Howdy again fierce enemies of the Darkmaster!

For this second installment of the “Meet the Iconics” column, we’ll take a look at the origin of the two Elven Warriors featured in our game material: Gandrell “Windblade” and Astarisë the Proud. They both share some similarities, being expert bladeslingers, but also have some differences, being Gandrell from a reclusive Dusk Elven Fey clan while Astarisë a Noble Star Elf from the Western Shores.

Gandrell “Windblade”

Gandrell is a Warrior from the secluded Firail Clan. His ancestors were once the protectors of the foothill vale called Ouileleigh, later destroyed in a ruinous battle against the hordes of the Darkmaster, flooded by glacial water from the mountains and transformed into a lake. The Dusk Elves lost their Princess, Blaithnaid, that day – and since then, bittered and scorned, they withdrew in the forest known as Dryv Covert, south-west of the vale, and they had progressively less and less contact with the other inhabitants of the vale.

This seclusion maintained intact the traditions of the Firail Clan, but also grew them more and more suspicious of foreigners and non-elves in general. They became ruthless and dangerous for the unaware travelers who would try to cross “their” forest. Gandrell was born the son of an Elder of the Clan and, though he was destined to follow the path of his parent, instead braced arms and decided to live a life of adventure.

In the image, three takes of the iconic Gandrell. On the left: Marcin’s interpretation of the character on the chapter opener illustration for the Travel section. Center: the iconic illustration dubbed “The (Orc) Headhunter” and to the right a preparatory sketch for the game’s cover – both last two from ToM.

The characters that originated Gandrell were a lot of different elven Warriors played over a long time by various members of our gaming groups, but particularly by one – very fond of Elves, you may have guessed (hey Lollo! It’s you!)

Many of this characters’ names are now lost and forgotten although surely Gandrell was one of the most recurring names among them. Basically, they all were the same character played over and over again, in different settings, with different rule sets: we surely had a lot of versions of this character in Rolemaster, MERP, BECMI, AD&D, and last but not least Burning Wheel.

The brave, reckless and passionate Fey Dusk Elf Warrior finally came to his latest incarnation by the name of Gandrell, nicknamed “The Windblade” for his elven longsword is silent, quick and lethal as the wind blowing through the trees of the Dryv Covert.

Astarisë the Proud

Astarisë, the Star Elf Noble Warrior, is also a character that went through a lot of different incarnations and by a lot of different names through the years.

The “first” Astarisë, who shared the name with ours, was a Noldo Elf Warrior in a MERP/Rolemaster campaign some 25 years ago. He was the very first character inspired by “true Tolkien elves” as seen in The Silmarillion and other tales, instead of being simply a reskin of the D&D elves we were accustomed to. Tolkien elves, especially the ancient ones, are something akin to demi-gods more than to earthly beings. They are not the Fey – or Sidhe – of the Celtic myths, which on turn inspired D&D elves, but instead the Alfar of the Norse tradition. Powerful, proud, beautiful beings made of extremes of light and darkness – often both.

Left, the original look of Astarise in his rather unlikely liquid metal suit (hey – it was 1994 after alla and Terminator Judgement Day has just got out!) and lightining sword. Right, the 2017 redesign with more distinguishable elven features and outfit. The big badass two-handed sword remained though.

So, Astarisë was one of the Noldor, and he was a young Warrior that wanted to stand as proud and powerful as his ancestors. The fun part of playing a proud Noldo Elf in  MERP, trying to make him act as the mythical Elven Lords of The Silmarillion and The Lost Tales, was that he started as a level 1 weakling, and had a hard way to the top of the 13th level he was when the campaign ended. It was very fun to play, though.

Later, we had a lot of other embodyments of the same character: Galannor Nightblaze, Gilthamar, Bretheur; and last but not least Eldric son of Imric – a character that was played by my friend Lollo (also known as “Lollo Elf-Lover” or Elfodëllollon) in a Burning Wheel game.
The noble blood of each of them mighty Elven Lords flows in the veins of their heir: Astarisë the Proud of the Star Elves!

A last fun fact: the beautifully Quenya-sounding name “Astarisë” did not come from Tolkien’s writings indeed, but instead from that little gem that is BECMI D&D’s Solo Adventure Module Q2 – Blade of Vengeance, that had a fantastic appendix of Elven Names that we still find use for today!

You can download Gandrell’s and Astarisë’s character sheet (together with the Star Elves Kin desciption and two Elven Spell Lores!) from the links below: 

Download Astarise's Character Sheet Download Gandrell's Character Sheet

Update: Links to the whole series

Category: Meet the Iconics


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