Dungeons and Dragons- This Is How We Roll (Part 1)

Hi readers,

I’m just back from playing Dungeons and Dragons (DD) and thought I’d share my experience. This wasn’t actually my first time at playing the role playing (RP) board game. A few years back for Christmas my family got a box game of it with everything already set up and the rules made simpler. This game came with us on holiday, mostly camping or the narrow boat because it’s actually a great way to pass a good few hours whilst its raining or you’ve broke down etc. This was my first introduction to DD and I enjoyed playing it because it was fantasy and adventures and something completely different to tradition/normal board games, which like most families we’ve been through them all.

My second encounter with DD was with my ex and two of his friends some months back. We played at his house and did a small, self-contained game. This involved a lot more RP then the box game of course, but those guys really got into the spirit of the game. As for me, I struggled on the complexity of dealing with all the rules and numbers. I’ve always been bad with numbers and remembering things. However, I did like it and was keen to learn and play again. Then when we broke up I told myself that I wasn’t going to let that stop me from having another bash at DD. I was still interested in it, but I just needed to find someone to teach me.

Luckily, less then 2 months after the break up I met someone else and it was actually because of DD that we got talking. We’ve been together 3 weeks now and today was our 5th date. I guess nearly all girls would never concerned going to play DD on a date. But it’s becoming very noticeable to me that I have a nerd side which needs to be embraced. I class myself as a secret nerd, because I’m still unwilling- as of yet!- to admit it fully. So, this evening I had another go at playing DD and this time it was in a Manchester shop which supports such games and others of course. People gather to learn how to play all kinds of things there, which I think is really good because sometimes you can get one of these RP or fantasy games home and not have a clue what to do with it! This evening we got told that all over the world people were sitting down to play the same adventure that we were about to go on because that’s the way these massive things work. (Yeah, I’m still trying to get the hang of it all, just bare with me.)

(DD dice- more covered in numbers then your normal dice….)

I’m so not going into the whole this is how you play DD and make characters and stuff like that. There’s lots of websites with that information on and frankly I’m still a newbie at this. Here’s the official DD site if you want to check it out – http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Default.aspx . Also, I decided that I’m not going into the whole story and background that we are currently playing because and though I’m not confused by it, I’d rather not spoil it for people. But I shall do a little bit about the interesting events that happened in our game and my experiences of becoming a DD player.

Firstly, for the people who don’t know what DD is about and are busy wondering what’s going on. DD is actually all about telling stories. The players choice characters/heroes and the Dungeon Master (DM) who is in control of telling the story also has control of the enemies/monsters and is there to guide the heroes through the story. The game is played on a board which represents the area of the world that the heroes are currently in. There are so many different areas and so many boards!

The players have character sheets which have lots of information in both word and number form printed/written on them. This is each heroes stats and has normal stuff like; their name, race and language(s) spoken. There is also weapons,other items, equipment and treasure/money. A range of different skills can be picked and these are mostly chosen on the race of the character. There’s things like; heal, thievery, nature, stealth, athletics and perception. Skills are useful for a large number of things like stealth would be used to sneak up on enemies

The main last point is about fighting. Heroes have to fight lots of different monsters, it’s not just dragons all the time as the name suggests! There’s a whole range of stuff from wild animals to supernatural to goblins to harpies. The health of heroes is measured in hit points and this are effected when damaged (in any number of ways) happens. For attacks there are a few things that can be done and it’s actually not as simple as drawing a sword and attacking said monster….though I guess you could do that…My character can choose to do tricks to aid in the fight like knocking a monster on to its back or setting a trap, before attacking. You also get experience points too and can level up. The goal of the game is to complete the adventure and get the rewards.

(A game in action)

The adventure we started this evening was all about the Drow race and their quest. The Drow are dark elves and therefore evil. There’s an awesome website my boyfriend showed me which has lots of information about them and also about DD. http://www.kismetrose.com/dnd/MyDrow.html . I see no real need to go into this because you can just read about it all there. For the first part of our adventure we had to fight off some strange creatures. If the DM said their names I don’t actually recall them. My boyfriend attacked the first one and got pinned to a wall and no one was able to get him down until close to the end. It was rather funny, though his hero almost died when someone did kill the monster and he fell to the floor. I almost died too, because I had to fight this ooze monster which poisoned me and I just couldn’t get away in time. However, we both made it through and our heroes can carry on next week. In the end we did mange to kill all the monsters and move on into the next room and to the next bit of the story. Then it was home time. You play a chapter of the story once a week for between 6/8-14 weeks. We are playing 8 weeks.

I was really worried about playing DD this evening. I felt the same the first time I really played it as I was scared I’d mess up or look like a fool in front of the others for not knowing how to play. I felt that again this time, though I was pretty much in the same boat as everyone else, as it was their first time and no one knew how to play. But my other fear was that I might have been the only girl there. Kismetrose has a great article/essay about being a woman and playing DD. http://www.kismetrose.com/dnd/Women.html There were two other women there, so it was that bad, but it’s just so rare they have girls in shops like the one I was in. Games like these have never really been seen as women’s games and men have dominated playing them. Maybe it’s because there’s a level of immaturity in playing them and men are better connect to their inner child then women? There’s also a level of escapism which seems to appeal more to men. I love escapism, I do it in my writing all the time. On reflection, I can’t really explain my nerd side or why I enjoy such related things. I’ve never been a typical woman though and perhaps that has something to do with it?

