🕹️ ‘Life-changing:’ Florida gamers group offers diverse, inclusive community for tabletop role-playing games

Hundreds of members make up Space Coast Adventurer’s Guild for virtual, in-person gameplay

PALM BAY, Fla. – You may have heard of Dungeons and Dragons, but it’s more than just an hourslong role-playing game.

A Central Florida organization is bringing together hundreds of people fostering creativity and friendships through the hobby.

“Instead of going out to the movies or playing soccer, this is what we do. We get together and we tell stories,” Dungeon Master Michael Sharpe said.

From inside Dogs of War Gaming store in Palm Bay, a tabletop role playing game Dungeons and Dragons gets underway. Six players surrounding a large table representing unique characters.

Michael Sharpe, the Dungeon master, is facilitating this specific adventure that’s all made up.

They’re just a few of the hundreds of members who make up the Space Coast Adventurer’s Guild. The organization brings together table top and virtual role-playing gamers of all ages. Some might think it’s just a nerdy meetup but for players like Michelle Williams who just moved to Palm Bay a few months ago, it means everything.

“It’s life-changing. When I moved here, I felt very alone,” Williams said. “I have so much going against me you could say: ADD, anxiety, depression... I searched online for role-playing gamers in the area and found the Space Coast Adventurer’s Guild. To see how welcoming and friendly everyone was makes me emotional.”

Each roll of the dice determines the level of attributes or skills outlined on the character sheet. Then, the player describes their next action that moves the story forward.

Sylvana Yates is the Guildmaster, creating the organization about four years ago. She says her motivation was to build a community where anyone could feel comfortable.

“I like bringing new people in and giving them a chance to explore themselves socially, but also they get to have fun. People can be whatever character they want. I personally enjoy bringing a lot of story into my games,” Yates said.

If you’re new to the game, don’t ask how long it lasts. Just know it takes some commitment and patience. A session typically lasts about four hours. A campaign can go on for weeks or months with the game picking back up where it left off during the last meetup. Tabletop role-playing games offering a creative outlet for all ages.

“I just really love the imaginative play. I think that older people don’t really get an opportunity to use their imagination and to play pretend,” guild member Sashi Artiles said.

Trista Hover-Grosvenor is also a part of the guild and said it’s inclusive for all, even those with disabilities. After fighting an illness, Hover-Grosvenor said the game gives her a sense of freedom from her wheelchair.

“If it wasn’t for the storytelling and the creating and that community and getting involved with the guild, I don’t know where I’d be mentally or physically. I think this is a wonderful thing for people with disabilities whether it’s physical or mental,” Hover-Grosvenor said. “It’s also good for problem solving, for meeting and dealing with different personalities and just meeting really awesome people from different walks of life, different ages, sex, religion.”

“I was struggling a lot with physical and mental health years ago and it’s just amazing to sit down with a group of people and be like ‘these are my people, we all have the same goals and for the next three hours, our bodies, our physical limitations don’t matter because we’re not us right now, we’re someone else.’ That’s why accessibility and inclusivity are very important in my games. I have found resources and character sheets for people with dyslexia, visually impaired, there’s brail dice to print,” guild member Thomas Rangitsch said.

Spending hours on end together, strangers may become friends.

“We’re all telling stories together, so there’s a level of vulnerability and friendship that has to come out of it. I really like that, it’s unique to find groups like that,” guild member Chris Erikson said.

The Space Coast Adventurer’s Guild is taking part in the Brevard Library Con on Oct. 1 at the Viera Regional Community Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The family-friendly event is free with seminars, vendors and entertainment. There’s a cosplay costume contest as well an ongoing tournaments and demonstrations.

There will be some tabletop role-playing games going on at the event that will last only about 30 minutes to give visitors a taste of the different gaming themes.

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About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.