What’s your fantasy?

What’s your fantasy?

By Nick Mendez

Six friends gather in a circle, character sheets in hand, exploring dark forests and quaint villages while unraveling plots.

They chat back and forth about how to handle the villagers, some dangerous, some sympathetic, and then, choosing to deceive, roll a 20-sided die to see if their bluff was believed.

Dungeons ‘ Dragons (D’D) brings these friends together every week.

“You just get together weekly and you just enjoy playing this game with your friends,” said Nick Arango, a senior biochemistry major and the evening’s Dungeon Master. “It’s a combination of reading a novel, writing a novel and playing a tactical war game.”

First introduced in 1974, the role-playing game combines mythology, history and fantasy while players assume character roles. While pop culture sometimes gives D’D and those who play it a negative connotation – conjuring students stricken with acne and donning wizard capes – these players prove they don’t necessarily have to be a “geek” to play.

“I am not the stereotypical role-player,” said freshman psychology major, Corrine VanSlyck. “I have breasts, I’m a girl, I have a social life, I go out sometimes. So I sort of defy the stigma if there is one. The stigma is very much of trapped suburbanite angst-y teenagers who don’t have friends or social lives.”

While playing D’D is not considered a traditional nightly activity, students said the game is an opportunity to meet with friends and socialize outside of classes. It is distinct from video games or other board games because of its focus on community.

“You can’t do it alone; there needs to be other people,” said senior computer science major Jeff Fischer. “A lot of the games you spend half the time just goofing off talking amongst your friends. It brings people together.”

Several players agreed and said good friends are made over a set of dice and a spell list.

“I find that a lot of the people I meet through it are very friendly; they’re usually very intelligent,” said Alex Brick, a freshman computer science major. “It’s a good way to meet people. As you play with them you get to know them a lot better.”

VanSlyck said D’D appealed to her because of its combination of different elements.

“We started my freshman or sophomore year of high school,” VanSlyck said. “I was much into theatre. The acting plus the role-playing is a good combination for me. Plus I’ve got a little fascination with the fantasy, science fiction kind of thing.”

While outsiders may look at the game and see chaos, Fischer said D’D is intricately structured.

“It’s very much like a board game where the dice affect everything,” he said. “It’s not just freeform kids talking about crazy stories.”

While some think D’D players on college campuses are rare, Justin Searles, an employee of The Compleat Strategist, a gaming shop on Massachusetts Avenue, said role-players are part of a thriving community in Boston.

“There are some very good clubs out there in the Boston area,” he said. “I’ve heard good tales of clubs at the bigger campuses.”

Seales said the negative imagery associated with the D’D culture is because of the misconception that the players use the game as an escapist activity.

“The basic idea that was sold to the American people behind D’D is that there’s a bunch of people gathering in a basement and pretending to be elves,” he said. “Which on it’s face is slightly ridiculous.”

Other players said much of the fear behind D’D lies in misinformed parents.

“There are a lot of goblins and necromancers but it’s just a game,” Fischer said. “People who have never played it or never experienced it think, ‘Oh it’s skeletons and zombies and it’s some crazy occult thing and I don’t want my kids to play it.’ That gives it a bad name, but it’s completely harmless.”

Brick said while he’s a “self-proclaimed geek,” who’s enthusiastic about the game, some players can take things too far.

“There are people who cannot separate real life from fantasy,” he said. “It gets a little scary. Some people are either so desperate to get away from their real life

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