Friday, January 25, 2013
Getting My Geek On!
If you ever want to get to know yourself… I mean really, really get to know yourself… join a role playing game (RPG). Not only will you see yourself, you will see, quite clearly how others perceive you!
Recently a small group of friends decided to start a D&D game and, having wanted to try this for ages, I was thrilled to be included. I’ve never played D&D before. I had no idea what was truly involved or how the game actually worked. But I wanted to learn, so I dove in feet first and created a character.
My character’s name is Anayah. She is a Wizard of the human race, 5”9” tall, has black hair, a pale complexion, green eyes and tips the scale at 130 lb. Anayah is 27 years old, but her backstory is shrouded in mystery. Even she does not know where she came from or who her parents are. She was raised in an orphanage from which she ran away when she was 13 to seek apprenticeship under the great Wizard Odynyn.
She is tough and disciplined and curious. Thus she chooses to be an eclectic Wizard, studying all aspects of magic, rather than specializing in any specific discipline. Though young, Anayah possesses a strong sense of wisdom and approaches life with a passion for learning and a heightened desire to understand and know her environment. She is not overly sympathetic, but she is empathetic. She is keenly analytical and observant. (At least she thinks she is! The DM has great power over things.)
After completing her apprenticeship at the age of 21, Anayah built a home for herself on the edge of a great forest. There she continues her studies in the pursuit of perfection. She draws water from a nearby creek; she’s adept with a small crossbow and she values her solitude as much as she values life – all life – itself. She understands her Oneness with everything.
One morning, as Anayah is getting ready to prepare her daily spells, a deer bounds out of the forest and knocks her over. Slightly confused and mildly annoyed, she watches the deer disappear back into the forest on the other side and turns her attention back to her spell work. But more animals run out of the forest and past her worktable and disappear back into the woods. Intrigued, but determined to complete her morning work, she tries to ignore them until they charge into her work table, scattering her equipment and supplies, leaving a huge mess. Rather more annoyed, she decides to follow the animals to try to discover what’s gotten into them.
She is led to a grove at the edge of a river where she sees all the animals gathered in a circle around a strange beam of bright light shooting up into the sky from the center of the clearing. Looking up, she notices a strange black cloud high above the earth. Suddenly the bright light turns black and the animals flee back into the forest. There are three other Beings in the grove: a Half-elf Druid, a Halfling Druid and a Human Monk. Anayah yells at them to take cover. The Half-elf attempts to climb a tree, but stumbles and hits her head on the trunk, dazing herself in the process.
Anayah sees a group of people from the nearby village of Clyde behind the Monk. They ask the villagers if they know what is going on. Garret, the obvious leader, says that he does not, but that there is someone in the village who might. The Wizard, the Monk and the two Druids decide to follow the villagers back to Clyde.
As they near Clyde, they notice a red glow on the horizon. The villagers, alarmed, rush ahead to discover that their homes are on fire – the whole village is ablaze. The Druids dash ahead with the villagers and begin a bucket chain to help put out the fires. Anayah and the Monk hang back to make sure that there is no other danger lurking before the Monk joins the bucket chain. Anayah assesses the situation and, seeing that the fires are being dealt with, begins to look for Garret to ask him where she can find the man who might know what is going on. Garret refuses to tell her; he’s too occupied with trying to save the village. Anayah looks around to see if she might recognize this mysterious person, but fails to do so. In her mind, the village can be rebuilt, but there is no point in rebuilding it if it’s only going to be destroyed again. She needs to know what happened and why.
When the fires are finally doused, Anayah apologizes to Garret, who reluctantly accepts and tells her that the man she is looking for is a hunter named Paul who lives about a day’s walk away on a grassy knoll on the other side of the forest. Annoyed by this odd twist, Anayah doesn’t pursue it, fearing that she will alienate Garret again. Garret reports that the gathering hall has survived the fire, but the town’s Creed has been stolen. He also mentions that the trees in the forest surrounding an old ruin have shifted, forming a maze.
We're probably starting where most groups end.
Anayah, the Monk and the Druids decide to go in search of the Hunter, Paul and, after purchasing some supplies from the villagers, set off wondering if the book, the cloud and the maze are connected somehow. Along the way, the Half-elf trips on a fallen log and badly sprains her ankle. The Halfling tears strips from his bed roll and makes a splint that enables the clumsy elf to continue to walk. A short while later, they hear voices coming from behind a rock.
“Stop! Where are you going?”
“Shhhh. Not so loud.”
Looking around, the small group of companions cannot see anyone, but they follow the Monk’s keen sense of direction to the rocks where they discover a huge, hairy man, Paul, the Hunter. And he’s talking to himself.
They question him about the forest and the animals and through his somewhat confusing answers learn only that something sinister is going on. “The animals no longer talk right,” he says.
It’s getting late in the day and Paul announces that he is hungry. He holds up a large rabbit that he has trapped and invites the group back to his cabin to eat and rest. They agree, hoping to get more information from him.
At the cabin, that appears much larger inside than it does outside, Paul prepares the rabbit for the cook fire and tells them that a few weeks earlier a black cloud appeared over some ruins and right after that all the trees surrounding the ruins moved to form a maze. “Anyone that’s gone into the maze,” he says, “hasn’t come out.”
Paul knows another way in, though, through a tunnel at the base of the knoll that will lead them to the ruins. He flatly refuses to guide them, though. “I will not go near that place.”
He does agree to show them to the entrance of the tunnel, but not until morning. The group decides that they will rest for the night in the Hunter’s smelly cabin. In the morning they will prepare to enter the tunnel by getting spells ready and gathering extra food, for the way through the tunnel will take them several days to pass.
This is how our D&D adventure begins. I don’t know what will happen next, but I’m very eager and excited to find out. Our Dungeon Master informs us that there will be combat! But what will we encounter? How will we fair? Will the mystery of the black cloud be solved?
(Cue creepy cliff-hanger music…)
At the end of the evening, the player playing the Half-elf informs me that Anayah was really mean to Garret. I admit I was somewhat taken aback. Was she… I… she? Later, my meditations would focus on this (those) very question.
Where do I end and where does Anayah begin? Are we the same? Or are we different? Would I have done the same thing in Anayah’s place?
The answers are (respectively): The lines are blurred; Yes and no; Ditto; and Very likely I would have pitched water on the fires, but resented having to do it because I would have felt guilty about not helping though I’d rather be interviewing the guy that Garret said knew what was going on to find out who did this and why so I could analyze the information and try to understand it so that maybe I could find a way to stop it from happening again.
And there’s the rub. All these internal workings are not obvious to the casual observer and all they see is Anayah didn’t help put out the fires. The bitch!
D&D philosophy rocks!
I’ve been the victim (so to speak) of such internal workings in real life numerous times. It’s nothing new and I’m no longer surprised to discover that people find me cold, intimidating, even rude at times when, in fact, I’m simply cutting – or trying to – cut to the chase. Honesty isn’t always well received. This tendency has transferred to Anayah, who is now mirroring it back to me and I am the witness of my own creation. It’s disturbing. It’s enlightening!
Where Anayah followed her heart, I would have done what was expected of me. That bugs me just a little bit.
But now I’m even more excited now to see how this game unfolds. Not just the story line, but Anayah’s character development. Will I cave and force her to be more conventional, more normal, more … boring? (Inside voice)
Maybe I’ll make her a real bad-ass, and then – just for fun – one night when we’re in the middle of combat, I’ll have her squeal like a little girl and hide behind the big, burly Monk! You know, keep ‘em on their toes. Throw a wowie into the game.
Hey, it’s D&D. Anything’s possible when you’re getting your geek on.