Dorms and dragons



Trapped in the residence hall on a slow Wednesday evening? If role-playing, dice flinging and fantasy adventuring sounds like an appealing trifecta, then Dungeons & Dragons is worth your consideration. First published in 1974, the table-top adventure game has inspired countless other role-playing games and is now in its most accessible form ever, “Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.” With some equipment and some space, D&D can provide a way to connect and bond with others in the residence hall or the apartment with hours of interactive storytelling, teamwork and character development. Snacks expected.

Below is a list of the items and equipment needed to get started. Most items can be found in Bloomington game stores, such as Game Preserve or The Common Room. 

1. Starter set

For new players, the D&D Starter Set is an essential tool to break into the game. The set comes with dice, pregenerated character sheets, a premade adventure with everything the Dungeon Master needs, and a quick reference rule book for players. Between the rule book and the character sheets, every question a player might have has an answer, and all the confusing work of character creation and stats are already done. Jump right into the Lost Mine of Phandelver and battle mages, goblins, wraiths and more.

Amazon price: $21.93


2. Player handbook

The holy book of D&D. For players who want to graduate to the next level of D&D and have more versatility than with the Starter Set, the Player’s Handbook is the next must-buy. The 320-page behemoth of a guidebook contains even more spells, weapon stats and information imperative for total adventure immersion. Transcend from a residence hall-bound student into a socially-devious gnome warlock, or opt for a rage-inspired human monk. The book is only a “handbook,” not a “rule book,” so the possibilities for character creation, weaponry, spells and more are as endless as one’s imagination. Though the book comes in print, PDF versions also exist online.

Amazon price: $29.97


3. Character sheet

No matter what version of the game, character sheets are necessary to keeping track of a character’s health, stats, inventory and more. An assortment of these sheets with pregenerated characters come with the Starter Set, though players looking to create their own characters can do so by printing out a new sheet from the Dungeons & Dragons website. From there, players can fill out their character’s stats and skills and create custom backstories and personalities. The internet provides pages dedicated to custom character classes and races. Customization and optimization options are endless. 

Amazon price: Free


4. Dice

Egan Kulenov faces down a squad of King’s guardsmen who wrongly believe him of treason. They run towards him, swords pointed. The player controlling Egan decides she wants to hit them with a shockwave spell. She picks up her 20-sided die, shakes it and rolls it against the ground. A 20, critical hit! The shockwave launches the guards careening into a stone wall, allowing Egan time to escape.

Dice are the most physical part of the game, and provide the most opportunity for risk and reward. A prepared player comes with not just a six-sided die, but a four-sided, eight-sided, 10-sided, 12-sided, 20-sided, a percentage die and maybe even a 100-sided die. These dice are sold in sets and can be made of colored plastic or even ornately-carved metal. Dice rolling applications also exist on the internet and for iOS and Android. Find a dice medium and color scheme that you can “roll” with.

Amazon price: free


5. Dungeon Master’s Guide

Though not necessary, the Dungeon Master’s Guide can be an important purchase for a Dungeon Master (DM) learning how to steer players on a captivating journey. The three-pound guidebook provides DMs with world-building tools, items, advice and information on creating memorable dungeons and battles. Though the book comes in print, PDF versions also exist online.

Amazon price: $54.91


6. Friends

The best part of any D&D adventure. It’s important to find a group of friends ready to embark on adventure sessions that may stretch for three to four hours and longer. Dungeons & Dragons is a great way to connect with roommates, classmates and friends in the residence hall. Game stores occasionally hold D&D-themed events, where players can drop in and play pregenerated characters and stories as well. Gamers’ Guild @ IU meets every Friday in the Indiana Memorial Union to play games like Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. The group’s goal is to “help every gamer at IU find like-minded players for their old favorites and try out new games in a fun, friendly environment,” according to its beINvolved page.


7. Snacks

Would it really be a D&D session without pizza? Get the cheesy, gooey fuel to survive the adventure from any of the delivery services around town. Even if characters start to starve, the players won't.

When the dice are finally assorted, the character sheets prepared and pizza ordered, the adventure can begin. For both players and Dungeon Masters, there are some things to come prepared with, as well as some things to keep in mind once the game begins to provide a more exciting, engaged atmosphere.


Do’s

● Show up on time and come prepared. Set an alarm and have a general awareness of your character’s spells and skills, other character’s roles and an understanding of where the party left off last session. 

● Stay mindful of the way your character thinks, sees and responds to the world around them. This is a role-playing game. If your character has a short temper and their gold pouch is stolen, make a racket and let your party know how enraged you are.

● Be ready to improvise and think quickly. Even the most linear, uninteresting moments in an adventure can go wrong at any moment — an ogre can come to steal sheep from a herd, or a conversation can turn awkward if a party member disses a king to his face. Unpredictable moments caused by players can lead to some of the most thrilling and entertaining moments in any adventure.


Don'ts

● Be disrespectful or self-centered. If another player has an idea on how to approach a haunted graveyard, work with them. If another player is talking to a villager or someone of royalty, don’t interrupt. Trying to muscle into every decision and conversation leads to party fatigue and can reduce the overall experience of the adventure.

● Chatter about non-game topics. Not only does it slow down the flow of the game and distract other plays, but it ruins the immersion that D&D provides. Make sure to get it all out beforehand.

● Be too loud or reckless. Though players may find the need to shout across crevasses or to portray their character’s anger, the possibility of noise complaints in residence halls and apartments is always something that should be kept in consideration. 

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