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Beowulf (DC Comics)

Beowulf

(Prince of the Geats)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

“A distant past shrouded in the mist of time ; when men lived savagely in the shadow of all-mighty Wyrd, the God of Fate, and in the terror of Satan, Dragon-Lord of the Underworld. When the Earth was no more than a few tribal lands, cast in the darkness of mystic lagoons, fog-cloaked swamps, and devil-haunted castles ! A time of villains, demons, spirits of evil — and the blood-beast Grendel ! A time of heroes, kings, warriors of good — and the noble savage — Beowulf !”


Context

Beowulf is probably the oldest surviving work of literature in English. This heroic fantasy predecessor was likely composed circa the year 1,000.

In 1975, in one of those “comic books aren’t just for kids !” moments, DC produced a very… loose adaptation of the poem as a kitchen-sink D&D-esque romp. This took place during the “DC Implosion”  editorial crash, and the book was thus short-lived. However, he and several of his contemporaries unexpectedly came back in a fantastic Wonder Woman story arc in 2008.

This profile contains S P O I L E R S for both the 1975 Beowulf series and for the Ends of the Earth Wonder Woman TPB.


Milieu

The setting (or milieu, as Gary Gygax  would have put it) of Beowulf is actually two worlds. The surface world is a mishmash of ancient world cultures – or rather a crude pop history version of these. It seems to be the province of the Wyrd, a robed skeletal god who governs the fate of men. The underworld is a pop version of Hell — ugly caverns with lots of burning stuff and lakes of fire — ruled by Satan.

There are numerous gateways between the two. The monsters from Hell thus regularly tread the surface world. These go from stock heroic fantasy creatures such as lizardmen, to more magical beings such as flame elementals looking like naked giant maidens.

Most such monsters are not crushingly powerful. A brave band of warriors or even a lone hero can fight them and win. Even the Wyrd and Satan do not seem to be that tough. Satan is more like a giant magician, and a skilled mortal can summon the Wyrd.

Mish-mash

While surface world cultures are Earth-like (Jewish nomads, Romanian raiders, Danes, Geats, Franks, pygmies…) one gets the impression that the geography is arranged quite differently. It is almost as if the Danelands and Geatslands were in Northern Italy, though with a cold and humid climate.

Furthermore, everybody (including infernal monsters) speaks the same tongue, though the Jewish desert nomads also spoke Hebrew. Beowulf was surprised that he could communicate with the pygmies, so presumably some tribes of the Darklands (Africa) speak different languages.

The Wyrd and Satan dominate every aspect of the life of the Geats, Danes and assorted Viking-ish folks. Other cultures know and respect them. Other religions included druids who had UFOs, Ancient Greeks who could summon help from their divine patrons, and Jews who could kvetch .


Background

  • Real Name: Prince Beowulf of the Geats.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Ecgtheow, King of the Geats (father, presumably deceased – properly spelled Ecgþeow), King Hygelac of the Geats (uncle), nephew (name unrevealed, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Prince of the Geats.
  • Base Of Operations: Unrevealed.
  • Height: 6’2” Weight: 218 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue-green Hair: Red


Powers and Abilities

Beowulf is a powerful, muscular barbarian warrior with great skill at arms and supreme courage. He also displayed superior intelligence and athleticism, considerable narrative immunity, and excellent observation and deduction skills.

The venom of the Black Viper of the Darklands and the ambrosia of the Zumak fruit gave Beowulf superhuman strength at the close of his original series. He could then punch through thick stone walls. However, this strength was apparently gone when he returned.

His 2008 return emphasises his smarts and people skills. Beowulf is a great leader of men. He’s very perceptive, clever and persuasive. Though proud and aggressive, he’s also genuinely wise and capable of great subtlety and eloquence.

His powerful charisma is not just raw presence, but also a sophisticated ability to convince, reason and manipulate as a good king should. Beowulf sees much and understands much, though he tends to keep his conclusions to himself if they do not require immediate action.

To arms

Originally, Beowulf is armed with a bastard sword — a heavy, broad-bladed one made of iron, which was the height of military metallurgy back then. He occasionally sported a large, two-handed black mace instead but it had the exact same game stats.

