Characters of Ivanhoe: An addendum to the Robin Hood Campaign Setting

Copyright Daniel M Myers © 2005

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"It is a tale of chivalry, jousts, burning castles, and damsels in distress."

There are many adaptations, changes and additions to the Robin Hood legends. One of the most popular additions to the legends is the story of Ivanhoe where Robin Hood, along with Friar Tuck and Allan-A-Dale, play a minor supporting role. Written by the great Walter Scott in 1812, Ivanhoe became an instant classic. In a short time it became part of the ever-evolving legends of Robin Hood. Several adaptations of Ivanhoe have made their way into TV shows and movies. It is a tale of chivalry, jousts, burning castles, and damsels in distress.

Ivanhoe is set in the 12th century after the Third Crusade. Wilfred, commonly known as Ivanhoe, is the hero of the story. He returns to his pastoral home after venturing to the Crusades with King Richard. He seeks to reconcile with his father and marry his childhood love, Rowena whose ward is Ivanhoe's father Cedric. Cedric, a Saxon noble, is a strong supporter of Saxon rights and heritage. He disinherited Ivanhoe for joining King Richard, a Norman King, to the Crusades. Ivanhoe, through a series of adventures, reconciles with his father and rescues and marries his childhood sweetheart, Rowena. Along the way, Ivanhoe is helped by an unusual cast of characters including the Jewess, Rebecca, who heals Ivanhoe from injuries sustained in a tournament, a disguised King Richard, and Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

Ivanhoe is set in the Robin Hood Campaign " setting. This article was written to allow the GM to introduce characters from Ivanhoe into their Robin Hood Campaigns. There are tons of storyline possibilities for the GM. The PC could be called (as in the original Ivanhoe) to rescue a local Saxon lord's daughter from De Bracy and his band of mercenaries. Or the PCs are all that stand in the way of the evil Reginald Front-de-Boeuf and his evil henchmen from raiding churches and yeomen's homes.

The below are descriptions of the major characters in Ivanhoe. They have been divided into two sections Heroes and Villains.

Heroes

Below are the major heroes of Ivanhoe.

Wilfred of Ivanhoe

Wilfred is the hero of Ivanhoe. He represents the epitome of the knightly code of chivalry, heroism and honor. Ivanhoe is the son of a proud Saxon lord, Cedric who claims to be descendant of the famous Saxon freedom fighter, Hereward the Wake, who fought against the Norman Invasion of England. Cedric disinherited Ivanhoe when he joined the Crusades with King Richard. Ivanhoe is a good friend of the king and is deeply loyal to him. During the Crusades, Ivanhoe gained fame for his bravery and skill in arms. He is in love with his father's ward, the beautiful Rowena, a noble directly descended from the last Saxon king.

Ivanhoe returns from the Crusades disguised as a pilgrim to seek amends with his father and to marry Rowena. He joins a jousting tournament disguised as the Disinherited Knight and wins. But in the process he is badly injured. The Jewess Rebecca fails in love with him and heals him of his wounds. However, he does not return her affections. Through some twists and turns, Brain de Bois-Guilbert, the Templar Knight, kidnaps Rebecca. Ivanhoe ventures to the Templar's headquarters and rescues Rebecca. Afterwards, he reconciles with his father and marries Rowena.

Ivanhoe appears as a rather slim figure with wide shoulders and of average height. Despite his lanky appearance, he possesses a tough sinewy strength. He often travels in disguise such as a pilgrim or as the Disinherited Knight. Due to his travels, he is more open than most to foreign cultures and speaks several languages. The GM might have the PCs encounter Ivanhoe in one of these disguises where they are asked to help him in a task such as a tournament or rescuing a damsel. Or the GM might have introduced a disguised Ivanhoe as an NPC helping the PCs in their quest unbeknownst to them that they have the renowned Ivanhoe in their group.

Gurth

Cedric's swineherd, Gurth is the faithful servant of Ivanhoe. He is a tall lanky fellow wearing a brass collar, which denotes that he is a serf (to Cedric). He longs for nothing else but freedom.

In the story, he deserts his master and disguises himself in order to become Ivanhoe's squire at the tournament. He finally obtains his freedom after he helps orchestrate the attack on Castle Torqulstone to free his master, Cedric, and Ivanhoe. After this, Cedric frees him and Ivanhoe refers to him as his squire. He is quite skilled with the quarterstaff although he is reluctant to face opposition head on. Gurth should more likely be introduced along with Ivanhoe as his helper or assistant.

Rebecca

Rebecca, the daughter of Isaac of York, is a beautiful virtuous Jewish maiden. She is the tragic heroine of the story who falls in love with Ivanhoe despite knowing that Ivanhoe would never return her affections. De Bois-Guilbert becomes infatuated with her and kidnaps her, which eventually leads to her being accused of sorcery by the Grand Master of the Templar Order. In the end, Ivanhoe rescues Rebecca from the Templars.

Rebecca is a strong-willed woman with an extraordinary degree of self-control, dignity and courage. She has exceptional skill with healing having been taught by one of the great Jewish healers of her generation. Her healing gift has permitted her greater liberty than was usually indulged to those of her sex during the Middle Ages. She appears as a tall dark-haired woman wearing make-up that accentuates her lovely facial features. She normally dresses in Eastern clothing, which marks her as different from the general population. As a Jew in Christian England, she endures many prejudices from the local inhabitants. Eventually, this constant discrimination forces Isaac and Rebecca to move to Spain, which had a more heterogeneous society.

