I begin the 31 Days / 31 Characters Challenge with one of the all time greatest Player Characters I have been fortunate enough to run and later use as an NPC in my games.
Commencing an endeavor such as this with one of my favorite characters presents an interesting dilemma. If I've started with such a wonderful character, where do I do from here? Must I now slog through thirty posts of lesser characters? Definitely not. While this PC is indeed one of my favorites, he is by no means the only top notch PC I've encountered in my nearly 44 years in the hobby.
He is but the first of many...
AKA: Arigon the Dragon Slayer, The Patron Saint of Dragon Slayers, Arigon of Rae Astra, Arigon the Ranger, Gilgathane.
Player: Martin Lederman
System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st Edition - Heavily Modified, House-ruled Variant.
Campaign: The Order of the Winghorn Guard: Highpoint (originally entitled P.E.G.A.S.U.S.)
Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein
Circa: 1983-1985 - Created in 1983 and played until 1985. He continued on as an NPC.
Origins: Arigon was a character my friend Martin had created and played for a campaign at school during the winter months. He liked him so much he wanted to use him in the new campaign I was starting. I said sure as long as this one, the one in my game, is now a separate and distinct parallel world version of the other character. Basically, what happens in one campaign has no effect on the Arigon of the other campaign. Martin agreed.
Backstory: Arigon was born to a Human Ranger and a Half-Elven Sorceress on the island of scoundrels and ne'er do-wells known as Rae Astra off the coast of The Free Lands of Rae. His parents made a home there because of the many enchantments that hid the island as they were being hunted by a Black Dragon whose plans they had thwarted in the past. Unfortunately, the Black Dragon somehow found them and murdered them as well as nearly all Rae Astras other inhabitants by sinking the island with a massive deluge of its acidic bile.
With the help of Gilgathane, a family friend, Arigon managed to escape the island and was taken in and raised by the man as if he were his own son. As he grows up, Arigon swears he will avenge his parents and the people of Rae Astra, track down the Black Dragon, and destroy it. He learns to be a Ranger like his father and Gilgathane, hoping to also join the ranks of The Dragon Slayers, an elite group made up of those who have felled the great and ancient beings of Aerth.
Overview: Some thirty years later, while on the hunt for the Black Dragon, Arigon is magically summoned and transported to the Barrier Peaks at the Southern end of the World's Edge Mountains. There he meets a host of other adventurers, both good and evil, all brought together by a mysterious figure who introduces himself as Neuron, The Neutral Man. Neuron claims that secreted within the Barrier Peaks is a strange fortress; it and its master threaten the safety of entire world of Aerth.
After a rocky initial meeting, the group teams up and defeats the menace of 'Lord Darkstar', an insane Illithid equipped with strange magical items and control of an army of metal golems. Following this, Neuron congratulates the assembled on their 'shared destiny' and then disappears.
The group largely goes their separate ways except for Arigon, a Paladin named Telerie, BloodStar the Barbarian, Rao Sunbird - Cleric of Apollo, and two strange creatures calling themselves Cannibal and Puma. Though very different from each other, these individuals had formed a bond and decided to travel together to the city of Gallatain and try to join the Winghorn Guard. At the next 'Choosing' the Great Winged Unicorn picked each of them and they were all assigned to Gallatain's Highpoint Division.
Over the next three and a half years or so of real time, this group would face numerous challenges, horrible monsters, vile villains, and the demands of their own backstories. Neuron would return time and again to warn and even aid them, though sometimes he also manipulated them into facing off against dangers they weren't prepared for.
Arigon himself would learn that his mother was not really a Half-Elf but a shapeshifted Dragon! She and the Black Dragon were to be bonded but she shunned him and married Arigon's father, which resulted in the Black Dragon's rage and the death of Arigon's parents.
Learning from Neuron that various parts of a Dragon can grant one strange powers, Arigon renewed his hunt, slaying other evil Dragons along the way. Before long he was wearing their skin as armor, a skull as a helmet, and bathed in their blood to extend his life and grant him invulnerability. His allies tried to dissuade him but he was driven by a hatred of the Black Dragon that clouded his judgement. Eventually, believing himself invincible, he charged headlong into a battle with a cursed being that he managed to destroy but not without a cost.
The next morning he awoke, not as Arigon the Dragon Slay but as Arigon The Dragon! He had transformed into a Dragon and with each passing day it became harder and harder to think like a Human. The rest of his team banded together to help him, calling upon the power of the gods to aid them but the gods of the various party members did not get along. This attracted the attention of The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. They restored Arigon to his pre-Dragon self, causing the gods to back away but watch with great curiosity. The Four Horseman gave Arigon the ultimatum, "To continue on this Earth you must defeat each of us, alone, in a contest. You must sate Famine, cure Pestilence, battle War, and cheat Death." They explain that he, Arigon, has become too dangerous a thing to remain on the mortal plane and if he fails to defeat any of the Horseman his soul will be cast into the Void of Eternity.
This begins an epic side quest wherein Arigon (via his player) must face off and outwit a series of challenges that bring him to terms with his own obsession, his anger over the death of his parents, and many other personal issues. Meanwhile, his friends are drawn into an alternate side quest helping Neuron, who is put on trail by the other Neutral Men for repeating interfering and being anything BUT Neutral.
