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 #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!

Player Character Profile

Name: Long Vernal

Played by: Rob

Race: Human
Sex: Male

Class: Barbarian

Strengths: Strength

Weaknesses: Charisma

Background: Outlander. I ran 25 miles to warn the clan of an orc horde. I’d do it again.

Ideals: It is a person’s responsibility to make the most happiness for the whole tribe.

Bonds: I suffer awful visions of a coming disaster and will do anything to stop it.
Flaws: No room for caution, live life to the full.

Additional Notes from Player: Long Vernal, from the Clan of Badenoch, a settlement in a natural basin about 540 square miles of it. It consists of almost entirely beautiful mountainous country, many hills exceeding 3,000 feet, and contains in the forests of Alder, Drumocher, Gaick and Feshie some of the best deer country in the region. The clan comprises of 300 males and females whom frequently battle the elements and the occasional hordes of Orc. Their symbol is of a stag crushing an orcs head which is tattooed on a clan member’s chest at an early age. The clan leader is called Angar Lupin whom is rumoured to be a werewolf! Long Vernal was thrust into exile after a particular nasty attack from an Orc horde. The Clan was butchered and scattered in all directions. Long Vernal believes his leader is still alive, as he appears in Long’s dreams. The search continues…

Development during series 1: This contains a spoiler alert… Long followed his clan instincts loving the wide plains and outdoor adventure and detesting enclosed, unnatural spaces. His high energy and lack of room for caution meant that he got into more scrapes than any other member of the party. He encountered more visions of his clan leader, Angar Lupin, in the build up to the ‘Summit’ and saw the ground swallow him up. This turned out to be an apt vision for Long himself and yet even at the end, his heart leaped to freedom from his damaged body.

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

Player Character Profile

Name: Ikki
Played by: Ralph

Race: Aarakocra

Sex: Female

Class: Monk

Strengths: Dexterity and Flight

Weaknesses: Intelligence

Background: Outlander. I’m driven by wanderlust that led me away from home.
Ideals: Change, life is a constant change and we must change with it.

Bonds: My family is the most important thing in my life, even when they are far from me.

Flaws: Violence is my answer to almost any challenge.

Unique features: Being an Aarakocra makes Ikki very unique outside of the mountains. But it’s not just her hawk headed appearance and talons, it’s also her wings, which allow her to fly up to a distance of 50ft every turn (6 seconds).

Additional Notes from Player: On starting the campaign Ralph had the idea of creating an Aarakocran Pro Wrestler, inspired by a picture on the web. A goal Ikki mentioned would be to defeat the Undertaker at Summerslam.

Development during series 1: So far Ikki has been very much the outsider looking on and resolving disputes with violence, which is very much in line with her background. She is also receiving visions of an impending Trial of the Talons, a fight to claim an Aarakocra partner that links her fate to that of her family as it was her sister who instigated it.

Player Character Profile

Name: Orix Crota
Played by: Finn

Race: Human
Sex: Male

Class: Wizard

Strengths: Dexterity and Intelligence

Weaknesses: None

Background: Criminal. The best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t do it. I don’t pay attention to the risks in a situation. Never tell me the odds.

Ideals: Freedom. Chains are meant to be broken, as are those who would forge them.
Bonds: I’m guilty of a terrible crime. I hope I can redeem myself for it.

Flaws: If there’s a plan, I’ll forget it. If I don’t forget it, I’ll ignore it.

Development during series 1: Orix lived up to his chaotic neutral alignment, sometimes trying things just to see what would happen. His curiosity has brought him both good and bad results. The visions he experienced as the ‘Summit’ approached were of his college days when he helped expel a fellow mage student, Vian by getting him into trouble. Could this be the terrible crime he feels guilty of? In the visions he say Vian approach the mysterious Mara Society in the north with some apprehension.

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

Player Character Profile

Name: Nomo
Played by: Terry
Race: Male
Class: Monk
Strengths: Dexterity (very high)
Weaknesses: Intelligence and Charisma

Background: Hermit. I am utterly serene, even in the face of disaster.  I’m oblivious to etiquette and social
Ideals: Greater Good. My gifts are meant to be shared with all, not used for my own benefit.
Bonds: My isolation gave me great insight into a great evil that only I can destroy.
Flaws: I like keeping secrets and won’t share them with anyone.

Additional Notes from Player:  Nomo Naurehta doesn’t know what name his Elvish parents gave to him. His mentor, Ereb Noldo, found him standing outside the smoldering ruins of a remote outpost near Orcish territory. Nomo was a toddler in Elvish terms, badly scarred by the fire and unable to speak. While there were no elves there, Ereb believed some elves had been captured and taken as slaves or hostages.

A half-elf monk living in self-imposed exile, Ereb raised Nomo as he himself had been raised in the monastery, training him in martial arts and how to master his fear of fire, always focusing on becoming as swift and nimble as forest animals and birds, and as aware of his surroundings. Ereb’s favourite question was “Is it better to absorb a blow, or to be elsewhere when the blow falls?”  Ereb was nearly 200 years old when he died, and he encouraged Nomo to seek others who would value his gifts.

Development during series 1: Nomo has had to wrestle with the greater good of his party and the conflicting influences of Hector and Long.  He has been a stable, consistent force the others could depend on and very useful in combat.  Nomo experienced visions of an orc attack he witnessed when very young and this resulted in his fire scars.  This took place at a now abandoned monastery to the south of DaNis.

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

Player Character Profile

Name: Pevel
Played by: Dan
Race: Human
Sex: Male
Class: Rogue
Strengths: Charisma and Dexterity
Weaknesses: Strength and a weasely disposition, described by the player as ‘pathetic’.

Additional Notes from Player: Dan describes Pevel as “a weasely blub of cowardice.  A young man that would betray all his friends to avoid being bullied again, a fat Rincewind, an adolescent Falstaff with the humour, pathetic.”

Development during series 1: Pevel has indeed been cowardly, but his survival skills have allowed him to be sneaky and do anything to avoid near-death experiences.  We also learned in series 1 that Pevel comes from the town of Mid-Nis, which proves useful when the group have to make haste.

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

Player Character Profile

Name: Hector Nyrna
Played by: Ben
Race: Dark Elf / Drow
Sex: Male
Class: Rogue
Strengths: Dexterity
Weaknesses: Intelligence

Unique features: A drow is an uncommon race on the surface world and so will attract attention.

Additional Notes from Player: Hector is a moody, vain, arrogant, durable fighter with a few tricks up his sleeve.  Background: A dark elf living in an underdark city. Has dreams of Ezakina, Archfey, lady of the Fey. They strike up a relationship. He is told that a medallion of hers is kept by someone high up in the drow ranks, She says she wants him to take and wear it. Will strengthen their connection. In exchange for entering her service, he will be rewarded. He sneakily steals it and flees the underdark to the upper lands…..

Development during series 1: Hector has lived up to his arrogant and durable fighter status.  He is not afraid to speak his mind or sleep if his surroundings do not interest him.  His visions show that the drow are seeking him and the medallion that he stole. Ben has provided plans for his level ups and as a Warlock, he may well encounter Ezakina again.

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


As part of creating any roleplay, characters are an essential part of it, especially when you factor in the Player Characters (PC) who drive the story and are the reason for creating the roleplay scenarios – to be played out and to see what happens next. Along the way, the Player Characters will meet many intriguing, charming, dangerous, downright despicable, duplicitous or law-abiding non-player characters (NPCs) with whom they can interact. This section will aim to give you the lowdown on who these characters are, what their purpose was and how ‘fleshed out’ they really were.