Name: Isaiah Crell
Class: Bard (Archaeologist) 5 / Pathfinder Delver 1 (renamed Expedition Leader)
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Physical Description: This man is constantly dirty, his clothes stained with dust, oil and sweat, not to mention the many holes and rips. He has the money to replace them at anytime, but that would be a very bad idea. Isaiah is a very superstitious man and won’t replace his ‘lucky’ gear until the day it finally falls apart. Each knick and burn is a story, a lucky escape from a trap or tomb guardian. Some of these rips show through to his chest, the dull sheen of chainmail catching your eye, one can never be too careful after all. Isaiah’s eyes are sky blue and have that mischievous twinkle generally only found in children, whilst his hair is a sandy blonde colour constantly kept short (to avoid snagging in traps). He is also a fan of hats, they keep falling dust out of your eyes and look fancy, no archaeologist would dare be without his hat and whip. A charismatic and good looking fellow, Isaiah has no trouble finding company the rare nights he is in a major city, wooing women with his tales of adventure and charm. They think the scars and burns are quite exciting, but appreciate that his face is unmarred. By some insane streak of luck the archaeologist has never lost a body part except for half of his left pinkie, an unnecessary part of the body anyway, gets in the way when you’re disarming ancient Svalli puzzle locks.
Along with his ripped and dirty tunic and the hidden chain shirt Isaiah carries a fine looking shortbow with him at all times, the wood a golden colour with black markings along its length. This is just one of his many finds, an ancient bow that functions just as well today, the runes on the side are elvish and name the bow Skybreaker, Isaiah was quite thrilled when he could turn up no connection to anyone living or dead to this item because it meant he could keep it. Used to meeting all types of foes with all types of weaknesses Isaiah also carries a mace and sword with him, not much point smashing an ooze or slashing a skeleton is there? To complete his equipment list is a ratty old backpack, just as dirty, torn and burnt as the rest of him, probably more so. Though there is a hole in the left corner nothing ever falls out, there’s too much crammed into the bag for that to happen and strangely enough whatever item Isaiah needs, whichever of his huge stash of wands, scrolls and potions, is always right on top when he opens it.
Isaiah is excitable but serious about his work. Though he treats each new discovery with a child-like glee his mind is quickly working to analyse the area, the find and what it’s worth. He is an affable fellow, easy to get along with and welcoming to those he meets. A silver tongue and quick smile are priceless in his business, both for getting information from contacts and diffusing situations between rival groups. Though he has some small claims to fame he doesn’t seek to use them to gain over others, the work he does is what drives and sustains him. In group situations Isaiah always takes charge, so used to leading his expeditions that he just does so without realising. If asked to follow he’ll likely do so for awhile, then slowly slip back into giving out orders again “Jake go open that door whilst I hold the pin in the place” “Search the area, back in half an hour or yell out if you find something”
A life of danger and adventure have led to some interesting character traits. As most archaeologists are, Isaiah is highly superstitious, wearing many lucky tokens and saying or doing things to ward off bad luck. There is also the total disconnection from danger, he doesn’t seek it out but has no qualms about walking straight into it either. The thing that annoys him the most is to be called a “treasure hunter” or “tomb robber”, ignite a longwinded speech about being a scholar and archaeologist, not a bloody thief. And finally is his preferrence for making snap decisions on the flip of a smooth silver coin, both sides bearing no markings.
He upholds the morals of his mentor at all times, treasures usually belong to someone. If a find has a rightful owner, be it church or man, Isaiah will return it without asking payment (but donations to his research are greatly appreciated), unless that man or church would use it to harm others. Humanoid creatures are only to be killed if they are a threat to him, his team or intend to steal his work and sell it to the highest bidder. Tomb robbers often clash with Isaiah’s team, usually violent men intent on making quick money, but the man always tries to reason with them first, or trick them into leaving with false information. If a fight happens he will be in the thick of it, why risk the life of others by not using your skills?
Isaiah is the bastard son of a minor Svalli noble and his maid, but he doesn’t know which one. His mother, Nora, raised him alone, saying that his father was a soldier that died in battle. But bright boy that Isaiah was always suspected something was up. His mother was a widow, yet she lived a much more comfortable life than the other servants. Isaiah was taught his letters by his “Uncle Rob” that didn’t look the least bit like his mother, and got history books for his birthdays, most children of servants were lucky to get a wooden toy. Nora always said that her master, Jacob Skard, paid better than the other nobles and that with one less mouth to feed things were much better off. Not one to ruin a good thing, Isaiah played the believing child until his 18th birthday, when a package turned up for him. Inside was a letter and a pouch of gold.
