A Girl in the Game: Table Tops
Confession: I am a table top role-player. I’ve played Dungeons and Dragons, 3.5 and 5th edition; Pathfinder, home games and society; World of Darkness, much the same; and Shadowrun, though just the once at a convention. My brother got me into them with WoD when I was a senior in high school and I’ve been playing pretty steadily ever since, with a small break in the middle of college. Honestly, it’s one of my favorite social things to do. I’m a girl who loves playing table top games.
As a girl I’ve encountered much less shock at my presence than one would expect. While there’s a lot of overlap in the sorts of people who do a lot of online gaming and the people who gather at Pathfinder Society to play a few three-hour campaigns, I’ve found that when you tell a table top gamer that you’re into rolling dice they tend to think it’s cool and proceed with the conversation, rather than dwelling on your gender. At least that has been my experience. Maybe I just play with lots of really nice people. And they are really nice. The GASP crowd I’ve played Pathfinder with have been some of the coolest people I’ve met since Geneva. They’re super welcoming and genuinely willing to help you figure out the rules and how your character works. Of course, that’s what I have my brother for. That being said, I am used to being the only girl in a party. More times than not I’ve played in a gang of all boys, occasionally playing with one other girl in the group. There are, however, more of us than you’d think. I have a few girl friends from Geneva who are into D&D and who other ladies in my current 5th edition group. Of our seven party members, three of them are female. I played with a really cool woman this past Saturday at GASP who was basically the tank for the team. Girls are more and more coming out of the shadows to let their geek flags fly.
There are some people who can play all the things. I am not one of them. I feel like most people tend to gravitate towards one sort of class, but that might just be me. I’m a ranger kind of person. Granted, I’ve only ever played rogue, ranger, druid and monk, but of the four, I feel I’ve enjoyed the ranger most. I like that I can shoot things and not be next to them where they can hit me, but I can also mull them with my badger when close combat is required. Yeah, I have a giant badger. Well, my character does, at least. Rogues are fun, but the things that I like about rogues, I like better about rangers. I enjoyed the druid at higher level, but I’m not sure how if I’d like the class as much if I had to start at low level when they’re all squishy and work my way up. I’m not super into casters in general. I’m super conservative when it comes to having a finite number of anything and my inclination is always to save it for later. What if I need that spell slot for a bigger encounter and we don’t get to rest between them? And then it’s a matter of how does it work and which one do I use? I feel like caster classes are appeal more to people who are really into the technical aspects of the game and know it all really well. So not me. I like the monk a lot, though. I enjoy being able to hit things hard. My next 5th edition character is going to be a monk who’s a little flighty, but good natured and just wants to help people by hitting things. Also she’s a bird person. She’s going to be super cute.
There are three kinds of people in any table-top role playing game: the people who enjoy the role playing aspects, the people who want to break the system, and the people who do their best to find balance between the two. I’m a role player. I’m always all about the characters. I love the role playing, building my character’s personality and relationships with the other characters and interacting with the world around them. That being said, my current 5th edition character, the ranger, has no personality to speak of out side of cranky and ‘loves animals.’ She has a -3 charisma bonus and I have to play to what her stats are, so she’s not sociable at all, having grown up in the woods, mostly alone and all that, and she doesn’t really like half the party, though she’s trying really hard. And she can’t talk to anyone because it’ll just go really bad if they let her speak for the party, ever. Sometimes she’ll whisper to one of the other players if she has an idea for what to say, but if she said it they’d all be doomed. So, while I really like my ranger build, I’m super excited to move on at some point to my monk who will be much friendlier, which isn’t hard when moving on from Ara. I really like Ara’s badger, though, so I don’t want to give her up.
One of the things that makes table tops so much fun is the dice. I really want to collect dice. Seriously, it has the potential to become a problem. I have a set of tiny purple dice that some friends bought me my freshmen year of college, and a larger purple set that I’m pretty sure I stole from someone. Probably my brother. I also keep trying to steal the random purple D12 in my DM’s box of stuff. That one’s not my fault, though. Other people have also assumed that since it’s purple it must belong to me and put it in with my dice. I have a feeling it’s just going to come home with me one day and never go back. I really want a giant purple D20 now, after seeing one at GASP. I feel it’s only right that I have dice in every size. A set includes a D4, which looks like a pyramid; a D6, your average board game dice; a D8; two D10s, one regular, one for percentages; a D12 and a D20, for a total of seven dice. I have two sets of die with an extra D6 in there for some reason and yet I still want more. I don’t need more, I know, but I kind of want to be one of those people who pulls out a whole bag full of dice to share with the people who don’t have a set of their own. Somewhere in the back of my mind I made a connection between owning a lot of dice and being a really serious table top gamer, and now I really want to achieve that rank. The reasonable part of my brain is telling me that’s ridiculous and has been winning out thus far, but we shall see for how much longer.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “But Purps, I’m not into all that medieval fantasy crap that comes with D&D.” Well, my friend, you don’t have to be to get into table tops. Pathfinder is basically just like D&D but with slightly toned-down fantastic elements. World of Darkness is modern day settings with vampires, werewolves and other supernatural elements. Shadowrun is sort of a post-apocalyptic steampunk kind of game. I’ve only played it once, but it was a lot of fun when I did. I was gunslinger and I hit lots of things while dodging lots of bullets. You basically have two kinds of systems when choosing a game to play. Games will either use the complete 7-dice set, calling for different dice to be rolled for different items, or they’ll use a dice pool system where you get a lot of one type of dice and roll them all for whatever you want to do. WoD uses all D10s, Shadowrun uses all D6s, Pathfinder and D&D both use the full set. So there’s something out there for everyone, whatever you’re into. I’ve played in games that were modified to fit other games’ and shows’ settings as well. I’ve played in a Fallout game as a mechanic, and a RWBY game at a con as Ruby herself, which always makes me a little uncomfortable. I hate playing as someone else’s head child, I feel like I can’t to do them justice. It was a good time, nevertheless. The Fallout game was excellent and I would love to play in one again, if I ever got the chance.
I love that table tops are a thing that I can do with the people who are important to me. It’s a way for me to spend time with my husband and with friends. I love that I can spend a Saturday catching up with my brother at GASP between games. I love that we have a standing excuse to see friends on a weekly basis. Being a grown-up makes hanging out with friends hard, but playing D&D every other week, soon to be every week, makes it so much easier to keep up with people, even if it’s just the one group. There are a lot of things to love about table top role playing, and we can always use more girls in the game. Go check it out for yourself.