Above a restaurant in Kg Pancha Delima, there is a space where epic tales of fantasy and science fiction are born. It is where heroic battles are fought, friendships are tested and strife overcame.
You will not see these swashbucklers in any suits of armour however, no weapons or magical staves in hand.
These are just like-minded civilians belonging to a community that often keep themselves to the shadows, only convening when there is a grand adventure to be had.
These are Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) players, who have found a home in Wild Magic, a locally owned store dedicated to tabletop role-playing games (RPG) like DnD and Warhammer, but the store primarily serves the needs of the local DnD community.
DnD which debuted in 1974 has amassed a legion of fans over the decades, with an estimated 13.7 million active players scattered around the world.
In Brunei however, the DnD community is still small, but one that has persisted over the four decades of the game’s existence, which is also experiencing steady growth as tabletop games experience a resurgence in this technological age.
“We started Wild Magic in March last year, and it was mostly out of the necessity. We saw that there was a market for people who want to play DnD, but there were no spaces that specifically catered to them,” said Wild Magic founder, Yazin Yahya.
The uniqueness of DnD’s gameplay requires a particular environment, said Yazin, one that is conducive to an important element of the game, that is the interaction between its players and characters with the world builders, known as Dungeon Masters (DM).
“For a role-playing game, you would need to have a private room, where it won’t get too loud, if it is too noisy we wouldn’t be able to listen to the DMs and DnD is essentially an improvisation game, one that requires constant interaction,” he said.
Wild Magic organizes about two to three plays or sessions in a week with plays that feature official and unofficial settings meant to cater to all DnD players; the experienced as well as the brand new.
“People often perceive DnD as a game where you just find monsters and kill them, but you can have any kind of adventure that you want whether combat-based or narrative-driven,” added Yazin.
Those who are new to the game can opt for their “Wednesday Wanshots”, a non-committal one-shot game featuring adventures that are outside the official lore using home-brewed settings uniquely crafted by different Dungeon Masters.
These “Wanshots” can include scenarios ranging from a group of muppets, trying to save one of their kin from “the treacherous madness of the Abyss” to a mystery set in 1984, where a group of teenagers must solve a series of disappearances plaguing their small town.
Meanwhile, there is the “Adventurer’s League” for experienced players, which is an organised play campaign where players go through a season of stories published by official DnD publisher, Wizards of the Coast.
“Here, players can come in with their own home-brewed characters, and try to complete the campaign together, but the play is designed in a way so that it’s okay to miss a few (sessions), so you can drop in and play the next one”, continued the 32-year-old.
Despite hosting DnD games as their main core business, Wild Magic also houses a wide array of DnD related products as well as Warhammer products which include official guidebooks, dices, miniatures and other accessories which help enrich a player’s experience.
He went on to explain that during the organised play sessions, players are charged by the hour, however, they need only to pay a small fee of $1 per player per hour. Rooms can also be rented at $2 per player per hour with Yazin sharing that an average session would house three to six players and can last for two to three hours.
According to Yazin, since Wild Magic’s establishment, more than 60 plays have been organised, usually with members of Brunei’s DnD community taking part, however, he noted how the store receives new players almost every other day.
Yazin explained how Wild Magic and their assortment of Dungeon Masters are always willing to help run a game, especially for first-timers who lack the confidence of running their own dungeons.
“Typically we run games for school kids or university students. We even do it for experienced players, especially those who are looking to experience different or unique adventures”.
Every new person that shows interest in learning the DnD craft represents a beacon of hope for Wild Magic, one that can indicate the longevity of the DnD community in Brunei, hoping to see the community prosper and eliminate any stigma attached to the game.
“We know that for a long time, DnD faced a lot of stigmas, with it being associated with anti-social behaviour, but we know now that’s a misconception because believe it or not, I believe that DnD has a good role to play in the society.
For now, Yazin is content with how the store has fared having been established for less than a year, expressing Wild Magic’s ultimate goal of spreading awareness on DnD and other tabletop games as a healthy recreation to the general public.
“DnD and other tabletop games allow you to interact with people in various ways, its theatrical as well as tactical, it imbues you with creativity, critical thinking, promotes team building and lets you build confidence, there are not many games that do that”, he said.
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN