Dungeons and Dragons appears to be making its way back into mainstream media. If you’re a fan of the show “Stranger Things” you’ll recall how the kids name the monstrous creature haunting their town a “demagorgon” after a creature they battle in their Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Recently I started listening to a podcast called The Adventure Zone. It’s created by the McElroy Brothers (along with their dad) who are behind several successful podcasts from the past few years including My Brother, My Brother, and Me. The Adventure Zone is a Dungeons and Dragons podcast, with Griffin McElroy as the dungeon master, who is the creator of the game’s world and the story and who leads the other characters through the adventure as well as portraying the NPCs (non-player characters). The other two brothers and their father are the PCs (player characters)–Justin McElroy as Taako, an elven wizard, Travis McElroy as Magnus Burnsides, a human rogue, and Clint McElroy as Merle Highchurch, a dwarven cleric. I played Dungeons and Dragons in university once a week for a year with a few friends and it was a lot of fun. The Adventure Zone definitely makes me a little nostalgic! The McElroys are very funny and I can’t help starting the next episode when one is finished. They have just recently started season 2 which has entirely new characters and a new setting. The podcast is quite popular and I don’t doubt it has inspired a lot of people to play for the first time or start playing again after not playing for many years. The library has some materials related to Dungeons and Dragons that I recommend checking out.
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
Jessie is at a bit of a crossroads. She is starting her sophomore year of high school, and has been friends with the same two girls, Bizza and Char, for many years and starts to feel that she has outgrown them. All they seem to care about is hanging out with her brother, Barrett, and his band while showing no interest or appreciation for her own skirt sewing talents. After Bizza shows a callous disregard for Jessie’s feelings at a party, Jessie is determined to find a new group. She starts talking to Dottie who tells her that she is the dungeon master on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Dottie invites her to join but she is a little hesitant at first, thinking it will mean she’s a nerd. Jessie struggles with her feelings about being cool versus having fun without caring what other people think of her. The affectionate relationship between Jessie and her brother is especially enjoyable.
Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezen
Svetlana is into Bjork, sewing her own clothes, and being the DM in a Dungeons and Dragons group with her friends. Lesh is into heavy metal and has one friend (plus a few acquaintances) who he barely talks to outside of playing an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) together. One night Lesh and Svetlana literally collide on a Minnesota street though it is not exactly what you’d call a “meet-cute”. Svetlana’s DnD notebook is ruined and Lesh feels he was in the right as he was walking on the sidewalk and she was riding her bike, so their first impressions of each other are not off to a great start. However when Lesh defends her from a persistent boy in her life who can’t seem to take “no” for an answer at lunch time they slowly start to grow closer. Svetlana is the more secure of the two and Lesh is starting to distance himself from the people he spends his time with. The Dungeons and Dragons parts of the book were exciting. The chapters describing Lesh playing the MMORPG (as a character he names Svetlana) I found were a little too plentiful and dragged on a bit but it’s a small complaint about an otherwise great book.
Freaks and Geeks by Paul Feig and Judd Apatow
Freaks and Geeks was a short-lived TV show which attracted a cult following over the years. A lot of its stars such as Seth Rogen and Jason Segel went on to successful film careers. The “nerd” characters of Sam, Neil, and Bill spend the series finale (titled “Discos and Dragons”) playing Dungeons and Dragons with burn-out Daniel Desario after he is given the punishment of hanging out in the AV room (a domain where Sam, Neil, and Bill are normally the only occupants). At first the three boys are annoyed that Daniel is being forced to barge in on their Dungeons and Dragons game, but they end up having a lot of fun with him playing as he starts genuinely enjoying himself (something he’s usually a little too cool to do) and it’s fun to see characters interact who did not appear in a lot of scenes together during the rest of the series. Fun fact: another series finale of a beloved TV show that briefly features Dungeons and Dragons is the finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies 4th Edition by Bill Slavicsek
If you have an interest in actually playing Dungeons and Dragons, you might want to check out “Dungeons and Dragons for Dummies 4th Edition” to help get you started. It’s a great help for learning D&D terminology, how to make a character sheet, how all those different types of dice work, roleplaying, combat, tips on being a Dungeon Master, and more.