by Phoebe Sandlin
Since the start of the school year, at least four Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) games have sprung up on campus, prompting the creation of a small network of students all engaged in the wildly outlandish tabletop role-playing game (RPG). Both freshman David Baskind and senior Susannah Burrell have each taken on the role of Dungeon Master (DM) in their respective games and are enjoying this bizarre but enthusiastic resurgence.
Dungeon Masters are the narrators of each separate adventure, guiding the action and consequences of a game that usually involves an average of five players. Each player creates a character to exist within the DM’s story and uses different kinds of dice to make character choices throughout the game, which involves fighting enemies, exploring strange lands, finding treasure, problem-solving and navigating character relationships.
“I didn’t realize other people besides my group were actually interested in this until I stumbled upon David’s party in Ecogrounds. For a game that has an inherently geeky connotation to it, it’s good to know there are others on campus who are interested in it too,” said Burrell, who started playing D&D when she transferred to Millsaps in the fall of 2014, and took over the role of DM when the person who introduced her to D&D graduated.
Freshman Guzman Romero and his roommate are both part of Baskind’s campaign, a friend-of-a-friend situation that helped Romero make friends on campus. “I was running around trying to meet a lot of people since it was the very beginning of my freshman year,” Romero said. “I was looking for new experiences that I never had during high school, so I jumped at the chance.”
Burrell’s co-DM, senior Matthew McKinley, also recognizes the excitement that D&D can offer. He said, “My campaign will largely be focused on roleplay, i.e. getting immersed in the character you’ve made. I like the idea that people will make their own characters, drop them into their world and watch them develop. That way the game becomes a fun creative project for everyone involved.”
“In approaching the creation of my character, I knew that I didn’t want to make anything that made sense. My logic was: ‘It’s a fantasy game; throw logic out the window!’” said Romero of his character Rosa, a female half-elf whose familiar is a bear.
Burrell’s characters from previous campaigns include paladins and warlocks, but now she is getting a new view as a DM with McKinley. “We’re learning a lot about running a campaign from the other side now, and once we get the hang of things, we plan to run our own separate campaigns,” she said.
McKinley shares a similar view. He said, “I love the fact that I’m seeing new groups appearing on campus. […] Personally I want to sit in on every game I can find, and try and have as many guests as I can in my own game.”
As a word to any interested parties, Burrell said, “Find a group or make your own! You don’t have to be very experienced or know all the rules from the start.”
Baskind agrees. “If you’re interested in D&D sit in on one of the various campaigns on campus and see if you like it. If you do ask to join, DM’s are cool people.”
“D&D is amazing,” said McKinley. “I play a lot of RPG video games and almost every great RPG was written by someone who played D&D at some point in their lives. It really can be a starting block for budding fantasy or sci-fi writers. If you haven’t played it, try it out- you might find something you love.”