A Paladin of Tyr

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

When I was ten, I probably wouldn’t have imagined my go-to character in computer role-playing games would end up being a woman.

Back in the late 80’s, a cRPG called Pool of Radiance was put out by Strategic Simulations Incorporated (SSI for short). The game used the rules from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons tabletop RPG, and was the first computer game to do so. I played it on a green-monochromed Apple IIe screen.

In those days, there was a limited “story line”, and virtually no interaction with NPCs, so a great deal was left to the imagination. Nor were there pre-crafted characters to pick from who joined your party, instead you created each member of your party from a large set of options, exactly like you would in the tabletop game.

One of the characters I created was a red-haired female paladin of Tyr, the daughter of a noble house, whom I named Brinna D’Vere.

Some of the other characters are a little fuzzy right now, but if my memory serves, there was a long-haired, tabard-wearing, grossly-strong fighter named Wylar Wildfox, who used a two-handed sword and did a whirlwind-type attack. He was the leader of the party. There was a petite, pretty blonde elven girl named, I think, Feasandra (something), who was the party mage. There was Shador Du’Alles, the blonde-but-swarthy-skinned half-elven rogue, who (I think) wore an eye-patch and dressed in all black. There was a dwarven cleric (I think), named (I think) Bran or Brannoran (and potentially a last name). The last of the six I sadly cannot even recall: a gnome illusionist? A half-elven mage? A human cleric perhaps, or ranger?

As you can see, and despite playing this party through the sequels, I don’t remember most of these characters. Except Brinna. When Eye of the Beholder came out, Brinna was the leader of my party, as she was in the second of that series.

Since then, I’ve used her in most of the cRPGs I’ve played, such as Neverwinter Nights, and even the few MMOs I’ve tried, including those outside of the fantasy genre — a dark-skinned, red-haired, slightly renamed Tae’brinna was a fighter pilot in a sci-fi MMO I briefly played, before it closed down in the early ’00 decade; she also briefly made an appearance as Tae’brinna Shepard in my play-through of Mass Effect, before I decided to do my first play-through with the preset Malcolm character.

I’m not sure how it was Brinna who got so hooked into my subconscious. The twelve-year old me likely would have picked out Wylar as the character sure to be my alter-ego, but he faded away to the background, never even appearing as a character in later adventure games, whereas Shador and sometimes Bran and Fea would (for a few years anyways).

2 Responses to “A Paladin of Tyr”

  1. Thomas says:

    Twelve year old me wanted nothing less than trolls, lizardfolk, winged orcs, well-spoken ogres, centaurs… anything amazing and fantastic as a PC. The more incredible their powers and traits, the better. Psionic death rays, 3e ‘epic seed’ elemental AoE? Flurry of Blows and the Reflect Arrows feat too, please!
    As I’ve grown, I have become less and less enamored of these fantastic beings, and more and more immersed in the plight of my superstitious racist viking human, or my desperate Balican silt-skimmer crewman.
    I still love the fantasy creatures – but more than ever, I need now to understand what motivates a character to find them interesting; and those compelling motives seem readily apparent in humans with little or no supernatural powers…

  2. admin says:

    I think that is the case with many role-players, or at least in my experience it has been. There’s a certain attraction in playing something unique and unusual. Hence dwarves and elves and so forth; but then for some even more unusual.

    Eventually a player may come to decide that the dramas they are playing out, the situations and interpersonal struggles that end up mattering in play, could be as easily (or even more easily) accomplished by using a human character.

    In many cases I think that is one of the core problems with the inclusion of non-human races in RPGs: they end up being played as “humans in funny hats”, even if only because that is the easiest way to play them (players being human and all).

    I do think there remains a place for the amazing and fantastic PC, with feats and magic, right alongside the plight of the human being. After all, we have ‘magic’ in real life (or at least our ancestors would deem cars and mobile phones and the internet) and yet we have very human problems both in the midst of and tied up in all that.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Thomas!

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