‘Dearest Isaiah, you have grown into the man I hoped you would. Your knowledge of history and religion far surpass mine, and your mother tells me that you have a tongue laden with silver. Looking upon you I see what I wished my other children had become, but for their sake and mine I can never acknowledge you. I am proud of you and give you this gift of gold to do as you wish. Join a university, start a business, whatever you choose you will excel at. My deepest apologies and regrets, Dad.’
With a small grin of satisfaction at guessing right all those years ago, Isaiah burnt the letter, not wanting it to ever fall into hands that might blackmail his father, Jacob Skard. Wishing his mother well, Isaiah set out after his dream, to follow in the footsteps of Svalli’s most famous archaeologist, Garen Hearthkin. The half-elf’s achievements were legendary, it was he that returned Cayden’s mug handle to the church, and it was he that cracked the secret of the puzzle locks in ancient Svalli cairns. By sheer luck Isaiah managed to find Garen at Svalli’s capital, the half-elf pouring over tomes and scrolls in the region’s biggest library. He had planned to research a find of his own and present it to Garen, but realised he could not miss this opportunity. Garen was everything he expected and more. Though the half-elf was busily trying to find answers he had time for a young man, especially one that knew so much about Garen’s work. Isaiah was taken onto Garen’s team, not as manual labour but as a research assistant, and the pair spent a week pouring over every scrap of parchment related to elvish tombs they could find.
Garen was a gentle person, refraining from violence unless necessary, preferring kind words or trickery than bloodshed. He also had a strong code of morals about his work. If items found had a proper owner and could be returned to a church or descendant, they were, unless said party would use them to harm others. The legendary archaeologist became the father Isaiah never had, nurturing the young man’s talent and thirst for knowledge and adventure, sculpting him into a younger copy of himself. Though labourers and guards came and went over the years, Isaiah was always at Garen’s side with a brush ready, cross checking information or putting an arrow into the throat of a troglodyte about to crush his teacher.
After some five years together Garen was slain, but not by trap, age or tomb guardian but by a brute of a half-orc called Davor. Davor Barrow is an infamous half-orc in the world or treasure hunters and archaeologists, ruthless in his approach and will sell anything to anyone, as long as the price is high enough. Many research groups have been slain by his men and left to rot in the tombs they found, whilst Davor takes everything of value within and auctions it off. Garen and Isaiah have had run-ins with him in the past, arriving to a site as Davor’s men were already clearing it out, or scaring them off with a few bowshots and spells. But one day Davor’s greed overcame his fear of two spellcasters, the two groups clashed at an ancient tomb laden with golden burial masks, some of the most highly sought after items. Returning with more cutthroats from the closest village Davor attacked Garen’s group as they breached the final chamber. The fighting was bloody, Davor losing a hand to Garen’s blade, but slaying the half-elf in response. He would have finished Isaiah off too, but the fighting stopped when someone stood on a trap in the burial chamber. The entire place began to shake, quickly filling with dirt and mud. Davor and his remaining men fled as fast they could, Isaiah on their tail, but as they reached the descending door of the final chamber, Davor turned and cut at Isaiah’s leg, crippling the man and leaving him trapped in the quickly filling chamber. The last Isaiah saw of Davor was the man’s boots as the stone door slammed shut and dirt piled up around his legs. Never one to give up so easy, Isaiah dragged himself up and looked around the room, searching for some way to stop the trap. He didn’t find one, but instead found a hidden panel, a shaft and ladder leading to the surface. Struggling his way up the stone steps Isaiah wept for his mentor, vowing to continue his work and slay Davor if the pair ever met again.
As Isaiah reached daylight he hobbled a short distance away and dropped into the mud, watching as the ruins sunk into the mud, burying his teacher forever. Davor had fled already to lick his wounds and sulk over the loss of such a site. Something changed in him that day, a small subtle difference that would make the man Isaiah is today. Before he would blanch at killing a man, even in defence...but now he knew what could happen if you were lax in your judgement of people. It didn’t cause him to seek out violence, but it was an option higher on his list of choices than before. But perhaps the bigger growth was that now he was expedition leader, he would be the one to decide where they went, what they searched for. It felt good, it felt right, and it felt like a chance to keep the memory of Garen alive.
