Dungeons & Dragons is more popular than ever. The current edition has sold millions of copies and is the most popular version in years, if not the entire 49-year history of the game. Actual play shows like Critical Role and Dimension 20 are selling out stadiums like they were monsters of rock. This March saw the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, a fun adventure romp that felt familiar to fans of the game while also entertaining to folks who didn’t know a beholder from an umber hulk. (Seriously, check it out on streaming if you get the opportunity.)

The challenging part of playing D&D is finding someone willing to step into the role of Dungeon Master. This central figure at the table creates the plot, plays multiple characters, and adjusts the story based on everyone’s actions and reactions. It’s a rewarding job, like cooking a meal for your friends. But, like that home cooked meal, it’s a tough job that can be intimidating for anyone who has never set foot into the kitchen.

Enter The Dragon’s Sandbox, a local business/service that asks, “You can go out for dinner, so why can’t you go out for D&D?” Owner Dan Glass followed a path common to many fans of D&D. He bought a ton of books, played in his high school and college years, drifted away, then came back in the past few years. One of the things he noticed was a lack of options for people who weren’t already familiar with the local game store scene.

His Dungeon Masters run games once or twice a month at The Chef’s Table (500 S. 3rd St.), a private event and dining venue in the city’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. Each game is meant to stand alone to combat one of the biggest myths in the hobby—that every D&D campaign has to be an epic years-long commitment. For someone deciding if the hobby is something they’ll like, that can be an intimidating prospect. Imagine wanting to go to a Brewers game for the first time and everyone saying the only way to truly enjoy baseball is buying season tickets.

The players skew towards the new so everyone is learning at the same time. Professional Dungeon Masters craft their own noise-friendly stories and take the time to explain the rules. The game is set in a private space at The Chef’s Table, and a meal is included with admission ($45). Drinks are a separate purchase. Gold pieces are currently not accepted as part of the program.

Currently, the focus is on beginning sessions of D&D, but Glass has plans to expand. In addition to the next set of D&D games on October 22 and October 30, he’s also set up a beginner Blood Bowl session on October 15. Blood Bowl is a literal fantasy football game where orks, elves, and dwarves face off in a British version of American football. He encourages folks who might not want to play but may want to hang out and paint miniatures to also consider attending.

Dragon’s Sandbox offers people curious about Dungeons & Dragons a chance to get out and play with some real people without judgment. It’s also a good way for folks who drifted away from the scene a chance to see if their +1 chainmail still fits.

Photo: The Dragon’s Sandbox

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About The Author

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Rob Wieland is a contributor to the Milwaukee Record. He is an author, game designer, and professional nerd.