Roll the dice and give D&D a chance

Alexa Grechishkin, Campus Life Reporter

Illustration by Astrid Ketcham.

The first edition of the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons was released in 1974, and fans have been enthralled ever since. Creating characters and entering combat scenarios all while weaving through an intricate fantasy world gives players endless opportunities for creativity.

D&D is a role-playing game where characters must work together to reach a common goal. Set in a fantasy world, players can choose to make their character anything from a human to a half orc; then they choose a class (like rogue or wizard) that determines what type of abilities they have in-game. Players roll various dice to determine things like whether their attack hits their enemy, or if their lie is convincing to the townsfolk. 

The Dungeon Master is the player responsible for leading them through the story and setting up encounters against foes. A balance between creativity, problem solving and sheer luck keeps players on the edge of their seats during game sessions. 

Here at Whitman, the community surrounding the game is alive and well, as students find the time to participate in campaigns on campus.

Whitman’s student orientation lends itself to crafting new connections between students and for D&D fans finding a new group to play with while away from home was easy. 

“The summer before my first year here they were offering a pre-orientation event, which was board game theory. Right out of the gate I was surrounded by nine people who loved board games, most of whom were also into D&D,” said junior Llewyn Merrill. 

Junior Jackson Burkhalter had a similar experience, recalling how simple it was for them to get involved in a campaign because of the similar interests between them and their orientation group. For players, these initial connections blossom into valuable connections that help make Whitman feel more like a community. 

“D&D changed me as a person by changing the type of people I hung out with. My roommates currently are people I played D&D with. All my friends are people I play D&D with or tabletop games with,” said Burkhalter. 

Especially this year, as many students lament the loss of opportunities for social interaction, D&D has acted as a source of solace and consistently provided chances for meaningful friendships. 

For senior Harrison Lurie, D&D has been a valuable part of life since the age of five, when his father began introducing him to the game through simple campaigns and role-play. Now over a decade later, he typically leads games acting Dungeon Master. 

“It’s had a huge effect on my ability to speak up in a group. DMing helps with leadership skills, social interactions, being able to run a meeting. Being able to talk with people comfortably, that’s the big one…it has helped me … to express myself,” said Lurie. 

Merrill mentioned how being a player provided similar opportunities for introspection, self exploration and building bonds.

“It’s great to tinker and be imaginative. If you play the game, everyone puts parts of themselves into characters. Everyone is very, very multifaceted and has a lot of stuff going on beneath the surface,” said Merrill.

Burkhalter explained that there was no part of the game they enjoyed above the rest. 

“I enjoy the combat, I enjoy rping [role-playing] with my friends, and I enjoy making decisions in the game,” said Burkhalter. 

All the players mentioned the comfortable atmosphere groups on campus have created for them. 

“D&D has always been about the social experience for me, I love being able to hang out with my friends. Running the game means I can help them have a comfortable social situation, which is something I strive for,” said Lurie. 

More than just a hobby, D&D acts as a valuable source of camaraderie and self-expression for these students. It’s easy to see that this form of role-play has a significant role to play on campus.