Dungeons on The Roll

Students can embark on quests filled with immersive worlds, unearthly creatures, and fantasy beyond imagination, with the addition of the D&D Club at Lake Ridge. The club is based around the popular tabletop role-playing game, ‘Dungeons and Dragons.’

Created in 1974, the game has correlation with the likes of the Satanic Panic, a historic movement of hysteria within the 1980’s, where accusatory claims of occult and ritualistic practices were aimed towards people–often teenagers. It led to the criticism of many forms of music such as metal and rock, role-playing games like D&D, and even court cases of Satanic ritual abuse. Comparatively today, D&D has been seen in many forms of media. Most recently, in the hit Netflix series ‘Stranger Things.’ Junior, Megan Mai was introduced to D&D through the show.

“I didn’t even know what D&D was until I watched Stranger Things. I feel like for sure it has affected D&D’s popularity because I have heard about the game and seen it around since the show was first released,” said Mai.

While it has recently been popularized through pop culture, sponsor of D&D club and English teacher, Carl Miller has had a long history with the game.

“I have been interested in D&D since the late 90’s, and I’ve been playing it since the early to mid 2000’s. For the past seven years I have run games and been a player off and on,” said Miller.

Because Miller was the sponsor of a club similar to D&D in the past; in his experience, the club will have a positive impact on students’ overall identity.

“I started a club at the school I taught at before this one, and I really enjoyed teaching students how to play D&D. I think one of the things D&D will do is give students more confidence in who they are. It’s a great way to help build some of the social and emotional skills that are really key for success in life,” said Miller.

The game entails a dungeon master or DM guiding the companions upon miscellaneous adventures and foes. Co-sponsor and Geometry teacher, Johnny Ross explains their role at a further level and offers guidance.

“Once you play it you kind of understand it. You can do whatever you want within the world that the DM creates. A dungeon master or game master is like the regulator or even the storyteller. For the people interested in DMing, I could teach and show them how to go about problem-solving and planning in the world they want to create,” stated Ross.

Ross also encourages students to give the club a try, even if they have never played the game.

“Look around, there are plenty of students that do not have their niche. They haven’t found what they like. If they want to give D&D a shot, it may be something that is in their realm,” said Ross.

It was discovered that two D&D clubs were formed at the same time. As a result, the two sponsors combined forces. Junior, Jonothan Rennert was interested in D&D so he began looking for a club to encompass it. With none being in place, he set sights on finding a sponsor for a D&D club of his own.

“My friend and I were searching for a D&D club. At first we asked Mr. Gartman, who said he would put up some posters in the gaming club to see if anybody wanted to do D&D.  Mr. Miller picked up the poster and became a sponsor for it because he wanted to start a D&D club in the summer. I am excited to play with people that aren’t my family and who are just as excited about Dungeons and Dragons as I am,” said Rennert.

The gaming club has been at Lake Ridge for a few years now, but has never included D&D. Gaming club sponsor and Physics teacher, Matthew Gartman provides the reason for its absence and why there is a separate entity for it. 

“The gaming club is a relaxing setting where people can game, have fun, and meet new people. There is no stress, no strings attached. The D&D club is a bit more of a commitment because you don’t want to abandon everybody part way through. Whereas with video games, it is not as big of a deal if you don’t show up for a day. Because D&D requires quiet, we cannot have them on the same day. It is an extension of the gaming club. Everyone who is in the D&D club also comes for the video game elements in the Gaming club,” said Gartman.

Campaigns are a series of quests and journeys within the same fabricated world. According to d&dbeyond.com, a popular website where you can play the game online, average campaigns can be around 50 sessions, or around a year if an individual is playing weekly. Junior, Shawnee Creel is eagerly looking forward to the upcoming sessions in the club.

“In our campaign, we will be going to an island because this capitalist guy is bored. Like, 90% or 50% of our characters are murders, so I think it will be fun and entertaining. There are not too many rules and the game is very calming and not nerve wracking,” said Creel.

Students like Junior, Ash Stinson are considering joining the D&D club for its role-play accessibility.

I have my own D&D session that I go to on the weekends. I would like to check out the D&D club here. I’ve always loved D&D, and I wanted to get another session going on for all the days I cannot do it at home,” said Stinson.

Dungeons and Dragons involve different classes, attributes, and character progression. A majority of the game is based upon RNG; a luck based system that utilizes different number-based dice. Junior, RaShawn Steward, who is an active member in the club, believes that the game is designed for anybody who is interested.

“The game is creative and anybody can play it. I don’t believe the game is mostly just for ‘nerds.’ It’s just for people who have an imagination, or want to have fun. Sure, math and rolling dice are involved, but you are role-playing. Technically that is considered being a nerd, but who cares? It is cool to be a nerd,” said Steward.

Another member of the club, Junior Cam’Ron Lee, finds the D&D club to be a safe space where he can participate in an activity that he loves.

“The club has a supportive vibe to it. It will make people want to be themselves more. Everyone is friendly. They do not care what race, gender, or religion you are. I am just excited to hang out with my friends. To be honest, all I care about is having a good time,” said Lee.

Currently, the club is in the process of recruiting members to start another campaign. Although it may not appeal to everybody,  Miller thinks that the club is a great place for students to feel at home and be true to themselves.

“I’m excited about the diversity in the club. We’ve got a lot of very different perspectives. It’s a chance for students to explore different aspects of personality, and the aspects of who they are, that they may not feel safe exploring in real life. So come join us roll some dice and have fun,” said Miller.