Tales of a D&Degenerate: Volume 1

Volume 1: Are you sure you don’t want to be a Bard?

Did you know that the soldiers at Jesus crucifixion were avid anglers? Yep, they spent their time casting lots. I know, I know. Please, slowly remove your palm from your forehead and forgive me for that one. Generally, I can’t help myself but to make puns, jokes, and groaners. Before I was married, I was joking with my wife (girlfriend at the time) and she commented that I was funny. I responded, “I’m sorry to hear you say that. This is my ‘A’ material, it doesn’t get any better.” Perhaps she thought I was still joking back then, but after 8 years of marriage, I think she has long since realized I was not. All that to say, I love dad jokes.

Even before I knew they were called dad jokes I was hooked on them! Puns, long form jokes, stories, short 1-2 punch-line Rodney Dangerfield style jokes—love them all! I’ll never forget Dangerfield’s “I own a two story house. Before I bought the house, the realtor gave me one story. After I bought it she gave me another story.” Even at church, I would inevitably get off task every time the pastor said, “Lettuce pray.” I couldn’t help myself; I heard puns all the time. I was pun-intentionally making things into puns, and I’m pretty unapologetic when it comes to groaners.

So, when my friend mentioned interest in Dungeons & Dragons, I said I had created a skateboarding wizard (which I was told was “technically” possible using levitation and sundry other workarounds to simulate riding a plank of wood) on an app called Role, and we began to develop D&D specific characters. My friend’s roommate had experience as a Dungeon Master and was more than elated to initiate a new crew of fledgling, um, D&Der’s? Dungeoneers? Adventurers? Engaged story inter-actors? Choose-your-own-adventurers? I never thought about what a D&D player calls themselves, but whatever it is, I am that. Or, I am, at best, a ghost of that right now. See, I love the concept of D&D, but… I am a miserable player.

ASL Sign “Game”
ASL Sign “Game”

To pull back the curtain a little, the play group consists of myself, my friend, a friend of my friend, and her boyfriend. My friend is Deafblind, and wanted to be a bard (he has a sense of humor, too.) We worked through some challenges related to that with the DM, and decided that my character would be his interpreter (I work as an American Sign Language interpreter in real life). As the DM was going over some general rules, I was half paying attention and half focusing on reading about my character. Finally, I made the offhand comment, “I’m sure when we’re actually playing, I’ll figure it all out.”

The DM replied, “Probably, just thought some general rules and info would be helpful.”

Quickly, I said, “I’m sure whatever they are, I’ll be able to roll with it.”

The DM then sighed and asked, “Do you want to be a Bard?”

For our first mission, we used some pre-created character sheets to get our feet wet. I was still a wizard, no skateboard (sadly), and my name was S. Pell Slanga. Upon introduction of my character the DM inquired, “Are you sure you don’t want to be a Bard?”

“I’m sure,” I replied. Smiling, I jokingly mentioned that I had a sordid past, and I’d kindly thank everyone to not ask what the ‘S’ stood for. Simply call me Slanga or use the ASL sign name that was created for my character. Sometimes my sarcasm is lost on people, or I’m really lousy with sarcasm, but only one person cracked a smile after I said that, and maybe it was a nervous smile.

After introductions and a little bit of world building, we were on our way to a distant town, all with our own reasons. In the distance, plumes of smoke, a shifting shape in the air, and the wagon we were riding in was off. Our cadre rushed into the town besieged by fire, the shifting shape in the air turned out to be a dragon of some sort, and cultists and kobolds were running amok, setting fire to everything. Our party neared a specific group of kobolds that were terrorizing some humans. I cast Ray of Frost, targeting a Kobold nearing some children. Rolling my borrowed d20 (I own many spin downs, but didn’t have any D&D randomized dice at that time), I succeed, roll a subsequent d8 which hits, but doesn’t kill the creature. The DM describes the attack, “While the Kobold is advancing menacingly towards the child, your blast strikes it in the shoulder, causing his shoulder to freeze.”

That was too easy. The DM didn’t realize what he had done. Laughing I exclaim, “Guess I gave him the cold shoulder!” Punintentional! Even now, I am giggling and pumping my fist in triumph. Looking back, I could’ve said I gave it the Kobold shoulder. So. Many. Puns. So little time.

“Are you SURE you don’t want to be a Bard?” He asked, exasperated, and probably for the three hundredth time. Glancing down at my character name: S. Pell Slanga, I knew that it was the Wizard’s life for me.

Editor’s recommendation: Like puns in your D&D? Give City on a Hill a listen. You’ll be up to your gills in fish puns!

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