Playing D&D makes you better at your job.

The rickety cart comes to a sudden halt as the horses whiney and whine. One kicks up, snapping its’ harness, and bolts westward into the dense forest. You look up to see the rest of your party, weapons drawn; and you watch in horror as a massive White Dragon glides over the treetops.

What would you like to do?

What the heck are you talking about?

Dungeons and Dragons table-top miniatures

Ok, so let’s take a step back.

Dungeons and Dragons is a roleplaying game. But more than that, it’s a story-telling game. One player — the Dungeon Master (or “DM”)— acts as the narrator, leading the other players (the “party”) through a series of adventures and challenges. Depending on how often a group gets together, a single “game” of D&D can span years.

During a game, the DM creates a scenario, describes locations, voices non-player characters, and is the arbiter of the rules. The party, meanwhile, must use their skills and cunning to solve puzzles, navigate tricky social encounters, and defeat villains.

Be yourself by pretending to be someone else

I’m an introvert by nature. I don’t feel entirely comfortable speaking to large groups of people; I don’t enjoy being put on the spot to give my opinion: when I’m forced to come up with responses off-the-cuff, I often flounder. I much prefer to take my time to think about what I want to say, and the best way of saying it.

Businesses — particularly businesses that rely on customers or clients — have an inherit bias towards more extroverted people: they want their employees to be able to talk to clients; to actively engage in meetings; and to come up with ideas on the fly. And because these skills come easier to extroverts, businesses tend to be drawn towards those people.

But while it might come more easier to some people, these are all skills that can be learned.

And for me, pretending to be someone else for a few hours each week while playing Dungeons and Dragons — playing as a character who’s confident, and speaks their mind — helps me bring out those traits when I need to.

Learning to be confident

In meetings — both internal company meetings, and meetings with clients — many of us are hesitant to be vocal and share our opinions and ideas. Maybe we’re worried that we haven’t fully thought through all the issues, or maybe we just think that the other people in the room are better and smarter, and that they’ve got something better.

When I started playing Dungeons and Dragons a few years ago, I made a character who’s personality mirrored my own: a quiet nerd. He was passive, and deferred to others when making decisions, and he was hesitant to take charge.

When he was taken hostage and the rest of the group was unable to save him, I decided to try and make someone who was the opposite of myself: someone brash, and confident; who charges head first into situations without considering the consequences.

Playing a character like that took effort. Rather than just reacting to situations how I would, I was forced to think about how this assertive, half-orc character would behave. I had to consider what his opinions would be, and defend those opinions, even if I myself disagreed with them.

And that rubs off on you. By pretending to be confident and assertive for four hours a week, you learn how to be confident — or at least, you learn how to effectively fake it when you have to.

Make decisions and work together

You stand at the edge of the ravine, a fast moving torrent 50ft below. All that’s left of the bridge are the frayed ropes, tied to rotting posts. You can see Prince Alavier on the other side, almost 100ft away, bound and gagged in the back of the goblin’s wagon.

The nature of Dungeons and Dragons can encourage a kind of selfish collaboration. You’re a team, working together towards a goal, and each individual character has their own strengths, weaknesses, talents and resources to help reach that goal.

No one character can do it alone, and something that might help your character in one situation might hinder them in another: that heavy armour makes you hard to hit, but makes it very hard for you to sneak around.

The situations that players find themselves in requires that you learn your party’s strengths and weaknesses: who’s the most persuasive; who’s the best with animals; who’s knows the most about history.

Think fast

Roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons, or Pathfinder are, for the most part, played in realtime: the DM describes a situation, the party reacts to that situation, repeat to infinity.

Because of the realtime nature of the game, an important aspect of the game is learning to react quickly to a wide range of situations. You might only have a few moments to consider the options — and the consequences of any actions you take.

Over time, this forces you get better at thinking on your feet: taking in all the information you’ve been provided, and making decisions quickly. And learning this for wild situations (like fighting a dragon) prepares you so that you can think quickly on more mundane situations (like an ideation meeting).

There are no wrong choices

While the rest of the group is talking, I sneak away. When I get into the dragon’s lair, I raise my Wand and shout out “Good Morning!” as I cast Dominate Monster.

In meetings, particularly with clients, I’ve often found myself hesitant to share my thoughts, opinions, and ideas. In a room full of smart people, it’s not unnatural to feel like someone else will come up with something better than what you have.

When playing Dungeons and Dragons, though, bad decisions aren’t wrong. They’re just bad.

Sometimes good ideas go horribly wrong, and sometimes your terrible idea would have actually been better. And more often than not, the awful, awful decisions lead to the most memorable moments in a game.

Bad decisions are what allow a character to grow. Both you and your character learn from these choices, and the outcome influences how your character will react to similar circumstances in the future.

By playing Dungeons and Dragons, you learn that bad ideas are nothing to be afraid of. It’s helped me become confident expressing my thoughts and talking about ideas that I have, regardless of how wild they might seem.

Find a group, and get playing

The core rules for Dungeons and Dragons are available for free, and there’s some amazing tools like Roll20 that helps people find a group of people to play with.

I started playing on Roll20 for more than 5 years. I found a group of people from around the world — Poland, Sweden, Denmark, the USA — have been playing with that same group for almost every week since, and they’ve become some of my closest friends.

One of my past D&D parties, including a Tiefling bard playing a lute, a gnome with a beard of feathers, a human cleric and barbarian, and my character, a human wizard.
At the end of one of our campaigns, we commissioned an artist to illustrate our characters. My character, Kristian Weiß, is on the right.

Since then, I’ve also started DM’ing a game for some of the team at MadeBrave, leading them through an adventure to free the land of Barovia the Vampire, Strahd.

If you try it and it’s not for you, that’s fine, but go ahead and try it: you really have nothing to lose. So…

The rickety cart comes to a sudden halt as the horses whiney and whine. One kicks up, snapping its’ harness, and bolts westward into the dense forest. You look up to see the rest of your party, weapons drawn; and you watch in horror as a massive White Dragon glides over the treetops.

What would you like to do?

Lewis Dorigo

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