Setting the Stage
These are my reflections before we were able to pick up our copy of the D&D Essentials Kit. We’ll have a review post up very soon!
This post is more my desire to be authentic with our wonderful readers. Change can be scary, especially when it’s happening with something we care deeply about. So, I wanted to share my thoughts regarding the Essentials Kit and how they went from alarm to delight.
A Dark Beginning
I can’t say that I was overjoyed when I first heard about the special one-on-one rules in the D&D Essentials Kit from Wizards.
The cranky, insecure part of me was very sarcastic about the whole thing. And perhaps a bit incredulous. Gee, thanks for the permission. So many people already play this way! And we love it!
As you might imagine, other thoughts like what if no one reads our blog anymore or plays the adventures we wrote? made their way through my mind as well.
And then there was a touch of anger and concern.
As the primary player in our game, I would be the one these rules would most affect, and I love using multiple character sheets to their fullest extent when I’m running our people through combat. It’s interesting, I’m a better DM because of it, etc.
And a possible evil scheme!
What if there was some sort of terrible gendered thing about it too? Many, though certainly not all, of the people we talk with about playing one-on-one are male-female pairs. In theses sets, often, men are DMing and women are playing.
I have no idea what the actual numbers on this are, and we of course switch, but this was coming from a defensive mindset rather than a generous one.
With this scheme, what if there was some sort of implication that women couldn’t run multiple full characters, and what if this would also cripple their confidence to become DMs later if they chose because of the impression that they were running a simplified version of the game?!
But thankfully, happily, better (real!) truths soon emerged.
We started this blog because we believe in the power and importance of playing DnD one-on-one.
It has done so much for our relationship, brought us closer, and created many happy memories and shared experiences.
I can say for myself that it’s probably the most incredible thing I’ve ever created. And it means even more to me that we did it together.
We wanted to share our own experience with others, for other people to have the tools to get started, and to add a balanced perspective on what playing two-person D&D looks like.
I didn’t want other people to miss out on a year that could have been spent playing because of misconceptions about the game and the rules like I did!
What’s really important
Wizards of the Coast and the entire D&D community have given me so much. I never thought that such an amazing group of people existed on the internet, and yet here you all are, sharing your creativity, ideas, fun, and advice!
Does it really matter if the sidekick rules “simplify” combat so it’s easier to scale, and the PC gets to be the star of the show? Definitely not.
What does matter is that as many people get to play as possible and that they enjoy it.
I love that duet play isn’t going to be a side corner of the D&D world anymore. It’s been central to many of us for a long time, and really, the recognition doesn’t matter so much as there being more opportunity, tools, and resources available.
There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, I think that we are in a community that adores bringing new people in. And if you are new here, to our site or the D&D space, welcome! I’m relatively new too!
There’s always room for more creators. There’s always room for more DMs. There’s always room for more players and games and campaigns.
It can be intimidating as a creator to perceive a massive change in a space, but why indulge that scarcity mindset?
More writers means more readers. More D&D players means more people enjoying and creating and exploring, as far as I see it, the best parts of themselves, righting wrongs and practicing power and agency.
Thank you for letting me share this with you. I think authenticity is really important, and as excited as I am about the new Essentials Kit, I wanted to be honest about being a bit alarmed at first as well.
In the coming days, weeks, and months, please do let us know what you think of the Sidekick rules! You can read our review now, and we have some fun things planned for testing them out and sharing with all of you!
The D&D Essentials Kit is available at Target now and other stores in September.
(Please forgive us for having the camera turned vertically instead of horizontally and for the puppy battling happening with the click-clack claws in the background.)
If you like what you’re reading, please consider supporting the blog by purchasing our adventures and supplements in our shop or on DMsGuild or sponsoring us on Patreon. We’d also love for you to follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We appreciate you so much! Thank you for reading. – Beth and Jonathan