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Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Berith  (Read 3007 times)

Grey

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Character Study of the Week: Berith
« on: 07 November 2015, 05:20:50 »
Character Study of the Week: Berith
Who: Berith
   Aka Benjamin Emory
   Aka other aliases per mission requirements
What: Various ranks within ComStar
   Instructor, ROM
   Light of Mankind Operative
   Spectre Precentor Omicron, Word of Blake, Manei Domini
   Commanding officer Opacus Venatori
When: 3030 - ?? ?? ??
Weapon of Choice: C-ANG-0 Archangel (personal configuration)
         Anything and everything, including people

The third and final subject of the Halloween series, quite naturally, is Precentor Berith, who unlike the preceding subjects is quite immediately dangerous and very much not dead at the end of the Jihad, barring unreported misjumps or soap slipping related incidents in the shower.

Whereas The Master is likely the originator of the Manei Domini cult and Apollyon is its chief apostle and likely a very early adherent to the creed, Benjamin Emory was a convert. His first loyalty was to Terra, whether held by the old secretive ComStar, secular ComStar, or The Word of Blake in its various flavours of fanaticism.

This would be a boon to whoever held the world as Emory was and is a special operations wizard, adept at all forms of covert warfare, overt warfare, analysis and just as importantly is capable of passing along those skills.

So when ComStar secularised he stayed with them and trained ROM agents, when the Blakists claimed the world he stayed with them and trained ROM agents, and while it is implied that he would have undertaken missions for the former he certainly undertook missions for the latter and eventually, during a training incident on Circinus, lost a limb and had a cybernetic prosthetic replacement grafted to his body.

Being more than a simple replacement, in fact noted as being a superior replacement, being on Circinus – The Master’s hub for who knows how long, falling under Apollyon’s influence or any one of a number of things led him to convert whole heartedly from blind loyalty to Terra to fanatical devotion to the Manei Domini philosophy and attaining the name Berith, christened by Apollyon himself.

And in some respects nothing much changed, he continued training, though undertaking more field operations, commanding an elite pair of Level II’s in ultra-important small unit actions, and other important, even single person missions.

Of course the nature of matters changed, rather than being an operative if anything he was an agent-at-large for the Word of Blake, going where he was needed and putting out or starting fires whatever the case may be during the Jihad.

This could not last of course, the Jihad came to an end and Berith was on the losing side, like a great many personages. Unlike those however he was not nuked out of existence and continued to operate as an agent-at-large until he faced down and killed the nearest thing to an agent-at-large for the other side, Agent Damocles, who he managed to taunt into rash action during battle and killed, after which he made his escape and. . . Well, we just don’t know. We don’t even have a post credits scene that hints at what he’s up to. If that doesn’t terrify you, it soon will.

Aside from not being reduced to radioactive ash Berith has a significant number of differences between The Master and Apollyon, the first being that he is a field operative.

This isn’t to say that he is incapable of high level plotting, planning or strategizing, if anything he appears to be equally capable, but in terms of his use in the setting Berith is the man in the field taking the actions and gaining the results the other two have decided must be achieved.

The greatest evidence for this is his ‘Mech. Quite simply we know everything about it.

The ultimate zombie ‘Mech, like most Archangel configurations it’s loaded with PPCs, a Heavy, two Lights, all with capacitors, along with a Snub Nosed model, and a variable speed pulse laser for a dash of spice. This is Berith’s own choice of configuration, and thus speaks of the pilot, even though as an Omni it is reconfigurable and other weapon arrays may have been used. That’s mission or plot specific, here we know the Archangel Berith.

At first glance with those capacitor enhanced PPCs it’s tempting to call it a heavy hitting bruiser, and it would be if instead of those Lights there were a second Heavy.

Two twenty point hits of energy, or alternating fire to constantly throw more damage at range for longer than most other ‘Mechs, it would be a hellish opponent to face even if you’re in something with more total long range firepower. It’s common to talk of the AC20 as an area denial weapon, paired Heavy PPCs with capacitors are arguably worse due to range and a lack of ammo considerations.

But it doesn’t. Berith chose to have a pair of lighter weight guns, similarly augmented. Why?

Even if you can’t answer that right away this shows the machine to be anything but a brutal damage dealer, it’s a thinking person’s ‘Mech.

True, it doesn’t have the versatility of MMLs or even autocannons, but it has a varied array of weapons, all pretty potent.

This isn’t a machine that’s going to find its preferred range and blast away, it’s something the pilot is going to put in a specific place and use in a specific way for that moment.

