EarthDawn - The Age of Legends
Valaria Florrent Darkfire
Human Archer and Questor of Lochost
Valaria Florrent Darkfire was born into the Theran middle class, meaning she was born into incredible privilege and wealth compared to the rest of the world. Her family was not a very close one, her parents being more concerned with their business interests than their children. Valaria spent much of her childhood watching her sisters get married off and basically raising the two youngest children, Gabriel and Arissi, by herself.
When she was a teenager, she was placed in the standard martial training all Theran children received. Though she loathed the melee combat training, when she picked up a bow it seemed as though part of her came alive. After a short period of practice, she was taken aside by her trainers, who informed her parents that she had the potential to be an Archer Adept.
Her parents were overjoyed at this news, since Adepts and magicians like her brother Tyris hold a higher social position in Thera. They immediately began to pay for her training, planning to use her to guard the shipments of slaves they brought into the Great Isle. To this end, they employed Ayden Mormont as the Master at Arms for House Florrent, and put the two of them on the next airship out to begin profiting from their daughter’s new abilities.
During this time, Valaria and Ayden saw much of the Empire firsthand. As they traveled, Valaria became aware of an inconsistency in what she had learned regarding slavery – contrary to what she had been taught, many of the slaves they transported did not seem to be criminals. Many of them claimed that they had been captured in raids, drug unlawfully from their homes and sold into slavery for a profit. However, the Theran authorities did not concern themselves with the source of the slaves they bought, only that they continue coming in. Disillusioned, Valaria began to slowly change her mind about the institution of slavery, and the Empire’s enablement of it.
Seeing her coming around, Ayden finally took her into his confidence and explained that he was actually a Praetor in the service of the Arbitorium, sent to investigate rumors of corruption and graft in the slave trade, namely that perpetrated by her father. He also told her he had something important to show her, something that might change her mind about a great many things. They traveled to Barsaive, to the ancient Human Kingdom of Landis. But once they arrived, Ayden never had an opportunity to show her what he wanted her to see – assassins struck in the night and vanished, and Ayden died in Valaria’s arms.
The next day, fearing for her own life and lacking any resources or allies in this strange land, Valaria encountered the Passion’s Champions. She began adventuring with them then, traveling across Barsaive and seeing how the rest of the world’s people lived. She continued to progress in her Discipline, and found that fighting alongside the Passion’s Champions gave her a purpose she had never had before, and a perspective on the “barbarians” of the world she would never have gotten otherwise.
In time, the Passion’s Champions journeyed to the newly re-founded Ork nation of Cara Fahd. While there, Valaria began to have strange visions – a broken chain, floating away on a breeze as though it were made of paper, or voices crying out for help from the depth of the jungle. Eventually, the PCs journeyed to the ancient ruin of Tirthon, a fallen citadel from before the Scourge, tainted with the energies of the Mad Passions. There, the group encountered Zarass Icethought, a former Cara Fahd cavalrywoman who had fallen under the sway of the Mad Passion Dis. However, the power of Lochost was present as well, and a battle seemed imminent. The other Passions intervened, and declared that Dis must justify her actions to them. Each member of the group was possessed by the spirit of the Passion closest to them, and Valaria was possessed by the spirit of Lochost. Again and again, Dis’ arguments were rebuffed by the other Passions, and finally she flew off in rage rather than fight the Passions themselves, saying she would go to Thera where she was honored, and she would return as a conqueror.
Then and there, Lochost predicted that she would return, and it would be a dark day for Barsaive. He knew that the people of Thera needed to be freed, and not just the slaves. The citizens of Thera were stagnant and corrupt, and needed to be shown a new way to live, free of Dis’ shackles. Lochost decided then that Valaria was the best person to achieve this, and he asked her if she would take up his mantle and spread his word, and eventually bring freedom and rebellion to the whole Empire. Valaria agreed, and became a Questor of Lochost.
After the Passion’s Champions escaped from the dungeons of Iopos, they began to journey throughout the Empire. Everywhere she went, Valaria left change and rebellion in her wake. In Vivane Province, she led a group of Trolls across the country to a new home, apparently promised to them by the Passion Astendar, and protected them from Theran troops. In Vasgothia, she performed a great act of devotion, freeing hundreds of slaves and leading them to the nomadic keeps of the Banner of the Crow. This huge bolstering of their numbers allowed the Banner of the Crow to engage the Empire much more frequently, and with much greater success. In Marac, she fought alongside the Sufik of the desert, whose spirit leaders were enslaved by the Theran magicians known as the Heavenherds. Her influence and abilities gave them the edge they needed to begin driving back the Imperial forces. In Indrisia, she sparked an underground rebellion lead by her eldest brother Carath, which began undermining the slave trade throughout that region. In Creana, she discovered that the Heavenherds were using slaves to create monsters called Titans, unstoppable giants that drew their power from the still living bodies of slaves. Finally, after the Iopan War, she journeyed to Cara Fahd and fought the forces of the Iron Legacy, Theran Questors of Dis determined to enslave all the Orks of that new nation. But her greatest challenge was yet ahead of her.
