Harkel

         (aka. various sound-alike aliases, including: Henry, Harkus, Hal, Hakim,...)

Primary descriptor: Dragon

         Harkel was born in early Norway, circa AD300. He is also immortal, but for reasons complex and personal, he does not like to talk about why. He has remained at an apparent age of 28 for 17 centuries, and sees no reason why it should stop.

         He is a rare dark-haired Norseman, with mid-brown hair and amber eyes. His skin is pale and stays that way, but he does not sunburn easily. He is tall (5'10'') but rather thin - and he never gains weight no matter what he eats.


ABILITY: Inner Wyrm

         This is Harkel's defining power. As he describes it, there is a wyrm inside of him which comes out in times of stress, temptation, and passion. The wyrm has many physical and supernatural abilities, but using them has a price.

         The universal drawback is that when he uses the powers, he may act and even look like the wyrm. The wyrm, on its own, is greedy, miserly, spiteful, arrogant, and quick to anger. It will feast upon flesh if given a chance, and has few morals or cares beyond itself. If actually hurt, it is cowardly and will run away to lair on some island or cave. Animals panic at its scent and humans will doubtlessly react badly, as well.

NOTE: The wyrm is described as a separate entity here simply because that is the way that Harkel describes it. The exact relation between the two is not defined here, but rather will be expressed in play.)
Strength:
The wyrm has demonstrated strength of a great tiger or more, and it has razor-sharp teeth and claws. In combat, it can topple a horse with ease and rip through chainmail. The greatest size it grew to in Y900 was 15' long and 400 lbs (whether this is the maximum, who can say). However, its body is narrow and sinuous, and it cannot easily exert its weight.

To use this strength Harkel must at least partially physically change into the wyrm. Thus, he can crush someone's hand by making his hand a scaly claw, but not rip them in half.
Toughness:
The wyrm's scaly hide is slightly tougher than well-made chainmail, and it can take quite grievous wounds without dying. It will always heal completely as long as it has enough to eat, but its speed of recovery is at best twice or three times human. It does, in fact, have poisonous blood - but the poison is not deadly on contact. On the skin it will eventually burn and fester, but not instantly.

The trick here is that again, Harkel must change. If struck while human, Harkel's flesh beneath the blade will instantly and automatically change to tough dragon-flesh. Black blood will pour out, and the area of the wound is visibly scaly. If he is expecting and can see the blow, he can protect himself with the wyrm's hide by changing the spot where he gets hit.
Speed:
The wyrm does not fly, but it swims faster than canoes and can climb as fast as a man can walk, even up vertical stone walls (although not if they are smoothed and mortared). On land, the wyrm does not run well, but can react with exceeding alacrity. In combat, it strikes like, well, like a striking snake (imagine that).

Harkel generally reacts faster the more the wyrm is present, even with no particular feature showing. To swim or climb, Harkel must change his form considerably, which he is loath to do.
Fiery Breath:
This is like a jet (4'-6' long) of flammable gas, like a lit spray from an aerosol. It is usually very brief, capable of blinding those who look at it, lighting the surface of flammable substances on fire, and causing third degree burns on exposed flesh. However, a good shield or insulated protection (wet winter clothing, say) will protect someone fully. The wyrm can store about 6-10 seconds of flame, and can restore this after an hour or two.

Harkel can breath a full jet only by taking on the wyrm's face and snout. He can breath a small (6'') burst by only changing his mouth, barely noticable (although the flame certainly isn't).
Entrancement:
The wyrm can mesmerize humans with its gaze, although strong-willed types can resist this. Once it has locked eyes with someone, it can entrance them into standing rock still so long as it moves very slowly and stays within sight, keeping an eye on them. They can be snapped out by very loud noises, being bumped or hit, and especially by the wyrm losing concentration or moving quickly. They do not forget what happens, but it will be blurry.

Harkel can do this by only changing his eyes, but he still has the problems of the wyrm's personality.
Senses:
The wyrm has especially keen, animalian senses. It can notice and identify people nearby by their scent (although it cannot track); it can see in starlight as though it were dusk; and it can hear faint noises (although it cannot locate or identify them better than humans.

Harkel can use these senses without changing physically, but again, the wyrm's personality comes out.

ATTRIBUTES

         As a human, Harkel is not very exceptional. He is tall and thin, and he stays in reasonably good shape. He can take a fair amount of punishment for a human, and has decent motor skills. In intellect, he is passing - with no particular aptitude or genius.

Strength: (Good.)
Harkel falls in and out of shape regularly, but at base he is a large and well-built man - at least for pre-modern times.
Toughness: (Good.)
Harkel is somewhat solidly built, but this is usually not applicable since the wyrm protects him.
Endurance: (Good.)
Harkel is fairly used to a life of travel and danger. While he may not win marathons, he is quick to adapt and quick to recover.
Dexterity: (Average.)
Actually, Harkel is by nature somewhat clumbsy. Out of pride and vanity, he has largely overcome this with effort, but sometimes his failings surface.
Reaction: (Good.)
Considering his oddities, Harkels reacts with surprisingly quick wits and sense. His reflexes are not great, but he is good at controlling them.
Perception: (Good.)
While he may misinterpret, Harkel is at least above average in his quick eyes.
Intelligence: (Average.)
The mysteries of Harkel's mind are sometimes hard to fathom. He has some kernels of sense, but these are usually offset by his personality and lack of concentration. With study he can get by in the intellectual discourse he aspires to, but rarely shines.
Willpower: (Average.)
This is rather hard to define. Harkel is rarely motivated enough to test the limits of his willpower. He can be stubborn as an ox at times, and dearly holds on to his illusions and prejudices.

