Sunday, March 23, 2014

NPC Sunday: Tathred Lame-foot, beggar

Tathred Lame-foot, beggar

Outwardly, Tathred, or just Red to the locals, is a sad story wearing a cheerful face.  The club-footed youth, blind in his right eye, can always be found plying his meager trade at the edge of town on the main thoroughfare, sitting on the ground on a threadbare wool blanket.  He's an orphan, he says, with no surviving family, unable to work due to his infirmity, and every little bit helps.  Despite his bleak circumstances, he always has a bright greeting for passers-by, smiling gratitude for all who toss him a coin, and never a bitter word for those who hurry on with a tight fist on their coppers.

That veneer has won him the sympathies of most townsfolk, but beneath it is a tale rather less heartwarming.  He claims no surname, owing to his claimed orphan status, but in truth he was born to the Fenn family, a clan of fairly prosperous tradesmen and artisans a few towns over.  His club foot is a fraud, bulky wads of rags wrapped around a perfectly good leg, but he really was born with a blind eye.  That and his family's relative affluence afforded him a sheltered and coddled childhood.  When the time came for him to begin an apprenticeship and learn a trade of his own, he balked, and the more his family pressed him, the more bitterly he resisted.  At the age of 12 he ran away and discovered a world that did not cater to his whims and struggled against it, until, cold and desperate, he turned to begging and found that he had a certain knack for playing on the sympathies of strangers. 

In the three years since, he has also found useful connections among the corrupt elements of the town guard.  From his place at the roadside, he observes almost everyone who comes into town and passes along choice information to his confederates, who use the information to shake down, blackmail, or otherwise extract wealth from adventurers and traders.  In exchange, he gets the protection of the guards and a small cut of the take, more than enough to sustain his modest lifestyle.  He has a secret hideaway somewhere in an abandoned building, unknown even to the guards, where he lives a life of relative comfort for a beggar.  Other beggars tend to keep their distance from him; some resent the ease with which he plies potential marks, while others harbour suspicions ranging from the preposterous (he's a foreign prince in hiding from a cruel father, an acolyte serving a penance, or a demon in human form for some nefarious purpose) to surprisingly near the truth. 

As much as he likes easy wealth, it's the easy part that really appeals to him; his avarice is handily trumped by his laziness.  Push comes to shove, he's content with his lax existence, letting others do the heavy lifting and living off their crumbs, and isn't keen to upset this little gravy train simply for the sake of a little more silver.

Appearance:  Tathred is about 15 years old, small and skinny.  He dresses in rags, though astute observers might notice that they're not filthy rags, just moderately dirty.  One of his eyes is blue and the other is milky white; his dirty blond hair is bound under a red scarf which serves to reinforce his nickname.  On the threshold of adulthood, he typically sports a ratty fuzz of teenage facial hair around his winning, gap-toothed smile.

Stats:  St 9 In 11 Wi 7 Dx10 (appears to be 3) Co 12 Ch 15, AC 9, hp 2, AT crutch, Dam 1d4, AL N 
  He is capable of full normal movement rate should his life legitimately be in danger, but normally affects a limp at half speed or less, in keeping with his facade of infirmity.

Campaign role:  Characters are likely to meet Tathred when first entering or leaving town (depending on where they started out.)  If they're amenable, he'll banter with them while begging for coins, all the while sizing up their wealth and toughness.  A party returning laden from the dungeon will draw special notice.  He's more than happy to listen with all the wide-eyed enthusiasm of youth as they brag about their exploits and future plans, and then turn around and report whatever information he's gleaned to his cronies.  Later, the party is likely to be shaken down by the guard on pretense of collecting various taxes and fees, real and contrived, or their items seized as contraband or evidence of some imaginary crime being investigated.  Tathred will gladly pass along any rumors he hears about caches of loot to be gained in dungeon or wilderness.  If the party tends to set out with loads of expensive equipment, he might also deliberately feed them a few false rumors, setting them up to be ambushed by off-duty guards posing as bandits.   

What his family might do if they discovered his whereabouts and shameful habits is unknown.

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