Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bearers of Rings II

Fantasy equal: Frodo

Those Who bear Rings of Power

There have been several instances, whilst watching fantasy movies, or slaying a foe on a PC game, when I wonder how that Elf or how that Orc would look like beneath all that armour.

Certain role-playing games nowadays offer you the opportunity to remove all of your character’s clothes when you access his/her inventory system (games such as Dragon Age and Oblivion).

Every time, much to my dismay, you can’t remove the last piece of clothing; the ever so annoying and evil loin cloth. Even though the good bits are hidden, the designers and developers surely must have considered the size of the bulge at least. So how do the more generic of fantasy races compare to each other? And who has the authority to define each of their sizes, structures, adornments and function? I suppose since there is very little illustrations out there, it is up to our imaginations. So let’s try then...

The race of Humans:

We all know the anatomy of the human’s blade well enough. We shall use it as a base for subsequent comparisons.

The race of Dwarves:

Dwarves are short, stocky, sturdy folk who pride themselves on the size of their beards, their prowess with the axe and their level of skill when it comes to stonework and masonry. Many fantasy cultures claim Dwarves were formed from stone, hence their love for stonework, rocks and gems and also why they are such tough and resilient folk.

By taking the abovementioned into consideration, one would think the blade of a Dwarf should be shorter than that of a man, sturdier and thicker however, probably harder as well and garlanded in a greater brush of hair. Their pommel gems should be full in size and well rounded as well, in my opinion.

The race of Elves:

Elves, by definition, differ from game to game or fantasy tale to fantasy tale. In some cases Elves are as tall as humans but slimmer and sometimes they are said to be smaller in stature. Generally Elves are known for their incredible dexterity and athleticism. They defeat their foes with cunning and/or magic instead of brute force. The one aspect of the physical appearance of Elves I dislike is that they are generally smooth all over other than their crowns. This probably contributes to Elves looking effeminate and rightly so, in my opinion, even if they can be lethal in battle. What I love most about the Elves though, are the ears of course. Pointy ears suggest magic and fantasy!

Generally smaller in stature and totally smooth makes for a blade I do not want to describe, yet there is an interesting twist. A human’s ears are rounded, and so are the tips of their blades. Does that mean the tips of the blades of Elves are somewhat pointed? I wonder...

The race of Half-Elves:

Then we come to my favourite of all fantasy races; the race of the Half-elven. Half-elves were introduced in RPGs such as Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights; games based on the older Dungeons and Dragons rule set. Half-elves are conceived from the love shared by a human and an immortal Elf. The appearances of Half-elves as described and illustrated by various sources vary. In Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, Half-elves resembled their Elven counterparts. The list of portraits available to choose from when creating a Half-elf character in Neverwinter Nights resembled their human counterpart. In Tolkien’s Middle-earth, the Lord Elrond is a Half-elven. It is told that the Valar (gods of Middle-earth) gave him and his twin brother the choice of becoming mortal (human half) or immortal (Elven half). Elrond chose to become immortal and thus adopted the appearance of the immortal Elves.

I enjoy the best of both worlds and imagine Half Elves to have the build of a human, the ability to grow a beard and still have those distinctive pointy ears. A stubbly, pointy eared ranger of the woods is what fantasy is made of! What about their blades? The same as mine and yours, but maybe slightly pointed.

The race of Hobbits:

Hobbits, or Halflings as they are known in the common tongue, are even shorter and smaller than dwarves, also have pointy ears (are larger and wider than that of Elves though), are usually a bit stocky (due to their passion for food, drink and relaxation) and have oversized, hairy feet. The latter fact makes one wonder of their blades then. Some say bigfooted men have the same size blades lurking in their concealed private place. Does this mean that, even though the Hobbit is small in stature, he has a whopping blade that match the size of his feet? Who knows? I wish Tolkien would sate my curiosity. One thing is for sure though; their blades and pommel gems have to be garlanded in the same brush of curly hair, which decorate the bridges of their feet.

Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit of the Shire and main character from the Lord of the Rings, is the ultimate small sized hero. I don’t believe any races of Middle-earth practiced circumcision, so our hero of Middle-earth must have borne two rings on his perilous journey to Mount Doom. The one ring of ultimate evil he finally tossed in the moulting lava and for his sake I hope the second stayed in tact. Here is to Frodo, our fantasy equal for the second collection of Bearers of Rings!

“Frodo Baggins was a Hobbit of the Third Age, the most famous of all Hobbits in the histories for his leading role in the Quest of the Ring. During this epic quest, he bore the One Ring to Mount Doom and there destroyed it, giving him renown like no other Hobbit throughout Middle-earth. He is also peculiar for being, as a Ring-bearer, one of the three Hobbits who sailed from Middle-earth to Aman, there to die in peace.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Warriors of Fantasy

Those who personify Myth, Might and Magic

Fantasy equal: Warrior

Certain fantasy-based role-playing games allow NPCs to join your adventuring party. An NPC stands for Non-Player Character, which means unlike your main character, which you created, an NPC has a set personality and character attributes created by the developers of the game. These NPCs come in a variety of personalities, shapes and sizes. It is interesting to compare these characters from the different games out there. Many similarities can be identified amongst them, but one can always expect them to be unique still.

Many of these NPCs are heroes who live and die by their weapon, rather than relying on magical powers. These weapons always suit their personality, class, race or a combination thereof. It is unlikely you would find a Hobbit wielding anything greater than a short sword, for example and have you ever seen a great axe wielding rogue? I think not.

Baldur’s Gate II is one of my all time favourite PC games. From the fighter type NPC’s you could choose from, the one I adored the most was Keldorn.

Keldorn Firecam is a noble Paladin of Torm. You cross paths in the sewers of the Temple District of Athkatla. Single-handedly he is battling all kinds of evil in search of a cult that is causing in the area. Together you expose a Beholder and his followers who persuade people to remove their eyes and join their cause.

