Our group is planning to run some Candlekeep and trade off DMing duties between adventures. I think that short 2-5 session adventures with frequent DM change is the sweet spot for me in D&D. I normally prefer to DM but man is the long campaign a tough thing to pull off.
The current thinking right now is that each person in our group will have their own stable of characters to use. So I went down a rabbit hole and started writing PCs that I felt would be suited to Mystery Adventures. I tried to come up with at least one representative for every class but some classes have more characters than others. There’s a melee cleric and a ranged cleric. And many different brands of rogue are suited to investigations. I’ve tried to vary up the races as well. We all know Half-Elves are totally awesome but I don’t want to bring one to a table that already has three. These are almost all ripped off from fictional detectives and other characters from media. Some of them are more creatively named than others.
These are all Name, Backstory, Race, Class, Subclass. I haven’t put in any tips for multiclassing. I’ve also tried not to gender the characters. These are intended for the Forgotten Realms. You could probably have a hoot running these based around Morgrave University or the Library of Korranberg in Eberron though.
Holland Firemason aka Steelshanks, Gnome Battlesmith Artificer
Captain Holland Firemason was feared by their enemies for being a skilled sapper and by their comrades for a fierce temper and perfectionism. During a battle, a lucky trebuchet shot managed to collapse one of Holland’s Tunnels (get it?). They lost the use of their legs in the attack and were forced to retire from military service. Being an artificer, Holland devised a magical chair to provide mobility and a construct mount to carry them earning them the nickname “Steelshanks”. While no longer being active military, Steelshanks continues to advise and troubleshoot on matters where their considerable expertise and relentless attention to detail is in demand.
Professor Damon Hale/The Demon, Simic Hybrid Ancestral Guardian Barbarian
Professor Hale has always had a curious mind but also a streak of rashness. They were trying to use alchemy to make warriors stronger, faster, better. They were so sure of their theory they tested the concoction on themselves. Hale’s form changed into something less human and darkness took them. They awoke amidst ruins, blood on their hands, bodies all around, the sound of a hew and cry screaming in their mind. Now, Professor Hale tries to stay on the move one step ahead of their pursuers. All the while The Demon lingers on the edge of their vision. Urging them to take the most violent, vengeful course of action. When threatened, The Demon steps forth. Professor Hale’s face becomes bestial. Their smile turns from avuncular to predatory. In this rage, Professor Hale takes the role of the spirit, advising The Demon and protecting them from harm.
Colm, Pallid Elf Whisper Bard
When an elf dies, it’s soul is reincarnated at some time in the future. But something went wrong with this soul. Colm was simply reformed or reincarnated into their current body. They have no previous memory but instead feels everything in the moment. Colm is a unique entity, described as being caught somewhere between the material plane and the afterlife. Colm is unsure of what exactly they are, and their unique set of abilities are unprecedented. Colm also has the uncanny ability to sense people who are in pain. They use this ability to find people in the most painful moment of their lives and offer them comfort without hesitation, judgment, or expectation of thanks. They are searching for a place in the world, an ally to those who wish to help others.
Benedict Ironcroft, Dwarf Knowledge Cleric
The second child of a powerful noble is expected to be a capable agent and servile spare to the heir apparent. Benedict Ironcroft was not these things. Gifted in skills of observation and intelligence completely and inversely proportional to their interpersonal skills, Benedict was packed off and given to faith if only to rid the family of them. While such scholars are normally hopeful to become teachers to the children of great and generous nobles, Ironcroft’s passion lies in solving problems, puzzles, and above all else, crimes. Those who commit crimes are, in their opinion, claiming that they are smarter than their ability to uncover them and this cannot be tolerated. While Benedict channels healing magics (when they must) they prefer to spend their power on divinations. But is it truly the god of knowledge that Benedict Ironcroft calls on or their own powers of deduction?
