I’m steadily making spare characters for D&D 5e, partly to help me gain insight into game mechanics while I work on my Musketeers-inspired campaign, but mostly because it’s a fun exercise. I don’t usually do fighters so I thought it was time to give it a try. I’l say this: D&D 5e has finally done a good job making fighters into more than just dumb muscle.
This is Marvek, my second D&D character. (It’s for a one-shot, so don’t worry — Jeribon is still alive and well.) Warlocks are a new class — new to me, at least, as they weren’t in AD&D. They’re an odd type of spellcaster, who has few slots but recharges quickly.
I have a custom character sheet too. This campaign is starting at 3rd level, which is good, because that’s when warlocks start to get interesting.
Marvek has always been a bit of an odd halfling. While most seek a life of ease and familiarity, Marvek early on suffered from wanderlust. He sensed that the ordered and tidy lives of halflings stood at odds with the world – not that life is chaos but that life dances to different rules. He felt within him a calling to wander, to see the world, to seek out its hidden regularities; when he reached 14 years, he shook off the dust of his home and took to the road, joining a trading caravan whose captain took a shine to him. Always, he felt drawn westward, eventually to the edge of the great sea, and beyond. At 16, he joined the crew of the Duskwind, a seafaring vessel, and learned the sailor’s trade. His small size and great agility made him a natural in the ropes and rigging, but his interest lay in the steering of the course.
After a few years aboard the Duskwind, he convinced the ship’s navigator to tutor him in the ways of navigation and sea-pathfinding. He apprenticed for seven years, dividing his effort between his regular sailing duties and the demands of the navigator, a stout human named Sinder. After taking a wound during a run-in with pirates, Sinder developed a raging infection and died, leaving Marvek the role of navigator. Marvek still felt the tidal pull of the west, and when the captain of the Duskwind proposed seeking a legendary lost land where the sun sets, Marvek eagerly supported the plan and promised he could steer the ship there and bring them all home. He proved to be half right.
The Duskwind set sail for the mythical west, soon leaving behind all known ports of call. Passing through increasingly agitated seas under skies lit by strange purple fire, the ship encountered stranger and stranger creatures and unnatural tides. Within a few weeks of this, the crew wished to abandon the project but Captain Sparshank held true to his purpose, his eyes taking on a mad intensity as he studied the rare and ominous tomes and maps he had accumulated. Only Marvek matched him in enthusiasm, hearing for the first time the dissonant chords that had haunted him finally drifting into harmony. He felt sure that, if they held their course only a little longer, he would finally understand.
On the seventy-seventh day, the crew had had enough. With supplies running low and no sight of land for weeks, they rose up to challenge the captain. Marvek alone stood by his side. While Sparshank kept the crew at bay with blade and bellows, Marvek kept the ship sailing directly into the sunset. Just as the crew rushed the captain, the setting sun blazed purple and baleful, flaring in ever-increasing brilliance just as the notes haunting Marvek reached an aching crescendo. As he felt his grasp on reality fail, just before his consciousness dissolved in the purple glare, Marvek thought he saw the Sun turn into a giant lidless eye…
He awoke, dazed and alone, an indeterminate time later on a beach on the western coast of the Iron Confederacy. Through his veins pulsed power he had never known. Behind his eyes danced lines of force and unity. Looking out at the natural world, he sensed that things seem wrong, off, not in accord. Straight lines seem slightly bent; harmonious chords sound vaguely discordant. Rather than curing his earlier sense of dissonance, his experience sharpened it, levering even wider the chasm he felt between himself and others. He knows that out there on the endless sea, something touched his mind and soul, but he does not know what. He has a dim awareness of it in the recesses of his mind but he comprehends none of its purpose or intent. He does sense, though, that his way no longer lies west; he has been cast back to explore the world of mortals.
It has been nearly two years since his new beginning. In that time, he hasn’t heard even the faintest whisper of the Duskwind or its crew at the time of the event. There are crewmembers who knew him from before, who had left the ship before the fateful voyage. He is unresponsive to their questions and they offer no insight to him. Once, in Ironkeep, across a crowded market, he glimpsed Sparshank ducking into a nondescript inn; but when he worked his way there and investigated, he did not find his former captain. Sometimes he doubts whether he actually saw Sparshank, or whether it was a delusion or a haunting.
Marvek’s experience has left him feeling even more distant and removed from the world of mortals. He maintains a wall between him and any companions; he does not seek to know their inner lives nor volunteer any of his own. He is generally humorless, although he sometimes finds amusement in things others would not see as such. He bears no particular malice or animus towards others but he also doesn’t exert himself overly on their behalf. On some days, he thinks he moves through a world of illusion.