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Dungeons and Dragons Club Soars into Role Playing Game

During the 2022-2023 school year, 8th-grade English/Language Arts teacher, Kasey Mooney, embarked on an exciting journey to foster creativity and camaraderie by starting up the Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) Club at Hanover Central Middle School. As we entered the 2023-2024 school year, the club began to grow with Ms. Mooney leading the charge to ensure its continuity for years to come. Currently, the club has three groups or “tables,” including a diverse group of 6th to 8th-grade students. These groups are guided by Ms. Mooney along with two student “Dungeon Masters.” Each table, consisting of 2 to 5 players, dives into thrilling adventures within the realms of imagination, fueling a passion for storytelling, strategic thinking, and collaborative problem-solving among its members.


The Dungeon Master (DM) is the storyteller and world creator of the group. They are the ones who decide the setting, the monsters that the players fight, and how the story plays out. The players get to create a character for themselves, including naming them, deciding their class (play style) and species (mythical creatures), creating a backstory and personality, and choosing spells, equipment, skills, and more. D&D is a collaborative storytelling experience where both the Dungeon Master and players contribute to the narrative. Players have agency in shaping the story through their character's actions and decisions.

Ms. Mooney has been teaching the students to use a program called “DnDBeyond” which allows the players to input their characters to calculate ability scores, hit points, armor class, and more. When rolling the D&D dice in the game, players must take into account these calculations. Dice in D&D typically include D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, and D20, in which the numbers represent the number of sides on each dice. Most of the time, players use the D20, but some actions call for the use of the other dice. D&D is not all about fighting monsters, but players also navigate through dungeons, encounter traps and puzzles, and engage in tactical combat using a combination of dice rolls, character abilities, and teamwork. Players must also work collaboratively to decide which paths to take and know that their decisions have consequences…sometimes dire!


Ms. Mooney has been playing D&D for a little over ten years. She began playing with her friends shortly after high school as a way for them to hang out and be with one another. One day, in class, she was doing a lesson on presentation etiquette. She did an example presentation about Dungeons and Dragons, just to show her expectations of the presentation. Some of the students approached her about starting a D&D club because they wanted to learn how to play. The first year started late, so the club consisted of approximately 15 students, and now the second year has around 30 students. She expressed, “I love that there are a lot of students who have joined this club who aren’t involved in anything else in school, and I feel that this gave them a place where they feel safe.”

Throughout the first semester, Ms. Mooney dedicates her time to familiarizing students with the game's rules and mechanics, guiding them through character creation, and offering mini-sessions for those aspiring to become Dungeon Masters. Most of the students that have joined the club have little to no knowledge of the game. As the club transitions into its second semester, students dive headfirst into gameplay. Ms. Mooney runs a table herself, facilitates the other tables to ensure that things are running smoothly, and answers any questions that might come up. “I like the creativity aspect of D&D. I have been on both sides of the table, both as a player and as a Dungeon Master. I like the opportunity to have thoughtful conversations in a more theatrical way and the improv that is involved,” she shares. During D&D club, she enjoys watching the students problem-solve and think creatively. She also likes to see her students step out of their comfort zone, take more risks, and embrace their confidence. Ms. Mooney encourages everyone to give Dungeons and Dragons a try because she feels that people should branch out into creativity. 


Employability skills are being taught in the classrooms at Hanover, and Ms. Mooney is noticing these skills thriving in the D&D club.“There are a lot of employability skills involved in D&D like collaboration, adaptability, integrity, and self-discipline.” Students are using collaboration by working with one another to defeat a monster, solve a puzzle, or decide which path to take. Through collaborative efforts to defeat monsters and unravel mysteries, students hone their teamwork skills, while navigating the uncertainties of dice rolls encouraging adaptability and quick decision-making. The ethical dilemmas presented in-game promote integrity and self-discipline as players thoughtfully consider different situations.

To gain more insights on what it is like in the D&D club at Hanover Central Middle School, we heard from 5 individuals that Ms. Mooney suggested including 8th graders: Angelus Filipello, and Seth Neander, and 7th graders: Logan Hayes, Emily Gill, Rebecca Wiersma, and Alex Kincheloe. When diving into interviews with these students, the goal was to grasp their individual experiences, motivations, and the inner workings of the club. Each student offered various viewpoints, offering insights into the club's activities, sense of community, and the imaginative journeys they encounter through role-playing adventures.


Seth Neander joined the D&D club during his 8th-grade year because he saw the opportunity to learn about the game. He thought it was going to be a huge, complicated board game. He expressed why he enjoys D&D, “I like the fact that it is not like a traditional board game or card game. It’s like a video game in your mind and you get to really enjoy it.” Seth is currently playing at Ms. Mooney’s table. His character’s name is Elrond, he is a wood elf, and he’s very sneaky from his past of being a robber. He uses an enchanted quarterstaff most of the time and he uses magic. Seth said, “I would 100% recommend a friend to join the D&D club because you don’t know what you are missing out on.”

Angelus Filipello observed his sister engaging in Dungeons & Dragons with her friends and decided to join the call-out meeting at the middle school when the chance arose. He knew about the D&D dice and some of the hitpoint-style aspects of the game, but he had never played before. He shared, “I like how you are one person but you are able to transform your mind into a game character.” Angelus is also at Ms. Mooney’s table playing a character named Drock Gourd Fellow. He’s a rock-style gnome, and he primarily uses javelins and other throwing weapons. Angelus said, “I would most definitely recommend this to a friend because I know a lot of people with great imaginations, and it’s a really nice game to play.”

Logan Hayes wanted to play D&D because he thought that it would be fun to slay a dragon or even be a dragon. He had no prior knowledge of the game other than the fact that dragons were involved. He said, “I really enjoy being a DM, controlling all the NPCs (non-playable characters), and controlling the campaign.” Logan’s campaign is in a multi-verse including a lot of characters from DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and more. They are currently at a part in the game where they engage in a murder mystery. He added, “It’s also really fun to throw a boss at them when they are at a low level.” Logan would recommend this club to a friend because he thinks it is a really fun time. As a DM, he really wants to get more descriptive with his campaigns. 

Alex Kincheloe had a friend about to join the club so he decided to join with him. All he knew about the game prior to joining was the “The Monster Manual” and “The Player’s Guide” books from a friend. He expressed, “I just like causing chaos and throwing horrifying things at my players. Even as a player, I like to mess around with the DM.” Alex enjoys being a DM because he gets to have control over his players and throw whatever he wants at them. Alex recommends that others join the club because it’s a really good way to get to know people better than you already do. He wants to start more campaigns outside of school and he wants to change up his play style.

Emily Gill wanted to play D&D because she wanted to engage in combat in the game. She only knew about the D&D dice that are used in the game. Emily is a player at Logan’s table where she plays as an eldritch elf, sorcerer named Sage. She wields an ice knife and she uses many spells. Emily recommends this club to others because it allows her to wreak havoc in a safe game setting.

Rebecca Wiersma heard a lot about the game and when a friend of hers joined the club, she opted to tag along with them. She saw a lot of the game in cartoons and she knew it was an adventure game that involved math. Rebecca is also a player at Ms. Mooney’s table. She said, “I enjoy the people at the club. It’s a really nice way to make new friends. I also really like the storytelling aspect.” Rebecca is playing a strong, half-orc paladin named Desira. She wields a sword and she is always trying to help others. Rebecca says that if you want to join the club you have to be willing to be creative, do improv, listen to others, and be ready for anything. She says that she wants to gain more confidence in the game.


The Dungeons and Dragons club at Hanover Central Middle School is growing. Ms. Mooney has created a safe space for all to enjoy including expression of creativity, problem-solving with others, and allowing students to be themselves. The current members of the club thoroughly enjoy the game and encourage all to give it a try because it's a place for personal growth, friendship, and creativity. Students get to create these memories while also enhancing skills that can be used later in life, like collaboration, adaptability, integrity, and self-discipline. Who is ready to slay a dragon, solve tricky puzzles, and conquer your own fantasy world?