By Karlie Mickanuik

While a large portion of the world is self-isolating due to COVID-19, people are looking into starting new hobbies or skills to help pass the time. Whether it’s doing home workouts regularly or simply calling “bingeing Netflix” a sport, we are all trying to find new ways to help pass the days during this difficult time.

I’m no stranger to these effects and have picked up a few new hobbies myself. I’m a person that primarily cooks in a microwave but has been trying to take a little more time and put more effort into my meals. I have also dusted off the ivories on my old piano and have slowly been re-teaching myself how to play. Probably the best thing that I started doing since my self-isolation began is playing Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D.

If you have been living under a rock and do not know what D&D is, it’s a tabletop roleplaying game. You start the game off by making your own unique character, picking their race like an elf, human or dragonborn to name a few. Then you pick a class like a wizard, rogue or bard. After some more set up and the luck or misfortune of some dice rolls, you can jump into a party and start an adventure that the Dungeon Master or DM has planned for you.

Normally this game is played in person with friends where you all act out your character and pretend to go on quests together face to face, but because of COVID-19, it is not possible to play in person anymore.

Not only is D&D easy to play online, but it is also a nice way to connect with your friends again when you cannot meet up with them in person. Using video chatting software like Zoom, I often find myself forgetting about the world around me when I am playing D&D with my friends. Of course, they are stuck in small boxes on the screen and we cannot actually high-five when we defeat a monster, these meetings still bring back a sense of normality to my life.

During this difficult time, we are advised to reach out to friends, family and other loved ones for support and connection but that is easier said than done. With so much going on in the world I find it difficult to even dial up a friend for a chat when I do not know what else to talk about other than what is going on in the world or my problems. That’s why having a positive reason to communicate with people has become vital to me. When my party and I are not playing our game we usually chat about normal things that we used to talk about. D&D has become an outlet of support for me and my friends. We can ignore the real world and jump into this fantasyland our DM has laid out for us. We are no longer ourselves as we become our characters and exercise our creativity.

D&D is a great way to stay connected to your friends during a time in the world where we are urged to be physically distant. I recommend reaching out to your friends to start a campaign. If you do not know the first thing about D&D that is okay, check out the website D&D Beyond for more information. You can always reach out to some of your weirdest friends to see if they have played and are willing to play with you, or just try and tackle it head-on.

There is no wrong way to play D&D, as long as you’re rolling some dice, killing some monsters and having fun with your friends.