Ikan’s Light – The Creation of a Character
So today marked a monumental moment in Derek’s Ikan’s Light campaign world.
Today is the day we made my character.
I was planning on posting my process for making a character since some of it overlaps with the way I create characters for my story. Then Derek decided to do something different with character generation and take it from a computer role-playing perspective. Which is to say that he asked me a bunch of questions and kept the details hidden behind his DM’s screen.
Which isn’t completely fair, I suppose. I had an idea of what I wanted to be for this game before we started. I’ve played a few role-playing games prior and found that I usually made characters in the same vein. Generally speaking, I gravitated towards the handsome, dashing, daring and glib individuals who relied more on their smarts and guile to see them through trouble. Often, this led to characters with a focus on magic or the arcane and bonus points if it could be a non-standard system.
So, for Derek’s campaign I wanted to do something different. I wanted to go completely on the other end of the spectrum. Knowing he wanted to create a low-magic setting, I decided I wanted to be a paladin. Course, when making that decision, I wanted to do the paladin ideal justice which is to say that I wanted to make a character that would communicate the inherent hypocrisy of the class. Working under the auspices that magic didn’t really exist, I was fully prepared to make a fighter who was deluded into thinking he was a holy warrior.
But then plans change as is always the case. As more and more pieces of Derek’s world came to light, I grew increasingly interested in the struggles of the upstart rebellion in Steinessern. Here was a group that seemingly were cast in the villainous role. Not only were they upsetting the status quo but they were so successful and so brutal in their victories that they were seen as a major threat by all other nations. Being the natural contrarian, I wanted to explore what would drive someone to participate in such a bloody rebellion and the motivations for joining a group that from all other perspectives was nothing but evil.
I still wanted to play a paladin, however, but now I had my god. My character would be wholly devoted to the cause of the rebellion, holding truth to the tenants of this false faith and leading the vanguard against the enemies who held power and tyranny for so long.
What initially drew me to the paladin ideal is that whole abandonment of the self for a greater cause. So often were my past characters balancing questionable morals with self-gain and personal interest. They rarely held to any morality beyond what they deemed was correct and often they scoffed at established laws and structures. They put so much faith in their own reasoning that to prescribe to someone else’s wasn’t just lazy but almost an intellectual sin.
So, in crafting this new character, I had to consider what would drive someone to complete devotion. Practically every complex belief structure has inherent contradictions and flaws yet people still are drawn into believing them whole-heartedly. And I didn’t want this to be some lazy faith either. Here is a man who is joining a movement that, probably by all accounts stands little chance of success, but is prepared to give his body and soul towards.
This, of course, left me with the age old question: why?
For most of my character creations, I start right at the roots. I look not at my character but at those that made him. What is the relationship with his family and how did that mould him into the person that he is today? Oftentimes, the core conflict driving my characters arises from these relationships. For this one, I felt that there was no stronger motivation than that of blood. No other cause would drive a man from his faith to a new revolutionary ideal. He may be wrong, but it is the wronging of his kin that would make him willing to sacrifice himself.
It was when Derek wrote about his Reclaimers that I got my justification.
To recap: the Reclaimers are an arm of the Ikan church tasked with investigating and searching for lost or hidden magical artifacts. Due to the church’s fear and control of magic items, their punishments for harbouring or possessing such devices can be quite strict. In the Reclaimer’s arsenal of solutions for dealing with magic artifacts and their keepers is alerting the Adjudicators. From what I can gather, these are very similar to Inquisitors save for one special exception. As this is a world fueled on magic, they are able to use spells in order to drain a victim of their intelligence instead of outright executing them.
This struck me as an incredibly harsh and brutal method of dealing with people. There are truly some fates worth than death, and reducing a loved one to little more than a quibbling, drooling idiot seems like such a fate. Imagine a loved brought under such justice. Well, it’s the sort of thing that could push someone to extremes. It could motivate them to raise arms against such horrible practices and seek out vengeance against oppressors far too willing to invoke such cruelty on the innocent.
I just had to create an innocent first.