At last, Lochost came to her and informed her that Dis was ready to strike from the Great Isle, and had something much worse in store than she had previously shown. She journeyed to the Isle of Thera and there encountered the slave resistance, who had a plan to strike back at the slavers and the slave trade at large. Thanks to her actions around the Empire, the economy of Thera was dramatically weakened and slavers were undertaking horrific measures to squeeze every last silver of profit out of the few slaves they could get. With Valaria’s guidance and the aid of the rest of the Passion’s Champions, they concocted a plan to rescue hundreds, if not thousands of slaves from the Great Isle, with the goal of undermining the slave economy so badly that it would become unprofitable to deal in slaves any more. The plan worked, just not as they had suspected it would.
When the rebellion struck, several other factions on the island took that as their cue to make their own grabs for power. Ultimately, the chaos descended into outright hysteria, and the Emperor sent out his elite troops to restore order, mostly by killing anyone they saw. The Sphinx saw this act of tyranny and fulfilled it’s purpose, detonating the dormant volcano that the island was built on. The Great Isle of Thera was destroyed in an earth-shattering explosion, and Valaria’s former home was no more. There was worse to come, however.
Following the destruction of the Great Isle, the three Mad Passions ambushed Lochost and Thystonius, killing them both and plunging Barsaive into darkness. Valaria was not spared the shock of Lochost’s death, and suffered a tremendous blow to her sanity and stability. With the aid of Trostlos, she has recovered mentally, and her faith remains as strong as ever.
Throughout Barsaive and around the world, Valaria is seen as a tireless champion of freedom and change, and a deadly enemy of slavers everywhere. She is admired for her great deeds from Indrisia to Marac, and has inspired a group known as the Broken Chains to emulate her and strike a blow against slavery and tyranny around the world. She has mastered the magic of the winds, and can command the air around her to do nearly anything, including lift her on magical wings allowing her to fly at will. She still wields Darkfire, the bow her parents gave her, although it has grown significantly thanks to her great deeds.
During the Battle of Aras Nehem, Valaria and the rest of the Passion’s Champions willingly sacrificed their very existences to destroy the Horror Ristul, who was the source of the corruption of the Mad Passions. They succeeded in destroying Ristul and cleansing the Passions, and for her sacrifice Valaria was brought back to the world of the living as the new Passion of Freedom and Rebellion, and she now stands over all those who fight tyranny, oppression and slavery.
Valaria is portrayed by Sophie Marceau.
Valaria’s destiny has always been the destruction/redemption of Thera. The original image I had for this character was similar to Moses from The Prince of Egypt, the native son who returns to free his people from slavery. The more I thought about what such a massive task would require, the more I realized that Thera was bigger than Egypt, and a few miracles were not going to make it work. I had to find a way to destabilize Thera from the inside, and making Valaria an agent of that change was the best way to integrate the character into her destiny. I had originally wanted to try and recreate the plagues and the wonders of the Moses mythology, but that really didn’t work out so I abandoned it in favor of moving the story along. In the end, the destruction of Thera was more about the recreation of the Atlantis myth, which is what Thera was based on anyway. Kurt also said that he wanted Valaria to be “The Adept of Air”, learning Talents with her Versatility Talent that were air-themed and looking for air-related magic items. I gave Valaria the Fruit of the Passions to let him get the few useful air-related Elementalist spells without having to multiclass.
It has been very enjoyable to explore the themes of faith and devotion with Kurt, who is a decidedly non-religious person. I planned for the possibility that he would turn down Lochost in Tirthon, and the story would have been fine, it would have simply taken a different direction. However, he’s run with the concept, and we’ve had some very good role-playing bits out of it. Kurt’s facility with the game system has also bee tremendously helpful, and he has turned into something akin to my character sheet secretary, creating an incredible spreadsheet for the character sheets, tracking and recording everyone’s progress and changes each week, and even making “cheat sheets” to help those who are not as knowledgeable with it. I gave Valaria the ability to fly as a thank you for the work he has done and continues to do.