A Life Less Analog, Entertainment, Geek Culture

D&D Live 2020: Dungeons & Dragons is for everyone

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Almost two weeks after it ended, I’m still on a D&D Live 2020 high. Not only did this star-studded virtual event raise money for charity, but also proved that Dungeons & Dragons is for everyone.

I never got to play D&D in high school. My barkada and I always wanted to. We would stare longingly at the D&D manuals whenever we went to the bookstore. But they were too expensive.

Geeking out at D&D Live 2020

It was only in college that my high school barkada and I finally got to play D&D. And I even became their Dungeon Master (DM). But I didn’t play D&D anymore after college. Not even the video games. But I always looked back at it fondly, and would occasionally check out the site or read articles about it.

Decades later, for three glorious days on June 18-20 (June 19-21 in the Philippines), D&D Live 2020 rekindled my love for D&D.

So many awesome moments, so many great memories, that I still can’t believe it happened. I was lucky to be part of it, and to have done my share in raising money for Red Nose Day

I got to watch a D&D game played online for the very first time. And I was so glad it was Deborah’s Game.

Actress and D&D player Deborah Ann Woll, who played Karen Page in the Daredevil and The Punisher Netflix series, was the DM for this session. She was chatting with us on Twitch, because this was the one D&D session at the event that had to be pre-recorded due to scheduling conflicts.

I told Deborah this was my first time to watch an online D&D session.

Chatting with Deborah Ann Woll at D&D Live 2020.

She couldn’t believe it. And I couldn’t believe she answered!

Chatting with Deborah Ann Woll at D&D Live 2020.

Fandoms galore

Not only did D&Live 2020 raise money for charity, but also it proved that Dungeons & Dragons is for everyone.

If there’s one D&D session at D&D Live 2020 that I really wouldn’t miss for the world, it was the Lost Odyssey Heroes Game. I mean, one of my favorite actresses, Karen Gillan, who played my favorite Doctor Who Companion of all time, Amy Pond, was in this session. And not only was she playing D&D for the first time, but she was doing this with Hopper, Mantis, and Superman! Or, OK, Todd Ingram, if you prefer a different fandom heh!

I really loved the dynamic in this group. Of course, it also helped that the legendary Chris Perkins, Lead Story Designer for D&D, was their DM.

I miss Karen’s character Malvyre, the red dragonborn fighter who happens to have pyrophobia. So she needs people to encourage her when she uses her breath weapon. And I will never forget when she yelled, “Screw the dragons!” in the game.

Never did I think back in high school and college that I would see celebrities playing D&D.

D&D and racism

I also didn’t think that D&D would become a powerful platform for discussing important issues such as racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. But that’s exactly what the BlackAF Sidetable that Omega Jones hosted did.

And, as Jones declared from the start, yes, “Orcs and drow are racist!”

There were actually some trolls in the Twitch chat who kept saying this session had nothing to do with D&D. But I’m glad the community did not let them ruin the conversation.

As the panelists put it, it matters because they are black people playing D&D, and even in their favorite game they encounter racism from other players, or in aspects of D&D itself.

GoT and WWE

The last two D&D sessions of D&D Live 2020 featured players from two of my obsessions: Game of Thrones (well, not as much after the disastrous last season heh) and World Wrestling Entertainment.

Who knew D&D would be able to reunite these GoT actors? Oh, and I had no idea that Gemma Whelan a.k.a. Yara Greyjoy was also a stand-up comic. She had me and everyone in the session in stitches, including DM Kate Welch.

And as the icing on the cake, I got to watch WWE Superstars play in the final D&D session. D&D Principal Rules Designer Jeremy Crawford was the DM.

My favorite player was Alexa Bliss, who happens to be one of my favorite WWE Superstars. Penelope Twinklebottom FTW!

All this is just the tip of the iceberg, because so many cool things happened at D&D Live 2020, including the unveiling of the new D&D storyline, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden.

I loved seeing the look of wonder on the faces of the players in the D&D sessions. Especially those who were playing D&D for the first time. How the initial confusion would turn into enthusiastic immersion in the game. And it was awesome to hear Karen say: “It’s what we do as actors.”

So, yes, D&D is for everyone. And in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we are physically separated from each other, it has become a virtual haven in more ways than one.

Wherever we may be, we are part of the D&D community.