flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Robert “Robbie” McGee

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!


“It is important to engage in one’s pleasures, is it not?”

Robert McGee was born to an average couple in an average city. His home was small, but still fairly average for commoners; he had a reasonably warm bed and enough clothing and food to get by. His parents worked long, hard days at their import shop, which sold a variety of strongly scented herbs, overly perfumed soaps and oils, and other exotic items. Robbie spent much of his time helping out at the family shop sorting and refilling spices, the smell of which embedded itself in his clothing and made his nostrils burn.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

The family earned enough to get by, but it was no fortune. The McGee family ate a lot of grains flavoured with some of the herbs from the shop, as well as bread and what meat they could afford (which was often poorer cuts his mother marinated in herbs and liquid to mask the quality). Robbie and his parents worked well into the night each day and began again early the next morning. Hygiene was not a huge priority as finding time to visit the local bathhouse was difficult and costly. As a result, Robbie was teased mercilessly from a young age for his poor hygiene and strange odour. Children would chant “Stinky McGee” in his presence, and very few children ever played with the pungent adolescent.

The growing boy distanced himself those around him, assisting his parents or exploring the fields outside of town alone. Over the years Robbie learned how to turn his emotions off, deadening himself on the inside to the world around him. He passed more time than he would ever admit to his parents inspecting the carcasses of creatures he found, and even killing some wildlife, and once a stray dog, he happened upon. The cold distance with which he performed these acts is what would have troubled the McGee’s more than anything else, but the parents remained blissfully unaware of their son’s pastime.

When Robbie grew older he decided to leave town. Taking a supply of goods from the shop, the youngest McGee thought he might have some luck as a traveling merchant. He knew his parents would need him in the coming years, but Robbie wished to see life outside his hometown, and secretly also wondered if he might be able to move the business somewhere else. With his parents’ blessing, Robbie set out.

What Robbie came to find was that there was indeed a market for goods such as his family’s out on the road. In a very short time, Robbie sold the majority of what he had set off with, and, having noticed the eager faces of many potential patrons, had done so at a higher cost than his parents normally charged in the shop. The days were just as long, and time on the road perhaps less pleasant than in town, but Robbie enjoyed the solitary nature of it.

Pleased with his progress, his bags near empty of their goods, and his pockets laden with coin, Robbie found lodgings at a nearby inn and decided to treat himself. Rather than order the least expensive food items available, Robbie decided to savour his success with a strong glass of ale and a meat and cheese platter. The smoked meat was delicious in the way so many roasts of his youth had not been, but it was the cheese with its strong flavours and unusual texture that delighted Robbie.

After enjoying much of the tavern fare Robbie stepped outside to the back ally to relieve himself. Here he inadvertently found himself listening to the end of a negotiation between two parties. One, a well-dressed man with a hood pulled low, was bartering with the other, a poorly dressed half-orc with several knives at his belt. From what he could gather, the half-orc was trying to increase the rate of services he was offering, and the human was frustrated by this. At Robbie’s appearance the half-orc appraised him, scowled, and looked back to the human stating if he changed his mind, he knew where to find his services. The half-orc rounded the ally toward the main street and the human looked in Robbie’s direction. A brief conversation ensued where the human became frustrated with Robbie for interrupting his business deal. While not always the canniest of people when it comes to people’s emotions and motivations, Robbie quickly determined less than reputable dealings were transpiring in the ally. Robbie cared very little for anyone but his parents, but he was distantly curious, full of satisfaction from his job well done, and emboldened by the copious amounts of food and drink he celebrated with, and so somehow, he convinced the man he might be able to help. That evening Robbie walked away with the first job in his new career.

The execution was easy; he simply slipped into the house via a window, dispassionately murdered the woman, and left the scene. Robbie found his ability to feel so little for so many, to be so distant from everything around him, was a huge asset in this line of work. The fee was substantial, and the work even easier than travelling with a large volume of goods and speaking with people long enough to convince them to purchase said goods. Robbie wanted to return to his parents; he wanted to help them with their business. He also wanted to do this.

That night, after he returned to the inn, his blade wiped clean on some discarded clothing, Robbie felt ill. At first concerned he had been poisoned, and then perhaps cursed, and so the next morning Robbie made his way home. Travel was slow at first, but as the days passed and Robbie ate the rations procured some days prior, the pain began to subside.

