Adventures of Nerds: Role-Playing Games at Snow College

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Lehi Oakeson, left, acts as the Gamemaster as the group of friends play a combat scenario in the game Pathfinder, similar to the popular Dungeons and Dragons. Groups meet to play these role-playing games twice a week in the Humanities Building. Photo by Colton Welch

Lehi Oakeson, left, acts as the Gamemaster as the group of friends play a combat scenario in the game Pathfinder, similar to the popular Dungeons and Dragons. Groups meet to play these role-playing games twice a week in the Humanities Building.
Photo by Colton Welch

The famed Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game is an internationally-acclaimed staple in the diet of nerd culture.  The game has spawned many successors, including several other games, which a group of Snow College students play.

Role-playing games, or RPGs, are played in groups.  One player is designated as the Game Master or Dungeon Master; he or she narrates the game and ensures other players obey the game rules.  Many RPGs use fantasy settings involving dragons and magic, but other genres can be used.  All players besides the Game Master adopt a fictitious persona or character and perform actions as their character would; this is the defining characteristic of a “role-playing game.”

As the Game Master narrates the game, players will narrate their own actions in response to game events.  For example, if the Game Master announces that a gigantic, fire-breathing dragon appears in the game, a player may choose to attack it, run away, or perform another action.

Players can perform combat sequences on tabletop maps by using miniature figurines to represent players, allies, and enemies.  The game events change according to the Game Master’s narration and player actions.

Lehi Oakeson and Rylie Beardall are two Snow College students who run RPGs.  Oakeson’s game of choice is Pathfinder RPG, which uses rules from an older edition of Dungeons and Dragons and rivals its parent game in popularity.  Beardall’s game is called Swan Song and is largely her own creation.  Her game is based on  a similar RPG called All Flesh Must Be Eaten and is set in a post-apocalyptic near-future, where players are pitted against both zombie-like and human enemies in a quest for survival.

In an interview last week, each described why they enjoy role-playing and being Game Masters.  Oakeson said, “I like the social interaction and being able to be really creative and put my thoughts and voice somewhere.”  His extensive knowledge of the game lets him insert many unexpected plot twists into the story, making it a challenging and engaging experience for the players.

Beardall enjoys writing stories and being a Game Master because she gets to “tell the story and immediately see the reactions, so I know how to better adapt things and tell stories the way people want.” Her RPG lacks the more advanced game mechanics of Pathfinder, but she more than makes up for it with a dramatic story crafting style that leaves players hungry for more after each session.

Students interested in participating in these RPGs can contact Lehi Oakeson by e-mail at newlehi@yahoo.com.

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