Darwin Slepsnor is an anomaly among my heroes. I can never put my finger on why Darwin stands out so much. Is it because he’s a lovable halfling instead of a seasoned warrior? Is it because he’s my first spell-casting D&D character? Is it because he has the common sense of a toddler? I don’t know. There’s always been something about Darwin that makes me want to return to him. Maybe it’s just his sunny disposition that can’t be shaken no matter what. Seriously, I’ve yet to find a way to pierce his childish positivity without it looking like I have a personal issue with him.
Anyway, this might be way Darwin is going to be the only hero to get a second series. I’ve tried it with others and it never works. Their quests end in their first series and then they drop to cameo status. Darwin’s quest ended, but I’ve found a loose end and an oddity in his initial series. You see, Darwin is a helpful character and all of his previous adventures were about helping heroes that he finds. Even in the finale, I find that he’s spending most of his time with someone. It isn’t that he’s a weak character, but he’s definitely one that can’t operate on his own very well.
This brings me to ‘The Slumber War’. For clarification, Darwin is a Sleep Caster, which means he is naturally gifted in sleep magic. This is strange because prior to Darwin, there was nothing beyond sleep spells of varying lengths. So, I got to wondering what would happen if more Sleep Casters appeared. This would be years after the first series where Darwin has gained a little more street smarts. Not enough to remove his charming naivety, but enough to let him operate as an individual.
The basic premise is that dreams are mysteriously becoming reality. Darwin is approached by the gods to look into it after they realize that he isn’t the cause. This brings him into conflict with a female Sleep Caster (thinking a gnome) who gives him a run around the world. This will move into a second book where Darwin has to handle two Sleep Caster families that have set up shop in the Plane of Dreams and are warring over who will rule. They are also going to try to woo Darwin since he’s the original and seen as the most powerful. A final third book will reveal the ‘loose end’ from the first series who is behind all this trouble. Maybe a few old faces will appear in the first and third books, but nothing more than cameos.
The challenge here is to evolve Darwin between books without loosing the quirks that make him special. Truthfully, a straight hero (Luke) or anti-hero (Clyde) is easier to work with than a character that has to remain slightly dim-witted to keep his appeal. You might be wondering why I would do this, but you haven’t met Darwin. I’ll leave you with an example of Darwin’s ‘genius’:
The group comes to a broken bridge. There is a boulder in the middle of the bridge and the group starts to wonder if it’s a trap. They see signs that the boulder rolled down a nearby rocky hill and smashed the bridge.
Druid: I think we know what did this.
Darwin: A dragon broke the bridge.
Druid: No, Darwin. The boulder smashed the bridge.
Darwin: *with a tone that borders on Valley Girl* The dragon dropped the boulder.
Druid turns to group: I can’t argue with that. Anybody? No. Let’s move on.