Feeling intrigued with the possibilities of completing more jobs like the one he recently done, Robbie returned home with the funds he had received the goods he left with. His condition cleared up while he resumed living with his parents, dining on seasoned meat and vast quantities of rice and other grains. He told his parents of the success of travelling with the goods, and the three of them agreed that for as long as Robbie wished to, this would be a good business practice. Within a few days Robbie set off once again, travelling here and there and peddling his wares, but he also kept his ear out and made contact with a few less than savoury people in the various places he visited. Before long Robbie had built himself a reputation with the “right” people, and had begun a second business of sorts – a hired hitman.

All the while the traveling merchant found himself obsessed with cheese and other delicious milk products, seeking out more varietie s in each town he came across, and enjoying it with every meal he could. Along with his new-found love of cheese, Robbie discovered something else about himself: his body had trouble digesting the milk protein. The malodorous man, who was used to the foul looks of those around him, realized he hadn’t been poisoned that first night, not exactly at any rate: from what he could tell his new favorite food caused him minor gut pain, and the most flatulent of farts.

For some time now, Robbie has travelled from town to town, completing jobs for those need to simplify their lives or have messages sent and peddling his parent’s wares, all the while indulging in the fare that causes him (and those around him) such anguish.

I Never Thought I’d Enjoy Pretending To Be A Cheerleader This Much!

A Review of Bubblegumshoe

It’s no secret that I love Veronica Mars. It retains a place of honour on my list of favourite tv shows, despite its cancellation over a decade ago. It may be less known that I actually love the entire teen-girl-sleuth genre, as pioneered by the series of Nancy Drew Mysteries. There’s just something intrinsically interesting to me about sassy girls that solve mysteries, I suppose. Where am I going with this? Well, a while ago I picked up the .pdf of Bubblegumshoe while it was on sale and, having two games on the go at the time, promptly let it sink to the back of my mind unread. Recently, needing to come up with something new for Kelly and I to play, and really wanting to take a break from the (to me) slog of Pathfinder RPG, I downloaded the book and gave it a read.

Bubblegumshoe cover

What’s It All About?

Bubblegumshoe is Evil Hat’s (publishers of FATE Core, among other games) take on what they call the high school noir genre using Pelgrane Press’ excellent GUMSHOE system. If you don’t know GUMSHOE, the short of it is that it is an investigative system wherein the investigators never have to roll to discover a clue. If they are in a scene that contains a clue and they have a ranking of 1 or more in an investigative ability (split into Academic and Interpersonal abilities in Bubblegumshoe specifically) that pertains to that clue, they get the clue. Every time. No need to roll. An investigator can then spend points from that investigative ability, if they have any, to add some context to the clue or glean some additional useful-but not-vital knowledge regarding it. There’s more to the system than that, but that’s it in a nutshell. Bubblegumshoe’s big adjustments to the system are the replacement of Health and Stability with Cool; moving to a short damage track to model the health of the teen sleuths; the addition of Relationships as an ability category; and the addition of the Throwdown as the primary dispute resolution system.

It’s Alright, Mom, We’re Just Gonna Netflix And Chill.

Relationships in Bubblegumshoe aren’t just a list of NPCs that an investigator knows. They are NPCs that a character can leverage to their advantage in some fashion and are allotted points just like an ability. Unlike other Investigative abilities, Relationships are further striated as Loves, Likes, and Hates with more benefit being gained from Loves than Likes, and Hates give the GM permission (and mechanical power) to mess with the investigators’ lives.

Relationships, when called upon, can be used in a number of ways, from allowing an investigator to use an ability they don’t have, to improving an investigator’s chance to succeed on a relevant General ability test, to allowing an investigator to deflect some Cool damage suffered in a Throwdown by throwing their Relationship under the bus. The use of Relationships as a form of mechanical currency in Bubblegumshoe is flavourful and flexible, and frankly one of the best mechanical uses of the PC-NPC dynamic I’ve ever seen in an RPG.

 

Sick Day!

Since the genre ideally doesn’t deal with a ton of (PC) death and dismemberment, character health is changed from its usual pool of points to a simple four point damage track. Investigators move from fine to scuffed to injured to dead as they suffer physical harm, though the damage track hasn’t been used in our game at all as yet. It is interesting to note that Fighting is listed as a General ability in the book (with plenty of admonishments about the consequences of violence both in school and in society) but is not listed on the character sheet at all.

Be Cool, Soda Pop.

