Warduke! Who was he?
A blue helmet with bat wings, eyes that shine with a disturbing red, a shield with a skeletal head in relief as an emblem ... I think that a description like this, albeit incomplete, has triggered something in the memory of the players of D&D more of yesteryear, or collectors of vintage games.
But what unites aaction Figures, with the progenitor of all role-playing games Dungeons and Dragons?
We're talking about one of the iconic villains of Game mythology when it was still in the box, not Eternal o Nov, but one of the strangest, but therefore no less loved, the lone warrior devoted to evil: warduke.
Let's do some history
The first time Warduke walked the paths of the game, it was back in 1983 in the supplement "Shady Dragon Inn". D&D was selling very well at the time, so the LJN Toys brought out a series of characters for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons; Warduke so impressed the imagination of the players that he was revived, accompanied by his mount theNightmare, in the second series the following year. 1984 also marked his appearance, "official", In the form"Quest for the Heartstone".
But he is not the only medium where he peeked in those years. Warduke also had a fleeting appearance in the animated television series Dungeons and Dragons (Marvel Productions Ltd./New World Animation Ltd., TSR and Toei Animation), broadcast on the CBS channel, during the fifth episode of the first season, aired on 15 October 1983 (3 seasons were filmed).
But who is Warduke really?
It was never revealed. Nobody knows who is hiding behind that terrifying helmet. But that's okay! Its being so easily recognizable is also due to the aura of mystery that surrounds it. We know he is originally from Mystara, is a close friend of Strongheart the paladin, but they became mortal enemies after being exposed to the magical object called Heartstone, which manifested their true nature. He is loved by the cleric of good, Raven, but is chased by another good cleric called Mercion. Work for the evil wizard Kelek along with the evil enchantress Skylla, but their plan is to overthrow it once the forces of Good are defeated.
How Warduke has evolved over the years
The iconic aspects of the character have never changed over the years, the shimmering red eyes, under the malevolent blue winged helmet, the burning sword, the armor of blue scales and the skull-shaped shield, but his statistics yes!
In "Shady Dragon Inn“, Warduke is an 8th level Evil Warrior with the following stats: FOR 16; INT 9; SAG 11; WITH 8; DES 11; CAR 11; ALL C; CA 2; PF 59; Plate armor, helmet, shield, battle ax, dagger, Greatsword "Nighwind" +1 (flames on command)
In "Quest for the Heartstone”Warduke is still an 8th-level Evil Warrior, with almost the same characteristics except that the Constitution is a little increased (who knows why when they first introduced him they put him such a low constitution). FOR 16; INT 9; SAG 11; DES 11; WITH 14; CAR 11; ALL C; CA 2; PF 59. Even his equipment got a small upgrade: Plate armor, shield, magic helmet (60m infravision, wearer's eyes shine red), battle ax, dagger, Sword +1 (flames on command)
In December 2003 it comes out on the Dungeon Magazine No. 105, by the designer Erik Mona, the conversion, to the 3.5 edition of the character, while for the graphic sector he took charge of rejuvenating it Wayne reynolds. Warduke makes his return as an 18th level Warrior with completely renewed features: FOR 32; INT 13; SAG 15; DES 16; WITH 28; CAR 20; ALL CM; CA 34; PF 318
Even his equipment was subjected to a make-up: bastard sword +3 anarchist of the fire blast anathema of humans, poison dagger, half armor +3 adamantine of spiked ceremonial moderate fortification, heavy metal shield +5 of the breakthrough, helmet of Warduke, talisman of health +6, gauntlets of the strength of the giant +6, boots of speed, ring of protection +3, evil graft terrifying look.
In 2006 in the set War Drums of "D&D Miniatures”Warduke reappears again, just as he was presented in the Dungeon Magazine, except for the decrease in CA da 34 a 32.
Print, television, miniature… what else?
In October 2013 it comes out, in free version, by Count Mount the indie video game, and here we have to thank Starfox Mulder OF THE Bit-Elloni for reporting, "Dungeons and Dragons: The Rise of Warduke”(You can find the game and some additional information here).
It is a sliding fighting game, developed through the engine OpenBOR extension, in full style "Golden Ax"(SEGA) and"Knights of the Round"(CAPCOM). It's pure feast for the eyes right from the introduction and loading, and expectations don't fade as the game unfolds. Once we have chosen our hero (not just a feat given the wide choice), we will have to make our way through a myriad of environments, interact with many characters, clash with an infinity of monsters (orcs, trolls, goblins, dragons and all the rest bestiary of D&D), face champions, undertake the most disparate missions, to reach the coveted final duel against Warduke! Special moves, spells, special items, treasures and weapons complete this retro arcade-style experience!
But the story does not end here…
Vintage is the new black
In a recent interview (June 2019) the game designer and senior producer of D&D, Chris perkins, has let slip that Warduke will be featured in a future adventure for the fifth edition, as the iconic character has always had a special place in his memories since childhood.
But Warduke is not the only one on the horizon. The lore of D&D, especially that of its early days, still has a lot to say to both new and old players, bringing to light lost or simply forgotten elements.
“These are the things I am looking for for future stories: the true sense of discovery. There are things in D&D's past that you don't even know existed. And they are so beautiful, accurate and inspiring ... "Chris perkins
With forms Tales from the Yawning Portal and the most recent one Ghost of Saltmarsh, there has been a real recovery of elements of the past that have been integrated both as a setting and as a regulation. All this may seem like a simple wink towards the past, in reality it seems to be a real mission!
“I've always wanted to make these kinds of surprises for players. 'O my god, I can't believe they went back in time and found this!"
I hope you started appreciating this too villain, and I hope that several questions are coming to your mind. Is Warduke his real name? Why did he hide his face behind that helmet? What were your exploits before the Greyhawk Wars? And ... can friendship with Strongheart ever be repaired?