Somewhere along the lines, I became obsessed with Elves. After all, after watching Lord of the Rings, they definitely seem like one of the most interesting (and clean) races to play—What with drunken Hobbits and Dwarves and corrupt Men to choose from. Which brings me to my Dungeons and Dragons character, the Elf Paladin, Ari Whisperwind. Ari is tall, lean, and pensive, complete with the grace and beauty one would expect from an Elf. However, her features are less defined as expressly reading “female,” and I always describe her as a bit of a tomboy. She’s also, like Clover, another platinum blonde with extremely long hair (see pictures of my BJD, Little Ari, for an idea of this). But she has piercing, silver gray eyes instead of lavender.
In Dungeons and Dragons, a “paladin” is the code word for a babysitter. Zealously devoted to their god/goddess, stubborn as to anything which could be deemed unholy, and held to a higher standard of moral and ethical values, lest they lose their holy powers, paladins have the bad reputation of being more of a hindrance than a help to their group—despite the ability to wield a sword and heal the party, all without breaking a sweat. I first became a fan of the class while playing World of Warcraft. Granted, I played the class wrong: My pally was more like a warrior who liked to hack away at the enemy until it stopped moving, and then heal herself. But of course, WoW, is nothing like DnD when it comes to role play.
Again, I suck at the mechanics of this game (what’s my modifier for this roll!?), but I really enjoy the role play portion. And I’m good at it (apparently).
Ari poses some delicate challenges to role play. She’s very different than Clover, and I need to be very careful with how I play her and what she says and does. Usually, we’re playing this game late at night. So by the time the wee hours of the morning begin to kick in (like oh… say… 3AM), my answers to certain situations and certain questions can become a bit silly. Though by that time, I think that we’re all run down, so the DM is usually pretty nice and offers us a bit of slack. But other than that, Ari is a bit of a challenge because I always need to keep her sense of virtue and justice in mind. She’s also very restricted, as far as a person (or in this case, elf) goes.
What do I mean by “restricted”?
She can’t drink alcohol. She won’t eat meat (a restriction placed on her during her time as a priestess, which carried over to her paladinhood). She won’t eat apples (a secret understanding between her and her goddess). No sex (another priestess rule). She must uphold the law of the land and the tenets of her religion, no matter what (and, sometimes, at the same time… which can be problematic). She must always be fair and just. She can’t resort to torture (though I did once, in game—however, it was a delicate situation!). Swearing is beneath her. Oh, she also needs to watch what she wears (due to a mark she needs to hide). She can’t lie. And she can never lose control.
She also has an unhealthy, obsessive addiction to sweet treats.
Yeah, she’s a walk in the park to play. Especially, if you refer back to my section on Clover, considering how “non-Ari” I am in person. So, what’s the trade off? Why is it worth playing her?
Well, party-wise, she’s powerful, and she can heal. Her armor class is high, she can sense the truth in people, and she’s a walking, breathing nightlight (her skin can glow at will, giving off light and giving everyone in range pluses to their armor class). She’s also completely trustworthy and honor bound. Maybe she’s not the easiest person to get along with, but she’s still a powerful and faithful ally.
So, what’s “me” in Ari?
Unlike Clover, who I love because she’s just a hell of a lot of fun to play (because she’s a loose cannon, essentially), I think that Ari has actually grown the closest to my heart of all my characters. I think that anyone could tell this, considering the time and consideration I’ve put into her. She also has the most “out of game” content of all my characters, inspiring a blog, a full set of homemade metal armor, a themed picnic, and even a ball-jointed doll, lovingly referred to as “Little Ari”.
Ari has also inspired the most background writing of all of my characters, prompting me to continually write short stories (see “Clips of Reverie”) about her, and even answer questions in-character, fielded by other friends. I’m awful at playing her in person (because an elf would not speak like a human!), but she’s a true joy to role play in text.
I think that Ari represents the “anti-me”, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Loyal, brave, and driven, she represents many things that I, clearly, am not. She’s an inspiring character for me, though not one which I would aspire to fully. I couldn’t be as religiously zealous as her, and, unfortunately, I’m not cut out to be so selfless. But she’s pure-hearted, calm, thoughtful, and confident. All things I think I could benefit from being, myself.
As for what actually is “me” in her, we both share a certain stubbornness and dry humor. When the night grows late and the DM throws a puzzle at us at 2AM, the reaction I have while playing Ari is very similar to the reaction Ari would probably actually have—WTF? And while she is smart and logical, she does have a tendency (as myself) to be a bit single-minded and just plow straight ahead; often getting the party in trouble (though to be fair, she always does her best to correct it!). Also, being an elf (her, not me), she sometimes has an odd way of speaking in the Common tongue, and sometimes doesn’t understand human nuances. In kind, I grew up under a rock, so sometimes something someone says will fall flat for me.
One time, in game, we were tired and wanted to rest. We were debating whether or not to rest in a tavern or out in the woods. Since my character doesn’t necessarily care for the woods (not unlike myself), she thought it might be brilliant to ask the tavern keeper if they had hourly rates. You know, so the party wouldn’t have to pay for a whole night, of course. We all got a good laugh out of that. But you can see how Ari sometimes doesn’t “get” it (and actually, I said that line without even thinking, too. See? We ARE alike!)
So, in short, and in theory, Clover is who I AM, and Ari is who I want to BE. However, then, that brings us to the problematic final character in my lineup: