“My dwarf would suggest that we enter the room with the skull in the back that has a gem in its eye. We know the gem is magical.”
“All right, you enter the 15-by-15-foot room. There is debris from the ceiling falling on the ground. You need someone to roll with a plus-two intelligence to figure out that the roof is coming down.”
The team tenses. Each player glances at his information sheet to see if his character can cut it. Fred the fighter is out, the dwarf doesn’t have it, and the ranger really isn’t resourceful. How can this heroic troop search for the missing children of the local town if they can’t even enter a room without realizing the ceiling will collapse and kill them all?
But conquering conflicts and dodging debris is nothing new for the Southern Dragons, San Antonio’s chapter of Game Base 7, a national gaming organization that promotes table-top games like Dungeons & Dragons. President and Vice President Kara and Greg Geilman host D&D games twice a week at their home, and are currently recruiting members for a new game based on the recently released fourth edition of D&D. The club was officially formed in 2003 and has about 14 members.
“I got into gaming as a hobby after meeting my husband. I had never played games like it before besides Monopoly or chess but have found it quite enjoyable,” Kara said. She said role-playing games exist for people who desire to play out fantasies such as those found in books like the Lord of the Rings, but in a game-type setting.
D&D game has been around since the 1970s when a couple of college students tried combining war games and fantasy. E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson published the first edition in 1974 and the game grew in popularity until it reached a peak in the mid-1980s. The game is struggling to compete with the massively multi-player online games such as World of Warcraft, but still holds a steady popularity among gamers. Kara said the Southern Dragons have many games, but members usually prefer the classic role-playing game.
In Dungeons & Dragons each player invents a character based on primary classes such as clerics, rouges, and fighters. They imagine every aspect of a character, from its preferred weaponry to its social skills. There is also a Dungeon Master who directs the path of the story and gives situations that each member reacts to. After the DM gives a scenario, like a falling roof, the player dictates the character’s reaction, such as investigating the roof, and rolls dice to see the randomized outcome.
The game becomes made of a collective storytelling, with the players taking on the life of every dwarf or elf, humanoid or ogre. Greg says its enduring appeal is its strategy; it’s a cerebral game, with a dash of fantasy and humor.
“If your mind has been frazzled by all of the realities of the world, it kind of forces you to use your imagination,” Kara said. “As you grow up, TV becomes our imagination. When you get away from that and you get into role-playing, it allows you to wholly visualize a story in your head and how you would react to it.”
Kara and Greg have taken that creativity to a higher level, becoming computer technicians by day and D&D module writers by night. The pair publishes their characters and plotlines, or modules, with their publishing company Eostros Games. Over the years they have worked on 10 projects and created thousands of characters. The couple said they probably lose money publishing the books, but continue to write just for the fun of it.
Despite the fun of falling into fantasy, the duo said they enjoy the interaction with other members more than the game itself. Kara said that interaction allowed her to create a closer bond with her husband Greg.
“He was playing a character and being funny and so I got to play my character and be funny with him,” Kara said. “So it kind of showed me sides of him that I didn’t know. It was kind of self-discovery almost.” •
If you’re interested in playing or learning more about the Southern Dragons visit their website at d20.meetup.com/13/.
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