Shuffling cards and rolling dice now have a place to pay out social capital. Giving back to Carleton with gaming, Daniel Lessin ’11 just opened the Quill and Blade, a game store, in downtown Northfield on January 12, 2015. The shop offers not only the goods necessary for gaming, but also provides a venue for gaming.
Lessin hopes that his shop will be a fun and relaxing neutral ground between college and town life where everybody will feel welcome to enjoy games and other events. The shop is located in the basement of the Perman building, 314 Division St, familiar to those who visited Northfield’s new bookstore, and embraces many niches of ‘nerd-dom.’
Tables stand ready for gamers, some of which carry games that Lessin designed or customized himself. Theshop also offers classic board games, “living” card games (LCGs), collectible card games or CCGs, role playing game guides, and some miniatures to support games like Warhammer 40K and Star Wars X-Wing.
“Of course people are welcome and even encouraged to try new games,” Lessin said. He is offering a low-cost annual “Bardic VIP Membership” that allows members to play-test some of the merchandise as well as receive a discount on purchasing items in the shop.
“I really hope students will take advantage of this,” he remarked while explaining that he set the shop’s hours (noon-10:00PM, and 12-12 on weekends) so as to help students or families make it in during evenings.
The merchandise also includes Japanese manga, a selection of comics, and some books that fit the shop’s themes. Most merchandise fit into the realms of science fiction and fantasy, though many of Lessin’s personal favorites touch on history.
Since some items are offered on consignment, Lessin is pleased to offer items that may not be found elsewhere. He explained, “My hope is to offer the big names that people like to see, but also introduce to the publications they haven’t encountered yet.”
Quill and Blade’s items will appear on constant rotation so that returning customers may always find new items. “I still hope to learn more about the gaming and science fiction fields,” Lessin mentioned, adding that the rotation of merchandise will incorporate customer recommendations and requests.
“If someone knows something worth sharing, I look forward to offering it to other people who will find they love it, too.”
Events hosted at the shop promise to draw in crowds of a variety of tastes. Specialized tournaments will include the Magic CCG or a “Dungeons and Dragons Rumble” where players get to make and compete with their own characters.
Artistically inclined patrons may look forward to miniature or poster painting and theatrical readings. Some events, like after-school gaming and a ‘college cooperative challenge,’ hope to foster connections between college students and the rest of Northfield. “I’m going to make this a fun place for people to meet and develop community,” Lessin said.
Carleton’s Experimental Role-Playing Laboratory (ERPL) event also has a standing invitation. Lessin remarked, “I want to give back to the community that was so wonderful to me.” Coordinated by the Carleton Role-Playing Association President Quinn Radich ’15, ERPL happens each Midterm Break weekend. Volunteers host one-session role-playing games that are a perfect opportunity to get an introduction to gaming. Games range from suspenseful mysteries to daring adventures to preposterous capers and differ every term.
Radich helps oversee planning of regularly meeting games, called campaigns, but explained, “Most people who get a game going do it on their initiative. I really only help make sure that players who want to join a campaign can find one.”
Since it can be hard to find or join such games, Lessin is hoping that Quill and Blade can help people make the connections that get them going. “I wish I had gotten more involved,” Lessin explained. “I had a hard time fitting in at Carleton, but I think gaming offers a space where it doesn’t matter if you are being yourself or your character so long as you are having fun.”