Dungeons & Dragons Club Rolls Into Weedsport

Senior Deanna Gilner Takes The Reader On a Journey Through This Exciting Game World


A typical Dungeon’s and Dragons board setup.

The sound of dice rolling on a table echoes as a group of kids sits in the Weedsport Public Library in a tension-filled silence. If the die (singular of dice) rolls a 20 there will be a critical success, if the die rolls a one there will be a critical failure. The tension builds and builds until finally, the die stops. Weedsport Jr Sr High School student Deanna Gilner peers slightly over the table to read the result of the rolled die. It’s a 20. The group cheers with excitement about the improvement in the game. 

This scene is common for members of the Weedsport Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) club, specifically 12th-grade Deanna Gilner who started to play in October 2022. 

“…I wanted to play for a while but I couldn’t find any groups to play with. Ethan (Cook) introduced me to the one I am in and I said, ‘Yeah I’ll go,’” said Gilner.

Gilner, Cook (10th), Aaron Woods (12th), Christian LaFave (9th), Annalise LaFave (7th), and their Dungeon Master (leader of the group) named Matt all make up the party (group). 

Gilner, who calls D&D a mix between “a board game and improv,”  says that dice are the driving factor of the game. 

“There is the (20-sided) dice, which is the whole shebang. Your dice determines what actually happens. Your Dungeon Master who makes the plot essentially guides you on your path for the most part. If you were to roll for something, the higher you roll the better…. A 20 would be like you completely aced it and a 1 would be like you falling on your own sword. Honestly, you can try to do what you want in the game but it’s all up to the dice so it’s definitely never exactly how you want it.,” said Gilner

The path that the party has been doing has been very story- based.

“We have a whole, big background in this world that our Dungeon Master created and all characters have had their moment of making their backstories and that affects their actual playing…” said Gilner.

Dungeon Master Matt is a professional Dungeon Master who decided to start a group for teenagers.

“…It’s a big job. You have to do all the planning. Honestly, I think it’s probably a good experience for himself… All but two of our players have never played before so I think he wanted to introduce a lot of new people to the game because they wouldn’t have the experience otherwise.,” said Gilner.

Gilner hopes to someday be a Dungeon Master herself.

“It is very intimidating to think that because they have to do a lot.  They have to know a lot about their (the parties) characters, monsters, enemies you might be facing, the world, everything. I definitely think I’d like to be one but it will probably be a while till I’m ready for that,” said Gilner.

D&D had risen in popularity recently with it being seen in many popular media forms including but not limited to Stranger Things, Big Bang Theory, and D&D-based podcasts. 

“… Also I feel it (D&D) was kind of viewed as a nerdy thing and it’s kind of going up from there (rising in popularity) probably because of Stranger Things and other shows it’s been on. There’s been a lot of podcasts and those are pretty big as well. I feel like there is a lot more popular media with D&D so it makes people want to try it out,” said Gilner.

Gilner would not say it sparked her interest in D&D though. 

“I saw it and I was like yeah I’ve been wanting to play that and that looks cool. It wasn’t really like I’m going to start playing D&D right now because I saw it on Stranger Things,” said Gilner.

Gilner plays a tiefling in the game. A tiefling is a half demon half human. 

“…I have a weird backstory which is really fun to play into. At some point, I summoned my dad (in the game) who is a full-on demon and all hell broke loose. My human side of my family… they all are gone shall we say. Tieflings are pretty out of place in the world of D&D which is pretty hard to imagine because there is so many things. It makes for a interesting character to play,” said Gilner.

Her party likes to tease Gilner for her character’s name – Akari. 

“…We all joke that it sounds like a German car company. Honestly, I was just running out of A names. Everyone in our party, their characters start with the letter A… it’s supposed to sound demony,” said Gilner.

Gilner is a level five multi-class tiefling. There are 20 different levels in D&D and you advance a level in that game when you earn experience points by going on adventures and overcoming challenges. Multi-class is a special skill that you have to level up in to be able to gain advantages and abilities For instance, Gilner is in the spell-casting class. Gilner also has a strength of 14/20, a dexterity (grace in physical activity) of 12/20, constitution (vitality) of 15/20, intelligence of 9/20, wisdom of 13/20, and charisma of 17/20. 

“…That makes sense for my type of character. Tieflings are really good at charisma, which is how well you can lie, etc. It’s pretty difficult for every race (in the game) to have their own specific specialty. I wouldn’t say they (tieflings) are not the greatest with intelligence but they are definitely not the smartest class so I had to choose nine for my intelligence level,” said Gilner. 

There are multiple other characters that people could play in the Dungeon and Dragons world. 

“There’s humans of course. In traditional D&D they would include tieflings, elves, dwarves, pathlings, dragon born, tabaxis, and just a whole lot more…You can pretty much be anything you would like to be in D&D. The tabaxi is literally puss in boots…” said Gilner. 

Gilner recommends D&D to anyone who likes writing, theater – specifically improv, and socializing.

“It’s definitely a creative outlet. I also like writing and I feel like it’s a good, creative space to come up with ideas, test out certain things, and honestly just have fun. It’s also very heavy on improv so if you like theater, it would definitely help with your performance because you are essentially practicing improv for a couple of hours… It gets you socializing. I like that aspect of it because it gets you hanging out with people outside (of school),” said Gilner.

If anyone would like to join their party, Gilner recommends contacting one of the members 

“We’ve had a couple of people jump in later. I mean I jumped in at the second or third session and we had another pretty recently so I would say yeah, we can always find a way to fit in some character. If someone wants to join, reach out to one of us I would say. We could probably make it work,” said Gilner.