Character Diaries – Honour

Character image created by brianvadell.

I recently had the pleasure of reprising a character for Part 3 of the Jungle of Nocturnal Madness – a very inventive roleplay taking place in a land where chaos has taken hold and many ancients secrets lie in the jungle. Here is my character’s take on the events:

Extract from The Diary of Sir Rengar

Karunam is a curious city, built like a societal pyramid with the poor inhabiting the outside sector (sector 3), those with good financial and social status in the second sector, and the masters of the city at the very top, literally, of the city in Sector 1.  I appreciate the hierarchical order of things as it means everyone knows where they belong in order for society to function.  This is good so long as the foundations are strong.  However, we have heard strong rumours of corruption and have witnessed the poverty and slavery of Sector 3 with our own eyes.

Since I have arrived, I have helped the two Drow siblings Missiozin and Nel handle matters with their Father, who is the leader of some sort of order.  He has the same chaotic but kindly spirit of his offspring.  He appears to want change for the good of those around him and at the expense of the Masters who run the place.  I feel very conflicted working with him, as although he tries to improve peoples’ lives, he takes on contracts for unnamed clients to rescue prisoners.  This sounds distinctly dodgy to me!

Still, they needed my strength and I am very lowly thought of in this strange place, so I took it on.  Working with a mage, we allowed ourselves to become gaseus forms and squeezed through gaps to get into this prison.  Once in we found a heavy door barring our way.  I attempted to use my strength and started to force the door open, only for the wee mage to finish the job with one hand!  My feeling of inadequacy was complete!

We didn’t find our target (Someone called Gabbot) but instead found a large Earth Genasi who I vaguely recognised, as if from a past life.   He was chained up and seemed unhinged.  We decided to break him out and hoped that he could help us navigate the mines.  Once released, he took to wearing his chain as a sort of garment and called himself ‘The Unchained’.  What had we let ourselves in for?!

We followed him as he wondered through the tunnels, attacking anyone he came across.  His thirst for vengeance made for a busy journey but eventually we found a chamber with many bound prisoners.  They claimed that they didn’t know what they were meant to be digging for.  The whole operation seemed very suspicious!  We released them and deciding they were our burden now, we looked for a way out.  We also found a ‘death room’, and my wizened colleague recognised Gabbot among them.  We wondered further up the passageway, but my comrades were blown off their feet by a well place fireball!  They spoke of three ogres and a deep pit.  I prepared a spell of my own, but upon my gaze the image melted away and only a mage was left.  Our mage took the bull by the horns, if I may say so, and polymorphed the chap into a snail!  I made to snatch it up, but it disappeared and suddenly I felt a blade cut my leg.  An invisible fiend!  The Unchained launched his ranged metallic rings and they wrapped around the sneak as if it were a Christmas tree!  I sat on him whilst they finished him off.  As for the snail, we named it Sally. 

We reported our mission to the client, who thought it was an utter failure.  Not so!  We rescued many slaves and recruited the services of ‘The Unchained’!  Back out in the open,  Sector 2 was celebrating the Festival of the Orb.  The orb is an object kept in the middle of the city (in Sector 1) and is said to be incredible.  I have already felt a strange euphoric feeling more than once that is uncommon for me outside of dealing out righteous justice.  We stopped at a tavern to allow The Unchained his first drink in many months.  In this premises, I learned that the Beast Games were being held at this time, where warrior and beast would do battle for glory.  Interesting but not relevant to our current mission.  Then, a keen young man in a guard’s uniform approached me asking if he could join us our party.  His name was Mano and it seemed he wanted to redeem his honour after he was acquitted for a crime he didn’t commit.  My heart went out to the chap and I felt I had found a kindred spirit in this strong city.

We entered the Beast Games taking on creatures found in the jungle.  Mano was a very useful fighter, striking well with every strike of his longsword.  Finally we faced off with a giant lizard, which could fire a strange chained weapon from a distance.  We quickly closed the gap between us and dealt with him from close range.  Through the blood and the sweat, it was warming to hear the crowd shout our names as if we were worthy of their support.

The best was yet to come.  We were escorted through the city by Mano’s fellow guards and handed off to special guards in Sector 1.  There we entered the palace, which was magnificent with its shiny marble domes and archways.  All the while the euphoric sensation was growing inside of me that was much greater than winning a bout with a beast.  Finally we were in the presence of the orb itself… word cannot describe the joy and majesty of the thing.  Let us just say that I have been positively scarred for life!

