Cover Image: Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call

Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call

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Member Reviews

I received Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call by Molly Knox Ostertag in exchange for my honest review. It is a middle-grade slice of life comic book going back and forth between real world issues and their character stories in their D&D game. Being a fan of TTRPG and of soft comics, I was intrigued.

Five Stars!

This comic took me back. Despite being *cough*thirty*cough*something, I was transported back decades to my awkward early teens in middle school. I felt what Jess was feeling (to a point. I am a white AFAB person who understands that my whiteness gives me privelege and that Jess is a POC character so that certainly complicates her life more than I can ever know). The worries about losing a friend as you both grow and shift and change, the worries about bullies (I certainly had a number of those) and about being perceived in certain ways that you can't control.

Finding ways to cope with school trauma (and yes, bullying is school trauma though it is not portrayed here graphically, it is still present) and anxiety is important. TTRPGs like Dungeons & Dragons is how a lot of people escape their real world problems. What is interesting here is how Ostertag not only shows how D&D can be used for escapism but also as a tool to work out your issues.

Roll Call shows how TTRPGs aren't just escapist fantasy but a place where people can connect, bond, develop problem solving skills, and develop their own sense of justice, bravery, and more. Its an excellent example of how these games can really help not only middle school students but people of all ages because story telling and the lessons we learn from it are a very human thing.

The artwork, story, design, and more are all excellent. I cannot wait to read the next installment.

I highly recommend Roll Call not only for fans of TTRPGs and Dungeons & Dragons but also for middle grade fantasy readers. If you have taken my advice and read Izzy at the End of the World, you're gonna enjoy Roll Call.
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I liked it (but didn't love it), but I will definitely recommend it to kids. I'm always looking for cool comics to recommend for both fantasy readers and realistic fiction readers. This is a fun combination of both.
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Jess is nervous when Olivia wants to expand their D&D game to other people at their middle school. They've always been a party of two:  best friends since third grade and the player/DM in a high fantasy D&D campaign. While Olivia is sociable, even considering running for class council, Jess is shy and likes things just the way they are. But 7th grade is a time for change, and between dealing with bullies and rumors, Jess needs to learn to step out of her comfort zone and trust in others to support her in her quests!

I can definitely see Roll Call doing well for middle school students. The art is cute, without being “babyish” (it reminds me a lot of the art in some of our popular graphic novels like Sunny and Baby-Sitter’s Club) and the parallels between middle school life and the campaign help model some of the difficult social roles and interactions young people face. Also, our kids and they’re starting to get curious about D&D and this novel integrates bits of the game, like the role of DM and stat blocks, without being intrusive. 

Growing up as a 90s/00s nerd girl, there were a few high notes for me personally. Even though bullying plays a role, no one is teased for playing the game and D&D is never mocked for being nerdy. (That said, this is a licensed Dungeons and Dragons product so it would be a REALLY BAD marketing choice to frame your game in that way). Our protagonists are both young girls (of color!) who are unabashed in their love for D&D (ya love to see it) and the player choose characters of the opposite gender.

However, there are also a few moments that kids new to D&D may not get. There’s an obligatory “that’s what my character would do” moment that’s not handled great if it is your first time seeing such a thing, and there’s a lot of reference to D&D specific lore (tieflings being demon-blooded, Mielikki, Prince Gra’zzt and the Abyss) that aren’t explained super-great but are moderately important to the plot of Olivia’s campaign. Also, the stat blocks at the beginning have some cute Easter eggs, but as an expository device may use some terms (i.e. alignment) that don’t really mean anything to someone who’s never cracked open the DMG. 
Overall, I’m glad I read Roll Call and am considering getting a copy for our middle school students and those sweet, sweet, SEL moments. I do hope for this to be a series because I want to hear more about Rubio and the Sams!
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This GN is so much fun! This story is about a D&D group (obviously!) but touches on so much more than cooperative gaming. There are friendship struggles, learning how to work within a group, figuring out how one fits within their friendship dynamics, the importance of admitting you're wrong and learning to apologize, as well as all the other social dynamics so often found in middle school. It is fun, creative, and inspiring! Looking forward to sharing this book with my fellow gamer fans and students.
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This graphic novel is just what I needed to booktalk D&D to my Corona Kids! Combining D&D fantasy roleplaying with fantasy storytelling, Roll Call is the first in a new series, written by the amazing Molly Knox Ostertag and illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, who illustrates the 5 Worlds series - another series I can't keep on my shelves. Olivia and Jess are best friends who make up incredible stories: it's how they met on a school playground, and it's brought them even closer in their 2-person Dungeons & Dragons campaign. They're heading to middle school, which Olivia is really excited about. Jess? Not so much, especially when Olivia decides to expand their D&D campaign into a full-on school club. Not willing to share her game time and her best friend with anyone, Jess expresses her frustration through the game, and when it affects one of the new members of the club, Jess discovers that sometimes, you need to find room in your heart - and in your dungeon-raiding party - for new friends.

