Lucian Huang, at your service. I am but a humble servant of Deneir on my own quest from my late master. I found refuge in the city of Orm in this treacherous land of Agasteel. Journeying with me are two rangers, a bard, and two druids.
A farmer to the north needed our help dispatching a giant wolf that made a meal of his flock. After getting our mission, we followed the tracks to a cave. Inside, a glowing pair of red eyes greeted us and out stepped a wolf twice the size of a cow. We knew this was not a normal wolf. And while he growled at us, we had to make a decision on what to do. Do we rush in an attack? Use the druid to talk to him? Look around for anything useful? Run away? These kinds of decisions make Dungeons and Dragons an exercise in creativity, problem-solving, and teamwork.
1. Learning New Things Helps Your Brain
Studies have long been pointing to the benefits of continual learning through a person’s life. From delaying cognitive decline and improving memory, life-long learning keeps your brain active. Before the game even begins, it requires learning the game, reading about your characters, and a bit of research into the possible combinations of skills, abilities, armors, and weapons.
It may seem a bit overwhelming, but a good Dungeon Master, or game host, will guide you in your comfort level. You can settle with a pre-made character (drafted by your DM), pick the recommended configurations from the book, or create a combination all your own.
For those who love Dungeons and Dragons and want to dive deeper into the game, there are innumerable styles of play, lore, and nearly two-dozen official books to widen your horizon. Or you may go so far as learning to be a DM yourself.
2. Harnessing Your Creativity & Problem Solving
Creativity alone has many benefits which is good news for a game centered on designing your own story. To start with, creating your character involves much more than numbers on a page. What do they look like? What’s their backstory? What are the mannerisms that define them?
Everyone is capable of creativity. It’s freeing, stress relieving and promotes self-awareness and self-expression. When you play, get into character if you want to. Speak like them and make choices based on what they would choose, not you. I had a Cleric character named Laucian. He was very devout and saw all beings as innocent until otherwise proven. On behalf of Laucian, I refused to fight in instances involving animals and I ran headlong (stupidly) into battles against known enemies.
Creativity also boosts problem-solving capabilities. In D&D, you build your own story. How will you face obstacles? What’s the solution to the puzzle lock on the ancient temple? How will you get information from the barkeep?
A DM friend of mine played the same campaign for two different groups. In the campaign, we had to rescue captives in a large goblin and ogre camp. My group used a combination of spells between multiple people to project a symbol of their deity in the sky and use a thunderous voice to mimic him. Basically, we incited a goblin riot against the Ogres and snuck people out during the fighting. The other group made a giant construct to scare them out of the camp. Either way, we both succeeded in our objectives.
There are no multiple-choice questions in D&D, and as long as it’s within the rules, you can approach any task in whatever way you wish. Sometimes, the most creative solutions are the most fun and make for great stories long after the game is over.
3. Working Together & Improving Communication
Forget those Escape the Room games for your company Team Building days. The time limits and pressure to be puzzle wizards don’t exist in Dungeons & Dragons. What does exist is working together to dispatch foes or navigate an abandoned mine. As I mentioned from the example above, it took all of us to put on that light and sound show to free those captives.
And it will take your whole team to figure out how to cross a rickety bridge when half of you are wearing heavy plate armor. Have an idea? Speak up. Make decisions together. Lone wolves will get themselves killed. And for heaven-sake, never split the party!
Often a bad roll or a bad decision can make situations dire. I was in a group during that rickety bridge scenario. A plate-wearing dwarf tied herself to a team-mate. Neither expected the dwarf to fall and sink to the bottom like a stone. And as physics would dictate, the teammate was ripped from the bridge thanks to her tether. It took quick thinking and a lot of rope to get them to safety.
Table-top role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons promote creativity, learning, working together, problem-solving, and communication. These elements are great for the brain and important to life. Grab a group of co-workers, friends, or meet some new people and settle down for a game. Unlike other team building and “get to know you games,” you can drink coffee and eat delicious food while you bond over how you’re going in infiltrate the enemy base.
How did the wolf story end? The druid noticed that not only was he injured, but the wolf was actually a she. As he drew close to tend her wound, he discovered that she was a mom and her pups were missing. After some prodding, the wolf told us about the humans that kidnapped her puppies. If we struck first, we would have never discovered the real enemy3