Dawn Reaver Character in Excilior | World Anvil

Dawn Reaver

Tactical innovator

The Charians have the men, the weapons, and the supplies. But the Nocterns have the Dawn Reaver. I rather like the Nocterns' odds.
Lauj Fau, Tinsian cognoscenti, 1201 AoE
he Dawn Reaver was the praetor who led the Noctern forces during the Nomadic Wars. The name Dawn Reaver was a moniker bestowed upon him by the Charian population who opposed him, but eventually he came to be known even amongst his own people by the same title. This is mostly due to the fact that his true name is lost to history, even amongst the Nocterns. Some of their early texts refer to him alternately as Tansin, Jorden, Navin, or Maynar, and he seems to have taken turns answering to any/all of these names. But he was most comfortable being referred to by his military title - Praetor.

Physical Description

General Physical Condition

lthough soldiers are often in better physical condition than the general public, the Dawn Reaver's fitness was legendary amongst his troops. It's not that he was particularly larger or stronger than any of his charges, but he was well known for having seemingly-inexhaustible stamina. His soldiers often grumbled that he just... kept... GOING. When they were in evasive mode against Exterminator forces (and they were almost always in evasive mode against those forces), he often pressed his men to maneuver - sometimes, at near-running speed - amongst the treetops or through the dense underbrush for hours at a time. If he saw an opportunity to gain even a slight tactical advantage, he pushed his men to traverse steep gullies in the span of hours, all for the purpose of reaching a key position just a little before their enemy. Even when they were at rest, the Reaver seemed to have an eternal energy supply. He met with his advisors until late into the night and rose before them in the morning. Most of his confidants indicated that he slept no more than four hours per night.

Specialized Equipment

e established the paradigm of the Noctern fighter: Dark clothing, loose yet form-fitting, so as to enhance camouflage and ease of motion without getting snagged on branches and underbrush. Soft longboots that make for stealthy tracking. A longbow sleekly strapped to the back. A pair of ebny daggers for combat in close quarters. A short bloodwood spear.   This gear was designed not only to inflict military damage, but also to allow for free, unencumbered, and stealthy movement. If his men wanted to scavenge the larger, bulkier weapons of their fallen opponents, he scolded them. He saw these weapons more as a burden than as a combat tool. When his short men wondered at the massive battle axes of Bellion's forces, he asked them, in disdain, "What would you do with that? Sling that over your back for half a day and you won't even be able to keep pace with the troop."

Mental characteristics

Personal history

ike the rest of his compatriots, the Reaver did not easily come to think of himself as a "military leader", or even as being in the military at all, for Nocterns rarely maintain a standing army. It was only with the continued aggression brought upon them by the Nomadic Wars that he came to be known, and eventually accepted the acknowledgment that he was, a military commander. Prior to such developments, he was merely a leader of the surface teams that rise from the Ontorlands to hunt and gather critical supplies.
They think we fight alone. But our allies are the arbyrs, the rivers, and the very soil beneath their feet.
Dawn Reaver, Noctern praetor, 1206 AoE
With this in mind, the Reaver's first perspective was always geared toward nature - the great forests, the majestic fauna of eastern Isleprimoton, the craft of stalking prey, the practical necessities of wilderness survival. Since he seems to have been more adept than most in these areas, he quickly became an acknowledged leader amongst the rangers, and it was this earned respect that eventually made him a military leader. Prior to his service as a ranger, almost nothing is known about his life. But Nocterns who choose this life typically begin their training as young as eight-or-nine years of age. So by the time of the Nomadic Wars, it's likely that he had already been an active participant in ranging parties for more than 15 years.
Almost all of his known history comes from his service during the Nomadic Wars. He actively led his countrymen from 2001 to somewhere during the year 2026 AoE. At some point, he ceased to be a part of the Noctern forces and even the soldiers and elders of his own tribe never found out exactly what happened to him. Of course, it's possible that he was slain during some military action of the Nomadic Wars, but both Nocterns and oplanders find this explanation to be unsatisfactory. Nocterns are famously proficient at collecting nearly all of their dead from battle so that they may be properly laid to rest on the Ontorseia. And the Reaver wasn't one to get caught by an ambush when he wasn't amongst the rest of his forces. But despite these considerations, the simple fact is that no one knows for certain when he died, or whether his demise truly came as a result of the Nomadic Wars.


epending upon when he "officially" joined the surface-ranging parties, he would have spent the first 13-16 years of his "professional" life - until he reached the age of 25 - as a rank-and-file member of these groups. Such parties typically consist of 20-30 men and, depending upon the size of their associated tribe in the Ontorlands, there could be as few as one of these groups, or more than a dozen.   When the Nomadic Wars first commenced, the Nocterns realized the need for a new, formal leader - a praetor - and their wisest huddled to determine who this would be. By all accounts, the Reaver had already gained an impressive reputation amongst his colleagues and his selection as the newly-minted military commander was an easy one. For the rest of his known history, he only served in one role - praetor, of all Noctern forces, throughout the majority of the Nomadic Wars.