I left the rejuvenated Mano as he re-joined his regiment and sought out my adventuring companions.  I found them as guests in the house of a rich merchant in Sector 2.  It seemed he wanted our services to discover some artefacts from the jungle.  This wasn’t all that strange, as gold and steel were uncommon in the town but could be found in the ruins and temples beyond.  My companions didn’t seem to trustworthy especially when we were to be ‘escorted’ by five rough-looking mercenaries. 

On our way to the docks, we stopped by the market for supplies.  Nel made a break for it, setting a chain of events in motion.  A fellow paladin in the party stood up to the mercenaries whilst the others made a run for it.  I decided to drink a gaseus form potion and disappear from view.  I admit that I didn’t want my newly-boosted reputation to be tarnished by being seen to be fighting in the marketplace.  I feel ashamed by this – it was not the act of a brave paladin, more the excuses of an egomaniac!   Fortunately for me, the others dealt with the mercenaries and we were able to get away.

And so we find ourselves in the jungle once more.  I am delighted to renew my travels with Sgt Pepper, the loyal Water Genasi soldier from Karinspire.  I am also here with two highly intelligent scholars who are keen to get to the bottom of why the original society that built the temples crumbled.  We are looking for a little-known temple that may hold the answers we seek.

Aquatic NPCs

In a week when the Best Picture at the Oscars featured a fishy lead in The Shape of Water, here is a way to introduce a fishy feel to your D&D campaign. Set these NPCs loose on the story, for free:

Merfolk Warlock (Level 4) and a Merrow Fighter (Level 4)

These characters are part of a Sub-Aquatic Six Pack I have created. All six characters have been given character class levels and a rich backstory to bring them to life. If you’re interested in taking a look at the full version, it is available on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, for under $5.

If you are interested and do get a copy, please let me know what you think.

DM Notes #9

In the Roleplays you have played, what Player Characters stood out? Which ones are still memorable and why? By a stand-out character I mean player characters that were unique, and memorable in some way.

For my second choice, I pick Sir Rengar. For the campaign Jungles of Nocturnal Madness, the DMs allowed us to choose our own PC, but they had to be from specific books available in Unearthed Arcana, which is an area of D&D designed to create custom character and creatures not available in the Players Handbook or Monster Manual, in my case I was given Eberron, Waterborne and That Old Black Magic. As a race of creature, I chose a Krynn (Sea-faring race of Minotaur) and was asked to select 3 types of classes. From those, the DM selected paladin. I was excited!

For a visual idea, see this brilliant picture by brianvadell.

Sir Rengar Gutlub is a fearsome agent of order and took the Oath of the Crown, dedicating himself to society and the just laws that hold it together. In appearance he is a very resplendent bull of legend created to inspire allies and terrify agents of chaos. In his owns words, he had a privileged background but never forgot that his mother did not. He treads the line between the honest working folk and the pillars of society. In truth, he can be a bit of a hypocrite; he believes in upholding moral standards of society, but is immensely proud of his noble birth and can be arrogant and let praise go to his head.

In the first two instalments of Jungles of Nocturnal Madness, the PCs encountered each other in a sea battle between crusaders and pirates during a devastating storm. The survivors ended up on an unknown island. Sir Rengar’s mettle was tested in a jungle full of terrifying creatures (especially at night!). He battled with the need to work together with piratical chaos-agents for the greater good and survival. Without the glue that society brings, he had to refocus and found moments of chivalry and aid kept him in check. When they found a corrupt city with segregated layers of society based on wealth and status, his goal became clear – to purge the city of corruption! I’m looking forward to the next part of this saga.

DM Notes #8

In the Roleplays you have played, what Player Characters stood out? Which ones are still memorable and why?

This is the question I asked myself recently when thinking when creating new characters for my D&D modules.  I think it’s important to mention that by a stand-out character I do not mean that one character should dominate the game to the detriment of the other players, but that the player characters can certainly be unique, eccentric, dogged or their journey more poignant somehow.    For each player or viewer, they will have their own favourites and certain memories will stay with them that differ from the other players.  For example, Critical Role’s Vox Machina’s player characters are all very unique and distinctive and each had their moments to shine over the course of the campaign.

