Sunday, March 16, 2014

NPC Sunday: Nilsa Stowell, pawnbroker

Nilsa Stowell, pawnbroker

Despite her fierce determination, Nilsa Stowell frequently finds herself a bit out of her depth in her profession.  Being a merchant was neither her dream nor her idea, but that of her late husband.  When Olber hatched a wild scheme to salvage goods for sale from a local dungeon, only for his rat-gnawed corpse to be hauled back to town two weeks later, Nilsa found herself a 23-year-old widow with a shop and an outstanding debt to the local thieves' guild.  Four years later, she's still learning the ins and outs of business, but thus far has kept the enterprise afloat and managed to keep the guild mostly placated as well.

Nilsa deals mostly in secondhand goods, and those mostly mundane and unremarkable things like dishes, tools, candlesticks, clothing, and such.  She's also 50% likely to have any item from the miscellaneous equipment lists, and will have 1d6-1 used weapons as well, at 50-75% of the book price.   Her real passion is for old and unique items, especially those with a history, and had Olber not perished she would gladly have spent her days in the back of the shop cataloguing and appraising while he tended to clients.  She also lends coin on pawned items, at a rate of 5-10% interest per month.  She is blunt-spoken and guileless, and has neither the knack nor the patience for the absurd dance of haggling over a deal that most traders seem to relish.  Her prices are firm but fair, and only a substantial revelation about the quality if an item will persuade her to budge.  Making lowball opening offers or dishonest assessments of an item's worth for bargaining purposes are sure ways to ignite the fuse on her temper - and it's not a very long fuse.  Forthrightness will earn her respect, while showing an interest in and knowledge of antiques and curiosities goes a long way toward winning her genuine favor. 

There's a shadier side to her business as well, one that she resents mightily.  In order to keep the thieves' guild debt collectors at bay, she reluctantly agreed to fence their stolen goods.  She has shown a surprising talent for it, but despises having to compromise her principles so, and dreams of the day when she can hand the guild a sack of gold coins and be rid of them.

Appearance: Nilsa is a bit over average height, slightly plump, round-faced and dark-eyed.  She's no great beauty, but pleasant enough.  Her hair is shoulder length sandy blonde, usually tied back in a short tail.  She dresses in dark colors which unfortunately tend to show smudges of dust. 

Stats: St 9 In 12 Wi 14 Dx 11 Co 10 Ch 9, AC 9, hp 4, AT short sword, Dam 1d6, AL L
She keeps her late husband's sword behind the counter in case of emergencies.

Campaign role: PCs are likely to hear of Nilsa before their first adventure, when they're scraping the bottoms of their purses to buy equipment, or when they return from an adventure with treasures they need to convert to cash.  She is initially unable to buy items of greater than 100 gp value, but if the PCs become regular clients, her business prospers and grows at about the same rate their adventuring careers do.  Eventually, she may be happily brokering deals worth thousands of gold pieces between the player characters and wealthy collectors.  If one or more PCs are members of the thieves' guild, they'll be referred to her by the guild.  She'll dutifully serve them, but with thinly veiled disdain and frosty efficiency.  At some point, she's going to be ready to pay off her debt and part company, and the thieves' guild won't be happy about losing such a reliable fence.  The PCs may find themselves on one side or the other of the guild's schemes to undermine her efforts in order to keep a tight rein on her services.

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