In his 2000s appearance he had a one-handed flamberge (a broadsword with a wavy blade) and a medium-sized shield. This shield is chiefly used to aggressively block arrows (often while charging the archers). Beowulf’s heavy-handed fighting style doesn’t make a shield very useful in melee combat, and he’ll likely not equip it if a fight is going to take place at close range.

Beowulf wears a minotaur skull that was turned into large, horned helmet after he defeated the monster. It can be used as a weapon in a pinch, since the horns are kept sword-sharp. Beowulf just takes off his helmet and uses it to stab with the horns. It works surprisingly well.

You must gather your party before venturing forth

The data about Beowulf’s party in the original series is now in its own article about Beowulf’s Companions. Forsooth.


History

Beowulf is the Prince of the Geats, a land that on our Earth was in Southern Sweden. Whether he existed in the past of DC’s New Earth is hard to say. His times certainly do not resemble real history, but it might be compatible with the DCU’s.

The traditional Beowulf poem is thought to describe events set in the sixth century A.D., but whether that is also the case of the DCU’s Beowulf is any troll’s guess.

Beowulf in his Wonder Woman appearances

Beowulf son of Ecgtheow (Ecgþeow) was terribly strong. Some thus maintain that he was sired by a gorilla – Geat sailors having captured some apes during a raid in the Darklands. He accomplished many exploits during his youth, such as a week-long swimming race that involved killing numerous sea monsters.

Down South

Beowulf and his lieutenants eventually left for a long raiding campaign after his uncle succeeded Ecgtheow on the throne.

Whilst battling Franks, Beowulf first met with the sorcerer, bard, prophet and madman called the Shaper. Shaper prophesied that a mighty servant of Satan, the blood-beast Grendel, would soon attack the mead-hall of Hrothgar (Hroðgar) of Daneland, an ally of the Geats. Craving lof (renown), Beowulf sailed for Daneland.

En route, the sea raiders were beset by a siren-like servant maiden of Satan. Beowulf vanquished her, and once free from the possession of Satan the fur bikini-clad blonde, a Swede woman-warrior called Nan-Zee, joined the party. She would soon become Beowulf’s friend and, later, his lover.

The blood-beast Grendel

Before they could reach the mead-hall of the Spear-Danes, Beowulf and his companions were tricked into getting lost in an infernal swamp. After they were caught in quicksand Nan-Zee led them to the Underworld to escape, and they met Satan.

Feeling playful, Satan told Beowulf that drinking the venom of a certain viper and eating a certain fruit would made him strong enough to beat Grendel. By the time the party returned to the surface world, Grendel had already raided the hall several times, massacring most of the warriors.

Beowulf vs. Grendel

Beowulf embarked on his quest, sailing to the Darklands to find the Black Viper. He fought then made peace with Pygmies who considered the viper their protective spirit, killed the monster and drank its venom. The Geats also recruited a Darklander warrior.

They then crossed the desert to find the Zumak Fruit. Satan tricked nomadic Jews into attacking them, but after the mistake was realised the nomads explained that they were hunting for Vlad “Dracula” Tepes, who had been rampaging through the land with his troops. Allying, the two parties attacked the Wallachian raiders.

As Beowulf and Tepes were fighting, Satan intervened and took Dracula, announcing that he would be the Count and first member of a species of human vampires who would forever plague mankind. Satan also transported two of Beowulf’s companions, Wiglaf and Hondscio, back to Daneland and into Grendel’s path. Hondscio was killed and Wiglaf magically returned to Beowulf’s side.

Jumping the shark, part 1

Things then got a bit confused. The party stumbled upon Stonehenge in what may have been Eastern Libya and were kidnapped by druids equipped with force field generators.

Party member Unferth betrayed Beowulf, allowing the druids to take Nan-Zee and Beowulf into their lasers-armed UFO with suspended animation chambers wherein they collected heroes. Beowulf freed the heroes, who beat back the druids – and one hero, Odysseus, told the Geat prince that the Zumak Fruit could be found in Crete.

Beowulf with desert nomads

As it turned out the druid worshipped the stony space aliens En-Lil and Ishtar, but Beowulf and the other heroes mobbed these two long enough for Beowulf to grab one of the aliens’s blasters. He shot the UFO’s engine and the crashed in Atlantis right as it was sinking.

Jumping the shark, part 2

Amidst the volcanic eruptions Nan-Zee, Odysseus and Beowulf crafted a raft and fled toward Crete. Odysseus successfully called upon Athena for help. She returned him to his time period. Beowulf and Nan-Zee sailed through a strange typhoon, and finally reached Crete.

