BY CARMEN ANDERSON
Tell me a bit about your business and where the idea came from to start it up.
The heart of it is simple: we love Dungeons and Dragons (D&D)! But like a lot of different hobbies, it can get expensive and difficult to get into; especially if you consider the costs of shipping to Gibraltar. The four of us (Benji, Brian, Fiona and Vanda) wanted to help give local people an opportunity to experience D&D; to share what we feel is an amazing hobby with anyone who wants to try it.
During the COVID lockdowns of 2020, we managed to continue playing D&D with our friends online. Being able to keep this personal connection through the isolation quickly became the highlight of everyone’s week. But what we craved, more than ever, was sitting around the table, laughing and cheering as we celebrated our characters’ epic victories. So, in February 2021, when we finally got back together, we decided to start our own adventure. We knew we would have to start online and in markets to make this work, so we created dragonsndruids.com. It took a lot of work, but we finally launched in October.
What sort of items do you offer? Do you hope to expand this range, and if so, what would you like to introduce to your shop?
Right now, we sell acrylic and metal dice sets, laminated battle maps and downloadable Heroes and Villains to use in people’s D&D sessions. We also sell 3D printed miniature figures at our appearances in the Ocean Village Sunday market.
But, in our opinion, the coolest thing we offer is our ‘Rent-a-DM’ service. Most people can’t start playing D&D because they don’t know anyone who knows the game well enough to run it. That’s where we come in! We have an ever-expanding list of one-time adventures (one-shots) that we can use to take up to six people on an epic journey of our own design. It’s a great way to try the game for the first time.
In the future though, we aim to start stocking official D&D books (e.g., Player’s Handbook and Monster Manual), weird and wonderful boardgames (not Monopoly), and even branching into cosplay and other tabletop roleplay systems.
We can take up to six people on an epic journey of our own design.
Tell me a bit about the game itself; is it popular in Gibraltar?
D&D is an immersive experience where each player creates and plays a character of their own design, based in a world of high fantasy. One player, the Dungeon Master (DM), then leads the players through whatever story, quest, or journey that they are embarking upon. Each character can interact with the world around them, speaking to locals, hunting monsters through various landscapes, and even stumbling across hoards of treasure. At its core, it is a collaborative storytelling experience between all involved.
There are people in Gibraltar that have been playing D&D for decades, but it’s only experienced a worldwide resurgence in the last six or seven years. The longer we have been playing ourselves, the more people we have met that love it as much as we do. We’re also starting to notice that more and more teenagers and young adults are eager to try it.
How long have you played D&D? What inspired you to start playing and what do you enjoy most about it?
Benji: I’ve been playing D&D for nearly 6 years now. I was originally inspired by the freedom that D&D allowed in its roleplay, especially when compared to traditional video games. The longer I played though, the more I found myself leaning into the DM role and creating entire worlds for my friends to explore and huge challenges for them to overcome. That’s led to my favourite thing about D&D; watching my friends’ expressions turn from shock, into resolve and finally into celebration as they conquer whatever I have placed ahead of them.
Fiona: I first dabbled in roleplay about 15 years ago, when I played a couple of sessions of the Warhammer tabletop game, and it gave me the itch. Sadly, I didn’t touch fantasy role play again until about three years ago. A friend at work pulled together a ragtag band of adventurers who are now some of my closest friends, and we still play together as often as we can! We four play together every week, and I love that. D&D lets me see my friends often, and share in some of the most wild, dangerous, emotional, fantastical and incredible stories. The connections you make, between characters and between friends, are so powerful and long-lasting. There is nothing better!
Brian: Like Benji, I’ve been playing for almost six years; we pretty much started this journey together. At the time I was in university, so D&D was a great way to take a break from the rigours of studying, and now to spend time outside of my day job. I always leaned more into the player side of things; I love to work out the puzzles that a DM comes up with. In the last year or so, I’ve gone more into the DM side of things and found a unique love of creating these puzzles, and seeing the faces of players who thought it might just be impossible after the penny drops and they realise the answer.
Vanda: I’ve played D&D for a little over a year now and I couldn’t be happier about it. D&D was always something interesting to me since my friend’s brother is into roleplaying and Warhammer but it wasn’t until I met Brian that I really got into it. When we started dating, he wanted to introduce me to his friends who loved playing D&D. I thought it was a great opportunity to start playing. Actually, it was Benji himself who helped me create my very first character! Even though the other players were at quite a high level at the time and were familiar with the game, unlike me, I loved every moment of it. The sheer number of possibilities when you let your imagination flow is one thing I love about D&D, but it’s also mostly about being able to play a character and totally escape this reality for some time whilst enjoying yourself with amazing people. I got to meet some of my closest friends through D&D so I’m very thankful!
What has the response to your business been like so far?
Definitely positive. We’ve met so many amazing people both through Facebook and the Sunday market that either already play or are trying very hard to start playing. We’ve also had people of all ages buying dice and miniatures, and have just booked our first Rent-a-DM adventure. People are asking when we can run sessions for them and their children and we can’t wait to see the looks on their faces as they find themselves against vampires, dragons and whatever else we come up with!
What are the plans for your business in the future? Do you plan to sell elsewhere than just Gibraltar?
We have no plans to sell beyond our borders currently. The core idea of Dragons and Druids was to bring D&D into Gibraltar and that’s how we would want to keep it. Our ultimate goal is to open a local game shop/cafe, where people can come to grab supplies for their home games, and sit down with friends, family, or even total strangers to play D&D, board games, or anything else we can get our hands on at that point in time.