Updated: Jul 18
Online is a necessity at the moment thanks to the current year situation. The internet allows us to be connected whilst being seperated by thousands of miles. However, being part of your local Dungeons and Dragons group means much more than just playing your favourite game.
Face to Face is Better in Everyway
When Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson invented Dungeons and Dragons back in 1974 (I was 2 at the time) Tabletop Role Playing Games (RPG) there was no internet and so they were always meant to be a social experience played face to face.
Face to Face interactions have an immediacy and a subtlety which gets lost on a zoom call. We are socially programmed from childhood to pick up and interpret body language and facial expressions as part of non verbal communication. When you are in a video meeting you tend to treat it like a phone call and so your body language reflects that. Worse still if you have a poor internet connection you can lose video alltogether or it is reduced to a jittering mess of blocky pixels.
When discussing non-verbal communication I am always reminded of one of my players Sam, who when negotiating with a Pirate Captain, started reaching out and drawing his hand back towards himself. After 5 or six of these motions I asked him
"What are you doing?"
He calmly replied
"I'm grabbing my pet turtle before he escapes off the edge of the table".
I was blown away by this interraction and grateful that my players feel are encourage to role play in this way.
Creating the World Through Play
Most new players these days get introduced to roleplay through Dungeons and Dragons or by watching computer game streams such as The Witcher, Mass Effect, Fallout, Legend of Zelda and The Elder Scrolls. When you play a computer game you are getting one vision or version of that world as programmed by the team who developed it. There is no ability to break out of the box even in the biggest MMORPG.
Pre-written tabletop modules designed for online play also suffer from this to some degree. Your Games Master (GM) may have bought the module or encounter packs for their Virtual Table Top (VTT) and you are going to encounter them come hell or highwater.
When you meet face to face play there is so much more time for your GM to get to know you as players and therefore create personalised elements which make you much more engaged. You get to chat as friends about what you saw on TV, read, or saw on the internet. You find out much more about a person in this non-game chit chat time than it is ever possible to do if you only log on to play a session.
I know that I have often included references to things that my friends enjoy outside of gaming to embellish my games and create much more engagement for them as players.
Roleplaying is a Wide and Varied Hobby
There are ancillary aspects to the hobby which are firmly rooted in the real world rather than online. For example if you are a fan of the creative arts like painting, modelling or crafting you can turn your skills to collecting and painting miniatures, scenery building, map making, prop and puzzle making.
I am a 3D Printing nerd and a journeyman miniature painter and love to show off my creations to my friends and more importantly use them in my games. There's no substitute in my book for trying to solve a tactile puzzle with your own hands, or viewing a combat using little tiny plastic toy soldiers. It brings and extra level of immersion which you just can't replicate online.
Roleplaying Breeds Community Spirit
Being part of a group means you have shared experiences beyond just the game itself. At Dragons Keep we host several events throughout the year at weekends such as Games Days, Poker Nights, Karting, Movie nights, Barbecues and trips to events such as Dragonmeet or UK Games Expo.
When you are part of a group you also get to chat about each others games and share your collective experiences.
I've been playing at my local group (Dragons Keep) for nearly 20 years. I've met people from all walks of life, young, old and of every culture and background imagineable.
We have laughed, cried and argued with each other and shared many adventures both in our games and outside in the biggest game of all... Life.
Joining Dragons Keep
If you live in South East London we might be the group for you. Our venue is located in Chislehurst, whithin easy reach of Bexley, Bromley, Dartford, Eltham, Greenwich, Lewisham, Orpington and Sidcup. Drop us a line via our Contact Us page and talk to us about your passion.
If you live in another part of the UK then check out our tips on How do I find a tabletop RPG group near me?.