From WoW to DnD
I have always prided myself on my geeky nature. My family is made up of geeks; one of my favorite pictures of my brother and me has him sitting at our old Commodore 64 while I sit in a chair beside him. I can't have been more than two or three at the time.
It came as a big surprise to Corey, then, that I had never tried Dungeons and Dragons. It wasn't my choice. I had always wanted to give it a shot, but I never could find the community for it. My friends at the time in Virginia were heavily into PC/console gaming but not so much into anything that required roleplay. After moving to Chicago, it fell off my radar after I discovered the wonderful and, admittedly, highly addictive world of MMORPGs.
When Corey and Lisa suggested that we try a DnD campaign as a family, I felt a strong mix of trepidation and excitement. Finally, my chance to try tabletop gaming! New worlds would be ours! We would come together as a family under a big geeky banner! Live roleplay!
Yes, that was what got me. I have been roleplaying on forums, over instant messaging, and in World of Warcraft for almost five years now. I love words, I love characters, I love creating histories, and I love losing myself in someone who is everything I am not. But the thought of doing this live, with people looking at me, was something altogether different.
I am socially awkward at the best of times. I have a tendency to slur my words together when I get flustered. Now I was being expected to not only learn how to play a game that was completely unlike the MMORPGs I had been playing, but to act it out in real time. This would be scary enough for someone like me, but to do it with my immensely creative and talented brother watching me was something beyond terrifying.
I created Daegerwin, a Tiefling thief with a big floppy hat and a silver tongue. She was heavily based on a night elf rogue I had roleplayed in WoW for about a year, making her a little more comfortable for me to start with. My biggest piece of advice for people who are afraid of live roleplaying is to make someone extravagant. It is easy to be over-the-top - at least it was for me - but being someone "normal" is considerably more difficult, as I would find out later.
Our first adventure was fun from a roleplaying perspective and a little frustrating from a gameplay perspective. DnD is a lot like Diablo (or the other way around) but considerably unlike World of Warcraft. I found myself trying to apply WoW rogue principles to my thief and getting frustrated when they didn't work or weren't possible. Then you have the multitude of dice and modifiers and stats and feats and powers and wait, is that encounter only or at will? Do I have any action points left? What does a saving throw do, anyway? Which dice do I roll this time? You want me to do math?!
You get the point.
Somewhere near the middle of the adventure I realized that I really was not enjoying the thief class. As my friends on WoW can attest to, I have a serious "altaholic" problem. I want to be every class all the time. There was a little of that in my decision to let Daegerwin get arrested and jailed, but also I am just not much of a melee player. I never have been. Casting is near and dear to my heart, but as my niece Lydia had desperately wanted to be the mage, I backed off for her sake. Flipping through the Player's Handbook, I happened upon the cleric. A couple of weeks later, Carreth was born.
I wanted to test my limits with Carreth. I felt better about the gameplay aspect with him; I have always loved to heal and I work well as a support class. What I was really testing, though, was the roleplay. In retrospect I don't know what possessed me to make that harder on myself, but hindsight is 20/20, etc. I made him a man, first of all, because I wanted to see if I could roleplay a man convincingly. He is also charismatic without being over-the-top like Daegerwin was. The downside of this, at least in the beginning, was that he was downright boring. I went too far in the non-Daegerwin direction and everyone agreed he was a complete yawnfest.
Corey and I conferred and tried to work out how I could make him a little more interesting. We eventually agreed that Carreth ought to be a bit of a conspiracy nut, since followers of his deity, Ioun, specifically are always on the lookout for followers of Vecna. I took him a little to the extreme there on our next adventure by having him think practically everything was cult-related, but he was infinitely more interesting. I can work with that.
Now, here we are at the beginning of our next adventure. I am looking forward to it. Corey is a fantastic, slightly obsessive DM who makes the experience enriching and interesting. The game gets easier the more I play and the more familiar I become with the mechanics. I continue to learn what I won't do the next time…
…when I convince Corey to let me retire Carreth and make a bard.
© 2013 Corey Ehmke. All rights reserved.