Sunday, January 23, 2011

Agincourt: Nicholas Hook

Hook held few things dear beyond his brother and whatever affection he felt for whichever girl was in his arms, yet archers were special. Archers were Hook's heroes. England, for Hook, was not protected by men in shining armor, mounted on trapper-decked horses, but by archers.

He had been warned not to walk the streets by himself, but the people of Soissons left him alone, perhaps scared of his height and size, or perhaps because they knew he was the one archer who prayed regularly and so tolerated him.

Remind me why you were outlawed, Hook?
"Because I hit a priest, sir John," Hook admitted.
"that priest?" Sir John asked, jerking a thumb toward the retreating horsemen.
"Yes, Sir John."
Sir John shook his head. "You did wrong, Hook, you did very wrong. You shouldn't have hit him."
"No, Sir John," Hook said humbly.
"You should have slit the goddamn bastard's putrid bowels open and ripped his heart out through his stinking arse," Sir John said, looking at Father christopher as if hoping his words might offten the priest, but Father christopher merely smiled.

I've picked a few quotes out of Agincourt to point out some of the bits about Nicholas Hook.

He is an archer.

He prays.

He is an outlaw in his home.

He has friends and allies as well as enemies and rivals.

These things keep him an interesting character and make him a good focal point for the novel.

While he starts off as a groundskeeper for one lord, one whose job is to eliminate poachers on his lords land, his failed attempted to assassinate an ancient family rival, as well as his direct assault against a murderous priest, make him an outlaw in his own land and he joins the military where his woodsmen skills and impressive physical strength allow him fairly quick advancement.

His character has different takes such as hearing voices ranging from the lord above to various saints. He hears two saints in particular, the of Soissons. This makes him seem a little strange to others, but the advice given to him is generaly sound and he manages to thrive with it.

In terms of hearing the saints, one interesting thing that can be used for role playing games, is that it allows the GM to throw in some 'common' sense for players that may be new to the game and not sure how exactly things may play out.  Without having a 'pet' NPC around, the GM can provide some standard advice that would be useless to more experienced characters.

His love interest, a nun who also survived the sack of Soissons, has a French father who is a leader of the enemy. This foeman even takes a finger from the archer, but leaves him with enough fingers to use the bow in order to keep his daughter safe.

Despite that foeman though, his true enemies are the family rivals he has. In keeping with themes of family rivals, his own brother is well liked by many, but becomes involved in the difficulties with the families.

In the book Hook manages to wind through the setting and more importantly, grow. In some role playing games, the different encounters and dungeons may not require actual character growth. In many different dungeon crawls, there isn't really a need for characters to change or to note how their environments effect them. In a full fledged setting where cities and travel and other bits that involve actual characters as opposed to traps and monsters, the characters have opportunity to take in new data points and either use them to reinforce their current behaviors or to actually take into account this new information and change.

Nicholas Hook, while starting off as a fairly skilled character, nontheless, manages to grow in both his travels and experiences, as well as his expectations of how the world works. Those looking to model a new Warhammer character in say 2nd edition may wish to look at him for ideas on how a former road warden may have left his old life behind.