Articles, Blog

Why Dungeons & Dragons is Good for You (In Real Life) | Ethan Gilsdorf | TEDxPiscataquaRiver

November 8, 2019

Translator: Noel Diaz
Reviewer: Queenie Lee Who do you want to be? A brave dwarfish warrior, a wizard who can cast spells, an elf who is skilled
in the art of archery or a stealthy hobbit thief? You are a member
of a team of adventurers! And your quest is to rescue a prince who is last seen near the ruins
of an abandoned castle. As you approach the castle,
you see up ahead of you a creature, nine feet tall,
green and grumbling and holding in its hands a massive axe! It’s a troll. And it’s chained
to the entrance gate to the castle. What do you do? Do you rush and attack? Do you shoot it from afar with arrows or blast it with a magic fireball? Perhaps you sneak around and try
to find another way into the castle. Or something else. What do you do? Hi, my name is Ethan, and I’ll be your dungeon master
for the next 15 minutes. (Laughter) If I could just ask you to put that scenario
with the troll aside for a moment, we’ll return to that later. I want to tell you a different story. I want to tell you a story about why our journey into the world of fantasy can help you navigate the real world. So, I grew up around here
in the seacoast area of New Hampshire in the 1970s, and like a lot of kids during those times,
I played a lot of board games. Let’s see, there was Risk,
Stratego, Battleship, Clue, Sorry, Monopoly, and they were good. But then in 1974,
along came a new game, a game called Dungeons & Dragons, also known as D&D. It was a game that changed everything. D&D introduced to the planet,
rules for fantasy role-playing. And I want to remind you, this is a time long, long ago (Laughter) before video games like Minecraft
or World of Warcraft. Before cell phones, before the internet, before Star Wars, before twerking. (Laughter) And when I was 12 in 1979, when I was first introduced to this game, it blew my mind, and me and my buddies,
we played it a lot. These are some stills
from an actual home movie that I shot in 1981 of me
and my buddies playing D&D, and the stills you’ll see here
will give you some idea of how the game is played. You will see on the table
in front of the players assembled some rules books with names
like The Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide. There are maps and pieces of paper and pencils. There are lots of dice,
strange polyhedral dice. And when you roll them, what you roll determines the outcome
of your success or failure in the game. There’s also Mountain Dew and Doritos. (Laughter) Important provisions for you
on your quest. (Laughter) Now, you’ll notice
that while there is a table there and this is technically a board game there is no board, okay. This game is played in the imagination. And the way you play it is each person around the table
assumes the role of a character. And each character
has skills and attributes, which are represented by numbers. So you might have
16 strength, pretty good; 3 charisma, hmm, not so good. And one player, known as
the Dungeon Master or the DM, is kind of the referee, the God, the creator, the world builder, and sets the scenario into motion. And when you play,
you describe to your fellow players what you’re going to do. So you might say something like “I asked the bartender when was the last time
she saw the prince,” or “I rush at the troll with my Warhammer and try to smash its skull.” So, as a group,
you tell the story together. And best of all, no one knows
what happens next. Now … (Laughter) I know what you’re thinking. (Laughter) D&D and other role-playing games,
also known as RPGs, are make-believe. It’s pretend. Fantasy games are for nerds and dweebs and geeks and dorks and guys – let’s face it, mostly guys – who can’t get a date and live in their parents’ basements and have to escape the real world. Am I right? Well, maybe not. What do all these people have in common? What a bunch of losers! (Laughter) It turns out that all these cool,
weird, smart people all cut their creative teeth
on role-playing games and Dungeons and Dragons. Fantasy games impacted their lives
in incredible ways. So maybe these games
aren’t a waste of time. Maybe they don’t warp your social skills. Maybe they can be good for you. Now, as a kid at the time, I was dealing with my own monsters. The same year that I learned
to play Dungeons and Dragons, in 1979, this woman, my mother, was stricken down
by a crippling brain aneurysm, which left her physically and mentally
and emotionally disabled. She was unpredictable,
she did strange things, and as a kid, I was scared. I was already a hopeless introvert, and this situation made me feel
even more powerless: as if my world
had been turned upside down; as if I was trapped in the maze
of my own adolescence. And so these games
allowed me to escape my fears, and to enter into a fantasy world
where I could be someone else. Someone with power, someone with control, someone with agency. And I played these games obsessively through my childhood, and then I stopped. And then 25 years later,
I began to play again as a 40-something,
more or less grown up, adult male, and I realized something. These games were important. These games shaped me, these games gave me incredible tools,
a coping mechanism to deal with my situation at the time. These games are powerful. But fantasy role-playing games
can benefit anyone. So let me share with you five ways that D&D and the power fantasy can help you combat
the perils and challenges of reality, and help you become a better person in the real world. Lesson one: collaboration and teamwork. So, unlike some games, in these fantasy role-playing games, you’re not some ruthless real estate mogul trying to bankrupt your fellow players (Laughter) and erect hotels all across Middle Earth,
