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NPC Webs: The Lord’s Estate

NPC Webs: The Lord’s Estate

NPC Webs details a set of NPCs who could appear in a standard adventure location.

While talking to a patron, contact, or other major figure, these minor NPCs can serve as fleshed out background players, living their own lives.

Use them to give bit parts more character, or let the PCs get embroiled in the dramas that unfold as they meet these background characters.

The Lord’s Estate

This group of NPCs is the staff in the castle or manor house of any powerful lord, whether merchant lord, baroness, or monarch. The bold text is the stat block from the SRD where you can find stats as necessary.

Theria Ellor, Minstrel of the Court

Description: Human, early 30s, broad shoulders, olive complexion, penetrating gaze, traveler’s clothes
Portrayal: Observant, curious, charming with a hint of acid wit

The woman currently known as Theria Ellor knows that a death mark is no easy thing to live with. Her career as a spy (add Performance +5 to the skill list) went for years without incident. On the nights she stays awake reflecting on what went wrong, she wonders if the gods saved up all her bad luck for one spectacular failure.

Still, things could be worse. She avoided pursuers by insinuating herself among the vital staff at the lord’s estate, assuming a new identity. When travelers come, she inquires about news from the nearby city, looking for a sign that tells her it’s safe to drop this cover and move on.

But there’s another obstacle—her tendency to poke into the lives of others. She’s become a fixture in estate life, a confidant to almost the entire staff, and a doer of quiet favors. Someday, someone will hunt her down, but too many people would notice if she just up and left. It would call its own attention if she disappeared. She’s looking for a solution.

Joban Dano, Steward

Description: Human, 20s, fair, stately, excellent posture, well-groomed
Portrayal: Officious, precise, always tidying up

Joban is very good at his job, anticipating the lord’s needs with almost psychic prescience. He imposes an impeccable order not only on the household, but on the estate’s knights as well. He is even entrusted with managing some of the lord’s personal finances. It’s a distinguished career for minor nobles and other highborn types.

The lord has strict rules that the estate’s senior servants come from breeding. However, Joban is actually the son of Lynn, the cook, and a mere commoner. Joban’s raw competence and Theria’s guidance have so far kept him from scrutiny.

There is a way forward—adoption into nobility. Falik Irontree, the huntmaster, has no heirs. Joban is actively trying to court Falik’s favor in the hopes of one day revealing the truth of his heritage and petitioning Falik to accept him as part of House Irontree. He can often be found in Falik’s company during official functions, to Falik’s barely disguised chagrin.

Sova, “Chief” Scullion

Description: Half-elf, ageless, wiry but solid, seemingly permanent scowl
Portrayal: Frequently in the background, quiet, brusque

Technically, there is no “chief” scullion—they’re already the lowest of the low, cleaning up after other servants. Nonetheless, Sova has assumed a leadership position, making sure the scullions work and move around the castle according to her whims.

She tells herself she can’t help it. Her noble birth, a secret to all, inclines her to take charge. But there’s a practical aspect, because the scullions are a makeshift intelligence network, keeping her apprised of goings-on.

It’s useful for her actual goal: arranging the demise of Theria Ellor. Sova is an assassin, sent by a powerful client in the nearby city. Theria’s not the most demanding target she’s ever had, but everyone loves that damn woman, and even an “accidental” death would turn the estate upside down and make Sova’s escape difficult.

So she’s chosen a slower route. She’s waiting for Theria to get into some scandal or incident that might provide cover for Sova’s dark designs. If she can arrange for one from behind the scenes, so much the better.

Lynn, Cook

Description: Human, 50s, bright red curls, booming voice, hearty laugh
Portrayal: Perpetually in motion, opinionated, acts like everything is somehow funny

Lynn is a bright light at the center of the estate’s domestic enterprise, and not just because she feeds everyone. Her jokes, often ribald, echo through the servants’ halls and cause such a ruckus as to earn regular lectures from the steward.

A veteran who traded her sword for a stewpot years ago, Lynn’s humor hides a bone-deep bitterness. A failed campaign led by the lord of the estate wiped out everyone else in her company. She was pushed to retirement and has resented it since. Worse yet, her son has stars in his eyes and dreams of joining those highborn buffoons.

Lynn identified Sova as a foreign agent shortly after her arrival and confronted her. Unexpectedly, Sova also saw through Lynn’s façade. Sova intimated that she can help Lynn get justice for her fallen comrades. Now Lynn is the chief informant in Sova’s network and has no idea that the lord is not Sova’s real target. Which is how Sova wants it.

Falik Irontree, Huntmaster

Description: Dwarf, gaunt, rugged, smells like the outdoors
Portrayal: Soft of step and speech, poker-faced, low affect

Many swear an oath to die for their lord, but Falik is the one of the few who’s followed through. Cast out from his clan as a youth, he wandered until he came into the lord’s service as a scout. His sacrifice to protect the lord during a bandit raid earned him reward beyond measure—resurrection and the gift of a noble title. He’s now a clan of one and has been Falik Irontree ever since.

Though he spends his time hunting game to supply the kitchens and supervising visiting nobles who hunt in the estate’s forests, Falik also makes appearances at court out of obligation. When those functions get too loud, he wanders the castle halls to get some quiet.

These wanderings have alerted him to something on the wind. The minstrel has no sense of her station, mingling with everyone, conducting hushed conversations in every nook. The steward seems exceptionally fond of him for no discernible reason. And the cook is too curious about castle business.

Falik can smell danger. Someone’s planning something. He’s not sure how deep it goes, but any threat to his lord will meet with extreme prejudice.

about Leonard Balsera

Leonard Balsera is a free-range, 100% organic creative living at the intersection of memory and dream, though his physical form resides in Austin, Texas. He continually aspires toward mastery of several endeavors, including singing, acting, writing, improv, and game design (both digital and analog). Astonishingly, people have even paid him for doing a few of these things on occasion—just ask Google.

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