I keenly remember the first time I ever sat down to a game of Dungeons & Dragons.
I was living out on the unfashionable end of the San Fernando Valley, in an apartment abutted by industrial parks on three sides and a strip mall on the fourth. The people I knew during my stint in California were all odd in their own ways, and lord knows I was no exception; that’s why we all knew each other in the first place.
At some point, a friend of mine (whom we shall refer to as Ari) decided we should all do wine and cheese parties once a week. Together we would peruse the cheeses on offer at Whole Foods, pick one from the selection of wines offered by same, and retire to one of our apartments for an evening of cultured exchange and discussion of foreign policy issues.
That lasted about two sessions before wine-and-cheese graduated to Grey-Goose-and-wake-up-in-a-pool-of-my-own-piss, and it was during one of these latter sessions that someone figured it would be a good idea to try out Dungeons and Dragons.
The dramatis personnae for that ill-fated evening included myself, a friend of mine with crippling anxiety issues, an extraordinarily wealthy (and extraordinarily fucked up) heir to an entertainment fortune, a reformed Boston-area gang-banger, and a fellow who we will refer to as Clarence.
I have no fucking idea what was wrong with Clarence. He habitually stood in the corner and looked at the floor, giggling to himself periodically. Fucked if I know.
We gathered together in Ari-the-heir’s apartment, spread out the equipment, and then looked around at each other. I looked down at my character sheet.
For reference, this is what a character sheet looks like:
And this handy flow-chart explains how to use one:
I looked down the barrel of my character, as yet nascent and unborn.
“OK,” Somebody, possibly me, said. “What now?”
“Now we make characters,” the reformed gang-banger said.
“OK,” Somebody, possibly me, said. “How?”
There was a silence.
Three hours and uncounted White Russians later we gave up. It didn’t make any sense. We squinted down at our character sheets, perplexedly penciling in numbers and then erasing them again because that can’t be right…
We asked questions which no one had suitable answers to:
“What’s a saving throw?”
“It’s a thing that you do sometimes in combat.”
“How do I calculate my proficiency bonus?”
“I forgot, it’s in the book somewhere.”
“Where are my hit dice? Did I get any of those?”
The next day, as I was frantically trying to wash the couch cushion covers I’d pissed myself on before anyone else woke up, I swore to myself I’d never play D&D again.
Fuck that nerd shit, I thought to myself, as I tried to scrub the smell of piss out of the fabric.
You’re better than that.
It was Brother Josh who changed all that. We went out and bought all the books, only to discover too late that all the books we’d bought were out-of-date and, apparently, less friendly to n00b5 as a consequence. So we went back out and bought all the new books, meaning that I have at this point purchased about $300.00 in D&D related equipment. That was more than six months ago, and I still haven’t really played it.
I’ve played a little, here and there. One or two sessions that could have gone better, and turned into a drag there at the end. One or two one-off meets which went pretty well but failed to flower into full, months-long campaigns.
I’ve had a lot of fun with what little I’ve played. I see the potential. I can see what D&D has the potential to be, in the right hands.
I’m ready to try again.
His name is Joffrey Faradûn. He was born in Neverwinter, the only son of a shipping magnate who ran his household with the same iron fist with which he governed his mercantile empire. He fell in love with a beautiful girl, and ran away with her. She died (tragically), and his daughter’s body was never found. He committed a terrible sin once, which haunts him to this day. He wandered then, for a time, before finding himself in a remote mountain abbey. It was there he found his calling.
He is a 1st level paladin, and just as soon as I can find a consistent group of players, he will kick ass.