Hail weary travelers! Why don't you take a seat and listen a while...
In my last D&D related post, I talked about how my warlock was just not cutting it for me anymore and I had decided to make a goliath grappler druid for future play sessions. After I laid out how I was going to go about with my build, I touched on the importance of creating a backstory/origin story. This not only helps you figure out how your character would act, but also helps the DM further customize the campaign to actually involve your characters and not just have them play through it.
Now, without further delay, here is the story of my new character - Krohgar Gripfighter Norcentikrakowa!
I was only 12 years old when the mountain shed its skin, when its wrath of ice, snow and stone smashed down upon my tribe. We had been traveling ever higher up, towards a pass just below the peak of one of these mighty steadfast titans when it happened. As had been the tradition established generations before mine, my tribe relied upon ursine guides during their migration to more promising land. What better a guide to aid survival in the raw mountain scape than one of its own inhabitants. My family was one of the chosen few that the tribe relied upon as conduits to the bear packs that shared our hunting grounds and surrounding territory.
Our hunting parties were often mixed, goliath and bear striding next to each other, both aiding in the success of the kill. If one fell ill or injured we would aid in their healing, as they would aid us in the location of better land to live upon. It was a kinship of nomads that grew stronger with each season. During my eleventh year, my parents began to seriously teach me the ways of my family – the ways of the druid. They stressed that as we are at the mercy of nature, we must also be able to channel it, communicate with it and transform into it. Many a time did I watch them walk off on two legs amongst the ursine and return on four when the hunt was over.
As I continued to grow and become strong like the rock upon which we lived, so did my basic grasp of calling upon, commanding and becoming interwoven with nature. These rudimentary skills did not do much to help us during a most vicious winter, my twelfth and one to be talked about for eons to come. It was this winter that instead of hibernating, the bears rose from their dens and caves. Something was wrong. When the packs moved, the tribe did as well. Instead of waiting for the beasts to return to their places of slumber, haste was made to prepare for our migration. It was less than a day before we started our trek. Ice pelted us as we made our way ever closer to the heavens, seeking the land beyond the ridge before us that seemed to split the sky in two.
With the precipice before us and the promise of new terrain to follow, I scrambled to the front of the march, wanting to set my eyes upon it first. I was not quite at the top when the earth began to shake and the mountain let out a horrible scream. All of the elders knew what was happening and all my father could do was scream at me to, “RUN!” Before I took off I locked eyes with him, I locked eye with a goliath that knew death was coming. I moved as fast as I could, the frozen landscape pulling at my legs with each stride, trying to keep me back , trying to have me join the others. I could feel the slide happening when I leapt with all of my remaining strength, my hands and face punching through the thick layer of ice as I landed.
I dared not move until the thunder reverberating all around me had silenced. After what felt like a lifetime, I finally rose up from my frozen cradle. The devastation was immense and exhaustive. The rock face had sheared off completely and the thick blue ice that had pried the giant in twain shimmered triumphantly in the dying light. Everyone was gone. Nothing remained. I must have started trudging over the ridge sooner than later as my next memory was of me tumbling down the other side, the mountain battering my body, bitter that it had not claimed my life as well. It was a rock outcropping that finally caught me and terminated my momentum. As I propped myself up on hands and knees, trying to regain my breath, I felt the sharp edge of a knife against my throat, “don't move.” It was gone as soon as I felt it, replaced by the darkness of a sack over my head and whatever caused my head to violently throb when I finally awoke.
It is no secret that mountains contain tunnels for safe passage through a range, instead having to go over it. Some are natural and as old as the rock itself. Some were hollowed out by the virtuous in hopes of aiding the local populous and some were once long forgotten but reclaimed by those of ill-nature. I soon found out that my captors were of the later group as I was dragged, bound and gagged with the bag still over my head, through a dimly lit tunnel. I'm not sure how long we traveled, as my consciousness was fleeting, but I eventually awoke on the floor of a cell. It had a ceiling and solid rock walls on three of the four sides. The door was made of metal slats with fist sized gaps between them. It looked like a collection of blacksmith's scraps hammered together hastily. It was spacious as a child but grew cramped as I did.
These quarters and others like it, would become all too familiar to me over the next ten years. My race, known by many but seen by few, is a hardy one. Our characteristics reflect our home, the mountain, both a blessing and a curse in my case. Those that held me recognized this and immediately put me to work as if I was a pack mule. Though not yet mature, I could still bear an equal or greater load than those around me and often kept my pace as other captives fell to the wayside. Showing that these hardships would not break me ensured that I suffer even greater. To ensure that they could still control me, these devils kept me on the brink of starvation constantly. In addition to denying me sustenance, the only rest I received came when they would drag me back to my cell after passing out from exhaustion.
