Wednesday, January 6, 2021

31 Days / 31 Characters - CEREN-DEE WINDRAKE

This next character entry is going to be a long one and that's as it should be. The character is, without a doubt, one of my all time favorites you will see this month and holds the special distinction of being created and played by one my favorite people in the world. This is the first character created by my ex-wife and dear friend Selina. 

In addition to being an amazing character, full of depth, nuance, flaws, courage, and drive, she was the catalyst for bringing back my world of Aerth and the revision of The Winghorn Guard concept after a nearly 20+ year hiatus.

Enjoy. 



Character: Ceren-Dee Windrake / WindDrake

Ceren-Dee's last name is actually Windrake, although it is said Wind-Drake. In subsequent Winghorn Guard campaigns this confused some people, especially those playing Elves, so I started spelling it WindDrake. 

(Selina just informed me that, "Since Winddragon and Winddrake would have had the 2 D’s in their names, both of them dropped one D. It was just aesthetically more pleasing to read/write.")

AKA: Guardsman, Sargent, then Lieutenant, then Captain Ceren-Dee WindDrake, Ceren-Dee EverDrake, The Lady of Everwind. In one iteration she becomes The Winghorn Guard's Master of Mages.

Player: Selina Wong

System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 1st Edition and 3rd Edition - Heavily Modified, House-ruled Variant.
 
Campaign: The Order of the Winghorn Guard: Honorheart 

Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein 

Circa: Um...

This is a little unclear to Selina and I. Selina created this character in AD&D 1st Edition as that is all I had in my collection D&D-wise. A year or two later 3rd Edition came out and we went to Gen Con, our first trip together, and converted everything to 3E. That means we started in 1998 or 99. Meanwhile, I just found an image I drew of Ceren-Dee's daughter, the next character she would play after Ceren-Dee, and it is dated 1999. That seems almost impossible based on our recollections but there you have it. 

Origins: Here is a few words on Ceren-Dee's from the creator herself. Ladies, Gentlemen, and Nonbinary Friends, Selina Wong...

"Ceran-Dee Windrake 

When I was thirteen, I became a fan of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms novels after discovering the Fantasy section at my local Waldenbooks, and while I knew high school classmates who played D&D during our lunch periods or on the weekends at someone’s house, I never participated. I was really shy and introverted, and I hated anything that put me in the spotlight. I loved reading fantasy stories and that was enough for me… until I met Adam a decade later. 

He and I became friends through our mutual love of anime and for a while that was what brought us together. Then he introduced me to a group of people who got together every once in a while for an RPG game. The very first time I met them they played a game in fact. They invited me to join but I was not ready to participate. I opted to watch. Worried I’d be bored, they kept checking on me throughout the game, but I was having fun listening to their stories unfold. A part of me wished I had been brave enough to join in, but I had only just met these people and while I enjoyed their company, I was afraid they’d find me too timid or unimaginative to invite me along next time. 

Adam didn’t think so. 

One night, he talked to me about creating a character for a fantasy-based story. If I got to write my own fantasy novel, who would be the hero/heroine of my story? What kind of character would I make? What abilities would I want her to have? Where was this character from and where would she go?  

For the next few hours, Adam walked me through the process of character creation. Using a copy of the AD&D Player’s Manual, he explained races, classes, attributes, hit points, armor class, movement speed, skills, spells, and feats. He helped me pick out equipment and gear, and he helped me weave the story of my character’s origin, her education, her family, and her life’s objectives. I had chosen to create a female High Elf who would become both a mage and fighter. I described her as having raven-black hair, blue eyes, fair skin, and a slender frame. 

When Adam asked me for her name, it took me a very long time to think of it. I had been thinking her name should sound something like the word “serenity” because it felt so elvish and graceful. Finally, after playing with multiple spelling options, I decided on 'Ceran-Dee Windrake.' 

By this time, I thought the exercise was done. Adam had proven to me that creating a character for a fantasy story or RPG wasn’t so hard and I had a lot of fun doing it. That was when Adam started describing the High-Elven city of Mithrandel, where Ceran-Dee and her family lived. I thought, maybe, he was helping me get a feel for a potential story I could write one day. I started imagining the scene he was setting. He was such a great storyteller, I could see and hear everything he described. I saw younglings running off to play their morning games, well-dressed politicians heading to their assembly meetings, and armed soldiers patrolling the city’s streets. 

