You may remember Eilaga Axeager, the headstrong dwarf with a penchant for alcohol and a fiery defender of Dwarvian culture. She was the first D&D character I ever made, and supported me well as I took my first tentative steps into foreign lands. But I was ready for someone a bit more.
I recently needed to make a new Dungeons & Dragons character quickly, as a new campaign with new players was beginning, and I hadn’t any time for character creation. So, I was forced to adopt one of the premades that come with the starter set, with backstory and stats already sorted – little left to do but pick a name. Thus, Nikal Nersk was born.
As soon as I could, I rewrote his backstory to capture who Nikal had ended up becoming: a cringeworthy egotist with a hero complex, whose companions roll their eyes whenever he opens his mouth. His flaws include thinking he is always the man for the job (whatever the situation), and caring just a little too much for his long, blonde locks. But he is passionate, and kind, and holds great respect for the members of his party. He’s also teetotal, which isn’t as straightforward as you’d think in a world where the local tavern gets visited at least a dozen times per campaign!
Here’s a little of his backstory, part of what I recently emailed to our DM – there’s some fun plot points that I am looking forward to being worked into future campaigns. I feel it goes some way to explain why he is the way he is. We’ve all got our reasons after all, haven’t we?
The Great Nikal Nersk
Nikal’s parents ran a modestly successful inn called The Rose and Crown in the town of Tranmere, which sat at the foot of Mount Brath. Nikal’s parents doted on his eldest brother, Vincent, who was strong, charismatic, loved by the locals (inc. the local women!) and was an excellent fighter. Vincent was destined for great things, and Nikal, despite how hard he fought to be noticed as something more, was expected to be the one to follow in his parent’s footsteps and run The Rose and Crown. Still, the brothers loved each other, and Vincent taught Nikal how to fight and hunt.
One day, Nikal overheard Vincent and his friends talking of a visit from the Knights of Breymoor. They were scouting for young talent, and would be offering training opportunities to the best young candidates. Nikal piped up with enthusiasm, saying he would prove he was worthy to join their ranks, but the group just laughed – “you’d have to slay a dragon for them to notice you, little Nersk!”
Certain that this was his chance to be acknowledged, Nikal packed some items for a short trip and ventured up the mountain to the lair of the dragon that dwelled in Mount Brath. So sure that he could tackle the foe, he entered the lair, waking the dragon who had been sleeping for centuries… The dragon raged, knocking Nikal unconscious and flying out to the nearest town: Tranmere!
Nikal awoke in a haze to find himself alone. He climbed sheepishly back down the mountain, to find Tranmere in ruin. Bodies and ash littered the streets, many buildings had crumbled. The crested armour of the Breymoor Knights could be seen glimmering among the rubble. The Rose and Crown had several collapsed walls, but his family were nowhere to be found beneath the stones – surely they had not managed to escape this massacre? Furious with himself, he stood behind the ruined bar. If only he had listened! If only he had accepted his fate!
He drank to numb the pain for hours, days, until a familiar roar from above made him reach for his battered sword. Nikal staggered into what was left of the street to confront his enemy – the dragon landed nearby, and an epic battle commenced! Powered by grief and fury (and an awful lot of drink!), Nikal Nersk fought for all those he had lost… and won, slaying the beast!
Leaving town to seek herodom in the great beyond, he looted a Breymoor greatsword as he went to remember his triumph – he’d earned it after all, right?
His misadventures might sometimes lead to the death of entire villages, but really, he has a heart of gold. I’m looking forward to seeing how he develops further – will he ever see his family again? Will the tragedy of Tranmere ever catch up with him? Will his stolen Breymoor greatsword ever expose him for the fraud he is? Nikal’s life is in the DM’s hands now… for better or for worse!