As time passed and my strength grew so did my knowledge of those that kept me in chains – a dozen or so that would fall under the category of a rogue. This scum would talk about cutting throats and coin purses as if they were they same thing. The throats often yielding them more gold, as they often fulfilled the terms of a contract. Many a time would I see them drag a fellow captive from the squalor that we called home, speaking of market prices. Depending on race and gender, sometimes they brought a higher price kept whole and sometimes not. Screams of agony mixed with snarling commands, “Stay still! You'll ruin the merchandise and then you'll die for nothing!”
When I was full grown, I was strong enough to be involved in the transportation of those fortunate enough to remain in one piece. I would pull wheeled cages some distance from their mountain hideout to various meeting areas in the surrounding forest. Though I hated being involved in the sale of lives, these ventures outside gave me hope and kept the sparks in my stone-hard chest from being extinguished. Sparks would turn to embers and would only be fueled over time as they started to use me for sparring practice.
Often outnumbered and never equipped, my rock hide enhanced in texture through scarification. Even though I kept them as hidden as I could, my abilities grew as well. It was only natural for me to start moving like and mimicking my opponents after so many hours of combat. There was many a time that I wanted to strike out against them, believing that I was capable enough to smash my assailants, but I held back. There was always a feeling that I should wait, that I would know when the time was right, that there would be a sign.
This sign would come on a night of celebration for them. My captors had undergone a particularly successful raid on a passing caravan of riches both monetary and culinary. There was also a surprise for me contained within this haul. I became privy to this not long after an empty bucket smashed upon my head, waking me from my temporary solace. As my chains were pulled, guiding me in the direction of the sparring pit I could hear a drunken ruckus echoing through the mountain halls. Even the few that were sent to get me were walking in an unbalanced nature.
The combat arena was a natural crevasse that had been worn away and widened by a long dried up underground river. At each end a gate had been fashioned, the rock walls sloping up aggressively and standing twice as tall as me. All around the top sat the rest of this evil collective, drinks in hand, some adorned with their recently acquired riches while others stuffed their faces with various delicacies. They cheered as I was shoved in, the gate slamming shut behind me. I did not look to match their gazes, only fixated my vision on the entrance opposite of me, expecting a group of assailants. I began to clench my fists in anticipation when I heard it. It was something that resonated to my core and snapped me back to my former life, to my family and my tribe. It was the roar of a brown bear.
Something was wrong, though. Between mighty blasts, sounds of anguish and pain could be heard as well. This went on for what seemed an eternity before the far gate creaked open and the massive being lumbered through. The spectating scum all cheered as its massive frame stumbled forward, each step leaving a paw print of deep red. In order to ensure their entertainment, they had slashed and pierced this great beast to the point of madness. There was only confusion and rage in its eyes as it charged that which was closest – me. Even my mountainous strength could not remain steadfast against such force and I was toppled to the ground.
I clenched its throat with both hands as I tried to rock side to side to avoid the brutal strikes directed at me. As the bear engulfed me in its torch driven shadow, so did its blood baptize me. When the liquid life-force coated my face, it found its way past clenched teeth and into my very being. I could feel it awakening my true spirit, the teachings of my parents and legacy of my bloodline. Teeth turned to fangs, finger nails to claws and skin into a thick coat of fur. In an instant, my massive maw clamped down upon the throat of my tormented brethren. I mercifully ended its struggle with the snap of my vice like jaws and rolled him over, winding up on top in same motion.
My captors' silence and shock was met with my rage and speed as I quickly scaled the stone walls of the pit. My claws dug into the rock like iron spikes and my new found strength propelled me forward. In their inebriated state they were no match for my power and proficiency. Grey matter splattered forth as my massive teeth shattered skulls with immense pressure. Viscera uncoiled as bellies were swiped open from a single pass of my unwavering paw. Others fell beneath my barreling rage. Crushed. The slaughter was swift, but far from merciful.
Still in ursine form, sides heaving and close to exhaustion, I made my way back to the holding cells. I hoped to free any others kept captive, but there was no one there. There was no one to form a tribe with, no one to share in this newfound freedom. I was alone and destined to be so for some time. As I made my way out of the mountain, I picked a direction and headed deep into the woods. I continued on as long as I could, but my energy was completely drained and upon returning to goliath form I collapsed in the brush.
It would be amongst the trees and animals that I would dwell for the next few years, honing my strength and continuing my druidic studies to the best of my abilities. After extracting as much as I could from my fragmented memories, I realized that staying any longer at my isolated dwelling would only be detrimental to my progress. It was at this point that I decided to venture forth. I owed it to my lost tribe to continue to build my power and skill. I owed it to my family to rise above and have my deeds be that which all others measure their own!
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed the telling of my character's past and look forward to displaying his battle prowess during our Let's Plays!
Bonus: Here is a look at my character sheet as it stands right now. My armor class will go to 13 once I get some hide armor - light or medium armor only and no metal for druids. I contemplated taking a shield, but I want one hand free to grapple and one hand for a weapon. I also have a few druid spells on another page.