I know a lot about Dungeons & Dragons for someone who has never really played Dungeons & Dragons. My husband has been playing D&D since he was about 10; his group of friends has been playing together since high school, switching between various roleplaying settings from classic D&D to Pathfinder and finally now to Exalted. They frequently play at our house, so I know many of the details of their campaigns, and my husband loves telling me about the adventures their characters are having.
Not to mention I’ve read a lot of Forgotten Realms books, including stories featuring Elminster and Drizzt.
And yet I’ve only played with them a few times (not for lack of encouragement from my husband). Even though they are my friends, too, I just felt really intimidated about starting to play a type of game that they’ve been playing for half their lives. (I was really intimidated by MMOs at first, too, and I would still never play SWTOR with my husband’s friends.)
I finally got a chance to change that last month and really see what all the fuss is about with tabletop roleplaying games. One of my coworkers wanted to try her hand at running a game (or being Dungeon Master aka DM in D&D parlance), so she got a small group together at work and we successfully completed a one-shot campaign!
We started with one session of character creation. Our DM brought some pre-made character sheets, so I started with one of those and then did some customization. My character is Temerity, a lawful neutral Tiefling Warlock. Tieflings are a race a wasn’t previously familiar with; they are creatures who made a deal with a devil (in my case, The Fiend) in return for great power. Temerity was previously a hermit, prefers logic to emotion, and is willing risk much in the quest for knowledge.
We did a “point buy” system to pick our stats. My main stat was Charisma (I took Intimidation), and Strength was my dump stat. I like playing magic users (like my Jedi Consular healer in SWTOR), and I was looking forward to the challenge of roleplaying Temerity. The other characters in the party were a half-elf ranger, a drow rogue, and a bard.
Our DM had picked a one-shot for level one characters called The Happenings at Barralon Manor (the setting info is all online if you are interested in running it, too). All our characters began as members of the Ducal Investigative Service (DIS). We were called to a small town by the mayor to investigate some mysterious disappearances at a manor house there.
Our first combat, a face-off with some zombies, was a little slow as we all figured out which dice to roll, but pretty soon we got the hang of it and it became second nature. As a warlock, I was using d10s a lot to roll damage.
When we finally reached the manor, we were attacked by a flock of birds. I didn’t think the combat was going well; if the whole party wasn’t going to die, then I certainly was. So after taking a few hits, instead of making a stand, I bolted for the manor door. Luckily it was unlocked! In retrospect, I probably should have warned the rest of the party that I was going to do this. But they got the message pretty quick, and we got through mostly unscathed (I did have to pull the bard’s body through the door after us; luckily I had the Medicine skill).
The DM did a good job shepherding us through the story, as well as just going with the flow when we did the unexpected (like bolting for the door). At the beginning of the story, for example, we came across a family murdered by the zombies, and none of us had any interest in going after the children that had been left alive. We went back to the tavern instead.
At the end of the adventure, my character got to have some extra fun. Temerity had discovered a powerful temple to an evil deity during her hermitage; it seemed to me that the big bad was trying to locate it, so she took his notes and burned them. Although this was a one-shot, if we ever play the characters again that could have some big implications.
And who knows? Maybe we will play these characters again. I don’t have a lot of time at all for gaming right now, but we all had a good time. I would definitely be interested in playing D&D in the future. It really was a lot like playing a video game RPG, so I think my experience with SWTOR helped me enjoy this experience, too.
Do you guys play tabletop RPGs? What’s your favorite campaign setting? (Yes, of course there is a Star Wars setting, but I have yet to find anyone interested in playing it with me.)