For the last week, I’ve been working my way through this lovely “30 Days of D&D” series:
Today’s topic is Favorite PC of your own.
I don’t often get the chance to play characters. Since I started playing D&D, I’ve been the DM for six different groups.
I’ve played a dreaded DMPC in a few of those, and very quickly learned how terrible that idea can be. I had two chances to make a character and play through a short session, once as part of playtest materials when 5E was still in the works, and once as part of a new group at the local library. I also created a fun character for a Pathfinder game that had to stop soon after it started.
Point being, many times, my NPCs are characters in the world who I would love to play as PCs if given the chance. My favorite character that I actually played as a PC was one I made to round out a small party for an intro session with my two sons, giving them a feel for their characters’ powers and skills.
We explored the first half of “Death House” from Curse of Strahd, and I played Assyla, a warlock haunted by her tragic past, who spoke with spirits whose voices no one else heard, and fought to ensure no one else suffered the same fate.
Given an Old One style pact, twisted spells made the most sense (stuff like Arms of Hadar and Dissonant Whispers). I gave her a creepy way of talking where she repeated the last few words of anything she said, but in a raspy hiss like it came from a strangled throat (strangled throat).
I also arranged the role-play traits I felt would best suit her:
A person with no trust in divine beings, who refuses to be a victim or allow others to be victimized. “The gods won’t help us, so we must help ourselves (help ourselves). Rest assured, we won’t let anyone hurt you (hurt you).”
She was chaotic good – not beholden to some laws or moral ideology, but certainly willing to sacrifice on behalf of others.
Even so, her flaw was assuming the worst in people–that, and the whole “talking to spirits” thing. As an NPC (or briefly as the DM PC to round out the party for my kids’ intro to playing 5E), she served as an unreliable voice that could give the party misleading “insight.”
The ‘haunted one’ background in Strahd includes another key component – a harrowing event that set the character on their path into some form of darkness. For Assyla, that was the day her entire village was slaughtered before her eyes. However, when the shadowy beast found her, it froze and stared at her for a moment before calmly walking away, never to return.
One day, in fiction or in a campaign, Assyla will have her time in the spotlight… but for now, she’ll appear as an NPC, providing heroes the questionable wisdom of those beyond the grave (beyond the grave).