Ostertag's got storytelling down, effortlessly moving back and forth between fantasy and reality. I'm excited for more backstory as the series develops; Jess is Diné from the Navajo Nation, living with her father, and playing a character named Sir Corius. Olivia is Afro-Latina, sporting hot-pink hair and can effortlessly rattle off character and monster stats, several of which are incorporated into the story; it gives readers a sense of game play. Having story characters create genderfluid, speciesfluid characters is wonderful, inviting readers to see what so many of us have known for a while: you don't have to conform to any gender in the game. It says so in the Player's Handbook! Bouma's vibrant illustration creates personable characters and exciting fantasy settings. The whole story comes together beautifully and is an excellent choice for readers who are interested in gaming, fantasy, and realistic fiction. Display and booktalk these with any of your fantasy roleplaying graphic novels, like 5 Worlds and Dragon Prince; The Witch Boy; Popular MMOs and Dan TDM, and the Dungeon Academy middle grade novel series by Madeline Roux.
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Two friends who share a love of D&D are growing up and now that they're in 8th grade one is interested in expanding her interests while the other wants to maintain the status quo. The references to D&D not only through the role-playing the two friends do, but also through main character Jess's imaginings of her classmates added a fun element, even when applied to serious situations like bullying. The illustrations perfectly complemented the story as we saw the imaginary world blending into the real one. A fun story, but it lacked depth.
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Dungeon Club: Roll Call is the lovely opening to a new series im sure will be wonderful. It’s a story of friendship and understanding and making new friends even when the thought seems daunting.
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From the mood-complementary color palettes in stunning and sometimes fantastical scenes to the blossoming friendships charged by practical and realistic issues, this graphic novel has everything I needed. As a librarian in a middle school, this touched on so many issues that I see students at this age face daily - the threat of bullying, the feeling of not fitting in, the anxiety over making decisions, etc. Ostertag tells a beautiful and relateable story, blending fantasy and reality perfectly in this heartwarming middle grade graphic novel. I highly recommend this for anyone in middle grade, but especially to the totally awesome nerds!
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Molly Ostertag captures the true magic of Dungeons & Dragons, its ability to inspire creativity, forge connections, and foster growth. Dungeon Club: Roll Call seamlessly intertwines D&D with the book's narrative; it provides monster stats for various middle school denizens and shows how fantasy roleplay can be used to solve real world problems. Full of gorgeous illustrations and nuanced characters, this book is a must read for lovers of D&D and graphic novels alike.
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This was alright. I loved the D&D aspect, but everything else was pretty basic. I felt like the storyline was really surface level. The main character didn't really recognize her issues and deal with them.
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Thank you NetGalley for the advance copy to review.

What a beautifully written and illustrated graphic novel. This is a story of the strength of true friendship and how a game can be more than just a game. It can bring people together and help them make their voices heard. 

I really enjoyed how the campaign was woven into the story. How the bullies were represented in the gameplay. The story is very relatable and easy to read. I can't wait to see what is in store next for The Dungeon Club!
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This is a great graphic novel for the older elementary to high school kid who likes fantasy or is starting to get into Dungeons & Dragons. It's more kid drama than D&D but the center of the story is very D&D esthetic with kids being introduced with character cards.
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Characters: 10 | Atmosphere: 9 | Writing: 8 | Plot: 9 | Intrigue: 9 | Logic: 10 | Enjoyment: 10
Total: 9.29

This was such a fun middle-grade read about friendship and growing up. As someone who didn't get into Dungeons and Dragons until adulthood, and someone who was bullied as a kid, all I could have wanted for child me was a club like this! The story was very well written and perfect for its audience. The themes were consistent and the artwork was, as always from Molly, beautiful. This was a fantastic read that even covered my favorite thing to yell about: healthy communication. I really recommend it for any middle schooler who loves fantasy and comics but maybe has a hard time making friends sometimes.
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A cute D&D novel. I enjoyed the Stat blocks for the various characters in game and out of game. I enjoyed the characters and their growth. I liked the art a lot. I will be ordering this for my library.

Thank you to Netgalley for giving me an ARC in return for my honest feedback.
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I was first introduced to the world of Dungeons and Dragons when I was in middle school. Seeing my love of table top role playing games reflected in the two main characters in this story was a joy.

