Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Santa (or should I say Sauron?) came early to Psi Phi this year, as the aptly named club received $688 to spend on Dungeons and Dragons materials as part of an “Expand Your Role” grant from Wizards of the Coast, the company that sells Dungeons and Dragons materials.
Grants were available to any college club with more than four people and a dedicated Dungeons and Dragons club. Psi Phi isn’t just a D&D club, but the game is more popular than you might be aware of. According to Psi Phi co-president Revan Williams ’09, “when we did a survey, we found that between everyone in the club, Dungeons & Dragons is played for hundreds of hours a week.”
Hundreds? Hundreds. With at least thirty regular RPGers, some of whom play for up to ten or twelve hours a week, “it’s so popular that scheduling has become a concern on Fridays and Saturdays… you can only fit one game in our lounge [in the basement of Parrish], so with the grant we bought a smaller battlemat and extra dice so they could take it elsewhere.”
What does $688 buy in the world of Dungeons and Dragons? Williams says, “we originally applied for a bit more because we wanted a projector, but we managed to get an old one from SCCS.” Of the actual grant, the club will be spending $300 on 4th edition D&D books coming out in the spring. The rest was mostly spent on miniatures, which can be seen above, and tickets to PhilCon, the Philadelphia Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference.
Asked about the appeal, Williams replied that “it offers a lot to a lot of different people–if you’re into acting you can act, writing you can write, strategy obviously.” He came to Swarthmore already a Dungeons and Dragons fan and quickly converted two friends, and suspects that beyond Psi Phi, “there are a lot of other gamers, since not everyone is loud about it. I don’t know why you wouldn’t be, but there it is.”
Contrary to stereotypes, Swarthmore D&D isn’t just a boys’ club. The Gazette walked in on a game led by a female Dungeonmaster, and students at the table estimated that “at least a third of the people who play are girls.”
If you’re a secret D&Der, what this means is that it’s time to come out of the closet and get yourself over to Psi Phi’s lounge. Among other miniatures, a Dracolich, an Aspect of Nerull, and a BEAR WARRIOR are waiting for you.