By: Shane Embury
Student Life Editor
This school year has been the time of exciting new clubs for Hardin Valley Academy. Young Americans and International Club are two extracurriculars that blossomed in the fall semester, and now HVA’s eccentric student body has made itself known within a third new club: the Dungeons & Dragons Club. This organization, run by adviser Mrs. Allison Walker and founder Jake Easterday, is the most recent addition to the school’s vast array of student activities. The club started in December of 2016, and since then, it has grown into a large group of students bonding over their love of the game.
“I have played only a couple of adventures–three of four adventures–and all of those were very basic, beginner adventures,” said Easterday, senior, “yet I had such this inspiration by it that I learned all of the rules and mechanics in order to start this club.”
Dungeons & Dragons is a roleplay game based on dice rolls and the players’ own decisions. One player will assume the role of the Dungeon Master, acting as the narrator of the adventure. Then the players embark on a quest of some sort, making decisions as they go and choosing different paths. Dice rolls play a big part of the game as well, determining players’ stats, abilities and success rates of various actions. The players enter into combat and solve problems as a team, with the eventual goal of obtaining some sort of treasure, wealth, knowledge or experience. Easterday described Dungeons & Dragons as “a choose-your-own-adventure, but you can’t see the path beforehand.”
Players can make their way through the game in one of two ways, using either a pre-made adventure or a homebrew adventure. In a premade adventure, the Dungeon Master follows an information packet that details the adventure and possible outcomes, as well as instructing the Dungeon Master on what to do. In a homebrew adventure, the Dungeon Master comes up with their own environment and improvises from there, but this form of playing is recommended for only the more experienced Dungeons & Dragons players.
After only five meetings, the club’s participation rate has skyrocketed. “It was four members [at the first meeting],” said Easterday. “This is our fifth meeting, and it started the second-to-last week of last semester, and we already have 24 people.”
Freshman Samantha Conrad has been a part of the club since the first meeting, when she and her friend showed up together. “I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons for about a year now independently, but I’ve been growing up with it my entire life, so it’s kind of like second nature to me,” said Conrad. “I like how creative it is. You can do anything, as long as your dice can prove it.”
A big part of Dungeons & Dragons gameplay is understanding and creating one’s character. When playing the game, it is important to separate one’s own knowledge from the knowledge of his or her character. An example Conrad presented was that as a human, we can assume that a door may be a trap. However, the character in the game might not be so aware, so each player must be conscious of that shift in knowledge.
Players also get to create their own characters in detail, taking into account aspects such as name, appearance, occupation, health and several other stats.
“My character’s name is Iefyr Illoeith,” said Conrad. “He’s an elf cleric, which basically means he channels the power of gods to do magic. His whole thing is that he heals people and helps people, and he worships the god Klenvor. That basically means his job is to go out and balance life and death.”
As the leader of the Dungeons & Dragons Club, Easterday plays a different role in the game. “When certain groups are playing and they need help,” said Easterday, “like they’re having failures in combat or things like that, I play as a wanderer character. I come in randomly when they need help, help them and then disappear afterwards.”
From four to 24 members, the Dungeons & Dragons Club has grown into a remarkable part of HVA, appealing to faces from all over the school and creating a platform for all students to share unrestricted creativity.