I first encountered Dungeons and Dragons in my middle school band room in 2002. The band practice had just ended, and a group of guys gathered in front of my row to discuss plans for their session that night. I remember hearing them and thinking, “Dragons? Skeleton Knights? Ogres?! This is right up my ally!!” I had just finished reading LOTR: Return of the King and was desperate to immerse myself in some more high-fantasy. I knew one of the guys pretty well, and about a week later I worked up the courage to ask him if I could, at some point, join their party.
He stared at me blankly for a moment and then said, “No, I don’t think you’d like it… It’s kind of a thing for guys.”
I felt completely rejected; as if I had just got down on one knee and asked him to marry me and he threw the ring back in my face. But in middle school I was incapable of telling anyone how I really felt, so I attempted to play it cool, “Oh, okay. No worries.”
Fast forward thirteen years later: the year is 2015 and my then-boyfriend (now-husband) is a D&D player in a party of all guys, and they are at a point where they are starting a new campaign. I felt torn- I really REALLY wanted to play with them, but I didn’t want anyone to feel like I “got in” just because I was the girlfriend of one of the party members. I genuinely wanted to play, and had wanted to play for years. Once again, I found the courage to ask if I could join the party.
After a day of interparty discussion they said yes! I was extraordinarily happy, and this time I didn’t care who knew. For about a week I was on cloud nine, flipping through the Player’s Handbook and coming up with ideas for my character. And then the anxiety of realization set it: I am the only girl in this party.
Is that weird? Is that bad? Do I have to be the healer?
I wasn’t sure how to feel, or how the addition of a girl to a previously all guys group would affect party dynamics…
However, all of my doubts were gone by the end of the first session.
The party consisted of five guys, our male DM, and myself. And yes- the dynamics of the group did change, but the change had nothing to do with my gender. There was a shift because I was a new person. A new person bringing with them a unique role-playing style and immersing a new character in a world previously shared by only a select few. In talking more with other D&D players, I found that this was completely normal. Anytime a new member joins an already existing party there is going to be a shift, regardless of their actual age, gender, identity, etc.
All that to say, if you’re a girl and you’ve been invited to join a pre-existing all guys D&D group, go for it. You’re going to have a lot of fun. And if they are playing D&D right, your out-of-game gender should be the least interesting thing about you.