Dungeons and Dragons is so much more than a game of thrilling combat and daring rescues. For me, some of the most memorable moments of D&D this year was when one of our players counselled a grieving ship captain after the loss of her parents, or perhaps when the team had to solve a domestic dispute between the Queen and King of Fairies. While D&D is often about teamwork and tactics, the social role-play element is one that continues to be valuable. It’s a chance to practice the skills of showing compassion to someone in pain, or finding a diplomatic solutions between people, without the hazard of real-life consequences. In the D&D world, these types of problems, called ‘social puzzles’ as opposed to ‘logic puzzles’, are everywhere. Of course, the method to ‘solving’ these problems is not pre-determined, unlike with logic puzzles that have a definite answer. Instead, it relies on the canniness of the players to understand and empathize with the problems in order to work through them.

In many ways, D&D offers a safe place to experiment with the trickiest part of being human: being with other humans. Not only that, but in a single session, you can save a village from a marauding dragon and see the consequences of your actions as the villagers set up a festival in your honor. Or, after ignoring a plea for help from the village elder, you might chance across the smoking ruins of that same village. These situations spark real discussions between players, and give them the practice they’ll need to navigate challenges in their own life. After all, calming an enraged ogre just might give you the skills you need to negotiate computer time with your older sister.

By: One of our resident DM’s, Brittany Bell

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