Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Malazan Character Background

So a DM on Reddit/r/lfg wants to run a Malazan-themed campaign.

Thought up a character and decided to share.  This is about as much background as I feel a PC needs - notice that it doesn't have tons of history - just a little flavor, a basic description of the guy and some hints about class/stats (mage, high dex).

For you Malazan fans, Tanner Rhyse is a low-level squad mage, Malazan Army, and practitioner of Serc, the Path of the Sky.

Tanner Rhyse

Everyone comes out of Malazan Basic with a nickname.  Braven Tooth makes sure of that.  Since most recruits are interested in leaving their past behind, a new name is OK with them.

Another Malazan Basic tradition is the obstacle course.  It’s a horrible course.  Mud, walls, rusty spikes, iron-heavy logs to carry, rough hemp rope to swing on.  It’s designed to break down a recruit so that they can be rebuilt as Malazan soldiers.

For Corlis Rhyse, the obstacle course was a revelation.  He’d always been too tall for his own comfort – a lanky connection of sharp knees, elbows and bony angles.  On the obstacle course, he discovered that he was, quite simple, the best.  Flowing over and around and through and under like some sort of clockwork mechanism tuned to this specific task.

His competency annoyed the drill instructors.  The obstacle course is a place for exhaustion, pain, filth and ultimately, failure.  Redemption and competency are supposed to come later – not on the first run on the first day. 

So they made him run it again.  And again.  And again.  He did.  Happily.  Easily.  Smoothly.  Corlis Rhyse was so overjoyed to be GOOD at something that he couldn’t do what the instructors wanted.  Couldn’t slow down.  Couldn’t get filthy and exhausted and clumsy.  He just blew through it twenty or so times while the rest of the recruits stood there and gawped like the farm-boys most of them were.

That wasn’t the worst thing, though.  Oh no.  The worst thing was that Corlis Rhyse was supposed to be EVEN WORSE at the obstacle course than regular recruits.  I mean, he’s tapped to be a squad mage, for Hood’s sake.  They only put the squad mages on the obstacle course for the first few days, so they’re happier about going and doing other squad-magey things.

It was Braven Tooth himself who really put his finger on what pretty much everyone – from the training sergeants right down to the gawping farm-boy recruits was feeling.  “He really chaps my hide,” said the master-sergeant, at one of the training officer meetings (held at Smiley’s – per long-standing tradition).  Everyone agreed. 

And so Tanner Rhyse – generally known at Tanner or “that fucking mage from the obstacle course” – emerged from Basic. Still too tall and gangly.  A loosely attached collection of overlong parts with a pale face, perpetually surprised expression and a warren which seemed to mostly be good for messing up his hair, blowing away important pieces of paper and making him sneeze at very inopportune times (like when a drill instructor is right up in his face yelling at him about how good he was at the obstacle course).  But a squad mage, right enough.  And one that understood the principle of the even trade.

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