from Hobbiton to Mordor. (Laughter) No, you work together, collaboratively. And collaboration or the understanding of what collaboration is, is all about understanding
the power of teamwork and diversity. So, you can’t go alone in this world and nor can your culture. And even in these fantasy games,
you don’t wander around thinking that people and other creatures think like you and talk like you and act like you. So, D&D’s lesson is about
diversity and collaboration. Let’s go back to that situation
with the troll. Remember the troll? Let’s say you decide to fight it. You and your party have a range of skills
and talents to draw from. There’s the fighter,
who’s good at fighting, the spellcaster,
who can blast it with spells, the healer, who can heal up people
when they fall down in battle. There is a group of people,
and each of them plays their part. And this lesson can
be applied to your life, with your office’s mates, with your circle of friends,
with your family, everybody plays a part. And it’s okay to rely on each other. I’ve got your back,
you’ve got my back. Never split the party. Now, as you can probably guess, I was too much of a spaz
to play team sports in high school. So instead of feeling
that sense of victory and mutual accomplishment
on the playing field, I got that through these games. And besides – let’s face it – who really needs football
when you can cast lightning bolts and fireballs
from your fingertips? Am I right? Lesson two: preparedness, innovation
and problem-solving. So one thing these games are great at beyond providing you
with this sort of sense of mutual accomplishment and victory is that they help you solve problems. So, let’s go back to that troll. Let’s say you attack the troll,
you kill it, bravo! You ransack the body,
as you’re supposed to do, you look on the pockets of the troll, and in the troll’s right pocket
you find a scrap of paper. Okay? And written on that scrap of paper
is this message: LLCRCO. What could that mean? Well, you venture into the dungeon
underneath the castle. It’s dark, it’s scary; lucky for you,
you’re prepared, you’ve got your torches,
your grappling hook, your backpack. You’ve brought your magic wand
that shoots giant spider repellent. (Laughter) So, point being: life is like a dungeon. So please, please
don’t wander through life without the tools you need
to MacGiver yourself out of these sticky situations. Now you run around
the corner in the dungeon, and you come across this. It’s a corridor. And running down the middle
of the corridor is what appears to be
a strange patterns of tiles. Your beloved but somewhat
blundering dwarf accidentally steps on that first tile. And you hear this “click”
and then “swish,” dozens of arrows shoot out of the darkness and at you. And then, the screen goes blank. (Laughter) Luckily you have torches! Is there something I can do
up here to fix that? So, it’s dark in this dungeon. (Laughter) It’s really dark. (Laughter) So, it’s probably a good time
to camp for the night. That’s my guess. In any case, you go back to that piece of paper. You think about and you go “Oh, maybe this is a clue.” L L C R C O Maybe left … there it is. Just to give you the effect here. Bing! (Laughter) Ahh! Just to give you that effect. All right, so maybe L means left, and C means center,
and R means right. So you step on the tiles in that order and you, voila! You pass through the corridor unscathed. But here’s the thing
about these role-playing games, is that there’s more than
one solution to every problem. So maybe instead of doing that,
you decided to disarm the trap, or maybe you take a big rock
or a boulder that you find in the dungeon, and you roll it down the corridor,
setting off the trap. Or you find some lonely orc
or hobgoblin, and you tied it up and push it in front of you
down the corridor. And that triggers the arrows, okay? So, the point is that these
role-playing games teach innovation, they train the mind to think of, you know, more than one way
to solve a problem and to make unexpected connections. And to help you find your alternative
paths through the darkness. Now let’s go back to that troll. Let’s say that instead of fighting it, you talk to it. You release it
from the chains that bind it; you befriend it. So rushing into combat
isn’t always the answer. D&D says that there’s no shame
in a well bargained escape. Don’t fight, negotiate, with the troll, with the bully, with that uncooperative pain in the ass
family member at Thanksgiving. I can think of more than one time during my years wandering the dungeons
of Oyster River High School that I was able to talk my way
out of an encounter with a troll (Laughter) due to the negotiation skills
I learned in D&D. Lesson three: character
building builds character. So, like in life, in role-playing games
you begin at level one, at the bottom of the ladder,
you’re a wuss. You’ve got four hit points, you have a rusty sword, and you can cast one spell
that makes pancakes. (Laughter) But have patience, my friends! And you will gain in experience, and you will gain in experience points, and you will grow in skill and strength. And you do this how? You do this by taking risks. Why? Because risks lead to reward. So let’s go back to the troll. You’re this newbie player,
just fresh out the farm, and you’re fighting the troll,
you decided this cookie thing. You climb up the wall of the castle,
and during the battle, you leap off the wall
onto the back of the castle, and you’ve got your rock
and try to bang it on the head. Why not, right?
You’ve got nothing to lose. So, this game is sort of
providing you this environment to take risks and to fail
in a safe way, in a safe place. And take it from me, a 17th-level nerd, that you will heal from your defeats and setbacks and embarrassments and other mortifying situations. And if you’re shy and fearful and stupid, as I have been in my life, I get to play in a game, something that is wise and courageous
