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Mystara's Iconic Partyby Roger LV Girtman II
About two years ago, back on the old WotC-induced MMB, there was a discussion about who the illustrated characters were in the Mentzer Basic Player's Guide. I replied with my rendition of Mystara's "Iconic Characters", but I never did get around with providing dossiers for those characters. But, before I post them, let me give you a little background as to why I started using these characters, and how they've developed the backgrounds they currently have.
Several years ago one of my players, who went by the name of "Buddha", a power-gamer, complained to me that pre-gen characters provided in modules were a waste as nobody ever used them. Even if they were used, they were so horribly weak that they would never make it through any module they were designed for. Also, his argument continued, pre-gens have no 'life'. They're all the same.
Naturally, being an anti-power-gamer, I wanted to prove him wrong. I set up two little exercises. First, took the sample fighter from the Basic book and created a party of five fighters--one for each of my players that evening. They were statistically identical in all respects. The only variations amongst the fighters were equipment, name, and alignment--each chosen by the players. I ran a series of short adventures from module B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond. By the end of the night, all five fighters resembled each other in only 2 respects: class and ability scores. They each had developed unique personalities, backgrounds (developed during play), and fighting styles.
The first of my points was proven. Buddha agreed that a generic character could have life if played well by the player. Still, he insisted that the only reason four of the five fighters survived the test was firepower--and that a regular mixed party couldn't do that.
Then came the second test. I took the sample characters provided in the centre of the book and added them to the sample fighter (starting fresh--the previous test didn't count). In this test, the players each selected their own character's alignment and personality. With the intent, that if this exercise worked, I would continue to play this party as a long-term campaign. In order to create a bit of familiarity with the setting (which most of my players were unfamiliar with, at the time), I suggested to my players that they use the example names provided in each class's writeup. Thinking this was going to be another one-nighter, they didn't care much and agreed.
I ran them through B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. I chose that module for two reasons. First, the "dream" was a convenient and simple way to get the party together without steamrolling them into a tavern cliché'. Second, it is one of the finest examples of early modules I have seen that has the perfect mix of challenges tailored for each of the classes.
The quest was completed successfully. All of the characters survived in good health except the halfling, who perished at the very beginning of the module (by pulling the trapped lever to the portcullis). At the end, the characters chose to take the halflings body back to town and arrange for resurrection and/or burial. I decided to allow for a Raise because the player did an amazing job developing the halfling's personality during the first half-hour that he was alive.
Buddha admitted defeat, and pleaded to continue a campaign with these characters. He twisted my arm and I agreed.
In the several months following, we ran through Castle Mistamere, followed by B1-9 In Search of Adventure and B10 Night's Dark Terror. At that time I decided to introduce Wrath of the Immortals, and ran them through Corran's Keep. Unfortunately, through unforseen and unavoidable circumstances, the group split shortly thereafter.
During that campaign, while it lasted, the players learned quite a bit about the setting, and formalised their character's backgrounds--each of the humans, it was determined, were linked to each other prior to B3.
Since then, I have tried to continue that campaign with the same characters, (and some of the same players) to no avail. Perhaps I will try again someday.
Enough storytelling, for now. On to Mystara's Iconic Characters!
FLEETWOOD - The Party Leader
Fleetwood of Threshold, male Lawful (LG) Fighter
Fleetwood is a handsome man of Thyatian stock. Quite tall and robust, this dusty-haired warrior with a chiselled face cuts an impressive figure. Still quite young, in his mid 20s, Fleetwood is a capable fighter as well as a charismatic leader.
Fleetwood is a home-town hero. Raised in the northern town of Threshold by his "uncle", a Traladaran, he was sheared promptly on his 14th birthday. Whilst his uncle swears that he is not an orphan, Fleetwood has never met his parents.
Fleetwood didn't take too well to the sheared life. Staying in Threshold he took several odd jobs--learning very few marketable skills and never staying in one profession for very long. When he was seventeen he had taken it upon himself to collect his savings to buy supplies needed for an adventurer's life. He then went up into the nearby hills, into some of the many caves there, learning how to live by his sword.
It was during one of those early adventures that he meet the Lady Aleena--niece to Baron Halaran. Quickly befriending the cleric, he adventured along with her for a brief time, before running afoul of the renegade wizard called Bargle. Fleetwood was able to escape the magic-user's clutches, but Aleena fell to his magicks. Fleetwood earned the trust and gratitude of the Baron when he returned with Aleena's lifeless body soon enough for her to be resurrected.
