Dungeon Mastering & Strategy During A Time of Crisis by Sarah Z.

January 20, 2021 Articles

Before the extremities of the pandemic were fully made world-wide, I had the opportunity to play my very first session of Dungeons and Dragons.

For those who don’t know, “Dungeons and Dragons,” is a roleplaying game about storytelling in worlds of sword and sorcery. Like many games of make-believe, D&D is driven by imagination. It’s about picturing a crumbling castle in a darkening forest and imagining how a fantasy adventurer might react to the challenges that scene presents. In this fantasy world, the possibilities are limitless.

Introducing me to the game was an amazing “Dungeon Master” who had such a unique and deep story to tell, and who needed a group of adventurer’s to help bring it to life. A “Dungeon Master” is essentially the story-teller, narrator, referee, and someone helps supply a fun and challenging scenario for players to overcome through role play and exploration in the D&D game setting.

Before I knew it I had made my first character (a Half-Orc, Paladin/Fighter mix) and we began our adventure. Learning the rules, how to roleplay and act, and tackling the challenges and story was certainly a process that took me a while to adjust too, but I can say from day one… I was hooked. Once a month we would gather, eat heartily, and just play until the wee hours of the morning. It kept a small group of friends in touch during a time where many of us had busy lives and didn’t have the opportunity to see one-another all that often. We committed to this game, this story, and this experience that bonded us all together during our shared journey. And then the pandemic hit.

The world as we knew it had forever changed. Many of us felt shut-in and locked away, the social public existence that we had lived by nearly gone. Life had not been easy, going out was difficult, and staying in became tiring. Despite all of this, the good and the bad, I always found there’s one thing that will always be able to help us cope. Something that we can rely on to get us through our day-to-day life, through the boredom, the frustration and the loneliness. We have each other. We have our friends, our families, and our loved ones. We have those we rely on, those we support, and those we can go to in times of need.

In the early Spring of 2020, we ended up taking a break from our monthly game but we quickly found some amazing ways to keep our adventure going. Making the decision to move our game online was interesting to say the least. We had a new online platform to learn that utilized a “virtual” game board, microphone communication, and video chat capability. I worked with my DM to help bring her world to life in some fantastic new ways that were not available to us during our in-person sessions. Being able to incorporate character token art, digital maps, and “cheat-sheets” to help manage monsters, story, and our character information were just some of the wonderful features to be had.

Our group went from playing once a month, to once a week, sometimes more. We played as often as we could for as long as we could. It was an intensive and thought-provoking story that provided many of us with the means for distraction and staying in touch through much of 2020. I loved this game so much, everything it stood for, the adventure, the journey, and the amount of time, effort, and strategy that went into building a world and its story… so naturally I began to write my own.

I read books, strategy guides, developed content, and worked hard to build my world in our
online platform.

I invited my players (new and old) and our journey began. I started Dungeon Mastering my own weekly game and, well, the rest is history.

For 6 months I’ve been virtually hosting my game online during Friday nights, in addition to occasionally playing our other game when we can. Dungeons and Dragons has given me a wonderful gift and has become an amazing tool that has helped me cope with so much during this crisis. I’ve joined in with a wonderful community, and D&D has helped many of my friends and I keep in touch, despite distances and quarantine. Many of us have had our own struggles during this pandemic, myself notwithstanding. I suggest taking the effort and the energy to allow yourself a distraction, something to focus on when you can. It has made a world of difference for myself both mentally, emotionally, and physically. A world that I literally built from the ground up and get to share with some amazing people as often as I can.

Thank you for taking the time to read a bit about my journey. I hope your own journey has been
truly amazing.
– Samantha Zimmerman