and maybe a little bit smarter. And over time, as I model
that behavior in the game, I soon get to feel like I’m ready
to be wise and courageous and brave and smarter in real life. And soon I can level up in real life. And I can confront
that archnemesis at work. Or I can confront that mother at home. Or I can give a TEDTalk. And I will live, and I will level up
to fight another day. But how will I fight? Will I fight honorably,
or as a backstabber? Am I going to behave according to
some universally accepted sense of what is the common good
and the right thing to do, or by some private moral code? So role-playing games are constantly putting players
into these murky ethical situations. So let’s go back to that troll. Let’s say that you decide that you’re not
going to fight but capture it. Once you’ve got it captured, you’re going to try
to get information from it. Are you going to torture it? Does that make you still
a good character if you torture it? Maybe it’s evil and so it deserves to die. Is the troll evil,
or was it just raised that way? (Laughter) The point being,
as you build your character, these games pose character building
thought experiments that are testing human or orcish
or dwarfish behavior and allow you to model
and to experiment, to think about what might
be the right thing to do, how you could behave,
how you should behave in the real world. Lesson four: empathy and tolerance. So the next step in your journey
to building your character is thinking about connection:
empathy and tolerance. The problem is that I am me, and you are you. There is the self, there is the other. Dwarfs are from Mars,
elves are from Venus. (Laughter) How do you bridge that gap? You bridge that gap through the intersection of role-playing. So, the fantasy games’ role-playing space that gets created while you play creates this opportunity
to inhabit someone else’s skin. You can play someone who’s like yourself, or you can play someone
who’s not like yourself. And because of the immersive
narrative of the game, you and your fellow players
are constantly put into situations where you’re interacting
with other people and other creatures – dragons, bartenders, dwarfs ,
you get the picture – and you can imagine
what their predicament is, what their situation is, what their point of view is. So this is why these
fantasy role-playing games are the perfect empathy training machine for the real world. And so because of the game and my experiences with the game, I can look at my archnemesis at work, I can think about that guy on I-95
on the drive up here who cut me off, I can think about that bully
that I encountered in high school, I can think about my broken – sorry – my broken and sick mother
with a little more empathy and little more compassion and a little more love. My final lesson. The power of narrative
and the imagination. So, none of these games
work without a story, without the imagination. Take a look at these maps and drawings I made back in the Reagan administration. (Laughter) I want you to focus on this for a second – aside from admiring
their amazing artistic skills. What goes on in your mind
when you think about those, when you see those
and imagine them in your minds? What I argue is that what’s getting activated
in your minds is the wondering mind. You begin to wonder: What goes on here? Who lives here? What’s the story? What happens next? Now, for sure, we have movies, and we have television shows
and video-games that offer these immersive,
richly textured narratives and worlds. But they don’t engage
our imagination in the same way. And I think it’s precisely because of
role-playing games’ crude tools, dice and pieces of paper and maps and those silly little figurines, you are required to bring
your imagination to the gaming table to complete the picture. Okay? We used to sit around the fire
telling each other stories, and it seems to me
that today we’ve settled for being passive consumers
of prepackaged narratives, stories, movies which are created by millions of Hollywood dollars
and thousands of digital animators. It seems as if the power of storytelling
has been taken from us, and role-playing games
return that power to us, and they also spark the imagination. I can think of so many areas and interests
that were sparked or kindled through my experience
of playing these games. Everything from history to poetry,
to geography, to languages, to the natural history and biology
of elvish maidens. (Laughter) All because of this game. It made me want to be a storyteller
and a creator and a world builder and to take that imaginative leap
to imagine a better world. So, thanks to fantasy role-playing games, I use my imagination. And I’m prepared, and I can think of out-of-the-box
solutions to problems. And I know that I don’t have
to go it alone. I found my team, I know I can rely on friends
who have multiple talents and skills, who can get me out of scrapes. And I know there’s more than one way
to defeat the monsters and solve the riddles and escape the darkness of my own life. And this leads me to role-playing games’
most powerful magic. The key to confidence
and the key to self-reliance is in controlling your own narrative. It’s telling your own story. And stories connect us. And stories provide hope. In all of these role-playing games, there’s a rule: If you want to do something,
no matter what it is, however slim the odds, you take this 20 sided dice
and you roll it. And if you get a 20,
you do it, it happens. You slay the dragon with a single blow. You kiss the girl. You love your mother. Deep inside all of us, inside our metaphorical
dungeons, is a dragon. But we don’t know
if we can slay it or befriend it unless we try. So, to you I say, get out the Doritos and Mountain Dew, (Laughter) arm yourself with pencil and graph paper and gather around the fire
of each other’s imaginations and go on an adventure. Thank you. (Applause) (Cheers)


