It’s only in the past couple months that I’ve been reading Go Make Me A Sandwich but I love it so much that I’ve read through the archive. It’s insightful, amusing, and points out many things that are completely facepalm worth. And while I’ve been thinking a lot about the addressed topics, I hadn’t taken the time to write up any posts about them. However, I can’t stay silent about yesterday’s post about Shelly Mazzanoble.
First of all, I’ve never read her column, nor have I ever read Dragon Magazine. I’m also not a veteran tabletop roleplayer. As of today, I have a grand total of two tabletop games under my belt: a WoW RPG that fell apart due to external drama, and a DnD 3.5 that we’ve only done two sessions of so far. Maybe if I had gone to a large school instead of a small rural one, there would have been people to play tabletops with back in high school. But there wasn’t so I spent my time playing computer RPGs and free-form PBMBs instead. The closest I ever came to a DnD game was Neverwinter Nights.
Anyways, to get back on topic, wundergeek’s post made me facepalm hard. So very hard. Not really even at Shelly, but the character she portrays in her columns (whether she is really like that or not is besides the point). The fashion mentions, the whining, the neurotic behavior…it all makes me cringe. This is the representative for all female tabletoppers? I can tell you this, Shelly is not like me.
Do I get forgetful or confused by the rules in the games? Yes actually. Do I need Vahkt’s help to roll new characters? You betcha. But the reason is because I’m a new player, not because I have two X chromosomes. After spending years playing computer games where all the calculations are done for you, it is a little hard to wrap my head around them. But math isn’t hard for me, I had top marks back in high school. And the forgetfulness is because I am actually forgetful by nature, not because I’m female. In our WoW RPG game, there was another player who had never tabletopped before and surprise surprise! Vahkt had to help him make his character sheet too.
Let me tell you a little something about my characters too. In the WoW RPG, I played Lauka Stonehoof, a tauren warrior who was eventually going to become a mounted warrior. She was a 7 foot 10 meat grinding machine, made of 390 lbs. of muscle charging around on the back of an armored kodo. She could be quiet and gentle to be sure, as some tauren are wont to be. But she also hewed more than one centaur in two with her lance in a ride-by attack. It was rather like an explosion of blood and flesh, which was so awesome that I was giddy from laughing manically at it. I was also ecstatic to be able to wield a massive totem (essentially a big hunk of log that only tauren NPCs get to use in WoW). Lauka literally smashed a few quillboars into paste with it. I think there’s still a tooth and part of a collar bone embedded in the wood. Her skills were so good at splattering blood everywhere that she even earned the awe of a group of trouble-seeking Grimtotems warriors.
My current DnD character is Amli Flamecarver, a dwarf dragon shaman. Why a dwarf dragon shaman? Because I can of course, and it sounded interesting. She’s what I like to refer to as “a small but fierce woman”. She wears worn but usable breastplate armor (because duh, she needs to protect her vital organs) and swings around a morningstar that’s so large for her that she needs to hold it with both hands. Again, because I could. Her personality is more of the friendly-bubbly sort, but she can’t be dismissed as simply an airhead. The best example of her behavior I can think of is when our group had been told they’d be paid more to bring back a group of thieves alive. Due to rolling a crit, she accidentally crushed a man’s chest cavity with one swing of her morningstar. She quickly yelled to her partner, “Don’t worry, I can fix this!” before attacking the next enemy. At the end of the battle, one of the thieves is down on his knees before her, begging that she spares his life. Since she’s so nice (and could use the gold), she decides to headbutt him instead and knocks him out cold.
These are the types of the characters I roll. I like women who kick ass. I’m the sort of person who thinks armor should be both functional and beautiful, not chainmail bikinis. If I rolled a tiefling wizard, they would not be wearing an outfit that bared their cleavage and stomach, nor would I ever give them the last name of “Sparkles”. (Seriously, a tiefling named Sparkles? I want to gag.) And I will never tote around my fashion knowledge like it’s a badge proclaiming me as a “GRRL”. I also don’t give one crap about fashion anyways so it’s moot point.
For those who don’t already know this, women are not all the same. That’s why all those books about “how men can learn to understand women” don’t work. We don’t have some strange sort of secret language because we have different personalities. I certainly can’t figure out what is going on in Shelly’s mind because it’s so foreign to me.
I truly hope that Dragon Magazine hires more female writers to show the wide range of double-X players. To think that so many readers might be getting their only impressions of female tabletoppers from her columns makes me very, very sad.