Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "My Favorite NPC"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).

Day 11- Favorite NPC
            Well, right off the bat I am kind of in a corner.  I don’t use published campaigns so the Raistlin, Elminster, or Mordenkainen debate is right out.  Same with Strahd, and I already talked about Vecna. 

I am not 100% sure who each of these guys are.
But this image is so cool I hope the random number generator makes it the thumbnail.

            So, I guess this is another opportunity for me to talk about one of my favorite NPC’s Count Malachite of Hasenburg.
            When my players met Count Malachite, he was a 70-year-old man.  He was infected with some horrible mummy rot and dying in a cave surrounded by the knights in his service.  The players were able to cure him of his affliction and took him back to his palace in Hasenburg, home of the Hasenburg Steak sauce.  He knew he was too old to be out adventuring but he had to show some of his younger knights some tricks of his trade and introduce them to some old friends.  He thanked the players for his life and offered them a reward and future work.
            Malachite again met the players when they came to visit his city and helped free it from siege by gnolls.  No joke, the party’s druid, Talon Greyfeather (whom I mentioned in “My Favorite Group of Players” entry) came up with two really smart uses of spells to fire bomb the gnoll siege weapons and then illuminate the night attacks to totally change the challenge.  They won soundly.
            The Count honored the party as treasured friends and he gave them a Rod of Wonder, an item from his adventuring days that he had named his company for.  So, the PC’s became, “The Wonderful” to help carry on his legacy of heroism.
Something like this.
I guess.
            Malachite kept showing up in other NPC’s stories of important events.  He had helped Father and Baba stop the Chaos Sorcerer.  He taught Mayor Wilhelm everything that guy knows about politicking.  Malachite is the reason the 6 Fingers criminal organization never got a foothold outside Freeport.  Malachite had run away from home to be an adventurer when he was a teenager, thru pluck and wit he had managed to become somebody who did a lot of good in the world.
            The Count was a legend.  The hero of the land in some other era and was now just living as an administrator to his home town and raising his two granddaughters (his’ son’s children, the girls’ parents had died in a plague).  He was one of 3 “Past their Prime” heroes that appeared in the campaign because I felt it important to illustrate that the players were part of a legacy.

            The last adventure at Malachite’s request was for the PC’s to retrieve the Count’s estranged half-elf daughter.  She had gone into exile to avoid being forced into an arranged marriage and he hadn’t seen her in more than a decade.  He was calling her home to take over as Countess of Hasenburg, home of the Hasenburg steak sauce, because he had cancer and was fading fast.  The players managed to get her back for the tearful goodbye and Count Malachite died.  He left a letter to the PC’s in his will and a warning about dark visions he had been dreaming, and lost memories from his youth that were returning at the closing of his life, it helped them down the line.
            His death was sad.
            Malachite’s presence was still felt, the Rod of Wonder was a plot fulcrum later in the campaign, allowing the players to gain more allies, push the plot forward, and defeat their first major adversary.  At the conclusion of the whole campaign, Malachite’s ghost, appearing as a young man dressed in his Landsknecht garb, appeared to the PC’s to tell them he had been pulling for them and was proud they had managed to save the day.  Another of the 3 “Past their Prime Heroes” was there in ghost form too, a Master martial artist who mentored the party’s monk.  If I had been smart I would have had the third elderly NPC mentor figure pass on to form a good triumvirate of ghosts telling the PCs, “Atta ‘boy”.
Derivative?  Yes.
Do I care? Yes, because that is exactly what I was trying to invoke.

Hasenburg, Home of the Hasenburg Steak Sauce
            I based the city on a mashed-up bunch of ideas, a wild west town with a river instead of a train, a reductionist idea of what a German Free city state would have looked like after the Holy Roman Empire started splintering, and other counties and regional powers found during the renaissance.
            The idea of mixing up cowboys and city states was found with the idea of the Landsknechts.  They were soldiers for hire that were known for their flashy dress and being one of the first military groups in Europe known for using firearms.  Why that gelled with the image of them leading cows to market in my mind is perhaps more evidence of my deeper untreated insanity, but there you go.
This would also work as a thumbnail.
(Link to cool gallery).

“My Favorite Player Character” and “My Favorite NPC”
            Malachite is the ultimate evolution of the idea that I talked about with “My Favorite Player Character”.  What started as a dastardly pirate, turned into a conman bard in deep with forces he didn’t really grasp, and ultimately, we arrive at what the idea of the fast-talking charismatic hero turns back on.
            Malachite is a retired hero, returned to his homeland a changed man, taking on the mantle of responsibility that he wasn’t ready for or was scared of in his youth.  He became tempered by valor, tension, and witnessing the suffering of the common people.  He grew.  He went on the hero’s journey and came back to be the person he never managed to be under the guiding hand of his parents.
            Not to plug my mediocre fiction writing chops, but I actually started writing a series of stories about Malachite’s younger self on this blog.  I figured I would throw out a chapter whenever I got the hankering to.  Then I started plotting out a longer story, and then I just stopped.  12 entries in and with 1 more that only needs editing and I stopped cold.  Maybe I was comfortable enough just playing the character sometimes in DnD.  Maybe I am just too lazy to write fiction.
            Feel free to read them and tell me what you think.  Or not.
            Here are links to “Roads of Bone”.
            Part 1
            Part 2
            Part 3
            Part 4
            Part 5
            Part 6
            Part 7
            Part 8
            Part 9
            Part 10
            Part 11
            Part 12

Coming Tomorrow
            Tomorrow I am going to start a mini-series in the blog challenge, talking about of “Favorite Monsters” starting with Aberrations.

Another instance from history that evokes a similar feel to what I was going for.


            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

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