“You’re welcome to make your assumptions, dear girl.
But where necromancy is concerned, I wouldn’t recommend it.”
The littlest things alter space and time. A missed train. A fateful rendezvous. Shoes thrown at notable dignitaries. In fact, Delphine might not have become Delphine as we know her today if not for a single ball of snow.
When Delphine was a girl, she wanted only one thing: to master the art of necromancy. Even the midwife noticed the morbid affinity in the baby Delphine; how could she not, given the purple glow that radiated from the child as she was carried past her deceased mother? Since she could walk, Delphine was rarely seen without her deceased mother’s black staff, fashioned entirely from human bones and covered in a mysterious black lacquer. Delphine did not use it to hurt the other children, but there was a reason that she spent most of her time alone in the neighboring cemetery. The other children knew what Delphine could do, and behind their cruelty, there lurked fear of the one thing that Delphine wanted. Well, there was one other thing that Delphine wanted: that is, the love of another girl, a beautiful pyromancer named Gert.
Gert was everything that the people in the province of Mirren expected of their youth: strong and vigorous with hands a-flame. Mirren children from every village were expected to grow to lead the province against the ever-burgeoning frost armies from the north. Delphine could not have been a bigger disappointment, and everyone at school – including Gert – knew it.
Though he often laughed at Delphine in secret, on that day, a pig-nosed pyromancer named Troy decided to bring the teasing to the neighboring cemetery. Even now Delphine can’t recall exactly what Troy said, but suffice it to say that he had somehow learned of Delphine’s love for Gert and had decided to tell everyone about it. Mirren’s expectations, with hands a-flame, took turns shooting fireballs at Delphine’s snow-covered feet, and Troy threw a single ball of snow.
While Delphine was hurt, her feelings quickly turned to rage, and Delphine reached down into the slushy mixture of soil and snow for the first projectile she could find. Unfortunately, the ground was so muddy in the cemetery that day that the first projectile Delphine could find was a bare skull still attached to its spine, and without thinking, she flung it. Instead of grazing Troy, the tip of the spine found its way through the heart of her beloved Gert, killing her instantly.
From that day forward, Delphine was banished from her village to the caves near the Westerly Wood. Her hair turned white from the ordeal, and Delphine would have lived alone, had she not charged the skull so fiercely with her rage that she brought it to life. It called itself Irving, so Delphine called it that, too.
Delphine’s main abilities revolve around necromancy, atrophy, and spirit damage. Her preliminary powers include raising dead opponents and other dead creatures to fight for her party, drawing health from living and dead opponents, and infusing objects with her rage to throw and cripple opponents with spirit damage. If the player chooses to accept Delphine into the player’s party, Delphine also may gain access to frost spells, such as short- and long-range ice blasts and freezing opponents completely, as well as invisibility and cloaking spells.
While her primary weapon is her deceased mother’s black staff, Delphine also relies heavily on Irving, who acts as both an advisor and a weapon. It is unclear whether Irving is the reanimation of the person who actually lived in the skull’s body or if he is simply a random spirit that Delphine conjured from the ether. Regardless, Irving acts as a scout for Delphine and he can be sent ahead to predict danger for the player’s party. She also can use all of her mana to charge Irving for one debilitating rage attack; if it hits, it is always a critical strike. This may kill an opponent, depending on its level of magic and/or spirit resistance. On the other hand, Delphine’s deceased mother’s staff enables her to use all of her other spells, and the player can upgrade the staff to inflict more damage in general or to inflict more specialized damage. To help Delphine with her depression, Irving often posits entertaining riddles to her and to the player, although these often are harbingers of predicaments that the player will encounter.
As a disappointment to Mirren’s expectations, Delphine is vulnerable to fire spells. She also is not physically strong or heavily armored and is susceptible to melee attacks, especially from powerful two-handed weapons enchanted to inflict fire damage. Other party members will generally need to be positioned to protect her, especially when Delphine casts short-range frost or atrophy spells. In order to cast invisibility spells, Delphine must also be standing near her party members, making her an easy target for melee opponents. Additionally, her connection with Irving is very deep, so an opponent looking to incapacitate her completely will steal or destroy Irving…if he can.
Delphine resides in a medieval-era fantasy RPG that allows the player to control multiple party members. She offers a potential party member whose alliances are ambiguous and whose past is riddled with anxiety and distrust. The player’s main quest is to stop the invasion of the northern frost armies into Mirren, and Delphine will seem like a strange ally at first. Her frost spells, however, will be especially important in the latter third of the game, due to the fact that powerful pyromancers actually command the northern frost armies in order to murder and control the people of Mirren. The player must use his or her social skills to discern Delphine’s intentions and preferences, and, if the player selects certain responses from the conversation branches, Delphine will firmly ally with the player and eventually provide expert frost and atrophy spells to devastate the reigning evil pyromancers. But if the player selects enough negative conversation responses, there is a chance that Delphine will join the powerful pyromancers and the player will be forced to defeat her. The player may even be presented with a chance to steal or destroy Irving.
In combat, Delphine may act as a damager (e.g. frost and spirit damage, zombie resurrection), a protector (e.g. cloaking spells), and a self-healer (e.g. atrophy spells). As mentioned previously, she can also warn the party of impending danger by sending Irving ahead as a sentry, allowing the player to plan attacks based on Irving’s report. However, the player may only send Irving to scout once per game hour.
Delphine’s mere presence will create an anticipatory discord that will frustrate, excite, and satisfy the player once the player learns about Delphine’s past and potentially befriends her. The other party member NPCs – a half-fox rogue specializing in poisons and archery, two tanks with one-handed and two-handed weapons specializations from other provinces, a non-traditional healer who defected from the antagonistic pyromancers, just to name a few – will generally be uneasy around Delphine and her necromancy but will not outright dislike her. Most NPCs will enjoy Irving and his riddles, especially the defecting healer. The more positive conversations that the player has with Delphine, the more powerful Delphine’s skills will become. If asked, Delphine will always join the party, although the player cannot at first be sure if she does so for revenge or for redemption.