Becoming A Master: Student leads group of teaches in a game of Dungeons and Dragons

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Becoming A Master: Student leads group of teaches in a game of Dungeons and Dragons

Ellie Phillips, Staff Writer

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Harmless entertainment or witchcraft? The game of Dungeons and Dragons has captivated many people with its mysterious nature and creative aspects. Many appreciate the opportunity to be a part of a fantasy world and indulge in the opportunity to create their very own  realities during gameplay. Some feel detered by the complexity, however the game is not as difficult as it seems. Junior Reid McCants has done this in his own way by starting a game of Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D, for a group of teachers.

“Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop role playing game about story combat and exploration through the cooperation of the players and the…dungeon master who basically controls the world, while the players control the characters,” McCants said. 

D&D is no ordinary game. McCants said the game does not have a definitive end or winner; the dungeon master decides when to start a new “campaign.” Success in the game is measured in a variety of trials and tribulations.  

“Obviously, there’s intervals in the game that you either succeed or lose, but it’s really up to…the actual context of what’s going on in the game,” McCants said.“I guess basic rewards would be in game currency, gold, silver, maybe magical items, weapons and experience points, obviously, to level up characters.”

He said his interest began around four years ago. Since then, he has run many games with multiple different groups and his enjoyment of the game has only grown. McCants said he began playing D&D in seventh grade when he lived in Washington.

“My youth group minister at my church played D&D, and he told us a story about it. And after a while, I was like, you know, I’m really interested in this,” McCants said. 

He then found out as much as he could about the game and started a game with his friends. 

“I made my own game,” McCants said. “I spent $40 on Craigslist to get the books [for] the rules, and some of the…stats and how [to] make characters and basically the contents and how you play the game.”

McCants is currently the Dungeon Master of a teacher game at school. The first teacher he approached with this idea was science teacher Neal Doolin. Doolin jumped at the opportunity to involve D&D in the school and helped McCants find others that would have an interest in it as well. Math teacher Hannah Skidmore, theatre director Dan Schmidt and English teachers Storm Shaw, Sarah Hubbert and Michael Watson are all players in the game.

“I kind of like how it’s just teachers and Reid, because it kind of lets us teachers unwind at the end of the day a little bit,” Doolin said. “But, you know, when you’re a teacher, it’s kind of like, when you show up in school, you’re in character. Well, it’s like, I’m Mr. Doolin from 7:30 until 3:15, and then afterward, I get to go back to being Neal Doolin again.”

Each character that is created is entirely up to the player. If they enjoy playing with this character, they can continue with it for however long, or until it is killed. The character can make up anything the player wants them to be which leaves room for many silly, interesting results. Doolin created a unique creature for this game.

“I can tell you right now, I’m playing a character that is a lizard-person-monk, which basically is — just imagine a six foot tall lizard that walks on two feet and fights in unarmed combat with his fists, and his teeth and his feet,” Doolin said. “But in the past, like with my friends, I’ve played wizards and sorcerers. So, I wanted to shake it up for this game and learn to play someone hands-on.”

McCants described his favorite character as “an old guy that started the tavern and hired bird people as the waiters and waitresses.”

“So far, my favorite character out of all the times I’ve played, as well as all the campaigns that I’ve been in, is a man, an old guy named Odel Murphy,” McCants said. “I created and played in my friend’s ‘City of Water,’ the dragon heist game. That was a lot of fun.”

Shaw said he enjoys watching a character that Watson recently created. Watson’s character makes everybody laugh through constantly winking at people and doing cartwheels. Shaw thinks every action he does is ridiculous and funny.

However, playing D&D is not all fun and games, it takes quite a bit of commitment. Doolin said the Dungeon Master spends around two to three times as long preparing the game as they do playing it. With so many opportunities for moves, the Dungeon Master must be quick on their feet and determine how one action will affect the rest of the storyline.

Doolin described one scenario where if McCants decided to incorporate a storyline where they go to a store, he must design how the character acts, his mannerisms and his motives. The amount of behind-the-scenes work that each Dungeon Master must do beforehand is a large undertaking.

“I made a game that I ran two summers ago and I felt like I spent twice as much time preparing the game as we did actually playing it,” Doolin said. “And I was like, well, that’s fun for the summer, but I’m a teacher. There’s no way I can spend that much time during the school year preparing to play a game.”

When Dungeons and Dragons first was created in the 70s or 80s, the stigma with it was often negative. It was a taboo game that was thought of as strange. The new idea of it all was frightening to many people. 

“I went to a 2,000-person High School, there wasn’t a D&D Club, people didn’t play. It was still like, you know, almost thought of as witchcraft or something,” Doolin says. “You’re pretending to be a fantasy character in a fantasy world, where you can cast magic, or there’s little goblins that run around … some of those ideas have scared more traditional people.”

Shaw said D&D has also been stereotyped as a “nerdy” pastime.

 “It is inherently a little bit nerdy, I can admit that,” Shaw said. “But if anyone that likes storytelling or just wants to try something new, it’s a really creative outlet like you can pretty much make any decision you want in the game, and then you roll some dice to determine if you’re successful or not.” 

Despite the stigma, many believe that D&D can be an interesting outlet with many opportunities and many good qualities. McCants will continue to play Dungeon Master to the group of teachers, offering a chance for the group to escape the real world.

        “There’s an escapism to it,” Shaw said. “You get to           kind of live a different life and not have to deal with the difficulties of real life, but deal with some difficulties that are fictional that you can tackle and solve. And you can see real progress.”

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