Review: Dungeons & Dragons

I’ve had people telling me I should play Dungeons & Dragons for quite some time now, but I didn’t get around to it until just a couple weeks ago. My coworker/friend and I started chatting about a campaign she was working on one day, and I was quite taken with her tales of adventure and laughter so it didn’t take long for her to say “you need to come play, lets set a date!”

She started teaching me the basics at work (a perk of my job is sometimes getting paid to do stuff like this), and I was even able to make my whole character there—of course with a lot of:
“is this okay?”
“is this how I should do it?”
“should I include this?”

Then we got together, ate a lot of Reese’s cups, and did the dang thing! So now I can review my very first experience.

First of all, quick shout out to my brother, who got extremely excited when I told him I was finally going to play. He gave me some tips and sent me off with a whole Starter Set box so I could feel nice and prepared. I also picked out a notebook and some multi-colored pens because I just had a feeling this would be an activity that could scratch my note-taking itch.

I played with my friend as the DM (Dungeon Master), and her boyfriend as my… teammate? I’m not sure of all the terms for everything yet so bear with me. The DM creates the world, writes the stories, puzzles, monsters, etc., manages the NPC’s (non-player characters), throws the curveballs, and basically makes all the rules in the world. As far as I can tell they balance about a hundred million things, and it impresses the heck out of me. The players create their own characters with all kinds of different attributes and back stories, and decide how they want to proceed through the world and all the adventures.

We did what’s called a one-shot so that it could be just that session if I didn’t like it, or it could become a full campaign if I did. Spoiler alert: it’s a campaign now.

The character I created is a Bard named Maize. Bards are, in the words of Wikipedia, “centered on the idea of accessing magic through some form of artistic expression.” I know, I know, I’m so predictable. She’s magical, musical, charismatic, she has silver hair, and I.. kinda love her a lot. I was SO EXCITED to pick out my instruments: Birdpipes (if you know me, you know this one was obvious too), Songhorn, and Wargong. That’s right I said a WARGONG. I am exactly that cool.

I hadn’t come up with a back story yet when we got together, so when the DM asked I was kinda like uhhh… she… sold herself into servitude as a child to keep her family from starving and… when she finished her debt she went to go back to her town and find her family but… everything was burnt to the ground and the only thing she found was a dagger… with a mystery word on it… and she’s been searching for the meaning of the word and the truth about what happened to her family ever since?

The DM was like I love it, and now I have an idea!

Her boyfriend’s character (who I just found out is not called a teammate but a “party member”) is a Barbarian named Runuun. He has a pet lizard and an axe that, interestingly enough, ALSO has an unknown word on it. When we met for the first time we saw that the words on both of our weapons started glowing when they got near each other. We met two other NPC’s with weapons of the same nature—Aspen, a Cleric; Mara, a Warlock—and so our initial party was formed in all its glowing-mystical-word glory.

We were presented with a quest: go investigate and take out some deadly force that was controlling a forest in which 30 people had gone missing so far. Of course we were like oh heck yeah, let’s freaking goooooo. Rations were being paid for by the quest-giver so I tried to get 55 of them but apparently they have weight to them and I wouldn’t have been able to carry them all? So I was shot down. My first D&D heartbreak.

We played a dice game called Baldur’s Gate in the carriage on the way to the forest, and I just found that so charming and delightful because you have dice so you’re actually physically playing the dice game yourself. I don’t know why this is so endearing to me, it just is. I won the first round, which we bet no money on, and then lost the second round after putting in 10 silver. Such is fantasy life.

~Brief interlude about dice~
I had no idea there were other dice besides a d20. I’ve heard d20 a lot in my life, but imagine my surprise when I found out there are actually SEVEN in a set: d4, d6, d8, 2 d10’s, d12, and d20. All for different things. Wild times.
~Now back to our regularly scheduled programming~

When we got to the forest I had my first experience with battling and dice rolling to make things happen and it was AWESOME. I took out carnivorous plants, stealth sprinted away from some giant spiders (that’s where all 30 people were by the way, nice and snugly wrapped up), investigated things, got my first Nat 20, and ended up at the center of the forest where we met the Big Plant Boss. I tried to use this spell called Hideous Laughter (another thing I’m just tickled about), failed, but then used a sleep spell twice and ultimately, I was the one who killed him dead. In the words of Hamilton “pride is not the word I’m looking for, there is so much more inside me now.”

When we got back to the quest-giver, she paid us money and we learned what the words on our weapons meant:
My dagger: Ancient Nightmare
Mara’s horns: Leviathan
Aspen’s staff: Seven Hells
Runuun’s axe: Othrad

We still don’t know what Othrad means, but Runuun revealed that he accidentally released 6 demons and has to use his axe to catch them all. He caught one so far but has no idea where the rest are. And… there are 4 of us… with 4 connected weapons… but there are 6 demons… so there must be two more weapons out there somewhere. DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN.

And that’s where we stopped for our first session!

Boy, did I have fun. It was so immersive—we spent 5 hours doing that quest and it was like no time went by at all. I really enjoyed playing my character and making decisions based on what her motivations would be, who she is as a person, her backstory. It wasn’t overly serious and I laughed a lot, though I imagine that part varies and is heavily dependent on the personalities of the other people playing (for example one of my brothers tried D&D once and quit forever because he had a DM that killed him with wolves for trying to do a backflip).

One thing that surprised me a little bit—and that I’m definitely bad at—is the conversational aspect of it. I had the gist of going on quests and fighting monsters and stuff ahead of time, but I didn’t realize that we’d be having full blown actual conversations where I had to think of appropriate things to say and questions to ask and answers to provide. I think that is probably the thing that will hang me up for the longest because it feels a bit strange. Attempting to jump into the character to that degree definitely brings out my hella awkward side. But I’m told it’s a thing you can get better at, so here’s hoping.

Other than that, I don’t have any complaints. I really enjoyed myself, and I look forward to carrying on and hopefully playing with other people as well. I ordered my own set of dice on Amazon as soon as we finished, and I can already feel the urge to collect more different styles getting out of hand so… I’d say I’m in it now.

I will give my first experience, and D&D as a whole, a 19.5/d20

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