So, you've decided to embark on a grand adventure in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. You're ready to create your first character, and you're eager to dive into a world of magic, monsters, and mayhem. But hold on a second! Before you charge headfirst into battle, let me share with you the mistakes I made with my first D&D character, so you can avoid them and have a more successful (and less embarrassing) journey.
Time for a quick bit of scene-setting:
It's 2020 and I was in lockdown at my university flat. My boyfriend, my flatmate and I were all bored out of our minds and looking for something to do. All the Zoom quizzes have lost their appeal, and you know far too many random facts from all the quizzes you have already done.
Then, my boyfriend offered to run a session of Dungeons and Dragons for us. After getting over my initial worries (more on those below), we ended up having a campaign that spanned several months and had more friends join in as they returned after lockdown.
Now, on to my mistakes
1. Worrying too Much About Picking the Wrong Race, Class or Both!
When I sat down with my boyfriend, the players handbook and D&D Beyond to create my first character, I felt overwhelmed by the decisions. What if I chose a bad race? What if I designed my character badly? What if I wasn't able to portray the character properly?
My head was swirling with all these "what ifs" and worries. I had to be reminded that this was a game and it was meant to be a bit of fun between a few good friends. I wouldn't be "stuck" with this character, and I could always make a new one later.
Now I'm a lot more experienced with how Dungeons and Dragons works and I've created a lot more characters, these thoughts seem ridiculous. I don't want you to make the same mistakes. Yes, some characters might be more suited to some classes than others, but at the end of the day no one is perfect, and having a non-traditional character can be fun!
2. Neglecting the Importance of Backstory
At the time, I thought the backstory was just a bunch of fluff. I mean, who cares about what happened to your character before they became an adventurer, right? Wrong! A well-crafted backstory not only adds depth to your character but also gives the Dungeon Master plenty of material to work with. It can help embed your character in this world you're exploring. Plus, it's a great opportunity to come up with some hilarious anecdotes and quirky personality traits.
3. Stressing Over Bringing My Character to Life
When I started my first D&D campaign, I was so overwhelmed and focused on not disappointing my boyfriend. I thought that the main thing when playing D&D was the roleplaying aspect. My friend is a brilliant performer who was often on the stage in musicals and plays while we were at Uni - how could I possibly compete with that?
Now I know that while voices can help differentiate between the player and the character, they are not compulsory. It can help to do a few solo exercises (questions and such) to get to know your character a bit to allow you to respond and react how they might, but that is entirely optional.
In the end, my character ended up being me but as a Tiefling, which made it very easy for me to think about what she'd do! Now I've played a few more characters I've added a lot of variety to their personalities and behaviours, but that developed with time and practice.
4. Ignoring the Importance of Teamwork
As a newbie, I thought I could handle everything on my own. I didn't need anyone else's help, thank you very much. Well, turns out, that D&D is a team game, and trying to be a lone wolf only gets you so far. Embrace the power of teamwork, collaborate with your fellow adventurers, and watch as your victories become even sweeter.
This "main character syndrome" is very easy to fall into even now. Yes, everyone will get their moment in the spotlight. Some moments might last longer, and some may feel more impactful, but no one is the main character in this collaborative story you're exploring.
5. Forgetting to Have Fun
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I made the mistake of taking the game too seriously. I was so focused on optimising my character, winning battles and gaining experience points that I forgot to have fun along the way. Remember, D&D is all about creating memorable moments, forging friendships, and laughing until your sides hurt. So, don't forget to let loose, embrace the chaos, and enjoy the journey.
There you have it, fellow adventurers! Learn from my mistakes and go forth into the world of D&D with confidence. And if you're ever in doubt about something, talk to your Dungeon Master or fellow players, you'll probably find they've had similar experiences and have some great advice for you.
May your dice rolls be ever in your favour, and may your adventures be filled with laughter, excitement, and epic tales to tell.