Human, Paladin|Rogue (MC Bard), Daring Blade
Cicero was a well-known figure around the free cities of Elgard, not because he was an incredibly powerful knight, but because he was an incredibly powerful knight who was also a bastard and massive prick of epic proportions. His name first came into prominence about fifteen years ago when, still a no-name soldier of ignoble repute, he entered a regional combat tournament on a whim. Expecting the local favorite, Sir Harlfax to win the tournament by a landslide, the crowd was promptly handed the most outrageous disappointment of their lives when Cicero suddenly sucker-punched Harlfax in the middle of a verbal exchange usually reserved for salutations, and then through a vicissitude of verbal and physical abuse, proceeded to reduce him to a babbling pile of ineptitude, on the ground begging for mercy mere moments later.
Technically, there weren't really any rules against that. Nonetheless, people were understandably displeased with how their new champion knight earned his title, and took to the streets in protest. Bulls***, they cried, that was just a complete fluke, and Cicero was a cheater. Rather than voice any form of response, Cicero gave them a figurative one-fingered salute, and proceeded to repeat the same feat at the same tournament a year later. And then again, the year after. In every case, his opponents, all honorable, aspiring champions of the realm, were each soundly beaten, insulted, and traumatized with such ferocity that for many years afterwards, they remained a mere pale shadow of their former prowess.
He was promptly banned from regional tournaments immediately thereafter. Nonetheless, the damage had already been done, and his reputation already made. Cicero the Bastard. Cicero the knight who erred from the path of chivalry. Cicero, who would win, no matter the cost. Surprisingly, that actually made him a popular soldier in the employ of certain lords, dispatching him to assignments where no other knight could possibly succeed. Where so many others would oblige their knightly oaths, rather than heed the pleas of the weak, Cicero would berate them for their weakness and tell them to grow a pair while he proceeded to take the head of the opposing bandit lord. Rather than trying to smooth over a difficult hostage situation, Cicero would simply bluff that he didn't give a damn, and charge in headlong anyway. He would lie, cheat, steal, bed, and blackmail to gain any edge he could prior to a fight, and when the scuffle actually came, a sharp tongue hurling the most scathing of insults and a sharp blade with unerring preference for the enemy's groin saw him through to victory any day.
Though in his quests he almost always ends up displeasing someone, it remains that his accomplishments were successful, useful, and surprisingly, good. Being that there were only bandits, raiders, and the occasional demonhost remnant to fight off, its rather hard to imagine a scenario where such a victory wouldn't be heroic, or awe-inspiring had it been done by any other method and any other man. Nonetheless, recognized or not, Cicero's checkered career continues, with him fast becoming a favored soldier to be throw into the most dangerous and impossible of situations. After all, if he dies, that's somehow its own consolation prize.
Like many other knight-errants, Cicero spent much of his days wandering around punching people and taking their stuff (read: questing). Unlike the more formal overlord-vassal relationship kept by knights and their noble patrons in the Irengard, the independent city-states of Elgard offer little organized military presence outside of what relatively minor garrisons their cities could sustain, and their lords could reasonably keep only a small cadre of vassal-knights under their direct allegiance. Rather, they relied primarily on contractual work from the extensive group of 'free knights' that make their home around the region. In a way, the work is almost certainly mercenary in nature. A call to arms is issued asking for brave champions of the realm to muster, and those of particular virtue (or avarice) rise to the challenge.
In this manner, Cicero has already worked under several of the smaller city-states in the region: Garicia, Sirecia, and Vugoslavia (please, for the love of god, change these names). The lords of each of these cities have all acknowledged Cicero begrudgingly, for as much of an ass as he was, few other knights of the realm could put down a uppity band of raiders with such brutal effectiveness to the point where a bandit lord would surrender on his own volition, begging to be freed from further torment. Lord Vugoslavia even prefers him, for in one particular contract to save a noble the lord found particularly annoying, conveniently neglecting to define 'save the hostages' in the mission parameters ended in a way that was exactly as one would expect.
