Dungeons & Dragons is a game that’s known for adventure, excitement and the thrill of battle! But Kate Sheridan touches on the softer, more gentle side of D&D in their charming little comic, Fallow Time. In the dedication of the book, Sheridan cites their favorite aspects of D&D — “unlikely companions, found families and quiet, stolen moments after the big battles are done.” These quiet moments, which are important in tabletop games just as they are in our real friendships, are also what make Fallow Time so unique and special.
The 12 page comic peers in on one of those quiet moments, between three friends and adventuring companions — Briar the elven ranger, Morwen the orcish necromancer, and Petra the dwarven paladin. The beautiful art and soothing colors underscore the tenderness that is shared between the three of them. It’s a charming slice of life about a comfortable relationship that suggests that this is only one of many tender moments they’ve experienced together, and it feels familiar and comforting to read.
We had a chance to catch up with Kate about Fallow Time and their experiences with the game of D&D!
Rogues Portal (RP): How long have you been playing D&D?
Kate Sheridan (KS): I’ve been playing for about a year and a half! I joined my first campaign in January 2017, and already I have…about four D&D characters, haha.
RP: What attracts you to D&D as a game?
KS: I love the collaboration, I love that it’s a way for me to play and flex my roleplay and improv and writing muscles without having to worry about making it perfect or making money off of it. It helps me get closer to my current friends and meet new people. And it’s so flexible, I love that with D&D you can take it in so many different directions and really mold the game around your characters. And it can surprise you!
RP: What about the game made you want to portray it in comics form?
KS: I actually did a dry run of Fallow Time before I started playing D&D myself because I was so drawn to the aesthetics. Even though I hadn’t played tabletop games I used to be really active in forum roleplay communities and I loved how hands on it was, making a character and seeing how they’d play off other people’s characters, what kind of stories we could tell about them together.
D&D also helped me go back to my roots, which are by and large self-indulgent fantasy! When I started playing I was in a period of really intense, bone-deep burnout after graduating and I had trouble connecting to the kind of stories I wanted to tell or why I wanted to make comics in the first place. Listening to The Adventure Zone and playing D&D helped me find the core of that again, and incorporate that sense of play back into my work. And it took me almost a year, but that’s how Fallow Time got made, and I’m proud of it.
RP: Are any of the characters in the comic based on characters that you’ve played as or played with?
KS: Not really! I like to tailor my D&D characters to the group I’m in so we can play off each other as much as we can, and I came up with Briar, Morwen, and Petra almost two years before I started playing. But I do have another comic I’m working on with Emily Cheeseman which is a kind of buddy cop story about our D&D characters, who we’ve both played with, just not together.
RP: The comic is so short but it makes me want to know more about Briar, Morwen and Petra! Do they have more backstory than what you were able to portray in such a short comic? Are there any other tidbits you can tell us about them that didn’t end up being included?
KS: They do! I have a lot of the story planned out and I’d love to be able to expand it one of these days. Briar’s a spunky, inexperienced elf rogue who’s new to the big city — she also has a little momonga buddy who helps her with pulling sleight of hand tricks. Morwen’s a high femme orc necromancer who looks intimidating but is also the gentlest and kindest of the three of them. She’s basically an estate lawyer, not a warrior. Before she ran into Briar and Petra her job was to raise the spirits of the dead to handle will and property disputes. And Petra is a dwarf paladin sworn to a dwarf-specific, badger-headed god of justice. She’s been sent aboveground to track down a criminal and drag them back to her city to be tried for their crimes.
They fall in together because they all get on the wrong side of a crime syndicate: Briar gets hustled and makes a scene trying to get her money back, Morwen stumbles upon a murder while talking to a spirit and gets kidnapped to keep it quiet, and the organization is employing the person Petra’s sworn to bring to justice.
And they’re all queer, and they’re all kind of crushing on each other, haha.
RP: Fallow Time is a great comic for Pride month and you express at the beginning that “gayness” is one of your favorite aspects of D&D, haha! Can you talk a little about why gayness and D&D go together so well?
KS: I think D&D allows you to play around with your identity in a way that’s safe, or at least safer, in that time before you’re able to even consider you might be queer. It’s more direct than just writing a story, you’re your character’s mouthpiece, but also it’s hidden behind this layer of play and acting to everyone else you’re playing with.
I know for myself (and a lot of other people) my D&D character helped me access one of those parts of myself I hadn’t ever really thought about. I made my first one nonbinary and over time I got more and more comfortable with the idea of that being something that was true to me and my experience. That it was something I had a claim to instead of just a character choice.
RP: What’s next? Any other projects that you’re working on that you’d like to share a bit about?
KS: I have a couple of things coming up! I’m working on a comic where a sculptor creates an statue of Lucifer so beautiful he falls in love with it, and then it comes to life. It’s based on the statue Le Génie du Mal by Guillaume Geefs, and the story behind it.
This collaborative comic that I’m working on with Emily, The Warden and the Wild, is about our D&D characters with identical facial scars. Mine is a half-elf arcane trickster named Touchstone, and hers is a human paladin named Mazza. Mazza, a renowned monster hunter and knight, takes adventure school dropout and utter brat Touchstone under his wing because he can see she’s whip-smart and just needs a chance to prove herself.
It’s about friendship, trust, forgiveness, defying fate, and cool face scars.