Cloak Clasp of Confusion

Inspired by Paizo’s War of the Crown, but using the rules from the Cubicle 7’s (no longer available) Adventures in Middle Earth, our latest campaign is a low-magic, gritty, sexist world.

Most people think magic is almost entirely gone from the world. In truth, it still whispers in the trees of the deepest forest, and calls to some individuals in their dreams. Magic items are incredibly rare, but a few magical heirlooms remain.

This is one such item. Worn by an unsuspecting lord sent to do his father’s bidding, this clasp shields his mind from those who might read it, but at a cost.

Cloak Clasp of Confusion

Wonderous item (requires attunement), uncommon

This intricately made cloak clasp depicts the image of a griffon.

While wearing this cloak clasp, you are immune to magic that allows other creatures to read your thoughts, or know your alignment. 

The cloak clasp of confusion protects your main intentions from being read by focusing on another irrelevant thought. This can often drive the wearer to have a shift in their apparent personality. It does not affect your ability to focus to or complete your intended task, but a gentle soul may give off a lecherous demeanour while other individuals may seem obsessed with a person or subject.

Swift Retribution (a weapon)

Inspired by Paizo’s War of the Crown, but using the rules from the Cubicle 7’s (no longer available) Adventures in Middle-Earth, our latest campaign is a low-magic, gritty, sexist world.

Most people think magic is almost entirely gone from the world. In truth, it still whispers in the trees of the deepest forest, and calls to some individuals in their dreams. Magic items are incredibly rare, but a few magical heirlooms remain.

This is one such item. Wielded by a lowly lord with nothing but a title and his family’s heirloom dagger.

Swift Retribution

Weapon (dagger, requires attunement), very rare

The hilt of this finely crafted silver dagger is embellished with images of wind gusts.  

When your allies are harmed, you gain +1 to attack and damage the creature that harmed them.

Additionally, the swift retribution is imbued with a spirit of protective vengeance. When you roll a 20 on your attack roll, and the target has injured one of your allies, the target takes an extra damage equal to your proficiency bonus.

Face at the Tavern: Yakub Bekril

With the release of Tangible Taverns: The Beached Mermaid comes a collection of new faces.

This shipwreck turned tavern is located just on the outskirts of a settlement. The tavern is open to the air, allowing the fresh sea breeze to blow away the stench of the salty sea dogs who frequent it. The company is seedy and there are no rooms to rent, but the food is good and few people ask any questions. 

The tavern itself has a handful of servers, Captain Ormont, and the cook named Tor. Tangible Taverns: The Beached Mermaid also includes a collection of colourful patrons ready to make an appearance while your PCs sip their ale.

Yacub Bekril

Yacub’s face is weathered and scared from countless ship battles and tavern brawls. His facial hair is neatly trimmed, and his brown hair is long, but well groomed. Like many pirates his clothes are loose and slightly tattered. He wears a patch over his left eye.

An optimist from a young age, Yacub typically has a cheerful disposition. He feels at home on the ocean and despises being away from the waves for any length of time. He has worked for countless captains on all manner of ships. While much of his life has been spent aboard pirate ships, scuttling other ships and making off with cargo, Yacub has also sailed with merchants, assisting them in seeing their cargo safely to port.

If not for Annette Cunninsgworth, Yacub might never need set foot on the shore, save to assist in restocking a ship. Whenever he finds himself in a spot of trouble, unsure of how to carry on, Yacub recalls the day he first laid eyes upon his bonnie lass.


Can your PCs discover Yacub’s dark secret?
Or will it be their undoing?

Pick up Tangible Taverns: The Beached Mermaid today.

Savage Combat

Savage: ˈsavij

Definition: (of an animal or force of nature) fierce, violent, and uncontrolled.

The fifth edition of the world’s oldest role-playing game relies heavily on combat, but often what should be cinematic and memorable is laden down with dice rolls and rules that prevent truly memorable acts from occurring.

Knocking out a PC with one hit, for example, is nearly impossible. Until now.

Knockout (X/Day). [CR + 2 ] If this creature hits a creature with an unarmed strike, its target must make a Constitution saving throw equal to 8 + this creature’s proficiency bonus + this creature’s Strength modifier or be knocked unconscious. If this creature attempts this against a creature that has not taken any damage, it has advantage on the saving throw. An unconscious creature gets a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns to regain consciousness.

Our recent release Advantageous Abilities: Savage Abilities Volume 2 provides even more brutal abilities for the GM’s arsenal.

