Saturday, May 21, 2022

Roll Initiative! It's Time For Some D&D!

I'm playing Dungeons & Dragons now!

Our group meets every couple of months for a series of connected one-shot adventures. There are pros and cons to that style of play- on the one hand, if every session is a separate, contained mission, it's easy to explain away when one of the players can't make it to a session- their character just didn't go along on that mission. On the other hand, the sessions are so mission-centric that there's not always much room for roleplay or character development.

I've been filling in that gap with a little creative writing on the side.

The character I'm playing is a human bard named Tarryn. Creating her backstory and finding ways to incorporate all the game mechanics into her character and progression have been some of my favorite parts of D&D so far. For example, when I first rolled out her ability scores, I didn't know I was supposed to assign the highest scores to the abilities I would need most as a bard. Instead of going back and switching my ability scores around, I wrote in that Tarryn grew up doing tough chores on a farm to explain why her strength ability score is so much higher than her charisma ability score.

We get some comedy out of that- when Tarryn's bard spells don't work, she's likely to give up and punch her opponent in the nose instead. And starting with such stinky bard stats gives me some room for character growth and development. At the beginning of her story, Tarryn's dream is to become a famous traveling musician, and she only knows a few little magic tricks to aid with her performances or self defense. When she runs out of money on the road and has to turn to adventuring for a little extra income, she starts learning the value of being an adventurer as well as a performer and of delving deeper into her magical talents.

She might also learn that life with a team can be better than life as a solo act.

Because I am me, I went completely overboard in writing Tarryn's backstory. I probably overwhelmed our poor Dungeon Master with the novel I sent him, but in his defense, he did ask for details to help flesh out the map of the continent. I ended up creating some pretty detailed concepts for characters who will probably never show up in the game, like Tarryn's parents and grandparents. Why? Because it was fun!

One of the areas in which I went overboard was in the development of Tarryn's mentors. Her family hired a retired adventurer, a goliath fighter who goes by the name Longstrider, to teach Tarryn how to fight. He introduced her to a member of his former adventuring party, a gnome bard called Moira Gaulper, who first introduced her to the possibilities of bard magic.

Once I started thinking about Moira, I couldn't stop. I'm limited in what I can do with Tarryn- she's young, and I only just got to level 4, so there are only so many spells and abilities at her disposal. Moira, on the other hand, is a level 20 bard, and she can do SO MANY THINGS. Moira is also more of a typical (or stereotypical?) D&D bard- more magic-centric instead of melee-centric, more charming, and a tad bit risqué, and it was fun to play with such a different character.

I wrote out the story of how Tarryn met Moira. My D&D group didn't seem very interested in it, but like any bard, my ego craves validation, so I'm posting it here for you to read! Please note that I didn't write any of the songs quoted in this story- for my bards' musical spellcasting, I decided to go the "jukebox musical" route and use songs that already exist. In order of appearance, the songs are:

- "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Elvis Presley

- "Healing Incantation" from Disney's Tangled

- "Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac

- "Magic Dance" by David Bowie for the Labyrinth soundtrack

- "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker

- and it was only one word, but I was referencing "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC

The link below will open up a PDF. Enjoy!

Bard Lesson

Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Valentine's Day 2022: Part One

Happy Valentine's Day!

Usually on Valentine's Day, I post a valentine on my blog. It's pretty important to me share my love (in all its many forms) with everyone who graces my blog with their presence.

But do you know what one of the most important types of love is?

Self love.

There's a lot wrapped up in self love. It includes self care. That means occasionally treating yourself to a tasty snack, regardless of such things as "calories" or "carbohydrates." It means letting yourself do fun, silly things that boost your mood. It means turning off your work phone once your work hours are over.

Loving yourself means finding that balance between holding yourself accountable and going easy on yourself. You've got to act in a way that generally won't make life harder for yourself tomorrow, but you also can't beat yourself up for not being perfect. Life's a work in progress, and you're doing your best.

Loving yourself means doing good things for yourself, even if they're not necessarily fun things. This could include taking yourself to a doctor or therapist, eating vegetables instead of cookie dough, or putting your phone down and going to sleep when you really just want to keep scrolling. It's hard to do these things sometimes, but you're stronger than you know, and I know you can do it.

On this Valentine's Day, I'm practicing self love by not forcing myself to stay up late and draw the valentine I thought up this morning. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "I'm pretty tired." So I'm going to tuck myself into bed.

But I do hope you're all having a good (or at least tolerable) day/night/time, and I hope you can extend yourself some self love, too. Regardless of who you are, I love you, and my world is better because you're in it!

Stay tuned: Part Two coming soon...