Alright, I had high hopes going into this project, but, in all honesty, I let myself down. Here’s what I managed to create:
I wanted to find something engaging to do for this project – something that could hold my attention long enough for me to create it, and hold a peer’s attention long enough to encourage them to actually reengage with the poem. Ultimately, making Beowulf a playable character in Dungeons and Dragons was something I thought would get people thinking about Beowulf in terms outside of the poem. It got me thinking, though, that Beowulf feels just bland enough to be a playable character (like, maybe, Nathan Drake, or even early Laura Croft). If given the opportunity, I would love to posit to the class if they felt similarly towards Beowulf.
Most of my time spent on the project was divided between two activities: half was spent digging into the 5e Player Handbook, which was dry as it took itself far too seriously for my taste, and seems to be rather self-aggrandizing. The other half was spent creating the little image on page 2. It’s meant to be Beowulf at Heorot, smiling triumphantly as she brags about her past victories. I thought it would be a nice touch, but it ended up taking a heck of a lot of time up. Probably because I used Sketchbook rather than something like Photoshop, mainly due to not wanting to learn a whole new program for this project (or any school project, really).
It was brought up in review that I should create some hypothetical scenarios, roll some dice, and see how they play out. That was an awesome idea – Josh, I would love to do that at some point in the future for a different unessay. Thank you for the fantastic feedback! Unfortunately (or fortunately for anyone in the class who is sick of DnD by now!), my mental health has been really holding me back lately, so I didn’t get a chance to expand on what I have to show you now. I still think it’s pretty neat (though I was hoping to do at least two more sheets, one for Bisclarvet (because bisexual werewolves are A Vibe) and another for fem!Wiglaf (the true hero of Beowulf!).) The best place you can find definite integration with the text is in the Treasure section, where I went through the entire epic poem all over again just to find what Beowulf had for winnings/shineys and translated it all to useable (or sometimes not) items for her to use.
The translation that began with “Bro” really drew me over from making Beowulf a Barbarian into the realm of the Bard/Barbarian (or Bardbarian, if you’re nasty). While part of me isn’t sure that Poem Beowulf would be capable of multiclassing, DnD Beowulf fits (and, in some ways, refutes!) the pre-established archetype of both classes so well that I couldn’t resist. It did add a little more work, in terms of both a) having to figure out on the fly (with some help from my resident DM/GM/wife) how exactly one might multiclass, and b) How To: Spell List, but I think it worked out rather well in the end. Most of her spells are there to enchant throngs of people, and nothing she has at current level would truly aid her against the dragon (yet!), so this could definitely be a canon loadout as far as I’m concerned.
Why does literature matter?
Literature was, is, and will continue to be a living, breathing entity. It shapes, and is shaped by, culture, and so it should matter to those in that culture (or, in the case of Britain, afflicted by that culture). It can give readers a glimpse into the past while also providing cautionary themes to be mindful of in the present. But in the way that I care about it most, literature can give hope for a brighter future. If it shapes culture, that is what it must be coaxed to do, and it must constantly be moving forward. Literature matters because representation matters. Literature matters because people matter, and how they feel is relevant. Text, subtext, language – it can all work to make the world safer through bringing understanding and representation through literature.