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Ashley was one of the last players to join the game, and, with few options left, she chose to be a gnome cleric because she thought it would be funny and interesting. She quickly realized just how valuable a character she was when the first battle began.
On her first appearance on Critical Role, "Attack on the Duergar Warcamp" (1x04), her first and second dice rolls were both natural 20s. Her third dice roll was a natural 1.
After "Enter Vasselheim" (1x16), Ashley had to leave Los Angeles, California to live in New York City, as she was starring in NBC's Blindspot as the character Patterson. Ashley continued to play via Skype when possible, and she has returned to LA several times during Blindspot's production hiatus, allowing her to return to Critical Role in person.
During the times when Ashley is not available to play, Pike's absence from the story is usually explained as her staying to work on rebuilding the temple of Sarenrae in Vasselheim or helping to fortify Whitestone.