One warm spring night, I was at an awesome International Gaming Day hosted by Dungeons and Drafts. I had just finished losing badly at Council of Verona, and moved on to my next scheduled game, which was D&D.
Before we get into this, I think I should tell you that I’m not fond of role-playing. No. Not in a dickish way where I hate everyone who does it. I don’t go out of my way to kick a person in the shins if they’re playing Masquerade. Nope. I’ve just had bad experience after bad experience, and spoiler alert, the story I’m about to tell goes along those lines. However, this time, I think I grew from it.
But whatever, back to the warm spring night where I sat down with six other players to do a quick one hour session of Dungeons and Dragons 3.0.
The DM randomly handed out character sheets, asked us to read them, and then declared whoever is the most in character for this particular story will win a set of dice.
I’m not really all that competitive, but I figure I’ll get into character because why play D&D if you’re just going to be the same do-nothing asshole you always are?
The DM handed me a character who was a Chaotic Neutral Ranger who really hated Orcs. Easy, I thought. I just need to like nature and play by my own rules. The dice is mine.
Then, our DM described our scenario: In the forest, a dark tower looms. In that tower is the sorcerer we were bade to kill by the local townspeople.
Obviously, the DM wanted us to just storm the castle and be done in an hour so he could host the next game and someone else could win a set of dice.
So naturally, to speed it along, I decided to talk to squirrels…
…which really annoyed the rest of my group.
Don’t jump to any conclusions. I wasn’t doing it to be annoying. I just felt that as a ranger, if I could get a squirrel to do some reconnaissance work for us on the tower, maybe it would be easier to besiege the place. I thought it was a damn brilliant plan.
Unfortunately, the squirrel did not help much. Instead, it just followed me, and did it’s own thing.
Whatever. At least I tried. The group, however, was annoyed that I spent five minutes doing charisma checks with a small mammal.
Reconnaissanceless, we went to the tower, and started a fight immediately. When I tried to use the squirrel to distract the enemy, one of my team members (who was really annoyed about my foray into squirreldom) killed it.
I debated what to do as Ven’ai D’lek, not as Boom Baumgartner, so I glanced at my character sheet, made sure I was a nature-loving ranger and chaotic neutral, and left the fight on my turn.
Then everybody was pissed at me. Yeah. You read that right. Me. Not Ven’ai D’lek, the elven ranger whose character sheet specifically says she has no loyalty to the group and has a strong affinity for nature. They were mad at me.
Long story short, we did eventually win, though when I returned to the fights, I made it worse because I instantly attacked all the orcs (my character sheet said I should, goddamnit). But whatever, we won.
Then the DM looked around, knowing he had to award the prize, but also aware that only one of us actually even looked at the character sheets. Then, he apologized to each one of the group members, and handed me the dice with as little ceremony as a person handing out a receipt.
I sat there, flummoxed, feeling more than a little bullied (not by the DM, mind you, just the group). At no point had I deliberately set out to be annoying. I had just read my character sheet, and went with it. But the rage people were feeling for my character was all directed at me. They felt that deep down I must be just as irritating.
You know what, though? I am. And that’s what this little hour long game taught me. Fuck everyone who isn’t willing to play their roles and play with them. I don’t want to go out and murder shit for the sake of murdering it. I want to be a totally different person in a totally different world, and explore it. I want to think outside the box. I want to have fun. I do not want to storm a tower and kill things before I know why.
Let me be clear. I think you should role-play the way you want to. If you want to be a muderhobo (someone how basically plays to roll dice, kill, and steal), do it. All I ask is you don’t play with me, and don’t get mad if we accidentally get thrown together for one session.
I think of it like being on a date. Do your thing, and if your date doesn’t like it, good. You don’t have date/role-play with them ever again. If they do, hooray! There is more fun to come.
Because frankly, I am going to be my character, and my character is never going to be all about killing (unless it is, but I should I hope I would give it some nuance).
So the moral of the story is find a group that plays like you do. Why waste time on people that don’t like to let you do what you want to do? Especially if you’re not hurting anything.