I play in a Dungeons & Dragons game on Saturday nights. My character is a female “high elf” named Allandra, and she dabbles in powerful wizardry. In game terms, she’s an eldarin wizard/cleric, but that’s less fun to say. When I joined the group, I’d originally intended to play an all-new character of the cleric class, to make sure the party had a leader (healer) but the DM assured me that I could play any character I wanted to, so I jumped on the wizard class.

I’d already developed a “haughty wizard” personality before the game began, through a writing experiment in the early part of this year. While playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, I kept a journal of my character’s thoughts and actions, and with the assistance of some mods, I played out an imaginary quest to find her “lost mentor.” The mods I downloaded for the game rebalanced the monsters, required the character to eat food and sleep regularly, and inserted more NPCs that traveled throughout the world.

I also played with a couple self-imposed challenges. My character wouldn’t “practice” magic in broad daylight because commoners were afraid of magic and magic-users. I wouldn’t use the fast travel option. And if my character died, I wouldn’t reload the game, I’d just stop the journal. Combined with eating and sleeping regularly, and lots of monsters being significantly more powerful than me out the door, I was sure to have a fun ride. I’ll say this much: my character grew really cynical and really bitter right away.