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Last year, I was invited to join a Dungeon and Dragons campaign that my friend DMed. It seemed like fun and a way to stretch my imagination, perhaps even learn a new skill (or genre in this case). After agreeing, my friend patiently worked with me on creating a character, but that was not necessary as I ended up taking over one that had already been established. After a couple of months, I joined a new campaign and created my own character for the first time. It was a rush, even for a writer who produces more than 3,000 words a day! After a recent session, it finally dawned on me, I am no longer terrible at role-playing.
In this case, I don't mean role-playing with a partner, that I've done quite effectively. No, instead I mean that I have found my footing in the role-playing world. In this campaign, there are only three of us plus the DM. From the beginning, I knew that I would have to step up and be more of a participant than I am in the other campaign.
The very first session for this new campaign, my character became the center of attention for all the wrong reasons—story wise. My friends were telling me what a bad decision I was making, but I argued back that it was entirely in character for him to make this choice, and we all expected my beloved character to be killed. Thanks to great dice throws by me, and lousy ones from the "enemy" not only did my character live to see another session, but I began to feel more confident in my ability.
After the session, my friend and I met up and talked about the meeting. He praised me for being able to justify the decision and keep everything intact with my character. It was an improvement that he had been watching since I took over the character in his campaign. Praise from him made me even more confident that there was a breakthrough happening and maybe I was finally getting the hang of how this worked.
That was short lived though, in the latest session. My character took HP hits, which is not a big deal. The issue was the DM said things like "nine piercing damage," what the hell did that mean? Since I didn't know, I just marked it as damage and figured if it was wrong, someone would correct me. No one has, so I'm keeping the theory ... For now.
What this all means is that with practice, anyone can learn how to play these games. I am far from perfect or even knowledgable about the inner workings of the games, but now I have a handle on making character decisions. I feel confident enough to do this despite protestations of friends who have been playing this for longer than I have known that the game existed. That is slightly exaggerated, an ex played the game, but even then I never paid attention to it.
One day it is certain that I will be able to act with a lot more confidence than I do with my characters now. But the progress that has been made, including creating a character who falls into trouble so much, is just the beginning. Because of the enjoyment that I get from playing, I have started forming my first fantasy book series, and have talked about DMing myself. That talk was more of an, "I won't do it" but it was still talk, and it counts. Maybe. Sort of? I guess. Hopefully, in the next session or campaign, I continue the winning streak of growing and learning.