I have a tendency to find about things right when it’s too late to do anything about them. I found out about NaNoWriMo in the beginning of the year, when it is a writing content in November. I found out about the Paizo playtest for the vigilante as the first round ended.
In early May last year I found out about the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, which is of course a few weeks after it was relevant. But it did give me a solid year to think of a theme about which I could write twenty-six articles, and I did eventually have a good idea.
D&D is a game about characters. You can have a kick-in-the-door style campaign without a story, or a pickup game without a setting, or a nuanced narrative without a victory condition, but you can’t have a role-playing game without a role to play. Characters are the means by which players interact with the DM and, usually, vice versa. A player can go their whole career without seeing a summoner or using Combat Expertise or fighting an owlbear, but they can’t go a single session without a character.
A DM, usually, has to be something of an expert on characters. He or she has to know how to design, motivate, present, play, and often retire them. I’ve created easily hundreds of characters for my sessions at all levels, with all sorts of personalities, in all sorts of situations, and I’ve learned so much about DMing through them. But that’s not what I want to talk about.
Instead I want to talk about the characters for whom I’ve DMed. I’ve had dozens of characters in campaigns and dozens more in one-shots, and every one of them has taught me something about their player, or the setting, or myself and my own DMing style. Some have made me laugh, some have frustrated me, and some have died ignominiously, but all of them contributed to their stories and the game.
For each non-Sunday in April I’ve chosen a different character whose name begins with the appropriate letter. I’ll describe the character, what they brought to the table, and how they affected my gaming style. I’ve tried for a representative sampling of characters, intentionally drawing from (almost) every campaign I’ve run and looking for different archetypes and players. Even with these restrictions, picking only twenty-six characters to talk about was really, really hard, and this will quickly become apparent. There were some characters and some players I wanted to talk about but couldn’t due to the structure of the challenge. I know I shouldn’t be looking at a challenge designed to make me post more and complaining that it doesn’t let me post enough, but here we are.
I’ll be starting on 01 April with the letter A and ending 30 April with Z. If you’ve been in one of my campaigns and you want to know when I’ll talk about your character, let me know so I can disappoint you.