Odysseus

Primary descriptor: Jinx

         Odysseus is a 3500 year old immortal, of the {\em Highlander} tradition. Thus, he has no direct magical or mystical abilities, except for the Quickening and a strong tendency not to die. Beyond that, he is an extremely intelligent, athletic man - and skilled in just about everything due to thousands of years experience and a near-supernatural eidetic memory. Every single moment of his life is crystal clear in that mind of his. As a result, he often gets restless and has even gone mad twice.

         In 1994, he's about 3500 years old, seen everything, and gets depressed sometimes. On the other hand, he can't help the fact that, deep down, he rather enjoyed the Trojan War, if only all those people hadn't died. After all, it was a rollicking good time. Besides, he was very, very good at it. Menelaos and Agamemnon, as well as Nestor and Athene and everyone else, agreed that Odysseus was the consummate, supreme warrior and king. Great-hearted, clever, strong as an ox, and a mean man with a bow, Odysseus was someone they wanted on their side. If you ever met him, you would too. If nothing else, he's a hell of an enemy. Even Aeneas thought so.


ATTRIBUTES

(where 10 is maximum human)

Strength: (9)
A man of powerful frame, whose strength has been built by hundreds of years of hardship and strain. His muscles cord, rather than bulk; there are many who could likely beat him in straight weight-lifting, but few who could outperform with a stone discus three times the weight of a normal one. His ability to draw a bow is, well, legendary. (Odyssey, XXIII)
Stamina: (15)
No one, but no one, has endured more than Odysseus. Beaten, tortured, drowned, burned, stabbed, and mutilated, he will always drag himself on. He will never stop until he is truly dead. In his case, this requires cutting his head off. Nothing else will stop him. Nothing. Ever.
Coordination: (6)
Highly coordinated. On the other hand, there's a lot of pure discipline and training in there, not so much raw talent. Sure, he's good, but he's no brilliant juggler.
Intellect: (13)
If all else failed, Odysseus would still get out of the situation with his intelligence. Surely his cleverness with the Trojan Horse, the Cyclops, the suitors, and everything else explain this. In addition, he has trained himself to memorize using the Art of Memory, which he first learned from Simonides of Ceos in Thessaly. In order to maintain his sanity, he has been forced, since he cannot forget, to learn to discipline his mind. He now is able to use this to his advantage, applying more skills and knowledges than you'd believe possible.
Intuition: (3)
Not a deeply sensitive man on the short-term scale. He can be very rough with people, and sometimes seems arrogant and short-tempered. People who know him well generally realize that he actually cares very deeply about people, but thinks too quickly to express this often.
Presence: (5)
Impressive, but nothing grand. If he wants to, Odysseus can vanish in a crowd; conversely, he can be an impressive and memorable orator. As always, this is mainly skill rather than talent.

You'll notice that I've given Odysseus some pretty ridiculous abilities in some ways. Sure, a lot of it is in his skills, but after you've been around for 3000-odd years, the difference becomes kind of minimal, particularly when you're as bright and disciplined as Odysseus. He uses many of his skills as second nature, without thinking about them any more, which makes the line between skill and talent a rather fine one.


SKILLS

         Odysseus has about a 4 or 5 (low-level mastery) of just about anything in his day. He speaks most major languages of his world (by which I mean Europe and Asia with a bit of Africa added in for good measure) fluently, often without any noticeable accent. In many cases, he can speak so well he can pass as a native of a chosen area. If I were doing this in Champions, I'd buy about 7 General Levels (!!!!). Certain things he's better at than others: Swordfighting, Navigation/Sailing, Spear, and especially Bow. With a bow, I challenge Robin Hood to out-shoot him.


PERSONALITY

Clever: (Strong)
Loyal: (Strong)
He fought for 20 years, turned down several goddesses, just to get home to his wife.
Embittered: (Strong)
He's seen 3000 years of warfare, disease, and unhappiness. He's seen millions die. He's seen his beloved Penelope die of old age. He's seen the finest men of Troy and Greece cut down in their prime. And now they call it "glory" and want to repeat it all again.
Restless: (Moderate-Extreme)
It takes a while, but after 10 or 20 years, he simply cannot stay in one place any longer. If he were imprisoned, he would probably go mad for a bit, then kill everyone in the place if it was necessary to escape.