It’s been three years since, and recently Isaiah has had a major find, not quite rivalling the find of Cayden’s mug handle, but close. He had found the tomb of an ancient conqueror, a man that burnt towns just to hear people scream, that raided churches, pissing on altars and sacking coffers. Many of the items within were evil and sent away for cleansing, but the real find as a starknife of exquisite design. It resonated with a holy aura and bore symbols of Desna, likely a spoil of war taken by the tyrant. Taking the starknife to the church of Desna, Isaiah presented it to their archbishop, who after examining it wept openly. It was the belonging of a saint of Desna in times long past, a sacred relic for their order they thought had been lost to the ages. They donated a large sum of money to Isaiah, praising his work, blessing him and allowing the man unlimited access to their libraries whenever he wished. It is through this connection that Isaiah has found himself called to Eidsvale to investigate a monastery gone quiet. Though not a ruin, the idea of being sent to a monastery at the edge of the world excited the archaeologist, hoping to find lost tomes and scrolls to further his research.
1. Who were the character's parents? Did they raise the character? If not why? If not them who?
His father was a minor Svalli noble and his mother a maid. He grew up with his mother, thinking that his father was a dead soldier. They lived comfortably, always seemingly more so than other families in their position. On his 18th birthday a man delivered a package to their house, a letter from his father saying that he was a noble (but not his name), why he had not raised him and why he could not have contact now, but saying he was proud and giving a gift of gold.
2. Did the character have any childhood friends? Any siblings? Where are they now? Does the character stay in touch with them or have they become separated? If separated why?
No siblings and no friends that he kept in contact with. All the children he played with were children of servants and had grown up to assume their parents roles. None of them approved of Isaiah’s high-risk lifestyle and he finds them terribly boring these days.
3. What was childhood like for the character? Calm and peaceful or turbulent and traumatic?
Peaceful, and comfier than most children of widows, thanks to secret donations from his father.
4. Does the character have any or did the character have any role models? Describe them?
Garen Hearthkin, a half-elf adventurer that made a name for himself after recovering an important artefact for the church of Cayden. Every year or two another great find would be reported in the papers, young Isaiah keeping a copy of every one in his room, reading them over and over as he grew up. It was from these pages that he began to lust for a life the same, and when he turned 18 he sought out Garen and begged him to let him join his team. His carries the same morals that Isaiah came to uphold.
His morals are simple: if treasure has a true owner it must go back to him, unless he doesn’t deserve it (why give an evil warlord back his helmet?). He never kills any of the civilised races unless they are threat to him, his team or intend to sell his finds to the highest bidder.
5. What did the character do before he / she entered the story? Who trained the character to do what she / he does now? What is the character's relationship with his teacher(s)?
He is an archaeologist, not a treasure hunter, an archaeologist, there’s a difference! His first training was being a street rat, running around with his friends getting into all kinds of trouble. Leaping rooftops was a personal favourite of his, one of his first dare devil activities. Picking the locks of the bakery and pinching sweet rolls a close second. His main teacher was Garen Hearthkin himself, taking Isaiah on as his protégé.
6. What are the character's moral, ethical and religious beliefs? What lengths will the character go to defend those beliefs? Who or what taught those beliefs to the character? Remember that a character's moral and ethical beliefs, not necessarily his behaviour, define his alignment.
His morals are simple: if treasure has a true owner it must go back to him, unless he doesn’t deserve it (why give an evil warlord back his helmet?). He never kills any of the civilised races unless they are threat to him, his team or intend to sell his finds to the highest bidder. He feels like he should uphold the noble morals (HA!) of his mysterious father, but these were also the beliefs of Garen Hearthkin.
7. Does the character have any unusual habits or physical traits? What are they? What do they stem from? How do others tend to react to them?
He is very superstitious, as most archaeologists are. Any sign of bad luck is met with a warding symbol or a pinch of salt. He also likes to make snap decisions (like left tunnel or right tunnel) on the flip of a coin, both faces of which are completely blank...also he HATES being called a treasure hunter or tomb robber. “I’m an archaeologist, not a bloody thief. What I find goes to museums, universities or churches, from which I accept donations so as to continue my work.”
8. What is the general reaction to the character of other characters? Why, in the character's opinion, do they act that way?
He doesn’t like greedy people, it messes with his set of morals. He also can’t stand unnecessary bloodshed, preferring diplomacy or trickery to work around it. He knows not all share his point of view and is able to compromise if need be, but prefers things to be done his way.
9. Can the character kill? When did he decide (or learn) that he could? Why would the character kill? Does he / she have any enemies at all? Would or could the character kill them?
He can kill to protect his life, the life of his team or his work. Countless slimes, oozes and constructs have fallen before him but only a couple of men, tomb robbers that tried to kill Isaiah’s team and take the loot for themselves. But the first time he killed was to save his mentor Garen from a brute of a tomb robber named Davor Barrow. Davor and Garen always had a rivalry, the two used to work together but disagreed on where their finds should go, Davor wanting to sell it to the highest bidder. The pair clashed many times over the years, either arriving at sites to find the other working or already stripped bare with a note to the other. One day the fighting became more serious as Davor found Garen at a site laden with golden burial masks, worth huge amounts of money to collectors in Svalli and further abroad. Davor ordered his men to slay Garen, Isaiah and his followers. Garen died in the fighting, slain by Davor’s hand. Isaiah obviously hates Davor and will slay him on the spot if they ever meet again...but he doesn’t seek him out either, preferring to remember his mentor by continuing his work.
