Over the past few months or more your chances of traversing the halls while hearing of the fantastical exploits of participants has greatly increased. What started as a staff hobby has now found a maintain stay in the TCS schedule. Two groups meet weekly to set forth on an adventure focused on promoting social and emotional growth in accordance with TCS’s mission. The tales of these groups’ exploits have spread prompting interest in other participants who have found ways to slate their thirst for adventure and sown the seeds of companionship.
For some participants their week begins with a trip through the mythical land Jarela, where many familiar concepts are challenged. The open nature of the game lends itself to this by giving the Dungeon Master almost free-reign of the non-player controlled aspects. I could create an object which advances the plot only to have it break moments later or give a character a familiar name only to have them behave nothing like their source. These moments have prompted communication between participants albeit through a filter of the fantasy world while challenging their regulation and grey area thinking. Betrayal and intrigue make for fantastic plot devices however as the world is open and participants in charge of their destiny often more humorous moments arise from a gaming session.
The Thursday afternoon group reflects this comedic style of questing. After one session several participants engaged me over how they cooked and ate a bear they had encountered. No question I posed the group drew an “I don’t know” for response; they offered reasons, methods and feedback on the experience. While not set in Jarela there is no shortage of problem-solving opportunities the group must collectively overcome. A few members of this group have decided to use an affinities class to explore other pen and paper role-playing games. Stories of eating bears or performing rap battles in a Colosseum have permeated through the ranks of participants prompting some to advocate for their desire to join in a game.
Last semester my Monday morning group had a younger participant spectate their session. After their brief stay that participant set to work with Tim to create their own character. Together they worked to actualize the participant’s concept and created a backstory and desire to drive this character in any narrative. Little did this participant know a peer of his was doing the same thing with myself in another session sharing hopes of playing during a Thursday club. Then the time came when two participants embarked on a journey which combined their interests into one story. We had forty-five minutes (not much time in terms of D&D) to play; participants reported enjoying their time and requested more. We compromised at a returning to the adventure at the first opportunity. This was truly magical to watch these two participants, hesitant to engage each other initially, come together in a shared challenge.
D&D is billed as a game however its use in a therapeutic setting has grown over the last few years. This growth has spawned the creation of several other games specifically designed for social-emotional growth. Depending on the needed challenge the game could look like the Monday morning group’s or reflect the shared social problem-solving of Thursday afternoon. The game also offers a way for younger participants to explore their interests or combine with another participant and share in each others’.
Have you heard a participant mention rollin’ a nat twenty and crit’ing a gnome only to roll a one on a D8? Here’s a short list of terms you can use to connect and join in the conversation.
Campaign – The story players experience when playing D&D
Critical “Crit” – highest level of either success or failure a player can achieve
Fumble – Critical Failure resulting from rolling a one on a twenty-sided die
[Y]D[X] – Y= number of dice being rolled; D= die/dice; X= number of sides on die/dice to be rolled i.e. 3D8 is three eight-sided dice.
Natural “Nat” 20 – rolling a twenty without the use of other bonuses
Character Sheet – presentation of character traits, skills, equipment and abilities players use for reference while playing.