Thursday, August 24, 2006

Orcish Grenadier

Many years ago, I was involved in a Rolemaster RPG and had one of my favorite characters killed when I couldn't attend a gaming session. Borg the Sledgehammer, a big, dumb hammer-swinging brute made interesting by the fact that he resisted magic at three times his level, was suspicious of magic and magic users and was in a party made almost entirely of spell casters. Everyone went to great lengths to conceal their magic use and be friends with Borg. Once Borg was killed, I wanted to come up with an equally interesting and unique character and I hit upon the idea of an Orc Grenadier. Unfortunately, the Gamemaster wouldn't allow it for practical reasons. Simply put, the society of the world would not tolerate an orc walking into town.

Well, now it looks like I have a chance to revive the character concept. A friend of mine is starting up a game set in a fantasy 17th Century. Originally, he was going to run using the 7th Sea game, a fantasy pseudo-Europe. But he wanted Native Americans for some reason, so he's added Northern Crown, a fantasy Colonial America using the D20 system. He also threw in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition to have fantasy races like elves and dwarves.

So, now I have an opportunity to have an Orc Grenadier. And the concept I am working with is based on the Jagermonsters of the Girl Genius comic series by Phil and Kaja Foglio. Girl Genius is a gaslamp fantasy 19th Century with mad scientists and the Jagermonsters are some sort of hybridized soldiers that are very strong, very tough and typically used for comedy relief. Read the webcomic and you'll get the idea.

Once I had the character concept, I need to flesh it out a little bit. Germany at the time was still fractured after the Thirty Years War so my character would be an unemployed German mercenary looking for adventure. In a fantasy Europe with Orcs, I would imagine them being from the mountains and that, of course, must be Bavaria. That lead to a skill bonus in brewing.

He needed a name. I tried a few first names and settled on Kurt. For a last name, I was looking at several combinations with Sturm because it sounds cool. The GM had made a joke about the skill bonus also applying to baking bread and thus making pumpernickel bread, noted for its flatulence producing properties. With a little help from BabelFish, that leads me to consider the family name Sturmblähung.

I rolled very well on the social standing table, and thus earned myself gentry rank. If he were English, he could put an esquire after his name. The German Junker (young lord or country squire) have the right to put a von or zu in their names. Kurt von Sturmblähung.

I am searching for illustrations of German military uniforms of the mid- to late-17th Century so I can get Kurt's look just right. Perhaps I'll make it part of his character to be in search of the perfect hat.

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