Saturday, 27 February 2021

Aloysius Foyle

Aloysius Foyle

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Aloysius' mother claims she was taken forcibly. Rumours abound, but the hamlet on the borderlands had periodically suffered the attentions of the Clan of the Red Hand. Women had been left for dead before, and lived; but there was nary a mark on her when they found her. Those who had survived such encounters always bore the scars of such treatment. Not she. The babe arrived early. And she was evermore watched. Distrusted. Banished to the edge of the village, her presence tolerated only because she had a way with unguents and salves and tinctures.

The boy grew up shunned by the village, as one ought to be, born of such a foul union, and largely unloved by a mother that treated him with a rough hand and a sharp tongue. She loved none but herself, the gossips claimed; was vain, vainglorious, and haughty before her fall; and contrary to her fair face, had always been petulant, prone to fits of spite and rage, which she hitherto, inevitably, took out on the boy.

She never named the boy, not to his or anyone else's knowledge, and eventually sold him to a gypsy troupe, where he was whipping boy, gopher and scullion. He scavenged his food and took what he could when no one was looking, until Ariistuun Foyle, headman of the troupe took note of it and began to teach him more "tricks." Ariistuun's wife, Dika, adopted him, named him and taught him how to play the chalumeaux and lyre, to sing, to act, and to deceive.

Aloysius had found a home; and a friend in Nunamnir, his twin in spirit, if not in aspect, so alike that one was never far from the other. And he fell in love with Nayda Hobbs, a minstrel girl. Her father Djordji did not approve of the match.

The troupe came to a bad end when a local lord caught one of them flirting with his daughter, and another picking the pocket of a courtesan. He killed the flirter, arrested the pick-pocket, and ordered the rest of them rounded up.

They fled. Most were slain. But not Aloysius, who, fleet of foot and kin to shadow, slipped away, but not before he spent more time than was wise in search of Ariistuun and Dika and Nayda, and indeed Djodji; not to mention Nunamnir.

Aloysius waited for them at the rendezvous, but none arrived.

Aloysius seethes with rage, for the orcs, for his hamlet, for the lord who "killed" his family.

Character backstory.
It's a tricky thing, and it should never be too long, or too short, for that matter. Why should it not be long? Because you are 1st level. You do not have elaborate history; if you did, you'd be 5th level.
What should be in it?
An origin. Even if that origin is "I woke up six months ago, and had no recollection of who I was, or where I came from." This is a very open background, and should only be used with a DM you trust to fill.
A mystery. Something to investigate. Something the DM need imagine and develop.
An enemy. Something to hate. 
A path forward. Hooks. If every adventure began with I'll give you 250 gp to do whatever, you as a player will not be invested in it; but if there were clues to your love's survival, you will dash into danger with nary a thought to the consequences.

In short, keep it vague, yet interesting. It's the DM's job to develop your family, and your unknown, unsuspected history and destiny. If it were yours, there is no need to play the game.

Who is Aloysius?
He's a half-orc. More like quarter-orc. Or in 5e terms, leaning towards a variant human, but still a lalf-orc. In any event, as a half-orc, he's a whelp; he would never survive in orc culture, and its lucky that he did not have to. 
He's an angry young man. He's a survivor. And at the beginning, he is most certainly self serving and, dare I say it, evil. But he does have his qualities. He is loyal. He most assuredly lives by his wits, his skills, and his troupe's code of ethic. Lawful Evil.
In 1st Edition, I would negotiate with an inspired DM to see if he would allow that Aloysius be treated as a half-elf, and if so, I might send him down the path to be a bard. If not, I would lean towards assassin. That suits the rage he lives, and he's spent his life trying to fit in, so he's good at playing roles. The troupe has taught him make-up and disguise. Assassin makes sense.
2e disallowed his existence as a playable reace for a while, but allowed for it in supplements.
I'm not terribly familiar with 3e, but possibilities abound in that edition.
4e? Not a clue. I suppose the options are similar to 5e, in which the rogue is more akin to a martial class than the 1e thief.
In 5e, I would begin him as a rogue (assassin's path at 3rd level), and dive into bard, and see how that plays out.
What are my hopes and desires for Aloysius? Revenge. Redemption.

One must always give credit where credit is due. This piece is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 

The Art:
Orc, smoking, with cat by Brenoch Adams.
The art is solely owed by the artist

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