Tales of Resilience Logo

Tales of Resilience

This pre-approved honors experience promotes empathy and personal growth through shared storytelling.

The group will engage in tabletop role-playing in a fantasy setting, using the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition System. No prior experience with this game is required to participate. However, you can find out more information here: What is Dungeons and Dragons?

Campaign Setting
Our adventure begins at Zardigash University, one of the greatest wonders of the known world. This esteemed place of learning was constructed more than 500 years ago, on the very site of the founders' victory over an ancient dragon.

In those intervening years, students from influential and wealthy families have since ventured here to complete their studies. The magical campus literally levitates above the city below, and the knowledge safeguarded within is considerable. Such resources might empower ambitious individuals to solve many of this world's complex problems... or, to remake the world entirely.

In this caste-based society, resources and influence are only afforded to a fraction of the population - and the greatest currency of all is magic

Players will assume the role of first-year students admitted to this competitive institution. The internal and external pressures they face will force them to grapple with their own mental and emotional well-being like never before. And as they adjust to life on campus, a looming threat gathers in the shadows. Will they be able to navigate their academic and personal responsibilities, all while untangling a sinister mystery? 

Gameplay Goals

Although individuals familiar with fantasy will recognize tropes of the genre, each student will also select a goal for personal growth—both for themselves and for the character they will be creating and portraying. These goals include confronting and working through potential struggles, such as:

  • self-worth/self-esteem
  • identity formulation
  • emotional and mental well-being
  • family dynamics
  • social/political power

We will engage in goal setting as a group during our first meeting. In addition to these personal goals, the group will use communication, action, and teamwork to face larger issues and themes.

Getting Started with Role-Playing Games

The Lead Storytellers of this experience will set you up with everything you need to play! All you need to bring are your ideas around a character you would like to explore. We recommend that you brainstorm character traits and identities both similar and different to your own (keep in mind that you will need to articulate these ideas in your initial application). 

While it is true that tabletop role-playing games often use dice rolls and fantasy combat to determine inflection points in a story, it should be noted that those participating in this experience will be asked – and challenged – to immerse themselves in their character, as that internal story is just as powerful and important as the external one. Growth occurs when we encounter new experiences and engage across difference, and both will be common themes in this adventure.

The fantasy genre has often delved into prescient issues in society, and these ethical, moral, and social questions are essential for undergraduates to explore during their time at UC. Equally important is an indiviual's ability to recognize and build resilience within themselves, in order to move forward in the face of life's struggles. 

This experience is an accessible option for students who might not otherwise feel ready to step fully out of their comfort zones by taking on a leadership position or going on a study tour, among other examples. Within this game, there are plentiful opportunities for participants – through the added, protective lens of their characters – to build confidence and public speaking skills, as well as to engage across difference and better understand intercultural development. As this occurs within the game world, it will also take place within the group of students themselves. In this way, the experience will also yield a smaller-scale version of the interdisciplinary teamwork and learning that is present in all honors seminars. Tales of Resilience meets students where they are and allows them to explore a goal that they select. This creates a dynamic, adaptable experience for each new group.

Application and Experience Timeline

Tales of Resilience will return next semester!

Meet the Lead Storytellers

Julianne Noffsinger (she/her) - UHP Nursing Student

Julianne has been a part of the fantasy and science fiction fanbase for a very long time. Everything from Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson always caught her interest. Starting in High School, she began delving into the world of Dungeons and Dragons. It started with a podcast called Not Another DnD Podcast (or NADDPOD for short), and soon developed into a bit of a hyperfocus. Beginning in 2018, Julianne has consistently played, run, and consumed DnD content. She has enjoyed media such as NADDPOD, Unprepared Casters, and Critical Role. Over these years, she has also accumulated hundreds of hours of experience in both playing and running games. 

Julianne believes that roleplaying and spending time with friends using a medium like DnD can be healing for the soul. She recognizes how important it is to support newcomers as they enter this space; as a result, she makes sure to facilitate a welcoming and warm environment whenever she plays. She encourages players to be their authentic selves at her table, and she is excited to tell more collaborative stories in the years ahead!

As a player in one of her sessions, you can expect:

  • Many, many puns
  • Diverse and unique NPCs to interact with
  • Roleplaying opportunities with emotional impact
  • Character voices!

Ella Wahlquist (she/her) - UHP Media Production Student

Ella loves everything art and storytelling related. From music, to sketches, to movies, she understands the power that stories have in shaping our lives. Despite brief glimpses into Dungeons & Dragons through Stranger Things and the play She Kills Monsters, she didn’t begin playing until UHP’s Tales of Resilience experience in the Fall of 2022. Since then, she has delved much deeper into the game, both in her own campaigns and in actual-play media such as Dimension 20. She has fully embraced the power that D&D has to incentivize growth and creativity in a safe space.

Ella has realized through her time with Dungeons & Dragons that collaborative storytelling builds strong bonds between players, creating a community where they feel welcome and supported to explore identities and perspectives. She takes time to create a space where players feel comfortable being fun and silly - but also introspective and engaged.

As a player in one of her sessions, you can expect:

  • Pop culture references
  • Fun and creative role-playing
  • Situations that make the players think
  • A story where players feel connected to the plot and each other

Elijah (Eli) Hoorman (he/him) - UHP Computer Science Student

Eli's love for the fantasy and science fiction genres is relatively new, but profoundly deep. He was first introduced to Dungeons & Dragons by a friend during his freshman year here at UC, and has never looked back. What started as a quick biweekly game they squeezed in between homework assignments, has now become an all-encompassing passion. He watches and listens to numerous D&D actual play shows (Dimension 20, NADDPOD, Worlds Beyond Number, etc.), watches every fantasy show he can find, is slowly transforming his tiny bedroom into an overflowing library, and often goes many months without missing a single week of running or playing in at least one session of one TTRPG or another.

Eli believes that TTRPGs are such a uniquely beautiful and safe medium for creating and strengthening interpersonal relationships, for exploring personal, emotional, and heavy-hitting themes - and for simply having a fun time with friends! Eli always makes sure to welcome anyone at his table, and encourages everyone to be themselves (and their characters) to the utmost degree.

As a player in one of his sessions, you can expect:

  • Lots of dumb jokes
  • Extremely silly and very emotional NPCs and encounters
  • Character-focused storytelling
  • Intentional campaign plotting and worldbuilding

Kyle Key (he/him) - Assistant Director & Honors Advisor

Kyle has been an avid reader and fan of fantasy and science fiction for as long as he can remember. Although he had brief forays into Dungeons & Dragons during his childhood, and again in early adulthood, his love for the game did not fully take hold until 2020, when he was introduced to Critical Role. The rest, as they say, is history. He soon began to run games virtually for a group of friends. He has now run multiple campaigns over the years, including a series of very emotional one-shot stories, and fully recognizes that he has found a life-long creative outlet within this lovely game. 

Kyle believes in the power of collaborative storytelling and recognizes how emotional and deeply cathartic it can be. He is also keenly aware of the reflective process that occurs when portraying a character: gaining empathy and insight into others while simultaneously establishing compassion and authenticity for yourself. 

As a player in one of his sessions, you can expect:

  • Player character agency
  • Emotionally-driven storytelling 
  • A world that challenges characters internally and externally
  • Comedic scenes that relieve the slowly-building tension