As the game progresses you learn Keldorn has a home in Athkatla. You discover that his wife had an affair in his absence. He turns to you for advice and from your words he either continues on your journey from deciding to imprison his or return to his family one day after his one last adventure (your adventure) in hopes of saving his marriage and his family.
Keldorn is a likeable character and takes the role of a father figure in your adventuring party. He is noble, dedicated, righteous and a powerful warrior. I had him at my side at the forefront of battle all the time.
Another game with profound NPCs is Neverwinter Nights II. I thoroughly enjoyed having Khelgar Ironfist in my party. He joins you on your quest when you were still an adventurer with wee little experience.

Khelgar is a Dwarf who likes nothing more than a good fight or brawl. Heck, he would fight for the sake of fighting and goes about picking fights with just about anyone and anything, even though he’s half their size most of the time. He is a proud Dwarf of the Ironfist clan and like most fantasy Dwarves, wields an axe as his weapon of choice. He is a strong and resilient partner in crime and it was usually worth your while to toss him in right in the heat of battle.

Then there were the two love interests in the game; Casavir and Bishop. Casavir and Bishop were more or less alter egos. Casavir, a hammer-wielding paladin, represented the good male romance in the game, where Bishop was the bow wielding evil ranger character. I play a female character in games with a love interest, so I can have a boyfriend! Wish they would introduce some gay relationships in a game for once, or at least have a setting somewhere to allow for same sex romances.

You join forces with Casavir to dispose of bugbears and orcs who were threatening the safety of an n important trade route. You get to know him as the strong and silent type. He is a fallen paladin, which means he deviated from the revered path of his god and order and you could sense he was distraught about it. As the game progresses he learns that his path is with you. Do you accept sharing the journey with him, or would you rather share it with...

Bishop is a dark and brooding figure you meet at an inn. From the get go you realise that he is in it for himself and mistreats others because of it. As it goes with all handsome bad boys, you give him a chance whilst knowing all too well it would only lead to bad things.
The sparks fly when you have both these men in your group. Both try to gain your favour. The game is cleverly designed to have you be the judge when it comes to the indifferences and arguments between the two of them; this lead to you gaining favour with the one character and progressively distancing yourself from the other. This in turn leads to jealousy and conflict and forces you to make a choice when the time comes to dismantle the unstable love triangle.
Here follows some images of all four characters as mentioned above, along with my first collection of animated warriors.

“Sir Keldorn Firecam is a human paladin of Torm and a respected senior member of the Order of the Radiant Heart living in Athkatla. Dedicated to his work and cause, he was often absent from his family even near retirement, at least temporarily alienating them. In 1369 DR, he was sent to investigate the Cult of the Eyeless.
Keldorn is a fair fighter, and, as an experienced and esteemed paladin, comes equipped with perhaps the best items of any NPC; he has both an enchanted sword and plate mail that only he can use. As an inquisitor paladin, he also has the powerful ability to cast dispel magic at twice his own level. He's one of the older NPCs in the game, often appearing as wise and experienced and a father figure of sorts to others. Then again, he naturally has trouble getting along with less morally concerned people, potentially even attacking other party members such as Viconia.”
“Standing just under five feet tall, Khelgar Ironfist is immediately identifiable by his manners or, quite often, lack thereof. In spite of his size, Khelgar acts with next to little subtlety and is easily provoked by insults and threats, though perhaps less out of a concern for dignity or safety than because he actually takes delight in such attacks, seeing it as another chance to prove his skills in combat, either armed or unarmed. Khelgar is, of course, more than willing to return the favor and is often foul-mouthed and ill-tempered.

This behavior is not without its cost, however, and though Khelgar is in many ways handsome by dwarven standards, due in large part to his impressive musculature, the constant battles have waged a physical cost on the dwarf. Covering Khelgar from foot to head are a collection of cuts and bruises, which, along with his missing teeth, recount the shield dwarf's countless encounters with a wayward foot or fist. These injuries do not seem to discourage Khelgar, however.”

“Middle-aged, Casavir was a well-built and dignified human with a handsome physique and sophisticated aura. Black haired and blue eyed, Casavir would have been a powerful figure to behold were it not for the resigned expression that so often crossed his face. Dour and serious, Casavir was rarely exuberant but instead measured and calm in both verbal and body language. Casavir was often dressed in full plate armor and his weapon of choice when the Kalach-Cha encountered him was a large warhammer, paired with a shield.”

“Bishop was an attractive human, despite his rough lifestyle and poor hygiene, giving him a ruggedly handsome appearance. Bishop lived a full and dangerous life, the signs of which when he met the Kalach-Cha were his numerous scars and burns which ravaged his skin. His ruffled hair and touch of facial hair were brown, as were his eyes, which contrasted with his pale white skin. These features, and more, added to his feral appearance, which was accentuated by his tendency to sniff the air like a wild animal or constantly look over his shoulder, as if expecting an ambush or betrayal.

Typically, Bishop dressed as if on the hunt, which he often was. When the Kalach-Cha met him in the Sunken Flagon, Bishop was dressed in leather armor and armed with a longbow and longsword, with his hands constantly on one or the other. Bishop was also rarely without his beast companion Karnwyr, a wolf with whom he'd bonded as a ranger.”

“The warrior is no mere sword-swinger; they are skilled combatants, combining strength of arm, knowledge of weaponry and practiced maneuvers to slice or bludgeon their foes into little red bits. The warrior is the most versatile of the combat classes, and they supplement their fighting prowess with the ability to rally their allies and spur them to victory, but not only can they rally their allies into victory; they can themselves charge into the heart of the battle, take several lives and live to tell the tale.”