Create Characters

Out of a poem, a courtly damsel’s riding; after her, a wandering knight, an elder wise, while king and cunning lady are arguing. In the meantime, a fey stalks from the sky.
Take a look at the Archetype cards and think of the character you would like to play. Discuss this aloud and engage the other players. Think of the origins of your character and the people who are important for them and for the story. Don’t burn out your creativity: just concentrate on the beginning of the story and create a character that can do great things. The characters you create carry their own destiny. They are known and always at the centre of events.
A brief note on archetypes and gender representation
In The Sword and the Loves there are ten archetypes: four men, four women, and one gender neutral (L’enfant prodige). These are inspired by literary figures of the Arthurian cycle. I tried to smooth edges from the most controversial figures, in particular from the female figures, who are always shown in the reference literature as mischievous and devoted to nought. The archetype of The Wandering Damsel is my honourable tribute to the female figure responding to the patterns and the prejudices of the time.


The Courtly Damsel

Choose this archetype if you like the concept of a female character in search of love, a damsel used to the splendours and the rituals of the court.
The archetype is inspired by the figure of Enide, the wife of Erec.
It could be:
  • a damsel of a love court with the task of listening to a “case of love” and giving advice according to the rules of love;
  • a damsel able to tear up important promises to fearless passing knights;
  • a damsel at the court famous for her attractiveness and her evasive behaviours.
Of swords and loves I’ve read too much! The world’s out there, I’ll find my match!

L’enfant prodige

Choose this archetype if you like the concept of a young character predestined to do great things or connected in some way to wonder.
The archetype is partly inspired by the figure of Arthur and partly by the figure of Ambrosius—a boy with prophetic gifts—considered the first literary form of Merlin (Historia Brittonum, Nennio).
It could be:
  • a very young princess born during a moon eclipse and therefore able to feel the darkness in the hearts of men;
  • a child born of the union between a woman and a fantastic creature;
  • a very wise little farmer able to rival with talented bards in songs, quips, and smirks.
Born from the dark, raised by the Cross, but what’s my path I still know not.

The Fay

Choose this archetype if you want to narrate the story of a supernatural creature devoted to magic.
The archetype is inspired by the figure of Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s sister-in-law and antagonist of Merlin.
It could be:
  • a virtuous fairy belonging to the people of the mounds;
  • an elusive and dangerous woman who uses her magic art to destabilise the kingdom;
  • a magical creature capable of seducing and capturing valiant warriors trying to escape an ancient curse.
Fear the Fair Folk of whom I’m one: we own this land from spring to oak.

The King

Choose this archetype if you like the concept of a character burdened by the weight of a kingdom to rule with people to rule.
The archetype is inspired by the figures of Arthur and his father Uther Pendragon.
It could be:
  • a sovereign dedicated to conquering new territories to please his queen;
  • a king forced to defend his people from the attacks of enemy armies;
  • a king with a heroic and loyal knighthood, ready to help him in matters important to the kingdom.
Crowned by God my power’s a wonder and yet I tremble under this burden.

The Loyal Knight

Choose this archetype if you want to narrate the deeds of a knight loyal to his king and to the other knights, protector of women and the weak.
The archetype is inspired by the figure of Gawain, nephew of Arthur and knight of the Round Table.
It could be:
  • a knight embarking on a venture to return the honour to a court bridesmaid;
  • a knight forced by the events to protect a cruel and despotic sovereign;
  • a young knight whose loyalty is put to the test by a brother who fled the nest.
Swift is my horse sharp is my sword but over my force rules my good lord.

The Reckless Lover

Choose this archetype if you like the concept of a female character overwhelmed by passion and careless of the consequences.
The archetype is inspired by the figure of Morgause, wife of King Lot, and Guinevere, wife of Arthur and Lancelot’s lover.
It could be:
  • a queen whose love for a knight is powerful enough to risk dragging the kingdom into a spiral of ruin and destruction;
  • a wife who gives herself away to her husband’s enemies to manipulate them and get favours;
  • a lover who claims terrible things from her beloved in order to prove his love.
A dire path I walk, a doomed crossroad: Honour or Love? Ho, how do I burn!

The Sly Lady

Choose this archetype if you want to narrate the deeds of a sly and calculating court lady.
The archetype is inspired by the figure of Viviane, the Lady of the Lake.
It could be:
  • a lady who dispenses precious gifts to the knights to control them in some way;
  • a woman skilled in the intrigues of the palace who is able to exploit quibbles and rumours;
  • an influential lady considered God’s favourite since she survived a shipwreck.
I lack both arms and hoards of wealth, but my sharp mind all foes will crash.

The Wandering Damsel

Choose this archetype if you like the concept of a female character looking for adventures and glory.
The archetype is inspired by the figures of Éowyn—grandson of Théoden king and brave shieldmaiden, created by J. R. R. Tolkien—and Joan of Arc.
It could be:
  • a girl who fled from the castle to avoid a marriage of convenience;
  • a damsel able to compete with talented knights in the use of the lance;
  • a young woman of humble origins destined to conduct her own army in battle.
I bid farewell to hearth and home: shielding this land I wield my sword.

The Wandering Knight

Choose this archetype if you would like to follow the story of a knight on a journey looking for adventures to prove his valour.
The archetype is partly inspired by the figure of Lancelot, one of the knights of the Round Table (the most valiant, according to someone), forced to go into exile because of Guinevere’s jealousy.
It could be:
  • a knight destined to recover a magical or thaumaturgical object;
  • a knight who likes pas d’armes and travels unceasingly from one point of the kingdom to another to challenge other knights;
  • a knight forced to wander by a charm which can be broken only by a woman or by death.
The wind blows fair on hill and dale, of glory and fame I’ll get my share.

