Ask Me About My Character: Talen Razorheart

This series will focus on various characters I have played in roleplaying games over the years. While this series may be of no interest to anyone other than myself, designing and playing characters has always been a creative hobby of mine, so drawing upon these characters and telling their stories is enjoyable for me, and hopefully entertaining to others. I actually hope to use this as a form of engagement with the readers, for although my gaming experiences can’t be fully chronicled here, perhaps they can give some sense of identification and lead to discussion in the comments and elsewhere.

Name: Talen, eventually Talen Razorheart after his mentor

System: AD&D, second edition

Vital Stats: Human Paladin (rose from 8th to 27th level in the course of character lifespan).

Age: Ranged from 28 to 44 through course of campaign

Height: 6’2

Weight: 220 lbs.

Hair: Black with grey streaks

Eyes: Brown

Gear: Demon Hunter (a magic broadsword that inflicted extra wounds on creatures of the lower planes), Sword, Shield, and Armor of Siegis (a set of magic items bestowed by Talen’s god on his true champion, which Talen became), Skyfire, a hippogriff mount.

Alignment: Lawful Good. He is a paladin after all.

History: Talen was a war orphan who fell in with a gang of similar boys to survive. Hotheaded, impulsive, and tough, Talen was the chief enforcer. Despite this, he never truly enjoyed his life of crime, fighting mostly to protect his brothers and out of a misplaced sense of anger at the world. As the gang grew in prominence, largely due to Talen’s defeating of the local crime boss in personal combat, he was pushed further to the sidelines by the gang leader, who took credit for himself. As his old friends became more accomplished criminals, Talen drowned himself in drink. One night during a turf battle, Talen, too drunk to fight properly, was knocked unconscious and abandoned by his friends as the city guards arrived. Talen was set to be executed, as the city wanted to make an example of a gang member. Luckily, Titus Razorheart, an elderly paladin, was passing through and saw the execution of a child as a great injustice. He paid the local officials to allow him to take Talen on the condition that the boy be banished from the city. Titus offered Talen a choice, either to go free, or come with him and train as a paladin. Initially Talen refused, but Titus, who saw a noble spirit in the boy, goaded him into agreeing.

Talen spent the next several years resisting everything Titus taught him. Though the old man was patient and easygoing, Talen learned quickly that he was no pushover. Titus’s kind laughter as he effortlessly defeated Talen in sparring or forced grueling labor out of him made the boy angrier and angrier until, eventually, the moral and philosophical lessons began to sink in. Within a few years, Titus declared Talen worthy of the rank of paladin, but sadly, his own life was drawing to a close. On his deathbed, Titus granted Talen his own last name, Razorheart, and sent him to join the Order of Siegis. After one final stop in his home city, an event Talen does not speak of, he did as his mentor asked.

Talen’s life changed again when, on a routine mission, he came across a mighty necromancer named Slate and a demon called Dondrumesh the Harbinger. Though Talen managed to turn the villainous pair against one another, Dondrumesh escaped, and swore to conquer all in his path. As the demon grew in power, he was opposed by the Heroes of the Libram, a group of the most powerful adventurers in the world. Because Talen had crossed paths with the demon, he was asked to join, and readily became one of the most prominent members. After defeating Dondrumesh, the heroes of the Libram faced down the lich Vecna, the Tarrasque on several occasions, evil gods, a massive world-crushing army of cold-blooded creatures, the gates of Hell, and many other threats. During the course of these world-spanning quests, Talen eventually came into possession of the Sword, Armor, and Shield of Siegis, proof that he had become his god’s greatest champion.

After decades of battle and hardship, and having seen many friends, allies, and armies fall, Talen grew weary. He was offered several kingships, but turned them down. As his elder years approached, Talen handed down the Sword, Shield, and Armor of Siegis to the reincarnation of a fallen friend. Then, with only his trusty broadsword, his pet hippogriff, and an unlikely drow friend named Argean, Talen walked away into the mists of history, never to be heard from again.

Personality: Though age and experience have tempered him, Talen never truly lost his daredevil spirit. As situations grow worse, Talen becomes more brazen, throwing himself into the deadliest circumstances against the deadliest enemies. Despite this, he is not reckless, and always formulates a plan. Though many paladins have a reputation for being judgmental, Talen learned well from his mentor that almost everyone has some good in them, and it is better to foster that in others instead of shame them for their failings. In this way, Talen has earned the gratitude and friendship of many unlikely individuals. Off the battlefield, Talen is kind but restless, and rarely stays in one place for long. He grows uncomfortable in positions of power, and even though his fellow Libram Heroes looked to him as their leader, he never considered himself such.

Six Favorite Moments:
6. In the lair of Dondrumesh, the demon’s personal army blocked their path. Talen, though he wanted to be the one to defeat the demon, agreed to hold the line against a legion so the others could face him.
5. Withstanding the brutal tortures of Vecna and his vampire bride and refusing to surrender.
4. Defeating the Challenge of Siegis to gain his sword, shield, and armor by facing and destroying four elder elementals single-handedly.
3. During a battle with Artistry, an epic-level martial artist who had transferred his mind into the body of a magically hasted stone golem, Talen threw away his sword and shield and called him out. Artistry, who hated Talen for the slaying of his master, took the bait, not knowing that Talen had used a spell to cut through stone at will, severing the golem’s limbs.
2. Slate the Necromancer had unleashed deadly monster assassins on all of the Libram Heroes, and Talen’s was among the worst. An ancient shadow dragon, who could steal experience levels as well as eat a person alive. After having to escape during the first encounter, Talen called out the dragon, jumped on his nose and provoked the dragon to fly high into the air. Talen then yanked its head by the horns downward, causing the dragon to spiral head first into the ground, breaking its neck in the process.
1. When the drow armies came to the surface, they sought out their former brethren Argean Ravenshadow, the party wizard and a slightly morally dubious individual himself. They descended on the Libram Heroes, and demanded Argean or they would kill us all. Talen approached their leader, and told her that if they wanted Argean, they would have to go through him, and he would take a good many with him. They informed Talen that Argean was not such a noble person, to which Talen responded that he did not care, and wouldn’t abandon a friend to such a fate. The drow backed down, citing bigger problems, and left the party alone. Argean, who had never truly liked anyone, seeing the others as only a means to survival, thanked Talen, and considered him a true friend thereafter.

Final Thoughts: I initially created Talen as a one-shot character, with only the idea of a paladin who had once been a gang member and turned his life around, but whose personality was still colored by that past. Due to the scope of the events put together by the DM, he was put in much more dire situations than I had originally expected. I knew that Talen would not be the stereotypical self-righteous paladin, so what I did instead was to ask myself what the most heroic thing a character can do in a given situation, and then I had Talen do that. To this day, he is probably my favorite character, and I could tell his tales all day if prompted. This aside, playing in the Libram Adventures actually helped me to form close bonds with a group of people I still care a great deal about to this day, even though the game started when I was 18 and I am now 32.