Moiety of Opia
Harper Agent assigned to Port Dulcet
Human Bard Level 10
Ability Scores: strength 14, dexterity 14, constitution 14, intelligence 14, wisdom 10, charisma 21 (19).
Defense Statistics: AC 12, fortitude +8, reflex +12, will +10.
Offense Statistics: main hand + 8/+ 3 (1d8+2, 19-20×2), off-hand + 10 (1d6+4, 17-20×2).
Class Abilities: bardic knowledge, bardic performance 27rnds/day, cantrips, versatile performance (string), well-versed, lore master, jack of all trades.
Bardic Performances: countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire courage, inspire competence, suggestion, dirge of doom, inspire greatness.
Skills: Acrobatics +15, Athletics +13, Bluff +26, Diplomacy +26, Knowledge (any) +13, Perception +15, Perform +26, Sleight of Hand +15, Stealth +15.
Feats: Obtain Familiar, Skill Focus (performance), Spellsong, Song of the Heart, Snowflake Wardance, Two-weapon fighting.
Spells: (-/7/5/4/2) oth – detect magic, light, mending, message, prestidigitation, read magic. 1st – inspiration boost, comprehend languages, moment of greatness, silent image, grease. 2nd – alter self, calm emotions, invisibility, mirror image, glitterdust. 3rd – charm monster, dispel magic, good hope, purging finale. 4th – shadow conjuration, virtuoso performance.
Equipment: cloak of resistance +3, headband of charisma +2, bard’s kit, gloves of storing, masterwork harp, Masterwork Longsword, Beesting. 294gp.
Circumstances of Birth
Russell was born under the entwining astrological event when Tulis and Lana merge their constellations – an event that happens once every fourteen years. Russell was not born with any fanfare or bearing any special significance, but being under the constellations of both Tulis and Lana is said to make one blessed by both deities, in common superstition. Rupert told Russell he was born in mid-Autumn in a year of unseasonal warmth, and at a time when snow was supposed to begin to fall there was instead a horrible heat wave. There was a feast amongst the villagers on the night of the birth, and a good-natured brawl had broken out throughout the town which could be heard in the backdrop. Years later, the folk of that village would remember it as one of the best feasts they had ever had, in spite of the property damage.
Russell’s parents were Rupert and Mary Levack. Both were Harpers and met within the organisation. The pair were married and did so for love. Rarely did they seem to fight, although Russell was too young to remember too much about their relationship. As far as Russell is concerned, and has been told, they were a good model for married life, in love and faithful. Unfortunately, Mary died while Russell was still very young, killed by a corrupt nobleman. Russell remembers the night, but not very well anymore. Rupert closed off a bit after Mary died, although he did his best with Russell. As for Russell, Mary’s death affected him quite profoundly and is the source for his reflexive distrust for those in power or concerned with money. Further, it is why he has never sought a family of his own.
Russell only really knows of a couple of his other family members. His Great Aunt was a hedge witch who taught him what he knows about magic, and he has been regaled with stories of his grandfather and ancestors form Ruperts side of the family, though they have long passed on. He was told Mary came from humble lineage but has not inquired further. However, Russell did get along well with his great aunt, on Mary’s side, and she was a wily old recluse who taught him to rely on his wits, not his magic. Much of the reason for Russells removal from his family lies with his parents secretive and itinerant lives.
Both of Russell’s parents were Harpers (more information below in the prestige class overview). While Rupert was groomed for the College, while Mary grew into the job through her own work and meddling on a local level. Although Russell has no problem with the Harpers, the pressure on him to become one left him wary of the organisation in general. Russell was groomed from an early age and the business of the Harpers was intrinsically linked with his youth. At the college he was selected to be taught the Harpers skills, but did not particularly excel at any of them causing him to be shy and hesitant amongst his peers and teachers. Nevertheless, especially from Rupert’s perspective, Russell was expected to carry on the traditional career of the family, and he was just assumed to be a late bloomer. Although he hated the pressure, Russell did still wish he could more easily excel at being a Harper rather than daydreaming of another life.