For my first choice, I am going to select a PC that I once played.  My favourite and certainly most memorable has to be Lupa.  I joined a sandbox game (a game with a very open plot based on what the characters chose to do) after the first session so I took over an NPC that they players met.  The Co-Dungeon Masters had to customise her special abilities to match her NPC background.  She was found in a glacier and could control and manipulate ice and hard rocks.  Like a Monk using Ki points in D&D 5e, the co-DMs gave her power points that she could spend each day on her abilities. It was so much fun trying to make larger objects move in this tundra-like wilderness such as throwing boulders into battle.  She was very useful in combat, but the point-based system prevented her being too overpowered.

For visual reference, I imagine her to look similar to this stunning image drawn by Anndr.

Her story didn’t go how I expected at all.  The party met a lot of refugees in the wastelands that they were unable to help. Then two of the party saw a giant rock cow marching across the landscape.  Lupa attempted to control and befriend the cow.  To all our surprise, it worked (natural 20)!  Suddenly we had a cow so big it had trees and grass growing on its back. We steered the cow back to the refugees and picked them up.  From that moment on, my mission became clear.  I was still interested in helping out the party but my priority was to look after these refugees and secure their future.  By the end of the roleplay, I had found them a home and created my own civilisation!

Non-Player Character Profile

N’tay

Location: The desert city of Karmal
Race: Human
Episodes: Series 4, Episodes 6 onwards
Appearance:  N’tay appears to be in traveler garbs and a 3 cornered- hat.  Her appearance gives little away  except that she is not as defenseless as her academic colleague, Jar.

Personality: She appeared shy at first and not ready to communicate information.  She could occasionally be seen nudging Jar and keep their information vague.  She truly comes to life in battle, however, and seems to prefer physical activity to diplomacy.

Background:  N’tay is from a place she calls ‘Freedom Island’.  The party know little else about this location but do know where she and Jar intend to go; they are on a mission to discover a fabled lake underneath the Da that is said to have existed when this land was a vibrant Elven kingdom called Chandanis.

What Happened during the Roleplay:  After the party won enough town credit to buy camels they asked Jar and N’tay to accompany them North as this was the direction both of their lake and of a mysterious power the party were searching for.  Together they discovered a magically hidden bandit camp and attempted to sneak in.  This resulted in a fight in which N’tay proved extremely deadly cutting down many magical camels and bandits.  Unfortunately she was not able to save her companion, Jar.

Chance of recurring in future episodes:  Very high.  She seems determined to carry out their mission and that means continuing the trail into the bandit camp to discover the magical secrets therein and hopefully a way to the  underground lake.

Character Portraits used: 60 Terrible Character Portraits for Creative Commons Release by ‘A Terrible Idea’

Non-Player Character Profile

Jar

Location: The desert city of Karmal
Race: Human
Episodes: Series 4, Episodes 6-8
Appearance:  Jar is bespectacled and scholarly in appearance, but a little unprepared.  Hey has lots of possessions
and yet his clothes are in need of repair and he did not have a way of travelling from Karmal to the lake.

Personality:
Jar was friendly and interested upon meeting the party and wasn’t afraid to talk about the mission that he and Ntay were on.  Sometimes his comments became wayward or vague, but it was unclear whether this was as a result of his meandering thoughts or perhaps that he was concealing some information.  The reason for the mission to find the Lake of Aston was put down to ‘archeological interest’.

Background:  No background is known except that Ntay is from the a place she calls ‘Freedom Island’.  They
are on a mission to discover a fabled Aston Lake underneath the Da that is said to have existed when this land was a vibrant Elven kingdom.

What Happened during the Roleplay:  Contains spoilers – if you haven’t watched/listened to Episode 8…
The party won enough credit to buy camels. They then asked Jar and Ntay to accompany them North as this was the
direction both of their lake and of a mysterious power the party were searching for.  Together they discovered a
magically hidden bandit camp and attempted to sneak in.  This resulted in a fight with bandits and a mysterious and magical race of camels.

Chance of recurring in future episodes:  None.  Jar was killed in the fight at the hidden bandit camp.

