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Tuesday, 15 June 2021

A Dragon Warriors character

When James Wallis brought Dragon Warriors back from the ivied catafalque on which it lay sleeping through the '90s and '00s, one of the all-new books he released was Friends or Foes, a collection of interesting NPCs who can be used as adversaries or allies for the player-characters.

Why not throw it open to the whole DW community? Players could upload their characters for others to use or be inspired by. Characters in significant positions -- Baron Aldred's ostler, say -- could be even made semi-official.

Ah, you spotted the flaw. Somebody would actually have to do all the work. And there are always the Dragon Warriors Wiki, The Great Library of Hiabuor, The Cobwebbed Forest, and others, all with several campaigns' worth of resources free to use.

But just in case you are looking for a quick NPC, I came across a character I played briefly in Tim Harford's Legend game when Tim first came to London. (That was just before we began the still-running Iron Men campaign mentioned from time to time on this blog.) Valentine of Braying Cross was the loyal servant Sir Eustace, a vassal of Lord Montombre, so he could make a useful and dangerous foe. Incidentally, he's a 100-point character under GURPS 3e rules, which is what we played back then. I wonder what he'd look like in D&D 5th edition?

Brother Valentine

Valentine was born 964 AS, the younger son of Constantine, esquire of the parish of Braying Cross. He was entered at the Monastery of St Apollonius at the age of seven. At twelve he was abducted by slavers from Outer Thuland, where he spent the next four years until he was helped to escape by a wandering friar of the Frestonian Order. Valentine by now had an abiding dislike of heathens and wished to join the Knights Capellars, but was excluded by reason of birth and therefore entered the Frestonian Order instead.

After four years as a wandering friar he began to come to the notice of Montombre's men. At first they dismissed the over-earnest youth but gradually they came to respect his determination and iron-hard faith. Friars had by now come into fashion as confessors because the harsh rules they lived by gave them a greater air of piety than any rich priest could muster. Valentine became Sir Eustace's confessor and clerk, and gradually took on other duties as well. He relishes the insulting names his enemies know him by. Regarding himself as Sir Eustace's "sin eater", he takes all the old man's unsavoury tasks onto his own shoulders -- interrogating spies with icy efficiency, alert to heresy among his master's entourage, sniffing out malcontents in the town gutters and doing what is needful.

Valentine's learned skills fall into three categories: the academic studies of his youth, the physical abilities gained in service to Lord Egil of Thuland, and the talents he has taught himself in order to better serve Sir Eustace, Earl Montombre and the Church.

He is tall and somewhat lanky with honey-coloured hair and blue-grey eyes. He might appear handsome but for his zealous scowl and unrelenting stare. His humour is liable to be bleak. He smiles most readily when in a position to do harm to an unrepentant foe.

His vows, in common with all the Orders of friar, constrain him to poverty, chastity and obedience. He can personally own only his clothing, religious accoutrements and (if need be) a humble place of abode. His arms and armour he holds from his lord and has no private title to them. He uses only such money as is entrusted to him for specific purposes, since as a friar he can always secure a simple meal and a place to sleep in return for a blessing. His chastity was once sorely tested by a succubus that visited him in the wildwood. He repulsed it after a dire struggle and thereafter sealed himself in his cell for forty days and nights, fasting until he gained renewed strength to resist such evil. This is the source of his resistance to magic. The vow of obedience means that he must do whatever is required of him by the lawfully appointed officials of the Faith and (more importantly, perhaps, to Valentine) by his temporal lord, Montombre.

Valentine has one redeeming quality. He is fond of animals (especially cats) perhaps because they, unlike man, are a part of God's design untouched by sin. He has a quotation from the Scriptures that he likes to recite when he's about to mete out justice:

"For thus saith the Lord God: Because thou hast clapped thine hands, and stamped with thy feet, and rejoiced with all thy despite against the land of believers; behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries; I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord."

And while we're talking about Legend, don't miss the latest fine offerings from Red Ruin Publishing, a couple of Dragon Warriors gamebooks: Green Water, Crimson Stag and Meryon Woods -- both free on DriveThruRPG. And if those whet your appetite for DW solo adventures, you'll want to grab Village of the Damned and The Village of Frogton too.

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