By Camille Pierson
Recent years have seen an increased interest in the fantasy tabletop game Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). Though some of us may only be familiar with D&D through shows like “Stranger Things” and “Freaks and Geeks,” there is a growing community of players at Lewis & Clark.
“My dad has played D&D since it was invented in the 1980s,” Amanda Giesler ’19 said. “When I was little he made some simple campaigns and introduced me into how to play. I picked it back up again in college and right now I just started playing a new campaign with a group of people.”
From the outside, the game can seem very complicated but once you understand a few key concepts, the rest falls into place.
“You basically just find a group of people and each person makes a character.” Giesler said. “Each type of character has specific rules that go with them, but most of the game is based around rolling dice.”
Dice are rolled to determine the success or failure of your character’s desired action. For example, fighting an opponent or using a spell requires you to roll the dice and add your player’s ability score to whatever the number on the dice is. The game is guided by Game Master, or Dungeon Master, whose job is to interpret the rules and guide the encounters of the players. The Game Master also establishes the initial premise of each particular game and is responsible for designing quests for everybody to go on.
Mc Miller ’18 is currently acting as a Game Master for a campaign he’s running with his friends.
“You have to think about the people who are playing your game what’s going to be fun for them.” Miller said, “You also have to role play all the characters that aren’t the player’s characters so there’s a lot of improvisational work that goes into it. Basically, you’re a world-builder, you’re an actor and you’re sort of a people mediator in ensuring that everybody else gets what they want out of the game.”
“I think what appeals to me most is the storytelling aspect and how it’s like a way to create a story in a group but there’s still some parameters and rules that we have to follow and we’re all in the same game universe,” Giesler said. “If the role-playing or story telling isn’t so much for you, some people are more into building the coolest character, gaining levels, collecting all the magical items or something completely different. It’s really an open space for you to play in.”
Jasper Edwards ’18 also finds the collaborative storytelling aspect of D&D incredibly valuable and has acted as Game Master for several games of his own.
“It’s amazing how open D&D is,” Edwards said. “You can adapt the system in a lot of ways. My favorite moments in D&D are when someone is so invested in the story that they have a very obvious emotional response when playing. That’s what brings people into it. It’s not necessarily the combat, it’s not necessarily the dice. It is about playing someone who isn’t you, connecting with that person and the emotions that can come out of that are really valuable. It’s a good way to feel connected. Especially in an age of digital games, I feel like D&D is much more connective than something over the Internet which is why I think D&D has been seeing a bit of a rise recently.”
In addition to being a player, Edwards is the co-founder and president of LC’s new D&D club.
“We’ve had just over a hundred people sign which we were really surprised by,” Edwards said. “Right now I’m in charge of just coming up with a lot of concepts to keep people interested. It’s a very non-traditional club because we don’t meet weekly. Just getting people in contact with others is kind of what we’re focused on and then we’ll teach people you know how to make a character and how to run sessions and stuff like that.”
Edwards, along with Sam Bundenthal ’19, co-founder and vice president, Gwenn O’Connor ‘20, treasurer, and Win Salyards ’18, operations manager, try to work around members schedules to help them network and connect to other players. If you are interested in finding out for yourself what D&D is all about there are plenty of ways to get involved, and people like Edwards are more than happy to help.