As a writer and an avid reader of fantasy, it’s no surprise that when I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons I took to it like a Ninja Turtle to pizza. It offers everything books do: escapism, wonder, mystery, drama, horror, romance… but it also offers so much more because you get to be one of the characters. Your decisions affect how the story will develop. You co-create a story with other people (who says nerds are anti-social?).
I thrive in games with plotlines and character development, trials and failures and successes, drama and tension and romance. I spend time creating backgrounds for my characters and leave loose ends for the DMs to twist and torment my character with. I give them flaws and I don’t make them good at everything, because really… what’s the fun if there’s no risk of failing?
I’ve learned, though, that different people desire and expect different things from their games. Some people are in it just for the hack-and-slash, and build their characters in God-mode so they can cut through all foes and challenges in their path. And that’s ok. But it’s not my style, and I’ve been disappointed on quite a few occasions that my well thought-out and developed characters and their backgrounds had no bearing on the games or the future of them.
Differing expectations can cause quite a bit of chaos amongst the players as well. While I’ve never had a truly bad experience, I’ve heard from friends who have. There are those whom I’ve gamed with whose styles of role-play were different enough that I spent most of the sessions annoyed and it just took all the fun out of it. Luckily, I knew when to get out and we’re all still good friends, I just don’t game with them anymore.
Then, back in 2005, some of my other friends from college invited me to join their Exalted game. Now, I’ve always played D&D, and I have anxiety issues with trying new things because I’m afraid of messing things up and making a fool of myself. I was so anxious about joining the game that I almost backed out.
I’m so glad I didn’t. They were the gamers I was looking for. ^.^
They took me under their wings and were patient and helpful as I learned the mechanics. There were various story arcs and each character had their moment in the sun as backgrounds were intertwined with the plots of the game. Our characters suffered and succeeded, failed and flourished. They grew and changed. It was one of the best games I’d ever been in.
Eventually the game came to an end as loose ends in the story were tied and the major plotlines came to a close. There was a break for a while then they picked back up with new story arcs in their D&D game, a home-brew version of the Fareûn realm, that they’ve been playing in intermittently since around 1993. Again, I was invited to join. There was no hesitation that time. =D
It may sound weird, but I feel honored to have had three characters (and counting) woven into the histories of their 21–ish years (and running) game. It’s here that I feel like I’ve found my Forever Home. Thank you, Bob, Kat, Rick, Brian, Mike, and Adam!