An Empress Betrayed: Introducing Valcora

“The companions returned to the Throne Room, victorious in their mission to free the Emissary of Ultair. Her Majesty stood stoically, facing the party with unblinking eyes. Wondering why the Empress was so still, they approached cautiously. Before them was poised a statue in the perfect likeness of Brelia. Her face was frozen in a pleading gaze, her hands raised as if to shield her eyes from a bright light. To their horror, they suddenly realized that in their absence, the Empress had been turned to stone…”

The first meeting of the companions is tonight, in beautiful Longmont, CO. In the group so far, we have three 4E Level 1 characters:

  • Valcora – a Dragonborn Cavalier, played by Angela
  • Afton – an Elven Mage, played by Shasta
  • Delsior – a Satyr Bard, played by Andy


As a child, Valcora disobeyed the direct orders of her parents, and ran into a burning building to save her two brothers. Unfortunately, she could carry only one of them, and had to leave the other behind. Upon exiting the collapsing home, her mother gave her the ring off her finger, saying “No matter what happens, make certain that you bring this ring to Master Simon.”

Her mother then ran into the flames to rescue her still trapped son – but neither emerged. To this day, the brother she saved is bitter toward Valcora, as if it was her fault that they lost both a brother and a mother.

Years later, Valcora is in the Young Cavaliers program, learning about military discipline and defending the Empire of Sarpadia. During this time she takes an oath to obey every order she is given by her superiors. One evening, as she is walking past the Royal Alchemist’s tent, he commands her to enter. “Drink this!” her orders, handing her a green, frothy potion.

Obeying the order, she drinks it without hesitation. The liquid burns her mouth and throat, as well as the inside of her skull, and the back of her eyes. Lightning shoots upward from the ground, and scars her with a purple streak from the bottom of her right ear, down her throat, and across to her left armpit. She is now spell-scarred for life. Sometimes the purple streak glows with a ghoulish light when she gets angry, or when she is in the midst of battle, but she does her best to hide it beneath her collar…

Later in her teenage years, Valcora is constantly teased by her rival, Xanth. He is a handsome human Cavalier, who pokes fun at her spell-scar and constantly tries to embarrass her. During a parade, she finds herself in several situations where she could push him in to a mud puddle, or embarrass him in a speech at an awards ceremony. She elects to do neither, taking the high road of honoring fellow knights. Upon graduation from the academy, Xanth pulls her aside and commends her on holding back, and a delicate truce is declared between the two as they both attempt to move up the ranks as Knights…

As Valcora takes her first assignment as a knight, her father dies of old age. Being a Knight himself, and having served decades faithfully for the Empire, the Dutchess of the Grey Mountains commissions a statue in his honor, to be built on the burned out ruins of the family home. The land is cleared, but before the project can get started, Valcora decides to take the budget for the project and give it to poor hungry children instead. Cleric Peltanis visits Valcora personally, and thanks her for the donation. It is more money than his charity has seen for three decades! He promises Valcora “If you ever find yourself in need of a favor from the Brotherhood of Light, name it, and I will see that it is yours.”

Spirits high, Valcora walks the streets of the capital city as a celebrity. Roses pelt her from every direction, and dirty children and street urchins jostle for a touch of her cape. But the reverie is shattered as she passes her old home where the statue was meant to be – a merchant named Jardan is now building there, having bought the land from the Dutchess for ONE GOLD PIECE! Angered by court politics, she demands to know how her family’s land can be sold off for pocket change, but she is dismissed by a wave of Jardan’s hand. “Finders keepers, loosers weepers! You should have kept it, you fool! But now its mine and there’s nothing you can do about it!” he says with a crooked grin.

DM note: Valcora role-played several non-combat situations as a child, which formed her backstory and personality. Without rolling any dice, we developed a clear picture of her motivations, allies, rivals, incomplete quests, and home city. As a DM, I plan on drawing these out as the story unfolds…

Tune in next week when I introduce Afton, the Elven Mage… Write a comment below to ask about the childhood non-combat encounters (I call them decision points. Remember “Choose Your Own Adventure?)


-Uncle Andy

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