Following on from last post, here’s an example showing that Interesting Characters don’t necessarily have to mean bizarre mashups of unusual Character Classes or Races (Revenant Shaman/Swordmage, anyone?). The easiest to play Classes can often produce the most enjoyable and memorable characters too. Meet Sir Grey.
The old Dwarf’s voice echoed through the dark of the barn. "Aye children. We keep this night in memory o’ the Great Overrun when the Shadow Orcs came down from the hills in their hundreds, sweeping aside all the defences of Castle Crag like matchstalks. That was the night they took Lady Aester herself. ‘Twas some months afore we found her again, and she was wi’ child, poor woman. Lord Aester could ha’ put the bairn to the knife as soon as it was born, and some still say he should ha’. But he din’t. Took him as his bastard he did, just as if he’d sired him hisself. He din’t give him a name though, said he’s not getting anything from him, not even a name. Everyone jus’ called him Grey ‘cos of his skin. Proved hisself last tourney he did, and now he’s Sir Grey. Who’d have thought it – a bastard Half-Orc gettin’ Knighted, eh? I’ll be the first to admit though. I’d rather have him by mi side than ten o’ those city bred Knights from down South. Now, off to bed wi’ yer."
Outside in the rain, Sir Grey stood guard against the low parapet walls. A tear drop fell as he pictured this night of twenty years ago, the night that had framed his entire life – a night from before he was even born. His four elder half-brothers, truebloods to the Aester line, still scorn and chide him even though he’d bested all of them in the tourney, and was a better man than each of them by far. Only Ossette, his little half-sister sees past the colour of his skin and treats him with anything close to love. Even she still fears him a little.
Was it a tear, or was it just a drop of rain?
Download Sir Grey’s pdf character sheet, here.
Notes: In game terms, Sir Grey is a 1st level First Generation Half-Orc Noble Knight. Let’s break that down to show how each element hangs together to create a unique character with abilities and traits that reflect and build upon his backstory.
He is a fairly straight Essentials Knight build with the Shield Finesse option to reflect his familiarity with sword and board. With few friend or allies in Castle Crag, the only way to prove his worth as a person is with prowess at arms. I don’t usually give an attribute of 20 to a character at 1st level (call me old-school but I still like the idea of 18 being a high result in my D&D) but in this case I’ll make an exception and give Sir Grey a STR 20 score – his Half-Orc physique is stronger and tougher by far than anyone else in the castle walls. His other stats are CON 14, DEX 13 – he’s quick and healthy, but not remarkably so – INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 8. Sir Grey is as smart as most humans, but he pays the price for his Shadow Orc heritage.
The First Generation Background Option adds Bluff to his Class Skill list. It’s an unusual skill for an otherwise honourable Knight to have, but says something about the scrapes and situations Grey has found himself in while growing up. Sometimes a white lie is better than no lie at all. His other Trained Skills are Athletics and Diplomacy to reflect his physical prowess and knightly studies. I intentionally didn’t give him Intimidate as this is a side of his nature Sir Grey has struggled to contain. Unless you meet him on the field of battle, Sir Grey is possibly the most unintimidating Half-Orc you’re likely to encounter.
I give him the Noble Theme to say something about his mother’s side of his nature. He is a natural leader of men, and despite his low Charisma there’s something about him which marks Sir Grey out as possessing a noble bloodline. This gives him the Noble Presence ability: with just a Move Action he can order up to two allies to shift their position, and his confidence bolsters their spirits (Shift 2 as a free action, and +2 defences until the end of his next turn once per Encounter). It’s a great theme-based ability which speaks volumes about the easily-voiced commands of Nobility. As Sir Grey gains levels, I envisage him taking more of the Noble theme’s Powers until he eventually becomes rightful and recognised Lord of Castle Crag. I have high ambitions for this PC!
Sir Grey’s combat abilities reveal more of the duality between his knightly training and inner savage nature. Combat is the only time he can really let rip with his orcblood rage, and other knights have learned the hard way that he is truly a fighter to be feared.
He wears Scale Armour and wields a large Broadsword in preference to the more common Longsword, pairing it with a Heavy Shield that he wears as if it’s made of silk (Scale Armour + Heavy Shield + Shield Finesse = no armour check penalties, AC 19 and +2 Ref too, all for just a -1 to Speed. Great stuff.). His eagerness to fight gives him the Thirst for Battle feat – +3 Initiative and an extra Healing Surge – and the combination of both Furious Assault and Power Strike mean that he could, if he wished, channel all of that inner rage into a single devastating 3d10+5 attack once per Encounter, or use them separately for 2d10+5 each. Not having Daily Abilities is a small price to pay when you can do that kind of damage consistently every single Encounter. Ouch.
For his Stances, he has Battle Wrath (of course) and Hammer Hands. The former gives him +2 damage with every attack (1d10+7 with his Broadsword) while the latter trades that damage potential for pushing power. Each time he hits from the Hammer Hand stance, he can push the foe 1 square, and move into their old space as a free action. Add in his Fighter abilities to ensure he’s the focus of the enemy’s attention with Battle Guardian and Defender Aura, and this is one Half-Orc Knight the bad guys won’t forget in a hurry.
Dirty little secret: This is Game of Thrones, with Orcs. There’s his status as a Lord’s Bastard (and not even a real bastard for that matter), his rivalry with his elder half-brothers and loyalty to his younger half-sister, not to mention his as-yet-unknown Orc father and the threat of another Shadow Orc raid. At the back of Sir Grey’s mind though is his need to perform a Name Quest, to set out and find his own true name and place in the world – even if that place ends up being right back at Castle Crag.