Here’s a short backstory I wrote for an application to a play-by-post 4th Edition D&D game some years ago. I don’t believe my submission was selected to play in the adventure, but I recall enjoying writing this introduction.
At the time, I’d recently purchased Primal Power, a 4th Edition supplement that expanded on character class options provided in earlier Player’s Handbooks. The druids in this edition had attacks and abilities that came into effect when the character took on a “beast form”. The appearance of the beast form was up to the player to decide, however the following text from this supplement was the inspiration for this character,
“It’s often possible to tell, looking at a druid in beast form, that the creature is no ordinary beast. Some druids always adopt forms that have obvious magical distinctions from normal beasts, such as patterned fur or glowing eyes. Others take on forms that don’t resemble any normal animal, indistinct shapes of fur and claws, feathers or scales. Sometimes, though, it’s subtle cues that reveal a druid in beast form- an obvious intelligence and attentiveness in the beast’s demeanor or something unusual in the way it moves.”
I also took some queues from the battle scene in Episode 5, Season 3 of Lost where Eko is
attacked by the “smoke monster”. The violent attack of the unnatural creature made me think of nature’s fury being unleashed upon a victim – perfect for a druid who releases his self control to allow his form be overtaken by powerful primal forces.
Farkas always remembered seeing it. Even in his earliest memories he saw it – hiding in the shadow of an oak, peering from behind a wood pile, or darting out of sight behind a bend in the trail. It never looked exactly the same but it always had a shadowy form. Sometimes he’d catch a glimpse of fur and claws, at other times he’d see dark feathers dart from sight. Mostly what struck him in those brief glimpses of the Beast were the red eyes that stared at him, never revealing a hint of emotion – only staring. It wasn’t until much later that he realized what it was. Funny that he still called it, “IT”, given what he now knew.
He’d grown up an only child, raised by his mother in the forest near Nenlast. His mother was quiet, skilled, and patient. She taught Farkas to hunt in the woods, to trap animals and to live off of the land. He’d learned to talk to the trees, listen to the birds, and sing with his soul to the winds. He learned to feel he was a part of the woods.
Every month he and his mother would travel to Nenlast and trade their collection of furs, dried meats, and berries for the few things they needed that nature didn’t easily provide. Most of their trade was with the dwarves from Hammerfast as the people of the village usually avoided them. Their stays in town were brief, and Farkas often yearned to see more of the village but his mother always insisted they had to return home. “We aren’t welcome” she’d say, never fully explaining why.
Farkas’ world changed when he was in his late teens, not that he knew exactly how old he was. During their occasional village visits, Farkas had caught the eye of a young girl. He found her fascinating. He begged his mother to let him stay once they’d finished their business. In a rare show of affection, she kissed his head, told him not to stay too long and she turned with their goods and headed home.
Excited beyond words, he worked up his courage and approached the girl with whom he was entranced. As luck would have it, she too had noticed him and they soon were quietly talking with each other in the village square. Farkas was overjoyed but his elation did not last long.
The girl’s older brothers didn’t appear to appreciate him speaking with their sister. Verbal taunts soon lead to outright threats until finally a punch was thrown at Farkas. He’d never been in a fight before, nor had he ever experience such fury and anger. He found himself trembling, and in an instant he was twirling and lashing out at the doomed brothers. He felt his hand rip into their clothes and skin. He fought with them for what seemed an eternity and then he stopped.
He caught a glimpse of the Beast reflected in the panes of a nearby window. Its shadowy form revealing fur and claws dripping with blood. The image in the window changed. The shadows dissolved. The fur disappeared. There stood an image of himself, hands wet with blood. He had turned into the Beast he had always seen in the woods.
The girl with whom he’d just spoken ran screaming away from him. At his feet lay the broken and bleeding bodies of her brothers. Shouts of alarm filled the air as armed men ran toward the scene. Farkas fled.
He fled to the woods, running like a deer, over logs, behind trees and across streams, until he was sure he was safe and none had followed him. He can’t remember how long he had hid there, but it was quite some time as dusk approached when he finally headed home.
Before he reached his home, he sensed that something was wrong. The forest flickered with an orange glow and he could taste smoke in his throat. As he ran around the last bend in the trail, he was shocked by the scene that was revealed in the light of his burning home. There in the yard, a beast of smoke, fangs, and fur danced in a fight with a massive man from the village. At the feet of the two foes lay the bleeding bodies of numerous others, apparently killed by the claws of the creature.
“Die witch! First you killed his parents and then you turned him into yourself!”
With that curse, the large man heaved a heavy axe in a wide arc and into the side of the swirling storm of smoke and fur. It let out a loud screech and crumpled to the ground. Farkas felt his fury rise and he charged at the man. Again he twirled and lashed out as he had done to the brothers in town. Finally his rage subsided and the man before him collapsed to the ground.
She, “it”, his mother, lay on the ground dying as well. “I’m sorry.” she said weekly. “I did my best”. And with that, the she died quietly beside their small cottage in the wood.
It has been many years since that night. In all that time, Farkas has wandered the Nentir Vale, living in the wilderness, trying to make sense of the Beast inside of him. Whenever he comes across a town or village, memories of the fight in Nenlast always come back. His mind grapples with questions of who his mother was and who he might yet become.