Everyone’s been playing Dungeons & Dragons without you: your co-workers, Anderson Cooper, Tiffany Haddish. More than 50 million people worldwide have “interacted” with D&D since it was created in the mid-1970s, according to its publisher, and while that number also includes movies, video games, books, television and livestreams, it doesn’t even begin to account for the people reached over TikTok.
The tabletop role-playing game became a household name when “satanic panic” — a general fear of satanic ritual abuse that caught fire nationwide in the 1980s — began to take root in the suburbs. Anything with even a remote whiff of the occult, from astrology to heavy metal, was suspect. Since casting spells during a game could get you labeled a devil-worshipper or a nerd, Dungeons & Dragons went underground.