Everyone gets into Dungeons and Dragons for a different reason. Some of us have a friend who introduced us. Some of us find videos about it online when we are browsing. Many of us first heard of it through television shows such as The Big Bang Theory.
Everyone has a First
Whatever our reasons for joining, we all faced the challenge of a first character. Did we create a human barbarian who only talks when asked a direct question? Did we create a dwarf fighter who believes that dwarves are the best in every way? Perhaps we wanted a rogue halfling who gave her spoils to the poor. Many of us had an image in our head when we created this character. Others were winging it. In this series, we explore some first characters. What were they like? How did they come to be? What did you do right and what mistake do you never want to make again?
The first character we explore is the infamous Anakis Gallow. This character is my personal first and a favorite of mine. While she died after one beginner campaign at the lowly level of three, she will go down as a local legend in the town where she made her home base.
At the time of Anakis’ creation, I did not own any Dungeons and Dragons Core Rulebooks. Instead, I was reading off a friend’s book, having read none of the rules of the game. As a result, I had no idea which proficiencies were most useful, which ability scores should be high, or what a cantrip was. Naturally, I took this opportunity to create the most entertaining character I could, with no regards for how she would survive in combat.
The Rise of Anakis
The first thing we do as new players when we read the Step-By-Step Characters chapter of the Player’s Handbook is choose a race. Do we choose a sturdy dwarf, a graceful elf, or something called a halfling? Not knowing which race to choose, I resorted to the lazy student’s greatest resources; subtitles and pictures. As I read through these races, I considered each one, wavering between an elf and halfling character. Then, I read about the tiefling, a creature with demonic appearance and hellish abilities that I didn’t understand. I felt an evil smile creep over my lips and knew that this demonic creature was meant for me.
Image Credits: https://www.flickr.com/photos/torley/17159324681
Image License: BY-SA 2.0
Next, I needed a class. I knew I wasn’t the barbarian type, as I preferred archery and finesse in my fighting when playing other games. My inner chaos rebelled against the idea of a cleric or paladin fighting for a cause, and fighters and monks were too disciplined, as well. In keeping with the image of my demonic character, the rogue class and criminal background sounded perfect.
My Tiefling Rogue now needed a name. Having begun this creation during the midst of a D&D session combined with a Star Wars marathon, I naturally choose the sample name “Anakis,” only one letter away from one of my favorite Star Wars characters.
Then, I found myself married. A friend of mine was playing with his girlfriend, who desperately tried to convince him to take her character’s last name. He refused, wanting an elvish name, so I gallantly stepped in and offered to take her name. Thus, Anakis became Anakis Gallow, wife of the halfling rogue criminal.
Then, we ran into a problem. Anakis was, as you may have guessed, chaotic evil. Her wife, however, was lawful good. After some negotiation, we decided that her wife would become chaotic good. We created a backstory in which my character and her wife stole items, then her wife secretly gave their earnings to the poor. This was, in fact, the story behind a statuette that Anakis had made, which I rolled for at random from the trinket table in the Player’s Handbook. For some time, she pondered the smug expression her wife wore in the statuette. After all, the statuette was commissioned right after they discovered that someone had “stolen” the proceeds of their latest job. After discovering that her wife had been secretly giving their money to the poor, Anakis insisted on a divorce. Despite her wife’s betrayal and her own evil nature, Anakis carried the statuette with her until the day she died.
This rogue’s story is filled with love. Despite her evil nature and the natural fear most people have for Tieflings, she always had at least one loved one with her. She had her wife, of course, but also a twin brother. This came to be when we had a small group of two players, and needed to create a new character before a session. In the interest of time, I copied Anakis’ character sheet, changed the gender, and thus created Akmenos. His bond was his loyalty to his sister, and since Anakis had just gotten divorced, he became her new bond in place of her wife. I wrote a simple backstory in which Anakis and Akmenos separated when she married, and he chose to travel with her and protect her again after her divorce. Not long after her brother’s death in a goblin cave, Anakis stole from her group members one too many times and was killed in a brawl outside an ogre’s lair.
What to Do and What Never to Do Again
This leads us to the big questions. Am I happy with the character? What did I do right and wrong? Let me start by saying that I am proud of this character. I will always call attention to the fact that, during some downtime spent carousing, Anakis became a local legend whose infamy will continue beyond her own death. I do not regret the actions that led to her death, as her attempts to steal from group members led to some truly interesting stories.
If I had a chance to do it again, I would read up on spells more. While my character was not of a spellcasting class, she did have a couple spells she could cast innately, and it would have been nice to make more use of them. I also would have focused more on downtime, since you never know when your character will run out of time to create interesting stories.
Anakis may have survived longer if I had focused less on playing up my chaotic evil tendencies and more time on enacting those tendencies realistically. In a sense, my character was too obviously evil, and nobody trusted her for it. Her barbarian and fighter companions watched her more closely than usual, and eventually caught her stealing treasure. This led to an epic falling out which she did not survive. Had she been more discreet, she could have gotten away with more.
While I think it is possible to create a character like Anakis, it might have been a good idea to make her a charlatan. This would have allowed her to disguise her true nature and made her character more believable, not to mention more long-lived.