Greetings good men and womenfolk, and welcome back to Come Roleplay With Me!
If you regularly frequent this column, then you’ll know that I roleplay a particular character week by week, setting myself various challenges and then write about how successful (or usually not) my adventures have been.
Last time, I roleplayed Oblivion as a sneaky agent, and actually managed to complete my challenge for once! I still haven’t been given a prize though, so if you feel I deserve one please email it, along with any suggestions to our lovely Editor in Chief, to email@example.com [Editor’s note: that’s an actual email address by the way].
This week, it was Mount and Blade: Warband’s turn to fall under my mighty roleplaying gaze. This is a game that not many people have heard about, but it’s one of my favorites. Warband is set
in the fictional world of Calradia, a setting that closely resembles medieval Earth.
There are 6 factions vying to become the most powerful kingdom in all the lands; but unlike many other RPGs, Mount and Blade: Warband doesn’t cast you as some sort of prophesied chosen one. Instead, it’s pretty much a freeform sandbox that lets you loose to do your own thing. No, there are no scattered fragments of a long-lost amulet to find; there’s no evil God seeking to return to existence; and, thank f*ck, there are no Oblivion gates.
I turned the difficulty up to full (manual blocking, done using mouse direction and right-clicking) and played in one sitting under permadeath conditions. The only challenge I set myself was to reach level 5.
I created an impoverished noble Nord who wished to make a name for himself and raise his rank by whatever means necessary. I picked my background, made him angry and beardy, and started my journey in Sargoth, capital of the Nords.
The Saga of Buliwyf and the Old King
Buliwyf arrived back at his ancestral home of Sargoth by boat. Ever since his father had sent him away he’d known that he would return. Those nobles of Calradia who had shunned his family and pushed them into squalor and poverty would pay. At first, he wandered the streets with nothing but his sword, shield and flowing beard. As he passed an alley he heard a sword pulled from its scabbard. He drew his own blade, expecting trouble. As it turned out, it was only a petty thief who had no more combat experience than a child. Buliwyf parried his feeble blows with ease and split the bastard’s head with one blow.
Back in his youth, the people of this city had known respect. He’d see it return that way – or die trying.
A merchant heard the commotion and ran to Buliwyf, informing him that Sargoth had fallen into corruption. He asked Buliwyf to rescue his brother from looters, then bring justice to the bandits who had taken control of the town. The merchant seemed an honorable man, so Buliwyf agreed.
Buliwyf left Sargoth and skirted nearby villages, recruiting peasants who sought glory in military service. He managed to gather a small force of 10 men using charisma and leadership, then led his surly band back to Sargoth to find the group of looters that had been seen in the area.
The makeshit military troupe managed to corner the thieves just outside Sargoth, and realized there were only five of them. Without giving the order he rode out on his horse to meet them in battle, quickly dispatching them from horseback. Buliwyf left the final bandit alive long enough to learn the location of the merchant’s brother.
The bandits may have been terrible fighters, but they were cunning. They’d made their base down by the shore through a rocky crag, meaning that Buliwyf couldn’t ride his horse through; instead, he had to foot slog it with the rest of his men.
Upon reaching the looters’ home, Buliwyf and his band of lost causes camped at the entrance and waited for daybreak. In a bid to inspire bravery and daring among his men, Buliwyf promised 100 gold pieces to whoever who took the head of the bandit leader (while secretly hoping that he managed the feat himself, of course). He then shared a cask of ale and declared that they would be attacking at the crack of dawn. The rest of the night was filled with merriment, increasingly unlikely anecdotes, and plenty of mead.
He awoke the next morning with the familiar feeling of fear that all warriors felt, but never admitted to before battle. Several of his men were praying, but Buliwyf had no time for religion or gods; he’d come to learn that wits and steel were the only things a man could trust.
Buliwyf rose to his feet, donned his armor and took his sword and shield firmly in each hand. Turning, he gave the order to advance. Despite their lack of experience his men were willing and obedient; they managed to stay in close formation all the way to the shore, and there was next to no chatter.
T’was for naught, however: the looters, anticipating such an attack, quickly spotted Buliwyf and his small band. Just over twice the number that Buliwyf commanded came out to meet the invaders. But Buliwyf was determined to win the day; reasoning that the best way to take victory from cowardly bandits was to show no fear, he ordered his men to charge.
