Several years ago (around 2003), I participated in an online collaboration to produce a game setting with all the trimmings and details.
The setting was named Korak’s Reach, a town built on what was literally a flying stone hand that was trapped and positioned between the two walls of a perilous and uncrossed chasm. Being a new and natural trade route, a town grew up there almost immediately.
My contribution was to create one of the sections, built on one of the “fingers” named “The Way of the Road” that was sometimes also known as “The Way of the Rodent” not just for the four-legged rats that infest the place but also for their two-legged cousins. This was the lower section, the caravan section. It was not a nice place.
The following are some of the characters I created for this project.
Human Wiz(Enchanter) 5 NG
Scatter-brained. That’s the description most often heard about Hestiana, a wizard whose spells often misfire. No one knows exactly how she has survived this far as a wizard, or why half of her spells fail while the other half are so successful, but its obvious that she wouldn’t last a day with an adventuring party. There is a betting pool at the nearby tavern as to the next time she accidentally blows out a wall or window of her house, or has a similar accident.
The reason for her failures is that she’s constantly experimenting with spells of her restricted schools, Evocation and Conjuration, from an old spellbook she acquired from an adventuring party she traveled with in coming to Korak’s Reach. However, her training was incomplete, so she doesn’t know that her specialization limits her spell use. Even if informed of that fact, she will still stubbornly try to master them.
The reason for her successes is that she has a particular knack for casting Enchantment spells. She rarely casts such spells except to protect herself, but when she does so, the results have been quire spectacular, such as the time she blew a kiss to a group of low‑level elven bandits, and they all fell asleep.
She keeps to herself most of the time, preferring to sleep late and stay awake into the midnight hours, researching and experimenting with spells. To put food on her table, she sells scrolls and occasionally wands to passing adventurers. It is rumored that she will cast spells for hire, but given her reputation and the fact that she specializes in Enchantment and Illusion spells, that rumor is largely discounted. As for her reputation for being scatter‑brained, she doesn’t seem to mind, and has even encouraged it on a couple of occasions.
Hestiana is tall and broad shouldered and is considered rather attractive. She has long, curly black hair that never seems to be manageable, dark brown eyes, and a sly, mischievous smile. She is naturally gregarious and is always interested in talking “shop” with other wizards.
For protection, she always carries a wand of Deep Slumber and a wand of Charm Person. She will also memorize defensive spells unless she expects to be crafting a wand, in which case she will lock herself in her house and not emerge until it is completed.
In order to further her contacts with adventurers, she has made inquiries about joining the Explorers Cult. She has offered to give a 5% discount on scrolls and wands to teams backed by the Explorers.
Hestiana, female human Wiz5: CR 5; Size M (5 ft., 8 in. tall); HD 5d4+10; hp 23; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+3 Dex, +1 Bracers); Attack +2 mêlée, or +5 ranged; SV Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +4; AL NG; Str 10, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 13.
Languages Spoken: Common, Sylvan.
Skills and feats: Bluff +9, Concentration +6, Craft (wands) +9, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Move silently +3, Spellcraft +11; Craft wand, [Scribe scroll], Silent spell, Spell Focus (Enchantment), Still spell. Restricted schools: conjuration, evocation.
Possessions: Bracers of Armor +1, Cloak of Useful Items, Wand of Charm Person (32 charges), Wand of Deep Slumber (39 charges), several scrolls of Charm Person, Hold Person, Deep Slumber and Sleep.
Wizard Spells Known: 0th — Arcane Mark, Daze *, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Disrupt Undead, Ghost Sound, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, Read Magic, Resistance. 1st — Cause Fear, Charm Person *, Color Spray, Disguise Self, Hypnotism *, Protection from Chaos, Shield, Sleep *, Ventriloquism. 2nd — Blindness/Deafness, Blur, Daze Monster *, Hypnotic Pattern, Knock, Pyrotechnics. 3rd — Deep Slumber *, Dispel Magic, Hold Person *.
Wizard Spells Memorized (4/4/3/2): 0th — Detect Magic, Mage Hand, Mending, Prestidigitation. 1st — Charm Person (x2), Shield, Sleep. 2nd — Blindness/Deafness, Blur, Hypnotic Pattern. 3rd — Sleep (silent, stilled), Charm Person (silent, stilled).
