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SAMPLE CHARACTER PALETTE

 

 

 

Below is a filled out palette for an NPC in the evil campaign I started running in 2009. This particular NPC was already dead by the time our campaign began, but our first session was a prelude that showed key scenes from the PCs' earlier days. When I first sketched out Gulyas I knew many things about him, and I used those elements to make a lasting impression. For much of our campaign, the PCs spoke about "Uncle Gulyas" and remembered him on their own terms. They also dealt with some of the repercussions of his worst sins many years after his death.

Please note: Gulyas is not a good man or a healthy character; he is in fact a moral leper created for a mature campaign. He is a decent example of an evil, decadent noble from a wicked society, however, and with any luck, this reveals enough to keep him from being a one-dimensional, mustache-twirling villain. If you are sensitive, you might not want to read this. Although it is not graphic, it is up front about the worst and aims to inform the reader about the character rather than moralize about his flaws.

If you choose to read the example, take note that not all of the categories are filled out, and a few things, like some of his secrets, I didn't know until I sat down to write this.

 

Name:

Gulyas Valgon

Setting:

Thay, Eltabbar, 1307-1364

Categories

Description

Opinions

Motivations

Past

Physical

Darker skinned, heavy belly, lavishly dressed

Knew that his charisma would fill in for his filled out figure

Gluttony and lust were always his key sins

Looked down on a bit for his skin and weight, but was safer because of it

Possesions

Fine wardrobe, instruments, jewels, slaves

Stuck to portable goods and didn't strive for more

Enjoyed finery but didn't want so much as to be deemed a target

Raised in luxury and despised anything else

Encountering

Traveled when younger, spent most of his later days in Eltabbar

Being jovial and respectful got him an in with many people

Preferred women to men by far, for nearly everything

Got into trouble for his forbidden encounters with women and girls

Residence

Lived in the family estate at Eltabbar

Everything important in Thay was bound to come through Eltabbar

Didn't care to get dirty in the world outside; wanted to be pampered for minimal effort

Couldn't get as much in other places; it just took too much work

Skills & Function

A good enough bard for private gain, but not a bard for the stage

Charming and manipulating were better than studying and hating

Being a bard wouldn't make his siblings look on him as a serious rival

A favorite uncle's image and escapades inspired him

Secrets & Mysteries

Molested his niece Othila and later her daughter Nauthira, among other family members during his lifetime

Didn't think he would be punished, even if he was discovered

Kept his secrets more out of excitement than fear

Was abused in various ways as a child, which he took to be normal (and in Thay, it often is the norm)

 

Guessed that his brother was dealing with demons but was okay with it

Never had anything against demons, as a rule

Kept it under tight wraps for fear that Boris would kill him

Knew many stories about demons and their ways

 

Kept in contact with Berach, who fled the family

More news of the outside world could be handy

Did it because Boris wouldn't or couldn't

Always pitied Berach because he saw himself in him: an overshadowed sibling who didn't enjoy the bloodshed

 

Only kept his son because the mother's family didn't want him

Loathed his son almost as much as his son loathed him

Knew that a son would get the family off his back for good

His illegitimate children were sent away and would never count

 

Blackmailed Ivistra about her affair

Actually liked Ivistra and pitied her

Blackmailed Ivistra as a warning that she could be caught by others who were more dangerous

Nearly got in trouble, himself, due to affairs, and paid a steep price once or twice

Reputation

The life of the party, soft and silly and harmless, enjoyable despite any faux pas

 

 

 

Politics

Stuck to the decisions his brother Boris made, since they tended to be strong moves in the end

Politics in Thay would lead to death and worse, but were a necessary evil

Believed that neither survival nor luxury could be had without enough clout or connections; clout was the danger, connections were safer

Gulyas watched as his big brother Boris moved into power as a Red Wizard and learned to play at the fringes of the political board

Morality

Belonged to the hidden goddess Samora, though he didn't know her name

Pleasure was the greatest good anyone could know

Selfishness, but mindful of those with more power

Found most religions in Thay dull or distasteful

Irrationality

Being a social and sexual predator became his second nature early

Genuinely believed slaves were inferior, as he was taught

Fear of crossing his older siblings haunted all his days

Never understood that he was damaged

Relationships

Kept his victims appeased with gifts, spells, drugs

Didn't care for Nauthira as she grew mean and would not be appeased

Making people love, need, or disregard him kept them from killing him

Avoided too much contact with his siblings, save Vadalma, who he felt safe with