title image for the article with a greenish dice background and a picture of the book cover that says "D&D Dungeon Club Roll Call"

Review of D&D Dungeon Club, a middle grade graphic novel

D&D Dungeon Club, Roll Call is a graphic novel about D&D, school clubs, friendship, and middle school that connects D&D and real life in some awesome ways.  Check it out here, and enjoy!

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What is D&D Dungeon Club about?  

D&D Dungeon Club, Roll Call is a graphic novel about Jess, the happy solo party member in a D&D game with her DM and only friend, Olivia.  Things shake up when Olivia tries to start a D&D club and may be running for student council… and Jess isn’t sure how to handle the change, both in her friendship and D&D game, and some of the new people she meets along the way.

picture from the book showing Sir Corius trying to leave a new party member stuck in a spiderweb

The story flips between Jess in the real world and Jess’s character, Sir Corius, in the game with elements of both worlds blending into each other.  Jess describes other students at school via stat blocks and compares them to different challenges while Sir Corius is feeling and acting out on some of Jess’s emotions within the game.  Jess (and Sir Corius) learn along the way how to find a new balance and be able to enjoy it!

Who would D&D Dungeon Club be great for?

D&D Dungeon Club would be great for middle school students who are interested in tabletop RPGs (whether they’ve actually played before or not) or as a generally fun read for any age as well.  It covers topics specific to middle school plights, but also, is a bit of a general celebration of how tabletop RPGs can reflect the real world, be a foundation for friendships, and also just be fun.

picture from the book showing a D&D stat block for a gnoll

In addition to the subject matter being engaging, there’s some fantastic art on every page to help readers who may have some trouble with sticking to reading longer books.  I think graphic novels lend VERY well to dialogue and character focused stories, and this certainly does, so, while still taking over an hour to read, it was face paced and easy to follow along with.

I read this with my kid, and, while he did not connect with much of the middle school drama since he’s 4 years old, he LOVED the adventure and the pictures (graphic novels are AWESOME with kids for this), and it opened up some good discussions about making friends.  I also had fun reading it, so it’s great for different ages – everyone can enjoy different parts and have different takeaways.

How D&D Dungeon Club connects D&D and real life

picture from the book showing D&D stat blocks for two students, The Sams

There were a lot of really fun parts in D&D Dungeon Club that showed the parallels and lessons from D&D and real life coming together.  Jess, the main character, interprets a lot of the world as D&D encounters, giving stat blocks to other students and friends or seeing bullies as baddies to overcome.  There’s moments too when Jess imagines herself as her character, channeling his bravery to stand up for a fellow student or shedding armor, literally lowering his guard, before trying to fix things. We see how Jess struggles at one point to apologize but then is able to fluidly do it in-game once donning the persona of Sir Corius, allowing her to find a voice and practice that vulnerability.  This book does a wonderful job of showing how tabletop RPGs can help to support real world struggles and be a safer frame to visualize and practice tough situations.   

Our favorite parts from D&D Dungeon Club

My kid’s favorite part was when Sir Corius and *another party member* were going through a cave and needed to team up to take on an Ettin, and he really liked the end of the D&D story arc.  I’m trying really hard not to spoil too much, so I will just say that it had a very satisfying ending and left room for a lot more story.  As soon as we finished, he asked if we could get the next book!

For me, I thought that showing the stat blocks were really cool – it was a good way to instantly imagine what a character was like (at least in Jess’s eyes) based on a creature stat block from the game.  I also really liked how the book tackled things like balancing school work and fun and showed some of the adults not “getting it” while others being really supportive; Jess has an awesomely supportive dad, and there’s a cool teacher that I hope shows up in the next book too.

My overall thoughts on D&D Dungeon Club

D&D Dungeon Club is a fun and engaging graphic novel that’s great for any age, but particularly middle schoolers, who have XP in or are new to TTRPGs.   It’s got wonderful illustrations and connections between the “real world” story and the “in-game” story, and captures the vibe of how friendships, even when battling through difficult terrain, can recover, form, and grow through tabletop RPGs.   I definitely recommend checking this out, and I’m looking forward to book 2!

Find a copy of D&D Dungeon Club 

picture of the D&D Adventure Club book with the cover reading "D&D Adventure Club Roll Call" and pictures showing Sir Corius, another party member, and the D&D club playing a game over a table

You can find a copy of D&D Dungeon Club at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, and other booksellers!

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