How Role Play Saved My Character

If you haven’t seen #OffTheRailsCrew I suggest you watch it here

It is pretty solid storytelling and a group of great players to boot. This game was a rocky start for me, but I have found redemption in solid Role Play. With that being said I would like to share with you why I am excited to play Augthar now.

A few months ago I joined a one shot in order to give @Tempuslibris her first chance to be in a D&D game.  Since I knew it was a one-shot and I was naïve about it becoming anything else I decided to make a character I wouldn’t normally play.  This was right around the time that Matt had created the Witch Hunter class so I said what that heck and rolled up a Goliath Witch Hunter, because why not?

Our first game was fun.  I however absolutely hated my character.  I couldn’t find his voice, I didn’t like melee, and I literally almost died, Charles had to drop in a deus ex Machina to save us.  The entire time we played in the back of my mind I was thinking, it’s just a one shot, it will be over soon. Fast forward to today and we have 13 episodes under our belt and 3 more players added and it is totally a full blown campaign.

I will not lie to you that the episodes leading up to our last one were tough for me.  I admit that over time, I grew to find Augthars voice. What joy and entertainment I could not find in his class, I found in role playing him and engaging with the other players.  It was the only saving grace of this Tuesday game in the beginning.

In all RPG’s I have played casters, or a form of caster.  Melee just has never done it for me, and as we continued into our never ending one-shot I felt the frustration and hatred grow.  You probably can’t tell if you watch the episodes, but the only time I was having fun was when I got to role play.  I remember it was around the mages tower episode that I had just decided to RP Auggie to death in order to keep the game going for my friends. From that point I had fun.  He wasn’t my favorite character but he would do.

Things started to change a little after the Broken Isles.  Charles introduced my nemesis into the story line and I fed off of the feels that that produced, giving me an outlet to enjoy our campaign.  As we progressed in the story I knew that we would eventually face this demon, and I devised a plan. It seemed only natural that Augthar would sacrifice his life for his friends and to end the demon that destroyed his clan.  So with Auggie on the top of a mountain I made a decision, Augthar would die for good at the first chance for a heroic death.

I was confident in my decision as we progressed further, and came closer to meeting our Demon Boss. However something started to happen that I didn’t expect.  I do not know why I never saw it coming but Auggie was growing on me.  With level 5 and my new hammer I found the combat to be a little more interesting, I found Augthar had another side to his personality and I also found that maybe with the right combination of RP and items, even I could be coaxed into liking a melee character.  The time also happened to coincide with Mercer renaming the class and updating it even more.  I was feeling stronger and had more options.

Then came the day I knew was coming. Two weeks ago we fought the thing that had possessed my character for 3 years, the beast that made me kill my entire clan.  The RP was strong with me.  I landed blow after blow, I saved team mates and I felt that I was doing Auggie justice.  All the while I was waiting for that moment when I could give him his heroic death.  Auggie was at 1 HP when he charged in to attack the demon.  I had a superior health potion but was so determined to kill him I didn’t use it.  I took a hit and went unconscious, and then Rhia fell and died.  During this time something woke in me, after all this time of disliking a character I had tricked myself into caring about him.  I know to most reading this it probably seems silly that I didn’t already care about him, but it honestly took me by surprise.  With Rhia down and myself newly healed I went in for what I would hope would be the final kill.  I had no idea what the Boss’ HPs were but I hoped.  I succeeded. I killed my demon and Charles gave me an honest heroic out, at least I think he did, and I didn’t want to take it knowing Rhia was dead.

So here I was knowing that I was going to die but instead of going out with the boss I knew I needed to save my sister, so I RP’d and hoped that Charles would be okay with it.  I then felt that since Rhia was saved with my death that it wouldn’t be fair if they could just bring me back to life so I gave myself rules to return.  I would roll 4 times 0-40 I would return to the living 40-75 I would stay in limbo and 76-100 I would die never to return.  Granted that doesn’t seem even, but it was the heat of the moment and I wasn’t thinking.  In the end the story played out as it did and I lived.  I was happy that Auggie was alive and I felt a renewed interest in him.