Then, Adam asked me, “What are you doing?”

I blinked. “Me?” 

“Yeah. What’s Ceran-Dee doing?” 

“Uh… what are my choices?” 

“You can do whatever you want.”

“Oh.” I felt that I, Selina, had two choices. I could have said, “All right, I see what you’re doing, Adam, but this isn’t my thing. Let’s just say we had fun and call it a night.” Instead, I asked, “Uh… Can I…?” 

Honestly, I don’t remember the first “Can I” question I asked him, but it was the first of thousands of “Can I” questions I would throw at him for the next two years. He not only helped me create Ceran-Dee Windrake, he had planned on running a game for me just to help me get over my fear of role-playing. Did it work? Yup. 

I had designed Ceran-Dee to be brave, strong, clever, and outspoken - qualities I always wished I’d possessed. Playing her character in the amazing Winghorn Guard campaign that Adam created was easily the best RPG experience I’d ever have. Though it took me a little longer before I finally got up the courage to role-play with people other than Adam, it was worth every minute. 

Ceran-Dee Windrake was my first step into the world of role-playing. She was everything I loved in a fantasy heroine, and every character I’ve made since Ceran-Dee was designed with a fragment of my original Mithrandel elf. 

But the real hero is Adam. Without him, Ceran-Dee would never have found her voice, her heart, or her magic."

I would have to argue with that last line. I may have facilitated her creation but her magic and heart come directly from Selina. 

Backstory: Ceren-Dee Windrake (original spelling ;p) was born in the High or Mithral Elf city-state of Mithrandel, the daughter of Aadin-Kal Windragon and Falon-Dae Windphoenix. WindDragon (alternate spelling) was Captain of the Guard of the city's Order of the Brightstorm. Like her older brother Tavin-Kai WindGriffon, Ceren-Dee had joined the BrightStorm only to later apply to join the The Winghorn Guard. A great honor, their father was nonetheless a tad disappointed that neither would be replacing him as leader of the Brightstorm. 

Because of their connection to the knightly order protecting the city, the Wind family was one of the higher Noble Houses of Mithrendel. Ceren-Dee was friends with the children of the other Noble Houses, including her best friend and fellow Winghorn Guard member ThunderCall. 

Successfully chosen by The Great Winged Unicorn after a harrowing trial mission that took on a number seriously dangerous turns. Ceren-Dee went on to quickly establish herself as a clever, resourceful Guard member with a keen mastery of Wind Magic and excellent fighting skills. Her greatest ability and yet the one that got her in the most trouble, was her unparalleled compassion. Until proven otherwise, Ceren-Dee saw not creature or being as objectively 'Evil'. Everyone and everything was worth being given the chance to do the right thing. While this backfired once in a terrible way, she would learn from it but also never waver from this core belief. 



An old sketch I did of Ceren-Dee Windrake from the late 90s.
I was deeply in my Anime/Manga phase. 


Overview: It is very difficult to narrow down an overview of two years of gaming nearly every evening. Selina and I lived together before eventually getting married and we'd play a few hours each night (practically) before bed. The Ceren-Dee campaign was really just her as the player and myself as GM and the rest of the universe. I learned so much about NPC and story development as a result and it vastly improved my games from that point forward. 

It help immensely that she, Selina, loved her character and the game. She was all in in a way that I don't people immersing these days. When Selina started to play with my other groups, specially my ol' NJ gang, she brought that energy with her into a band of players that also all had that energy. It made for an incredible experience. 

Back to Ceren-Dee, she would eventually develop a strong bond and then a romantic relationship with the brooding, driven Sylvan Elf Shaylan Everleaf. Towards the end of the campaign and into the next one, Shaylan and Ceren-Dee would marry and establish the port city of Everwind, also a Winghorn Guard outpost. 

Other strong relationships were forged between Ceren-Dee and the Half-Ogre Vek-Tan, the Ranger-Cleric power couple Gestral Ronamoore and Promelia, and the Half-Elven bad boy and love interest of her friend Thundercall, Dalor EverBurnGreen. We spent as many sessions visited the various homelands and families of the characters, shopping in markets and favored stores, and exploring the world as we did fighting evil villains, battling monsters and unraveling ancient mysteries. 

