Finding fantasy and friends in Saranac Lake

SARANAC LAKE — Ami Leipzig, a Saranac Lake sixth grader, is starting his first year in middle school this fall with a new Dungeons and Dragons club.

Leipzig is still working out details for the club, but plans to host meetings in the Saranac Lake Free Library’s Dickert Room. The meetings will be open to kids 15 and under, as well as some close family friends of Leipzig’s mother, Paula Jacobson.

The group originally consisted of just Leipzig and a friend, but after putting out a flyer on the Saranac Lake Neighbor Helping Neighbor Facebook page, and with advertising from the library, they got the first call.

Leipzig’s Dungeons and Dragons club now consists of seven members, other than himself. One member is a family friend of Leipzig’s, who volunteered to be dungeon master. The dungeon master creates the story, or mission, that the players abide by during the game. The players continue the story through the characters they choose.

“You can’t be yourself, you have to be the character,” Leipzig said.

Leipzig has been in Pendragon Theatre plays — “Seussical the Musical” and “Alias Smedley Pewtree, or The Villain of Glitter Gultch” — in the past. Dungeons and Dragons is a very involved game, which Jacobson has said really appeals to her son.

“All Ami thinks or talks about is Dungeons and Dragons character development and details, and he reads a lot about that as well. It really sparked his particular type of imagination,” she said.

To the rest of his family, Leipzig is a bit of an outlier. His attraction to reading and fantasy isn’t shared by his other brothers. To Leipzig, Dungeons and Dragons is a way to experience fantastical stories.

“I like reading, and I don’t even think he knows how to read,” Leipzig joked, referring to his and his older brother’s different outlooks on life.

Ami is a dreamer, according to Jacobson, while his brother is “more sober.” The Dungeons and Dragons club allows Leipzig to dream.

Originally, the search for Dungeons and Dragons players in the area didn’t start as an effort to recruit for a club. Leipzig said it was more of an experiment to see how many people play in the area. With the calls he received, Leipzig realized he could make his group larger, getting the chance to play with more people.

The club has been advertised as a chance to play both Dungeons and Dragons and Heroscape. Heroscape is similar to Dungeons and Dragons, but with visual aids and a less developed story. While still a roleplaying game, Jacobson says it’s like “D and D light.”

However, Leipzig is going to prioritize Dungeons and Dragons for ease. Heroscape is less well-known and “really complicated,” so he wants to focus on teaching only Dungeons and Dragons for now.

“I was really proud of him for taking the initiative, and having the bravery to put this out there and make this thing happen for himself,” Jacobson said.

Leipzig wanted to play twice a week, but Jacobson brought up the difficulties of scheduling during the school year, and thought twice a month would be more reasonable. Though the game can continue indefinitely, both agreed on around two hours a day. The club is in the organizational stage and they are still accepting members. Jacobson is taking calls to her number, 518-637-9644, for anyone interested in joining.

“The whole thing ends up being this really rich story, so it really appeals to kids like him, who kind of have one foot in the fantasy,” Jacobson said.


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