Dungeons and Dragons Youth Workshop

Antigonish Culture Alive in conjunction with Outside the Lines Press is pleased to offer Dungeons and Dragons Youth Workshops this August! Aimed at youth ages 9-12, these workshops are entirely free. Dungeons and Dragons is a popular tabletop role-playing game where players work together to create a story set in a fantasy world. This is the perfect opportunity for kids to learn more about Dungeons in Dragons in a safe, supervised, and welcoming environment. Dungeons and Dragons helps kids build social skills and social resilience while interacting with peers in a relaxed and fun environment (see below for more about the benefits of role-playing games). For questions or more information, email DragonsAntigonish@gmail.com

Workshop details

Each Dungeons and Dragons workshop will consist of three, two-hour sessions run for three days in a row. There will also be a special same day workshop that will start and finish in a single day (4.5 hours with a break for lunch).  No more than five and no fewer than four participants will take part in each workshop.

What happens during a Dungeons and Dragons session?

Dungeons and Dragons involves players seated around a table engaging in collaborative storytelling by describing their character’s actions as they interact with a fantasy world presented to the them by the Dungeon Master. See the “What is Dungeons and Dragons?” section below for more info about the game. A game session will consist of a quest (or series of quests) involving puzzles, riddles, and brain teasers, as well as monster battles.

When are the workshops happening?

There will be 3 separate workshops taking place this August. Dates below:

  • August 6, 7, 8 from 10:00 to 12:00 – Ages 9-12 (Goblin Campaign)
  • August 6, 7, 8 from 1:00 to 3:00 – Ages 9-12 (Bugbear Campaign)
  • August 10 from 10:00 to 2:30 – Ages 9-12 (Orc Campaign)

For questions or more information, or to register please email DragonsAntigonish@gmail.com

Where will the workshops take place?

Workshops will take place at The Arts House (the old Antigonish Visitor Information Centre). This building is located next to Boston Pizza near the Antigonish Market Square shopping mall.

What fun swag do the kids get?

Each participant will be given a set of dice, a box for their dice, and a binder with information about their character, all of which they get to keep after the campaign has ended. There will also be snacks and drinks provided during the workshop.

How much does it cost?

Workshops are entirely free thanks to a generous grant from the Culture Innovation Fund from the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

Who will be running the workshop?

Antigonish Culture Alive will be partnering with Outside the Lines Press to host these workshops. The workshop will be supervised and run by Professor Jake Hanlon, Dr. Justin Gregg, and Dr. Ranke de Vries. See below for more information about them.

Is this just a boy thing?

Absolutely not! Dungeons and Dragons is fun for everyone! Here’s a link to a video showing how much fun D&D is for both boys AND girls. These workshops will be mixed groups – girls and boys. If you are interested in having an all-girls workshop, please let us know! If there is enough interest, we will convert one of the workshops to an all-girls campaign.

How to sign up?

To register your child for these workshops, please email DragonsAntigonish@gmail.com The workshop is for youth aged 9 – 12. Interested participants must sign up and receive confirmation before attending a workshop. Space is limited, so please sign up early to avoid disappointment.

What is Dungeons and Dragons?

Dungeons and Dragons is a roleplaying fantasy game originally developed in the 1970s. It has gained massive popularity in recent years due in part to its featured role in television shows like Stranger Things and The Big Bang Theory.

Role-playing games involve the player taking on the attributes of an invented character which they control in the game. In role-playing video games, the player would be controlling their onscreen character with a handheld controller. But for tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, there is no screen or pictures/images of any kind. Instead, players are seated around a table and engage in collaborative storytelling by describing their character’s actions (often by acting/speaking as their character) as they interact with a fantasy world.

The world is created and described to the players by the Dungeon Master, a kind of referee whose job it is to provide the players with the details they need to envision and make sense of the world they find themselves in. The players must determine what it is that motivates and drives their characters, what their characters want to accomplish, and how their characters might choose to accomplish their goals. The fantasy world that the group creates will constantly evolve as the players’ actions and decisions shape the outcome of events. One player might decide that their character is a pacifist – refusing to fight the goblins in the town square. Another player character might decide that her brother was killed by goblins, so will attack any goblin she sees. The structure and rules of the game are enforced by the Dungeon Master and are predictable, but the player’s choices and actions create unpredictable and exciting outcomes.