Being near the Harper College, Russell grew up in a heavily forested part of Opia. It was a verdant woodland that captivated his imagination, though the darker haunts of the inner forest were a known as a dangerous place where wild beasts and dangerous fey lived and hunted.
His community were anything wandering foresters, who survived by gathering roots and vegetables and tracking and hunting in the endless forests. Living in such a wild and secluded environment gave Russell a confidence in his physical skills and abilities and made him an athletic youth like his peers.
A great river ran through the forest, not too far form the college, and he learnt how to fish and swim during the summer. And the increasingly sloping terrain further on toward the mountainous part of the forest afforded him an opportunity to learn how to climb
Because of this secluded wilderness lifestyle, Russell has naturally felt more comfortable away from the city amongst small communities of people. Its one of the reasons he likes Port Dulcet so much.
Social Rank and Education
Russell is of fairly common birth, though not born into poverty. As a result of his education and unique communal environment Russell grew up with most thing at his finger tips, except money. His parents were not high ranking Harpers, and so there was a social pecking order which was observed both socially and amongst the other children. Russell’s rustic youth is likely apparent to most in his speech, clothing, and bearing.
His parents were not wealthy, but they didn’t need to be. Socially, there is not too much onus placed upon rank, but Rupert and Mary were not very high up the ranks during Russells youth. The college and its seclusion created a sort of unique middle class mentality divorced from more traditional social roles, however. It’s a tradition amongst the Harpers to bequeath al of ones wealth to the poor upon death, and family members are expected to be self-sufficient enough to cope with this, though the College has helped out on occasion. No rank or wealth is inherited.
When Russell dealt with people of other social classes, he was expected to treat them with respect regardless of station because of his diplomatic training. He does still respect people of other social classes, but those who flaunt or obsess over wealth he has a dislike for almost immediately until they prove themselves. His life as an adventurer meant that he saw the good and bad in both social castes. A product of that unique middle class, Russell is able to blend into most places and social situations: an unconscious byproduct of the Harper upbringing the masters are well aware of cultivating.
Like most people, Russell wasn’t inherently magical, though he would come to study magic and learn some of its secrets over time. He was raised around magic and was taught to embrace magic as a wondrous and fantastic means of accomplishing the impossible, which is in stark contrast to the prevailing attitude of the new Opia.
Russell witnessed much about magic growing up. It was a part of his everyday life and something that was spoken about constantly in the tales, and legends he was taught to memorise. Of course magic has its dangers, and children being taught magic resulted in as much hexing of each other as it did productive application. Some of the children developed some fairly strange, and even powerful, traits as a result of their magical learning, but due to a tepid mistrust of magic at the time russell avoided anything extraordinary. It would not be until he explored outside of the College and was taught by his Great Aunt that the penny finally dropped and he understood magic. He rarely experimented with magic outside the classroom, especially because of an embarrassing accident in which he managed to curse himself. To this day, and much to his own chagrin, one of his ears is slightly longer than the other.
Religion and Ritual
Both of Russell’s parents were casual followers of Tulis and Lana, and Russell is too. The gods demonstrably existed during Russell’s childhood, and the two gods shared the ideals that best fit their lifestyle. Although not strict followers of ritual, the family knew at what times of day the gods were most influential and their magic would be strongest. They also have a special in their heart place for foxes, Tulis’ totem, and kept one as a pet for a while. To this day Russell will always say a quite prayer at midnight when Lana’s constellation folds most sway with the moon. It is a practice that has been inherited form his family, and something about the small ritual still gives Russell a piece of comfort. It helps focus his mind, and is more a meditative act now that the gods have left the world rather than an act of faith, as it was when he was a child.
Major Childhood Event
The most astounding thing that happened to Russell was when he ran away from the college to live an adventurer’s life. Barely an adolescent, it was not a fruitful venture for some time and he was very lucky to survive. Still, Russell remembers the feeling when he realised he was truly free for the first time to do whatever he wished. It had a profound effect on him and what he values, and his freedom is still something he jealously guards.
