50 Lessons Learned From D&D
The world of Dungeons and Dragons is a magical place. It is filled with marvels and wonders, a world where anything can happen and it is down to the DM’s prerogative to decide what is real and what isn’t. From fighting orcs to raising dead, stealing from dragons to liberating whole tribes of unsuspecting Kobolds (from their heads). The world is an infinite space of magic users, mayhem, and madness. It’s amazing.
Of course, D&D is also an educational experience. It is a game full of lessons, whatever they may be. So, today, I thought I would share with you a whole 50 lessons that can be taken away from playing Dungeons and Dragons. These are lessons we have learned the hard way over the past 20 years playing the game.
50 Lessons Learned from D&D
Are you ready? Let’s begin –
- Bards can be fun. They’ve come a long way since the days of AD&D. Now they can sing AND dance.
- In v5, if you use fireball in a confined space you will probably end up redecorating the room. In AD&D, if you use fireball in a confined space there won’t be a room left to redecorate.
- If you put a portable hole in the ground, let someone fall in, and remove the hole then you are probably not Lawful Good.
- Oatey is a perfectly good name for a donkey.
- If you think about it – setting fire to a barrel of oil won’t make it explode. It’ll just burn. The same can be said for goblins.
- The official three most fun creatures to DM are, in this order: A lonely Nothic, a vengeful Mind Flayer, and a charismatic Kobold.
- Gnomes cannot reach most door handles so you will need some kind of step, stick, or coat hanger if you plan on adventuring alone.
- You don’t have to outrun a horde of orcs, you just have to outrun the slowest member of the party.
- Spears only go through doorways one way.
- You can defeat a greater demon by throwing a magic bar of soap at him, saying a command word, and turning the bar of soap into a giant marble bath mid-air. Physics, gotta love it.
- Gelatinous cubes only come in one of around three flavours – and none of them are strawberry.
- Halflings with a high poison resistance make terrible food tasters.
- If any character calls your Monk “fluffy” or “useless”, kindly remind them that they are wrong by removing their arms from their sockets.
- The Totem of the Duck is legitimate.
- Cersei Lannister is a poor role model unless you are playing a Courtesan Rogue, in which case she is pretty good.
- No one, no matter what they claim, knows what happens if you put a portable hole inside a portable hole.
- Anything is flammable if you apply enough flames.
- In Xanathar’s Guide there is a spell that allows you to summon a fortress…no…really.
- There is probably a reason to play a druid besides shapeshifting into things not as good as the druid’s natural form…but we struggle to think of what that reason is.
- Skeletons can’t read. A well-educated Zombie might if it still has eyes.
- There is a limit to the number of times you can call your Elven Cleric the “National Elf Service”. Oh, trust me. There is definitely a limit.
- Two magic users thunder-shocking next to one another will pulverize anything in between. Two magic using gnomes doing it is just hilarious (assuming you are not the thing in between).
- Falling large distances doesn’t hurt. Landing does.
- A halfling thief probably can’t carry 45 flasks of oil. Allowing it makes for a Molotov nightmare.
- A gnome can hide as a bollard if they have a hat large enough to pull over them, or, if they have a fishing rod, in any well-kept garden. This is especially the case in AD&D where gnomes make great illusionists.
- Whatever you do, don’t use a Wall of Iron to block an Air Elemental.
- To make a half-dragon the dragon probably needs to be in human form. Probably.
- Rust monsters do not make good pets unless you keep them in a glass tank.
- Speaking with the dead can sometimes just result in a lot of screaming.
- Teach a halfling to fish and you will eat for a day. Fish with the halfling as bait and you will still eat for a day…but odds are it will be a much bigger meal.
- If you can speak with plants then grass makes a great security system.
- You don’t have to cast Discern Lies. Just look at the DM’s face.
- Beauty is not in the eye of the Beholder. Laserbeams are.
- The dangerous part of a goblin wolf rider is the wolf, not the rider.
- When life gives you lemons, you are in a lemon orchard.
- A knightly messenger can get a letter to the party, through swamps, badlands, and orc encampments – yet Yodel struggles to get an undamaged parcel to me in real life.
- You can stop a thief hiding in shadows by casting the spell Light on his head. To really cheese him off, try Eternal Light. To really really cheese him off, shape it to the words “He’s Here” and make it flash pink.
- You can use Mage Hand to pick your nose, but it’s probably not very comfortable.
- Dancing Lights makes a good seasonal decoration if you are feeling festive. Colour Spray does not.
- Intelligence is knowing that you can pet an owlbear. Wisdom is knowing you shouldn’t. Charisma is knowing you can probably get away with it anyway. Dexterity is insurance in case it doesn’t work. Constitution is what you need when you realise you can’t run fast enough, and “Give me Strength” is what you will shout when it’s over.
- You can never be given too many titles. Just ask Derick, Cleric of the Church of Thoth, Lost Son of the Dwarves, Green Watcher of the Harpers, Cloak to the Lords Guard, Vindicator of the Wave Echo Caves, Filler of Pits, Tormentor of Skeletons, The Rat Truster, The Breaker of Chains, Returner of Stolen Goods, Befriender of Goblins, Trainer of Donkeys, and Eater of Stew.
- It is unlikely you will pull off a sneak attack with a pike…but not impossible.
- Shoot first, ask questions second, is not a good survival tactic in the long run.
- Whatever you do, do not roll a critical fail when holding a flaming sword.
- It is really easy for the player characters to completely destroy the local economy of a small town.
- Believe it or not, there are the same number of ones and twenties on a D20, it just doesn’t seem that way.
- It doesn’t matter how much you, as the DM, want a character encounter to be a fleeting moment. The player characters will grow attached and soon you find yourself rolling stats for Steve, Hay Farmer of Waterdeep, as he gets persuaded by the most charismatic member of the party to join their ranks.
- The likelihood of all NPCs being called “Dave” or “Davina” are slim, and yet “somehow” my adventuring groups keep meeting whole villages of them.
- Canon Fodder is not a good name for a Cleric.
- If you ask Google Home to roll dice for you, it will announce the results to the whole room.
- Most DMs can’t be bribed with food, but it is worth a try.
There you go, 51 lessons learned from Dungeons and Dragons.
We had quite a lot of fun remembering back to those moments where we learned lessons, either the easy way or the hard way, to come up with that list. Each one has a story behind it that makes us smile every time we recall them. Yes, they are silly, but they are also true. Such is the world of Dungeons and Dragons.
Due to all the recollecting, this article actually took a surprisingly long time to write, so I’ll probably leave it there. There will probably be a list of serious lessons in the not-too-distant future, but this will do for now.
In the meantime though – let me know some of the lessons you’ve learned by playing Dungeons and Dragons. Share your stories in the comments below.