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The Unraveling of Ravel Puzzlewell by Chris Avellone (Source)
Some fan-based questions I answered recently, posting them
to share - it's about Ravel Puzzlewell from Planescape: Torment and some
of the thoughts behind her creation.
What was the origin of
We had a number of physically powerful enemies in Torment, and
I thought a night hag would be a good adversary, especially if she was a
cryptic, deadly puzzle maker. As the game went on, the idea that Ravel was a
branching creature whose life resembled a great tree (or bramble) stretching
across the planes, was in love with the player and she genuinely tried to help
people at times (only to have it turn against her and the recipient) seemed to
be some good hooks to make an adversary.
Writing Ravel was perhaps one of
the experiences I’m most proud of in my career. I felt like she came together
nicely, and she had a really distinctive tone.
Have you created Ravel
while working on Torment, or did you have the idea for her
No, she was an original creation for the game. Her creation
did influence Kreia in Knights of the Old Republic II, since there were stories
with Ravel I never had time to tell that I thought Kreia could.
Ravel appeared anywhere else but in Torment?
Yes – Ravel’s
existence is like the branching of a great tree across the Planes, although her
incarnations don’t always realize what they are tied to. In Torment, she’s a few
characters you encounter, and she also shows up in Icewind Dale 2 (she’s
the elderly lady with cats in Targos) and she’s also the seer in Icewind
Dale: Heart of Winter. In general, the clues to Ravel’s incarnations are
that the incarnations have bad eyesight (or are blind), are female, and are
usually elderly (though not always). They usually also have dreams or visions
about the planes, since they are subconsciously tied into the other incarnations
across the planes.
Why did you choose to go with Ravel almost
exclusively using the shadow based magic?
I’d describe her magic as
more “tree”-based, although that might be stretching it. Generally, she can use
almost any kind of magic, she’s not tied to a particular domain as long as the
visual aspects of her spells involve thorns, brambles, and trees (hard to do in
D+D without being a druid). The only drawback is that she can’t really “gift”
others with buffs or helpful spells without them having some drawback.
Have you anything else in mind that she could have left besides a
"daughter", a scarred man and (now probably malfunctioning) sensory-stone?
No, but I always saw Ravel as an incredibly powerful legendary
figure, so she could have left all sorts of relics, offspring, and perhaps other
unfortunate events and historic tales across the planes. She’s made a real mess
of a lot of things.
Any more info on ravels daughter (and her father)
and if he created her with any other strong relationships in mind?
No word on Ravel’s mate(s) at all, completely an open book for who
she spawns with (she’s probably had many, many suitors). As for daughters, her
one daughter is detailed pretty thoroughly in the game, and she’s bound to have
other offspring throughout the planes, male and female.
daughter is described as being vaguely haggish is a young, still beautiful way.
Is that just because she's a half fiend, or is she what a hag is before it
realizes its potential?
I’ve may have actually violated the tenants
of D&D by not restricting the appearance of hags, both in Torment and
Gann in the NWN2 expansion, Mask of the Betrayer. They can be as
extremely hideous or beautiful as they wish (at least in my world).