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'Dungeons & Dragons' comes to life thanks to Dixie State's 'D&D' Club

By Matty Jacobson
On October 4, 2011

All you need is your imagination.

Oh, and in addition to that, you'll need six dice (each with a different number of sides, ranging from four to 20); a description of your character's strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom and charisma; a series of books to lay out the almost endless rules of play; a Dungeon Master to orchestrate the entire game; and a willingness to remove yourself from reality and join a world that's part fantasy, part reality TV show.

Yes, "Dungeons & Dragons" has been a staple of the role playing community since its inception in 1974. Since then, the brand has branched off into two physical versions and several computer versions.

The popularity has even spilled over into Dixie State College's clubs.

Richard Krulisky, a freshman criminal justice major from Salt Lake City, is founder of the "D&D" campus club. He's only been playing for about a year, but his love for the game, and the people who play it, is obvious.

"One thing I must stress is this is not a video game," he said. "Everybody at Dixie, when they hear ‘Dungeons & Dragons,' think it's a video game. It's not a video game. It's played through books and your imagination."

And he's devoted. He's even married to one of the "D&D" club members, and she's actually his senior when it comes to "D&D" competition.

"I'm still kind of new to the game," he said. "I married my wife, and her family and friends were into it."

Heather Krulisky, a sophomore general education major from Hurricane, started playing when she was only 13. She took a few years' hiatus, but returned to the game a couple of years ago.

"The first time I played, I was living with my mom," Heather Krulisky said. "My mom and my sister and the Dungeon Master and I were all playing together. I think the first character I played was a ranger. So if you've seen ‘Lord of the Rings,' it's like Aragorn."

The Dungeon Master, or as the seasoned players call the position, the DM, is responsible for creating the world in which the game is played. Heather Krulisky said this world could be plucked from any source, be it book, movie, game or pure original concept.

"There's people who play ‘Star Wars' campaigns," she said.

A campaign, of course, is the specific game story and setting being played at any given time.

Heather Krulisky said she definitely has her own favorite type of campaign.

"I grew up reading fantasy fiction books, and I've written a few," she said. "I always liked developing these characters, so when I actually got to play out a character it was like: ‘Oh, cool! I get to be one of the characters in one of my stories!'"

The characters themselves are dreamed up by the players themselves, and the characters often reflect the personalities of their creators.

Richard Krulisky, for instance, said the inspiration for his characters comes straight from his life experience.

"I'd say most of my characters are fighters," he said. "I'm a serviceman right now. I'm in the National Guard. So I'd say most of my characters like to hurt people."

He smiled and laughed as he said, "I like to hurt people. I like to cause pain."

He said character development is limitless. You decide your character's race, looks, accent and more, and then you act out your character. Heather Krulisky agreed and gave a few examples of how those characters can be personalized depending on the players' interests.

"I like to ask the people what their personal interests are," she said.

She described how an artsy person could get into the game by drawing his or her character. This is something Heather Krulisky does herself.

"It gives you a concept in your mind," she said, "and it challenges you because you can't actually find a physical representation of [your character]."

She then went on to describe how a writer or a person who loves to read could easily make up stories about his or her characters, and how any student interested in communication would benefit because of the amount of interaction the players have with each other.

While winning is the goal, however eventual it may be, a common strategy is to play with the others—not against them.

Amy Brunsman, a sophomore biology major from Long Beach, Calif., was one of the most vocal of the DSC "D&D" group. Her personal strategy always came down to one thing: alliances.

"There's a goal set by the DM that you don't even have to abide by, depending on your character," she said. "But usually if you want to survive, you have to team up. So when you're with your group of teammates…you're like, ‘What will benefit me?'"

She reiterated that although it's a group effort, it's merely a means to the justifiable end; you'll team up with others when needed in order to further your own agenda.

"If I'm on my own, I'll probably die," she said. "But if I team up, I'll live. So you team up with a whole conglomeration of different personalities. And you fight whatever comes at you."

The teaming up doesn't always go so well, though. Both Heather Krulisky and Brunsman felt the same way about this because one managed to finish the other's sentence.

Heather Krulisky started by saying, "It's almost a goal, I've noticed, of some players to—"

"—Piss people off," Brunsman finished.

Brunsman said she'll be in random places, like biology class for example, and she'll start to think about potential characters. This was generally agreed upon throughout the group. Everyone's "D&D" characters were forms of themselves.

So one can only wonder what a person is like whose character's intention is to "piss people off."

At the end of the day, however, Brunsman said "D&D" isn't just an entertaining pastime. It's actually a way to improve social interaction.

"Socially, if you go to a party, you're going to hang out with people like you," she said. "With 'D&D' you will, for sure, come across people you are not compatible with. You will have to function with them if you want to survive."

Heather Krulisky agreed as her husband began setting up for the night's campaign, and the additional club members filed into the meeting room.

It was obvious this was the time for any reporters in the midst to get out of the way. Who knows what battles are to come?

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