In the summer of 2008, Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition was brand new. I had stopped playing World of Warcraft a few months before and had some room in my life for some nerdly fun. I could also use an infusion of social energy.
So, I wound up joining a newly forming gaming group. I showed up the first night with a few characters in folder, a 4e Player’s Handbook and my set of dice. While I had originally intended on playing the Dragonborn Warlord I’d first created, I had also created a Tiefling Paladin a few nights before, and this was the character who called loudest on that night. In this way, Ayn Blüd was born. From the beginning I had trouble with his last name. The umlaut over the ‘u’, shifts the pronunciation away from ‘oo’ to something more Germanic. It still sounds like his last name is ‘Blood’ which is okay, I guess.
From the beginning, I appreciated the tension between Ayn’s race and class. Tieflings are forever struggling with their evil tinged heritage, while Paladins epitomize law, order and all that is right and good. I knew this would give me some good hooks, and I saw some clear potential for a character arc involving Ayn’s descent into grim and gritty as he comes to understand the nature of evil in the world.
Ayn is more than a little patterned after Anakin Skywalker (though not Hayden Christensen), but without the unswerving destiny for evil. I didn’t want to make his arc dependant on any specific events, so I built in potential levers from several sources. I provided a mother and father in his back story who live hundreds of miles away. I knew that if anything happened to them, it would affect him dramatically. Also like Anakin, Ayn would have issues with the other women in his life. From the beginning I knew that harm coming to a woman he loved could send him into a very dark place.
A few more foundational characteristics emerged during the first month or so of play: I chose the base setting’s goddess of civilization, Erathis as his patron, and my DM was good enough to work her into our Forgotten Realms setting. I like the potential for duality: civilization is often subjective and that’s a tension I could use. After being repeatedly knocked prone in the blood of Kalarel’s victims during the Keep on the Shadowfell’s final climactic battle, Ayn went a little crazy, decapitated the villain and dragged the head back to town. During the post-adventure celebration, Ayn started his first ‘relationship’ with Brandi the bar maid. Apparently, Ayn was a bit of a slut back then.