Real Life Character Development

If you’re a fan of Stranger Things, then you might be familiar with Dungeons and Dragons. It’s the game the boys are playing at the beginning of the first episode. This is a game that has been around since the 70s and has experienced a resurgence in popularity with the rise of shows like Game of Thrones. It’s a game set in a fantasy world where people play as different characters while another person dictates the world in which these players reside--a.k.a the DM. There’s a relationship between both the players and the DM that’s both independent and a constant compromise to make a game that is fun for everyone.

Now, my role as the DM, or dungeon master, wasn’t exactly the role I wanted and I will say that. I would have much rather been a player. That being said, I don’t mind my role now; I still get to play since, without a DM, there wouldn’t be a game to play. So I was kinda thrust into this role out of necessity. Which is fine since, as a writer, I get more experience world-building and creating minor characters. But, I’m also new to the game and so are most of the players. This creates some misunderstandings.

People who’ve met me would normally say I’m shy, which I am, until you’ve reached "Level 1" friendship and start unlocking my weirdness. But I will still have problems voicing what bothers me or even if I want to do something. I’m going to assume it’s because of my anxiety. As you can imagine though, this can make my role--or even a game like Dungeon and Dragons--a little bit difficult. So I’ve had to learn how to speak up for myself.

Now, as someone who has rarely attempted to be assertive unless forced to (certain group projects have been extremely fun), I can personally attest that it isn’t easy. It becomes especially not easy to do so when it’s your friends and they’re having blast. As a DM, you have to let your players do what they want, you can kind of push them in a certain direction, but be prepared for your players to just randomly decide to adopt a goat they found in a graveyard. Also, be prepared for them to jump the gun on a quest line and kill the first boss immediately. The trick is knowing how to get people back on track--i.e. getting them back on task after a riveting side conversation about homework. Also being able to say when something that happened bothered you.

I had absolutely no idea how to handle any of these things.

There was a lot of trying to get people to listen using different, not-so-great methods. Methods such as yelling when it came to getting everyone to focus back on the game. I also had to learn that it’s okay to say that something extremely bothered me, even to people who are my friends. Sometimes people don’t realize that what they did hurt you, sometimes you have to say that that’s what happened. It’s a lesson that I’m still struggling with. Let me say this, though, it’s better to let them know than to let it stew inside of you.

At that point in our gameplay, we were all still very, very new and didn’t understand the fine details of the game. When I sat everyone down to explain what had distressed me, we had a conversation which is what should happen if something like this happens. If someone tries to shut you down or no change comes from the conversation, then it wasn’t a good talk to have. You have to let everyone have a voice because, possibly, there were other people who were maybe bothered by something else. It’s better to open up in a constructive way than shutting people down.

In the end, we ended up making major changes to the way we played the game. We decided to change the location of where we played to make it easier for us to communicate, and less likely to get distracted in other types of conversation. There was a plan made that, if there was something in the game that was causing someone real life distress, the game would stop and the problem would be addressed.

It’s important to speak out, it’s important to let people know what’s wrong and what’s not working. I know it’s hard to say something is bothering you or that something needs to be done, especially when those people are your friends. Sometimes, though, it’s better to let people know your feelings in a constructive way. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up five months into a campaign with six awesome people, a goat, a panther, and an owl.

Thumbnail Image Source