His best patron by far, however, was Lady Illyasviel Alveron of the city-state of Alveron. Well, technically, his patronage was by the city itself and the lord that governed it, but in truth, he had a love-hate relationship, both professionally and personally, with the lady of the city. 'Illya', he called her, harking back to younger days, when she was still a young free knight, and one of very few who not only tolerated, but even liked the way Cicero conducted business. It was downright amazing how one night under the influence of the universal shame-inhibitor known as alcohol and a careless slip of the phrase "ohohoho, please, call me 'Illya'" could cause nearly two decades of grief. This sort of familiarity, however, was what allowed both sides to benefit from a pseudo vassal-lord relationship in the years following her marriage to the Lord of Alveron - Illyasviel had become the de facto Knight-Commander of all Alveron's military forces, and with her ascension, the contracts flowed nonstop. He was almost always assigned the most dangerous and arduous of challenges, and with it, the most lucrative contractual rewards (and not all of which was monetary), though whether it was because she trusted his capabilities to succeed in the matter or an earnest attempt to try and get him finally killed was anyone's guess, and more often than not up to the whims of her fiery temperament.
Involvement with Isengard/Ordamar:
When Ordamar speaks, you listen. Or at least, you listen to the parts that you want to hear. Ever-vigilant, and mindful of the fact that he needed to rebuild his army quickly in the event of unforeseen future disaster, King Ordamar began myriad preparations to consolidate his military power, and one of them was a request - not so much of alliance, for the value of such association with scattered minor free states was suspect at best, but of commission. Elgard, after all, was even nearer to the Darklands, and had seen its own share of conflicts for years. What better way to ensure his own soldiers kept their edge, he reasoned, than to infuse them with new skills and fresh perspectives from an officer-exchange program? With any luck, he might even handpick a few talented ones to serve and bolster the ranks of his own champions. He would pay, he announced, for each Elgardian city to organize a force of its own knights and soldiers to bolster his forces, and quite handsomely too - the treasuries of individual cities paled in comparison to that of a prosperous kingdom, and no fewer than a dozen city lords popped their eyes at the number of zeroes written in the contractual rewards.
Well, that certainly got them all thinking. How could they profit off of this? Most of them arrived at the exact same conclusion: the last great war had a survival rate of oh...what percent again? This was a great time as any to do personnel downsizing. Their most problematic and incompetent; the lazy, weak-willed and moronic sons of their vassal knights who only gained their aristocratic titles because 'daddy was also a knight'; in scores and droves they sent their refuse to their probable doom, the refuse, so long as they numbered a proper army, whose weight King Ordamar would pay for in gold.
All except for the City-State of Alveron. They sent one single knight. It was all they could afford.
And with that, we transition to another RP sample.
It was no hidden fact that Cecil Alveron despised Cicero. The reasons...need not be said, for they are manyfold, but his suspicions of certain shenanigans with his wife definitely made the top of a very long list. Which is perhaps why everyone was stunned when he proposed that they contract a free knight, generally a tremendous expense, to King Ordamar's muster when all other city-states were practically laughing and swimming gleefully in all the free gold they were getting at Ordamar's expense. And then he mentioned the free knight's name: Cicero Krosse. And then they all understood.
. . .
The antechamber was silent, for few dared to speak. Those that did dare, chose not to. They simply looked onward as Cicero perused the contract.
"Well, this is a pleasant surprise. Voluntary exile, rather than some some foray into some new found deathtrap in an effort to get me killed once more. Your idea, Illya?."
He amusedly noted a definitive cringe from the Lord Alveron, whom was still relegated to calling her by her formal name Illyasviel while Cicero could so easily kick common courtesy to the curb. He knew Alveraon was an intensely jealous and possessive man, and it was, perhaps, even the only reason why he still called her by her familiar name even now. The passion-flame of their private relationship was smothered long ago, and by now it had become a mere ghost in the closet, to kept sealed tightly under wraps. Well, probably. When someone approached within even a mile of the subject, both would vehemently deny it. At the same time. And then they'd proceed to hurl the exact same insults at each other. Hmm...
With some uncharacteristic amount of cautiousness, Cicero gauged his patrons' faces for reaction. The obvious indignation from Alveron was both amusing and favorable, at least to his interests, but Illyasviel was a surprisingly hard read. She hasn't thrown anything lethal at him - usually a good sign, but she was also thinly smiling - usually a bad one. More importantly, however, she had a vacant look in her eyes, no longer looking towards him, rather, beyond him, anywhere but him. She also looked like she was about to say something when one of the retainers slammed his fist against the table in outrage.
"Insolence! How dare you speak to Lady Alveron with such vulg-" He began, but was interrupted in turn.
