I only played Dungeons and Dragons sporadically as a kid, I could never find anyone to play with and all of the sessions seemed to fall apart. Over the first lock down here in the UK, I decided to get back into it using various online tabletop programs. I really enjoyed it, so when we were able to go back to work (in my school library) I decided to see if any students were also interested in playing. It took me exactly one day of asking to have a dedicated group of six students eager to play. We have been playing the same campaign for seven months, the students never miss a session. It has been so popular that we now have 13-year-old students running their own sessions for younger students and a waiting list of students hoping to play in the next campaign. Here are some reasons why I recommend you start a Dungeons and Dragons club in your school or public library!
It Will Bring in New Faces
I’ve met tons of new students who just want to watch, hang out and see what all of the fuss is about. I’m the Dungeon Master, so lots of students who don’t play like to watch what’s going on behind the screen and ask questions, which is awesome. One of the students has become a student library assistant, working behind the desk, checking books in and out for other students and generally being awesome.
It Teaches Teamwork and Collaboration
Dungeons and Dragons is a social game, you have to work together towards a common goal. The students, who have now become good friends, plan, discuss, and work together in order to defeat me, or rather, all the stuff I throw at them. They take it seriously, yet there isn’t a session when we aren’t all doubled over laughing over something one of them (usually the Rogue) has done.
It Fosters Creativity
We use pencil and paper with a battle map and small mini figures to play. The rest is up to everyone’s imagination. Students must place themselves into the world that I describe and then try to survive it. The game forces you to have your brain firing on all cylinders as you use Math to work out all the complicated bonuses or damage your character has acquired, the dank cave your friend just crawled into after she saw a glowing blue orb flickering dully in the distance, the man on the back of the giant vulture with a three foot long rusty sword about to cut the strings of your hot air balloon, whatever. You’ve got to go with it and just dive in, and when they are all in, it’s a lot of fun.
It Teaches Organisation
You’ve got to be organised in Dungeons and Dragons, there’s no way around it. You’ve got your character sheet, spell list, treasure list, dice, adventure log, names to remember, abilities to try and figure out, puzzles, riddles, and secret passwords to remember. It’s a lesson in organisation, our players all receive binders with plastic sleeves to keep track of all of their info, it helps some, but it’s still a great way to students that they need to keep their papers in order if they are going to be effective.
It’s a Lot of Fun
That’s it, it’s simply a huge amount of fun. I never really considered myself a Dungeon Master, but I’m very glad the students keep coming back to play day after day, because it has been very helpful to my mental health. Nothing beats meeting up with some cool people every day and laughing your head off for an hour. If you’d like to start a club in your school or public library but don’t know where to start, get in touch with me on Twitter @lucasjmaxwell.