Pastors & Dragons: A D&D Retreat

 

Pastors & Dragons

This August, join the Dungeon Master Pastor, Rev. Rory Philstrom, and other clergy and people of faith for a first-of-its-kind, 4-day, 3-night Dungeons & Dragons retreat. With a mixture of gaming, learning, and Sabbath rest, this retreat will allow you to explore the connections between life, ministry, and the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

Pastors & Dragons: A D&D Retreat
Shire in the Woods, McGrath, Minnesota


REGISTRATIONS FOR THIS EVENT ARE FULL!

If you would like to be on the waiting list in case a spot opens up, please fill out the information below.


Pastors & Dragons

ROLL INITIATIVE!

Each day will afford hours of Dungeons & Dragons play, with daily game sessions run by Rory, the Dungeon Master Pastor.

We’ll engage in a variety of play styles and explore all four tiers of play. If you have a beloved PC, you can bring it to the game. In addition, we’ll be exploring the character creation process as modes of self-reflection and storytelling.

Whether you have played Dungeons & Dragons before or are interested but brand new to the game, you will be able to fully engage in every aspect of the retreat.

In addition, there will be opportunities for everyone to try their hand at the DM seat as we mine the art of Dungeon Mastering for lessons in how to lead a community, engage others, and foster a high invitation/high challenge environment.

GAIN EXPERIENCE.

Each day will also feature time for plumbing the depths of the tabletop roleplaying genre for lessons in life, faith, and ministry.

Engagement topics will include:

  • Creating Complex Imaginations and the Art of Empathetic Practice
  • Facing Personal Fears on the Fantasy Tabletop
  • Self-Reflection through the Player Character
  • The Purpose and Use of Apocalypse
  • Storytelling
  • Managing Group Dynamics
  • Fostering Collaborative Improvisation and Collective Exploration

TAKE A LONG REST.

At Shire in the Woods, the natural surroundings will provide a rejuvenating backdrop to finally get the rest that is so hard to find in our day-to-day lives. Located 18 miles east of northern Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota, the retreat center is tucked away at the heart of the Solana State Forest and has the Soo Line South Trail running right alongside it.

Relax with a good book indoors or take a stroll in the surrounding woods. In addition to the wonderful cabin spaces for lodging, 5 miles of groomed trails, access to the Soo Line Trail, many miles of trails in the Solana State Forest, a nearby swimming hole, a rose garden, a labyrinth, a beaver pond, a frog and turtle pond, tree swings and hammock, outdoor fire pits, and indoor fireplaces.

There are many amazing options for some real life exploration and rest, and enough time in the schedule to take full advantage of it all.

Join Rev. Rory Philstrom (Dungeon Master Pastor) for a retreat unlike any other.

REGISTRATIONS FOR THIS EVENT ARE FULL!

If you would like to be on the waiting list in case a spot opens up, please fill out the information below.


CANCELLATION POLICY

  • Deposit of $150 is due upon booking. This deposit is non-refundable. 
  • The remaining balance is due in full by August 1, 2018. Flexible payment plans are available. Once your deposit is paid, we’ll contact you to arrange payments.
  • Through August 1, 2018, if you must cancel, we will refund any amount paid minus your $150 non-refundable deposit.
  • After August 1, 2018, there are no refunds, but you may transfer your paid spot to another person.

Rory Philstrom (aka TheDMPastor) is the Lead Pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church, an ELCA Congregation in Bloomington, MN. While at CTK he has worked with the congregation to revivify adult and youth education, innovate new structures for ministry, and engage the neighborhood around pressing issues such as affordable housing and anti-racism. He previously served with his wife as Co-Pastor of Prairie Lutheran Parish, four congregations in and around the small town of Stanley in northwestern North Dakota.

In addition to his work as a pastor, Rory has been the consistent Dungeon Master for two regular bi-weekly games online and in person for the last 3 years.  Players in Rory’s games have included over a dozen pastors, in addition to congregational and Bible camp staff, and spouses. He also ran an 8 session campaign for his confirmation class, using the genre of Dungeons & Dragons as a tool for participatory education.

