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Hello all of you Darkmaster fans and welcome to the new periodic column “Meet the Iconics”, in which we will introduce you to the genesys of the characters featured in the Darkmaster universe. These Iconics are both the pre-generated characters you will get to play in the Playtest Kit and other materials, and those featured in the book examples, artwork and short fiction.

They’ve been thought out with a dual purpose in mind: to represent the widest array of combinations between the game’s Cultures and Kins, and to create interesting and still plausible characters. Many of these Iconics are, however, characters that already existed in some of our previous games. They’ve been through several incarnations throughout the years: we at The Fellowship played each one of them many times in many different settings and games – and their final version is presented here to you, ready to fight against the hordes of the Darkmaster.

For this first installation we will take a look at a couple you’ve probably been already accustomed to, two that already have a lot of fans. They are the two characters featured in both some artworks and playable in The Beast of Willow Lake introductory module: Athelstane the Black and Mornien the Fair.

They are both quite recognizable for their good looks, and share the proud demeanor of all Men. They obviously also share some attraction to each other, although they are both too lofty and egocentric to admit it. Who knows if at some point in the future they will end up accepting this fact?

But let’s take a deeper look at each one of them to discover where they originated from.

Athelstane the Black

The proud, tall and muscular High Men Noble Warrior actually is the combination of two previous characters, both created and played by me since my first roleplaying years in the early ‘90s: Athelstane and Mourne.

The “original” character which Athelstane takes his name and looks from was a character I played for a relatively short time – yet I was very fond of him. To me, he will always be related to the trauma of his unheroic sudden death. He also was the template for a long streak of similar characters I created and played in the following years, including the aforementioned Mourne: the paradigm of the stern but righteous warrior sworn to his honor and pride.

Athelstane was a Black Numenorean warrior from Umbar (those of you knowing a little Tolkien lore will know what I’m talking about) and… well, not that much more than this actually! He was a fully armored, towering guy with a big axe and an unbending demeanor that had all the right numbers to kick some serious arses but instead died from the poison of a giant Spider of Mirkwood – hence the trauma.

Yet his death was all but vain: it showed to a 15-years guy that in some d100-based RPGs even the most armored and buffed-up character could still die in the blink of an eye, and that parrying is always the best option when confronting deadly foes – a lesson that I still remember up today.

Athelstane Redesign
In 2017, I started a project of redesigning a lot of my most loved chafracters of my early roleplaying years, to tribute them and also see how should have they appeared with my new skills and grown-up adult tastes. Athelstane was one of them. Left, you can see the original design from 1993, and right the redesign from 2017, which obviously served as a base for the Darkmaster’s character.

But to be true, the real inspiration for Athelstane, and the character I played and developed the most, was Mourne. Mourne shared a lot of similarities with Athelstane, being a Numenorean warrior clad in full plate armor and sporting a pair of biker moustache.

Mourne Redesign
Here’s the original and the redesign I did for Mourne, the true source of inspiration for Athelstane’s background and demeanor. The two characters obviously shared a lot of similarities.

Having learnt the lesson, this time I gave Mourne a tower shield to better defend himself. Mourne lived way longer than Athelstane and leveled up to a whopping 37th level, playing our heavily customized version of Rolemaster in the late ‘90s.

He is stil remembered among my childhood gaming group as one of the most powerful characters ever played.

He retired after a life of adventures to live in peace together with the true love of his life, with which he had finally rejoined: Mornien.

Mornien the Fair

Mornien was originally a character played by a friend of mine in the same campaign in which I was playing Mourne. She was born of unknown parents and had no memories of her childhood as she was raised by a powerful sorcerer, that became her mentor. When Mourne met her he was astounded in awe since she was the identical copy of his long-dead wife; Mornien too had the strange impression of knowing him since long time, not knowing why.

This had something to do with the fact that Mornien was actually a clone, revived from Mourne’s dead wife, her memories canceled by a powerful magic. She was created by Zhûr the Sorcerer to become the final weapon against evil, a recipient of pure magical power. Of course the sorcerer canceled her memories but couldn’t change her heart so she fell in love with Mourne as her original self did. Finally after long adventuring and many ordeals the two were able to live together the remainder of their lives.Of course Against the Darkmaster’s Mornien shares only aesthetic and behavioral resemblance with the character of the same name… Or maybe not, who knows!

 

Update: Links to the whole series

Category: Meet the Iconics