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.
“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.