As a Dim Sum Dolly she started playing Dungeons & Dragons

A session of Dungeons & Dragons. (Image: Jo Tan)

COVID-19 has brought pain to the world, but it has also given us a gift in the form of new Dungeons & Dragons players. D&D Pandemic Players is a series that features players who collected (or returned) D&D during the pandemic. D&D brings great joy no matter who you are, and that’s what these players have discovered, in the midst of a pandemic.

D&D player Jo Tan is the newest member of the Dim Sum Dollies, along with Selena Tan and Pam Oei.

The freelance writer and performer is no stranger to the big screen either, having appeared in the 2020 Tiong Bahru Social Club as the character of Geok.

But performing is not just part of his job. In her spare time, Tan also plays several characters and roles, such as a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) player.

Just as she played characters from different characters, she also played different roles as a D&D player, kind of like the multiclass in real life.

“Dungeons & Dragons is improvisation,” Tan said. Improv is short for improvisational theater, which is an unplanned and unscheduled performance that is created spontaneously. Since a typical D&D game has a Dungeon Master (DM) that facilitates scenarios where players are (mostly) free to do whatever they want, that’s an apt description of D&D.

Tan acquired D&D in 2020 when the pandemic began.

“It was right after DORSCON Orange and a whole bunch of my work was canceled,” he said. Singapore turned the DORSCON alert orange in February 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edward Choy and Jo Tan.  (Image credit: Jo Tan)

Edward Choy and Jo Tan. (Image credit: Jo Tan)

“My husband was like, ‘You know what, I’ve wanted to put together a game for a long time, why don’t we try it?’ For a while I was going, [D&D] it’s interesting, but I don’t know if it’s for me, I have to understand all these pieces of paper and numbers. But then I was fine, let’s try it! “

And that’s how Tan decided to play D&D. Her husband, Edward Choy, is also an actor.

In addition to being a longtime D&D player, he also did live role-playing games (LARP), in which players physically portray their characters through props and costumes and play in physical environments.

You need to assemble your party before you venture out

Choy has assembled a group of six-person adventurers (including Tan herself) and DM The Lost Mine of Phandelver, the introductory adventure included in the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set for 5th Edition. Eventually it evolved into a homebrew campaign.

“I created a bard that I really liked – I love bards,” Tan chuckled. “Then it took off from there.”

His first character was a bard gnome named Tree Hee Hee. Tree Hee Hee wielded a ukulute, a really small instrument that was a ukelele and a lute.

“We weren’t a very well built party – we didn’t have a cleric, so yeah, I’m healed,” Tan spoke about the role of Three Hee Hee. Healing duties were split between her and the group’s resident paladin.

Tan’s character has reached level 9 (one level lower than using a d10 for bardic inspiration, but fortunately having acquired the Song of Rest skill as a healer) at the conclusion of the campaign, but not before the group embarked on a theft involving a charmer ship and a brief encounter with the mind flayers

Tan eventually went on to play in more games and had other different experiences, such as creating DMs on their own games and even appearing in a live stream of D&D The 4th Culture, similar to that of Critical Role.

The 4th Culture was born when one of the players in his first campaign, Ramji, decided to live stream a game session. The Twitch stream ran from December 2020 to November 2021. While the channel is still active, the game is currently on hold.

In that game, Tan played a blond human himbo bard named Barra the Boy Bard. “He has a six pack but he’s not very bright.”

Tick ​​the bard boy.  (YouTube screenshot from The Survey Team Three campaign anthem video)

Tick ​​the bard boy. (YouTube screenshot from The Survey Team Three campaign anthem video)

“I was inspired by one of our group members playing a gorgeous sparkly-looking genasi speaking in a sexy Lothario voice. So I wanted to do it!” she laughed.

He also played an aarakocra (bird people) wizard named Wu Wu. “I drew him to look like a koel bird. He was a Chinese character, so he was called Wu Wu, like the sound of the koel bird.”

Wu Wu (Image credit: Jo tan)

Wu Wu (Image: Jo tan)

So, after playing a myriad of characters (just like in real life), what is D&D talking to Tan about?

“During the pandemic, when I couldn’t even do what was my job, the simplest thing everyone can wake up to every day – I couldn’t even do it. I couldn’t go anywhere, especially during the height of the blockade. visit my family.

And D&D was this space, where you could go anywhere and be anything and do anything and everything was possible. It was the idea of ​​escape. And the idea of ​​being responsible for one’s own destiny, to a certain extent, was so lacking during the pandemic. “

D&D skills, translated into real life

And through D&D, Tan learned valuable skills that helped her in her theater work. “To some extent, it’s about learning to work with different personalities. It’s about learning to work with other people who don’t necessarily have the same style as you.”

He provided an example of how he had to rein in his instincts to entertain. “Due to my work background, I tend to want to make sure that everything is always fun. So sometimes when someone takes a long time to do something, I try something fun. But then I realized that it could actually be disruptive for people who they want to strategize or play a certain way. “

Being a pandemic D&D player and appearing in a live stream meant that Tan had a lot of games online.

“When the camera is on your face, your expressions are very noticeable. It’s something I constantly remember, especially since online work is so ubiquitous these days. And getting ready to do those shots, they’re like online presentations, so I have to have this. window here and this window here, where do I place my windows so that it looks like I’m looking at the camera? “

He explained how when reading the text read aloud for dungeons, “placing it right under the camera it would appear that you are broadcasting the story directly to the camera, making it more engaging for the players.”

In fact, D&D inspired Tan so much that immediately after learning about the game, he wanted to write a play.

That was the genesis of Session zeroaired in December 2021. Written by Tan, the comedy depicted a husband and wife attempting to mend their marriage through a Dungeons & Dragons game.

Directed by Huzir Sulaiman, the show featured Tan and Brendon Fernandez as the fictional couple.

Session Zero (Photo credit: Crispian Tan and Checkpoint Theater)

Session Zero (Photo credit: Crispian Tan and Checkpoint Theater)

Since then, Tan has received requests from all over the world Session Zero and there are plans for another run next year.

Tan’s current campaign is the Witchlight Carnival, where she plays Betty the dragonborn rogue (draconic creatures). “So far, they haven’t been very useful at the carnival,” she laughed. But since most players prefer strategy to combat, which lends itself to the nature of The Witchlight Carnival. “

Since that first D&D game in 2020, Tan has been leveling up continuously, having continued to DM their own games, play on a Twitch live stream, and write and perform a comedy about it. She is the epitome of a D&D multiclass player.

Nuts collection.  (Image credit: Jo Tan)

Nuts collection. (Image credit: Jo Tan)

Marcus Goh is a Singaporean TV writer who has written for “Lion Mums”, “Crimewatch”, “Police & Thief” and “Incredible Tales”. He is also a Transformers fan and an avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social networks like Optimarcus and on his website.

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