Vhal (Hero of the game)

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Name: Vhal
Class: engineer
Age: 19
Height: 6’
Weight: 69.9kg

Appearance: a well-grown lad with broad shoulders and hard hands, someone who has been accustomed to lugging heavy machinery from a young age. His hair is light brown and his eyes greyish, almost green.

Attire: a thin cotton undershirt, originally white in colour, which is patched and repaired in places and has a secret pouch sewn into the small of the back. Over this he wears a rough khaki shirt, the lower sleeves of which have bindings to support the wrists when working. His trousers are a khaki-coloured, thin, loose material and can be buttoned up into knee-length shorts. His boots are thick-soled with toecaps and come up to his calves; they also feature a valve to vent excess sand – his own modest invention.

Accessories: a pair of goggles on a thong about his neck and a ragged grey scarf (for protection during sandstorms), a rucksack, various rolls of tools and a water flask.

Special items/codex: valuable books on the subject of engineering: these may contain invaluable clues about codex and Sheltaa.

Attributes:

      • Vhal is a young man who has great willpower, an honest mindset and an insatiable curiosity for all things codex.
      • Physically he is strong and has immense stamina even if he is not overly athletic.
      • He is acutely intelligent with an eye for detail and an engineer’s suspicious intuition, and he enjoys technical tasks.
      • He has become accustomed to sleeping under the stars, surviving in the extreme desert climate and solving his own problems.

Major skills and abilities: engineering is his star talent; he had a feel for it from a young age and was taught by his father, a very well-respected engineer from Banno. He has an uncanny ability to figure out how things work and believes that the mysteries of codex can be revealed if looked at as a form of engineering – as long as one possesses the right information.

Biography: Vhal was getting ready to inherit his father’s workshop in Banno when it was attacked by Bendhuli. The raiders stole all the precious artefacts they could find and razed the workshop, killing Vhal’s father and mother in the process. He was forced to fend for himself from that day on, only just managing to escape detection and flee with a handful of his father’s books. Up until that day life in the village had seemed peaceful enough. Nobody but the swing men had paid them any regular visits – aside from the odd drifter and whoever needed a machine fixed, that is. Then one day the swing men never showed up, but the Bendhuli did, and there was nothing they could do to resist them. In throes of loss, his head filled with dreams of vengeance, he began to journey across the desert in search of answers. His father had impressed on him the importance of the books being translated and Vhal swore to do it. Vhal is now obsessed with unveiling the secrets of codex that may be contained in those precious books and with finding Sheltaa.

Gill Everett

Name: Gill Everett
Class: warrior/engineer
Age: 59
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 96.5kg

Appearance: a hardened warrior with a sun-scorched and well-built body a little past its prime, bedecked with many scars, including some to his face. A mane of grey hair frames his grizzled features and bushy eyebrows shade his piercing blue-eyed stare. His right arm is bionic. He is more given to clenching his jaw than to smiling.

Attire: a greyish vest, a sleeveless, very faded shirt that may have once been black, fatigues with side pockets and leather soldier boots with external steel toecaps.

Accessories: rucksack containing climbing equipment. He also likes to have a pack of cigarettes to hand.

Special items/codex: a rifle with a built-in flashlight and various smaller weapons, including a pistol and knives. He also owns a cache of tools for repairing vehicles, kept in a hidden location.

Attributes:

          • Gill is shrewd, suspicious, alert and observant; when faced with danger his reactions are hard-wired and he is in excellent shape despite his advancing years.
          • He has a forceful presence and a fearlessness that would make any assailant think twice, unless they were insane.
          • He speaks his mind and is both responsible and reliable.
          • He always protects others and insists on fairness.

Major skills and abilities: as a veteran of the engineering corps, Gill is as efficient in repairing vehicles and rigging explosives as he is in all forms of combat. His training is more military-based than anything nonetheless he is shrewd and adept at tackling almost any engineering challenge and he is also a survival expert.

Biography: as a youth, Gill joined the army in order to keep from starving, and was trained in the principles of military engineering and combat. He survived many campaigns and watched the world decline ever deeper into chaos with growing cynicism over a span of over two decades. The loss of an arm in battle forced him to retire whereupon he took up the occupation of bounty hunter. This gave him the means and the contacts to eventually get a bionic limb constructed. Those years were spent also trying to track down surviving relatives, a search that ultimately proved futile. He now lives in Tugos, one of the more major desert settlements, where he has come to see himself as a guardian of the weak, like an unofficial sheriff of sorts. He is somewhat of a father figure to the many waifs and strays that inhabit the ramshackle town and he both protects them and disciplines them as required. His firm but fair attitude has gained him a position of respect in the community. Having toured many times as a soldier, Gill knows of many places that only a few have visited, and knows something of how the Test Zone was created; he calls that area of desert, “the glass” because whatever ancient detonations took place there vitrified the sand in a wide radius of the temple spire – a destination for suicidal pilgrims it seems, being, as it is, awash with a deadly form of lingering radiation.

