The Time DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Nearly Broke Up a Baseball Team

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Dungeons & Dragons is an amazing game. It helps people make friends, helps people work on social skills, has a role in some therapy. However, for all of the awesome stuff that Dungeons & Dragons does, it also holds a dark power. Yes, friends, our beloved RPG can not only create relationships, but it can also destroy them. Once, it nearly destroyed a Major League Baseball team from within (via Royals Review). I’m not even joking.

The Royals are a baseball team out of Kansas City, Missouri, and prior to the 2016 season starting, the team started a D&D campaign. What started as a pleasant escape and a unique way to build camaraderie among teammates slowly deteriorated and caused such a huge rift among Royals players that it started to affect how the team played. Royals Review interviewed one of the players. They anonymously explained the situation in more detail.

A character in armor fighting a red dragon with a sword and shield on the cover of the Dungeons & Dragons Players Manual
Wizards of the Coast

Ned Yost, the Royals’ manager, took on the role of Dungeon Master. While it’s kind of awesome that the team’s manager stepped up to the DM plate, apparently Yost was no Matthew Mercer. Yost’s campaigns were confusing, according to the Royal Review‘s anonymous informant, and Yost also had a really bad habit of pitting the players against monsters that were far too advanced. However, the dice would always seem to roll just right, and the adventurers would find themselves victorious despite overwhelming odds. While the rolls were good, the team was happy—it was actually kind of funny to them. Of course, Lady Luck did not always bless the team’s rolls, and so tensions ran high whenever the natural 20s became more and more rare.

But a shaky DM wasn’t the only problem. There was also the issue of the team’s healer in the Dungeons & Dragons campaign, played by Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. The role of the healer is crucial to a campaign, and they have to be careful about how they interact with threats. Escobar, however, adhered to the Leeroy Jenkins school of thought. He had a bad habit of plowing ahead, right into the clutches of danger. Much like Yost’s overly challenging monster fights, Escobar’s Leeroy Jenkins antics made the team laugh at first—until they didn’t stop. It didn’t take long for the joke to get old.

With issues like that paired with players who were really dedicated and invested in the game, it seemed this fun game of D&D pulled the Royals apart at the seams. Tensions weren’t only high on game night. The conflict also made the Royals play pretty poorly. The team had to work to repair their D&D-sized rift. We can only hope they switched to watching Critical Role together rather than actually playing D&D during the baseball season.

Originally published on August 2, 2016.

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