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Forgotten Lore: Myrkator

Over at a friend’s house one sunny day in the winter of 1997. We decided to play some D&D. I remember the place. We were in the living room. There were potted plants everywhere. Scores, I thought, of lush flora hanging from the ceiling. Ferns. Probably pothos. A swath of nameless succulents scattered about the shelves and tables. Sun-rays beamed in through a window and cast hazy tropical light all around us. I’m pretty sure there was an iguana there too.

There were four of us lolling about in this indoor Hesperides. But there was no time for peaceful reflection. We were determined to get on with things. We’d made the characters quickly. Being 2nd edition, we rolled our stats first. Then we set to decide what our characters had spent their lives doing until then—or at least what their class was.

I can’t remember every score, but I rolled well. The new character had outstanding dexterity and intelligence, high charisma, low-upper to average numbers in everything else. I chose to play an elf and after bonuses, had a 19 in Dexterity. I decided to go with thief, and while being a perfectly serviceable kit for a character such as this it also seemed kind of boring, so I multi-classed as a magic-user. However, I asked the DM privately if we could keep this a secret from the other two players. I would posture as a thief, but not reveal I was a magic-user until an opportune time, for whatever reason. We were heading to treasure hunt in an ancient and probably trap-laden tomb. A decent first gig for a thief. There might even be a few scrolls to compliment the clandestine mage.

I put the final touches on the character sheet, including the tedious column of thief skills and percentages that always made me have second thoughts about that class choice. I was given or chose spells, then proficiencies, languages, etc. And of course, the name: Myrkator Wraithwind. I had one other important choice to make. My pencil hovered over the spot marked ‘Alignment’. After a few moments I scrawled an ‘N’.

I started thinking about some backstory. Then the pencil went back to alignment. I paused. Thought about it for a few more moments. I added an ‘E’ after the ‘N’. Neutral Evil.

While I usually stuck to ‘G’ in matters of alignment (I’d once played a Neutral Good pacifist cleric up to level 15) I had played evil characters before. My first character that managed to gain any progress past 4th level was a half-orc assassin named Hanak (originally, it was pronounced like tonic but later I changed the pronunciation to han-AK. Which sounded way better and kind of Klingon too. I digress). So yes, I had played other characters with an evil alignment, but it was all middle-school provincialism and had no real impact on how the characters acted, which would undoubtedly be as 2 dimensional as plywood. This character would prove to be different though. I’ll speak more on that later. For now, back to the tomb…

There’s an awkward phase when new characters are getting to know each other and themselves. Different fantasy accents are tried out, conversations are attempted and stunted, one can’t decide if they’re in Middle Earth or Monty Python. Usually, there’s at least a tavern meeting or a walk to the dungeon to warm everyone up, but we didn’t have any of this. I think we came to life in the tomb (interesting thought). Maybe bumping into each other outside. Three random adventurers meeting at the mouth of the dungeon and deciding to cooperate over the next few hours.

While everyone was still getting their “dungeon-legs” if you will, and planning how they’d roleplay, I decided to pick-pocket the fighter. I must have thought that if things went south I’d just run away. I passed a quick note to the DM who did that kind of half-glare half-sigh that you may have seen before and rolled some dice.

The DM looked back at me and said “No.” Though I had failed, I hadn’t been noticed. This seemed like a warning shot. I figured it would be good to quit pressing my luck and I acquiesced, but the trajectory of Myrkator had been set: An able-bodied adventurer, his greater abilities kept secret, seeking for ways to benefit himself above others, failing often, born in a garden, or was it a tomb?

I honestly can’t remember anything else substantial about that adventure, except that two of our characters survived, we argued with each other a lot, and I found a Dagger +2 that I named Sliver. Afterward, I discovered I really liked the character. I went on another adventure with the fighter who survived (I’ll call him Thorgen) later that week. I don’t remember trying to pick-pocket him again, but who knows?

As I write this, I realize there is simply too much to tell about Myrkator in a single blog post. While I can remember his origin well enough, and quite a few of his adventures, his timeline is very hazy. I’ve tried to piece things together into a coherent biography, but I can’t. I think it would be best just to recount a few memorable vignettes.

Before doing that, I need to say that Myrkator wasn’t exactly evil. Not the pure evil that Neutral Evil signifies anyway. Narcissistic? Selfish? Yes. But not truly evil. Roguish is a better descriptor. Before, I said he reminded me of Dying Earth’s Cugel but with a moral compass, or maybe the Gray Mouser from the Lankhmar stories. And there’s always Han Solo. I’m not sure. I’ll have to rediscover him along the way. It’s been many years. I’m interested in what I’ll uncover. I know I chose that alignment because I didn’t want to deal with any restrictions on his behavior, not out of any particular blood thirst.

I’ll dive more into the adventures proper in the next installment. For now, allow me to talk about my headspace way back when, and why I’d even wanted to play a character like Myrkator to begin with.

I was nineteen, running around with a new group of friends, living in a new city. One night at the local coffee house I became loud and extroverted. I’d always tried to remain aloof and cautious, especially in public—even on stage as a musician I’d keep subdued and distant. This time, however, I took a risk. I just dropped all of the fear. To my surprise, nothing bad happened. It was exhilarating. I embraced the new freedom.

I can probably blame the coffee for the initial push, I’m sure my copious nicotine intake had something to do with it as well, but I took the risk of my own volition. In a single evening I’d reinvented myself. I’m sure I was obnoxious, at least in the beginning, but people began to take notice of me. Interesting things started happening in my life as a result. It’s little wonder that Myrkator came alive during this time.

This exuberance didn’t last forever, there was a decrescendo as I delved further into my twenties. But I didn’t lose everything I’d gained in those days. I carry a piece of that character with me still. Myrkator, sometimes succeeding, often failing, could charge headlong into a difficult situation and live with the consequences. I learned, from my time with him, that I was capable of doing the same.

Myrkator might have been the summation of my time playing Dungeons & Dragons, the long-awaited blossom of that tree, or at least one of the treasures I was seeking (I intend to explore this idea more in a future post). He wasn’t my last character, but none after were more memorable, and I’m looking forward to sharing his stories.



Adam Glass is Head of Operations at Seven Day Games, which is a fancy way of saying he writes emails all day and plans meetings in his spare time. The resident rpg historian, he has a long past with Dungeons & Dragons and has been playing various rpgs since his childhood in the 1980s.

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