10. What kind of relationships does the character currently have? Does he / she have any close friends? Bitter enemies? If so who? What are they like? What is the history of the character and this person's relationship?
The odd smattering or lovers here and there, one night stands whilst he was in town for a night or two to get information. Bitter enemies are Davor Barrow, relationship as described earlier. Dead mentor Garen Hearthkin, as described above. A few contacts in universities, libraries and churches here and there, plus antique/rarity dealers for information and selling (not owned) finds.
11. Does the character have any mental problems? Phobias? If so what are they? What do they stem from?
No phobias, but a complete disconnection from danger and death. He is so used to putting his life on the line to disarm a trap or figure out a puzzle before the room fills with water that he simply isn’t fazed by it. Though he doesn’t seek danger out, the archaeologist has no qualms walking into an unchecked room first or poking that statue to check if it’s a guardian.
12. How does the character generally treat others? Does she / he trust easily? Or not? How does the character relate to people? Is he a shy and withdrawn or a condescending snob?
Trust must be earned, the archaeology business is a pretty cutthroat one. But ability is more Isaiah’s main concern, no point bringing a useless person into some ruins, they would just bring danger to the team. Not a condescending snob, but he can come off as one as Isaiah loves to talk about his finds or ancient civilisations he has been researching.
13. What does the character look like? Does he / she have any scars or tattoos? If so how did she / he get them? Obviously this includes eye and hair colour, but unusual gaits and accents come into play here as well.
Sandy blonde hair cut short (to avoid snagging it in traps) covered with a dusty wide brim hat, once a deep brown colour but now faded, stained and acid-burnt. All his clothing match the hat, dirty, faded, stained and burnt in random places, but he wears a (mostly) undamaged chain shirt under his tunic and always carries a whip, sword and shortbow. Always he carries around a ragged old backpack with a hole in the bottom left corner, but there’s so much stuff in his bag that it jams up the hole and nothing ever falls out...handily enough whatever he needs seems to be right on top of his pack whenever he opens it. Isaiah always carries a stash of wands, scrolls and potions for all occasions in this backpack (a Handy Haversack).
Eyes are light blue, no unusual gaits or accents but he does bear a few small scars. Knicks on his hands, and acid burn on his right arm and he is missing the end of his left pinkie, taken by a trap long ago. The dirty and damaged nature of all his gear is a characteristic, as is his carefree nature towards dangerous activities.
14. What is the character's normal daily routine? How does he / she feel when it's interrupted for whatever reason?
Get up, eat a quick breakfast and then work/explore/research until he collapses. Interruptions are annoying, but won’t send him into a rage.
Next talk with your DM and consider these questions:
15. Was the character present during any key events in the history of the campaign world? How did that event affect the character?
He just likes to find things, and his most recent find was a lost artefact of the church of Desna, a major find for both Isaiah and the church. That could be fairly major? I like the idea that Isaiah is well known in the relic hunter circles, and some nobles and churches know his name...but he’s not famous to the general populace unlike his mentor Garen was.
16. Does the character have a notorious or celebrated ancestor? What did he / she do? What do people assume about the character when his / her ancestry is known? Does the character actively try to live up to the reputation, try dispel it or try to ignore it?
Minor noble father, but has no connection to him or proof that he is a bastard son (he burnt the letter, and the letter never named his father anyway). He likes living up to noble expectations (or what he thinks they are anyway) and his mentor’s morals.
17. Where is the character's homeland? What is it's history and what are it's people like? Is the character patriotic, or a social outcast? What is his opinion of home?
Svalli, and it’s a nice place, lots of ruins to explore and people willing to buy relics!
Finally consider these questions:
18. What are the character's dreams? Ambitions? Goals?
Fame is nice, but he just likes ruins and tombs. However one goal would be to find something that made his name immortal, a find that is so important every peasant in Svalli, or the entire world knows about it.
19. How does she / he seek to obtain them? How does adventuring fit into this dream, or does it at all?
His goals will be obtained through research, hard work and adventuring!
20. Does the character ever want to have a family of his / her own someday? If so with who or what type of person?
If it happens it happens, but Isaiah’s lifestyle is enough to sustain him for his entire life. Even when he is too old to adventure he can still research and direct expeditions.