The Tavern: D&D at Phalanx House
Phalanx House is part of Stack Up's latest initiatives in supporting Veterans. It serves as a headquarters for Stack Up in Los Angeles while also providing a unique community center tailored to Veterans who are gamers. With 300,000 Veterans in the Los Angeles area, some of whom live in transient situations, Phalanx House allows us to provide visitors with a range of activities and amenities, from gaming to hanging out in the pool to simply doing laundry.
Of the activities available at Phalanx House, our Communications Director, Skatch (Brian Snyder), hosts games of Dungeons & Dragons in Phalanx House's Tavern. The Tavern is set up in an outdoor, weather-protected enclosure equipped for board gaming and TTRPG adventures.
Skatch wrote up about his experience running games out of the Tavern:
Bringing D&D to the Phalanx House has not only been a joy, but also an honor to, in many cases, introduce some amazing veterans to one of my passions.
When we first started the Tavern Games, most of the veteran visitors to Phalanx House had never played a TTRPG. They looked on in interest and a little confusion at the multicolored dice, and tiny figures of heroes and villains ready to duke it out on a table covered in one-inch squares.
It took a little reassurance that they would be able to join in and pick it up as we went along. Now however several months later, the Tavern is full of seasoned adventures who strategize and synergize their abilities to take down mighty foes week after week.
I recently learned that some of these veterans are working on games of their own. Hearing stories of them taking the game beyond the Tavern and with them as they leave is the best kind of joy. Knowing that this isn't just a one-time thing, but for many, the start of a lifelong hobby makes me proud to be a small part of their journey.
Being able to share in our hobbies and create a community of gamers who enjoy playing with each other has been our goal with Phalanx from the start. Hopefully, the Veterans enjoying D&D in the Tavern take that with them for a lifelong love of the game.
Elle, an Army Veteran and trans woman, calls herself a "frequenter of Phalanx House" and has told us how Phalanx has helped her:
Playing Dungeons and Dragons with other veterans has been a beneficial experience for my mental health as a trans woman. This game has also helped me to think critically and imagine different scenarios, which is a useful distraction from my daily stressors. It has also been a great way to make friends and build a sense of community. The game itself provides an outlet for creative exploration, which has helped me express difficult feelings in a safe and non-judgmental environment. As a result of my experiences playing D&D with other veterans, I have noticed an overall improvement in my mental health and well-being. Dungeons and Dragons has enabled me to gain more enjoyment and appreciation for life, even when it seems the world is against people like myself, and I would highly recommend it to other veterans looking for a meaningful way to express themselves and spend time with others.
We hope Veterans like Elle and others who come to visit Phalanx give our D&D games a roll. It's our goal to have fun while pursuing our mission of supporting Veterans through the power of gaming, and The Tavern allows us to do just that.