As is the custom of this weird-ass place called the internet, Milwaukee Record is required by law to mention the latest season of Stranger Things. (It’s back! In pog form!) What does this have to do with local music, quirky institutions, and gentle sarcasm? Stranger Things is one of the forces behind the current Dungeons & Dragons boom, along with an accessible edition and the rise of “actual play” shows where people watch other people play roleplaying games. A lot of folks came out of the first season looking to try out this game or get back into it after years away from the table.
Now, with the rise of the Hellfire Club in the new season, there are folks who want to know where they can play D&D in our fair city. Here are some of the best places to learn about the differences between wizards and warlocks, dwarves and derros, and what all the little different dice mean.
Friendly local gaming stores
There are plenty of places to buy D&D, and a few who have space to play it. Game Universe, Board Game Barrister, and TK Games all have open spaces to play the game, with a few having regular game nights mixed in with their usual Magic: The Gathering tournaments. D&D has its own organized play, Adventurer’s League, but it’s still coming back from being shut down/moved online because of the pandemic.
Gaming in bars
The profile has shifted a bit in the past few years (R.I.P. 42 Lounge, 42 Ale House, Oak & Shield Gaming Pub), but there are still places where you can meet in a tavern in real life in order to meet in a tavern to have adventures. Binary is still alive and kicking in West Allis. Faklandia Brewing took over the old 42 Ale House space and not only has D&D nights, but has opened the back room to big tables for other nerd mainstays like Magic and Warhammer. For folks who prefer to nest in Riverwest, Company Brewing offers a D&D meetup the first Wednesday of every month.
Nexus Game Fair
It’s hard to believe Gen Con has been gone for 20 years. Since 2014, Nexus Game Fair has been bringing that old convention feeling back to Milwaukee summers. They made the move to Brookfield a couple years ago; this year’s show is set for June 23-26, in the convention center across the parking lot from Brookfield Square. Nexus combines the best of the old and the new, a.k.a. the massive gaming library of Milwaukee Company of Gamers and the ability to take a midday Rocky Rococo lunch break in a mall food court.
Slaying the dragon at Boswell Books
This isn’t a place to play D&D necessarily, but more of a place where you might be able to find other players to form a group. Local author Ben Riggs turned a series of articles about the secret history of the game into a book detailing the rise and fall of TSR, Slaying The Dragon: A Secret History Of Dungeons & Dragons. The author is doing an in-person event at Boswell on July 19 where he’ll sign books and dish on all the things his meticulous research discovered about the company that created D&D.
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• Nexus Game Fair attempts to fill the Gen Con-sized hole in Milwaukee’s gaming scene