"BE SILENT. Adults are talking."
The retainer was well into his early fifties, and thus a good two decades older than Cicero, but the bastard knight talked down to him with the tone of speaking to a small child, loudly, definitively, and without a further look in his direction. The old man seethed, and might even have sputtered an enraged response or two, but Cicero simply talked over him, paying him no further heed.
"Is he new? He must be new around here." That got a semblance of smile out of Illya, if only just the tiniest bit. "I've little reason not to accept your assignment. However, we're talking about a pervasive extension of my servitude contract, for a period that looks an awful lot like, well...indefinite, and far outside your domestic concern. Doable, but the cost would be..."
He penned a figure even as he spoke, one with far too many numbers behind it to appear reasonable, and looking eerily like the exact value that King Ordamar had offered for a requisition of troops, down to the same decimal values, even. Cicero had his sources.
"...Twice this value. Half up front."
"Th-this is an outrageous sum. You could buy a small estate with that!"
"Two, actually, and on the waterfront of the outer quadrant of Vugoslavia, no less. The Lord of Vugoslavia recently pulled eminent domain on some land left undeveloped after some forgettable noble kicked the bucket in an unfortunate hostage incident, and offered to build me a vacation home for cheap."
"...but you know, I'd never even think of leaving here, not when the missus here treats me so well."
The double threat seemed to do the trick. Alveron motioned Illya over, and two retreated to a heated private discussion over whispers. Distinctly significant outbursts were overheard, such as "Oh, come on, that's our entire budget! How would we look when Ordamar saw we only sent one knight?!", and "Oh please, with the trash everyone else is sending? We'd be sending more soldiers than any other state ever would.", along with something about "'Tis a price worthy of a hero of the realm."
For all her unreadable mood today, she was actually sticking up for him. Which, for an infinitely rare moment of humble gratuity, Cicero contemplated thanking a god (whichever; Cicero hasn't prayed to any god since...well, ever). He didn't, of course, but it was the thought that counts. Now everything falls into place. Cecil Alveron wheels about abruptly, snatching up the contract with a "gimme that!" look, and scratching his name onto the signature line with vehement ferocity.
"You are NOT getting that second half of the sum unless Ordamar personally sends you back to me, your chest pinned full of commendations. I want to see it in the news, and I want to see scry-pictographs. you got that?"
Hopeyoudiehopeyoudiehopeyoudiehopeyoudie, his face otherwise says, in no uncertain terms.
"Oh, that was already in the plan, you know."
It was certainly the most he could hope to get out of him in this situation. Cicero merely sends back his regards with his usual cocksure smirk. It was not returned in kind.
"Good. Now, for the love of all that's radiant and necrotic, get out of here. Go do your job, and get the HELL out of my sight. "
Wordlessly, Cicero got up and began to depart. Still no words from Illya. He turned and looked back one last time...
She was standing, and staring straight at him. Her soul-piercing gaze was complemented by a thin sliver of a real smile; faint, bittersweet, but genuine. There was even the ever minute traces of a faint mist welling up in her eyes. No one, not even Cicero held any illusions about his chances to return back to these lands after being signed off to the king of Irengard, and this was the least she could do to send him off.
"Farewell, Sir Cicero Krosse. And godspeed."
For reasons even he couldn't explain, Cicero felt like laughing.
"Until we meet again, Illyasviel Krantz."
Leaving all but few perplexed as to why he called her by her maiden name, Cicero made his egress before another word was uttered. His forceful gait as proud as ever, the towering knight strode forward one step after another while the guards scrambled to clear a path. Soon, he would travel to a foreign land, off to fight eldritch horrors from a foreign dimension. The men of those lands knew nothing of him, of his ways, and still waged war while holding on to their petty ideals of chivalry. Soon, he would show feeble fools, men and demon alike, how real battles are won.
Let's show, instead of tell, because I'm pretty bad at just telling you "hey, my character is this."
RP Sample, using actual powers that this character would use:
Oh, this was good...he could already tell where this was going, and a predatory sneer began working its way into the cocksure expression that was ever-present on his face.
"Keh, a shot at point-blank range?"
It really wasn't, as the demon figured he was at ample distance to afford a margin of safety while hurling a fireball, but before he could even blink, Cicero had already bounded up to him, proclaiming his own truth and casting aside all logic of incredulous protest with a flying sword to the face.
