Ahhh… this may have to be a two-parter. This is going to be a two-parter. Having hit 1600+ words with only half of my wandering NPCs written, I shall save another ten for next Thursday.
Here below I offer you ten NPCs who may travel with your party. Some may help, others may hinder, all were created using random tables and generators for race, gender, jobs and roles, although the names and details are all my own. Thanks to the Hyper Halfling’s Book of Lists, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Fantasy Name Generators for giving the bare bones of the characters brought to life below.
Allow these fine folk to join the party for their next journey to help bridge the gaps between civilisation and adventure. If nothing else… it’ll be memorable.
Kapilo Nohn, a Master of Fate
Kapilo presents as a swarthy if unkempt man. Clothes are a loose weave of assorted fabrics hung with golden coins and glass beads of many colours, including a headscarf that hangs far down his neck. He wears a heavy fragrance, not unpleasant, but a little overbearing. He has a deck of cards that he shuffles when bored, stressed, or distracted. They are finely embossed with gold leaf, of a fine make, but a little dogeared and not without the occasional stain or old dent.
The cards are a means for Kapilo to cast the spell Augury. He plays the part of fortune teller, using the cards to get a vague idea of the future, but spinning it in fanciful language with every ounce of charm and deceit to sell the people he meets on wonderful stories about what he has predicted. If rumbled he will own to it, and is content to ply his trade for free if it means he’s not going to get ratted out to potential customers. He enjoys company, and never likes to stay in any one town for long.
A tall woman in leather armour hung with panels of chain mail, Sathin shaves the right half of her head, and keeps the hair on the other side tightly braided and bound back. A sword and shield strapped across her back release quickly when she feels threatened, and seem to snap effortlessly back into place when she needs her hands free. There is evidence on both her armour and shield of an old painted emblem, that has been scratched out or covered up vigorously.
She is a woman of few words, and can be found in bars, usually sitting alone at a table, listening and staring intently for anyone who talks of threats to their person, hazardous work, or long travel through perilous territory. She unapologetically interupts conversations, or engages people in conversation if they too are sat alone, and offers them paid protection. She uses intimidation, impressive knowledge of what dangers that person is likely to face, to assure her potential clients that her aid will prove necessary.
Possessing a fine pair of leather boots, but otherwise clad in cheap woollens, Vonnut is ever driving a trio of goats ahead of him with a heavy wooden stick. He smells, and he clatters while he walks because of the assortment of items on his person; mugs, flasks, a small toolkit, cattle bells, and a holy symbol he polishes daily with spit and his rough sleeve (change to fit your world). The goats are old, stubborn, and cause trouble at the most inopportune moments.
Vonnut himself is a warm and amicable sort, laid back and generous with sips of harsh moonshine from one flask, and cool goats milk from another. He’s stalwart in his faith, fearful of people and places bearing outward signs of fiendish influence, undeath, or even a general spookiness. Having walked across wide mountain ranges for decades, he is a rich source of lore, especially when concerning places where “sensible folk ought not set foot.”
Pol “Nipper” Whiteswede
It would be forgivable to spot Nipper’s cart and think it driverless, but the reigns of the massive horses do not vanish into the sacks and bags as they appear to, but are held by the small woman in excessively large coat and hat. Both are easily dropped to reveal a fairly elderly halfling with smoke-grey hair and eyes in a simple jerkin, but the wax-cloth hat and coat are necessary on the rainy and windy stretches of road that Nipper travels habitually.
The nickname is well known locally, but if anyone wishes to travel in her covered wagon they’d better find out her real name first. The nickname is a hated slight used by people who mock her size and tendency to bite people who anger her. For an elderly looking woman she is surprisingly fast with a pair of long knives, suggesting a history of violence from some time before her now placid lifestyle. Not much of a talker though.
Aenogg, The Wandering Hammer
Tall and hairless, much like any goliath, Aenogg has a thin face, small eyes and an aquiline nose. In her heavy pack she carries a roll of smithing tools, and a small collection of items she has crafted herself, as she wanders from town to city, seeking forges who’ll accept her work for a few weeks before she moves on again. There’s a sorrow to her voice whenever she speaks, that only leaves after so many drinks, returning worse than before if she drinks too much.