Accomplishments & Achievements

he Dawn Reaver is well-remembered for a great many feats of military prowess. He's also revered amongst the Nocterns (and amongst those who study and appreciate Noctern society) as more than "just" a military leader. He holds an honored position as someone who saw the Nomadic Wars as just another in a long line of spiritual obstacles that ultimately stood between him and the salvation of his people. He didn't typically allow his countenance to sink into hatred or personal animosity. Instead, he approached every battle as a broader universal lesson in how to better understand, dominate, and ultimately defeat his enemy.
Your task is not to spend this semester trying to learn the tactics of the Dawn Reaver. Your task is to spend the rest of your military career trying to become the Dawn Reaver.
Tang Zexian, Kwongian drill instructor, 3656 AoG
The Reaver's accomplishments are still studied by military students to this day. At the onset of the Nomadic Wars, oplander armies were accustomed to meeting each other on open fields of battle. They drilled for techniques of open warfare. They measured themselves by their efficacy in brigade-vs-brigade engagements.
Guerrilla Tactics
But the Reaver understood, from the outset, that he could not beat the Charians (or, probably, any other oplander military force) in a straight-up, boot-to-boot, man-on-man engagement. To start with, the Nocterns were smaller than their oplander counterparts, so it made little sense to incite them into hand-to-hand combat. More importantly, the Noctern forces were always outnumbered - as they have been in almost every conflict in which they've ever been involved. Finally, the crux of Noctern training was never geared toward open-field combat. They have always been snipers, rangers, and rogues. So it never made any sense that the Nocternal forces might stand against Charian troops and challenge them boot-to-boot. This knowledge was never lost on the Dawn Reaver. From the moment that he realized that he was in a full-on war with the oplanders, he aggressively took every measure in his arsenal to maximize the effectiveness of his guerrilla warriors and to minimize the damage that could be inflicted from the Charians' traditional field forces.   When the Nomadic Wars commenced, one of the Reaver's first acts was to embark upon an ambitious campaign to educate his own troops. He made it clear, to every single one of them, that their intention in the upcoming conflict was never to engage the enemy in a straight-up, man-on-man battle. He told them, in no uncertain terms, that they would flee if ever confronted with a boot-to-boot fight. He also made it clear that their objective, at all times, would be to strike the enemy before they even realized they were in danger, to attack only so long as the enemy remained disoriented, and to retreat far into the forests (or fully back into the Ontorlands) as soon as that enemy had gathered themselves sufficiently to counterattack. To be clear, these initial communications from the Dawn Reaver were met by a fair share of groans and frustration from some young Nocterns who yearned to meet the oplanders in open battle. But the Dawn Reaver went to great lengths to ensure that these firebrands were either swayed to his way of thinking - or they were removed entirely from the fighting force.   Once the hostilities commenced, he proved himself to be a master of tactical warfare. Sometimes his "genius" was subtle - choosing the proper ground for an oncoming skirmish, or luring his opponent to attack at inopportune times. But other times, his approach was nothing short of innovative.
He was the first military mind in Excilior's history to weaponize parrican stampedes. Prior to the Nomadic Wars, these stampedes were seen as nothing more than random acts of nature - violent forces that were no more "helpful" or "harmful" than a razer or a flood. But he leveraged years of careful observation to "funnel" these stampedes onto runways that would directly devastate his opponents.
They're everywhere. And nowhere. And I fear it's starting to drive some of my men insane.
Berrion Bellion, Charian general, 1205 AoE
Psychological Warfare
When the Exterminators were camped in a strategically-advantageous position, he would still deploy his rangers to traipse throughout the forest, deep into the early hours of the morning, making all manner of odd noises and scurrying up wildlife activity. The effect was that the Exterminators came to see the Nocterns as supernatural forces - malevolent poltergeists who packed an other-worldly punch. The Reaver's dogged insistence on avoiding all face-to-face engagements only added to this mystique. The Exterminators envisioned the Reaver's forces as petulant demons.   The Reaver was also a master of misdirection. Because he never presented his force to the enemy, he could use subtle cues of light and sound to point their attentions wherever he chose. In the most extreme example of subterfuge, his scouts engaged in long campaigns of noise-making, random attacks, and ostentatious flight. The Exterminators, convinced that they were hot on the trail of Nocternal insurgents, followed the clues into the worst possible positions - from which they were promptly annihilated once the Reaver's true force revealed itself.
Know the Enemy
He went to great lengths attempting to train his lieutenants to think as he did. On most nights, when there was no imminent threat, he would sit around the fire with his trusted core and play the "Exterminator Game" with them. In this "game", he tasked his confidants to mentally slide into the role of their enemies. And then they would engage in protracted discussions where he would propose a Nocternal action and his lieutenants would have to answer - as "Charians" - as to why that action would, or would not, work for them. Whenever he found his lieutenants making lazy assumptions about the Exterminators, he openly scolded them in front of the others.