Give your PCs the unexpected as they come up against a monster with a slightly different strategy than others of its kind.

Pick up the whole Advantageous Abilities line now on DriveThruRPG.

 

Our Crew Solution

A problem reared its head shortly after we began playing a pirate themed D&D 5th Edition game: there are a lot of NPCs in play when the crew of one ship boards another ship.

Assessing the Options

I looked at the limited rules about handling mobs in the DMG and disliked them. I then read a lot of advice on the subject, most of which boiled down to “avoid mass combat at all costs”, or “let the NPCs do their thing in the background while the PCs star in the important action.”

The advice didn’t work for me. I like situations where perhaps the PCs are struggling against their opposition while the friendly NPC crew have quickly mopped up the enemy crew and can help the PCs. Or the inverse where the crew is nearing defeat which forces the PCs to divert some or all of their efforts to save them. I could just decide these things as the GM, but that felt cheap as well.

Looking Elsewhere

Unable to find a solution in the core D&D 5e books, I looked at other solutions such as the minion monster rules in D&D 4e, which are workable but still require too much management and rolling at the table. I also looked at 13th Age which has excellent and elegant rules for mooks, and I almost adopted them until I found the entry for the Bar Brawl in the Creature Codex by Kobold Press (which is a fantastic monster resource and highly recommended by us rugrats). This third-party work gave a group of aggressive humanoids the swarm feature, allowing them to use their numbers to threaten the PCs and their crew while elegantly working within the 5e framework.

Creating the Crews

I took this idea and ran with it. The resulting crews and monster swarms worked well in play testing (aka: our campaign). We compiled them together, added some officers and captains to bedevil the PCs, and created some magical and mundane seafaring equipment.

The Seafaring Supplement contains nine crew stat blocks, including two sets of sea creatures. Challenges range from 2 to 10. From crews of undead to experienced marines, these stat blocks keep ship combat from becoming bogged down, while still bringing excitement to the combat. 

You can pick up the Seafaring Supplement on DriveThruRPG.


NAVAL MARINE TROOP

Little clenches the stomach of a pirate faster than the sight of a frigate carrying regiments of naval marines. These hardened soldiers are equally adept at fighting on land or the heaving deck of a ship. Naval marines are more heavily armed and armored than most sailors, and take a great deal of care ensuring their weapons and armor don’t succumb to the brine and spray. 

The Dagger of all Daggers

Our interest in writing RPG products stems from our love of playing RPGs. One of my favorite campaigns, and certainly our most epic one, is Way of the Wicked. Written by Gary McBride of Fire Mountain Games, this adventure path allows the PCs to be anything but good. (Specifically, it actually recommends they all be lawful evil.)

The Bull & The Bear coverSome years ago, we ran through this campaign, taking the time to explore the cities more than the adventure path may have intended, which is where the Bull and the Bear was born. The PCs began amassing a reasonable collection of taverns, some of which have been published by us since.

We enjoyed dropping a fair few 3rd party products into this PFRPG campaign, including the 101 New Skill Uses by Rite Publishing and Legendary VIII: Evil by Sam Hing and published by Purple Duck Games.

It was in the latter we pulled Black Spider – a magical weapon (and a then some). Though intended for use by the BBEG, it was allowed in our evil solo campaign. (I should note here this product received a poor review and indeed has some glaring oversights.)

This blade was legendary in the course of the campaign. One moment I still clearly remember was when many of the party had fallen, with only the rogue (myself) and our anti-paladin remaining. Both of us were near the death. The righteous paladin still stood before us, and with the blade knocked from my hand, and my companion drawing her last breath, I was sure we were done for. Then this diminutive construct unleashed its fury upon the virtuous knight, scuttle across the floor before actually puncturing through his calf (hello double nat 20!). Perhaps it stole a bit of the thunder from the characters, but it earned this weapon much favor from its master.

Very recently we decided to revisit a version of Way of the Wicked: an alternate reality with some minor and some glaring differences. All of the PCs are rogues. The valiant Mitrans in the country are unknowingly demon worshippers (those pesky demons and their deception filled long game!). Our PCs did not start in prison (which made sense, but if you haven’t played WotW as intended, give at least the first module a go – it’s amazing!).

Some things have stayed the same, and one such similarity is the presence of Black Spider. With the switch to 5th Edition as the framework (as well as some of those glaring oversights), we’ve had to adapt the blade. Here is our modified version below. Again, a big shout out to Purple Duck Games for creating an amazing (and overpowered!) collection of weapons, as well creating one of my favorite weapons to date.