Entering the labyrinth were the fruit was, Beowulf fought a minotaur. Satan empowered the beast so it would slay Beowulf but feet away from his goal. However the infernal master was then attacked by Grendel, who had come to Hell to take the throne.

This depowered the minotaur, whom Beowulf killed in order to reach the fruit. The Zumak Fruit’s juice mixed the venom of the Black Viper to give Beowulf superhuman strength. What happened next remains unrevealed – the 1975 series was cancelled and Beowulf did not return until 2008.

Ends of the earth

Another heroic fantasy adventurer, Stalker, set to recruit three legendary swordbearers to destroy the infernal power Dgrth. Following the prophecies of the sorceress Oracle, he recruited Diana of Themyscira.

He then sent her to meet Beowulf – who was now in cold Daneland, still hunting for Grendel. Diana convinced him to join her in saving lives and Stalker sent them to meet Claw the Unconquered, whom Beowulf convinced to help prevent the apocalypse.

Beowulf vs. Dracula

The four swordbearers reached Dgrth, and Beowulf realised that Grendel was one of the infernal lord’s allies. Stalker betrayed his recruits and threw his sword at Diana. As Diana had just saved Beowulf’s life during a dragon attack, the prince of the Geats body-blocked the projectile and was grievously wounded.

Claw presumably staunched the worst of the wound, and Beowulf apparently convinced Stalker and Oracle to accomplish the ritual to slay Dgrth once Diana would have vanquished him.

Aftermath

With Dgrth destroyed, Beowulf gave his sword as a present to Diana and resumed the hunt for Grendel, who had absconded.

Beowulf may yet be seen again, for Grendel had fled to Earth.


Description

Beowulf is a huge muscular barbarian warrior with imposing presence. Though as a youth he was often compared to an animal for his strength and ferocity, the mature Beowulf acts in a regal, controlled and insightful manner.


Personality

Beowulf was originally driven by his desire for lof. Lof is the kind of heroic fame that ensures immortality, as the noble exploits of the champions are sung by scops for generations until they become part of popular culture. As he got older, his primary motivation became to nobly protect the defenceless.

Like most Geats he is a fatalist – everything is pre-ordained by the Wyrd. However, he also trusts that his destiny is that of a great hero, and that he should fight to the last breathe and accomplish great things as the Wyrd intended.

This certainty makes Beowulf fearless and unrelenting. Even if something, such as fighting Grendel with but human strength, seems to be certain doom Beowulf knows that his fate has something in store for him.

Other traits

Young Beowulf occasionally entered a fighting rage, but older Beowulf almost never does. However, when tired, he becomes aggressive and conflict-seeking. Even when rested he has a major problem with traitors and cowards – shortcomings he deems worthy of immediate execution.

As a macho pseudo-Viking, he prefers for women to stick with traditionally feminine pursuits. However, he’s smart enough to realise that things don’t really work that way, and could quickly adapt to work with the likes of Nan-Zee the Scylfing or Diana of Themyscira, respecting them as equals and even making self-depreciating jokes about his own chauvinism.

Beowulf is also reluctant to fight women, which he sees as both being unfair and making him look effeminate.

Born and raised a leader, Beowulf knows to speak with caution and to listen far more than he speaks. When he talks it is often in an elegant, poetic way evoking the saga relating his exploits — including kenning  or two. No need to ask, he’s a smooth operator.


Quotes

“Look ahead ! Prepare yourselves ! Satan’s game begins anew !”

“Do not make yourself out to be more than human, Dracula ! For blood-thirsty mongers like yourself are far less than human !”

“I seek the spawn of Cain. Descendant of the first murderer. I know he came this way. Where is he ? Where is the demon ? You will answer me, rabble. I am King Hroðgar’s sword-arm. Where… is… Grendel ?”

“Hold, warrior. I erred. I am tired beyond measure, but Beowulf I remain. I do not fight women.”

(After he and Diana narrowly escape from a vicious fight in a burning inn)
Diana: “Thank you […]. I would have killed him, but for you.”
Beowulf: “Hur. A fat hog fart’s worth of shame that would have been, eh ? I’d have gutted him myself were our accommodations a bit less sharp and scorched.”