Base DC 13⁄14 for all Enchantment spells *
Kestren al Mortensen
Human Pal 2/Rgr 3 TN
A fallen paladin, he quickly discovered that his black and white view of the world didn’t cover the many shades of Grey that he was encountering, making him embittered yet driven. Now he pursues his vision of justice unencumbered by the law, and prowls the dark streets of Korak’s Reach. Kestren, staunch upholder of justice, has been reborn as the hunter of the guilty, and he now hunts the human animals in their own territory.
By day, he is a rag- and stick-picker, collecting trash on the streets, inconspicuously yet critically eyeing everyone that passes. Those who pass him by on the streets and deign to look at him see nothing more than a broken‑down fallen paladin, which is what he was when he first came to the town, worthy of only curses and the occasional blow if he does not hurry out of their way quickly enough.
By night, he takes his twin blades from their place of concealment, dons his blackened leather armor and stalks the lowest criminal elements of the town. His disguise has been sufficient enough to avoid even the slightest hint of suspicion: no one has connected the filthy man with matted brown hair and tattered clothes with the several efficient deaths by his blades. Most of the people he has killed have been assumed to have been murdered by rival criminal factions. The only person who thinks otherwise is Frill, the head of security for the Board of Governors, who views this nameless vigilante as a necessary evil in the town.
Kestren has recently been quietly contacted by members of the Cult of Shiraeva, with the eventual intent of seeing whether this fallen Paladin could be turned into a Blackguard. So far, he has been quietly non-committal to their overtures, but has marked these members for further investigation. It is not known whether these members are working on behalf of the cult leader, or in opposition to them.
Kestren: male human Pal2/Rgr3: CR 5; Size M (5 ft., 10 in. tall); HD 2d10+2 + 3d10+3; hp 28; Init +4 (+4 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 18 (+4 Dex, +4 armor); Attack +9 mêlée, or +9 ranged; SV Fort +10, Ref +8, Will +9; AL N; Str 19, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 16.
Languages Spoken: Auran, Common.
Skills and feats: Climb +4, Craft (arms) +7, Disguise +6, Heal +9, Hide +4/+9, Jump +6, Listen +3, Move silently +4/+9, Profession (armsmith) +9, Ride +8, Spot +3, Survival +9; [Favored enemy: humans], Iron will, [Two Weapon Fighting], [Track], Weapon focus (longsword), Weapon focus (shortsword).
Possessions: +1 Shadowed, Silent Moves Studded Leather, matched set of masterwork longsword and shortsword.
Paladin Spells Per Day: None until 4th level.
Ranger Spells Per Day: None until 4th level.
Human Clr 5 NE
The word on the street is that if you need healing without questions, see the man with one eye at the end of Stoop Lane. He uses magic sparingly, preferring to rely on noxious potions and mundane healing. He’s also the man to go to for cheap and effective poisons, but that fact isn’t as widely known. Still, his clients receive good services for a fair price; and he gets protection from even the most chaotic of criminal gangs. The last person to violate his protection was tied to a stone and tossed into the river, still kicking; it was never determined whether he died by drowning or by bleeding to death on the way down.
Randell isn’t missing his right eye. He wears a patch over it because his eye is so identifiable that he has to hide it.
Randell One-Eye was born with features inherited of a distant orc ancestor: rough, sallow skin, a mouthful of jagged, pointed teeth, and, most telling, a large, bloodshot right eye. Because of his odd (and, to some, slightly demonic) features, he was feared and tormented by the children of his village. He quickly turned spiteful and bitter, taking his anger out on the younger children of the village. That anger attracted the attention of a sect of the Cult of the One Handed God dedicated to satisfying revenge and causing chaos and disruption.
Randell proved to be an enthusiastic convert to the cult. Too enthusiastic, it turned out, to suit the taste and ambition of the cult leader, who saw in Randell as an up-and-coming rival. In what rapidly became a purge of the cult leadership, Randell was falsely accused of sympathy to a rival cult, and was nearly blinded and killed when he ran for his life. The attack left a visible scar across his face, which provides a convenient cover for his story of having been blinded in his right eye.
He suffered even more when he first arrived in town, seeking a place within the lower parts of town. His paranoia forced him to keep a very low profile, which made him seem weak, marking him as a target for almost everyone around him. For days he fled conflict instead of his usual practice of fighting back, afraid that he would be discovered, paying the price for his cowardice with numerous cuts and bruises. It was only after someone spotted him covertly healing himself that his true value was discovered and accepted. He finally found his place as a convenient healer who wouldn’t preach at the same time he was healing.
