There’s definitely a therapeutic aspect to playing in HeroForge alongside the creative exercise of the emergent storytelling. As part of my preparations for the next phase of DDC adventures I’ve been toying with a series of Warforged antagonists, so thought I’d put them up here to give them an airing.
Warforged were introduced to Dungeons & Dragons in the world of Eberron – and are the products of a recently ended continent-wide war. House Cannith looked for ways to bolster armies by reverse engineering old giantish constructs. Somehow during their creation process, the warforged developed souls and a struggle began to be accepted alongside the biological races. One of the treaty conditions at the end of the war was a universal acceptance of the warforged as a people in their own right – something that still sits uneasily in some quarters.
In terms of naming conventions, the warforged often adopt functional or simple descriptive words associated with forging, machinery, or construction – but exceptions are growing as confidence grows in developing their own identities and culture.
So from top left we have Link – a sorcerer channelling lightning; Chain, an assassin; and Hook – a swashbuckling pirate. On the bottom row from the left we have Watcher – an investigator and his dog; Iron Ryan – a bare knuckle pit fighter; and Coal – gentleman rogue about town and his favourite Mimic
I’ve already used Iron Ryan and Coal in the adventures – Iron Ryan started as a foil for Thorin in his pit fighting career and for a while was a romantic entanglement for Kerne. The amount of time the DDC was away on adventures led to the romance fizzling out. While it was amicable enough, I’m sure there’s a rematch due in the future – and then there’s always the reactions of Karkanna to factor in as well to this imposing ex. Coal adventured alongside the DDC as their designated rogue before semi-retiring to raise Odif while the group headed off to Clan Amberhammer. He created a “Youth Club” for local tearaways that may or may not also be the core of a new Thieves Guild if the rumours are to be believed…
One of the joys of having a headcold and a heavy winter duvet on the bed is that occasionally bizarre character ideas jump out to say hello. I’ve just woken this morning to find this character scampering around:
Tomas, the Summoner, lives in a world of his own at the best of times – but his quiet bookish insanities are contagious, with a sly humour that reaches out and slaps you upside the head just when you’re getting comfortable.
Tomas is unremarkable to look at. You probably wouldn’t think twice about him if you met him in the supermarket or while waiting at the bus stop; you would remember his friends though.
We all have imaginary friends when we are children. Most are kind and gentle, some are malicious or mischievous but at the time we believe in them absolutely. Tomas never grew out of that stage – and he can make you believe in them too.
Tomas’ friends will do anything for him, and are often modelled on famous or historical people. They aren’t the spirits of the dead however, neither are they supernatural entities as such – rather they are summoned wholesale from his subconscious, given form in the viewer’s eye through telepathy and substance through telekinesis.
These friends are phantoms of his own mind’s eye, writ large with a childlike incomprehension that perhaps betrays a sly sense of humour.
His Alexander the Great is a giant of a man; his Han Solo looks like his actor does today, forever bickering with a balding and overweight wookie; his Maggie Thatcher is made of iron, sprays milk from her fingertips and is very kind to minors…
There are of course at least two fictional forerunners of this character that I can think of: Madman in Simon R Green’s Nightside novels, and Kid Eternity from DC Comics. The idea of the eternal child whose imaginary friends have substance is one that crops up in the X-Files and any one of a number of Hollywood films such as Poltergeist and with Halloween nearly here perhaps that’s as appropriate a film as any to use as an example.
I think I may have to use Tomas in my nanowrimo effort this year – interesting too that the autocorrect on my phone tries to turn nanowrimo into ‘banished’, so on that note I’ll draw veils across our view of The Summoner and move on.
I’ve dug this up out of the archives to take a fresh look at it – the Edison character appears in the main story I’m working on, but this was her first appearance a few years ago…
Twenty-five minutes into the interrogation, they knew that they would have to let him go – that they didn’t have enough to hold him. Edison looked at her partner, who shrugged and frowned – sharing the same thought – “Keep him here, hope he slips up, hope we get a miracle…”
So far it hadn’t happened, and so they were stuck here in this nondescript little room, trying new variations of the same questions in a tense dance of wills. From the increasing look of impatience on her partner’s face, the “No Smoking” rule was going to bite into everyone’s tempers. She stifled a sigh and re-opened the plain manila folder of evidence. Pulling out the topmost hand-written statement, she scanned down the page to the pencilled underline she’d half doodled at the beginning of the session.
“Alright then. Can you explain to me why you had a dismantled axe in the various pockets of your trench coat?”
He had no solicitor – he’d said he didn’t need one – and had said little else since. Somehow looming in his low chair, he had a solidity and stillness that was getting to be a pretty unnerving combination to see. Caucasian, he had brown hair cropped close and pale eyes of an indeterminate blue-grey above high cheekbones – and the build of a heavyweight boxer. Somehow though, he managed this without the sense of rolling bulkiness that such men often convey. As a physical description, it was an accurate picture in and of itself, but it somehow didn’t convey the whole impression of this most frustrating of suspects.
What was worse was the barefaced cheek of the suspect. “I shall not be staying long,” Matthias had said at the beginning of the session. “I have business elsewhere.” He’d looked at the two of them evenly as they concealed their amusement. It was the sort of attitude they’d met before – usually in a drunk at three in the morning as he was being booked in by the custody sergeant – and one they were used to seeing decline into sullen defiance and occasionally into maudlin reproach. There was, as yet, little evidence of the expected attitude adjustment.
Since his initial quip, he’d sat with an air of good grace while the interrogation continued, and those questions that he deigned to answer had perhaps a little too much humour to go with the neutral statements that they laboured to draw out from him. A wry remark here and an arched eyebrow there in response to questions that began to grow more heated. After two hours, they were climbing the walls with frustration. It was as if he were a silent interrogator, and they the suspects, beginning to talk to relieve the looming silences.
To add to the sense of intimidation, he was bare-armed. His long trench coat had been removed for forensics to pick over for bloodstains and accelerants, and its removal had revealed a heavily muscled set of arms protruding from his slightly frayed short-sleeved shirt. Throughout the interview, he’d kept them folded in front of him on the table. A faint series of old scars could be seen along them – to their eyes they looked like defensive wounds – but they looked too old to be relevant to the reason they’d arrested him…