Welcome everyone to the latest installment of my "Meet" series where we take a deep dive into my inspirations, decisions, and thought processes that created the characters of The Ascension Legacy series. In this post, we will look at the gnome magician (or mage) Ammudien Flickerspell.
As with many of my other characters from this series, Ammudien's name in the book was inspired by the name given to one of my toons in a video game. And much as Riorik and Nordahs were toons from my favorite MMO Everquest (EQ for short), Ammudien was also one of my EQ toons. If you go back and read the Meet Riorik Leafwalker post, where I talk about my first character not being "built right", that is a reference to the original Ammudien.
In EQ, Ammudien was a cleric, not a mage, though. When I started playing Everquest, it was my first time playing an MMO and needed to assign "points" to my character's different stats like strength, constitution, wisdom, charisma, etc. I was still a D&D noob at that point too, so the different stats and their influence on my character weren't well understood by me. I ended up dumping a lot of points into my character's strength thinking that it would make him a better fighter but I ignored the key stats for a cleric that would allow him to effectively heal and cast spells more. Clerics in EQ are more of a spell-based class and not so much of a melee class which meant my point allotment was the exact opposite of what that class needed. I was able to achieve some success with that character but he was not tuned properly for late-game raids and group play. With the limitations that were self-imposed by that character's creation, I eventually recognized the need to re-roll a new toon if I was to enjoy top-tier content and that re-roll is where Riorik was born.
Now, I know what you might be thinking. Why didn't I give the healer in the book the name Ammudien since Ammudien was a cleric, to begin with? Simply put, I didn't like the name Ammudien for my female dwarf healer. When I thought about that name with that character, it just didn't click for me. I wanted her to have a different name and frankly, I am very pleased with the name Asbin for that character.
So how did Ammudien go from a tall Erudite Cleric in EQ to a minuscule Gnome Mage in The Ascension Legacy? I already have a healer in the book but knew I wanted at least one spell caster. What is a good fantasy series without someone using magic, right? Wanting to use a variety of races to weave a sense of differing body types, battle capabilities, personalities, and social opinions into the core group, I choose another core fantasy race to use in the gnomes. Gnomes are generally portrayed as intelligent beings or magical beings so it was logical to me that if I were to create a character for this race the character would be an intelligent spell caster. I didn't want to make the tiniest of characters the most helpless because his size and magic opens the door for anyone to be able to do almost anything. Small people can accomplish great things too and I wanted to show that even though he was small he was still mighty in his own way, hence a talented mage that could hold his own in a battle using his wits and magic instead of his brawn.
The surname Flickerspell, much like Asbin's Firehammer name, was concocted mainly to illustrate their family lineage. Asbin came from an ancient line of blacksmiths while Ammudien descended from a family of spell casters. The names just seemed to align well with their chosen races and backgrounds. There is no deeper meaning or foreshadowing to be derived from the names. I wanted everyone to have a family name, nothing more.
When it came time to decide on Ammudien's physical characteristics, again, I turned to video games. Most games and books depict gnomes as short, ugly creatures or diminutive-looking humans. Most gnomes are also usually given the appearance of age with wrinkles, bald heads, white hair (if they have any), and things of the like. I wanted to leverage some of these traits but not all of them. I wanted Ammudien to blend in with the rest of the group who were younger in appearance than most gnomes in books, shows, and games. I opted to give Ammudien a green skin tone and more goblin-like features like a big nose just to distinguish him from the rest of the group's more human-esque qualities. Of course, many of Ammudien's physical traits were hidden under his traditional hooded robe worn by many mages, wizards, and other prominent spell caster types but I didn't want to use his attire as a means to avoid giving his physical description.
Ammudien's personality is meant to revolve around pragmatism rather than emotion. Riorik wants to find the armor and his father to feel his desire for truth and to fill the void in his heart caused by his father's absence. Nordahs follows Riorik out of friendship. He stands to gain nothing from Riorik's quest, except maybe some details about his father's death, but he still goes along because of his emotional connection to Riorik. Wuffred isn't much different either. He knows that he is an outcast that isn't welcomed back in Rishdell. He follows his friends out of appreciation for them sparing his life. Even Asbin's motivation for finding the armor is based on her pride in belonging to the family that created the armor so long ago. Meanwhile, Ammudien seeks the armor mainly to increase his station and elevate his understanding of the last magical arts that created them. Yes, to a degree that is an emotional motivation, but he knows that magic is on the decline and he sees the secrets of the armor as a means to restore what is being lost. He doesn't rush into things foolishly but makes sensible decisions based on understanding his talents and limits. His pragmatic approach in his mission to find the armor is what allowed him to reach the first crypt before the others.
Even Ammudien's speech patterns were intended to separate him from the others. Ammudien never speaks while using contractions unless he is quoting someone. That's not to say that an inadvertent contraction may have slipped past in editing, but the intent was to never have him speak with them as he views them as lazy and improper. You can't take shortcuts when casting spells so why take shortcuts when speaking was kind of my thought process on that. Plus, it seemed to give him a slightly increased sense of intellect to speak in such a manner and to use less common terms for certain things. I tried to extend my vocabulary to give Ammudien a larger vocabulary so he could stand out in multiple areas when compared to the rest of the group.
Just because Ammudien is small does not mean that he is not capable, dangerous, smart, or mature. He may be the size of the child but I did not want to have the mind of one. I wanted him to be formidable on the battlefield and in conversation.
Previous entries in this series: