Friday, August 7, 2015

So you want to play Dungeons and Dragons...

But Julio! – you say- I’ve never played Dee Enn Dee before! What’s an Arr Pee Gee? You make it sound so fun and epic and I wish to learn more!

Well, my friends there’s a many ways I could describe how you play D&D (or any other type of tabletop RPG). If you can get together with some friends and play, that’s the best way to learn the game. You need at least 4 (maybe 3) people to play the game, one of which needs to act as a Dungeon Master. Groups could be bigger than that, although I would advise you to keep your groups below 6 or 7 players.

Basically, you and a group of friends will get together, and play out a story. One of you will be the "referee" or "judge", and the rest of you will play a part in the story. You will most likely use dice to determine how good your character is at doing the things he or she does, and you will keep your character's skills, strengths and weaknesses on a character sheet.

Before you begin:

You should have a character creating session with your group, in which you will decide what type of hero or adventurer you will play. I'm assuming you already have the core book(s) for the game you want to play, these should have enough information for you to make the character you want to play.

After making your characters, you and your friends need to agree on what type of game you want to play. If you leave this up to your DM, that’s fine, but it always helps to give him an idea of what type of story you’d like to play. Or what type of story your characters are going to be involved in for the duration of your campaign or adventure. Keep in mind that an adventure can take months, and a full-fledged campaign could take years to complete. So make sure to tell your DM what makes your character want to be an adventurer. 

Now, with that in mind, here’s some tips for when you start playing.

Fun fact: My mom was actually a pretty badass cleric in one of my sessions

Be present

The most important thing to remember when playing a tabletop RPG, is to pay attention.
Pay attention to what your DM is saying. He’s describing the world around you, the actions of the people around you, and repercussions of those actions. Failing to pay attention to the DM will cause him or her to have to keep describing everything over and over again to you. After a while, this becomes tiresome both for the DM and for the other players, it slows the game down. And, as you will soon know, slowing the game down is the first of many things you should avoid around a gaming table.

This should go without saying, but you should also pay attention to what the other players say. They also play a (major) part in the story, just like you. So, in the same way that you want people to listen to how great your character is, you should listen to how awesome their characters are.

Know your character

Look, everyone gets a free pass for the first few sessions. But if it’s been 4 months, playing twice per month, and you STILL don’t know what you should roll to hit with your weapon/spell/skill then your friends are going to start to hate you, and eventually you might notice that your character will be the focal point of all the enemies’ attacks (hint hint, your DM hates you too).

How do you avoid being that character? Well, get invested! There are books that cover game mechanics that could help you get familiarized with the game, but if you ask your friends and pay attention (See: Be Present) you will have no problem remembering basic game mechanics after a few sessions. And if your DM brought paper and pencils, you can also make quick notes on the “Notes” part of your character sheet. 

You could also grab a separate piece of paper and keep a personal journal for your characters. Your Dungeon Master is (or should be) absolutely obsessed with office supplies by now. So ask for a few loose pieces of paper, a pencil and a stapler and boom, you now have a character journal, which should help you out when trying to keep track of several details within the game, character traits, equipment, plot points, you name it.

And Finally:

Be nice
No one gives up 4 to 6 hours of their weekend to have a bad time. Be nice to the other players and your Dungeon Master.  This is a group you will be meeting for several days a month, and you guys should be able to at least get along. I’m not going to give you a list of things you should or not say around a tabletop RPG table, because common courtesies and good manners are learned at home.

If you’re nice, you’ll see how more and more people will want to have you in their games.
If you’re a douchebag, your DM will eventually take you aside and politely tell you that he and the other players don’t want to play with you anymore. On account of how much of a douche you are.

That’s it. Everything I just wrote can be summarized in three simple points: Pay attention, know your character, and be nice.

Now that I’ve given some basic tips for new GMs and players, I’ll leave the the next topic open to you guys. Last time I got two awesome and very creative suggestions for future posts. “cat herding” and “What do I do if my players want to be murderhobos?”

I think I'll address these suggestions/questions in a post where I'll talk about dealing with certain kinds of players. Until then, I hope you enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons, or any other type of Role Playing Game, and as always...

Thanks for reading