A Shy Person’s Guide To D&D Roleplaying
Are you the player that always fades into the background during interactions? Do you tend to lean towards playing rogues or druids? (Basically, any classes that aren’t known for their charisma?) Me too!
Shyness is annoyingly debilitating, but it’s common. Therefore it shouldn’t be a barrier to entry for doing things that you think you’ll enjoy. In fact, tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons and Dragons can be great tools for tackling shyness. There’s nothing like slaying a foul, spheroid Beholder to rid you of all social anxieties.
I’m one of the many people blessed with crippling shyness for my entire life. So when I had planned to play D&D for the first time, I fully intended to skip the roleplay altogether. Though, after a while, it began to feel easier, so I went with it.
I played my first in-person session recently and roleplaying felt surprisingly natural. Don’t get me wrong, whether I feel comfortable has a lot to do with several factors, such as whether I know the group of people and DM well or how I’m feeling on that certain day, which is completely fine.
Roleplaying isn’t an essential part of D&D, but it does unlock a whole dynamic that can make the game more enjoyable and make the experience more immersive for everyone. So if you’re trying to combat shyness and have some fun roleplaying, I hope the following tips can help you out!
Ease Into It
If you’re new to the game, don’t feel you have to be in character right away. The benefit of a larger party means that it can be easy to let others do most of the talking for you. So for your first few sessions, it’s perfectly acceptable to forgo roleplaying.
Of course, you can still create a character and a backstory, contribute during combat and share ideas on what your party should do next. Just make your character and backstory simple, a persona you believe you could emulate whenever you feel comfortable enough to.
Once you feel slightly more confident, perhaps you can start to speak as your character but in your normal voice to keep things simple. Then little by little, you can reveal more about your backstory, your personality, perhaps voice and mannerisms etc.
Nobody’s Expecting You To Be An Actor
Although many actors enjoy D&D, you don’t have to be an actor to play it. It’s more of a laugh when you’re all equally as bad at acting as each other. Sure, it can be daunting when one or two people in the group are capable actors (I’ve been there), but you’ve got to remember that you’re all there to have fun and not take yourself seriously. If the idea of acting bothers you, it’s completely acceptable to use your normal voice.
You Don’t Have To Be Overly Talkative
As long as you’re dealing damage in combat and helping out with decision making, I doubt your party will care much if you’re not super talkative. My tactic is to play a reserved character, like a mysterious rogue or a monk that’s made a vow of silence.
Some players are much more game-driven anyway, so you may find that not every party you join is heavy on role play.
People have told me to avoid over-preparing pretty much all my life, and I ignore them every time because it’s always worked for me. If I have a work Zoom meeting scheduled, you best believe I will be noting down answers to possible questions that I may be asked.
That’s probably a total waste of time for most people, and if you’re one of those people, good for you! As I’m a writer and a shitty actor, spending time on my character and backstory is one of my favourite parts of D&D. I love my silly little routine of creating my character on Hero Forge and making mood boards on Pinterest.
Another great way to get yourself into your character’s mind is by answering a few basic interview questions as if you were them. If you enjoy writing, why not whip up a short story or two while you’re at it?! Most of this stuff won’t even see the light of day, but it’s good practice for you, and it can be fun, in my opinion.
Talk To Your DM
Let your DM know that you’re not confident about roleplaying so that they can ease your fears a little. Small changes like not making you introduce your character first or not making you the focus of the conversation make all the difference.
I doubt your party will care much if you’re not super talkative.
Online Vs In-Person
Playing online can sometimes make it harder to roleplay; you’re far too worried about interrupting someone, how you look in the camera, whether you’re muted or not etc. So you might find that you’re more comfortable playing in person. However, playing online might make things less awkward because you can blame your wifi if you choke and can’t think of anything to say…
Fake It ‘Till You Make It
Faking confidence doesn’t work for everyone, but it may work for you. My shyness tends to pluck the words from my mouth, so faking it isn’t entirely an option–but I thought I’d include it anyway as I know it’s a way that many shy people cope with everyday situations.
The More You Play
We all need a friendly reminder of what’s obvious every now and then.
The more you play, the better you’ll get at roleplaying, even if it takes years. Another thing to note is that the more you play with the same group of people, the more likely you’ll come out of your shell.
Even if you don’t see progress after several sessions, who cares? Maybe you’re just a passive player. Every party needs one. We can’t all be overly confident, outspoken bards.
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Jenny is the Editor and sometimes Writer for Daily Dice. Her likes include reading, spending time in old buildings, and drinking coffee (she is a Victorian). Her dislikes include writing author bios.