Community Interview: Grizzled_Dwarflord (Character Building)

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      I had the great privilege to interview a long standing and eminent NWN player and character builder, Grizzled_Dwarflord.

      For those who are not aware, Grizzled_Dwarflord has been involved with NWN since 2002, and is one of the most famous character builders in the history of the ECB, writing over 63 character builds in the ECB Forum Archives. He is still active writing character builds in the new ECB Tapatalk Forum including assisting new players with character building advice.

      He is also one of the most skilled writers in the old ECB archives. Here is an exerpt from his War Wizard Build (Wizard 35 / Fighter 2 / Rogue 3) Post:

      Celladan, speechless, watched the armored mage turn and stride purposefully to the dock’s edge that overlooked the Bay of Fornwaith.

      Ravenstone looked to the sky above him, and all followed his gaze to a small black silhouette– a bird of some sort– that circled high in the air above the bay. They could hear its shrill cry, and he waved his hand to it.

      And deep out in the water came the mighty triremes of Galadon, each like a fortress unto itself, large and leviathan-like, and each pulsating with the drum of war. Each came equipped with three hundred warriors, and a hundred oars sprouted from either side of these beasts, and rhythmically they dipped in and out of the water to the slow beat of the war drums.

      “Stand back!” he commanded to those around him, and the Redmen and Arandiri alike stepped backward. His head dropped slightly, and then quickly he raised his arms akimbo, and his voice thundered words both strange and archaic across the water. And around his hands whirled an eerie blue mist, and shards of hot blue energy sprang from his upraised palms and lanced across the bay, and the dark waters below them hissed and boiled in their wake.

      The bystanders stood by in awe as they watched these missiles sail several hundred yards toward the approaching vessels. But they did not strike the triremes, but rather, struck the flotsam of barrels that bobbed innocently in the waters. In the next instant bright flashes of fire and light rocked the bay as the barrels exploded in a dazzling display of fire and black smoke. The first three triremes were immediately caught ablaze, and Celladan and the others could spy tiny figures engulfed in flame hurtle themselves wildly from the ships. The salty air carried their screams, and in a matter of moments the impending fleet of mighty warships became a roaring conflagration of scorched wood and flesh. The triremes in the rear were unable to change course in time, and they floundered and careened into the burning hulls and wreckage before them. It was not long before they shared a similar fate.

      And then the man called Ravenstone turned slowly around and looked at Celladan, and his startling green eyes burned with a fire of their own, as if they still reflected that floating inferno upon the Bay of Fornwaith. “From this day hence, let Galadon learn to fear the name of Roch Fornwaith,” he said grimly. “Now, let us go and parley.” – The War Wizard


      You’ve been involved with Neverwinter Nights right from its very early days, having read through a number of posts written by you in the Bioware forum days. Can you tell us how you got interested in Neverwinter Nights in the first place? Were there any other games or other game genres that might have contributed?


      I don’t even remember how I came to be there.  I just kind of wandered in after a long day with no ale, planted my freak flag in the ground, and said this here is now mine.  But like most, I suspect my RPG days got the best of me, and NWN came rolling in when many of us were no longer able to keep our old gaming groups together.  People aged, grew up, became adults, had families, and other priorities, but I just never could hang up my axe.


      Something that you are famous for, is your ability to create character builds that capture the imagination of players. These are famous character builds such as The War Wizard, The Charnel Lord, Mestil’s Pale Emissary, The Shadowboxer, The Arbalest of Acheron. The ECB Archives lists you having written 63 character builds which is just incredibly prolific. And after all these years you are still going with new builds such as The World Ender and Gloom Razor of the Hin. Can you tell us what got you involved with character building, and what you enjoy the most about building characters? 

      I always felt each character was unique and should tell a story, and it struck me how easy it was for a “character build” to act as a medium, or conduit, to tell such a story. Actually one of my favorites, both build in story, was The Hearth Guard, and I always thought he was superior to Bioware’s “Dwarven Wall.”  The story itself was fun, and was really an homage to “The 13th Warrior” if any of you whippersnappers are familiar with that one.  But it is true I love building and still try to stretch what the game can do, to think about classes, feats and spells 3 dimensionally and try to arrive at new ways of doing things. The Assassin King was another personal favorite.  My colleague and counterpart, Cinnabar Din, had a healthy competition for it seemed like we were always trying to outdo each other.

