exploded into something really quite special.

The cast of Critical Role during a particularly tense moment.

The first campaign follows the trials and tribulations of the adventuring group Vox Machina as they fight the evil forces that seek to control the troubled continent of Tal’Dorei in the world of Exandria. There are 118 episodes of that first campaign and over the many hours I spent engrossed in their world I fell in love, pure and simple. I honestly just want to launch into long long outpouring of love about each individual character, about Matthew Mercer’s genius storytelling and the bonds of friendship that develop between both the players and their characters over the course of this long form story. Maybe one day I will, but for now I just want to say, if you haven’t heard of Critical Role, or if you have heard of it but never got into it, I can honestly say it is the most rewarding storytelling experience I’ve ever had. Even if you’re not into D&D, these folks bring so much to their characters and delve so deep into their flaws and motivations, dreams and desires in what is essentially long form improv, it’s simply a pleasure to watch unfold. If you have an appreciation for character and storytelling then you’ll find something to love in Critical Role. The group are in the middle of the second campaign now, with a new adventuring party who have styled themselves as The Mighty Nein (yes there’s only seven of them, it’s a whole thing). If you want to delve into the world of Exandria, every episode is available for free on the Critical Role YouTube channel and I just can’ recommend it highly enough.

To wind this up, eventually I started to DM my own game, which is still ongoing (though currently on ice due to the *gestures wildly* world situation right now) and there really is no greater pleasure than making up adventures for you and your friends to go on with each other, fight bad guys and have some laughs together. D&D is so much more than a game, it’s a shared experience between friends where you get to create stories together that live on well beyond the time spent round the table. I’m really missing it right now and once the world gets back to some semblance of normality, I can’t wait to get the team back together again, to rid the world of the evil that can sometimes seem all-powerful, but through devotion, friendship and strength can be overcome. It’s very cathartic in that respect 🙂

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19 thoughts on “The Best Things Come In Threes: The Books of D&D (Wyrd & Wonder Day 3)

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  1. I’ve had high times and low times with being in an active D&D group, and Critical Role definitely got me through one of the times when I wasn’t in an active campagin! I’m SO grateful I’m in a really good 5e game right now, it’s so hard to find a dedicated group of people who you also get along with. The 5e group I was invited to join by the DM who was a friend, as they had just finished a campaign and were gearing up for a second one and he knew I’d been looking. I knew nobody else in the group but they’re all wonderful and it’s honestly the thing I look forward to the most in my life right now. We’ve had great success keeping the sessions going with Discord video chat. Any battles we’ve had we just kind of ballpark where we are in position to the bad guys, and let the DM tell us if we can reach certain places with our move speed etc. It isn’t the same as being in the same room, but it’s better than nothing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s one of life’s great joys to find a group who want to stick out a long D&D campaign. We’ve been thinking about giving Roll20 a go while we can’t visit each other houses, so we might start up our game again soon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d second what has been said here previously about Roll20 – it’s no substitute for playing round the table but it is still PLAYING. I have a group I play with every week and we find it enormously useful. Sure, we don’t use any of its fancier features (we basically use it as a virtual character sheet vault and dice roller) but it works for us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been floated a few times for us to get playing again while all this is going on. We might take the plunge and give it a go soon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this! I’ve yet to play D&D but I really want to try it – I was one of those kids who didn’t want to grow up and got really frustrated when my friends didn’t want to play make-believe anymore – I just haven’t found a friendship group to try it with yet, and I definitely want to play D&D in a group that feels like a safe space because I know I’ll be hella embarrassed at first. I hope you’re able to get back to your D&D campaign soon!

    Also it sounds like Critical Role is something I’m about to go and lose hours in, so thanks for bringing it to my attention! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yay! I really hope you can find a group to play with. That aspect of just letting yourself go and allowing yourself to get lost in playing make believe again is so freeing. I’ve always thought it’s so sad that most adults feel like they have to give that part of themselves up.

      I’m so happy you’re gonna dive into Critical Role! If you can deal with the somewhat shaky production value of the first few episodes it’s so rewarding to start right from the beginning. If you like it please please please let me know what you think, I’d love to hear about it 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Critical Role but I haven’t watched in ages. It got me to start playing D&D with the kids. We started a campaign and it’s been on pause a while. We need to pick it back up. D&D May be the best all around game out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so cool that your kids got into D&D! I think Critical Role has done a lot to really widen the appeal of D&D. Even for those who don’t actually play, it’s just a fantastic story in its own right.

      Liked by 1 person

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