New to Tabletop RPGs?

Hello, and welcome to my blog post! My name is Bonnie, wife to Bobby (the creator of theborderkeep blog – if you haven’t seen it, check it out!), mom, and one hell of a gaming enthusiast.
To give just a brief back story about how I came to be the group newbie (because storyline is ESSENTIAL!). My husband and I went on our first date in September 2012. He came to my house that evening with flowers and a CD that he made just for me, whisked me away to a fabulous restaurant, and proceeded to tell me about this hobby of his that I had always heard about but never gave much thought – something that was better than just reading fantasy novels or playing a video game – tabletop roleplaying games. I knew right away that I had to see this for myself.
So, with the first date being a HUGE success (my poor roommate couldn’t get me to stop gushing about it), one date led to another, and the next thing I knew Bobby asked me if I wanted to play in a game called Pathfinder that he was going to GM. I was immediately excited…but wait! I had asked question after question about the gaming process, but NOW…now that I was actually going to play I had no idea what to expect. What kind of character would I play? What did that mean? What was I actually supposed to do?
Fast forward to a few weeks into the game and I am playing a halfling Arcane Trickster – a rogue/wizard blend. Looking back at her character, my thought is this: that I would love to go back and play that character as a more experienced player than to have her as my very first. Instead, it was a little like taking Spanish I and then trying to read Don Quixote completamente en espanol and trying to gain anything from it.
All this being said, here are a few things I learned after being the new kid at the game, whether you are the new player, or the GM with someone completely new joining the RPG ranks:
1. Keep it simple – try to play a character that doesn’t rely heavily on spells for your first time gaming. Try out a fighter class or something that only uses SOME magic such as a paladin or ranger if you just need that little bit of magic spice in your life. Trust me, keeping up with a spell list, trying to anticipate which spells you need for certain situations, and figuring out how many of a certain level spell you get per day can be daunting if you are unfamiliar with the world that you are in!
2. Don’t be afraid to speak up! – Typing this made me sigh. Heavily. There will be many, many situations in the game you will be playing that require serious thought and planning. One of my biggest regrets as I became acclimated to gaming was having a brilliant tactical idea, and then NEVER SAYING IT because one of the more experienced players had a different idea and, hey, they have been doing this longer than me, so their plan has to be better, right? Not necessarily! There was many a night where I left the game feeling slightly jaded since I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that my plan would’ve worked and things might have turned out differently for the game if I would have just said what I was thinking.
Once you muster the guts to tell the veteran players what you think the party should do, don’t let anyone talk over you! Everyone is going to have an opinion and sometimes people say what they think at the same time. If you have to, let the GM know that you have something to say, and get him/her to help you be heard! Your character’s lives depend on it!
3. Read the book about the game you are going to play as much as you can before the first session. I say this as someone who is absolutely horrible about doing this, and my gaming experience suffers tremendously. Not only do you get a look at the world you character is in, but you will learn more about your companions, what to expect when you level up, which feats will your character take as he/she becomes more powerful? What the heck is a feat anyway? Read the book!
I truly believe that taking this advice will help enrich your gaming experience and prevent your hair from falling out when the GM asks you what the formula is to figure out spell resistance or how much damage the giant spiders who you just summoned do that just had Enlarge Person cast on them…if that’s even something you can do. Man, I really need to read that book more.
I wish you all the best of luck! Thank you for reading!