Sunday, July 04, 2004

What the Hell is a “Lord Geznikor,” Anyway?

I keep getting asked what "Lord Geznikor" is supposed to be. I also keep meaning to put this up. I am in my first-ever real-live game of Dungeons and Dragons, after playing various computer versions for more than twenty years, and so I wanted to come up with a backstory to explain why my character is so freakin' odd. This is that document, which somehow got really long.

What's not in here is an explanation of the name "Geznikor Whompbucket" itself. The true story is that when I first played Baldur's Gate, at the "enter your name" prompt I sat for a minute before typing something completely ridiculous. But then Baldur's Gate turned out to be good, investing good ol' Geznikor Whompbucket with a personality and a story. In the sequel, he also became a lord (which is covered below). As an aside, the proper form when he became a lord would have been "Geznikor Whompbucket, Lord d'Arnise," but I'm assuming that one of his descendants (probably his son, by what I wrote below) changed the form.

It's kind of amusing to me that this LGW is a half-elf. Elves are about the least likely characters for me to play, normally, since I prefer dwarves and humans (barbarians/berserkers/northmen, whatever has the bonuses for strength and constitution). But the world as our dungeonmaster created it included a city of orcs which lay atop an older elvish city, which I found rather interesting. So I made this LGW a half-elf, so that he could be a descendant of the elvish Lords of Perditus. I also added the stuff about his mixed ancestry so he could still be the descendant of all of the other Lords Geznikor Whompbucket I've played in all of the other computer games, ever, for the last four years or so.

Anyway, here's the backstory I wrote.

Lord Geznikor Whompbucket (the Umpteenth)

The most important thing about Lord Geznikor Whompbucket (LGW) is that he considers himself the rightful heir to the city of Perditus and the surrounding lands. It was uncountable generations ago (even LGW doesn't know how many) that his family ruled over the lands from a manor house long since ruined. The city's current orcish occupation galls him greatly. Most people, though, think that to continue to call the city "occupied" after centuries of orcish dominion, when almost nothing remains of the village LGW's ancestors ruled, is nothing less than insane. This only galls LGW further.

LGW plays as a half-elf, although his true heritage is far stranger. The mixture of elvish and human blood in his ancestry is, indeed, approximately equal, but LGW has other ancestors that are far stranger. He has heard rumours that most of the humanoid races are among his ancestors, including several breeds of humans, elves, dwarves, orcs, ogres, and even a goblin. Other possible ancestors are stranger yet, including beornlings, a possible lich, and completely unknown creatures from other planes. It is important to remember, though, that the largest part of his ancestry is elvish and human, and he looks much like other half-elves, although his skin tends to be more grey than most, he sports more hair than most, and his features are noticeably larger than most (especially his hands and feet). LGW doesn't know his true ancestry, only that it is strange: the root of his desire to liberate Perditus is that he wishes to learn of his ancestry in his family's tomb under the ruins of the old manor house. (He recognizes the possibility that other buildings now lie on the site of the manor house.)

LGW's varied ancestry has left him a bit unable to cope with the stranger sides of his personality. The abilities that his ancestral races are born to remain in him only as vestigial impulses and drives. These impulses and drives leave LGW more than a little bit mad, as he struggles to control them. It is even possible, as he gains experience in the world, that he may learn to usefully control and manifest some of them.

LGW's madness manifests itself in his contradictory dealings with the outside world. He can be selfish and altruistic, almost by turns, and he can insist on the priveleges reserved for someone of his title even as he works side-by-side with peasants in the field. His nature is generally good, although not fanatically so, and he holds sometimes surprising ideas of good and evil. The result is that along that scale, his alignment is Neutral, tending toward Good. His madness, however, leaves no doubt as to his alignment along the other axis: He could never be anything other than Chaotic.

From an early age, LGW has fared alone, owing to a catastrophe he will not talk about. He does not appreciate cities because they do not appreciate him; he lives his life as a Ranger in the wild. Because he hasn't the focus or patience for long hours of practice, however, his bowmanship is lacking, and unlike most rangers his best weapon is the longsword. Even with the sword, he has not trained with a master, and so his use of the sword (or swords; he has been known to dual-wield) is unorthodox. This tends to give him an advantage in combat as his attacks are difficult to anticipate.

He bears a signet ring with the arms of his house, and an inscription in a language that none have been able to decipher. The ring may be cursed; he is in any case unable to remove it. Unknown to LGW, it is a Ring of Random Alignment, which explains some of his apparent madness. The ring "fires" and changes LGW's alignment each time he gains experience.

Even-Futher-Backstory (the Baldur's Gate stuff)

Although, in truth, LGW's ancestors do include the lords of Perditus, and in fact LGW is the rightful heir to the title, his name comes from a source both stranger and more familiar.

The first Lord Geznikor Whompbucket for whom provenance can be clearly established came to whatever the name is of the place we're adventuring in, I forget, in what he called a "planar sphere." We have another contemporary account which refers to the sphere as a perfect sphere, shimmering, and about fifty feet in diameter. Most disturbing, however, was the way it appeared, partially obliterating a homestead, a tree, and hundreds of pounds of earth. After this ancestor LGW emerged, the sphere vanished, and while the obliterated items returned, a seam where the sphere once existed was seen as long as that building and tree stood.

According to the ancestor's own journals, the sphere is or was a vehicle for travelling among various planes, from the mundane to the fantastic. However, the ancestor's home, he says, was a world very similar to our own; he had only to learn the language to be comfortable among us. Even the ways of magic, long said to be change the most from plane to plane, were similar in his homeland. The priests, he said, called on different gods, but achieved the same results.

This ancestor claimed in his journals to be the descendant of a further ancestor he called the "First Lord," who claimed d'Arnise Keep and its surrounding lands by champion's right. After his death, his son renamed the keep and surrounding lands "Whompbucket," after his family. But the unique thing about this family was their control of the planar sphere. It became a tradition for the eldest son, after fathering a son, to use the planar sphere to journey to another land, there to seek his fortune as an adventurer. Some of these sons return, and some do not. Clearly, the author of the journal is one of those who has not.

The First Lord himself was, according to the journals, the product of a union between a mortal woman and Bhaal, who in the Pantheon of his world was the God of Murder. Precisely how this could be true is unknown, but the journal's author includes these words: “The Lord of Murder shall perish, but in his death he shall spawn a score of mortal progeny. Chaos shall be sown in their footsteps. So sayeth the wise Alaundo.” [A line directly from Baldur's Gate.] The First Lord appears to have been raised an orphan, but his name was not granted by his foster father. The name must go back significantly further (say the journals), because it is attested some years before, and because in one of the disused languages of his world "gez-ne-kor" was said to have meant "weasel-death-warrior," and in this language the mongoose was referred to as the deathweasel. Presumably the first to carry the name “Geznikor” or “Geznekor” or, possibly, “Geznegkor” earned his name by fighting with the tenacity of the mongoose. Of course, it is difficult to gauge the accuracy of any of this, because we have this story from only the one source, that being the journals of the first Lord Geznikor Whompbucket to bring himself to our realms, and he was a number of generations (other journal evidence suggests about twenty generations) removed from the events described.

While the events described in the journals are true, our present LGW knows none of it. It is his belief that the rightful heir to Whompbucket manor in Perditus is named Lord Geznikor Whompbucket, and his son shall also bear the name. The journals do reside in ____ Library, although LGW woulld have no way of knowing this. They get little attention in any case, and so it is possible nobody in our realms has knowledge of LGW's ancestry, the Lords of Perditus, or the Spawn of Bhaal.


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