I am not sure exactly what the lesson is in this.  Sometimes the things we think we will not like still have something redeemable in them, that perhaps is a solid lesson.  We put up barriers and surround ourselves with what is comfortable.  I took a chance on something I normally wouldn’t play and I grew to love it just as much as my other characters.  That is why I love D&D, and that is why I will never stop playing.

Flumphs, Foes, and Friendship Part 1

He had the crowd now and he knew it, he heard it with every cheer, he saw it with every smile, he felt it with every foot. They were his to control, their joy his creation.  He helped them forget who they were for a short time, and in that act helped him remember who he was.  He eased pain, sparked love and grew happiness. Every song he played helped to remind him to never be “that” again, and if he could, keep anyone else from giving in to the darker voices.

Thordren’s bagpipes hummed through the crowd as his nimble fingers piped a melodic tune.  A majority of the crowd was now on their feet, unable to resist the urge to dance.  He laughed to himself as he picked up the pace, this song was his fathers, clan legend said it drew his mother, renowned for never leaving the brewery for any length of time, out dancing.  This was his finisher and it never failed to disappoint.  The pace quickened yet again and he reached out with his gift, it was time to close and bring the roof down.

There is an energy in all living things, a power to the world.  Mages and wizards understand it to immense degrees bending it and shaping it to their will, bringing destruction or creation with astounding ability.  Bards see that power, they understand it and can tap into it. However there is a nuance that even the most learned Wizard fails to notice.  The spirit of the living.  Thordren sees that now, he can feel it in the room as if he were swimming in a lake.  THe air is thick with it.  With each note he reaches out and weaves it, pulls it into him in strands.  With each inhale he alters that energy and ties it into his song.  In the end he has transformed that energy into a tapestry of ribbons that shine in the room.  He sees them as dancing ropes of color braided with his art, infused with his spirit.  What was once a lake of energy is now more akin to a maypole with THordrens stout dwarven body as the source.  Ribbons of bardic energy now  tied to everyone in the room and as he plays he pulses that energy out and watches as its light dances along the lines flashing colors like northern lights in and out of the crowd.

The crowd is on their feet now, drinks spill as men and women, halflings and humans dance and clap, laugh and cry out with joy.  Thordren feels the peak, the point at which is magic is strongest, any more and the spell would fail too far and the people will falter.  With a flick of his wrist on the pipes he conjures sparks, the crescendo reaches and impossible beat, the constant chime of the bagpipes underneath the tune seems to vibrate the very walls as colors of all kinds spark from his instrument into the air in a rainbow of lights. The pace and show from the stage lights a fire in the crowd and the still night outside the tavern is shattered with the roar from the crowd.  And what seemed like an unstoppable force ends as Thordren swings the pipes to his side, the music ending abruptly, as he then flourishes his hat from his head bows and sends a final shot of sparks prestidigitating out amidst the crowd.

“Thank ye, Ah’ve been Thordren Silverheart and Goodnight!” he rough dwarish voice booming out into the dancefloor.

Cheers erupt as gold, silver and copper is thrown on the stage, Thordren takes a few more bows, scoops up his earnings and hops off the creaking stage making a bee line straight for the bar.

“Good lord Thordren, I think thats the best show yet, Ive never seen this place so full, truly a unique talent from a dwarf.” Hank said as he saunters his rotund body up to the counter.

“Haha, thanks laddie, though not really unique at all, just a wee song meh father taught meh as a bairn.” Thordren plopped himself on a stool and arranged his coins neatly in front of him. “Now let’s get down to the real business. Two SilverStouts, a shot of tha Halfling whiskey from tha east, and four shots of tha clear stuff those northern Monks left here yesterday.”

Hank quickly went to work filling Thordrens order, placing two pints of a dark thick beer before him before heading to the back and returning with a tray of the requested spirits.

“Now careful dwarf, you put on a great show but id prefer not to have another incident like your first night here.  Beatte is still trying to get the smell out of your old room.” His eyes darted up to the second floor where one of the rooms had been cordoned off with thick rope and a wooden sign.

“AHHAHAHA” Thordren threw back his head, his auburn beard shaking as he laughed.”Sorry ’bout that Hank I swore that lad had called for a Stinking Cloud”

Hank stared at him as he cocked his head to the side “He was yelling for you to stop Singing so loud.”

