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The Last Ride of Calvin Dugray

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

In previous installments, I’ve talked about the origin of my first character, Calvin Dugray, and what I considered to be his crowning moment of awesome. But eventually, after about seven sessions or so, I was ready to move on from Calvin Dugray and try another character.

I'm still not entirely sure why I made this decision, and it's been almost 15 years. Partly, I think I was doing such a bad job of playing as a swashbuckler – or at least I thought I was – that I thought a simpler character, like a ranger, would be easier (though in the present-day, I realize what a bizarre thought that was).

I also felt it was in keeping with the character - they had just discovered a massive conspiracy, led by a shadowy, Illuminati-esque secret organization (called "The Enlightened"), and Calvin was arrogant, so he thought this would be an appropriate test of his prowess. But at the end of the day, I felt like I needed a change, so Calvin bid the group goodbye. Then, the group was immediately joined by a half-orc ranger named Radin (convenient!), and we went on a few more adventures together.

I did have to make some adjustments - Radin was the strong silent type, while Calvin used to open literally every conversation with the line, "My name is Calvin Dugray, perhaps you've heard of me?" (Nobody ever had). But I settled into my character, and the group continued in their adventures. We found more clues towards the conspiracy, and learned more about what the Enlightened was up to. We also found ourselves on the front lines of a battlefield as a war began to brew between two countries, and suspected the Enlightened to be responsible... but we carried on with our missions, trying to stop the war.

This one was based on a few covers, but mostly Mighty Avengers #3, cover by Frank Cho.

In my second adventure as Radin, our group was in a wizard's tower in the heart of a volcano. When we emerged, we found ourselves surrounded by a battalion of soldiers, each wearing the symbol of the Enlightened. A hooded figure stepped forward and told us that the Enlightened was not evil, but simply out to right a few wrongs... whether or not anyone had asked. Since we had thwarted them a few times, we were under arrest. He drew back his hood and added, "My name is Calvin Dugray. Perhaps you've heard of me."

The other players LOST THEIR MINDS. As for me, I was grinning from ear to ear. I knew that, once Calvin rode off to try to fight an entire conspiracy single-handed, he didn't really belong to me anymore - he was the DM's do to with as he wished. I wouldn't have been surprised if we'd found Calvin fighting monsters in a dungeon... or lying a shallow grave.

But instead, Calvin apparently saw the Enlightened's actions as righteous, and joined their fight.

The funny thing is, for the next 10-13 years, I know for a fact that my DM has used Calvin for several other campaigns set in his world. Every D&D game he runs is in his homebrew setting with his own gods, his own nations, and his own important NPCs… and in fact he told me that he ran a game for some kids at the camp he worked at where Calvin was sending them out on missions like secret agents. And a couple of years ago, he told me that Calvin had met his grizzly end at the hands of a party of players. But a few of us still remember when the Nick Fury of his world was just a drunk wannabe-pirate who had a tendency to get knocked out.

This would not be the last time one of my characters would go on to take a place of prominence in his campaign setting… but more on that later.

Discussion Question: Obviously, the hero-turned-villain is a classic trope, but it can still make a terrific plot twist. What is your favorite plot twist from a game or campaign? Did your Game Master have a similar moment, where the story turned, and your group reeled from the aftermath? How did your party handle the change? Leave your answers in the comments below!

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