I’m shy. Was home-schooled all the way from kindergarten through high school, quiet, meek, good little Christian girl. Having spent most of my life being told Dungeons and Dragons was demonic and a gateway to hell, I simply avoided it. One day while on a first date I asked how one actually played it. Instead of black magic, robes and ritual candles I learned about coke zero, dirty jokes and goofy fun. I decided to take a crack at it with the mind set of “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
I was launched into a game of Homicidal Transients. The other players were brilliant. It was a mixture of dice rolling; improve theater, and lots of laughter. I struggled to fight against my shyness and breathe life into Godfrey. I doubted myself on whether it was ok, cool, weird, or awkward. My first few games of Maid and Burning Wheel were like this.
In Maid my character, Charlotte, had a trait of “Easy Going.” Not much fazed her. She wasn’t the most cunning or imaginative of the maids but she was athletic and determined. Until she grew a third eyeball in the middle of her forehead. She suddenly wigged out a bit and declared additional body parts were not part of her contract.
This reaction bugged me afterwards. She was supposed to be unflappable and, while understandingly upset, I was mad at myself for breaking character. I was reacting at the time like myself (or any normal person) but not like Charlotte.
Again it happened our first session of Burning Wheel. Penelope is a farrier who came from a small village and has a vast hunger for knowledge and the world. One of her beliefs is “never be apathetic.” But when we found ourselves facing combat and delicate negotiations, she just stood there. She has no combat training at all and I could see nothing she could contribute to the scene. So Penelope, the tallest and strongest of the group, waited patiently and gave little tidbits of advice. Very boring to play.
I thought about it and realized it was so boring for me because I was playing like myself, mostly my old self. I had to learn to assert myself, speak up and stop being such a pushover. Penelope and my current me were nothing like this and it galled me. I decided right then and there to hell with it and regardless of how silly the outcome to let Penelope have at it.
The next sessions brought us up against a dark elf. And we walloped him! Completely untrained Penelope saw her friends in danger and snagged her farrier hammer. Throwing herself at him she managed to score a direct hit to his shoulder. He dropped his spear which we then snatched up and ran for the hills! Penelope received a small scratch on her midsection for this action but was introduced to the world of combat. From here she started practicing with a hammer and learning how to defend herself. She was given a gift of a small war hammer to battle with.
Starting to learn from my mistakes I kept playing other games. In Dungeons and Dragons after mentally flailing and getting frustrated with my lack of gusto I decided to hell with it. In for a penny in for a pound! I started letting my character just start hitting things, interrupting conversations, getting into scrapes, and running like a coward. Suddenly this was awesome! It turns out Penelope is falling for the dark elf we battled. He was captured and held for trial but Penelope managed to convince the king to give him to our party as a guild. Imagine quiet Penelope from that first session standing up to a king!
In a solo game of Old School Hack my cleric, Miles, was as plain and ignorant as they come. He went up against a dream weaver spider. After the DM described a sinister, evil creature Miles simply took off his shoe and smooshed it. He found a magic stone that he could only communicate with via humming. It let him from the dungeon through a bizarre game of hot and cold.
Probably my most infamous act of “in for a penny…” was Gisette in a session of D&D. We turned a corner and there was a large frog in the middle of the corridor. Without pausing she shot him with a bow and arrow. Perfect kill. Well, it turns out it was a wisdom frog and was supposed to tell us everything we needed to know about the world we had been dropped into. But since I killed him, no wisdom for us. My party member wore his intact skin as a hat and gained amphibian powers.
I’m impatient. I tend to bolt down hallways, shoot first, and get wiggly during diplomatic talks. I just want to hit things. My shyness has started disappearing as I become more comfortable playing with new people. I use it less as an escape and more as a way to explore different lifestyles and ideals. Regardless of what I’ve playing I remember it’s a game and to have fun. And that’s exactly what I’m doing!