Archive for April, 2010

D&D Characters

Hey, all. I hope you enjoyed that little story I wrote. It’s part of my backstory for my character in the new Dungeons and Dragons campaign I’m playing in. A few of my guildmates had read a few of the books for the new 4th edition of the game, and were looking for a group to play in. Before you can say “Roll Initiative”, myself and a few other guildmates had also expressed interest in playing, and we’ve had a really good group going. We’re playing online, using Skype to communicate and a program called Maptools to serve as our gameboard. It’s been loads of fun. Seth, my character, is an Artificer. He studies Magic and the methods of crafting things using it. He can use his crossbow to fire off magically enhanced crossbow bolts which add bonus damage to his nearby friends one turn and then load a special syringe tipped bolt and fire a healing solution into a friend the next. He’s a lot of fun and I’m enjoying playing him. He’s certainly not my usual choice of a class for a game like this, as Josh could tell you I typically favor magical classes that deal lots of damage, but that’s one of the good things about 4th edition D&D, almost any class can deal a good amount of damage in addition to other abilities. I like it.

One thing our DM (Dungeon Master, basically the guy who runs the game we all play in) showed to us was this nifty little application called the D& Character Creator. The app lets you make a character of any race and class, and lets you pick all the possible options from all the many source books put out by Wizards of the Coast. It makes it super easy to do and generates a very nicely organized character sheet as well as a set of cards for all of your powers, with all the bonuses to your dice rolls added up, but it also breaks those bonuses down to show you where they all come from.

The free version of the character creator lets you make any character from level 1-3. It also has some limitations regarding available data. For example, when I tried using the free version to build Seth, I discovered it was missing almost all of the Artificer options. I believe it’s because the Artificer was introduces in a specific campaign’s handbook, and not one of the basic books, but I don’t know where the distinction lies for certain on what the free app has versus the paid one. However, a subscription to D& not only gives you the full version of the character builder, but also many other things at their site, including access to PDFs of their magazine and the D&DI compendium, which is a huge repository of D&D data from all the books. It’s very helpful, and for about $20 for three months, pretty darn cheap if you’re playing the game a lot.

So I bought three months worth of access, and I gotta say, i’ve enjoyed the heck out of it, and because it’s now so easy to do, I’ve made a wide variety of characters. Now, will I get to play most of these? Probably not. If two or more of our players can’t make the session for some reason, our DM can download a pre-built one-night adventure from the Role Playing Gamers Association (which we all joined. Hey it was free, why not). We can then all register as having participated in that adventure and gain some rewards after doing several of these. I’m fuzzy on what exactly they are, though. Still, it helps to have some other level 1 characters to play ready to go for that occasion, and so I made a few extra characters. Being the story nerd that I am (hey, look what I wrote out for Seth!) I had to go and make some interesting backstories for all of them as well, and in fact, I came up with a sort of framework for an overarching story involving all of them together.

Seth, of course, is my Human Artificer I’m playing in our main campaign. You’ve read (I hope) the little story I wrote for him. In the overall tale of my characters, he’s kind of the main hero, if you will. He’s the guy who brings the others together, and serves as the team’s leader. He’s young, enthusiastic about the life he’s chosen, and good-hearted. His plan upon leaving his homeland (the Kingdom of Thryndal) was to head for the relatively young nation of Celinsh. Celinsh was once the site of an ancient kingdom of great power, and history has lost all records of how the kingdom fell. Their insular nature and reputation for agression towards outsiders kept all away until a few brave souls dared venture in and discovered the area overrun with wildlands and populated by all manner of monstrous creatures. The ambitious and wealthy Celin family soon laid claim to the lands, establishing a new nation, and spread the word that any explorers and adventurers were welcome to help them explore and tame their new lands, with a promise of great rewards. Seth plans to head to Celinsh to join their adventurer’s guild. The ancient kingdom was reported to contain ancient masters of artifice, and may have even been responsible for the creation of the beings who would become the Warforged. Seth would love to get his hands on some of that knowledge.

