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Dungeons & Dragons is a really fantastic way to spend an afternoon. I’m not kidding – for the small investment of a set of dice, some pencils and paper and a torrent of a few critical PDFs, you can have all the fun you want with your best friends right there in the comfort of your own home. And even better, there is very little evidence for pervasive, systemic discrimination against women in the D&D players’ community.
That’s such a wonderful aspect of D&D: you play with whomever you choose to play with. Your players’ community extends to basically the people in the room with you and nobody else. They can be whatever age you choose them to be, and none of them will be living out frustrated power fantasies or trying to exorcise the hormonal demons of teenage misunderstanding – unless, of course, you’re into that kind of thing.
And you get to choose (or write) the stories you want! Isn’t that so wonderful, that when you feel that the published adventures aren’t challenging enough, too simple or overtly represent the patriarchal oppression of an art form in its infancy, changing the narrative is as simple as just saying so. And what’s more, there’s no threat that any of the players are likely to come to the DM’s house in the middle of the night threatening violence – without expecting to be cast into an extraplanar void for eternity, that is!
As university students with finely tuned critical-analysis sensors, we can get a lot out of a D&D session. It’s easy to recognise the tropes that make up an adventure and use them to your advantage as a player – or to subvert them in new and interesting ways as a DM! That’s your job, after all: to keep challenging the players and (as the illustrious Joss Whedon once wrote) give them what they need, not what they want. Sure, all players think they’d have a grand old time in the same old space, stomping the same opponents and amassing gold. But we all know that they’ll never find experience growth that way, and that’s no way to reach 20th Level!
For no reason at all, I think I’ll say that not a single one of the women I have ever played D&D with has ever had any effect other than enhancing the experience as a whole. One of them named her Fighter ‘Biggus Dickus’ once, but then she killed three orcs with her spear so we let it slide. Letting it slide is important as a DM – knowing when to do it, and when you’ve got to do something to let your players know that they are out of line, but keeping them interested in the game itself so as to heal the group instead of breaking it. Sometimes, that’s not about dropping a Tarrasque (or an anvil!) on them – but then again, Some Anvils Need to be Dropped.