The storyline of growing up and change in moving into a middle school is entwined together with the TTRPG storyline of two characters coming together and learning to trust against a monstrous opponent. We see Jess's real life struggles with getting out of her comfort zone reflected in her player character's refusal to work with a new character. I could sympathize with Jess's desire to keep the one friend she has and not to throw anything new into the works that might mess that up. But it was also great to see Jess make a mistake and learn to do better and apologize. 

The artwork is absolutely gorgeous. The characters are diverse in all ways, from body types, height, and race. And the characters each have their own style. The backgrounds are clean and uncluttered, and the coloring is beautiful.

This was a charming read for anyone who loves table top role playing games and coming of age stories.

Thank you to HarperCollins Children's Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
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What an adorable story. The artwork? Adorable. The story? Adorable. As someone with a complicated history with Dungeons & Dragons, I completely fell for Jess''s side of the story. RPGs often allow those of us with social issues a place to shine and letting people that don't sit right with us into these places can be incredibly difficult. 
I love the parallels between the players and their characters. That felt very real to my experience at the table. DnD characters are a place to explore intimate parts of yourself. Would you stand up to the big bad evil guy? Or would you stand back? What if you wanted to stand up to them but lacked the means to do so? Enter DnD. Where you have a sword and better stats than you do in real life. 
That's what Jess experiences. 
I was so happy when she came around to address her issues instead of keeping them inside. She told someone their actions made her uncomfortable. She stood up to bullies. She made friends. 
My favorite part (absolutely favorite part) was the stat card for every character. Whenever we meet someone, a stat card appears next to them detailing their popularity, how nice they might be, how smart they are, and a whole bunch of other funny things. 
I'll be putting this on pre-order now because I know an entire table of people who need this in their lives.
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"I'm not good at friends, but I am good at stories."

First off, this middle grade graphic novel was so sweet and SO nerdy. I love that there are multiple different book series out right now that feature young characters who play D&D.
I recently DMed a campaign for a group of middle schoolers at the public library where I work (it was their first time playing, and they were all so invested), and anytime an author can make this game more accessible for kids that age, I'm a fan.

The little details that Molly and Xanthe include, such as random D&D stats for characters (both inside and outside their campaign) is a great touch, and helps longtime fans of the game feel more at home in the world they created, while also helping readers who will become new players.

Speaking of, the blending of "reality" and the game is very well done. Each frame of the fantasy world is so colorful, but the real world is too.

Also, the main message of being "stronger together" and needing friends isn't going to be something you've never heard of, but it's a much needed message, especially since when this generation of middle schoolers understands isolation better than past ones do.

5/5 art
5/5 plot & story
5/5 heart

Note: This book's publication date was November 30th, 2022, but I was given the ARC a few days into December and still wanted to thank NetGalley, Molly Knox Ostertag, and Xanthe Bouma for the chance to read and review this sweet story!
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*Thank you, NetGalley for giving me access to this ARC in exchange for an honest review.*

Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call is a lovely graphic novel that explores the delights and dangers of adventuring in the dungeons of middle school and D&D. The illustrations are brilliant - I loved the stats throughout, especially the ones relating to the middle schoolers that Jess encounters along the way! 
I would recommend this book to any fan of D&D, including adults who enjoyed playing in their youth. Fantasy fans around middle school age will delight in this epic romp that explores close friendships, bullying, and the excitement of sharing adventures with other like-minded kids!
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I loved this book and really hope they continue the Olivia and Jess' journey through middle school and D&D. I love the use of stat blocks to introduce characters and how out of character talk is included in the D&D session. I really captures how a session is handles and all of the cross talk that happens while playing.

The librarian was a nice addition to the story, though her role minor, it contributed in a big way.

Jess' personality compliments her character, Corius, well because it shows who she wants to be vs who she actually is. Corius is brave, strong and never backs down from a fight, while Jess is timid and avoids them all together. I really saw her struggle of dealing with bullies and using D&D as an escape even if it messed up the game. I loved the line "it's what my character would do."

Olivia is a wonderful, game master, story teller and all around friend.

And finally Tyler, his character/personality is similar to Jess'. He knows how he wants to be but he really struggles to bring that out into the real world.  Sunny was a wonder character, very bubbly and fun next to Corius' hard and careless attitude. 

D&D is a really fun game and a great way to make friends and this story shows that it can happen even when navigating something as sucky as middle school bullies.
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A solid read for middle-grade audiences! Molly Knox Ostertag (Witch Boy) and Xanthe Bouma (5 Worlds, Dragon Prince) have done it again with this fantastic integration of Dungeons & Dragons mechanics and gameplay with real-world family, school, and social situations. Rich characters, wonderful illustrations, and clear, easy-to-follow writing make Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Coll a powerful beginning to a new series!
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