5e NPC – Burkhart Zykleres

Dire Rugrat Publishing has released 5e NPCs: Nobles & Ne’er Do Wells.  With 20 pages of unique stat blocks, write-ups, and colour art, there’s plenty of NPC goodness. While all of the characters in the book are a noble and/or ne’er do well of some sort, there is plenty of variety; challenges range from 1/4 to 9.

One such NPC is Burkhart  Zykleres, an abusive aristocrat who takes credit for other people’s good ideas and flees a situation he can’t win.

More on House Zykleres can be found in Houses and Heraldry, available on DriveThruRPG.

Burkhart Zykleres

Abusive Aristocrat

You know that was my idea.”

Burkhart is the youngest son of Count Fredrick Zykleres, a lord known for his unpleasant attitude. Along with his father’s sour disposition, Burkhart shares the family’s striking blond hair and blue eyes. Charming as some found young Burkhart, his boyish good looks have long faded. Burkhart has no desire to take over the house as it would require far more time and work than he is prepared to spend. Instead, he is happy to reside in the family home, enjoying the benefits of lordship without any of the responsibility.

Burkhart is a weaselly man who eagerly avoids the consequences of his actions by blaming them on someone else. If faced with a situation he cannot talk his way out of, Burkhart runs away by whatever means necessary. He is not above disguising himself as a servant, or even killing them to take their place, if it means living another day.

Should his older brother Ambrosius have one of his occasionally insightful ideas, Burkhart deftly takes credit for it. He has become such a master at this tactic, Ambrosius often believes the idea was his brother’s. Burkhart employs the same strategy with suggestions from some of his father’s advisors, which has become increasingly frustrating for them. He has a canny knack for twisting only the successful ideas to seem like his own, and any poor ideas always appear to belong to someone else.

Burkhart discovered a young age how easy it was to coerce people to do work on his behalf, and he has long enjoyed the power he holds over servants and staff. Burkhart shows only some respect to his father, brother and their head of staff, which is more than he shows to anyone else.

His mother, Amelia Zykleres, formerly of house Stylark was a gentle woman, and a trusting one. She adored her children, and always took them at their word. Young Burkart quickly realized he could use this to his advantage, and he blamed any of his misdeeds and mishaps on staff that displeased him. His charming plump face, large blue eyes and halo of blond hair were convincing. Pieces of shattered vases were disposed of, and their disappearance was blamed on a sticky-fingered page. A filthy room was the result of a lazy maid. A kennel master who lacked discipline with the dogs was responsible for the mess in the garden. Over and over again staff were forced to take responsibility for young Burkhart’s poor behaviour. No one dared to speak up for fear they would be next. 

Amelia Zykleres died when Burkhart was a boy, and he spent much of his youth with a parade of assorted governesses. If one displeased him, he bullied them into resigning or otherwise staged a scenario that resulted in their employment being terminated. While some noble parents may have realized something was amiss, Count Fredrick Zykleres gave little thought to his children.

The only member of the house who realized what the growing boy was up to was Ximena Diguera, the housekeeper and head of staff. Ximena had long been involved with Fredrick, and had even more power over the house than a housekeeper usually would. Disinterested in anything would upset their way of life, the two developed a mutual understanding to stay out of each other’s business.

Olanna, Burkart’s new step-mother, is not much older than he is, and his only interest in her is trying to bed her. Ximena, for her part, is encouraging his attempts.


Burkhart's stat block


What’s in the Bag?

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts details the contents of such magical bags.

A Footman’s Bag of Holding

This finely made bag opens to a reveal a seemingly endless void. The exterior is crafted of a sturdy fabric and a silken rope fastens the bag shut.

  • Long roll of red carpet
  • A fine cloak trimmed with fur
  • Gold cloak clasp inlaid with pearls
  • Noblemen’s outfit
  • Courtier’s outfit
  • A well-made top hat
  • Vial of perfume
  • Shoe polish and a cloth
  • Flask of brandy
  • A small bag with dried fruit and nuts
  • Grooming kit
  • A book titled Tales from the Dark Woods, which includes frightening stories of lost children and strange woodland creatures
  • 50 cp
  • 100 sp
  • 212 gp

What’s in the Bag?

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts detail the contents of such magical bags.

