Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Ultimate Fantasy Party #1: Mike’s Entry

It was a long thought process, but I finally put together my group for The Ultimate Fantasy Party Write-up. Although not necessarily the strongest or most well known combatants, I feel that my party is a diverse one that can deal with almost any situation. I’d give this band o’ five a fighting chance against any danger out there, knowing that their combined skills would see them to victory.

Fighter: Conan The Barbarian Originated by Robert E. Howard as a pulp fiction character. Is there a more iconic warrior than Conan? Originally conceived as a short fiction character back in the 1930s, the prototypical barbarian has been featured in everything from big budget movies to pen and paper roleplaying games. His originator, Robert Howard, described the character as “black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.” It doesn’t get much more archetypical than that! Although some would think that Conan is simply a brainless strongman, the original literature proves otherwise. Across various literary appearances Conan was shown to be an adept rogue, a talented tactician and a brilliant leader. His versatility and natural intelligence allowed him to deal with a variety of situations, and he is just as capable of commanding armies on the battlefield as he is deciphering ancient texts and writings. That being said, if you need someone to tear up a couple dozen enemy soldiers then Conan is more than up to his task. His skill in armed and unarmed combat is unparalleled, and his massive strength and stamina allows him to overpower all but the mightiest of foes. In our group, Conan would be the battlefield leader and the focal point of any assault. Skilled enough to be deadly efficient in battle and seasoned enough not to be foolhardy, Conan will bravely and strategically lead the party into battle, sword in hand.

Rogue: Robin Hood Popular figure in English folklore. Picking a rogue for the group was a fun endeavour, mainly due to the sheer bulk of them found in literature and popular culture. It seems that authors gravitate towards charismatic rogues, finding great use for them as protagonists or wise-cracking sidekicks. After sifting through several different sources I ultimately decided to go with a classic: Robin Hood. There were a lot of reasons that Sir Robin popped into my head, with the foremost one being his versatility. Although a master of all the traditional roguish talents (climbing walls, picking pockets, etc…), he was also an unmatched archer, a deadly fencer, a silver tongued orator and a cunning strategist. Need to infiltrate a medieval stronghold? Robin can do that. Need to shoot down a hangman’s noose from 100 yards away? No problem. Need to rally a group of villagers into rebellion? The prince of thieves has it well in hand. On the battlefield, Robin is the master of swashbuckling and skirmishing. Although he won’t rack up as big a headcount as Conan, Robin use the environment to out-flank and outsmart his enemies. He’ll often be the one to complete difficult objectives (rescuing a damsel perhaps?), using his agility to move through a dangerous area with ease and grace. If ranged support is needed then Robin’s skillset will really shine. His prowess with a bow is legendary, and he is a peerless archer with absolutely uncanny accuracy. In our group, Robin plays the role of Lancer. He provides a contrasting fighting style to that of Conan, preferring speed and agility over strength and endurance. He serves as a scout, a skirmisher and a ranged supporter, complementing Conan’s skillset quite nicely.

Priest: Cadderly Bonaduce Originated by R. A. Salvatore in the Clerical Quintet Let’s face it: there really aren’t a whole bunch of interesting healers in fantasy fiction. The archetype seems to be forever pigeon-holed with simple minded holymen and stereotypical staff chicks; not exactly the greatest selection to choose from. I was very close to settling on one of the many White Mages from the Final Fantasy series, but relented upon recollecting an old favourite of mine: Cadderly Bonaduce. Cadderly is a lesser known character created by R.A. Salvatore in his Cleric Quintet. Although starting out as a relatively naive and powerless figure, he slowly proves his mettle and becomes the favoured cleric of his deity Deneir. At the peak of his power, Cadderly is capable of channeling the power of his god through his body to cast nearly any clerical spell at will. And do remember that these are D&D style clerical spells, ranging from traditional healing incantations to the deadliest of offensive abilities. Although primarily a support character, Cadderly is no slouch in combat. His various weapons include a crossbow equipped with explosive darts, a pair of adamantide spindle disks and a spiked ring coated with sleeping poison. Throughout his adventures he has encountered and defeated evil priests, ogrillon, giants and dragons, making him a seasoned veteran and a dangerous opponent. Cadderly’s role in the group is one of healing and support. Although not as cunning or as physically imposing as his counter-parts, he makes up for it with his insight and wisdom. When push comes to shove, however, Cadderly is a walking conduit of holy energy; more than capable of hunting down and destroying evil wherever it may dwell.

Wizard: Terra Character in Final Fantasy VI, designed by Yoshitaka Amano I was tempted to pick a really archetypical character as the group wizard, with names such as Merlin and Gandalf swirling around in my head almost reflexively. In the end I found these fellows to be a little too obvious… and instead decided to delve into the much more modern genre of video games to find my caster. Terra (one of the many “main” characters in Final Fantasy VI) is not your standard wizard. She can wear heavy armour, wields swords and shields and boasts a decent amount of martial ability. Unlike many wizards of lore she isn’t reliant on spellbooks or tomes. Terra draws from a natural source of magic, allowing her to cast a wide variety of spells with little to no preparation. Her role is that of a battle-mage; a warrior who wields spell and steel to create havoc on the battlefield. What makes Terra especially intriguing is her half-Esper lineage. Espers are magical beings of great power that manifest themselves as animals, beasts and even raw elements of nature. As a half-esper Terra has the ability to Trance, transforming herself into an Esper and effectively doubling her magical potency for a short period of time. This is the fantasy equivalent of going Super Saiyan, and can easily turn the tide of any battle. In addition, Terra can learn spells from her Esper brethren (expanding her somewhat limited spell selection), and can even summon them in battle to aid her. Truly a mighty boon. In our party, Terra will serve primarily as a damage dealer. Her offensive output is tough to match, and the versatility of her magic (encompassing offensive, curative and support spells) will keep enemies on their toes. Wildcard: Link Protagonist of The Legend of Zelda series. With a party full of fairly specialized powerhouses, it seemed to make sense to pick more of a universalist for the wildcard position… and is there a more versatile character than the Hero of Hyrule? Equipped with the Triforce of Courage and an impressive array of gadgets, weapons and magic, Link is more than capable of filling in any skill gaps that the aforementioned four may have. Link also takes a very important secondary role in the group as an anti-caster. Wielding the sword of evil’s bane – and having single-handedly defeated archmages such as Agahnim, Vaati and VeranLink certainly has the credentials for the job. Whether he’s reflecting bolts of magic with the Master Sword or firing off a volley of magical arrows, Link is a wizard’s worst nightmare. Link is the group’s jack of all trades. He’s certainly no match for Conan’s physical strength, Robin Hood’s agility, Cadderly’s wisdom or Terra’s raw magical power, but he manages to possess enough of each of those attributes to be effective in his own right. Well, there you have it! This article went a little longer than I had originally thought it would, but hopefully it was a good read. Stay tuned later this week for Radiostorm’s take on the topic.


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By Michael
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer