Dungeons & Dragons: ‘It’s not just for nerds’

Sarah Segvich, Correspondent

The Dungeons & Dragons Club at Naperville Central has made the game one of teamwork, socialization, storytelling, and problem-solving in the opinion of senior TJ Rivera. 

Dungeons & Dragons, commonly known as D&D, is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game that requires the players to utilize problem solving, strategizing and imagination. 

“[D&D is] a chance to live through a fantasy book,” junior Kaitlyn Michalski said. 

The hub for tabletop games Dicebreaker has defined D&D as “highly intimidating for D&D beginners,” but to avoid overwhelming new players the club has Monday meetings for them to learn the basics of D&D. Both Michalski and sophomore Sam Haidle, who are seasoned members, attend Monday meetings to teach new players. 

“Mondays are more about getting the kid initiated into the style, and to let them find their people,” Haidle said. “If you have someone teaching you how to do it, you’re fine.”

Michalski remembers the club being just as welcoming when she was a new member.

“‘I just walked into a D&D club like hey, I want to play!’ and there were a bunch of senior members who were willing to help facilitate,” Michalski said. 

The club also has meetings on Fridays which consist of two separate games or in the world of D&D, campaigns. These are continuing storylines or sets of adventures, typically involving the same characters. To Rivera and Michalski, D&D is extremely customizable and allows players to make it what they want.

Rivera made a campaign inspired by Game of Thrones that includes horror themed settings with a classic monster twist. On the other hand, Michalski’s campaign is more of a middle ground. While it features roleplay and darker themes she still keeps the game light. She’s got plenty of combat action thrown in there too.

“You have complex mechanics and moving systems within the game that teach you how to take in a bunch of different potential outcomes,” Rivera said.

Rivera has also implemented map skills from earth science, character drawings, and even woodworking into his games. 

The community remained close even throughout COVID. Zoom calls allowed for the game itself to continue with just a webcam and dry-erase board, according to Rivera.

“Honestly, Zoom was some of the best socializing, sometimes the sessions would just dissolve into talking,” Rivera said.

Even now when senior Blake Thomas was unable to join the group in person his campaign members accommodated by leaving him on the phone next to the dungeon master. 

Both Michalski and Rivera agree that everyone should play D&D.

“It’s a really good atmosphere overall, more people should play as it’s not just for nerds,” Rivera said.