This month's Geek in Review is about creating Aeofel Elhromanë, the Eladrin Avenger I played for the most recent Penny Arcade D&D podcast.
While all D&D characters begin as a collection of numbers (on paper, my Eladrin Avenger is 14,12,14,14,16,12) those numbers don’t mean anything without a story to bring them to life. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, maybe it’s because I have an imagination that I’ve always had to actively keep under control, but as long as I’ve been gaming, creating backstories for my characters has been as much fun – in some cases, more fun – than actually plunging them into a dungeon.
Though Wizards provides a spiffy character creation tool for 4E players, the Avenger class comes from the unreleased Player's Handbook 2, so those tools weren't available to me when I was bringing him to life. Undeterred, I designed and created Aeofel the way I've been doing it since I opened up my red box basic D&D set in 1983: I sat on the floor with some dice, some notebook paper, a bunch of open books, and – most important of all – my imagination.
I could have simply minmaxed my character, but that's just not how I roll. I wanted Aeofel to be more than a collection of numbers on a sheet of paper. Even though I knew we were playing a dungeon crawl with minimal roleplaying, I wanted him to be an actual person, because, as the first line of the basic set (my introduction to D&D) says, "This is a game that is fun. It helps you imagine."
I let my imagination run wild, and as I got to know Aeofel, he told me a story that was much longer than the one of two paragraphs I'd intended to write...
Two days’ journey from Mithrendain, beneath a thick canopy of leaves in the Forest of Astranz, there is a school, where, for countless human centuries, Eladrin have lived and trained, under Melora’s watchful eye.
Aeofel Elhromanë lived in this school for his entire life, devoting each of his 142 years to the service of Melora. He trained beside monks and clerics, and though he never saw battle firsthand, many of his instructors were veterans of the war with the Drow. He never knew his parents, but his fellow students were his House.
Eight nights ago, during the Court of Stars, the school was attacked by Goblin and Kobold raiders, lead by a human warlord. The school’s alarm, which had been silent for a generation, shook Aeofel and his brothers from their daily trance, and they ran from their quarters, ready for battle.
Aeofel dashed across the training grounds, ready to push the invaders back, but all he found was a trail of bodies –– attacker and defender alike –– from the school’s entrance to its shrine. Near the gate, a few warlords skirmished with kobolds, and wild magic crackled in the field beyond, but the attackers had fled the grounds.
His master, the great Avenger Immafen, stood beside the shrine’s entrance. His sword was slick with Goblin’s blood, and he breathed heavily.
“Master,” Aeofel said, “what has happened? Why were we attacked?”
If you're interested, you can read the rest of the story, as well as some more insight into Aeofel's design, in The Birth of an Avenger at the SG Newswire.
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