A Brief History of Time?

bosantibe indicated curiosity over that odd GoatBoy I have used in so much of my artwork and whose name I use for my login here (plus in many other places).

Hooo boy. I’ll explain about him briefly*. This is hardly a character profile. It’s really more of a history of creations and alternate versions.

Back in the summer from 8-9th grade, I was introduced to WFRP (you know, back when it was in print the first time). I skimmed the book once and spotted the bestiary section on Beastmen. “They’re cool,” I thought, then I thought, “I’ll figure out rules to play one!” It is important to note that at this time I didn’t know the rules or setting for squat… and I was in middle school, so in that context it makes some sense.

Anyhow, I taught myself the character creation system explicitly so that I could make a Beastman character. Make him I did. He was my second WFRP character (I made the first with the book’s owner’s help before I read anything myself). Anyhow, moving on. I made up a team of companions for him and did some drdawings, but I didn’t play any WFRP for about 3-6 months after that. A new friend (Ryan, who’s getting married a week from Saturday) came into he picture and he dug WFRP too, so we sat down to play, making a group (scrapping all but one of the original teammates… Cedric) flexing our limited setting comprehension and having a good time with The Oldenhaller Contract in the back of the core book. Ryan made one of the characters, Derelek the dwarf tunnel fighter, and I made Cassandra (elf noble) and Cedric (wiz apprentice). He looked way different back then of course, and his horns were more like ram’s horns. As is often the case with middle school fantasy RPing, we didn’t have more than a slim explanation for what held the group together. We played a two-player group, and after the first session Ryan added Thrudd the ogre too. I was GM and ran a couple of the characters but especially Uhlrik, and Ryan ran a couple of them but especially Derelek. So Uhlrik was categorically a GMPC, and it quickly became obvious that he was a brutally powerful one too. Beastman–grade Wounds with a starting group’s spread of foes and paired with advance schemes… *shudder*.

Anyhow, time went on and Uhlrik’s story progressed and we began tacking on whys, wherefores and backstory to our various characters. We were still kiddie-gamers, but we were gradually growing more sophisticated. Oh, and Uhlrik’s horns got retconned to their current style within a couple months. We even built up relationships between the characters and other revolutionary concepts (well, not exactly revolutionary…). Right from the start, his role was as the “meat-man,” our group’s term for the brick archetype.

Long story short**, players came and went, characters came and went. In that particular WFRP campaign, unlike any other campaign I’ve ever run, we quickly developed a tradition of granting the preexisting quasi-NPCs to new people that wanted to join the game, and the same went for preexisting PCs when old players moved away, though we required their permission to make a handoff legit. Uhlrik never changed hands, however. He was always “my character” even though I was the GM. Anyhow, we built up a huge mythology and catalogue of important storyline threads, character relationships and similar wackiness, plus a wierd bit of quasi-messianic stuff and supernatural powers hanging over GoatBoy’s head. Ah, young gamers and their WrongBadFun. And yes, we did enjoy our “Legacy of the Gods” campaign a great deal even though so many of the details of that game… are highly cringe-worthy from my current perspective. Because we were all so attached to the characters and actually got a mostly-stable play group together for it, we kept that same campaign actively going for over a decade. Theoretically, it’s still open to more play should my old pals and I decide to revisit it, though we haven’t touched it in a couple years now. Over the latter end of the game, I gradually pulled UberGoatBoy into more of a plot device mode and out of most active adventuring, though he was still involved in the storylines more as a patron than anything else by that point.

A few little pics of the Legacy iteration of Uhlrik, one with him wearing his trademark armor and helmet:
Uhlrik classicHooded Uhlrik The big guy in his trademark armor Uhlrik as a lord Likewise, but with big braids!
Pictured leftmost is his early look, shortly after the horn-change.

An aside about GMPCing in my longstanding TT group: my players encouraged me to use them for many years, partially because we often had to play with small groups and partially because they were trying to keep me from burning out since almost none of them were willing to countenance GMing anymore (to my regret… I love just playing, but to this day they tell me that my games are exciting and plot-twisty and they don’t feel they can do as well… sigh). For my TT games over the past 5 years or so I’ve gradually abandoned the practice so I can keep things focused more on their characters rather than getting mine in the way of that.

