Tag Archives: Biography

Character Biography: The Druid

In the keep, out on the border between civilization and the wilderness, players can sometimes feel like they’re hulled up in the last bastion of safety, afraid to set foot outside the strong, tall walls of the keep itself.  With the swamps to the east, and the caves to the north, nothing but forest in between, planning forays to the more interesting locals the Borderkeep has to offer can be a daunting task for any set of player characters.

“I’ll show you the way . . . just come to the edge of the water . . . “

With that in mind, you’re going to want to add a character to your repertoire of NPC’s that can offer assistance to the party, without overshadowing their abilities.  To this end, I give you Bramble, the gnomish druid!

Gnomes, seen in their rare, natural form.

Bramble is a young gnome, and a newcomer at the Borderkeep.  Having set up shop a few miles outside the city walls, Bramble makes a living selling rare herbs and ingredients, freshly harvested from the surrounding area.  He knows that the journey to his hut can be perilous for the majority of the citizens in the keep, so he makes the trip himself every seven days or so.

Bramble grew up in a small gnomish settlement far to the south of the keep.  As is common among the gnomish people, Bramble developed a love of nature very early on.  Less common, though, was the strength of his love and the curiosity that came with it.  Bramble began spending a great deal of his time in the forests of his homeland, the time between visits to his family growing larger as time went on.  Eventually, he encountered a mysterious man named Vosh, who seemed older than any Bramble had ever met before, and yet showed no visible signs of the ravages of time.  Vosh took Bramble as apprentice, teaching him the secret language of the druids, showing him how to call on nature’s might to aid him in the lonely stretches between settlements.  Vosh moved on, suggesting that Bramble find a needful place to call his own.

The Borderkeep is ever a needful place.

Bramble’s training focused more on how to go unnoticed when he needs to, rather than how to physically confront problems with brute strength.  In addition to gathering his herbs and ingredients, Bramble maintains a trade relationship with the lizardmen that inhabit the eastern swamps.  He also keeps a watch on travelers riding south along the Borderkeep trade routs, though never where anyone can see him.  Bramble spends the vast majority of his time in the form of a great stag to avoid detection.

So majestic!

When you need your PC’s to have access to intel about the surrounding area, or even if they just get in over their heads before you’re ready to introduce a life or death situation, Bramble makes a great deus ex silva, so to speak. As for stats, consider his two highest to be wisdom and dexterity.  Bramble is around level three, with any animal form around medium size that you need him to have for your game.  His knowledge of the area around the Borderkeep is unrivaled, with the possible exception of the lizardman shaman that lives in the swamps, or a gnoll ranger who lives to the north.  Assume that Bramble can cast an first or second level spell.

I focused more on story line this time than giving a direct stat block.  Leave me some feedback about which you like better, this, or the actual printable character sheet, and thanks for reading!

As always, don’t fall for the kobold pit trap!


Secret Cults: Spotlight on Antagonists

Sorry about the late post, againI’ve been trying to balance being a new dad with grades due at the end of the nine weeks, and life has been extra . . . Well, just extra lately!

So, my last post was about recurring villains, one of my favorite topics, and one of the most challenging to include in a game. This week, I thought I would explore one of the easiest ways recurring villains into your game.

“This? It’s a . . . doll for my son?”

Last Sun Day, before the good towns people of Pracola, better known as the Borderkeep, had open mass at the temple to Apollo, a few townspeople went missing . . . At first, it was easy to explain away, as the festivities on the night before Sun Day, The Night of Moon and Stars, was unusually . . . Festive this year. But then the first body surfaced, and lately, neighbors have been locking up earlier and earlier. People who have know each other for decades are turning with shadowed faces toward their own domains, sparing not a single cup of sugar for their allies on the border. They don’t dare speak it aloud, but in the warm fires of the bar, bolstered by spirits and ale, they might whisper: The Cult of Everlasting Night.

