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Marius the Magekiller - Dragon Age comics - Rucka

Marius the magekiller


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

Context

Marius appears in the comic book miniseries Dragon Age: Magekiller. This is a comic book miniseries written by Greg Rucka  (a fellow Classic Bioware fiend), and published in 2015/16.

This profile assumes a passing familiarity with the Dragon Age fantasy setting, and the Inquisition. If that’s not your case, we have a handy, short primer to the Dragon Age world. You lucky devil.

This profile has S P O I L E R S for both Dragon Age: Inquisition and Dragon Age: Magekiller.


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Background

  • Real Name: Marius.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Partner of Tessa, operative for the Inquisition.
  • Base of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 6’1″ Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Dark-ish brown. Before you ask I mean #562b25, black for shadows and #6b3932 for highlights.


Powers & Abilities

Marius is a tall, muscular bloke. Even as a simple guard he evidenced a remarkable level of natural strength, speed and fighting skill.

Unlike his partner he always fight with the same weapon – a two-handed sword.

Who you callin’ a perpawhatsit ?

The gifted Marius then received special training — and perhaps alterations — to become a perrepatae. This is a special type of Tevinter slave, specialised in killing rival mages.


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What does that consist in ? We have no idea. However, we can observe that :

  1. His fighting skills, physical abilities and pain tolerance exist at a heroic level. In particular Marius is astonishingly difficult to take down, and doesn’t really need body armour.
  2. He uses clever, pragmatic, prepared “equalizer” tactics. These evoke modern-day Special Forces approaches, in that smart people with lots of experience seem to have codified them as best practices.
  3. Even if he’s caught in a straight-up fight, he can beat bad odds. Such as an arcane horror (but it was within melee range) and four rage demons (but probably minor ones).
  4. Thus, he seems to be roughly on the level of protags and companions in the video games. That the Archon of Tevinter himself would go to lengths to retain his services is a further clue in this direction.
  5. Mr. Rucka states in an interview that all of Marius’ training is solely physical and mental. He also draws a parallel with the Punisher (Frank Castle), which he had been writing before doing Magekiller.

The latter is a tad puzzling, because :

  1. We do see Marius parrying magical attacks on several occasions (like, blocking eldritch bolts with his sword). That’s not normal. I mean, try it and see.
  2. His mind seems altered. For instance his understanding of human relations is weirdly poor. But that wasn’t the case *before* he was trained as a perrepatae. So it doesn’t fit well with a mundane explanation such as high-functioning autism .

C’mon, Greg would never lie to us !

I agree. The man wrote Batwoman: Elegy, so he clearly cannot be wrong. Basic logic, here. So let’s break out the No-Prize Hypothesis :

  1. We know a fair bit about Templars, and how they use training and lyrium to resist magic.
  2. A key bit here is that Alistair states that lyrium *isn’t* necessary to have an abnormal ability to withstand spells. Only training.
  3. On the other hand, Alistair has certain… specificities pertaining to dragons, which he wasn’t aware of when he made this statement.
  4. On the gripping hand , it would be odd if factions within Tevinter didn’t have extensive knowledge of lyrium, dragon blood, and mental training. They’ve been around the block once or twice.

Thus, we are going to *assume* here that :

  1. Perrepatae training includes Templar-like techniques to resist spells.
  2. These are backed by an injection of prepared lyrium (and perhaps a tiny drop of dragon blood). This is a one-time treatment so that perrepatae can operate long-term without needing to consume lyrium, unlike Templars.
  3. Lyrium does cause brain damage, but here this is precisely controlled to dampen certain brain functions. This is to ensure a full focus on the job, and presumably to help resist certain types of mental influence (e.g., desire demons).
  4. So yes, perrepatae use zero magic as Mr. Rucka said. But we assume here that they do get a semi-magical starting boost to master magic-countering mental techniques.
  5. These techniques are rare and secret. In DA:I, Cullen notes that Tevinter mages do not seem to have experience with magic-resistant foes such as Templars.

(An alternative approach would be that Marius has a special magic-blocking sword. But the “one very specific shot of lyrium” No-Prize Hypothesis explain more things in one go and is thus more Occam-legal .)


History

Marius was a slave bodyguard owned by Magister Erasthenes. Living in the capital of Tevinter, Erasthenes was primarily concerned with his historical and mystical research about the Old Gods of Tevinter. He didn’t seem to pay much attention to Tevinter politics or society life, and had but a small retinue of slaves.

Marius the Magekiller - Dragon Age comics - Rucka - Bloody longsword

His estates were apparently but his mansion. Though it was large, it only served as a private library and office, with few amenities.

