My love for tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) did not take the conventional path. As the only child of a single mother, my resources were limited. However, we were able to afford cards, which I would deal out to each imaginary player and makeup games to get them to interact. My RPG journey was winding. I had no idea that there were games where the “winner” was simply the people that actually played the game as cooperation and camaraderie were the goals.
While I played cards alone, moving around to each player’s hand and making their choices based on what was best for them at the time was really the only thing I knew how to do. There was always a winner. There were always many losers.
I have a highly competitive streak, which would not allow me to play many games happily. Yet, I was compelled to continue through softball, track, etc. Losing would create strife and simply wasn’t any fun for anyone playing. So, I quit. I refused to play anything by the time I was in my first attempt at college. The feeling of disdain for the idea that there always had to be “losers” was intense.
“My RPG journey was winding.”
Before long, I met a man. He had his Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) books squirreled away on the shelf on the off chance that someone would eventually want to play. I had spent my entire life distancing myself from my natural propensity for being a nerd and eventually fell in love with one. We joked about his “dork books” and how I would never understand that world. Time passed as we had kids and lived our lives under the pretense that I simply wasn’t interested.
Then, it came. The question to beat all questions.
“Can we try D&D? If you don’t like it, no big, but just try.”
My heart dropped. The cost of materials and fear of competitive based rudeness was immense. But of course, I said yes. A hard-core Whovian and embracing my natural geek, I no longer felt a need to hide or avoid things based on what others may think. I was up for just about anything.
“…only stress came from a concerned thought for each…”
We chose D&D 4th edition as our introduction to the world of tabletop RPGs. Then, it happened. I rolled up my first character. From the very first dice roll, I was in love with more than just the man. I was in love with the idea that we could learn, love, leave, and lose together as a team, and my RPG journey officially started.
We had very few friends in our tiny area and none interested in playing with us. So, just as I did as a child, I laid out my characters (4 to be exact) and played each one in turn. The only stress came from a concerned thought for each: “will they or won’t they?” survive the battle. Is there a trap under the stair. A gelatinous cube around the corner. A peace came over me as I finally understood that I could just roll up a new character with all new traits and his/her own story. It could be a chance for a new beginning and new adventures.
This feeling began to extend to other games. My competitive nature was evolving into a need for the joy of the challenge.
“What you rolling up?”
Eventually, we would play several times a week, and as his birthday approached, I felt he needed a break from being the DM and came up with my own story. I was terrified as I don’t have the mind for numbers, memorization, and battle. What I do have a mind for is story. I found that the more story I told the more story that came. There is a back and forth between friends that characters build on what you have to create amazing things.
When D&D 5th edition (5e) was released, we quickly snatched it up! While in the middle of rolling my first 5e character, I took my new book and PC to a restaurant, because why not? The host seating up sat down “What you rolling up?” We were shocked and have been playing together ever since.
I now have 3 games that I DM, 2 games in which I’m a player, and a love for the game. I may be relatively new, but what I lack in experience, I gain in enthusiasm. You don’t always have to follow the beaten path to find your passion. Sometimes, it finds you. Just be ready when it does.