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o [BBC Newsbeat] Dungeons & Dragons at 50: How the fantasy world can be a home forkyonshi

[BBC Newsbeat] Dungeons & Dragons at 50: How the fantasy world can be a home for everyone


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From: (kyonshi)
Subject: [BBC Newsbeat] Dungeons & Dragons at 50: How the fantasy world can be
a home for everyone
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2024 13:40:30 +0100
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Dungeons & Dragons at 50: How the fantasy world can be a home for everyone

17 February
By Andrew Rogers
BBC Newsbeat

It's a world of mighty heroes and terrifying beasts, where the only
limitation is your imagination.

Dungeons & Dragons - or D&D - the fantasy role-playing game has just
turned 50 years old, but that doesn't mean it's stuck in the past.

After seeing a big surge in popularity online during the pandemic, an
estimated 50 million people now take part.

Even Hollywood is getting involved, with a film adaptation and its own
D&D club run by Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello.

But as more people join, there is an effort by some to shape its future
to make it a more inclusive space.

One band of adventurers hoping to change the way we see the game is
Jeremy Cobb, Liv Kennedy and Jasper William Cartwright, known on their
podcast as the Three Black Halflings.

As well as playing the game, their show also looks at the intersection
between D&D and black culture.

"Representation is so important to make you feel like something is
accessible," Jasper tells BBC Newsbeat.

"People like us have shown others that there's a place within that
space, which typically a brown person wouldn't have looked at."

On their podcast and in most of the worlds they create, Three Black
Halflings say every character is black, even if the person playing them

The hosts say it is to challenge some of the biases they've seen in
traditional D&D and fantasy storylines which tend to be based off
Tolkien's more Eurocentric visions of a fantasy world from Lord of the

In that series, entire races can be aggressive and savage, which Jasper
says echoes racist views of the past.

He feels the podcast has helped him become more confident with himself,
being able to discover new parts of his identity as someone with mixed

"A big part of it was feeling like I hadn't been in contact with the
black half of my heritage.

"I've now been able to actually think about who I am and incorporate
whole sides to myself that I refused to let out as I felt a little bit
ashamed, because I didn't feel black enough," he says.

Wizards of the Coast - the company behind D&D - has now mostly done away
with those traditional biases, with race no longer defining if a
character is good or evil, which Jasper says "makes the game more
interesting and exciting".

There have, however, been recent controversies.

In 2022, the company apologised and announced all material would go
through a series of inclusivity checks after one story included a race
of sentient enslaved monkeys which were criticised as racist.

'Delve into multiverses'

It's not just ideas of race that D&D has encouraged some players to explore.

Liv feels it has become a safe space for queer people like her who can
use the game as a place to experiment with both their sexual orientation
and gender identity.

In the game there are no limits on what gender you want your character
to be or how they identify.

"It really helped identify that side of myself. Being able to see what
feels good is really freeing," she says.

Jeremy thinks the reaction to D&D has definitely shifted, with people
more open to the idea of the game, even if they haven't played it

That, he says, has a lot to do with it popping up more in popular culture.

"We've seen a similar shift to what happened with superheroes.

"At the beginning of the 2000s it was still kind of uncool to be into
superheroes. Most people had no idea who Iron Man was.

"But then in 2008 and 2009, they really came into prominence and
suddenly it's cool to like superheroes," he says.

On YouTube and across streaming services, there are now shows
specifically based on D&D stories, such as Amazon Prime's The Legend of
Vox Machina and Critical Role.

The Dungeons & Dragons movie with Chris Pine also received generally
positive reviews.

And in the gaming world, Baldur's Gate 3 won game of the year at the
2023 Game Awards - surpassing expectations for a game based entirely on
D&D mechanics.

D&D's growing popularity has been big business for shops like The
Travelling Man in Manchester.

While the game can be played almost entirely in your imagination, there
is plenty for new players and diehard fans to invest in.

That includes books with pre-written quests in them, small figurines to
represent your character, and lots and lots of dice - most importantly,
the D20 - the name for a 20-sided die - which is used to generate random
outcomes in the game.

Jake works at the shop and says he's seen more interest in D&D, with
"people from all age ranges and all walks of life" entering.

"It's great to see people included in something that when it first
started, wasn't so palatable," he says.

He feels new people who come in to the shop then also return to expand
their collection, including fans Jake describes as "dice goblins" who
collect particularly colourful and interesting sets.

When he's not at work, Jake plays D&D himself, represented on his quests
by a cleric of the light domain.

"She's a sister of Sel√Ľne, the God of the moon. Her role is to keep the
party alive and dispel undead creatures."

Looking to the future, Jake hopes D&D continues to grow.

"I would love to see it expand into space and delve into multiverses.

"A campaign where you run into alternate versions of your character.
That would be fun to see," he says.

interests / / [BBC Newsbeat] Dungeons & Dragons at 50: How the fantasy world can be a home for everyone


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