What is Dungeons & Dragons?

Dungeons and Dragons is one of the most popular and widespread tabletop roleplaying games, with a tradition dating back to its original printing in the 1970s. D&D is a collaborative storytelling game, where a group of people take on the personas of fictional characters and interact in a shared fantasy world, telling stories about their characters' actions and adventures. The story is often told in a sword and sorcery setting, but it could also be used to tell adventures in outer space, modern cities, the open sea, or the Wild West. 

What is D&D 5th Edition (5e)? 

D&D 5th Edition (5e) is the most recent of several iterations of Dungeons and Dragons. This newest iteration offers a more simplified and streamlined play experience, cutting down on some of the mechanical complexity of more recent editions and returning to the philosophical traditions of the game by favoring more freestyle play and collaboration among players.  

What are the benefits of playing tabletop games such as D&D? 

Tabletop roleplaying games offer something that many other forms of media cannot: the potential to tell stories with your friends that are completely unique to your group, where the only limits are your imagination. The experience can be completely customized by your characters' (and DM's) choices. However, what D&D offers that many other tabletop roleplaying games do not is related to its long tradition in the hobby: there are many popular modules and adventures that you can play through which gives you a common vernacular and experience to share with other players. While any two groups running through Ravenloft for the first time may make unique choices during their game, you can also reminisce and compare your experiences fighting the dread vampire Strahd von Zarovich when you swap 'war stories' other groups!

Furthermore, shared experiences at the gaming table can help to improve communication and social skills, in addition to exercising your strategic thinking and problem solving abilities. This game can be a great way to make new friends, reconnect with family and old friends, or expand relationships into new dimensions with highly memorable table moments.

How the game works:  

To make D&D work, you need two kinds of 'role' at the table: Players and the Dungeon Master. The players take the role of the main characters in the story and decide what they do as if they themselves were the characters. The Players have the most input in what kinds of characters they run: from their personalities, to looks, and abilities. The other important role in D&D is the Dungeon Master. The 'DM' takes responsibility for everything else in the story: from managing the world and side characters, the monsters and environment, running combat, arbitrating rules questions and gaps, and keeping the game running smoothly. When you play, the DM will describe what you see and what is nearby. Then, as players, you will decide what to do. The DM helps you to implement that action according to the rules, and then describes what happens as a consequence. This process iterates as a story is constructed. 

Consider the following excerpt from a session:
Ethan (DM): "As you kick open the barricaded doors into the ritual chamber, your senses are assaulted by the bitter incense clouding the air. Light and shadow ripple along the cobblestone walls, cast by an acid-green flame in a large brazier. Three cultists in dark robes look at you menacingly, and you can just make out the slumped frame of the villager you were sent to rescue. What do you do?"
Darcy (Playing Vargilas the bard): "I want to run over to the captive and see if they're OK."
Cannoli (Playing Arrold the barbarian): "While he's doing that, I'm going to draw the attention of the cultists by yelling at them, and fire a shot from my longbow!"
Ethan: Vargilas, if you want to go help the hostage you're going to have to get past the knife-wielding figures... We'll see if Arrold can hold them off...
"Everybody, roll Initiative to see who goes first!"
Group goes in this order: Arrold, Cultists, Vargilas.
Ethan: "Arrold, roll to attack! (Cannoli rolls a 19). That's a hit, how much damage? (Cannoli rolls damage: 8) Your arrow strikes true, and one cultist falls to the ground, mortally wounded. The other two cultists brandish their blades: one goes for Arrold, the other moves for Vargilas." (Ethan rolls dice for the bad guys) "They roll a 11 and a 18 to hit, respectively." 
Darcy: "Ouch, I'm hit! How much damage is that?" (Ethan rolls damage: 6)
Ethan: "The dagger slashes along your arm and back as you run past. You can see signs of life when you near the villager. He seems to be wounded, but alive. What do you do"
Darcy: "It's vengeance time..."

n.b: Darcy & Cannoli are Ethan's cats.

How many players sit at a table, usually?

D&D is usually played by one DM and between 3-5 players. There is technically no upper or lower bound on the number of players who can play in one game, but for expediency's sake our DM believes it optimal to limit play to smaller groups so that everyone gets enough time 'in the spotlight' and combat encounters run more smoothly.

What is a "campaign"?

A 'campaign' is a series of adventures or sessions, strung together by a loosely overlapping narrative. The use of the term 'campaign' hearkens back to the wargaming traditions of the hobby, in which tabletop war games simulated military campaigns. D&D campaigns maintain a certain degree of continuity across sessions in which your actions from earlier sessions may affect the future of your character or the world, contrasting with the idea of a single session adventure (or 'one shot') which is usually canonically separate from other sessions.

What happens behind the scenes? 

Behind the scenes of a D&D game (like most other games in this genre), the DM must do the work of creating and curating a fantasy world for the story to take place in, or if running prewritten/published modules, become familiar enough with the material to be able to run the adventure fluidly and improvise when the unexpected happens. DMs often manage a variety of other resources including lists of important non-player characters the players may meet, planning potential combat and social encounter scenarios, constructing the overarching narrative and accounting for the characters' actions.

