I Used to be a D&D Player Until I Took an Arrow to the Knee

Last week was our first week playing online in our weekly group. Quite a big change for all of us. A lot of new things to learn in Roll20 in a few days, which Mr. Scruffy was an absolute champ about. (Shout out to Korica for the troubleshooting help. Thanks buddy.)

Understandably, it was rough. Not a complete train wreck. Not even a car wreck really. It’s a new dynamic that we’re not used to. Where to set up when players have roommates. How to stay comfortable in the computer chair for a few hours at a time. How to read our friend’s reactions in their voice, instead of on their face and actions like we’re used to.

It’s a change I know that we’ll get through just fine. What troubles me is a reflection on myself as a player. For someone that loved to role play and write stories, I have not been able to find that groove with D&D again. I’ve become that player that likes rolling the dice for combat and checks, but is honestly not thinking or understanding how to get from point a to point be.

This is where Warcraft and other games have spoiled me. A big, yellow exclamation point on my map screams “Come here! I have a job for you to do!” And you get the quest. You get the details. You go figure out how to accomplish it and go back.

Job boards or whatever kind of do the same thing but I realize a lot of players in D&D hated the video game type aspect and that to me kind of seems like a video game set up. (Even though I would actually kind of enjoy it as a player.)

The problem is me. I’m terrible at searching for clues or asking the right questions. We’re currently in Skullport in Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Our party is currently wrestling with what should we do. We seem dangerously close to abandoning our original goal of dungeon diving and looking for magic items for a benefactor and instead taking on Xanathar (which I know, is complete suicide but we’ve really pissed them off in the last few levels.)

So we made our delivery. Talked a little bit about how awful the town had got and were pointed in a direction to talk to a guy. We get there…and we really have no idea what to say or how to say it so we can figure out where to go next or what to do. Or rather, I have no idea how to say it and end up fumbling and stuttering and then lots of silence.

And this is pretty much me all the time in the game. What do I do or say, and how to I do that? And wondering why I’m struggling so much with this when at one point, it seemed so easy.

And what does any of this have to do with taking an arrow to the knee?

We’ve been playing Skyrim a lot this weekend. Mr. Scruffy on the Xbox. Me on my Switch. In the early morning hours when I couldn’t get back to sleep, there I am on my little Khajiit, wandering around the cities trying to get my bearings again when I started really paying attention to the dialog.

Many times in the game, the quests aren’t just jumping out at you. They take a few exchanges. Coming to the town a few times. Etc. I realized this is something I could learn from. At least, it’s a starting point.

I think I’m going to write down a list of phrases that I can look at when I’m stumped and hopefully spark that RP conversation and play again. At the top of that list? “Heard any rumors lately?”

What would you put on this list? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for when (if) you get stuck in your game.

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