From the Archives - The Forgotten Pawn
From The Archives posts are posts which I’ve carried over from my old blogs and sites I wrote for that are now offline so that I can keep a record of some of my better and more important work that would otherwise be lost. They come from the entire length of my time in games writing, so you’ll probably notice a big jump in quality between the really old stuff and the more recent content.
Anyone who knows me knows that Dragon's Dogma is one of my favourite games of all time. It's janky, sure, but it's so inventive and fun to play. There's so many great systems at play and it makes journeying across the world and fighting mythical beasts so exciting. One of its most intriguing systems is the Pawn System. In addition to your own character, you build a sidekick called a Pawn. This Pawn can be customised with their own skills and personalities, and they can learn how to defeat enemies and what needs to be done in each quest. You can hire two Pawns belonging to other players to accompany you on your quest, and they'll help you out with their acquired skills and knowledge. You get attached to these fellows, and I wrote this little piece about one such Pawn. It was published on April 12th 2013 on one of my old blogs.
I've been playing Dragon's Dogma for a long time. Over that time I've recruited many pawns- computer controlled party members created by other players. They've helped me out on many occasions, providing information on quests and taking down tough enemies. When I started up a New Game+ after finishing the game, I decided to recruit low level pawns since my pawn and I were strong enough that we wouldn't be disadvantaged by them, and we could get through the game quickly and take on the tough quests and enemies so that when the pawns returned to their masters they'd have much more knowledge than when they set off.
I was in the Rift, ready to call forth some new warriors to take under my wing, when Pawns I'd called upon in the past made their way to the centre. Among them was frffghji'asd. No, I didn't slam my head on the keyboard, that's really his name. It's either a foreign dialect or a sign that from the beginning his master wasn't taking their journey seriously. I took to calling him Figgy.
His large figure stands out even more against the small Arisen I'm playing as this time around
Figgy was in the very first party I assembled. I was after a warrior Pawn, and picked him because of his... 'exotic' name. He stumbled into the Rift with an endearing, almost comical appearance. He was a gigantic figure, oafish in structure. His face looked scarred and beaten, with a bizarre moustache attached to his face, and sprouting from his head was a mohawk of sorts. I had to have this Pawn in my party. And so I enlisted him, and set off into the wilds of Gransys.
We saw many sights, and accomplished many great feats. I had to send him back and forth to the Rift every now and then to update his stats and equipment so he could fare against the increasingly challenging threats on our journey. Once he came back with a cute little Viking hat on his head that didn't seem to fit right. One day, however, he didn't level up. I figured his owner just couldn't play as frequently as I, and so let him wait in the Rift for a while, awaiting the day he would be able to keep up with us. But it was not meant to be. At the low level of 21, Figgy was abandoned. I had no choice but to leave him in the Rift for good.
Figgy (left) as he appeared when I first enlisted him
Now here stood my estranged companion in the Rift, the same level I parted with him at roughly a year ago. He stood there awkwardly, showing no emotions other than what his Pawn Inclinations allowed him to. He was like an abandoned puppy awaiting his master's return. At the level I was now, he wouldn't be a liability, so I decided to take him on one last adventure, for old time's sake.
Our assignment was to accompany Mercedes, a knight in the duke's court, to a fortress undergoing a coup. After stocking up on supplies, we ventured forth from the city of Gran Soren. Pawns can't experience true emotions, but nonetheless I felt an eagerness in the way Figgy spoke. "To the north, Arisen. We must hurry after Ser Mercedes!" he cried. Being naive and inexperienced, and having not been on a journey for a long time, he called out advice that to me was just general knowledge now. "Stray from the path and we'll soon find monsters Arisen." "The one in the helm is their chief!" "Wolves hunt in packs!" Whenever he walked past a chest, he curiously inquired "I wonder what's inside!" His enthusiasm was heart-warming. As the fort slowly faded into view, Figgy spoke up again- "Don't worry, I am here."
"I wonder what's inside!"
A bloody battle was underway inside the fort, men who thought they were on the same side were now engaged in mortal combat. With no way to diffuse the situation, combat was the only option. Steel clashed against steel and flesh, as blood was spilled and men cried out in pain. "I'll finish this!" Figgy cried, as he dealt the final blow on the last deserter. With his followers downed, we climbed to the top of the tower and engaged the man behind the rebellion. It was not long before he too fell, and the situation was resolved. Figgy stood there triumphantly- "I've learned what to do in this quest!" he proclaimed.
"I'll finish this!"
Unsure of what to do next, I decided to take Figgy to fight the Drake. The Drake is a difficult creature to beat, and I always take low level pawns up against it so they can learn how to defeat it, ready for when their masters have to face it themselves. I figured I'd do the same for Figgy, as unlikely as it was that he'd get the chance to put his knowledge to use. So I threw a Ferrystone in the air, and teleported us near Devilfire Grove. This was a privilege Figgy's master likely never played long enough to earn. We walked into the forest, and saw the giant, red dragon slowly emerge from the dark of the night. Unsure of how to act when faced with such a fearsome creature, Figgy merely stood there and yelled "How do we even fight such a thing!?" I chuckled, knowing there was nothing to fear, and we charged into battle.
Probably could have picked a better time of day to start this battle...
The battle seemed to be going well, but then Figgy's Inclinations kicked in. He banged his sword and his shield together, and yelled "I'll act as bait!" I sat there, stunned. This was a low level pawn who had likely never faced a Drake before, charging in and acting as a target. Was this a brave act of valour? A selfless sacrifice to repay my kindness? Or was he just acting on his Inclinations, his dogmatic routines he was forced to obey? I don't know. What I do know is that this had him suffering critical damage on a number of occasions, and often needed assistance. The battle was taking much longer than it normally did. The pawns were needing assistance. I needed to heal often too. It was due to one pawn who kept getting himself into dire situations and requiring our help. I guess perhaps Figgy just wasn't cut out for this line of work.
"I'll act as bait!"
While it was long drawn out, the battle was progressing in our favour, though I was gradually running out of healing items which I wasn't expecting. Then something horrible happened. The Drake grabbed Figgy. It began whispering into his ear, corrupting the force that drove him. He placed Figgy down. Only Figgy was no longer on my side. My comrade was now hunting me down against his own will. He grappled me and slashed at me, fighting surprisingly well. But he never had a hope of winning this battle. By my own hand, Figgy was slain. He could be revived right afterwards, mind you, but regardless- I was forced to fight and kill this pawn who held a dear place in my heart. And what if I had been incapacitated by the Drake and unable to help him? He would have faded away into the Rift. I willingly slayed a friend. His blood on the battlefield was spilt by me.
I couldn't save my friend from the Drake's influence...
The Drake was slain in the end. Its last few health bars were depleted much faster than the previous ones. Perhaps Figgy had been given a wake-up call, or perhaps he was a fast learner. It was hard to feel triumphant though after what had happened. I decided this world was too dangerous for Figgy. What he needed was his master to train him, and teach him the ways of the world. I had to send him back to the Rift after this adventure. I gave him a Ferrystone as a gift, so his master could teleport him across the map like I had. I gave him a maximum rating in all categories so that his master, and other interested adventures, would look past his low level, look past his oafish appearance, and see his merits. I wasn't sure which preset message to send on his departure letter, none could capture what I wanted to say about him. Until I got to the last page. I signed off on his letter with "I pray we meet again". He took the letter, and bid me farewell. He did so with a line that I'd heard many times before, but this time it took on a new meaning, and I won't deny it made me a bit teary- "This pawn stands proud of what we accomplished. May our paths cross again".