You walk into the loud, crowded tavern. Music fills your ears, a chaotic medley of local minstrels and temple hymns that compete over the roar of wrestling patrons and rowdy drunks. A whole hog gleams in golden honey over the fire, broken mugs and shattered wine bottles punctuating the scene. A dagger soars over the crowd, an arrow into the bar, a stool through the window. A wizard moves magical pieces on an old map, a Rogue sharpens her knives and a Druid turns into a Bear to finally show that braggart Barbarian whose really is the strongest.
Welcome to the Red Raven Inn! An open door to any weary adventurer, seeker of fortune or thrill seeker, The Inn is always open! Heroes, villains, mercenaries and scoundrels abound at the Red Raven, all eager to stake their next claim. The hearth is glowing, the mead is flowing, so pull up a chair! All are welcome at the Red Raven, and all are for hire, for the right cause…or the right price!
1) Elise Turner, Fighter Duelist
Leaning against the hearth, sizing up everyone who enters the Red Raven, Elise is already itching for her next duel. It isn’t just about the fight, she knows that combat is an experience to be savored! The anticipation, the posturing, the cheers of the crowd, all of it just a prelude to the adrenaline rush yet to come! Her jade eyes spark with a fire all their own as she caresses the hilt of her rapier, anxiously savoring the anticipation. Tapping one booted toe on the dirty ground she bites a toothpick in half, her grin that of a predator ready to strike!
In combat Elise first taunts her foes, and prefers one-to-one fights. She strikes with her Rapier and when available will use a Shield to her advantage. Though cocky and arrogant, Elise will not fight dirty, and will not strike to kill unless threatened with death herself.
2) James Riley, Well Read Wizard
Tapping a long pipe into the table’s built-in ashtray, James stares intently at the ancient text, deciphering one encrypted line at a time. Stroking his stubbly beard with irritated distraction he mutters to himself, casting Mage Hand to bring his drink closer to grasp. He is oblivious to the bustling tavern around him, going as far as to not immediately respond to anyone who approaches him. Grinning as the text yields another piece to the puzzle he crunches into a crisp apple, hungry more for the knowledge that awaits him than the fruit in his palm.
James prefers to avoid combat, choosing instead to use his Magic and Knowledge preemptively and defensively. He is much more likely to flee a fight than stand and fight, and uses his wit to talk out of hairy situations. However, he will risk even his own life for a piece of lost knowledge. If pressed he carries a concealed dagger, and a whole bandolier of potions and scrolls.
3) Malcolm Alford, Veteran Paladin
Humming an old hymn learned decades ago in monastery, the aging Malcolm smiles warmly, polishing his battered armor near the fireside. Though more hairs have grayed in recent years, especially from the ware of a constant call to arms, he has never been known to cease his welcoming demeanor. His calming aura beguiles the warrior within, and the myriad of weapons resting nearby. With a half covered yawn he stretches a stiff shoulder, cringing only slightly as he hums his way into another beloved tune.
Malcolm carries several two-handed weapons, bladed and blunt. He will not provoke a fight, but will intervene in the defense of an innocent. He fights by striking heavy blows, but will pull shots to deal nonlethal damage when able. He will use his abilities to support his allies, and those who need the protection more than he does first.
4) Hazel Gentry, Eager Rogue
Twirling a sharpened dagger in what would be a dazzling display if meant for a crowd, Hazel flings yet another blade over her head into the crossbeams of the ceiling. She snickers to herself ,having finished spelling her name with knives and random bits of silverware in the old wooden beam. Eccentric and self absorbed, Hazel’s wild light brown hair matches the gleam in her eyes. Leaning forward at the table she smiles over her drink, listening to the opportunities that fill the air around her. So many ways to make her mark, so little time! Now to just pick a lead before the boredom settles in again.
Hazel is eager to strike her opponents, but prefers to do so suddenly and in unexpected ways. She bores easily, and despite her ability to sneak effectively will only do so when the plan intrigues her. She is too impatient for long plans and waiting games, but enjoys complex fights, and will risk even death for the chance of some real excitement.
5) Titus Hayden, Marksman Fighter
Taking a steady breath Titus closes his eyes. Opening them purposefully he looses two arrows at once, successfully pinning a pair of apples to the wall across the crowded tavern. Many heroes cheer while other patrons duck, cursing the cocky archer. Titus scoffs, unsatisfied having hit the apples slightly off center. Though he accepts the winnings, scooping the gold and tucking it away, he refuses any compliments on such a sloppy shot. Sheathing his composite bow he returns to the bar, paying off another small bit of his extensive tab.
Titus is a sniper when it comes to archery, fighting from long range with impressive accuracy. He avoids close combat at all costs, and will flee a fight before being struck by melee blows. He does not pretend to have the physical build of other fighters, relying otherwise on his high dexterity to dodge and strike from range. He has an impressive debt at the Red Raven from all his years of gambling, but at last has gotten to the point where he can begin paying it off, even if it means taking some risky jobs or bets to get out of the red.
