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

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