So I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like Dungeons & Dragons. It’s kind of my thing.
I also have a love of poetry. Much to my delight, these two things aligned perfectly when we read Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem, The Lady of Shalott. However, while reading it I did what I always do when confronted by a character in any medium, I tried to stat them out in D&D. So here I will walk you through how my very bad brain functions. Be warned before reading further: there will be numbers, although I will try to hide them.
Now, let’s just skip past most of the characters, because Lancelot is either a terrible Paladin, or a Fighter that maxed his Charisma stat for no reason.
Let’s get to the titular Lady of Shalott, she is a much more interesting character to build. We will be building in 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, just in case you want to follow along at home. I will be using Tennyson’s work as the basis for all decisions, often forgoing better statistical options. We will be making her a warlock, but please hold your excitement for a few paragraphs, I will try to as well.
Our first decision is a pretty easy one, what fantasy race should the Lady be? I would suggest that our best bet would be human, although in your home versions you might consider Eladrin, elf, or half-elf as all of them give her a fey-touched feel. However, consider how easily the Lady succumbs to the charm of Lancelot. This clashes with the half-elf trait which grants advantage on saves against charm effects. It’s probably best to stick with human for our build.
Now we need her background, which we don’t have a ton to utilize from the poem. It seems that up until the moment the curse takes hold, the Lady stays entirely in the tower. I think the easiest selection from the 5E backgrounds would be Hermit… for obvious reasons. You may also try Clan Craftsman or Cloistered Scholar for their tool proficiency and skill proficiencies respectively.
Alright, well now we have a human trapped in a tower for her whole life. I’d say we’re off to a great start.
Onto her class. I’d say that the best pick for the Lady of Shalott, given her unfortunate dealings with some otherworldly curse, is to make her a warlock. Because of her fey nature, she might as well have made some pact with some powerful Archfey. This would explain her constant work and strict adherence to her mysterious goal. If she works the weave forever, perhaps she gets some of that sweet sweet fairy magic in return. I’d be tempted by the deal for sure, and I can’t even work a loom.
This unfortunate pact would also explain why when she finally breaks her deal, and the curse falls upon the Lady, the weather itself goes wild in the beginning of Part IV. Fey are emotionally-driven beings, and they are known to cause disturbance in the weather when they are unhappy.
“Why did I choose level 4 for this character?” you may ask. Well, as many of you may expect, this is a lot of math on my end that I’ve mostly been able to keep out of the writing up until now. The less math I have to do behind the scenes the better, and 4th level allows me to have most of the major abilities of the game in play.
The nerdiest among you may have known that Pact of The Weave isn’t strictly a thing in the game, however there was recently an addition to the game where they are play-testing the Pact of The Talisman, which allows warlocks to create a physical object of their patron’s power. Instead of a simple stone or necklace, I have opted to flavor this feature as her weaving this massive magical fabric. That’ll work.
So, below is the full character sheet filled out with all of her abilities, and the most sensible picks for each level. As a warlock, I did opt to give her the Eldritch Blast cantrip, which while mechanically sound, is perhaps a bit of a leap from the original poem, however it never says in the poem that she doesn’t shoot lasers from her hands. Think on that one, buddy.
What a delightful waste of time this has been.