The world of Dungeons and Dragons inside lockdown – The Blue Banner

Brandon Ayoungchee

Arts & Features Writer

Photo by Katie Bloomer
Timothy Stone organizes and runs D&D games through Zoom, but also enjoys playing personal games with close friends on the weekends.

Timothy Stone, a 21-year-old dungeon master who organizes and runs Dungeons and Dragons games, is preparing to roll the dice for his friends on the weekends.

An avid dungeon master, Stone started out as a player before starting his college days. He said that as someone who was interested in video games, it was easy for others to include him in the imaginary board game.

“D&D is the kind of game you’re invited to. I was obviously intrigued by the idea of ​​tabletop RPGs because I played video games. I was invited to play in college. I’ve been to two sessions or so with people who are far more sophisticated with the game than I am. I had a really good time, but I wasn’t in college in a long time to continue, ”said Stone.

Stone watched a podcast called Critical Role, a live streaming D&D game full of celebrities. By watching games, he could better understand the role of dungeon mastering.

“It’s voiced by Matt Mercer who is a really cool voice actor. He’s doing a really good show. I’ve seen games, I’ve played games, and now I’ve started running games. I hope to start with a group of people this weekend, ”said Stone.

Despite the complications of the pandemic, Stone said Dungeons and Dragons are made to be played in person. Because he knows his friends and only gets out with a small group of them, he can be confident that they will be safe with social distancing protocols.

“I know these people; they are my friends. And the other reason I feel very comfortable is because these are the people I spend most of my time with in my own house. It’s not like a group of strangers from the local game store getting together to play a session. They are people I have known for a long time, ”said the dungeon master.

He said playing in person was way better than playing on Zoom, but he realized that playing online was an absolute priority during the early stages of the pandemic.

“So I isolated along with everyone else at the beginning of COVID. There was a group of other people and I didn’t want to risk myself and put myself in their environment. So we set up a Zoom call and I think there were two other people who did that online. There were three people who did it personally. It was difficult with the internet and the schedule times. Communication was certainly a difficult aspect as there were different voice chats everywhere and they had to be managed, ”said Stone.

Stone said he disagreed that it was easier to find games online than in person, but he could see that as a valid reason for people to play them.

“The format in which D&D can be played is difficult. It’s not user friendly. You do a lot of research and the skill curve of joining a game is tough. I believe the best experience you can have is personal. With online you are practically playing with strangers and again there is the difficulty of having multiple audio chats open which makes it difficult to coordinate and control a game together, ”he said.

Unc Asheville’s 23-year-old business management major Justin Greenbaum said Stone would be his second dungeon master. He compared the experience of playing with a friend to a stranger much better than his first attempt at D&D.

“I play under a game master who was a good game master, but he just wasn’t a good person. As good as he was as a storyteller, he just wasn’t a good person to keep playing, ”said Greenbaum.

He said there were a lot of funny stories he won from his first game.

“It was like teaching a child to read, but you should expect that child to read already. It should come as expected, you would already know how to do it. I’ve also played with people who just didn’t understand the game. There was this one person who kept asking crazy questions. It was hard to explain, but it was like he had never played a video game before. He asked if he could sit on a rock. We asked why. He said he just wanted to sit on the rock, ”he laughed.

As confusing as the experience was, Greenbaum chose not to return to this group. He received other game offers, but turned them down. It wasn’t until Stone invited him to his budding game that he accepted joining another group.

“My friend said we should play a D&D game. I said it was a terrible idea because I know the people he would bring. I told him this would cause the same problems that I had in my first game. So we found new people to play with and that was good enough for me, ”said Greenbaum.

Olivier Clarke, a 21-year-old game master, played exclusively online games even before the pandemic. He said his first steps into dungeon mastering came from no one else who joined the role.

“My dungeon mastering story is pretty mundane. People I knew as a kid didn’t want to be a dungeon master, so I stepped on the plate. I’ve always enjoyed storytelling, and the interface between writing and doing that dungeon mastering brings has not been daunting for me. From then on it just went on. It had developed its own dynamic, ”he said.

He practices the so-called post role-playing game, which is SMS posts as opposed to the personal vocal role-playing game.

“Online text-based role play is a conveyed experience. Certainly a practical one, with lots of additional details and a simple repetition as a record. Yet it is lifeless and stilted compared to the best kind of personal role-playing that has the same miraculous immediate presence found in sports games, the theater, and the work of good storytellers. The GM is ideally a glorified type of traffic director responsible for facilitating, improving, and only occasionally retouching a shared story told by the players, “said Clarke.