Welcome to the Ink and Lyre blog, where we talk tabletop role-playing games, discuss storytelling concepts, provide some insight into the minds of the creators and more! Character creation, brainstorming a setting, villain motivations, detailed backgrounds, adventure arcs… These are all things that we are passionate about at Ink and Lyre. We want to share our thought process with you! If you’re just starting to get into TTRPG’s or want to take your campaign to the next level, follow us here. We will be talking about what inspires us to embark in collaborative storytelling with our closest friends.
Today, I want to share someone special with you. With this being the inaugural blog post, I thought it only fitting to talk about my first Dungeons and Dragons 5e character. Full disclosure, I haven’t been playing TTRPG’s very long (Only about a year and half). I had always wanted to try it out, but never really had the opportunity. So, when my wife approached me about getting some of our friends together for a home game, I was all in. I wanted to be Strider (Not to be confused with Aragorn King of Gondor) the mysterious man in a cloak at the Prancing Pony. Like Strider, I wanted to portray a selfless protector of the weak that fought bravely atop stone fortresses. So, Asher Reed was born and he forever changed the way I thought about TTRPG’s.
I’m a very analytical person and always have been. The hard sciences have always been my strong suit. My degree is in Mechanical Engineering. I work with logistical processes, ect, ect. I found character creation FASCINATING!!! So many options: Feats, buff spells, racial traits. The combinations were endless and I loved it. It took days, but I settled on a Human Horizon Walker Ranger with a Warlock feat mixed in. I thought the versatility the build offered would allow him to seamlessly fit into any party. His name was Asher Reed, and this is how he came to life.
I took Asher to Barovia. My Wife wanted to play through Curse of Strahd at her brother’s recommendation, so off we went. If you haven’t played in the Devil’s land, let me enlighten you. It… is… deviously dangerous. Asher is one of two PC’s that has survived. Most of our original party members have died. Some have died at Strahd’s hand and some to the dangers of the land. However, Asher stood strong against the Devil himself. The first time Asher lost a companion I didn’t really know how to react. It was the 3rd session and to me these were just numbers on paper and we just didn’t quite synergize. I just assumed the tactics were off and a new character would fit better in the puzzle of our party. Then another PC died…. And another…. And soon only two of us remained from the original party.
After some deceitful words from Strahd and some seriously unfortunate events, Asher dealt the final blow to a vampire spawn that very nearly ended one of our player's 3rd character. Surrounded by all of his new friends, reveling in the victory, Asher noticed that Littlefoot, the only other OG party member, his best friend, was missing. In the distance, the belltower from a nearby church collapsed in on itself as dread overtook Asher. He ran, abandoning his new friends, straight for the church as Strahd’s laughter disappeared into the night. Blood covered the pews. Dust filled the air as from within a pile of rubble Asher heard the dying breath of Littlefoot beneath the rocks.
Flashback to my disloyal party members, who went back to the tavern to “check on random NPC who doesn’t matter” and “heal up”. To be fair, two of them had only been with us for three sessions. The other was on a brand new character and illogically committed to role play. They eventually made their way to the church and found Asher frantically using his bare hands to dig Littlefoot out from a large stone pile. It was in this moment, Asher began to have emotions of his own. The magic of TTRPG’s really hit me and, let me tell you, I FELT her dying. Littlefoot was on her 2nd death saving throw before we were able to get her stabilized. Asher took her limp body in his arms and began moving towards the exit to keep her safe. Suddenly, a friendly arrow stopped him in his tracks. “Explain yourself! What was Strahd talking about and who did you abandon? We need answers or we’ll slay you where you stand.” The party began demanding answers from Asher.
Tabletop role-playing games ceased to be a mathematical formula full of variables that, if optimized, led to success. Instead, it became so much more. At that moment, I was Asher, and he got extra AF. I almost cried, but Asher was balling. Blood dripping from his broken hands, he whipped around to his party and screamed, “YOU WEREN’T THERE!!! NONE OF YOU WERE!!! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT HE’S LIKE, HE KILLED KARL AND LAUGHED IN OUR FACES.” As Asher looked down on the unconscious body of his best friend, the tears ran in streaks down the blood on his face. He was born, and the consequences of our actions became real. Our game has been better ever since.
My moment is not unique. It is not special to anyone other than me. Everyone who plays TTRPG’s for any length of time will eventually have a moment that ruins other games for them. No book, video game, movie, television show, or any kind of media has ever made me feel the way collaborative storytelling with my best friends makes me feel. The magic is real and those of you who have played know what I’m talking about. The entire purpose of Ink and Lyre is to create magical moments for those who have not played and those who are passionate about storytelling.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story and I hope you understand us a little bit better.