UNL student immerses in Dungeons and Dragons

On Sunday evenings, Lincoln native Garrett Bussen is Valtress, a battlemage formerly known as Valtrose before a trip to a discount magic shop gave him gender-changing armor.

Every other day of the week, Bussen is a senior criminal justice major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Bussen plays the character of Valtress in the game Dungeons and Dragons, although he prefers to say he still plays as Valtrose, not wanting to accept the current storyline.

“It’s a fairly exciting story,” Bussen said. “It’s like reading a book or playing a video game.”

“I need armor that will better protect me,” Valtrose says.

“Let’s see what I have,” the shop-owning goblin says. “Yes! Here you go, a new plate of   armor that will make you stronger.”

Valtrose puts the armor on and immediately changes into a female. She now fights a darkness destroying the land and anyone that comes across it.  As a battlemage, she uses combat magic to defend the group and defeat enemies.

Dungeons and Dragons is a tabletop role-playing game in which a group of players run created characters through an adventure created by a dungeon master. The players enter a fantasy environment in which they battle armies, discover loot and complete quests. They interact with the environment by role-playing interactions with the dungeon master and rolling dice to determine outcomes of different situations.


Bussen prefers to immerse himself in fantasy worlds like D & D and worlds in PC games rather than reading about race and ethnicity in criminal justice. He has always played video games and enjoyed reading fantasy books. To him, these kinds of games offer an experience to play out an enjoyable story that is different from his day-to-day routine.

Bussen began playing D & D when a former co-worker introduced him to the game. The group he plays with now are mutual friends, including UNL students Megan Hoyt¸ who plays Nyasa¸ and McKenzie Martinez who plays Cyra. Both play because of their love of fantasy-themed worlds.

The group plays at Bussen’s house for about three hours each Sunday, pending work and homework. The story is run by a dungeon master who has been in the game for 15 years. In their current story, Bussen’s character, Valtress, is looking for information on the darkness and its capabilities for a king, King Remlik.

We have bad news for you King Remlik,” Nyasa says.

 “What has happened?” King Remlik asks, afraid to hear the answer.

 “The darkness. It has destroyed the whole city. We saw it burning as we left. Piles of ash    is all that is left of the houses and everyone is dead. There are bodies everywhere,” Nyasa explains.

Bussen said the group tries to keep their gaming sessions light and fun, joking around in and out of character. Dungeons and Dragons has brought them together to enjoy a shared hobby.

Bussen graduates in May and looks forward to a career in law enforcement and plans on continuing to play D & D; he doesn’t see his love for fantasy games fading anytime soon.



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