Sunday, April 14, 2013

Confessions of a Part Time Sorceress: A Review

Confessions of a Part time Sorceress
Written by: Shelly Mazzanoble
Softcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Language: English
September 2007, $7.99
Genre: Non-Fiction/Humor/How To

Most Dungeons & Dragons game players are men, yet storytelling and roleplaying come so naturally to women. So where are all the female gamers? The answer is - everywhere!

Confessions of a Part-time Sorceress is a smart, humorous examination of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game from a female gamer's point of view. The book delves into the myths and realities of gamer stereotypes. It explains how to build a character for a D&D game, how to shop for gear, how to play, and how to find the perfect gaming group, all the while exploring the things that make the D&D game a rewarding and recurring social experience for both men and women

I still remember one of my first tabletop D&D sessions. It was something I had always wanted to play but my brother was never into it and growing up it was bad enough that I was the smart girl, but trying to find peeps in school who would play D&D with me? Didn’t happen. So it took me until university before my roomies boyfriend decided to be patient enough with four girls (thank you Jer) and knew them well enough that he created a story for us.

We were so excited. We went and got dice, pewter little figurines to represent our characters and were set to play something that was still (at that time) for boys and certainly not a gaggle of girly girls. It was one of the best times I ever had gaming and I still remember it fondly after all of this time. Of course now 15 years later I have done more than D&D. I got into White Wolf’s creations for a time (even LARP’d at a Con with Vampire: the Masquerade), but there have been others such as Feng Shui, Warhammer, a Lovecraft based one, and even BSG and Buffy.

There is something really fun about sitting around a table with your friends, glass of wine and snacky type treats and then just losing yourself in a game. It’s fun. You laugh. You want to rage cry when you roll horribly. I really miss it actually. I keep trying to get Hailey to be a DM and for us to begin playing every other Sunday (she would be a great DM as she is an amazing storyteller), but nothing has manifested thus far.

Ah so yes the book. A friend gave this book some time ago, but it has been sitting in one of the umpteen TO BE READ piles that I have lying around at the house until just a wee bit ago. Love the cover by the way. Yep the pink kind of makes me smile.  

Things I didn’t love so much: The point of the book was to demystify the game of Dungeons and Dragons and those that play it. Basically Shelly was trying to set out and prove that it is fun for everyone to play...*gasp* even girls. Which is nice. However, in the book girls are kind of vapid and I wouldn’t want to play with them. Apparently if you are a girly geek you are therefore completely obsessed with clothes, shopping, shoes, makeup, chocolate and any other stereotype you can think of. Apparently we also cant immerse ourselves in a game and must bring up shopping of the Chanel variety when we are playing a game set in a fantasy world where such a thing does not exist. Now I am a girly girl in that I love dressing up in skirts and dresses (when it isn’t snowing in April...really PTB? Really?), wear makeup, love shoes, etc. Though to be honest I kind of hate shopping, wish my hair would magically coif itself without me having to do it, and need a bigger closet if I am going to have more shoes. But I have an imagination and I can immerse myself into a setting without bringing up does this nail polish match my armor? In short I am fairly low maintenance because let’s face it I can’t be bothered to be high maintenance nor do I have the fundage to be so.

But maybe, just maybe I am not as girly girl as I thought. I do love horror films, am not really afraid of spiders and am not completely fashion obsessed. So I am probably not her target audience when I come to think about it. I have too much of a nerd in me. This is why, like I said, that the rogue "picks a lock with his Amex card and uses charm to avoid paying late fees" and where shopping to equip your adventure involves going to the Nordstrom and Cheesecake Factory and ultimately picking up a Balenciaga clutch and three pairs of Jimmy Choos. Really? Now I know that not everyone you play with will choose to do an accent or really get into character, but I think we can all agree (even those high maintenance girly girl types) that such things would not happen in a Lord of the Rings film. And that’s kind of where you are putting yourself. You are just doing a disservice for women and basically saying we are vapid, so no points for your House there.

Things I loved: I do love that there are some nice tips for those who have not played the game such as stats, armor classes, what the die rolls mean, etc. These are nice things for a new gamer and would be quite helpful. Plus Shelly really is funny when it comes to some of her anecdotes and commentary on the game in general. I really did like the diary entries from Astrid, her character. In fact they were some of the most amusing bits and where I wasn’t constantly wishing the author would run herself into the clue wall repeatedly.

Plus she reminded everyone that RPGs are storytelling with rules. And let’s face it most women are amazing with the storytelling. We had the backstories for each of our Barbies or My Little Ponies when we were kids (or maybe that was just me). The point is we would do well in tabletop gaming if we would just give it a chance. Hell we might even have fun.

I only wish that in dispelling the mythos and stereotypes surrounding the game, that she would dispel some of her own when it came to being a girl.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. If you want to get into tabletop gaming, instead just ask the peeps at your local gaming shop or heck even ask me.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: Try your tabletop gaming with something you really like perhaps. There are Buffy, BSG, and even Firefly and Harry Dresden RPGs. Try them out first with a genre you love and get the feel. Then head back to the Middle Ages for some D&D or perhaps another Forgotten Realm.

2.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

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