I play D & D now. What a nerd!
D & D night was last night, so I thought it might be a good time to check in with some first impressions on the game and on attempting to role play in general. We’re still in the very early stages (and had to miss a couple weeks due to various party members taking real-life awesome vacations!).
I was nervous about role playing from the beginning, mostly because I had never done it before, but, logically, I thought I had the potential to be good at it, because I write and am pretty good at making up stories. In reality it’s very, very different. As different as writing poetry and writing fiction, I suppose. I take a long, long time to write the latter (expect my first novel in 2020, oy) while the former just kind of come out all at once when I find a topic I want to write about. The story never bothers me with fiction, it’s how to express it in fiction form.
I had the same problem in real life, especially when I was a teenager. I used to sit silent for a long, long time in a group conversation until I finally thought of the “right” thing to say, and how I thought best to say it. It was always a race with my brain and my self-consciousness to see if I could squeak out whatever comment it was before the conversation around me moved on to something different. Role playing is, at best, off the cuff. I can riff with my buddies now for sure, but making decisions and coming up with dialogue and figuring out how you’re supposed to interact with multiple people, NPCs, and the world around you? Well, I’m back to spending a lot of time sitting quietly and figuring out a good way to interject, at least so far.
Basically, I think of the way to play the game (for everyone playing, including the DM) as essentially trying to engineer everything that a role playing video game typically engineers for you, while simultaneously trying to make your own decisions and nudge things to happen as you go along. The DM keeps the players fenced in a bit, so that we don’t entirely lose the thread of the plot, but there is a TON of freedom. On top of it all, you have to deal with several other thinking beings’ decisions and actions as well. Again, I’m going to go back to the fiction vs. poetry comparison. Obviously poetry can be about anything the writer wants, but there are many more limitations as far as form and amount (although, if you’re writing epic poetry on the reg, that goes by the wayside). There are also, typically, fewer “characters” in poetry to have to worry about, and since poetry is so much about language rather than plot, you have a lot more control over how those characters come across. I’m not saying a novelist has zero control over their characters, but there’s a certain point at which the character characters need to do certain things to make the plot work or to make other characters react in a certain way or say certain things or observe certain things. Also, because fiction has more room, more length (unless you’re writing microfiction), its expected that you’ll go the extra mile to flesh out all the characters with lots of description, actions, dialogue, etc.
The “problem” I had going in is, I am a sensitive soul; a good actor, but, when I’m not “actively acting,” I can’t keep my emotions out of my face, hands, shoulders, words, etc. The last couple times we met, I think I broke through my tendency to start feeling things personally. Sounds like a therapy session, but there you go… So that at least has been improving!
We also just did real combat for the first time. I was afraid it was going to be boring, and it wasn’t. I had thought it’d be simpler, and instead the combat mechanics felt totally foreign to me. I was surprised at how long one encounter with like 6 goblins took, jeez. It was, actually, a little easier to concentrate on throwing some well-chosen role-playing bits in there while also fighting, rather than having to focus on role-playing full time.
As I continue improving – I hope – and the story moves forward, I’ll do a little update here and there.
Lastly, I made my character barf, always a good bonus!