Excerpts 11/11/2005

Champions of Valor Excerpt
By Thomas M. Reid and Sean K. Reynolds

Expand the boundaries of your valiant character with the Forgotten RealmsChampions of Valor supplement. The counterpart to Champions of Ruin, Champions of Valor covers what it means to be valorous in the Realms. Not only can you find out more about several good-aligned guilds and organizations that characters can join, but you also can add the benefits for joining to your game. Additionally, the book provides you with an array of new spells, feats, and prestige classes appropriate for heroes of valor. The excerpts below include information on several character options, a prestige class, and some items. For text from the Introduction, check out the October 2005 Preview.

Valiant Hero Archetypes

A valorous wizard confronts her darkest foes

It's easy to find archetypical valorous characters for each of the eleven standard classes in the Player's Handbook. Though many of the early archetypes can seem to be cliches, that's only because these characters defined the archetype, and the writers who followed based their sample heroes on these archetypes. Not every valiant hero has to be something new and unique in the world; there's a place in the game for the simple courageous paladin or thief with a heart of gold. The following characters are archetypical examples of valiant heroes of their class.

Barbarian: The valorous barbarian archetype is the "noble savage," a man or woman from uncivilized lands who confronts evil when he or she sees it, even though his or her actions might be mocked or unappreciated by others. Robert E. Howard's most famous character, Conan, has remarkable prowess in battle and instincts for survival; though hardly a man of virtue, Conan did his share of battling evil wizards and horrible monsters when such things needed to be done. Elements of the berserker aspect of the barbarian class are common in Norse tales; the greatest warriors slain in battle go to Valhalla to await Ragnarok when their strength will be needed to fight the frost giants at the end of the world. The Celt hero Cú Chulainn is also a barbarian, though while some consider him a bard because of his Celtic origins, he was actually mighty warrior in battle, and his warp-spasm (rage) physically transformed him into something strange and terrifying. In Faerûn, the berserkers of Rashemen who pay for the freedom of their land with blood spilled in battle with the Red Wizards of Thay are sometimes valorous barbarians.

Bard: The D&D bard derives almost completely from the Celtic bards: those musicians who spread wisdom, recorded knowledge and story in the form of song, and used their music to blur the line between the natural and the supernatural. The Greeks and Norse also had a strong bardic tradition, with the Iliad, the Odyssey, and poetic and prose eddas passed down orally for generations by bards (thus, Homer and Snorri Sturluson should be considered bards). The influence of Celtic bard culture on the Forgotten Realms setting is clear: Oghma is the Celtic god of bards, Silvanus is the Celtic god of nature, and one of the most omnipresent good-aligned groups is the Harpers. In Faerûn, the Harpers and the elves are common sources of valorous bards.

Cleric and Druid: Whether serving the gods or nature itself, priests are a staple of fiction and history. Friar Tuck was a valorous priest, and though in most modern stories he plays second fiddle to Robin Hood, he was Robin's equal in sword and bow. For a Biblical example, consider Moses; turning against his adopted royal family, he risks death by taking up the cause of the slave class, using divine magic to coerce and battle the enemies of his people. Cathbad is a druid from the tales of Cú Chulainn, father of a king and speaker of the prophecy that convinced Cú Chulainn to take up arms and become a great hero. Faerûn has many examples of valorous priests, Cadderly (the Chosen of Deneir) being one of the most powerful.

Fighter: Scotland's William Wallace ("Braveheart") was a valorous fighter; the son of a low knight, he united the clans of his people to throw off the oppressive rule of a foreign leader, came back from apparent death, and was captured and executed for his actions. Col. Robert Gould Shaw (a real person upon whom the movie Glory is based) is a more recent valorous fighter; he fought for the North in the Civil War because he believed in the abolition of slavery, fought prejudice in his own army because of those beliefs, and gave his life on the battlefield. The Purple Dragons of Cormyr often produce valorous fighters.

Monk: Unarmed combat has many styles, and dates back over a thousand years. The 16th-century Chinese general and author Qi Jiguang is a critically important martial artist; he taught his soldiers unarmed fighting techniques and mental training to build courage, allowing them to defeat armored Japanese pirates attacking the eastern provinces. Li Mu Bai in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a retired honorable martial artist who must take up his sword again to stop a mysterious thief and the evil woman who murdered his master. (Many characters from the "Jiang Hu" mythical period of Chinese history would be valorous monks in the D&D sense.) Members of several Faerûnian monk orders (see page 25 of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting) are archetypal valorous monks.

Paladin: The valorous paladin archetype primarily comes from the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, though some of these knights were less than perfect. Other examples of the "warrior chosen by the gods" are Joan of Arc, samurai in service to a good an honorable lord, and Hiawatha, who spread peace and law among the Native American tribes, facing a strange snake-haired wizard and eventually founding the Five Nations of the Iroquois. As members of the only D&D standard class with a good alignment requirement, many paladins are valorous characters. Valorous paladins are likely to appear in any Faerûnian paladin order, though Torm's and Tyr's followers seem to be driven to valor.

Ranger: Tolkien's rangers, particularly Aragorn, are the model for D&D rangers -- woods-wise, sword-strong, and protecting their fallen homeland from ancient evil as best they can (it's telling to note that in previous editions of the game, rangers had to be good). In more recent sources, Prince Gwydion of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles is clearly a noble ranger (though as a secondary character he gets fewer pages than the commoner protagonist), a leader of men, skilled in woods magic, and brave in battle. Tarzan is another valorous ranger archetype; though uncivilized, he lacks a barbarian's battle lust, and his love of nature and bond with animals mark him as a ranger. Since the founding of the Silver Marches, that land has seen a marked increase in the number of valorous rangers patrolling its forests.

Rogue: Robin Hood, though born an aristocrat and trained in war, is a good example of a valorous rogue; willing to risk death to challenge a usurper to the throne, stealing from the wealthy to give to the poor, and using trickery to defeat his enemies and escape trouble. A more modern example is Indiana Jones, a well-educated man who unearths long-lost treasures not to sell them, but to display them for all to see, fighting the Nazis and other evildoers in the process. Valorous rogues can turn up almost anywhere in Faerûn, fighting tyrants in Westgate or on the Moonsea, working to destroy the evils of Undermountain.

Sorcerer and Wizard: Again using Tolkien's writings as an example, Gandalf is a valorous wizard. In the body of an old man, a powerful spirit guides a team of heroes on a quest to save the world, gives his own life to help them escape, and faces down other evils to defend innocents. Harry Potter is a valorous wizard even though he is just a boy when his quests begin; he faces the lingering spirit of the man who killed his parents, fights horrible monsters that would panic and devour an ordinary boy, and risks himself to save his friends. Aglarond's many battles with Thay have produced a disproportionate number of valorous sorcerers in that country, and Waterdeep's place as the center of Faerûnian trade and culture means that valorous wizards pass through its gates almost daily.

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