Secret cults provide a unique experience for your players in that, along with a supply of potentially powerful villains, they add a sense of intrigue and suspense to your game. Old lady Marth wasn’t at feast day last week’s end . . . Was she simply baking her famous Sun Day cookies, or was there something more nefarious afoot? Goody Dellah was seen at the outskirts of town, clutching a strangely shaped bundle under her thin arm . . . The lamb for the feast day veal pies, or sacrificial daggers?

“She was helping me milk the cows, honestly. You people fret too much.”

When a mysterious force begins taking hold of a small town on the edge of everything, everyone is suspect. Your players will probably begin by looking into the fringe element in town . . . The people who never quite fit in are, after all, usually have the exact personality type that is often preyed upon by charismatic cult leaders.  That might be true in the real world, although even here, without the aid of dark magics and darker gods, events are never so clean-cut, in your fantasy world, you can make your players work a little harder. Create suspicion around several characters, and make the least likely the most devoted of the cult followers. Remember that secret cults have to stay secret by their very nature, and are often led by wickedly intellegent people, so why not make their modus operandi equally intelligent? Perhaps they work in a system of cells, designed so that each one has just enough member to enact rights designed to grant them boons for the low price of a sacrifice or two, but no two cells know of anyone else in their group. Maybe only the leader and his or her lieutenants are the only ones with everyone’s identity . . . Everyone else always meets with hoods on, and no one can guess who their fellow cult member is.

“I hereby call this meeting in order to enact the right of the blue pill . . .”
“. . . Karen?”

Your players should have the feeling that literally anyone could be a cult member. Perhaps float a rumor that the lord of the keep himself is at the dark heart of this plague on Pracola. Make them shadow members of the community, and build the suspense by making it really seem like the person they’re following is one of the cultists, only to reveal, at the last-minute, that they have a perfectly good reason for being out in the dead of night under the full moon. If you’re really adventurous, have them try to infiltrate the cult, which can be as tense or as fun as you want it to be, especially if the first group of cultists they manage to apprehend are a bunch of morons, made patsies by the real powers in the Borderkeep!

I hope you enjoyed my treatise on the nature of putting cults in your game! I certainly enjoyed writing it! Head over to Tales from the Borderkeep to check out some originally fiction based on some of our games, and as always, don’t fall for the old kobold pit trap!

Character Biography Three: Joven, the Court Wizard

Sorry I’m late this week, weddings and open houses and the like have all conspired lately to take me away from my favorite pastime! Congratulations to some very special friends in Georgia, you know who you are!

Without further ado, I give you Joven, the Court Wizard!

"welcome to my laboratory . . ."
“welcome to my laboratory . . .”

Joven was born into a world of compromises. His human mother, the wife of a wealthy merchant, procured the very best education money can buy for young Joven, only to be quiet and distant towards him. She showed her love the only way she could, but not in the way a young half-eleven boy needs. He was a constant reminder of the drow raid that occurred just under a year before he was born, a fact as well-known in his hometown as it was forbidden to be spoken of.

Above all else, young Joven craved acceptance. He was treated fairly, but coldly by his teachers, and even the man who took him on as apprentice was distant, fearing some metamorphosis that would bring the darker parts of his heritage to the surface.

"I'll always have my books . . ."
“I’ll always have my books . . .”

So it was that when a young noble swept through Joven’s small town, boasting of the excitement and adventure to be had on the road, Joven knew that he must prove his worth to this young man. Attempting to demonstrate his mastery over a newly learned spell, Joven accidentally charmed a locally beloved barmaid instead of a member of the noble’s retinue, causing the whole of twenty years of resentment and fear on the town’s part to bubble to the surface all at once. In the issuing brawl, Joven and the young noble became fast friends, and in the years to follow, he found the acceptance he had craved all along.

"The true power was love all along!"
“The true power was love all along!”