BLACK SPIDER

Weapon (dagger), legendary (requires attunement by a creature that meets all the listed requirements)

Requirements. A creature that wishes to attune itself to Black Spider must meet the following criteria.

  • Any evil alignment.
  • Proficiency in Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
  • Sneak Attack feature.

Black Spider grows in power with the creature it is attuned to. When a creature attunes itself to Black Spider, it gains all of the benefits listed for a creature of its current level.

  • When you reach 2nd level, Black Spider gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage. The dagger maintains a telepathic bond with you, and regularly urges you to commit acts of violence.
  • When you reach 4th level, Black Spider can animate itself and act independently from you. When it animates, the barbs lining the blade twist and act as spidery legs. Black Spider maintains its telepathic bond with you and follows your instructions, unless it can cause more carnage by doing something else. Black Spider’s starting statistics are below.
  • When you reach 6th level, the telepathic bond between you and Black Spider allows you to see and hear everything occurring within 60 feet of the dagger as an action. This effect can be ended as a bonus action. While using this feature, you have disadvantage on ability checks, saving throws, and attack rolls until the start of your first turn after ending the effect.
  • When you reach 8th level, Black Spider can urge you to overcome certain conditions. If you fail a saving throw and become charmed, frightened, paralyzed, or stunned, you can use your reaction to reroll the saving throw. If a condition allows a new save to overcome it at the end of each of your turns, you have advantage on it. If you are unconscious, Black Spider can use a bonus action to deal 1 hit point of piercing damage to wake you. Black Spider Enhancement: Armor Class increases by +1 (natural armor), Hit Points increase by 7 (3d4), Dexterity increases by 2 (add +1 to Armor Class,stealth skill, and Stab action to hit and damage), Challenge increases to 2 (450 XP), Sneak Attack damage increases to 14 (4d6), Multiattack action is added adding one additional attack per round. Black Spider’s CR 2 version is below for your convenience.
  • When you reach 10th level, Black Spider’s bonus to attack and damage increases to +2. Black Spider Enhancement: Stab action to hit and damage increase by +1.
  • When you reach 12th level, attacks made with Black Spider score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20. Black Spider Enhancement: Hit points increase by 7 (3d4), Challenge increases to 3 (700 XP), Sneak Attack damage increases to 21 (6d6).
  • When you reach 14th level, when you make a sneak attack against a creature, you can gain half of the sneak attack damage as temporary hit points. Once this feature has been used, it can’t be used again until you have finished a short or long rest.
  • When you reach 16th level, if you have surprise when you make your first attack with Black Spider in an encounter, you deal maximum damage. Black Spider Enhancement: Hit Points increase by 7 (3d4), Challenge increases to 4 (1,100 XP), Sneak attack damage increases to 28 (8d6)
  • When you reach 18th level, Black Spider’s bonus to attack and damage increases to +3. Black Spider Enhancement: Stab action to hit and damage increase by +1
  • When you reach 20th level, if you are hidden from your target when you hit it with Black Spider, it must succeed at a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 plus your Dexterity modifier plus your proficiency bonus or die. Once you have used this feature, you must finish a long rest before you can use it again. Black Spider Enhancement: Proficiency bonus increases by +1 (affecting skills, and Stab action to hit), Hit Points increase by 7 (3d4), Dexterity increases by 2 (adding +1 to AC, Stealth skill, Stab action to hit and damage), Sneak Attack damage increases to 35 (10d6), Black Spider can make three attacks per turn with Multiattack.

Black Spider is both greedy and jealous. You have disadvantage if you make a melee attack with a weapon that is not Black Spider. This penalty does not apply if your attack is made with a weapon in your other hand when you are fighting with two weapons.

 

 

 


What’s the most memorable weapon you’ve used in your game?

Open Origins: Royston and Petunia Hamperstand

Sometimes an NPC’s story begins long before they are born. The fate of these characters can be traced back to the decisions of their parents, characters who, while interesting, are unlikely to ever meet the PCs, and as such, their tale goes unnoticed and untold along with hundreds of others about the places the PCs explore.

Our Open Origins series focuses on these bit characters and gives some history and context to some of our NPCs.


Royston and Petunia were a match made by the gods. Dedicated to the intense study of magic, the pair of halflings were undefeatable by just about any foe that crossed their path. Petunia had begun her studies early in life and excelled quickly. When she met Royston the two maintained a friendly feud for a time, but eventually admitted their feelings for each other. Their love was intense and pure, as strong as their combined forces against those that would move against them.