Due to obscene power levels involved and a desire to see how things might have worked out under different circumstances (minus the messianic bullcrap among other transgressions of a young GM and his GMPC), we decided somewhere along the line to run a side-campaign based on the idea that a different mix of the characters met up at the start and didn’t get involved in the same way. I made a new version of young Uhlrik and did play him as a GMPC again, but being much more careful about handling him. That campaign was short but very interesting, and its termination inspired me to take another crack at the idea later, with different mixes. At Erich’s (another old character that got reimagined for that campaign) urging, he took cover as a sort of comedie del’arte player (mask and all), which was a very interesting solution to his “predicament”.

Pics of the second Uhlrik iteration that got seriously played:
In color!Uhlrik 2 Uhlrik as a traveling player

I did a bunch of drawings of him in defferent genres or settings for fun, though I only played any of them for maybe a session at most. I’m not going to post those here, but there’re scads of them. They include viking (“look ma, no Helmet!”), oriental, futuristic, russian-themed and generic fantasy (IE without the beastman stigma, in DnD-y settings).

Then I made the first version of my 40KRP rules and our playtesting group included a beastman supporting cast-member GMPC named Graz’zt, better known as West due to his tricky name and a lazy slave-owner. He was designed with much different visual specs than Uhlrik (for example, fanged doggy-mouth, hematite-colored fur and those curly horns) and a different background, concept and personality, plus he didn’t have any of the supernatural powers that the original Uhlrik had. Totally different character, but still based around my obsession with Beastmen. I only mention him because of subsequent events that have led me to retroactively label him an Uhlrik iteration though he wasn’t originally intended as one. I’ll get to that in a bit. The game was quite successful and a lot of fun, and actually worked out to be a good horror-genre scenario.

He’s pictured below:
 Dey he be Arf!
I’ll admit I love the barcoded hoof. 😉

Then I designed Warhammer: Dark Fantasy, a port of the Warhammer setting (with a few of my own tweaks of course) to White Wolf’s Dark Ages system. Naturally, I wrote up a version of Uhlrik for this, and have played him quite a bit in a small online chat-based chronicle. I’m quite happy with this version and consider him currently active. I did take a small bit of inspiration from Grazzt and popped fangs onto this version of Uhlrik, mostly to help slip him away from being quite so much like a goat and more towards being pure mutant monster.  Giving him access to the Rage stat really did help give some actual rules justification to some of the seething preternatural fury I’ve long described prior versions as suffering from. One other classic character has put in an appearance in this game so far: Cedric, though his story role’s much different this time.

Pics of the WDF Uhlrik:
Young guy in color
Grrrrrr Aww, look how moody I am!

Finally, the most recent version and the one I wear as one of my icons: The version from Pax Imperialis, my second stab at 40KRP, this time built on the robust nWoD system. Here’s where ol’ Grazzt comes into play. I decided to basically merge the character ideas and personalities of Uhlrik and Graz’zt/West, so I named him Uhlrik Graz’zt, keeping the nickname West. This version is (horror of horrors!) not furred at all, just greyish-skinned and endowed with plentiful but basically normal hair… and yes, he’s fanged. 😛
Rather than being some wierd semi-messianic critter with kewl powerz like the original (though few of the subsequent versions to this point) , instead I decided that this guy’s a latent psyker, which should be a lot of fun. Like Grazzt, he’s a slave serving as bodyguard to his owner, and he’s got a lot of that guy’s quirks. The PaxImp game featuring him has had appearances by heavily-tweaked versions of Cedric and Derelek as well, as a nod to the old Legacy days (named Prefect Aquilos and Dirk, respectively). Thus far, PaxImp’s definitely not giving West a lot of spotlight time, which I consider entirely appropriate.

And here he is:
Booyah

So why does a guy that has a massive passion for creating hordes upon hordes of new and different characters also like to keep recreating and making variations on a theme as well? For a number of reasons: for one thing I like to use this as a way to examine similar yet subtly different concepts within a gaming environment, I just happen to think Uhlrik’s basic look is cool, thirdly just because I can and maybe one of hte big reasons being the fact that I’ve never really gotten full closure with any of the prior versions. None of the campaigns I played versions of him in ever really came to a true ‘that’s all, folks!” conclusion, and that’s surely part of it. Similarly, there are a number of WoD characters (Trouble, Heather MacLeod, both Linda & Krissy Lee, Gorm and V. Sergei von Radiovich) that I’ve at least briefly run variations or modified iterations of over the years, and for similar reasons… most of those being played primarily or even initially online in places where I actually didn’t have to be the GM. Robert Anderson, by contrast, is one that I absolutely adored and have idly thought about reiterating, but haven’t actually done it partially beacause his story actually got a satisfying sense of finality in its end.

