Bette Rosso and Markov Rosso are twins who found a niche in the region early on in life. Since a young age they have been fighting, and not just arguments, the Rosso children solved their disputes with intense displays of violence. As children their scraps were serious but their effects were minimal. As they became teenagers the damage they could cause to a location became extensive. Chairs and tables broken with the random bodies weren’t free, they cost the family a great deal of coin. After a bad one that had cleared a tavern of all furniture Papa Rosso brought the siblings to a pit fight to attempt to make the money needed. It had been his intention to scare them straight while earning some money through a bet. While they watched their first pit fight one of the fighters lost an eye. The gory move put a stop to the fight, their father lost everything he had been betting. When thugs came to collect the two of them worked together and they were able to distribute a severe and costly beating to the would-be muggers. When the underworld boss came to them with his bruised underlings and a few fresher faces he was pleasantly surprised by the grit of the youngsters who again beat the underlings and his new hires.
So he offered them a job. The Rossos entered the next fight to pay for their father’s debt and fought against dogs, teams of thugs, and even each other, although the fights were designed to kill them they survived and even became famous for their flippant dismissal of the criminal’s attempts. Their fight against each other was legendary, they knew how far to push each other and their skill was so evenly matched that the fight would be long and bloody. With so many admirers the twins decided that fighting for the money was better than fighting for their lives and turned their pitiless hobby into a career. Because they are still young they don’t hold back and throw themselves into every fight, after which Papa Rosso brings them to the tavern to nurse their wounds and lighten the massive loads of cash they had earned. The Rossos are favorites among the fighting scene but when it comes to protecting the town their father keeps them restrained, holding them back from battles with monsters lest they become injured and lose the power to earn. As an outlet Markov and Bette both teach their skills to others in the village, sparring with new partners helping them to become better fighters as the excuse for Papa while they sneak out to have their adventures.
After a short lifetime of being dirt poor the Rosso family has become a little heady with their newfound coin, having paid off the boss that first night they were soon thereafter so wealthy the family could afford to live entirely on the many tavern’s hospitalities. While Papa Rosso spends lavishly on himself he is not so foolish as to let the two question why he should have any at all and encourages them to indulge in simple things such as the physical pleasures that their adoring fans were throwing their way unbidden and a tavern’s most famous offering: drinks. The twins tried it all but discovered they enjoy the strongest of drinks, the Dragon’s Breath, a taste acquired after Bette’s brutal victory over Markov when the family had a post-fight drinking contest. Dragon’s Breath’s fiery burn was an endurance challenge and the state it left them in had them enjoying more and more of the tavern’s luxuries, including the vast number of opportunities to pounce upon any passerby that might catch their all-inclusive fancies.
Marcus Quorio of the low-land Quorios is a beast of a man. During his youth his frame was pushed to the limits with stocking large sacks and barrels of goods on shelves and into carts. Many times he was the only one available for the job as most of his family line to be slight of frame and bad of back. His father Antonio, also a traveling merchant, had an affair with a young woman in the nearby village of Raven’s Hollow when he would travel to purchase fresh herbs and supplies from the witches. On one of his return visits, he learned that the woman had died in childbirth and that one of the witches, her sister, would raise the child. Antonio knew that his own wife would not be happy, but felt the responsibility to take the boy home instead and raise Marcus with his own children. Needless to say Marcus was not his new mother’s favorite at first, but Endalesse was kind enough to punish Antonio, not Marcus. Antonio was eventually too old to travel, mostly busy at the local store or kept at home by Endelesse while the growing children would work as they could. Antonio worried about keeping his supply routes as many villages depended on his goods and trade, so Marcus volunteered to take up his father’s routes as he was the best equipped for carrying the goods and strong enough to handle himself in a fight. Over the years, Endelesse grew to love Marcus and loved him as her own.
