Orctober: Ashe Plays D&D

Over on Tumblr, I’ve been documenting the D&D game my friends and I started in February. I thought maybe I’d take the time to talk about my Battlemaster Fighter, Gorthos.

Gorthos started on based on an old idea I’d had before I started writing Grimluk. I had this awesome vision of a swashbuckling orc who, unlike his peers, dueled with a greatsword. After watching and loving BBC’s The Musketeers (WHY THE FUCK DID YOU END IT WITH THE THIRD SEASON? WHYYYYYY?!?!), I decided to tweak that idea in the form of a Battlemaster modeled after Porthos. Due to growing up watching Disney’s Three Musketeers, Gorthos started to form as a fusion of Howard Charles modern portrayal and Oliver Platt’s more comedic take. In practice, though, I didn’t hit the beats I wanted. I was still learning the system and made some choices that I’ll be correcting soon.

Storywise, however, is a different beast. Gorthos’ backstory is that he was a mercenary who finally left his band behind…after killing a lot of them. See, Gorthos, despite being a mercenary, just always wanted a good fight. Non-combatants meant nothing to him. They weren’t worth paying attention to during battles. He gained, of all things, an elf mentor who taught him how to really handle a sword, and was happy to get paid to fight. One particular job ended this when they were commanded to murder a town and burn it to the ground.

He didn’t take that well, and he and his mentor and a few others turned on their fellow mercs and effectively disbanded. After helping his mentor find some place to retire, he makes his way to Rizenheist (a homebrew setting from our DM, which includes a homebrew race, the Balkeshi).

Our first game saw us going after something called trouble fruit, the main ingredient in Balkeshi alcohol, despite the city walls being locked down for some reason or another for the day. Shenanigans saw us get into the forest, where we narrowly killed a baby remorhaz, which prompted Gorthos to add some fire protection to his studded leather jacket.

Once returned, we found the Silver Blades, basically the thieves’ guild, waiting on us for using THEIR tunnel. Fast forward, we end up helping them, nearly get ourselves killed, rescued by a fellow player’s friend in the Blades, who gets bit by a wereboar, but we survive and move on.

Fast forward again, our Balkeshi PC, Zakah, has had a crush on Gorthos. This comes to a head after a chase by goblins. We go back to save Sylal (my partner Nici’s half-elf rogue), and fight the goblins. Their bugbear bashes Gorthos’s skull in with a crit but that most beautiful of half-orc abilities, Relentless Endurance, saved him. Zakah, frenzied and raging (barbarian), chokes the bugbear and basically sets Gorthos up for reprisal. Gorthos crits (which means, with Savage Attacks for half-orcs, that I got to roll my damage dice three times instead of two), and REKS the bugbear. Zakah, still frenzied, kisses Gorthos over the body. It was awesome.

Then they kidnapped our pig. We saved her. That was awesome too cause we did it without murdering a whole tribe of goblins.

As we’ve gone on, Gorthos and Zakah have kind of become the core of our group, especially since the fourth player’s character is a full-on edgelord tiefling warlock, played beautifully by our friend, who occasionally apologizes for what his character is about to do. Gorthos and Zakah have a whole bunch of cute moments.


Gorthos and Zakah having a tender moment out shopping. Commissioned from Emmett Shearer.

Lucius, the warlock, ends up getting himself killed when we take on a young dragon. Gorthos takes this hard as we had done character bonds pregame. Gorthos had “Lucius will get himself killed if I don’t step in.” He took it hard, and was confused just as hard when Lucius showed back up in someone else’s body. In an effort to deal with his feelings, he ends up doing level 5 training in an illegal fight pit against an ogre named Strong Steven that broke Gorthos’s jaw (double crit!). Gorthos won though thanks to a well-timed nut shot.

Gorthos after the fight. A birthday present from Zakah’s player, also by Emmett Shearer.

As I’ve gotten more comfortable with the game, Gorthos has gotten more concrete as a character. I’ve come up with more background for him. Figured out he’s bisexual and polyamorous. Is fairly sure his uncle killed his mother after she basically sold him to his merc group in an attempt to give him a better life. His uncle, who’d been one of the most prominent raiders in the tribe, hated the new direction towards peace and hated Gorthos for being a physical manifestation of that peace. He never knew his father, and his mother never told him much. He got basic schooling but never really cared to learn much more than that.

It’s been a total blast playing him, especially the relationship with Zakah, which has been both rocky and sweet and funny all at once. After Zakah took him to get his jaw fixed, Gorthos casually said he loved Zakah, unaware of what he’d said. When asked, he said, “Sure, I love you. I love Sylal. I…tolerate Lucius. Why not?” Love comes easy to him. I could easily turn this campaign into a book and it would be fantastically compelling. I have left a LOT of details out. If you’re curious, head over to my tumblr and look through the “ashe plays dnd” tag.

I would enthusiastically encourage folks to pick up the game. Fifth Edition is pretty slick and newbie friendly and the sheer fun of a collaborative story with friends is fucking brilliant. If you need more proof, come back on Friday for Leigh Peterson’s story!

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