How many versions of Uhlrik have I actually played?
If I am counting and remembering properly (hey, he’s been around since 1990-1ish), then I think the answer would be 7.

How many have I drawn?
I have no idea.

*When Uhlrik’s the topic, “briefly” is a relative term.
**Yeah right

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11 Responses to “A Brief History of Time?”

  1. bosantibe Says:

    That was a good way to start the day. I’ve had a skewed angle into the RPG world and so I have no similar characters (other than a couple of versions of my nano-Etherite and one of my old KotE characters being reused by a different ST as a primary NPC, which was a brilliant way to keep me interested in his longevity and well-being), but then I never did play steadily. Currently in a gaming group that has been trying for a year to play steadily (three of us are always on board and everyone else is basically a guest appearance) we are working on it; and so perhaps with time I will end up fiddling with certain of these concepts. There was one character concept I sat on for over a year before playing and then I watched the game fall apart with no closure whatsoever. That was a fantastic irritation, so I can imagine him popping back up. This makes me very curious in a way of all the concepts that come up in my mind and how they might reoccur down the road.

  2. uhlrik Says:

    I’m always happy to give people something interesting to read and think about (or at least to mock). I may take some of the issues that came out of this post over to the community to see what folks think of recycling/reiteration and closure.

  3. bosantibe Says:

    Well, you know you’ll get my responses there. I wouldn’t mind seeing more examples from actual sessions, either. You know, when I first started my journal I transcribed two of my most ridiculous (at the time) experiences in gaming, one of which was my fault and the other which nobody took very seriously but me and the ST to a lesser extent. The latter lasted a lot longer and as alliteration I ended up enjoying it better. For years I wrote out these experiences in the form of pseudo-fanfic. Very odd looking back on my stasis as a gamer and how it acted as a sort of chrysalis for my gaming mind.

  4. uhlrik Says:

    I’d likewise be interested in seeing some more actual play examples. Maybe I’ll post more “history of time” type posts about other characters I’ve reiterated at some point.

  5. uhlrik Says:

    The bit about repeatedly examining the same gaming experiences being an important part of your gaming development… now that’s interesting.

  6. bosantibe Says:

    Well, it wasn’t the fact so much that I was learning to think critically of gaming necessarily, but I was better able to get into the head of my characters after the fact, not as an outraged player in doomed circumstances but rather as a doomed character fighting a losing battle. Eventually I got to the point where I’d make up a character completely and the fiction was workable in the World of Darkness setting and rulesystem while not actually having been birthed there. Looking at it in fragments it took several weeks at least to write it all out, but as a story it was a great cosmic joke in a way. Odd times.

  7. bosantibe Says:

    Well, it wasn’t the fact so much that I was learning to think critically of gaming necessarily, but I was better able to get into the head of my characters after the fact, not as an outraged player in doomed circumstances but rather as a doomed character fighting a losing battle. Eventually I got to the point where I’d make up a character completely and the fiction was workable in the World of Darkness setting and rulesystem while not actually having been birthed there. Looking at it in fragments it took several weeks at least to write it all out, but as a story it was a great cosmic joke in a way. Odd times.

  8. uhlrik Says:

    It’s often easier to grasp the implications, story/dramatic possibilities and ascribe meaning to these things after the fact than when we’re in the thick of the action.

  9. bosantibe Says:

    So true, but the result seems to have been that now I have more fully formed character opinions going into things. For instance, I already know in our LARP that we’ve played for only a single session that I am more against the Sabbat Inquisitor than anyone else thus far because I espouse the freedoms of the sect and try to make myself available to help others achieve them on their own (I’m going for a sort of enlightenment coach concept in regards to the other players) while he pays lip service to those ideals and threatens and cajoles at every point in the most crude and vulgar ways to get what he wants, thus removing said freedoms in all effect. Plus, I’m a Harbinger of Skulls and he calls himself Lazarus. The fantastic element here is that I don’t have to oppose him; I’m just going to piss him off by being as true a Sabbat as I can portray and show no fear of death in his presence while my packmates try to humble him for their own reasons. It’s wonderful, but light years ahead of the scope of my nascent gaming mind.

  10. uhlrik Says:

    It’s made you more introspective and perceptive about characters and situations then. Excellent.

  11. uhlrik Says:

    It’s made you more introspective and perceptive about characters and situations then. Excellent.

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