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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Monday, June 24, 2024
The Echo
David Wells_D&D

Tabletop role-playing game offers students escape from every day

D&D encourages creative storytelling

“I thought it was stupid and nerdy,” sophomore David Wells said. 

What is your favorite game? Monopoly, Uno, maybe Scrabble? For many Taylor Students, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) has become a favorite amongst gamers in dorms, majors and friend groups coming together to play. 

The tabletop role-playing game D&Ds has gone through many phases of unpopularity, even now carrying the stigma of the ultimate nerdy game. As Wells realized, however, the ‘nerdiness’ of D&D only paints part of the picture.

“I thought it was gonna be stupid. I played it, and absolutely loved it,” Wells said. 

The growing popularity has inspired a new generation interested in collaborative storytelling. 

D&D has strong roots at Taylor University, with D&D groups based in almost every dorm hall. It is no wonder the game thrives since it is a useful tool to engage with the community and meet new friends. 

“I think the best part of it for introverts specifically is it's a way to engage in community. You have a template to interact with people… you’re all there for the same reason and it's not as awkward,” junior Mo Olsen said. “It allows you to also be very creative, but you're not there for just the social interaction.” 

The game consists of players and a dungeon master who leads the players’ created characters through high fantasy adventures. Groups of these players, or parties, consist of typically three to eight people. Dungeon masters prepare puzzles, story plots and even physical representations of the landscape. 

Wells, as a dungeon master for the past year, has created a tavern diorama, a cardboard lava dungeon, 3D landscapes and even painted mini figures of his players’ characters. 

“I like to go big,” Wells said. 

For Wells, the best part of being a dungeon master is being creative. He gets to show his vision of the story to his friends playing through that story. 

But there are more options than just the typical high fantasy setting of D&D. Tabletop games range through all genres and play styles. Some of the tabletop games played on campus include Spelljammer, a sci-fi space setting and Humblewood, where the group plays as a collection of woodland creatures. 

D&D is best described as a place to enjoy time with friends. You are not just listening to the story, you are playing it.

With growing interest in D&D but not many mainstream ways to get connected to a group or dungeon master, it can be difficult to create a party or join an existing one. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask people if they play D&D, the answer is more than likely yes.” sophomore Music Education major and dungeon master Marcus Haynes said. “Find your own group and it’s okay to be new.” 

Great starting places to learn more about the game and how to play it are asking friends, other students in the same major, or others on a floor or wing.

One challenge for new players and dungeon masters is the rules. Game stats, dice and storytelling all play a role in the technical elements of Dungeons & Dragons. However, there are ways to prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed. 

Premade character sheets are excellent ways to step into role-playing games. They provide an established character and make it easy for a new player. 

“In the end, the rules really don’t matter,” Haynes said. Some dungeons masters prefer loose rules, while others stick to the books. The game allows players and dungeon masters to create or break as many rules as they want while following or straying from the template. 

No matter how it is played, Dungeons & Dragons provides a creative time to grow tight-knit relationships with both new and old friends and tell a fun and interesting story along the way.