All of Randell’s setbacks whetted his hatred and appetite for revenge on the cult even more. He has not tried to establish a branch of the cult in town, for fear that his hated rival might discover that he had survived the attack on him; that is also why he hides his distinguishing eye from the rest of the world. Instead, he has preferred to accumulate favors from the many criminal organizations throughout the city, creating his own power base, for his own protection. Revenge comes to those who plan and prepare for it, and Randell has lots of plans and the patience to put them into action, at the proper time.
Randell has treated Kestren (see above) on a few occasions, but is still in the dark about Kestren’s true mission and abilities. If he did find out, Randell would probably blackmail Kestren into cooperating with one or more of his revenge plans.
Randell, male human Clr5: CR 5; Size M (6 ft., 3 in. tall); HD 5d8 + 3; hp 28; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10; Attack +5 mêlée, or +3 ranged; SV Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +7; AL NE; Str 14, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 9.
Languages Spoken: Common, Dwarven.
Skills and feats: Concentration +5, Craft (potions) +7, Heal +10, Knowledge (religion) +9, Listen +3, Profession (priest) +10, Spot +3; Brew potion, Toughness, Weapon focus (morningstar).
Possessions: Ring of Chameleon Power, 3 potions of Cure Light Wounds, 2 potions of Cure Moderate Wounds, 1 potion of Cure Serious Wounds.
Cleric Domains: Destruction, Evil.
Cleric Spells Per Day: 5/4+1/3+1/2+1.
Cleric Spells Memorized: 0th — Cure Minor Wounds, Detect Poison, Inflict Minor Wounds, Purify Food and Drink, Virtue. 1st — Cure Light Wounds (x2), Deathwatch, Inflict Light Wounds *, Protection from Good. 2nd — Cure Moderate Wounds (x2), Delay Poison, Shatter *. 3rd — Blindness/Deafness, Contagion *, Cure Serious Wounds.
* spells are domain spells
Halfling Rog 2/Brd 1 CG
In this city, everyone seems to have a secret. Everyone, that is, except Veridian. Which makes everyone assume he does have a secret. There has even been betting on what that secret is among certain low elements of society.
When asked what he does, he replies that he steals. Steals from the rich, he tells his compatriots in the low taverns he frequents, as he runs his hand through his long brown hair. He says it is because the poor don’t have anything worth stealing. When he isn’t stealing, he’s juggling knives and bottles and telling stories, usually all three at the same time. He successfully combines a bard’s charisma (and their vanity) and a rogue’s skills (and lack of consideration for other people’s property) into a remarkably coherent lifestyle. He’s popular enough yet inconspicuous enough and insignificant enough that he has not drawn attention from the Black Hand Guild.
Strikingly thin for a halfling (“All that strenuous exercise,” he says) but amazingly quick, Veridian always has a ready smile and cheerful attitude, not to mention a healthy appetite.
Veridian is not above helping out the occasional adventuring party, and will sometimes disappear for days, always returning with more stories to tell.
Veridian is a fourth cousin to Governor Rain Brakins and occasionally invites him to party incognito in the lower quarters, something that gives Frill, the head of security for the Board of Governors, fits.
Veridian, male halfling (lightfoot) Rog2/Brd1: CR 3; Size S (3 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 2d6+6 + 1d6+3; hp 21; Init +8 (+4 Dex, +4 Imp Init); Spd 20 ft.; AC 16 (+4 Dex, +1 Size, +1 armor); Attack +1 mêlée, or +6 ranged; SV Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +6; AL N; Str 8, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 17.
Languages Spoken: Common, Gnome, Halfling.
Skills and feats: Disable Device +8, Escape artist +8, Forgery +5, Gather information +8, Hide +8, Jump +6, Listen +7, Move silently +11, Perform +8, Profession (Storyteller) +8, Sleight of Hand +6, Spot +7, Use magic device +9; Alertness, Improved Initiative.
Possessions: Bracers of Armor +1, Brooch of Shielding (62 charges), masterwork flute, masterwork silver dagger.
Bard Spells Known (2): 0th — Detect Magic, Mending, Prestidigitation, Resistance.