He dusted the gunk off his jacket as he made his first few steps out of the prison gates. His time inside had been quick and easy off a stupid mistake he soon wouldn’t forget. His eyes catch sight of a human leaning against a post in front of the town’s tavern. He looked to be in his mid-30s and well-seasoned as a blade master from the decorative weapons strapped to his body. “I didn’t believe what I heard when they told me you were one of the best. It doesn’t look that way to me coming from the Jasper Pen,” says the human as he points with a toothpick to the prison behind. “I bet you could use a drink,” he continues as he begins walking inside the tavern. “I could use a good thief,” as he disappears into the darkness of the front door.
For the most part, it’s unnecessary to say those who play RPGs enjoy creating their characters. But each person invests different amounts of time into preparation. Perhaps they are more interested in combat and focus on starting weapons and armor and less about skills or special abilities. Maybe they spend countless hours handpicking spells to be ready for any situation but doesn’t really care whether he is an educated spell slinger or a hedge wizard. There are players who want nothing more than to fight and gain power to fight more. They won’t necessarily care much about developing their character beyond that. However, no matter what avenue you travel down with your character, if it is going to be played for a length of time, it is important to have enough invested into the character itself to keep the interest strong. You may be playing the character for months or years, so when you get to a point where the character is a veteran in the world you play in, it’s important to want to play the character because it carries interest to you in the long run. With that being said, here’s a rogue I am thinking of as I write this.
NAME: Cyprus Beezlbub
STRENGTHS: Second-story access, windows and door locks, non-magical traps, mechanical traps, lying, reading people, appraising, fast-talking
WEAKNESSES: Non-mechanical traps, greed, biting off more than he can chew, big risks, high rewards, short-term memory, sweets, duels, comebacks, pollen
BACKGROUND: Cyprus was cursed at birth. His father was a cynical tyrant who governed a very small tract of land to which he was ruthless. His pact with a devil to grant him a son, in hopes of raising him to rule with an iron fist like he, led to Cyprus having a portion of devil in his blood. His true father was the devil who made the pact, forcing himself onto Cyprus’ mother. Since then, the devil has shown up periodically to keep an eye on his son, giving him guidance as he grows though it often leads him to getting caught by authorities. Occasionally he will give Cyprus good advice to keep leading him along, and on those high notes he often lives quite lavishly.
But Cyprus has lived a dark life filled with espionage, theft, arson, and murder. He is quick to talk himself out of a situation, but he often finds himself stumbling or choosing poorly that has led him to 39 arrests and 15 death sentences. The latter has been avoided from his escape each time, which his skills are fortunately strong enough to allow him to do so, but his time is now short. Multiple bounties are on his head, and his next arrest will be an immediate death without trial. As a result, he has refocused his efforts on his skills of staying alive and keeping unnoticed, hiding in the shadows, and honing his skills in disguise to avoid confrontations.
Most recently he has learned of a retired master thief named Klov Wulfenheisen, who decided to choose the isolating life at a monastery. He was never caught in his long and prosperous career, but his reputation as the greatest thief to ever live runs from coast to coast. Although he lives as a monk in peaceful solitude contemplating life’s intricacies, he does offer services of education for an extremely steep price. For one year of total obedient service to him, he will take someone as his student and prepare him on the secrets of his success. So far he has only trained 3 people as he rejects almost everyone who requests his help. No one knows really what gives him reason to turn away so many potential slaves as he would have acquired a great number of obedient servants by now.
Cyprus needs help getting there as the journey is long and too dangerous for just him. Although he is quick, nimble, and deceptive, there are times when combat is inevitable. So he cautiously shops for a group of people who will not be tempted to turn him in to claim the reward money that is on his head. This has proven to be extremely difficult as greed trumps loyalty in this world.
Another goal he would like to achieve in life is to get rid of his real father. His so-called foster father was killed years ago, the land seized by another, more powerful kingdom. Cyprus has moments of solitude where the interest of his devil father, Nygoz, grows bored of his son’s life and retreats to the darker parts of Hell. But Cyprus blames all of his bad luck and poor decisions on Nygoz, heavily influenced by the devil’s blood that flows within his veins. He searches in hopes of finding someone either powerful enough or wise enough to shed light on the means to rid him of his curse.
He carries with him a few things. A crowbar, some chalk, a hand mirror, 50 feet of twine, a trowel, three hollow needles, several jars of mild toxins, and a few lock picks. The rest of his arsenal varies from time to time. Sometimes he carries a stiletto dagger. Other times he wields a mace or short bow until his arrows break.
When it comes to traps, his skills fluctuate in level. He shines brightest when he tackles any form of mechanical trap such as a spring-loaded dart or gas trap. However, more natural traps such as pitfalls and ceiling failures give him considerable trouble as he cannot spot them quick enough. He has never had a sixth sense for them, and he often finds himself at the bottom of a pit or under a pile of rocks, leaving him with broken bones and cut appendages.
His social skills have been stellar for years as he has to fool the most suspicious individuals. Masking new faces, adjusting his pitch and tone of his voice, and giving new personalities with each city he travels, his very life depends on the ability to fool others into believing he is not Cyprus Beezlbub. When this fails, he is forced to eliminate the chance of that knowledge spreading. Although it is not pleasant nor has it occurred frequently, he has had to terminate the lives of innocents who learned of his identity and posed as a threat. Generally speaking most innocent people who might discover his true name won’t care and soon forget they even met him.
He has trouble passing up a challenge, especially if it is a duel or a fight. This always leads to the best chance for him to be arrested by authorities, which forces him to pull all of his tricks to escape before they arrive. Most likely the fights are started by others as he keeps to himself. Despite having a sharp wit and quick tongue, when it comes to comebacks from insults, he has never mastered the art. In fact, it always causes those who hear it burst into laughter from the hilarity.
That gets me started with a solid character. Cyprus has an unusually dark past with his real father, two long-term goals to become a master thief and eliminate his annoying father, and he has an assortment of behaviors to play off for roleplaying such as allergies and a sweet tooth. He adds tension and excitement not just to his character but to any group he is a part of because of all the warrants and bounties on his head. It will give plenty of obstacles for the group to overcome even by doing mundane things such as entering town to sleep for the night. Once he succeeds in his mastery as a thief, the character will be forfeited for a year while he pays his services. In that time, I’ll have to choose another character to fill in, perhaps an NPC that has been following the group, or perhaps Cyprus’ father, Nygoz, as I develop the situation with him, revealing to the party why this devil is particularly interested in keeping track of his son….
Until next time, lie about your dice roll as much as you can get away with. Thanks for stopping by.