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.

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hats

Characters Reimagined

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day and found this post on 15 Disney Villains Reimagined as Princesses. It isn’t the only time I have seen something like this; there have been similar ones on Disney princesses later in their lives, Disney characters reimagined as adorable pin up girls, the 42 gender-bending Disney characters, the super creepy images of your favorite childhood characters reimagined as criminals and villains (I take no responsibility for ruining how you view these characters should you click on that link), and the less creepy young cartoon characters reimagined as adults.

Princess Jafar

Via Jessica Nahulan at Deviantart

While I think the art is absolutely stunning, I have a few issues with the first post (why does every single one have to be tiny and “perfect”? Surely Jaffar could have still been princess with a prominent nose), I do love this idea of reimagined characters, and these posts are evidence I’m not the only one.

PCs Reimagined

The same way companies like Paizo have their iconics, we seem to be hooked on recurring PCs. With six different campaigns played, four have used mostly the same PCs (well, the same PC – we play a lot of one to one gaming, so some of these recurring faces are “GM-NPCs”).

This particular PC has been created with different classes (rogue/anti-paladin, mesmerist, rogue [knife master], and now with SFRPG an envoy). She has always been human, and always charismatic.  There have been slight variants in her background, some differences in skill sets, and various alignments have been explored (from neutral evil to the most recent lawful good).

She’s had different occupations (albeit most were various versions of an adventurers), different friends (though many of the same NPCs play a prominent role in these different “lives”), and different goals, but there is still something about her that feels the same.

I sometimes think about how various versions of this character would fare if dropped into a different world/campaign. Each one has been built, more or less, for the campaign and the world it is set in – would that mesmerist have made a better ruler than the rogue/anti-paladin? Could the knife throwing rogue have succeeded in occult investigations? I’m fairly certain SFRPG’s envoy never would have managed to break out of prison and win the hearts of minds of the citizens the way the rogue/anti-paladin did.

The familiarity of this character, combined with the endless possibilities and fresh start of a new character sheet, has made for some interesting and enjoyable role playing. (Though the first version remains my favourite for numerous reasons.)

NPCs Reimagined

With these similar and yet different worlds, Ken and I find that many NPCs make a resurgence. While this started as a nod to previous campaigns, but it has become more than that.

Winthrop, a simple hunter who petitioned my first (and favourite iteration) PC, who was queen of a country, for the right to lead hunting trips in a nearby wood, was one of her best friends and adventuring companions in our Supernatural inspired campaign, and played a prominent role in the post-apocalyptic one as well.

Argus, a ship captain the same version of a PC had a tryst with was renamed Andy and was her best friend, and long time companion in yet another campaign. He’s made a reappearance in the Way of the Worlds campaign as her fiance, and has resumed his captain status with a star ship.

Way of the Wicked CoverTrik, an NPC who is part of a the published adventure Way of the Wicked, eventually devoted himself to this first iteration of my PC and her companions, but was a nuisance at best in a homebrew campaign, and actually threatened her and attacked her in another campaign. (Hmm, perhaps that’s not unlike his original nature in Way of the Wicked!)

Lys, the conniving young assistant at a church in Way of the Wicked (who did her best to undermine my PC) is the most devoted assistant in the current campaign, while Bill, a dedicated and determined cohort in Way of the Wicked repaid my PC for saving her from multiple zombies in our post-apocalyptic campaign by stealing everything from my PC while she slept.

The recent space campaign has even seen the Varisian pirate captain from my first solo campaign reimagined; now a space pirate NPC, she has had a few interactions with my PC and is bound to have a few more.

And of course there’s Davia. One of the four main PC/NPCs in one of our first campaigns, this savage blonde beauty remains so fierce and vibrant in every single one of her variants (no matter how small the cameo) she was reimagined as the top dog in our 5-star 5e NPCs: Bullies and Brutes PDF.

I love seeing a different side of these NPCs, and since their nature, their sense of duty, and their interactions with my PC are different with each campaign, their familiar face doesn’t always put me at ease (especially after that fateful night trustworthy Bill took everything!).

Have You Reimagined or Repurposed NPCs or PCs?

