Dungeons, dragons, and determination

Shorewood’s D&D club is off to a fantastical fresh start


Art by Eliana Megargee

by Darby O'Neill, Art Director

Dice of all shapes, patterns, and sizes clatter across the tabletop, eagerly thrown by players yielding thoughtful smiles only illuminated by eerie, mood-setting candles. The sights and sounds of this peculiar scene can only mean one thing; a Dungeons and Dragons campaign is well under way.

Originally published in 1974, “Dungeons & Dragons,” or D&D, is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game. “It sounds weird at first. I promise it isn’t as weird as you think it is,” laughed Ellen Hume, junior. While not everyone can say that they have played it, the game has had a grip on pop culture for decades, providing inspiration for storylines and spoofs in many TV shows such as “Community,” “Stranger Things,” and even “My Little Pony.”

“It’s an opportunity for people who really like fantastical media,” said Hume. “You play in a group of friends, with one person who runs the whole campaign and tells you what’s happening in the story.” While following a basic set of rules, the game allows for complete freedom in terms of building and expanding on a world of the players’ choosing. “You get to write a book and also play the main characters,” said Harry Viertel, sophomore.

The origins of Shorewood’s D&D club come from Einstein Middle School, roughly three years ago. “At Einstein, it was a lot less formal,” said Viertel, one of the first to join the group. “That first year, we met in a science room, and just kind of sat around playing a well-made campaign and had fun.” Viertel and his friends felt inspired to keep their momentum going despite the loss of the group’s leader the year afterwards. “We moved to the cafeteria after school and just went from there,” Viertel said.

After ASB’s approval, the group officially founded the D&D Club at Shorewood while school was operating virtually. “We met during lunchtime and did our best to run a campaign. It was small, but we were all already a bit experienced,” Viertel recalled. The club brought in a measly nine people in comparison to the notebook-filling sign ups they are receiving now.

The club’s officers, elected at the end of last year, recently helped lead a character creation day in order to help all the new players learn the ropes. “We printed out character sheets and had one officer designated to each table group, helping people build their character, make sense of all the confusing jargon in D&D books, and learn what making a character actually means,” said Hume.

These officers have had their hands full this year, organizing slideshows, sending out emails, planning campaigns, and laying the general groundwork for what goes on at the weekly meetings. “They make it really easy,” said Shelby Hatley, sophomore, one of the club’s new members. “They are there to help you every step of the way, and they don’t look down on you for not knowing anything. It really feels like they are there to lift you up and support you.”

Despite already hosting its first few meetings, the club is always eager to welcome new members. “The fun thing about [D&D] is that you can jump into a story later on and have your character join the plot along the way,” said Hume.

The club agrees that D&D has always been a fantastic way of bringing people together. “I think it’s stuck around so long because it really impacts a lot of people. People really connect with that idea of escapism, creating your own world, and really just spending time with your friends in this very unique setting,” stated Hume. “You don’t really find that many games like D&D that are as interactive or imaginative or versatile.”

D&D meets Mondays during lunch in Aswege’s room, 3101. Contact the club’s instagram @shorewooddnd with questions or to express interest in joining.