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Interview with Brendan Corliss

by Damon Brown

OK, as promised, here's an interview with Brendan Corliss (aka Trenton Densmore, aka Corwyn Ashworth). He is a key NPC in my campaign; almost a Rheddrian-type character as far as his interaction with the PC's.

Actually, the initial idea for him was inspired by "Silk" from Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series. Of course he's a bit more, well, on-the-level, but he does have several identities to conduct a variety of business. Eventually I'll get around to posting his stats as well as some detail on the other identities.

For now, here's the perspective that most of Darokin has seen of him. It's pretty RAH! RAH! but then again it's more or less Darokinian propaganda. ;-p

Oh yeah, imagine the interviewer as the Republic's version of Barbara Walters.

The following is from Mara Taheri's column, Face of Success, in the Sviftmont 8, 997 edition of The Gold Standard (Darokin City's weekly news periodical):

Most of us who have done any bit of travelling in the Republic recently have at least heard of The Corliss Guides, no doubt. The brainchild of Brendan Corliss, these guides help even the most novice traveller feel confident while journeying the roads of Darokin... and beyond. The information contained within can give one an instant familiarity with a variety of destinations.

In this week's Face of Success, I had a chance to sit down with the twenty-seven year old cartographer-cum-journalist and find out about Corliss Enterprises, Ltd. as well as the man behind the name.

So, Brendan, most of us are familiar with The Corliss Guides, so tell us something about you. Who is Brendan Corliss?

Well, that's a tough one. I guess I'd start off with a little bit of family history. Most folks know that I'm Darokinian, but few people are aware that I was born in Karameikos... Specularum to be exact.

Really? But isn't your father the infamous DDC arbitrator, Dorian Corliss?

Yes, he is. But my mother was Traladaran. My father was part of the original DDC mission in Specularum after the arrival of Duke Stefan. That's where he met my mother. I was born a few years later and my father decided that a more stable position with the DDC might be in order with a family and all. So he moved us to Darokin City when I was very young and took up more of an administrative position at the DDC headquarters.

Your parents are still in Darokin City, of course-

Well, my father is. My mother passed away when I was fifteen. That's part of the reason I took up my apprenticeship and left home at the age of sixteen. "Matka" and I were very close and I needed a change after she was gone.

How did that relationship with your mother influence you?

Actually, both my parents instilled in me a great deal of respect for different cultures - just by the environment I was raised in. We had a very cosmopolitan household when I was growing up.

But one of the things that still sticks with me about "Matka" was the rich Traladaran history she taught me. That's one of the reasons I spend so much time in Karameikos these days... they are also my people.

My father always stressed the importance of knowing your heritage but "Matka" was the one who showed it to me first hand - teaching me to speak Traladaran, telling me the folk-stories. She was really my only link to my Karameikan roots.

After taking up your apprenticeship, you travelled extensively in the central areas of the Known World. What kind of impact did that have on you?

I was always very fond of maps as a child, so cartography seemed like a natural for me. And since you normally have to see the area you're mapping first hand, I had an opportunity to travel a great deal. I was often affiliated with various merchant caravans making their way across Darokin, as well as Alfheim and Karameikos. I found that I really enjoyed the chance to see new places and meet new people.

As I travelled, I found that many merchants were very confident on their typical runs, but when they were on an unfamiliar route, they seemed somewhat hesitant and lacking a bit of confidence. That's what initially inspired me to write the first Corliss Guide. It seemed obvious to me that travellers of The Known World could really use something like this.

How did you go about bringing this concept to fruition?

Well, the first step was convincing my father to finance the start-up. I had made a modest profit during those early years on the road, but I was barely twenty years old. I didn't have the financial resources to get a venture like that off the ground. Fortunately, my father is a very wise man when it comes to business; he saw the potential immediately. Of course, that meant that we were partners and I didn't necessarily have the final say in certain matters... but at that point, I was just happy to get the chance to prove myself. That was the birth of Corliss Enterprises, Ltd.

But isn't that your company now?

More or less. My father is still a minority partner, but I'm pretty much running things on my own now. As I said before, my father is a wise man when it comes to business. He isn't about to let me take home all the profit from such a lucrative operation. Especially when he was so pivotal in its creation.

The fourth Corliss Guide was the first to address an area other than the Republic itself. How did you research the Corliss Guide to Alfheim?

As I alluded to earlier, I had been involved with a caravan or two making its way into the Canolbarth. On one of those trips I got to know an elf named Siredhel Erinath from the Chossum clan. He was hired as an emissary of sorts by our trading factor. In school, I had studied a bit of Elvish and Siredhel was kind enough to help me further my studies on our excursion to Alfheim town.

By the time the caravan had wrapped up its business, I decided to stick around and see if I could manage to get some mapping done in the elven homeland without having to develop an appreciation for elvish marksmanship. Fortunately, Siredhel was intrigued by my proposal and accompanied me as a guide... well, baby-sitter is probably a more accurate term. With the help of my companion, I managed to make quite a tour of Alfheim and come away with some lovely maps of the Canolbarth. Years later, my experiences there led to the aforementioned publication.

Isn't Mr. Erinath one of your current employees at Corliss Enterprises?

(Laughing) I'm sure he would be somewhat amused by that assessment - as well as the title of "Mr. Erinath". Actually, Siredhel stills accompanies me on many of my trips, especially to the Alfheim and Karameikos areas, but he doesn't exactly work for me. I think it would be more accurate to characterise it as free-lance work.

Back to life here in the Republic - you seem to be linked The Church of Darokin quite often. What exactly is your affiliation?

Hmm. I am certainly a member of the Church and a follower of its teachings but aside from that, I wouldn't really say I have an official "affiliation".

Of course, like any successful businessman, I thank Asterius everyday for the good fortune I've had in my life. But then, I believe that the Immortals "help those who help themselves" to a certain degree. More accurately, if you're willing to work for something in life, then you'll most likely succeed... eventually. Some of us are just fortunate enough to see the fruits of our labours sooner than others.

On a social note, local gossip has it that you are engaged to marry Anissa Linden. What's the real story?

Well, as is so common with rumours, there's no truth to that. Anissa and I have been good friends for years but unless there is something she isn't telling me, there are no such plans. Besides, I don't think she would be able to put up with a husband always gallivanting across the countryside.

Brendan, you've seen a great deal of prosperity for a man your age, even in the midst of the surplus of success stories that is Darokin City. What's next for you and Corliss Enterprises?

A long vacation. No, seriously, I'd say that finishing the Corliss Guide to Southern Karameikos is my most immediate goal. After that, who knows? Maybe Ierendi? Minrothad? The Five Shires? At this point, I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where I can just see what happens...

And with that, Brendan Corliss sums up the optimistic atmosphere that characterises so many of Darokin's young entrepreneurs these days. With many years ahead of him and a great deal of success under his belt, he demonstrates "The Darokinian Dream" in its purest form: financial as well as personal freedom.

This is Mara Taheri for The Gold Standard bringing you another Face of Success. And in the words of Brendan Corliss, "May all your endeavours be Gold!"