         As the wyrm, his special abilities are explained above. But he changes beyond that: the wyrm is faster and more graceful than Harkel. While not intellectual, it is quite cunning and alert - and has a fearsome presence. However, its willpower is not so great as it pretends.


SKILLS

(through ~1400 AD)
Artistic: (Poor aptitude, but tries: 2 Familiar)
Harkel has tried many times to learn artistic skill, but he just seems to have very little talent. Painting and Sculpture are two he most consistently works at (4).
Crafts: (Average aptitude: 4 Fair)
He has a fair hand at utilitarian crafts. His work is rarely pleasing to the eye, but quite functional.
Smithing (7 Expert); Pottery (6 Good).
Wilderness: (Average aptitude, little experience: 1 Familiar)
Harkel is a creature of cities and towns, and while he often travels, he does his best to prepare beforehand. Navigation (4 Fair); Hunting and Survival (2 Familiar).
Languages: (High aptitude: 5 Good)
Native-- Old Norse, Latin, Arabic.
Conversational-- Persian. Minimal-- many.
Social: (Poor aptitude: 2 Familiar)
Technical: (High aptitude: 5 Good)
Scholastic: (Average aptitude: 4 Fair)
Harkel has enough study and interest to make decent intellectual discourse, though he tends to fake it as often as possible. His lack of concentration and shallow understanding eventually do him in, though.
Area Knowledges: Italy, England, Persia
Athletic: (Average aptitude: 2 Familiar)
Combative: (Average aptitude: 3 Fair)
Harkel trains a lot in ``civilized'' fighting forms, so that he can defend himself without dire consequences. Sword \& Shield is the most common and best (5); spear-- melee and thrown (4). Once fencing comes around, that begins to dominate his fighting.

PERSONALITY

         Harkel is a seeker of culture. While he is often guided by his philosophy to do right, his basic instincts are elitist. ``Culture'', he will say, ``is the only thing that raises us above the brutes and beasts.'' He will respect those whom he sees as having ``culture'', and look down upon barbarians without it. He has little sympathy for the common man, although he may feel morally obligated to provide for him.

         A simple guess would be that this is a reaction against the wyrm, which cares nothing for Man or his toys and trappings. Thus Harkel strives to be the opposite. While he would like to be reknown as an artist or philosopher, he has proven to have very little talent in either field. Thus he remains a critic.

         In his early years, he found work in more utilitarian crafts: smithing, pottery, and weaving. After a certain point, though, he rarely lacked for money, and spent most of his time seeking out that which interested him: art and artists, philosophy, writings, poetry, and so forth.


HISTORY

NOTE: This description may be biased by Harkel's point of view. What follows is what others may glean from association. Many specifics are left out for use in conversations.)

         Harkel is loath to talk about his origins. He generally regards Norway as the pit of the world, and his early life as a constant struggle to get out of it. As he tells it, the wyrm has always been with him - through no fault of his own and for no clear reason.

NOTE: The following was secret thoughts I had on background which I had written to myself, but had not discussed in play.

         There is a long story to his acquiring the wyrm. He was the assistant to the wise man of his village in Norway, who made charms, chased away bad spirits, and painted symbols of the gods. While he was still shallow and unlikable, he spoke with confidence and command - and he was accepted as the eventual replacement.

         He eventually found a wife, whom he cared little for. She was cheerful and tolerant of his neglect, but bore him no great love. An older daughter and a younger son survived infancy. He took pride in them, but little interest. However, at age six his son became sick, and much to his surprise he tried and wept to save him. When he recovered, Harkel's pride grew - and he took interest in teaching and disciplining the boy.

         One day in his twenty-seventh year, the wife of the chief's son came to him with a ring she had found in the old fort. It was a plain gold band, but it felt strange to the touch. Entranced by it, he began to hear the voice of the wyrm in his head. Slowly, it began to take over his life. He grew abusive of his wife in deed as well as word. He grew increasingly strict with the children over the next three weeks, and eventually abusive of his 11-year old daughter.

         He gave expanding lies to the woman who found the ring as to why he needed to keep and study it. When she grew angry, he grew bold enough to kill her, and mutilated and hid the body in the wilderness. The tribe knew enough to suspect him of her disappearance, and his wife saw the blood on his boots.

         The people began to form a mob, and his wife fled the house in secret with the children. He chased down his wife and children, dragged them back to the house and began beating them. When the mob approached, he realized she had betrayed him, and the transformation was nearly complete. The wyrm emerged, and he ate his wife and children, then terrorized the tribe, only to retreat gorged to a cave lair.

         Leaving Norway, he first made his way south down to Rome, arriving there around AD350. He got to know his way around and lived and learned there for some time. Still, he was rather disappointed in Rome by the time he got to it, and so in time he wandered elsewhere.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Mon Nov 7 10:49:44 2005