A variety of oddly-shaped dice were scattered across the table among small stacks and manuals as members of the Boise State English Majors Association (EMA) exchanged banter on the first floor of the Albertons Library. One of the many large manuals, bearing the name “Adventurer’s Guide,” was laying open, revealing sketches and detailed analyses of several magical creatures.
Though this easily could have been a scene of a group preparing to play the famous tabletop role-playing game “Dungeons and Dragons,” this particular scene was of the final planning meeting preceding the EMA’s Dungeons and Dragons Workshop, taking place on Wednesday, March 15.
According to the event’s organizer, junior English major Kirby Carlson, the workshop has been designed for students who are unfamiliar with the game. D&D veterans running the event hope to convey what makes the game fun for them, as well as walk new players through the nuts and bolts of a typical adventure.
“It’s a huge stereotype that nerds play D&D—I’m not ashamed of that stereotype, but some people who are interested might be scared away by that,” Carlson said. “Our main hope is to introduce them to the game in a unique and fun way.”
The workshop will also include a few guest speakers, who will give short presentations on various aspects of the game they think students would find interesting. One of these speakers will be Professor in the English Department Linda Marie Zaerr, who will be speaking on a topic explored in her new course as of the Spring 2017 semester, titled “A Gamer’s Guide to Medieval Literature.”
“Many modern games like D&D are intensely steeped in medieval culture,” Zaerr said. “The whole idea of the quest and all the stages of getting there—people just know what to do in those stories.”
To best utilize this aspect of storytelling, the EMA students decided to split the workshop into two sections: one for regular players and another for those wanting to take on the task of being a dungeon master—the one who leads the rest of those players through the story.
According to sophomore English major John Barrie, who will be leading the dungeon master portion of the workshop, this section will focus mainly on thinking on one’s feet.
“I’m going to focus a lot on improvisation,” Barrie said. “In D&D, you can really do anything—and that includes some messed up, unexpected stuff. You can even burn down a daycare, if you want to. Not that you necessarily would.”
Barrie went on to add this aspect of freedom is crucial and unique to the game, which he hopes will appeal to those who wander into the workshop on Wednesday. Zaerr echoed this sentiment.
“It’s possible to go through life and not see the adventure in everyday living,” Zaerr said. “The medieval notion of adventure means going toward whatever comes. That’s why D&D is so interesting—you construct these plots and zones where adventure can happen.”
The workshop will begin at 6 p.m. in the Jordan C Ballroom in the SUB and is free to attend.