There are a lot of great characters in fantasy literature. From powerful mages to dashing knights, fantasy has it all. The genre has inspired many cliches and archetypes that have been reused by countless authors and DMs. The question the staff at Dungeon’s Master asked was who are the greatest figures in fantasy literature? Who are the giants that the rest are only pale shadows of?
We pulled countless ancient tomes from our dusty library and consulted sages near and far. We narrowed the field and complied below are the top 5 fantasy characters as selected by the team at Dungeon’s Master.
Lancelot is King Arthur right hand. The original knight in shining armour, the ideals and standards that Lancelot was held to have become the standard for codes of chivalry. Skilled with sword and shield, Lancelot was a machine on the field of battle. His bravery and skill were second to none. This alone should put him on the list. However, his betrayal of Arthur’s trust and subsequent relationship with Guinevere has also become the cliche for love triangles in all forms of literature. For defining a cliche, Lancelot has earned his place on our list.
Created by RA Salvatore, Drizzt is perhaps the most popular and enduring character in the Forgotten Realms. A Dark Elf outcast, this Ranger wields two scimitars to devastating effect. With his magic panther at this side Drizzt is the hero of countless adventures and is the reason Dark Elves became a popular race choice in D&D character creation. For making Rangers a cool class choice and inspiring far too many fanboys into playing Dark Elves, Drizzt make’s the top 5.
Elric first appeared in Michael Moorcock’s novella “The Dreaming City.” Elric always fascinated me with his dual nature. He needed his sword – Stormbringer – so badly to survive and overcome his adversaries, yet he detested the cost the life bringing sword took on him for Stormbringer stole the souls of those Elric slew, and eventually claimed his own. Elric is the perfect example of a hero with a dark side.
The titular character of an epic poem. The story of Beowulf is over 1,000 years old making it the oldest entry on our list. Beowulf is a great story; he battles the monster Grendal, and then takes the fight to Grendal’s mother. While I doubt Grendal’s mother looked as good as the animator’s drew Angelina, it’s still a fight I would have paid admission for. Finally, in true D&D style Beowulf takes on a dragon! Don’t remember that from the movie? Go educate yourself and read the poem already.
What can we say about Gandalf? Whether it’s Gandalf the Grey or Gandalf the White, Tolkien’s Wizard is one for the ages. The inspiration behind Elminster, Fizban, and any other meddling old Wizard in any adventure or novel. Gandalf provides sage advice and tackles the level 30 demon solo for a quick XP grind. In short, don’t mess with the kindly old Wizard your DM introduces and perhaps you should take his advice when he recommends the route the party should take.
Don’t agree with the list? Think our heads are in the sand hiding from all the other greats we’ve left off it? We want to hear about it!