Dungeons and Distress #1: Dragonborn This Way

Greetings, dear reader!

I recently started playing Dungeons and Dragons virtually with some friends – our party currently includes Kevin Cook, Thom Alman, and our DM Sarah of Sunken Treasures Games – and thought to myself “why don’t I document the experience in the form of an autobiographical account of each day, from the perspective of my character?” So I did. I figured this would be a fun way to flesh out my character and practice a different type of writing. While our D&D sessions are currently weekly, I will probably just try to write and release these whenever I have the time, and they will be separate from my other blog features – the monthly blog and Comic Relief.

Quick basic rundown before we get started: my character, Clarence Flameborn, is a Dragonborn Barbarian who suffers from social anxiety and just wants to be left alone with his books and animal friends to live a life of nonviolence (unless something triggers his rage), but was forced to leave his forest home for some mysterious reason. This is an account of his first day stepping out into the world after years of isolation.

Hello. My name is Clarence Flameborn. I am a Dragonborn, in race only. I am also a barbarian. Again, in title only. I do not want to be mean. I do not want to horde things. I don’t even really like conflict that much. And I really do not want to live steeped in the Dragonborn culture. That last one I actually have a choice in, or I would if my father had not kicked me out for “being an embarrassment.” That’s fine. Now I get to live in the woods with my books and my animal friends, or I did. Until something threatened my new home. So now I’ve wandered into a nearby town, looking for help.

It’s not so bad, I guess. Sure there are lots of people, and crowds intimidate me, but I smelled some yummy food and had some money – I haven’t needed it in ages, but Dragonborn are hoarders by nature – so I bought some yummy meat pies and sat down on a nearby bench to indulge. I love food, by the way. That’s a pretty important part of getting to know me. So anyway I sit down to eat my pies and some half-elf fellow sits down right next to me and starts trying to ask me questions. Like, I just left the only home I’ve known – or at least felt attached to – I walked all day, and I’m starving. I don’t want to chat right now. I tried to shake him off with some bland non-answers, but he wasn’t getting the hint. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, and he might even be able to help me, but at that point, I just needed to eat. Plus, this whole time, someone is cackling right behind us, clearly entertained by my predicament. Finally, I give up being nice, “look dude, I’ve had a very long day, I’m really not trying to talk right now. I just want to sit and eat my meat pies.”

He looks dejected, but I clearly got my point across because he finally gets up and walks over to….A DESSERT PIE STAND? ‘Well, at least something good came out of that interaction,’ I think, ‘although, that’s not really fair. He was trying to be nice and my awkward ass messed things up again.’

“Maybe I’ll apologize after I get my pies.”

I mosey on over to the pie stand and order one of everything. The girl who takes my order was very friendly and even gave me extra pies, so I try a trick I learned from my half-elf…um…friend(?), tipping! I saw him say “keep the change” to the girl at the last pie stand, so I did the same for this nice lady. She looked happy, which made me happy. 

I don’t sit down to eat my pies this time. Instead, I stand nearby the half-elf as he speaks to some weird man nearby. I’m playing through the possible ways this interaction could go while I wait for him to finish up his conversation. I don’t want to be rude and interrupt, but then I realize I missed my chance as some weird halfling saunters up and joins in the conversation.

‘How do people do that,’ I mutter under my breath. ‘Just walk right up and join in some stranger’s conversation?’

I’ll never understand it.

The half-elf and the halfling wander off into the crowd and I follow, waiting for the opportunity to get my “friend” alone to apologize. I follow the pair up to a performance area with loud music and lights and lots of cheering people. I hang back, hoping they don’t notice me as I wait for my chance to approach. The half-elf is suddenly ushered backstage behind a curtain and I worry that my chance to make even one friend outside of my books and animal roommates seem dashed. But just as I’d given up hope, the half-elf emerges from behind a curtain with a well-dressed man. The pair take their position in a spotlight and, as soon as the music starts up again, they begin dancing together. They’re like pros. That other guy must be a professional dancer, but maybe the half-elf is too? It was wild. While this is happening, the halfling seems to be a tad perturbed and I think I catch the half-elf throw a sassy wink his way to rub it in. The dance ends and the crowd erupts. Raucous applause echo for what feels like ages. Flowers are thrown at the feet of the sweaty pair. An announcer comes out and deems them the winners of the dance competition. 