Madame Vastra, Githyanki Order Cleric
Vastra is a Githyanki knight of the Astral Plane. On the Astral Plane, time does not flow so she has seen millennia of (in her opinion) lesser civilizations pass. The Githyanki are terrifying raiders across the planes and Vastra is no less a capable warrior. On one of these raids, Vastra was knocked unconscious and abandoned for dead. She retreated to the undercity and continued the war. A party of adventurers managed to convince her that she’d been left behind and persuaded her not to give in to rage. She ceased her attack and sought to find a way back to the Astral Plane. In her planar studies, Vastra learned the bitter truth, that the Lich Queen Vlaakith, having freed the Githyanki from mind flayers, sends them on raids merely to keep them busy and that liches consume souls to maintain their own essence. Vastra has “joined” the “polite” “society” of the other (lesser) peoples. With time, Vastra overcame her hatred of non-Githyanki and became a consulting investigator to the City Watch offering her martial prowess and thousands of years of experience to solve mysteries that baffle the (stupid) officers of the watch. She rarely takes on a case without her maid, assistant, and wife, Sera.
Misho, Changeling Moon Druid
Most Changelings grow up either with Changeling parents that teach them their gifts or among strangers that don’t know where they came from. Misho is neither. Whoever their parents, they grew up the sole survivor in a wilderness on the edge of their burned village. The forms they wanted to mimic were the wolf, the snake, and the deer rather than any human trespasser. Misho felt within them a singular drive to impose order on nature’s capriciousness. To give justice to that that fate would cast aside. In time civilization reclaimed the wild where Misho lived and they assumed the role of protector as a shepherd guards their sheep. The people grew aware of their guardian and in time would come to Misho with their disputes and receive what aid and succor Misho could give. Yet, Misho felt within them an urge to know and understand where they came from. They are seeking what information they can about the village that was destroyed so long ago or about other changelings in the world. Misho is often uncomfortable imitating people and requires great effort to fashion a perfect imitation.
Nestor Raleish, Human Samurai Fighter
The Raleighs are a rich and powerful house from an ancient line. Nestor was not a member of the family but a guard of humble birth. It was something of a great scandal when Noreen Royce declared their love for Nestor at a feast. Gifted with wits as fast as their blade, Nestor and Noreen managed to leave with a blessing, an inheritance, and a warning to never return. While Nestor wanted to settle into a life of idle luxury fate has different ideas. There seems to be no shortage of an improbable number of calamities that occur around the Raleighs. Nestor would dearly love to settle down in quiet but the world where he keeps his stuff is continuously on the verge of apocalypse and thus he feels compelled to take a hand.
Denii Dwelling, Half-Elf (Sorry) Way of Mercy Monk
Denii Dwelling was born to a line of knights and destined to follow in their lineage. Yet their scholarly inclination and respect for the healers who followed the armies would’ve suggested Denii would follow the calling of a Cleric or the Paladin. This may have been true if not for Denii’s borderline hostility to matters concerning the gods. Between Tiamat, Auril, and the Demon Lords, Denii wants nothing to do with the lot of them. As chance would have it, Denii was injured as a squire and informed, not unkindly, that knighthood would be impossible due to their injuries. Denii sought a miracle but still refused to rely on the gods, instead learning to channel their own power to stave off their own pain and heal that in others. Frequently shows off their cunning and enjoys making fun of others. Those who know Dwelling would refer to them as a curmudgeon. Former adventuring comrades would refer to them as an asshole. Yet Denii is above all else capable and driven to uncover problems and solve mysteries. The next challenge is all the calling they have ever needed.
Cadfael, Dragonborn Devotion Paladin
Cadfael felt the call to the Paladin’s life at a young age. Such is common for young Dragonborn, to go forth and prove themselves. Cadfael sought and found righteous war, saw death, and took no joy in dealing it but never drew back either. The end of war brought no peace and Cadfael continued to serve as a free rider, hunting pirates and outlaws. With youth gone, a fatigue and world-weariness set in and Cadfael sought the peace of the cloister, the library, and to heal others. “Half a life of silence for half a life in battle would” they would say. Being one who swore vows at an older age, Cadfael is more worldly and pragmatic than other members of the cloister. He is often called on to solve challenges to the faith and set wrongs to right.