A Minion’s Bag of Holding

This worn, brown sack is about four feet deep. Its exterior is stained with dirt, and possibly drool. It has a faint musty odour to it.

  • A sheathed and finely crafted dagger with an intricate motif at the hilt, worth 12 gp to the right buyer
  • Crumpled up sheets of parchment with lists of assorted items, many of which appear to be spell components
  • A bedroll
  • Lantern with extra oil
  • 50 yards of rope
  • Set of manacles, without a matching key
  • An old, bent copper piece 
  • Vial of pixie dust
  • 2 vials of bat guano
  • 5 small sacks, large enough to fit over a person’s head
  • Thieves’ tools
  • Crowbar
  • Flask of cheap whiskey
  • 5 rations
  • Portable ram

Everfull Basket (Magic Item)

Have you ever looked at your laundry pile and wondered why it’s taking so long to get through? With three rugrats, we certainly have. 

Everfull Basket

Wondrous item, common

This wicker laundry basket is well-crafted with a handle on each side to allow for easy carrying.

Cursed. The amount of laundry contained inside the basket is double what it appears to be. Washing, pressing, folding, or sorting the laundry takes twice the anticipated time. To properly see to the clothing or linens inside the basket, you must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, you give up for the day with the intention to return to the task the following day. 

House Bierjeron

This week we released a new mini adventure. One of the patrons of the Beached Mermaid is desperate for assistance, and enlists the PCs to approach his beloved. In order to help, they’ll have to infiltrate House Biejeron. As an added bonus to the mini adventure, we included this house write-up. 

House Bierjeron

To Distant Horizons

Lord of the House: Lord Viktor Bierjeron

Spouse: none

Children: none

Household Knights, Retainers, Servants: Sir Elias Dahlström, Oscar Malmgren (butler), Hugo Forsberg (valet), Louise Maegden (head of staff), Lotte Kok (cook)

Bannermen: 636 (300 infantry [300 immediately available]; 100 cavalry [100 immediately available]; 100 archers [100 immediately available]; 36 personal guard, 100 garrison)

Vassal Houses:  none

Hillcrest Manor overlooks a picturesque small town situated on the coast. The area suffers little crime under the watchful eye of Lord Viktor Bierjeron and his men. House Bierjeron has held the estate and the surrounding lands for three generations. The current lord has to have any children, and his only brother perished some years ago. House Bierjeron’s power is said to be waning.

Lord Viktor Bierjeron
The lord of Hillcrest Manor is Viktor Bierjeron. He is currently unwed, though he is betrothed to Annette Cunningsworth, the only daughter of  a now landless lord and lady. Lord Bierjeron keeps to his word to the letter, but not necessarily the intent the other party had in mind. He has mastered the art of false sincerity, and cares little for others.

Lady Annette Cunningsworth
The future lady of the house is Annette, a young woman who is still secretly in love with a man she met several years ago named Yacub. She has been pressured by her family into a marriage with Lord Bierjeron, and is currently staying at Hillcrest Manor with her parents while the details of the union are finalized. She is a spirited woman who loves to sing and laugh. She and her handmaiden, Ariadne, are worried there will be little of either once she is wed to Lord Bierjeron.

Sir Elias Dahlström
Once the squire of the previous lord of Hillcrest Manor, Sir Elias Dahlström serves Lord Viktor Bierjeron only out of a sense of duty. He does not particularly like Lord Bierjeron as he finds him cruel, false, and generally unpleasant. Sir Elias Dahlström gives a portion of his wages to those less fortunate in the lands, assisting them in putting food on their table.

Oscar Malmgren
Oscar has been the butler for House Bierjeron for three decades. While his hair is white and his age is showing, Oscar is still more than capable of his job, and will gladly continue to work until his dying die. His wife Olivia was the former head housekeeper, and when she passed away a decade ago he was left with nothing but his position at Hillcrest Manor. He is a stoic man who pours flawless drinks, and has long perfected overseeing the manor in a fashion pleasing to Lord Bierjeron.

Hugo Forsberg
Lord Viktor Bierjeron’s valet is Hugo Forsberg, an intelligent and astute individual. Hugo knows who should be in the manor, and who should not. He only brings matters to Lord Bierjeron when he is unable to take care of them himself, as he knows his lord prefers not to be disturbed. While Hugo is surprisingly capable of defending himself, he does not hesitate to call the guards to take anyone suspicious into custody.  

Louise Maegden
The head house keeper of Hillcrest Manor is Louise Maegden. She knows, and personally vetted every staff member in the manor. She is a canny woman with an eye for detail. Under her supervision, Hillcrest Manor is kept immaculately clean.

Purchase the mini adventure now.

Not so long ago we shared Lord Alvin Cyris’ house. The house detailed in that blog, and this one, are much like the houses in Houses and Heraldry. Each house is laid out on one page; the top half contains the house name, its motto, a representation of their heraldic device as it would appear on a shield, and an information block detailing important personages, numbers of troops, and vassal houses. The lower portion provides enough detail about the interesting characters of the house to get your imagination going, but leaves plenty of room for you to add your own details.

These house write-ups are great for campaigns with a lot of nobility, particularity systems like Sword Chronicle and Song of Ice and Fire. The stat blocks in the appendix make them easy to use in your D&D campaign, but most of the content is system neutral. 

Purchase Houses and Heraldry

Nel, Temptress of the Tarn

“Come, traveller. You must be thirsty.”

This soft-faced fey creature watches over a large, clean lake. She smiles innocently at those who approach her domain. Nel has no desire to directly harm mortals. She instead encourages them to drink and bathe in the lake, where they might be transported to her mistress in the Green Realm.

fey creature in a pond

Nel once spent her days serving her mistress, an aspiring lesser fey lady. She was well regarded and respected among her kind, and one of her mistress’ favorites. Nel spent much of her time being doted on by lesser fey than herself.

Several decades ago, Nel’s rival Shara intentionally committed a grievous act against their mistress, framing Nel. The once favorite servitor could find no evidence to prove her innocence, and Nel knew better than to argue with her superior. She threw herself upon her mistress’ mercy and asked for a chance to prove her devotion. Shara had anticipated Nel’s destruction, but instead the mistress sent her favorite pet from her sight, banishing her to a lake in the mortal realm.

Before her banishment Nel had been on good terms with many creatures in the Green Realm. Her pleasant disposition made her easy to get along with, and she had used her position with her mistress to assist more than a few petitioners. During her time in prison in the Material Plane, Nel has been able to get word back to the Green Realm. She has called in a few favors and a one-way portal to her mistress’ court now exists at the bottom of the lake.

Nel spends her time on the mortal plane luring travellers who will appease her mistress into the lake, and pushing them through the portal. She is eager to return to her mistress and seek revenge against Shara, but dares not pass through the portal herself until she has sent 263 worthy mortals through first.

Nel does not risk endangering travel to the area by preying upon all who visit, and has let several satisfactory offerings go when the risk of exposure was too great. Nel uses whatever means necessary to draw her prey beneath the surface.

While Nel is homesick for a great many things, she misses the music more than anything else. Even when travelling alone, mortals who are able to entertain Nel for a time are not sacrificed to her mistress.

Pick up Nel (plus her sturgeon and snakeshead) and more NPCs like her, in 5e NPCs: Woodfolk and Wanderers, available now on DTRPG.

Pearls of Life (Magic Item)

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

You may use one of the pearls from this necklace to have advantage on a single death saving throw. If you have already failed two death saving throws, you can instead use five pearls to automatically stabilize yourself. The string starts with 49 pearls in total; each pearl is a luminescent off-white until it is used, at which point its color darkens to a glossy black. When all of the pearls have been used, the string becomes a mundane necklace of black pearls worth 150 gp.

If a pearl is removed from the string, it turns black and no longer has any magical properties. If the string is broken, all remaining pearls turn black and cease to retain any magic benefit.

What’s in the Bag? (Wealthy Artisan)

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts details the contents of such magical bags.

A Wealthy Artisan’s Bag of Holding

This plain, sturdy bag opens to reveal a seemingly endless pit. It is well crafted, but made of common materials.

  • 6 beautifully crafted paint brushes
  • 2 rolls of unused canvas
  • A roll of canvas featuring an exquisitely painted landscape
  • 4 gp
  • 20 sp
  • A flask full of brandy
  • Painting easel
  • Assorted jars of paint
  • Painting smock
  • One noble outfit, including jewellery
  • A coil of cured sausages
  • Sturdy wooden chair
  • Wooden stool
  • Palette knife
  • Bar of soap