Rory grew up in Omaha, NE where he learned the values of hard work, fast friendship, a lived faith, and adventure. From there he moved on to Fort Worth, TX where he studied Religion and Spanish at Texas Christian University. While at TCU he got bit by the international travel bug and made his way to China, Tibet, New Zealand, Australia, Tonga, and Nicaragua. After college he spent a year in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, working as a Youth Ministry Coordinator at a congregation in urban Chicago. During that year he intentionally lived below the poverty line with a community of folks doing the same. From there he enrolled at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where his studies focused on interfaith relations. While at LSTC he met his lovely wife Carolyn. He loves new adventures of all kinds, whether they be backpacking & camping outdoors, exploring a new part of town, or laying in his hammock reading an epic fantasy novel. He is passionate about the work that God is doing in our world today and is constantly thinking about how we might become better disciples.


Pastors & Dragons

TRANSPORTATION, DRAFT SCHEDULE, and ACCOMMODATIONS

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Life & Death on the Tabletop

Although I have been Dungeon Mastering just as much as ever,

But because there has been a big change-up in my pastoring, and lately I’ve been doing more than ever,

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from this little corner of the web, the DUNGEON MASTER PASTOR.

But I’ve been thinking lately… about life and death.

In Dungeons & Dragons, life and death is dealt with almost haphazardly. The game is built off of dealing death to horrible monsters and evil humanoids. To advance in the game, characters must learn to kill. The deaths of others bring life and flourishing (in the form of experience points) to the PC. And every now and then, a player character will fail in their death dealing and be dealt death themselves.

As a pastor, I often deal with death. It comprises a much larger part of my job than I realized when I first dreamed of going into the ministry. I am often called to be with people in the final days and even the final moments of their lives. Then I am called again to help their families begin to grieve and try to understand what this death means in their lives.

Sometimes a death, depending on its circumstances, will highlight a particular aspect of a person’s life. Sometimes it will reveal some significance that had been previously hidden. Sometimes a death comes suddenly and unexpectedly, sometimes a death is the culmination of a long and drawn out process. Death can be unjust. Death can be welcomed. Death is always grieved, no matter the individual.

In my church, we’ve had a wave of funerals recently that I’m still in the middle of. (There are few things that can tire a pastor out as much as back to back to back to back funerals.)

In my D&D game, we’ve just had our second major PC death. The first character death came in the depths of the Taboo Temple on the Isle of Dread, where an elderly & overweight monk met his demise in the kopru mud pits. The second came as the brave and upright fighter challenged the son of a demon lord and lost, surrounded by an inescapable gauntlet of the  demon’s followers. (DM Disclaimer: It was his idea to pick a fight in those circumstances, not mine.)

As I think about life and death, I find there’s a lot in common between the deaths of my players’ characters and the deaths of my parishioners. They each highlighted something special about the characters, they added a layer of meaning that was more difficult to discern before.

My task as a preacher is to speak a word of meaning and purpose into the foggy loss of grief. It is to speak the resurrection, when the cross is presently felt.

My task as a dungeon master is much the same. When one of my players’ characters dies, that death should ring with significance. I figure that there’s enough unearned suffering in the real world that in the fantasy world I build as a Dungeon Master I want death to mean something. Maybe that significance is to highlight the bravery of the fighter as they face down the demon unafraid of the consequences. Or maybe that significance is that the bumbling and ill-fortuned character finally bumbles too far into ill-fortune.

As a DM, this means that sometimes I don’t let the dice stand as I roll them. I will blunt the edge of a more meaningless demise in favor of a better one later on. Maybe that means an NPC ally rushes in at those final moments and stabilizes a dying character. Maybe it means that the monster suddenly has a few fewer hit points when I realize that the heroes won’t last another round.

As a DM, making death meaningful for the PCs also means that I need to strive to make the other deaths in the game meaningful. When the PCs lay waste to a maurading band of lizard folk, those deaths should mean something (both for the rescued villagers and also for the larger colony of lizard folk that band hailed from). The death of a major villain should reverberate throughout the ranks of that villain’s followers, and perhaps inspire the villain’s apprentice or rival to avenge that death. A monster’s death might reveal a hidden fact about the life of that creature that the characters discover as they are looting the body. All this is just another way to say that the actions of the PCs should affect and reverberate in the fictional world, perhaps especially so when that action is dealing death.

Making death on the tabletop into a meaningful experience is as much a part of the Dungeon Master’s task as making death in real life meaningful is a part of the task of a pastor. Death is an opportunity to tell another part of the story, whether that’s the story of a player character or the story of a person’s life and God’s love and the kingdom of heaven.

The alternative, often realized, is devolving into a raging bunch of murderhobos.