Tech Lab Associate Abbey Wolff-Smith narrates to the players about a character during a Dungeons and Dragons session Feb. 12 at Harrold Youth Center. Players must decide how to react to changes within the story and how to best work together in the face of changing circumstances. Photo by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Teens play fantasy tabletop role-playing game on Saturdays

Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

“I run by a very tight shift. I get my jobs done, and I don’t stop until the job is done or I die trying.” said Micah Austin, age 14, as he described to me the qualities of his character, a rogue called Shade that he has authored within the fantasy setting of Dungeons and Dragons.

“We need people who can deliver Amazon packages with that same enthusiasm. I like your energy,” I respond to him laughing.

Harrold Youth Center hosts Dungeons and Dragons events for registered youth center patrons Saturday afternoons. Photo by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Although I’m new to the people sitting around me and the world of D&D, I become familiar with Micah, Cayden Hoad, age 12; Sean Panzer, age 11; and our Dungeon Master, Tech Lab Associate Abbey Wolff-Smith, as our adventures at the Feb. 12 session of Dungeons and Dragons at the Harold Youth Center require us to work together and interact with one another to survive.

“D&D is very collaborative… The reason I really like (playing D&D) at the youth center is that it’s teaching the skills to our middle schoolers and high schoolers of how to collaborate with each other. Even if their characters bash heads, since we’re all working together to tell a story…we try to make sure that they’re supporting the group by supporting the story.” Wolff-Smith said.

Fourteen-year-old Micah Austin, watched by 12-year-old Cayden Hoad, rolls the dice to determine the outcome of their combat scenario during a Dungeons and Dragons game Feb. 12 at Harrold Youth Center. Rolling the dice determines decisions and outcomes. Low rolls could mean untimely demises for players. Photo by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Our party fights off a band of gnolls, anthropomorphic hyena creatures, that attempt to kidnap three mysterious children whom we suspect must be of royal lineage. The first thought that crosses the mind of my character, a traveling monk desperate for the comforts of home, is the potential profit that can be made if we return the children safely to their parents.

“Are they worth any money?” I ask.

We consider it but decided the right course of action, as well the most profitable one, is to return them. Our adventure ends when the children’s caretaker rewards us with 100 gold pieces, a decent payment in the world of D&D.

Although our characters in the game didn’t become exorbitantly wealthy, we came out richer for the experience.

Fourteen-year-old Ezra Cushman and 13-year-old James Watts play a game of pool in one of the lounge areas Feb. 12 at Harrold Youth Center. Photo by Cpl. Raymond Benitez-Santana/Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp

The act of sitting with others to illustrate a story using the imagination can foster friendship, connection and community regardless of the medium used.

The next Dungeon and Dragons session is at 2:30-5 p.m. Feb. 19 at Harrold Youth Center. Call 913-684-5118 for more information.

Harrold’s offerings

Harrold Youth Center provides a variety of activities and a place to socialize for youth ages 11-18.

HYC has a technology lab, art activity room, homework center, teen lounge, indoor basketball courts and more. The center, at 45 Biddle Blvd., is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2-8 p.m. Saturday.

Youth can participate in a number of after-school and weekend clubs such Torch Club, Keystone Club and Passport to Manhood. These programs focus on leadership and character development while serving the local community through teen outreaches and weekly meetings. The center also hosts social events and field trips.

HYC is an affiliate member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, which allows the center to take part in grants and scholarships.

For more information on HYC activities or program enrollment, call 913-684-5118.

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