I have to imagine this can be a fun thing for a GM as well – why create something brand new when you can repurpose something you have? It’s great when an NPC from one campaign can appear in another one, where continuity is possible, but what if there is no continuity?

That favorite PC you created? Bring him back as an NPC in a different campaign.

That NPC or PC who was wiped out quickly because of a few bad dice rolls? Maybe in a different campaign he or she developed a little differently and has had a bit more success.

Let those characters try on a new hat, give them a chance to help you answer “what if” and see where is takes the game.

Comment Below!

Have you ever tried this? Have any of your characters made an appearance in different campaigns as reimagined versions of their former selves?

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Briony Ashfarn

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!


“If you like how I look right now, just wait and see how much fun I’m going to have!”

The youngest of nine children, Briony spent her childhood trailing after her eight brothers and emulating them in every way she could. With them as her mentors she learned how to follow a trail, set a snare, hunt, fish, fight, and drink. This made her mother, Brynhild, very unhappy; Briony was Brynhild’s last chance to join their family with a wealthier one, as the boys had all been deemed too rude, too stupid, or too ugly to be paired with any eligible young noblewomen. Every time Briony came home covered in dirt and bruises with unkempt hair and torn clothes, her mother would admonish the young girl as she cleaned her up, explaining that it was important that she be demure, pretty, and accommodating. No well-heeled gentleman would marry a woman who was prone to speaking her mind, let alone fighting, after all!

Briony

©Rick Hershey, Empty Room Studios, 2017

As she neared adulthood, many young noblemen, mostly from minor houses, came to call on Briony, having heard, mostly due to Brynhild’s constant promotion, that she was a rare northern beauty with alabaster skin and ashen hair. During these visits, Briony would try to sit in silence as her gentlemen callers would extol her with tales of their wealth and influence in the region. Inevitably, however, she would grow bored and do something these fine young men deemed unladylike, such as disagree with their opinions, belch the alphabet, or challenge her visitor to an armwrestle… and win. Many suitors visited, and all of them left with the opinion that Briony was too inappropriate for their household.

Not wanting a man who did not accept her for who she was, or who would infringe upon her independence, Briony did not take her callers seriously, much to her mother’s despair. When she reached her twentieth naming day, Briony sold off her belongings and used the proceeds to purchase her axes and a custom suit of armour designed to be as revealing as possible; despite rejecting most of the things her mother taught her, Briony certainly remembered Brynhild’s admonishment that she must be pretty at all times.

Briony is now a veteran of many conflicts, not all of her own making. She has been a soldier of fortune, a pirate, a tomb raider, a treasure hunter, and many other things. She lives from campaign to campaign, filling her spare time with strong drink, athletic endeavours, gambling, and lovers of all races and genders. She lives her life to the fullest, satisfied that nearly anything she desires is within her grasp. But once in a while she finds herself wondering about her mother’s health, or whether any of her brothers have married, or if they have made her an aunt, and she pledges that she will return to her childhood home and find out.

One day, she may even do so.

Briony Ashfarn stat block


You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.

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flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Billet Hamperstand

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!


“What foul and wretched creatures stand before me? You do not deserve to breathe the air of this world, let alone grace the halls of my home.”

Royston and Petunia were a match made by the gods.  Both dedicated to the intense study of magic, the pair were a match for just about any 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 how they both felt. 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 villagers. After some years together Petunia became with child, and their son was born some months later. Little Billet with his brown ringlets was celebrated by everyone in the kingdom, and Petunia and Royston had never been happier.

One day, when Billet just a toddler, a band of orcs that had been growing restless in the nearby mountains attacked the city. 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.  Petunia and Royston hurried to assist the city.  Petunia hid Billet in a nearby home with some trusted acolytes and proceeded to the hilltop where she would have the best vantage to fend off the opposition.

Billet Hamperstand

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art ©Rick Hershey/Fat Goblin Games (https://fatgoblingames.com/)

She had almost reached her destination, and smiled at the sight of her beloved Royston aiding the town, when a she heard a squeal from Billet.  She pivoted on her heel, concerned her young child had followed her into the danger zone.  Her eyes met his only for a second before the assassin who had snuck inside the walls was upon her.  The unsuspecting halfling was no match for the silent murderer, and right there in front of Billet, she perished. It was a single wound to the throat, but all Billet could see was blood, so much blood.  The young halfling fainted.

