Lately, I’ve been really enjoying an excellent animated series on Youtube about Dungeons and Dragons called “Animated Spellbook” and I wanted to share this one particular video with readers (D&D players in particular):
The point of this video is that when you make a character in D&D, being super powerful or a perfect character gets boring pretty fast (and if someone insists on it anyway, are they trying to somehow compensate for something in real life…?). Having a character that is more flawed is memorable fun.
One of my first characters I played in Adventurer’s League, and still one of my favorites, was a female dark elf (drow) nature cleric from the infamous city of Menzoberranzan. I don’t normally play female characters, nor do I play drow, but I liked the backstory idea of her being a former priestess of Lloth who recanted and followed the goddess Eilistraee instead. The rest kind of wrote itself. It was a bit of an homage to the Drizzt Do’Urden character but with a twist.
Trouble is, from a 5th-edition rules standpoint, drow don’t make optimal clerics because of their default racial stats.1 So, my drow cleric would be off to a weaker start in AL-rules because the highest she could start with is 15 to Wisdom, rather than 16 like a wood elf. Further, because drow are from the Underdark, their sensitivity to light can occasionally cause major problems.
Even so, Gwynen Naïlo (link to her current character sheet) ended up being a very fun character. The lower Wisdom score didn’t affect things enough that I didn’t enjoy playing her, and being a drow, I leaned a bit into the role-playing side of being a loner even when they wanted to do some good in the world. For that reason, she leaned into the Nature domain more (being at one with the stars and nature, away from people).
I haven’t played her in a while but she’s still one of my highest level characters in Adventurer’s League, and I would happily play her again, and likely will when the pandemic is finally, FINALLY done.
Stat-wise, she was average to slightly above average, but in terms of playability she was great. Further, just like my odd elf samurai character (one of my other favorites), it’s all about finding your own. I grew up with R.A. Salvatore’s dark elf books, and while I didn’t want to just make another “Drizzt clone”, I enjoyed having a character that still tapped into that mythos but also had something original to offer.
Also, in playing Gwynen, I made a few mistakes, like allocating a weapon I never use (Shillelagh has proven more than sufficient for me), and I took feat choices (such as Observant) that may not always be the best choices from a raw-stats standpoint, but they’ve fleshed out her character in fun ways.
And in the end, as the video shows, D&D is really all about having a good time than it is show-boating, although that can be fun too.
1 With the release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything in 2020, the cliche of Tolkien-style “racial stats” is less of a hindrance now and probably for the better. The old-school gamer in me still likes the old rules because they’re familiar like a well-worn blanket, but at the same time, I am happy that D&D is keeping up with the times (and frankly the world doesn’t revolve around me anyway). In any case, the character was made years before Tasha’s so that’s what I had to work with at that time.