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D&D and Chaotic Cooperation

By Nick MacDonald

Weal Writer

Consider this situation: you and a half dozen of your friends are facing down an enormous red dragon. He’s big, he’s angry, he’s picking his teeth with the bones of a teammate he just fried, and he’s probably got a kidnapped princess buried in his pile of treasure.

What do you do?

Rush him with a battle cry, sword raised high? Sneak around behind and go for the backstab? Warp reality to shoot lightning at the beast? Search your bag of goodies for the red dragon control potion you know you have tucked away? 

All of the above are good options, unless you and your party spend the better part of an hour yelling at each other and debating the best battle plan. If you do… whoops, that dragon just roasted you all, and now you’re dead. See you next weekend for another session.

That, in a nutshell, is what an average D&D session is like, and for those familiar with table-top role-playing games, this is nothing new. 

D&D requires players to throw a gaggle of multi-sided dice throughout their quests. (Photo by Alberto Jordan/SAIT)

The above story does have a point though, which is that D&D builds teamwork, imagination, and problem-solving skills. 

But how can that be true if everyone got killed in that story?

Well, that’s easy: that’s only one way that the story can end.

Consider that the party eventually got their act together and managed to slay the dragon – go team. Riches and rare dragon bits are yours for the taking, not to mention the rescue of a beautiful princess who will likely fetch a hefty reward on top. Then suddenly a party member murders the princess, takes her dress and wears it all the way back to the king you got the quest from in the first place.

He never removes the dress for as long as you continue to adventure together…

Did that suddenly turn a little dark? Good. That’s what D&D is like. 

It brings a bunch of divergent people, wanting different things out of the game, together and throws them against problems with the Dungeon Master’s threat: if you don’t work together to solve this problem, I will kill you all.

“You’re in an environment of general positivity and everyone is working together for the same goal,” said Tim Holowachuk, president of SAIT’s D&D club.

As president of the SAIT Dungeons & Dragons club, Timothy Holowachuk talked to students passing by about the intricate board game.
(Photo by Alberto Jordan/SAIT)

D&D is inherently cooperative, said Mike McMillan, a veteran of the game since 1980.

 “Players are presented with a problem, have to work together to solve a problem and players have defined roles. 

“Games run a lot smoother if everyone knows what they are supposed to do, similar to the work force.”

So, go play D&D. It will teach you a few useful things, give you an opportunity to escape into another person for a while, and you’ll probably make a few friends along the way.

What could be better than that?

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