Royston, also hearing his son, had turned and seen the whole thing. He and the nearby guards quickly dispatched the assassin, but it was too late.  Despite her husband’s best efforts, and those of the local healer, Petunia could not be revived.  The city managed to fight back the orcs, with a number of casualties, but none were more grievous to the city than that of Petunia.  Royston was devastated, but he collected Billet, and prepared himself for a life without his beloved.

His father, consumed with Petunia’s death, poured all of his energy into his own studies, and those of his son in whom he instilled the idea that he was destined for greatness, that he was to follow in the footsteps of his parents.  Royston became increasingly powerful, eventually surpassing the skill of his late wife and drawing the attention of numerous people, both admirers and enemies.  Royston no longer wished to assist the helpless citizens of nearby towns.  No one else in his family would sacrifice their life in service to the weak and incapable.

Billet struggled with his studies, much to the disappointment of his father.  When he reached puberty, Billet was sent to an arcane academy, where his father hoped he would finally excel in his magical studies.  Billet despised the school. Each day he was expected to spend countless hours pouring over old tomes, making notes, and inspecting and studying various components.  Most of the other students were thrilled at the chance to learn under the watchful eyes of the instructors, but Billet just wanted to explore the world and be left alone with books full of incredible tales of wonder.

Billet would write to his father, begging to return home, but he was always refused.  Royston loved his son, but he was consumed in avenging Petunia’s death and eliminating any threat to himself and his son. His actions resulted in many enemies, and eventually a powerful band of mercenaries caught up with him.  Inside his own home, the great and powerful Royston Hamperstand was slain.

When Billet hadn’t heard from his father in some time, he requested leave to go check on him.  He was denied, but snuck out of the school anyway.  Billet made his way to his childhood home and there he found what remained of his father.  Even with Billet’s lack of medical training it was clear the death had not been quick.  The place was a ruin and remains and blood covered many surfaces of his father’s dining hall.  The sight and smell of blood, dried as it was, caused Billet to faint.

When he came to, slightly bruised from his fall, Billet forced himself from the room and vowed to avenge his father’s death, to make his family proud. He swore he would not return to his studies at the school, and began to amass followers by announcing himself the son of Petunia Hamperstand, the beloved arcane protector.  Many of those who remembered his mother came to his aid. His father’s home was cleaned and Billet began to build a new life for himself.

Inside the walls of the great tower Billet’s arcane studies have ceased, despite the plethora of tomes, but his love of books in general has grown.  The walls of the tower are now filled with any books Billet can procure, and he memorizes the stories, telling the accounts of protagonists as if they were his own, recounting numerous tales of grandeur and adventure.

Inside the walls of his father’s tower, Billet’s hatred of orcs and mercenaries festers. He takes his frustration out on his minions, belittling them with verbal tirades before apologizing to them with grand promises. The occasional reminder of his family’s legacy and his birth right keeps the majority of them devoted, and those who falter are replaced and announced as traitors conspiring with orcs or mercenaries.

 

Billet's Stat Block


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flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Glando the Pervasive

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!


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

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art ©Rick Hershey/Fat Goblin Games (https://fatgoblingames.com/)

Glando the Pervasive was born to a charming catwoman and a hardworking catman.  The young catfolk adored his parents, who worked tirelessly to provide their son with a good life, and remained jubilantly positive no matter what hurdles came their way. While Glando was cheerful and generally well-mannered, others in the village found it difficult to trust him; there was something about the young catfolk that seemed shifty.

Over time Glando’s parents began to drift apart, and though they did their best to keep their son’s well-being first and foremost, a change was eventually needed; Glando’s father no longer agreed with the rules of his clan, and decided to leave the village, but his mother refused to give up the life she had built.   As he neared adulthood, Glando was forced to make a choice – leave with his father, or stay with his mother.

The young boy was devastated.  As it happened, a travelling show came through his village that night.  Several of the visitors were adept musicians, sporting various instruments including the lute.  Glando was mesmerised.  The music spoke to him and soothed him.