“Really?  Heh that’s nae what I heard…anyway who tells a Bard to stop singing so loud Ah mean c’mon!”

“It was 4am Thordren, you were down here alone helping yourself to the bar.” Hank motioned for a waitress across the room

“Hmm, i dinae remember that part too clearly, first night in a new towns always a bit rough” Thordren arranged his drinks in order of height, taking special care to place one pint of SilverStout in front of the empty stool to his left.

“Yes, it sure was.  Beth would you be as so kind as to stay here and watch over our guest for the rest of the evening” Hank ushered the barmaid behind the bar, making a blatant show as he took his keys locked the bottom liquor cabinets and putting the metal ring into her hands. “Now Thordren Beth heres gonna watch over you for the rest of the night, be nice and try not to drink too much.” He passed a quick look to Beth and disappeared into the Kitchen.

“Why Hello Beth!” The barmaid stared blankly as Thordren proceeded to empty shot after shot in quick succession. “Babysittin’s no fun. Come on and join meh lass?”

“Oh not a chance in the Nine Hells dwarf! I’ve seen your tolerance and your after show first hand. Im here to keep the damage to a minimum.” Crossing her arms across her chest she glared down at the colorful bard and braced herself for the battle yet to come.

As if ignoring most of her words Thordren set himself back into his work finishing his drinks, pushing more coins toward Beth and ordering more.  He purposefully left the pint to his left untouched and every once and awhile would click his current drink on the rim and mutter silently in his native dwarvish.

“Thordren?” Beth finally asked an hour in to her watch.

“Aye lass? Come to your senses about joinin’ meh?” His common slurred a bit as he looked up from his drink.

“Still a no Bard.  I am curious however?  You’ve ordered a pint of that for a week now and never touch it. Why?”

“Oh that…well lass…that’s ah…trad…tradition…yeah ancient Dwarven tradition in my clan, something bout remembrance and the like. Dwarves don’t like to waste alcohol for no reason ya ken?” His expression saddened a little as he flourished he hands about hoping to distract her.

He did not like when people asked about this particular habit of his, and he reminded himself again to keep it to a minimum as he traveled.  Sometimes however 10 years of a habit creeped in without him noticing.  As he tried to find a way to change the subject the doors flew open and a man, disheveled and panting came stumbling in.

“The UNDERDARK!” he yelled falling to his knees, “The Underdark is here for us all!”

Thordren lept off his stool and ran towards the man, thankful for a distraction. Instinctually he began humming a small tune weaving restful energies into the alarmed stranger. “whats all this about tha Underdark now lad?”

“My farm” the man wheezed, “Out near Greely’s Fall, the old mine.  I saw them white abominations from the Underdark! they nearly took my life.” he still looked visibly shaken but had managed to gather his breath as Thordren continued to hum his song of rest.

“Abominations? What are ya gettin’ at boy?  How could anything from tha Underdark be up here?  I’m sure your mistaken.” Thordren helped the man to his feet and ushered him to a nearby table waving for Beth and miming to bring some sort of drink for the man.  “There now, have a seat, rest and calm yourself.” He handed the man the glass of water Beth had retrieved and sat down next to him.

“No, no i saw them i swear. Ghostly white things, eye stalks howling wind sounds…they are gonna destroy us all.” the man looked Thordren in the eyes obvioulsy still shaken.

“Flumphs! Are ye talking ’bout Flumphs laddie?” Realization hit Thordren as the man described what he saw. A tiny bubble of excitement grew in his gut.

“I…I think so… I was ju..”

“AHAHAHAHA!” Thordren’s laughter cut the man off mid sentence, “Flumphs! AHAHA!  Laddie Flumphs may be from tha Underdark yes, but they’ll neh harm a hair on your head, AHHAHAHA! Flumphs” Thordren continued to laugh as he mindlessly slogged down some leftover Ale from the table.