      And as we drew closer, the King’s smile faded, and the colour drained from his face as he looked upon the Lady I escorted. We stopped before the dais, and the Lady in Silver knelt on both knees and bowed her head. And Milord looked at me with a look of abject horror upon his face.
      “Bronson!” he whispered fiercely. “What is this? Why is she here? Is this some sort of trick?”
      “Milord, I know not,” I said, “But this Lady was my benefactor many years ago. I could not deny her entrance.”
      “Benefactor?” he scoffed. “She is no benefactor. Rise, Witch!” And Milord’s eyes blazed with wrath, and his knuckles whitened.
      And the Lady in Silver stood gracefully, and then she threw her head back and laughed, and the sound of her laughter was like the music of Yuletide bells on a winter’s eve, clear and melodic.
      “Why, King Radius,” she said, “surely you are not surprised to see me? Do you not remember our pact? Your oath? Do you not remember the words you swore to me on bended knee? The promise issued from your mouth while your hands were still wet with the blood of my kin? Do you deny your oath?”
      “That was many years ago.”
      “Do you deny it?” she pressed, and she seemed to rise in height.
      “That was a different time– a different place. I’ve changed. I’ve done penance, and every night before I sleep I pray to the Gods for forgiveness for what I did! You cannot hold me to that oath!”
      “Milord,” Phaye said, suddenly growing pale. “Who is she? What is this oath? What does she want?”
      And there was a pause as both the King and the Lady in Silver glared at one another.
      “Shall you tell her, Radius?” she said raising one eyebrow. “Shall you tell her and the rest of this company of your oath and deeds, or shall I?”
      And Milord’s face grew red with shame and he turned away from us.
      And the Lady in Silver grew tall and terrible, and a mighty wind blew from everywhere and from nowhere, and the torches and candles were snuffed, and the Hall was cast in darkness. And her body swelled in size, and her robes ripped apart, and she grew into a beast– nay, a dragon of immense size and deadly beauty, and her scales glistened argent, and her eyes blazed with a green light. She gave her mighty wings a great flap, and the assembled people in the Hall knocked over the pews in their frantic attempt to retreat backward. – Knight of the Quest


      One thing I noticed is you are also a fabulous writer. One particular post you wrote, Knight of the Quest, got rave reviews for the story you wrote in the post. These are some comments:

      Cinnabar Din: “Damn. You rule, Grizz. Nice build too!”


      ManoWarr: “Forget the Build!!! I want the conclusion to the story!!!! lol. Well okay I like the build too!!! Seriously I would buy your story here if it was a book and this was the preview story on the back of the cover.”

      Do you know how you came to be such a skilled writer? Did it come from reading lots of fantasy, science fiction or other books? 


      Oh yes, I read many books in my youth.  Not so much anymore, and that’s unfortunate, but I still write. I always fancied I would sit down and write an epic one day.  I have pieces of it here and there, and many ideas floating about. I was heavily influenced in my early days by Tolkien, Umberto Eco, Weiss & Hickman, Terry Brooks, Poe, Robert E. Howard, Herbert, Sagan, and a lot of historical fiction. And then of course I pay homages to many things.  The Last Great Bounty Hunter, for example, is an homage to a scene in Ronin in which the agent visualizes an entire combat/battle sequence with his opponent, and the viewer feels it is happening, but in the end it was all in his mind as he was trying to visualize all possibilities.


      One thing readers may not be aware of is that you are quite active in the NWN scene outside of character building. I recall for example, you helping discuss in the Beamdog forum looking at ways to make NWSync more user friendly for other players, and in the Bioware forums looking into the stealth/detection mechanics. Are there any particular projects you are working on or helping with which are non-building related that you wanted to give mention to?


      Not really, I was just trying to help the World of Greyhawk, my alma mater so to speak, get off the ground with that stuff.  It’s way above my paygrade, so I help however I can.


      Finally, this is something all readers will want to know, do you have any advice for new players who want to build a great character build? Are there any particular steps or tips you would advise them?


      I’ve come full circle after all of these years.  I’ve gone from playing whatever I rolled up and letting organically happen through the course of an adventure, to having a preplanned course through the character’s career (a build), to just having an idea of what I want, where I want to be, and letting it happen organically again.  My suggestion for players is to do what makes you happy.  Sometimes the AB loses its luster, the AC loses its shine, and you just want to get lost in your character, the world, and the folks around you.

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