Dungeons and Dragons Is Hard

My boy, Daza.

There's about 6 things I would like to write about but the words just aren't coming. So I'll write about D&D.

A while ago I heard about a show on the internet where voice actors play D&D. I thought it was unique premise but never really wanted to watch it. Yet there was always this itch for Dungeons and Dragons. The idea of playing it has always been at the back of my head. The thought that comes to mind whenever I find an invisible wall in a video game "If this were D&D, there would be no wall. I could simply proceed out of this area and go somewhere else".

As much as I wanted to finally sit down and learn D&D there were a lot of factors getting in the way. One such factor is the sheer intimidation of learning something as deep as the Players Handbook. It gives you all you need to know, but oh boy, it's huge. There are rules and things you can't do and things you can do that seem like things you can't do. You try to learn D&D and suddenly there's a whole thing out of it.

So I put it off. Like many other things, I put this into my "To do" list. Unlike most things I actually put in there though, I would eventually get to learn D&D. Just not from playing.

Cut to later on when I finally get a moment to check out Critical Role, the show where voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons. It was a pretty cool show. After a marathon of several of the 3+ hour long episodes, one thing was for sure: I was hooked.

I was informed by some of my friends that play D&D(That I didn't know played D&D) that most games are pretty unlike Critical Role, as the show goes lax on some rules and "house rules" in some other stuff. They were also originally playing Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, converting for their show into 5th Edition, also called "DNDNext".

D&D 5e is a streamlined and simplified version of D&D, letting you take all of the usual actions in a much easier to process manner. Or so I read about because I've never played any version of D&D. But as much as it is supposed to be streamlined, it is still a very intimidating process to, well, process.

My initial reaction to the Players Handbook, which includes all information relating to the players portion, including details from the basic rules on up to the more than basic rules. It details all classes, all races, the kinds of weapons you can expect, armor types and all of the magical spells. My first reaction is the book isn't the best organized book I've ever read. The way the spells are listed in particular will keep you flipping back and forth seeing what spells you have and what they do. And there is quite a bit of them, so you'll be flipping for a bit.

When it came to which race I wanted to play as, I was immediately interested in the Dark Elf. Superior Darkvision seems like a very unique and useful trait. It also seemed like one of the more unique races. Nothing else really stood out to me, everything seemed kind of generic. The class I had my eye on was Cleric. The idea of being the healer and all spiritual helper was something I was very interested in.

I spent many hours trying to figure out the "character sheet". At first glance, it looked like gibberish to me. I had no idea what anything meant and I found the PHB(Players handbook) ended up not spelling things out clear enough for me. I thought I was just a big ol' dummy but through my google searches I found a sea of people who were just as confused as I.

But I kept fiddling away, adding in numbers, taking them away, figuring out what each stat meant and what the hell a "proficiency bonus" was. Eventually I figured it all out and had a roughly thrown together character. I'm sure I got half of it wrong, but over the next few days ended up refining it and rechecking the PHB and making sure it was fine. It seemed to be, so I started thinking of what my character was supposed to be.

I came up with a name with a little help from my friend. I was going to be playing a Dark Elf - or so I thought - and I couldn't quite think up a Dark Elf sounding name. I was told to take my name, put it backwards, and that would be it. In the end, I got Nayr Noslexa and that sounded like a mental illness or a pill, so I kept at it. Eventually I just stole my friend's name backwards, which was Daza, which was perfect. And so he was born, Daza, the Chaotic Neutral Dark Elf Cleric.

Next up was finding a game. Never played before so what am I supposed to do? Look for local game stores, or play online. Online ended up being my only option as it seemed literally every single "local" game store ended up being 20 miles away. So this newfangled Roll 20 was my salvation. Just put up a message saying you're looking for a game and boom, you've got a game. Not quite.

The first issue was finding the kind of game I'd want to play. I liked Critical Role, they took the roleplaying very seriously. Some episodes would be entirely combat free, all in the sake of story. It never felt like less of a game because of this, as they were still playing. So I said, hey, I want that! I want a game that respects the idea of roleplay and makes a whole thing out of it. What I found instead were games that were either too serious or too lenient. And some had characters named shit like "Naruto" and such.

I try to never judge too harshly, I mean how stupid is a Dark Elf Cleric named Daza? I mean wow. But the idea of playing with people trying to reenact scenes from an anime in the confines of D&D is not my cup of tea. I'd like something at least original, you know? I don't want to do something that I've seen on TV. So I stayed away from those games, which immediately limited my options. Roll 20 is just one of many sites, but it seems to be the most happening so I kept looking.

I eventually found a couple of games, but was so put off by my own anxiety that I didn't put an application in. I just kept watching as they slowly filled up with me thinking "Maybe now I submit the app? Maybe now I say something?" and I didn't. They filled up and moved on to what I can only imagine was sick looting and adventuring, I'm sure.

I got bored waiting for myself to muster up the courage, so I just started submitting. Days and days and days go by, and nothing. People before my application, people after my application. All seemed to get chosen but me. Is it something I said, is it something I did? Did I build my character sheet wrong and look like an idiot? Eventually I got to talking with the same friends from before, and they dropped some hot knowledge on my head: Dark Elf players are universally hated.

I was a little shocked by this. The PHB said that Dark Elves are usually always evil, and it would be up to a DM to allow me to play as it or not, but I mean, that's 100% of D&D, right? Saying this is up to the DM is just saying that, yep, the DM is in charge. Unfortunately it seems that Dark Elf players are usually people who like to play edgier, mopier characters. So much so that they usually disrupt the game too much. So they are pretty much universally banned.

It came as a bit of a shock. I mean, D&D is all make believe, so I get that banning players from being disruptive is always a good thing as it keeps the game going. But I felt a bit betrayed by the idea of D&D, that general promise of "It's only limited by your imagination". To find out that there was any kind of "canon" was a bit weak, if you ask me. I figured, hey, I'd be able to at least prove myself as a non-edgy non-disruptive type, right? But it turns out no. People read as far as Dark Elf and close the page. None of the games I applied to even let me know what I was doing was probably going to get me passed over.

It hurt to put all of this work so far memorizing Cleric spells, learning about Dark Elves, and trying to get it all meshed together with a neat backstory. But apparently I was doomed from the beginning. Daza was Donezo. I had to start over.

I tried again and again, no longer as a Dark Elf or a Cleric, but I never got into any games. I was still passed over. That was 2 months ago now, give or take a couple of weeks. I still scratch my itch by watching Critical Role, and I'm even making a big ol' homebrew package with a bunch of new races and classes. I still read up on the PHB making sure I'm following the rules, even the Dungeon Master's Guide and other such supplements. 5th Edition is quite deep and it has many rules to follow. I don't envy any of those DM's out there, though I'm pretty sure the only way I'll be able to get into D&D is as a DM when I test my homebrew stuff.

This story ended up having a more depressing end than I was hoping for but that's life for you. But you can't keep a good D&Der down, even if they've never played D&D.

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".