Gemat Karne, Dwarven Bard

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, Troll Bouncer

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, Warrior Maiden

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, Peasant

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, Halfling Jester

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.