On his third journey out, Marcus traveled to Raven’s Hollow to retrieve a special order of healing potions for the local Adventurers Guild. When meeting with the witches, he learned of his mother, a sick woman who had come from the Greywood and who had loved his father during many of the trips he had come to visit. She had been sweet and quiet and rarely spoke of herself or her home, but what they did say was that she had come here looking for a better life and had taken a nasty turn on the way. The witches of the village were not able to stem the curse that weakened her, nor were they able to heal her when she died in child birth. His father was commended by them all for his compassion in taking Marcus home, the whole of the village was more than happy to see how he had grown in his care. For years he would return and see whom he would come to feel was his second family. It was more than that, they were teachers too. Marcus had no magical aptitude but a great love for turning a deal and armed with the knowledge of their every use the herbs, tonics, and potions he returned home with flew off the shelves.
Marcus grew older with each passing year, enjoying the success that his prowess afforded him, but he was malcontent. He wanted to break the tidal lock on his path, wanted to bring his wares to new places and maybe even find someone to spend his life with. All of which he felt would happen if he were free. He left his family in the care of his younger half-brother and three sisters who were already well-versed in the trade and managing the family store with great success. Marcus loaded up a cart of their finest wares and left for adventure. As time passed he sold the cart and his wares and began to carry the promissory notes from suppliers to prospective towns. Now he’s come to Redstaff and found a surprising thirst for the new. In this strange crossroads the traveling merchant can find countless opportunities to arrange contacts and arrange supply lines for a surprisingly wide reach. For Marcus this is a golden opportunity, a chance to fill out his frame with comfort, and he is always on the lookout for adventure.
Anyone can tell you that farming is a difficult task. Adding to that mix the attraction of malicious, murderous, monstrous beings to any number of things, including crops, familiar members, magic or lack thereof, and those strangers passing through and the average farmer has seen a great deal. Stedman Goodwind is an unmarried but prosperous farmer who spent a great deal of his younger years in taverns talking to all manner of folk who would pass through and learning their secrets. As more and more strangers such as students from the Wizard’s Academy would arrive at the docks, Stedman made it his business to be there to greet them and sometimes offer them a job. With each scrap of knowledge or hint of suggestion Stedman found ways to keep his property safe from the surrounding madness of the forest. Now the Goodwind farm is a solid producing force for the village, it’s often his pumpkins that become the festival cider and his grain that makes so much of the bread for sale in the village.
While he had ample opportunity to squeeze his fellow villagers for the extra odd coin he chose instead to pay and ask for fair trade. That which he did not sell was donated to the poor for charity or to local merry-making. Such a protected farm provides many opportunities for others to find work, and Stedman is happy to receive most since he enjoys the protection of the local Thieves’ Guild. The secret alliance is open but never openly discussed, and was only once ever once mentioned before . A friend was worried for him and began to speak out at the taverns he frequented, but when the Guild caught wind of it, the friend disappeared. After susupicions arose as to the man’s fate, Stedman would reply that he had moved for health reasons and was now living comfortably in a nearby town. While many wished to believe him, there still remain a few with doubts, and this fear suppressed even the Alderman and the guards curiosity.
Goodwind Farm supplies both employment and abundance, as such Stedman finds himself resting up in taverns more and more these days. His love of the job keeps him working when he doesn’t need to and the extra works puts enough coin in his pocket for the finest foods that he doesn’t have to cook. With his success still recent and growing Stedman has yet to swell in his needs and tastes, preferring only that food and drink be available. He makes for an easy patron and for the travelers that pass through he is a piece of the authentic spirit of Redstaff. To them he is a reminder that this place was built on inner riches and that fortune can still be had by those with the ingenuity to manifest it. Or so he would like to believe.
