I knew from the get go that Denys was going to make an appearance. Aside from basing him on one of my characters, I needed a way to bridge the Noble and Commoner divide without it just being the Noble Sidhe with grumbling and challenging commoner underlings. I needed someone who would literally straddle both worlds. Aside from that, I wanted to make sure I had a flawed leader and a potential Grump to show off the breadth of the system.
I found the form fillable two page Sheets, and linked to them below, but I won’t repeat too much on the sheet that is going into the words below in the Character Notes.
Conceiving of the character for Squire Denys, I know I want a weary and put upon Commoner who has a touch of Noble in him. Trolls are a good choice because many have accepted Noble rank, they are generally respected, and I like the idea of a Grump troll in charge of these troublemakers in the Oathcircle. Trolls have additional Strength when dealing with their Chimerical nature, are Stubborn to the point of 2 bonus dice when making a Willpower roll to avoid distraction from duty, and cannot botch Athletics or Alertness tests. The downside is that when they break a contract or oath, they lose that Strength and if they have their trust betrayed, they are likely to erupt with righteous fury.
For Noble Houses, I go with the House Liam for story reasons because they are the most well looked upon by the commoners of the Houses in the Changeling Book, so it would politically make sense and because it makes it easy to have political machinations to challenge his “rule” of this new freehold. He won’t need to advertise his allegiance to House Liam for it to be a liability in his position. Currently Seelie, his dominant Legacy will be Paladin – he wants to right wrongs and protect people and that is something that has defined him. His Unseelie Legacy, should be switch Courts, is the Outlaw – why should he follow rules or laws. He can take what he wants and he will. As a Grump, he starts with 3 Glamour, 5 WIllpower, and 5 Banality but as a member of House Liam he has an additional point of Banality to start. This means that, like all Grumps, he will be fighting for some Glamour in every adventure just to try to stay ahead of the Undoing, or losing their faerie mien and memories to the slow slide of banality.
His Physical Attributes will be primary, followed by Mental and lastly Social. He is a leader with little in the way of Social Graces. As a Grump Troll, rather than start at a 1 Strength, Denys will Start at 3! Hat makes it easy to bump him to a 6 Strength, 3 Dexterity, and 3 Stamina playing into his stalwart man mountain appearance. SImilarly, his Mental Attributes break down to Perception 2; Intelligence 3; and Wits 3 while his Social Attributes are 2 for each of Charisma, Manipulation, and Appearance. He is a strong and shrewd Troll, but not really one that was expected to be talking in Court.
I started jotting down which Abilities I thought would go well for him, and ended up with a Primary Talents (13), Secondary Skills (9), and Tertiary Knowledges (5). First and foremost, he starts with the max of 3 out of 5 ranks in Melee so he can use his large and fearsome Maul in Chimerical combat. I rounded out his Secondary Skills with tossing a rank each of Leadership and Etiquette just to show he has been trying to learn and then two ranks each of Crafts and Drive. His Primary Talents meant two ranks in Alertness, Athletics, Brawl, and Dodge with three in Intimidation and a passing familiarity with Empathy and Streetwise. His knowledges with a rank in Politics and Law continue that attempt to be a better Noble and then a few skills to show his innate curiosity.
Backgrounds begin straightforward – he has a Rank of Title because he is a Noble Squire. Then we provide two ranks of Holdings to reflect the Unearthed Vale Freehold and his position as Regent or Seneschal that can draw some Glamour from it. I’ll give him a rank of Resources to reflect his Painting and a Rank of Treasure as well to start.
In the Faerie Magic realm, we look first at his Arts – I picked Soothsay, Wayfare, and Primal. To be honest, these are such wildly useful starting Arts that it is hard not to pick them at times. Soothsay as the name portends is about seeing the future and fate; one rank allows for omens to be made in the Cantrip based on what realms you have. Wayfare is the Art of movement and speed which allows at the first Rank a Cantrip to allow the target to take great leaps and bounds! Remarkable to see a Troll in chimerical armor and with a Maul bound to the top of a second story building, isn’t it? Primal revolves around the natural world and evoking and manipulating it – Willow Whispers allows a Cantrip that will communicate with anything made from the natural world short of cold iron. For Realms, or what these Arts may target in a Cantrip, I start with two ranks of Actor, one of Fae, One of Prop, and one of Scene. In the Second Edition that we are using, the Actor, Fae, Nature, and Prop Realms would define the basic target of a Cantrip and the Scene and Time Realms could be used to change to an area of effect or set a timer on the Cantrips. It worked well.
Finally, we get to Freebie Points, Merits, and Flaws. Freebie Points let you customize your character beyond what we’ve done already. Merits are other bonuses or traits that don’t fit elsewhere and cost Freebie points while Flaws are the inverse providing a handful more Freebie points to spend. One of the things I like about Trolls is adding Huge Size and Seemings Blessing. Trolls are already large, but with Huge Size it takes on prodigious, professional American football lineman sizes. Seemings Blessing allows the fae to still have access to their Fae birthrights and powers even around mortals. So … as a Troll … who is Huge and Muscled …. Denys will get to retain his 6 Strength to do things like pick up cars or maybe shotput a motorcycle on occasion. That’s 9 points of the 15 Freebies already though and I want to spent two more on raising his Melee to 4. I plan to drop the remaining 4 into Backgrounds to round out this Grump but first I want to scan the flaws to see if anything jumps out as a good way to get a few more freebies and provide some characterization. I think SUrreal Quality and Chimerical Magnet sound like good Flaws for Denys. This is another 7 points, to our maximum Freebie point total of 22. These two together help explain why he is a tired Grump as Chimera seem to make a beeline for him, both to annoy but also on a rampage and humans seem struck for some reason by this large man. I’ll add a few more dots of Chimera and Dreamers and increase his permanent Glamour to 4 to get it a little closer to his Banality. That leave 3 more Freebie points and I think that I will look at adding Danger Sense as a 2 Point Merit and 1 Point of Past Lives to remember vague whispers of life before the SIdhe returned. I thought about True Love, but for story purposes, I would rather have Denys in a lost love situation.
