What Dungeons & Dragons Taught Me About Teamwork

What Dungeons & Dragons Taught Me About Teamwork

There I was lying facedown in a swamp. All I had on were my leather boots and a metal mask. My magic fire dagger ( named Azrael 🔥🗡) was within reach. As I came to my senses, the crude makeshift hovel in front of me...came alive and began walking toward me on the pillars that had once held it aloft.

There I was lying facedown in a swamp. All I had on were my leather boots and a metal mask. My magic fire dagger ( named Azrael 🔥🗡) was within reach. As I came to my senses, the crude makeshift hovel in front of me...came alive and began walking toward me on the pillars that had once held it aloft.

beholder_hippogriff

Team Storytelling

Group Team Storytelling

In the scenario above I lived only because my adventuring teammates saved my life. A fellow player positioned himself in front of the terrible witch that controlled the construct. He distracted her and laid his life on the line for our team. And while this was all in the theatre of the mind it didn't make it any less suspenseful or impactful.

While Dungeons & Dragons began in the early seventies as a set of "Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures" (yes that's a mouthful) it has grown to include a myriad of books, action figures, videogames, and movies in the last the 50 years. But at its core, D&D has always been about team storytelling.

D&D's official website describes the game as "You and your friends tell a story together, guiding your heroes through quests for treasure, battles with deadly foes, daring rescues, courtly intrigue, and much more." But a typical game can have everything from the slapstick comedy of watching your Barbarian friend attempt lute playing to the deep sadness of grieving over a fallen comrade. 

In the scenario above I lived only because my adventuring teammates saved my life. A fellow player positioned himself in front of the terrible witch that controlled the construct. He distracted her and laid his life on the line for our team. And while this was all in the theatre of the mind it didn't make it any less suspenseful or impactful.

While Dungeons & Dragons began in the early seventies as a set of "Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns Playable with Paper and Pencil and Miniature Figures" (yes that's a mouthful) it has grown to include a myriad of books, action figures, videogames, and movies in the last the 50 years. But at it's core D&D has always been about team storytelling.

D&D's official website describes the game as "You and your friends tell a story together, guiding your heroes through quests for treasure, battles with deadly foes, daring rescues, courtly intrigue, and much more." But a typical game can have everything from the slapstick comedy of watching your Barbarian friend attempt lute playing to the deep sadness of grieving over a fallen comrade. 

Roles & Classes

"Class is the primary definition of what your character can do. It’s more than a profession; it’s your character’s calling. Class shapes the way you think about the world and interact with it and your relationship with other people and powers in the multiverse." - PHB pg. 45

"Class is the primary definition of what your character can do. It’s more than a profession; it’s your character’s calling. Class shapes the way you think about the world and interact with it and your relationship with other people and powers in the multiverse." - PHB pg. 45

When you are exploring a necromancer's lair or trying to slay an evil red dragon, one thing that becomes abundantly clear is the value of diversity in your team’s skillset and roles. A player character’s skill set is defined by their class – which functions much like a job. A well-rounded team is integral to the game. A rogue is great at sneaking, unlocking things and general roguery. A wizard has a plethora of amazing spells and a knowledge of history and the arcane. And so on...

If everyone chose to play as a cleric...then there's no one to unlock that secret chest of gold or levitate the boulder from blocking the mountain pass. Every class has it's strengths and weaknesses just as in real life jobs, departments and divisions. The most successful 'dungeoneering' teams learn to use everyone’s strengths to the group’s advantage. 

When you are exploring a necromancer's lair or trying to slay an evil red dragon, one thing that becomes abundantly clear is the value of diversity in your team’s skill set and roles. A player character’s skill set is defined by their class – which functions much like a job. A well rounded team is integral to the game. A rogue is great at sneaking, unlocking things and general roguery. A wizard has a plethora of amazing spells and a knowledge of history and the arcane. And so on...

