Let me tell you about one of my high school friends’ old Dungeons and Dragons PCs.
Olaf Olafson was your pretty straightforward Northman Barbarian type. Huge, strong, pale, red-haired and with a tremendous beard. What made Olaf special was the little things.
Despite living in a world with clerical magic, demons, and other powerful alignment-based Outsiders, Olaf was an atheist. This was because his people believed the last world had already ended and the gods went with it (basically post-Ragnarok). All that was left were ‘spirits’. Powerful spirits. Who could grant deific magic. But they weren’t gods, and you didn’t have to worship them- in fact you shouldn’t, because it would just inflate their already swollen egos.
Despite being an enormous, frightening, powerful man with dubious hygeine and a propensity for going literally berserk in combat, Olaf was a gentle fellow in towns and villages, had a deep fondness for small fluffy animals and children, and was a generous tipper.
Olaf liked to drink. Not mead, but wine. He liked to sip it. It made him feel ‘civilized’. He never drank it quickly enough to get drunk. His meals almost invariably consisted of “Wine. Meat. Cheese.” Which was what he would order in literally every tavern. They’d ask him to clarify, what sort of wine? What sort of meat? What sort of- Olaf would raise a hand and repeat, slowly, as if to a fool: “Wine. Meat. Cheese.”
Olaf spoke broken common, more or less Hulk-speak, referred to himself in the third person almost exclusively, all that fun stuff. Then we had a story arc where I sent them up to Olaf’s homeland, where everyone spoke ‘Northman’ or whatever the hell I called it. While up there, he was incredibly fluent. Even poetic. “My brothers! I have returned from the decadent lands of the south, bearing riches and glory, and tales of great deeds!” The other players caught on and talked like a pack of movie Frankensteins, barely able to communicate in the foreign tongue.
For a long time, Olaf was the most financially stable member of the party. Because he bought a tavern in their home-base-town, hired the senior barmaid/waitress lady to be the manager, and funneled the profits back into the business. He kept his adventuring money and his tavern money separate, except when he would sometimes spend adventuring money to expand the tavern.
There’s not a lot to do in 3rd edition with skill ranks when you’re a barbarian, so eventually Olaf sank a point into Healing on a lark. A few sessions later, they captured an important enemy NPC, but he’d lost an arm in the fighting and was about to die. Their cleric had been captured and their NPC paladin wasn’t around, either. There was no magical healing available, and no one else had any ranks in healing. The dude was about to die, and take with him the knowledge of where their friends had been taken. Olaf- with a single rank in Healing I remind you -offered to save his life in exchange for the location, and the guy agreed. Olaf then stuck a sword in the fire, said “Olaf see this once,” and cauterized the wound.
It worked, of course. I didn’t even make him roll. I was too busy trying not to piss myself laughing. “Olaf see this once.” Jesus Christ.
Comments Off on