Dungeons and Dragons. The mere words doubtless conjure some sort of reaction. “Devils and Witchcraft”, “Nerdy Time Waster”, “Isn’t that how you get to the Upside Down?”, and “Oh! I used to play that!”
Well, for some time now, my wonderful husband, Will, has been playing the game at a once a month meet up. He’s having a blast, but want the fun on a more frequent basis. He’s convinced my best friend Sidney (also in the once a month group as well as her own weekly group) that she should start up a game. What’s more, he’s convinced two other friends of ours, Tom and Rachel, to play as well. For the record, I wasn’t asked. I was told I would play. Because this is Sidney’s first time running a game, the participant list is capped at the five of us.
Okay, a little background on me. I love playing games. I just haven’t played a role playing game like Dungeon’s and Dragon’s before. Now, when I was little, my mom had a group that she played with. I’ve flipped through her monster manuals and there was a brief stint in High School where we were going to play, but I didn’t actually commit. So I do at least have a general idea of what is supposed to happen. Kind of. I’ve decided to chronicle my experiences with the whole Dungeon’s and Dragon’s adventure for, hopefully, much amusement in the coming months.
The first thing I learned is that there’s a specific language and many acronyms in this game. Here are a few gems that I’ve had to look up just while creating my character:
D&D: Dungeons and Dragons
RPG: Role Playing Game
DM: Dungeon Master (Sidney, for our purposes)
Alignment: This translates to roughly what set of morals your character lives by: Good, Chaotic, Evil, Neutral, Lawful, etc. For example, my character’s alignment is Chaotic Neutral, meaning that she believes that everything changes and her actions can either be good or bad as the situation dictates whereas a Lawful Good alignment would be the character always doing what’s considered good and lawful no matter what. They wouldn’t steal a loaf of bread to feed a starving family, but they would find a way to pay for the bread, if that makes any sense.
Oh, and creating a character! What a process! It took a good hunk of time and mine was relatively low maintenance. Will’s character took hours and I am still not sure that it’s done. There was a lot of consulting the Player’s Handbook and a lot of “Well, what do you want to be? Pick a (race) (class) (background) (alignment) (personality traits) (ideals) (bonds) (flaws).” Once those core things were chosen, then more research was needed to figure out what equipment I came with. Then there was the rolling of the dice for my strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. On top of that, there’s calculations for hit points, armor class, initiative, skills and proficiencies and... (this is the part that, as a writer, I could easily go overboard with) a detailed enough backstory to make the character believable.
I am telling you, creating a character is complicated and there’s a good reason D&D has worksheets to write it all down on. I’d never remember half of this on my own.
So, what was my result? Well? My character is named Distraethra (Dis for short). She is a young wood elf (only 185 or so- apparently they live to be around 700ish) who was abandoned as a small child in a sprawling metropolis. She’s an urchin rogue that will one day develop into an arcane trickster. She owes her survival to a mouse named Khaos (he’s one of the mouse folk... yes that is a thing. As an urchin, Dis came with a pet mouse. As her backstory developed, Sidney said the mouse was too cool not to be more of a character so we modified the stats to an average rat and gave Khaos a character sheet and his own personality traits and backstory). She’s aligned as chaotic neutral and believes that nothing is ever permanent and people who can’t take care of themselves get what they deserve. Her friend, Khaos, is a disgraced folk hero evicted from his village after losing everything to an unjust person. That event solidified his belief that it would be better to serve the agents of chaos instead of good. Why he decided to take on a small elf-child, I can only guess it was a flip of a coin.
I should note that the day after we created our characters, my husband took me to a local game shop to pick out my very own set of dice. Dice, it seems, are a status symbol for RPGers. You can’t just have one set (an average set will range from a d3 to d20). Oh no, you’ve gotta have a couple, just in case the dice are bad. Yes. There’s a thing called dice shaming. Check out the images on Google when you are bored... hilarious. It’s safe to say that Will is excited for me to start this game with him.
Dis and Khaos will begin their campaign with three others in a few days. It’s gonna be an interesting trip.