If everyone chose to play as a cleric...then there's no one to unlock that secret chest of gold or levitate the boulder from blocking the moutain pass. Every class has it's strengths and weaknesses just as in real life jobs, departments and divisions. The most successful dungeoneering teams learn to use everyone’s strengths to the group’s advantage. 

drawing of a bugbear

Keeping Each Other Alive

"Each character plays a role within a party, a group of adventurers working together for a common purpose. Teamwork and cooperation greatly improve your party’s chances to survive the many perils in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons." - PHB pg.15

"Each character plays a role within a party, a group of adventurers working together for a common purpose. Teamwork and cooperation greatly improve your party’s chances to survive the many perils in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons." - PHB pg.15

D&D is inherently a team sport. A solo adventurer will quickly hit a wall. But sometimes working together isn't that easy. Usually, I find this barrier to be communication. But empathy is another strong barrier to working together in the real world. Portraying a "character" that's seen as divisive or different might be easier than coping with that in the real world. This gives us players the opportunity to have empathy for those who are "different" or to role-play the consequences of ignoring that empathy.

In D&D, we are aligned on a goal and that goal transcends our differences. It's that alignment that brings us together and gets us cheering over each other's successes. 

D&D is inherently a team sport. A solo adventurer will quickly hit a wall. But sometimes working together isn't that easy. Usually I find this barrier to be communication. But empathy is another strong barrier to working together in the real world. Portraying a "character" that's seen as divisive or different might be easier than coping with that in the real world. This gives us players the opportunity to have empathy for those who are "different" or to role-play the consequences of ignoring that empathy.

In D&D, we are aligned on a goal and that goal transcends our differences. It's that alignment that brings us together and get's us cheering over each other's successes. 

TOP

There is no winning or losing in the Dungeons & Dragons game – at least, not in the way those terms are usually understood.

There is no winning or losing in the Dungeons & Dragons game – at least, not in the way those terms are usually understood.

BOTTOM

Showing Up is Half the Battle

"Then the DM determines the results of the adventurers’ actions and narrates what they experience. Because the DM can improvise to react to anything the players attempt, D&D is infinitely flexible, and each adventure can be exciting and unexpected." - PHB pg.5

"Then the DM determines the results of the adventurers’ actions and narrates what they experience. Because the DM can improvise to react to anything the players attempt, D&D is infinitely flexible, and each adventure can be exciting and unexpected." - PHB pg.5

Problem-solving in D&D is only limited by your imagination. Whether or not you’ll succeed depends largely on your character’s abilities and those of your adventuring party. Much like a well-made product, imagination is key to problem-solving. Being able to think outside the box is an invaluable skill but you need to be able to take that first terrifying step.

When you play Dungeons & Dragons your success also depends on the roll of a 20-sided die. This introduction of chance means that success is less dependent on your well-made plans, and more dependent on your willingness to take chances, and to try again if you fail. The very best solutions usually fall outside of expectations and this goes the same in our real-world jobs. In playing we learn to take calculated risks in order to gain even greater rewards.

Problem solving in D&D is only limited by your imagination. Whether or not you’ll succeed depends largely on your character’s abilities and those of your adventuring party. Much like a well made product, imagination is key to problem solving. Being able to think outside the box is an invaluable skill but you need to be able to take that first terrifying step.

When you play Dungeons & Dragons your success also depends on the roll of a 20-sided die. This introduction of chance means that success is less dependent on your well made plans, and more dependent on your willingness to take chances, and to try again if you fail. The very best solutions usually fall outside of expectations and this goes the same in our real world jobs. In playing we learn to take calculated risks in order to gain even greater rewards.

DnD8@2x
DnD7@2x
DnD6@2x
gygax and arneson
D&D novels
New and old books
a beholder
D&D 1980's Cartoon

Lifelong Relationships

I will remember some of my Dungeons & Dragon moments for the rest of my life. And although these "memories" are strange...it doesn't make them any less powerful. Those of us who have played together will always have the hours of imagination, fun, problem solving and role-play that we birthed into this world. Often I'm amazed that something two men created in the basement of a small house in Wisconsin has touched so many people. But maybe that's where all great things are created...in a small space with an intimate team of inspired people.

What is D&D ←

Great Web comic on D&D in the classroom ←

I will remember some of my Dungeons & Dragon moments for the rest of my life. And although these "memories" are strange...it doesn't make them any less powerful. Those of us who have played together will always have the hours of imagination, fun, problem solving and role-play that we birthed into this world. Often I'm amazed that something two men created in the basement of a small house in Wisconsin has touched so many people. But maybe that's where all great things are created...in a small space with an intimate team of inspired people.

What is D&D ←

Great Web comic on D&D in the classroom ←

logo_footer

© 2020 Jonathan Brazeau

© 2020 Jonathan Brazeau

© 2020 Jonathan Brazeau

© 2020 Jonathan Brazeau