Ricardo Trelain – Grandmaster Explorer
(Origin: D&D, Eberron setting. Recurring NPC and rival to the infamous Rainbow Brigade)
Among the tower-top estates of Sharn’s heights, it’s easy for a scion of a resident family to simply coast along in life, literally above the struggles of the lower classes. Born into such privilege, Ricardo Trelain whiled away his youth in high-minded studies and recreation. Until one story, read on a lark, awakened a new passion.
It was a simple broadsheet report on a recently returned expedition from the dark interior of Xen’drik. Often written by the explorers themselves, the reports were easily three parts embellishment for each part truth, puff pieces to snag the attention of rich and bored potential investors. It had the desired effect on young Ricardo, as he contacted the Explorers’ League that very afternoon seeking to invest. It had the undesired effect of inspiring him to do the dirty work of extracting secrets from the hidden corners of the world personally.
Using his social connections and share of the Trelain family fortune, Ricardo goaded enough veteran explorers to train him in the ways of plundering forgotten ruins. His trainers scoffed at his enthusiasm but gladly took his money and, credit where it was due, Ricardo had a knack for the adventurer’s life. Still, it was assumed he was just another rich kid who would poke around the safer fringes of the dark continent, see his fill, and head home on the next airship.
Ricardo proceeded to uncover a cache of artifacts worth a small fortune on his second day in the jungle. Not a one and done lark, he chained one unlikely success after another. In short order his life became an adventure novel in its own right. He gathered a band of loyal companions. He recovered piles of ever-increasing scores from ever more distant and dangerous locales. He won the affection of a beautiful and brilliant paramour, a former rival just as cunning and skilled as he. It wasn’t about the monetary reward (though a return on investment wasn’t refused). It was about the fame. The chance to become a living legend.
Then it all began to unravel. First an embarrassing loss to a group of neophyte adventurers in a race to retrieve a stolen artifact. Then back-to-back expeditions that followed his previously on-point hunches turned out to be complete wastes of time. Every opportunity and new journey ended in failure. It was uncanny. Maddening. A cosmic joke.
It all culminated in a disastrous mission into the hinterlands of the civilized nations. There, among mist-shrouded forests haunted by dark tales, Ricardo’s party met a bloody reckoning with a rival adventuring party in a struggle over a tome of forbidden magic. He returned from this last expedition with near fatal wounds, a tarnished reputation, and worst of all: empty handed once again.
Ricardo went into seclusion for a year to recover from his wounds and research his next move. Though his star had dimmed, his return to the Explorers’ League was greeted with fanfare. What was next? Will he retire?
No. There must be one more find. One more mind-blowing discovery. For his story would be one for the ages and he had to make certain the ending would not disappoint.
Entropia – The Chaos Sorceress
(Origin: D&D 4E. Default setting. One of the rare times I was able to be a PC)
In another plane of existence lies the Elemental Chaos, a churning and infinite realm of the component forces of magic. For even the most learned of men the Elemental Chaos is a remote concept. For a few, it is a point of research or a tome on the shelf. Fewer still have traveled there and returned with tales of wild, elementally warped lands where anything and everything is possible.
And for rare breed of sorcerers the Elemental Chaos is the source of their power.
With an in-born talent for arcane magic, Entropia was already an exception to the rule. Like other sorcerers, she had no need for long years of intense study just to create a cantrip light or summon a weak ball of force. She simply made it happen with a little concentration and a flick of her wrist. Sure, the magic would sometimes behave in unexpected ways but that was part of the fun.
Her ability grew with age. First they were simple tricks, pranks. Then a handy form of self-defense. But always there was a desire to expand, to achieve greater feats and harness greater amounts of the wild magic coursing through her veins.
Entropia had heard about the concept of planar conjunction and of weak points in reality where those stuffy trained wizards could create links into other realms. On a whim she decided to try her hand at establishing just such a connection to another plane on a night near her 17th birthday. She had no plan, no prepared magic or techniques. Just her natural talent and a knack for improvisation. What could go wrong?
Plenty. At least she didn’t tear a permanent hole in reality.
The details of that night are a blur of swirling fire and arcing electricity, a tempest of radiant and unchained arcane energy. While Entropia was always connected to the forces of the Elemental Chaos, she invited too much in. It overwhelmed and empowered her…at a price. All ten forces of the Elemental Chaos were hers to channel and command with ease. The catch: only one force held sway per day. Every morning she would awake refreshed as is typical for a sorceress, but her powers would be wholly aligned to a single element of magic. The rest were closed to her. She recorded the daily element until it became clear there was no pattern, or relation to her location, or the conjunction of the planes. It was entirely random.
Furthermore, the patron element of the day was strong enough to filter not just her magic, but her personality as well. From Ice’s callousness to Electricity’s manic activity, she felt only partially in control of her desires. What was critical one day became meaningless to her to next and then back again. With such radical shifts from day to day, Entropia began to lose all concept of her original self. She was a creature of chaos.
Now she rides the fluctuating tides of her enhanced powers, sometimes seeking a way to regain control of it all, and sometimes actively sabotaging her own progress. She’ll get there someday.
Or maybe not.