Petunia was kind-hearted and generous, no matter how powerful she became. At her insistence, the pair helped those in need, and always came to the aid of the rulers of the kingdom in which they resided. They quickly developed a reputation for charity and Petunia especially was beloved by the smallfolk. After some years together Petunia became with child, and their son was born some time later. Little Billet Hamperstand with his brown ringlets and chubby face was celebrated by everyone in the kingdom, and Petunia and Royston had never been happier.

When Billet was a toddler the city was attacked by a band of orcs that had been growing restless in the nearby mountains. Officials, as well as Petunia and Royston, had been keeping an eye on them, but they had seemed disorganized and scattered. The sudden organized attack had been impossible to predict. 

The pair rushed to assist the city, hiding Billet in a nearby home with some trusted acolytes before proceeding to the hilltop where they would have the best vantage to fend off the opposition. They had almost reached their destination when Petunia heard a squeal from Billet. She pivoted on her heel, realizing her young child had followed her into danger. Unbeknownst to the residents, the orcs were a distraction meant to allow an assassin inside the walls of the city.

Petunia’s eyes met her sons only for a second before the assassin upon her. The unsuspecting halfling was no match for the silent stalker, and right there in front of Billet, she perished. It was quick, too quick even for Petunia to see the horror that crossed her toddler’s face, too quick to see her son faint or her husband attack her killer. A single wound to the throat.

Royston, also hearing his son, had turned and seen the whole thing. He and the nearby guards quickly dispatched the assassin. Alas, despite Royston’s best efforts, and those of the local healer, his beloved Petunia could not be revived. 

Royston was devastated, but he gathered Billet, and prepared himself for a life without his beloved wife.

Consumed with Petunia’s death, Royston poured much of his energy into furthering his own magical ability and determining who sent the assassin after his wife. What remained was focused on his son Billet in whom he instilled the idea that the boy was destined for greatness, and that he was to follow in the footsteps of his parents. 

Royston became increasingly powerful, eventually surpassing the skill of his late wife. Despite Petunia’s passion for assisting others, Royston turned his back on helpless citizens of nearby towns and others in need, determined no one else in his family would sacrifice their life in service to the weak and incapable. Instead, he and his son remained locked in their town, forever studying and researching.

Much to Royston’s frustration, Billet struggled with his studies and when the boy reached puberty, Royston sent his son to an arcane academy, where it was hoped he would finally excel in his magical studies. Billet despised the school and wrote to his father constantly begging he be allowed to return home, but Royston, for his part, had become even more obsessed with finding the identity of the individual who had his beloved wife killed, and so he refused his son’s requests.

After much magical investigation, Royston was confident his wife could be attributed to a seer assisting a powerful noble in gaining control of the land, and Royston set off to enact his revenge. While much of the intel the widower had gleaned was correct, he was not prepared for the seer to be Primula Flemarand, Petunia’s own sister and a fellow student from many years prior who had been most interested in Royston during their studies. Royston had spurned her advances due to his interest in Petunia (who was unaware of Primula’s interest).

Where Petunia was patient and caring, Primula was impulsive and selfish. Where Petunia was gentle and encouraging, Primula was forceful and demanding. The sisters were as different as night and day. Primula, ever second to her smarter, prettier and more charming older sister had been furious at the time and her anger for Royston and Petunia had festered and boiled to pure hatred in the years since.

Primula’s power had finally blossomed, and with her gift of foresight she knew breaking the bond between her sister and Royston would change the tides for her new employer; the fact that it allowed her to finally seek her revenge against the man who spurned her was mere icing on the cake.

And so, when Royston confronted the oracle who was responsible for setting the wheels of his wife’s death in motion, he was caught off guard by the familiar face. In that brief moment of hesitation, Primula gained the upper hand. Royston, quickly found himself underprepared for the battle and so he retreated to his tower, hoping to collect himself and attempt once more to avenge his wife.  

Primula, knowing such a thing was likely to happen, had already advised her employer, who sent agents to dispatch the wounded halfling, and so, inside his own home, the great and powerful Royston Hamperstand was slain.

From her crystal ball, Primula now watches over her nephew, ever curious to see what the young man will become.

Learn more about their son Billet Hamperstand, the humourless halfling in 5e NPCs: Flawed Foes.

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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.

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.

 

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


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