She is proud of her work, but taciturn if asked why she never stays too long in one place. She is not bad company, she’ll join in with conversation and help where help is needed, but she is ever haunted by some unspoken past, and it can be hard to raise more than a brief smile.
Hawling Yammermouth, Polyglot
Dressed in casual silks and carrying a disproportionately large backpack full of clothes for all weathers and books in a dozen languages, Hawling is a relentless wanderer devoted to – in his own words – “the dynamic exploration of linguistics”. He has an almost unshakeable smile, a perpetual enthusiasm, and an answer to anything thrown at him.
Hawling may prove incredibly useful however, as there are almost no languages that he cannot read, write, speak with at least conversational if not almost native fluency. He’s capable of deciphering hieroglyphs, semiotics, and most forms of representational depictions of language. His utmost craving is to venture into planes beyond the material, and to speak with all manner of creatures, especially the fascinating hierarchical language of Modrons, or the irrational tangents of Slaadi.
Throughout the wandering runs of the Hydra river throughout the Three Cities district, those gifted at piloting the small craft capable of navigating the irregular waters are paid handsomely for their skill. Tolliss himself has become a rich man, trafficking goods, travellers, and indeed slaves between Maska and Kwizdin in his shallow-bottomed canoe. He is wrapped perpetually in white and red silks, except for his bare, well-sinewed arms.
Hiding his face gives him the appearance of a bandit, or executioner, but his attitude to strangers is fairly friendly so long as fares are paid and travel is peaceful. He’s seen enough horror to fall sombre if discussions of the local slave trade arise, or at times when flood or storm cause a change of the course of the rivers he knows well. He is also a remarkable combatant, owing to his infrequent need to kill river predators just to get his job done.
When asked it’s name, this black feathered creature opens its beak and makes a sound like a harp being given a test strum, but seems to respond simply to the name of Strum by those who have come to know it. Filled with an orchestral vocabulary, it makes travelling with Strum seem a far more dramatic affair, as it trills off music fitting for most situations. Angered, Strum gives the ominous intonations of woodwinds, and it usually fails in attempts to move in silence, given its tendency to make glockenspiel noises.
All this is rather comical, perhaps intrusive at times, but it takes a more sinister tone when Strum sleeps. Those who camp in close proximity might see the taloned feet kick and fidget, and hear from that mimicking beak the sound of a roaring fire, crashing timbers, hyena-like howling, and weeping. It cannot… or perhaps will not attempt to convey what haunts its heartbreaking dreams, instead making mockery of those who ask.
Yduggan Strongback, the Un-Cursed
Those meeting Yduggan for the first time are immediately struck by a particular deformity, the severed stumps at his wrists. Those who look further may question the rest of his pristine appearance, the chords and beads mixed into the braids in his beard and hair, and the laces of his boots and jerkin that should be impossible for a handless man without aid. In truth, Yduggan is the most gifted user of the simple spell Mage Hand to ever live, having replaced the hands he lost with the keenness of his mind.
Formerly a thief, the punishment he endured caused him to amend his ways and turn to a life of piety and study, blending his passion for the arcane with his devotion to his faith. He has not returned home, and often talks darkly of the day he will return, and of what he has learned of his father’s recent life. It may cause some to doubt the sincerity of his change, and often the zeal with which Yduggan puts down threats to the lives of himself or his friends, may be cause to concern.
Behind a soft veil, the scarred face of Halona tells a powerful tale of the kinds of terrors she faced wandering the elven hinterlands. Pursuing the life of the great wood elves, revered by the Palir, Halona has yet to decide whether she respects the elves more given the nemeses they have had to face, or whether she has lost her faith in the semi-divine creatures.
The veil is the only item of clothing she wears that is not purely practical. Softened leathers with blackened metal plates, a well maintained cherrywood bow, a quiver worn low on the back, and innumerable pouches across chest and upper thigh, from which she retrieves seemingly any item one might need for any possible eventuality that one might encounter in a deep, lush, witch-haunted forest.
Expect a new vote next week, when this list finishes.