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Dungeons and Dragons players organize ‘epic’ quest in Springfield for charity

(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Adventurers will band together in Springfield this Saturday (Nov. 4) in support of a noble cause: raising money to help sick children.

Wizards and rogues, bards and druids alike have been invited to Curio Cavern (6701 Loisdale Rd, Suite 15) for a multi-table Dungeons and Dragons session — known in the role-playing game as an “epic” — that will raise funds for Children’s National Hospital in D.C.

Set to start at 1 p.m., with doors opening at noon, the event is one of many fundraisers planned around the country tomorrow as part of an annual Game Day organized by Extra Life, a nonprofit that uses gaming to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which includes Children’s National.

Derrick Chelikowsky, one of the Curio event’s organizers with Alex Manavi, says Extra Life’s Game Day offers an opportunity for individuals to “pool our resources” together to help tackle an issue — in this case, children’s health care — that directly affects their local community.

“The ability to directly give back to a community that has accepted me is something that I really like to do,” Chelikowsky said. “I try to give back to the communities that I’ve been in, every place that I’ve lived, and this is one day that I found that allows me to give back, and as an aside, have some fun playing D&D.”

A Franconia resident and regular at Curio Cavern’s weekly Monday D&D sessions, Chelikowsky started participating in Extra Life in 2016 to support Oishei Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, New York, where he lived at the time. He began visiting Curio after moving to Fairfax County for a job and soon found himself serving as dungeon master (DM) for the store’s first charitable Dungeons and Dragons epic on July 22.

That fundraiser benefitted the Against Malaria Foundation and was put together by Grant Babcock, who co-organizes Curio’s Adventurers League (an ongoing campaign officially sanctioned by D&D owner Wizards of the Coast).

Curio, which also has locations at Springfield Town Center and Centreville Square, has hosted charitable events in the past, but its original Loisdale Road location didn’t have the space to accommodate the number of players and tables needed for an epic until a recent expansion, according to Manavai.

The first epic drew about 20 people who raised $570 for the Against Malaria Foundation, all while battling “a vengeful three-headed giant” — played with a costume and props by Manavi — and his army of monsters at an ice-fishing competition.

“A modest start, but we learned a lot about the process of holding events like this,” Babcock said by email. “We decided to try making it a quarterly thing, and Derrick stepped up to organize the next event.”

The upcoming epic, “Peril at the Port,” will task players with rallying townsfolk to defend their home against devil and ghost pirates. All proceeds from the $15 entry fee — which also grants access to a pre-made character if needed and a magic item trading post — and the $1 that players can donate to roll the dice again after a critical fail go to Children’s National Hospital.

Donations can also be made online through Chelikowsky’s Extra Life profile.

Chelikowsky says organizers are currently planning for 20 to 30 people across four or five tables, but the store has enough additional capacity to accommodate walk-ins.

The Curio event has no specific fundraising goal, but the D.C. area “has been very strong” in the past, raising over $200,000 for Children’s National on Extra Life’s Game Day in 2020, he told FFXnow. For this year’s Game Day, the region has raised over $13,000 so far.

“We are a small drop in a larger bucket,” Chelikowsky said.

The cooperative, improvisational nature of D&D and other tabletop, role-playing games that makes them good settings for socializing and forming friendships also makes them logical vehicles for charity, according to Manavi.

“D&D is a good avenue because we come together selflessly, with open arms, and willing to help each other,” he said. “In other words, D&D already puts you into a state of mind [that makes] working on charity rather easy.”

Babcock admitted that D&D is “probably not the most efficient way to raise money for charity, but it might be the most fun.” After organizing the previous epic, he’s excited to experience tomorrow’s event as a player.

“I’ll be playing a scimitar-wielding mercenary based on The Rock’s Scorpion King character from ‘The Mummy’ franchise,” Babcock said. “We’ll be up against monstrous pirates from the bowels of the Nine Hells, but I like our chances.”

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