Welcome to another edition of The Players of D&D, where we interview women and gender non-binary persons who love to play D&D! We talk about their personal experiences with the game, the challenges they faced, and how they found their D&D community.
This week, we check in with Samantha Puc!
Rogues Portal: What is your background or history with the game?
Samantha Puc : I started playing DND in 2017!
RP: What do you like about playing D&D?
SP: I’m not actively in any DND campaigns right now, but one of the things I like about 5e, now that I’ve been lowkey working on my own campaign as a first-time DM (hopefully for 2019?), I like how customizable it is and how many different options there are for exploring stories, characters, settings and more. I love reading fantasy and sci-fi, but I don’t enjoy writing it, so D&D scratches that itch. Having multiple players participate in the story keeps it fresh and interesting while also taking at least some of the pressure off me as a creator to do all of the heavy lifting all of the time.
RP: How long have you been playing?
SP: I participated in a campaign in 2017, but since then I’ve been solely involved in an Apocalypse World campaign. The system is a little different, as is the setting.
RP: Favourite type of characters to play?
SP: My first-ever DND character was a dragonborn cleric with a hermit background who was lawfully good and used to give “calming herb” to new companions as a means of studying their effects as well as establishing connections with others outside of her clan. I’m really fascinated by tieflings, though, and would love to play a chaotic rogue at some point just for the fun of it.
RP: What are some challenges you face as a woman playing DnD?
SP: Because I haven’t gotten super involved in the DND community, I haven’t really faced any particular challenges with playing DND. Luckily I’m friends with a lot of players who are in the LGBTQ community, so I don’t have to firsthand experience the toxic masculinity that others talk about in relationship to the game, the community and the history of it all. I’ve read and heard plenty, though, and I think the TTRPG community generally has the same issues with gatekeeping as any other facet of geek culture.
RP: What are some fears or hesitations or other things you might have had that stopped you from playing or kept you away?
SP: I’ve discovered that I really don’t like “crunchy” DND games, i.e. ones that are battle-focused and require a heavy amount of math and back-and-forth with the DM. Because most of my experiences with TTRPG started that way, getting into it the way I wanted was tough at first but it’s slowly improved over time as I’ve figured out my play preferences and started playing with people who share those.
RP: What are some steps that need be taken to make it more inclusive?
SP: Allowing people to approach DND in their own way and make the game their own is so important and so vital to making it a more inclusive space where people of all types can feel comfortable exploring these character types and settings and plots. There needs to be better accessibility for players with disabilities, for example.
RP: What do you love about the game?
SP: I like creating super gay, super fantastical stories with my friends.
RP: What are some things you want people to know about the game?
SP: DND has long had a reputation as being a game for basement-dwelling losers who don’t have social skills, which is a gross stereotype. As properties like Critical Roll have become more popular and visible in pop culture, that stereotype is lessening, but there still seems to be a lot of side-eye from non-players because of their negative associations with it. Tabletop roleplay certainly isn’t for everyone, because nothing truly is, but I think it has a lot of value for storytellers and other creatives, as well as people who just really want to explore different identities or try things out in a low-pressure environment.
RP: How would you encourage people to get into the game?
SP: Find a group of friends you love and trust and roll some characters together. Don’t worry about getting it right or doing everything well the first time – DND, like anything, has a learning curve. If you want to play, embrace it!
RP: Anything else you want to share?
SP: I wrote an article about a DND panel at FlameCon that totally changed my mind about the game and how much I could enjoy it in the right circumstances. It was published on PanopLit in October of 2018.
Samantha can be found on Twitter @theverbalthing or check out her work on her portfolio, theverbalthing.com.
If you are someone who identifies as a non-cis male and would like to be interviewed for The Players of D&D, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.