Costume and backstory advice for a member of the Dawn

Hello guys and girls, I need some advice on my character’s design (or my current idea for one) and if the backstory of my character would work. This backstory hasn’t been detailed very much as I am still seeing if it is viable before I put time into creating the needed, more in-depth information.

“The basic outline of my characters backstory”
My character, lets call him Skalisty as I don’t have a set in stone name for him quite yet. Skalisty grew up in one of the main Dawnish towns/cities (yet to be decided), as a homeless “street urchin” who’s daily life consisted of purely trying to survive. When the shop keepers in this town/city put measures in place to stop Skalisty and other thieves from stealing, Skalisty became desperate and in a last ditch effort to get food, tried to rob a nobleman (I have yet to decide if he would try and rob the noble or “challenge him to a duel” which the noble would accept just to humour the starving boy, which ever is more lore friendly). The end result of this would be the nobleman coming out on top. Instead of punishing or killing Skalisty, the nobleman recognised a unbreakable resolve in the child and “hires” Skalisty to work on his farm land.

Skalisty would from then on work at the farm and in return, would be fed and would be allowed to sleep with the animals, all of which were heaven compared to his life before. Although this noble in a way treated Skalisty as a son when together, the Dawnish mentality of working for what you have meant that Skalisty was not given the life style of a noble and when the nobleman had time, would rather train the boy in combat than teach him about the history of the land and the very noble house that he was saved by. This kind of relationship carried on for many years and as Skalisty grew, he became closer to the nobleman however at the age of 17, grave news would arrive in the form of the nobleman’s death, a battle which he had taken part in and did not return from alive. Although Skalisty was not of the noble household and was viewed as more of a pet/slave by the rest of the house, the nobleman had left Skalisty with many things and a note, basically stating it was time for Skalisty to leave the farm and make his own way and create his own legacy, by doing so Skalisty wanted to make his only father figure proud. After leaving the farm, Skalisty would travel into the vast forests and other places of danger to test himself and after 3 years, would make his way into Anvil after proving to himself he was worthy of wearing the armour and wielding the sword left to him by that noble.

“Character Design”
Skalisty’s overall design is a mixture of full plated knight with a more rugged touch (armour damaged by wild beats basically). That rugged maybe even semi viking style also comes clear as day as placed upon the armour, a bear skin is warn with the head covering the top of the helmet. I understand the Dawnish normally have colourful and clean armour, that of which reflects their house however I wanted Skalisty’s armour to be a contrast, reflecting a lack of such, as he is on his own journey, one which is only shaped by his experiences and not a title he was born with as he was born as a nobody. The armour would have be passed down by the noble who died and thus, give reason to why a “farmer” or “non-noble” would have such armour and weaponry, the more wild addons are a refection of Skalisty’s mentality, history and development.

The reason why I want advice on this design is that it very much differs from the normal style of the Dawn however this is also true for the characters background. The lack of education and knowledge of the Empire’s lore that my character has is to allow me to, as a new player to Empire, learn as my character would, making my personal experience of exploration more natural.

The weapon of my character however is something I am having trouble with. Due to my size and build, my character design and skills are based around that of a heavy duty fighter, one who would use a large, double handed sword. This also gives reasons to why my character isn’t that fluent in sword combat and relays more on animistic power to win (this of course is due to his lack of formal training and the training which was most intense being done in the wild, this would improve as both me and my character journey). I was looking into using the Highlander III (Colossal) from Calimacil as I love the sword and it would create the perfect balance of knight and the more rugged look that my character design has, however do you think that my character’s backstory and design are enough of a reason to use this weapon when I am technically part of the Dawn nation who wouldn’t use such a weapon styled like the Highlander III. if not, could I change my backstory to basically say I found/bought the weapon with saved up coin instead of inheriting it and this would allow the sword to make sense/be “allowed”.