Neilene

Name: Neilene
Class: thief/seer
Age: 24
Height: 5’3
Weight: 55.3kg

Appearance: very lithe and petite with a deceptive beauty, often overlooked due to her boyish mannerisms and raggedy clothing. She wears a sarcastic expression most of the time, usually combined with a knowing smile. Her eyes are a chestnut colour and her hair a rich, dark brown with a touch of auburn and a little frizz, like it is not often brushed.

Attire: several layers of loose-fitting, sandy-coloured rags containing various secret pockets; baggy pale brown breeches; soft-soled boots made for moving noiselessly wrapped over with bindings around the shin to keep out sand. She also wears a grey-brown hooded cloak.

Accessories: a lot of credits; a faded red scarf.

Special items/codex: unknown

Attributes:

        • Neilene has an uncanny ability to read people; she can tell what they are thinking by their body language and this gives her an advantage over them which she does not hesitate to make use of.
        • She has supremely acute intuition and is very good at reading a situation.
        • She is nimble, moves gracefully and swiftly, and can perform sleight-of-hand.
        • Neilene also has mild psychic powers which are getting stronger as she gets more used to using them.

Major skills and abilities: her communication skills are impressive and she prefers to talk her way out of a bad situation than to stand and fight – which suits her stature.

She is an accomplished pickpocket and has an art for misdirection, no doubt augmented by her mild psychic abilities.

Biography: Neilene’s origins are somewhat of a mystery as she refuses to talk about her life before arriving in Tugos, at the age of sixteen. In the mass of refugees displaced from their obliterated home cities she had been an anonymous, undernourished child with no real place in the world, not knowing what had happened to her parents or indeed if they yet lived. Without any close friends or relatives to help her get by, she had begged, scavenged, sweet-talked or tricked her way through her teens and had remained, for the most part, a complete loner, living in the hive of sleeping dens beneath the old amphitheatre. However, within her first few months in Tugos, as a result of a fumbled theft from one of the traders, her path crossed with Gill Everett’s. The veteran had taken note of her because of her quick wits and had decided to take her under his protection and perhaps impart some wisdom and discipline on this unruly teen. She grew to be a confident young woman, running errands for the traders, for Gill, and for the most part doing whatever honest work she could get. The only thing that prevented her from abandoning her dishonest ways altogether was her burning ambition to buy a vehicle and explore the other cities, to search for any trace of her family. When she reached the age of twenty she decided things were taking too long to happen for her so she went back to pickpocketing – a fine way to meet new people, it would seem.

Isk

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Name: Isk
Class: swing man
Age: 25 (looks younger due to small stature)
Height: 5’6”
Weight: 61kg

Appearance: emaciated with a dark suntan and radiation blisters on his arms and face. His taut, dirty skin draws his lips back from his teeth which are chipped and rotten. He has a high brow, scruffy crudely-cut mousy hair and crafty blue eyes. His limbs are thin and his shoulders narrow.

Attire: several layers of rags faded to a few shades of browns and beiges. His light-weight, baggy breeches are tied at the waist by a rope and he wears sandals on his feet.

Accessories: a grey rubber mask that covers his mouth on a strap about his neck.

Special items/codex: a small, worthless-looking item that points in a fixed direction.

Attributes:

    • Isk is daring and doesn’t mind endangering himself in order to retrieve codex items from wastelands that others may prefer to avoid.
    • He has great curiosity about things and people and has gathered a lot of information over the years.
    • He is an excellent judge of character, appearing to be extremely talkative in the right company but withholding all in the presence of strangers and enemies; this makes him a good confidant.
    • He has extraordinary stamina and can survive in the desert heat for long intervals without food or water.

Major skills and abilities: Isk has a talent for locating codex and is happily fixated with it. As a swing man he has travelled far and wide, spoken with all sorts of people in different cities, and in doing so has built up a fairly strong understanding of the world.

Biography: Isk was born into the swing man’s life, to nomadic parents who made their living salvaging and trafficking codex and other supplies between cities, never settling in one place for more than a few weeks at a time. The lifestyle gave Isk the opportunity to learn a lot about the harsh wilderness and how to survive in it. By the age of twelve he knew the trade like the back of his hand, and had developed quite a knack for discovering codex artefacts. Towards his later teens however, his father’s health began to decline and it became necessary for him to take the helm of the family truck while his mother spent more and more time taking care of her ailing partner. Isk pushed further and further afield, ever more desperate to hit a major payday by finding some awesome codex and be able to get his father to an expert who could reverse the life-threatening sickness somehow. It would take him a year to return from his first expedition. Along the way he was ambushed by Bendhuli who had offered him his life in exchange for the vehicle. He had been forced to walk all the way back, across leagues of desert, and with hardly any supplies. How he made it he could never say, but when he returned in shame it was only to be disowned by his parents for losing them their livelihood, a most tragic end to his arduous trial.