Fleetwood's adventuring career truly began some time after rescuing Aleena. One night, he had received a dream, telling him that the magical valley of Haven was in dire trouble. Heeding the call, this young man recklessly, and selflessly, travelled through the dangers of the Dymrak Forest where he met with those adventurers whom would be his travelling companions for years to come. It is these six individuals that he would later rely on time after time. These six are the ones he will learn to call... friend.
The fighter later ran into Bargle again in the ruins of the old Mistamere castle, north of his home town. Bargle, being the quick-witted man that he is, never let Fleetwood and his companions corner him. He escaped with his life on the back of a black dragon. Despite his escape, his plans there at the ruins were forever disrupted by Fleetwood's presence.
Thanks to his efforts in unmasking the leaders of the Veiled Society and recovering a sacred relic belonging to the Order of Chardastes, a branch of the Church of Karameikos, Fleetwood and his new bride Clarion, were inducted into the Order of the Griffon (as well as earning a Court Lordship) shortly after returning from his discovery of the lost valley of the Hutaaka.
Not long after, Fleetwood and company left his home for distant lands. Eventually ending up in Darokin, this group of heroes travelled to Corran Keep on the Darokin/Glantri border. There, by mere accident, Fleetwood helped release the strange man called Rheddrian from the mirror-shield--thrusting him and his friends into the midst of the events that are to come.
Clarion of Chardastes, female Lawful (NG) Cleric of Chardastes
Clarion is a rather short, raven-haired Thyatian. Standing 5'5" with lightly bronzed skin, Clarion appears very much like a classical Thyatian beauty. Her sharp jaw line and piercing grey eyes gives her an aura of confidence not found very often amongst women of her social caste.
Clarion's family consists of a myriad of minor nobles that travelled with Duke Stefan from Machetos to help settle Traladara. Her father, being a court lord, was given a parcel of land in the village of Verge. As Clarion grew up caring little for her ancestral lands, being more interested in the local populace, within which she made several childhood friends. At sixteen, she begged her family to allow her to be Sheared "like the local boys were". Her father grudgingly agreed and set Clarion off on her own.
Young Clarion soon found herself overwhelmed by the world around her--no longer protected by her family and their noble status. She left Verge for the "big city". Barely a few miles outside her village, she found herself overcome with the burden she had placed upon herself and broke down on the side of the road to cry. It was then when an aging man came by her side and comforted her. The man took her in, and helped her find her way. This man, Patriarch Sherlane, set Clarion up with the church ladies in Threshold. There she soon became an acolyte of the Church of Karameikos.
One night, after having been given the task of choosing one patron to serve, she sat in the sanctuary meditating when she received a vision. In her vision, she was directed to travel to the mythical Haven Valley to purge that land of a great evil. With a newfound resolution and a new purpose in life, she left the safe confines of the church's walls. During her travels she met her future husband, Fleetwood.
Clarion eventually chose a patron to serve, during a minor errand for the Church, she recovered the sacred Bell of Chardastes from a renegade cleric. It was during that mission, when Fleetwood became badly injured, that she chose to dedicate herself to Chardastes. It was to Him that she prayed for guidance. Upon returning, she formally joined the Order of Chardastes where she was given the permanent mission to give homage to The Healer and to reveal His works to all in need.
Some time later, she and her new husband, were offered Court Lordships of their own as well as being inducted into the Order of the Gryphon. Her father was in attendance, where he welcomed her back into the family.
Darek Felonius, male Chaotic (CN) Magic-User
Darek Felonius is of mixed lineage. His father was a Thyatian soldier and his mother was a Traladaran gypsy. His is not the healthiest man, and it shows. He is prematurely aged, looking closer to his 40's while he is yet to reach 30 years of age. He stands 5'10", not exceptionally tall, but quite lean. His light brown hair has started to grey making him look more blond. He caries a short trimmed beard in contrast to his thinning hair.
As a child, his mother left his father to marry a Traladaran merchant. Since then, he has not used his first name--rejecting that portion of his ancestry. He does have a younger half-brother from his mother in the form of Greegan. His rejection of his mother's heritage does not extend to his brother, and they get along quite well.
Felonius, true to Thyatian tradition was not sheared, rather he was to enlist into the Karameikan army. However, fate intervened as his parents, including his mother's husband, was forced into service of Baron von Hendriks by the wizard known as Bargle. All three perished on that mission. Felonius and Greegan, now orphans, were thrown into the streets of Specularum as penniless urchins.
