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Pike & Shotte Punk

A Faux-Early Modern European Setting for RPGs

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NPC

The constable

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Art by Katie Loyd

Rule in Albion is devolved to local authorities.  Essentially, whoever owns the nearest manor house/ fortress/ folly is responsible for the security of the surrounding area (and those who live there).

Small towns make do with a magistrate to settle differences, and often rely on ‘the mob’ to right particularly pressing wrongs.

Crime at the level of peasant is practically nonexistent to the ruling classes.

Larger towns (or areas with a particularly benign or wealthy/ paranoid Lord) might have a detachment of soldiers garrisoned there, or a semi-professional watch.  Either way, a constable will often be a visible presence.

The constable will more-often-than-not be pressed into tax-collection and heavy-handed enforcement; rare is the constable who’s driven by a sense of morality.

Of course this is make-believe, so the constable, and the Watch, has duties beyond the historical model.  Monsters prowl the wilderness, interfere with trade, attack dignitaries etc, and it often falls to the constable to intervene – or at least make someone else do it.

Assume then that the constable (sheriff?) fancies her/ himself as a bit of a dictator, and that the calibre of those roped (blackmailed?) into working under them is only marginally above that of a common thug.  Obviously this isn’t always true, but where’s the fun in having respectable lawmakers?

They’ll need leather armour (maybe something heavier if you feel it’s appropriate), and will almost certainly have a rapier.  The more loathsome specimens make do with a cudgel.  Save as Fighter Level 1.  The Watch would be basic 0 Level types.  No treasure should be forthcoming.

The constable (and her/ his band of thugs) would make a cheerful random encounter, and would almost certainly turn up if a group of suspicious-looking player characters cause a ruckus at the local brothel/ start shooting fireballs in the temple.

On Kobolds with firearms

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I was just thinking. The image of Kobolds discharging flintlock arquebuses (supported by a forked rest, naturally) makes absolute sense.
I struggle to incorporate a lot of the humanoid/ demi-human races into my world, but giving Kobolds muskets and pikes (especially pikes, I know you’re grinning at the thought of it) lends the whole thing a suitably pulp aesthetic. So I did.
AC: 7
Hit Dice: ½ (1-4 HP)
Attacks: 1 (musket/ pike (pole arm)/ short sword)
Damage: by weapon -2*
Save as: Fighter 1
Morale: 6
Treasure: very little (!)
Alignment: chaotic
*This reflects lack of competence as well as physical weakness, so should apply to missile fire as well as melee.
Pikes would be used only in larger caverns, and only in greater numbers; they’d be about 10 feet in length, requiring at least 15 feet to manoeuvre effectively; rate of fire would probably mean gunnes would be discarded after a single volley. Remember, spent muskets make wonderful clubs.
Kobolds are natural cowards, but also experience childlike glee when inflicting pain upon others. The musket appeals to the (limited) Kobold mentality since it makes a loud noise, especially in the close confines of their natural environment, can be effective at relatively safe distances, and creates a dense bank of smoke behind which the Kobold might take refuge, flee, or prepare some kind of clumsy, desperate attempt at melee.
To reflect this, Kobolds, in the round after they discharge gunnes (whether or not hits were scored), count as if in cover.

Laurence Claxton: an NPC

pspunk
Art by Katie Loyd

Laurence Claxton is confused.  For 6 months now he has wandered the countryside becoming increasingly detached from reality.  He fluctuates between periods of revelatory spiritual enlightenment (during which he believes in the certainty of his salvation) and times of crushing despair when he is paralysed by the certainty of his assured damnation.

His appearance reflects his state of mind(s): his attire, ostensibly that of a dandy (all fine black silk and velvet), shows signs of serious wear, being soiled, threadbare, and torn.  He has not washed in months.

He will be courteous (to the point of fawning) or foul-mouthed and loathsome, and there is a chance (1 in 6 with whatever modifiers the DM deems appropriate) he will attack the PCs on sight.

If encountered he will approach the PCs and attempt to engage them in a spiritual debate (even if he has already attacked them).  The slant of his argument will depend upon his current psychological state (50% chance he is assured of salvation or damnation).  He will offer to join the party and can be added as a henchman for no charge.  He acts as a level 2 Cleric (give him 9hp and something useful like Cure Light Wounds) but the party will incur a penalty of -2 on all attempts to move quietly and to all CHA-based checks due to his strange (and loud) behaviour.

Each PC must pass a CHA check every day; failure means Claxton’s ranting drives that PC (or PCs) to attempt to murder him, with the associated implications for alignment etc.

Assume he’s wearing the equivalent of leather armour, and that he’s carrying a medium weapon (whatever suits your milieu – I’d suggest a rapier and flintlock pistol).

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