Hi, so this is the story of my awful introduction to playing fantasy RPGs.
I found an interest in D&D almost two years ago. I had watched a couple of shows where people played it, but it never really sucked me in until I, like many people, found Critical Role. Both my husband and I decided we wanted to give Dungeons and Dragons a try. We played a couple of sessions of Vampire The Masquerade before, and it was interesting at the very least, so we were hopeful for a fun time.
We did not know anyone who played the game, and we had a young daughter, which made the prospect of going to the local game store to play pretty daunting. I searched online until I found a group willing to play with us at our desired time. They were playing Pathfinder, but we figured we could learn as we went, and it was "close enough." We were more into it for the story and roleplay elements anyway. The DM and players were friends in real life, aside from another random player like us who lived in Australia. A husband and wife were the main head of the group. I say main head because as was described to us by the husband, the wife wanted to DM, but she was bad at it, so he was doing most of it for now, and she would take over later as she got better at it. For all intents and purposes, he was the DM, so I will refer to him that way. Since I had never done anything like this before, I created a character that was basically me in my real life, just fantasied up a bit. Half-elf paladin of Ilmater. The DM helped me make decisions, but he essentially filled out the character sheet on his own. Confused by the rules I was not familiar with, I gratefully accepted, and prepared for my first session.
I joined the campaign a few sessions in -- I believe it was in session three. Right at the start, it was confusing. We were not told at all what had been happening in the story. My character was called out on the street by the DMPC. Oh yes, he had a character he played, who was apparently the Chosen Vessel of Mystra, and told that my destiny was with their party. They were in a quest to slay a dragon, and I of course should aid them! Unsure of what I was really doing, my character said she would go where Ilmater led.
I was introduced to the rest of the party, a human fighter, an elf ranger, and a half-orc barbarian with a level of bard. The DMPC was some fancy homebrew race I can't remember, only that she had glowing sigils floating around her head at all times. My husband played a human rogue, but because of scheduling issues, he did not join us in the first session. He was there during the second session, but the DM did not introduce him until almost the very end, after nearly 3 hours of playtime.
On our way to the dragon, we found a crumbling church of some kind infested with skeletons and goblins. For only the reason "looooooot" as described by the other characters, we decided to go in and clear it out. This is when my frustrations began. The DM had given me the heaviest of heavy armor. My stealth was horrible, my speed was reduced nearly in half. He had also not given me any real weapons. Apparently because Ilmater himself does not like killing people, I was not allowed to do anything except nonlethal damage. All I could use were my fists. Imagine, a snail of a tank, inching along in their armor, never able to make it to the enemies, no ranged weapons, and if I ever made it near an enemy, all I could do was give them a hearty slap.
Partially because of my utter uselessness, partially because of the fact the DM did not introduce my husband's character until afterward, and partially because of the imbalance of the party, which I will explain later, but the fights in the church were insanely hard. When we reached the final baddie, at the end of the session, we were so close to a TPK we could all taste it. The DM's character waved her hands… and giant flaming bursts of light blazed down and incinerated the enemies in a single moment. Grateful to not be dead, but a bit confused, we left the church and continued towards the dragon. We reached a military base that the dragon had been menacing, and were given the opportunity to prepare ourselves. I immediately sought out the blacksmith, to switch out for some lighter armor and get some sort of real weapon in my hands. I was excited to improve my character and play a more proactive role in encounters.
However, as I handed over my armor to the blacksmith, he pointed out some markings painted on it -- symbols of Ilmater. He refused to accept it, because someone would wear it who was not worthy of it, someone who was not a paladin of Ilmater. He would not sell me armor either. He did sell me a sword, but the DM told me directly that if I used it to deal lethal damage to an enemy, Ilmater would be mad at me and I would likely lose my connection to my deity, thus losing all my power.
Thoroughly annoyed at being doomed to be the snail tank with fists of meager fury, my character joined the rest of the party at the mess hall. I refused the offered ale. Turns out that was a good thing. The two party members who did drink were told by the DM that they woke up the next morning in bed together, they having no say in the matter.
I will skip some of the other unpleasant experiences to the dragon fight. Once again, we were outclassed. The thing had an AC we literally could only surpass if we rolled above an 18, and could deal nearly enough damage to down any of us in a single attack. Of course, being the slow nothing I was, I was useless against a dragon, so I resigned myself to watching the DM's character save us again, which she did in glorious fashion by transforming herself into an ADULT GOLD DRAGON. She chased down the original dragon and killed it easily, as of course she would.
Dead silence from the rest of us. The DM asked what we wanted to do next, and we did not answer. He got the hint. We were mad. My husband and I tried to be diplomatic about it; we are not the most confrontational people. The guy's friends really let him have it. There was a lot of shouting about how,
“no, really, she is balanced! She just got luck when casting that spell.” And, "She's the Chosen of Mystra, what do you expect?"
Turns out, before we joined the party, the DMPC had been introduced more as a plot point than anything else. We were supposed to escort her to Waterdeep and drop her off. She had dug her claws into the party in a major way and we did not even realize she was supposed to be a temporary member. Though I will remind you, the DM did not start as the DM; he was originally just a player.
After complaints were aired, we played one more session. One. Final. Session. We arrived in Waterdeep, skipping over a lot of travel because the DM knew we just wanted to get his character out of our party, and went straight to the temple of Mystra. The DMPC made a big show of how sad she was to leave us, and how she still wanted to travel with us.
"Uh huh. Well, have fun learning to be the Chosen of Mystra!" We turned and left.
We were walking with the mayor of the town, and he was telling us about the interesting things there are to see and do here, when we met the new DMPC. We were told we saw a beautiful woman in samurai armor, talking quietly to a large man in similar gear. A beggar man approached her, asking for some coin, and SHE RAN HIM THROUGH WITH HER SWORD.
As any do-gooders would while walking with the mayor of a town and finding a murderer, we draw weapons and try to arrest her. At which point the DM steamrolls us like crazy. The mayor placates the woman, who is apparently a samurai princess from far away, and it is considered a high offense for someone of low station to speak to her. Apparently, an offense deserving death.
The mayor seems to have no problem with this. "Oh wow, definitely, let's send this man to the nearest temple to be resurrected at once, I will pay for it myself." He then assigned us to take her in and welcome her to the area, making use of her amazing skills in our adventuring.
Now, to remind you, I was playing a paladin of Ilmater, the god of suffering and endurance. I took that to mean that I was to lift the spirits of people going through hardship. I did not feel like accepting a murderer, who stamped the life from the low, just because someone in power told me to. It just would well sit well with my character. I did not want to rock the boat, and I could tell whatever I felt would not matter, so I stayed quiet, though I did not interact with her if I could help it.
Seemed like everyone else felt the same, as within an hour the DM started complaining that no one was talking to his character. Begrudgingly, we struck up a conversation, and got immediately bombarded with this woman telling us about how rich and powerful she was. You know, because she is a princess and how she was so skilled in the blade, and that she could find no one to best her in her homeland, so she and her companion -- both of whom he gave the heaviest, most stereotypical Asian accents left -- to find a challenge elsewhere. I think it was a 20 minute explanation, though I could be wrong -- my brain went fuzzy really quick.
It was clear pretty fast that this new character was once again going to dominate the game, so I just phoned it in for the rest of the session, and quit the group the next day. My husband did too. Maybe we were wrong, maybe we missed out on the adventure of a lifetime.