Confessions of a newbie Dungeons and Dragons player
By Tanya Logan
I have only played Dungeons and Dragons a handful of times. In fact I just phonetically spelled out dungeons so that I spelled it right. I was not born geeky, I married into it. My geekyness has progressed by joining fandoms such as Doctor Who and playing online role-playing games. The next logical step I took in my geeky journey was trying out Dungeons and Dragons. While it seems like D&D has become a lot more accessible, it still remains a rather complex game to play.
When I decided I wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons, my first thought was that I could buy fancy dice. Nay! I had to buy fancy dice! Then I needed to buy pencils, paper, graphing paper, pencil case, miniatures, a binder, etc. Much to my husband’s dismay, I bought a whole fresh set of gear. Then I sat down and opened the player’s handbook. But it was an older book. I think the 3.5 player handbook, which clearly was antiquated. So I bought a new book, the latest version for now. This new version is really easy, or so my husband told me. The book was fabulous to assist in choosing what type of character I wanted but left a bit to be desired for those that had never created a character from scratch. It was fun picking out what race and class I was going to play. I got very involved in creating my character’s story and imagining how my character would behave. But then they went and put numbers in it.
There are many things that a seasoned player takes for granted. When my husband was explaining game play to me I felt very overwhelmed. Figuring out hit points and armor class seemed easy enough until I had to remember how to figure it out on my own. I resorted to making myself a cheat sheet. I noted how much I can move and when I can move. I wrote what my spells did and when I can use them. I also had to write down what dice to roll when. Even more granular, I wrote: “ When the DM says roll Initiative, I roll 1d20+3”. At my first game it was very intimidating setting down my D&D for dummies flow chart in the middle of a room of people that had played the game for over 30 years. I had a lot of anxiety thinking that my lack of experience would slow down the veterans’ game and hinder their enjoyment.
I am not a shy person by any means, but I find myself rather silent for the first part of any game. I have no fear of playing my character, but I do lack confidence in guiding the party and story. I am clearly going to lead everyone into a cave with a killer rabbit. When I warm up a bit I get fully immersed in my character. I still don’t really drive the adventure more than just try to loot things. Playing my character’s personality get’s in the way of playing my character’s abilities. During a moment of silence my husband turned to me and said: “This is a task for a woodsman, since you’re the ranger, you could probably do this.” Ops, I’ll just add that to my anxiety.
While I spend a lot of time concerned with other’s enjoyment, I have grown quite fond of playing Dungeons and Dragons. I still use my cheat sheet every game and I’m sure every new character will bring it’s own uncertainties. When playing with a newbie, remember that obvious things aren’t always obvious to them, that there is no shame in reminding them what they need to roll, and don’t feed them after midnight.
You can further follow Tanya's adventures on her blog Outrageous Amount of Running.