Our Dungeons and Dragons characters have reached level eleven. At level eleven, you get to choose the next skill level of character development: the paragon path.
By level eleven, the character has been roaming the countryside, killing monsters and gaining fame. Depending on certain types of training (my elven avenger is trained in stealth), differing paths are available.
The game imitates life. As we gain life experience, we learn. We graduate high school, start working, or go to college. For those of us who couldn’t afford college, we worked and went to school on student loans, hoping to one day make a career from that schooling to pay off those loans.
I chose a safe path: English education. I attended the classes that I loved, but put it to practical use. I didn’t take the risk of applying for the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, or any other masters programs. I became a high school teacher.
I was a horrible teacher. I’m paranoid and my version of maintaining classroom control is aloofness, so yeah, students hated me. Worse, I hated me.
Choosing a paragon path seems easy. I picked it back on day one of character creation. Why else would a klutz like me train in stealth? For those of you unfamiliar with D&D, or avengers, I’ve chosen Zealous Assassin, mostly because I can kick some serious ass.
3 or 4 weapon dice, plus extra critical damage–FUCK YEAH. What can I say? My avenger is filled with rage and likes to kill things. Her ultimate goal is to wipe red dragons from existence. Ever fought a red dragon? I’m going to need all the weapon dice I can get.
I wish choosing a life path were that easy. There are no guarantees. I thought I chose the easy path with teaching, only to find that it’s not as easy as it looks. I picked paths that allow me to grow as a writer at the day job, but then I don’t have time to fulfill my promises and improve every page I touch.
Each life choice is a new prison, a new pretty cage into which we lock ourselves. Some prisons are built to keep others out, like marriage. Others keep us from growing. Still others stagnate our creativity and suck out our very souls. It’s time to pick a new real-life paragon path.