Why I gave D&D/Pathfinder a second chance. And why maybe you should too.

Those of you who may know me personally are very well aware of how big of a nerd I actually am. I’ve collected comics, played video games, cosplayed, and even roleplayed as some of my favorite characters for years now. But one of the things I was never all that into during the prime ‘nerd discovery’ years of my life (read: high school and college) was Dungeons and Dragons. My entire college circle of friends played every single Friday night. They would gather up their sheets, dice, and snacks from the dining hall and take up one of the free common rooms in the dorm for anywhere from five to ten hours a session.

Nobody ever seemed to mind. They kept it relatively quiet, and people rarely used the room on the fourth floor anyway. It was like clockwork though. And I would always find myself sitting alone back in my room surfing Tumblr and binge-watching crappy anime on Netflix instead of being with them during their sessions. Why? Because it wasn’t my thing.

Or so I had been led to believe.

When the idea of me testing out the game was brought up, the group’s DM was very enthusiastic. And I mean very enthusiastic. I thought that was a great sign! Right away, he threw a bag of dice and the rulebook at me and we sat down and got to work. He helped me roll out a character sheet in a few hours, and was helping me hammer away at a backstory, but it wasn’t sitting right with me.

He kept pushing the math and calculations part of the game, playing up the intense combat and dungeon crawling. His story was only half fleshed out and not that original, so it took me a while to get into character. I gave it a good first shot, and tried to learn the rules as fast as a novice could. And by that, I mean slowly. There was a lot of “Wait what?” and “Could you explain that again?” happening that night, and he just had zero patience for it. He lost his temper with me and a few other players about questioning some simple roll, and that was the end of it for me. I realized that he was far more interested in the strict rules and the technical side than the story of it.

So I did what any rational player would do. I killed off my character in her debut session by having her swan-dive off the top of a pirate ship into a raging whirlpool and proclaimed that I would never play the game again. All in all, it was pretty beautiful despite the circumstances.

Fast forward six years. I remained friends with these folks past college and we are all mostly doing the adult thing. The original DM no longer lives in the area, so they were trying to get a group back up and running with one of our other friends at the helm. Knowing my love of story-telling and high fantasy, he came to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of his new campaign. Reluctantly, I told him I would give it a shot. After all, he knew my frustrations with the game.

This friend was an absolute saint to start with. He sat me down and did what a good DM should to help me make a character. As we went, he explained why each choice was a good or bad one. He asked why and where I wanted to put certain stats and bonuses. This DM broke it down in a way that was easy for someone new to the genre to understand. It took a few hours since we were making two new characters, so I had him over for dinner with me and my boyfriend and we spent the rest of the night essentially play-testing things.

The story was original and well-planned, with a nice mix of combat and roleplay rather than a full on dungeon crawl. From what I’ve seen, he has an easy way for us to slide into the campaign and is willing to actually walk us through the first few combat sessions when we get there without rushing us.

Our first campaign session was in December of 2016, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of this ragtag troupe.

It took me six years, but I finally realized that I never had an issue with the game as a whole. The mix of chance and story provides a good improv opportunity for people who like to be creatively challenged, and the battle planning lets the more strategic friends get their kicks in the same way. No, I did not hate the type of game or the lore. I hated the DM. And because of that, I missed out on the past six years of game nights and potential good times, all because I thought that was the only way to run a game.

So if you’re contemplating it, I say do it. Go on Roll20 or facebook or wherever and just look for a group near you that is open and willing to teach newbies. And if your first group doesn’t work out? Try again later with a new one.

It will be well worth it. I promise.

2 thoughts on “Why I gave D&D/Pathfinder a second chance. And why maybe you should too.

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