You've heard about Dungeons & Dragons, and you probably have an idea of the stereotypical player. But did you know that this role-playing game is ideal for feminists? D&D presents potent tools for examining reality while exploring imaginary lands, letting you control everything. All you need are polyhedral (20-sided) dice, some players, and the three basic rulebooks.

Rules regulate fairness and risk as the players, who each create a character, react to the obstacles set forth by the Dungeon Master, who guides the overall storyline. (Many women hold the DM's chair, myself included.) The Dungeon Master's Guide offers guidelines for building worlds, myths, and adventures; The Monster Manual is full of foes to face. As the DM, you oversee everything the players don't control, shaping culture and biology as you wish. The Player's Handbook helps you create a fantasy persona with extraordinary powers. When your character encounters a problem, you use their attributes (like Dexterity), skills (such as Persuasion), and abilities (martial to magical) to handle it. Rolling the die and adding your character's skill rating to the result can lead the game in any direction.


D&D is designed as a team experience, where characters work together to overcome challenges, and players often gain lifelong friends as a story develops. Gaming groups shift with members' tastes: DMs determine how many players they can handle (typically three to five), sessions can last hours or all day, as often as you like, and stories may cover one night or years. You just have to get everyone on board. Some groups are more competitive, but as long as you have fun, you win.

D&D as a brand has improved representation, diversity, and equality. More women and people of color are in the guidebooks' art and game design—yet more can be done. Old stereotypes die hard, but as a game of imagination, it belongs to everyone.

By Patricia Willenborg, kismetrose.com

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