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Rolling the Dice

Inside the quests of SSU’s Dungeons and Dragons Club

Daelirr Atalris, an incredibly kind and honest wood elven gunslinger, always had an over-the-top personality. As a child he was the lone survivor of a Basilisk attack on his colony and ever since has been adventuring, searching for one of his own kind. Standing tall at 6 feet with dark hair and burning bright green eyes, he always seems to have dirt somewhere on his face or attire from scrounging through the woods all day. Daelirr wears leather armor but puts his own flare on it to fit his everyday needs, which makes it appear like chaps and a vest. Along with his armor, Daelirr rocks a pair of boots with spurs, a cowboy hat and a dark green cloak that is singed at the ends from the attack on his village.

Have you ever felt trapped in the world you live in? Have you ever wondered what life would be like if you were someone else? Imagine a beautifully diverse world of heroes and monsters, breathtaking lore and haunted dungeons. A world where you are not limited by pre-defined choices. You could create a new version of yourself with a rich backstory, personality and abilities. A place with unfettered freedom to explore and interact with a dynamic world, shaping your story as you go. Every step you take and every decision you make leads to something new: a new key to a puzzle, a new mystery to solve and a new sense of self.

All of this can happen in the world of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), a fantasy tabletop role-playing game. There are truly no limits to what you can do. Perhaps you want to be a noble knight, a mischievous rogue, a wise wizard or something entirely unique. The choice is yours. D&D is the perfect place to see your dreams come to fruition, and, thankfully for students at Shawnee State University (SSU), there is a Dungeons and Dragons club brimming with passionate members eagerly awaiting their next adventure, and you can join in the fun! For many people, the club is a place to be who they wish they were, but it can be just as fun to be yourself. The only difference is that in D&D you know how to throw fireballs! The game adapts to your decisions, offering endless possibilities for exploration and adventure.

Daelirr, a character in the game, has never been able to “read a room” and treats everyone he meets with a naïve sense of safety and assumed mutual trust. Whilst this may have worked in his childhood colony where everyone shared the same goals so there was no reason to lie, this created a dangerous character flaw for Daelirr, who believed as long as he was kind and honest to everyone he met, they would reciprocate. He followed this naïve way of life with the friends he made in his adventuring party until one day an ambiguous figure joined their party and deliberately would not share their name. While Daelirr was kind and honest to the figure, the figure had no desire to interact with Daelirr, which made him uneasy for he could not understand why.

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The tremendous sense of adventure and world-building can happen in the mind of any individual just like a great dream you woke up too soon from, begging to remember where you left off the next night. What makes the world of D&D more dynamic is that you share this vision with your adventuring party. This world is like being part of an interactive story where you and your friends are the main characters. You’ll embark on epic quests, face off against fearsome foes, and make choices that impact the outcome of the adventure. It’s a chance to flex your imagination and be part of an ever-unfolding narrative.

SSU’s D&D club, or the “Dungeon Crawlers,” meet every Friday at 6:30 p.m. Anyone is welcome to join any meeting, and the club will do their best to match you with a group that fits, or let you sit and watch before deciding if it’s right for you. Playing D&D is a fantastic way to spend time with friends or make new ones. It’s a collaborative game that encourages teamwork, communication and creative problem-solving. You’ll laugh, strategize and share unforgettable moments as you navigate the challenges together. The sense of community and friendship is a driving force for at least one of their members, Hope Jenkins.

“I play it for the friends I have made, and for those four hours I can stop being a student and be whoever I want to be and feel accepted.” Jenkins said. D&D provides a break from the ordinary, transporting you to a world of magic, mystery and imagination. Whether you’re looking for an escape from reality or simply want to unwind with friends, D&D offers an immersive and engaging experience unlike any other.

Contrary to common misconceptions, D&D is easy to learn, and you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get started. All you need is a set of dice (and from what I hear there are plenty to share), some pencils and paper and your imagination. There are also plenty of resources available online, including beginner-friendly rulebooks and pre-made adventures to help you dive right in. The Dungeon Crawlers club offers rooms, tables and necessary materials to be able to play and is open to everyone.

Daelirr’s interactions — or should I say lack thereof — with the unidentified figure continued for months and, due to the ambiguity of this figure, Daelirr had come to his own conclusion that this figure was a woman. Many times Daelirr would refer to the individual as ma’am. One day after he called the figure ma’am yet again, the mysterious party member snapped at Daelirr and he could hear the vitriol coming from their voice as they said, “I do not know why you keep saying this. I am a guy, and you are an absolute idiot.” Daelirr’s other party member would confirm that they knew of the figure’s true identity this whole time. This act of betrayal caused an incredible amount of strife in Daelirr’s sense of identity because this meant that for months his friends allowed him to ridicule himself while he had been nothing but kind and honest to everyone from the start. After this event, Daelirr felt like he had been fractured amongst several realms, his perception of strangers and friends alike had changed, his wants and needs, his surroundings, the way he spoke and the way he dressed all started to change. He could not afford to be this naïve ever again.

The D&D club at SSU understands that the game is collaborative and that every player deserves to get something out of it as well as be comfortable with what is happening at the table. Vincent Evanshine, the club’s vice president, often plays as the dungeon master for the club. A dungeon master is the storyteller, narrator and referee for a game of D&D who creates the narrative within which the players interact and make decisions. As such, before a new setting or new narrative is created for the clubs’ sessions, he sends a sheet with information about the campaign and the forces or narratives that will be taking place to ensure everyone is comfortable with what may possibly happen at the table. Of course, the players (and the dice) truly decide what happens. As Evanshine said, “a consensual party is a good party.”

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About the Contributor
Ian Hillman
Ian Hillman, Staff Reporter
Ian Hillman is a 25-year-old sophomore at Shawnee State University. Originally from the state of Washington, he moved to Ohio a few years ago after traveling the world with his family. Ian is majoring in English and humanities with a concentration in communications with the hopes of becoming a lawyer in the future. He is also minoring in linguistics.  Ian has had an unusual upbringing compared to most 25-year-olds. He has lived in three continents, four countries and five states due to his parents’ occupations. At 9 years old, he moved from Washington to Virginia to Louisiana. Just a couple months after this, he moved to Abu Dhabi and then onto England. Due to his traveling, education became a difficult routine to establish. After being stuck in his changing life for two years, Ian moved back to the U.S. with his older brother and obtained his GED. Once COVID-19 hit, his parents moved to Ohio and both he and his mother enrolled at SSU. Ian currently lives in Piketon, Ohio.   Ian believes that moving so many times has had more positive impacts than negative ones on his life. He has been able to create life-long friendships with people who have become family to him. His personality has thrived in culturally rich environments. "There’s something about being with all different cultures, that really lets you be you at a very early age," Ian said. Due to this exposure, he has evolved into an adaptable, conversational and flamboyant person.   As a result of moving for most of his life, Ian finds it difficult to stay in the same place for very long. Once he completes his undergraduate degree, he plans to attend law school. He has considered attending Ohio State University, but also plays with the idea of moving back to where it all started and applying to the University of Washington. One day, Ian sees himself living in Nashville, Tenn., as a professional litigator focusing on copyright law in the music industry.

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