Thursday, October 13, 2011

Colorful Characters 1: The Governor

Many blogs some manner of weekly features. This seems like a fun idea to me, because there are a number of posts I've thought would be cool, but only really work if they're part of a longer series of similar posts. Ergo, I would like to introduce you, my dice rolling readers, to Colorful Characters. Every week on Friday I'll post detailed information on an interesting NPC. GMs are free to steal the characters for their games, and players are free to steal them for use as PCs. Though I think this week's PC is best suited to being a quest giver for low level PCs.

Jordan "The Governor" Ephler

Jordan Ephler was fifteen when he left his family's small merchant business to seek the path of a paladin, and for over a decade he lived up to that noble description. His signature axe and shield became well known in the region. For many small towns he was a more reliable source of justice than the distant courts & lawkeepers. Jordan had such a gift for diplomacy that many towns never even saw his axe, Razortail, leave its sheath. He even once negotiated a treaty between the humans and dwarves of Rockpoint, and the Orc tribe which had raided against them them for decades. Four years later he had to return to fight off a marauding force of orcs, but he viewed four years of peace and safety as a significant victory.

That isn't to say he never failed. While trying to negotiate a territory agreement between the village of Opeth with the nearby tribe of gnolls, Jordan was captured and tortured for three days. He lost the four fingers of his left hand in the process. After escaping from his captors, Jordan played a game of cat and mouse with them for days as he tried to find his way back to Opeth. A week after his escape, he returned to the Gnoll village with the two dozen men and women of Opeth's militia. Not a single one of the evil gnolls survived that day. Thereafter, Jordan was a little more grim, and a little less willing to trust in negotiation to solve problems.

When he was 28, Jordan was investigating a series of missing children in the small fur-trading post called Midroad Rest. The town believed a tribe of goblins had set up camp nearby and was stealing and eating their children. However, as the investigation continued, Jordan found more and more reason to believe the kidnapper was one of the townspeople. Sure enough, while surveying the town one night, Jordan saw someone carrying a bundle slip off into the woods. He followed the figure to a nearby cave. There he found Midroad Rest's mayor, holding the body of a young child. Toys and clothes which had gone missing with the other children adorned the cave.

The mayor fell to his knees and begged for his life, but Jordan could summon no pity, and struck out with Razortail, killing the monstrous man. And, in killing one who had surrendered, Jordan strayed too far from the paladin's code. The powers and clarity granted to paladins left him then. Saddened though he was, Jordan could not accept that his actions had been wrong, and vowed not to seek atonement.

With his life of adventure thusly at an end, Jordan asked the townsfolk if they would allow him to build a home in their community, thinking to become a trapper. So grateful were the townsfolk for his service, though, that they offered him the Mayor's home and position. Jordan accepted, and has served the town faithfully in that capacity for 24 years now.

In that time as leader of the community, he has led the town through a number of hard times gracefully. So enamored are the townsfolk of their mayor that at some point they all decided to informally promote him to governor. When the townsfolk talk about him, they most commonly refer to him simply as "The Governor."

Personality Though less idealistic, and a great deal more grim, than he was as a young man, The Governor is still a diplomat first. He is far more likely to attempt a negotiation than to engage in combat. Even if combat seems inevitable, he may attempt a diplomatic solution in the hopes of sparing any of his townsfolk from harm.

He's also a wily old coot. Bandits and other criminal elements have often tried to outsmart him, but he's always managed to root them out and keep the roads safe for travelers, and for his citizens.

He is likely to test any PCs before doing them any favors or asking their help. Or, often times, he'll let the bandits perform the test for him, knowing that they like to "covertly" use the town's tavern to recruit travelers into their gangs.

Tactics The Governor is unlikely to try and fight the PCs unless they are harming one of his citizens. He still carries Razortail with him at all times, though, so if he is attacked or otherwise forced to fight, he is prepared.

Against a single opponent, The Governor is confident and attempts to fight even footing. If grappled, he will try to use his clawed hand to attack an opponent. If The Governor is reduced below half health, he will attempt to use a nearby object such as a chair as an improvised shield. If attacked in his office, The Governor's shield is readily available and he equips it at the beginning of combat.

Against groups, or characters who obviously overpower him, The Governor attempts to escape so as to don his armor & shield prior to combat. If one of his villagers is in imminent danger, however, The Governor will forgo his own safety to protect his people.

Interesting Facts

*The four fingers of The Governor's left hand have been chopped off just below the knuckle. In their place are four hooks of equal length, roughly approximating the length of his fingers. These grant him a 1d4 claw attack, but he takes a -4 penalty on any dexterity checks which rely on that hand. This does not affect his ability to use a shield.

*Though there are none among the citizens of Midroad Rest with whom The Governor is intimate, he is gay.

*When using Combat Expertise (-2 AC, +2 attack roll) The Governor sometimes shouts "Smite evil!" or some variant.

Thoughts on Use I used The Governor in the first session of a new campaign a few years ago. At the opening of the adventure, bandits approached the PCs and asked for their help attacking caravans. Had the PCs accepted, The Governor would have been a boss they had to face at level 2. These players did not accept the offer, and so The Governor became a quest giver for the group.

If there is a paladin among the PCs, it may be fun to play The Governor as being made uncomfortable by a paladin's presence. This may cause the players to think he's hiding something, when in fact it is simply due to the painful loss of his own paladinhood.

Jordan "The Governor" Ephler (CR 3)

XP: 800
Human Paladin 6 (Fallen)
NG Medium humanoid
Init +3; Senses Perception 6

AC 20, Flat Footed 21, Touch 9 [10 + Armor(9) + Shield (2) + Dex(-1)]
hp 46 (6d10 + 0)
Fort +5 Ref +1 Will +8

Speed 30ft
Melee +3 Battleaxe +11/+6 (1d8 + 5/x3)
Claw +8/+3 (1d4 + 2/x2)

Str 14 (+2) Dex 9 (-1) Con 11 (+0) Int 13 (+1) Wis 17 (+3) Cha 13 (+1)
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +8 (+2 on Disarm, no A.A.O.); CMD 17
Feats Improved Initiative, Toughness, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm
Skills (Armor Check Penalty: -6) Diplomacy +10, Heal +7, Perception +9, Sense Motive +12, Survival +6
Languages Common, Goblin
SQ Combat Expertise (Can take -2 to AC for +2 to attack rolls for a round.)
Gear Battered Masterwork Full Plate Armor (gilded with gold which has chipped away in pieces), Masterwork Heavy Steel Shield (emblazoned with a roaring lion in green). Razortail a +3 Handaxe, small collection of maps detailing local areas, Amulet of Detect Evil 3/day, 50gp

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