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I Played D&D For the First Time Ever…Here’s How It Went

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

When I first started dating my partner, he was really excited to introduce me to one of his passions: Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). I had heard of D&D before, but I wasn’t really sure how it was played, or what made it different from more conventional board games. In case you’re also unsure, Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop roleplaying game in which players take on the personas of characters with unique abilities, and work together as they navigate a make-believe world. It is much more open-ended than a classic board game; players roll dice to determine how they perform in different situations, and everyone has a unique backstory that the DM uses to propel the game forward. My boyfriend is a Dungeon Master (or DM), which means that he creates the fictional world where the game takes place, and also controls the game as the players interact with his world. Dungeon Masters create special challenges and obstacles for their players and also role-play for any non-player characters (NPCs) that they might encounter on their journey.

As an introduction to D&D, my boyfriend suggested that I watch a show called Critical Role. If you’re looking to become more familiar with the mechanics of D&D, I highly recommend this show; it is engaging, hilarious, and long… so there are plenty of episodes to binge. After about a year of watching people play D&D and helping my boyfriend develop his world, I finally decided that I was ready to be part of a game. Some of my boyfriend’s closest pals were also interested, so we all began to prepare for a brand-new campaign.

Creating a character to role-play was extremely intimidating; I honestly had no idea where to start. Luckily, my roommate has been playing for years, and he was able to help me. The first thing we did was watch some videos about the different kinds of characters you can choose from; you must choose a class (fighter, rogue, cleric, barbarian, wizard, etc.) and a race (dragonborn, elf, human, half-elf, gnome, etc.) for your character. Some of the classes are a bit easier than others, so we decided on barbarian for my first campaign. After that, it was all about customization! You get to decide on the physical appearance, proficiencies, and talents of your character. What do you bring to the group? How will you help your friends out of a jam? You get to decide what role you play within your party.

After I created my character, it was time to give her some depth by developing a backstory for her. As someone who loves to write, this was my favorite part. You can really make it whatever you want, and the only people who will ever see it in its entirety are you and your Dungeon Master. That means you can make it as deep, secretive, shallow, or complex as you see fit; it’s all up to you! I think that writing my character’s backstory made me feel even more connected to her, and it made it a lot easier to role-play her, too.

Once my character was all established and fleshed out, it was time to play. Our party gathered around a table in our residence hall common room, and we introduced ourselves as our characters. The time flew as we interacted with each other, felt out some possible alliances, and entered our first combat as a group. Though it was a quick first session, it was super fun and definitely helped me feel more confident in my ability to play. It really made me look forward to future sessions as well.

While I was super intimidated to play D&D for the first time with a bunch of veteran players, I am so thankful that I got the opportunity to try it out. It is such a fun escape from reality and can give you confidence that you might not feel in the outside world. I might just be a 5-foot-6 college student, but in the game, I’m a powerful, 8-foot barbarian! That’s pretty cool. If you’ve ever wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons, do it. Embrace your inner nerd and become a more magical version of yourself for a few hours. It’s good for the soul.

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Hanna Jane Kilduff

U Mass Amherst '24

When Hanna Jane isn't writing for Her Campus, you'll find her wandering aimlessly through thrift stores, listening to her color-coded playlists, or curled up under a blanket with her cat.