Hella Varal

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Hella Varal, the Dark Knight[note 1] and one-time Fighter, is a mercenary from Ordenna who wields an ancient and magical sword.

She also has a boat called the Boundless Fate.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Hella is a tall (around 5'11") and muscular Ordennan hailing from a town on the island's eastern shore slightly south of Velas's latitude. She is fit, with long, strong limbs, and brown skin. Hella has eager golden eyes, a square jaw, and wears her red hair in a braided bun.

Hella wore chainmail armor in Autumn in Hieron, but upgraded to scale armor by the time of Winter in Hieron. In Spring in Hieron, she acquires black and gold armor that resembles the NikeLab N98 X Olivier Rousteing jacket. She carries a sword with rubies on its bronze hilt, as well as a metal shield, a knife in a belt sheath, and, until she gave it to Fero, a pre-Erasure brass spyglass.

Personality[edit | edit source]

There's a reason why Hella isn't in the military, and it's kind of because she doesn't know how to act?

Hella is terse, brooding and can come off as flippant. Following the events of Autumn in Hieron, she has a lot of angst and self-hatred to work through, and struggles to reconcile her loyalty to Ordenna with her personal beliefs.

Alignment[edit | edit source]

Hella's initial alignment was Evil. She gained experience whenever she destroyed something rather than trying to understand it. Hadrian believed her to be at a spiritual crossroads, and wanted to guide her to a sense of morality closer to his own.

Having returned to Hieron from Aubade and taken on a new identity as Adelaide's knight, Hella's alignment has shifted to Neutral. She gains alignment by increasing her reputation while working to fulfill Death's task to her: to help the dead or the dying pass on.

Bonds[edit | edit source]

Old[edit | edit source]

  • Hadrian is soft, but I will make them hard like me.
  • I worry about the ability of Lem to survive in the dungeon.
  • I'm not impressed by The Great Fantasmo.
  • I don't understand the extent of Hadrian's troubles, but I've made hard choices and met gods as well. Hadrian has my ear and my blade when he needs it.
  • Whatever Adaire does to avoid attention is none of my business, so long as she's useful when the time comes around.
  • I know Hadrian wants to see the best in me, but these days I cannot afford to not defend myself.
  • If I can learn anything from Adaire, it's patience. I'd like to teach Adaire to stop meddling.
  • I am no bright-eyed adventurer, and neither is Throndir. I am not going out of my way to protect him.

Current[edit | edit source]

  • I feel bad that Adaire feels ineffective when she's the most talented person I know. Now that we're home I want her to feel supported and included.
  • I've seen Lem lost, but I know his instincts to learn are good. I hope to learn something about the Isles with him.
  • Fero was difficult when I traveled with him and he still is, but I'm different now. This journey could be different.

History[edit | edit source]

She grew up with simple means but her role as a hired hand and conveyor led her to gain respect and the attention of the government of Ordenna, the reason for her frequent visits to Velas. Armed with a beautiful, mysterious sword, a lack of patience, and wariness of her people, Hella is a useful but unpredictable companion.

CharactersFriends at the Table official site

When Hella was a teenager, she traveled Ordenna with her father, who went from mine to mine for work. At one town she was staying in, a farm's livestock was being attacked nightly by wolves, so she and her father hunted them down. Because the farmer had been losing all of his profits, he had no money to pay them, and instead gave Hella the sword she now carries.[1]

Following her adventures with the Boat Party, Hella became a renowned figure in Ordenna for having slain Adelaide Tristé. However, some members of the Ordennan military look down on her for traveling with mixed company, or a perceived lack of patriotism.

According to some ancient books Hella found off the Ordennan coast, the name 'Varal', meaning a line on which people are hanged, was given to her family to mark them as traitors, although Hella has not yet learned how this came to pass.

Abilities[edit | edit source]

Hella's fighting prowess is unparalleled, and her mystic sword can either aid or interfere with her goals.

  • Hold My Beer[note 2] - Hella can use pure strength to destroy an inanimate obstacle. Or, in the case of the closed door on Eventide Island, she can just not do that and let the Ordennan army take care of it later.
  • Armored - Hella can move skillfully in armor that might restrict the movement of another wearer.
  • Smash! - In combat (when Ali rolls a 12+ on Hack and Slash), Hella can make her target lose something physical (a weapon, their position, a limb).
  • Dark Blade - Hella wields the Blade in the Dark, a sword of terrible power. Anyone who sees it will know that it is a weapon of darkness. When one is looking at it, nearby shadows seem to lengthen, as if it were around sunset. The Blade looks similar to how it did when Hella was the Fighter, before it was broken and reforged, but it is somewhat heavier. Hella can see Adelaide's eyes in the blade
    • The blade is Sharp (helping it pierce armor) and Ancient (which provides Hella with insight into spirits or the lands beyond the Black Gate).
    • In exchange for her powers, Adelaide has tasked Hella to "help the dead or dying pass on."
  • Road to Perdition - Hella can draw upon the unholy power in her dark blade to:
    • don the visage of death, terrifying a target she can see for as long as she focuses her attention on them
    • plunge the blade into a corpse, whose spirit will answer any three questions she poses to it to the best of the knowledge it had in life and the knowledge it gained in death
    • summon supernatural darkness into an area she can see (not the darkness of the Heat and the Dark
  • Interrogator - Hella can speak in private with a character, forcing them to answer one or two questions truthfully. They will not want anything to do with her ever again.
  • Dead Eyes - Hella can fix someone with her cold, hard stare, causing them to flinch or hesitate, or revealing something to her about their true nature.

Former abilities[edit | edit source]

Upon making the change from the Fighter to the Dark Knight, Hella left behind several of the advanced moves she once had, which were no longer central to her identity, or which now exist in modified form as Dark Knight moves.

  • Signature Weapon - Though Hella still wields the Blade in the Dark, its nature has changed slightly, as reflected in Dark Blade.
  • Heirloom - Hella could once consult the spirits that reside within her sword. Because Chapter the slain star has sealed Aubade off from the outside world to protect it from the Heat and the Dark, contact can no longer be made.
  • Merciless - Hella's unrestrained violence made her an especially deadly foe.
  • Through Death's Eyes - When Hella entered battle, she could name an NPC who would live and an NPC who would die. On a partial success, she could name one or the other. On a failed roll, Hella saw her own death and took an ongoing impairment throughout the battle.
  • Seeing Red - Hella was skilled at discerning realities in the heat of battle.
  • Evil Eye - Hella could use eye contact during battle to leave her enemies intimidated or hesitant. Dead Eyes now allows her to do this in or out of battle.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. This playbook comes from Peter Johansen's Dungeon World Lore and Lords Pack.
  2. Dungeon World's original name for this move is Bend Bars, Lift Gates; Austin decided on the new name during "Try to Live Normally".

References[edit | edit source]