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Each week, KCUR's Adventure! newsletter brings you a new way to explore the Kansas City region.

A Kansas City guide to exploring Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop RPGs

Two people prepare to role dice during a game of Dungeons & Dragons. On the wooden table, there are dice, books, figurines and terrain cards.
Libby Hanssen
KCUR 89.3
The world of Dungeons & Dragons — and other popular tabletop RPGs — is an ever expanding collection of lore, events, communities, and organizations.

The cultural phenomenon of Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop role-playing games has a strong following in the Kansas City community. Whether you're looking to roll your first d20 or just searching for a new campaign to join, here's how you can get started.

This story was first published in KCUR's Adventure! newsletter. You can sign up to receive stories like this in your inbox every Tuesday.

Dungeons & Dragons, the world’s most iconic tabletop role-playing game (RPG), has evolved from a niche fantasy game to a major cultural phenomenon, spawning books, documentaries, animated and live action television shows, references in popular culture, and recently a major motion picture.

It’s also led to a sub-genre of episodic live play, with audiences tuning in to watch players act and improvise, dare and create magic around a table bursting with figurines, dice, notebooks, and maps.

The world of D&D — and other popular tabletop RPGs — is an ever-expanding collection of lore, events, communities, and organizations.

Around Kansas City, there are clubs and guilds and groups for both the gamer enthusiast or role-playing curious.

Here’s an introduction to the wide world of D&D and the RPG community in the region.

Roll for initiative

Multi-colored dice spill out of a white bag across a white table.
Alperen Yazgi
Dice are one of the essential elements of role-playing games, involving chance and improvisation.

First of all, you don’t need to know anything about D&D before getting involved. Not really. The game is complex, yes, but it grows as you grow. Whether age 12 or 20 or 92, there are plenty of regular beginner-friendly sessions to introduce you to the concept.

KCUR’s community engagement producer Zach Perez plays Dungeons & Dragons and has served as a Dungeon Master since college, making him the resident expert for D&D queries.

“In my experience, most people’s entry point for D&D is being friends with someone who already plays the game,” says Perez.

Wizards of the Coast, which produces Dungeons & Dragons, sells starter setswith pre-packaged stories and characters, to help groups learn together. If you don’t have friends in the know, consider checking out local groups, like the Kansas City Dungeons and Dragons Facebook group.

A handful of local businesses host beginner game nights. ReRoll Tavern, in North Kansas City, has D&D 5E for Beginners (that’s 5th Edition) on Monday nights in May and open campaigns to join every Saturday.

Game Cafe, in Independence, hosts Dungeons & Dragons night on Wednesdays, and Redux Society in the Crossroads has “Beginner D&D” on Thursday evenings.

Cardboard Corner Cafe, in Overland Park, has a Learn to Play D&D 5e session on May 29 and Peculiar Games and Hobbies in Peculiar, Missouri, hosts one on May 22.

Building character

Three painted miniatures on a black table top with rows of board games and string lights behind them.
Libby Hanssen
KCUR 89.3
ReRoll Tavern in North Kansas City offers beginning Dungeons & Dragons sessions, open play, and Paint n Take workshops to make customized miniature figures.

In RPGs, gamers create and play as characters who navigate fantasy worlds — tiefling warlocks and dragonborn paladins and half-elf rangers and, sure, humans too.

Creating a characteris one of the first stages of the game, and the first opportunity for a new player to be imaginative and learn some of the features of the world. Some people create a new character with each campaign, some evolve their character game after game.

Perez recommends creating characters that are nothing like the real you.

“One of my favorite characters I’ve ever played was a 325-year-old dwarven woman named Olda who was raising a Lizardman as her son,” Perez says. “The reason she was one of my favorites is because of all the moments I had in thinking about how a different person would examine a situation.”

And while characters can exist purely in imagination (or rather, as documented on your character sheet), they can also be represented by miniature figurines, accoutrements on the gaming table, or even full costumes.

Many players enjoy painting their own mini figures. ReRoll Tavern hosts Paint n Take Workshops on Friday nights and TableTop Game & Hobby has monthly mini painting 101 and 102 classes.

Others personalize with customized dice. Check out the selection at LevelOne Game Shop in the River Market, the Geekery in Shawnee, Kansas, or learn more about dice making at Druid Dice in the Crossroads.

The adventure begins

Model buildings, trees, and figurines are arranged on a table in battle-like positions, along with a variety of dice.
Redux Society
Many local organizations host beginning role-playing game sessions and welcome new players.

Building community is as much a part of the experience as playing the game.

Phil Kilgore, owner of TableTop Game & Hobby, credits Dungeons & Dragons for changing his life and has built his business to be a destination for area gamers. Perez spoke with Kilgore about the store’s evolution for KCUR’s series The Regulars.

Bringing together gamers from around the region, TableTop hosts RPG (Really Pleasant Gaming) Weekend June 9-11, filled with inspiration, community and adventure.

For teenagers looking for an opportunity to learn, the Kansas City Public Library hosts regular D&D sessions on Tuesdays at the Lucille H. Bluford Branch. (And they have snacks!) You can also learn more about the game by watching “Adventure Never Ends: A Tabletop Saga,” accessed through the library’s Kanopy account.

Mid-Continent Public Library hosts Teen Role-Playing Games at various times and locations as well as Teen Games: Dungeons & Dragons 101.

Another community group is The Role-Players Guild of Kansas City, a non-profit dedicated to “enhancing gaming in Kansas City and the surrounding areas since 1990.” The organization hosts monthly game days on first Saturdays at different area businesses, which includes ongoing D&D campaigns that welcome new players.

Becoming game master

A group of people sit around a long table looking back at the camera. The table is cluttered with computers, drink containers, books and dice.
ReRoll Tavern
Building community is as much a part of the experience as playing the game. A large group gathers at ReRoll Tavern to play Dungeons & Dragons.

Though everyone’s actions determine the outcome of the adventure, the Dungeon Master (or Game Master) is the chief storyteller. They create the world, plot the challenges, determine success and failure, and play all the other characters in the story.

To make the leap from player to DM may seem daunting, but it is “often as easy as volunteering to be one, even if you don’t know much about it,” says Perez. “It can definitely be a lot, but I think it’s important to not put pressure on yourself to be incredible immediately. The best way to become a DM is to try doing it.”

There is a “How to be a Dungeon Master” course at KingCade Arcade in Overland Park on May 28. This class is Course 2, about improvising and world-building. (If you missed Course 1, call ahead and they’ll have the Course 1 material ready for you.)

TableTop has a variety of Game Master Boot Camp classes, covering everything an aspiring game master needs to know.

D&D is by no means the only tabletop RPG out there, with many designed for different ages and interests. No Thank You, Evil! is a fun introduction for families (and kids make great game masters).

Try out different tabletop role-player games on Mission: Board Games’ TTRPG nights at the North Kansas City location on Tuesday evenings or the Mission, Kansas location on Thursdays. TableTop has open play for the popular Pathfinder/Starfinder games on Tuesdays.

Events like KantCon, in July, and the Midwest GameFest, in December, are also great opportunities to try out new games and meet fellow gamers.

Originally from Indiana, Libby Hanssen is a freelance writer in Kansas City. She is the author of States of Swing: The History of the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra, 2003-2023. Along with degrees in trombone performance, Libby was a Fellow for the NEA Arts Journalism Institute at Columbia University. Learn more at Proust Eats a Sandwich.
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