In Bubblegumshoe, Cool is the resource that replaces both the Health and Stability used in most GUMSHOE games. A person’s Cool measures both their ability to keep a cool head in tense situations, as well as their general… um… Fonzieness… A person can lose or spend cool in a number of ways, from being caught in the act of doing something that maybe they shouldn’t, to getting into a location that would generally be off limits, to getting into a full on Throwdown with one of their Hates. Just beware though, your reputation will take some time to recover from the screaming, snot-bubbling melt down you have when you reach -10 Cool.

If I Want You To Speak, I’ll Wave A Snausage Over Your Nose!

The Throwdown is the classic social combat that we’ve seen in teen media from She’s All That, to Gossip Girl, to the aforementioned Veronica Mars. The Throwdown rules can be used to adjudicate events ranging from a showdown between the sleuths and that meathead from the bodybuilding club over his bullying of the Mathletes, to a rap battle, to a food fight. Indeed, it took little tweaking to use them to model the cheerleading tryouts in our own game. There is a Throwdown General Skill, but the really interesting thing about throwing down is the way investigators can leverage their Relationships to help them out, though doing this too often could alter or even destroy a Relationship… this is high school after all.

Wait, There’s More!

In addition to the rules, a decently detailed town, and a number of mystery seeds (including one fully fleshed case), the book is rounded out with a number of Drifts… or as I would call them, alternate campaign settings. There are quite a few of these, ranging from a prep-school setting that emphasizes player vs player conflict, to a supers-in-training setting, to a middle school setting more in the vein of Encyclopedia Brown, or The Boxcar Children than the default PG-13 setting.

In Conclusion

I can’t comment on the physical book, but the .pdf is well bookmarked and generally easy to use, though the organization wasn’t perfect in my opinion. There have been a few instances that I’ve had trouble finding a piece of information. The cover is colour and is a bit too cheery for a game that dubs itself high school noir. The interior art is black and white and is all done by Rich Longmore, I believe; it ranges from alright to good, and along with the text, it portrays people of a good range of ethnicities and social standings. The single column text is easy to read on a phone or tablet.

Now you’re wondering if the book is good… and the answer is a resounding YES! This game is excellent. It’s obvious that Emily Care Boss, Kenneth Hite, and Lisa Steele did a ton of research, and it paid off. It’s been a long time since a game had me playing from 6:30 pm to 2am, but Bubblegumshoe had me in just that position on night one, and I’ve had to fight the urge to stay up too late each game night since.

Everything about Bubblegumshoe works to achieve that fraught feeling you get in a hostile and alienating environment…. The modern North American high school.

Overall Bubblegumshoe gets an A (5 out of 5)!

Go grab your copy on DriveThruRPG and tell us what you think of playing a teenager!

January 2018 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading January 2018 Reviews

NPC: Shades the Blade (Blade Slinging Mercenary Goblin)

Looking to add an NPC to your Starfinder session? Look no further!

Shades the Blade was originally featured in 5e NPCs: Goblins! Goblins! Goblins!, but has been lovingly crafted into a Starfinder NPC. If you love Starfinder, keep an eye out for our upcoming Tangible Tavern: ICON.


Shades the Blade

Blade Slinging Mercenary Goblin

What, that? That’s just a fracking flesh wound, chum, it’ll be gone in a tick.”

Tarrgk Facegump was like every other member of the Flayback Tribe: vicious, impulsive, greedy, and short-sighted. The day the burning ship fell from the sky onto the Flayback camp he ceased to be impulsive and short-sighted. That was the day that Tarrgk Facegump died and Shades the Blade was born.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

When his tribe’s camp was destroyed, Tarrgk and a small band of warriors were returning from an unsuccessful raid, laden down with their dead companions. Upon seeing the burning craft strike their home like the finger of a vengeful god, Tarrgk’s companions fell to their knees and begged forgiveness for their failures. Tarrgk, however, did not. He had seen something break off the crashing structure and arc to the east, and after the crash, he could see a faintly blinking white light some distance in that direction. Sensing opportunity, he snuck away from his companions to investigate.

About a mile away, Tarrgk found his prize: a segmented metal cylinder the size of five goblin tents. As he approached the cylinder, a door sized portion of it folded out into stairs with a hiss, creating a softly glowing entryway. The goblin cautiously hefted his spear and entered the cylinder with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, sure that he had discovered something truly valuable.

