I have a computer-y job in a department with other computer-y people. Given this, I probably shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when, as the department expanded during my decade-long tenure from 3 humans to 14, around half of the people in the department turned out to be nerds of various stripes. As a result, we do a bit of mild group nerdery within the department– mostly lunchtime boardgames and Magic, and regular conversations about video games, superhero movies, and so on.
During one of these departmental chats in July, one of the nerds mentioned Dungeons & Dragons, and his neighbour mentioned that he had never played it, but always wanted to try. Fast-forward a few weeks, and I ended up volunteering to run a few sessions of D&D after work to let any curious parties see what the game is like.
Because most of the players were brand new to D&D and I didn’t really relish the idea of starting the first session with a forty-minute lecture explaining the thirty-eight different character classes, I decided to try out an idea proposed by Matt Colville, who is a super thoughtful dude who posts DMing advice on YouTube: since I already owned a decent collection of painted miniatures, why not handle character creation by showing the players a variety of different minis, and then having each person pick the one that they find the coolest or most evocative.
I liked this idea for several reasons. First of all, instead of having to read through all of the classes in the game to decide what they wanted to play, each player just needs to consider the 2 or 3 classes that best match the mini they picked, which dramatically reduces the amount of complexity each of them needs to wade through. Also, on a more practical level, it allowed me to frontload any miniature painting before the campaign started instead of trying to paint minis and plan adventures at the same time.
I announced the proposal to my group (more on this later), and only then did I go home, open my D&D miniatures case, and come to two realizations:
- Realization #1: “I don’t have nearly as many D&D minis as I thought I did.”
- Realization #2: “Wait… do I have, like, ANY female miniatures?”