Danela is a Deva Psion. Devas are a race of beings that were formerly immortal servants of the good-aligned Gods. The race agreed to become mortals at the God’s request, to act as their servants and examples in the mortal world. In exchange for this, the Gods reincarnate a Deva whenever it dies. They have only faint memory of their previous lives. I slightly modified this backstory a bit, to include the Gods planning for a future final apocalyptic war with the Evil gods. They made the Devas mortal and encouraged them to master whatever trade or skill each of their new lives had. When the war finally does happen, the Gods will unlock the memories of all of the Deva’s past lives, and they will become powerful generals of the Holy armies. In Danela’s current life, she is a Psion, a master of mental powers, with a focus on telekinesis. She did not understand her abilities and consequently could not control them, putting any around her in danger. Seth happened upon her in his journey to leave his homeland and was able to deduce what she was and based on his knowledge, was able to research a way to help her control her powers. Danela is kind to her friends, but a truly frightening foe against evil. She often acts as the group’s conscience and occasional counselor. She wears a cloth hood covering most of her face, leaving only her eyes and the faint blue skin surrounding them visible, and thus far has never removed it in the presence of the others, as it is a traditional symbol of modesty among Devas.

Dual is a Warforged Ranger. Warforged are living constructs, and resemble steampunk-esque robots. They were developed for the Eberron Campaign setting, a world that had recently seen a massive war end. The Warforged were developed as an army, but released from service as free-willed sentient beings at the War’s end. In this world in my head, a similar War occured years ago, and the Warforged have been free for sometime. Dual is a two-scimitar wielding ranger who served as a Scout in his military days, and has been acting as a freelance sword-for-hire since. He meets Seth and Danela in Celinsh. Both are trying to join the Adventurer’s Guild, but since the minimum number for a new adventuring team is three, they must join together in order to do so. Over time, Dual has grown to trust the pair, as well as the other myriad souls who have joined them, in a manner similar to his old Warforged war-buddies. He has also grown to implicitly trust Seth enough to allow him access to his inner workings when he is in need of repair.

Frost is a Shifter Druid. Shifters are a race descended from Lycanthropes, or “Were-creatures” (Werewolves, Weretigers, etc). They have animalistic features, usually a fine fur covering their skin, and features like sharp teeth, pawed hands, or canine ears. They can “shift” into a form which exaggerates these animal features, but they cannot transform into a full animal form. Shifters typically live in communities of their own people in wild areas. Druids often serve as important religious leaders in their communities, and are known as “Moonspeakers”. Frost is an apprentice Moonspeaker who is one day expected to take over the role. He also has something of a reputation as being a wild troublemaker. As a Druid he is capable of shifting into a Beast form, a large cat resembling a white tiger in his case, and often prefers to spend his time as a beast, hunting and stalking. Frost’s tribe is insular and suspicious of outsiders, owed to the attacks they often suffer at the hands of a goblin tribe known as the Red Hand. Frost met Seth, Danela, and Dual while the trio was hunting for a local Red Hand encampment that had attacked a nearby town, an encampment Frost had also been tracking. They forged a working alliance, and together destroyed the Goblins. The trio had learned that the Red Hand was no mere Goblin tribe, but a substantial horde of Goblinoids that threatened both Celinsh and the shifters. Frost returned to his village with them to deliver this news. Empowered by the Celins to do so, the trio managed to negotiate a mutual defense pact between Celinsh and the Shifters against the Red Hand. As part of the pact, Frost would serve as the shifter’s ambassador to Celinsh. He agreed to do so, but also agreed to join Seth’s team of adventurers in the process. He hopes that in doing so, he will become stronger as a druid, and ready to take on the Moonspeaker mantle when that day comes. He also hopes to taste a little more goblin blood in the process. Frost has difficulty adjusting to life in the city and must often work to overcome his instinct to see any non-shifter around him as potential prey.

Kieren is a halfling rogue, a master shuriken thrower, and a thief. In the Celinsh city of Brindol, where the Adventurer’s Guild is headquartered, Kieren scrapes by, picking pockets and swiping food. Orphaned at a young age (and he has no idea how), he learned to do what he had to do to survive, and that meant taking whatever he needed and skipping town when the heat was on. He appropriated some leather armor and shuriken from a hapless adventurer during his travels, and taught himself how to throw them. His latest “home” is Brindol, and he’s already gotten himself in trouble with the City Watch on separate occasions. His biggest mistake, or luckiest break depending on how you look at it, came when he tried to sneak some gold off a gullible looking human and his strange friends. He waited until their Warforged buddy broke off from the group, then moved in for the pull, only to find himself with a scimitar at his throat. The group, actually Seth’s team, had set him up after Frost smelled the halfling following them. They summoned the City Watch, who moved to arrest the all-too-familiar halfling. Their attempts were halted by reports of a monster attack on the city. Seth’s team offered to assist, and the halfling quickly offered to do the same. To his amazement, Seth agreed to keep an eye on Kieren and would vouch for him. The Watch officers agreed. If he fought, and well, the charges would be dropped. Planning to flee at the first opportunity, the halfling agreed. The team headed in the direction of the battle, but Kieren found himself with no chance to escape; Frost did not let him out of his sight, and once caught his eye with a look that dared the Halfling to try. With little choice otherwise, Kieren fought the Ogres attacking the city and fought well. During the fight, he managed to protect several innocents from harm. Afterwards, Seth offered Kieren a choice. He told him that he could offer him a better life than that of a petty criminal, a chance to be something better, and probably better off as well, and offered him a spot in their adventuring group. Kieren was intrigued and accepted, thinking in the back of his mind that he could at least score some easy gold before splitting town again. Over time, he’s found that his new career agrees with him. Not only is he gaining a lot more coin, but he’s come to enjoy having friends and trust in his life.