Bigby Wolf, Shifter Fey Wanderer Ranger
Bigby was a true bastard during his days as a mercenary sellsword and most would say that becoming a werewolf revealed what was already there rather than being a curse. All that changed when a dragon settled nearby forcing villagers and outlaws alike to become refugees. With a bigger threat to fight against, Bigby and other adventurers helped get everyone to safety. During their journey, a witch cut Bigby with a magic blade that allowed him to tame the beast within. Afterwards, Bigby became the constable of the small village’s new home and sought to amend his past wrongs. With his skill as a hunter and warrior, Bigby is determined to payback his former misdeeds.
Vincent Trench, Tiefling Mastermind Rogue
A Rakshasa is a fiend of the Nine Hells created to be the agents of powerful devils on the material plane. They seek to dominate and scheme and entice mortals to trap their souls. The being that calls itself Vincent Trench has turned their back on that life. They started to live in Waterdeep as an investigator for hire with the intent of uncovering secrets and blackmail and then using that to compel mortals into all sorts of unsavory behavior. Instead, Vincent found they rather liked mortals, who seemed capable of anything without much prompting from immortal devils. Vincent enjoyed being on the material plane away from the misery of the Nine Hells. But insolence has its price. Agents of the Nine Hells seek to return Vincent home for their “progress report” after centuries of appearing busy. To thwart this, Vincent stabbed themselves in the heart with a fey dagger just enough to throw off the divinations which had the side effect of costing them most of their Rakshasa powers.
Verona Troy, Kalashtar Phantom Rogue
Echoes of death cling to Verona Troy. They are haunted by the ghosts of those they could not save. Their power is built with the souls those slain in the cause of the greater good. Verona is possessed by a nameless spirit of light and benevolence. They do not speak to this spirit but rather feel it through instinct and inspiration. Their eyes glow in moments of great focus or strong emotion. Verona Troy’s goal is to use their powers to police those that would misuse power over death, necromancers, spirit binders, and other alien entities including the spirits themselves. But the door is open both ways. Verona sees spirits but they see Verona as well.
Bolt Blitzen, Halfling Storm Sorcerer
Bolt woke up in a field next to a tree splintered by lightning. They do not recall anything before this. With no lineage, trade, credentials, or qualifications of any kind, Bolt joined the City Watch. Bolt was named due to their predilection for air and lightning magic. Incidentally, Blitzen is Halfling for ‘Lightning’. Over time, Bolt’s nature asserted itself. They get along with everyone by virtue of being the most common denominator of all people. Despite their kleptomania, they’re honest about the big things (at least anything too big carry). A person you can trust with your life (but not a gold piece). Promoted to Candlekeep Liason Officer, a job vague enough to ensure Bolt never has to do anything important. This freed them to take up the life of a professional adventurer. Bolt’s ambition in life is to die in house big enough to need guards of its own. Bolt is hopelessly addicted to caffeine.
Harrison Baldur, Human Fiend Warlock
Even in a world where magic exists and everyone knows it, working as an “occult investigator” gets some weird looks. But sadly, it’s the job Harrison Baldur is most qualified for. Formerly a cult member, Harrison got his act together after a devil summoning inadvertently sent an innocent child’s soul to the Nine Hells. Everything he does, Harrison tells himself, is to buy their way out. At the end of the day, Baldur fights the side of evil with the weapons of evil. The tendency of people around him to die, devils to show up and gloat about his fate in the afterlife, has made him deeply cynical with a three pipe per day smoking habit.
Drebin d’Medani, Mark of Detection Half-Elf Divination Wizard (There’s a mouthful!)
The Half-Elves of House Medani keep a low profile. Which is how they like it. But that doesn’t prevent the house from producing some of the finest scouts, bodyguards, and inquisitives the world knows. Any one can protect someone from an attack but a Medani guard is better qualified to anticipate and prevent the attack in the first place. Drebin d’Medani is a hard egg to crack. They’ve seen it all. War showed the world was a dark place, but a Medani has the gumption to make themselves look. Drebin sees webs of intrigue all around, plots and counterplots.