The theme of progress along the journey plays a big part in my Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. During the inception, I ask the players around the table to describe a flaw or vice each of their sojourners would like to overcome along the journey. Ultimately, I desire to help players around the table create their own personal stories of redemption as they grow and progress in their own lives. I call them sojourners.
I read Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as a child. I love recalling that the sojourner, or pilgrim, begins his adventure in dire straits, in vice, in suffering, and along the way, he overcomes one obstacle at a time. Often these barriers to his progress arrive in the form of distractions and adversaries designed to test his resolve to complete the quest. Nevertheless, we cherish the story of success, because it resembles our own.
Sojourner: a person who stays only for a day, originating from the word diurnum, or day, quite literally, one who makes a day’s journey.
In my stories, I encourage the hero’s journey. I want to hear of characters like Spendthrift, the gladiator who pulls himself out of the circus and becomes a monk to cleanse his past and redeem his present. He journeys level by level from a cutthroat to a town governor and father. In that story, we see his progress.
In my stories, I like to reminisce the tale of Felthran, the dwarf who left to go out hunting only to find when he returned that raiders destroyed his home, so he goes into hiding among the druids of the Dusk Circle. For years, he hides in isolation until the meeting with an old friend named Gundren who has a request of him. From there, we see Felthran arrive from the shadows and into the light, take up his warhammer once again in Moradin’s name and become a redeemer of his home.
And in my stories, I recall the adventure of Roanoke, who ran from her home in Calimshan out of anger towards her genasi kin. Deep into the underdark, she journeyed. And as fate would have it, her genie kin trapped in a treasure arrived into her possession, and for a year she sojourns alongside her ancestor, rediscovering the wounds of the past in the balm of companionship.
I love words. I love their meaning and their power. Often in Dungeons and Dragons, the people around the table are called players and the characters they roleplay are called characters. I call them sojourners, for the reason of evoking an image that their time today consists of many days before called the past and many days ahead in the future. And since time is a cycle, for what once was will yet be again and is, the player at the table has a chance to change their world through their character, through their sojourner.
Wherever you are today, in your duirnum, may you journey be filled with laughter and novelty, hope and sobriety, and most of all, a company alongside you who shares in your adventure. And so, our story continues.