I’d also like to contribute my experiences with starting out with Dungeons & Dragons, like Zak has done. My first endeavor was to learn how to play DND online. DM Patrick attracts a lot of new players, so we’re sort of making this a string of “my experiences with starting DND.”
From Noob to Someone Who Almost Knows What They’re Doing: My Experience with D&D
Where to start? I guess I’ll try the beginning (original I know). I had been in several IRL groups over the years, with friends that I had known for differing amounts of time, but no campaign going further than 5th level.
Some campaigns fizzled out due to player or DM interest dropping, and one straight out died because of party conflict/PVP that would have inevitably ensued. I know I’m not alone in this; apparently it’s quote common. Therefore, I decided I wanted to give long-term D&D a fair shake, but couldn’t find people near me to commit to it like I wanted to. Enter the Internet, where a friend from work told me to check Reddit for their r/lfg subreddit to find a group.
Finding DM Patrick
I hadn’t sent too many messages before stumbling across Patrick’s post and I sent him a Discord message showing my interest in joining his table. He sent me an interview questionnaire, which I thought was a bit more professional than I had expected from some stranger on the internet, and I was a bit hesitant to answer for fear of “wrong” responses. After a bit of discussion, Patrick told me that the application was mainly to scare off the less-devoted players, there were no wrong answers, and that his system nearly guarantees continuity.
I’ve now been playing with the same group (with a few of the originals leaving and returning) for almost 18 months now, so it seems to work. We seldom miss games, and it’s been a pleasant surprise compared to what I was originally expecting from a group of strangers.
I was SO bad at this. Having only played the stabby, “easy” classes before (i.e Rogue and Fighter) that my friends had helped create, I was under prepared to make my first actual character. I wanted to try my hand at magic, as I would hopefully reach a fairly decent level and finally get some cool spells I had only heard of before. I decided Sorcerer seemed fun, and Divine Soul would let me help my friends if needed; so, I went with that.
I made my background that of a traveling lawyer, only recently having awoken to my magic powers through a catalyst I discovered. I worked with Patrick on tying my character to the lore of the world (Lost Mine of Phandelver), and had a lot of fun later on when my backstory stuff shined through. I did try to give myself Elven chain by accident, not realizing:
- 1) I couldn’t wear armor as a Sorcerer
- 2) It was high level and magic (not something I would have).
- I took too many flavor/role-playing spells at first.
- Not that there’s such a thing as too much role-play here with us, but I was advised that I might want a damaging cantrip for when those precious spell slots were depleted.
- I also put a pretty low score in CON, which didn’t help my max HP any.
I still loved Corlanann all the same, even getting an artist commission of the character and a PC specific re-skin of a 3rd level spell. Patrick let me change Melf’s Minute Meteors to Corlanann’s Compact Comets with cold damage instead of fire. He ended up accomplishing his goal, and while I didn’t continue on with him, I easily could have if our group had kept going together.
Learning the Game
I spent a lot of time early on reading the Player’s Handbook (PHB) and Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGtE) for my subclass as well as familiarizing myself with as much of the rules as I could. I could definitely tell over time that I was taking less time on my turn. However, sometimes a plan I had mentally would need adjusting based on the flow of things. Choosing spells was an uphill battle for a bit as well, since I needed to know what all my options did before I picked that lucky one per level (because yeah, Sorcerer).I also had to get used to playing a Charisma based class, since I had to come up with things to say that may actually be convincing a NPC – effectively changing the course of the battle or story entirely.
I got the hang of it by the end, and felt that I was able to handle most situations well enough to reflect my character. There were a couple of times I managed to help talk us in/out of places, and it was super impactful on my confidence as a player. Having a group and a DM willing to bend things and go with the flow really helped. Eventually, when I got enough of a handle on the game, I learned some of my friends’ classes/abilities as well so that I could help them along the way.
I had no intention of telling anyone what to do, but now and then I could remind someone of a cool thing they could do, or discuss it with them before the session. One of my favorite things that we do as a group now is discuss things (anything) after the session is over. I think a lot of the group enjoyed it, and it brought us closer together in the gap between weekly sessions. Part of it is my personality, and the rest of it is the people I learned the game with originally. I’m a self-imposed “rules lawyer,” but I don’t call people out when they “break the rules.”
Evolving As A Player
I like having fun within the rules, because without them I would be at a loss with all the things available in a game like D&D. Playing with Patrick has softened my staunch position on rules somewhat, as the “Rule of Cool” can sometimes make things much more fun than it would have been otherwise. I still find myself falling back into old patterns, and I definitely have a slight mechanical lens that I view the game through, it’s just how I am. I don’t argue my points with Patrick most of the time, and really only need his initial ruling to move forward in most cases.
I sometimes still confuse the effects of restrained/paralyzed/stunned when I have abilities that afflict them, but I have a much better grasp on things after having played consistently for the year that I have. It’s been a great time, filled with laughs, friends, and some emotional moments. The world feels alive, which I can only credit to Patrick, and I really enjoy being a part of it. I still consume a lot of online D&D content, and hope to try my hand at the other side of the DM screen soon.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and Roll Up a New Character!
Share your experiences, the joys, stress (I hope not), and horror stories of your first sessions or even joining other groups in progress. I’d love to hear from you.