A thorough, well-written, and delightful overview of the dwarf cleric known as Boirin Ashcloak — written by Dave Everhart, the human that brings him to life.
Boirin seeks for goodness, truth, and justice in the world, but is not afraid of operating in a space that pushes him outside of the strict rules of common law. He values friendship dearly, and is driven by an intense desire to grow stronger in his healing powers, desperate to not let anyone he holds dear meet an untimely death.
Boirin is never afraid to speak his mind and to attempt to steer the direction of his group of adventurers. His time spent in his younger days as a soldier has sharpened him as a strategist and when needed, as a leader. However, he doesn’t assume these roles are his to revel in and is always content to defer to another party member’s direction or idea, assuming he doesn’t feel that the course of action is misadvised.
Boirin feels quite comfortable in the presence of both Rhogar and Torinn, seeing both of them as committed to righteous ideals. He views Roden with a bit of distrust but as long as the halfling’s pilfering & lying ways are directed towards helping the group in their fight against evil, he doesn’t take issue. Tellrah holds a special connection to Boirin, as Boirin sees Tellrah as a wayward soul that is in danger of being lost. However Boirin has utmost certainty in the goodness present in Tellrah’s heart and seeks to guide him to embrace that side of himself and reject his angry and chaotic side. As for Gnerx, well, Boirin initially was repulsed by having a goblin around, but later upon learning he’s only half goblin and half gnome, Boirin has softened his disposition towards him considerably.
Boirin grew up as an only child in the Fireforge Clan of dwarves on the island of Mintarn. His father, Taklinn, and mother, Vistra, raised him lovingly, but since he had no siblings he grew to be quite close to his 3 cousins: Gundren, Nundo, and Tharden Rockseeker.
- His first ever opportunity to heal a wounded friend, as Rana took too many blows at the goblin ambush.
- Surviving the nothic at the Redbrand Hideout by affixing a hand mirror to his forehead with some string.
- Grand-slamming a miniaturized wolf into the forest.
- Adorning his beard with flowers in the fey wild.
- Using the spell “command” to force Venomfang to fall to the ground.
- Believing himself to be dreaming and acting way too forward and confident when meeting Linene in the forest one morning.
- Straddling over Tellrah’s unconscious body at the Stonehill fire, and slapping some healing powers into his face.
- With cold fury, using Inflict Wounds directly on the face of Bazuk.
- Distracting Mormesk by going on and on about the properties of a magic ring while Roden stole from the chest behind his back.
- Using the spell Command to force Nezznar to drop his staff and fall from the ceiling.
- Rushing around trying to find a cure for Tellrah’s poisoned brandy, culminating in a rushed ride down a snowy mountain on the back of a giant goat.
- Riding Gary around at the end of a Phandelver time loop, attacking orcs with Spectral Weapon and healing Torinn and Tellrah as they fight as well.
- Flying through the air in the fey wild after a misstep while Striding.
- Using the Ring of the Grammarian to turn Beacon of Hope into Bacon of Hope before succumbing to the orc army.
Boirin Ashcloak had a pretty normal childhood growing up on the island of Mintarn with his hill dwarf clan. He was never one of the most popular dwarves, nor was he especially ostracized. Just middle of the road, dwarf stuff. Like many of his kind, he had an interest in masonry as he grew up, and became somewhat proficient in the field.
In dwarven culture, a place in their society can become a huge component of one’s self worth, and one’s clan is the heart of many a dwarf’s life. And while this was true for Boirin, he also had a heart for exploring the world.
At the young age of 50, Boirin joined the mercenaries of Mintarn, and was trained as a soldier, eventually becoming a minor officer. His company traveled to Neverwinter and served there both as an army, and also a city watch.
He grew disillusioned with his fellow soldiers, who seem to enjoy their authority at the expense of the people they’re supposed to protect. Everything came to a head when he disobeyed an order and followed his conscience. He was suspended from active duty, though he kept his rank and his connection to the mercenaries. He devoted his life to his deity ever since.
Or… at least that’s the story he tells those who ask about his past. Unfortunately, the story of his time with the Mintarn mercenaries was much more grim and shameful.
It was true that his fellow soldiers were not of high moral fiber. They bullied, coerced, and often times extorted the citizens of Neverwinter who were in lower social standings, asking them for additional “protection fees” that weren’t official, hinting that harm would come their way if they refused. At times, they weren’t much better than a mafia. But Boirin, being young (for a dwarf) found that as he pushed back initially against these behaviors, he stopped being included when the other soldiers got together to tell jokes and share drinks. He’d find himself on the outside looking in, and felt as if he suddenly wasn’t a part of this make-shift clan that he had previously been growing into. He found himself being left behind, or being “accidentally” bumped into when trying to eat, and somewhat bullied in general.
For several months, he had few friends in Neverwinter, and grew depressed. He drank by himself many evenings at The Copper Mug, a local tavern run by a dwarven family. But gradually he found himself partaking in the little injustices that his fellow soldiers continued with, and immediately he found himself being included more and more in their boy’s club. He forced his distaste for his own actions deep, down inside himself, berating himself for being weak or pitiful anytime he found his inner voice trying to speak up against his own behavior. And little by little, he grew callous and found stomaching the deplorable deeds was becoming easier and easier. Boirin would find ways to twist justifications in his own mind as to why what he was doing wasn’t so bad. The pleasure of belonging at long last after being excluded and bullied was too powerful a drug, and Boirin grew comfortable with his new thug lifestyle.
