5713 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Crowd scene at a rally

Retriever without a name


Context

This character is an original creation. We often call these “homemades” or “homebrewed” – think home cooking or craft beer.

Many of these characters were created to take part in tabletop role-playing game sessions. Others were invented as a creative writing exercise, often as part of a community event.

This specific character was part of our Spring of 2015 Random Magical Character Creation event, just for the fun and mental exercise. She earned the bronze medal.


Background

  • Real Name: Ava Brien (Note that she has numerous names and identities, but this is the name that she most often associates with herself in her head only as it’s the first name she ever remembers having.)
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Unnamed parents (deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Highly mobile
  • Height: 5’6” Weight: 140 lbs. Age: early 20s
  • Eyes: Dark green Hair: Dark red


Powers & Abilities

She’s likely a distant descendant of a fae creature or some sort such as an elemental, sylph, dryad, or nature spirit. Since her heritage is murky and unclear it’s quite difficult to say and since she’s not one to dwell on the past it hardly matters to her.

What does matter is whatever magical creature that she’s descendent from they were clearly an air based elemental creature by the looks of the abilities she’s inherited as well as her free spirited personality.

As such she has the ability to fly, cast a protective magical aura around herself, and look into the recent past of objects. Her most impressive ability is her use of glamour magic to appear however she wants or go invisible if need be.

Morphing sequence from Michael Jackson's Black or White music video

Though by far her most impressive ability is her power of persuasion and use of guile to obtain whatever she needs. This coupled by the fact that she was raised from birth by career conmen makes her one of the best cons around. Subtle use of her powers of trickery only further enhance this.

This combined with her ability to fly and appear as anyone she wants and her being mobile across the continent make her almost impossible to catch.

Due to her mystical heritage she’s also a lot more physically robust than an athletic woman in her early 20s. While hardly superhuman she is far stronger than a fit young woman in good shape has a right to be.

She’s been quite successful in her chosen trade and has become quite wealthy and has multiple bank accounts with several identities stashed away as a just in case.

Identity crisis

The Retriever can occasionally experience severe confusion as to her identity (in DC Heroes terms, she rolled under her MPI). One of three things can happen then:

  • She forgets what role or character she’s playing and starts to act really, really confused possible leading to her freezing or acting out of character or
  • She completely over plays the character and it starts to negatively affect whatever cover or job she’s doing.
  • She can’t drop character or abandon the role when she clearly should.

The exact effect is best left up to the GM or alternatively a random roll can be made.

Equipment

She will acquire and discard a combination of whatever magical artifacts or mundane gadgets that are suitable and available to complete a job and then discard them as soon as the contract is complete.


History

The retriever was originally born to a pair or small time career grifters. Her earliest memories were being on the road as the family moved from place to place try to look for marks to make easy cash from and then moving on before they attracted too much unwanted attention.

Their particular cons almost always involved some sort of mystical persuasion such as selling fake magical talismans, potions, and occasionally posing as psychics able to contact the spirit world.

Though her parents weren’t terribly talented or original in their scams they were small-time enough that they usually flew just below the radar of law enforcement and that coupled with their constantly moving kept them out of jail.

Crowd scene at a concert

Life was never easy for her as both parents were pretty abusive as well as substance abusers who had no qualms about making their daughter a part of their schemes. The only real bright spot in her life was her parents’ constant stories of their ancestry and how they were descendent of magical creatures from fairy tales.

Exactly what kind of creatures and what their exact ancestry changed with almost every rendition. The most common tellings were that they were mixed Irish and Romani, but they occasionally mixed in Norse and Slavic stories as well.

It’s highly likely that her delusional parents actually believed in these stories and as she would find out later there was some truth to these whimsical tales.

Teens

As the family constantly moved she never made any real friends and never really saw the need for them and only longed for her freedom. Around her teens she started to manifest.

They often changed their appearance when they moved to the next location and when it was discovered that she could alter her appearance every so slightly with some effort her mystical nature started to become apparent.

Her parents were at once overjoyed by this as it would make it infinitely easier for them to sell pass their useless trinkets and potions off as legitimate with the use of her budding glamour magic. They pushed her hard to develop her powers and ever failure, however so slight, was met with abuse.

Her parents debated on how to best use her new found abilities for financial gain. Initially they thought it would be best to start their own cult and use her newfound powers to attract followers, however this idea was quickly discarded as they reasoned that it would attract too much attention.

They eventually settled on fake mystical beauty potions and the like by having her use her glamour magic to convince any skeptics.

Around this point things got marginally better for her, but she still longed for freedom. She got a chance at it not soon after. One night her drunken father (accidentally or on purpose she was never really sure) pushed her down a flight of stairs, but rather than actually fall she gently floated to the ground.

Her father was initially shocked, but in his drunken stupor quickly forgot about the incident, but she didn’t. She started practicing on her own and eventually she was able to fly at a reasonable speed. This quickly led to her leaving home and exploring the area whenever her parents weren’t looking.

