A heavily scarred deep gnome wizard with the most grimdark backstory I could conceive.
A monster hunter. Definitely not a hero, though he is capable of being heroic.
Too many rainbows and butterflies in your story? Throw this little fella in the mix.
Muspell the Immolated, Muspell the Unlucky, Last Son of Clan Heavyhand
Muspell Heavyhand is a deep gnome wizard specializing in illusion magic but also partial to evocation and abjuration spells. He is hunchbacked and burn-covered, and the left side of his face is paralyzed in a grimace. Lacking eyebrows and his head a web of scar tissue, Muspell prefers to shave off what little black hair still grows there. His slate-grey eyes are rarely visible because of the dark-lensed goggles he keeps on unless he is underground. To avoid stares in very populated areas, Muspell usually hides behind his illusion magic. He is gruff in all senses of the word but also sagacious. He is paranoid, neurotic, and has a short, violent temper, but is ultimately good-hearted and fiercely loyal to those who have won his trust. He speaks little of the Underdark, so full of shame and trauma is the memory of his time there.
Muspell was born during the Festival of the Star in the deep gnome city of Eudialyte. Though birth at such a time is usually considered an auspicious omen, Muspell's life has been anything but lucky. Nearly strangled by his own umbilical cord, it was only through the intervention of a skilled midwife that he survived his first day. He was the only child of his family, and unusually happy and curious. He was always poking around the forbidden corners around his family's property, a sly grin on his angular face.
Muspell idolized his father Surtr, a mighty breachgnome who answered directly to the king. Shortly after his family was moved to the outskirts of the territory for a long term assignment, they were attacked by a band of drow. Muspell's father was on patrol when the drow came; Muspell hid successfully and watched in the shadows as the drow viciously butchered his mother. When Surtr returned, he vowed vengeance upon the dark elves and departed with his son in tow.
Muspell spent his adolescent years deep in the drow tunnels following his father in his quest for revenge. Father spoke to son but minimally, numb to all feelings but rage. A gnome possessed, Surtr provided but the barest essentials for his son's survival as he cut his way through the drow ranks. Eventually making their way to the temple of the drow priestess that ordered the raid, Muspell and his father stumbled into a chamber with a surprise - a chained red dragon. The dragon attacked instinctively with its flame breath. When Muspell came to, his body seethed with the pain of a full body burn.
As a slave of the drow priestess he'd come to kill, he often wished he'd succumbed to his injuries that day. Muspell was beaten daily and nearly driven mad by starvation, surviving only on carrion rats and mold scraped from the corners of his cell. The priestess loved to tease him about his dead father as she forced him to do humiliating acts for her entertainment, ranging from the sadistic to the disgusting. He managed to escape his cell one night while the priestess did battle with a rival in the nave of her temple. While sneaking out, Muspell stole a book from under an altar, hoping its pages might provide some nourishment for his aching belly. After somehow finding his way outside of the city, he opened the book. The eldritch tome contained profane secrets unfit for a sane mind, and would have killed him outright with its energies if he were not already half insane. The experience left the poor young gnome in a coma.
Muspell would not awaken until nearly a year later, back in the city of his birth. Though the book was nowhere to be found, its evil had infected his psyche, the images within burned into his brain. He was physically rehabilitated and adopted by a family friend, the illusion mage Segojan Seamseeker. Unfortunately, Muspell's mind had been warped by his traumatic childhood in such a way that he exhibited antisocial behavior, eventually driving away even his would-be guardian. Forswearing all kinship, he threw himself into physical training, hoping to join the king's forces to avenge his parents. He was rejected, however; years of abuse and malnourishment during his younger years had left him stunted and weak. Broken, Muspell attempted suicide by hanging himself.
He awoke with Segojan standing over him. 'Your sword arm may not be strong, but you possess a strength far rarer.' Segojan pointed to his head. 'That of the mind. Study under me and channel your pain into a power which will aid you in your goal.'
Muspell saw no other path. He was simply not strong enough to be a miner or gemcutter, he thought. He accepted. He started his studies late, but by adulthood he'd overtaken his apprentice peers in magical proficiency. He simply had the knack. The confidence that accompanied this proficiency produced an emotion quite alien in him: confidence.
Muspell began, cautiously, to try his hand at courtship. The object of his affections was Frigga Seamseeker. Though Segojan carried many reservations about a relationship between Muspell and his daughter, he withheld them with the hope that Muspell and his daughter, who was herself troubled by mental illness, might find mutual comfort.
