Dungeons and Dragons camp at RIT: More than monsters and adventure

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HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — You might not know, but there’s a room at RIT that’s filled with monsters, from goblins to demons, to heroes and rogues, chasing quests and adventures, big and small — all born of imagination.

“The kids get to be creative. We have a lot of students who find their people in their dungeons and dragons groups,” said Donna Brunette, Director of Camp Tiger at RIT. “They are communicating, they’re creating stories together — they’re having a great time.”

The kids are playing Dungeons and Dragons and are led by RIT students. This special camp, part of 30-year-old Camp Tiger at RIT, is only 3 years old, but it’s the most popular of all the camps they have.

D&D was first published in 1974. The game is powered by imagination, stats, and dice, but there’s a lot more to it than traditional board game pieces.

“Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop role-playing game,” said Crew Chief Devon Christman. “What that means is you and your friends gather around a table and create characters, and engage in a story that one of your friends called the ‘dungeon master’ leads. You all roll your dice to see what happens, and you can basically do whatever you want.

“The rulebook is about 300 pages long,” Christman said. “But the basic idea of it is one person tells a story, and you say, ‘I want to do this! I want to investigate something.’ You’ll roll one of your die that has 20 sides, if you’re good at that skill, you add more numbers to it, if you’re bad at that skill, you subtract, and the storyteller decides what happens, and you keep on going.”

To this day, tens of millions of people still play the game, which has seen a renaissance since a mention on a popular Netflix series, as well as the game’s distributor, Wizards of the Coast released a new and more accessible version of the game.

The game’s rules, structure, and vision has influenced countless other games, especially role playing video games. That industry is now a multi-billion dollar one, and firmly in the public eye, but the screen-less D&D still has a place.

“So I think they’re definitely intertwined,” Burnette said. “A lot of our students will actually come here for Dungeons and Dragons camp, and the next week they’ll come for one of our gaming camps. They feed into each other. I think we both need the technical ability, but we also need to nurture the creativity and the communication, because you can’t learn any of this in isolation.”

This game isn’t just about creating worlds of grand quests, sweet loot, and the valiant struggle. It’s about the slightly more mundane real life.

“This is one thing that no matter who you are, you can jump straight into it, and automatically be immersed,” Christman said. “Because you have control over your own story. So no matter what you like or what you want to do, you’ve got your own agency, it’s a great way to bring people together.”

“These kids are away from their screens,” Burnette said. “They’re here for the whole week, away from screens, creating off of each other, interacting with the roll of the die — they can dream it. We need our kids dreaming about what they want to be, and they have to dream new futures that charts it for all of us.”

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