One night shortly after they had moved to a town in rural Illinois and after a particular profitable sale her parents’ celebration led to them drinking way too much and both of them passing out.

She took the easy opportunity to explore the new area and flew around until the sun came up. When she returned to the motel that they were staying at her father was furious and demanded to know where she had been.

Before she could offer an explanation he hit her hard enough to send her sailing across the room, but much to their shock, her body halted in midair before she hit the wall. There she was just floating a foot off the ground while her parents’ stared at her in shock and disbelief and while she stared back with accusing hateful eyes.

Life is leaving

That had been the last straw. She slowly floated to the door and flew away and for the first time in her life she was truly free.

However freedom came with a bit of a price. Her parents, as despicable as they had been, had given her at least some structure and purpose and now that she had the freedom she’d wanted all her life and now she had no idea what to do with it.

For a time she drifted aimlessly around the area and engaged in the occasional petty theft to support herself. After a couple of weeks though it became obvious that her parents were still hell bent on finding her — most likely to exploit her new found powers.

Morphing models from Michael Jackson's Black or White music vide

This was a first for her. Now suddenly she had the power and she decided to use it to teach them a lesson. She was far less abusive and more mischievous in nature though so rather than physically abuse and torment them she simply led them on a chase across the state of Illinois occasionally leaving clues and dropping bread crumbs when they were having difficulty.

She started drifting closer and closer to Chicago as there was better stuff to steal there and it was easier for her to disappear into a crowd.

This cat and mouse game went on for weeks and eventually she appeared to her father and told him off before disappearing into a crowd in a rather bad area. Her father grew enraged and while shoving throw the crowd shouting and cursing it led to an altercation with some gang members that quickly escalated.

Her father wound up being fatally shot while she just sat there and watched him bleed out. He cried and shouted and pleaded, but in the end his last words were, “I’m sorry.”

She felt nothing inside. No desire to help her father. No joy at seeing a man who had made her suffer and had exploited her for most her life. Just nothing. Finally she was free and still she didn’t know what to do with herself.

Sweet home Chicago

Chicago was a much bigger city with a lot more opportunity – plenty of easy things to steal and plenty of things to do. She felt a bit uneasy being around so many people especially since she didn’t understand normal relations and had no idea how to make friends, but gradually she socialized a bit all the while contemplating what had happened.

Was she free? Really and truly or was there something missing? It took her a couple of weeks, but eventually she decided to track down her mother to see if she couldn’t get over this nagging feeling.

And find her she did — in the county morgue that was. Without her husband around her mother had grown more desperate by the day and within a few short weeks drank herself to death.

Sitting there staring at the corpse of the woman that had born her something finally let loose. She was free. Free in every sense of the word even in the most basic and fundamental form.

She had become tabula rasa — the blank slate. She could start over as many times as needed and assume any identity. If she needed food or clothing or jewelry she could take it. Who could possibly stop an invisible flying thief?

She was free, but where to go? She had no idea so she put a map on the wall and threw a dart at it. Nevada desert. Why not? And thus began a long journey or her randomly traveling all over North America. She never really made any real friends or made any special connections with anyone, but she never had a care in the world or went hungry or left wanting.

She was free in the truest sense of the word, but yet still left wanting. She got whatever she wanted whether it be possessions or drugs or booze or indiscriminate sex. Occasionally there was something worthwhile stealing that actually presented a challenge and that gave her a bit of a thrill, but those were few and far between. Still it was something.

Retriever

About two years later when she was 17 her travels took her to upstate New York and after a few nights of hard partying she heard of a family who wished to recover an old painting of theirs. She did it. She liked the challenge and the thrill of it and from then on she became the Retriever. Both faceless and nameless and in it for the thrill of the hunt.

For the first time she was truly free. She lived by her own code and her own rules.

A few years have passed and the Retriever has honed her skills. Her various endeavors have made her quite wealthy and successful, but all that is secondary to the thrill of the challenge. 


Description

Basically she’s a normal looking woman in her late teens in good shape with dark red hair and dark green eyes. All of this is rather irrelevant as she can appear to be whoever she wishes.

In warmer occasionally gets a bit of a kick by walking around nude and using her glamour magic to cover herself up. She will also always wear at least a few expensive pieces of jewelry that can be pawned for cash on short notice if the need arises.


Personality

She’s a free spirit in every sense of the word. She completely lives by her own rules and her own code.

As stated before her primary motivation is the thrill of the con and setting up elaborate heists to pull off. Challenge and the rush that comes with it is what she really desires. The more difficult and brazen the theft the better.

Her secondary motivation is basically to party and live life up. After all what’s point of being wealthy and successful if you can’t enjoy it. To put it mildly she’s a hard core party girl and enjoys booze and natural drugs. (She finds that chemical drugs don’t agree with her so much.)

On that note she’s also got a pretty healthy sexual appetite, is bisexual and does enjoy the occasional orgy. Bondage however freaks her out as sees being tied up or forcibly confined as the polar opposite of the freedom she enjoys.

