We were lucky that there was an island close enough to where our boat sank, so we managed to reach it by swimming. However, our luck ran out as soon as we stepped on land. Attracted by our noise, several tall, spiked, green creatures approached us with unfriendly faces. Maybe we just escaped from one death to another. Time to roll the dice.
It may not have happened in real life, but a group of people went through it together during a role-playing game (RPG) session. The Dark Snakes is Mohawk College’s Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) club. The club has over 40 members on its Discord server and several ongoing campaigns. Club member Alicia Pamplin says the club is very friendly and welcoming.
“There are a lot of outgoing people who will welcome new members eagerly, and also a lot of resources for people without experience with D&D,” Pamplin said.
“Dark Snakes is a pretty chill place,” club member Andrew Rerecich said. “It is more of a club to introduce people who like the same stuff, but mostly to introduce players to DMs (Dungeon Masters).”
With multiple active campaigns featuring different numbers of players, story styles, and even gaming systems, the club is constantly creating new groups for players. Any interested Mohawk student can contact club president Ian Moore and he will DM a one-on-one session.
“For anyone interested in learning, I do a private session with the person where I teach the basics and help the person to create their character from scratch and make a one-on-one campaign tutorial for the person so they understand how the game works,” Moore explained. “I bring the books, the dice, the sheets, literally everything we need, so anyone can play without spending any money. I will go through it with anyone who wants to enter this universe. You just have to come with an open mind and leave the rest with me.”
At the end of one of these one-on-one sessions, Moore said that he had narrated this tutorial adventure several times, but the narrative is always unique because each player had different attitudes and made different choices.
Even though they might sound complex, RPGs are just a way of telling interactive stories. Each player creates a character and then plays the game as that character, making decisions the way their character would.
The player decides everything about the character such as their background, characteristics, personality and race. The player then embodies the character, trying to act like the character would.
The adventure that the group experiences will be conducted by the DM, who will create the setting, the story and the obstacles the party must overcome. The players must navigate this world. Basically, the DM creates the world and the plot, but the players will live it.
Long-time player Diogo Silva describes RPGs as “a way of creating a shared narrative, where everyone is the protagonist of the story they are writing together.”
While the DM leads the adventures, players combine their strengths, skills, and personalities to overcome obstacles and move forward with the narrative. Together, the players will help each other, interact and use their skills and specialties to overcome obstacles.
Many players find the games liberating because they can create characters with totally different personalities or just act with more freedom than they could in the real world.
“RPGs give you a lot of freedom to create and express yourself, not to mention that the stories are always new and unique, so one adventure will never be the same as another, and this is why I like to play,” Elli Eyng said.
Andrew Rerecich said he loves RPGs because it’s an escape from mundane normal life.
“I like RPGs because I like the collaborative storytelling, to work with other people on a story that we all have a part in,” Pamplin said. “And specifically, it’s really gratifying for me as a DM to react to their choices and create an overarching narrative and story for them all to experience and play a part in.”
Any student from Mohawk College can join the Dark Snakes – it doesn’t matter if they have played before or are completely new to RPGs.
Ian Moore can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org