Selamina of the Fifth Wind is the second daughter of an elven family from the Enchanted Forest. Her father Elothelium and mother Fervisilia had once been adventurers who raised the rams kept sacred by the elven forest king. Her brother Halen’or nearly lost his life when the whole family saved the animals in a fight against a savage forest dragon. The Forest King then awarded them a few of the sacred quadrupeds for their own as well as the space to raise them at the edge of his kingdom. The ewe’s milk had magical properties and it would support them without any other food and keep them from feeling the effects of sickness. To slow the attacks on the herd, and protect the line should they fail otherwise, the Forest King ordered them into seclusion.
The family of the Five Winds was happy to oblige, but Veraliah’s sister Selamina was not content to remain in hiding in the forest thick with monsters and mayhem. So she broke ways with them, appearing from nowhere on the road and walking into Redstaff, followed shortly by Veraliah. She would come to keep an eye on her sister Selamina and the village in case they venture into danger or the forest where her family lay in hiding. Although her family had gifted Selamina money with which to care for her sister and herself she didn’t have enough to last very long without a job. Veraliah saved money by camping outside close to all those elven things she so loved, the trees, the wind, the wild animals. Unfortunately, Selamina’s older sister lost that money just as quickly wining and dining the women of the taverns under the guise of keeping a watchful eye. Selamina eventually stayed in a tavern that served cheese and having never before tasted something so divine as cheese she agreed to work for it. The master of the tavern agreed and continued to charge her lodgings, sending her fleeing to tavern after tavern where her needs alternated back and forth between cheese and a roof over her head.
The nights they spent outside became more and more perilous as thugs and shadows of men were drawn to their camps. Eventually Selamina left her sister to the woods. Without her sister for protection and company it was apparent to everyone that Selamina needed a place to stay and while many offered Selamina needed someone whom she could trust. Her sister was not without compassion and introduced her to a noble woman she had met while entertaining at a tavern. Selamina moved into the manor of the highborn Lady Quintessa Olivia DuMont who collected her like a piece of art. Not that this is disagreeable, there are constant gifts of the finest clothing and jewelry to adorn herself with, scent baths, and servants. Selamina continues to work at the taverns for spending coin, cheese, and the company of countless travelers who have so very much to tell about the world for whom she hungers most.
Gemat Karne is alone in Redstaff, his family left well behind on his epic journey to be a free man. He is not the long forgotten prince of another realm, he is not beholden to his people or family, has no cares in the world, and does not question the flow of fate. But once, long ago, he both was and did. As the twentieth child in the royal family of a peaceful kingdom he did not see himself as becoming more than a figurehead in charge of some nowhere settlement, and rather than allow himself to be painted and crushed under the weight of that pointless responsibility he renounced his claim and fled to the surface where his kingdom and its obligations ended. On his emergence he was discovered by a troupe of musicians. One among them with incredible skill for woodworking helped him convert his favorite ax into a masterful sounding lyre.
Adjusting to the wanderer’s lifestyle was seamless, his troupe supported him as he learned his new craft and found that he had a true talent for expressing himself through the ax like no warrior had before. This natural proclivity and speed with which the skill developed left his arrogance untarnished by the radical shift in lifestyle. Fights broke out between Gemat and the members of the troupe, Gemat felt that his new found skill was worthy of a prince’s high praise and thus a prince’s wages, while his fellow performers did not. Villagers far and wide found his music unique and usually paid for his needs, and when it no longer seemed prosperous in a place or when trouble reared its angry head he simply wandered away, catching a caravan or passing haywain wherever the ride might take him. Practicing with his ax fills almost all of his spare time and his focus is just as sharp as his blade.
His arrival here was like many of his arrivals, being dumped off the back of some cart when he would not awaken at any other sensible time. Here is where the hay cart stopped and in the quaint village of Redstaff he found a people who celebrated and welcomed his obsession with his instrument. His aloof attitude acts in stark contrast to the beautiful notes that ring off of the heirloom ax whose metal strings and unique materials make for an electric performance. Gemat’s focus is now legendary among the villagers and he plays through any occasion, including a vampire attack on one of the taverns during the first few nights after he arrived. The notes of his instrument still playing on after the initial attack drew the monster into the tavern where a squadron of soldiers ambushed and slew it. It is his most requested song and occasionally others will reenact the event for sympathetic coin.
