“Okay, roll initiative.”
I’ve come to both fear and anticipate these words as a fellow D&D player. Because usually, that means you’re about to suffer the immediate consequences of your actions. This was something that I was constantly reminded of as I watched the first episode of Netflix’s new anime, Delicious in Dungeon.
Based on the manga of the same name, and produced by Studio Trigger (Cyberpunk: Edgerunners),?Delicious in Dungeon is a twist on the highly popular tabletop RPG, Dungeon and Dragons. The show takes place in a high fantasy world where goblins and magic are as common as peanut butter and jelly. But instead of following a group of people set on saving the world from a world-ending threat, the story follows a group of people who hunt dungeon monsters – hoping to cook and eat them!
A fun aspect of the show is that D&D players will quickly recognize all the obscure monsters that the characters fight. It’s always nice to see a Green Slime nearly kill one of your party members because they weren’t paying attention. Or seeing classic tropes play out, such as seeing a buff Dwarf use a weapon that’s as big as he is. And there’s other ways the show manages to impressively capture what it’s like to actually sit with your friends in the midst of a campaign.
Read on for how?Delicious in Dungeon?manages to evoke what it’s like to be in the midst of playing D&D.
Like D&D… with hunger pangs!
Within the first few minutes of?Delicious in Dungeon , we’re introduced to a band of what appears to be highly skilled dungeon explorers going toe-to-toe with a giant Red Dragon. But as soon as the battle begins, Laios, one of the show’s main characters, stops in his tracks and daydreams about food. Because of his actions, one of his party members got eaten, and the rest were nearly killed. So, in a last-ditch effort to survive, the group’s wizard teleports them away from the dungeon.
This immediately reminded me of my own D&D group, because it is in fact something they’ve done in the past. There have been countless times when I’ve been in some dangerous situations (granted, most of them are self-inflicted), fighting for my life. While I was confident I’d have my party to rely on, they’d be doing anything but fighting. For example, they’d watch it play out or try to get the number for a local Elf they’ve just met.
As the show goes on, it captures much of what makes D&D so enjoyable. For a good portion of the first episode, rather than focusing on how they’ll save their friend from being killed by the dragon’s insides, they’re 100% focused on their next meal. Amusingly, this is another great example of how accurate it can be to play D&D, too. There have been a few moments where my DM (Dungeon Master) has put my party in situations where time is of the essence, but rather than focusing on the task at hand, we often get distracted by the little things, such as seeing who can jump the highest or simply befriending a random NPC and seeing how quickly we can ruin their life.
Embracing The Chaos
Delicious in Dungeon even has fun with all the ethical decisions that a player makes throughout a campaign. The party is eventually introduced to a Dwarf named Senshi, and he immediately offers to help because he’s never cooked a dragon and is in love with the idea of what he can make. The show’s narrator makes a point to ask, “Is it right to eat what ate one of us? The thought crossed everyone’s mind then, but no one said anything.”
This was another reminder of how chaotic things can get while playing D&D. In one of my current campaigns, our party is trying to start a revolution. In hopes of spreading the word about it, my character has been hiring children to join the cause and spread the word about what’s to come. It was something I never gave much thought to until my DM asked me something along the lines of “You sure are comfortable with putting all of these innocent kids in danger, aren’t you?”
Although it was something the rest of my party surely was thinking, it was never addressed because it did help our causes, even if it was only a little. Just like the show, we ignored the issue at hand and carried on with our adventures.
Facing The Consequences
Another way Delicious in Dungeon offers a reminder of how unnecessarily complicated a typical D&D session can be was near the end of the first episode, when the party discussed how they should destroy some man-eating plants blocking their way. What was supposed to be a simple job turned into a life-threatening situation where one of the party members nearly died.
This especially stood out because it served as a reminder of how quickly D&D players can turn something that was meant to be so simple into a life-or-death situation. I’m almost 100% positive there have been moments where DMs told their players to scout a location and then have that simple task somehow end up in a hostage situation.
Playing D&D is 10% fighting, and the other 90% is goofing off with your friends, and this show captures it perfectly. Right off the bat, Delicious in Dungeon sets the tone for how epic a campaign can be, while at the same time leaning into the chaos that is D&D. If you’re an avid D&D player, you’ll be sure to laugh at the exaggerated yet familiar situations the characters find themselves in. But even if you’ve never played the game, and yet always wondered how a typical D&D session plays out, I’d highly recommend watching the series for a comedic idea of how it feels.
As of this writing, there are currently two episodes of Delicious in Dungeon?out, with new episodes debuting every Thursday on Netflix.