His Treasure is best suited to his Maul, though armor was a tempting idea. I think that his Maul is imbued with the power to leave a wave of cold in the air behind it. A variation of some primal cantrip powers. Similarly, while I wanted his Chimera to include a cute little dragon on his shoulder, I am going for the more functional armor that gleams with the colors of House Liam. The Dreamers reflect the Artists Collective he is still a member of, though it has dwindled, and the Resources from the sale of the art itself.
Squire Denys seemed to be on the downslope of his time with his fellow fae. He had a distinguished time as a Wilder, a Squire to a Sidhe Knight of House Gwydion. In fact, the two in High School were inseparable with Denys playing the Center to his sworn Lord’s Quarterback. It seems far too long ago and many dreams back for Denys.
Denys Chrysalis was long ago – a boy of only 7 he woke to the power of imagination and was just beyond the veil of “normalcy.” Despite being a Troll, and obviously destined for combat, it was the strokes of a paintbrush that truly touched young Denis. He saw it first, the wonder of the world of Chimera and Dreams when he wandered away from his family and up a hill – the sunset was uniquely beautiful and, in a moment he never has forgotten, eye opening. He began painting, in the human’s world and the Dreaming where his large and rough hands found it more difficult to grasp the brush, but also more rewarding to complete a work. By the time he was 15, Denis has taken on considerable responsibilities. He was dutybound after all, and his own sense of honor meant carrying on protecting others after his parents died. He was already the biggest kid on the block, and he already watched out for the neighborhood kids. He took the chance to be emancipated, demonstrating to the mortal world his responsibility.
Denys made his name in the Fae world as a Wilder. He had his Knight to follow and protect, but had a measure of independence that was unusual for squires. He had a block he watched over away from the Fae Court, but was drawn repeatedly into the Dreaming’s machinations. Chimera and the creatures of the Fae seemed to be drawn to Denys. He continued to sell his landscapes and paintings as a way to make ends meet. Well over 6’6” tall, with a mohawk that set him further apart, his motorcycle and leather jacket made him instantly recognizable. He found a community of artists who would paint together and share some of the inspiration … he found his Dreamers in this time. It was a time of pride and protection for Denys. He kept his friends safe, he served the Court. He even discovered a Troll’s size was no impediment to Courtly Love – the Eshu Whispering Wind captured his eyes and his painters soul. He found an artists collective where he could harvest Glamour and for a while, it seemed that life was as it should be for a crusading Troll.
He never seemed to quite make the leap from squire to Knight, though. Perhaps it was the subtle nod to the Noble House that had taken a pledge – Liam. He saw the wanderings of House Liam and their protection of common fae so fully in line with his own life, that it was a natural fit. Certainly, Countess Brianna likely suspected his allegiance, but no words were ever spoken. No case ever made to drum him out. Yet, Baron Gottfried also never elevated him and the Knight that Denys protected moved on to another Barony, leaving Denys behind.
In many ways, Denys was left behind in both the mortal and fae realms. His devotion and honor did not mean that he would be on a path to success and recognition.
Time passes for fae in ways more cruel and more roughly than it does for mortals, or even other prodigals. Denys, never passing beyond a Squire, always a step away from the commoners, he was slowly slipping towards Undoing as a Grump. He was trying to protect the Barony less and less – more taunted now by cruel chimera than inspired to fight, Denys was on the sidelines of the Court. He saw Niklaus arrive at Court and the way he shocked the Sidhe as a Redcap who held his mien just … so. He watched as his old High School took in new students with Niklaus like Paul and Alex – an earnest soul and a passionate crusader if ever he saw. He began to see the world in good hands. He began to let himself fade.
The Countess put a stop to that with one simple request – protect the people from this fight Squire. How could he refuse? This new Freehold was a great boon to the fae, but the squabbling over who owned it threatened them all. He took the mantle of Seneschal, with the promise of Knighthood to follow, on the condition that he could make an Oathcircle of commoners to stand with him in the new Freehold. And so it was done. Baron Gottfried “suggested” Niklaus as a representative in an attempt to frustrate Denys, but instead provided one of Denys’ greatest assets. Maggie Pie came along with Niklaus, though few asked the creepy yet adorable sluagh why. It was perhaps most surprising that Alex volunteered but her crusader nature saw this as a chance to break free and Paul … well Paul knew he could help people. And he was sort of falling for her.
Squire Denys, Seneschal of the Uncovered Vale doesn’t know quite what will be coming next. He is tired but was called to serve once more. Perhaps Whispering Wind will come back to the Barony. Perhaps he will finally see his knighthood granted. Perhaps Banality will finally call him home after so long with nothing to show for it.
Character Sheet from Mr. Gone’s Character Sheets.