Urgo Ghurt was small, only the size of a normal human teenager of the same age when he lost some of his family, only he and his father Gerard who had been crippled by a mage’s handiwork were spared. Gerard pleaded with the orc Warlord to let his family stay as the root vegetables and cows they herded required a certain strength to maintain. The Warlord agreed they were pitiful but could not spare them without compensation. A receipt was made, with which he could buy them back later. In the months after they were gone he grew exponentially until he was the largest being in his village. Even though he was large and strong he was not enough to save his farm alone. Ingrid his mother and Earl his older brother were sorely missed and the results spoke in their meager harvest. Urgo needed a way to make enough money to buy them back from their captors and the paltry herd of cows he had been able to save from raiders and roving monsters did not cover the bill.
After a particularly bad visit to the market in which a thief had managed to steal the day’s few coins he found solace in a tavern during a night when none of the other village regulars were in, only the unfamiliar and suspicious glances of mercenaries. Before he could finish the first mug a number of mercenaries started a brawl that quickly involved all the soldier patrons in the tavern. Intent on slipping out unnoticed he tried to take a long way around but someone broke a chair over his back. In a rage he grabbed them all by twos and threes and hurled them out into the dirt road, sorely testing the door hinges on a few unfortunate souls before the rest were moving out voluntarily. Urgo was hired immediately as bouncer and given enough money to buy his family back that night. It was only some time later that he would learn the mercenaries had been hired by the tavern to clear out the underworld element from their rooms only to have them demand protection money. The fight had been between the thieves’ guild and those mercenaries. Urgo instantly gained a reputation with the shadier individuals of Redstaff, and the underworld boss took notice.
With the money he needed in hand he sent for his family. While he waited for them to return he taught himself to fight properly with the help of a few other dedicated fighters in town such as the warrior maiden, the Captain of the Guard, and the pit fighters. Although he never uses more than he must his skills have become refined over the excess of use during the current restlessness of the village. When his mother and brother were finally returned he crushed the spine of the fool pirate that dared to demand double the sum. The Thieves’ Guild offered to protect him from pirate infiltrators in exchange for Urgo’s occasional minor assistance, which Urgo accepted on the condition that they leave him and his family alone, and not interfere with his work. Urgo’s family has not been harmed since and his position as a bouncer more than pays for all of them to have a place in the village where they are sheltered from kidnappings and live without the back breaking labors.
Maena Farmhook is the first daughter of the farmer Matthieu Farmhook and was a stubborn and practical girl before she chose the path of a warrior. Farmhook farm is on the edge of the woods and from those trees any number of foul or malcontent monsters can and will eventually burst forth, or at least as she reckons. Being on the edge of the village her home is more often the target of wolves and the passing bear but more importantly their village of Redstaff is along a road that eventually leads much further north to Temple. Counter intuitively instead of making the roads safer it is more often the case that fleeing fiends will pass through, turning some poor creature into its victim to fuel its frantic flight. She learned about life and death this way at an early, helpless age when Maena watched as her paltry herd of sheep was torn to shreds by a werewolf.
The beast would’ve had her as well had it not been for Matthieu’s watchful eye and skill with the quarterstaff. The werewolf had already been wounded by some other hunter and Matthieu allowed it to escape. Afterwards Maena threw herself into combat lessons with her father who immediately put her into heavy leather armor. Her strength was sapped by the armor and she sought out the many villagers who might be able to teacher her something useful beyond a quarterstaff. The most influential of which was Bette Rosso, the pit fighter, who agreed to teach Maena in her off time at the taverns. It was she who taught Maena those forms of fighting that her father would not allow which included using her natural assets to distract the majority of her opponents. The pit fighting skills gave her a greater freedom from the heavy armor that slowed her down so dangerously. Everyone was ready for a woman in armor but it was her unusual garb that made her opponents underestimate her and this she used to put down countless ruffians who were focused on her flesh instead of her weapons.
