Dungeons and Dragons; where you go on a quest realising that not only do you have to work together to win but that you are only as strong as your least confident player. Oh, and that the Game Master really is out to get you if you forget the importance of teamwork or stray too far from the quest.
It’s day three. The players and parents arrive, regaling DMs and parent helpers with more positive stories and successes (and at least one story of an excited player who couldn’t sleep because they were far too busy explaining every detail of their day). Previously reluctant players are coming in without needing coaxing; parents are being waved out of the room. Today parents are more nervous than players because this is a new experience for them.
Although everyone is happy and positive, the mood is a little more subdued this morning. It takes the DMs and helpers a moment to realise it’s because there is a comfortable silence. Players relax, talk in small groups, play card games, or share anime videos while waiting for the day to begin properly. No one is left out, no one is uncomfortable, and it changes the feel of the room in unexpected ways.
Once breakfast is cleared away, the day begins in earnest with one group taking the initiative and choosing the quest they will attempt next when their current one is completed. Characters are levelled up, and the fun of new quests can begin again. Quieter group members are finding their voices. They stand their ground both in and out of the game. Those new to DnD quickly grasp the basics, including checking for traps and not rushing into combat at the drop of a hat. At least one DM is frustrated as this is reducing opportunities to kill off characters (they are secretly very proud of players but won’t tell them this until they are out of character at the end of the session)
Group leaders are also beginning to emerge. While knowledge of the game plays a role, it is also based on their ability to bring others with them and explain why a particular course of action is better than another. Soft skills are practised, and broader debates grow from issues faced while on a quest. Ideas on democracy, the meanings behind myths, how the players’ experience and interests influence characters are just some of the conversations that are heard during games and breaks.
Friendships are also being reinforced. One player gets the idea to create a group chat with some of the other players and begins asking for contact information, which is a move they would have previously not done. They would have relied on others to ask them to join or wanted the parent to do on their behalf. Another learns from a player with a different background and shows greater focus and concentration than has been present previously. The interest shown allows other players to see a new side of the player.
The forming groups are fluid, which means while the players all have their preferred friendships, they are including others and moving between groups in their free time. They are also showing care and consideration for others. Players are picking up on signs of problems and taking proactive steps to reduce or remove the issue – the second step being the part that the players in question had previously struggled with greatly.
The day ends with everyone tired but happy with their achievements. Any concerns are aired, knowing that they will be listened to and action taken where possible to overcome the issue. No player has lost their character yet, although there were a few more close calls. There is still one day left, and tomorrow, the players must face the big bad. Teamwork will be essential, not just within the groups but between them as well. Only time and the dice will tell the outcome.
Character Creation Roleplaying is based in Plymouth, UK and is the brainchild of Chris Nicholls, senior DM and Chaos Wrangler. He is aided and abetted by DM Alex, Keep of the Dice. The work best when supported by the Empress of the Office (admin, general dogsbody, and writer) and an army of parent victims (volunteers, I meant volunteers).
Chris started by offering fun and educational DnD and roleplay game sessions to home educated children. This has now grown to include afterschool clubs and holiday clubs. We are hoping to expand our offering further and reach as many new players as possible.
Character Creation Roleplaying also offers a Lego club and monthly tabletop game day, which is open to the whole community.