Fleshing Out a Barbarian

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So...I've had an idea for a character in a campaign I'll be playing soon. He's a former soldier, who was at one point a solidly evil mercenary. He was working knowingly for a mind flayer cabal, and was one of their raiders. He did many things that he is ashamed of.

His name is Sarkt Balak. Sarkt was his name among the illithids, which he now shuns. Balak is dwarven for "Raging Axe." Now, his motivation is to undo his evil deeds and fight the mind flayers. He hates them with a burning passion, and uses his rage and lust for violence with frightening results.

I chose the barbarian class to represent this, ignoring the fluff about uncivilized tribe-dwellers and instead taking it to be a berserker soldier. He's a human, 5th level, with Power Attack, Improved Bull Rush, and Improved Sunder. I'm going for Leap Attack at the next level. His favored tactic is to rage and charge into battle, using as much Power Attack as possible. If the opportunity presents itself, he'll use Bull Rush to throw an enemy off a cliff or into a hazard. If an enemy has an annoying item/weapon, he'll try to break it.

He has given up his evil ways, and is now in service to the king as the prince's bodyguard (fellow PC). He's solidly neutral, because he seeks reform and loyalty, but he still favors bloodshed and chaos.

I need some help fleshing out this character some more, with particular detail to how to roleplay him. I'm thinking about giving him a bunch of scars, each with its own history. He's also loud and intimidating: he tries to lead any social encounter using nothing but Intimidate. He sees mind flayers behind every occurrence, and is also fanatically loyal to his charge. He also has a childlike fascination with magic.

Any tips? Thanks!

-Count Dravda
You may find more constructive replies if you were to post this in the appropriate forum.

here is a link.
http://forums.gleemax.com/forumdisplay.php?f=17

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

I don't see how that is the correct forum; he posted this in Character Development, which I know used to be the appropriate forum for such things as character backstory and roleplaying development, or fluff, whereas you linked to the Classes & Class Features, which, if I assume correctly, has to do with the mechanical aspect.

Arguments aside, I'd have him be a little distrustful and xenophobic, afraid that new acquaintances may be thralls or disguised mind flayers, but not to the degree of paranoia. I'm assuming he'd attack any mind flayers he sees, perhaps trying to atone for his sins, or perhaps out of vengeance for those he killed.
3.5 is no longer the current edition... sadly there is no "character building" forum listed in the previous edition forums... so I linked to the closest topic group that was available for previous editions such as 3.5.

That is all.

ATTENTION:  If while reading my post you find yourself thinking "Either this guy is being sarcastic, or he is an idiot," do please assume that I am an idiot. It makes reading your replies more entertaining. If, however, you find yourself hoping that I am not being even remotely serious then you are very likely correct as I find irreverence and being ridiculous to be relaxing.

Ah, I apologize then. I had not been able to get on to the forums in a few months, hence my use of the past tense.
I figured that it didn't matter because this isn't really a "crunchy" thread...I just need fluff. The Development boards seemed to be the best place to post.

-Count Dravda
I like the idea that the characters thinks Mind Flayers are behind everything, you could play up the character's paranoia. Plus if he was working for mind flayers, maybe the character could be uncertain as to whether he had control of his actions. Was he willingly working for them, or did they take over his mind? That sort of thing.

It could add a dynamic of uncertainty, maybe the character has flashbacks that cause them to fly into a rage/recoil against violence at inoppurtune times.
It doesn't seem like the forum matters much, such a character could easily work in a 4e campaign as well as 3.x,

Being a repentant "soldier of evil" how does he feel about others he encounters in the same situation?

If he encounters hired guns and low ranking thugs of whatever force he happens to be fighting, does he take pity on them and try to show them the error of his ways, help them become a better person like he did?

Or, does he see them as an unwanted reminder of himself and, knowing the evil they cause first hand, lash out against them.

Maybe have him waffle between the two views, sometimes showing mercy and sometimes annhilating evil minions. He might kill a villians henchmen one day, and brood about it feeling guilty the next, maybe trying to find their family and make amends.
Ambulacetus, that's a cool idea. I love it.

I was also considering having him bellow lines from Demon Hunter's "Not I" when he rages, one line at a time. Especially the chorus.

