I went into a music store a few years ago in Minneapolis to buy an autoharp. I was nervous about tuning all those strings, so I looked at dulcimers and I bought one whose sound I liked and that felt good on my lap. I love playing it because it is simple to pick out melodies and the drone accompaniment is quite soothing to me. I usually tune it DADD or DAAA, but sometimes I get wild and go for the more complicated and minor modes, chord changes, and fingerpicking. A while back the nut broke and I had to remove one string. I haven't bothered to fix it and it sounds just fine. The traditional playing styles (a la Jean Ritchie, etc.) are fairly simple and easy to learn, but it is possible to get pretty complicated with alternate tunings and fingerpicking techniques. I find myself in North Carolina now, and I find plenty of folks who play and can help me out when I'm stuck.
It's sometimes frustrating to keep up with other musicians because key changes often require retuning, and the drone sound (if you're not keeping up with the chord changes) irritates a lot of other musicians. But I have no other instrument that is so much fun to sit alone and sing along with.