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Character Crossoverby David Paige
Ok, as some people have noticed on the thread "Paige's Page: Ogdaban Treel", I have ultimately used a few characters from outside the D&D world as a template. In the Treel story line, I've used a few Marvel Comics characters, namely Dormammu, Baron Mordo, and the Vashanti.
You may be wondering, or getting upset by the idea, why did I do this? First of all, Dormammu is down right awesome of a character. His plots/motivations/character are (usually) very well written and intricate. What more could a DM look for in a villain for a fantasy setting? I also worked very hard in making my Dormammu fit properly in the Mystara setting. I got lucky, I found a good hook to insert a character like Dormammu, because I did not just want to thrust him in and explain him as I went. That does not give the character any justice as well as making the character "flat". For a rich role-playing world, all of your story elements should fit neatly together. Not a PERFECT fitting, but a neat flow should develop in your world.
Now, Dormammu and Baron Mordo are not the only characters that I have utilised from other non-D&D sources. But you still may be asking, "why are you doing this." One simple reason is the PC's reactions. Some PC might have read issues with Dormammu, so they might have an understanding of the character. This assumption could help or hinder the PC. It is the best solution I could think of to give the world of Mystara a layer of "legends" that I do not need to go into and explain to them. For example, let's say I want to introduce an NPC named Kristoff Kringle of Hedlann that the PCs have a brush encounter with. Well, the PCs know who freaking Santa Claus is! There is no explanation needed. Now the PCs have an expectation on who this person is and is now going to discover how this personality is going to integrate to this world. I'm going for the gut reaction that you can only get from characters that are part of the RW culture that are almost ingrained in our Psyche. If the RW character is given proper thought and time to integrate into the Mystara world, then it becomes a great character for your world and richer texture, not a bad joke that goes nowhere.
Also, there are only so many original stories a DM can come up with for crying out loud! Why not use great stories and characters if they have been properly tweaked. I admit it, I have a small brain for coming up with completely original stories. If I could do that, I would be a novelist. Instead, I'm writing articles on a RPG Message Board! (my life sucks, sigh...)
That is what I want to present in this thread, story ideas to introduce characters that are found outside the D&D medium. My first example will be the litmus test for what you think of this topic. This character is very important to the American (possibly the whole world) Psyche that strikes multiple cords, as you will see. Here is the Mystara version of Lord Vader:
In the days of Blackmoor, before the Great Rain of Fire, the world was moving in multiple directions. Technology was starting to mix with magic with powerful and unexpected results. The human race was starting to expand beyond it' s small borders into a larger world. But great Evil was striving too. In a distant land, the Egg of Coot was creating monstrosities; The Order of the Frog was patrolling and causing havoc. The Afridhi were marching and enslaving whatever lands that they entered. It seemed that Chaos was expanding as much as Order was.
In this growing battle between Order vs Chaos, a group arose and fought a different kind of fight: the Ideri. The Ideri were a group made up of mostly Clerics of an unknown Good Immortal. This was the first known organisation that fought for the principles of Good and not for Law vs Chaos. This was new in the lands of Mystara. Also were the powers that the clerics possessed. No group ever had that many clerical spell, or the variety. What was more astounding were the Ideri Knights. Some of the clerics referred to a few of these Knights as Paladins. What was a Paladin? Has ever such a warrior set foot on these lands before? There were not many of them, but they easily took the place of 10 good soldiers. Only the Ideri had such powerful warriors and clerics, indeed, a mighty army for the power of Good.
Now, the sages can not agree which came first: the Ideri, shining light of good, or the Banthi, shadows of corruption. Some say the Ideri appeared because of the Banthi. Other say the opposite was true. It matters not anymore, for both groups began to fight in the open. The Banthi were mostly wizards, but like the Ideri, they did not discriminate any other class into it's ranks.
For centuries, the Ideri and Banthi battled, until, finally, it appeared that the Ideri were victors and vanquished the Banthi. A golden age was beginning in the lands and the Ideri were it's protectors. The Ideri, not associating with any particular Government, was free to roam about the lands with open arms. Many lands welcomed the Ideri for their power of arms as well as their console. For an indeterminate amount of time, Order and Peace was secured by the Ideri across most of the known world. But that was not to last, as is the way in this world. The Egg of Coot, one of the last remaining openly Evil lands, began to advance. It was then that the War of Coot was waged.
The War of Coot was probably the most horrible ever to be waged on Mystara. The Egg and his technological horrors versus the Ideri and their powerful magics. This war raged for decades, so it has been told. The Ideri, way too few in number to fight the Egg alone, had to become Generals and commando units in other Nations during this great war. Slowly, with death toll climbing and resources growing thinner, Chaos started to creep back into the world. It was then that the Banthi started to reappear. It seems that the Ideri were not so victorious as they believed. The Banthi, their ranks diminished, went underground and waited for the proper time to appear. The War of Coot was it.
