The Adventure Begins
Welcome. My name is Menelin. I am a Wood Elf. If you’ll take the time to speak with me, you will know that I possess a caring heart. I’ll commiserate with you and your current plight. You’ll open up to me, and feel a comfortable connection between us.
And that’s what I want you to feel. I will say what you need to hear, be the listening ear you need, and steal your coin purse while doing so. That’s what a Rogue does.
Truly, I don’t care if you trust me or not, or if you like me or not, or even if you care or not. All I care about is me. Well, mostly.
The only person I do quasi-care about is my friend, the human cleric Ailsa. I call Ailsa ‘A’, because human names are so odd. She once saved me when I needed saving, and that isn’t very often. My weapons are quite reliable, thank you very much. But, there are times. So, I’ll stick close to her when I feel like it. A has another fan that sticks closer to her than I do. Elspeth, a half-orc with a pleasant enough outlook on life. But don’t piss her off. I picked her pocket once and the other half of her lineage, the barbarian half, let me know that she’s not as easy-going as she appears. I’ve been made to swear to never do that again. It wasn’t that difficult an oath to take, as I’ve grown fond of my head and didn’t want it caved in.
A hangs out with a gnome wizard by the name of Nyx. Not sure why. The little thing wants to test for magic in everything! If we pass a rock that catches her eye, she wants to stop and test it. So frustrating. But, like most things, there are benefits. On occasion those rocks do hold a magic trap, and I have to admit she was right. Not out loud, of course.
Then there’s Nimue. I try not to stare when she’s around, but she is one sexy beast. A full elf, she’s chosen the path of Ranger. She can shoot a fly off of an orc’s claw, and leave the finger intact. It’s part of the reason I don’t carry the bow. Why should I? When she’s around, I look like a child playing with an oversize toy. Even my hand cross bow, which I’m quite proficient at, seems ludicrous. I only use it when Nimue’s not around. She encourages me to continue my practice with it, but I’ll stick to my daggers. Only then, if my rapier won’t do the trick, I’ll use the cross bow. But that’s rare.
The five of us have gathered for a festival in this small town. They’re to dedicate a church that had been built to replace the last one, which had burned to the ground. That’s why we find ourselves in this little hole in the wall bar, enjoying one other’s company.
Then we heard the screams…
IRL, I am 55 years old with two grown sons. Each of them have married, and now have children of their own, who know me as Nana. It’s a great life, but Dungeons and Dragons may become my new obsession.
My original introduction to the game was three decades ago. My young boys would gather around a table with a varying group of friends once a weekend. Being a busy mom, I couldn’t give too much attention to the details (busy with laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, the norm), but every so often I’d stop my weekend chores to listen as my sons played D&D with their friends. It sounded like childish make believe to me, and I got back to work. I let the whole phenom go by, with the belief that it was only for the kiddies.
Flash forward thirty years. My eldest, Al, now runs a podcast called For Geek’s Sake, and he wanted to play 5th Edition (the current vernacular of D&D) with a group of newbies for an upcoming show. I volunteered, partially certain that I was not the demographic he was looking for. But, I figured, what the hell?
To my astonishment, he did ask me to join four other ladies (more in his age group, but diverse none-the-less) for a one time adventure.
Al was the Dungeon Master (DM) for the game. He counselled each of the noobs individually as to their class, race, background, alignment; he helped us to develop our personality traits, ideals, flaws, all of the information one would need to enter into this realm.
Everything except how to play the damn game.
As a writer, I’ve created many characters. I’ve been complimented on the dialog I’ve written between each one, in that they are so well defined you could ‘hear’ them speak. I pride myself on that point. However, I’ve never gotten so into a character as to allow it to become me. That is where this type of game is different. You become the character. I now understand that an RPG is a player taking on a persona as an actor does on a stage. When I write, I get into all the characters heads. When I play D&D, I only get mine. What I’m saying is that the loss of control isn’t lost on me.
The night to play finally arrived, and we gathered at the designated place, slated to play from 6pm to 10pm. A few were running late, so the start time got pushed back. Who cares with a glass of wine in one hand and a group of ladies all looking forward to something we’ve never done before?
Our DM had an assistant, which is purportedly unusual. But, we had been told that an average adventure could run for weeks and weeks, and this was to be a one night undertaking. It would help move things along if he had a backup DM. Daniel would be the ‘Assistant DM’.
As it turns out, Al was an accommodating DM, trying to assist the noobs along the way. He took the time to explain things that, in a regular game, a DM would not do. Daniel, on the opposite end of the table (and spectrum), made our characters work for the progress made. We even believe he might have changed things mid-game to make the paths harder. I think it was to balance Al’s more giving nature. Either way, it worked.
By the time the adventure had drawn to a reasonable conclusion, the time was closer to midnight than ten. Everyone had a blast, and we all wanted to play again. The adventure had left a few loose ends, and we wanted them tied up.
The five of us race from the bar. Goblins are attacking this peaceful celebration. But why? And how? This small town is actually a fortress, surrounded by a wall twenty feet high, with only two access gates. How did this many goblins get in? Irrelevant, for the moment. They’re here, and the townspeople are terrorized. Since there’s no easy way out, I draw my short swords.
My first thought turns to A. The human is next to the gnome, and they seem to be doing well enough with their magic on the two goblins they face. I glance toward Nimue. She holds a hatred for goblins beyond the pale, and that disdain shines through her eyes as she draws her bow. As an afterthought, I glance toward the orc-barbarian, deciding that being behind Elspeth may be the safest place. While I do well with my weapons in a flash and fly, I am not terribly good in open combat. However, I can hide almost in plain sight.
My decision proves worthwhile. While Elspeth crushes the goblin before her, I dispatch the one trying to sneak up behind, who never knew I was there. Until my blade protruded from his gut.
The entire battle took less than ten seconds. We find ourselves standing alone in the now-empty town square, breathing heavy, and nodding to one another our good fortune.
Then the sheriff approached us…
The proceeding scene took forty-five minutes to orchestrate. The ladies and I took our turn rolling dice to determine how close we could get to the goblins, if our blows landed, or even if they managed to hit, and to what degree, hurt us. Everything came down to the roll of the dice.
That, my friends, is the beauty, the allure, and the addiction of Dungeons and Dragons.