Leveled-Up My Nerd Cred

I’m finally playing Dungeons & Dragons.

My interest in playing started several years ago, out of nowhere. Like many things I become interested in, I just stumbled onto it. While I knew it existed, it wasn’t in my wheelhouse as a kid. Then again, I was raised by parents who lived through the “Satanic Panic” so it’s not surprising I was never exposed to it or any other role-playing game.

What turned me onto it recently was podcasts. In search of audio dramas and fun story-telling, I came across The Adventure Zone. At the time it was deep into the story, but I took the time and binge-listened until I was caught up. In this show, three comedian brothers and their charming dad play D&D together. It’s a wonderfully funny podcast and it was their newness to the game, the improvisation, and camaraderie that that made me say to myself, “I’d like to try that!” Sadly, any time I brought it up to friends, I got a lot of, “Eh, that’s not really my thing” looks and responses. I was, however, not in a comfortable position to run a game myself, so I’m sure that didn’t help matters.

That led me to start learning more about how to really play, but it became overwhelming so fast thanks to my wonderful un-diagnosed anxiety. My brain scrambled at the thought of having to adapt to decisions people were making. I walked away, having spent a good amount of extra money on books, systems, and dice. (Oh my gravy, the dice!)

A year ago I was invited to play by the owner of a game store I frequented before COVID was a thing. He mentioned that they met weekly and were just starting up new sessions. Interested, I joined and showed up to my first session ready to play – my character had been rolled, dice had been tucked away, and my notebook and pencil were ready for note-taking.

Upon entering the store I met two dungeon masters, neither of whom were expecting me, but were happy to have me join their respective groups. Unfortunately, neither seemed keen on bringing new players into their campaigns. One had an elaborate home-brew adventure ready to go and the other was starting Descent Into Avernus, but had no idea what kinds of players he needed… because the book hadn’t been released yet.

The first “session” was a bust that involved me rolling a brand new character and meeting potential co-players. Also, I had my first, um, sense of what Comic-Con would be like, if you catch my meaning.

I didn’t let that stop me, though! I returned the following week to meet up with the group and see what hellish adventure my new DM would have for me!

An hour later, we had our group together after waiting on three new players to roll new characters. While I understand that this may happen, it just felt like everything was all over the place. I was ready to play, so I was more impatient than normal. Finally, the adventure was starting!

As we began our Descent Into Avernus, things seemed to be going OK. Some players were well-versed in the rules and had played campaigns before. Some, like myself, were new and hesitant to really get in and do anything. Then there were those who either thought they were the DM or couldn’t care about anything going on, including when it was their turn to do something.

Yes! One gentleman decided it would be better to sort his Magic: The Gathering collection while playing and had no clue what was happening!

Once we had slogged our way through things, the first real session was over. I was upset. This was nothing like I expected, but I didn’t want to just call it off after one time. I wanted better and, who knew, maybe Magic Boy wouldn’t be there next time? Lucky for me, I had a work trip planned, so I wouldn’t be able to make it. I decided I’d think about it.

Yeah… I didn’t go back. As someone who has anxiety, being with a bunch of new people made me very uncomfortable and I couldn’t be myself.

Time went on and I tried again to get friends to play. Again, nothing solid came from it, but a few were mildly interested if I was going to run the game. In theory, I could do that, but in reality: [Insert more anxiety here.]

Now, over a year later, I’m finally playing Dungeons & Dragons with other human beings and I’m having fun! While COVID may have kicked some of us down, it may be the number one reason why I’m getting a chance to play. With the Roll20 website, I’m able to join the group from Playing Games with Strangers and not only weave a fun, improvised story while slinking around as a rogue, I’m getting to know people I’ve only talked to through Facebook comments or listened to on podcasts over the last few years. In fact, all of the players in the group are voice actors for Supersonic Pod Comics, one of the projects I’m involved in! That’s how I was able to be a part!

It’s been fun so far and I think it’s only going to get better as I continue to play and get to know the people and characters. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be releasing new episodes of my own RPG podcast in the near future? We’ll see!

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