After not gaming since Gen Con, I am pee-in-my-pants excited about the Dragon Age game my friend Enrique (aka NewbieDM) will be running this coming Wednesday (12/22) night. I know absolutely nothing of the Dragon Age brand as I’ve never played the computer game, but the pen-n-paper RPG published by Green Ronin is just absolutely evocative in its retro-style to “old-school” roleplaying games and its simple treatment of the world of Dragon Age, which is all I need to get into it.
Enrique said to go ahead and build my character so after reading the Dragon Age RPG Player’s Guide, I came up with the following player character for the game. I’m sure once I sit down at the table and meet the rest of the players/party there will be tweaks, but this is my PC as it stands now. Without further ado, I give you Gwydion Ar Calennar O Stormhold.
It’s been two years since the death of Deirdre An Calennar at the hands of unknown assailants. Gwydion still mourns his dear oldest sister and is incensed that his mother Calennar has not yet named anyone as the Avenger of Blood for her, refusing time and time again his pleas to allow him to take up his sister’s claymore and seek those who ended the life of the clan’s heir. Fed up with his mother’s and siblings’ lack of action, on the day of his twentieth birthday, Gwydion painted his face with the colors of war, took Deirdre’s sword and golden torque, and left the Stormhold lands, decided to take matters into his own hands. With little knowledge of what truly happened, he set out into Ferelden, knowing the Maker would show him the way to his sister’s killers.
“I will use your sword to kill a Darkspawn, my sister, and thus show Mother that I am fit to be your Avenger of Blood. And one day, I will find those who took you for this world, and send them to you hacked into pieces, so that your soul may finally find peace.” And thus the story of Gwydion Ar Calennar begins…
Reading over the setting material in the Player’s Guide, and after watching a couple of the cinematics of the computer game on YouTube, I realized part of the Dragon Age setting has a pseudo-Celtic vibe running through it, so I latched onto that full-on and decided to create a highlander fighter, or in the game’s parlance, an Avvarian Hillsman warrior.
His Concept came to me fairly quickly. I wanted something that would have a conflict built right into it, both to make the character interesting to play and to give the GM a ready-made adventure seed relating to my character. I first wrote it down as Adventuring Highlander Seeking Revenge.
The name Gwydion immediately jumped into my head so I went with it, and following the naming conventions of the Avvar people I added his clan’s name, Ar (meaning “son of”) Calennar (his mother’s name), and his settlement, O (meaning “from”) Stormhold. His full name, then, is Gwydion Ar Calennar O Stormhold, a nice Celtic-sounding Avvarian name. Calennar may sound strange for a woman’s name (say, over Deirdre, the other name that called my attention from the Sample Female Names provided in the book), but I’m sticking with it; I’ll be making that fact into part of Gwydion’s mother’s personality (see the Goals below for more on her). As for the clan, I picked one from the Sample Clan Names provided; I went with Stormhold in honor of my very first D&D character, created 23 years ago, whose names was Stormwolf.
Gwydion’s a warrior, and the random dice rolls for Ability Scores favored me immensely, giving me a roll of 17 for Strength, which translates into a score of 3, increased to 4 thanks to the Avvarian Hillsman background. His other Abilities aren’t too shabby, and I used the swap-two-scores option given in the rules to swap Cunning and Magic around. I also got a +1 to his Communication on the Avvarian Hillsman Background Benefits table, which brought that score up from a -1 to a neutral 0. All in all, Ability scores that support the concept I had in mind.
I had already decided I would make Gwydion a Warrior, so I picked the various options required (giving him the Two-Hander Weapon Style, because I so see Gwydion wielding a claymore!), ending with a well-rounded melee fighter with some ranged-weapon options (Spears, of course).
When it came time to write down his Goals, I looked at his Concept and name and after a bit of thinking came up with the first one, something that, again, would have a built-in conflict/adventure seed to set this guy on the path to adventure, and wrote I Will Find My Sister’s Killer And Kill Them. I then vacillated with writing Brother instead, but I decided to leave it as is; the Avvars have a matrilineal clan structure, so I’m implying onto the setting that daughters can have the same status usually associated with an oldest son. This gave me a reason why Gwydion would go adventuring into the world, and a short-term goal that could conceivably be accomplished fairly soon.
For the second Goal, I thought for a while and came back to the choice of name for his mother, Calennar. As I mentioned, it sounds like a tough name for a woman, so I ran with that and decided Gwydion’s mother is a bad-ass clan matriarch who doesn’t take crap from no one. But what is the tie to the dead daughter? I came up with a second goal, then: I Will Kill A Darkspawn And Earn My Mother’s Respect. Right there I created a small family drama for my character, though I’m leaving the details vague for elaboration as needed during the game. In view of these two Goals, I revised the Concept to Youngest Son Seeking Revenge & Respect. I also added three words to the end of the Goal about his dead sister: With Her Sword. So now the claymore I start the game with is no ordinary two-handed sword, it is Gwydion’s dead sister’s claymore, and the instrument of her revenge.
After sleeping on it, the phrase Avenger of Blood popped into my head (blame Leviticus), and the final piece of the puzzle fell into place. I then revised the Goals and Concepts to how they are written on the character sheet. Together, those three tell the story of a youngest son who has rebelled against his tough-as-nails mother in order to seek her respect and thus earn the right to the be Avenger of Blood for his oldest sister’s death.
I am so ready to play!