As Tarrgk passed through the door, a terrifying, man-sized creature with a smooth, glassy black face lunged at him, stabbing him with some kind of fine spear attached to a liquid filled shaft. Tarrgk thrust his weapon at the thing reflexively, stabbing it deep in the thigh and killing the already mortally wounded monster. As the rush of adrenaline subsided, Tarrgk’s head began to swim, and he passed out.

When he awoke mere moments later, Tarrgk was changed. He understood the cosmonaut he had killed had not intended to attack him; she had injected him with a nanite solution that connected Tarrgk’s brain directly to the escape capsule’s central computer, effectively making him smarter and more canny than he had been. The connection also informed Tarrgk that the nanites would work to keep their host safe, knitting almost any injury suffered and making his body and mind hardier.

Tarrgk used his enhanced knowledge to assemble a resonant blade, an extraordinarily sharp knife that doesn’t suffer the effects of friction, and that returns to his hand at his mental command, and a pair of tinted goggles. He also found the craft’s stealth module and rendered the ship invisible to all but the most advanced sensors, though he can always locate it due to the nanite’s connection to its central computer.

Finding his fellows far more limited than himself upon his return, Tarrgk quickly abandoned them, and his name. With the new name, Shades the Blade, he set out into the world ready to sell his services to whomever was willing to part with sufficient funds. Shades takes on nearly any task, regardless of the danger, as the nanites heal even the most grievous wounds rapidly, though he is quick to retreat in the rare instance that his injuries are slow to disappear.

 

inkwell and feather pen

December 2017 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading December 2017 Reviews

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Nigel Ralston

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!


“This world needs heroes and goodness, and I shall do my part, but pray tell, are you friend or foe?”

As a child Nigel’s favorite game was hide and seek. The young boy was always begging his siblings and neighbours to play with him, and usually they would agree.  During the better weather, the children would all play together outside, running and hiding in trees and bushes or ducking behind buildings and crates. In the less pleasant weather Nigel would play with his siblings inside, hiding beneath beds, behind curtains, or under tables. Most of the kids loved the game, and some were quite good at it; Nigel was not.

The young boy’s feet could often be seen dangling from a tree branch, his legs protruding from a bush, or his back raised higher than the furniture in front of him. His eyes were closed or covered each time, and assume since he couldn’t see anyone, they couldn’t see him. Little Nigel truly believed he excelled at the game. His friends and siblings, who were all older than him, were usually kind enough to humour him, and so Nigel continued to think of himself as a stealth master.

When Nigel wasn’t playing hide and seek he was listening to tales told by his neighbour, a kindly older man. The tales of heroic adventurers and city savours who were capable of a great many deeds inspired Nigel, and the boy began to dream that one day he could grow up to be the stuff of legend. The wise old man often reminded Nigel small acts of kindness and bravery went a long way, and so Nigel endeavoured to do all he could for those around him.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Nigel’s hometown was a quiet, sleepy village, and remained so through his youth. Playing games of tag, hide and seek, and exploration was as close as Nigel came to any grand adventures, though he was always quick to stand up for his friends. Nigel called out any wrongs he saw, tried to include everyone, and ensured any game played was fair for all participants.

When Nigel turned eighteen he knew in his heart it was time to find his fortune on the road. Armed with a pack, a bow and arrows, and a sturdy pair of boots, he set out determined to help make the world a better place.

In many towns, Nigel was hardly needed. The residents respected each other, and when they didn’t, the law was just and fair, but in one city he came across Nigel discovered immense corruption. Determined to bring justice to those who resided there, Nigel approached several people who were contributing to the problem, asking them politely to change their ways.  When they brushed him off, Nigel would wait for them outside their businesses and offices, eager to try once again to help them see reason.

Unsurprisingly, these methods proved futile for Nigel and bothersome for the subjects. Nigel’s insistent meddling did little to ease the burden of the suffering citizens, but the corrupt council grew weary of the time they wasted on the matter. After several weeks of this they hired a pair of thugs to show the meddlesome do-gooder the error of his ways.

The beating was severe, but Nigel was left alive. Determined not to give up, he bid his time, recuperating from his injuries and trying to find a new approach. By the time Nigel could move about without too much pain, he realized it would be best to operate under a guise. Certain a series of disguises, combined with his prowess at hiding, would allow him to fight the corruption from the shadows, Nigel strengthened his resolve to bring peace to the residents.

