Sep 9, 2022 - News

New game and beer venue proves it’s cool to be a geek

Dungeons and Dragons

Photo: Benjamin Jarrell

The Temple’s Edge opened in early August in downtown Matthews combining two very geek-friendly hobbies — craft beer and tabletop gaming.

Successful weekly game nights at Carolina Beer Temple showed Rob Jacik, owner of Carolina Beer Temple, and Troy Hasbrouck, owner of Rebel Base Comics & Toys, that they could do more to harness the concept. 

The big picture: The Temple’s Edge ownership believes that enough people live in our community who like to drink good beer, surround themselves with vintage Star Wars and G.I. Joe action figures, while playing with friends a tabletop game of the imagination like Dungeons & Dragons. 

Why it matters: It’s cooler than ever to be a geek. There’s an overarching movement for people to be comfortable showing their true selves and a place like The Temple’s Edge embraces that ethos.

  • In high school, I couldn’t even imagine walking through the halls in a Spider-Man or “Han Shot First” T-shirt. Now Dr. Doom adorns my chest in the grocery store, daring you to poke fun.
  • We geek hard in this house. Our daughter watches Batman (1966), wraps her stuffed owl with a blanket and calls him “Baby Yoda”, and has an entirely different view of the word “shrubbery” than most toddlers. Our D&D setup sits in our home office, next to where my wife leads corporate calls and regional training sessions. 

Unlike high school, life isn’t a popularity contest. It’s also not a competition — which is a concept shared by the creators of D&D.

Dungeons and Dragons
The Temple’s Edge is located between Santé and Carolina Beer Temple. Photo: Benjamin Jarrell

You don’t win at Dungeons & Dragons. You simply have fun playing it.

The backstory: Released by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson in 1977, D&D combined the mechanics of medieval tabletop war games with creatures inspired by stories of high fantasy and sword & sorcery like The Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian.

  • But rather than players competing against one another, they role played one single character in a cooperative group.
  • Now in its fifth edition, D&D has a larger following than it has had in its existence, according to Wizards of the Coast, which bought D&D from the original creators, TSR, in 1997.
  • D&D has 50 million players to date, per Forbes

The big picture: D&D has risen in popularity in recent years.

  • Netflix’s Stranger Things Season 1 released in summer 2016, tying much of the plot and monsters to D&D lore from the 70s and 80s. Now in its fourth season, the show’s viewership hours are estimated to be in the billions. 
  • In 2020, Variety spotlighted a D&D campaign run by Joe Manganiello (Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, True Blood) with a who’s who of famous geeks including Vince Vaughn and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. 
  • Steven Colbert has bragged about a first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide he had signed by Gygax in 1979 and has even played guest dungeon master (think referee + storyteller) on the popular YouTube show, Critical Role
  • A new D&D (Honor Among Thieves) fantasy film from Paramount Pictures starring Chris Pine and Hugh Grant is set for March 2023.

Zoom in: Daniel Aleksiejczyk is a local dungeon master for a game of D&D with six friends around Charlotte.

Flashback: Although it’s a story that he’s been developing for four years, the current game has been running since 2021.

  • Daniel posts his games on YouTube and engages with followers through Patreon, TikTok and audio podcasts.
  • A playlist on his YouTube Channel walks beginners through the basics of D&D with a tutorial on making your own Player Character (called a “PC”).

Daniel calls his D&D club King Leo — and the name comes with a fierce backstory.

Daniel says he struggled with mental health and even contemplated suicide before finding meaning in an unexpected place.

“I came out of that season with a worldview that was tested, studied and ultimately life-giving and meaningful,” says Daniel. “All of the traits that I felt were a part of me that pushed me through that season and kept me focused rather than giving up — I then conceptualized that into a lion,” memorializing the victory in his life with a tattoo.

Now Daniel talks of the joy it is to bring the world he created to his players.

Zoom out: In D&D, you decide your backstory and who joins on your travels. And with the hope that when that life is over, in the words of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, “If you’re lucky, the events of your campaign will echo in the memories of your players long after the final game session is concluded.”

Bottom line: For now, it seems, the geek party is here to stay. And a place like The Temple’s Edge is rolling the dice on that idea.

D&D
The world Daniel created is called Kambus—a war-torn land made by the art-loving goddess, Valessa. Photo courtesy of Daniel Aleksiejczyk

The Temple’s Edge is open Sunday 12-8pm; Monday 3-9pm; Tuesday/Wednesday 2-9pm; Thursday/Friday noon-9pm and Saturday 9am-9pm.

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