Andrew Ashby, the owner of tabletop RPG shop We Geek Together, needed 500 players to cram themselves into the Provo Towne Centre mall in and agree to play one giant game of Dungeons & Dragons. By the time dice started rolling on Saturday, more than 1,200 adventurers had answered the call and broken a world record.
Guinness World Records awarded Ashby and two co-owners Everett and Fawn Ashby on April 22nd with the honour of hosting the most people playing Dungeons & Dragons at the same time. According to the Daily Herald's reporting, the 1,227 participants filled both floors and most open areas of the Provo, Utah-based mall as they prepared to defend a castle against one of D&D’s most infamous foes - the sorcerous lich, Vecna.
The local hobby shop worked with volunteer designer Johnny Jenson to construct an elaborate campaign that could support 200 separate parties working simultaneously towards a single goal. Ashby described it as “a Helm’s Deep, defend the castle scenario” where every party was assigned a specific task as Vecna’s horde of undead monsters assaulted the Kingdom of Grand. Some would defend the gates or act as cavalry, while others would stalk the battlements or otherwise scout the grounds surrounding the castle.
Organising all of this was a clever system of messengers tasked with relaying information between the dungeon masters of each table, as well as the head DM who served as a sort of lynchpin in the grand design. A livestream from the event shows a sizable statue of Vecna perched ominously on a central table, surrounded by groups of adventurers who hoped to win the day against him.
The Daily Herald’s story reports that Ashby and We Geek Together spent precious little on advertising the event and instead relied on the tabletop community’s penchant for word of mouth - and love of sweeping fantasy combat - to fill the 500 seats Guinness World Records decreed they needed to set the record. The mall had been set up to support double that number, and still avid groups were clamouring for their chance to join the heroic effort.
Anyone wanting a piece of the world record action for themselves can find Jenson’s The Dead Wars campaign scenario on DriveThruRPG, which contains four interlocking one-shot adventures for 5th-level characters in 5E-compatible systems. There’s also guidelines on coordinating and running a massive connected campaign, though I bet it doesn’t mention anything about securing an entire mall court for the afternoon.
We Geek Together shared their Guinness World Record certificate on Facebook next to a statue of the defeated Vecna. Ashby is reportedly not content to rest on his laurels and plans to host enormous tabletop RPG stunts such as this on an annual basis.