  • Reply Livette February 1, 2019 at 9:35 am

    I need to know where he bought that giant d 20. ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

  • Reply Cody Conn February 6, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    I can definetly say that any game of dnd I've played definetly sticks out in my mind and does seem easier to recall than some memories. So as a learning tool im all for it

  • Reply Joseph Jackson February 13, 2019 at 3:06 am

    You see a human in a tee shirt….Roll initiative.
    The straightest line between 2 points is always trapped. Find the alternate route, and the journey will be worth it.
    I learned that being a generalist instead of hyper specialized, helped navigate life.
    Always think the other guys knows something you don't, it will force you to listen.
    When there is no logical way to choose a course of action, choose one and go confidently.

    OH – and keep a D20 in your pocket when you truly can't pick between choices….
    Don't spend all your time worrying about the unknown. Deal with whats in front of you, and the rest will come into focus eventually.

    Great Talk Ethan.

  • Reply max flynn February 15, 2019 at 7:55 am


  • Reply Anata No Senei February 16, 2019 at 10:19 pm

    I just got into d&d a few weeks ago, I'm still learning but I really like the game. As long as I'm invited back to sessions I'll keep going! Lvl 15 half orc rogue(got jumped in at lvl 10)

  • Reply Anata No Senei February 16, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    My dm let me make molotov cocktails with the oil I'm game and I proceeded to (as a rogue) stealthily light and entire forest on fire and subsequently my team as well, I'm faster than then so I was right in front of the flames the whole time, man were they pissed! Another time we went into a room full of lvl 25 monster that were suspended in time and not moving our druid failed a stealth check and basically woke the whole room of 40 lvl 17 and up beasts up. We survived by staying in a stairwell and letting our shield mage tank hits (since his ac is 38 somehow) whole we hid behind him and took potshots at stuff. Eventually we amused a God and he let us go with us only having slain like 4 of them lol hellish 12 hours but worth it.

  • Reply Seba Base March 12, 2019 at 7:34 am

    This talk is great!! Love it

  • Reply VampiricStudios March 13, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    Most of my party is Women. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Reply Remi Lalaque April 5, 2019 at 10:14 pm


  • Reply GoukenslayWAO April 17, 2019 at 1:49 am

    meh one of the worst ted talks i ever heard

  • Reply Chris Dvorak April 23, 2019 at 3:40 am

    Anyone else notice his map is Middle Earth? lol

  • Reply Placebo April 26, 2019 at 1:07 am

    Robin Williams as a DM!! That would be an epic game.

  • Reply to be a lost wanderer May 4, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Welcome to my TED talk. Please roll initiative

  • Reply Enderbro597 May 17, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Imma list some of the characters i have made and plan to make:
    Elric Morough, a dark elf warlock who acts as a kind of mad scientist with a british accent. My first character and i hope to play him again and improve him
    Kali of Strongkeep: a blue dragonborn ranger who wants to hunt horrible beasts that harm people. She has an odd obsession with skulls and bones, and goes from confidence to timidness if overly complimented or criticized
    I forget the name, but a pink tiefling sea sorcerer witb a flamboyant personality and coral shaped grey birth marks. He had controls some sales of illegal substances, and dables in the alchemical
    Rose, a blood hunter tribeswoman who believes in the natural order and a hierarchy of species. She wishes to fight against this hierarchy by helping humanoids evolve, such as with lycanthropy in her case

    I have many more that i want to play but alas im usually stuck as the dm lol

  • Reply Bill Kehrman May 26, 2019 at 2:34 am

    A level 1 make pancakes spell would be awesome

  • Reply Christian Gasior May 27, 2019 at 1:13 am

    Is it possible to lie and say youโ€™re a high level when you arenโ€™t ?

  • Reply Dan June 4, 2019 at 8:54 pm

    It's occult and satanic. Wake up and read your bible

  • Reply trustyaxe June 22, 2019 at 3:49 am

    Well said, sir!

  • Reply Victor Vu June 24, 2019 at 8:58 am

    elves! elves! eros.. I MEAN ELVES

  • Reply Feelefant Affenhand July 13, 2019 at 9:11 pm

    "Never split the party." After 20 years I'm playing RPG this still happens….

  • Reply SirOee July 14, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Such a wonderful and wholesome TED talk ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Madolite July 17, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    Not really that related to the video's message but, I find it funny how, say, racial stereotypes and D&D has so much in common. Elven archer, Halfling thief, and so on. xD

  • Reply Michaรซl Lessard July 17, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    Just one thing missing : roleplaying games are more and more popular, including among girls/women.

  • Reply Mitja T July 18, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Me from the corner: Or pathfinder!

  • Reply Gladius Draco July 19, 2019 at 12:24 am

    Well, he knows about life and d&d, but judging from those examples of video games he gave, I'd say he doesn't play a lot of video games.

  • Reply praxis22 July 20, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    Hmmm, agency is important. I loved AD&D, I was always a Paladin,a holy warrior. Charisma was not my dump stat ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Lena p July 21, 2019 at 8:05 am

    He said it was 1979 but also that it was in a world before star wars… The first one cMe out in 1977 tho

  • Reply Jess ยฟ July 21, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Talk to the troll. Find out he's the Prince who's been enchanted into a troll. Roll to reverse the spell. Roll a 5. He turns back… sort of. LOL.

  • Reply Amen Highfill July 21, 2019 at 6:55 pm

    This is awesome. Listed almost everything I've ever loved about D&D.

  • Reply NotequaLto /// July 23, 2019 at 4:58 am

    Can't wait for Gen Con 2019!

  • Reply PoeticSonic July 24, 2019 at 6:47 am

    Halfling not a hobbit, my man is an og lol.

  • Reply Rex Tyrrano July 24, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    You start with 4 hp at level 1? If your hit die is that small, why would you take a -2 penalty to constitution?

  • Reply Paul Guy July 24, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    You can't be a hobbit thief, hobbits are copyrighted. You have to be a halfling, they're totally not hobbits.

  • Reply Ozisus Gerophius Manabuzz Warpwrench July 24, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    I remember my first D&D game. We were escaping a prison as goblins swarmed it.

    Not only did I not hit a goblin
    Not only did I not get downed on the first combat encounter
    Not only was I one death saving throw from dying 30 minutes into the game

    But now my friends won't let me live it down but I couldn't ask for anything better.

  • Reply Manduin July 25, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    I wishย I had friends to play D&D with

  • Reply HeXa Krak July 26, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Somehow I lost interest in trying out D&D after watching this… he is just not sympathetic to me…

  • Reply F the compulsive gamer Mill July 26, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    Ok if I had 16 strength I would be a god at my campaign

  • Reply anna margareta johnsson July 27, 2019 at 6:45 am

    I was kind of bullied in middleschool. Fantasy and RPGs were my escape. I can realy relate to the kind of thing he's talking about. And realy, who the f**k needs football when you can chuk fire at a giant troll?

  • Reply Ya Boi July 27, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Nat 20 persuasion check

  • Reply The Cats' Pjs July 27, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    I've watched this video too many times. Or perhaps not enough times!!!!

