All the attention in the Moldvay set is focused on Morgan Ironwolf. And for that reason, most of us tend to forget that a host of other characters are present within the pages of that venerable tome. During my rereading project I was pleasantly surprised to come across names that I had forgotten long ago. Revisit with me their stories.
Morgan receives the bulk of the attention in Moldvay and we know the most about her of all the characters therein. She is beautiful and deadly, a natural leader, and she knows how to compromise to get what she wants. We first meet her on page B13 when she appears as an example of creating a player character.
According to the fictional player creating Morgan, the name was inspired by Morgan le Fey from the King Arthur stories. Beyond the reasoning for the name, we get little true background for Morgan. I think this is the main reason that for many, Aleena the cleric wins out over Morgan in the debate. We come to feel for Aleena because we know more about her. Morgan is mostly just numbers on a page, though we do learn a bit more about her personality later in the book.
|Morgan Ironwolf from page B14|
Her stats suggest that she is strong, healthy, and dexterous but not very bright. She possesses average wisdom and is a fairly likable person. Morgan is well-equipped but not particularly rich in coin. She is law abiding and dislikes chaos and evil. That's about all we know about her for certain. It will take two short example dungeon adventures for us to learn a bit more.
** It is interesting to note that on this character sheet, Morgan is listed as having a lawful alignment. When we next meet her she is not only noted as being neutral, but definitely acts that way in character.
Morgan appears again on pages B28 and B59, but this time she is on an adventure with four fellow companions. Reading between the lines, it is here that one can find out more about Morgan Ironwolf. For example: after a battle that would see one of her companions fall, the attacking hobgoblins choose to surrender when the outcome of the melee becomes obvious. This is when we finally see a glimpse Morgan's personality. At first, though an agreement was made with the surrendering hobgoblins, Morgan wants to kill them anyhow. As a neutral fighter* (see the note above), she sees no issue at all with dispatching her remaining enemies. Perhaps she desires revenge for her fallen comrade or maybe she is being practical and does not wish to leave enemies behind to warn others. Whatever the reason, she clearly wants them dead. She wisely changes her mind when confronted by another party member who happens to be a lawful cleric. Perhaps it was the wound Morgan received in battle (which she suggests) that causes her to wish to kill the hobgoblins and that mood has now passed. Or maybe Morgan is savvy enough to elicit a healing spell from the cleric by bending to a more lawful view of the situation. No matter her reasoning, it is plain that she understands that situations are fluid and she exhibits the ability to gain an advantage from such scenarios.
From reading the description of the encounter I think it is easy to determine some of her other personality traits that cannot be gleaned from a character sheet. Even at low levels she is a hardened and practical fighter. She understands battle tactics and the rules of war. Yet she is not rash. Morgan knows that to survive the harsh underground environment she must cooperate with the others and be a team player. Morgan Ironwolf may not be as well-liked as Aleena but one cannot deny that she is an accomplished warrior and clever dungeoneer.
With Morgan in the dungeon are several lesser known characters from the Moldvay set: Silverleaf the elf (level 2), Sister Rebecca the Adept (second level cleric), Fredrik the dwarf (first level), and Black Dougal the Footpad (second level thief).
We know less about Sister Rebecca, the lawful cleric. Other than the fact that she is obviously the moral compass of the party, not much can be determined about her. Despite her dislike for the hobgoblins, she will not allow the party to forget their promise to spare their lives. She forces her will upon the party and the hobgoblins are allowed to live. Later she frets over a fallen companion when her fellow adventurers seem more concerned with treasure. I think the cleric has a good heart. We also know that she is armed with a mace and shield. Other than those few details, Sister Rebecca remains shrouded in mystery.
Morgan's last companion is Black Dougal. We never get the chance to learn much about him since he is poisoned by a spring trap early in the adventure. Perhaps his nerves were shaken after the battle with the goblins or maybe the lighting was too poor to properly detect the trap on the chest. Whatever the reason, Black Dougal met an untimely end beside thousands of shiny silver coins. Ironic is it not?
|Is this Fredrik, Black Dougal, and Silverleaf? Possibly.|
Other than Morgan Ironwolf and her brave companions, several other characters are mentioned in the Moldvay manual but little is said of them.
Borg the fighter is the only remaining character that we truly know anything bout. Our knowledge of him comes from a single source on page B5. We see his stats and equipment but have no other details about him.
|Borg the fighter from B5: How To Create A Player Character.|
We know even less about Tars the fighter and Gantry the cleric. They both appear on page B15 in the example of Cure Light Wounds spell use. Tars has a max of 6 hit points and was apparently wounded in a battle. He is saved by his companion with a healing spell.
Sarien the elf appears on B17 in the example of using a Sleep spell. During an encounter with four lizard men the crafty elf is able to put three of them to sleep. Whether he survives the rest of the encounter is unknown.
We meet Bork the fighter on page B22 in the XP example. Mighty Bork rises from second level to level 3 and becomes Bork the Swordmaster. He gains six hit points during the level change to give him a total of 17. Moldvay Basic D&D is a dangerous game. He will need those extra HP to survive! The photo below is not attributed to any one character in the text. However, I can't help but think that if any illustration looks like a Bork, it must be this one!
|Bork the Swordmaster?|
Finally we happen upon Huxley the fighter on page B25. He and an unnamed companion (also a fighter) find themselves in battle with a gargoyle. Lacking a proper weapon to inflict injury on the beast, Huxley first tries to employ a fighting withdrawal to allow his companion to join the fray but eventually opts to retreat instead. Good luck Huxley... you will need it.
Morgan Ironwolf, Silverleaf the elf, Sister Rebecca, poor Fredrik the dwarf, Black Dougal the unlucky, Borg, Tars, Gantry, Sarien, Bork, and Huxley: these are the brave men and women of the Moldvay Basic Set. Let us bow our heads in remembrance of their daring exploits. Long may they live in memory.
This rereading project has turned up many treasures thus far, and not just the kind that Fredrik the dwarf likes to find. I must say that I had forgotten about most of these characters. I'm glad I had the opportunity to rediscover them. I hope you have enjoyed doing the same by reading this post.
I'd like to leave you with a few questions again.
* Did I find them all? Are there other characters in the Moldvay rule book that I missed?
* Of those listed, which do you remember the most? Any special stories about them?
* Morgan's alignment change, was it intentional or a misprint?
* Should Fredrik at least have mourned Black Dougal for a moment before snagging his backpack?
* Is the photo of the three adventurers with the bound goblin meant to be Black Dougal and company?
* The last pic of the fighter in a horned helm: Borg, Tars, or Bork (or none of the above)?
Thanks for your comments and participation. Most of all, thanks for reading!