Dungeons, Dragons, and First Encounters: Part 2

My last post got a little sidetracked. I somehow got caught up in explaining the “why” I decided to try out this role playing game called Dungeons and Dragons rather than just describing the experience of it. Sometimes I do that. I get lost in my own mind, and there is a whole “why” backstory to that too, but I will spare you further ramblings on that subject. Let me just get this freight train back on the rails and see if I can salvage what’s left of my audience and/or dearest friendships.

The group coordinator, who I will call D, told everyone to meet at the comic book store at 1pm. I tentatively committed to being there and spent the time leading up to that Saturday in a constant flux between excited anticipation and morbid dread. The night before, I was so nervous, you’d have thought I was having major surgery in the morning or something. But with a little bit of moral support from my equally socially aversive online friends and having already made arrangements for my boys, I boldly made my way to the store.

I purposely left a little late because I did not want to be the first one there. I am always awkward when I am out in public alone. It was only about ten after when I arrived, but I think D was already irritated by the poor turn out. The store was fairly crowded with several groups playing various other games. I scanned the room with the nervous realization that I had no idea who I was looking for. Finally, I spotted a couple likely D&Ders close to the back of the store and headed that way. Luckily, they were the ones I was looking for, and as I approached D recognized me from my Facebook profile picture.

He greeted me in his gruff booming voice with, “You must be that girl from Facebook whose name starts with a ‘T’?”

I smiled, “Yes. I’m Tela.”

D laughed. “Oh! Like He-Man! But I bet you’ve gotten that your whole life.”

I sat down at the table between D and another guy who I will call The Engineer. Both of these guys are very experienced D&D players, and both of them immediately started explaining the game and how this particular set up works.

I’m not going to lie, this was kind of an intense experience. D&D is a complicated game. It is basically story telling with active participation. D is a very blunt individual, and he was not shy about explaining his own expectations of the group itself along with the rules of the game.

Like I mentioned before, D was a little irritated that nobody else was there yet, so after the opening pleasantries and basic rule explanations, he asked The Engineer to continue teaching me about the game while he went off to post inquiries on Facebook and get the “equipment” for the game. The Engineer started explaining the characters and classes, how spell casting works, and showing me how all this translates on the character sheets.

Basically, D&D is story telling with active participation. Each player creates a character based on categories called “classes.” Classes are the basic description of a character’s ability and play style. The very basic ones are Wizard, Cleric, Bard, Barbarian, and Rogue. Classes are the most important defining element of character creation, but once that is established, players are free to personalize their characters in countless ways. Each player decides the gender, race, name, and even backstory of his or her character, and the more involved this process is, the more interesting the game becomes.

Like any story, D&D requires a narrator. A voice outside of the action that moves the story along. In D&D that voice is called the Dungeon Master (DM). The DM’s job is to describe each scene, keep track of where all the monsters, dangers, and characters are, clarify situations and rules, help determine if actions by players are possible or successful, play all of the monsters, and basically hold everything together. The DM is the most important player in the game.

I sat there for an hour as these two guys bombarded me with all of this information, but not just the broad strokes. The Engineer is a detail oriented guy, and he got lost in telling how D&D is played on a national level and the nuances of spell casting versus rituals. While D just continually railed about how we weren’t there to “be friends” and everybody is going to have to step up and DM if this Saturday group was going to work. To be honest, the shear amount of information being thrown at me coupled with D’s anti-socializing but pull-your-weight attitude was overwhelming me before we even got started. I mean, part of the reason I was there was to hopefully make a few friends and how am I supposed to DM when I don’t even know the difference between a “constitution check” and a “death save roll”?!

Sheesh! Calm down, fellas!

Thankfully, two other guys showed up. J, a very “Big Bang Theory” kind of guy, and R who looked like Al from “Tool Time” and sounded like the Jolly Green Giant. Once everyone picked their character and got their score sheets, we actually started a game.

Our party consisted of:

The Engineer-Wizard
Engineer’s daughter-Bard/Cat-person
J-Barbarian/Half Orc
R-Fighter-like a Barbarian
D-Dungeon Master

The game itself was tons of fun. D is a good DM, if not a little impatient, and The Engineer was very helpful in explaining what was going on, which die to roll, and how to apply all the modifiers. I still don’t know how or when to do all of those things, but I think I was starting to get the hang of the flow by the end. I mean, I managed to kill an ogre by jumping on it’s back and stabbing it through the eye, and as Jeff so graciously pointed out after I got home later that evening, I was still alive at the end of the session, so it was a good day!

Hey, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while!

All in all, I had a really good time playing D&D, and despite still feeling a little apprehensive about it, I am going to keep going back. I don’t know if this will be my next new all-consuming hobby or just a phase that’s grown out of loneliness, but either way, I intend to enjoy the adventure.