Frigga was apprehensive at first. Muspell was kyphotic and scarred from head to toe, marked by dragonfire and drow's whip. His demeanor was vulgar and uncultured. Yet, within him she saw the boy that once explored caves fearless and with a permanent smile, the boy whose only joy was to be nuzzled in the crook of his mother's neck. They married in the Temple of the Earthcaller, and for the first time in his life, Muspell wept with joy.
All seemed to be well, but for one thing. Months went by and Muspell failed to consummate the union. He was simply... impotent. Muspell came to realize to his great shame that he was only aroused by drow, the image of his former captor. Frigga tried to be understanding but grew impatient. She wished for children. Indignance turned into arguments and arguments turned into yelling matches.
Eventually, Frigga struck Muspell with a particularly strong verbal volley. Surtr was not dead, she claimed. He had been imprisoned as a traitor for abandoning his post, and lay crippled in the burrow's dungeons. She painted him an idiot for his ignorance. Muspell screamed with the rage of his father and beat Frigga to unconsciousness with a stone pot. He flew to the dungeons, where he found Surtr, missing an arm and leg and pockmarked with burn scars. Muspell dared not interrupt his father's labored snores, and forthwith journeyed to the surface, cursing his land and its people and swearing never to return.
Muspell now hunts down evil with the help of his trusty riding dog, a mastiff named Hypatia. He sees himself as a monster who kills monsters and is slow to warm up to people, even those who would help him.
Muspell has lost his dog and become desperate to retrieve her. Unfortunately, he lost track of her in a place teeming with monsters.
Muspell has been jailed on false accusations. His personality and appearance have not helped his defense.
Muspell is hunting a particularly tough monster and begrudgingly hires help.
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? Responses (6)
A viciously grimdark gnome who seems torn from the mystical underdark of Westeros. I imagine him a a gnomish version of the Hound, pock marked, mad, and baleful.
I thought the impotence was an excellent touch, and that only thing that could arouse him was basically a Drow dominatrix, was the cherry on top of the sundae.
Thanks a bunch! I wondered if that impotence bit might be a smidge too far, so I'm happy that detail helped breathe life into the character for you.
A Series of Unfortunate Events has nothing on this.
A very dark person on the surface that just screams evil but, with work, can be befriended. But one of my questions are, what would be the benefits of befriending him? Need more about the powers to understand how he can be used despite the baggage.
Beating down Frigga kinda cancels out the thoughts that he can be trusted by those that get inside his defensive circle though. He loses all his redemption points for trust by anybody that knows him. Perhaps that goes a point too far? Better that he almost beat her and then ran. Gives him that small point of humanity and those that know the story might feel pity vs hatred towards him.
(Only other thing is the dragon, I would dump that and leave it as being deformed by the drow. I think the dragon is jumping the shark with this one.)
Loved seeing how the hopelessness and misery was created. And I had no problem with the impotence either, it was a shock that made perfect sense and adds to his self-loathing.
Thanks for the advice.
I will certainly elaborate on Muspell's abilities.
I'll also see about further explaining his internal workings vis-a-vis his complicated moral journey. He is meant to be a person who has committed a terrible act and is seeking a sort of redemption from it, if only to live with himself. He disliked himself before hurting Frigga, sure, but now truly hates himself. He thinks about the terror in her eyes often, only to push the scene from his mind by focusing on his monster-hunting quest. He keeps everyone at arm's length because he knows he is capable of hurting people who get close; he doesn't trust himself. He believes he can do at least some good hunting the things that go bump in the night, a good that might someday outweigh his sins. One of Muspell's ironic features is that he's brave enough to fight such creatures, but too much of a coward to confront his past directly (by making things right with Frigga, for instance).
And yeah, the dragon is kinda dumb. I'll cut that. I think I just liked the line 'marked by dragonfire and drow's whip.'
This character makes sense to me, even if some aspects of his story don't flow easily. I see this character being driven by shame. I like characters like this, he is flawed and if you follow him through via a writing project or RPG campaign what will he become?
I don't mind the dragon but the book of arcane secrets seems to go nowhere. Also what happened with his Dad?
I think I wrote the perfect nemesis for this character. I wrote a female drow illusionist assasian, who was born a halfling male that was captured and tortured by a drow sorcererress. After escaping he used magic to reinvent himself a evil drow seductress/assasisan for hire.
Boy, you sure brought the grimdark with this one. The details are nice, and if you're into really dark characters, he certainly works. Not my cup of tea, but you write him well. Bonus points for 'kythotic,' new word of the day.