Some NPCs make excellent allies, others are debilitating nemeses, but some are just sad. In this series of posts we bring you Flawed Foes. These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying some good old role-playing fun though!
“You think your beauty is cherished by all that behold it, but it is merely a sweet lie held on the lips of a world that cares nothing for you.”
In his youth Jago was often called handsome. His square jaw, deep brown eyes and flawless skin made him the object of desire for many of the girls about town. When Jago smiled, it was as if the room lit up. His muscular stature, earned from moving heavy goods and otherwise helping with the family business – a small import shop – further enhanced his appeal. Despite his status as a commoner, many of the noble girls in town took notice of the good looking young man.
©Rick Hershey, Empty Room Studios, 2017
Jago enjoyed the attention, and the affection. By the time he neared the end of adolescence Jago had numerous lovers, and had caught the eye of the very wealthy and notable Tillie Anne Sharperre.
Tillie, an attractive young woman of noble breeding, was the epitome of a lady in public, but she was also an emotional rollercoaster behind closed doors. While Tillie was often passionate and adventurous during the secret moments she found with Jago, she was also prone to jealousy. Tillie demanded that if she and Jago were to continue, she be the only woman in his life. While Jago balked at the request initially, he quickly realized Tillie meant more to him than any of the other women. He called things off with his other lovers and assured Tillie his feeling for her were pure and true.
Tillie’s parents had promised her to a nobleman in town who was slightly older than the bride-to-be. She was disinterested in the relationship, but knew it was her duty to follow through. Tillie convinced herself that even after the union she would be able to continue her relationship with her beloved Jago, and he promised her the same.
As spring flowers began to bloom the wedding day drew closer; Tillie and Jago did what they could to find time together, while keeping their relationship a secret. Three nights before the wedding, Tillie and Jago met for what they believed to be the last time before the wedding. After a passionate kiss goodbye, and promising to visit Jago as soon as she could get away, Tillie set off, unaware it would be the last time she would see the handsome face of the man she loved.
Tillie’s future husband had begun to suspect something was amiss with the young girl and, determined not to be made a fool of, had hired someone to follow her. When news came of her lover, he was furious. The nobleman hired thugs to ensure the relationship ended. The brutes cornered Jago in an alley and beat him, punching and kicking him, and even slashing his face until he was barely conscious. They told him if he loved his parents, he’d never see Tillie again.
It took some time for Jago to recover. He convinced everyone he was the victim of a mugging and had no idea who the attackers were. While the family business was successful, neither he nor his parents had enough funds to procure the services of a magical healer, and the attack left Jago horribly disfigured. Where he once caught the eye of many a fair maiden for his picturesque features, they now did their best to avert their curious gazes from his scarred and misshapen face.
Despite the warning, Jago was desperate to see Tillie. His mind raced with the possibilities of her state – was she happy in her new marriage? Was her husband kind to her? Did she know of what happened to him? He convinced himself he could stay far enough away from her that no one would notice his presence.
Once Jago was well enough to travel about the city on his own, he set off to see Tillie. He was concerned about the welfare of his parents, but his love for the young woman was strong. He positioned himself in an alley that looked out at a busy street and here he waited for his beloved to pass by. Even those who didn’t give the alley a wide berth paid him no notice, as he hid in the shadows deep in the alley with a large cloak wrapped around him for warmth, the hood pulled low over his face.
After some time the fetching young lass moved down the adjacent street. Jago heard her laughing and his heart leapt with joy, but he also became nervous. Was there anything she wanted to say to him? Did she miss him? Was she as happy as she sounded? Had her marriage caused her to forget him?
Jago hadn’t even realized his feet were moving until he had stepped out of the alley. His hood fell back over his shoulders and he came face to face with the love of his life, who was accompanied by a friend and two servants. He wanted to reach for her, despite all the reasons not to, when she recoiled, a look of terror upon her face. Heartbroken, Jago fled immediately, consumed with the knowledge that the beautiful Tillie Anne, his lady love, found his disfigured face repulsive.
Jago ran. He was hardly even aware of his actions as he returned to his home and hastily packed a few belongings. To this day he can only vaguely recall stealing the horse from the stable in a nearby inn, his appearance startling the stable boy into a corner and leaving him so speechless he couldn’t even bring himself to call for help. Jago rode the stallion into the night, and set off again the next morning. For days he travelled, blind to where he was going, knowing only that he must escape the small town and distance himself from the woman who now viewed him as a monster. Jago, heartbroken and betrayed, swore to himself he would never love again.
It never occurred to him in his haste to depart his home, to distance himself from the look upon his beloved’s face, that Tillie was not repulsed by him, but terrified of a figure emerging from the alley, surprised at Jago’s presence, and astounded at what had been done to him. It never crossed his mind after that brief moment that she still loved him and that her heart broke each day over their last encounter.
When Jago eventually stopped in a town he had never before seen, he found a shop selling masks. Here, his hood pulled low, he petitioned the shop keeper to fashion him a custom face mask, one that would ensure no one ever looked upon his face again.
Every year as the first spring flowers bloom, Jago’s heart breaks at the memory of Tillie and what they once shared, but he continues to move forward, desperate to put his memory of her, of their love, of the way she looked at him that final day, behind him. For years he has travelled the lands, targeting wealthy nobles with brutal acts of reprisal. It is hard to say for certain which bothers him more: those truly in love or those together for social status, but both become the victims of the masked man who leaves one or both of lovers broken, disfigured, or dead in the hopes it will bring him some solace for what he lost so many years ago.
You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.
Open Game License
What did you think of this NPC? Did he make an appearance in your game session?