Anyway, I’m please to say that I did like DD and I plan to go back next week and carry on playing. It might be a hard game to understand, but it’s easy enough to play. Also the social atmosphere was good in the shop and I wasn’t treated like I shouldn’t have been there or made to feel silly because I didn’t know what to do. And as you might have noticed in the title of this post I added the (Part 1) because I strongly believe I shall be writing about DD again, though if I decided to write every week about it or just to start that way and then just add the events into different posts, is still to be decided.

Finally, if you’ve read through all of this and decided that playing DD might be for you then go and check out the official website and find a game near you. Also girls don’t be scared to embrace you nerd/geeky sides! Though beware that interesting things can happen when you do….

 

Photos from:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dungeons-and-Dragons-Dice-D-D-Dice-Set-Purple-Steel-/190541147414

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dungeons_and_Dragons_game.jpg

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Drow-Underdark-Supplement-Dungeons-Dragons/dp/0786941510/ref=sr_1_1?s=booksamp;ie=UTF8amp;qid=1346280662amp;sr=1-1

http://comicsforge.com/2012/01/dungeons-and-dragons-1-2010/

Self-publishing

Hi readers,

I’ve published my first self-published short story today and it’d be great if you could support me. ‘Dead Nick’ is available for download to Kindle at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0092RGDJOIt’s a short story about an office worker who starts hearing a voice in his head. I wrote it for an essay at uni and have rewritten it slightly for publishing. This is one of the short stories I’ve actually tried to get published in a magazine and on line but it was rejected for ‘not being what they were looking for at the time.’ Which is what happens to many stories entered to such places or even to actually publishing houses.

I was motive by my boyfriend to try self-publishing, though my parents have been going on about it for awhile. During my BA and MA self-publishing had mixed reviews from my tutors and visiting writers. Most thought it was actually a good thing to do and a way to get yourself out there. Some frowned upon it though and didn’t recommended self-publishing if you want to become a professional writer. It’s a problematic question for many writers trying get on the publishing ladder. Do they spend ages looking for the right place to send their work, packet/email sections with cover letters and wait for rejection replies? Or do they take the easy way out and self-publish? I don’t think they’ll ever be a clear answer to that question.

The traditional ways of writing and publishing have really changed in the last twenty plus years. The internet has helped a great deal with that and authors who wouldn’t have got a chance are now becoming popular because their work is more easy to access. Authors are also getting headhunted through their self-publishing online and their work is then being made into books, TV shows and movies. There’s so many examples of this and it’s growing all the time. Take the recent popularity of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. That started as self-published fan fiction and was then rewritten into a self-published novel. The way people read has also changed so much due to the new technologies of kindles, ipads etc. People are now finding it easy to read and access books, magazines and the news from these devices. Still though the actual book is very much alive. Finding a replacement for the book format is hard and frankly not needed. This reminds me of Jasper FFords Thursday Next series. A very awesome and mind blowing series all about life in-between the pages of books.

The reason why I choice to self-publish though is because I’m at a cross roads in my life again. I’m not sure what I want to do now. I know my dream, but it feels far away and none of my novels are ready-in my view-to be published. Though sending off a few sample chapters is always something I can do. Right now my mind seems to be saying “get a job, get some experience of adult life and think about what you really want to do next.” Well, that might be just around the corner as I’ve an before interview meeting tomorrow in a call centre. (More on that later) I think I’m self-publishing as an experiment, to see if it would actually work for me and what other opportunities it would generate for me. I do feel proud of myself right now for actually doing it. Feels like a big step in the right direction.

I guess if things seem to be going well, I’ll start publishing some more short stories and wait to see what happens. I’m not really doing it for the money, though right now I’m really in needed of some!- one of the reasons why I’m currently looking at having ads on my blog. The big question will be if I decided to self-publish a novel and right now I’m slightly against this as I’d like to try and get it published the tradditional way first, but we shall see.

I choice to self-publish online because it’s free and faster then going to a company and getting them to do it. I also decided that though having a physical cope of my book, though it’s only a short story, would be good, it was properly a bad move at this stage to make. I’d have no idea what I’d have done with say 50 copies of my story to then try and sell myself, nor would having it on a website that printed on demand work. So by going through Amazon, a very well know company all over the world, felt the right thing to do. If self-publishing is the right move for me though is another thing and only time will tell on that one.

Lastly, it’s your final chance to get involved in the selection of next year’s books for World Book Night. http://www.worldbooknight.org/There’s a hundred titles to choice from or you can pick your own. WBN is something I’ve been supporting for the last two years and I’ve been a book giver both times now. It’s worth becoming a part of if you love books and want them to reach more people. So, vote for your favourites right now.

