How Dungeons & Dragons taught me to survive the apocalypse

Yes, I am openly admitting that I spent countless hours of my youth (eh hem…) sitting at a table, dice in hand, battling ogres, demons, and dragons. It’s a badge I wear with pride because all of those D&D (AD&D, Vampire: The Masquerade, Heroes, and more) campaigns taught me how to survive the inevitable — the apocalypse.

“How?” you say? Let me explain, before you pants me and label me  more of a nerd than I already am.

For those of you who do not quite understand what Dungeons & Dragons is (or AD&D in the parlance of the nerd) let me fill you in (lest your mind hearken back to the eighties and assume it to be a means for calling Satan to do one’s bidding.

From Wikipedia:

Dungeons & Dragons (abbreviated as D&D or DnD) is a fantasy role-playing game(RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, and first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997. It was derived from miniature wargames with a variation of the Chainmail game serving as the initial rule system. D&D‘s publication is widely regarded as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.

But what in the world could a fantasy-driven, table-top game teach me about surviving the apocalypse? Let me list the ways.

1d10: Choose your party wisely. If there’s a single aspect of gaming that would help me survive, it’s knowing how best to put a survival party together. In D&D a party would never last if it wasn’t well balanced. Oh sure you could slap together a bunch of barbarians and have at it. That’s all good if every test you go up against is a test of strength. The truth of the matter is, however, every test is different. You need strength (barbarian), intelligence (wizard), agility (rogue), and street smarts (thief). Without these well balanced members in a team, the chance of survival is nil.

2d10: Teamwork is crucial. Oh sure you want to be the hero, get all the experience points, and level your ranger up like crazy. Thing is, the more you follow that mode, the less your chances are of surviving the hell storm. Working together means not only pooling your skills but your resources and also having each other’s back. If you all behave likes thieves, you’ll wind up in the grave or in a zombie buffet.

3d10: Anything can be a weapon. No matter where you are, no matter the situation you are in, anything can be a weapon. From a popsicle stick to a Jimmy Choo heel, you can save or protect yourself from the enemy with just about any object. This means you not only always have to have your eyes looking for possible objects d’arsenal, you must always be thinking creatively when it comes to combat.

4d10: Hand out trust rarely. When the apocalypse hits, trust is no longer a commodity that will be handed out readily. The world will be in a “me first” state and everyone around you might well want you dead. That means once you have gained the trust of a small group — you stay with them and you do nothing to lose their trust. That party you have joined is your new post-apocalyptic family. Treat them with respect and trust them completely — until they do something to lose your trust. Once they’ve lost your trust, pay off the assassin and get them out of the picture.

5d10: Always set up watch. You’ve got to rest. When you do there better be a watch set up. Make sure you always have someone who is either able to fight off danger or is able to wake everyone up quickly in case the horde arrives in the middle of the night. Divvy up the watch time evenly and make sure the shifts are short-ish.

6d10: Traps are everywhere. No the zombies won’t be setting up traps for you to stumble into — but other survivors will. And don’t think, for a second, the Zero Day Collective (or whatever organization unleashed the virus) isn’t watching you and preparing a nasty trap. Just remember, when you spot one, run around screaming “It’s a trap!”

7d10: Level bosses should not be faced until you’re prepared. I know, I know… real life doesn’t actually have level bosses. Or does it? At some point those moaners are going to evolve into screamers, into boners, into Subject 001 (into who knows what next)! When that happens, you damn well better be ready to fight tougher and tougher opponents. That final boss — the Zero Day Collective!

8d10: Sometimes the dice just don’t roll your way. That’s right girls and boys — not matter how lucky you are, at some point that luck is going to run out. All of those critical hits you’ve been rolling? Eventually they will turn into critical fails and that zombie horde will take you down. Never assume yourself untouchable.

9d10: Your pack is your best friend. Sometimes the only thing you have is the pack on your back. If that’s the case, it better be jam packed with survival gear. Rope, the mechanisms for fire, food… if you don’t do this one thing right, you’re going to have a hell of a time staying alive.

10d10: You can’t bribe the dungeon master. Okay, truth be told, you can. A six pack of dew, a date with your hot sister… there are ways to convince a DM to let you slide. Thing is, that isn’t happening in reality. Although there might be a DM controlling the apocalypse, you do not have what he or she wants… unless you hold the keys to almighty power!

And there you have it. Ten things I learned from D&D that will get me through the apocalypse. I hope you still have your velvet dice bag ready to rock when the virus hits — you’re gonna need it!