It can be incredibly daunting to play D&D. There are so many rules to remember and follow, the math can be confusing, and the character sheets look like wizardry if you stare at them long enough. If you want to get a good taste of what Dungeons and Dragons (or any of the myriad of other tabletop games in its image on the market) plays like, you should start by getting a few friends together. With strangers there’s too much pressure to do serious role-playing. You have to believe that you’re Randalf the half-elven wizard and convince them of your wizardlyness. Nobody is ready for that on their first go-round.
My first adventures with D&D were not the best because I wasn’t thinking creatively. I played a simple character with a simple goal and a simple backstory. All of this was in the name of streamlining the creation process and the playing process. What I happened to cut out along the way was all the fun. Thok the Barbarian who wants to lift the world’s biggest club is fine, but a little too simple. Thok the Barbarian who wants to find a giant club and use it on one specific person who has wronged him, now you’ve got a backstory that a DM (Dungeon Master) can work with.
It seems like a lot of math, I know. There are so many stats that have to be calculated and so many little numbers that are tacked on and so many other little numbers that don’t actually get used. And it is a lot of math, so if you’re not into that sort of thing, maybe it’s not for you and that’s okay. Play a game that calculates the stats for you, like any other RPG that owes it’s lifeblood to the original D&D. But yeah, I get you, it’s super difficult to understand what an attack bonus or a saving throw is, how to do it and which of the numbers to add to it. Try to find a group of friends who aren’t going to play so hard and fast to the rules, it will definitely make the experience much more enjoyable for a new player.
Most of all, remember that the DM is trying to tell you a story of their own creation. He wants this session to result in a good story for everyone, even if he’s trying to kill you at the same time. It’s a delicate balance. Don’t try to break every story he puts in front of you. Don’t be that guy who kills every NPC because they can. They have a name for people like that: “Murder Hobos”. Do you want to be a Murder Hobo? Didn’t think so. Nobody likes people who do that. Let the DM tell his story and there may be some fat loot in it for you at the end.
All in all, D&D is a fun experience that anyone can enjoy if you’re willing to put in the right amount of time. Admittedly it is a huge time sink, but don’t let that distract you. It truly is a game where your imagination can take you into any number of strange places. Who knows what adventures you and your party will have next!