Ready and Abel: My first character

After years of watching and listening from the sidelines, I finally decided to hop into the role-playing world and roll my first character.

My overall fear in playing this game would be that I wouldn’t know enough to even begin. Luckily, I had two people in my corner from the beginning: my DM, a friend and former co-worker, and my husband, the avid player eager for me to join in one of his major interests.

I asked questions. Many of them. Could I do this; would I be able to have this kind of power?

I decided early on that my character would have a backstory. Before learning about rolling tables to build a backstory, I devised one myself.

Anyone here a fan of the old Nickelodeon show The Secret World of Alex Mack? I thought it would be cool to play a character who, like Alex, has the powers of telekinesis, shooting electricity from their fingers, and can ‘morph’ into a puddle at will.

My patient DM explained that having those specific abilities might not be feasible at the level I would be starting at. But, he added, he’s flexible with the rules, and if it fit into the overall story, he’d consider it.

In their campaign, my husband’s character created drinkable “vigors” that temporarily give the drinker certain magic abilities. They are also fighting a clan that has stolen the secret of that process. Knowing this plot point ahead of time, I decided I wanted my character to somehow be involved with the vigors. 

After some mulling, I came up with my pitch: My character, Abel, lived a peaceful life with his brother on a farm outside the city. One day, the evil clan kidnapped us, took us to their lair, where they made Abel watch them kill his brother, then used him as a captive experiment for a year and a half while they concocted their own potions and recipes.

Their unrelenting tests left Abel emotionally and physically scarred - and left behind enough permanent magical side effects to essentially make him a Wild Mage sorcerer.

My DM’s reply: “I can work with this.” Not only did I do a lot of background work for him, I also gave him many opportunities to build drama for Abel in the far future - and for my husband’s character, who is now indirectly responsible for my plight.

I was in!

With my husband’s help, I filled out my first character sheet and chose cantrips and spells. While I don’t “morph,” I do have Eldritch Blast and other abilities that make good use of electricity; I also have Mage Hand which gives me enough telekinetic muster to appease the 90’s Nick fanboy in me.

It’s been two months since I joined this party for my first D&D campaign. In that short amount of time, I’ve been so struck with creative inspiration that I do a -lot- of introspection after each game session. I even began an online journal for Abel to jot down his thoughts as he deals with his new life as a sorcerer and a member of the campaign party. I give my DM access to read it so he can use it for any later plot development.

Just like in D&D, I am learning that the individual’s experience with the game is as dependent on your environment as it is sheer luck. Had I been led by a “by-the-book” DM, my initial idea may have been rejected out of hand. But he had the good sense to see that I was trying to contribute and find a way to make this otherwise foreign game relatable to me. 

He opened that door for me; and I am forever grateful. I have a new creative outlet, a new way to let my imagination run free, and a method of stress relief at a time when I really need one.

As for Abel; he’s only been free from his captors for about a week or two in game time; he’s had to overcome crippling anxiety, been banished to a demi-plane for his own safety, won a cooking competition to get back his Guild membership (Mimic Wellington anyone?) and helped strike down his first boss. And he was just gifted with his first rune, which in real life, I said I’d get tattooed on myself.

My DM is really pleased he’s helped me discover the fun this game can provide. In fact, he even sent me a physical journal as a Christmas present, to keep Abel’s story going and have another memento of my initiation into this world.

The note he included reads, “Abel’s journey is only beginning.”

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