Not I
So now you're suffering
the fallacy of what you said
When you uncover the depression
from where you've tread
Breathe over the glass you wrote on
Swallow all that you waste your throat on
You wear the make and wave the banner
they made with sin
Revealing every single lie
that you've been breeding within
Wash over the skin you've broken
Think over the tone you spoke in

(Pre-chorus)
So lost in your affliction / addiction
The solemn comfort of your grave
If you close your eyes
the light can't take it away

(Chorus)
Not I - I won't conform to what I see in you
Not I - I won't surrender what I am
Not I - And even if it was a part of me
Not I - I'll never be that way again

The blind will follow on the path
that you created in vain
No guiding light, but just the shadow
of the dead will remain
Dig open the pain you're hiding
Give your hand to the faith you're fighting
The void you suffer is a curse
forever bleeding inside
Now you embrace the fatal sickness
you should despise
Remember the day you lost that
Where is the shame that will
bring your soul back

(Pre-chorus)

(Chorus)

Reach back behind your pride
And pull the thorn from your burning pain in your
side

Sing me a new song
A broken song of redemption and regret
Sing me a new song
And beg for all the mercy you can get

(Chorus)

-Count Dravda
I'm wondering what the motivation was for his change of heart. What made him go from willing accomplice to bitter enemy of the mindflayers?

Seems to me like it's an important aspect of his character.
I'm wondering what the motivation was for his change of heart. What made him go from willing accomplice to bitter enemy of the mindflayers?

Seems to me like it's an important aspect of his character.

You're right. The best I've got right now is that he suddenly took a look at what he was doing. He was doing raids for the flayers, when he did some introspection and decided he couldn't live with his actions anymore. Following that course of thought lead him to completely reject his old life, and attempt reform.

Any ideas on that?

-Count Dravda
Honestly, from a storytelling perspective, that's pretty weak. I think you should try to find some impetus for the change. Epiphanies rarely come out of nowhere.

You might want to start with why he was working for the mindflayers in the first place. Did he think he was signing up for the winning team? Did they offer him riches and power beyond imagining? Was he actually onboard with their goals, or was he just doing it for personal gain?

Some random ideas to get your mind working:

Even while he was working for the mindflayers, he followed a specific code of ethics. (Such as: He refused to kill innocents. He didn't deal in torture. He made sure that his victims recieved clean, quick deaths. Whatever.) He was called upon to do something that went against his personal code, and was forced to reevaluate his current employment.

No specific ethical code, but one day he was called upon to do something particularly evil and nasty, the likes of which he'd never had to do before, and he realized he couldn't stomach this work any longer.

He took a liking to someone who should have been one of his victims. A pretty girl who stole his heart, a young child who aroused his protective instincts, a wise elder who saw the potential for good deep within him and berated him for his evil ways...

Any of that helpful?
Here's another:

He believes he had a vision (of a god, a respected family member, a former mentor...) telling him to give up his evil ways. He firmly believes in the truth of the vision, and changed his whole life because of it. This gives you some interesting character material to work with: he might be superstitious, or perhaps the whole part believes him to be following "supersititiuos nonsense." Maybe he is continually hoping for another vision to tell him if he is on the right path, or what he should do now. It also has the advantage of providing your DM with a possible plot hook - Was the vision real in every sense? Or is your character perhaps being manipulated by someone through magic?


Another question I have that you might want to think about (and might help you figure out the reason for his change of heart): What did your character do before he worked for the mind flayers? Does he have any family or friends? How did he get involved with the mind flayers? Did he seek them out, or did they come to him? Was he always evil (or leaning that way), or did he become twisted through working for the bad guys?
Before he worked for the illithids, he was a soldier for the king. When the war was over, he found himself out of a job, and seeking employment. He was willing to do anything. Slowly, he worked his way down (literally) until he was dealing with mind flayers. They had him raiding surrounding towns and villages, killing indiscriminately to reinforce their power.

He was probably called on to do something he couldn't stomach, like holding someone down while they had the tadpole inserted into their ear and became a mind flayer. It was then that he decided he couldn't stomach his work anymore.

He's working toward redemption, but is still a moral klutz. His preferred tactic is to kick in the door and kill everything, be it a dungeon, palace, or tavern. When he left the mind flayers' employment, he was forced to run somewhere powerful. Seeking reform, he decided to devote himself to a higher power and reenlisted in the king's guards. Soon, he was the prince's bodyguard.

On the subject of family, I'm a little unclear. He's a hard man, rough and mostly uncaring, although he cares deeply for his charge. I couldn't picture him having a family, but I don't want to go with the stereotypical, "Their village was attacked by orcs/dragon/etc."

KarateKari, those are some excellent ideas. Thank you very much. Any more input from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

-Count Dravda
Glad to help. Sounds like you're a lot closer to getting a fully-rounded character now. :D
I have an Illithid that'll flesh out that barbarian for you. Heck, he's flesh out all of your enemies... then you, of course ... but still.