It’s awesome. 

I’m intimidated. 

This guy is a celebrity now? Maybe I should just go home…except there won’t be a home to go to if I don’t get some help. I’ve gotta be brave. I’ve gotta talk to this half-elf.

The halfling reunites with the half-elf and they seem to throw a couple of light verbal barbs back and forth before wandering over to the archery area, where it seems the dwarves who run the booth are packing it in for the night. 

I follow, still hoping for a moment alone but I lose them in the crowd. I frantically search, fearing that I’ve lost the only person in this town who was willing to put up with me. My anxiety is peaking between the fear of rejection and being lost in a sea of people. It’s not a good feeling. But shortly, after a lot of work, I’m out of the crowd and taking a moment to catch my breath. And I’m in luck! I see the half-elf, still with the halfling, at the archery booth. One of the dwarves who is running the booth hands the halfling a bow as I creep up next to a nearby tree, and the halfling shoots an arrow into an apple that was sitting atop another dwarf’s head. Everyone looks impressed and I hear the halfling say “I was aiming and the dwarf,” spurring the booth to quickly close down for the night.

I still haven’t picked my moment and I know I’m running out of time. Realizing this may be my last shot, I muster up the courage to approach the pair as they sit down in an arm wrestling area. Tables and table of beefy people clasping hands and testing their strength, it honestly reminds me of my hometown. The two sit down across from each other and assume the position, indicating that they are about to engage in some age-old non-lethal combat. But surely the halfling doesn’t stand a chance, right? He’s less than half the size of the half-elf!

He won.

The halfling won with ease. 

Like, no contest. This halfling was IMPRESSIVE.

Now, I know I said at the beginning that I don’t like conflict, and maybe it was a fraction of my barbarian rage coming out at the sight of someone getting thoroughly owned in a contest of strength, but I got EXCITED. All my fear and trepidations melted away and all I wanted was to try to beat this deceptively strong halfling.

So I ran up and basically said “me next, me next,” to some guy I’d never met as the half-elf walked away to…order drinks for everybody, I think? Anyway, I sit down and I’m ready to do this thing. I’m suddenly super amped up and then as soon as we grasp hands, I lose. 

Yep, I lost too. So much for that barbarian strength, huh? But honestly, I’m not mad. On the contrary, I’m even more stoked. I call for the champion to come over. I think we’ve got a real winner here. I massage the halfling’s arm, give him positive feedback until a big half-orc shows up. He says that he’s the champion and I tell him that this halfling is gonna dethrone him. The champ seems a little taken aback by the fact that I’m not asking to challenge him, but quickly regains composure and takes his seat across from the halfling. The two lock arms, and just like the previous two matches, it’s over as soon as it starts. 

Unlike the previous two matches, the halfling lost.

“That was…uhhh…a nice try, kid,” the champion stammers, “I’m sure you’ll get me next year.”

The champion leaves just as the half-elf returns with tankards of ale, and we fill him in on what occurred while he was away.

This half-elf guy isn’t too bad, and I guess he wasn’t put off by my anti-social outburst earlier in the evening since he bought us all a round of booze. We all drink and chat for a bit before the half-elf gets up and says he’s going to go check out the adventure board near the inn. I follow him, since the half-elf is pretty much my only friend at this point, despite me not knowing his name. 

As we peruse the adventure board, the innkeeper, a lovely middle-aged lady, strikes up a conversation and asks if we’d like a room. The half-elf says “yes, I’d like a room for the night,” which, based on his previous act of goodwill, I took to mean that he was getting us all a room for the night. What a seriously nice guy! I thank him and give him a big pat on the back to reinforce my gratitude, causing him to stumble forward into the inn. The Innkeeper registers our names to the room and this is when I finally learn the half-elf’s name – it’s Zac! Weirdly, the halfling has disappeared and doesn’t end up registering his name. What a weird guy. But I don’t have much time to dwell on that because then the Innkeeper reveals that our room includes snacks, so I order one of everything to be sent to our room. But thinking of snacks makes me hungry, so we all sit down at a table near the back, suddenly rejoined by the halfling, and I order one of everything off of that menu as well. Since Zac paid for the room, I assume that he is also paying for dinner – again, so generous! We all tuck into some dinner and before long, we determine that it’s time to tuck into bed as well.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think and keep an eye out for day 2!


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