Whether you’ve seen it in an episode of Big Bang Theory or Stranger Things, you may have uttered the words, “I’ve always wanted to try playing Dungeons & Dragons.”

Indeed I have said that phrase several times in my life but like many, the idea of entering the lair of some hulking beast breathing fire upon you and having orders barked at you by a barbarian was daunting to say the least.

The biggest “turn off” for me was that I had no clue about the lore of D&D. How was I to enter this mythical world with little to no understanding of the history and how the game has been moulded since it was first published in 1974?

This year after visiting the DeeTwenty Geeking House I made the decision to start playing this storied game that has become ingrained in pop culture.

After playing two sessions of five to six hours each, I am hooked.

The journey of a thousand feet

The realm of D&D is new to me but thankfully I had some experience with games and the jargon that is used so entering my first dungeon was not the “fish-out-of-water” experience I thought it might be.

The lore, as it turns out is not all that hard to follow either, at least when you have an understanding Dungeon Master who makes you feel comfortable enough to ask questions.

That comfort however disappeared when the folks in my group started dropping terms like “2D20” and “strength check” and “coffee”. Oh wait, that last one I understood.

When those terms started being thrown around I felt out of my depth and clearly it showed.

My cohorts stopped their bickering and began explaining what they meant by the terms. A D20 is a 20-sided die, the prefix of two is how many you need to roll. Simple right?

This was the moment that I knew I wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons. It wasn’t the prospect of taking down a dragon with a character that I had forged and battled with for hours but the promise of camaraderie and friendship.

I was then faced with the prospect of creating a character. This is by all accounts an intensive task and I say that because I never actually created my character.

The first time I played D&D I arrived late and our party of adventurers were eager to get questing. I was faced with the prospect of not having a character or hurriedly rolling a character with terrible stats.

“You can use one of my characters if you like,” one of my teammates told me. “He’s really strong but his intelligence is a bit low. Oh and you’d be my half brother”

“So I’d be an idiot is what you’re saying,” was my response.

“Well he’s more Conan than Forrest Gump,” my teammate told me.

And that was how I became Decmius Ferrus Vulpi, a 7ft dragonborn Barbarian wielding a greataxe at the tender age of 18.

There are a variety of ways to play D&D, the most common of which is a piece of paper and a pencil. We however, are not stuck in 1974 and there are a variety of apps you can download for your smartphone, tablet or PC.

I use Squire because my party suggested it.

The app allows you to roll attacks, and stat checks without the need for dice and everything is stored nicely on your electronics.

For a beginner like me it’s a really useful app that gives you everything you need at your fingertips and our Dungeon Master is kind enough to allow it, for now.

Give me a quest

We entered a dark cavern and were faced with a choice, go left, or go right. The smirk on our Dungeon Master’s face told us that which ever route we chose was bound to be filled with obstacles.

After careful deliberation we decided that the left corridor was our best bet.

It wasn’t.

We triggered a trap that slowed our party to a crawl and as we slowly rounded the corner there stood a hulking white dragon who wasted no time in bringing the majority of our party to their knees with a powerful ice breath attack.

The healers in our party quickly set to work. First our damage dealers were brought back up to fighting form and then the others in our party were revived so they could cast supporting spells.

The dragon proved to be a fierce opponent and unlike in video games there is no health bar to gauge how long the fight will last. Instead you just need to lay into the beast, checking to see if you can attack it and then rolling a die to see how much you’ve hit it for.

We threw everything we could at that dragon until it got annoyed with our presence (or scared, dragons are incredibly hard to read) and escaped through the ice, leaving nothing but an oversized fishing hole for us to look at.

We rejoiced. In fairness we had not defeated the dragon but together – as a team – we had survived the attack.

We took our loot which included leather armour for me, gold for our party and gems that our Cleric needed. We also happened to find some valuable scrolls that the council who sent us into the cavern were looking for.

As we trundled back towards town to tell the council of our achievements I looked around the table and smiled. I had just spent my first six hours playing D&D and I am no longer Brendyn Lotz, I am Decmius Ferrus Vulpi dragonborn warrior. Hear me roar!

Next week: Our band of plucky adventurers set out to find Varram and his white dragon mask.


[Image – CC BY 2.0 James Bowe]