On Tuesday and Thursday nights, I play Dungeons and Dragons.
We are, for the most part, not a very organized group. Including myself and the DM (Dungeon Master) there are only 4 of us, but we usually have trouble keeping on track. Most of the time our conversations divulge into all of us sharing memes with each other instead of actually getting anything on our quest done.
It can be frustrating at times, but it’s hard not to be amused by the shenanigans.
In my current campaign I play a warlock named Fern, a half-elf hired killer with an affinity for using Eldritch Blast at any given chance. Her backstory is still in the works because I haven’t had much time to write anything, but she’s pretty badass.
My other teammates include a high-elf fighter and a half-elf paladin. I like to call us “Team Hustle and Flow”, but the others haven’t warmed up to it yet.
I’m sure in time they will.
Fern was not my first character. Before Fern, there was Calla – a half-elf (I might have a type) bard with some backstory that I honestly couldn’t tell you to save my life. Unfortunately, Calla only lasted like 4 sessions before being killed by some weird buff zombies or something that I also can’t remember. I try not to think about it.
But before Fern, and even before Calla, there was Theo. He was my first ever D&D character, and probably the closest thing I’ll ever have to the love of my life. Even to this day he’s my pride and joy.
I’ve played the character of Theo in a few campaigns. He was a half-elf (I’m telling you. A type.) bard. For a long time I was really invested in only playing a bard because I thought they were cool. Of course, then Calla died and I decided maybe I should change it up by playing a warlock, but I still prefer characters that can do magic over characters that are melee.
Anyway, back to Theo. Theo was the product of my first time ever playing Dungeons and Dragons. It was the summer before I started college, and my friend’s sister had recently introduced me to the world of Critical Role, a livestreamed show on Geek and Sundry where a bunch of famous voice actors played Dungeons and Dragons. I was instantly invested in the characters, the plot, and the truly amazing storytelling done by the DM, Matthew Mercer. Each episode of Critical Role ranged between 3-5 hours, and when I started watching, there were only 20 some episodes out. I spent the end of the summer watching these episodes when I wasn’t working or doing hoodrat things with my friends. Unfortunately, once I got to college, it was hard for me to sit down every Thursday night to watch the live episodes for 4 hours, especially because I had an 8:30 Intro to Psychology class the next morning that I absolutely hated. Now I’m nowhere near caught up on Critical Role, and I’ll probably never be, but I still regard it as one of the main reasons I started playing D&D.
Around the same time, the same girl that introduced me to CR suggested that I join a campaign that she already had going. All of the kids in my first group were either people who had graduated with me or people who were a year younger (including myself I think there were like 7 of us). That was when Theo was born.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Critical Role, you can instantly tell that Theo was influenced heavily by Scanlan, a gnome bard played by Sam Riegel. They weren’t exactly the same, but I liked Scanlan’s character and wanted to take some of the personality traits he had and mix them with some of my own to create Theo. Another member of my group created a Dragonborn fighter who was deaf, and we ended up mixing our backstories together and making a story about how they met and performed together on the street, and Theo was her translator. We probably could have done more with that story, but we never really did.
I have documents upon documents devoted to Theo and his backstory. He was a half-elf and his past was some sad story about his elven mother raising him when his human father left them and how the other elves in the city never truly accepted Theo because he was half-human. His mom eventually died and he left the elven city he was raised in and started playing music on the street, committing petty crimes, and charming any woman he came across. He eventually met the Dragonborn fighter and they became instant friends. There’s more to it, but I won’t bore you with the extra details right now.
I honestly can’t remember much of what Theo did during my first campaign, but I do remember that the first monster he ever killed was a wolf, and I rolled a nat 20 to skin it and turn it into a cool cape. We only got to play for a few weeks before my teammates started leaving for college. All I know is that I was determined to find a D&D group on campus so I could continue playing as Theo.
During my first semester I ended up finding a D&D group through a club on campus. We started near the beginning of the semester and lasted until about finals week, before we kind of just stopped playing and all went our separate ways. All that mattered to me was that I got to play Theo again, but this time I had the added bonus of knowing what I wanted and what I didn’t want him to do. His backstory didn’t change much from the campaigns, but I continued to elaborate and expand on him.
Once we stopped playing, I was kind of sad, but things had started to get busy for me so I figured it was better if I stopped playing for a while and focused on school and work.
For a while during the second semester of my freshman year of college I dabbled in DMing, although I never got too far. I had a friend who wanted to start playing (although I don’t think he was ever too serious about it), so I said I would DM if we could find more people to play. While we looked for more people to join, I started writing up my own campaign. I’ve still got a whole Google Docs folder devoted to it, but we weren’t able to find many other people who wanted to play, so I never actually got a chance to DM. I’m not too upset about it, though, because I didn’t own the Dungeon Master’s Guide and I didn’t (and still don’t) have the money to buy one now. Sometime in the future I think I’d like to start DMing for real, but I might save it until the summer.
And that brings me to my current campaign. We started around the beginning of this semester, but at the start we had a different DM and more people in the group. The original DM ended up leaving the group around the same time that Calla died, and a bunch of other players left as well. Like I said, at this point there’s 4 of us including our new DM, although I don’t mind the small number of people playing. I think it’s easier to get things done when there’s only a few involved.
Regardless of how disorganized my current campaign is, I’m having a good time with it. It’s nice to be able to escape from my responsibilities for a few hours twice a week and do something creative like roleplay. When I first joined this campaign, I was in a really dark point in my life and struggling really badly every single day (which maybe I’ll talk about at some point. I’m not entirely sure yet.) Things have gotten marginally better since then, and at that point we only played once a week, but I think having D&D as a way to blow off some steam definitely helped me.
I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing this summer. Maybe I’ll try and find some people to play D&D with, or maybe I’ll take a break. But I guess for the time being, I’ll keep trying to catch up on episodes of Critical Role and The Adventure Zone.
– Kaylee, using the cat brush