D&D - Rime: Character Creation
Despite having been exposed to Dungeons & Dragons back when I was in high school (circa 2000), I was never invited to participate and create my own character. Given the opportunity with my sibling and their friends, I have finally created and played my first character: Rime. This post will explore his basic background, much of which hasn't yet surfaced in my actual gameplay beyond certain enigmatic behaviors.
Inspiration for Rime
As with many things for me, the inspiration for this character stems back to some original characters I wrote with my partner (now deceased). In one of our many fictional worlds, Rime was a Satyr of the Seelie Court who got involved with a prince of the Unseelie Court. They were both exiled to the Mortal world. Saundra and I never fully explored them, but they did have a few fanfiction chapters back in the day for our version of the Kink Table Challenge. Each chapter was supposed to involve a different sexual kink/fetish. It was silly writing, and our backstory for the characters never got fully fleshed out over the years. The main points of Rime's character were that he tended to be a bit hedonistic, was an excellent musician, and had control over a combination of air and ice magics.
When I decided to join a D&D campaign, I chose to adapt Rime's character into the lore of Forgotten Realms. This led me to do a deep dive into various gods and timelines in the lore of D&D, and Rime transformed into a new character with quite a different past.
Rime: Air Genasi Bard
The first and easiest step in adapting Rime to D&D was picking his race/species and class. For such a charismatic and musical character, the obvious choice was to make him a Bard. For his race, I considered keeping him a Satyr at first, but after discovering the Genasi, I decided to lean into his more elemental aspects. At the request of my DM, I kept to the four basic Genasi and made Rime an Air Genasi. Their mercurial and free-roaming natures were a great match for Rime. Since Air Genasi can be from the union of a Djinn with another base race, I kept an open mind when considering Rime's mother's race. Whatever worked best for his backstory would suffice, but as a Resident Elf-Boi myself, I of course was keeping all the various kinds of Elves/Eladrin at the top of the list.
The Cult of Loviatar
One of the things I've loved about D&D campaigns like those on Critical Role and such has been the way the DMs encourage the players and their characters to explore their interactions with faith and religion. It's complex in real life, so it's nice when the characters can grow or evolve in their views and relationships with dieties as they level up and gain powers of their own.
As I delved into the various pantheons of D&D and Forgotten Realms, I stumbled upon Loviatar, the Goddess of Pain and Agony. Since Rime's original character was sexually masochistic, my interest was instantly piqued. I was swiftly guided to Dambrath, the only place in Faerûn to have a primarily Loviatar-worshipping populace for a period of time.
For anyone unfamiliar with Faerun's geography, Dambrath (aka the Nation of Pain) is a realm in Southeast Faerûn sandwiched between the Gnollwatch Mountains to the north and the coast of the Great Sea to the south. Before the Spellplague, it was ruled by the Crinti, an evil mixed-race matriarchal aristocracy.
The origins of the Crinti themselves are a fascinating mingling of the Drow of T'lindhet, a group of 112 Half-Elven priestesses of Loviatar known as The First, and the human barbarians that those Drow and Half-Elves would take as slaves or lovers. The 10% of society that was light-skinned often claimed to be Children of the First to be socially elevated alongside the more Drow-heavy bloodlines.
The fun part for me as I was trying to insert Rime into all this was figuring out how an Air Genasi would come to be in this society in the first place. Giving him an Elven mother would allow him Half-Elven features that would be beneficial for a male in a female-dominated society. And his pale blue skin and strange magics could be rumored as being tied to the Drow or dark elementals in the Gnollwatch Mountains. There was one sticking point that instantly made for a more tragic backstory: Elves were outlawed in Dambrath while the Crinti were in charge... which meant Rime would have been taken from his Elven mother in a heartbeat.
Thus, Rime's backstory became one in which is origins were never really discussed, because he was raised collectively by the Cult of Loviatar as punishment for his mother trespassing into the realm. Being raised in an evil, pain-glorifying cult definitely makes for an interesting character!
Pre-Campaign: From Dambrath to Neverwinter
With the basics of Rime's origin covered, I then had to consider the setting of the actual campaign for which I was crafting him. The story was going to be set in Neverwinter and Phandelin, both of which are in the top corner of Northwest Faerûn... the exact opposite side of the continent from Dambrath. Given the time period of his birth, what happened in the 140-ish years between his birth and the start of the campaign? What the hell was he doing so far from home?
These are the sorts of questions I relish answering as a storyteller. There's infinite possibilities when a character who was raised in a cult has to somehow end up on the opposite side of their known world. For Rime, the first step was going to have to be breaking with the Cult of Loviatar and leaving the isolationist society of Dambrath. From there, I could tell any story I wanted... and that meant I could also include some other original characters from the Fae Otherworld that Rime's character was adapted from.
Want to learn more about Rime and his backstory? Check out my next blog post, where I detail taking him from a simple, pain-loving musician to the scarred College of Whispers Bard seeking revenge and absolution for the consequences of his crisis of faith.