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[Fanfic] The Making of a Character


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I have been playing role-playing games since my middle school years. I started with the early editions of Dungeons & Dragons and Star Frontiers, and have played through dozens of games over my life into the computer MMO era. Behind every character in every game, there is a story -- the story of a person, who represents me or some part of me. This is the beginning story of Nemo Ghostwhisper, Charr necromancer, one of my current characters in Guild Wars 2. Enjoy.

The moment the cub showed up at the fahrar, they knew he was trouble.

The skinny orphan had been found by a Legion patrol in the haunted ruins of Rin, the ancient ghost town which lurked in the shadow of the Charr’s Black Citadel. Certainly the cub was unique enough; he was tiny by Charr standards, short and thin, with unsettling pink eyes and albino fur that almost made him look like one of Rin’s ghosts. But perhaps the oddest thing about him was his silent calm in a place from which even armed adults often fled screaming. He had accepted the guards taking him with only a simple request for food; it was easy to see that he had been alone for some time.

The guards left the cub at the Hero’s Canton fahrar, and inquiries were made. Rumors in the Gladium Canton said the cub’s sire was an outcast shaman of the Flame Legion; his mother, an unknown gladium. Since he had no real parents, the low caste folk of the Gladium Canton had raised the weird cub as a child of the village. Nemo was his name; “Nobody,” as fitted his place. It wasn’t the first time he had wandered off to the ruins, they said. And the guards wondered at how those they questioned seemed thankful that the cub was no longer theirs.

It wasn’t long before the reason was understood. In the fahrar, Nemo was just as reserved, and carried himself like someone much bigger and older; someone whom his teachers often saw behind his strange pink eyes, especially when he was angry. The bigger cubs, which was virtually all of them, quickly learned to not bully him. Not only was Nemo willing to fight them dirty in return, but bad luck seemed to follow those who bothered him, and it wasn’t long before people began whispering about curses and his “evil eyes”.

One day in the fahrar, a flask of the master’s blood whiskey was stolen. The master lined up the cubs to find the culprit, but nobody confessed. True to Charr discipline, the stick came out as it too often did, and soon the whole row of cubs was weeping -- except Nemo. He had barely flinched as the blows struck, and even smiled slightly afterwards.

“What?” The master bent and snarled in Nemo’s face. “Think you’re too good to cry? Did you steal my whiskey?”
“Yes, and no,” the cub answered defiantly. He was fed up with the abuse.

“Watch your tongue while you still have it!” The master growled as he raised the stick.

“Don’t hit me again.”

The master stopped, his eyes wide in disbelief at Nemo’s statement. “What did you say!?”

“I said,” Nemo repeated evenly, “don’t hit me again.” Something old and dark, that mature power which others had seen, seethed behind his eyes, but the master was too angry and obtuse to notice as the other cubs quickly moved away in a fearful circle, leaving Nemo and the master alone.

The master threw his head back and laughed. “You’re barely even waist high, and you’re threatening me?”

“It’s not a threat. It’s an order.”

“Cubs don’t give me orders!” The master roared. He reared back for a mighty swing, but the stick never made contact. For as he wound up, his eyes accidentally met with Nemo’s, and the darkness surging behind those weird pink eyes finally broke loose.

Other adults in the fahrar heard the screams and came running, including Tribune Torga Desertgrave of the Ash Legion; she was visiting the fahrar looking for future recruits suited for her legion’s shadowy, unconventional ways. “What’s happening?” “What’s going on?” They stopped short at what they found, looking back and forth in confusion between the master cowering in one corner and the cubs in another. Nemo stood protectively between them with his head held high, his shadow falling over the master in a way that seemed much too big for his little cub body.

It took a while for the master to stammer what happened. “He...it...SOMETHING.” His stare and shaking finger indicated Nemo.

The adults all looked at Nemo, and after a moment of shuffling and muttering, one of them decisively grabbed Nemo and stuffed him into a seat while others picked up the fallen master. Then they huddled and whispered among themselves with many glances in Nemo’s direction, as they debated what to do with him.

For the first time, Nemo’s face showed a touch of worry. Even that little was different enough from his usual stoic demeanor that his best friend among the other cubs, the shifty Clawspur, asked quietly, “Are you OK?”

Nemo looked at Clawspur. It was rare that anyone had ever shown real concern for Nemo, and he smiled without the dark in his eyes this time, in a way that made Clawspur smile too. “I’ll be fine.”

Nemo and Clawspur thought they had been quiet enough, but Torga caught the exchange. She came and squatted in front of Nemo, and unflinchingly looked right in his strange eyes. The two stared each other down for an interminable moment, until finally it was Nemo who blinked under the old assassin’s soul-piercing gaze. Torga smiled at that, and after another moment of disgusted listening to the other adults bicker like geese, she stood up and raised her voice, silencing them with her authority as both Tribune and elder. For the Charr often die young, and elders among those who die young are doubly respected.

“No,” Torga said definitively. “He will not be punished. He was innocent and defended his innocence, however he did it.” She turned back to Nemo, and offered him her paw to take. “When you grow up,” she said, “you will be Ash.”

