The assignment said, "Nirmathas ranger guerilla leader."

A quick look through the Pathfinder wiki showed me this:

A struggling country only recently escaped from the grasp of an imperialistic master Nirmathas finds itself trapped in a constant war with the nation that seeks to reclaim it. Its people proud of there newly gained freedom try to maintain normal lives while still being ever ready to fight off the imperial advances of their southern neighbour.

Well, that just begs for a Robin Hood character, but Robin’s been done to death. I once had a notion of doing a Robin Hood story that involved the Robin of Loxley finding out about this "Robin Hood" fellow and taking up the mantle to live out the legend. I fiddled with that for a while, but I didn’t like it. Didn’t sing to me.

I liked the idea of a lawful good thief, though. More than just robbing from the rich and stealing from the poor, he’d be someone who did something awful in his past and now uses his skills to make up for that terrible crime.

Yeah. Yawn. So what?

Then, I thought of a character I wanted to play in Jess Heinig’s Dying Kingdoms larp. A mailman. Someone who carries messages across the dangerous landscape. Not just messages. Think about this for a second. Think about someone you love. Someone you love more than life itself. And think of being separated from them for a significant amount of time. There’s no internet. No phones. No way to communicate to them other than writing a letter and giving that letter to someone else for delivery. Your wife. Your lover. You father or mother. Your brother. A letter that carries your love. And you put it in the hands of this total stranger. And he travels across the hellish land full of orks and goblins and trolls and giants to give it to the one you love the most.

I thought of that for a while. That had a lot of juice in it, but it was really stealing Jess’s coolness, I wasn’t going to do that.

And then today, as I was driving in the car, my custom-made CD found a song. A great fucking song. And within seconds, I knew the character I wanted to make.

See, there’s this legend. The legend of a man bigger than any man you’ve seen before. As tall as an ogre and twice as strong. He’s got a sword tied to his back that’s bigger than he is and he’s got a beard that’s bigger than a lord’s table. Hands big enough his fingers can grip ’round a dinner plate. And he had this dog. This great hound as tall as a man’s shoulders. Big, red hound that was just as smart as any wizard you can find. And he called that big hound, "Lassie." And that big man, he was a trickster, no doubt. He could fool the feathers off a bird, the fire from the sun, and anyone else who dared piss him off. They say he once rescued a princess by climbing up a tower of glass…

He kept all the lords and ladies honest around here. If any of them tried getting the better of the common folk, our man would set them straight. He’d trick them so bad, he’d steal the crown right off their heads–even as they were holding court. And if he couldn’t fool ya, he’d just beat some sense into you with the tried and true diplomacy of a good, hard right cross.

That’s our man. He used to live around here, but one day, he just disappeared. Him and his hound. Nobody’s ever seen him since. Every tavern sings songs about him and every bard knows at least one story about him.

But the man who tells the best stories about our man? It’s the fellow who runs that old river barge, just over there. That gray old twisted man. Used to be friends with our man. That old codger, he’s as old as the river, I’ll tell you, but he’s damn clever. He knows every drop of water in that river by its name. He knows every single port, every single portmaster. Pay him a copper and he’ll take you as far down the river as you want to go. Pay him another and he’ll tell you a story about his old friend and the trouble they used to brew up together.

Yes, sir, that old man’s seen a lot in this valley, going up and down that river. More than you and I will ever see.

Of course, the old man is the legend we’re talking about. A sixty-year old retired lawful good thief. Used to rob from the rich and steal from the poor. But then, he got old. And because he gave everything away, all he’s got left is a river barge and stories. Even the dog died. But he’s still got the stories. And he’ll tell them to you for just a copper. Best damn stories you ever heard. And though he doesn’t have the strength anymore, he’s still got his wits. And maybe he’s got enough metal for just one more caper.

Ah, there’s a low bridge coming up, son. Better get your head down…

The Paizo Project, Part 4
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