It’s the last post of the month. Know what that means? That’s right, it’s time to crack open the Dossier Decks and … wait, no, let’s not make an NPC this time. While we’re waiting on tenderhooks for the delivery of Requiem, the new RPG setting for the Warmachine/Hordes universe, we don’t have all the rules for character creation but there’s no reason we can’t pull the cards and see what sort of character we can create that just might work as a PC once we get to grips with the new rules.
Making characters for Requiem is going to be interesting in that the Iron Kingdoms is not your typical high fantasy setting, and a number of the standard fantasy races and classes are going to need some tweaking to make them fit. For a start, spellcasting is nowhere near as common in the Iron Kingdoms, and you’re a lot more likely to see traditional magic items represented via alchemy, weird steampunk science and runes, than hand-waved enchantment. Thematically, this can lead in one of two directions: party makeup will be more proportionately reflective of the setting with martial classes dominating , or the party will be truly exceptional with spellcasters being near unheard of in some areas.
As a DM I generally encourage players to play whatever strikes their fancy, roll the dice and come what may, but I think for Requiem a little additional consideration into the nature of the setting may be required. The stories we tell in the Forgotten Realms, Eberron, Wildemount, Theros and Ravnica all have their own distinct flavors, and I think the Iron Kingdoms deserve the same love. Some backstory and a decent Session Zero can go a long way.
The cards have flipped! I drew from the Merchants deck, and we pulled a fancy-dressed dwarf with an eidetic memory, a distrust of elves, and a touch of survivors guilt, complete with a souvenir.
Frankly, this lends itself beautifully to the iron Kingdoms. Rhul borders on Ios, and with the Iosans closing their borders even tighter after the events of Oblivion, anyone who was already even slightly xenophobic regarding the elves would find trust waning further. The Nyss tribes would North of Khador would also have potentially clashed with Rhulfolk as Everblight’s machinations unfolded, so we have potential reason to distrust both Iosan and Nyss elves.
The eidetic memory and propensity to interject with infodumps are personality quirks, but our dwarf’s recent encounter with a horned gribbly gives us both potential character motivation and something for the DM to weave into the main story, or perhaps craft a personal side quest around.
Since we’re looking to use Faldor as a PC, his personal backstory needs some good meat, but not too much, as we want his story to unfold through play. As a DM, however, let’s consider where that backstory might feed the narrative. The description states a gnarled horn, so a Gnarlhorn Satyr would be an easy fit, though more likely to lead dear Faldor into conflict with the Circle Orboros than the elves. This works for a campaign with the Circle featuring as primary antagonists, though it relegates Faldor’s anti-elf sentiments to being little more than a character quirk.
Instead, the image brings to mind a number of agents of the dragon Everblight. I’m picturing a small merchant caravan, specializing in finer wares – Faldor’s garb doesn’t mark him as someone who spends a lot of time swinging a pickaxe – making its way through the North to a Khadoran city or settlement. Perhaps delivering some clockwork intricacies. The road is not used often, though it’s still clear and largely considered a safe route.
Faldor is one of half a dozen Rhulfolk with the caravan. Three merchants, three trained guards – possibly Highshields – riding two per wagon; merchants at the reins, guards riding shotgun. As the sun starts to sink below the ridgeline, the temperature dips. The guard on the rear wagon suddenly goes stiff, raises his firearm to the temple of the surprised merchant beside him and pulls the trigger. The gunshot startles the dwarves on the forward two wagons, but the guard on the front wagon fires a lethal shot into the the chest of the merchant with him, eyes glazed over.
Faldor dives from the wagon seat as his guard suddenly clutches at his head. Rolling under the wagon he hoists himself into the undercarriage. The guards are all yelling out now. Free of whatever influence had cased them to murder their charges, the front and rear guards move toward the center, barking at each other as they scan the roadside forest for threats.
The three gather, guns pointing outward, as from nowhere snow swirls about them, bitter winds tearing at them, ice forming on their beards and brows. Bolts of dark energy slice through the blizzard, striking the guards as triggers are pulled, firing blindly. One guard drops, then another, then a piercing shriek is heard.
Suddenly the wind stops howling, the snows dissipate, and the third guard, fallen to one knee, holds his firearm forward in a shaky grip. Smoke wafts lazily from the barrel as he falls forward, succumbing to his wounds, and there is silence.
After a time, Faldor climbs out from under the wagon. His guards and fellow merchants are dead. Following the line of the last guard’s shot, Faldor cautiously moves to the side of the road. There, laying in the mud, is a wicked, gnarled horn. The base is shattered, a bullet having taken it from the head of its owner. Faldor is no tracker, but he can see the brush has been disturbed by somethign moving away with some haste. On a tree beside the trail, a single bloody handprint. Long, slender fingers extending from a delicate palm. Elf…
Perhaps, thinks Faldor, it’s time to step away from the world of sales and merchandise, and into another line of work. He would take what he could from the wagons and complete as much of the delivery as he could, and then talk to the Khadorans about other opportunities…
Meanwhile, deep in the forest, a Nyss Succubus tenderly places a poultice to the side of her head. The ragged, bleeding stump was all that remained of her horn. Her face twisted in anger, she pondered how her ambush had been undone. The dwarfs were dead… she had got them all, yes? While she had not recovered the device her mistress sought, she had at least stopped its delivery. She would rest, then return to the wagons to scour the contents. With the Rhulfolk all dead there should be no further concerts…
Suddenly we have a reason for Faldor to be suspicious of elves, a backstory that gives him a nudge to start adventuring, a background, and a possible future nemesis, the one-horned succubus who was spurned by her mistress for her failure, and now seeks revenge against the one dwarf who survived…
The Dossier Decks are available from SkeletonKey Games. Find your inspiration therein.