You walk into a room. In the center of the room is a long, oval table and around this table are some fine chairs. These chairs aren't your average run of the mill chairs. They are something of a premium.
Seated at one end of the table is a presenter of sorts. They have a lot of information they are excited to share with you. They are experienced at presentations, so they know to not share all of the secrets right off the bat.
At the other end, familiar faces. These people have been with you through thick and thin. You've had some great times and some challenges.
You take a seat and get ready.
Now, what did I just describe?
Some of you have high intelligence scores and know that I just described the stereotypical D&D experience. Others, see a very elaborate way of describing the meeting you had last Tuesday. In either case you're absolutely correct.
We live in an unprecedented time where everything that was geeky or nerdy is all of a sudden cool. That includes the beloved role playing game of Dungeons & Dragons. I'm not going to walk through the exact details of how to play, but I'll give you the basics.
You have one person who is your Game (Dungeon) Master. They set scenery and operate a wide variety of extra characters to progress through a story/objective. Then you have your party of players that engage with the scenery and story that the Game Master is telling. Sometimes you'll have epic battles, and other times rough nights recovering in the local pub. The limit is truly at the expense of the imagination of the party.
As a creative and a marketer, I'm here to tell you, that if you aren't playing D&D, or at least making the attempt to experience the game, you're not only missing out on a fun time, but really missing out on experience to level up in your job.
Setting the stage
Before you even get to the game, you first have to develop your character. The bare minimum in developing your character is choosing race, class, and appearance. But you want to do so much more than that. You want to become your character. It is role play after all! You dig a little deeper and start asking questions like: Where did they grow up? What was their upbringing like? Do they like goblins? What does success look like to them? What worries them? What is their flaw?
All of these questions not only help create a rich backstory for your character and help you role play, but when you return to your real work, these are all valuable questions to ask yourself about the type of people you are trying to reach. Getting into your character and getting into the mind of your target audience will better help you communicate and navigate your worlds (D&D and real life).
So are you really building a consumer persona, or are you just building a character for a campaign? Setting is everything.
Improvisation unlocks creativity
90% of D&D is improv. Your Game Master is going to make up the remaining 10% and set the stage for you. After that, it is up to you and your party to react. There are very little limits to what you can do, only your imagination. You want to rob the person because your Rogue is a thief? Go for it. Wanna have a conversation with the clerk about why they don't carry luxury soaps? Role with it. The improv that unravels between you, your party, and your Game Master is what fuels the story and the experience.
The marketing team is given an upcoming campaign. The boss sets the framework and then tells you, "Have fun." The team sits around the table and starts tossing ideas out. Because you've been playing D&D, you are able to rift off of these ideas and get them further developed. Even better, you come up with seemingly outlandish ideas that no one would have thought up and now you have progressive solutions for the campaign. Genius!
Listen and React
The improv among party members is one thing, but a deeper skill you learn to develop is to listen and react. The Game Master paints an absolute gorgeous image in your head through lots of description and story telling. You get a sense of information overload, and the all of a sudden you hear, "What do you do?"
This can seem like a death sentence of a question among beginning players, but the more you play, the more you are able to react. Maybe you decide to attack. Maybe you start asking questions to investigate and dig deeper. To have a reaction and to be able to act upon it is a powerful skill to develop. The last thing you want is to look around and everyone has a blank face going, "Uhh...."
This is a shoutout to all my social media folk who are constantly on information overload. Searching hashtags and terms, looking through notifications and direct messages, getting breaking news and event information, all while trying to craft meaningful, witty, charming, or otherwise creative messaging to continue the conversation. Your ability to listen and react should be the sharpest tool in your toolbox. A couple nights rolling dice and causing mayhem for your party will sharpen you right up.
Strategy, Strategy, Strategy
I think this goes without saying, but D&D is also one giant puzzle of combat, quests, actual puzzles, and meaningful engagements. Working together as a party, you weed your way through and come up with strategic solutions for your campaign.
Reread the section with the replacements and all of sudden, you're doing the same thing in your real world. Funny, isn't it.
We can all use a little extra fun in our lives right now. I'm fortunate to have been introduced to this game at the very beginning of the pandemic and have had the privilege of gathering with a variety of different folk almost weekly for two years. To escape this world and head into a realm of fantasy that is driven off of the collective imagination and improvisation is very entertaining. Given challenges, whether through combat or puzzles, and then rewarded just fuels a little fire.
Lately, I've added an extra piece that has dramatically helped my creativity when I head back into the "real world". I'm building and entire creative writing portal wrapped around my character. It has a completed backstory as well as a personal diary that is actually the notes from the campaign, but it is written from the perspective of my character. Is this very excessive and would scare away a new player? ABSOLUTELY! I do not recommend everyone does this, but if you are reading this and already actively playing D&D, this is my challenge for you.
There's no hiding it, we are in a weird period of time. We're spending more time at home, some even working from home. Our ability to gather with friends and family can be very challenging. If we are working from home, the communication and engagement with our colleagues has changed.
At the same time, we're in this age where the geeky and nerdy things that once bullied children to no end is now a status symbol of being cool and trendy. Marvel, Pokemon, and yes, Dungeons & Dragons are getting their spot in the lime light.
Now, I'm invested and consider this my hobby away from work, but I highly encourage anyone and everyone to bring a small encounter or puzzle to your next staff meeting and say, "Let's roll!".
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