Ryltar is a Drow Sorcerer. Drow are also known as Dark Elves. They live in underground caverns, have dark skin, shocking white hair, and as a society, are completely evil. They worship the evil goddess Lolth, Queen of Spiders, and are highly xenophobic arrogant slavers. Every once in a great while, a Drow will be born free of the inherent evil that untold generations of Lolth-worship has bestowed on the race, and will be horrified at the evil of their society. Such Drow are either killed or flee the city before they can be killed. Ryltar was one of the latter. At a mere 37 years of age (young for an Elvish race) he fled his city, forsook his family name, and managed to survive the Underdark and emerge on the surface. As his eyes adjusted to the light of the world above, he witnessed an incredible sight. A massive dark cloud, pouring rain and crackling with lightning, loomed overhead. Living in the underground for years, Ryltar had never seen such a thing in his life, and he could not stop staring in awe. Howling winds whipped around him, cold rain stung his skin, and bright lightning seared his sensitive eyes, but nothing could break his fascination with the storm. This is probably why he didn’t see the lightning heading right at him until it was too late. After waking up, he quickly discovered the storm had awakened the magical power within his soul, and he could now cast spells which channeled the might of a storm. Aside from that origin element of his story, I don’t have too much about his story worked out, including how he met the rest of the team, but he stays with them because they judge him by his actions, not his race. Given that many of them are either outcasts themselves or aren’t generally welcomed in most humanoid cities, they have much in common. As a general rule, he’s a positive and jovial drow, but when confronted by evil, the power of the storm dramatically shifts his personality, making him angry, almost scarily so.

Finally, there’s Terios. Terios is a minotaur, the classic bull-man of mythology. In D&D, minotaurs are a fairly famous monster, supposedly the creations of the demon lord Baphomet. Well, if history (and by history I mean R.A. Salvatore) has shown us anything, it’s that people love a member of a traditionally evil race on the road to redemption. In this new edition, they’ve made minotaurs a playable race, with the story being that these player races have forsaken the savage bestial natures of their kin and rejected the race’s traditional worship of Baphomet. Terios is one such minotaur whose village was raided and the majority of its inhabitants slaughtered by everyone’s favorite goblinoid horde, the Red Hand. Terios himself was captured and forced to work as a slave in a Red Hand-controlled mine. Normal picks shattered under his strength, so the Red Hand appropriated a set of heavy war picks for him to use. Terios labored in that mine for weeks before a small Halfling (our friend Kieren above, heheh) snuck in and freed him, asking him to distract the guards so that his companions could enter the mine and rescue the other slaves as well. Terios agreed, and used the very heavy war pick he had been given as a weapon with brutal effectiveness against his captors alongside the adventurers who freed him. They managed to utterly destroy the goblinoids and rescued every last slave. As they escorted the slaves to the safety of Brindol, Seth and his team befriended the minotaur, and finding out what had happened to his family and village, offered him a spot on their team. Terios agreed, and has become very close to his companions, especially Frost and Ryltar. He is unflinchingly polite, deferent, and even protective of Danela, whom he sees as an ideal representation of good that all minotaurs, himself included, should strive to be like. Like the rest of the team, he respects Seth as the team’s leader, but grows impatient when he begins discussing strange concepts that go over his head, though he finds a gentle bonk on the head is often enough to refocus Seth’s mind, to the laughter of his companions.

So yeah, that’s the strange assortment of folks I’ve dreamed up. I hope you enjoyed reading a little about them!