Dungeons, Dragons, and First Encounters: Part 1

Do you know what I did last weekend? I played Dungeons and Dragons for the first time ever, and it was so much fun!

Yes! You heard that right! It was fun!!! Just settle down and let me explain….

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a comic book store in a shopping center I often frequent. I really don’t know why I had never noticed it before, but when I saw it, it caused me great distress because I knew I was going to have to go in there.

As things in my life have changed over the past couple of years, I have become friends with nerdy people just like myself, and with that, has come a huge renewal of many things I used to love but hadn’t really expressed in a long time. That may sound a little vague, but it’s the truth. See, I loved Dan dearly, but he wasn’t really a nerdy sci-fi person. So, over the years much of my sci-fi fanaticism had been toned way down. But then, life changed direction, and suddenly I found myself connected with people who like all the same nerdy stuff I do. To be honest, I didn’t even think people like this really existed! But here they are….on Twitter…..the introvert capital of the world. And now I am….surrounded by friends who know even more about science and Star Wars and superheroes than I do! It’s totally awesome!

Into this newfound world of awesomeness steps, Jeff.

(You know….Jeff….? I’ve mentioned him before…..my best friend…..my gaming buddy…..my “chemistry” partner *wink wink*….. *Sigh*…..Jeff…… a complicated story…..that I am not going to get into right now.)

Moving on….

Jeff and I have spent countless hours discussing everything from Star Wars to politics, pets to personal tragedy, and everything in between. Somewhere along the way, he mentioned that he plays Dungeons and Dragons (or other similar role playing games) with a group of friends on a regular basis. This revelation was intriguing exciting. Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) has always been almost mystical to me. I had heard of the game, but I really didn’t know anything about it. I had certainly never been around anyone who actually played it!

Jeff’s D&D experience made him even more alluring, but I think looking back on everything, he probably didn’t realize how interested I really was. I mean, I don’t exactly get “excited.” And I didn’t really know enough about the game to even ask questions, so I’m afraid I just came across as uninterested or bored. (But I wasn’t, Jeff! I really wasn’t!)

As a matter of fact, D&D was part of our first date. Jeff and I met in real life for the first time in Atlanta, and that is a really long drive from where he lives. By the time he got to the hotel where we were meeting, I had already been there for a while, so he didn’t really have time to decompress. Basically, he walk in, we said hello, brought his stuff up to his room, and went to the hotel cafe to eat. I didn’t really think about how flustered he probably was. I mean, I was nervous too. This was our first date, and I was worried that I was going to blank and be tongue tied. But fortunately for me, Jeff’s nervousness translates into talking a mile a minute! And do you know what he talked about? Yep. His D&D group. It was so endearing, and I had so much fun listening to him. It was during that conversation when I knew I was already in love with this man.

Now I’m going to take a moment to talk directly to Jeff for second. So the rest of you just look away for a moment. I’ll be right back.

(Jeff, I’m sorry if any of what I’ve said bothers or embarrasses you. That is certainly not my intention. Nothing I’ve said here should come as a surprise to you, and it does not change the current situation. This is simply my truth, and I can not talk about D&D without talking about you. The two are very intertwined in my mind. I really hope you understand.)

Ok. I’m back. The point I was trying to make before I got sidetracked with blissful reminiscing is that Jeff is the reason I started to think about playing D&D in an actual real way. Before him, I guess I figured people played it, but I didn’t know anyone who did in real life. So, I started asking Jeff about his gaming sessions every chance I could (without being a pest), and one time we even watched Wil Wheaton (you know…that guy who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation) DM (Dungeon Master) his own D&D session on TV (yeah, we are that cool 😂!).

Now fast forward to a couple of months ago. Like I said, I had stumbled across this comic book store, but I didn’t go in. I had never been in a comic book store before, and the thought of going in there was very intimidating. I decided to check them out online, and it turns out that this store offers a lot of different gaming nights, including Magic the Gathering, X-Wing, and Dungeons and Dragons. I joined all the Facebook groups.

It still took me a while to work up the courage go into the store, but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised. It was awkward at first, but eventually, a female employee struck up a conversation with me and put me at ease, graciously answering many of questions. She even said she would tell the administrator of the D&D Facebook group to approve me (it’s a closed group and I hadn’t been accepted yet).

The next hurdle was the D&D group itself. They meet on Wednesday nights, but Wednesdays are not possible for me because of church. I wasn’t sure what to do. I almost went one night when church was cancelled, just to see what it was like, but I couldn’t work up the courage.

I started thinking this probably wasn’t going to happen and maybe I should give it up or try one of the other games when one of the guys posted on the Facebook page that he was willing to get a Saturday game going if there was enough interest. I knew this was my way in, so I responded to his post. He set up the time for everyone, and I took my first step into the world of Dungeons and Dragons!

This has turned into a longer post than I anticipated. I think this will have to be continued…

I really hope you come back to hear the rest of my story.