Which is how Berith is described as operating in the background materials.

And he named it. Guardian. Why? That’s a defensive name, who or what is he guarding? Terra? The Master? Frails (he is noted as being more respectful of such than most Manei Domini), or some sort of Blakist philosophy? Is it even a sign of something? This may be the only subtle mystery about a prominent Blakist, but unless it is used in the future it isn’t particularly relevant, but it is a hook into possibly understanding the man.

More importantly, and I touched on this in the previous Apollyon article, we know Berith’s exact capabilities.

Beyond the Archangel Berith with also have what looks like a comprehensive, or at least extensive, list of the cybernetic augmentations Berith possesses. How complete this list is can be debated, all the augmentations given in Wolf and Blake are combat related, either for the board game or the RPG, it’s entirely possible he possesses other, more esoteric implants for one reason or another, but they’re no relevant to the scenarios he will be faced in and could be subject to addition should the GM choose.

Regardless, it’s a long list designed to let us know exactly what we’ll face on the battlefield. That is the core difference between Berith and his masters. An individual could face him at anytime, anywhere, for any reason and he can defeat or kill them without relying purely on plot dictates. If that possibility doesn’t scare you keep in mind that his death has never been confirmed.

Entire worlds died, to the best of our knowledge Berith did not.

He is the imminent threat of the Word of Blake, the point of the spear that you may well encounter and have to survive.

And it isn’t as straight forward as defeating a character using all the tricks in the game book, it’s entirely possible he will not need plot armour because, and this is another difference from the preceding Blakist subjects, he has actual people skills.

Sure, The Master and Apollyon have to have a certain amount of charisma to convince others to join their cult, Berith, more importantly, can operate among people, and not just because he’s cosmetically more acceptable.

The Master and Apollyon are intimidating presences to followers and foes alike, Berith can sneak up on you and convince you to do something. Again, he’s agent-at-large, a Blakist James Bond of sorts with less booze, women, smarter shooting and. . . Ok, maybe he’d give Bond a run for his money.

In Halloween terms this makes him the monster you don’t see coming, the one who, if not racking up the greatest body count, will take out the greatest number of important characters at the most important moments.

Critically though Berith is not infallible. There is one piece of fiction that shows him losing to The Bounty Hunter. Not dying, coming close, but certainly foiled. This serves a couple of purposes, it enhances the Bounty Hunter’s reputation by showing he can actually go toe to toe with an augmented Manei Domini and win (yes, in his armour but still. . .), it shows just how much trouble a single Manei Domini can be, and while he survives it shows Berith is not some sort of spectre that turns up and achieves all goals and foils all characters.

Why is this important? Utterly infallible, undefeatable characters are boring. They’re flat and they’re nothing more than plot devices, remember, Berith is a character to be encountered and possibly survived if not defeated, always with the possibility of losing to him looming large..

This doesn’t mean that he isn’t used as a plot device on occasion, but that’s not his purpose.

As strange as this may sound it also means it makes the most sense for him to survive the Jihad.

A number of Blakists do, of course, a very disturbing number of whole Divisions, mostly Manei Domini. This is what the most direct monsters do.

Importantly this is what conspiracy riven monsters with secret resources, that were secret resources themselves, with hidden redoubts, unknown assets, whole planets as potential bases and writers know what else, do.

They survive, go off, hide, then come back right when we expect a sequel, or least expect it according to plot. And it looks very likely the latter could happen.

Remember, Berith has people skills, can pass as normal, commands respect, and knows how to plan. Just as Apollyon was capable of long term thinking in terms beyond his truncated lifetime Berith was surely just as capable, if not fully capable of somehow surviving most of a century and coming back in some unexpected fashion to continue an agenda that is quite frankly still unknown.

That is Berith, an imminent and ongoing threat, for all intents and purposes, an individual more threatening than his master and mentor because of a very different approach and attitude, one that could, along with his survival, lead to some complications in the future.

Wrangler

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #1 on: 07 November 2015, 08:45:01 »
Berith has more depth.   on the old old Forums, there was series of short-stories posted there called Jihad - a Soldier's Tale.  This was about his life before becoming Beirth, but of a soldier who caught in the middle.  His youngest daughter is dying of cancer,  his older son is growing up and wants join WoB Militia, his wife is at his side in emotional agony as they watch their young daughter die.   She's a ROM agent in her own right, once the child passes on, he goes on missions as normal special ops soldier.  Fighting terrorist in proto-Word of Blake Protectorate, seeing how evil these people are and why don't understand their there to help.