Failures & Embarrassments

lthough it's a stretch to classify any of the Reaver's endeavors as failures, his most controversial (and, in oplander terms, reviled) action was his betrayal of the Bellion Treaty in 1207 AoE, signaled by his slaughter of Bellion's forces almost immediately thereafter. This one act has become the defining moment of his military and historical life. For many oplanders, it is the template through which they view all Nocterns. The incident is also something of a Rorschach test across all casterway societies. Unsurprisingly, the Nocterns (and those sympathetic to their plight) tend to view this "betrayal" as a heroic act of defiance against a bigoted and genocidal enemy. Most oplanders tend to view it as a craven act of murder on an epic scale against a "foe" that had just signed a peace treaty.
Nocternal treaties are quite useful - when I'm alone, squatting in the forest, and there are no leaves nearby.
Elo Elondrian, Charian ranger, 2293 AoR
Broken Treaty
The Dawn Reaver himself never offered a documented account of that day. Nor is he known to have ever apologized for the event, or rationalized his actions. Oplander histories don't know if he ever even tried, in any way, to explain his motivations to his own people. Over the course of millennia, some of the events of that day have become muddled and contested. But the following details are generally undisputed:
  • The Nocterns and Charians had been mired in the Nomadic Wars for five years, four of those taking place during the brutal early phases of the 5th Trial of Syrus.
  • Although the Charians are generally recognized as the instigators and the aggressors in this conflict, their ruler - King Helinand - had finally had enough and had pursued a peace treaty.
  • The Dawn Reaver and the Charian general Berrion Bellion met on the Lavalon River with the intention of signing a treaty that would end (or at least, halt) the Nomadic Wars.
  • At this meeting, Bellion is generally acknowledged to have been rude and condescending toward the Reaver and Nocterns overall. Of course, the extent of his crassness, and the degree to which that crassness should have been punished, is of great debate. Some feel that Bellion's behavior was nothing more than jovial "locker room" ribbing from one former adversary to another. Others feel that his blatant disrespect was a tacit admission that the Nomadic Wars would never truly be over and any so-called treaty consummated on that day would only serve to give the Charians more time to weather the catastrophe of the 5th Trial before eventually resuming their genocidal conflict against the Nocterns.
  • Regardless of the severity of Bellion's behavior, the historical record is clear that the Dawn Reaver did, in fact, sign the treaty and lead his contingent of troops away from the meeting point. By all published accounts, the Reaver said nothing, and did nothing, to indicate to Bellion or his men that the Nocterns would not abide by the treaty.
  • Facing a long march back to the capital in the morning, Bellion made camp with his massive force that night. He commissioned a lavish party for his men, celebrating an end to the draining guerrilla war. Everyone was anxious to return to their homes and gird their families against the long, remaining years of the 5th Trial. Feasting and drinking was in abundance that night.
  • During the party, sometime before midnight, the Dawn Reaver's consolidated forces descended on the camp. They encircled it before anyone in Bellion's army knew that an attack was imminent. When the Reaver's troops sprung, most of Bellion's men were fantastically drunk. In a span of hours, the Nocterns killed almost every living soul in the army - including Bellion himself. Most credible accounts indicate that Bellion had nearly 2,300 men in his camp.
The fallout from this event has reverberated throughout history. The loss for the Charians was so catastrophic that it took them a number of days before they even realized just what had happened. One day, they had a sizable army roaming the forests and hunting down Nocterns. The next day they had... nothing. For a country already in the throes of the 5th Trial, this was a devastating blow.
Expanded Conflict
Years later, with the Nomadic Wars still technically in play, the "treachery" of this moment served as inspiration for numerous other nations to join Charia in the fight. By the end of the conflict, the Nocterns sometimes found themselves battling Atrians, Bouzians, Thignians, Faleians, Chevians, and even Tseunians. Even long after the Nomadic Wars had officially ended, the Dawn Reaver's actions became Exhibit A for anyone who wanted to make the case that Nocterns are lowly, untrustworthy, subhuman specimens undeserving of dignity, respect, or human rights.
Complicated Legacy
Within Noctern society, this event has made the Dawn Reaver a conflicted and problematic figure. On one hand, he was lauded as a national hero at the time. The fact that he wiped out the entire Charian force, in a single night of "fighting", during which he suffered almost no casualties, was seen as further proof of his messianic military prowess. The resulting period of "peace" (because, for quite some time, the Charians simply had no one left to enlist as soldiers) is often referred to, by Nocterns as a gift of the Dawn Reaver. He allowed them to hunker down and weather the worst of the 5th Trial without having to deal with constant aggression from their oplander foes.
He led our people to a string of glorious military victories. And the only price was two thousand years of relentless oplander bigotry.
Spurinna Ashia, Noctern cognoscenti, 3850 AoG
On the other hand, subsequent centuries of Noctern cognoscenti have argued that the "victory" was ultimately short-lived and counterproductive. Although it certainly achieved the short-term goal of pausing the Nomadic Wars and gaining security for the Nocterns during the 5th Trial, it ultimately drew more enemies against them and increased the resolve of the oplanders to remedy the "Noctern threat". Even for those who appreciate the military benefits of his actions, they sometimes point out that springing upon Bellion's forces after the peace treaty was signed has ultimately made nearly all Noctern-oplander negotiations more strained, and more difficult, ever since.   With all these factors in mind, there is a wide range of opinions, across all casterway societies, about the relative merit of the Dawn Reaver and his actions. Even amongst the Nocterns, where he will always enjoy a certain mythical status, there are now many who view him as a complex man whom, while he may have possessed great strengths, also was not against committing war crimes if he felt it would benefit his cause.

