Thursday, September 23, 2010

Aleena, doomed cleric for D&D 4 Essentials

“My name is Aleena. I’m a cleric, an adventurer like yourself. I live in the town nearby, and came here seeking monsters and treasure. Do you know about clerics?”
- Aleena, D&D Basic Set, Player's Book, page 4.

I never knew Aleena.

I never knew about her ultimate sacrifice for what could have been millions of would-be adventures out there.  I never played, or owned, the Mentzer Basic Set.  I started with Moldvay and Morgan Ironwolf never would have gone down after one magic missile.  But I got on the 'net and soon I discovered her tale and that of Bargle. 

I liked Elmore's art, always have. That alone seems invalidate my Old School street cred.  I love his witches (no surprise) and love how he draws women.  So when I finally got my hands on a Mentzer basic set, I loved the art and yes, I found Aleena.  Though there was no emotional connection there with me.  I felt that killing her was a cheap attempt to get the players involved.  This is called a "Women in Refrigerators" effect and its a cliché.

That all aside, it also worked. 
People to this very day still remember Aleena and hate Bargle.

Give that Aleena was the star of the Mentzer Red Box, then it is fitting that she be given stats for the new D&D 4 Essentials Red Box.  Though we never got stats (at least what I could find) for her in the  Red Box Basic.  She did appear later in some D&D (BECMI) products, which gives us an idea what she eventually did.  Of course assuming that she somehow came back to life.
I say in D&D4 she is reincarnated, and given a second chance.

Like with Morgan Ironwolf, I went through the hand process.  Yes, I have DDI and it is a lot of fun, but I felt Morgan and Aleens deserved to have things done the "old-school" way.  I did most of her sheet while working tonight away from my books.  It went really fast.

Comparing Aleena to Morgan Aleena obviously has more powers and spells, even if many effect how her weapon of choice, her mace, does damage.  I like this, it very cool.  I choose Pelor as her God, even if she is Mystaran and Pelor is from the Greyhawk campaign world, but I felt it fit the concept well and Pelor is an old god.  I did not give her many combat-related feats, she was felled by a single magic missile after all, but she did manage to scare off some ghouls.  So I emphasized her "turning undead" and healing powers.

In truth, she feels like a cleric from one of the older rule-sets with some house rules that her spells are focused through her mace.  Hell, the Sun-Domain War Priest here is not very different than the Sun-Priest class I made for 2nd AD&D so many years back. In fact I like it so much that I might have to break with tradition and have my first D&D4 Essentials character be a Sun Priest, er Sun Domain War Priest.

There she is.  The reason so many of you play.
Print out the sheet and go save her.  Or maybe she will end up saving your butt one day, cause I don't see this one going down without a fight.  So her and Morgan are going to team up and go after Bargle now.


christian said...


Anonymous said...

So a female character can't be killed in a story without it being a WIR... gotcha.

And don't think Elmore-liking takes away any old school cred. It's a pretty well known fact that Gygax himself always said Elmore was his favorite of the D&D artists... something the grognards seem to just ignore. Not "one of" his favorites, either... but his favorite.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Not that she was killed it was the how and why. Reasons matter. She was killed to get an emotional response from a predominately male audience.
Though I am likely to cut them some slack since it was the 80's and I doubt too much thought was put into it.

Havard: said...

Always good to see Aleena. I didnt know about the Women in Refrigerators cliche. Pretty interesting. Frank Mentzer stated that the main purpose of Aleena's death was to introduce the concept of death in the introductory adventure as death is a central part of D&D.

Another interesting thing to note is that Aleena was at least 2nd level in BECMI terms back then, as she cast a healing spell. BECMI Clerics don't get spells untill 2nd level. Anyway, thanks for bringing her back :)

Timothy S. Brannan said...


That is correct. She had to be at least 2nd level. Hmmm.
I'll have to revise her sheet then.

Thanks for that catch!

Anonymous said...

Given that the Patriarch of her church is also her uncle, and that he's perfectly able to cast a Raise Dead spell on someone who's only been dead a few hours by the time the fighter brings her back to town, it's quite easy for her to come back.

Sciamantis said...

I daresay she's at least 3rd level. When Bargle gets invisible, she does cast a spell, as per the narrative in the Basic book. No effects are visible, maybe it was Detect Evil, Detect Magic or Protection from Evil, but definitely she does some spell casting right after Bargle becomes invisible. That, plus the Cure from before makes her 3rd lvl minimum per BECMI rules.

Sciamantis said...

Make that 3rd lvl! She does some spell casting (of no visible results, perhaps a detect evil or magic or protection from evil) after Bargle becomes invisible.