  • Reply Kilroy 137 July 27, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    First session of our first game we started combat against some bandits, and the sorcerer, instead of casting a spell or using his two daggers, decided to break his quarter staff over his knee to make two sharp weapons. He failed and hurt his knee.

  • Reply Genisay July 27, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    I need to get back into playing D&D again, but where I live now it's hard to find a group that meets on the days that I have off. xp

  • Reply Andrew Flowers July 28, 2019 at 2:48 am

    Sir Loin, of Beef was a paladin with a natch 18/00 strength(the highest possible, back in the 70's)
    He fumbled his first attack, ever, and decapitated himself, fighting a Giant Hamster. ๐Ÿ™

  • Reply Alexander Chippel July 28, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    If you're still playing a dwarven barbarian, an elven archer, or a haldling thief, you're not very creative.

  • Reply Noah Davies July 28, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    His D20 has been annoying me through the whole game, it's not a D&D model, it's not a MTG model, it's just numbers on random sides

  • Reply Larry Underhill July 29, 2019 at 1:53 am

    If Matthew Mercer did this TED talk, he would absolutely kill it. Please bring Matt Mercer to TED ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Reply Iโ€™m Uncreative July 29, 2019 at 2:49 am

    His list didnโ€™t have Mat Mercer how could he not include D&D Jesus!?

  • Reply shadowwolf 875 July 29, 2019 at 3:08 am

    He talks about talking down an orc and I am just like you still need a high charisma stat or good luck

  • Reply CoalKingRyan July 29, 2019 at 7:36 am

    Ah yes. Mountain Dew and Doritos. MLG at its core

  • Reply Mozarel July 29, 2019 at 12:30 pm

    One of my friends who is really cool… plays dnd every Thursday and I am very jealous because I donโ€™t even know how to play but I want to ๐Ÿ˜ญ

  • Reply Jacob Moffatt July 29, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Wooooooo! Go massive axe!!! Can't have a game of DND without a massive axe!!!

  • Reply Jacob Moffatt July 29, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    I love how bartenders are on the same racial level as elves and dwarfs
    Elves, dwarfs, and BARTENDERS

  • Reply Runaway404 July 29, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    This is the most wholesome talk Iโ€™ve ever watched

  • Reply Phantasma July 29, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    I play alone. Far better.

  • Reply Red T July 29, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    Helping a friend run quests in WoW while I listen. Yeah, I play table-top, video games, board games… and so do my kids.

  • Reply JP July 30, 2019 at 1:25 am

    With the right group playing dnd is really therapeutic.

  • Reply TheSimpleThings July 30, 2019 at 2:46 am

    I'd give it food

  • Reply Satoru Kuroshiro July 30, 2019 at 3:29 am

    As a dungeon master to another, you have put the points of how great D&D can be for you in a far more efficient and understandable format than I ever could. I still cringe when dealing with Chaotic Neutral players though because they pretty much build their characters around just being horrible people within the fantasy world I built (seriously, none of my villains compare to how they are).

  • Reply Stephen Butturini July 30, 2019 at 4:31 am

    Perfectly told, from a person that can tell it. Bravo!

  • Reply bamachine July 30, 2019 at 6:56 am

    I was one of those rare birds that started out as the athlete and came to DnD in the late 80's/early 90's in college(when there were better athletes to play my sports). Got married after college, 10 years later got divorced and started playing video games. First one I played was FF VII, which hooked me into playing near a hundred jrgs. I have been looking to get back into playing tabletop rpgs in recent years but sadly, I live in an area that is devoid of many others like me.

  • Reply einzeller85 July 30, 2019 at 9:38 am

    despite what truth may or may not be in whatever you're gonna say, one valuable lesson that everyone should learn is: famous people having done it doesn't make it more or less "good" or "right". it's an argument from authority combined with survival bias. not a viable argument.

  • Reply karsten69 July 30, 2019 at 12:39 pm

    Who else would totally play LotR monopoly D&D?

  • Reply Ilithilich 101 July 30, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    D&D has made a real comeback lately. Really happy

  • Reply mats graffiti July 30, 2019 at 1:13 pm


  • Reply Snack July 30, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    What kind of troll uses and axe all that would do is limit them

  • Reply Kaggy Karr July 30, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Is it just me or this background really looks like synthesia video.

  • Reply Hiba M Khalbous July 30, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    Can I like this more than once, please?
    I never got to play this kind of games and I'm introducing myself to this world recently, but… Oh God this is beautiful!
    And the part about his mom is heartbreaking ๐Ÿ’” I had my mom whole and attentive for 22 years of my life and i still feel lost without her now..

  • Reply K H July 30, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Man those closing words were powerful

  • Reply Gemmel July 31, 2019 at 12:00 am

    I had a difficult youth, one of my fondest memories was after being shunned by my family because I left the cult of JW's was finding the game AD&D(1988). I remember going home after playing with my ribs aching because of all the laughter. It was the only thing good thing in my life at the time. (Life has much improved since).

  • Reply ShinyShinxTV July 31, 2019 at 5:03 am


  • Reply Aingeal Jackson August 1, 2019 at 5:34 am

    I was some where between 8-10 when i first played D&D. Course i had the attention span of well… A young kid and my mom, uncle, god mom, and step dad found me annoying and killed me. But now, im getting back into it with my partner and both our friends and families and its great having this to share with our new players and our veteran players, and even our most hesitant player is opening up and becoming more confident in her choices.

  • Reply Stephie Mae Illustrations August 1, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Its unfortunate he didnโ€™t bother to mention any of the women that played d&d as kids in his list of famous people who play. Deborah Ann Woll, Judi Dench, Felicia Day, Drew Barrymore… ๐Ÿ˜•

  • Reply Tim Sheridan August 1, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Very nice presentation met some of the most intelligent and unique and lasting friends playing back in the day

  • Reply Zak August 1, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    easy! try to talk to the troll, release/unchain him, in return for his freedom he helps slaughter the true bad guys in the castle,of which he hates anyway due to being abused and enslaved by them u.u

  • Reply Animebryan2 August 2, 2019 at 5:22 am

    D&D can be a fun learning experience, just don't take it too seriously & lose that distinction between fantasy & reality like Tom Hank's character did in the movie 'Mazes & Monsters'.

  • Reply Daniel Montes August 2, 2019 at 9:15 am

    I once played at a gaming convention. There was a DM that brought the same โ€œseries of death trapsโ€ dungeon and pregenerated characters to the Con every year with updated rules for the latest incarnation of D&D. As a group we players traversed death trap after death trap. When the allotted time arrived for the game to end, all the PCโ€™s were still alive.

    After the game the DM called me over to talk to me. He told me that he had run this dungeon at every Con sense it started. Never had every character lived. Often every character died before time was up. Never did anyone make it as far as we did in the dungeon. He told me that it was because of my unorthodox use of spells as a sorcerer and my coordinating the other characters that we accomplished these feats. He told me that he was torn between asking me to never again join his game and insisting that I be at every one. In the end he told me that I could join any time and he would hold the sorcerer for me. Sadly, I was never able to make any of the future Cons.

    The DM told me that a particular trap (the giant toilet bowl) always killed every party member that entered that room. On this particular occasion, every member of our party was in the room when it flooded. Everyone lived because of my use of spells.

  • Reply Daniel Montes August 2, 2019 at 9:46 am

    Playing a C/N sorcerer/rogue, I once convinced a fellow PC that he had given his โ€œcrushโ€ (another PC) a cursed bracelet from our most recent loot. So convincing was my story that even the DM was confused and had to have a private meeting with me to determine whether or not we had talked about some cursed item beforehand. With the DM now on my side, even the player (all the player) were (and to the best of my knowledge still) convinced that he had given her a cursed bracelet and that she could never take it off without risk of โ€œdire consequencesโ€. It was left to my character to find a way to remove the curse. Which, of course, he agreed to do, but could not until after we completed the adventure. He promises to continue looking for clues in the tunnels we were in, but was not very hopeful given that nature and origins of the curse and bracelet seemed to be unrelated to our current situation. D

    Btw. This situation created a deeper bond between the other two PCโ€™s and the two player ended up together IRL.

  • Reply qdllc August 2, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Too bad heโ€™s making references to Lord of the Rings and not D&D…which are very different from each other.

  • Reply that_one_guy_jeff34 August 2, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    I kept rolling low for my melee attacks and my axe snapped on a zombies head

  • Reply PhantomGamer28 August 2, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Omg I live in the Seacoast area of New Hampshire

  • Reply Johnny Rico August 2, 2019 at 6:28 pm


  • Reply Dave Rivers August 2, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Interesting that Joe Manganello isn't on the famous D&D players. Check out Jocks Ex Machina on YouTube.