Of particular note when it comes to relationships and villains is Ceren-Dee's dealings with the campaigns arch-nemesis Shadowhaunt. The last of the Pale Elves of Eldrindel (or so it was believed), Shadowhaunt went from pure evil to tragic and in the end he sacrificed himself to hinder an even greater threat than himself, one he partially helped create. He only did so after being moved by words from Ceren-Dee asking if this was his people's legacy. Is that what the Pale Elves will always be known for? Death and tyranny? He could not bare it and turned on the Dragons who'd pretended to be his allies just to steal his power. With his last, dying action and the combined forces of Winghorn Guard the Dragons were defeated and peace restored.

For a time...

Highlights: 

Another character with so many great moments and stories . Let's see...

Prior to Ceren-Dee Windrake, the Elves of Aerth had never taken center stage. With a campaign focused around one I decided I had to flesh them out. With Selina's help I designed their cultures, history, and created what I think might be Aerth's best feature.

Ceren-Dee and two other Winghorn Guard members are at one point swept up in a massive wave while one a ship at sea, heading to meet the rest of her group and wary that the villainous Shadowhaunt is after them. She and her companions arrive in the future, one were her romantic interest, Shaylan Everleaf, has gone full-on Dark Knight against Shadowhaunt and his allies, hunting them down and making them pay dearly. He nearly destroyed the Dwarven city of Throal because one of Shadowhaunt's agents is said to be hiding there. The grief and anger of losing Ceren-Dee had driven him quiet over the edge it seemed. Luckily, the time displaced Ceren-Dee was able to talk him down and a tearful conversation followed that was one of the best moments I've ever had in a game. Ceren-Dee and friends are returned to their proper place in the time line and sharing her experience gives them all a new found view of their places in the world and in each others' lives. 

A story arc I really loved involved Shadowhaunt assembling a team of villainous allies made up of either old villains from the original Winghorn Guard game or ones connected to them. To defeat them, Ceren-Dee tracked down the Guard members who had defeated these villains in the past. This resulted in the return of Arigon, Telerie, Rao Sunbird, and others from the previous Winghorn Guard campaign. Some just made cameos, some had short guest appearances, and some hung around for a season or two or had periodic reoccurring roles. 

Legacy: Ceren-Dee's campaign ended with her marrying Shaylan Everleaf, establishing the port city of Everwind and having three children; the youngest of whom, Galefyn EverFae, became her PC in a follow up campaign. 

Ceren-Dee has since appeared in never every incarnation of the Winghorn Guard or Aerth I have run since. Sometimes a major NPC, sometimes a background character, and sometimes just a legend the PCs hear about in passing. 

Trust me, for as long as I am in this hobby and I run some version of Aerth, the name Ceren-Dee Windrake will never, ever fade. 

Game Info: You are in luck! The Chronicles of The Winghorn Guard are well kept. Lo and behold, Ceren-Dee Windrake's original character sheet:




Bonus Feautres:

I almost forgot to mention Ceren-Dee's familiar, a Tressym (Cat with Feather-covered Bat-wings) she saved and named WindFae. I never spoke as WindFae, simply meowing and making other cat noises and Selina had to figure it out. Eventually they develop a bond that enables her to more directly understand WindFae's 'language'. 

Ceren-Dee has a sword called 'The Blue Dragon's Tongue', discovered seemingly at random early in the campaign and then numerous reveals about its powers and origins were spread out through the rest of the game. It is a +3 Elven Longsword, +5 vs. Blue Dragons, and he the ability to catch/absorb any electricity directed at it (Reflex save required). The electricity is then held within the blade and can be seen faintly crackling over the surface. By uttering the High Elven word for 'Lightning' the electricty can either be released as a bolt or discharged on a successful melee attack. She has used it to shock a group of enemies moving through a large puddle by stabbing into the water and once disrupted an Artificer's invention by sticking the blade between two tesla-coil-like antenna. 


OK, that's all for this one. Whew. Big entry, huh?

Next up, it's cold outside and there's no kind of atmosphere but inside we've got everyone's favorite Gallus Sapien, CHICKEN!

AD
Barking Alien





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