After several long minutes, each and every scoundrel lay dead. Buliwyf had taken a few hits, but he’d personally slain the bandits’ leader (saving himself 100 coins in the process). With no-one left to stand between him and his objective, Buliwyf strode purposefully through the camp and freed the brother of the merchant who had set him on his path. Upon seeing his captors’ grizzly fates, the merchant’s brother ran to Buliwyf, weeping in gratitude.
The return journey was mostly uneventful and Buliwyf managed to fulfill his duty, returning the merchant’s brother to safety. Now that his deed was done, the merchant arranged for Buliwyf and his men to confront the scum that filled the streets of Sargoth. They planned an ambush and set it in motion as quickly as possible. Without a moment to rest, Buliwyf was back on the streets of Sargoth, and the battle for the streets began.
After, Buliwyf roughly pulled his sword from the body of a dead bandit, surveyed the streets and saw… chaos. There were close to 40 dead that he could see, including all of his own men. The merchant of Sargoth looked pleased, but Buliwyf had a foul taste left in his mouth. He couldn’t help but feel that he’d done more harm than good here.
The merchant requested his presence back at the tavern but Buliwyf refused, swearing off Sargoth and the lands of the Nords for good. There was nothing to be gained from this blood-soaked region, and he couldn’t help but feel that he helped the town to swap one form of tyranny for another.
Questioning whether or not he truly wanted to become a great warrior and leader, Buliwyf wandered around settlements for a while until he found himself in the Vaegir town of Rivacheg. Judging by the crowds he assumed that some form of event was taking place. As it turned out, there was a tournament taking place – in it fighters were able to pit their strength against each other, hoping to win the grand prize. With nothing to lose, Buliwyf signed up to take part, betting what money he had left on himself to win.
After several rounds of being beaten by wooden axes, swords and staves it was only Buliwyf and the king of the Vaegirs, Yaroglek who remained standing. They were to face off against each other in a dual. Buliwyf was sure that he’d be in a great deal of trouble if he beat the king, but his honor demanded that he fight with all his skill.
The fight began and they exchanged blow after blow, neither able to land a hit on the other. The fight lasted so long that their shields were left shattered, leaving them to fight with only their hand weapons. After an exhausting eternity, Buliwyf finally spotted a gap in the king’s defense and struck out at his head with all his might. Wood connected with steel and there was a sickening crunch as Buliwyf landed a blow to the King’s helmet. The king fell to the ground, victory belonged to Buliwyf. However, he had no time to celebrate until he discovered whether he’d killed the king or not.
Minutes passed, and the old man didn’t stir. Buliwyf could see the guards edging ever closer, ready to kill Buliwyf if the worst was confirmed. Finally the king stirred, he slowly raised himself to
his feet and Buliwyf could see a smile there. King Yaroglek began laughing at the top of his lungs and raised Buliwyf’s hand into the air and the crowd erupted with cheers. Despite his usual grim composure, Buliwyf found that he too was laughing. After collecting his winnings he was invited to a feast at the king’s palace. As he drank himself into a stupor he realized that he now had a more manageable dream. He would become the greatest tournament fighter in all of Calradia, earning himself fame and fortune. He smiled to himself as he downed another drink.
Perhaps Calradia wasn’t so bad after all.
I really wasn’t sure where I was going to go with this playthrough. It turns out when you’re given total freedom it’s scary. I pretty much ended up just figuring it out as I went, with only a vague idea of how my character would react to certain events. In any case, this saga has a happy ending, I managed to reach level 5, thus completing my challenge. Those of you who know how hard it is staying alive in Mount and Blade will realize that this is no small feat. I’m getting pretty good at this roleplaying business.
I really enjoyed doing things differently this week. I usually try to gear my playthrough towards being quirky; but this week I decided to remain true to the game. Rather than go in seeking an angle, I stuck to roleplaying the character that I wanted Buliwyf to be (I hope someone gets the 13th Warrior reference). In any case, I’d love to hear what your thoughts on this slightly more serious Come Roleplay With Me are. Was it better? Worse? About the same? Too long? Too short? Would you like multi-part articles on a single game? Let me know in the comments. As always, I’d also love to hear about any roleplaying experiences of your own.
Next week, I’ll be doing something a little different again. I’m going to play one or more of the games from the Hitman franchise and give a detailed description of the various hits that I attempt. Rather than killing the target in each mission, I’ll be selecting my own and attempting to carry out the assassination.
Don’t worry though, I’m not going to pick characters that start right beside you at the start of each mission – I’ll select targets who are interesting and hard to get to. I’ll also give myself various methods that I have to use to kill them.
Just to make things interesting.
So come roleplay with me again next time – and don’t forget to email firstname.lastname@example.org!