The game sometimes involves battles with monsters, which requires knowledge of a (relatively) complex set of rules dictating the use of weapons and spells. A set of dice of varying value (e.g., 6-sided, 20-sided, 4-sided) are used by the players and the Dungeon Master to determine whether or not the characters succeed in whatever it is they are trying to do – whether it’s casting a spell, climbing a rope, or trying to steal someone’s change purse.

Players keep track of their characters’ attributes, inventory, and biographical information and statistics on their character sheet; a printed piece of paper that is constantly updated as they play the game. During play, they often need to reference the Dungeon and Dragons Player’s Handbook for information on their character’s attributes and skills, spells, and for clarification of the rules. Players will need to use basic math skills as they tabulate the dice rolls used throughout the game.

During a game session, players will often spend time interacting with each other – both in the role of their character and as themselves – as they determine what the group should be doing. They must, as a group, decide where they plan to go in the world, whom to speak with, whether to fight, talk, or flee from monsters, etc. Battle encounters are mediated by a set of rules dictating how far the players can move, what weapons they can use, how much damage those weapons cause, etc. They will often use a tabletop grid system and miniature figurines to help them envision where their characters are moving or standing during battle. When not in battle, players must use their imagination to envision the fantasy world they are in, helped by the Dungeon Master whose job it is to describe the world and the action taking place in that world. The Dungeon Master typically creates a world with specific quests for the group, which often leads them into castles or dungeons that they must explore, but could just as easily lead them to a tavern where they have to grill the local townsfolk for information about their political rivals.

A game session for Raven Guild Workshops last two hours, and will consist of a quest (or series of quests) presented by the Dungeon Master. These quests will likely involve puzzles, riddles, and brain teasers, as well as monster battles. But they will also allow plenty of time for the players to interact as a group and explore their characters.

How is Dungeons and Dragons beneficial for kids?

The benefits of tabletop gaming (as outlined by Game to Grow) include:

  • Learning to take the perspectives of others
  • Improving their frustration tolerance
  • Developing their creative problem-solving skills
  • Cultivating communication and collaboration skills

Because Dungeons and Dragons players are both actively collaborating with other players in order to solve problems and attempting to see the world through the eyes of their character, they develop social skills that involve empathy, perspective taking, and theory of mind (i.e., the ability to attribute and interpret the thoughts and mental states of others). This in turn boosts their ability to interact with their peers, reduces social anxiety, and builds social skills and resilience. The role-playing framework provided by Dungeons and Dragons allows kids to engage in social interaction that would otherwise be well outside their comfort zone.
For questions or more information, email dragonsantigonish@gmail.com

Who is running the Raven Guild Dungeons and Dragons Youth Workshop?

The Dungeons and Dragons Youth Workshop will be administered by Outside the Lines Press, headed by Justin Gregg, PhD. Dr. Gregg is on the board of directors of both Theatre Antigonish, and Antigonish Culture Alive, and has been creating art, music, and theatre programming within the community of Antigonish since 2014. He is also an avid Dungeons and Dragons player, meeting weekly to play the game with friends and colleagues. He has been a Dungeons and Dragons Player since the early 1980s. Dr. Gregg is a Senior Research Association with the Dolphin Communication Project with a research focus in social cognition. In addition to his academic publishing, he has published children’s books, and performed with the award-winning children’s music group The Little Ditties. He leads workshops on improv theatre for adults, kids, and people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Gregg will serve as the primary administrator for the Workshop and will assist the Dungeon Master during game sessions.

The Dungeon Master for the Workshop will be Jake Hanlon, Assistant Professor of Music at St. Francis Xavier University. Hanlon has been playing and designing Dungeons and Dragons campaigns since his youth, and has been the Dungeon Master for dozens of long-running campaigns in recent years. His expertise and knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons rules and lore will translate into an unrivaled gaming experience for youth during the workshop. In addition to his Dungeon and Dragons skills, Hanlon is an accomplished jazz guitarist, recording artist, composer, and songwriter with several East Coast Music Award nominations, and has appeared at a number of festivals and venues across North America and Europe.

Ranke de Vries, PhD, Associate Professor of Celtic Studies at St. Francis Xavier University will also be on hand to help design and administrate the Workshop. She is a specialist in the area of Celtic languages and literature and has been a Dungeon and Dragons player since the 1980s.