Hello. My name is Chase, and I am a recovering Dungeons & Dragons snob.
I used to be one of the folks who would pooh-pooh any mention of D&D, avoid people who played the game, and bought in to the many stereotypes that dog the hobby.
I guess you could say my problem started about 15 years ago, right after I graduated high school. I hadn’t really heard of D&D or any other tabletop games growing up. I lived a very sheltered life on a farm with no real access to the internet… or malls… or friends. But I digress.
Anyway, as I started my college life I gravitated naturally to the D&D groups and individuals on campus. But there was something rubbing me the wrong way – they weren’t too accepting of “newbies,” folks like me who didn’t know a d20 from a hole in the ground.
In one session I was fairly overwhelmed by terminology, explanations and rather rude dismissals of my questions. Those that weren’t excluding me were examples of your stereotypical D&D player – living off pizza and soda, playing all day, all week long, to the detriment of their social and work lives.
I was effectively scared off of D&D and from that point on if discussion steered towards the game, I shut myself off. “If this is how D&D players are, I want none of it, thank you very much.”
Fast forward in my timeline to about this time last year. My husband has been a D&D fan from a very early age. And since the time we started dating, he’d insisted I give the game another try. I tried every excuse in the book. Too busy, too confused. I won’t fit in; they won’t like what I would do. Etc., Etc., Etc.
Finally, on this one September weekend, I broke down. “Fine,” I said. “Tell me how to get started.”
He took me through the process of making traditional rolls for a new character. Strangely enough, my wheels started turning. “What kind of backstory can he have?” I asked.
“Anything you want, really.”
I explained my idea: I’d overheard that in their campaign, he and his friends were fighting this crime family that had stolen his character’s recipes for potions. What if, I suggested, my character had been abducted and turned into a test subject for these potions?
We brought it to our DM and with a few modifications to the idea, it passed muster. From there, it was as if a faucet had been turned on – I knew exactly what my backstory would entail, and I started writing. An hour later, I had a four page monologue ready to go on my debut game session.
I was later told by my fellow players that I had gotten some of them in the gut – there had been some emotion I pulled out from my character’s story. And as each game session progressed, I found myself pulled in to their stories.
The wall had come down; I finally understood what this game is all about. And all my perceptions and misconceptions about the game dissolved. And I’ve been having fun playing almost every weekend for a year now, with many more years ahead of me.
I hope more people who dismiss TTRPG players just set those notions aside and play – or even just watch – they’re sure to get something out of it.
Chase is a writer and D&D fanatic that turned his first character into the subject of a new book series: Abel Mondragon. Other geeky obsessions include obscure TV history, cooking, painting (walls) and finding an appropriate Simpsons quote for any situation.