A player’s perspective on The Five Winds of Narenhall
For many players making a character is a very personal activity. We all have preferences that go into their creation from their appearance to their backstory. I like to create characters that I can consider adorable, wholesome or cutely appealing. I tend to avoid mechanical and embrace the magical. Therefore, I have a lot of humans, elves, half-elves, aasimar etc who have magical abilities.
As for backstories; well whenever we write something we put a little bit of ourselves into it. We create experiences that will explain personality traits in our characters. Sometimes these are traits we have that we want to exaggerate, sometimes they are new traits that we want to try on. But as much as we have preferences we also have boundaries. There are certain things that we just won’t include in our backstories due to our own experiences both good and bad.
So what do you do when someone asks to make your character for you?
Those of you that follow Epic Fred on Tiktok, youtube or Instagram are probably familiar with his Amnesia campaign. The story of The Five Winds; an established mercenary group who woke up without their memories and only a very vague sense of self. If you haven’t heard their story you can listen to the beginning of it here.
Months prior to the campaign a D&D post lit a fire in Epic Fred’s brain. He asked us all to take part in a time concentrated campaign where he would make the characters. We would start off with blank character sheets.
Most of us jumped in right away. It was novel for us, though not a new idea, and we were ready to take part in it. Would we have trusted an unknown DM? Probably not. However, I trusted Epic Fred to make me a character I would enjoy and to weave it into a story that would be memorable.
Before we started the campaign Epic Fred sent out a google form. It gave every player a chance to state race and class preferences as well as boundaries. He is very conscious of player sensitivities and asked us what scenarios or topics not to include in our backstories. I think that this is really important because Epic Fred has known the majority of us for over 10 years. He has a pretty good idea of what we like, dislike, and what makes us uncomfortable. That he took this extra step to ensure that we enjoy his creation shows a deep respect for us as players. After all, none of this could have happened if we couldn’t trust our DM.
“None of this could have happened if we couldn’t trust our DM.”
Next came the super fun part. Finding two weeks where a group of six adults in three different time zones could play eight sessions. But … we did it!
The night we started everyone was excited and a little nervous. Epic Fred sent us four images each (there were five players). The first thing I did was try to pick out which one I was. One of the images drew me in right away. Another had me praying I wasn’t them (because she gave me the heebie jeebies). At no point did I stop to wonder why there were only four images instead of five. Not until Epic Fred announced that we could each see four others in the room with us, four people we didn’t recognize.
So the guessing game began. We all started rummaging through our bags, looking at our clothes, our hands or whatever we could see. I was very surprised when I looking down I saw that I had one hand and a flail where the other hand should be. My second surprise was discovering that I wasn’t flesh and blood but seemed to be made of metal and vines.
The Peanut Gallery
Everyone at the table heard the discoveries so the commentary began. “Oh you are so cool looking!”, “Wow that makes sense!” and my personal favourite;
“You look like a trash can someone abandoned in a jungle.”
Now, I have never been a big fan of the mechanical or more science fiction based themes so I really didn’t know how to feel about being made of metal. But I had an even bigger decision to make … how was I going to play this weird little plant robot? I had very few clues about her personality. I ended up interacting with the other PCs with my (personal) typical snark. After the first few saucy interactions and vibe (insight) checks it became clear that this behaviour was recognized deep within our sub consciousness as typical for the character.
Now I had a basic platform. I was a curious and sassy plant robot … or robot plant. I was fully embracing the sauce but decided to add a layer of innocence to it. After all, I was a created entity. How much did I really understand about the world around me? So I added in a childlike aspect. Okay basic personality created – check. I was starting to settle into this little plantbot.
Then our first encounter happened. Staring at the flail protruding from my arm I assumed that I was a melee character and I rushed into battle. When my turn came Epic Fred informed me that I could feel natural power surging around. I announced that I wanted to try a spell. Something to hurt the divine construct bearing down on us and BAM a wall of thorns sprouted up around it. After the battle I was able to heal one of my group mates as well. By the end of the first session I suspected I was a warforged (but the plants kept me from committing to it), had narrowed it down to my either being a Druid or Ranger (though I suspected Druid based on my spells and lack of range), I was proficient in insight and had support based spells.
My feelings about being a warforged were still distinctly mixed. My personal preference for the adorable didn’t usually run to robots but I was excited to see what I would discover in the next round.
In the end my faith in Epic Fred was completely justified. Knowing how I felt about mechanical based life forms he added in heaps of magic and whimsy for me. My character’s full name was “Lady Riza Child of the Autumn Leaves”. Discovering her name made me bounce excitement. It dovetailed beautifully with the childlike character I had begun to create in my mind. On top of that I wasn’t a robot covered in plants or plants encased in metal. I was both and completely inseparable. A being from the feywild created when two pixies experimented by dumping pixie dust and seeds in a discarded warforged shell.
The next challenge came when I realised that I didn’t have a face. I had a helmet with some sort of slot where I could insert food for the plants that made up my internal systems to break down. The phrase “I open my orifice and slide in (whatever food)” became one of my favourite things to say. Plus it grossed out another of my party members. But I had to think about how to communicate using primarily body language and spoken word. I didn’t have a face to emote with. This extra layer of thought threw me even further into my character. I had her head swivelling 360 degrees or tilting her helmet towards people, she often reached out to relay her emotions through touch.
Honestly, I fell completely in love with her backstory. It was full of colour and hijinx. My character’s home was populated with animals she found and nursed back to health, sometimes replacing lost limbs with prosthetics. I was head over heels. Not to mention that Riza challenged my own perceptions of what makes something adorable. I have never become so emotionally involved in a character before. I am unashamed to say that three times during this campaign I cried when interacting with other characters.
Trusting someone else to create a character for me pushed me outside my box and I loved every minute of it.
Lady Riza, Child of the Autumn Leaves
Fey touched Warforge
Level 17 Druid; Circle of Dreams
*Note that all session recaps can be found on Epic Fred’s Tiktok and YouTube*
One thought on “Trusting the DM: ”
Thank you so much for writing this! I’m really happy that you enjoyed playing your little robot-plant/plant-robot. You played her excellently!