Sorry for the massive post, it is kind of a off the rails idea and design and I’m looking to see if basically, it can be done and would it be accepted for Empire and by the people who play considering the Dawnish lore, I don’t want to change the nation as I am doing LARPing with a friend who is also in the Dawn nation so I’d like to avoid that if possible. Sorry for bad spelling and grammar, I’ll fix it after I’ve woken up.

Sorry it took a while to answer this, I’ll be expanding this response as I go…

Skalisty … you may wish to alter the name slightly, or give some interesting story as to where that’s from. It’s not in the Dawnish style, but there’s plenty of room for refugees, immigrants, etc.

Between the militia and the virtues, I’m not sure to what extent “street thief” in Dawn works (For a starting point, looking at the map, your best bet might be Winterbourne, a thriving market town in peaceful Astolat on a crossroads of two trade routes…). As for robbing a noble, it’s a cliche (and mostly true) in Dawn that the nobles carry little money. Robbing a senior House servant/yeoman would work, as would challenging a Noble to a duel…

[“You sir! I say you have been un-Prosperous, and are hoarding your wealth! Either give me some, and gain virtue for yourself, or fight me, and buy me dinner for my Courage in challenging you!”]

  • note, this is uneducated street urchin level of understanding of the Virtues.

Note that this setting does not have slaves (anymore, in the Empire). Or thralls, indentured servants, or bondsmen. “Low-paid agricultural worker” is about as far down as you’ll go before hitting begger. Martial training of some sort looks good, as skilled yeoman fighters are always wanted by any noble.

Note that no-one in Dawn is born noble. Everyone earnt their nobility. Sometimes reasonably easily, with careful training, good equipment, and stout companions to assist… but it’s not rare for a talented and charismatic peasant to complete their Test of Mettle, and end up in charge of a House. If you’ve made it to Anvil (ie, into play), you’re Hero Material anyway :slight_smile:

A legacy of equipment is good. And feeling that you need to live up to it is also good.

Skalisty is seeming like a Knight Errant at this stage. It’s a good character template, especially for new players. You get to wander round asking questions a lot and joining in as you like, where you like.

Design: Do you have a story for killing that bear? 'Cos if it’s a trophy of a great deed, that’s more Dawnish than just wearing it for the warmth or the look. Knight-Errant or Yeoman are not expected to have particularly shiny armour, especially if they aren’t associated with a House.

Two handed sword is a classic. Have you bought Hero points for the extra special damage calls?

Speaking of character build, have you picked a personal resource? Fleet and military unit don’t really fit, neither does herb garden. Mana site and congregation are out. Mine or forest might work (“I found a hidden deposit of X in the woods and have cut a deal for some to be shipped to me”). Actually, Business/Farm might work… atypically for Dawn…

“This bear was ravaging the farms south of Boars Hollow. I was able to track it, and slay it. In exchange for this, the locals are sending me a purse of monies for a few months…”
(This would get you starting play with hard cash)

If the sword is a legacy from a mentor, that explains why it isn’t really a Dawnish style (more Wintermark or Varushka, but not by much. It’s just the quillions).

Have you bought this weapon yet? If not, I would advise holding on and picking something up at the event. Calimacil look pretty professional, but I’m not familiar with their work, and you DO NOT want to shell out for a sword that fails weapons check at the event…

I am happy to answer further questions on Dawn, Knight Errant-ing, or the game :slight_smile:

There is also, if you are interested, a Dawnish Facebook Page.


Thanks for the great feedback,

Skalisty is a placeholder name and will not be the final name, just needed one for the post so I didn’t have to repeat (name here). Winterborune sounds like a great start for my character and the challenge of a duel would work better as its a better show of courage compared to trying to robbing someone.

I’ll take the “Low-paid agricultural worker” approach and have the character’s training come at a purpose to protect the farm land as well as the noble spending time with him while he’s young to strengthen that bound.

