The common black durgon is a major danger in the new Durgons and Dragons role-playing game developed by a group of Blacktip Island scuba-diving gaming aficionados. (photo courtesy of NOAA)
A group of Blacktip Island underwater role-playing game enthusiasts this week played their first rounds of their newly-developed Durgons and Dragons on Jawfish Reef to celebrate the upcoming end of hurricane. season.
“It’s a riff on Dungeons and Dragons, played underwater,” game developer Lee Helm said. “The Dive Master walks players through underwater adventures, usually quests to find treasure or explore sunken pirate ships or caves.
“There’s no magic per se, but the in-game reef is way different than the real reef,” Helm said. “Sharks and orcas and krakens are the obvious dangers. But all the normal reef fish can be deadly, too.”
As in Dungeons and Dragons, players must navigate dangers and defeat monsters.
“Parrotfish, triggerfish, nurse sharks, even other divers can kill you,” gamer Edwin Chub said. “And you have to watch for swarms of brown chomises. Chromii. Whatever.
“The real terrors, though, are the leafy sea dragons and black durgons,” Chub said. “Just yesterday a durgon chewed through 10 player characters. We’re still recovering from that.”
With players on scuba, game time is limited by air consumption.
“When you’re out of air, the game’s over. Heavy breathers put the entire team at risk,” said player Harry Blenny. “You’re basically playing against game hazards, other players and time. People meditate beforehand to save air.
“It gets vicious. Light breathers try to kill off the air hogs’ characters so the game will last longer,” Blenny said. “And the air-suckers gang up on other players to get those characters killed off. We had plans for surface-supplied air to avoid all that, but decompression sickness issues scotched that since there’s no barometric chamber on the island.”
Some residents remained unimpressed.
“I really don’t get it, but I guess I don’t have to,” cook Jessie Catahoula said. “It’s goofy, but at least it keeps Lee and his buddies out of sight and away from me.”
Players emphasized the game’s positive aspects.
“It teaches people to work together as a team, not knowing if one of the characters is a Random Bad Diver,” Helm said. “When an RBD starts flailing there’s a 20 percent chance the character closest to him drowns.
“Just this morning my 39th-level heliox diver got bent on a rogue upwelling because of a Baddie,” Helm said. “I had to start over with a character that’s barely nitrox certified.”
Others touted the game’s growing popularity.
“There’s already Durgons and Dragons clubs on other islands,” Blenny said. “We’re gonnna have a D and D tournament over the holidays, too. As word spreads, our ultimate goal is to have some women join us. Or talk to us.”