Then one day, Boirin was tasked with keeping watch over a prisoner who had recently been captured. A dwarven criminal that they had all been on the watch for, named Aldrik. Word of his capture was being sent back to Aldrik’s homeland of Nigh Galador to inform the rulers there and ask them to send a guard to come and retrieve the captive. It took very little time for Boirin to sense that this dwarf was no common criminal. He held himself with a dignity and grace rarely seen from someone in his desperate position, and never took to berating or disrespecting Boirin even though Boirin was clearly his enemy in this situation.
Slowly at first, Boirin began engaging Aldrik in conversation, forging an unlikely and forbidden friendship over the long hours they spent together day after day. And one late evening when Boirin sensed that their time together was most likely nearing an end, Boirin asked Aldrik about the the charge leveled against him: “treason”. Aldrik sighed, and began telling Boirin about the political intrigue that had led him to his current position. He explained how he was the son of the former King, Alberk the Last, but deceitful usurpers had killed his father and seized the rule for themselves. Without proof of his innocence and knowing that even with proof that the evildoers would ensure he never was able to present it, he fled the kingdom with nothing but his own life. He knew that if he was taken back to Nigh Galador, it would mean his death.
Boirin believed every word from Aldrik implicitly, and that entire night was unable to sleep a wink as he struggled with what to do. If he freed Aldrik or assisted with his escape in any way, it would mean an end to his own career, reputation, and perhaps even his life. But this friend of his had grown a bright spot into his darkening heart and Boirin wanted to cling onto it more than anything else in his life.
Just before dawn the next morning as Boirin, exhausted and conflicted, was going to retake his post as Aldrik’s guard, he was approached by his Captain, Bazuk, who informed him that word had come from Aldrik’s kingdom. Aldrik was to die, but the story would be that he was killed while attempting to escape. Boirin’s stomach dropped as his mind raced, searching for a solution… for any way out of this for both himself and Aldrik. And then Bazuk gave the order: Boirin would be the one to kill Aldrik, plunging a knife into his heart as the prisoner lay asleep this very morning. Boirin’s hand shook noticeably as he saluted to Bazuk and ensured him the task would be done right away. Bazuk then left Boirin alone to carry out his order.
Boirin entered Aldrik’s cell, and fell to his knees next to Aldrik’s bedroll. Boirin’s hand held his dagger as he hovered over his friend for the longest minute of Boirin’s entire life, before he resolved his course of action. Boirin shook Aldrik awake, and with urgency motioned to the open cell door and told Aldrik he had to run as fast and far as he could. Aldrik thanked Boirin and quickly made his way to the door before coming to a sudden stop and turning back to Boirin, asking “and you?”
Boirin simply replied, “it doesn’t matter. If you stay you will die. The order came this morning. Now run!”
Aldrik’s feet remained planted as he glanced towards the dagger still in Boirin’s hand. “You were sent to kill me. And now you risk death yourself to save me? I do not deserve such a friend!” And Aldrik walked back to Boirin as if to hug him, but instead took Boirin’s hand and plunged the dagger into his own heart, gasping with his final breaths, “Boirin, my life was over and yours is still free and open in front of you. Do something worthwhile… with… it. My friend…” The life left Aldrik’s body, and Boirin stood there in despair and disbelief, as his friend’s corpse fell to the ground.
He walked straight out of town, and several miles down the road, before breaking down next to a bridge in deep sobs. Suddenly he realized he was still clutching something in his hand, and as he looked through his tears he saw it was the dagger, slick with the blood that had poured out from his friend.
Somehow, Boirin couldn’t simply throw the knife to the side, and instead wrapped it in cloth, before collapsing in sorrow once more.
Many days later, Boirin had traveled back to his homeland, where he settled for a time, refusing to talk to anyone about what had happened, though it was clear to everyone who had known Boirin that he had changed, and that something bad had clearly occurred during his time away.
As the weeks and months passed, Boirin remained withdrawn and detached, but eventually confided the truth of his past with his three closest cousins and friends, Gundren, Tharden, and Nundro Rockseeker. Rather than shaming and rejecting Boirin as he feared they would, they accepted him and urged him to find some sort of respite by turning to faith.
Taking their advice, Boirin began spending more and more time with the local clergy, studying their ways and eager to find some sort of penance for his past sins. Boirin grew more and more devout, and eventually entered into the training process to become a cleric himself. One day several years into his training, he was in the midst of studying some old tomes on healing spells and necromancy, and he was suddenly struck as if by lightning with the thought that even though far more time had passed than any healing spell he had ever heard of would allow, perhaps there was a way somewhere, somehow, for him to restore the life of Aldrik, whose death still weighed heavily on him nearly every moment of every day.
His mind quickly turned to the dagger he still kept in his possessions, never cleaned of the dried blood it bore. Boirin hoped that it would be enough of a link to Aldrik.
From that day forth Boirin became obsessed with learning everything he could about healing and restoring life to creatures. He committed himself to the practice of healing and learning about the forces of life and the spiritual world, and vowed to spend as many years of his life as it would take to find a way to return Aldrik to this world and help him regain his rightful throne.
However, Boirin remains incredibly guarded about his past life, and will rarely hint to anyone that it contains so much shame. The Mintarn mercenaries still would identify Boirin as one of their own, and accept him back if he wanted or give him aid, but Boirin would never accept their help. The entire town of Neverwinter is a place he goes to great trouble to avoid, for fear of crossing the path his old soldiering “friends”.