Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An old friend

I drew this sometime in the mid-90's.
Today, I am going to talk about someone who is near and dear to me. And in so doing, I am going to do that thing that all D&D geeks do, but that we all hate when others do it. I'm going to talk about my favorite character. (If you're not interested, get out now. I will completely understand.)

In the beginning...
Sometime around 1985-86, my friend, his sister, and I decided to start a D&D campaign using the Expert Set. In looking back, I had thought that the Expert rules had introduced the half-elf as a player race. This is not true, as it turns out, so we must have been incorporating elements of AD&D into our B/X game. Either way, I made a half-elf fighter named Tomos.

Though visually Tomos was initially based on the Marvel Comics character Longshot, he was actually an idealized version of myself. His stats were phenomenal (and honestly rolled), and I have never truly matched him in that area since (though I occasionally come close). By the end of that short campaign, he was 5th level, and filthy rich. I'm pretty sure we fudged the XP rules, but whatever. He was the highest-level character I had ever had up to that time.

First Upgrade
Jump forward to my Senior year (1987-88). The old friend has graduated and his family has moved away. That year I reconnected with some other friends whom I had met in 8th grade, but who had left and come back three years later (it should probably be noted we were all Air Force brats living on Kadena AFB, Okinawa). They played AD&D, and had middle-level characters. When we decided to start a campaign together, they wanted to use those characters. So, I dusted Tomos off, since he was the only one even close to their level, converted him from B/X to AD&D, and he went gallivanting around Oerth with Panthrus, the human ranger, and Styol Ganthral, the elven fighter/magic-user.

About this time I was deep in the throes of my budding love of Conan and Robert E. Howard. So, when I converted Tomos to AD&D, and his 18 Strength became 18/90 (the strongest a half-elf could be in AD&D), I naturally started thinking of him as Conan with blond hair and pointed ears. But, he also had a 17 Charisma, and since we were using Unearthed Arcana, his Comeliness came out to be 19. So, he was a VERY attractive and pretty Conan. That's when his personality took off in my mind. He soon became an amalgam of Conan and D'Artagnon.

That campaign got him up to 9th level, and I had much fun with his Vorpal bastard sword (treasure from his very first campaign), with which he was Double Specialized ( do the math). I had decided that Tomos had spent much of his amassed fortune on a ship, and was now a seasoned sailor and ship's captain. That worked well, since the campaign took place on an island, and it provided a neat way for the three characters to meet (they hired my ship).

Back from obscurity
Skip forward a few more years. I'm graduated and completely out of touch with all of my old friends from high school. But, I still have Tomos' character sheet. Somewhere around 1990-91, I'm in the Army at Ft. Bliss, TX, and I get the 2nd Edition books. Not having anyone to play with at the time, I proceeded to convert Tomos to 2E just for shits and giggles. Not much effort there, but I made some cool additions (remember fighter followers at 9th level?). I eventually found people to play with. But, sadly, I never played Tomos in that edition.

A brief solo career
A few years later I am out of the Army, living in San Diego, and working my way through school. Having no regular D&D game, a friend offers to run me through tome casual solo adventures. So, once more I dust off Tomos, and we have a few adventures involving a Drow assassin, the Forgotten Realms goddess of Luck, Tymora, and a few other fun events. The game abruptly ended, and Tomos is kinda left hanging. I do remember that he now had a keep of his own from that brief stint. But, not much more than that.

Cameo appearance
Jump forward again to the late 90's. I'm living in Salinas, CA. 3rd Edition comes out, and I jump in with both feet. Found a group through the FLGS, and started playing. After a while I get an idea. I convert Tomos to 3E, and run him in a short campaign that lasted all of one module. I'm not even sure he leveled beyond 9th. As it turned out, that was the last time I ever saw him as a D&D character.

Tomos has stayed with me throughout the years, usually as a character I planned to write fiction about. I did write one complete, very Conan-esque story about him on my first computer, but lost it somewhere over the course of several moves. I would also imagine him meeting famous characters from Forgotten Realms, where he had ported to for 3E, like Drizzt Do'Urden. Of all of my characters over the years, Tomos Elvenblood (he picked up that none-too-imaginative surname somewhere around 2E) has always been very special to me.

And now I am thinking it is time to bring him out of “retirement” once more. I have long wanted to write an epic fantasy trilogy. And I have had numerous ideas, plots, settings, and such related to that. But the more I think about it, the more I feel like Tomos is the character I want to be center-stage for that epic story. So, with nothing but time and imagination, I may just sit down and start plotting that out. I’m sure elements of his D&D origins will make it onto the page, and that would suit me just fine.

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