Bunch Of Fives: Helen Doyle (Roll For Initiative) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Roll For Initiative brings their first campaign The Wizards Tower  to Alphabetti Theatre from Tuesday 18th-Saturday 22nd July, as part of Newcastle Fringe Festival. For those not in the know, it’s a staged interactive role-playing game experience (think Dungeons and Dragons but on the stage) with plenty of silliness thrown in for good measure.

You create the characters, decide the quest, suggest how the heroes survive and roll a giant D20 (the formidable 20-sided die) to determine their fate. It was created and performed by a troupe of actors, comedians, gamers, improvisers, musicians, DnD enthusiasts and geeks, including Helen Doyle, who gives us their top 5 moments in playing D&D…

I started playing RPGs in lockdown over Zoom, playing a halfling monk with the power to literally punch people to their end, and a dwarf druid who prefers the outdoors to the darkness of the mines. During this time, I’ve completed a full campaign, am halfway through a full campaign and have played lots of one-shots in between. And without this playtime, I doubt I would be a part of Roll for Initiative. I’m sure anyone who has any experience of D&D and RPGs will tell you it’s famous for a variety of moments, from dramatic reveals, emotional climaxes and the utterly ridiculous. 

So, in prep for performing epic adventures in front of live audiences, I’ve compiled my top five moments from the last three years of playing d&d. 

Waterboarding a Horse with Mayonnaise
Yep. You read that right. And it was just as ridiculous as it sounds. 

When our party found themselves guarding caravans on route to Myriad, we were quick to spot a malnourished, neglected horse and wanted to do something about it. We thought we were lucky that one of our characters owned an alchemy jug, when they could say any liquid and it would appear in the jug. But then came the terrible rolls. Next thing we knew this horse was having a very bad time, leading to a quote we all still love to this day: “Are we waterboarding a horse with mayonnaise?” 

This was one of those moments when the whole party was in hysterics at how terribly we were rolling and how we were making this poor horse suffer even more rather than actually helping it. It’s one we still laugh about today.

The Capitalist Duck Parade
Because of course as D&D players you want to go away and do something that isn’t even remotely related to your quest. And anything involving adorable animals is going to be in the top picks for me. On our adventures, we stopped to watch the village’s local duck parade, a race to see which duck was fastest. But Helen, what’s capitalist about an innocent duck parade? Try the fact that the ducks all had neckerchiefs sporting some of the biggest corporations within our d&d world. I can barely remember what happened in this moment (I’m one of those people who struggles to decipher their notes), but the name really stands out to me. And it’s thanks to this parade that later in the session my dwarf druid was able to turn into a duck in order to distract some enemies and stop them attacking our party. 

Yondalla’s Luck
Another moment of time away from adventuring. Our party had found some rooms at a tavern for the night, a tavern with lots of merriment and a popular halfling game Yondalla’s Luck. Players have to run across the tables of the tavern while everyone else throws food at them. If you fall, you lose, but if you make it all the way to the end you win a blancmange! Safe to say my halfling monk enjoyed this game very much and in real life I would love to play this game. I mean there was a slight downside in that the town had a groundhog day style curse on it and the people were living the same day again and again, but still Yondalla’s luck made it all so much better.

The Easiest Battle with a Giant Overlord
In our current campaign, my party is investigating a feud between the giants. Part of this was breaking into the home of a giant overlord. And having nearly been defeated by regular giants before we were pretty apprehensive.  Our DM told us there were giant footsteps heading our way and we knew we had to be ready. We entered initiative, on each turn preparing our spells and attacks to surprise him when he entered the room. But the moment never came. As our tiefling warlock successfully cast polymorph and delivered the line we all love: “Duke Zolto is now a cat”. We were all in shock. All that prep for what we thought was going to be an epic battle with us all nearly dying. We still can’t believe how quickly it was over!

Defeating Tiamat
In April 2023, I completed my first-ever full campaign with my party, which started out as a one shot in lockdown until we all decided we wanted to keep playing. Flash forward three years and we’re facing a 5 headed dragon from the nine realms of hell after encountering several members of a dragon cult and fighting a few fantastical beasts along the way. It was such a big moment for us. We even hired a lodge in the Lake District for a week just to play RPGs and see out this battle. 

Although we’re still not quite sure how, our spells and attacks saw Tiamat sent back to the nine realms of hell despite only having seen three of her heads. We were all overcome with emotion, there were lots of tears and hugs over the sense of victory that nearly three years of play had been leading up to this moment and we had won (our encounters with the goddess of luck clearly paid off, and my playlist of epic power metal ballads). I still remember thinking ‘I just completed a full D&D campaign’, and I hope there’s many more to come. 


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