New EWU Dungeons and Dragons Club Helps People Build Life Skills, Community


By Cannon Barnett, Reporter

In the Eastern Washington University PUB, people joked with one another behind their arrays of carefully organized dice. A Great Dane-Husky mix named Molly walked from person to person in search of attention. And friends referenced the adventures they went on in their last game sessions

They were there last week, May XXX, for the Dungeons and Dragons club kickoff event on becoming a Dungeon Master, called DM Academy. 

“The goal is to have a space where students can come, role play, escape, have a fun time, and build community with people who are actually interested in the same things they are. Kind of like a sports club, but for nerds,” said Brandon Fletcher, who began the D&D club at EWU last quarter.

Dungeons and Dragons, abbreviated D&D, is a popular role playing game (RPG) that has been around since the mid 1970s. It involves a Dungeon Master, or DM, who acts as a narrator for the game, and players who create and embody characters to navigate the DM’s world.

Recently, D&D has gained mainstream popularity due to its presence in media and social media, according to Eastern Washington University staff member John Hoffschneider, who has been playing D&D since the 80s and presented at the DM Academy event that took place on the 9th. Notable examples of media that have contributed to the popularization of D&D include the podcast Critical Role, TV series Stranger Things, and new movie Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Theives. 

“For me growing up, [playing D&D] was very hush-hush. You didn’t talk about it because you were teased about it. Now, it is very much celebrated,” Hoffschneider said. “It breaks this stereotype of the socially withdrawn person into somebody who’s like, ‘No, this is an amazing exercise in creativity and theater.’”

Hoffschneider said that more colleges are beginning to have D&D clubs. Fletcher began the D&D club at EWU last quarter, and already says that it has gotten bigger than anticipated, already needing 3 DMs to run separate games.

During his speech, Hoffschneider continually emphasized the life skills that D&D builds upon, some of which were conflict management, critical thinking, creativity, and expanding your comfort zone. People were given opportunities to practice verbally describing different kinds of scenes and scenarios to the group.

Fletcher built on this idea.

“You’re kind of expressing a part of yourself that you may not typically express and so it might be a little uncomfortable at first,” Fletcher said. “The positive part of that is that you kind of get that ability to be yourself. You get that ability to express yourself in a more creative way, in a different way than you’re used to.”

Fletcher and others at the club joke that his dog Molly is the club’s mascot. He said that he plans to be at campus events like neighborfest advertising the club, and Molly is a great way to pick him out from the crowd.

You can join the club’s discord here.