Also during the War, one man started to become legendary: Lord Redav. Redav was a powerful Ideri Knight (Paladin) that fought bravely in many battles against the Egg's horrid armies. But at some point, darkness started to seep into the heart of Redav. During a battle with the Egg's army, Redav was separated from his Legion and lost for several weeks behind enemy lines. Then one day, Redav emerged, badly hurt, and was rushed back for healing. For several days the wounds of Redav were tended to at a gathering of Ideri warriors. These Ideri Knights, which comprised most of the Ideri Paladins were waiting for a mission that would spear through the Egg's defences and destroy the Egg itself. During the night, Redav did the most unthinkable act. Redav allowed agents of the Egg into the complex, many of which were Banthi. Redav even joined in killing the other Ideri Knights! All seemed dark, almost all of the Ideri were wiped out. Redav, now a thrall of the Banthi, journeyed back to the Land of the Egg with the other Banthi.
As was said, almost all of the Ideri were killed. Almost. A small handful of the remaining Ideri Knights covertly entered the Land of the Egg and stormed the Citadel of the Egg. In that battle, within the stronghold of the Egg, that the war was brought to an effective end. The Banthi in the complex were killed; The Ideri Knights were killed; the Egg of Coot was killed; Redav was killed. Redav was killed with the same blow that killed the Egg from a dying Ideri Knight. It was the final blow of the battle, which went down as "The End of the Egg."
But Redav's story does not end there. The Immortals of that time were outraged by the betrayal of Redav. A just punishment must be enacted. It was looked upon Thanatos for this punishment. Despite his Evil nature, he was trusted by the other Immortals as a Judge of appropriate punishment. Thanatos thus created a curse so horrible, that morals fear it even to this day. Lord Redav arose as a Death Knight, an undead creature of great power, but full of tormenting pain. For all of eternity Lord Redav will not have a moment of peace as the song of his betrayal will always sing in the air around him.
Time has passed. The Great Rain of Fire occurred. Ice and snow changed the surface of the world. The Ideri are gone. The Banthi are gone. Mystara is a different place, but Lord Redav remains the same. He sits on a throne, in an unknown cavern, in an unknown location. There is horrible, sweet music echoing through out the chamber. It sings of Golden Ages gone by, Ultimate Betrayal, of family and friends lost, lost due to a horrible choice. Lord Redav broods. One day he will be free of this curse and have peace. One day...
Ok, just a little more explanation of the above story. In my history, the Ideri were the first of the Philosopher Clerics. They did not worship one particular Immortal, but the force of Good that was common with all of the Good Immortals. The Banthi were similar, the clerics gained strength from the force of Evil that the Evil Immortals generated. As a side note, it was Thanatos that created the Banthi. This Philosophy Worship opens the doors for spell access that is now enjoyed by modern clerics. Before this, clerics, in my world, were more restricted in spell access. I wanted to give a sense of evolution to the Clerics and their Immortals.
The Ideri and Banthi are gone, legends told to some Mystara children at night. But maybe, these legends will come back. Thanatos might have a need for another group of Banthi. If he brought the Banthi back, would the Ideri follow?
Also, it was the Ideri that created the first Paladin. Why? Because there has to be a first one, so why not be a Jedi Knight? Where was the first Paladin in your world history? What circumstance was there that caused a Paladin to be created? This is my solution.
Redav was, and still is, the first Death Knight. I wanted the Death Knights to be in the Mystara campaign, but I did want to resort to "a Death Knight stumbles through a portal from Krynn." I can do better than that. So now you know why and how the Death Knights were created for the Mystara world.
Stephen "the Strange" Rintrah
Born in AC 972, in the city of Singhabad of the Principality of Krondahar of Glantri. Stephen was born of a Thyatian father, Theodosius Rintrah, and an Ethengar mother, Izia. For most of his life, Stephen grew up in Singhabad, although he did travel a little with his father, an ex-adventurer and now a moderately successful trader. At a young age Stephen was able to travel to many cities within Glantri and even went as far as Darokin. Izia was, like many Glantrians, a wizard, although not very experienced (3rd level). At an early age, even by Glantri standards, Izia started to teach Stephen the skills of magic. He took to it like a fish to water.
Theodosius had an extremely profitable year in his business venture and they decided that this extra money would be used to educate Stephen at the Great School of Magic, which was a very expensive endeavour. Theodosius's profits guaranteed Stephen almost 3 years of continuos study at the Great School, almost unheard of outside of Princely stature. Stephen studied very hard and was very good at the magic taught, but these were not happy years for him. Stephen had very few friends at the Great School. His Ethengar heritage was very pronounced and made him the subject of teasing and ridicule by the other Glantri students. This made the already quiet boy a lot more withdrawn and shy.
Time went by and Stephen was excelling at the Great School, but after Theodosius had his very profitable year, he started to fall in bad times. Money was running short very quickly. Stephen might need to leave the school. In desperation, Theodosius attempted a dangerous venture. It costed him his life.
Stephen had to leave the Great School and find a way to support the family. At first Stephen tried to take over his father's trading business, but it was not successful. Stephen, through his father's contacts, was able to hire himself on as a Guard on a caravan. For a few years he travelled with caravans and this provided some good money, but not enough. By this time Izia had grown weak from illness. Stephen rushed home to aid his mother, but too late. She passed away with him at her bedside.
With his family gone, very little money and the life of the caravan wearing on him, Stephen felt depressed. He journeyed to Darokin City and then made his way into the Minrothad Islands and the Guilds. He started to take to the sea, to escape the lands that seem to drain him of his happiness. A year of seafaring put some good colour back into his cheeks and muscle to his build. He was happy for quite a while. Then the storm came.
His ship was in the far east of the Sea of Dread when a massive storm, a small hurricane, battered the ship. The ship was pushed along until it ran ground on the island of Ochalea. Only a few died, which was a very lucky stroke. The ship wrecked on the South Western tip of Ochalea called the Grasslands of Chi, an sparely populated area of Ochalea, no cities. A small group was assigned to travel by foot to the next city and find help for the ship, the remaining of the crew would do what repairs they could and protect the cargo. Stephen was part of the exploration group. One of the men was familiar with southern Ochalea and suggested that they head east and then north to find Chung Tsu, which was a shipping town and would probably best help them compared to the land locked Wongzhao Tsuhao, which was a little closer. The group agreed with that logic and proceeded to Chung Tsu.
The path to Chung Tsu was perilous through the untamed land. At one point, Stephen was separated from his group after a Goblin attack. Lost and not knowing the direction to Chung Tsu, Stephen wandered in hopes to get his bearings. He eventually came across an old man and a small hut. The old man tended to the wounds of Stephen. The old man was a great wizard and, unknown to Stephen at the time, the Sorcerer Supreme (an unofficial title to the greatest living Lawful wizard that is the guardian against Chaotic mystical imbalances. This "title" is granted by the possession of an amulet called the Eye of Agamotto). The old Ochalean took Stephen on as his apprentice. Soon Stephen was learning the secrets that the "Ancient One" was teaching, especially the secrets of the war between Law and Chaos. Stephen spent many years being the Ancient One's apprentice, helping him in the battle against the agents of Chaos, especially the mortal enemy of the Eye of Agamotto, a being called Treel.
One adventure, the Ancient One became the focus of a very powerful demon Shuma-Gorath. Shuma-Gorath somehow was using the Ancient One as a gate for Shuma-Gorath to enter Mystara. Stephen was forced to kill his master to prevent Shuma-Gorath from success. Now it was Stephen Rintrah that had to take the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme, for the Eye of Agamotto appeared on his person. They Eye has chosen Stephen, so say the Vashanti.
Stephen is still the current Sorcerer Supreme. He has had many battles against the forces of Chaos, particularly with Dormammu and his agents. Recently, Stephen has fallen on darker times. In a desperate effort to foil the plans of a demon called Urthona, Stephen had to employ very dangerous Chaotic magic. This campaign has "stained" his soul and turned him Neutral Good (originally Lawful Good). As a result, the Eye of Agamotto is not functioning for Stephen. In place of the Eye, Stephen uses an amulet called the Wings of Infinite Sorrows as his foci. The Eye has not left Stephen, but it does not function. Stephen continues his battles with Chaotic forces, but he is starting to grow very weary of the constant struggle.
As a side note, Stephen has a nickname of "the Strange." This is not of his choosing, but an insult by his enemies and strangers. It is an insult for one wizard to call another wizard strange. Other wizards call him "Strange" partially because of his exotic Ethengar features, as well as all the trouble that seems to follow Stephen. They call him "Strange" because "If-you-hang-around-him-too-much-you-are-going-to-get-killed-by-some-vile-fiend" is too long of a nickname.
Stephen travels a lot around the Known World and beyond. His home base is back in Glantri, but actually spends very little time there. Probably his closest current ally is Nicolas Furi, a sergeant in the armies of Darokin (who will have is own description in "Character Crossover").
Stephen is a very serious individual and a very careful listener. He takes in everything that he can about a situation/person/environment. It almost seems that nothing escapes his notice. He is very soft spoken and a little shy, something that he never really escaped from his childhood. But Stephen is as brave and devoted as there can be for a person. He will, and has, gone into the Pits of Fiends and back to save a comrade.