“Flumphs are fascinatin’ creatures! Ran into a few back in my days in the west among the elves.  HAHA fantastic time that was…did ya know that Flumphs hold themselves up by breathin’ in and expelling tha air right out o’ their tentacles? Most ridiculous thing ah’ve ever seen. Makes them super easy to flip, trust me on that, just gotta be mindful of tha stink spray.” The Dwarf Bard prattled on as inebriation caught up with him.  The man seemed unsure of Thordrens knowledge and kept trying to intervene but could not get a word in amidst the Dwarfs apparently vast knowledge of this Underdark species.

“Thordren the mans obviously scared, lets find the constable and at least tell them..” Beth put her hand on Thordrens shoulder and he quickly shrugged it off.

“Bah! No need to get the law involved lass, I can handle a few Flumphs, besides should make for a great story to tell in my performance tomorrow night! Thordren Silverheart Flumph Fighter!” He moved his hands out in front of himself imagining the title in the air with a huge grin.

The alcohol induced excitement inside his gut was at full force now, and his need for adventure was about to burst.

“I’ll take care of this scourge lass, find Hank and tell him Ah’ll need a big breakfast after this!” He ran up to his room grabbed his travel pack and crashed back down the stairs, pulling a small flask from his pocket and downing its contents he burst out into the chill dark of night.

Of Dice and Friends

If you had told me a year ago that I would eventually be on the internet speaking in a bad Scottish accent pretending to be a dwarf bard, I would probably have looked at you a little weird and then screamed “HOLY CRAP I WILL!!???  I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO THAT” I would then grab you ferociously by the collar and scream further “TELL ME OH MAGICAL TIME WIZARD HOW TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN SOONER, TELL ME, TELL ME NOW!”.  You would have suffered whiplash, I probably would have been sued, legal proceedings and financial ruin sending me to the wasteland to live out a sad lonely existence.  Instead none of that happened, but what did happen was magical and my life is forever changed.

In my last post I described my life and my discovery of Critical Role.  I wont waste time rehashing that.  Suffice to say that being engaged in this community has really changed my life.  Shortly after having found this wonderful show and making an active attempt to engage with the community I was really trying to figure out how I could start my own game of D&D.

My problem became immediately apparent as I was still sort of new to So Cal and my social circle was pretty small.  I basically ditched my real life Bar Trivia team because it was on Thursdays.  I had no time to fret over not being able to find a game as it was around this time that the Critters were born in full force.

Just What the Google Doc ordered

With the fandom growing and the need for D&D gameplay the Critters formed a Skype group and prepared a google doc where we all could provide input on what who we where and what we wanted to play.  This was a turning point in my search for games.  Here i ended up being paired into Group 4 with @elleine35 @tukroll @xdragon_riderx @charlesramsey13 @ruzgofdi and @MDfilmblog.  Once paired it was time to create characters.  I had decided to create a Dwarf Bard and was so excited to flesh him out and prepare him for a game. We nicknamed ourselves the Half-Assed crew, which i think came from a couple of characters being half races, but in the Skype chat it stuck.  It took us awhile to work out a schedule for playing but eventually it all came together and we started our first game .  I can tell you that the minute we got into our session and I started belting out a horrible Scottish accent I felt like I was at home.  In the few campaigns since,   we have come to learn so much about our characters, and we are still learning things today.  Becca is really coming into her own as a new DM and with each episode she comes up with more and more amazing things and ways to mess with each one of us.  I both fear and look forward to the day when Thordrens back story comes to the forefront.

We have been playing since June and i can tell you with a full and happy heart that I am a better person with these people in my life. having these adventures and sharing our ridiculous moments really does make you feel like you are a part of something bigger. I have grown very fond of my Half-Assed Crew.  Not only are we the best of D&D friends but I have met a couple of them in person and they are just as amazing.  We are always in contact and we are there for each other nearly 24/7.  I never could have expected this if I was wanted to. And even today when my life feels like it’s heading toward a dark and scary place and I feel like I can’t cope, they were there for me, and I know that they are just a Skype chat away and that makes all the difference in the world.  i never have to feel alone, my D&D friends will always be right there.

This is what Critical Role has spawned and these are what #Critters and #Hoomans are.  Just real people who understand that everyone else is a person and treats them with the respect that people deserve.  We are there when you are down, and we will help you back up.  I love my Half-Assed Crew.