Two things that would never occur to you that might go together like chocolate and peanut butter: Dungeons and Dragons, and how-to videos. Let’s face it, everybody who wants them and has the coin, has the rulebooks.

Now that we have the chocolate and peanut butter, though, here’s the macadamia nuts: Zee Bashew’s Animated Spellbook web series. This series is absolutely inspired. 

If you’re new to Dungeons and Dragons, or you’re a gamer from Ye Olde Times (back in the mid-seventies when the first version of the game came out, with crappy dice sets that came with a crayon so you could grind some color into the die faces to make them legible), and you want to learn to play, or even just learn some cool tips and tricks for gameplay in the grandfather of all fantasy roleplaying games, Animated Spellbook is a great resource.

Have a look at this one. It lampoons the popular unboxing videos on YouTube, and does a product review on a D&D classic, the Flying Carpet.

Bashew has been making these animated D&D 5E instructional videos since 2018. They’re all done as vector animation, meaning that a lot of time can be saved by building libraries of drawings and reusing elements wherever they fit. It sounds like it should be very cookie-cutter, but watch the video above, and you’ll see how inventive and creative this whole thing really is.

Bashew takes an informal yet structured approach to his instructional videos, and if you’re a player and interested in expanding your sphere of D&D knowledge, everything he talks about is worth knowing. His affable wizard character is the presenter, personable, friendly, and sometimes less than precise about things. Accidents and screwups sometimes happen, but it’s all part of the fun. But think about this: screwing up in real life happens all the time, but to animate a screwup means you have to plan that screwup in advance. Bashew does this so smoothly that you forget you’re watching a preordained series of events, and it feels just like having a fun, informal chat with a good friend about gaming.

There are literally dozens of these videos, and Bashew pays for the production of them — at least partially — via various D&D-related sponsors.

If you’re a D&D player, seasoned or new, you’ll love this. There is true magic here, and we don’t just mean rules about spellcasting.

Happy gaming!