Pulling on the histories, I devised that my character’s mother possessed a magical artifact. What it actually did was, inevitably, irrelevant. In my mind, it was some rather potent item capable of warding off hostile undead from an area. Such a trinket would have been incredibly useful during the scourge, when settlements were struggling to find ways to keep their dead from dragging the living with them back into the graves. In that dark past, this trinket was crafted and served much like a ward to repel these creatures and see this settlement’s continuation from one generation to the next. In order to insure the ward was kept intact, each daughter of the line was entrusted with the artifact.
By the time the Ikan Beacon was light, the need for such an item was gone. However, the thing with traditions is often they persistent long after they are necessary. In my mind, the families continued to pass this trinket down, keeping it hidden from the Reclaimers as long as they could, probably under the belief that this item was incredibly important to the well-being of the community.
However, all things must come to an end. My character’s mother was finally caught with the device. And, perhaps through a combination of rebellion and the power of the artifact itself, the Reclaimers felt that she had to be made an example of. She was turned over to the Adjudicators and consequently stripped of all her intelligence.
I can scarcely begin to imagine the horror my character would have faced, coming home to find his mother lying upon the floor. Likely, she would be incapable of speech. Certainly, she wouldn’t be able to take care of herself. The horror of that first discovery would be utterly heart wrenching for a son. Such fury would have only one outlet: revenge. And for my character, there by chance existed an opportunity. The Cult of the Wurm were the sole voice that spoke out against the church and its practices. The rest of their tenants were irrelevant. If they would see an end to the abuse of the Ikan church, then my character would join them.
That’s the basics of it and is what I approached the character generation session with. Derek proceeded to ask me a series of questions to work out the finer details. First was locating the actual site of this tragedy. Given my race (human), and the elements involved, he decided that Weelderige was the most likely place for this to occur. I had no grand visions of my character’s upbringing so an isolated farming community seemed the most likely. A community known for its lush produce farmed from the soil fertilized with the dead from the great undead wars was even better. Here would be a land steeped in traditions of blood and sacrifice. A fitting location to put my revenge focused paladin.
As a bonus, I get an excuse to hate Derek’s disgusting roshome. Not that I really needed their history of cattle wrangling to dislike the critters though.
Next was to determine my role in the community. I figure rebellion is a young man’s game, so I wouldn’t hold and prominent or settled position. Apprenticeship seemed like a decent start and I gravitated towards blacksmithing. This would explain my apparent physical prowess while also leaving me rather ill-prepared for waging a war against the church. I’m looking for a character strengthened by his will and faith – not some history steeped in secretive training and mysterious masters.
We skimmed some of the details, hopping right to the rebellion. Derek mentioned some positions in the Wurm’s forces that I didn’t understand but after learning my penchant for choosing hardiness over aptitude, he decided I was initially recruited into the Reapers. These delightful beasties were apparently thrown at the more monstrous elements of the opposing Grand River forces. They were tasked with bringing down magical golems and fearsome drakes. A rather terrifying position, I can only imagine but for a man who has little to lose, I felt my character would take such risks with glee. Perhaps, in the back of his mind, he fully expected to die in some beast’s teeth – revenge unfulfilled but his duty served.
Apparently, however, the universe had other plans. My character survived, often against great odds, and his leaders took this as a sign of glorious Nidhoggr’s blessing. They took him aside and trained him in the deeper tenants of the faith, promoting him to be one of the first paladin’s in the army.
At this point, Derek had me take the very generic online alignment quiz. I, personally, think alignments are silly but I obliged anyway.
I ended with Chaotic Good. Which makes a certain amount of sense from the right point of view.
Thus, Kees van der Nevel was born. He’s a big, physically powerful and handsome young man who may not be the most agile of individuals but he has a resounding constitution and almost unearthly ability to take a beating. Through sheer stubbornness and willpower, he seems to shake off the mightiest blows. And, perhaps it was the fact he’s apt to take a hit or maybe it was the isolated upbringing but he isn’t the wisest or smartest man to walk beneath the Green Mountain. But his unending devotion and commitment to the rebellion saw him rise through the ranks, surviving one of the harshest and deadliest divisions of the army.
