Shelly Mazzanoble, author of Confessions of a Part-Time Sorceress: A Girl's Guide to the Dungeons & Dragons Game, published by Wizards of the Coasts

Dungeons & Dragons: I worked for the publisher for eight years. I'd known that D&D exists but I'd never played it. I played it my first time and was completely hooked. It was much different experience than I'd anticipated. Like everyone, I'd had some stereotypes—probably less because I worked for the company. But it's all about storytelling, about watching your friends' backs, and it's not competitive. You work as a team to achieve a common goal.

And you get to become this character that's much different from you in real life. I wish I did know magic but I don't. I think that's what draws people in, the opportunity to be someone else

Compared to second life: D&D is a more intimate experience, you're around a table, interacting face to face.

It's about friendship. My coworkers and I play on a daily basis. I have to watch what they're doing I play Astrid, a 135-year-old sorceress. She's good at casting spells, but she's not the strongest player on the team. One of my fellow group members cast a spell on me that would cause him to take half my damage if I were to get hurt. And I thought, that's the nicest thing anyone has every done for me!

And I have some really cool spells. I could fireball this whole place right now.

Astrid: there's a very intricate process for developing your character. You fill out a character sheet that includes their strength, their intelligence, their wisdom, and it's all determined by rolling the dice. How tall you are, how much you weigh, how much money you have in your bank account.

You can choose if you want to be an elf, a sorcerer, a ranger—your class and your race. But other than that it's up to the dice.

After a couple of games, I realized how much I loved playing. And I'm not the typical role-playing gamer. I'm a girly girl, I like shopping, I keep nail polish in my refrigerator, and I love this game! I think if women really knew what this game was about, they'd be more inclined to play it. It's what we really do naturally, sitting around a table, telling stories, watching your friend's back.

Mazzanoble's website is

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Shel Horowitz is the award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers, and five other books, and the editor of Down to Business Magazine.

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