The most important initiation rite occurred when Russell left the college prematurely. It would take a while before anybody recognised him as the adult he thought he was, and he found it tough to get by for most of his adolescence as he scraped a living in the countryside. It was on the eve of one of the initiation tests for advancement through the Harper College that Russell escaped. Clutching a pilfered Harper Badge, it was a symbol he hoped to use but had not yet earned.
Friends, Allies, and Influences
Great Aunt Maggie pulled Russell from his transient life and gave him a home. In many ways she probably put him back onto the right path, although she challenged him to think ad act differently than he had been trained to do. She taught him what to expect of people and how helping people should not be a way of proving one’s own worth. She also helped him understand how to use magic, and when not to use it.
In their idle time she taught him how to play games of leisure, a subtle technique for teaching a teenage mind patience. The lessons stuck. Unfortunately, Maggie died of natural causes and eventually Russell was compelled to move on.
The lessons that Russell had learnt as a child finally started kicking in after his time with Maggie. It was not a moment of revelation, but rather as though something clicked and experience gave meaning to the instruction. Applied practically, the skills made sense. However, his skills were not as polished as they might have been if he’d stayed with his peers, and as much was improvisation as learning. Sometimes a wealthy noble would pay for him to achieve a task, sometimes a community of villagers would pitch in, but soon enough he finally began making a living like an adventurer.
Of course, when there was no work on, he was able to earn a decent enough living reciting tales at taverns or mixing herbs and healing on a local level. Sometimes he even simply carried messages form one town to another. Somehow in all of this he managed to avoid getting caught up in most of the major conflicts of the war, but when the dragons hit he did important work on the ground amongst villages and towns rather than cities and battlefields. Only once did he watch as a dragon attacked with flame and destruction – and in one of his proud moments, he can say that he stood stoic before his prime.
Russell’s first love was a noblewoman far beyond his reach and betrothed to a friend. He believes the feelings were reciprocal, ut never had any proof. Her parents were much farther away, and she was sent form their court to marry the man would become Duke Tressen V. As far as he knows, she is still at that court, now married to him. he sincerely hopes that she has not been reprimanded for helping to break him out of the Duke’s jail. Unfortunately, or perhaps not, the unrequited love has only served to confirm his hesitance to settle into a fruitful relationship. He has courted no other, and has not even really thought to do so. If the occasion comes up he is other drunk and acquiescent or awkwardly avoids the situation.
Duty and Responsibilities
As Russell grew from a child into someone more physically capable and psychologically aware,the communities around him began to have more confidence in requesting for more of his help in the time of crisis. In other cases, they didn’t have much of a choice. Often the he would simply help rebuild after an attack or perhaps do jobs neglected in a village after men and women had died. Other times more unusual tasks, those traditional to adventurers in many ways, would be set before him that he would often accomplish amongst a team. Whether the problem was magical or physical in nature, Russell learnt to adapt to the huge variety of situations presented to him. The training of the Harpers had prepared him for most things, and Maggie’s teachings rang true in his flexible thinking and altruistic mindset. Every day he grew stronger and sharper, as well as more attached to the people he helped. Among the communities outside the forests of his childhood there were no tests or scrutiny, often just a tired appreciation of a job well done and a humble reward.
Conflict and Behavior
Conflict had always been at the heart of Russell’s development. Living a life focused upon practical work meant that action and provoked response to conflict defined him and determined his outlook more than theory or peers. He perceives himself as good and impartial, perhaps a little too hesitant In truth he has tendency to bias against those with financial influence and scornful of those in certain related walks of life. Only rarely have those ideals been truly challenged, but Russell has to admit there has been times when the banker was benevolent, so to speak.
In general, he looks for the best way to resolve conflict fairly, not giving too much weight to the law or the individualist. When resolving a conflict, he attempts to act in the best interests of others, unlike some others Harpers who may strive for an equal or just resolution for all sides no matter the cost. This is a fairly established way of making choices that has emerged over time, adding up to determine his moral and philosophical view of the world.