Trusting in the sense and will of his lord, Nidhoggr, Kees demonstrates a remarkable ability to sense the faltering allegiance of his fellows. Rumour has it, feeling his closest friend’s wavering devotion to both the rebellion and Nidhoggr, Kees sacrificed his comrade to his glorious lord. The young man makes a fearsome sight, striding boldly into the thick of battle dressed in the scales of one of the fearsome Dracfearann mounts. The armour, salvaged from the field of battle and forged through the training he’d received before leaving his village is a grim reminder of the foes Kees has faced without flinching or remorse.
But despite his brutal reputation, he still manages to tend to the armies beasts and mounts with relative skill. Though he may not be the most glib of the Wurm’s agents, he seems to channel a natural connection with the animals and companions, tending to them as if they were comrades in arms, even if his ability to ride isn’t that great. Of course, his smithing skills aren’t just useful in crafting but the proper breakdown and salvaging of items after a battle has been won. Sadly, these skills come at a price and he’s not the most knowledgeable in applying poultices and salves to his fallen comrades or even engaging in a duel of wits when it comes to haggling for supplies from reticent merchants hoping to profit off the conflict.
However, no other member of the Wurm’s forces is as pure in his intentions of bringing about the end of the Ikan faith. For he truly believes the three tenants of the Wurm’s faith, and can be found reciting them each night in a quiet prayer to the one route he hopes to find the salvation of his family:
Oh, great Wurm! See to the end of the monarchy’s oppression for the magocracy is but a false tyrant seeking to further the grip of the throne and the democratic republic is naught but an illusion cast before the gullible masses
Oh, great Wurm! The world has been poisoned from the root, and only by cutting down the rotten tree can a new one truly grow.
Oh, great Wurm! Only once the lost world is purged of the reminders of its failure will it become the cradle of enlightenment and salvation.
May the forces of the weak, cowardly and cruel be not but the blood and soil for a better tomorrow. Let fall their bodies so we may reap a stronger harvest from their bones and their souls. There is no way but the way of the Wurm’s.
Edit: From Derek
Kase van der Nevel(Human, Male)
Paladin, Soldier of the Wurm Army, blacksmith
Strength: You are strong than all but the strongest, able to wrestle even drakes if you get advantage.
Dexterity: You are average. You can dodge the occasional blow, but you can’t rely on it.
Constitution:You are hardy and stout. You can weather more punishment than most, and are very resistant to illness.
Intelligence: You’re slightly less intelligence than most people. You’re not a dimwit, and you’re literate, but most people would beat you in a battle of wits.
Wisdom:You have average wisdom, with common sense and the ability to perceive your surroundings on par with your peers.
Charisma: You have a stunning, commanding presence capable of calling people under your banner.
AURA OF PROTECTION: When a nearby ally faces danger, you can use your reaction to improve their odds of survival.
CHANNEL NIDHOGGR’S DIVINITY: times per day.
When you channel Nidhoggr, you allow yourself to temporarily become a conduit for Nidhoggr’s will. While you’re letting his majesty flow through you, you can choose one of three effects:
Smite Heathens: After hitting any creature, you can channel divinity to call down Nidhoggr’s wrath and ask him to burn the enemy.
Dreadful Vision: After hitting any creature, you can channel divinity to reveal a vision to your enemies, showing them the death of Ika at the hand of the great Nidhoggr. You can force this vision on as many nearby targets as you wish. Those creatures who fail to shake off the visions are frightened of you for a minute.
Rebuke Undead: As an action, you can use channel divinity to rebuke an undead creature. You choose a creature at medium range, and attempt to charm it. If you’re successful, the undead creature falls under your command for an hour. The undead creature must be weak, though as you become a more powerful paladin you can control more powerful undead.
DIVINE SENSE: As an action, you can allow Nidhoggr to enter you and give you divine sight. For one turn, you know the exact location of any supernatural creature or object nearby, and such creatures cannot hide from you.
DIVINE GRACE: Whenever you face a dangerous effect such as possession, catching on fire, etc, your connection with Nidhoggr guarantees a greater chance at avoiding the danger.
DURABLE: Whenever you’re healed (with magic or mundane), it is more effective.
GUILD CONNECTIONS: You’re an apprentice in the Blacksmith Guild, and can get support from local guilds (barring cultural or racial prejudice).
These skills come naturally from your character’s abilities. Green skills he’s best at, blue skills are good and black skills are fair.
Break an Object