Oddly enough her rough upbringing had some odd effects on her view of life. A lot of her making her own code has to do with the fact that deep down inside she felt that her parents didn’t respect the art of the con or the “magic” artifacts that they sold.

Despite being a con and a thief she deep down inside isn’t an evil person and does exercise some restraint when selecting clients. She won’t take any jobs that indicate the client is going to use the object for nefarious purposes or abuse its power.

Likewise is a client does something terrible with an artifact she has retrieved she has been known to steal them back. She once triple crossed an employer by stealing an artifact for another party then stealing back and returning it to the original owner and finally stealing it a third time and giving it to a museum.

She’s also a bit of trickster who loves practical jokes. She often uses her powers to thumb her nose at oppressive authority when the chance arises and can be a bit petty and vindictive at times against anyone she feels has wronged her leading her to set up elaborate practical jokes to teach them a lesson.

As far as hobbies go she’s basically a dabbler and mostly just kind of picks up new hobbies as she goes and then discards them when she grows bored about as often as one would change socks. She does have a few consistent hobbies though. She loves foreign films from all over the world as they are a great source for coming up with new characters and concepts.

Her other passion is old obscure RPGs. While she’s never played an actual game under any system the idea is something that excites her. The rules and charts are interesting to someone like her who loves random chance.

She pretty much revels in chaos as well. Her actions at times can be truly random. She quite often throws darts at a map to decide where to go next and occasionally makes flow charts and rolls dice to randomly decide her course of action.

This does have the small bonus of making her extremely difficult to track even by magical means. It’s extremely difficult to track and predict her next move or destination when she herself doesn’t even know what it is.

This reveling in chaos has come at a bit of a price. She occasionally does get confused as to what character or role she’s playing and in at least a few cases has either over played her character to the point that it had detrimental effects on a job.

Lastly deep down inside she’s a bit lonely and all her other activities are kind of just to cover that up. She’s basically never had a real friend and inherently distrusts everyone.

She’s also deep down inside scared at revealing her true self to others and making herself vulnerable. She’s thoroughly convinced that no one could ever possible understand her and she’s never really been the trusting type anyway seeing as how she was raised as a conman.

The Retriever’s Code

This is a detailed analysis of the code she follows (with additional info in parenthesis in regards to how she interprets it.):

  • A Retriever does not steal unless it’s related to the job. (Supplies and necessary items to complete the job and of course the item sought may be stolen, but nothing else.)
  • There are no charity cases. This is a serious business and Retrievers get paid. (Although there are exceptions and on rare occasions the payment is sometimes symbolic.)
  • All magical artifacts and other tools are to be abandoned after the job is done and not to be used for personal use.
  • Finesse and style are always favored over brute force. Retrieving is an art and should be treated with respect.
  • Honor your word and all contracts. However if the employer does not honor their side of the bargain then all bets are off.
  • If the recipient of the item retrieved is abused by the recipient then the Retriever is free to reclaim it and do what they wish with it at their discretion.
  • All items retrieved must be magical in nature. Retrievers are specialists not common thieves. (There is a huge exception here for her. Due to the nature of her beliefs she does on occasion retrieve nonmagical items such as family heirlooms and the like. This is due to her belief that believing in magic is the first step to making things magical.)
  • The challenge of the retrieval is primary and the reward is secondary. Retrievers need to hone their skills.

Quotes

“Stealing ? I would never steal. That’s completely deplorable… although you might want to consider the fact that ownership is occasionally highly subjective and often falls into a gray area.”

“I swear to you as one who practices the Retriever’s Code that you shall have (insert magical object).”

“Party time !”

(After successfully completing a job in a very sing songy voice.) “Getting paid, getting paid ! Getting paid, getting paid !”

(After successfully receiving a large sum of money from a successful job in a sing songy voice.) “Getting laid, getting laid ! Getting laid, getting laid !”

(To herself in the mirror before using her glamour magic.) “I am everyone and no one at the same time. I am many things and play many roles, but tonight I’m a (insert whatever role she’s playing for the situation).”

(While having an identity crisis.) “Wait, wait, wait, wait a minute… or a year… or a… who… am… I… now.”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

The Retriever without a Name

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Anti-heroic Thrill of Adventure
Int: 06 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: Retriever
Inf: 08 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 011
Init: 019 HP: 010

Powers:
Flight: 04, Illusion: 04, Magical Field: 07, Post Cognition: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All powers are mystically linked
  • Illusion is limited to self only

Skills:
Artist (Actress, dancer, singer): 05, Occultist: 05

Advantages
Connoisseur, Familiarity (bartering, foreign films, obscure RPGs), Gift of Gab, Luck, Sharp Eye, Scholar (Glamour magic)

Connections:
None

Drawbacks:
MIA (upholding the Retriever’s Code, see below), SIF (being bound or forcibly confined), MPI (identity confusion)

By Tom Eilers

Source of Character: Homebrew for Character Contest

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.