Character
Portraits used:
60 Terrible Character Portraits for Creative Commons Release by ‘A Terrible Idea’

Non-Player Character Profile

Disciples of GMESH

Location: The desert city of Karmal
Race: Demonic, specifics unknown
Episodes: Series 4, Episode 5, Brawl in the Boiler
Appearance:  Upon entering Karmel, the party make enquiries in the Boiler tavern and are accosted by two tall, mysterious, cloaked figures seeking a cleric of Pelor.

Personality:
They demonstrated no personality, but that may be because they were trying poorly to blend in.

Background:  No background is known.  Leigheas is keen to learn more about them though in case they return.

What Happened during the Roleplay:  Rather than reveal their cleric, Leigheas, to the demons, Hector pretended to be a masseur and insisted on giving one of them a rub-down, before plunging his blade into its back.  He, Leigheas and Pevel then killed one before the other managed to disaparate.

Chance of recurring in future episodes:  According to magical lady Irisha, the disciples of GMESH are known to take right-of-passage contracts out on Godly followers, so they can expect a more determined attempt as this demonic disciple seeks to finish what he started.

Character Portraits used: Based on 60 Terrible Character Portraits for Creative Commons Release by ‘A Terrible Idea’

Non-Player Character Profile

Captain Nimitz

Location: The desert city of Arlatla
Race: Lizard Folk
Episodes: Series 2, Episode 9, Red Hall Part 5
Appearance:  Nimitz towers above most lizard fol and wears the armour of Arlatla over his tunic.

Personality:  There is no doubt, Nimitz believes in power and position.  He used his rank as a lever to assert his authority and could be cruel if his position was not respected.

Background:  No background is known, but this ambitious lizard was native to Arlatla and understood the ladder which he wished to climb.

What Happened during the Roleplay:  He found the party as he was looking for ‘volunteers’ to go protect the Bullywug engineers in repairing the heating pipes.  He did not take Hector’s hostilities well and punished him severely. At that moment a seething Hector swore vengeance and made the sure the party paid him a visit before they left the city.

Chance of recurring in future episodes:  Zero.  Hector got his revenge.  Nomo dealt the fatal blow and Nimitz’s corpse landed on a hapless Pevel.

Character Portraits used: 60 Terrible Character Portraits for Creative Commons Release by ‘A Terrible Idea’

Non-Player Character Profile

Grinx

Location: The desert city of Arlatla
Race: Lizard Folk
Episodes: Series 2, Episode 9, Red Hall Part 4 & 5
Appearance:  Grinx appears smartly dressed, and has a study of his own as well as servants to attend him.

Personality: None of the party are familiar with lizard folk, but Grinx appears to be honest, if a little impatient.  His is discreet, and not above breaking rules if it suits him.

Background: Little is known about Grinx.  He has risen to a high rank in the Artlatla guard, but he has not elevated himself enough to have entered the Red Hall.

What Happened during the Roleplay:  He negotiated with the party to give them entrance into the Red Hall and provided them with a map.  In return he insisted on payment and an item as a deposit.  He bargained hard, but also believed Leigheas’ ruse that the ‘Erol Flinn’ armour was worth as much as a ship.

When the party returned from the Red Hall he sent his servant to aid their escape.

Chance of recurring in future episodes:  Low.  They may return to Arlatla at some point but it is unlikely that Grinx will want anything to do with these wanted killers now that their agreement is settled.

Character Portraits used:
60 Terrible Character Portraits for Creative Commons Release by ‘A Terrible Idea’

Non-Player Character Profile

Diafre

Location: Travelling Merchant
Race: Human
Episodes: Series 2, Episode 6-9
Appearance:  Scruffy with unkempt hair and a caravan

Personality: A smile is always present and civility close at hand, but there is a shrewd businessman underneath.

Background: Diafre is a merchant from a line of merchants.  He carries out his business with many family members accompanying him in the caravan, including his son.

What Happened during the Roleplay:  The party encountered Diafre on the way to Arlatla.  He had abandoned the trip there because a monster; a gibbering mouther was camping further along, but he made a deal with the party to get them connected in Arlatla if they could deal with the monster.

Chance of recurring in future episodes:
 High.  Diafre is looking after the horses and they will want to visit him before they return to the old road across the Da.

Character Portraits used:
60 Terrible Character Portraits for Creative Commons Release by ‘A Terrible Idea’