Felonius did his best to protect his brother, but came upon an opportunity he could not afford to pass up. Working as a minor entertainer on the streets of the capital, he performed any number of sleight-of-hand illusions and tricks. A mysterious merchant, impressed by Felonius's ability, paid for his tuition to the Great School of Magic in far off Glantri City. After forcing his brother to promise to not get in any trouble, he made his way north to study.
After graduating from the Great School, Felonius had determined to return home to find his brother. Along the way, he found himself goaded into an adventure. Travelling through the windswept steppes of Ethengar, he explored the secrets of Lion Castle--earning himself the respect of the ghost of the famed wizard Sargon. He now carries Sargon's ring as his heir.
Upon returning home, he learned that his brother had gone off and become an adventurer. Meeting up with him at the gates to the Palace of the Silver Princess, he has travelled with Greegan and his friends ever since.
While exploring the ruins of Castle Mistamere, Felonius confronted Bargle. There, he learned that his parents did indeed perish by Bargle's hand. Worse yet, he learned that his mysterious benefactor--the man who made it possible for Felonius to become the mage that he is--was none other than Bargle himself.
Recently, thanks to his efforts at uncovering the leaders of the Veiled Society and foiling several plots of the Iron Ring, Felonius was offered a Court Lordship. He declined, preferring not to be bound to any government or the life of a socialite.
Greegan Mikov, male Neutral (TN) Thief
Greegan is a Traladaran boy from Specularum. He is rather plain, being only 5'9" tall with brown hair and eyes. His only distinguishing feature being a short goatee he doesn't stand out very much, and this suits him just fine.
Greegan is the younger half-brother of Felonius. Their parents died several years ago working for a noble or some-such--he never really cared to find out the details--only that he was left alone. If being an orphan was not enough, his brother left him to fend for himself at a time when he needed his family the most.
On the streets of Specularum, he quickly learned to live by his wits. After a time, he joined the Kingdom of Thieves. Eventually, he was caught and thrown in jail for several months. When he was released, he had decided to "go straight" and try his hand at honest trade. He made his way into Darokin to begin his new business. Whether it was the wrong time, or the wrong place, Greegan never knew. He ended up being framed for a murder he didn't commit. Running from an angry mob who cared little for the life of a foreigner, Greegan found himself caught in a pass in the Black Peak mountains during a winter storm. The caravan he was stowing away on became lost. Greegan was captured by a group of goblins. Only by his wit and ingenuity was he able to escape back to civilisation.
After the ordeal at Blizzard Pass, he made his way to Threshold. With a murderer's name on his head, he wanted to get as far away from Darokin as possible. He joined up with a group of adventurers travelling to the Dymrak Forest. There, he was reintroduced to his brother who had become a proper wizard.
He has continued to travel with his brother's adventuring troupe, more out of security than loyalty. Though he has learned to respect their ability to protect him when he gets into trouble. He is often at odds with his brother who seems to be making up for abandoning him by being over-protective, but he allows it so that his other companions don't learn of his wanted past.
Whenever Greegan is in Specularum, he seeks out a fortune teller by the name of Alya. The two of them have held an on-and-off relationship ever since Greegan was forced into the Veiled Society. While he is still a member of the Kingdom of Thieves, and has since helped destroy the Veiled Society, neither Alya nor his brother know of his criminal activities.
Rolf Stronghollow, male Lawful (LN) Dwarf
Rolf hails from the Gnomish city of Highforge deep in the Wufwolde Hills of central Karameikos, where his prominent family of the Stronghollow clan has lived for several generations. Gruff and dour with an unintentional sense of humour, Rolf stands a full 4 feet. His mediocre height is more than made up for with a stout 150 lbs. His dusty skin seems perpetually in need of washing, but this doesn't seem to bother him. His well-manicured wavy beard is a luxurious dark brown which looks black in any light shy of direct sunlight.
True to his family's plans for him, Rolf is an engineering genius. It was always his intention to apprentice under his father and take over control and management of the largest mines of the entire clan--as his father did before him. Naturally, life has a way of ruining the best laid-out plan.
Nearing the end of his apprenticeship, Rolf had a nagging and recurring dream telling him that he was needed elsewhere. After a time, he heeded the call and decided to travel to the mystical valley of Haven in search of the magical ruby known as "My Lady's Heart".
This decision did not sit well with either his family or his clan, who prides themselves on their regimented life, saying they haven't changed their way-of-life in hundreds of years. Rolf, steadfast in his choice to heed the call of his vision, was disowned by the clan, never to return. He lost all that he had and all that he was.
