Lionel Gayheart, or Chod, is a half-orc "bardbarian" (barbarian/bard) on the payroll of the Meat Man, Aes Adan. He is played by Jon Heder in Campaign One and, as an NPC, by Matthew Mercer in "The Adventures of the Darrington Brigade".
Lionel is about seven feet tall, "not quite Grog-level but comparable". He has darker olive skin and his hair is buzzed on the sides, with a Superman S-curl in the front. He smiles constantly. Thanks to his Orcish blood, his smile has tusks in it. His equipment consists of half-plate armor and a greatsword strapped to his back.
Lionel is portrayed as not particularly smart but extremely cheerful. When he went into a rage during his fight with Grog, it was described as a "happy rage"; fighting is a kind of play for him. He hates alcohol, refusing Kaylie's Amulet of the Drunkard when he realized he would have to drink spirits to use it, instead asking about an "Amulet of Chocolate Milk".
Lionel has a tendency not to ask questions. For example, during his months of employment with Aes Adan, he never noticed that Aes was, in fact, a gnome disguised with an illusion. This could have been gleaned from a simple handshake, but Aes told him not to shake hands and Lionel never questioned it.
Lionel was abandoned by his parents as a baby in the deserts of Marquet, and his first memory is of waking up as an orphan in a basket by a desert oasis. A family of ducks found him and raised him as one of their own. Though Lionel at one point went back to that same oasis and couldn't find any ducks, he remains confident that they were real. Ever since, the duck has been Lionel's totem animal.
Lionel grew up in the desert. As a result of his harsh upbringing, he became very strong. When he first wandered out of the desert into the city of Ank'Harel, people started abusing him and taking advantage of his strength. Lionel, in an attempt to fit in with the city-dwellers, changed his name from his birth name. He tried out at least ten names before finally settling on Lionel Gayheart. He is very adamant on people using this name for him and is visibly uncomfortable and unhappy with people calling him 'Chod', repeatedly asking them not to do so.
Eventually, Lionel met Aes Adan, the infamous criminal known as the Meat Man. Aes was kind to Lionel and treated him like family. Not realizing that Kaylie was the daughter of Aes, Lionel had a crush on her and considered her a "killer babe".
It is worth noting the cast later stated that Lionel is a duck on which Scanlan Shorthalt used the spell True Polymorph, turning him into a half-orc. Considering that Scanlan is also capable of casting the spell Modify Memory, it is possible that his memories of meeting Aes Adan and being an orphan amongst ducks were fabricated magically by Scanlan, although this has not been confirmed by the cast.
At some point before encountering Vox Machina, Lionel was part of a group scouting a ruin within the Smouldercrown Mountain. Upon discovering that the ruin was a ziggurat occupied by the Remnants, Lionel's group tried to flee. Only Lionel survived, and he told Aes of what he'd found. Understanding the severity of the situation, Aes brought Lionel to Whitestone so that he could warn Vox Machina and guide them to the ziggurat.
Lionel managed to find Vox Machina at a farmer's market in Whitestone, just as the group was returning from the Darrington Estate in Wildemount. At first, the group regarded Lionel coldly, until he mentioned that he was working for the Meat Man. Knowing that their missing friend, Scanlan Shorthalt, had previously used that alias, they agreed to follow Lionel to a tavern in Whitestone, where Aes was waiting.
During their meeting with Aes, Lionel was scolded for having mentioned the title of the Meat Man; he had been instructed only to refer to his employer as "Aes Adan".
At the end of their meeting, as Aes was leaving the tavern, Vex unmasked him as Scanlan in disguise. Lionel, feeling betrayed by his boss, left with Vox Machina to a different tavern. Grog instigated a bar fight with him, which Lionel was delighted to join. He pulled ahead in the fight, but Grog, flummoxed by Lionel's attitude, left the tavern before they could finish it.
"Unfinished Business" (1x100)
Lionel accompanied his employer and the rest of Vox Machina back to Ank'Harel, then guided them from there to the place in the Smouldercrown Mountains where he had found the ziggurat. He participated in the fight against Delilah Briarwood when she was revealed to be leading the cultists inside the ziggurat.
"Thar Amphala" (1x101)
With Scanlan about to rejoin Vox Machina on their quest to defeat Vecna, Lionel would need a new employer. Taryon Darrington, about to return to his family home and in need of recruits for his brigade, agreed to bring him back to Wildemount with him.
Lionel went with the Darrington Brigade to investigate an mysterious meteor that fell close to Deastok. During this adventure they discovered that a pond of ducks were killed by the meteor, and Lionel was very upset about it.
- Brutal Critical
- Danger Sense
- Extra Attack
- Fast Movement
- Feral Instinct
- Reckless Attack
- Primal Path: Path of the Totem Warrior (Duck)
- Aspect of the Beast (Duck)
- Spirit Seeker
- Spirit Walker
- Totem Spirit (Duck)
- Unarmored Defense
- Bardic College: College of Valor
- Combat Inspiration
- Bardic Inspiration (d8)
- Font of Inspiration
- Jack of All Trades
- Ritual Casting
- Song of Rest
- Spellcasting (Charisma-based)
- Speak with Animals (only as a ritual)
- Beast Sense (only as a ritual)
- Hold Person
- Commune with Nature (only as a ritual)
Appearances and mentions
- Campaign One
- "The Adventures of the Darrington Brigade" (Sx49)
- Lionel's Totem of the Duck is a home-brewed Barbarian Totem that Matt created for Jon's character. Matt later published it to the DMs Guild with new art of Lionel on the cover.
- When asked if Lionel might really be a duck that Scanlan cast True Polymorph on to be a henchman, Sam Riegel did not outright deny the possibility. It is Matt's favorite fan theory and Lionel's unofficial backstory.
- See "The Adventures of the Darrington Brigade" (Sx49) at 0:53:30.
- See "Masquerade" (1x99) at 1:27:24. Lionel's level 15 stat card was shown onscreen.
- See "Unfinished Business" (1x100) at 5:00:28.
- See "Masquerade" (1x99) at 1:23:58.
- See "Masquerade" (1x99) at 2:54:28.
- See "Unfinished Business" (1x100) at 0:52:12.
- See "Unfinished Business" (1x100) at 26:48.
- See "Talks Machina #43: 'The Chapter Closes'" (TMx43) at 50:21.
- See "Unfinished Business" (1x100) at 5:00:20.
- See "Unfinished Business" (1x100) at 1:11:19.
- See Totem of the Duck on DM's Guild
- From Sam Riegel's AMA on July 12, 2017.
- See "Talks Machina #43: 'The Chapter Closes'" (TMx43) at 50:21.
- From Matt's tweet on Dec 4, 2019
- Official 2017 portrait of Lionel Gayheart, by Kit Buss from "Masquerade" (1x99). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
- Fan art of Lionel, by Chandra Pandhita (source). Used with permission.
- Fan art of Lionel Gayheart and the ducks, by Linda Lithén (source). Used with permission.
- 2019 Official Portrait of Lionel, by Aviv Or (source). Used with permission.