There are many wonderful and fulfilling things about playing tabletop roleplay games. However, unlike single-player video games, you rely on others in your gaming group to help you uncover all of the amazing gifts games like D&D have to offer. And sometimes, being a female in a gaming group can come with its own set of obstacles. I asked a few seasoned TTRPG players what tips they could give female players to help them get the most from their time rolling.
Make sure you have everything that you need so you don’t have to rely on other players. Now, I will say, I am always the first to offer up dice to lend someone my players handbook. I have a mild to moderate dice obsession and love to share, but sometimes people aren’t as generous and being prepared can help you transition into a group or present yourself as someone who is taking things seriously. Also, having a well thought out character comes in handy in many ways. Making a decision as to what your character would do or react in RP situations becomes much easier when you have the background to draw from. When you know what motivates your character you can decide much more quickly what they will do to achieve those ends.
“Bring your own books/ dice/ sheets. Have a solid character concept in mind.”
-Lisa LVL 13 Warrior
Remember all the choices you have.
Just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you have to play a certain class, or race, or even gender. You have just as much freedom in the creation of your character as the player’s handbook and your DM allow in the world they’ve constructed. If you want to be a male half-orc barbarian that insists on communicating to anyone who isn’t a trusted companion with a series of grunts and snorts, then do it. On the flip side, if you want to be an elven cleric-druid that spends too many spells casting cure wounds on helpless NPC and animals, then, by all means, do it.
“[It bothers me] When people expect me to be the stereotypical healer.”
- -Lisa LVL 13 Warrior
You are not pinhole into a specific class or even character quirks just because you have a vagina. Drink deeply from all that roleplay games have to offer, and sample all the different characters you can become.
Stand up for yourself.
Don’t let other players or the DM dictate what your character does, wants, or feels. The DM’s job is to tell you about the world and the characters in it, the other players jobs are to tell everyone how their individual character reacts to said world and your job is to do the same for your character. Your brand of fun is not wrong and you should do what you feel your character should do as long as you’re not stealing fun from another player.
“The biggest thing I hate is when people role play for my character. So say another player wants something to happen that is based on your character doing something – using a spell or whatever. People can easily say “…and then [your character] does this!” My biggest suggestion would be to stand up for yourself. I tend to say things like, “No, they don’t do that at all. When it is my turn I will go.” Or whatever.
My experience has generally been a positive one, but this is a big annoyance for me even with friends. I don’t care that you want it to happen, my character doesn’t act or feel the way that makes it easier for you to do something. This goes for the DM as well. Just because they run the game doesn’t mean they control your character. If that’s what they want, they can write their own story without you.”
-Hayley LVL 12 Wizard
Another thing that requires you to stand up for yourself is romance. As this can add a whole different dynamic to the game I would highly suggest that this is talked about before starting a campaign so everyone is on the same page. However, if the rules for this are not already laid out and a player is making you uncomfortable within or even out of game flirting say something immediately. Just because you are female doesn’t give an open invitation for advances from any character. It’s also important to set boundaries so that everyone at the table knows what is and isn’t okay.
- “[It bothers me] When dudes always try to initiate some romance RP.
Not always, to be sure, but enough that it’s awkward joining a random group at a game store.
- Maintain boundaries, in-game and out.”
- -Lisa LVL 13 Warrior
Go to your DM/GM.
“If anyone is harassing you, tell the gm (in private) and let them help you.”
Your DM/GM is literally there to facilitate the fun of the entire group. Their job is to give the players at their table and enjoyable but challenging experience. If you can’t enjoy the game because of someone else’s actions and you’ve tried speaking to that player about it or you feel uncomfortable confronting that player directly, try talking to your DM. Chances are, if they know you’re not enjoying yourself they will do something to remedy the situation.
Find a good group.
It’s not just about finding the perfect character to play, it’s also about finding that right person to play with. One of the greatest parts of TTRPG is the collaborative storytelling element. Although the DM helps guide the story they are by no means the single story-teller, the players are also responsible for bringing the decisions of their characters onto the stage that the DM sets and from those decisions the real story are born.
I was invited to play with a group that decided to meet for a board game night at a local game pub so I could meet everyone and see if we worked well together. While I only played a couple of games due to work obligations and travel it was an awesome experience. And getting to know everyone before sitting down for a 4-5 hour session was really helpful.
“The very best gaming group I’ve ever played in was one that just finished a 3+ year campaign. It was formed entirely of queer women or strong queer allies. We had the very best sessions of nothing but RP sometimes. We loved our good combats, but we really loved our roleplay. I stretched my acting skills immensely and felt super comfortable taking on roles of all genders. Sometimes I presented female when DMing, other times male (I’m gender fluid), and felt comfortable and safe presenting however I wanted to.
I strongly recommend gaming with women-only or women-majority groups.
I should point out. I’ve been gaming since 1978, so when I say it was the best gaming group, it was definitely one among dozens of groups over more than 30 years of gaming.”
“^seconded! It was my very first group ever with Morgan and it being a strong LGBT / women-majority game was very key. And my other successful groups are ones that are diverse in myriad ways. I’m in another group that is dmed by a man from Bangalore, and his sister is in it as well. It’s allowed for very different ways of illustrating the rp worlds we visit so they aren’t entrenched in white cishet normativity.”
-Samantha LVL 17 Ranger
I personally play in a group of close friends that is pretty gender balanced, and everyone in the group is very accepting and kind. It has been a really amazing experience thus far and I can’t wait to continue it. All different group dynamics can make for epic gaming, but I think the most important aspect of any strong group is open communication. If you can talk out your issues and feel safe and respected while doing so, there really isn’t any issue your group can’t resolve.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and you won’t always mesh well with every group you game with. Sometimes there’s that one person that just refuses to respect other players or communicate effectively. And sometimes that player can even be the DM.
And on that note…
Know when to walk away.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to make something work, it just doesn’t. It is not your responsibility to change people’s minds on how they should treat you. It’s not your job to make toxic people stop being toxic. Being in a gaming group is just like any other relationship. If you have a group of friends and one of them is being awful one of three things can happen. You can stand up for yourself and let them know what they’re doing isn’t okay and they can see the error of their ways and change OR they can hear what you say and choose to ignore you and the rest of you friends can tell them to get lost, OR OR they hear what you say, don’t change, and the rest of your friends also see nothing wrong with it and then the ball is in your court. That’s when you make the decision for yourself that there are much more accepting and kind people in the world that would make much better friend material. Gaming is the same way. If all else fails – leave. You don’t owe a group anything that doesn’t respect you. And NEVER feel guilty for leaving a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.
“Remember that you are not obligated to stick with a group. If you have someone who is offensive/disruptive/sexist/etc. you can either talk to the person who is behaving badly, talk to the GM about the person behaving badly, or leave. You don’t need to “tough it out” to prove that you can or that you are better than the person who is causing problems. There are other groups.”
Now here’s the kicker, these tips aren’t just useful to female players. They’re useful to everyone. Regardless of your gender or sexual identity, standing up for yourself, being prepared for your game, finding the right people, and knowing when it’s time to walk away are skills that any player should keep in their bag of tricks. You are entitled to have just as much fun as everyone else at the table and to enjoy the game to the fullest. So grab your dice, your character sheet, and some good friends and roll initiative my lovelies, and have a damn good time doing it!
If you have more tips and tricks for making your TTRPG experience the best possible, drop us a comment. We wish you and your adventuring party all the natural 20s on your fantastic journeys!