I hope this explains how I see Odysseus after 3000 years. Remember, in 1994, he's about 3500 years old, seen everything, and gets depressed sometimes. On the other hand, he can't help the fact that, deep down, he rather enjoyed the Trojan War, if only all those people hadn't died.


HISTORY

         Odysseus is the great legendary hero of the Odyssey, named for him. He was born in around 1600BC (we didn't count too carefully in those days), about 30 years before the Trojan War began. At the age of 32, he left his home in Ithaka, his lovely wife Penelope and his infant son Telemachus, to fight beside Agamemnon, Achilles, Menelaos, Nestor, and all the best men of the Achaeans. The Trojan War lasted some 3 years, after which he headed home.

         The story of his return is now well known - it took a total of 20 years, including the time of the war itself. Thus, at the age of 52, exhausted, weary, saddened, but never beaten, he finally settled down to pick up his life where he'd left off.

         Unfortunately, legends never tell the harsher realities. Penelope aged and died, while he still looked about 50, with the strength of a man in his prime. Telemachus was in his 40s by now, and deserved to become king of Ithaka. One day, Odysseus boarded a little ship and went off, ostensibly to visit the aging Menelaos. He never returned. He wandered around the Mediterranean for a while, visiting Egypt once again, then headed west past Gibraltar to see what might be there. Typically, he ended up having his ship destroyed of the Cape of Good Hope.

         He sank into the icy waters and awaited the inevitable.

         Which never arrived. He simply stopped breathing. Eventually, rather confused (and wondering if he might be delirious), he began to walk in a random direction. Four months later, a maniac of great strength and oddly pale skin walked up the beach of southern Madagascar (so the natives say). They nursed him, fed him, and huddled in fear when his ravings became violent. Within a month, he had mastered himself, and began to learn the local language.

         He spent about ten years there, recovering, and beginning to come to grips with his immortality. Finally he began to wander again, by ship, and headed north. He struck land on the southwestern tip of Arabia, and ended up spending about 600-odd years wandering around the early Arabic, Egyptian, and Persian lands. Finally, he returned to Greece, in time to meet a dying Homer. Odysseus told the great poet his true story, but Homer told him that, "the true Odysseus is now in my work. You are dead, even if you live. Move on to someone else."

         Since that time, Odysseus has been just about everywhere he can think of. He's visited China, India, Rome, England, Constantinople, Carthage, etc. He has become rather bitter in some ways, but he has a great love and respect for the smaller, homely things in life; conversely, he has no respect at all for glory, warfare, or heroism. He's seen too much of it.

         Odysseus's great good fortune in his immortality is his mind. He has no other supreme abilities. Although he is certainly an excellent athlete, there are many who are better than himself. He has no particular artistic abilities.

         But he is phenomenally intelligent, never forgets anything, and can lie better than the Devil himself.

         In the modern world (the last millennium), Odysseus does not seem physically prepossessing. He is about 5'7'' tall, with deep chestnut-brown hair. Most commonly, he wears a full, but neatly trimmed, beard. His eyes are dark brown and glitter with intelligence. His nose is a bit beaky, but has clearly been broken more than once. His face has that beaten look which comes from being out in the wind and sun for many years. He is corded with solid, wiry muscle, having never lifted a weight in his life but having rather spent his life in extreme hardship.

         He is ultimately a rather pragmatic man in many ways. He is an extremely efficient fighter, rather than a stylish one. Odysseus avoids fights whenever possible, and would far rather sit in a bar or cafe drinking, talking, and generally having a good, quiet time. In some ways, it might be said that he is a rather quiet man, loving certain sorts of simple pleasures, and generally trying to enjoy himself in a small, quiet way.

         On the other hand, it must be admitted that he has certain habits which prevent him from achieving the sort of life which he thinks he wants. First, he gets restless after a few years, and wants to pick up and leave, examine new things, see new places, etc. Second, he can be a rather violent person in some respects, finding the quickest rather than the most polite or gentle way out of difficulties. Third, he is rather proud of his ability to lie and play tricks.

         He still thinks that the Trojan Horse was one of his better ideas, and would happily repeat similar types of strategems if the occasion arose.

 


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Mon Nov 7 11:14:23 2005