Why would I want a paid Dungeon Master service?

D&D is not a hobby that requires a lot of investment to play (just some pens, paper, cheap dice, and imagination will suffice!). However, there are a lot of benefits to playing with a professional Dungeon Master.

First, our Dungeon Master spends lots of time preparing for each session to make sure the session is close to what your group is trying to achieve, or will find entertaining, etc. We also have an extensive library of D&D content to run for you, which means you don't have to pay for that content yourself for us to run it for you! 

Secondly, our DM is very experienced in running fantasy roleplay games for diverse playgroups. He has been running games for more than 16 years and is an active member of the online D&D and TTRPG community on social media, where he offers advice to new players and Dungeon Masters on how to run games, improve your improvisational confidence, how to plan better stories, and help with managing playgroup behavior and expectations. 

Next, we will honor our commitments to run the game on time and within the scheduled period. In casual play, you may often see game sessions get canceled due to other player's schedule constraints and busy lives. You may have trouble finding players online or offline, but you still want to enjoy the adventure. You may want to play a private event with your friends and family only but no one has the time or familiarity to perform for the DM role, or you may not have time to learn all the game rules. You may just want to have a leisurely game experience. Maybe you're a "forever DM" who wants the chance to play for a change!

Additionally, while we run commercially available adventures made by Wizards of the Coast, we also write our own content, including campaigns and adventures which you won't find anywhere else. When we run published adventures, they are always given our own unique twist that helps them fit into the fictional world of Aerselion, the setting of most of our games.  Your purchases will support us to create more stories and adventures for you to enjoy.  

Lastly, You may want to teach your kids or friends how to play, or you may want to learn yourself! Learning by practicing is the best way! Our DM will ensure that you have a fun and relaxing exposure to the game, whether you are a new or veteran player. D&D is a good tool to practice improv, communication skills, acting skills, strategic thinking, team building, maths, logic, etc. 

Can I change the session time? 

Yes absolutely. If you purchase a per person session. You will pair to another players on a week-to-week basis. However, we can also run solo sessions if you think that will be an option. If you purchase an entire private session, please let us know the availability time, we will try to accommodate your group's time. Our Dungeon Master is still trying to finish his PhD thesis, but we will try the best we can to reschedule to a time that works for all of you. 

What styles or themes will the game be?

Our Dungeon Master usually gets inspiration from many different popular books and video games.  He especially likes to run games inspired by Gothic and Romantic literature (think Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley etc), gothic and cosmic horror, pulp fiction, and popular fantasy franchises like the Lord of the Rings, the Dark Souls video games, or Star Wars. 

However, please feel free to let us know your desired themes or styles in advance. So we can design the adventure more specific to your needs. In the past, we've run some specific themes such as escape room adventures, holiday-themed adventures, birthday adventures, etc. If you want to have some special moments in mind to surprise your friends/family, please contact us so we can include your amazing ideas in the story. This can be great for birthday celebrations, holidays, and more. 

What do I need to do before the game starts? 

If you have zero experience with the game, we recommend that you book a one-on-one session with our Dungeon Master to go through a 1-hour introductory session for explanations of game rules and the creation your own unique character to play, as well as being able to ask us any questions you may hav about the hobby. At this point, we are offering 50% off of the game session if you book our one-on-one session together. 

If you have some experience of the game, we recommend you send us your character sheet (for a level 3 character) at least 24 hours before the game session start time so we can have sufficient time to customize your experience and campaign. However, if you want a more relaxed experience, we have a selection of pre-generated character sheets to for you to pick from.

For all players, we recommend you have a set of polyhedral dice for use during the game session, in addition to a pencil and a paper. However, there are plenty of free digital alternatives out there to do the same tasks including dice rolling, note taking, ability score calculation, etc. 

What do I get out of the game? 

You will get to have a memorable 3-4 hours of time spent playing with friends or making new friends. We hope you will enjoy the entire session with us and we welcome you to write us some feedback so we can improve our services and offer even better experiences next time. We love to hear from our players and make you happy during the time you spend with us.

Do you offer in-person sessions? 

Currently, we offer in-person sessions for Chicago's Northshore and suburbs. We live in Chicago. We like to travel to other cities and conventions, so it's possible we could play somewhere close to your location and get to meet you in person! 

We also offer virtual sessions through Discord, Zoom, and Roll20. If you'd like to play with us or book an event, please reach out to us through our store contact information, or on social media!

Can I cancel my game session and get the refund? 

You can cancel your session as much as 24 hours before the scheduled game session. Please contact us if you want to do so. However, we are unable to issue you a refund at this point because we are a small business and we do preparation for these games prior to sessions. So please make sure you decide thoroughly before you make the order. For cancellations more than 24 hours in advance, you will receive a gift card loaded with the same value and be able to apply the gift card to future game sessions. If you want to transfer your gift card to another player/friend, please contact us by email or another outlet and we will accommodate the transfer for you. 

For sessions cancelled less than 24 hours in advance, no gift card is issued.