After that, nobody in the fahrar ever bothered Nemo again. He grew up into a leader among the cubs, and began spending more of his time outside the fahrar. He learned from both the Ash Legion and the ghosts in his beloved ruins, and when he came of age, nobody was surprised when he donned the dark robes of a necromancer. He was still small for a Charr and always would be, but nobody questioned the power contained in his undersized body.

Nemo’s determined personality made him a good second for his first warband, a diverse group of young Charr led by Howl the Brazen. Sadly, most of that warband were killed in a Pyrrhic victory over the vengeful ghosts of fallen Ascalon. Only Clawspur, Nemo’s sneaky childhood friend who grew up into a thief in the Ash Legion, survived with him.From that bloody victory, Nemo earned two things: a promotion to Legionnaire, putting him in charge of building a new warband, and the respect of Rytlock Brimstone, Tribune of the Blood Legion. With Rytlock’s blessing, Nemo recruited two soldiers from the Blood Legion, the warrior Wroda and the elementalist Yahuk, to join Clawspur as the core of his warband.

Now, Nemo’s sire has emerged from exile, claiming to have inside information about the Flame Legion’s evil plans for the Black Citadel. Rytlock has dispatched Nemo and his new warband to deal with his estranged sire personally, and Nemo is looking forward to the meeting with cracked knuckles. What the future holds for all involved, remains to be seen.

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Not bad at all!

Good intro. Writing is fine. It's alwys good to see some fan-fictions and the short format is the best.

Though, i think the story would benefits from more details on its training. He have that personnality, he have some traits, we need to know WHY. That's the thing to introduce him through actions, but it could be expanded a bit i think.

I should point out some lore inconistencies though (nothing very serious: )

  • charrs do not chose their legions. They are born in a particular legion and from the moment they are on a fahrar, they will fight for that legion and teir mates will be their warband. Torga (really like her btw: "her authority as both tribune and elder": very nice) doesn't have the power to grab cubs for her legion.
  • "Learned from the ghosts in his beloved ruins": you know that every ghost is animated by a dreadful and terrible hatred toward the charrs who turn their homeland to ashes and slaughtered their loved ones right?

Considering the main scene: you want your character to look badass. I totally get it, I will probably do far worst in my own book. Howevever that's a bit weird. Staying calm while all the other ferocious cubs cry and stand firmly against a massive seasoned veteran which is supposed to be his trainer? I don't completely buy it. Right, he have obviously some hidden power. But as we don't know what it is or where it come from, it's hard to accept it.

Also: minor consistency rant: forget about "the necromancer robes". He's a charr. He goes to battle. He HAS TO wear a F........ ARMOR! He has all the training and strength for that and that's give him far better chance of survival (or maybe he's masochistic or suicidal? I don't know after all). It's fan-fic, it's about the universe so don't hesitate to remove the video game aburdities that doesn't make sense in the story.

Keep on writing!

Have a nice day

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Responding and explaining a few points:

  • Regarding the ghosts: Nemo leads the Ghost warband, and his warband name is "Ghostwhisper". He is what Brian Lumley's fiction would call a necroscope -- he can talk to the dead, and has a direct connection to death which Marjory Delaqua would envy. And yes, I am diverging from the lore by giving a bit more depth to the ghosts of Ascalon than just blind violence against the living. Especially when "the living" is a child whose voice can sometimes pierce their delusions.
  • Nemo didn't choose his legion. He came to the fahrar as an orphan gladium without a legion, already somewhat past the usual age when cubs go to the fahrar. The Ash Legion is infamous for doing things its own way, so when Torga recognized his potential, she flexed her authority and claimed him for Ash. "I didn't choose the Ash life. It chose me."
  • Robes or armor: Charr racial tier 1 and tier 2 light armors look like dark masked robes. Tier 2, Archon armor, is what he wears when I have his outfit turned off. That masked and robed look suits him well. Also, Nemo is still big compared to a human, but for a Charr, he's a midget thanks to his half-starved early childhood; I made him as short and skinny as a male Charr can be. So heavy armor and the Reaper style don't suit him; he is a shifty Scourge through and through.
  • Regarding Nemo's thick-skinned demeanor: Nemo is the character in my stable who most represents my own dark side. His early life, first as a neglected orphan whose best friends were ghosts, then the rough life in the fahrar, reflects my own childhood as the skinny kid who was abused at home and bullied everywhere else. Hell has no surprises for him; he's already been there. And just like I did, he handled his experiences by turning inward and hardening his heart. There's a breaking point some abused kids reach where you realize there's power in pain, and you start smiling at it instead of crying because now you're storing it up, waiting to unleash it. Nemo and I reached that point. I pray nobody else ever has to.
  • Why the Grenth outfit? Not worship; Nemo is a Charr, after all. But honoring the power of Death? Certainly. Also, there's the psychological factor -- Death Himself calling in the form of a Charr plays on all manner of human fears. Especially to those bloody separatists who can't seem to get over their ancestors losing Ascalon. "When will you mice start living in the present already?"
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