The stories eventually fish tail into each other as the rest of the team seeks out Arigon's help saving Neuron only to find him losing his fight with War. Telerie the Paladin interferes in the fight, hurling his Holy Avenger into War's chest. When the Four Horsemen arrive to announce Arigon has basically 'lost by disqualification', Rao notes that Arigon was not trying to defeat War but rather cheat Death, the last of the challenges. Arigon therefore gets a rematch with War and defeats him by refusing to fight him, proving his anger and need for revenge are under control.
Oh my goodness, there is SO much more to say about Arigon. So many more stories to tell.
With the help of his friends he does manage to slay the Black Dragon but not out of vengeance. He puts an end to the Dragon's evil in the name of the greater good.
He takes on an 'apprentice' of sorts, a Robin to his Batman. An Elf named Nitram of Namredel (do you see the Easter Egg? Nitram will get his own entry later this month).
Eventually the Norse Gods call upon Arigon to help battle a child of the Midgard Serpent and he becomes the 'Patron Saint' of sorts to Dragon Slayers across the old continent. After the rest of the team retires to their final rewards and happy endings, Arigon stays in Asgard for a time, periodically returning to Aerth in disguise. One of the powers he gains at this time is to appear at any age he wishes. He always looks like himself but he can show up as an old man, a young boy, or his usually appearance of a fit man in his mid-forties. This was a gift from Odin for his help.
Legacy: Arigon is a legend, a myth, barely remembered except by historians, Dragon Hunters, and Northern Rangers when he is mentioned in a Winghorn Guard campaign I ran with my ex-wife some 13 years [of real time] after his own. Her character and her companions attempt to track him down in order to get assistance fighting old foes from the campaign mentioned above who seemed to have returned.
Appearing to have aged into his late 50s or early 60s when he finally reveals himself, the story takes place a good 150 years after his originally ended. Over the course of several sessions he is revealed to be immortal now, a demigod of sorts, and an avid 'fan' of the current crop of Winghorn Guard members, especially the new PC group.
Arigon has since appeared, vanished, and occasionally reappeared in every Winghorn Guard and Aerth campaign I've run since. Sometimes he appears as himself, sometimes he goes under an assumed name (usually honoring his 'foster father' by calling himself Gilgathane), and sometimes not mentioning his name at all.
He is a warm, compassionate, 'working class' every man with a handsome face, honest eyes, and an air of deeper knowledge, weight, and meaning. Clearly inspired by Martin's love of Aragorn from Lord of the Rings, Robert Redford (upon whom his image is based) in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and Han Solo, Arigon is cool, tough, but very much imperfect, wrestling with his demons throughout much of the original campaign. He seeks power and treasure only so that he can defeat his enemy, who is a Dragon [and my Dragons can sink islands]. Unfortunately, when the Black Dragon becomes his Moby Dick he has to come to terms with what it's doing to him, his friends, and the other around him.
I love that he not only learns those lessons but returns to Aerth every hundred years or so to pass those lessons on to others.
Game Info: There have been numerous character sheets and stat blocks written up for Arigon over the years in at least three or four different systems and editions of Dungeons and Dragons. I don't know where any of them are and trust me, I looked.
From memory I can tell you that his original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition character sheet concluded with him as a 20th Level Ranger and a 5th Level Dragon Slayer - an 'Elite Class' of my own creation similar to the Prestige Classes of Editions 3 and 3.5.
In addition to the abilities such a high level character would have, he also possesses Dragon Sight (the ability of Dragons and Dragon-kin to sense others of their kind), the ability to appear at any age and state of physicality he wishes as long as he remains himself (he can therefore seem heavier or thinner, lengthen or short his hair, etc.). He is abnormally strong, possessing a strength of 20, which he can increase to 24 for 5 rounds per day.
He wields the Aerth variant of the infamous Sword of Kas, a sentient bastard sword that can speak but only Arigon can hear it. It is constantly telling him what he's doing wrong, argues with him at ever turn, and is just a royal pain in the sheath. It functions as a +6 Defender sword, adding +6 to the wielder's Armor Class. It grants him the ability to Plane Shift, gives him Immunity to Fear, and does Double Damage against Beings from Realms Beyond (i.e. any creature or person that does not originate on Aerth's Prime Material Plane. It only does normal damage to creatures and people from Alternate Prime Material Planes, as its enchantment counts those beings as still originating on Aerth even if it's not this Aerth).
Because the Sword of Kas is not specifically enchanted to slay Dragons, Arigon also has a +3 longsword that is +5 versus Dragons (including Drakes, Wyrms, and other related creatures). He has a +3 Longbow with at least 6 Arrows of Dragon Slaying.
He normally wears chainmail or scalemail armor under a cloth tunic and a cloak. He tends to dress in drab, earth-tone colors or woodland greens and browns.
He appears as a sandy-blonde haired white male, 6 ft. 4 inches tall, about 240 pounds, with greenish-grey eyes.
Next up we travel from a world of high fantasy to the depths of outer space! Evil do-ers beware! Here comes BLEEP - THE SPACE GUARDIAN!