Steve Jacksons Sorcery! Wiki
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Steve Jacksons Sorcery! Wiki

Flanker is a character encounterable in all four Sorcery! games. He is an assassin who can fall into the debt of the Analander, and may eventually become their friend or lover.

Biography

Background

Flanker is a member of the Assassin's Guild. He has no ties with anyone besides this, freely travelling aroundthe Shamutanti Hills and Kharé to take orders from various clients. He also regularly 'practices' his trade by killing unsuspecting travellers.

He met the disguised Archmage in a temple months before the events of the game, who contracted him to reach Mampang and retrieve the Crown before the Analander.

Confrontation in Shamutanti

Flanker attacked the Analander in the Shamutanti Hills, expecting to kill them easily. However, they bested him in battle. They either chose to kill him and potentially looted him or spared him. If spared, he claimed to be in their debt for allowing him to retain his life and left, perhaps dispelling some knowledge of the goblins' activities in Kharé first.

If the Analander had a particularly brave or reckless personality, they may also have completely ignored Flanker's threats, causing him to leave with little fanfare.

It was later revealed that he had killed Esh, a young Svinn who was looking to save Tia, the Svinn chief's daughter.

Upon leaving the Hills, the Analander may have noticed a figure skimming hilltops far faster than them.

Meeting the Council

If Flanker lived, he is first noticed as a dark figure rushing across the hills as the Analander approaches Kharé that quickly disappears from view. He met the Analander once more at Festival of Thieves and offered to meet them in the Wayfarer's Rest inn that night. They saw each other again there, and potentially agreed to stake Flanker's debt to the Analander on a game of Swindlestones. If he won, then he left amicably, his debt cleared. Otherwise, he decided to take the Analander to see the Council of Kharé to reason with them. After a short confrontation with some guards that ended in negotiation, rejection or murder depending on the Analander's choices, they discovered the Council was not present, and hadn't been for at least a month. Flanker then potentially stopped the Analander from stepping into a portal trap and declared his debt cleared. Either way, he left at that point, his help exhausted.

When the Analander discovered the Marsh Goblin army hiding in the sewers, they may have recalled Flanker's tip about them.

Regardless of whether Flanker lived or died in the first volume, the Analander may also have visited the Shrine of Slangg and elected to answer the easy question: "A shadowy swordsman you can barely see/ But pray tell me, if you can, who is he?" The answer is Flanker.

Water Under the Bridge

Flanker, regardless of the status of his debt, was found by the Analander at the ancient bridge of the Baklands in the present day by the Analander. He could have been accidentally killed by the Analander while harmlessly sneaking up on them, only his assassin's sword remaining. If he wasn't immediately attacked, he instead revealed himself peacefully and allowed the Analander to ask him what he knew about the Baklands and the Seven Serpents before taking his leave once more. It is later revealed that he was hired by Fenestra to entrap the Sun Serpent in an orb, which can fall into the possession of the Analander.

Upon meeting Aliizi, remarked to the Analander that she saw a figure hiding in the shadows. The Analander may have responded that they know someone who often hides in the shadows, but he is a friend.

At the end of the game, the Analander may have discovered the assassin's sword hidden in a stone statue, a gift from Flanker, who they observed as a darting shadow, ahead of them as ever.

Manipulated by the Crown

Flanker found the Analander once again on one of the nights before they entered Mampang proper, on the hills of High Xamen. This time, the Analander was not capable of accidentally killing him thanks to his foresight, and instead the two wearily discussed what lay ahead. If their conversation became especially personal, they fell asleep next to each other and he slipped away just before dawn broke.

Flanker managed to enter Mampang after a near miss with the guards. He tentatively decided his contract may be worth breaking to help the Analander. The Analander may have spotted him as a 'shadowy figure' on the rooftops in southern Mampang. He enlisted the help of a Birdman disloyal to the Archmage to get him to the top of the tower. He sneaked into the study, but met the expectant Archmage once more and fell under the spell of the Crown of Kings as he simply informed him that 'the contract has changed'.

