Dungeons and Dragons

By Jamal Malik

According to their website, Macalester’s Gaming Society (MGS) sponsors ƒ?oepretty much all non-athletic types of games,ƒ?? including board games, card games, and video games. Within the club, the games that they play vary from person to person with one exception: they all role-play in some form.For years, role-playing and Dungeons and Dragons have become synonymous. However, Kate Hill ƒ?TM07, Vice President of MGS, listed more than seven role-playing games that she has participated in since joining her freshman year. One of the main reasons why she stayed with the club for almost three years is that she ƒ?oeenjoyed trying out new systems.ƒ?? That being said, D&D is still a popular choice.

D&D is a role-playing game, now owned by Wizards of the Coast (a big gaming company) that has spread exponentially since its inception in 1974. Each D&D game has one Dungeon Master, or ƒ?oeDM,ƒ?? who lays out a quest or campaign for any number of players to play through. Each player creates a customized character, adjusting things like race, class, and ability scores. The DM acts as a narrator, setting the backgrounds for the characters and determining what they interact with as the characters move through the campaign. Often when a player encounters something in the game (be it an enemy, a puzzle, or alcohol), a number of factors are taken into account to determine what happens. Usually the individual’s ability scores and the rolling of a die are involved. Aside from dice, character sheets and a rulebook, nothing is really required to play D&D.

I sat in on part of the Gamer’s Tea (Tuesday nights 10-12 p.m. on the upper floor of the campus center, for any interested) and asked a few questions about the stereotypes associated with D&D. Pop culture often portrays D&D as a game solely for geeks and losers, and for years radical Christians have denounced the game as Satanist. The MGS unilaterally responded that they don’t directly or indirectly feel any prejudice. According to Matt O’Connor ’06, ƒ?oethe D&D stigma doesn’t really exist in reality. It’s like, the negative stereotype is the stereotype.ƒ??

Adam McConehay ƒ?TM06 and Peter Anderson-Sprecher ƒ?TM06 said that the worst that has happened in four years was when a certain student-run newspaper allegedly joked that prospective first-years should check out the gaming scene on Fridays because the D&D kids would be desperate enough to have sex with them.

MGS’s main appeal is that it builds an organized community within Mac for people who share common interests. Julian Hyde ƒ?TM09 is one of the many who began role-playing before coming to Mac, and he seemed quite content that here ƒ?oegames happen more than once.ƒ?? The club has also created a close communityƒ?”several of its members plan to take a trip together this summer to GenCon, a gaming convention.

Hill runs a weekly game of D&D where she is the Dungeon Master and four members of MGS are the players. Every Saturday, a druid, a druid/sorcerer, a cleric/assassin, and a cleric/wizard/wild mage/arcmage travel the planet Eberron. Their main goal in this particular game is to awaken the sleeping gods so an outer plane can not come in contact with the material plane, which would lead to an influx of extraplanar aberrations and subsequently doom and destruction. This current campaign to save the world has been going on for two and a half years.

Being a dungeon master involves a lot of planning. She says ideally she’d ƒ?oespend a few weeks preparingƒ?? and laying out a significant part of the campaign, but due to time constraints often she’ll just take an hour or two before each session to plan where she wants the story to go. ƒ?oeI’ve become much better at winging it,ƒ?? she says, adding that she enjoys the improvisation on both her part and the players’ parts. ƒ?oeI love the spontaneity, the creativityƒ?Ý basically, you’re writing a novel on the go about several of your friends.ƒ??