Now in his seventies, still in his prime by half-elven standards, Joven watches as his friend and mentor, the lord of the keep falls to the ravages of old age. He is fiercely loyal to the lord and his family, and will defend him to his dying breath. Joven has picked up some of the bardic skills in his life at court, and uses his abilities to soothe the lord in any way he can. He is secretive and mysterious, but has never lost his need for acceptance. Many nights, strange lights can be seen shining in the windows of his laboratory, and it is even rumored that he holds communion with a powerful spirit of the cold, granting him the ability to alter the very essence of some of his spells. Once a PC has proven him or herself to Joven, he is a steadfast ally, and a powerful mentor. He knows that his longtime friend’s days are no longer measured in decades, and as a result, he spends his time strengthening the various personal structures of the keep. A frozen death awaits the person who threatens his adoptive family.

"It'll be a cold day in hell . . ."
“It’ll be a cold day in hell . . .”

Posted hereafter are Joven’s stats. Please use him in your game and let me know how he worked out for you! As always, check out my partner blog, tales from the Borderkeep, and remember not to fall for the kobold pit trap! See you next week!



Character Biography 2: Father Harverard

Welcome back to the Borderkeep.  True to my word, today, I’ll be sharing another ready to play NPC, custom-built for my Borderkeep setting, but applicable to virtually any story with a few small tweaks.  A quick shop-keeping note; I’ve decided to simply upload a character sheet for anyone to use, rather than type out the full stat blocks.  Let me know what you think!

Without further ado, Father Harverard!

"This? It's a Priest's Cap. What?! Look, do you want healing or not?!"
“This? It’s a Priest’s Cap. What?! Look, do you want healing or not?!”

Father Gerald Harverard was born the 8th son of a wealthy, if minor, noble house in the waterfront metropolis Gulf City.  From a very young age, he watched as his eldest brother prepared to take command of the family holdings, being forced to learn discipline, diplomacy, and finance.  His other brothers prepared either to marry, in order to secure dowries from other noble houses, or else trained to accept a position in his eldest’s house one day.  As was the tradition in Gulf City, however, Harverard knew that he was destined to be tithed to the local temple, made a priest of (Insert any Good Aligned God Of Community that might suite your campaign, hereby referred to as GAGOC).  While most might bemoan the life of a priest, however, Harverard saw it as an opportunity; a chance to see the world!

Harverard learned to read, write, and pray under the tutelage of the high priests of the temple of GAGOC, but unlike the other boys, he favored books that spoke of the world outside the city of his birth.  Strange planes and stranger beings, prayers not of healing, but of battle aid and daring.  Seeing this, the elder priests of GAGOC THE ALL POWERFUL decided to nurture the young man’s fervor, and sent him to train with the gaurds of the wall, as a medic and battle-priest.

To this day, in certain circles, Harverard is still known as a consecrated battle-priest of GAGOC THE MERCIFUL, but these days, most of his battles are fought against an ever increasingly large prostate, and the afflictions of what he calls “advanced age.”

Pictured: the "dangers" of retirement.
Pictured: the “dangers” of retirement.

After fifty years as a medic on the walls of his city, Harverard has grown into an excentric old man.  He often greets the sun “as the gods made him,” claiming that GAGOC THE EVERLASTING is pleased with his spry old form.  This, of course, leads to the occasional awkwardness with the younger members of his temple staff, but at 75, Harverard has no functional concept of the word “embarrassment.”

As a reward for years of hard service, Harverard was given his own temple in the still exciting, if out of the way borderkeep of Ft. Pracola, where his excentricism might be overlooked due to dire need of experienced healers. Older now that he every truly figured he would be, he still keeps his trusty mace and old rusty armor within arms reach.  His tall frame still carries the signs of a once powerful man, but father time makes ruin of us all, and his strength has been adjusted accordingly.  Likewise, though he was once a very powerful caster, he has been reduced to around level 5 due to falling out of practice.  half of his spells are healing, and the other half battlefield control.  He still remembers the days when he might turn the tide of the impending darkness, and he is ever ready should those days return.

