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.
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.
You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.
What did you think of this NPC? Did he make an appearance in your game session?