In the Middle Ages, Jews lived in a segregated society apart from Christians. Rebecca would not be encounter by PCs unless in public settings or in a formal business setting such as requesting medical assistance. Still, Rebecca would be very distant to the PCs unless they have shown great compassion to others regardless of sex or religion and are honorable persons. The GM could have the wounded PCs be healed by Rebecca at York, where her father has some businesses.

Villains

Below are the major villains of Ivanhoe.

Brian de Bois-Guilbert

A knight of the Templar Order, he is Ivanhoe's archetypal nemesis. He joined the Templars, a powerful international militaristic/religious organization, not for spiritual idealism but because he was betrayed by the woman he loved. He went to the Crusades where, like Ivanhoe, he gained fame for his bravery and courage. He is a weak moralist consumed by ambition and often lets his temptations take control of him. He allied himself with Prince John, the greedy brother of King Richard. He falls in love with Rebecca and kidnaps her. Although she does not return his affections, she brings out his more admirable qualities.

He appears as a tall muscular man, past forty, with darkly tanned skin from constant sun exposure while in the Holy Land. He has great skill with the sword and, like Ivanhoe, knows several exotic languages. Unlike Ivanhoe, he is prone to prejudices, which are common during the times. He tends to look down on Saxons and other cultures not equal to his Norman upbringing.

There are tons of possibilities for introducing Bois-Guilbert into a Robin Hood Campaign. The PCs could be looking for a lost religious relic only to find out that Bois-Guilbert and his Templar-Knights have taken it. Or Bois-Guilbert has hatched up a plot with Prince John to get rid of Robin Hood and his gang of Merry Men, and it is up to the PCs to warn Robin and stop Bois-Guilbert from succeeding.

Maurice De Bracy

Maurice De Bracy, a Norman knight, is an unscrupulous pleasure-seeker who is the leader of a band of mercenaries called the Free Companions. De Bracy has sold his services to Prince John who has promised in return to marry Maurice to Rowena. De Bracy becomes impatient and kidnaps her with the help of de Bois-Guilbert and Front-de-Boeuf. Despite his devious ways, he is humane and holds true to chivalric values. De Bracy is a rather good-looking man. He has long luxuriant hair and a closely shaved beard. His clothes and weapons are made from the finest materials.

Reginald Front-de-Boeuf

Reginald Front-de-Boeuf is a man that has spent his life in battles, feuds, and other disputes. He is ruthless with no scrupulous about hurting others who are in his way to power or wealth. He is even accused of killing his own father and is the most brutal villain in the story of Ivanhoe, practically a psychopath. The local inhabitants vilify his men; they are just as cruel as he is.

In appearance, he is gigantic; his face scarred from numerous battles and his presence is intimidating. He favors sable robes or armor. He is lord of Castle Torquilstone, which his descendants violently took from a Saxon lord.

Game Statistics

The table below contains the game statistics of the above-mentioned characters.

Table 1.1: The Characters of Ivanhoe

Name Lvl MM Hits AT DB Shld Melee OB Notes
Heroes
Wilfred of Ivanhoe 8 15 88 CH 35 Y5 85sw, 88ml, 65lb Noble, Knight. A courageous disinherited Saxon Knight a friend of King Richard.
Normally when not in disguise, he will carry a sword and dagger. He speaks English, France, Arabic and Spanish. Joust +35
Gurth 4 5 48 SL 15 N 56st 47lb Peasant, Thief. Companion of Ivanhoe and swineherd to Ivanhoe's father.
Carries a staff.
Rebecca 6 10 52 NO 20 N 25da -25da Apprentice, Animist. A beautiful Jewess. Daughter of Isaac of York, a wealthy Jew. (Magical ability Skill)
Carries numerous herbs. First Aid +60, Herb Lore +25, Poison Lore +15,

Villains

Brian De Bois-Guilbert 8 15 85 CH 30 Y 92 2H, 80ml, 58cb Noble, Templar. Hypocrite Knight-Templar.
+5 two-handed sword, chain armor, and war-horse. During tournaments he will wear Plate armor. Wears a white shirt with red cross on his chest. He speaks France, English and Arabic. Military tactics +20, Magic & Symbols +15, Joust +25
Maurice De Bracy 7 15 78 CH 45 10Y 81sw, 68ml, 48cb Mercenary, Knight. Brash and arrogant knight. Leader of a Mercenary group called Free Companies.
+5 Spanish sword, +10 Spanish chain armor, and war-horse. During tournaments he will wear +10 Spanish Plate armor. Military tactics +15, Joust +20
Free Company Soldier 3 5 40 CH 25 5Y 48bs 35cb Mercenary, Warrior. Typical Soldier from De Bracy's Free Companies. There are encountered 20--120 men at one time.
All men carried fine +5 Spanish-made arms and armor.
Reginald Front-de-Boeuf 8 10 113 CH 30 Y 98bs 55cb Noble, Warrior. Evil Lord of Torquilstone Castle. Hardy
Sword, Chain armor, and crossbow.

Editor's note

This article is a supplement to the article "Robin Hood for MERP", which appeared in the September 2004 issue of The Guild Companion and "Merry Men" which appeared in April 2005 issue .