Friday, October 22, 2010

Claude d'Sarlat the Gourmand

Wonderful character and plot hooks below, taken from the geniuses over at Dungeons & Digressions (here) [I have changed regional names to reflect the AZ Adventures camplaign:

Claude's Controversial Cooking

Claude d'Sarlat is an eccentric and very wealthy gourmand. He regularly employs groups of adventurers to hunt down, kill (or trap), and retrieve for him various creatures - mostly four footed monsters but also exotic flora and fowl. Claude eats it all.

He is a large man: short of stature, but it would be unfair to call him “fat” - obscenely obese would be more accurate, or as Claude prefers, “most long of girth”. He wears an unfashionable mustache, which is typically encrusted with the remains of food, and he is almost constantly eating. Short-tempered and demanding, he’s very unpleasant to be around, and were it not for the fact that he pays extremely well (and can afford it), he would no doubt be quite alone.

His chef, one “Tirel”, himself an eccentric and worldly character, gladly indulges Claude’s culinary desires. Without Claude knowing it, Tirel has even expanded his repertoire to include bipedal beasts such as owlbears (and others) but has not yet dared to surreptitiously introduce Claude to these more acquired tastes.

He’s always surrounded by personal servants and bodyguards, one of whom will have a bucket handy should Claude need to quickly vacate his stomach’s contents to make room for another course.

Employment Opportunities Available

Claude is eager to employ experienced travelers and dungeoneers in his territory to retrieve for him some “free-range” meats from nearby grottos, preferably live or very freshly killed. Some of his servants are busy watching the local taverns for such travelers and will occasionally approach them with offers of employment (not revealing the actual name of their own employer). Acquired “game” should be presented to and will be paid for by Tirel directly.

Several other nobles have heard of Tirel’s exotic meals, and some wish to try them. Others feel the notion of eating monsters is an abomination and that Claude and Tirel are criminals whose actions imply that these creatures’ existence has a purpose and that they should not just be exterminated.

Claude's Origins

A long time ago, Claude was once a dungeoneer himself. Trapped by a cave-in, he sustained himself by living on the partially-eaten carcasses of battling monsters while awaiting rescue from outside. His survival was aided by his family’s greatest treasure, a Ring of Invisibility. Claude trained for a time as a magic user but his last dungeon experience turned him away from it (it also made him a touch mad).

Claude owns a keep and has inherited a small fiefdom - while not exactly encouraging monsters to forage for human and demihuman fare of their own, he does seem to tolerate it - or at least does so according to many of his not so loyal nor admiring subjects. Rumors of his more exotic tastes have recently spread throughout the land, and his appetite is already legendary.

Claude: Magic User 7: HP 28, AC 9 [11], Atk dagger d4, Str 10, Dex 9, Con 18, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 7, Ring of Invisibility, Spells: Charm Person, Magic Missile, Read Magic, Sleep, Continual Light, Detect Invisibility, Stinking Cloud, Haste, Lightning Bolt, Charm Monster. He will seldom use the ring unless in extreme danger, and will only do so in conjunction with casting Haste upon himself.

Tirel: Fighter 4: HP 21, AC 5 [14], Atk long sword d8, Str 12, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 14.

Bodyguards (d6 at any given time) are 1st level fighters with a 2nd level captain.

The Fairie Trade

Claude de Sarlat is almost universally reviled by the inhabitants of Arizona, as is his practice of eating monsters, but no one can deny the culinary expertise of his head chef Tirel. In fact, it was Tirel who first pioneered and perfected the incredibly delicious and now very popular practice of cooking with fairy flakes.

Popkin fairies, at one time common throughout the Phoenix Valley, were discovered by Tirel to have exceptional flavor enhancing qualities when properly prepared. To those who have tasted the dried and shaved remains of these creatures, it’s hardly necessary to convey the extraordinary effect that they have on the palate. Describing the savory essence that popkins add to nearly any recipe is a task best left by this author to the many bards who have seen fit to take it up in poem and song. Suffice to say that once experienced, one will never be able to leave the valley without a strong sense of recurring nostalgia or outright craving for just one more exquisite taste of the little buggers.

Of course the controversy surrounding their use in cooking is well known. In the Phoenix valley itself, such moralizing and hand-wringing is scoffed at and ridiculed, but further away (and particularly amongst the elves), consumption or possession of fairy flakes is viewed with disgust and usually results in the shunning of the individuals involved. Complicating the situation is the fact that some area residents now keep orcs as slaves for use in tracking popkin fairies. The orkish ability to sniff out the presence of popkins is uncanny and has led to the popkins’ increasing rarity and sky rocketing price.

The Great Druid of Fountain Hills has decreed that anyone determined to be hunting popkin fairies in his gardens will be publicly hanged. Even with this decree, popkin poachers and other ne’er-do-wells have been seen in ever increasing numbers in the White Mountains. Some say that should the popkin ever disappear entirely, the Druid would wreak vengeance upon the inhabitants of the valley without mercy. In the town of Tempe, a syndicate known as the Committee for Popkin Preservation (or CPP) was formed with the aim of protecting the popkin, but through infiltration by outside interests and due to infighting, it’s been ineffective and become somewhat of a laughingstock.

Disturbing rumors have begun to circulate that “dead zones” where magic functions oddly or not at all have been detected. These zones are said to correspond to areas where the popkin have been completely wiped out, but where they were known to previously congregate in large numbers. Many claim these rumors are purely the propaganda of the CPP. In any event, the future of the popkin looks grim if history is any guide - one need only recall the sad decline of the hoar fox.

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