Mortal Fiber: Alaric the Wise (Seven Realms)
I need to get back into the swing of posting content regularly, so I’m going to try to create some series of posts. This first one is a character series entry. I know I’ve spoken of personalities and notables before. Alaric is an example of a notable. While he is just as mortal as any other character in the setting, unless the heroes make it their goal to kill him, he should remain part of the overarching story weave until the story dictates his exit. As these are character studies, there are spoilers for the actual campaign material in most of them. As his statistics wouldn’t mean much right now I won’t construct them. Feel free to use Alaric at your own table, but credit where credit is due, he is owned by Byron D. Molix.
Alaric the Wise, Grand Archmage of Elkenara
Alaric is the fourteenth Grand Archmage of Elkenara and has led his people into a truly neutral position amidst all the skirmishing that is happening now amongst the people of the East and the Midlands. He has focused on improving educational standards for all students in Elkenara but particularly the sorcerers. There is no reason to explain his actions other than that he desired to raise the reputation of Elkenaran sages and sorcerers who often leave the country to serve powerful people elsewhere. To that end he started the Elkenaran Academy of Mysteries some 50 years ago.
Alaric is a consummate sorcerer, having mastered the Four Pillars at a young age (he is a Master of Wind and Lightning), and gained knowledge of numerous other magics. He rarely shows this mastery, and his true age is unknown. There are always rumors when he disappears for a week or more at a time that he has finally died and the Academy will soon have a new direction. He always emerges however, and the rumors about what he was off doing flourish instead of rumors of his death.
Appearance: Alaric is a tallish human of mixed, although predominantly Arkennite, descent. He has a full head of gray hair which hangs to his jawline along the sides and back. This merges into his well kempt, squarish beard in the front. He is fond of wearing robes, not because they are ostentatious and he revels in his position, but rather because others expect it of him. He never wears gold or jewelry of a nonmagical nature, and his robes are often the same cut and material as those worn by the common citizens. He is often seen carrying an ornately carved white wooden walking stick, which he carries due to habit more than anything. So often is he with it, and so rarely does he forget it, that most assume it has some magical significance or value. It is however just a favored possession.
Game Use: Alaric is one of the most powerful and knowledgeable sorcerers in the world. Many assume he has few resources beyond wisdom at his command, but he has mastered the Four Pillars, the Ephemeral Path, and the Skinchanger Path. He is also the head of the Academy of Mysteries as well as the Grand Archmage of Elkenara, a position which makes him the first among equals in the ruling council which governs a country renowned for boasting powerful sorcerers.
All of this is what is known about him in public. He is also the secret head of the Order of the Azure Radiance, a secret society of altruistic meddlers who collectively wield unfathomable power. Any situation that would require his personal attention on the battlefield would be dire indeed. His formidable personal resources aside, you can imagine that he would never act alone in any but the most carefully contrived situations.
That aside, he is but one man, and he cannot exceed mortal limits. He is also very old, and despite generally good health, can be laid low due to sickness or injury. For all of his knowledge, he is not a master of any path which guarantees his personal safety, or even one which creates alarms or wards. Many have gotten close to ending his life in the past through subterfuge or stealth alone. Because of these limitations, he often hires adventurers or commissions agents in one of his various positions.
While the Order rarely does anything in the open, he is an excellent questgiver for any Order business. Often the needs of the Order can be met by sending adventurers on Academy business to a far off land to retrieve something from a ruin of which the safest path is to travel past a village under siege by a rogue Thelosian commander. When something surfaces, the Order is likely to try to circumvent it. Sometimes they send envoys, more often they trick altruistic adventurers into stopping the threat before it gets out of hand.
I created Alaric as the head of state of the only nation in the Seven Realms which elevates sorcery to heights normally reserved for nobility. He does that job remarkably well, but you can’t have someone in a position of such secular power without the political acumen and influence necessary to take the post. Add in a healthy respect for magical power and he had to be a consummate sorcerer as well. However, where he takes equal parts from Gandalf and other great wizards of fantasy fiction, I must point out that he is not Elminster or any other Deus Ex Machina Wizard of Old. He is human, he can make mistakes, and he often does in my mind because he is charged with the leadership of a country, and the guidance of the education system for that country to which he has an intimate past, and because of his leadership of a secret society he often prioritizes things over his people’s ultimate welfare.
Alaric is manipulative and at the same time often intractable to other viewpoints which do not sync with his own. He is wise but he meddles, and thus rarely dispenses his knowledge for free or in a straightforward manner. He has the ego to think he knows how best to keep the world from falling over the brink into ruin, but many of the threats capable of plunging Arn into massive world wide war or an apocalyptic invasion force are personally beyond his own power, and in all likelihood have existed for millennia before his birth. So despite the fact that he is an old man who cannot face down an army, a squadron or battalion yes, but not an army, he is still the most powerful mortal on the face of the world. I just hate when the most powerful guy in the world has no human failings and can’t be stopped except by incredibly convoluted gambits which ultimately just banish them elsewhere for a while. So Alaric is this aloof, elderly man who rarely shows his command of the one thing he is universally renowned for, but even when he does smack down a rival or put down an enemy he always seems to move slower afterwards. It’s the most common reason why he employs heroes so much, he has a need to do so. Only a fool would think himself capable of doing everything himself, or with a small cadre of like minded individuals. Of his many failings, being a fool is not one of them.