Postfest XV: Pyert
Date: Wed, May 25, 2011
Topic: Campaign Articles
An unassuming shop in a quiet town. A pleasant young man. A less than noble lord. A personal hurt that must be salved.
Three streets up from the banks of the Velverdyva, away from the hustle and bustle of the commercial areas and across town from the water gardens, is an establishment that may rightly lay claim to the title of “hidden gem”; a small shop that bears no sign or obvious advertisement, accessed by a small alley that leads to a private residence at its far end. The proprietor sells small, hand-carved ornaments of excellent small detail and no little humour. These figurines are carved from wood brought in from the nearby Dapplewood and shaped into forest animals, figures of fey legend and representations of mighty trees in miniature. His services are sometimes called upon by townsmen eager to have some decorative feature engraved into the woodwork of their homes, businesses or furnishings.
The owner of the shop is a pleasant young man in his early twenties answering to the name of Pyert Carver. To his neighbours and friends Pyert is an unassuming, gentle young man who came to Kisail 5 years ago from Verbobonc. He took over the empty premises on a lease from the owner of the residence next door and rapidly turned his attention to making his business a success. He is currently courting the daughter of his landlord; something that the landlord was initially wary of but, over time, has become reconciled to due to the sheer, good natured charm of the boy. Marriage may not be far off but the boy has told his landlord that he will not ask for his daughter’s hand until such time as Pyert has firmly established himself and his business. The boy has another hobby that he has taken to with great enthusiasm, namely archery. He has employed a well known trainer and can be seen regularly at practice in the fields around Kisail.
Pyert’s premises consist of four rooms; the door off the alley opens directly into the small shop where his wares are displayed; a door at the rear leads to his workshop which has access to a small courtyard as well as a stair that descends to an under-croft which serves primarily as a storage area for his woods. The workshop doubles as a kitchen though often the young man dines with his landlord’s family such is the bond that has grown. A stair in the corner of the shop leads up to a small bedroom built into the rafters. Pyert is sometimes found about town purchasing supplies and tools, but when not out and about his shop is open from first bell to curfew.
All is not as it seems, however.
Pyert does not come from Verbobonc. He hails from the Dapplewood where his father, or the man he believed was his father in this case, was a logger working in one of the wood camps overseen by the men of Sir Cerell Goodheart in the name of Duke Bennal Tyneman. Pyerts’ father was killed in a tree-felling accident before he was born and his mother was left to take in washing, sewing and cooking in order to survive. His mother was a pretty girl and caught the eye of a visiting noble. This noble decided that he wanted to have the company of the pretty young woman for the night he was visiting and, when his overtures were politely rebuffed by the lass, ordered his most reliable men to bring her to him. That night, after she had again refused his advances, he forced himself upon her. The nobleman left the next day with his entourage but he left the girl with child. The local folk, knowing nothing of the nobleman’s behaviour, shunned the woman as an adulterer and feared that it was their men-folk whom she had enticed to bed and been made with child. The girl was eventually forced out of the village and took to the forest, living as best she could with the natural resources. The child was born and, as time went by, the girl was taken in by another forest village that had no idea who she was. She continued doing the jobs she was good at as the child grew. The child grew into a boy, and then into a man who become an excellent carver, schooled in part by a villager that had taken a shine to the lad. Tragedy struck in the boy’s 17th year when his mother was struck down by a wasting disease that left her a pale, cough stricken shadow of her former self. On her deathbed she confessed that the man who Pyert thought was his father was not. Pyert told his mother that he didn’t need to know, as he had not known the man he believed to be his father in any case, but his mother whispered the name that would fill Pyert’s head with thoughts for the next four years; Sir Cerell Goodheart. His mother asked Pyert not to repeat what she had told him as no good would come of it; she just wanted him to know that he had a father somewhere, the truth should be known.
As much as the boy’s fellow villagers tried to persuade him to stay following his mother’s passing, Pyert was determined to visit Sir Cerell to introduce himself and deliver news of his mother.
And so it was that Pyert left the village and traveled to Kisail to announce himself to his father. He was poorly received by the guardsmen who stood before his father’s hold but, eventually a sergeant was sent for who could decide the boy’s fate. The sergeant arrived and heard the guardsman’s tale and looked at Pyert saying “yet another ill begotten urchin. From where do you hail, boy?” The sergeant was not unkind and, to Pyert at least seemed more weary than angry. Pyert told the sergeant his story and was taken inside the keep and fed. When he tried to expand the basics of his story the sergeant silenced him with a raised hand and said “the details of your life will matter little, boy, keep them to yourself.”
Pyert was led into a hall where a small crowd had gathered for some purpose and was instructed to remain quiet and unnoticed at the back; a guardsman placed a gentle hand upon his shoulder. The sergeant approached the man Pyert assumed to be Sir Cerell when there was a break in proceedings, as one group of men walked away from the lord smiling and another shaking their heads. The sergeant stooped and whispered in the lord’s ear and, after the briefest of exchanges, the lord waved him away dismissively. The sergeant then returned to Pyert and led him away from the hall with a firmly grasped arm to a small ante-chamber where he was instructed to wait. The sergeant returned a short while later and tossed a purse on the table.