There a lot more to him, it just depends on how Berith is presented.  To do justice to the character, the Soldier's Tale fleshes out who he really is.   If we do get more Jihad era novels, may he and other characters will be fleshed out more.
« Last Edit: 08 November 2015, 21:33:03 by Wrangler »
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mikecj

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #2 on: 07 November 2015, 19:26:04 »
Hopefully someone saved those & can re-post them
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SteelRaven

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #3 on: 07 November 2015, 21:50:58 »
Berith is one of the most human and most relatable characters of the Manei Domini which to the OPs credit, makes him scarier. Berith show us how dangerous one man can become. 
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Nahuris

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #4 on: 08 November 2015, 02:52:40 »
Berith is exactly what Shepard Book warned Mal of, in Serenity. He is a believer.... and he believes hard, and comes at you sideways......

Nahuris
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Frabby

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #5 on: 08 November 2015, 04:27:29 »
Hopefully someone saved those & can re-post them
I have saved a copy. But it's technically copyrighted to Ben Rome who said he wanted to polish it and re-publish it via BattleCorps. Thus, I think I can't post it here. I did write a Sarna article about A Soldier's Tale though.
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JPArbiter

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #6 on: 09 November 2015, 00:12:25 »
the biggest problem with Berith as a Boogeyman is that he possessed a VDNI, which gives the possessor of the implant a finite lifespan post operation (10 years standard, 15 Buffered)

there is no overt text that describes that limiting of lifespan to be reversible if the implant is safely removed.  so by time Devlin Stone went on ice, the threat of Berith in person is diminished.  of course this does not preclude the next generation of Neo Manei Domini from cropping up , but that is another story.
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Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #7 on: 09 November 2015, 02:05:03 »
That assumes Berith also didn't go on ice. ;)

Nightgaun7

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #8 on: 09 November 2015, 02:13:48 »
the biggest problem with Berith as a Boogeyman is that he possessed a VDNI, which gives the possessor of the implant a finite lifespan post operation (10 years standard, 15 Buffered)

there is no overt text that describes that limiting of lifespan to be reversible if the implant is safely removed.  so by time Devlin Stone went on ice, the threat of Berith in person is diminished.  of course this does not preclude the next generation of Neo Manei Domini from cropping up , but that is another story.

He was getting old when the Jihad hits anyways, and in a very demanding and high-tempo field, so his field lifespan was unlikely to greatly exceed his VDNI anyways.

What should scare those who stand against the Word is his excellence as a teacher. What's worse than dealing with Berith? Dealing with a level II of Beriths. Or more.

Maelwys

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #9 on: 09 November 2015, 04:20:13 »
there is no overt text that describes that limiting of lifespan to be reversible if the implant is safely removed.  so by time Devlin Stone went on ice, the threat of Berith in person is diminished.  of course this does not preclude the next generation of Neo Manei Domini from cropping up , but that is another story.

According to ATOWC, the degenerative effects stop if you remove the implant, so if Berith gets his BVDNI removed, its possible for him to stick around for a while longer, though it would also require the removal of the Triple Core Processor. So its possible he's still around for longer than most might assume.

GhostBear

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #10 on: 09 November 2015, 09:31:14 »
According to ATOWC, the degenerative effects stop if you remove the implant, so if Berith gets his BVDNI removed, its possible for him to stick around for a while longer, though it would also require the removal of the Triple Core Processor. So its possible he's still around for longer than most might assume.

Keep in mind that his TCP also 'records' his thoughts and musings. (See the intro text to SB:W&B.) So it's very possible that in the first years of the Word's "exile," he created a manifesto on the TCP.

And those last a long time....   >:D
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GhostBear

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #11 on: 09 November 2015, 10:33:27 »
Oh, one more thing: fantastic writeup of my favorite character creation in this universe. Glad to see he's doing exactly as intended!
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mikecj

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #12 on: 09 November 2015, 11:24:21 »
Oh, one more thing: fantastic writeup of my favorite character creation in this universe. Glad to see he's doing exactly as intended!

Now lets get his story published!
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Frabby

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Berith
« Reply #13 on: 09 November 2015, 13:02:23 »
Here's a link to the story's Sarna.net entry: Jihad - a Soldier's Tale

And at the end of that Sarna article, there's a link to the original (2006) posting thread on Wayback machine. Here is a shortcut link.

(I think the 2006 postings were themselves a re-posting following an earlier forum crash, but I can't be sure as I only rejoined the BT community in 2007.)
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