At the mansion, Marius had started a discreet romance with another slave. Calpernia was an awkward, bony kid doing menial work – but she dreamt of becoming a mage. She kept “borrowing” Erasthenes’ books with Marius’ help, and would eventually accomplish her dream.

Mergers and acquisitions

Marius was an exceptional bodyguard. When a thief broke into Erasthenes’ mansion, Marius broke this man’s wrist with his bare hands as if it were nothing. But Erasthenes had no time he could invest into making his slaves more valuable. So he just ended up selling Marius away for a quick buck.

This left Calpernia lonely and distraught. But at that point she was but a lowly slave girl, without a voice in anything.

Her lover was handed over to Magister Nenealeus, a famous trainer of fighters and assassins. His academy was also reputed for how many of the slaves didn’t survive their training. And, in fact, Marius was reported to have been killed at Nenealeus’ school.

Fugitive and hunter

Marius had actually escaped, and got out of Tevinter. What happened next is unchronicled. But he somehow teamed up with Lady Tessarey Forsythia, who refuses to be called that.

Though Tessa is generally agreed to be a royal pain, she proved a gifted aide – then a redoubtable field partner. She was also much, much better than Marius at finding jobs and negotiating the terms.

They were eventually dubbed the Magekillers. Or rather, Tessa dubbed them that – Marius doesn’t do dubbing. They were specialised mercenaries eliminating supernatural targets.

While this was horribly dangerous work, they were successful and made a good income. However, they had to stay on the move and maintain tight security. The enemies one makes in this business do not allow for mistakes.

One of their most famous exploits was slaying a trio of giants. One imagines that it involved extensive preparation to create gauntlets of specialised traps across the battlefield.

They also once slew a pride demon, after hiring a squadron of 30 other mercenaries to have enough firepower to kill the thing. No profit on that job.

Abominable

Circa 9:39, the Magekillers closed a typical contract in the Free Marches. One lad had been seduced then kidnapped by an apostate blood mage. The Magekillers were to rescue the principal and terminate the apostate.

The tactics used were typical of the duo :

  1. Attack by surprise, with Marius on point.
  2. Marius keeps futilely hammering on the mage’s shield and eating magic blasts.
  3. Which means that the mage doesn’t see Tessa speed-picking open the locks holding the principal in chains.
  4. The mage attempts to move in as she sees that Tessa has freed the prisoner. But Marius keeps engaging. The apostate thus has to lose several seconds blasting him back. Which means she then has to run after Tessa and the principal.
  5. Therefore, she doesn’t notice that Tessa is forcing the principal to run in a half-crouching stance. And thus the apostate runs right into the sharp steel wire drawn at throat level across the exit corridor.
  6. Though she somehow survives being half-decapitated, Marius can easily run his sword through her heart.
  7. At this point it turns out that she was an abomination, possessed by a pride demon. Thus, she rises as an arcane horror. So yeah, that part wasn’t planned. Though in retrospect that explained her durability.
  8. But this unexpected fight starts at close quarters, which is exactly what arcane horrors do not need. Marius thus can slay it before it can cast the really nasty spells. Then kill the four minor rage demons the horror had summoned as its opening move.

Magekillers

The next job was… a tad complicated. A slave had been sent all the way from Tevinter, specifically to hire the Magekillers. Marius immediately refused the job, as he wouldn’t set foot in Tevinter. But the slave pleaded that the targets were making monthly sacrifices of children, and someone had to stop them. Thus, Marius reluctantly took the contract.

The targets were in an isolated coastal ruin, deep within Tevinter. As the Magekillers suspected, it was a trap. What they didn’t suspect was that the person who had set the trap was Archon Radonis, the very ruler of the Tevinter Imperium. Who wanted to offer them a job.

Marius the Magekiller - Dragon Age comics - Rucka - In a library

The Archon was concerned about the rise of the Venatori faction. This alliance of powerful Magisters was determined to make an all-out attempt at restoring the might of Tevinter, as it had been before the First Blight. This could only lead to a civil war, likely followed by an Exalted March against Tevinter, then a Qunari invasion

Though Marius would have died refusing to work for Tevinter, Tessa convinced him to go along with it. The Archon designated four Venatori leaders, whose death would markedly weaken the conspiracy.

Murder incorporated

The Magekillers worked patiently and methodically. These were exceptionally hard targets, and potent mages. Setting everything up took them six weeks.

Marius arranged to be hired as a stilt-wearing waiter at some sort of theatre or arena. He thus could bring a yummy assortment of pastries to the first target. All pastries were loaded with a virulent poison.

Tessa infiltrated a batch of slaves, and they arranged for her to be one of three slaves sold to the second target. Working swiftly, she speed-picked open the chains, whispering to the other two that she would free them if they helped. Then she suddenly strangled the target from behind using the chains. The other two acted as lookouts. They then presumably helped with carrying away the body to delay a police response.

Marius infiltrated a secure library as an assistant, and arranged to be alone in a room with the third target. He “accidentally” dropped scrolls, which spilled bottled ink onto the target. Abjectly apologising and trembling in fear, Marius started wiping the ink from the target’s shirt, then produced a dagger and stabbed him in the heart.

Tessa did surveillance to find a window to kill the fourth target, passing herself as a upper class mage. The baths were the best way, but Tessa had to operate there equipped with but a towel. So she arranged to have Marius pass as a masseur, since unlike Tessa he could kill the target with his bare hands.

Oh, no

Marius thus had the target alone and unwary in a massage room. Seeing her for the first time, he recognised Calpernia. Calpernia also recognised him, and he was unable to bring himself to harm her.

The entire plan thus crumbled to ashes. With the job incomplete, the Archon would at best have the Magekillers slain.

However, Calpernia couldn’t harm Marius either. She had the Magekillers exfiltrated from Tevinter, evading the Archon’s wrath for a short while. And she didn’t disclose that the Magekillers were behind the three murders. Of course, Calpernia used the sudden power vacuum to consolidate her power as a Venatori leader.

Run to the hills

The Magekillers fled pell-mell and hid as best as they could. But three Tevinter kill teams found them in as many months, even in a remote cabin deep into Ferelden’s Frostback mountains. The Magekillers slew these, but it wouldn’t take many more attempts until their luck would run out.

And then everything got so much worse.

Which we’ll discuss in the next writeup – .


Description

A handsome, tall fellow in his late 20s. Marius sports regular features, nice blue eyes, a heroic jaw and cheekbones, a lean and muscular physique, broad shoulders, naturally tousled and spiky hair, the whole kit.

However, he also looks both overly intense and slightly vacant, with little other emotion. According to Tessa, the entire spectrum of expressions Marius is capable of is :

  1. Serious.
  2. Somewhat serious.
  3. Terribly serious.
  4. Gravely serious.
  5. Confused.
  6. Sleepy.

Marius dresses in highly practical leathers and tough fabrics. These are meant for both the outdoors and stealth.

Given his activities, he frequently sports wounds, scars, bandages, burns, etc..

He *does* speak ! Sometimes.

Despite being a slave, he’s well-spoken and has a robust vocabulary. Well, when he speaks, which is seldom. My guess would be that he received remedial education to facilitate undercover assassinations.

Marius the Magekiller - Dragon Age comics - Rucka - Yelling orders

Marius presumably has a slight Tevinter accent. The Tevinter character with the most in-game dialogue, Dorian (and his fabulous moustache) has an English accent with audible South Asian influences. He’s played by Ramon Tikaram , who’s using his natural accent.

So Marius might sound a bit more English, or a bit more Indian, than Dorian Pavus does. English accents being traditional for evil empires in North American fiction, I can imagine Marius with a slight RP accent (representing his remedial education).

Especially since Calpernia has an English accent, now that I think to check.


Personality

Marius kills mages and demons. That’s all he does, and that’s all he can do. He seems to have been, essentially, programmed for this.

Dorian Pavus, a Tevinter mage familiar with perrepatae (and with fabulous moustaches), assumed that Marius had been conditioned to slay any mage ASAP. So apparently, it should be even worse, but Marius either broke or dodged part of his conditioning.

In any case, Marius has no problem working with Inquisition mages.

Unemotional

Marius does not — and quite possibly can not — do any small talk. If he has nothing useful to say, he says *nothing*. If the Magekillers are simply travelling between cities and nothing is happening, he can go for days without saying more than a few words.

Likewise, matters of romance and human relationships in general seem to entirely elude him. He could kiss and hug Calpernia when they were briefly reunited, but that seemed to be sheer muscle memory. He didn’t really understand what he was doing, and that was confusing for him. The romantic subtext between Charter and Tessa flew miles above his head, even though it… wasn’t subtle.

Marius doesn’t understand civilities (such as shaking hands) either. To him, it just doesn’t register and/or seems entirely pointless.

Unless he’s undercover, Marius’ affect seems almost entirely flat. And when it comes to those few emotions he has (such as his friendship with Tessa) he lacks the tools to express them. He can feel and express anger or impatience, but most everything else is outside of his grasp.

Marius doesn’t *like* being like this. He knows that he’s diminished. But he was never given a choice, and there’s nothing he can do.

The tactical mind

Marius is ridiculously focused on problem-solving, and the problem is almost always killing stuff. He further approaches things in an analytical manner, with plans maximising impact and leaving as few openings for retaliation as possible.

He’ll prepare for as many contingencies as feasible, since he’s keenly aware that plan A will probably go to crap. And that B and C shouldn’t be relied on either.

If feasible, he and Tessa will conduct extensive reconnaissance and surveillance. Marius can stay immobile in a ghillie suit for an entire day, just to watch who comes in and out of a building. He’ll shrewdly take note of every weakness, every possible angle of attack or egress, every shadow as he builds his mental model of the op.

Marius is almost continuously in tactical mode and scanning for threats. He simply never unclenches.

Crusade of blood

Marius is on a never-ending crusade to destroy mages who prey on common people. If they also are slavers, that’s a big bonus in his book. Predictably, he detests Tevinter and everything that it stands for.

He did not show hostility toward Dorian Pavus (or his fabulous moustache), but was surprised when Dorian went out of his way to help him. Marius did not expect that from a Tevinter mage. And he also completely missed the bit where Dorian told him he was handsome.

Marius is so focused and relentless about it that people assume he would sacrifice everything and anyone to his cause. Even Tessa (who is unusually observant and spent years with Marius) sort of thought that one day she’d be a casualty of Marius’ crusade.

As the story closes, Tessa realises that Marius is indefectibly loyal toward her, and treasures their friendship. But he doesn’t have the means to express that.

Other traits

Marius is a big fan of Varric Tethras’ dime novels. Since he’s illiterate, Tessa reads those to him.

Presumably, he enjoys a novel’s ability to immerse him into lives that aren’t as crippled as his own.


Quotes

(When called “Master Marius”) “I am nobody’s master but my own. I keep no slaves, and I do not suffer those who do.”

“Lead with stealth. Follow with fury and fire.”

(Lying badly wounded, burned, battered and exhausted) “Tessa ? I believe I will need your help standing up.”

“Magister Nenealeus made me perrepatae. I had no choice. It’s the only thing I know to do. It’s what I am.”

“Tessa… when dealing with mages, when dealing with magic, *nothing* ever goes to plan.”

(As Marius starts briefing the tactical team, Tessa and Dorian are exchanging playful but catty banter, which Marius mistakes for conflict.)
Marius: “You two just going to make nice, or are we going to get to business ?”
Dorian (charmingly): “Can’t we do both ?” (Tessa chuckles)
Marius (coldly): “No.”

“I respect nothing of you or this place. I won my freedom, and with it the right to declare my hatred of you, of Tevinter, with full throat. I will die with that right.”



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Marius

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Psychopath
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 07 Occupation: Terminator
Inf: 05 Aur: 03 Spi: 07 Wealth: 005 (w/Tessa)
Init: 018 HP: 050

Powers:
Iron will: 02, Magic shield: 01, Regeneration: 01, Suspension: 01

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Iron will is Form Function. It can defend against all mental intrusion based on desires that Marius doesn’t have (such as love, comfort, happiness, etc.).
  • Magic shield is Form Function. It can *only* be used when Blocking a magical attack with a visible manifestation. The presence of the Magic Shield Power may make it possible to Block magical attacks with a physical object whereas it would not normally be feasible.
  • Regeneration is Form Function, and cannot regrow destroyed tissues.
  • Suspension is a Skilled Power. This denotes his ability to stay completely immobile for hours (which would also lower his oxygen consumption and the like).

Skills:
Acrobatics (Climbing): 04, Artist (Actor): 04, Evasion: 06, Martial Artist: 05, Medicine (First aid): 03, Military science (Camouflage, cartography, Danger rec): 07, Occultist (Knowledge): 03, Scientist (Observation): 03, Thief (Concealment): 03, Thief (Stealth): 05, Weaponry (Melee): 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Artist (Actor) cannot do subtle and nuanced emotions – it’s there for simple undercover work. On the other hand it ignores his Socially Inept Drawback.
  • Evasion only vs. melee, and only when wielding a two-handed or hand-a-half sword.

Advantages:
Expertise (Assassination and commando tactics), Iron Nerves, Language (Tevene), Luck, Schtick (Pain management (Minor)).

Connections:
Tessa Forsythia (High), the Inquisition (Low).

Drawbacks:
CIA toward killing evil mages, SID of the Magisterium, SIA toward Calpernia, Socially Inept, Misc.: Marius is illiterate, Misc.: Marius is unable to understand sex- or romance-related innuendo.

Equipment:

  • REINFORCED CLOTHING [BODY 01, Damage Capacity: 01].
  • Two-handed sword [BODY 07, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 08), Descriptors: Slashing, Piercing, Blunt].

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Dragon Age: Magekiller comic books miniseries.

Helper(s): Pastemagazine.com  for the Rucka interview.

Writeup completed on the 14th of December, 2017.

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