"How...courageous? Daring? Try utterly stupid. It always amazes me how the lives of hundreds of soldiers are saved every year due to the ineptitude of pants-on-head imbeciles like you. Shall I do us all a favor by letting you escape so you may yet live to pollute your inbred genepool with your moronic filth?"
Or how about not. Cicero's silver blade had already decided to provide the answer. Not once, but twice it descended on soft, unarmored flesh, and punctuated by a gleeful wad of spit aimed straight into the eye of the freshly ventilated cadaver. Needless to say, the result precluded the possibility of any point-blank fireballs to be shot that day.
Cicero declines to wear a helmet, because spit and insults do not travel nearly as far behind a mouth guard and visor, and anyone facing him on the field of battle would observe a blond, heavy-set soldier in plated armor and crimson finery at least half a head taller than them, staring
down at them with cobalt blue pupils filled with obvious and dismissive scorn. That is, assuming they can see at all, with Cicero usually opening the battle by throwing sand in their eyes.
For the DM who prefers something a little darker and edgier than the world-saving superman. Your tastes may vary.
Character functions reasonably as a full defender, strong side of striker, and can sub leader in a pinch with one heal/encounter. Mostly though? This character's main role will be to end up trolling the enemy.
Let's be real here. I'm mostly a numbers guy who likes building optimized characters. But at this point, I'm pretty tried of building vanilla characters, and almost always end up trying to play weird characters that do crazy things. In general, I do my damndest to try and achieve the perfect marriage of RP and mechanics to match the character.
That aside, I'm been around the block for about 8 years, starting 3E, transitioning to 4E, and never looked back. I've played/playing a few games on MW, and currently running a one-shot Lair Assault for some people, because I'm too lazy to run my own stuff and its super easy to do adventures-in-a-can.
Also, please note that I'm friends with lcg16. While I hope to hell you take us both, if you had to pick one defender/defender-lite, take her.
====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Cicero, level 16
Human, Rogue|Paladin, Daring Blade
Hybrid Paladin: Hybrid Paladin Reflex
Hybrid Talent: Paladin Armor Proficiency
Human Power Selection: Heroic Effort
Background: Born Under a Bad Sign (Born Under a Bad Sign Benefit)
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 15, Con 11, Dex 16, Int 11, Wis 9, Cha 24.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 13, Con 10, Dex 13, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 18.
AC: 35 Fort: 28 Reflex: 32 Will: 32
HP: 112 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 28
Acrobatics +12, Athletics +13, Intimidate +22, Diplomacy +20, Endurance +9, Bluff +20
Arcana +8, Dungeoneering +7, Heal +7, History +8, Insight +7, Nature +7, Perception +7, Religion +8, Stealth +7, Streetwise +15, Thievery +7
Human: Versatile Duelist
Level 1: Heavy Blade Expertise
Level 2: Hybrid Talent
Level 4: Bardic Dilettante
Level 6: Vigilante Justice Style
Level 8: Mark of Finding
Level 10: Underhanded Tactics
Level 11: Disheartening Ambush
Level 12: Psychic Lock
Level 14: Improved Defenses
Level 16: Reserve Maneuver
Hybrid at-will 1: Riposte Strike
Hybrid at-will 1: Virtuous Strike
Reserve Maneuver: Lashing Blade
Hybrid encounter 1: Heedless Fury
Hybrid daily 1: Majestic Halo
Hybrid utility 2: Call of Challenge
Hybrid encounter 3: Low Slash
Hybrid daily 5: Mocking Strike
Hybrid utility 6: Swift Parry
Hybrid encounter 7: Darting Strike
Hybrid daily 9: Profit from Weakness
Hybrid utility 10: Flush With Success
Hybrid encounter 13: Castigating Strike (replaces Heedless Fury)
Hybrid daily 15: Bloody Path (replaces Mocking Strike)
Hybrid utility 16: Slip from the Grasp
Heavy Shield, Imposter's Warplate Armor +4, Githyanki Silver Longsword +3, Headband of Intellect (heroic tier), Dreamstone Amulet +4, Iron Armbands of Power (heroic tier), Diamond Cincture (heroic tier), Boots of the Fencing Master (heroic tier), Dice of Auspicious Fortune (paragon tier), Symbol of Scorned Fate +1
====== Copy to Clipboard and Press the Import Button on the Summary Tab ======