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My grandmother passed away. Her funerals were today, but here I'd like to talk about the most important thing I couldn't spend too much time on in her eulogy: her love for Dungeons & Dragons. #DnD
She started very late, at 75, only a little over a year ago. One day I simply asked her if she'd like to try, and, like always when presented with something new, she said "Of course!". So we grabbed my PHB and built up a character together.
My grandmother chose to be a forest gnome because they seemed the most happy of the races and she really liked the fact that she could talk to small animals. She went with druid just to double down on the animal-friendship theme.
(Also when we went through the character traits, I asked her: "Do you want to be a boy or a girl?", and she answered right away "I've been a girl my whole life, it'd be fun to try being a boy for once".)
So, we're making her character sheet, rolling her stats (she gets a 17 and puts it in WIS) and chosing her first spells, and I ask her if she has a name in mind. "I don't know, I'll find one by tomorrow".
That night, she does something that even I never expected: she goes on the Internet and reads every piece of lore she can find about gnomes. She barely knew how to Google, and yet here she was, browsing Wikipedia articles and D&D fansites.
The next day, right before we play for the first time, she reveals her name to the party: Terminatur. Oh, and she'd also drawn him.
Thing is, she didn't know about the Terminator (although she probably heard the name somewhere and it came back subconsciously). She doesn't speak English, so she has no idea about the connotation.
She made up the name from "termite", because she liked the idea of gnomes living in burrows, and "nature", because she was a druid. Both words are the same in French. And she dropped the final "e" because, I kid you not, "it's cooler".
So we start playing. It's a new campaign starting at 1st level, and I decided to approach it like a series of one-shots, so that players could come and go without having to bend the story when a character's absent. Essentially, they're adventurers sent on missions by their guild.
The party is made up of a Kalashtar sorcerer, a half-elf ranger, and our little gnome druid, who never goes anywhere without his goose friend. They chose to undertake the cleansing of a reportedly haunted house. And that's when I knew my grandmother would fall in love with RPGs.
They explore the house a bit, and in the night, get attacked by the kitchen table, who turned out to be a mimic. My grandmother's genuinely scared by the (light) horror movie vibes, but she's smiling through it all.
My grandmother lives it. So much so that sometimes she has to close her eyes to calm herself down. Now, I'm not a particularly good nor experienced DM, but she made me feel like I was @ChrisPerkinsDnD or @matthewmercer .
Unwilling to get too close to the mimic, she casts for the first time a cantrip that would become her signature spell: Thorn Whip. From then on, she would use Thorn Whip any time she could, or when she didn't know what to do. She loved that spell.
So anyway, she casts it, and makes her very first attack roll... natural 20. The whole table went WILD (by which I mean the players, not the mimic). It couldn't have been more perfect.
Thus Terminatur was born. The party ended up establishing this house as their home base, and she made it a home; over the sessions, she used druidcraft to literally grow a new kitchen table where the mimic had been, and planted a vegetable garden where she invented a new fruit.
That fruit, that she named cipal, would months later serve as a bargaining chip with fairies that where tending to a fey orchard. It eventually led to Terminatur becoming a member of a multiplanar ecology group, the Circle of the Green Hand.
I invited Terminatur to be part of this group by sending him a letter IRL to my grandma's address. She was ecstatic, and she answered in the same way by sending me a letter written entirely in-character. She covered it with old stamps representing trees and dragons.
The last few months were rough. She'd been fighting against pancreatic cancer, and things had took a turn for the worst. Sometimes, the pain and exhaustion from chemo were too much to bear and she couldn't play. She still did it when she could, though, and updated her drawing.
The colours of Terminatur's outfit were inspired by the comic book character Bécassine, that she had loved since she was a kid. "Bécassine" is a national treasure and one of the most recognizable character in France, even though she's virtually unknown outside of her homeland.
By the way, we decided that canonically, Terminatur looks like #DiceCameraAction's Simon as drawn by the amazing @genkaiko in this picture, with curlier blonde hair and a "Bécassine"-like colour palette.
I almost forgot to mention: my grandmother's also the one who came up with the party's name. In this campaign, my players all wear real necklaces with little trinkets that they found in their adventures and that I hand out to them to reward them: medals, rings, monster teeth...
My grandmother's was particularly overloaded, so one day she comes up with a potential name, "les Bijoutiers Fantaisistes". The Fanciful Jewelers. It was SO funny and unexpected, everybody loved it at once, and they've been calling themselves it ever since, often shortened as BF.
Less than a month ago, the cancer took over her whole body. She was hospitalized and stayed there until her passing, on Wednesday morning. The last thing she told me was "Never change, never loose your family spirit, and keep on playing Dungeons & Dragons".
So the BF will go on, without their druid. And in all my future campaigns, players will hear of a legendary planar-traveler gnome with a goose on his head that gives out strange fruit, cracks his whip and disappears.
Here's to the best grandma in the world. I miss her already.
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