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Many introverts are drawn to the world of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s obvious why this is the case.
In real life, we’re reserved, hesitant, and constantly self-conscious. We wonder if our outfit looks okay, if there’s food on our face, or if what we just said was stupid.
But in Dungeons and Dragons, you get to shed your mortal skin for awhile and become someone different. Whether it’s a drunken bard, a fearless warrior, a mischievous rogue, or a witty sorcerer, the sky is the limit.
There’s something so cathartic about becoming someone with fantastic capabilities for a few hours. However, even when we’re having fun, the fact remains we’re still introverts, and roleplaying is so hard when you’re self-conscious.
A simple conversation in character can feel tremendously awkward. We know the feeling, and that’s why we’ve written a few tips for how to start a roleplay conversation in DnD.
A Quick Introduction to Roleplaying
Okay, if you’ve come across this article, you’re probably already familiar with the concept of roleplaying in tabletop RPGs. Our goal on this site is to be as beginner-friendly as possible, though, so we’re gonna provide a quick explanation to anyone who’s out of the loop.
Skip this part if you’re at least basically versed in the subject.
Anyway, to someone who’s never really gotten into a tabletop RPG before, roleplaying has some…interesting connotations. When most people hear the word, they probably feel like they should be suggestively waggling their eyebrows.
But that’s not what roleplaying has to be in DnD, and it usually isn’t. Instead, roleplaying is basically another word for acting.
When you roleplay a character, you are pretending to be that character. You’re trying to look through their eyes at the world the DM is portraying for you and responding accordingly.
That means if you’re playing a cowardly character, you’ll probably avoid combat at all costs. Or, alternatively, if you’re playing someone who’s bloodthirsty and temperamental, you’ll probably be picking fights with random characters.
How to Start a Roleplay Conversation in DnD
Put on your character’s shoes…and leave your own at the door.
The first step to roleplaying is assuming the role of the character you’re playing. This can be tough for beginning role players, because your instinct is to think about the world from your own perspective.
Especially in heated or overwhelming in-game scenarios, you’ll find yourself slipping out of character into your own mindset. You’ll start thinking about what you would do in said situation.
But remember: you’re not playing you. You’re playing someone else with a likely different background and set of capabilities from yours.
However, getting into character is easier said than done. Although we recommend avoiding boring tropes, it can help to write down a few of your character’s defining traits.
Jot down a few key personality traits. For instance, write down fiery, intellectual, cold, shy, or whatever else describes your character.
That way, when you’re trying to think of what your character would do in a situation, you can look at them in bite-sized pieces rather than trying to visualize a completely fleshed-out person. You can think to yourself, “what would a shy person do in this situation,” and act that out.
Once you’ve grasped those few personality traits, start the conversation in a way that fits. Tell the DM you’d like to talk to an NPC or another character, and open with a conversation starter that’s fitting.
Don’t feel as if you need to answer right away.
When the conversation starts to flow, it usually picks up speed. Almost before you can even finish framing your own response, the character you’re interacting with is firing back at you.
It’s like an imaginary tennis match, and you’re getting cross-eyed watching that conversational ball fly back and forth.
Don’t worry. Take a deep breath. As much pressure as you might feel, you don’t have to answer instantly.
If you’re unsure what your character would say next, tell the DM you need a moment to think about it. Most experienced DMs will be completely understanding. This is even truer when they know you’re new.
Read Also: Why is DnD so Complicated?
Go with the flow.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get comfortable enough that responses will roll off your tongue with little thought. When you get to that point, congratulations – you’ve just leveled up your roleplaying ability!
When the conversation is coming naturally to you, go with it. Follow where it leads. Go with your instincts.
If you stop and question yourself, you’ll likely fall out of the rhythm and make yourself feel unnecessarily self-conscious.
Practice, practice, practice!
You’ve probably heard this saying before: Rome wasn’t built in a day. And if you haven’t heard it before, well, now you have.
Like all other things, skillful roleplaying takes practice. You’re going to have your ups and downs.
You can always practice in between sessions. As you go about your daily life, trying asking yourself: what would my character do? Visualize your character’s response to occurrences throughout your day, and you’ll become more familiar with the process.
Another thing you can do is ask your DM to help you get more comfortable with roleplaying. Many would be more than happy to have private sessions with you where you can practice conversations or actions in character until you feel more comfortable.
When all else fails, design a character like you.
For beginning players, good roleplaying can seem impossibly out of reach. If you don’t feel ready, then one option is to design a character that’s just like you.
Pick a class that you think you would be most interested in. Write a character background that resonates with you. Assign personality traits to that character that are similar to yours.
In other words, insert yourself into the game. Answers will come to you much more naturally when all you have to do is ask yourself what you’d do.
This is a great method for those who are completely new to DnD. It gives them time to familiarize themselves with the system and rules without having to worry about acting out a completely different personality.
When you start to feel more comfortable with the game, consider stepping out of your comfort zone. This doesn’t even mean you need to scrap your character – there’s no reason they couldn’t develop new personality traits different from yours as a result of their experiences throughout the course of the campaign.
Developing roleplaying skills takes time. Sure, some people are just naturally good at it, but it’s fine if you’re not.
Some days, you’ll feel really in the zone. Getting into character will be like slipping into the most comfortable clothes you have.
At other times, it will be a huge pain in the butt. You’ll have to struggle to formulate a single answer, and everything you say will sound horrible to you.
All of that is okay. You’ll get better in time, and the terrible sessions will become fewer and farther between.