I’m going to go ahead and accept all the credit for this, by the way. Obviously my highly influential and powerfully worded post last week lead to this decision. Cause I’m an influencer. Yes I am.
Yeah, okay, it was actually one of those other guys I mentioned in that post that made you think this sounded cool, but come on, I need a win here guys. Give me this one. Just acknowledge that I made you a better person, and we can we all move on, even thought I’m obviously a needy, whiny jerk.
Gonna give you content anyway, even though your being that way with me. Cause I’m magnanimous, and frankly, my humility is what makes me better than other people.
Yes, I’m a riot at parties. Or would be if I ever went to them. Too many people for my taste.
All that aside, let’s talk about a few thins you need to know before you sit down to play your first game of Dungeons & Dragons. Trust me, you’ll thank me later for all these things. Like, for real this time, instead of in my sarcastic implication way.
I may have a few self image issues to work through.
A quick note. This isn’t really going to be about character building, though I will probably do a post on that soon. Rather, this is just about things to keep in mind if you are new to the game, and sitting down for the first time with either friends, or more likely, one friend, and a bunch of complete strangers.
Trust me, I’ve got many years experience with this thing, so I already know, it’s most likely a bunch of people you’ve never met before, at least one of which looks like a very large Hobbit of dubious origin. If you will trust me slightly more, I can promise that what happens next will be slightly less stressful, or at least, you will not be the cause of the stress.
Probably that Hobbit looking dude will be, though.
First Important Thing!
It is incredibly tempting, when playing D&D for the first time, to try to do everything. This is because the game is basically the ultimate sandbox world, where you can literally try to go anywhere, and try to do anything you can think up. Once this really sinks in, most peoples first reaction is to literally try to do everything.
Don’t do this. It’s annoying as hell.
D&D is built around the class system, which means that every player has a specific role in the party. If you are playing the heavy armor wearing, great sword wielding Fighter, do not try to stealth like the Rogue. Do not try to out talk the Bard. Do not try to tame every animal you meet like you are a Druid. Or a Ranger. Or just a really weird pet obsessed person.
Pets die super easy in D&D, guys. Leave that heart ache to the Druid and Ranger.
Unless you are the Druid or Ranger, in which case, your new bear cub is super cute, and I’m sure nothing bad will happen to it.
Point is, everyone has a job in the party, and the game is designed to let everyone do their job. D&D is not a single player game, but a cooperative game, which means you have to actually cooperate with the other players, which means letting them do what they are good at, while you do what you are good at.
So, if you are the Fighter, then your job is pretty obvious. You hit things. A lot. Really hard. Focus on that, and maybe being kind of intimidating, or just less likely than most Fighters to stick your hand in an ooze to see if it’s dangerous. I’m sure you get the picture.
God, please get the picture.
Also, for the love of all that is holy, if someone in your party identifies a creature as a Rust Monster, and you are a Fighter, DO NOT HIT THAT! Nothing good comes of it. Those things are what Wizards and Sorcerers are for.
I mean, I guess Warlocks, too, but who cares about those guys.
Second Important Thing!
Following on the heels of don’t try to do everything, is knowing when to let your fellow players have the spotlight. Once more, this is a cooperative game, and if you have a good DM, there will be something for everyone to do. Know when to step back and allow that to not be you.
I mean, sure, your Half Orc Barbarian, The Furious Thong, probably can bust down that door. She’s big and strong, and has a great axe named Buttbuster. Without a doubt, she can bust down that door.
Please don’t do that. Let the Rogue do their thing. Cause odds are, that door is also trapped, and while you are showing off, you are gonna get your whole party killed.
Much like running around the battlefield trying to cram healing potions in everyone’s mouths, instead of busting heads. You have a Cleric for a reason, and unless they are just terrible at their job, can do the healing, even if you have hoarded a hundred healing potions, just for this possibility.
Speaking of which, spellcasters who have healing magic, please use it. Again, unless you are a Cleric, you are not well suited to tanking a fight, and should probably hang back a few steps, hitting whatever with ranged attacks or spells, and keeping an eye out for when one of your friends is looking rough.
It all comes back down to that whole thing about everyone having a role to play. Play your role, and you will have a much better time than if you are trying to be the star of the action movie you are imagining yourself in.
