Teen Volunteer Led Dungeons & Dragons

Cameron Riesenberger July 31, 2018

In recent years, there has been a surge in the popularity of Dungeons and Dragons. It has been featured on shows like Stranger Things and there are many podcasts devoted to groups playing D&D. It is also a great tool for boosting the social and collaborative skills of the teens in your library.

But, If you are anything like me, maybe you've wanted to host a Dungeons and Dragons group at your library and if it weren't glaring fact that you have no idea how to play, you'd have already done it. Library staff are often so busy that there isn't enough time in the day to learn a system like D&D. This program plan will discuss how Pikes Peak Library District taps into our teen volunteer potential in order to offer a program that would be difficult to get up and running otherwise. PPLD is lucky to have a solid core of engaged teen volunteers, and I understand that is not the case everywhere. A similar way to approach starting this program would be to reach out to local gaming stores to see if they had anyone who could volunteer to lead a campaign.

Type: Active
Age: Middle school
Optimal size: 6-10
Estimated cost: $26 - $50
Planning time: <1 hour
Frequency: Weekly

Learning outcomes

  • Teens will understand the basic mechanics of playing Dungeons and Dragons, including: making a character, interacting with their Dungeon Master and fellow group members, and dice roles.
  • Teens will share their knowledge with beginner players.
  • Teens will share the responsibilities of being the Dungeon Master and preparing a campaign.
  • Teen Volunteers will introduce new program attendees to the game and the group.
  • Teen Volunteers will communicate to library staff the needs of the program.


Several years ago, a regular teen patron approached the library staff of the Pikes Peak Library District about starting a Dungeons and Dragons club. PPLD offered to host the program in the teen space, to put together advertising materials, and to purchase materials if the teen could handle leading a campaign and be welcoming to beginner players. The teen has since aged-out of our teen programming, but the Dungeons and Dragons club remains one our most well-attended programs despite the library staff still not knowing how to play or directly facilitating the program.

Many of the resources you will need to offer a Dungeons & Dragons program are available on the D&D website, including an overview of the rules, character sheets, and other introductory material. This might be a good way to explore if offering a D&D program is right for your library and programming needs. If you want to make this is a regular part of your schedule, you'll need:

  • D&D Starter Set : includes everything needed for a 4-6 person campaign (Dice, Adventure book, Rule Book, and 5 pre generated characters. This is a low cost way to see if D&D is something your teen patrons want. The adventures in the starter set are pre-made, but it is a great introduction to the game
  • Rule Books: If you'd like to go into more depth, these are the rulebooks our teen volunteer suggested purchasing: Dungeon Master's Guide, Player's Handbook, & Monster Manual. These books run $30-40 each but they are only used during the program and do not circulate.
  • Polyhedral Dice: Every player should have their own set of dice. Click here for an affordable example that can be kept with the program materials.

Those are the base level things we have for our program. We also keep a binder of character sheets for the players, as well to track attendance. You can print blank character sheets as needed.

Since this is a teen-driven program, no library staff directly facilitates the program. We set up the room and are present in the room to monitor behavior and distribute snacks (also a must), but otherwise it's all about the teens.

Our first teen volunteer set the tone by building a campaign and leading the group. After he aged-out, another teen quickly took up the mantle of dungeon master and that has how the program has continued every since. If you give teens the space to follow their passion and share it with others, they will take you up on that offer.


The two metrics I have used for evaluating this program are: 1) are the teen volunteer dungeon masters welcoming new players to the game and explaining the basics? And 2) how does the group change when a dungeon master steps down.

For the first metric, whenever a new teen joins the club, I first introduce them to the dungeon master. I have asked the dungeon master to introduce the new teen to a group and to get them set up with a character for the night. We usually use pre generated characters for the first night and if they continue to attend the program, have the volunteer dungeon master work with them to build a character from scratch. Using pre generated characters reduces a barrier of confusion for a beginner player.

For the second, when one dungeon master steps down, we talk as a group about who would like to try next. The group has to agree on who be there next leader and then spend some time talking about what kind of campaign they would like to play. The new volunteer dungeon master then begins work on their campaign. One aspect I have noticed using this teen-led approach is that the teens are very comfortable switching between the different campaigns. We generally have 3 campaigns going at once and the teens that have been coming to the club for awhile flow back and forth between the different groups depending on what kind of campaign they'd like to play. This is great for socializing and for helping the teens feel they have ownership in the direction of the teen space.

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