Wednesday, January 20, 2021

31 Days / 31 Characters - JORVAN STARSBYNIGHT

Another character created by the late, great David Cotton.

It's interesting to note how often the same players pop up when I am thinking of characters to post for this challenge. To reiterate, I am trying to choose ones who were not only awesome and memorable but who additionally haven't been discussed on this blog before or at the very least not in great detail.

Character: Jorvan StarsByNight

Player: David Cotton

System: Dungeons and Dragons AD - Homebrew Variant of D&D
Campaign: The Winghorn Guard: Golden Ring

Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein

Circa: 2005-2006

Origins: I really can't say whether or not Jorvan had a specific origin or inspiration. I can only recall that this campaign was one of the first I ran with Dave, Dave's friend Lee, and our mutual buddy Jeff, following the first campaign I ran wherein we all met for the first time. 

Part of the reason I ran this particular Aerth/Winghorn Guard game was that Dave really wanted to try my homebrewed D&D variant. He was especially intrigued by the world/setting and wanted to not only explore it but play a 'Race' and 'Class' that was uniquely 'Aerth'. 

I wanted to help him fulfill these interests by suggesting he play a Corindel Elf, inaccurately referred to as Half-Elves, as well as a Sorcerer. Both quite different from their traditional D&D counterparts. Additionally he used his one his character's 'Personal Talents' to get a sailing ship, thereby checking the 'explore the world' box. 

Backstory: Jorvan StarsByNight is one of the 'Elves' of Corindel, a descendant of the island's Elven and Human inhabitants who have been interbreeding for many centuries. Referred to as 'Half-Elves', this nomenclature is inaccurate as the lineage of the Continent-Island-Nation's inhabitants are much harder to accurately identify. A given Corindel Elf might be only 1/10th Elf, or 95% Elf, or anywhere in between.

He inherited his ship from his father; an adventurer, explorer, and occasional privateer. StarsBySea, his father, was himself about 2/3rds Elf. His mother was a Sorceress from somewhere within the Southern Freelands of Rae. It was she taught Jorvan the sorcerous skills of communicating with Elementals and beings from Beyond this Realm. She died when he was fairly young, payment for a deal made with an otherworldly oceanic entity to protect Jorran and his father from a terrible storm.

After that incident Jorvan's father ventured out into the sea less and less but Jorvan himself did so more and more. He was convinced the sea would always protect him and his time on land was borrowed. By young adulthood, he was a pirate of sorts, though one preying on other pirate ships or the vessels of petty warlords and other villains. Having assisted a Winghorn Guard group on a mission to defeat a sea monster and the Sargent of that party suggested he try out for the Winghorn Guard himself. Not long after that he was Chosen and assigned to Golden Ring, the Guard division located at his homeland of Corindel. 

Overview: We first encounter Jorvan as his vessel, dubbed 'The Lady Luck', chases an enemy pirate vessel in the Sea of Polaris. A Sorcerer aboard the pirate ship had summoned a massive and powerful Sea Spirit that was creating a thunderstorm and terrible waves. Jorvan's allies were flying overhead, trying to wrestle control of Kargas (Griffin-like creatures from Turkish folklore) from their pirate riders. 

Combining his own Sorcerer abilities with his charm and gift of gab, he convinces the Sea Spirit to turn on its summoner for a favor to be bargained for later. Using his magical 'Hand Canon' (a Flintlock Pistol that can never needs physical reloading), Jorvan fires at the opposing Magician and appears to miss.

The Sorcerer taunts Jorvan for his wasted shot until Jorvan points out he wasn't aiming for the magic-user. StarsByNight looks down and the enemy follows his eyes to see the Summoning Circle on the deck of the pirate ship damaged by Jorvan's shot. The villainous Sorcerer looks up again as the Sea Spirit transforms into a tidal wave that crashes against the vessel, sending his head over heels into the ocean. 

When asked by the pirate ship's first mate how he was able to do all this, Jorvan replied with what would become his catchphrase, "Cheating!".

Jorvan's Caracca, 'The Lady Luck'

Indeed Jorvan favored cleverness and trickery above any other power or weapon at his disposal. He and the team's Aegytian (Aerth Egypt) Warrior / Cleric would often have friendly debates over his use of Cheating and the latter's preference for Knowledge, Honor, and Truth. Both agreed time and again that the others ways were not for them but certainly effective. 

In addition to the many missions the group would go on in the name of heroism and in service of the Winghorn Guard, Jorvan would rack up additional quests trying to buy or pay for favors of the various supernatural entities he dealt with to gain his powers or their help. 

The Highlights:

One of my favorite exchanges was when the Sea Spirit mentioned above wanted the bones of a sailor returned to his wrecked ship that had sunk to the bottom of the ocean. The bones had drifted inland and where now in a river. The River Spirit would only let the bones go if Jorvan planted a red-brown mushroom of some importance to the local river wildlife. The fungus had died out for some reason. This led to the discovery of an undead thieves guild organization using a poisonous black mushroom to kill opponents and raise them as new members. The black mushroom had killed off the red-brown ones. 

What seems like side-quests at first turned into a complex relationship of enemies and ecosystem while eventually united a Forest Spirit, the River Spirit, the Sea Spirit, AND Osiris, God of the Nile to aid our heroes against their soon-to-be reoccurring nemesis, an Eye of Fear and Flame!

Legacy: I think I may have mentioned or used Jorvan as an NPC briefly in a one-shot but for the most part he hasn't been seen in many years and that's a shame. He is an extremely fun character with a lot of personality.

I will try to find a place for him the next time I run a game set on Aerth.

Game Info: The other days I went looking for Jorvan's character sheet, which I was certain I had and yet I could not find it at all. Bizarre as I found the other PCs from that campaign as well as all the notes from it. Is it possible I gave it to Dave? Maybe but it seems unlikely. 

It would be difficult to give you Jorvan's stats and specifics without context as, although he was a D&D character, he was actually a D&D-But-Not character. My house-rules version is so different from any official version as to make them almost incompatible. Well, maybe not incompatible, but there are significant alterations. 

The Sorcerer Class and Half-Elven 'race' (I prefer the terms Species, Tribe, or People) are quite unlike their commercial counterparts. Jorvan possessed the abilities of Seafaring (granting bonuses to anything related to ships), Sorcery (here the power to communicate with, summon, and borrow powers from otherworldly beings in exchange for favors), and skill was both sword and pistol, a very rare talent on Aerth. 

Additionally his ship was enchanted to give him increased Defense and Saving Throws while aboard it (hence 'Lady Luck) and as mentioned, his pistol need only be shaken once after firing to 'reload' it. 

Next it's back to the Star Wars universe for one of my favorite characters, who belongs to one of my favorite species, played by one of my favorite players! Meet KASHPA!

Barking Alien

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