This especially applies to when another player is having a moment of character importance. A meaningful talk with a family member, or loved one, or maybe just trying to get information out of a contact. There’s a lot of times when another player is going to be doing something important to their character, or even to the overall story, and it isn’t you.
That is not the time to shove in and announce that your character is visiting their favorite prostitute, and eating Chinese take out. Yes, that has happened in a game I was part of, and it’s super disrespectful, so don’t be that person.
Third Important Thing!
This is just a game. Don’t take it personally.
Truth be told, this is one of those things that I often see people having a hard time with. Another player is running a character who has opposing views to yours, and this leads to big out of game arguments, hurt feelings, and a lot of stress that simply doesn’t need to exist, because this is just a game.
Sometimes, your character dies, and you may feel it wasn’t fair. You get mad, and let everyone know it. Again, this is just a game. Nobody actually died.
Yes, it is easy to get attached to your character, and care about them. Having them die in a meaningless, or stupid way, is intensely frustrating. It happens. It sucks, but it happens. Getting mad at the DM, or the other party members for not preventing it doesn’t help. It just makes things worse.
Here’s what I do when this kind of thing occurs. I step away from the table, let myself be angry, and then come back once I’ve calmed down, and either wait for my fellow players to try and resurrect my character, or start thinking on what my new character will be.
Ultimately, this is just a game. Whatever else it can be, and how it can affect your life, your thought processes, or how you see yourself, it is important to remember that it is just a game, and some things aren’t worth getting upset about, much less risking friendships over.
Fourth Important Thing!
Make a character that seems fun to play, but do not try to play Naruto.
Or any other character from anime, television, film, or books. Not because it breaks the game, but because I can promise you, you will end up being frustrated when it is not immediately as cool as you want it to be.
For this, I’m gonna give an example of a player I had in a game I DMed, who wanted to play a Warlock. This player chose a Demon as their patron, and decided it would be Demigorgan, who is basically the King of the Abyss, a two headed tentacle monster with a split personality, and the most powerful demon in existence.
That they promptly tried to treat as if it were Sebastian from Black Butler.
This went poorly.
Largely because this is not how Warlock Pacts work, but also because this is D&D, not an anime. Not to mention, Demigorgan isn’t big on being told what to do by a measly mortal slave. Frustration ensued for the player, when they basically didn’t get to be Ceil Phantomhive, and have Demigorgan dispatch all their foes because they wished for it to happen.
This is the same player who also wanted a vampire boyfriend, by the way, cause some people still can’t let Twilight go.
It’s fine to draw inspiration from things. Especially when it’s your first character. That’s pretty normal, really. Just try to bear in mind that your Fighter isn’t going to start the game as Rambo, even if you name them Rambo.
They’re probably gonna be more like Mr. Bean at first.
Just, ya know, don’t make that your goal, either, cause wow. That’s not gonna go well.
Final Important Thing!
Don’t be a dick.
Everyone is playing D&D to have fun. Try and have fun with people. Even I can manage it, and let’s face it, I’ve got all the social skills of a rabid honey badger hopped up on cocaine. Be respectful to your fellow players.
This means, in short, that if you are the Rogue, do not steal shit from your fellow players characters, cause That’s What My Character Would Do. If that’s the case, then your character is a dick, and so are you for making a dick character. Don’t be a dick.
Another way of saying it is that you having fun is not more important than anyone else. Ruining the experience for everyone else just to be an asshole means you probably won’t be playing for long, cause the other people in the group won’t likely put up with that crap.
To rope the other stuff on this list in here, this also means playing your part. Don’t be the Fighter who refuses to get in a fight, cause you don’t want to today. Don’t be the Wizard who casts area of effect spells that also hit your own party members, cause you want to get more XP than anyone else. Don’t hoard treasure, or healing potions from the party.
Be a team player. That’s the point of the game. Cooperative play kind of sums that up, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t seem to understand what that means, and try to be everything on this list, all at once.
Don’t be that person. Be better than that. Cause you can, and I know you can.
Well, I assume you can. For all I know, you that filthy Hobbit sitting at the far end of the table.
Don’t even look at my magic ring, asshole. I know how that ends, and I am not gonna try and save you from a volcano. You’ll be getting what you deserve.
I can be a dick. It’s like, my whole personality.