Undeterred, he reached Haven to join up with the most ragtag band of adventurers he could imagine, who had also had the same vision he had. On that first, fateful, adventure he was pivotal in destroying the very same gemstone that he had sought to recover. Since that time he has travelled with his new companions... his new family.
To this day he has returned to Highforge only once, after his party rescued several of his former clansmen from a tribe of spider-worshipping goblins. He was offered reconciliation with the clan. He refused. He now adventures in order to, one day, found his own clan, in a new home of his choosing.
Belrain Callarii, male Neutral (CG) Elf
Belrain is an elven man. Even when his pointed ears are hidden by his wildly unkempt mane of golden-blonde hair, his heritage is immediately obvious by his untamed nature. He stands an 5'4" and weighs barely 120 lbs. His earth-toned clothing are adorned with patterns of oak leaves to match his bright green eyes in contrast to his fair--nearly pale skin.
Belrain 's clan, the Callarii elves, are from the Radlebb Woods in central and western Karameikos. He lived a rather carefree life, knowing neither want nor pain up until, on a whim, he banded up with a group of adventurers passing through on their way to the legendary Palace of the Silver Princess. There, in that magical place hovering between this world and the Realm of Faerie that he first came to know pain, loss, and suffering at the hands of true evil.
Belrain had found his calling--to fight against evil wherever he may find it by any means necessary.
In his travels, Belrain has seen many amazing things which has made him come resent his sheltered upbringing: the brilliance of Mirror Bay in Specularum, the majesty of Loshad, the benign chevall protector of horses, the grandeur of the halls of the Order of the Gryphon, the austere reverence of the Hutaakan people. So, too, has he seen many more atrocities that has strengthened his resolve to combat the evils of the world from the calculated treachery of the Veiled Society to the cannibal goblins of the Dymrak Forest.
While rescuing a herd of wild horses from the Dymrak goblins, Belrain came to be awarded for his acts with his mount, Epona--a pure white mare, an elven pony, the symbol of his clan.
Belrain continues to travel with his companions from the Palace of the Silver Princess. Although he doesn't always get along with them, especially the dwarf named Rolf (a fact which is usually witnessed by way of playful bickering), he remains fiercely loyal to each and every one of them... even the dwarf. The most common source of discontent between Belrain and his party members is his choice of methods utilised when battling evil.
Morgan Touchberry, male Lawful (NG) Halfling
Morgan Touchberry, a Hin who prefers using his family name (he finds it amusing that humans seem to think it sounds so funny), appears rather average for a halfling. At three feet even and a portly 60 lbs., Touchberry has short (but thick) wavy dark brown hair, light brown eyes, and a lightly tanned complexion. The pads of his feet are well worn, dark and leathery. His foothair is just as soft, thick, and wavy as the hairs on his head.
In addition to the size of a human child, he also has the curiosity and temperament of one. Never satisfied, Touchberry has been constantly changing his home, his job, even the story of his past. If you ask him where he's from, you might get any number of responses. Among his favourite answers are "over there, didn't you see me walk up to you", "I'm an immigrant from my loving and peaceful home of Highshire", "I'm a refugee from the Black Eagle", and "I'm a travelling bard from the great and sprawling metropolis of Leeha, far to the north in cold and rugged Norwold".
Despite his childlike temperament, no one can say that Touchberry doesn't have determination and perseverance. Completely lacking any manner of talent, Touchberry has styled himself as a travelling bard--and he's practiced till his fingers bled to teach himself the skill required to make up for his lack of talent.
Touchberry's adventuring career began by accident when, as a stowaway on a merchant vessel travelling between Ierendi and Minrothad, he became trapped deep inside an island labyrinth guarded by a bloodthirsty minotaur. He escaped certain doom by utilising his quick wit and a quite bit of knowledge of a multitude of riddles.
One evening, in his many random travels, Touchberry happened across a small, secluded valley overlooked by a magnificently ruined palace. Of course, he absolutely had to investigate. There, he later learned, a band of adventurers had been called to defeat a great evil. Naturally, he tagged along. Since it was so much fun, nearly dying from a poisoned needle trap hidden on a lever (such an odd place for a trap), that he's still tagging along with the same bunch of fellows.
For a brief time, he was a member of the nefarious Veiled Society--that was until he discovered that the Veiled Society was out to get his adventuring party (meaning the folks he's been following all this time).
With all of this seeming random happenings, Touchberry is not so chaotic as all that. He has a very good reason for each and every decision he makes... he's just not always sure what that reason is until after the fact.