The Wise Old Man

Choose this archetype if you want to assume the semblance of a wise and old man, a disturbing and calculating individual devoted to knowledge and to the obscure arts.
The archetype is inspired by the figure of Merlin, wise man and advisor of Uther Pendragon and Arthur.
It could be:
  • a king’s advisor risen to that position with a spell;
  • a magician who can do great things even in secrecy and discretion;
  • a clairvoyant coming from the more remote areas of the kingdom and kept in great care by the queen and her damsels.
I master all arts I pride my fame, will I stand fast before my fate?


Create two locations for your character. If you have any ideas, draw the locations on the map. Otherwise, you can answer the questions on your character’s card, and then draw the places on the map. Give names to the locations and other things on the map: woods, villages, roads, etc. If you want, you can give some details on the locations.
L’enfant prodige:
  • Where is the place where your mother conceived you? With what entity or creature?
  • Where is the place that continues to appear in your dreams? What is disturbing in it?
The Courtly Damsel:
  • Where did you meet your first love? Why do you deny his name now?
  • Where is the refuge where you stay alone and read poems? What makes you dream?
The Fay:
  • In what forest did you know the magic? What price did you pay to control it?
  • Where did you hide an object important to the kingdom? What pitfalls make it difficult to retrieve it now?
The King:
  • Which neighbouring realm threaten yours? Why are you fighting?
  • Where is the King’s Stele? Why is it necessary for the Tradition?
The Loyal Knight:
  • Where is the most famous tournament of the kingdom held? What is the award?
  • Where is the place where your loyalty was put to the test? Why?
The Reckless Lover:
  • Where is the place for your trysts? Why is not it entirely safe?
  • Where does come from the lady obscuring your fame?
The Sly Lady:
  • Where is the best place to figure out secrets? Who usually goes there?
  • In what place did you make an important promise? Why were you unable to keep it?
The Wandering Damsel:
  • Where did you learn to use the sword? What happened to those who taught you?
  • Where is the cell in which you have been taken captive by betrayal? To whom did you swear revenge?
The Wandering Knight:
  • Where is your family’s home? Why are you away from them?
  • Where is the most dangerous place for a knight in these lands? Why?
The Wise Old Man:
  • Where did you first encounter magic? What power dwells in that place?
  • Where is the Council meeting? What does it deliberate?


Each character should have two relationships: a direct one and an indirect one. They must be strong and meaningful connections.
A direct relationship means that the character is emotionally tied to a secondary character. An indirect relationship means both characters are emotionally tied to a third character, event, place, or other element.

Hopefulness and Bleakness

Every archetype is characterised by five hints. A hint can be positive (hopefulness) or negative (bleakness). These two kinds of starting points will be useful respectively to the guide and to the misleader player.
L’enfant prodige:
  • Hopefulness: The company, The remembrance
  • Bleakness: The disappointment, The judgement, The loneliness
The Courtly Damsel:
  • Hopefulness: The courtly love, The speech
  • Bleakness: The indifference, The rudeness, The violence
The Fay:
  • Hopefulness: The escape, The magic
  • Bleakness: The rivalry, The subjugation, The incompetence
The King:
  • Hopefulness: The loyalty, The ancestry
  • Bleakness: The conspiracy, The failure, The infidelity
The Loyal Knight:
  • Hopefulness: The courtly love, The trust
  • Bleakness: The disrepute, The refusal, The darkness
The Reckless Lover:
  • Hopefulness: The service, The adulation
  • Bleakness: The reluctance, The betrayal, The rivalry
The Sly Lady:
  • Hopefulness: The magic, The hospitality
  • Bleakness: The boredom, The war, The pretension
The Wandering Damsel:
  • Hopefulness: The valour, The gravitas
  • Bleakness: The baseness, The fear, The loneliness
The Wandering Knight:
  • Hopefulness: The quest, The bridal suite
  • Bleakness: The exile, The incarceration, The cowardice
The Wise Old Man:
  • Hopefulness: The tradition, The will
  • Bleakness: The hubris, The sloth, The oblivion

The Destiny Point

Each session, before you start playing, every character will need a destiny point. This is an event that will occur in the life of the character—something dramatic, significant, perhaps something that changes their life.
You don’t have to write a destiny point for your character. You’ll create destiny points for each other. Everyone writes down one destiny point for each of the other players’ characters. You’re free to write anything you want, since the other players are free to ignore the destiny point written by you if they don’t like it.
When everyone’s done, choose one of the destiny points the other players suggested for your character. Every destiny point can be used as it is or it can be thrown away. Furthermore, if any of the destiny points affect more than one major character, all the players involved must agree to use it.

Using Destiny Points

The destiny point is a very important event for the character but it is also a player’s goal. The main rule to follow to best use the destiny point is: play towards it!
You will not be alone in this venture. Other players (in particular the Guide) should help you get to the destiny point. However, remember that there is a story between the beginning of an adventure and its end. So don’t be in a hurry—just take the time you need, always keeping in mind the destiny of your character.
After your destiny point has been played out, you may choose to let your story rest for this session. If so, you still participate in the others’ stories as always, but when it’s your turn to portray your character, just skip your turn.
When all characters have faced their destiny points, it’s often a good time to end the session.
Lady Iseullt wipes her tears, sweat, and blood nearby the holy spring of Iwulm, while she sings words of love learnt a long time ago, from her nurturer, Helaine le Fay. Tears and sweat are one with that water once holy to the ancients, but why does blood labour to fade away? And whyever this weeping, since she prevailed?
Last modified 1yr ago