“What is that for?” Pyert asked, curiously.
“There’s enough coin in there for you to set yourself up in life,” the sergeant replied. The man spoke firmly but not without kindness. “Use this gift wisely, boy, and never return to his lordship’s hold nor speak of your claims again.”
“Did the lord speak of my mother at all?”
“Lord Goodheart has no recollection of your mother, boy. She was one of many that he took in his younger days.” Pyert looked crestfallen at the news. The sergeant sat down opposite Pyert and took his arm.
“I remember your mother, Pyert. She was beautiful and I am sad for your loss and for what happened. There was something good that came of that bad event, someone anyway, but there shall be nothing else good that can come of it. Take the money, go away and become someone your mother would be proud of. But, for the love of that fine woman, do not return here and try to press for an outcome that can not happen.”
“My mother was taken by force.” It was not a question.
Pyert thought long and hard over the sergeant’s words and then a question came to him.
“How did you know my mother?” The sergeant visibly paled, before answering with a grimace.
“I have served Sir Cerell for many years as a trusted man at arms and now sergeant. I brought your mother to him when he requested her. I felt sick to the stomach that day and I still do. But I came from nothing and, without Sir Cerell, I would still have nothing. If I could undo it I would, but I cannot. I can only guide you now. Take the money, leave, and do not return.”
Pyert was led by the sergeant to the gates of the hold. “This will be rougher than I would wish,” the sergeant said before shoving Pyert unkindly into the street. Pyert turned at looked at the sergeant, the two smirking guardsmen and the walls of the hold. The sergeant looked back at Pyert and shook his head slowly in warning. Pyert turned away and tried to find a place to stay.
For five years Pyert has nursed his grievance never being sure whether living life well was revenge enough or not. But, in those five years he had become an accomplished archer; his skill with the sword he had purchased in town has increased for every hour he spends in the cellar of the shop. He has been blessed with martial skill. Destiny has told him through this that revenge will only be satisfied by Sir Cerell’s death at his hands. And the last word that Sir Cerell will hear is the name of his mother. The time is coming when he will be ready to end Sir Cerell Goodheart. He is, however, partly held in check by the burgeoning relationship with his landlord’s daughter and the success of his shop. Despite this, Cerell Goodheart, a travesty of a name if ever there was one, must be made to pay for his rapine ways and his cold indifference to the consequences.
There are several ways in which the pc’s could become involved in the simmering tension.
They could be visiting Pyert’s shop, having heard about the quality of the merchandise and arrive as Pyert is in his under-croft practising with his sword upon a dummy he has constructed. Upon ringing the bell on the counter Pyert emerges from the rear of the building drenched in sweat. The pc’s will have heard the unmistakable sound of swordplay and may wonder why the carver is thus engaged.
Alternatively, the pc’s may witness Pyert practising his archery and are impressed by his skill. Perhaps the trainer is known to the pcs and they get to talking about the young man.
The young man’s landlord may be known to the pcs and his daughter may approach them quietly to seek advice as to why her beau has been acting a little strangely of late; practising long and hard at archery, neglecting his carvings or been irritable with her and others.
The pcs may visit Sir Cerell and notice Pyert observing the lord’s hold “with intent” of some kind.
The sergeant may be a relative or contact of the pcs and has recently observed Pyert about town and wonders whether he is plotting trouble. The sergeant may decide to aid the pcs and Pyert as a form of self-redemption prior to retirement.
What might the pcs do having become aware of Pyert?
The party might decide that Sir Cerell is deserving of censure and actively work with Pyert to plot his downfall. As Sir Cerell is a noble of Furyondy this could lead to all kinds of trouble and a long campaign, possibly waged in Chendl as well as Kisail.
The party may attempt to dissuade Pyert from his course of action. This is unlikely to be a long term solution unless Pyert receives some form of satisfaction or acknowledgement from Sir Cerell.
The party may decide that Pyert is planning a criminal act and attempt to stop him. They may do this as upholders of the law or simply because they are seeking to gain favour with Sir Cerell.
There are more possibilities. They are pcs after all.
I have not included full statistics for Pyert for the simple reason that his abilities should depend on the level of the party and the game system, or edition being used.
In 3e/Pathfinder, Pyert could be a multiclass Expert/Warrior/Rogue in order to simulate his sword and bow skill (sneak attack
) and his Craft (Carving)
AD&D presents a more difficult challenge when trying to design Pyert; Ranger might be a suitable class although not in the traditional sense. Thief may also work although alignment restrictions for both may cause hassles.
In Basic Role Playing; Self-bow, Sword (short, broad or long) and Craft skills in the region of 70-80% would not be unreasonable, leaving Pyert as an accomplished npc still short of being at Master level.
Pyert is not intended to be a serious martial challenge to the pcs although he should be able to hold his own against any single character. Pyert is better used as a moral challenge to the party as he is a wronged person seeking unlawful redress against a dubious character in a lawful nation. That the person he is seeking revenge against is in a position of power makes the situation complicated.
Sir Cerell Goodheart is mentioned in The Marklands sourcebook but is not detailed in terms of character level and abilities which lends flexibility.