  • Reply Eric Avelino August 4, 2019 at 12:48 am

    i would prefer so much playing d&d over presenting romeo and juliet in high school

  • Reply jon reid August 4, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    Congrats on leveling up to 18 nerd =}

  • Reply lockstepsavior August 4, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    I've been DMing since 1987. I have gotten to "play D&D" a grand total of four times. I really hate being the DM, but no one else ever wanted to do it, and I was the one who had all the books, so it was me. Now I'm so bitter and jaded towards all of it that I can't even summon the energy to want to play, in the age when a group is as close as answering a post on reddit. I talk about my experiences and how I feel towards the game and the people who play it now, and I'm called a gatekeeper, salty, even an incel.

    I've got no friends to play with now. No friends at all, really. Just people I work with and the missus, who tries to understand and just doesn't. I don't have the words to explain how taken advantage of I feel. Like I gave all those people so much fun when I ran those games, and I wanted to be part of that fun, but I couldn't, because I was on the other side of the screen. They got to delve the dungeons and slay the dragons, while I got to keep records and act out the agony of their victims, again and again and again.

    It probably doesn't make sense to anyone else. A person would read this and think, "Man, this guy could use some drugs and counseling." and I would not disagree. But the thrust of this piece, that D&D is "good" for you? Maybe for some people. But I feel like all it has brought me is pain and alienation. Even in the thick of the game, I was alone and separate from people that were pretending to be my friends as much as they were pretending to be elves, and it hurts me to this day.

  • Reply Jhonny Silva Martins August 5, 2019 at 12:43 am

    Because I can be a Paladin using two shields as weapons and have a third spiky one on my back.

  • Reply Brandon Musser August 5, 2019 at 12:56 am

    How about we just break it down into what it is empathy.

  • Reply Mark Rude August 7, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    I always get players who use captive goblins to set off traps.
    Buncha murder-hobos.

  • Reply Seth Lester August 9, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    21:26 "You slay the dragon with a single blow"

    My DM has been doing it wrong. He only gave me crit against the dragon. I should've known that a level 1 can slay Tiamat in one slice with a short sword as long as he rolls a nat 20.

  • Reply Strategos Kakos August 10, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Anyone else just want to go back, grab the troll corpse, hold it in front of the party (I mean it is large or huge sized) and let it soak all the arrows from the trap?

  • Reply Oleksiy Alkhazov August 10, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    This is the first and only time I consider playing dnd (though imma tes oblivion fan). This speech was in- wait for it -spiring!

  • Reply Kody Pearl August 10, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    Amazing thanks for sharing, lots of heart you brought tears to my eyes.

  • Reply Anna Baldur August 15, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    Not sure if the person reading the talk will ever read this, but… You sound like you're an amazing DM!

  • Reply Noah T Smith August 19, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    Although I agree with some of the points, I don't believe that D&D is the quintessential game for character building nor is D&D the best for you. Games help with problem solving and strategic thinking no matter what genre they are from. I learned many a lesson from Monopoly, Scrabble, and Chess long before computer games, stat sheets and polyhedral dice. As to D&D players today, there is a large majority of escapism in this culture that honestly is worrying. I've met players IRL who care more about being a fictional persona or a redefined self than dealing with issues of debt, politics, health and wellness, and responsibility. These players aren't the majority but they are becoming more commonplace and influencing younger generations. As with all things, games like D&D should experienced in moderation and imparted with sensibility and nurturing.

  • Reply Selim Tuncel September 2, 2019 at 2:00 am

    Who starts with 4 hp?

  • Reply ObiWanBillKenobi September 17, 2019 at 1:15 am

    โ€œThe biology of elvish maidens.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜

  • Reply Francis Olieberg September 18, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    im stuck on an island with no D&D players to be found

  • Reply sheriffderek October 9, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Great talk. I think that the 800+ pages of reading are a little barrier of entry compared to buying Doritos! haha.

  • Reply David Wainio October 14, 2019 at 8:02 pm

    Empathy training machine he says .. and yet these days we gamers refer to most groups of characters as "murder hobos".

  • Reply Raemond Coleman November 6, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    I have memories of D&D going back to '79 when I started playing. They exist in my head as real things. They aren't stories I read or movies I saw – they are real events I took part in. I love these memories and all the people I've played with and continue to play with.

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