While passionate about his disguises, Nigel is not much more capable at creating them than he was at hide and seek as a child. Details allude the young man and he has, on more than one occasion, forgotten to scrub and trim his nails before impersonating a noble, or worn high quality footwear when impersonating a beggar. Most of Nigel’s disguises can be seen through by all but the most casual of observers, though the young man puts a good deal of effort into them, going so far as to create detailed backstories for the roles he plays.

For some time now, Nigel has been watching the local powers, amassing what knowledge he can while remaining hidden from their prying eyes. He has yet to make any overt moves, and any information he has is mere speculation. Nigel is making plans to acquire concrete evidence of wrong-doings, but the last time he approached the office of one of the council members, Nigel was surprised to find himself spotted by a very perceptive guard and he abandoned the operation.

Nigel is once again bidding his time, unaware the council’s current lack of concern regarding his actions is due to their belief in his incompetence. As a precautionary measure, one of the council members has sent her low-level-lackey to follow Nigel, a fact the would-be-hero is blissfully unaware of.


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? 

letters from the flaming crab logo

Imaginary Friends: A Child’s Best Friend

Are you familiar with Letters from the Flaming Crab? If not, it is a monthly series of Pathfinder-compatible supplements; each Letter focuses on exploring a different topic to give gamemasters and players new, exciting options that can be dropped into any campaign. We’ve talked about them before (Murder Bunnies, Dinosaur Companions, Gnomes vs. Gremlins, and Household Magic Catalog), and we’re back again about the most recent one.

Letters From the Flaming Crab: Imaginary Friends features a new type of creature: imaginary friends!

These ghost-like creatures assign themselves to children and act as companion and guardian to their chosen ward. Each has a different appearance, shaped by the imagination of the children they protect.

Nine children, including two of our rugrats, contributed to this entertaining collection of “monsters.”

Rugrat #1 and Rugrat #2 had a great time with this project, and Rugrat #1 even went so far as to write two of the imaginary friends found within the magical pages. His growing love of Pathfinder, combined with an urgent need to acquire enough money to purchase a new package of Pokemon trading cards, meant working in the gaming industry was the best thing ever. While we don’t love his obsession with those cards, we had to applaud his work ethic on their project, and his desire to take part in RPG design.

Truth be told, both Ken and I think Rugrat #1 could make an excellent GM in a few years, and FCG giving the next generation a chance to test the waters is a really cool thing.

Letters From the Flaming Crab: Imaginary Friends book coverRugrat#2 brought his favourite stuffed elephant (named Ella) to life, while Rugrat #1 created two monsters whole-cloth. His creativity in their abilities, what they were, and how animatedly he described them admittedly surprised us, even though we know he’s an avid reader with a pretty cool imagination. Rugrat #2 mostly held onto Ella in a loving/territorial fashion while we asked a lot of questions, but I could sense his excitement hidden behind the understuffed lovie.

The colour illustrations included in the PDF were all created by the contributors, and watching our rugrats focus so intently on creating these imaginary friends was so enjoyable. They colour a lot, but we see way too many Pokemon, so watching on as Rugrat #2 painstakingly drew his beloved Ella, well it was a nice change.

For people worried about the stat-blocks for the imaginary friends, rest assured they were created with input from the children named in the project and then (at least in our house) written by the adults before (per usual) being edited and developed by the amazing J Gray at FCG.

I’m a little biased, but I whole-heartily recommend you hurry over to DriveThruRPG and pick up this fun little PDF. Then, when your PCs make trouble in town, you can put them up against something a bit different: the imaginary friends of the local children.

inkwell and feather pen

November 2017 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading November 2017 Reviews

Tangible Tavern 5e Bundle

5 5e Adventures Ripe For A Tangible Tavern

If you aren’t familiar with our Tangible Taverns line, this series of PDFs is dedicated to bringing life back to the local watering hole while making the GM’s job a little easier.

We help you bring the tavern to life with:

  • Detailed descriptions
  • Rumour and event tables
  • Tavern maps
  • Colourful and unique NPCs
  • Complete stat blocks (for Pathfinder and 5e compatible versions)

All of our taverns are designed to be slotted into just about any adventure, but this week we bring you a few specific 5e RPG adventures that can easily host a Tangible Tavern or two.

If you missed our list of PFRPG adventures ripe for a Tangible Tavern, you can find that here.

Continue reading 5 5e Adventures Ripe For A Tangible Tavern

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Jago Sudsworth

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.

Jago Sudsworth

©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


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