Covered in soot and scorch marks, I charge across the room toward a dastardly fire elemental. One of the magical beasts has already fallen to the bite of my greataxe and now I bellow a challenge as I run down another of the fiery creatures. Woo hoo! Look at me… I’m playing Dungeons & Dragons!
Uh, that last part is said out of character (OOC), of course.
I’m at one of our local game stores, taking part in a session of D&D Encounters— an ongoing weekly campaign shrewdly designed to lure new players into the world of D&D. And, I have to admit, I’m hooked right from the first roll of my d20.
Being quite the introvert, I was a bit nervous before showing up to play. The other guys at the session were all pretty laid back and very friendly, though, and soon put me at ease. I happily discovered I was well prepared to jump right into the game thanks to a week or so’s obsessive scrutiny of my spiffy new 4e PHB. And listening to a few D&D actual play podcasts also helped me act like I knew what I was doing. The only thing that threw me for a loop was when I found out I was playing a female dwarf.
You see, when they asked me what class I wanted to play, I said, “Fighter.” I figured a fighter, being a relatively easy character to play (“Me a fighter… me hit things.”), would be a good tool to allow me to slide into an Encounters session and put my book learnin’ (and iPod listenin’) to use in a real game. So they hand me one of the pre-gens, Eldeth the dwarf fighter, and I’m off and running. I’m hackin’, I’m slashin’, then about halfway through the session, I suddenly realize, “Hey, my valiant dwarf fighter is a… a… chick!”
Despite the shock of this realization, I manage to soldier on through the rest of the encounter. I put my berserker's charge stance (a fighter stance is a special power that combines positioning, footwork, and combat tactics to maximum effect) to good use as I run around, laying waste to my foes. While the rogue and cleric in our party take on the other elementals, our eladrin mage teleports next to an enchanted circle that is benefiting our enemies. He does some magicky-stuff and quickly disrupts the source of the mystical flames. When all is said and done, a quick search of the smoke-filled bank building by our band of adventurers turns up a slightly scorched map depicting an area outside the Keep with a location marked “Well Hideout” and a time for a secret meeting. Hmm… this is already the third session of the ongoing Keep on the Borderlands campaign, so missing the first two weeks means I’m a bit hazy on where we are, what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it, but even I recognize that this map might perhaps be a significant clue. Hmm… maybe in next week’s session we could, oh I don’t know, ambush the bad guys when they show up at the well for their secret meeting.
Between now and then, though, I have a very strong hunch that Eldeth, valiant female dwarf fighter chick, will have somehow, magically, surreptitiously, turned into Eldeth, valiant male dwarf fighter dude.