6) Lawrence Holden, Loyal Barbarian
Downing another pint to the cheers of the crowd, Lawrence shatters the mug on the table. Kicking back in his chair he embraces the glow of the patrons around him. Lawrence is never more at home than when surrounded by the boisterous crowds of the Red Raven, a warm reminder of the nights spent with his tribal brothers now so far away. Ordering another round for all of his friends the whole bar cheers, inviting the next wave of weary adventurers to see who can drink the hulking Lawrence under the table. He meets the challenge head on, happy to make another friend.
Lawrence fights loyally beside his friends, hefting heavy blows and raging when the fight turns against him. He is very confident in his abilities, and tends to underestimate his opponents. When his friends are threatened he will fight to his death to save them, and will never leave a fallen ally in the field. His hubris is his biggest flaw, too many victories has led him to believe he truly is invincible.
7) Liliana Park, Disciplined Monk
Chanting her favorite mantra under her breath Liliana raises a clenched fist, then quickly drives it into the table. The woodwork splinters into shards, sending a cascade of coins perfectly into a dozen purposefully placed flagons nearby. Despite the cheers she shuns the praise, content to have shown others the merits of leading a contemplative life, and the abilities it can yield. Her well kept auburn hair sits in careful braids, moving in time with her chants and breathing. Clasping her prayer beads again in hand she focuses her Ki outward, into the crowd, seeking others in need of guidance on life’s twisting paths.
Though a pacifist in principle, Liliana will not shy away from a fight. Her serene stance and movements are unsettling to her opponents, and foes often succumb to her flurry of blows and powerful stunning fist. She avoids killing when possible, but will fight to the death herself, accepting her time has come whenever it may choose to come.
8) Emory Silva, Benevolent Cleric
Paying the tab for a down and out adventurer, Emory clasps the weary traveler’s arm and reminds him to always keep the faith. Satisfied at having led another soul home to the faith he treats himself to a fine wine, savoring the reward of loyal service to his god. His golden holy symbol reflects the firelight in impressive arrays, an open invitation to any who wish to converse on the greater mysteries of the universe. His youthful blonde hair shines as though it has a light of its own, a beacon of hope to all in these dark days.
Invoking his god’s presence, Emory will buff his weapons and armor before wading into combat, eager to show others the power of true faith. Hefting a heavy shield and ringing blows from his Morning Star, Emory will never give up a fight, confident his god will see him through. His faith is unwavering, both his greatest strength and greatest weakness.
9) Craig Mathis, Two-Faced Sorcerer
Whispers of the arcane fill the air, dancing lights jumping from his fingertips in intricate arrays. Craig smiles with a smug certainty as the barmaid swoons in his arms, fully under the whims of his charm. Savoring the sway he now holds over the maiden he sends her for another round of drinks, satisfied to have again worked his magic. She looks back at him longingly, not catching the distant sadness in Craig’s azure eyes. It’s just too easy to make a simple country girl swoon, if only he could find a real challenge to test his skills on. Craig is a lady’s man, but his confidence with the ladies is a cover for his own magical insecurities. He yearns to stretch his abilities, but is often content to make playthings of the simpler minded around him.
In combat he tosses spells unyieldingly, exhausting his entire library of options within mere seconds. He always fights all out, and when his best isn’t enough he will flee his opponent. He buries his past failures deep, and does his best to keep up his mask of playboy and lady’s man, so that no one will see through to his real self.
10) Sophie Hines, Calculating Rogue
Staring from behind hooded eyes Sophie watches the Inn, nearly one with the shadows. Even the regular patrons often miss the blonde rogue concealed at her corner table. Ever so gently tapping her gloved index fingers together she evaluates the adventurers that come and go, planning her next easy mark. Every jingle of coin, every hushed voice and every clinked drink fills her ears, not a single detail slipping past her perceptive eyes and ears. Stretching out her keen senses she feels the rowdy tavern ebb and flow around her and quietly, purposefully, patiently, she closes her dark eyes, and waits.
Sophie relies very heavily on her skills, and sneak attacks from cover to start a fight. If she can’t finish a target within the first few rounds of combat she will disengage and wait for another opportunity to strike. She is a thief first, a fighter second, and is not above selling her skills. If treated well she will remain loyal as long as the coin does not run out. If treated poorly she will slip away and wait for the right moment to seek her revenge.
The Story Continues…
Feel free to use these characters in your RPG settings, and check back from time to time to see who else has joined the patrons of the Red Raven Inn! Use these characters as springboards for new adventures, or supplements to your already complex worlds. Keep your eyes peeled for more installments to come, and fill your world with the Heroes for Hire the Red Raven Inn has to offer. Adventure awaits all of us, which path will you take?
What is the most memorable NPC you ever encountered? Have you ever discovered a friendly NPC was really a Hero or Villain all along? Leave your favorite NPC stories in the comments, and as always, Have Fun!