When confronted with strangers, Harverard is open, friendly, and often a little too over-sharing.  His favorite trick is to cast a zone of truth around a new party, and ask them pointed and personal questions.  His “Priest’s Cap” is never far from his head, and his pipe is ever lit.  In times of extreme need, he may be able to pull off a much more powerful spell, a sign that GAGOC THE UNREPENTANT still favors him.  I like this character.  I would play this character.  I hope you enjoyed reading about him, and as always, don’t fall for the kobold pit trap!


Character Biography 1: Cpt. Lance Winters

This week, I’d like to try something a little different, and if I get positive feedback, I’ll serialize it, adding one new character once per month.  Without further ado, Character Biography One!

Captain Lance Winters, Human 4th level fighter.

Str, 16    Dex, 10    Con, 12    Int, 10    Wis, 14    Cha, 12

Hp: 4d10 +4 (29)   AC: 15 (Breast Plate)

Attack: +1 Longsword +9 (1d10 + 6) or Shield Bash +7 (1d4+4)

Fortitude 5, Reflex 1, Will 3

Feats: Weapon Focus, Longsword.  Weapon Specialization, Longsword.  Improved Shield Bash.  Negotiator.  Power Attack.  All Combat Stats are adjusted for feats.

Skills: Diplomacy +6, Sense Motive +7, Bluff +4, Perception +6 Others as needed.

Gear: +1 Longsword with city crest, Breast Plate Armor, 1 potion cure minor wounds, manacles, 15 gp.


This character may be used as a guard captain in any setting, but for the least amount of tweaking, he is best suited for a small town.

Captain Lance Winters
Captain Lance Winters

Lance Winters was born in the small borderland town of Fort Pracola.  Having lived there these past 40 years, he has gotten to know everyone in what he considers “his” town very well, from the most pious priest, to the lowest drunkard.

The mean streets of Fort Pracola
The mean streets of Fort Pracola

While growing up, Lance dreamed of a life spent adventuring out in the wider world.  He would see the caravans come in, guarded by exotic men and women from the furthest corners of the world, and dream of the day he would finally be old enough to earn his pay as a sword for hire.  He would go amongst the visitors and listen to their tales of high adventure.

At home, Lance’s father, a lieutenant in the town guard, would listen to his son’s tales, humoring his dreams, but tempering them with small pieces of reality.  His mother would work at the keep all day, cleaning for the lord and lady, before coming home to prepare dinner for her family.  They were a picturesque, happy family.

For 18 years, Lance lived the content life of a borderland child.  Until the Hobgoblins came.

It started with a merchant, given access to the city without a moment’s hesitation.  Unknown to the town guard, the merchant’s wagons were filled to the brim with troublesome goblins, who crept by cover of darkness to the gates, in order to let the fiercer hobgoblins in.  By a stroke of luck, Lance’s father was able to sound the alarm which saved many lives that night, but not before being mortally wounded.  Lance got his mother to the safety of the inner keep, and watched as men of his town put their lives on the line against a superior foe.  He learned that night that glory and valor are not always the product of adventure.  Sometimes, the defining moment of a man’s life happens less than a hundred yards from where he was born.

Life Lesson Learned? Nat 20
Life Lesson Learned?
Nat 20

At 40, Cpt. Winters is liked by his men, the town, and the nobility at the keep.  Often, he takes his supper with the Lord himself, as they are both bachelors of an age that might make most of the women of the town blanche.  If he is overly suspicious of visitors to his keep, well, that can be forgiven.  Cpt. Winters learns from his mistakes, uses force as an absolute last resort, and can be found most days patrolling the streets himself armed with a magical longsword, a gift from the lord of the keep.

Roleplaying Tips:  Remember that the Captain is familiar with everyone in his city, so he can take a 20 on local knowledge checks concerning people.  He is suspicious of outsiders, but not unfriendly.  He will often assign one of his men to follow visitors to his city for the duration of their stay.  He’s gruff, but earnest.  An ally to a good party, and a thorn in the side of an evil one.

This has been my first attempt at a full in-depth biography.  Leave a comment to let me know what you think, or to offer any suggestions.  See you next week, and as always, don’t fall for the kobold pit trap!