Dungeons at Daemen: Inside one of Daemen’s Fastest Growing Clubs

By Cadence Russell, Editor-in-Chief.

Dungeons and Dragons, better known as D&D, has taken Daemen by storm. Dungeons at Daemen, the university’s very own D&D club was founded in 2020 and has only grown since then, from a tiny campaign on Canavan’s third floor to four separate campaigns.

“So you can imagine how small it was since we were just around that table,” senior social work major and co-secretary Bee McDowell said. “So the fact that we now have, like an official room that we go to and I mean at this point, we have actually two rooms that we can use. And we have multiple days that we’re doing it there’s also just awesome.”

McDowell is referring to the fact that the club has grown so large that multiple campaigns, or storylines, are being run at the same time, requiring multiple days to accommodate the interests of all the club’s members. More importantly, the club offers the novel idea of providing a space to game and hang out, a rare thing to find on campus.

“I did talk with some of the past presidents, and they said there’s always been a lot of interest, but not as many people showed up the past couple of years as did this year,” co-president Glenn Sharkey, second-year PT major said.

D&D is a tabletop role-playing game where players create characters and are led through a storyline by their Dungeon Master (DM), the narrator of the story who run the campaign. Standard storylines follow source material from the official D&D books, which were originally created in the 1970s and have expanded ever since.

“It’s essentially like getting to be an actor and your very own TV show that’s being like custom written for you as you go along,” McDowell said. “But unlike an actor, you get a say in the story, and that’s also something that feels so amazing. The fact that you get to have that tangible impact you’re seeing play out right before your eyes.”

With approximately 40 members involved in four separate campaigns, the club has seen rapid expansion since its inception. With that comes the added challenge of making the game more accessible to all the club’s members.

“Currently, we’re looking into getting the club a DND Beyond account…we’ve been working with student affairs to get an account made specifically for the club,” co-president Dominick Mason, second-year animation major said. “So that people have access to all of the materials and they don’t have to go buy stuff themselves or be restricted to the free stuff on the site.”

But growing Dungeons at Daemen hasn’t always been smooth sailing, from trying to figure out officer positions to managing chat rooms and emails.

“When we came freshman year, Dungeons at Daemen was kind of horribly managed, in a sense…They had just lost their last president, and people were unprepared for the new shift in positions,” Mason said.

Starting D&D can be foreboding to new players, with the extensive lore behind the game and various styles of play, as well as completely original campaigns and worlds, known as “Homebrew.” The club works to make starting D&D as easy as possible, from providing dice to character sheets to help introduce the game and eliminate potential confusion spots.

“I would recommend anyone to join DND…get in touch with the club, see what we’re about, and we’re more than open to having people come in and just watch for a bit if they’d like…and they can start to get a feel for whether or not they’d actually like to be in it,” Sharkey said.

Campaigns are run on a weekly basis on Fridays and Saturdays and consist of a couple of hours developing into the storyline, with players getting to make decisions about their characters, fight bosses, perform magic, and take off on an adventure. 

“I’m a big writer and role player myself. And I really do enjoy the process of creating and then going through with characters and connecting to other characters,” McDowell said. “Because as your character as you’re writing them and role-playing them and connecting to another character, you get to build friendships outside of the game.

The club offers more than just a time to play a game with friends and get into character. McDowell mentioned how the game provides a creative outlet for writers and artists, especially in practicing character design and animation.

“It’s a lot of creativity and writing and story building, character building. So if you’re interested in that kind of thing, it probably is for you,” McDowell said. “And if you’re not still give it a try. You might surprise yourself and find something that you absolutely love.”

Sharkey and Mason interviews by Kai Powell.

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