If he were to think about his alignment, examining his past actions, he might examine himself as more Chaotic, though in reality he is Neutral-Good.
Russell never forgot the pressure and exclusion he felt at the Harper College, from father and peers. It has made him view the rural world with rose-tinted glasses, and made him fearful of the people for whom he now works. If it were not for his father’s insistence after breaking him out of jail, he would not be a Harper. The deaths of both Maggie and his mother caused Russell a lot of emotional stress during adolescence and childhood respectively. The feeling never truly left, making him a little stunted emotionally when it comes to women, in a strange way. He has somewhat come to peace with their deaths, but still thinks about them form time to time. However, he may recognise the natural process in Maggie’s death, which taught him a valuable lesson about life, but he still believes the death of his mother, a crime thus far still unpunished, was unforgivable. He still bears a grudge against those who wronged her, one that could only be healed if he found the assassin and the one who paid him. He always had an ear out for any clues while travelling, but the identities of those responsible still elude him.
In his adult life, his noble unrequited lady is the one thing he loves, though in memory principally. It dismays him to think of the state he wa sin when she last saw him in the dungeons. Of course, the man he hates and fears the Duke Tressen more than any other man. After escaping his dungeons, it is small doubt that the Duke will have found out by now and know he has an enemy on the loose. Fortunately, only Rupert and the Harpers know of his whereabouts, as far as Russell knows anyway.
There are others who provoke less strong emotions in Russell. He has found genuine happiness, and contentment amongst the people of Port Dulcet, and thinks highly of Miles, the mayor, whom he considers a friend. The thing that saddens him right now is the declining state of the town, and its resident’s palpable worry for the future. He has felt an immediate comraderie amongst the people and at few places has he been so warmly welcomed so quickly. Of course, if they knew he was a Harper or that he was on the run they might think differently even though the Harpers only wish to help communities. As an organisation that is not in the least bit transparent, people naturally distrust their motives more often than not. Though Miles alone is aware that he is a Harper, nobody in town knows of the Duke’s ire. If Port Dulcet was ever threatened or attacked, Russell would fiercely defend it with his life.
Friends, Associates, and Companions
Russell has met the prior acquaintance of Ulric long ago. Both worked together in order to help defend a town against brigands looking to take advantage of the chaos of the sundering war. Although they lost tough, the experience reflected positively between them. However, there must be said to have been a spirit of friendly competition between the two, and perhaps that was why their brief alliance is an endearing memory to Russell. They were not related in organisation, and probably disagree on more than a few things, but recognise that they were united in purpose. Neither have heard anything of one another for over a decade, but perhaps if circumstances had permitted they would have been friends.
The only consistent friend Russell has had was the Duke Tressen. The two got a long as youths, btu station and duty eventually drove them apart. It was this friendship which prompted Russell to approach the Duke about his increasingly harsh rule and refusal to acknowledge the new world order. Russell was thanked with his betrayal and imprisonment. Although he is perhaps is strongest enemy, Russell does hope that one day the Duke will come to his senses, having seen his better side. Until they meet again, Russell is no doubt being searched for and the two former friends stand at opposite ends of the wider political spectrum of Opia.
Two Quirks and a Flaw
Russell has a couple of strange habits and quirks. Firstly, he always sleeps outside even though he has a home. In a strange way he finds it a privilege after his imprisonment, but actually its also a psychological aversion to sleeping indoors which could cause anxiety. Secondly, he refuses to hurt any animal, even insects, and is actually a vegetarian. Both of these he keeps as hidden as possible, being embarrassed of them.
As a flaw, Russell has a habit of being very crass. Although he is trained to blend in to noble society as well as rural, he is likely not going to be able to hold the disguise for long before giving himself away with an inappropriate remark or action. Too much time spent amongst the commoners. Ironically, most Harpers operate in Halcyon and would find it harder to blend in to less sophisticated society, which is part of what led Russell to be sent in Port Dulcet in the first place.