Maena continued to spend most of her time in the tavern, making friends or teachers of those who stay for a drink and learning their tricks. Years of practice and maturation led to a seasoned fighter who sports only a few select pieces of armor that she had won from opponents, many of which formerly belonged to some of the cockier males in the village, with her labors and deeds. Some now whisper about her as the Warrior Maiden, a mercenary and sword to lend to the battle for the village. Although still young she keeps a weathered eye on the tree line for any creep and a silver chain to subdue the werewolf.
Julie Alcoast is a peasant in the village of Redstaff, living in a small apartment above the blacksmith’s which she had worked for tirelessly herself. She has a son with the blacksmith but enjoys being a free woman and rebuffs the few advances she receives. If you need something done it’s Julie that you can call on, any tiny job is her domain, from sewing to dusting to mucking out stables or slaughtering animals. The Alcoast family has never been above doing honest hard labor, all of them have scratched a life out of the hard earth and Julie left her family in the south to make a place of her own. Redstaff
appealed to her, more importantly they needed her. In the first few hours after her arrival Julie had a job at several homes to tend to cleaning and horses and paid her handsomely for the work they themselves had no time for.
Julie is beloved by the people, and feared as well. No one knows how but Julie has a stranglehold over the Alderman, although she would never do so many whisper that she could walk out of his mansion with everything he owned and he would not call for the guards or raise a hand. She is kind not to flex her power often but when her son Tomnin lost the Alderman’s coin purse down the well during a juggling demonstration the Alderman intended to give the scrawny lad a vicious thrashing. Julie put her foot down, interposing herself between them and whispering something into the ear of the old man. A mere heartbeat later and mother and son were gone without reprimand or scorn.
Few are those in the village who didn’t turn to her eventually, most of them come to enjoy her easy laugh and nowhere is she more enjoyable than when she’s found in a tavern ankle deep in a cup with a belly full of some warm meal from the kitchen. As someone who cooks and cleans for a living it’s a pleasure that she affords herself to buy her evening meals in such comforting places among her many friends and prospective clients. It’s her way to stop serving long enough to drink in her time and often to join the crowd who come to see her son.
Hardwick Thistlebound’s family has been living in the village of Redstaff since the last regent passed away over half a century ago. His grandparents moved from their forest home to escape a terrible manticore rampage, and found the workers of the mining camp both warm and inviting. Once in camp, they found their generations of woodcarving and landscaping useful in the business of providing burial and undertaking, a practice long shared by their cousins in the Dark Lands. However, their newfound morbid profession was not always embraced by the younger members, and such was the case with Hardwick.
Hardwick loved making people laugh, but families in times of grieving have little place for folly or levity, so the young halfling would steal away the free hours in local taverns and pubs, performing acrobatic tricks and staging general buffoonery. His wily sense of humor and razor-sharp wit won him acclaim and even coin in some of his frequented establishments. In time, his father began to learn of his side activities through gossip in the local community. Yew Thistlebound was a far more stern, somber man with no regard for his son making a fool of the family name. The senior Thistlebound had always commanded respect from his peers and total submission from his children, and his totalitarian views would not allow for Hardwick to engage in the family business by day and lead others in drunken revelry by night, so he gave the young lad a choice: straighten up and act respectable, or leave the family home.
The greater fortune of Redstaff is that Hardwick remained when he could not be turned to the family business, so Hardwick began work in earnest as a jester, performing in the streets by day and the taverns by night. Soon, word had spread of the madcap halfling to nearby towns and villages. Thereafter, any time he entered a room, the crowd would inevitably begin hounding him for more jokes and pratfalls, of which he had aplenty. Now he makes a handsome living traveling from tavern to tavern as the Halfling Jester, doing what he loves for the people who love him for doing it.