Noelle Stevenson started playing Dungeons & Dragons around the same time she started developing She-Ra and the Princesses of Power for Netflix and DreamWorks Animation. With Molly Knox Ostertag, author of The Witch Boy and prop designer on Disney XD’s Star vs. the Forces of Evil, as her group’s Dungeon Master, Stevenson developed her first character: a “Tiefling warlock nightmare baby,” as she put it.
“She was a teenager who sold her soul to the devil to make her mom mad,” the showrunner told D&D fans gathered at New York City’s Flame Con, the largest LGBTQ-centric Comic-Con. The Tiefling was also a teleporter, so when Stevenson found she was dealing with a character on She-Ra who shared that ability, she tapped into the D&D world to flesh it out.
“I steal a lot from characters I’ve made from D&D,” she said.
For those fluent in D&D, Stevenson explained her Tiefling had “Misty Step,” an ability that allows characters to teleport up to 30 feet to a location in their sight. “But I had two spell slots for Misty Step, so I got stuck a lot,” she said with a laugh. “I’d be like, ‘Guys, I can see through the key hole. I’m going in!’ and then would get attacked by something. ‘I did not think this through!’”
Using this as inspiration, Stevenson said her approach to the teleporting character on She-Ra was exploring what happens “when someone who doesn’t have great impulse control is just like, ‘I’m gonna go!’ but then it’s like, ‘Oh no!’”
“I pull so much inspiration from [D&D],” she added, “because how do you embody these characters? How do you embody it when you have a mission for these characters? And you go and you figure it out from there.”
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a reimagining of the 1985 He-Man spin-off She-Ra: Princess of Power, centers on Princess Adora (voiced by Aimee Carrero), twin sister of He-Man, after she’s been kidnapped as a baby and raised by the villainous Evil Horde. When she learns the truth, she has to come to terms with her identity as She-Ra.
“As She-Ra, she doesn’t know how to act,” Stevenson previously told EW. “This is all new to her, and it’s a little clumsy at first. It’s like an uncomfortable suit. She’s like, ‘Okay, here I am. I’m very glamorous, I’m very strong, people are looking up to me — because I’m very tall.’”
Now, when it comes to some of the backlash she’s already received from the online crowd to her take on She-Ra, Stevenson has thick skin from her years of being a fan artist on Tumblr. “How does this make me become better as a person, become better as a creator? If it doesn’t, let it go,” she said of criticism.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power will drop Nov. 16 on Netflix.