Lawrence “The Law,” half-orc paladin, has always been a joke character.

I originally rolled him up for a “public” game played with a bunch of teenagers. He was an amalgamation of an internet story about “Jake Dagger, loose cannon paladin” and Sylvester Stallone’s Judge “I am the law!” Dredd. I never gave him a last name, now that I think about it.

I’ll call him “Lawrence Dread.” Because duh.

Honestly I played him as I would any lawful good character, paladin or otherwise–kind, generous, optimistic–and let the circumstances shape his personality from there. Coming upon a crappy backwater village, one of my impulses was to seek callow, trouble-causing youths who were looking for adventure.

I paid to arm and equip them, and formed a “posse” to help protect the adventuring party–who at that time was all rangers, thieves, and magic-users. They were badly in need of muscle, so I provided them with all the muscle I could in the form of NPC hirelings. (And myself, obviously.)

To my knowledge, all of those hirelings survived and were adopted by other players after I left the group. I call that a win of the highest order (of paladins). One became a personal bodyguard and love interest for a PC. Double-plus win.

Lawrence made scattered appearances after that. He slew a vampire, I think. He might have helped slay a mummy and/or dragon. Mostly he muttered “Law” under his breath in the presence of other PCs in order to not soak up too much spotlight.

When we began the “Loose Threads” adventure last year, I brought Lawrence out of semi-permanent retirement because I needed a higher-level PC. He helped slay a tyrannosaurus rex (or three?) and break a magical enchantment over a small town. Then he “retired” again to become sheriff of said town when I became DM of that adventure.

That town was dragged into the feywild as a consequence of that adventure. Lawrence couldn’t abide the chaos of the place and had to leave to go a-wanderin’ again. That’s how he ultimately wound up in the Tomb of Annihilation adventure.

When I started Tomb of Annihilation, I had rolled up a kobold cleric of Light. It was a hilarious character to me on multiple fronts, the least of which was the idea of running a sunlight-vulnerable cleric of Light. His catchphrase was “praise the sun!” (Dark Souls)

But in a lot of ways, the character was “dead on arrival.” I got some flak when I rolled up the character because my INTENT had been to run an existing NPC whose name I had confused. Due to the mix-up, I was playing a “new” character instead of the desired NPC. My hope had been to portray kobolds as petty, mischievous, and cowardly in contrast to the generally goofy cannon-fodder hilarity of their depiction to that point.

My character was never the character I wanted to play. Do to the mix-up on my part and the stubbornness of the other players, I was effectively “stuck in the wrong body.” Instead of playing the role of an existing character, I was inventing a new one. The petty, mischievous, and cowardly behavior thus became a veneer for a straightforward “altruistic cleric with a death wish.”

A death wish which was repeatedly challenged by the rest of the party.

We played through one side quest in ToA–the “dinosaur Running Man” trial to protect a man wrongfully accused of theft. The DM didn’t enforce the trial as written, which might have had serious consequences. According to the text, interference in the trial is strongly frowned upon by locals and authorities alike. We didn’t see any difficulty as a result.

My hope had been for my kobold character to take the innocent man’s place–to confess to his crimes and spare him, while my character either died or survived the trial. Either way, I didn’t care about my character’s fate–but I was blocked by the rest of the players for… reasons? It would be the first of several such blocked attempts.

On the canoes, my kobold insisted on wearing his armor–because the jungle was dangerous. He was too weak to paddle effectively, and he was still level one. If I took a hit or fell in the water, I was dead. I opted to wear the armor because I was more likely to survive that way.

Our canoes passed through some magical mist that afflicted my character (and only my character) with “Mad Monkey Fever.” Once the symptoms manifested and my PC became a danger to the party, I had him (attempt to) jump in the river to spare the others. Though again I was blocked from doing–my character was restrained and tossed in the back of the canoe despite my protests until the party realized they could cure the disease with Lesser Restoration.

In the next encounter, my character was plucked from the canoe by a crocodile (despite my precautions with the armor) and reduced to zero hit points by the bite attack. I chose to forgo my death & dismemberment roll when the DM made a spot ruling that we were no longer using the rules I had previously established in our campaign. I was asked by the other players to roll 5e “death saving throws” at that point, which I flatly refused to do.

I declared my kobold cleric dead and rolled up a half-orc barbarian.