The bear skin is a trophy but I didn’t want to add the details as it would make the post longer. I plan on having claw marks on my armour to show that the bear that my character wears was killed by him and not bought. That 3 year period where my character spends all his times on the roads and forests to “prove himself to himself” is where he gets the bear skin. I’ll add that he was rewarded for killing it. It’s also where the character personally improves on the combat training he got, so much so that he was able to reach Anvil when he felt he was ready.

My character having the armour is purely down to the fact it was passed down as inheritance by the noble who took him in, and he wears it to honour that noble’s legacy but uses it to also to create his own.

So when it comes to the style of sword, would you say that the one I gave as an example (The highlander) would work considering my character and the means in which he got the sword? If it wouldn’t I can make it so that he bought the sword at a later date, however I like the armour and the sword to be passed down as that gives them more meaning to the character.

Thanks for all the help.

Hi and welcome. There are a few things I’d like to suggest if I may. Broadly, it’s not a bad background, but as Geoff suggests, some tweaks would help, and I’d like to give an idea of how you could best turn this into something suitable for submission to PD there are some really common pitfalls we can help you avoid here.

The biggest single point is that the way you’ve laid it out here is kinda like a short story. And if anyone ever asks you for the story in the field, that might be how the character tells it. But for PD’s purposes it is unhelpful and harder for them to use than it needs to be. The ideal approach is usually to start with exactly what you’ve done here and have a story, but then to break it down into a bunch of key points (I love bullet points for this) which are easy to scan through. The two big reasons they ask for character backgrounds are (1) to make sure your character fits in with the game world and you aren’t aiming to do something off brief and (2) so plot writers can find characters who might be interested in things they are writing.

So with that in mind, if I may I shall try to create an example using the story you have above:

  • Born in [place name] and lived as a petty criminal
  • Saved from the streets by [name of noble person] and adopted into [Dawnish house name], based in [name of territory that house is in, possibly even the region] as a menial yeofolk.
  • [noble mentor] died before [character name] could ask for a Test of Mettle
  • [character name] has come to Anvil to prove himself

Everything I’ve asked for in square brackets is stuff that you will want to know to tell your story properly, and all the other colourful details you can elaborate in person. It also means any plot writer can do a keyword search when they are writing, perhaps looking for Dawnish houses based on [territory name]. The names of key people are important, or no-one can use them; I once got some personal plot written for me and was very surprised - later on I found out it was because a writer had gone through the backgrounds of loads of players who had written similar things, but it turned out I was the only one who had bothered to include a name they could use.

In terms of the equipment, I would personally avoid Calimicil like the plague; they have an amazing PR department as far as I can tell, but loads of their weapons fail weapons check. Even the ones I’ve seen that pass are horrible to fight with.
The bear skin idea isn’t great for a Dawnish character, as it is more typical for other nations, and particularly for the barbarian Jotun. You could achieve the kind of aesthetic you are describing by having some nice armour that is finished with a surface that suits a travelling fighter. For example, if you went for some nice plate that had a blackened finish, that might be the armour of your old mentor that has now been treated to stop it rusting when you don’t have the resources of the house behind you.


I’m going to echo @TimB and advise you to avoid calimacil, from what I know they have a high pass/fail ratio with the weapon checkers at Empire due to the fact they’re injection-moulded. The foam they use can be a good batch, or a bad batch and you don’t know until the weapon’s checked. A bad sword will fail, and you will be out by a considerable amount of money.

Secondly I’d avoid the bear skin; if I saw a character with dented armour, a bear skin and a big sword I’d assume they were Wintermark. It does depend on how you put the whole kit together of course.

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I seriously doubt that any remotely respectable noble house would make any yeofolk sleep with the animals, there would be better accommodation available. If your character actually preferred this that’s probably fair enough but the rest of the house would probably consider it a bit odd. I don’t think it’s actually off-brief, but feels rather Marcher in flavour.

Thanks for the advice guys, I’ve decided to take on board the tips you guys have given and are changing the character a lot to fit more with the Dawn and improve on other elements brought up.

Thanks guys