The Analander later entered and found Flanker once again in the Fortress of Sorcerers . Under the influence of the Crown, he prepared to kill the Analander. His fate is determinant on the player's actions:

  • Flanker can potentially be lethally injured in combat. If Aliizi is present, she will inform the Analander that he will not survive. The Analander can disregard him coldly or mourn him bitterly. He can also be instantly killed with magic if Jann leaves or is not present in the first place, or can even be preemptively pushed out of the window before he can attack if the Analander retains their knowledge that he is there from a failed attempt to face him already. The Analander can't tell if he lets himself fall in a moment of awareness or is genuinely overpowered. If the Analander later defeats the Archmage, returns to Analand and retains the Zed curse, they will wonder if they can save him by going back.
  • He can be saved by performing a series of counterspells, being forced to take the completed Potion of Magical Dissolution, or being forced to fight the released Sun Serpent from the Sun Serpent Orb. All these acts break the Crown's magical bind. He joins the Analander and potentially Aliizi or Jann in defeating the Archmage.

If he was saved, he became furious with the Archmage, and considered himself in debt to the Analander once more. He vowed to kill the Archmage if the Analander wouldn't do so and then accompanied them to his study. If Flanker and the Analander went alone, they resisted the Crown's power through sheer will. Otherwise, if Aliizi or Jann were present, they managed to overcome the Archmage instead. Once again, his fate lies in the hands of the player.

  • If the Analander had the Archmage killed then picked up the Crown and decided they would 'destroy it later', Flanker will immediately take it and destroy it. The Analander can claim they were going to destroy it, admit they weren't really, or be vague, at which point Flanker will draw his own conclusions and leave in disgust, leaving the Analander to return to Analand alone or with Jann.
  • Should the Analander take the Crown for themself outright, he will follow them if asked and kill himself if not, and can even accept an offer to become general of their army. If the Analander prepares to kill themself thanks to the Zed curse, he will accept this mindlessly, the Analander noting that he lacks the free will to beg them to stop.
  • If the Analander releases Valiquesh and decides to stay on as her student, Flanker will leave. He dislikes magic and admits he has a home in the Shamutanti Hills.
  • If the Crown is retrieved and taken back to Analand or destroyed, he will accompany the Analander back home. He will agree to kill the Analander if they remember the Zed curse upon arriving, and either carry out the task or express relief if they back out at the last moment. Otherwise, the two remain in Analand, potentially with Jann.

Personality

Flanker is initially considered to be ruthless and callous, but if the Analander spares him, they discover that he has a deep-set sense of honour and honesty, forever citing his debt to the Analander as truly binding. The Analander may even note that he takes things 'too seriously', probably referring also to the high pedestal he places his pride on. He has an aversion to magic.

He is also surprisingly friendly to people he respects, quickly becoming amicable with the Analander regardless of his debt. He becomes gradually less and less cautious around them. It is often difficult to gauge whether his relationships are truly built on emotion or his various self-decided 'debts' or, more likely, a mixture of both.

He follows the Goddess Sindla, deity of Hopeless Causes, a reflection of his values.

Abilties

Flanker is skilled with the sword, and learns what he doesn't already know over time; he loses to the Analander in their first battle, but should he be taken on again in the final game, he has observed their technique and holds an advantage over them.

Flanker is also very stealthy and disciplined, moving in the shadows constantly and killing with ease. He is able to travel at a much faster pace than the Analander.

Trivia

  • Flanker is based on a much-expanded character in the original Sorcery! gamebooks who only appeared in the first and second volumes.
  • Flanker is mentioned occasionally in scenes he isn't present in, like dreams, when the identity of a figure is uncertain, or when the Analander simply feels lonely.
  • Flanker's entry into Mampang and influence by the Archmage was detailed in a social media campaign called 'Flanker's Fate' which promoted Sorcery! 4's release. Facebook and Twitter users voted on how he would progress in a Sorcery-style text adventure from his point of view.
  • Flanker appears to have the rare ability to defy the Crown's influence completely at times. If he and the Analander confront the Archmage together, he ignores the Archmage's orders and kills him. He can show moments of awareness while duelling against the Analander in the Fortress (although it isn't enough to free him). Interestingly, unleashing the Sun Serpent orb on him breaks the spell despite no use of magic. Even the ending in which Flanker loyally follows the Analander as the new Archmage leaves it ambiguous how much of his actions are due to debt and devotion or the Crown's influence.
  • Flanker's status as an optional love interest at the game's conclusion is comparable to the roles of Goland and Vitti Jokinen in 80 Days, another Inkle video game. This was referenced in a blog post by Inkle which discussed love interests in the upcoming game Heaven's Vault, and compared the three characters.
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