You might think the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons is only for nerds (and the kids from “Stranger Things”), but it’s actually one of the most fascinating, innovative storytelling mediums today.
The game works like this: A dungeon master (DM) serves as the story’s narrator and the voice of the non-player characters. Players create a character to act as, choosing a “race,” “class,” and moral alignment. The DM controls the story’s elements, but players can impact the story’s trajectory as they interact with other characters and do battle.
Plenty of shows — like “Critical Role” and “Dimension 20” — have created D&D campaigns featuring professional voice actors or improv actors. These are original campaigns to which the actors devote hours upon hours of worldbuilding and gameplay.
These campaigns are available on YouTube, streaming services, and podcast platforms. And with D&D’s parent company potentially causing some issues for these independent creators, they need more support now than ever. Here are six reasons why I think online D&D campaigns deserve all of our love and attention.
1. Anything can happen in Dungeons and Dragons.
Traditional movies and TV shows have writers with storyboards and plans for the plots. Though DMs plan each D&D campaign’s overall direction, a player can change the game with a single decision.
If the DM wants the players to go one way, but the players choose to go another, that’s just the way it is. Also, whether something goes to plan often comes down to a dice roll. This makes campaigns fascinating to watch because you get to see the players write the story as they go.
2. D&D campaigns have all the worldbuilding and character drama of a TV show.
D&D campaigns don’t usually have the visual elements that movies and TV do (though there are some animated campaigns out there). Still, they don’t lose any of the richness of the world or the characters’ development.
Many online campaigns provide virtual visualizations or physical figurines and game boards to paint a picture of the D&D campaign’s storyline in your brain. This can make watching these games a more fun experience because you can visualize the story in your mind — just like when you read a book.
3. You see reactions to the story as the players act it out.
If you like watching reaction and commentary videos, then watching Dungeons and Dragons will be just as fun for you. D&D campaigns are the perfect mix of storytelling and reaction content because the players and DM react to the story as it unfolds.
A dramatic plot point is great on its own, but when you see players freaking out about an obstacle or battle right in front of you, it heightens your emotions even more.
The reaction element of D&D can also create some hilarious moments. “Dimension 20’s” “Fantasy High” has plenty of funny must-watch reaction moments.
4. No one’s safe in Dungeons and Dragons.
You think that “Game of Thrones” is suspenseful because of the character deaths? In D&D, there truly isn’t a single character with plot armor.
Each character has a certain number of hit points. If enemies attack the characters, they can run out of those important hit points. Once a character reaches zero hit points, and if they fail their “death saving-throws” (and there isn’t a cleric around to revive them), they die — no matter how important they are to the plot.
This makes watching D&D so much more suspenseful because you never know if your favorite character is going to make it to the end of the campaign. Dungeons and Dragons can be so intense that many professional players make backup characters in case enemies kill their original characters.
5. A lot of D&D shows make diversity a priority.
Diversity in D&D has been a hot topic — just like in all other types of media. However, lots of D&D shows have made great strides in including diverse characters.
Shows like “Dimension 20” even have diversity consultants on board to ensure that any DM’s representation of gender, race, or disability is realistic and respectful to people from that background.
I love watching campaigns like “The Seven” because you’ll find elements like teams of badass women with a variety of racial identities, gender identities, and sexual orientations. You usually don’t see that much diversity on TV, but you will find it in some of the best D&D campaigns.
6. D&D shows inspire fans’ creativity.
The fact that many online Dungeons and Dragons campaigns are usually verbal as opposed to visual is great news for talented artists and cosplayers. Online campaigns inspire tons of fan art, music, cosplays, and animatics. These works not only bring fan communities closer together, but also make the content all the more enjoyable to watch.
Dungeons and Dragons is more than just a geeky roleplaying game — it’s also an incredible way to immerse yourself in original stories of fantastical worlds. So what are you waiting for? Try watching an online campaign!
Are you a D&D fan? Let us know in the comments!