“If this Dgrth hungers for the end of times, perhaps we should have a polite discussion with him. Perhaps not. Perhaps it is all trough-spittle.”

“Hroðgar’s oath, know you not a matter of import from a matter of inconsequence ? You’re worse than a drunken garrison of Spear-Danes, each of you. Think of the honour and glory, if duty is beyond your ken.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Beowulf

Dex: 07 Str: 05 Bod: 05 Motivation: Lof, later Noblesse Oblige
Int: 08 Wil: 10 Min: 08 Occupation: Prince of the Geats
Inf: 09 Aur: 08 Spi: 08 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 025 HP: 030

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Climbing): 05, Animals handling (Riding): 06, Charisma (Persuasion): 10, Evasion (Ranged only): 08, Vehicles (Sea): 04, Weaponry (Melee): 08

Bonuses and Limitations:
Evasion requires wielding a shield.

Advantages:
Credentials (Geat tribals, Medium), Iron Nerves, Leadership.

Connections:
Nan-Zee (High), Beowulf’s companions (High).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward Glory and fame, Public Identity.

Equipment:

  • Bastard Sword or Two-Handed Mace [BODY 06, EV 05 (06 w/STR), Sharpness (EV): 01]./li>
  • HELMET [BODY (Hardened Defences) 06, EV 03 (06 w/STR), Note: BODY only protects the head].
  • In his more recent appearance, Beowulf was armed slightly differently :
    • Flamberge [BODY 06, EV 04 (06 w/STR), Sharpness (EV): 01].
    • SMALL SHIELD [BODY (Hardened Defenses) 05, EV 02, Recommended STR 01, Note: OV/RV bonus when using the Block Manoeuvre is 1 AP, Note: the OV bonus for the Shield Cover Manoeuvre is 1 AP]..

The venom of the Black Viper of the Darklands, and the ambrosia of the Zumak fruit

The combination of these two magical brews gave Beowulf superhuman strength, as announced by Satan. This strength was only seen in the last page of the last issue, and when Beowulf reappeared he no longer had it.

The exact level of strength is unknown, but from the way Beowulf was smashing through thick stone walls with his bare fists it was at least a 11, presumably with a commensurate increase in BODY.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Beowulf — Averaged PL 9.4

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
04 03 04 02 06 01 05 05

Powers

Indomitable ● 6 points
Impervious Will 6

Devices

Horned helm ● 1 point (Noticeable, removable)
Strength-based Piercing Damage 2

Combat Advantages

Close attack 4, Defensive roll 3, Power Attack, Takedown.

Other Advantages

Benefit 1 (Prince of the Geats), Diehard, Equipment 1, Extraordinary Effort, Fearless, Great Endurance, Inspire, Leadership.

Skills

Acrobatics 2 (+6), Athletics 4 (+8), Close combat (Swords) 2 (+12), Close combat (Maces) 2 (+12), Deception 9 (+14), Insight 9 (+14), Intimidation 3 (+8), Perception 7 (+12), Persuasion 5 (+10), Stealth 3 (+7)

Equipment

Huge sword or mace (Strength-based Damage 3, Improved Critical 1) ● 4 points

Offense

Initiative +4
Unarmed +10, Close, Damage 4
Huge sword or mace +12, Close, Damage 7, Crit 19-20

Defense

Dodge 11 Fortitude 8
Parry 11 Toughness 6/3*
Will 12

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Motivation Lof, later Noblesse Oblige.
  • Enemy Satan, Grendel.
  • Fame Prince of the Geats.
  • Honour Pseudo-Viking.
  • Responsibility Great hero.

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 10, Dodge/Toughness PL 9, Parry/Toughness PL 9, Fort & Will PL 10.
  • Point total 131 Abilities 60, Defences 24, Skills 23, Powers 6, Devices 1, Advantages 17. Equiv. PL 9.


The venom of the Black Viper of the Darklands, and the ambrosia of the Zumak fruit

The combination of these two magical brews gave Beowulf superhuman strength, as announced by Satan. This strength was only seen in the last page of the last issue, and when Beowulf reappeared he no longer had it.

The exact level of strength is unknown, but from the way Beowulf was smashing through thick stone walls with his bare fists it was at least a 11, presumably with a commensurate increase in Stamina.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: DC Universe.

Helper(s): Darci, Pawsplay.

Writeup completed on the 11th of April, 2011.

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