I spoil some fairly heavy Ravenloft lore in the next post, it’s old information but please don’t get upset if I ruin something for you.
DAY EIGHT: FAVORITE CHARACTER
If there’s one thing that never fails to bore most people quicker than a recap of an adventure you ran or played the night before, its cornering some poor helpless individual and regaling them with the tales of a favorite character. Well, hope you’ve found a comfortable corner to cringe pitifully in, because I’ve just been given permission to do just that! Let’s just get to introducing you all to Caul Rickrak shall we?
My buddy Jake has always been a wiz with the 4th edition set of rules for Dungeons and Dragons. Well, he is a rules master in any Tabletop RPG to be honest but he found a special love with the balance inherent in 4e. One of the issues we had with 4th edition was its lack of love for Ravenloft. It is one of our all time favorite settings and certainly one of Jake’s. He had been itching to run Ravenloft using 4th edition D&D and got tired of waiting so he made his own setting rules with a little cribbing from the internet and mostly his own slick skills. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Caliban Barbarian I was rolling up in his game would become my favorite character of all time.
ENTER: CAUL RICKRAK
The above artwork is by my good friend Pierce aka @Sorcerer_Blob on Twitter who drew it for me after I was lamenting the end of Jake’s campaign, and thus the adventures of Mr. Rickrak. I’m not holding any punches on this writeup so I’ll start with Caul’s lengthy back-story first… Yikes, just found the whole thing and it is long so instead I’ll add a link to the pdf right HERE and then copy\paste just the story below.
Little is known about Caul’s actual birth. Late one moonless night Lady Adelaide, surrounded by some of the Baron’s enforcers, knocked on the first door they came to in the settlement of Ungrad. When Simmons and Tinrel Rickrak opened their door they stood petrified as a bundle was deposited in their arms. Without a word of explanation, the Lady and her enforcers strode into the darkness. Tinrel fainted when she glanced upon the newborn and Simmons grimaced, muttering darkly about evil curses.
Caul did not enjoy an easy upbringing. His adopted parents were quick to remind him he was not of their family, though they were never outright cruel. Cruelty was reserved for the rest of the town. Other children openly mocked him and the adults looked the other way. He was always strong but was unable to defend himself as any hurt upon the children of the town by his hand was never looked upon as self-defense. Because of his inaction he was bullied mercilessly, beaten almost daily.
When he finally reached adulthood he left the town, much to everyone’s relief. He headed directly to the headquarters of the Baron’s enforcers as he meant to discover the secrets behind his birth. Though he looked it, he was not a complete simpleton and did not spread the story of his midnight arrival in Ungrad, instead he decided to join the enforcer ranks until he could glean the information somehow. Training with the enforcers was the closest thing to happiness he had experienced to date. He loved the thrill of being praised for his brutality and strength, something he had bottled up for years.
However, when he became a full enforcer he soon discovered that many of the jobs he took part in were nothing more than another form of the bullying he had grown to despise as a child. Because of this he slipped away in the night, and took on the job of guarding a merchant caravan headed out of his domain. He had little desire to ever see it again.
All in all fairly tropey but it gave Jake some stuff to work with, so I liked it.
Caul’s background gave me some rich material to work with. He hated bullies in any form, had to cloak himself fully if he were to enter any kind of public place, feared any clerics as he believed himself cursed by The Lawbringer or some other god, and his roots gave him little exposure to the arcane so he certainly feared and respected it. He also had a temper, goodness he had a temper. I mean, he was a barbarian after all.
Caul wielded an Executioner’s Axe and was a Caliban, this made him stick out terribly in public places. Many times he had to remain behind in order for the group to suss out whether a town they planned to enter would tolerate his presence. Though he could usually remain hidden beneath his cloak and people would leave him alone because he was gigantic but it did cause problems. like when he interfered with the attempted stake burning of another Caliban woman and ended up dragging his fellow group members into the fight as well.
Caul really had only two friends in the group he was in. They were a man named Corbin and a Warlock named Eugene, though it was obvious Eugene was mostly using Caul. The only other man Caul ever truly respected was Tristen Hiregaard. Tristen was the only man to ever just take Caul at his word without prior judgment based on the Caliban’s heritage. This set up a series of truly bastardly brilliant moves for Jake to play on my character.
First, Eugene was killed in combat. At this point Caul had grown fairly close to Eugene and had even considered the older man something of a role model, ultimately Eugene was likely to turn the barbarian to a darker path but the relationship was still in a good spot when Eugene bit it. Immediately Caul turned the direction of the party to trying to resurrect Eugene based only on some light details he’d heard that it may be possible. The rest of the group went along begrudgingly, as Eugene was not universally loved, but Caul was not to be detracted from his course. They found the items needed for the ritual and an NPC friend of theirs performed it. Caul watched as Eugene first began to come back to life and then suddenly inky black tentacles burst from the Warlock’s chest, wrap him into darkness, and finally crush the body to little more than a husk. Caul was shattered. He went into the nearby woods, lost anything that was on his stomach, and wept.
After a time the group helped Tristen Hiregaard with even more and more issues. Eventually Tristan asked the group to handle the biggest threat to his city, that being the dreaded serial killer and criminal mastermind Malken. Caul and his friends were eager to help their friend Tristen and began a long campaign to earn the attention of Malken and infiltrate his cabal of criminals (I will interject here and give Jake full props for portraying Malken incredibly well, some of the best Role-playing I’ve ever seen). The final showdown eventually happened and after some truly close calls Malken was finally brought to his knees. It was only then group discovered the horrible truth. That Malken was the alter-ego of Tristen Hiregaard himself, they shared a Jekyll and Hyde-like relationship. It was only at this defeated point that Tristen himself discovered the truth of it and he begged Caul to finally do the deed. Caul couldn’t do it and had to watch his other friend Corbin put Tristen down, Caul’s subsequent rage almost ended Corbin but he was able to calm himself down.
It was after the events with Tristen that Corbin then decided to leave the group, he had decided to stay behind and tend a tavern that the characters had bought after an incident required them to hide the bodies of some defeated foes beneath the dirt floor. Corbin had dealt with enough it seemed and decided tending bar at the newly named “Five Bodies Inn” (named for the bodies beneath the new floorboards but that wouldn’t be the story Corbin used if anyone asked). Caul was losing his last true friend but was actually grateful in a way, he now assumed a friendship with him practically guaranteed death to those he befriended.
Caul went on to have more adventures and I was really looking forward to taking the Calm Fury Paragon Path as the concept furthered my story for the man as he continued to try and control his temper more an more. Sadly the campaign ended before we made it to Paragon level. Man I loved this character, and man did I write a crapton about him. Uhhhh… sorry about the overload folks but I suppose I did warn you!
Thanks for reading everyone! See you tomorrow!