Part of WWE Superstar Ember Moon’s job is staring down major threats, whether it’s Shayna Baszler, Asuka, or current Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley. But on Saturday, August 3rd, Moon found herself in a unique situation – saving a princess from the depths of Hell. Moon and a motley band of adventurers were tasked with rescuing a kidnapped princess from an archdevil, stepping into its lair and facing down monsters and dangers from each level of the Nine Hells. As a clock counted down until she and her companions were trapped in Hell forever, a death dog stood between Moon and one of nine levels that needed flipped to rescue the princess. Moon waited until the dog turned its multiple heads towards one of her companions, pulled out her boomerang, and expertly flung it at the lever. The attack connected, and moments later, she and her compatriots were back home with the princess in tow.
Of course, Moon wasn’t actually in Hell on Saturday, she was playing in a special game of Dungeons & Dragons hosted by Dwarven Forge, a maker of premium miniature terrain. Playing alongside Internet personalities Satine Phoenix and Amy Dallen, Dwarven Forge founder Stefan Pokorny, and Luke Gygax, son of D&D co-creator Gary Gygax, Moon was enjoying a well-earned respite from the wrestling ring at Gen Con, the largest tabletop convention in the world. Moon is a D&D expert and megafan – she appears on Rollout, a D&D series that airs on WWE’s UpUpDownDown YouTube channel, and she’s been playing D&D for just about as long as she’s been wrestling.
“I’ve been playing 12 or 13 years,” Moon told ComicBook.com during an interview at Gen Con. “Started off with Second Edition, with its dreaded THAC0 (an acronym for To Hit Armor Class Zero, for those not familiar with older D&D terms), and worked my way to Fifth Edition.”
In fact, wrestling was why she discovered D&D in the first place. “It was a writer of one of the shows that we used to work, Richard from PCW (Professional Championship Wrestling, based out of Texas,)” Moon said when asked about who introduced her to the game. “One day, during some downtime, he asked ‘You guys want to play some D&D? I need a creative outlet.’ And I was like, ‘Psh! That nerdy stuff? No, I’m not going to play D&D.’ But he talked us into it, and then we got TPKed by a goblin party. Afterward, we were like ‘That’s not fair, blah blah blah blah blah,’ and he pointed out that we didn’t stealth or do a bunch of other things. I was like, ‘We can do these things?'”
Moon was hooked from there. Along with her husband and a small group of friends, Moon tries to play D&D once a week in her home game. “Currently we’re in Ravenloft right now, which is my fave,” Moon said. “It’s my absolute favorite module. I think it was my first big module that I played. We started in second edition and it’s actually funny because we always make the joke that I get charmed every time by Strahd. Hands down. My very first encounter with Strahd, I rolled a Nat 1 on a check to see if I was charmed. Every year it happens, you know. But it’s fun.”
Moon even has an D&D room at her home, complete with a cabinet filled with D&D modules. “I love dragons,” Moon said when asked about her favorite piece of D&D swag. “I have dragon statues everywhere in there. I have dragons in the shape of a D20 set. I have a lot of stuff. I have a lot of dice too, to the point where I’m like, ‘I probably need to get another dice container soon.’ I have this really cool mimic that I put all my plastic dice in.”
In addition to her home game, Moon is also a core cast member on Rollout, which features WWE Superstars playing D&D. She noted that Rollout began in part because she mentioned to Xavier Woods (New Day member and the founder of UpUpDownDown) that she loved playing D&D when she participated in one of UpUpDownDown’s Superstar Savepoint interviews. “I started explaining D&D to Woods and he was like, ‘Man, this is great,'” Moon said. “One of the producers was a fan of D&D and he said ‘I don’t know if D&D will ever be a thing for us, but if it does, we’ll let you know.'”
While Moon was initially worried about how a D&D show like Rollout would work in the world of professional wrestling, she was relieved when the producers just let her and her castmates play D&D instead of having to read something off a script. “It’s just us going in a room and having fun for eight hours in a day,” Moon said of her experience on Rollout. “They built us an amazing set that looks like a tavern…and they realized that the game is something special.” Moon also noted that the producers have incorporated her feedback as the show has evolved, which has helped make Rollout feel unique in a crowded world of D&D shows and podcasts.
Rollout has also given her the opportunity to get to know some of her fellow wrestlers. “Before Rollout, I don’t think I’ve ever had a conversation with Aiden English other than “Hi. Bye. How are ya?” But getting to play D&D with him, now I get that he’s really funny. And my best friend Alexa Bliss, she had no clue what she was doing and by the end of it, she’s like, ‘Oh my God, when are we going to play again?’ So, you’re breaking your comfort zone a little bit, but it’s really cool to see different sides of people.”
To close our interview, we asked Moon whether the improvisational playstyle of D&D has helped her in her wrestling career. “Yes and no,” Moon replied. “I’ve learned that things can go wrong at any turn in wrestling and in D&D…mostly because I cause things to go wrong in D&D. I think the one thing that D&D has allowed me to do wrestling-wise is just not be afraid to be creative and not be afraid to do things that are outside of the box.”
“Before D&D, I was like, ‘All right, I’m a wrestler. This is how a wrestler acts. This is how a wrestler talks. This is how a wrestler does this and this is how a wrestler dresses,'” Moon continued. “But now I’ve realized that I can be whatever I want to be and I can say whatever I want to say. D&D has taught me not to be afraid to take those risks, because you never know if you’re going into a room with a beholder and end up charming it for some reason. You just never know what’s going to happen. And that’s kind of the same thing with wrestling. I walk into work not knowing what’s going to happen, and that’s cool but I remember being super freaked out at first. And now I’m just like, ‘All right, cool. Whatever, man. We’re good.’ Because I know I can improvise where I need to. I think D&D has taught me to be a little bit more relaxed toward life in general.”
You can watch Moon’s epic Dungeons & Dragons adventures on Rollout, which airs on the WWE’s UpUpDownDown channel. You can also check out her Gen Con adventure on Twitch. You can also watch Moon compete for the Smackdown Women’s Championship at Summerslam this weekend.