On The Job Hunt

So, today I finished my dissertation and one week tomorrow I’ll be handing it in. I’m really excited to have finished it now, but also a little sad because it now means that I’ve nothing else to do and I’ll have to face up to the true adult world and get myself a job. The step up from student-hood isn’t going to be easy, but I know it’s going to be just as exciting and fun, if I stay positive.
Problem is I know how hard it is to find a job, let alone your dream job! I spent the 6 months in between finishing my BA and starting my MA looking for one and had only rejection replies or heard nothing at all. Now, I face being back on that pile and stuck like most people in the vicious circle of being out of work, not finding anything, getting depressed, giving up, living off the dole, deciding to give it one more shot, still finding nothing and still being out of work.
I watch the news and know that there’s so little movement in the job market, that employers are only taken the best of the best, that now because they receive three times the number of applicants that they can offered to be so fussy in their choosing. Also people are not actually moving up or out of their current jobs, due to the lack of new jobs and people getting promoted. This means that there is hardly any openings and when a new job appears its a bit like a gold rush- everyone applying, but only some getting the reward (interview and job)- I know not a lot can be done about this issue and it’s all to do with the economy and money. Things that when you are young don’t bother you so much.
I think people fresh out of uni with a BA or MA are very employable. Perhaps we lack on experience, but we are very determined, easy to train, brighten up places, have new ideas and can bring so much into a work place that maybe an older person can’t. Like I said though, employers can now be so picky and it’s hard work making yourself stand out all the time. How else though can you get seen in a crowd of similar people?
When I write my CV I think of all the things I’ve already accomplished in life. My eduction doing an MA, getting a 2.1 in my BA, my A-levels, animal care, GCSEs. Years of eduction and hard work trying to prove that I can do things. My working as a student ambassador, guide and blogger, all those countless hours working at UCAS and HE fairs, open days, applicant days, school visits, writing posts about uni life and what I’ve been up to. Also volunteering in a charity shop for the last two years. My work experience, how I’ve over come difficult problems in dealing with people or having to do lots of things at once, working as a team and being a leader when called for, problem solving when I’ve to. My skills and hobbies, Writing- novels, short stories, poems, blogs, diaries, reading everything I can, editing, crafting, computers, being creative, gardening, cooking, pets, socialising, music, movies, history, nerd and dark things.
It’s surprising once written down, how much has happened and been achieved in life.
My dream job would be to become a full time novelist and be earning lots of money to live well. That’s a long, hard road and often full of disappointment, emptiness and loss of ones self before anything is truly accomplished. On reflection many writers wonder why they go down this road and a few give up even before they have fully started or after a few years. Most earn enough to become stable, but take on other jobs like teaching and editing to earn more, whilst the lucky few get to become famous and make thousands. I’ve never imaged myself in the lucky category, I think of myself has being almost the most. All I’ve ever wanted from my writing has been to share it with the world and for people to receive the same joy reading it as I’ve got out writing it. I’ve seen the money as a bonus, but not a way to survive.
Issue is I find myself questioning what else can I do. Writing is me, my life and world, without writing I feel like nothing. For whatever reason I feel that my place on the planet is to write and share stories, inspire others and perhaps make someone else’s world that little bit more special. Yes, I’ve lots of skills I can apply to other jobs with and maybe I’d make a good teacher or manger, but no matter what I do, writing shall always be a large part of me. With that I guess I better go and start the job hunt.

Reflection

Hey, been ages since I last wrote. I’ve been super busy, mainly writing and doing my Masters in Creative Writing. There’s a few other exciting things that have happened too. Now that I’ve got some more time on my hands I plan to get back to writing this blog. I don’t plan to do a whole load of ‘catch up posts’ because far too much has happened, though there are somethings that could do with being talked about.

I’m due to hand in my dissertation for my masters in two weeks. I’ve done it just need the cover page when I find my booklet. It’s been a really hard task for the last 6 months, but finally my 17,000 words is done and I’m happy that it’s finally over. It’ll be even better when I hand it in! Of course then there’s the whole what happens now issue. My plan is to have some down time, enjoy life for a bit and read/write things I want to. This also means that I can have time to now think about what I want to do.

I think the second major piece of recent news is my new boyfriend. He has an awesome web show about wecomics and movie reviews. Though it’s still newish it’s gaining an audience. So here’s the link; http://blip.tv/tyas I’ll be writing a bit more about him later, I think.

Actually, there is another reason why I decided to start writing this blog again and that is the sad news that my brother’s girlfriend’s dog has died. It was a sudden passing and it has got me reflecting on the loss of my Sandy. My own dog for 12 years, who was with me at the lowest point of my life and saw me through some bad and difficult times. I was thinking about how difficult it was to replace and fill the hole that dogs leave behind. They become like an actually person member of the family and losing them is just as hard. It’s a part of life though and something that has to happen to everything.

On a different and more happier note, I’ve be come addicted to Minecraft. I blame the boyfriend for this! But also my nerd side which has been growing lately. I’m really liking building and crafting things, exploring the area and chasing the animals. Though losing my house has become the frustration of the game. Though, we’ve now got a pathway of lights which is proving the solution to this problem. However, the creepers are now starting to bug me….