Intellectual Characteristics

hile he's not believed to have received any formal education, his reputation - especially amongst his men - was one of extreme intellect. Some cognoscenti have debated whether he had a truly superior mind, or whether he just had a particular knack for leadership and the tactical principles of warfare. Of course, others have argued that some of his innovations qualify him as a genius, even if those advancements were "only" confined to the military arena.

Morality & Philosophy

espite what some may think after his "betrayal" of Bellion's Treaty, there is little doubt that he lived by a strident personal code. While little is known of his views on non-military matters, it's clear that his "code" was tied to the survival of his troops and, ultimately, the security of his people. To this end, he saw war, and all of its associated inhumanities, as more-or-less Boolean. He made no distinction between the suffering of one man over another. He held no life to be inherently more valuable than another. He only had one sorting mechanism: He would pursue anything that helped his people and/or hurt his enemy. And he would do everything in his power to avoid that which hurt his people and/or aided his enemy.
The "rules" of war were written by those who have never had to fight in a war.
Dawn Reaver, Noctern praetor, 1220 AoE
Rules of War
He also felt that the traditional "rules" of war were created by large, entrenched forces distinctly for the purpose of benefiting large, entrenched forces. He marveled at the idea that it was okay to strike down twenty men on a battlefield with an axe, but it was somehow "cowardly" or "treacherous" to poison those same men, or to lead them into a trap, or to hit them with ranged weapons and then run. Because of these perceived inconsistencies, he made no attempt to discern an "honorable" way to defeat his opponent. From his perspective, the honorable dead man was still... a dead man.



espite his constant energy, the Reaver's demeanor was typically one of quiet tranquility. Most of his men never witnessed him in anger. In fact, they spoke of his mere presence as a calming force. Raw recruits, panicking on the verge of their first real battle, would suddenly settle down and execute their orders with confidence when he stood beside them. He rarely raised his voice. He issued his orders in a steady tone that did not rise or fall with the action around him. On the eve of major engagements, he was often seen meditating, almost perfectly still, for hours on end.
1177 PE 1226 PE 49 years old
Circumstances of Death
Pale, seafoam-green irises - surrounded by complete black
Long & shiny - white/yellow
Skin Tone/Pigmentation
Extremely pale
Known Languages
Aside from his native Nokmeni, he was extremely fluent in Komon. He's also known to have spoken Jongshzen and Sontjen, although his proficiency in those tongues cannot be verified.


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