Overwhelmed with the decision before him, Glando returned home where he collected a few belongings and, in the first rays of dawn, hid himself in amongst the wagons of the travellers.  It was not until much later that day he was found and, after some pleading, was allowed to stay on with the musicians.  The group wasn’t sure if they could trust him and kept their small coin purses close, but they sympathized with the young Glando and his desire to be on the road, his heart full of melody.

Each evening the party would create beautiful music and occasionally they allowed Glando to try.  He was horrible, but he persevered.  His companions offered words of encouragement and attempted to teach him.

For months he travelled with the musicians, from town to town.  He assisted them with their packs and instruments, he helped draw crowds, and always he dreamed of being one of them, but he was never allowed to play with them for events.

Glando soon decided they were jealous of his ability to play the lute, and when the party left town the next morning he bid them farewell and ventured off on his own with the small pouch of coin he had been paid during his time with them.  The aspiring bard made his way to a local merchant who was selling a lute. The lute, he was told, belonged to a capable and magnificent musician who met his end performing in front of a great crowd well into old age – no doubt, it could bring him the same fortune and luck.  And so, with nary a coin left to his name, Glando renamed himself Glando the Pervasive and set forth to conquer the musical scene of every tavern he could find.

Alas, after a year on the road Glando the Pervasive has had difficulty securing any shows and is frequently booed off stage. Due to his squirrely nature, Glando has not even had much luck hiring himself out to adventurers or merchants to provide a helping hand.  He has begun to consider returning home to his village, but he isn’t sure what he will find if he does, and he fears neither of his parents will forgive him for abandoning them.

Glando stat block


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flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Carbid Stouthall

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!


Carbid was once a champion warrior, idolized by both young and old.  Anytime the threat of danger presented itself, Carbid was at the front line, defending his clan with gusto.  Many an enemy was slain by his hand, and numerous tales spoke of his bravery.

Over mugs of ale around the warm fires his people would feast and afterward, might pull out cards or dice and play games.  Carbid enjoyed the games immensely, and was always happy to make a wager.  He quickly developed a gambling problem, and unfortunately, did not have enough skill to back it up.  Many a bet was won against the great hero until the clan agreed betting with Carbid, and ultimately taking his money and belongings, showed great disrespect to the warrior who had saved them so many times.

Carbid often tried to convince clan members to wager with him anyway, though they always refused, prompting him to spiral into a rage.  His fellows would take cover, waiting for the anger to subside, offering him food and drink and other means of placating him.

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

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art ©Rick Hershey/Fat Goblin Games (https://fatgoblingames.com/)

One day Carbid was travelling with a few of his clansmen when they came to rest in a tavern a few days journey from their home. It was here he joined a game of cards, against the wishes of his fellows. The game started well enough, and Carbid, excited at the opportunity to gamble, continued to play hand after hand.  His opponent quickly turned the tables on him, taking all of Carbid’s valuables in two hands.  Certain he could get them back, Carbid begged for one more hand.  With nothing physical to offer, the stranger asked for a single favour.  Carbid hastily agreed. And lost. With nary a copper to his name, and a favour owed, the dwarf walked away, head low.

The next morning, he and his clansmen were set to return home when the stranger beckoned Carbid over and called in the favor.  He asked Carbid to travel east to a nearby lake, defeat the ogre that resides in a cave there, and return with the head.  Carbid was eager to return to his people, but he knew he had to stand by his promise. Enlisting the help of his fellows, Carbid set off.  The trip took several days, thought the creature was easy enough to locate and defeat.  The party returned triumphant a week after they had departed from the tavern.  The stranger was not there, but upon inquiring, Carbid was given a note of thanks.

A bit perplexed, Carbid disposed of the head and, with his allies, set off for home.  What they found was a grave sight; their clan hold had been burned and the residents slaughtered.  The stranger had set them up, eager to have the bravest warriors occupied while he lay waste to the settlement.

Carbid’s companions were furious. Carbid was devastated.

Now haunted by his actions, Carbid travels alone with inferior quality weapons, spending every copper he has on liquor in the hopes of drowning away his sorrows.  Carbid suffers from horrific nightmares, causing him to feel tired even after what most would consider to be a restful night’s sleep.

Carbid Stat Block


You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.

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