I’m not a stranger to fantasy role-playing games, but I’m no expert either. World of Warcraft was a bit of a guilty pleasure a few years ago. That 10 day trial quickly blossomed into a nightly PVP frenzy. There may have been one too many all-nighters, and it wasn’t always because I had a paper due in the morning. I continued to gather geek points in other areas of my life, covering everything from literature to film and television. Never once, however, did I play an RPG board game. Sure, there were plenty of people around who dabbled in Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer, but I was either never invited or I didn’t have the time to attend.
All that was about to change.
“I’m looking for Lou,” I said, stepping gingerly into the dimly lit game shop.
The boy at the counter looked up from under this side-swept hair. “That’s him.”
I turned in the direction the boy had pointed, and beheld my very first Dungeon Master. He led me into a large room full of tables, chairs, and excited gamers of all ages and genders. I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity. Perhaps it was the old stereotypes creeping back, but it was a comfort to see other girls my own age and older waiting eagerly to play.
“So,” said Lou. “What do you want to know?”
I stood in the middle of the room, staring blankly at a group of obviously seasoned gamers. “Um…how to play?”
That got me a muffled laugh from a few of the players, but it made clear my exact level of experience, or lack thereof. They handed me some cards to choose from, each with the details of pre-generated characters. Leaning towards the preferences I had during my time on WoW, I chose an Elven Rogue named Keira. Initial observations:
- Oooo! She’s pretty! I want to be THAT one.
- Dude. That’s a lot of numbers. Numbers are scary.
- I got daggers!
- Tactical Trick, Tumbling Trick, and Backstab? Please and thank you!
Lou proceeded to set up the board, and a few additional players took their seats. I was lucky enough to sit next to an adorable little boy who helped me out the entire night (half my age but double my math skills). They gave me an elaborate set of dice and I picked a figurine to mark my place on the board. There was only one girl in the lot, so I selected a blonde warrior maiden with the complexion of an Oompa Loompa, dressed head to toe in Pepto-bismol pink. An intimidating ensemble if I’ve ever seen one.
The Dungeon Master graciously got me up to speed. Last week, the group had been hunting down a radical religious cult that was poisoning the water supply of local villages. They had killed one of two evil brothers, the lone survivor vowing to resurrect his deceased sibling at a later encounter.
My pink princess was shaking in her boots.
So there we were in an ancient temple of some lost Dwarven god. In the center of a room was a pool of water, flanked by two enemies. One of our Dwarf Berserkers charged, and the battle was on. What happened next was a flurry of awesome sounding actions and whole lot of addition and subtraction. Suddenly, it was my turn, and the panic set in.
I looked to my card, then to my set of dice, then back to my card again. Thankfully, I had a brilliant little boy sitting next to me and a very understanding DM.
“Just tell us what you want to do,” said Lou. “We’ll tell you how to do it.”
I quit worrying about the numbers and started getting into the story, trusting that the calculations would come with practice. I must have had some newbie luck, because the dice seemed to roll in my favor. Frankly, we mopped the dusty temple floor with those cultists, and I dealt some decent of damage. I don’t exactly know how I did it, but my fellow players assure me that I will gain such knowledge in the coming weeks.
Speaking of the coming weeks, here are some goals I set for next time:
- Get a decent miniature and ditch the pink princess. If necessary, do as the little boy did and bring a Lego dinosaur.
- Get my own dice set. They come in all sorts of pretty colors and finishes.
- Find out what the MindHut readers have to say. What do I need to be a Elven Rogue? What should I research? What should I avoid? Help a n00b out!
What's your advice for Allison as she ventures on in the land of D&D?