By Lou Wharton
Blog Content Contributor
If you walk into the third floor of Alkek on a Thursday around 6:30 p.m., you’ll find clusters of students gathered around tables with papers scattered before them and the sound of dice ringing through the air. This is the home of Texas State’s very own D&D Guild, a club dedicated to spreading the joy of tabletop RPGs, from Dungeons and Dragons, to Pathfinder, to Call of Cthulhu and beyond.
I spoke to James Taylor, the club’s president, Alli Drinnon, who manages the club’s social media and Ryan Lowe, the club’s lieutenant, to learn more about the D&D Guild and why they love tabletop RPGs.
Lou: What brought you to tabletop gaming?
James: I was a freshman in high school, and I was on the Marching Band bus. This is back when D&D 5e was really new. Someone invited me to play, and I fell in love with the game.
Alli: I first heard about tabletop roleplay gaming, specifically Dungeons and Dragons, in high school, but I did not have a group to play with. When I was looking at Texas State University, I saw they had a D&D Guild and was immediately interested in joining. After getting involved and meeting other people, I finally was able to join and play in games.
Ryan: I got into tabletops my senior year of high school. I was always a nerdy kid, but I was an athlete back then, so this was something I went into fully expecting it to be a little weird and almost too nerdy. Boy, was I wrong. I had a complete 180 after the first session my friend dragged me to. I’m very thankful to her for showing me what has now become a cornerstone hobby in my life.
Lou: What do you think is unique about tabletop gaming specifically?
James: It brings you back to your childhood in the sense that you can play pretend. As we get older, it feels like we lose some of that imagination. Tabletop games really bring that back.
Alli: Tabletop roleplay gaming like D&D is unique because of the collaborative storytelling between the game runner and the players. The plot is partially dependent on the actions, decisions and desires of the players and their characters. Players will bring unique ideas and backgrounds to the table, literally and figuratively, which helps generate new and fun experiences for the entire group.
Ryan: The freedom – while there are rules in tabletop games, it is in stark contrast to the rigidity of a normal board game or even a video game. The ability to do anything you want (within reason) was very alluring to me and was one of the reasons I stayed so involved with the hobby the last four years. I also think the ability to experiment with things that are different to what you are in the real world, whether that be sexuality, gender, or personality, in a safe place can really help people discover some things about themselves.
Lou: What’s your favorite tabletop RPG?
James: Probably D&D 5e. It’s so simple and anyone who has played it can easily learn other games that use a D20 system.
Alli: My favorite tabletop roleplaying game is D&D 5e because I really like the fantasy genre. My second favorite would be Star Wars 5e, which is based on D&D 5e and is free for all players on their website.
Ryan: My favorite tabletop RPG, based purely off most enjoyment per session, would be hands down Cyberpunk Red. The game was truly such a breath of fresh air after only really playing things D&D 5e adjacent. The character creation system was all done by dice rolls, so if you have no idea what to do with a PC, (player character) you can let the dice decide! The gameplay and the settings were just so rich and well-created. Even though it has only been four or five months, I still find myself thinking back to that game frequently.
Lou: What would you say to anyone who’s not sure about starting to play tabletop RPGs?
James: It’s okay to be nervous about the game. The people you are playing with will always take time out of their day to teach you anything that is confusing. There is a huge community that is always there to help.
Alli: To anyone not sure about playing tabletop RPGs, I would say that if you enjoy reading, writing or making up scenarios in your head, then D&D will be a lot of fun. Sometimes the numbers and rule aspects of D&D can be intimidating but finding the right game running and looking at online resources will help. There’s a lot out there for people to find.
Ryan: I would say that everybody should give it a try once. There is no better way to escape all your problems for a couple of hours than to sit down at a table amongst your friends and have the problems in your head be replaced by the problem your PC is dealing with. Again, I went into it completely not expecting anything, and here I am four years later, still knee deep in playing and running tabletop RPGs.
Lou: What’s the best thing about the D&D Guild?
James: It’s always growing and changing for the better. A few years ago, we were just a group of fifty people that were not willing to let people in. Now we have a thriving community with over six hundred people in our server. We’ve been lucky to have officers that care about growing and expanding our community. I can’t wait to see what it looks like next year and for many years to come.
Alli: The best thing about the D&D Guild is the community we have created. As an officer, I help facilitate the Guild’s Discord Server, which is our primary place for conversation outside of meetings. I love seeing everyone interact in a friendly and welcoming manner. The Guild is also great about being welcoming and inclusive to members of all types and experiences. D&D can have a lot of obstacles to entry, which we do our best to mitigate.
Ryan: I think the best thing about it is the sense of community we have managed to cultivate around the tabletop RPGs on campus here. This outfit started as a small gathering of friends who wanted to play D&D and then grew into an organization for people to find games on campus to play in. Now, we have a large, diverse group of people, many of whom are my friends or friends with each other. For someone like me, who is a homebody and has to deal with homesickness a lot, I could not be prouder of lending a hand to build a place on campus where I feel completely comfortable and at home. Because of this strong community we have built, when my time comes to step down as an officer, I know the Guild will be left in good and incredibly capable hands. The time I have spent here at this Guild is like a treasure to me, and I hope it will become that way for more of our members here.
The D&D Guild is filled to the brim with passionate people – and there’s still room for more. Interested parties can find the D&D Guild on the third floor of Alkek every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. No supplies are required, but if you have them, it’s recommended you bring a set of dice, a notebook and most importantly, a sense of adventure.
Written by: Cayla Soriano