domenica 9 luglio 2017

Brandir the Adventurer - Citadel Elf Warrior (1987)

Some NPCs are so good they eventually become PCs. This is the story of one of them, Brandir.

Brandir's story begins with that of his older brother Gelmir. The two are born, together with a third sister, from a poor Sea Elf family living in the miserable village of Grilm, on the coast of the Wasteland. Father dies at sea when the children are young. Mother is slain by Greenskins during a raid, while the kids hide under the bed. The three survive by begging and stealing.
Then, at some point Brandir's story takes a different turn, a grimmer one than his siblings who will eventually get saved and adopted. Little Brandir, while in the gutters of Zeaburg, is lured with an apple by a smiling man and invited into a private house. He gets a hit on the head and drops unconscious. He is taken away. The man is a thief and smuggler, and he also, in his own way, adopts Brandir, but he is far less kind than Elmerin. Brandir learns to steal and stab and trick and becomes, willing or not, part of Johann the Lame's band of footpads and cutthroats. They spend most of their time in Marienburg but travel the Wasteland when times are hard and the guards are on their trail.

Years pass, and eventually Johann the Lame gets old. Brandir has little love for him and, at the first good chance, he takes over the band and offers the old man a kind choice between retiring to a dilapidated country hut with little to no pension, but alive, or retire at the bottom of a canal of the Kruiersmuur, with no need of any pension. Johann makes the wise choise.

A few members of the band, the old ones, leave, but new ones join and soon Brandir's band increases its business substantially. The Elf is young and less cautious than Johann, taking risks that offer high returns. He seems blessed by Ranald, and his reputation grows, until one day he is introduced to an ascending merchant, going by the name of Johann Hess.

In order to make his family rich, Hess has his fingers in many pies, including illegal ones. Smuggling is one of them and, with his activities growing, he needs to outsource the extra job to smart people. Soon Brandir starts making a lot of money, especially with those new shipments of closed crates coming from Norsca. All marked with a red X and solidly nailed so no one can spy their contents.

It is when some members of his band start displaying strange signs of mutation that Brandir decides to do what he has been explicitly asked not to do: open one of the crates. It is full of shards of black, iridescent stone.

That is his last delivery. He goes to see Hess and tells him he's not feeling well and wants to leave the business for some time. But Hess guesses Brandir knows more than he says. The same night, coming back at his band's den, Brandir finds assassins. He barely escapes with a few men, but loses all his savings. At dawn he silently navigates the marshes on a rowboat, headed at Lame Johann's hut. It's empty, the old man must have died years ago.

Enraged at Hess's betrayal Brandir plans revenge, but he decides to wait - too many people are looking for him in Marienburg. He spends some time in the town of Bokel, across the frontier of Nordland, but he soon finds out the Warpstone has tainted him: he has started losing all the hair on his body.

It is several months after his flight that Brandir returns to Marienburg. By now he has become completely glabrous, even losing his eyelashes. He wears a hood over his head or, sometimes, a wig. He calls himself Gelmir, the name of his lost brother. Working isn't easy when nobody knows you and, desperate for money, Brandir enters a gambling house planning to get something to start again. But the games are rigged, and the house belongs to Hess. Soon he has an outstanding debt, and Hess's thugs are on his trail once again.

With two companions he boards a ship bound for Erengrad, where he hides for a while. It is here that his brother finds him: hunted by Hess, the real Gelmir find the impostor, recognizing him as his long lost, and now mutant, brother. Together, they vow revenge on Hess and on his network of warpstone smuggling, funded by the Skaven. And so it begins Brandir's life as a PC.

The miniature I choose for Brandir is no. 9 in 1988 Citadel Catalogue, Elf Warrior Category. It is marked as "Elf" and dated 1987, so it probably debuted on an earlier White Dwarf, The line is designed by Jes Goodwin and Aly Morrison: it's not clear who sculpted this particular figure but my guess is Jes Goodwin.

There are lots of things to like in this sculpt. The simplicity first of all. Lots of empty areas to freely paint. Then the shady look - there is something thievish with this hooded Elf, shield raised and sword reared, leather jacket, bag across the shoulder and a rope hanging from the side.

Missing the original shield, I recycled a 15mm Medieval shield which looks enough like a buckler, where I painted the device of Liria, a free city of sea merchants on the eastern borders of Tilea.

Comments? Did you also happen to turn NPCs into PCs? Leave some feedback below!

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