First, let me commend you for being willing to entertain the idea. For the vast majority of my life, I dismissed all gaming of this style for being too nerdy, too geeky, too dorky.
If you aren't sure what a RPG is, watch this. Just be warned that they swear a lot and you might suddenly want to go get some Funyons.
And it is nerdy and geeky and dorky, don't get me wrong...but that doesn't mean it's not also fun.
Get on in here. Dim the lights and draw the curtains shut. You don't want people to know this is happening.
In preparation for my first adventure, I quickly realized that you have to learn a lot of stuff in a hurry if the game is going to make any sense at all. Study your character well, know your abilities and your weaknesses. Know when you have modifiers to your abilities and attacks. This is important stuff, and there's a lot of it, all specific to your character.
If you want to dress like your character, go for it. I'm going to laugh a little, though, for sure.
If you want to talk in some bizarre Lord of the Rings-esque accent, more power to you. Make sure you use the word thwart as much as possible.
Your first, and maybe biggest decision, will happen before you ever begin play. You must choose a character. We play Pathfinder in this house, which is really D&D, they just call it something else these days. So yes, I play Dungeons and Dragons. Get that giggle out of your system because I'm about to drop some knowledge on you.
Pathfinder, as with most RPGs I know of, are collaborative games, which means that you are journeying together as a team. You do not play against one another, but with each other, working towards a common goal. This becomes important when situations arise where you don't have an ability but someone else does, and it's essential to your survival.
When choosing a character, you have two primary options. You can go with a pre-generated character, or you can start from scratch. Being that I have no idea what I am doing, I chose the pre-generated wizard dude because wizards are rad. His name is Ezren.
Ezren is pretty badass, or at least the picture looked good. And I wanted powers and shit. Of course, Ezren would have been more kickass if he was a chick, but whatever. I had no idea what I was doing.
I didn't realize that before we could actually play anything, my husband (aka the dungeon master...no not that way, get your mind out of the gutter...geeks don't have sex, wink, wink) had to set up the game. As in, he had to decide what the journey would be, where the enemies would hide, what treasure we would find, everything. The beginner sets have a few adventures, but once you get past those, it's up to the creativity of the dungeon master.
Every good dungeon master should have a wide repertoire of voices and sound effects at his
My oldest was determined to build a brand new character from scratch, which took a long time. By the time we were ready to actually sit down down and play, I was already tired of my kitchen table being covered in the stuff. It had been two days.
I caught on pretty quickly that any time anyone wants to use an ability or fight a bad guy they have to roll for initiative or do a skill check. The 20 sided die will become your best friend. Most starter games only come with one set of dice, and if you're sharing, this game will take you f.o.r.e.v.e.r. So get extra sets of dice for however many players you have. Yes, they sell these separately and you have to go to game stores to find them. I may have my eye on a pretty green set, if anyone wants gift ideas for me. Hint, hint.
Also, one of the best ways to turn this into a drinking game involves requiring people to take a drink anytime you face an enemy and everyone has to roll for initiative to determine the battle order. Not that I attempted to turn this into a drinking game or anything.
Of course not. That would be wrong.
Any time you roll for initiative or a skill check, you want big numbers. Always check to see if your number rolled is modified by your ability or on attack. Anything under about an 8 basically means you failed. Between that and high teens means it's up to the discretion of the dungeon master (and their rolls at times) to decide if you can use your abilities or if you hit your opponent or not. 19 or 20 generally is a slam dunk. Your abilities are good or you hit your target well enough that you might be able to kill them, depending on your damage roll...which is another die and will vary depending on which weapon you are using.
I prefer the quarterstaff, by the way. No idea why. It just sounds cool.
If you use a pre-generated character, the damage will be on the sheet already. If you generate your own character, you've got to figure all this out before you start playing or the dungeon master will whip you publicly.
Much of the game rests on the dice, obviously. Sometimes you roll well, other times you roll terribly. Once it took us over 30 minutes to kill a dragon because no one could hit anything and the dragon was a dud.
You aren't just trying to kill your enemies, they try to kill you too, and sometimes they succeed. You lose hit points every time you are injured, unless you have a high enough armor class to protect yourself. Wizards don't have armor by the way...so that wasn't a great call on my part. I've already been killed off and brought back from the dead twice.
So now I'm a zombie wizard. Like a boss.
Don't worry too much though, no one ever stays dead long. There are potions and spells and shit that can revive you. Unless you'd rather die than play more Pathfinder, that is.
Grab a beer, get your dice and roll baby, roll.
Don't worry. No one is watching. ;)