“Remember those dungeons I used to run at the lunch table,” my friend Jeff asked one evening on Discord. “I have this world I’ve been working on, let’s grab Peter and play a few 5e sessions. I’ll set up a server, you roll out your character.” Now, outside of those lunchtime sessions, I’ve never actually played D&D. I’d been watching campaigns online for a while and was eager to roll some dice. I just had one question before starting.
“…can I be a lizard?”
“Yeah, I don’t see why not.”
*excited and expletive expressions*
Thus was the birth of Rivek, the lizardfolk ranger in a world where magic has just been silenced. And with him being my very first D&D character, I wanted him to be special. Let’s go deep on the roleplaying, I thought. Who would this character be? How would they think and speak? Creating and learning about this character has been an interesting process, and I wanted to share my thoughts.
I rarely if ever choose to play a human or human-like character in fantasy games. Nothing against elves or dwarves, but tieflings, tabaxi, and lizardfolk are more my style. I’m already human in my day to day life, and the most common races often feel like humans with slight differences. Why not be something different in a fantasy game? And in my mind, nothing says fantasy like a bipedal lizard with a cloak and blowgun.
I went into the game with decent stats, knowing I wanted to play a lizardfolk, so the next step was to find a place for them in this world. I enjoy playing “fish out of water” characters, and the idea of a forest-born chameleon adapting themselves to city life seemed perfect. The lizardfolk wanderer background, combined with my love of Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn, led me to play a ranger. But what would a ranger do in a city? A city run by a world government and mafia overlords, no less? Maybe hunting skills will prove useful after all.
Playing the Role
I leaned heavily on the wiki for how to start playing a lizard, but playing Rivek turned out to be something else entirely, mostly improvisational. A lot of quirks and character traits were happy accidents. An example: I chose a name that sounded like it would fit a bounty hunter, the Draconic word for “dead body”. In playing the character, I found Rivek had a tendency to stop whatever he was doing in order to think. Dead in his tracks. Every time. A silly character quirk, born from trying to be edgy: the best kind of quirk.
The biggest challenge I found in playing Rivek wasn’t the creation process, but the preservation of the character. The DM and I discussed the world before playing, and how we’d want to play. He let me know that this world wasn’t a safe place, violence or mistakes would likely kill my character. I wasn’t too worried at first; so what if I have to make another character? But after playing a few sessions, getting a feel for Rivek, I’ve reconsidered. I want to find out more about this quiet fellow more than I want him memorialized.
A Character Journey Continued
As I said, this is my first actual D&D character and game, and most of my knowledge comes from a Youtube series. Most of what I know about the game I learned through watching. I’m all but positive I don’t know what I’m doing, but the journey’s only starting, and I’m having fun so far.
Who knows? Maybe Rivek will find his way out of this homebrew game and onto other shores. It’ll be an adventure.