Merlin Athrawes - Safehold sci-fi novels - David Weber

Merlin Athrawes


The Safehold cycle is a series (or rather a cluster) of sci-fi novels. It was started in 2007 by David Weber, a best-selling sci-fi novelist best-known for the Honor Harrington material.

Safehold is a remote planet where the ragged survivors of Humanity fled after being defeated by genocidal aliens. To lie low, the colonists have to forego all technology for generations, until they’ll be able to rise again.

But conflict and sabotage mean they truly lose their memories and knowledge, and end up recreating a sort of medieval Earth variant.


  • Alter-ego: Nimue Alban.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Royal House of Armack.
  • Base Of Operations: Royal Palace at Tellisberg,
  • Height: 6’0” Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Eyes: Sapphire Hair: Blond


Powers and Abilities

Merlin is an advanced mechanical simulation of a human being called a PICA. His reflexes are many times faster than that of a human being. He is much stronger and more durable as well.

Merlin is a better shot with firearms or bows than anyone in the entire Carrisian army. His skill with swords is without peer. When he chooses to do so, he can move fast enough to cut through elite warriors like a hay reaper. His physical senses are beyond human.

Merlin has an advanced technical communications network he can use to spy on nearly anywhere in the world. He has weapons and technical knowledge well beyond that of the world around him. He is responsible for leading many positive innovations. Anything he does not know he can get from OWL via radio.

Although Merlin does not need to eat or drink he sometimes will for the joy of it.


Merlin is a reincarnation of the Terran Naval Officer Nimue Alban. She served in a colossal war for Human survival against an alien race known as the Gbaba. Humanity lost. The last remaining millions escaped Earth before its destruction by the Gbaba. They were to go into hiding for decades until the process of rebuilding could begin.


But the new home of Humanity, Safehold, was managed by megalomaniacs. They set themselves up as angels, and mind-altered the survivors to believe that this had always been so. The people of Safehold were locked into a feudal culture by the dominance of the church.

900 years later Nimue, hosted in a sort of cybershell called a PICA, awakened to this world in a hidden technical shelter. She was tasked with restoring Humanity by recorded messages from her old Naval commander, Pei Shan-Wei.

Shan-Wei has fought against the “angels”, and Alban was her long-term back-up plan. However, their enemies had also left technological watchdogs behind, which even Nimue in her super-body couldn’t fight directly.

Lands of adventure

To bypass Safehold’s patriarchal norm, Nimue reconfigured her artificial body to become Merlin (obvs), a male adventurer. As Merlin he could make allies. In particular he set out to befriend the crown prince, Caleb of Carris, of the most progressive and dynamic country on Safehold.

Many of Merlin’s adventures occurred as Caleb’s bodyguard and advisor. After years of struggle, Caleb became Emperor of a huge swath of the world, freeing it from the stifling and corrupt yoke of the church. However, Emperor Caleb will not enter the Temple Lands, as he fears the super-weapons left behind by the “angels”.

Caleb is one of the few who know the truth about the beginnings of human life on safehold and what Merlin actually is.


Merlin is a near parody of an action hero. He is tall, attractive, and has sapphire eyes. He carries Japanese style swords that are unknown on Safehold. Much of the time he is wearing the uniform of a Captain in the Royal Guard.

Merlin is the deadliest fighting man on Safehold. Although he hides the degree to which this is true he has a definite air of danger about him.


Merlin/Nimue is the last survivor of Earth. This haunts him. He knows that the Gbaba are still out there, and want to kill off this last world of Human survivors. He knows that the powerful Church of God Awaiting will do everything they can to foil his plans and preserve their power. But he has no real choice but to soldier on.

Merlin has grown close to his friends on Safehold. Emperor Caleb, his now deceased father (Harral) or the Empress (Charlean), he would leave a river of blood to help. He knows he and his mission will outlast any friendships. This haunts him a bit as well.

Caleb is not a great military mind at the beginning of the story. However, the years teach him a great deal of strategy and tactics. He would never want to rule a country or world himself but he is slowly gaining the wisdom that comes with the hard choices of conquering the world.

Merlin is aware of the degree he needs to hide his “visions”, which is how he presents future-tech-based knowledge. They could easily be seen as satanic intervention and used against Caleb by the church.

DC Universe History

Placed in the DCU Merlin would need to be recast a bit. A hero from before human history who has a mission he must accomplish but cannot take on directly. In a world of meta humans he would need to hold back less but would still need to act through intermediaries.

Merlin could be a great guide character to lead the PCs against Illuminati like threat. He exposes the secret menace that rules the world.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats


Dex: 08 Str: 07 Bod: 08 Motivation: Uphold the good
Int:06 Wil: 08 Min:05 Occupation: Captain of the Imperial Guard
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Resources: 09
Init: 031 (017) HP: 030

Super-speed: 10, Ultra-vision: 09, Remote Sensing: 17, Data Storage: 08, Radio Communication: 17, Extended Hearing: 03, Telescopic Vision: 03, Jumping: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Performance Governors (Dex: 06 and Str: 04 Super-Speed: 0) see below.
  • Super-Speed has no movement bonus.
  • Remote sensing requires deployment of a stealthed sensor (a “snark”).
  • Thief (Stealth) is a Powered skill.
  • Radio Communication is Encrypted.

Weaponry (Firearms, Missile and Melee): 06; Vehicles (air): 03; Animal Handling (Riding): 03; Military Science: 05; Thief (Stealth): 09; Scientist (Drawing Plans): 04

Rank: Captain in Imperil Guard, Life support; Attractive; Schtick (Paired Melee Weapons), Rank: Lt. Commander in Terran Navy; Slowed Aging, Scholar (Human History).

Carisian Military (High), Emperor Caleb (High), Carisian Government (High).

Enemy: Church of God Awaiting; SIA (preserving the Royal Family of Carris) Enemy: Sword of Langhorn; Dark Secret (His nature and the pre-Safehold human history).


  • Scout Skimmer [BODY 14 Fight: 14 Sealed Systems: 10 Invisibility: 06 Telekinesis: 05] Telekinesis can only be used to embark and debark passengers from a height. Invisibility can be extended to embarking or debarking passengers. Invisibility is effective against Radar and the like as well.
  • Katana [Body: 18 EV: 04 Sharpness: 02].
  • Wakasashi [Body: 17 EV: 03 Sharpness: 03].


OWL is considered a Pet with the following stats: [INT 08 WIL 02 MIN 05, Data Storage: 30, Radio Communications: 18, Remote Sensing: 24, Matter Manipulation: 06]. Things made with Matter Manipulation are permanent. OWLs physical stats are unknown, as he is the AI of a hidden battle cruiser it would be reasonable to assume it is at least 24.

It would also be reasonable to assume certain powerful automated defenses. Remote sensing is subject to the same limitations as Merlin. In OWL’s massive data store he literally possess all recorded knowledge of human history.

Performance Governors

Much of the time Merlin has governors on his performance to keep himself seeming human and not like an android killing machine. Only under dire necessity does he use his full colossal power and speed.

Information Overload

Merlin often Pushes his Remote Sensing power. He tries to watch literally hundreds of places across the world of Safehold constantly to gather political and military intelligence. In the event of a Push failing the power does not fail, but Merlin will miss some important event that he would have seen.

Design Notes

Some of the stats are speculative.

By Mike Winkler.

Source of Character: Armageddon Reef, By Heresies Distressed, and By Schism Rent Asunder novels by David Weber.