A lifelong bookworm and a fantasy geek, Sarah Chaffee had for years admired Dungeons & Dragons from afar. “In the culture I grew up in,” she says, “it was very much like, ‘D&D is devil worship.’” In school, after getting a long way from her non secular group, Chaffee says she couldn’t wait any longer: She purchased the books, sat her mates down, and instructed them, “I’m going to run a game.”
Two years later, Chaffee is a D&D microcelebrity on TikTok. With short-cropped hair and a wry smile, from her SarahIsCoffee account Chaffee role-plays the exasperated dungeon grasp ready for her late gamers, the stick-in-the-mud cleric, the devil-may-care warlock, the inconvenienced villager. Chaffee will get all of it throughout with an enormous repertoire of facial expressions, memes, and somewhat cosplay. Take “D&D Classes in Quarantine”: In fast succession, Chaffee embodies the charismatic bard on seven relationship apps, the drained paladin who’d gotten everybody’s groceries, the rogue relishing in solitude, the druid squeezing her cat, and the wizard studying themselves into an existential disaster.
“It really shows people that anyone can play D&D,” says Chaffee. “It’s not a game that is just meant for people who have been around since the first edition and have grandfathered their own people in. It’s absolutely for everyone. And I think D&D TikTok is really helping people to see that.”
Over the previous couple of years, the old-school fantasy role-playing sport has seen renewed relevance. In 2014, writer Wizards of the Coast launched a streamlined D&D ruleset that emphasised storytelling over number-crunching. New on-line instruments have erased the necessity for deep dives into thick tomes. Together with this contemporary concentrate on character and plot, charismatic actors debuted net collection, podcasts, and Twitch exhibits of their D&D video games, some racking up a whole bunch of hundreds of subscribers. Mainstream media headlines described how D&D was not the area of previous, ponytailed dudes who’d reduce their tooth on traditionally correct wargames. Everyone performs D&D.
That features Gen Z. Because the 46-year-old sport has filtered down, TikTokers are translating its gatekept tradition and inside jokes into short-form video memes. The barrier to entry is low; numerous the preferred D&D TikTokers have solely performed for a 12 months or two themselves. It doesn’t matter. You don’t must have memorized the rulebook to laugh at the edgy rogue killing the toll guard they’d simply paid off—simply to get the cash again—as Madonna’s “Material Girl” performs within the background.
D&D is related to hours-long dice-rolling marathons, but it surely lends itself to TikTok’s short-form bursts in a few methods. It’s structured round archetypes; D&D’s well-known alignment chart has already change into a meme in its personal proper, spinning out into mosaics of popular culture icons ordered by moral alignment. On TikTok, Gen Z has made D&D’s class system right into a meme, too. A D&D TikToker who goes by Offbeat Outlaw compares it to the Italian theatrical type commedia dell’arte. “This is basically the same thing—classes and archetypes for all the classes—but on an app,” he says. “There’s a set script you can follow to build your skits off, and earn some renown, because people would resonate with those characters.”
Offbeat Outlaw factors to D&D TikTok’s favourite archetype: the sexy bard. In D&D, bards have a excessive “charisma” stat. If the occasion wants a negotiator, a diplomat, a persuader, or a liaison of any type, they’ll most likely flip to the bard. “Charisma” additionally historically applies to how scorching a personality is so numerous the time bard-players will use seduction to get what they need.