The fact my first game of Dungeons & Dragons was in 2015, a full seven years ago when I write this, is mind-boggling. On one hand it’s hard to believe it’s been that long since Trajen the Half-Elf Ranger learned he would be haunted by the gods of bad luck because Shane the Human on planet Earth had no ability to roll dice well.
On the other hand, it seems like D&D and other TTRPGs have always been a part of my life and it’s hard to see any point in the future where tabletop gaming won’t continue to be a part of my life.
The biggest benefits of playing D&D are the amazing people I’ve met at the table and the deep lasting friendships these shared games and experiences have created.
But that’s a whole different article. I’m not overly surprised I made friends from this new experience but what did surprise me is the number of tangible real world skills I developed or improved thanks to D&D.
If you have the courage to find a good group and jump into a game, I think you may find these skills grow for you, too!
One of the best things about D&D is that it is a group experience. A group story, a group campaign, it’s not all about one player but it is a combined story experience.
This means working as a group to overcome challenges, working together as a team to win combats, and hatching schemes together to try to make a scene work.
And when things start really going sideways, that’s when the teamwork often intends to help…but works to make things go sideways exponentially, which is just part of what makes D&D so delightful.
The practice of hatching plans with others, working past puzzles or trick rooms, and trying to get through a campaign as a team through good times or bad definitely encourages heavy teamwork, and in a fun setting to boot!
Being able to improvise is a major part most D&D tables I’ve ever been at and if you’re lucky enough to be at a table with a lot of chaotic creative players and DMs — this skill sky rockets just to keep up.
While some people make the mistake of thinking of improv purely in the acting/comedy sense, and you will certainly improve those skills dramatically, being able to improvise past challenges in real life starts with the ability to react quickly.
Playing D&D will certainly do that. You have limited gear, spells, and if you trip a bad trap for your character you may find yourself really reaching for any desperate creative detail to try to avoid what our table refers to as “bad times” and the DMs refer to as “consequences for your actions.”
It’s amazing how often in real life the ability to think fast and react fast can be useful, and D&D has done a major job in helping me improve those skills.
#3: Creative Problem Solving
There’s a well-known truth among D&D gamemasters that outsiders might consider a joke, but it’s not. If you have a locked door in an empty room with a single key hiding underneath the only upside down cup on a table, the party will find three ways to get through that door without ever realizing there was a key.
Frankly, I’ve been guilty of this as a player more times than I care to admit, but creative problem solving is always a good skill and if you head into a D&D campaign with a decent DM or one who loves riddles and stories, you will hit a point where it takes some creative thinking to solve a puzzle.
While in real life you might not have a magic spell that creates a spectral hand, or the ability to shatter a wooden chair to try to pull a nail for a rogue to use as a lockpick, just the process of thinking out of the box to solve a hypothetical problem is incredibly useful in everyday life.
Creative problem solving is not often mentioned as a skill, but it’s a way of thinking that is in high demand and is useful in many different areas and situations in life.
#4: Storytelling Skills
For people like me, storytelling is a skill worth having just because stories are fantastic and I think a culture really loses out when storytellers are devalued.
Even if you don’t share this particular belief, the ability to tell a good story requires many skills that are often drawn upon in many other facets of life.
Good storytelling requires:
- Imagination & creativity
- Good use of language whether written or verbal
- The ability to read a room
- A sense of pacing and style
- An understanding of story structure
These are skills that come up in marketing, advertising, even in socializing and how we interact with each other. The ability to tell good stories can come up in surprising ways socially, professionally, and even romantically.
A good story is worth its weight in gold, and becoming a better storyteller is an incredible skill in and of itself.
#5: All the Creative Skills
Creativity is a major part of virtually every aspect of a D&D game. From the team creative story telling to creating backstories for the character, to the actual strange plans and actions that progress a story, every creative skill imaginable gets a workout during a D&D campaign.
Whether you only play as a character, or you run a campaign for a table of friends as DM/GM, creativity is going to be in high demand with every story, every reaction, every description of a scene or question a player has about the area.
That right side of the brain is going to get stretched out for sure!
Amazingly Fun, Surprisingly Practical
The best value of a good TTRPG game like Dungeons & Dragons are the amazing friendships formed with incredible people. My timing of moving to a co-worker’s open room for rent, his new job, and the chance release of 5th Edition led to six people becoming incredibly close friends who have shared many adventures around the table and supported each other through many great times.
The surprising resurgence and strengthening of my creativity, improv, and storytelling has also had another fantastic effect I’ve enjoyed the benefits of in real life.
Simply put, the charisma score is doing great, both in-game and out, and I couldn’t be more thankful.