You may be surprised to hear that, despite my being an avid fantasy reader for the vast majority of my life, I have never much been into gaming and had never ever played the iconic role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons, until last weekend.
We were a group of mixed experience, two of us novices, and, since it appears we’re now going to play monthly (because we’ve only had two skirmishes and haven’t even got into the mines yet), I think it might be fun to chronicle my D&D initiation, er, adventures.
I’m playing a bard. They made me roll the numbers to establish my abilities about 10 times, because they said I had to get at least one score of at least 16… and I when I finally did so, wrist numb from all that shaking, I was left with a low score of 4. (For the uninitiated, that’s BAD.) I somewhat foolishly assigned this 4 to strength (I’m a bard, I sing and perform some magic and talk my way out of situations, don’t you know?), meaning I can only carry 13 pounds… meaning I can’t carry a sword or armour or in fact anything useful, except a bow and quiver, which are only useful from a distance. Nor can I swim or scale walls.
Having a strength of 4 really sucks.
Nor am I particularly skilled at rolling the die. (This may come as no surprise, given my 10 attempts to roll a set of 6 numbers that included a 16 or higher.) A standard roll for me on the D20 (that’s a 20-sided die) is about 7.
I’m going to get my own dice, I’ve decided! A lucky set of polyhedral dice that will roll higher than 16 every time…
The basic scenario we are playing involves an oddball group (bard, druid, ranger, rogue) who have arrived at some godforsaken outpost, armed and prepared to fight (me with my strength of 4), in return for gold. So far we have sneaked ineffectively about town, banded together and headed off to liberate a mine that’s supposedly overrun with goblins. On the way we have miraculously survived an attack by giant badger-like things, in so-doing demonstrating our total ineptitude; but then redeemed ourselves by planning and executing a successful take-over of a goblin-infested fort. Huzzah!
By then it was 1:30am and we disbanded.
But then most of us met up again for our writing group critique meeting the next day, during which we discussed options for our next move: how could we get our druid and rogue healed of their injuries quickly? what strategies would be needed in the darkness of the mine? would the goblins come back to eat us?
And so now we live in suspense until we gather again to resume our suicidal quest…
Overall D&D is a fascinating and fun game that mixes strategy with luck. I’ve heard many authors have based novels on their D&D scenarios, and I can see how this might be tempting. The game master in particular puts a huge amount of effort into creating the scenario for the benefit of the players. Kudos to all game masters.
I spent most of that first session hanging back to see how the role-playing aspect worked. It’s not really a game for introverts, I have to say. But one thing I took away is that you need to be assertive — which I wasn’t. Plus you need to think on your feet. I’m looking forward to the next session, because I think I’ll be considerably more relaxed.
So, are there any role-playing aficionados tuning in to this post today? I’d love to hear about your experiences — tips would also be most welcome. As for fellow novices, do you think you’d ever like to play?