Character Spotlight: Brother Bryn

Name: Brother Bryn

Concept: Self flagellating fanatical and puritanical paladin of Pelor

Motivations: Teach the weak to defend themselves

Physical description:

Beaten down appearance. Homely features with smallpox scars. Broken nose and cauliflower ears.  White patch in hair due to large underlying scar. Build shows signs of malnutrion in childhood.

However he is clearly powerfully animated with a higher purpose (high Cha) and has an almost tangible holy aura. This makes most people feel quite uncomfortable and people have trouble meeting his unblinking gaze.

He wears cheap peasant garments with armour that looks crudely forged. He carries a large whitewashed tower shield beautifully painted with a motif showing rays of light shining from a lantern.

Background:

Bryn (he can’t remember his family name), was born to a family of poor farmers who were part of a failing community farming in a valley in the wilderness north of Elsir Vale. Although once thriving  this community was gradually collapsing. Over the last decade constant lizardman raids had eroded the population and resources to the point of collapse. Originally the lizardman raids were just a nuisance, but gradually the outlying farms were overrun and the population declined. Not only did the ability of the community to protect itself diminish but the raids fell more often on each farm.

Bryn’s earliest memory is of his parents trying to plough a field with his father hitched to a plough after their horse was stolen. As things became critical with everyone half starved and exhausted from overwork a smallpox epidemic struck. All of Bryn’s family died as did all but a few dozen people. Although they didn’t know the disease was spread by blankets taken from another village wiped out by smallpox, and sold on by an unscruplous trader. Bryn now sees a divine hand in his survival, unlikely as it was, him being weaker and smaller than his brothers and sisters.

The few dozen survivors abandoned their village, gathered what possessions they could and set out across the wilderness to the nearest city, Dennovar. After several weeks of travel, battling terrible weather they got within sight of the city only to be attacked by a hobgoblin slaver gang known as the BloodReavers. The few adults left were killed and all the children captured except for Bryn who looking so weak and sickly was judged to not be worth the trouble.

Bryn made his way into the city to find it flooded with refugees from the north following Lady Yisel Bristeir’s catastrophic attempts to cleanse the area of monstrous races. The city was hopeless overcrowded and Lady Yisel had no ability to feed the refugees even had she cared about the commoners.

Bryn would have soon died, either of starvation or murdered by the desperate criminal gangs that ruled the refugee camps had he not been adopted by an elderly street artist called Carrick. Dirt poor himself he had been a sign painter with his own shop until he got into debt with unscrupulous money lenders. Now he scraped a living drawing pictures on the flagstones of the town squares with chalk or charcoal for a few copper coins from wealthier passer-bys. Despite their desperate poverty Bryn was happy as Carrick’s apprentice, carrying his few possessions and completing the drawings when Carrick’s arthritis was bad. Carrick became a substitute for his family which Bryn barely remembered. Carrick was kindly soul who’s only weakness was an inability to manage his money. This got the pair into trouble time and time again as Carrick spent their few coins on new chalks rather than paying ‘tax’ to the criminal gangs. Both of the pair endured many beating from this cause.

Everyone said that when Carrick met his end it would be at the hands of the gangs but actually it was at the hands of the Dennovar Blades, the city’s standing army. Lady Yisel, becoming more and more annoyed at the refugees and beggars filling her city turned to the Merchant Council. High Councilor Nindel Thorn, sensing an opportunity to seize de facto power, took control of the Blades and ordered them to round up the refugees and use them as slave labour to improve the city’s fortifications. Carrick was working on a large picture of the Cathedral of Bahamut in main square when a company of Dennovar Blades swept in and started herding people into slave cages. The terrified refugees stampeded and several soldiers were trampled. The rest overreacted and waded in with drawn swords. Carrick was cut down pleading with a trooper not to tread on his picture. Bryn tried to flee but was cut in the head and left bleeding. He was one of the lucky ones. A passing priest of Pelor came upon the scene of the massacre just as the troopers were finishing off the wounded. He didn’t do anything but his presence made the troopers pause before murdering the defenseless.

Those refugees left alive were taken to work on the fortifications, doing hard physical work all day with no protection from the elements [Endurance Trained]. Many died of exhaustion or exposure. Bryn was lucky in that his small size was an advantage. A fixed weight of rations were given out to each worker no matter what their size. This meant that the larger slaves that needed more calories starved much more quickly.

Eventually the raids ended and Lady Yisel, unwilling to continue paying the high rates of the dwarven stone masons of the Hammerfist Holds, gave up on the project. The surviving slaves were freed but lacking the funds to support themselves were all immediately arrested for vagrancy and sent to the workhouses.

Bryn expected he would spend the rest of his life labouring for the Merchant Council when a missionary priest of Pelor game to the workhouse to preach. The inmates who were either spiritually dead ex-slaves, criminals, or drunks had little interest in sermons about how Pelor loved them, but for Bryn it was a window onto a different world. He had never before even set foot in a temple let alone heard a priest speak. In his experience the gods were only for the rich who could pay for donations, but here was someone teaching that there was a god who not only cared about the poor but was actively trying to help them. A group of drunks got tired of heckling and climbed on stage to rough up the priest. Everything in Bryn’s life had taught him to keep his head down and not get involved, but something made him jump onto the stage, possibly that the elderly priest reminded him of Carrick. Something had snapped inside him and he broke a chair over one from behind and had choked a second unconscious before the others set on him and beat him senseless.

When Bryn came to he was expecting to be in the jail but instead he found himself in a room in the monastery of Pelor. The priest had paid off his debts as his way of saying thank you. Bryn was allowed to stay in the monastery while his broken ribs healed. The priests were surprised and pleased that he attended every service, with more enthusiasm than most of the monks. Eventually when his injuries healed they offered to let him join as an initiate, which Bryn gratefully accepted. The spartan life of a monk was unimaginable luxury compared to the workhouse and all day working in the fields was no hardship compared to carrying rocks for the city’s fortifications. With the fanatical enthusiasm of the new convert he unquestioningly soaked up the priests teachings [Religion Trained]. Soon he was promoted and was accompanying the priest on further trips to gain recruits from the workhouses and from the street people. The priests found he had no aptitude for public speaking but had a knack for understanding what made people tick [Insight trained]. With Bryn helping the order soon had many more recruits.

What Bryn had no way of knowing was that the monastery was an extreme sect that had interpreted the word of Pelor quite differently to the mainstream of the religion. This sect was called “The Lantern of the White Light” after a parable in which Pelor was likened to a lantern that illuminated the world denying evil a place to hide. The core tenet of the faith was that the weak must be taught to protect themselves. They preached that evil stalked the world in various guises and that it preyed on the helpless. Therefore the only way to defeat it was to ensure that everyone with no exception was ready to fight it. If the agents of good were few it did not matter how powerful they were because evil would simply thrive wherever they were not.

The monks were required to complete martial training, and many were competent warriors but more important was considered the ability to endure. It was expected that evil would be stronger, quicker and more skilled. However the religion taught that the faithful could defeat this by willpower and endurance. The weak were many and therefore if they were taught the courage to fight then evil would always be outnumbered.

In this Bryn had an advantage. Although he tried to learn the skills of a warrior he was never more than passable, but his life had given him a order of magnitude more beatings than most soldiers. He had an indifference to hardship supplemented by a fanatic’s courage.

After completing his training Bryn was sent into the world to do Pelor’s work. The White Light sought out the weak, peasant farmers, the underclass of the cities and slaves. Bryn and a group of paladins were sent out to the borderlands north of Talar where they stayed with peasant farmers terrorised by non-human raiders and their own rapacious lords. They tried to teach them to stand together and help each other, by preaching the White Light’s version of the path of Pelor. More importantly they taught them practical ways to fight back against evil. This included basic weapon training, how to convert farming implements into weapons, how to fortify farms, how to ambush bandits and raiders and track them to their lairs. Unfortunately this didn’t go down well with the authorities, to the peasants (and Bryn) there was no difference between tax collectors and bandits as both came and took their meagre possessions. Similarly there was little difference between nobles and non-humans, both lived in a different world and seemed to constantly devise new ways to make the peasants suffer.

Within a month of the arrival of Bryn and his order, the area flared up in a peasant revolt. Tax collectors were ‘arrested’ and hanged in commoners courts, the local lord’s men were lured into ambushes and his castle under effective siege. The elderly lord Nesten fought back by hiring a company of foreign mercenaries, but this army found every farm a stronghold held by peasants who refused to surrender. The mercenaries used to chivalrous fighting against other professional soldiers, found it unnerving to fight peasants where woman and children fought alongside the men. After losing two dozen men in an assault on a farm held by six men and seven women and a dozen children, the mercenaries quit and returned home.

Lord Nesten fled to Brindol where he tried to petition a wealthy relative, Lady Verrasa Kaal, for help but Lady Kaal, being a canny operator (and knowing incompetence when he saw it) used her considerable influence to have the man’s title removed. This and a reduction in taxes served to calm the revolt and bring the peasants out of the forests and back to their fields, stabilizing numerous revenue streams. Lady Kaal however sent her spies into the area and soon found the reason for the revolt. Unable to act openly against the order, protected as it was by the Church of Pelor and their political connections, she took out a contract with a clan of hobgoblin assassins, the DoomSworn.

One night on the dark of the moon, this clan assaulted the order’s fortress monastery to kill everyone they could find. Fortunately Pelor had appeared to the elderly abbot the night before and warned him that the final battle between good and evil was imminent. This caused the abbot to send the monks to the four corners of the land to find the weak and help them prepare. When the assassins came over the walls with their poisoned weapons, they found only the old man waiting with fifty casks of naphtha and a torch.

Now the order are scattered to the four winds, hiding, preaching and trying to make people prepare for the final battle they believe is coming. They have many enemies, the survivors of the assassin clan, Lady Kaal’s agents, local law enforcement not to mention the local priests of the mainstream church of Pelor. However they endure and their movement continues to attract followers, so perhaps Pelor is protecting them.

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2 Responses to “Character Spotlight: Brother Bryn”

  1. The standard to which others must aspire! An exceptional backstory from Russell 🙂

    The gauntlet has been thrown down; I have some stuff I can post for Thovar and Tetsu, but I’d like info from everyone in a similar format to the above: concept, motivations, appearance, backstory. The more detail you provide me, the better I can weave your character into the ongoing campaign.

  2. Excellent story!
    Russel sent me a similar one for his Eberron Character with the comment “Im not a very good writer”. PFT I say, its fantastic stuff!

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