Bloody-Beard Borsht looks very much the stereotypical dwarven berzerker. He has a waist length red beard, his hair hanging in thick braids. He wears a battered but in decent repair suit of scale and leather armor. He carries a bull whip, a short sword, and a pick-ax. He is quite filthy and stinks of sweat, dust, and sour ale.
Borsht was just one of hundreds of dwarves who lived their long days hewing stone out of a mountain, working bellows and forges and mine carts while others lived on the surface, tending livestock and farmland. He worked his way up through the ranks becoming a mining foreman. He would have eventually gained his own mining command and been in place for a very respectable betrothal to an eligible dwarf maiden. Except that due to his zeal and overconfidence, his digging crew collapsed a major chamber of the mines. More than fifty dwarves perished in the cave in, his crew being among them. It was only by happenstance that Borsht survived.
He was exiled for his poor decisions, and cast out of the mountain. If he were to return, the kinsmen of those he caused death would return the favor in kind. Turned out with hardly a scrap of clothing, Borsht spent a decade as a wanderer, a beggar and a poor thief. He eventually got his feet back under him when he was taken in by a mercenary band in need of another warm body to hold a spear and a shield. To their delight he was a capable and competent warrior. He eventually broke away from the old company, with whom he is still friendly, and started his own retinue. This cadre of exiled dwarves, renegade gnomes, and hardened halflings is rather known for their lack of personal hygiene and lack of fear in battle.
The Cadre would later be hired by a potent Necromancer in the Southron Delta to organize his work parties and defences. Borsht and the other dwarves found their stoneworking skills more valuable than their fighting skills and were soon involved in directing mining and quarries, as well as overseeing the construction of the Black Keep.
The Dark Side
Working with the Necromancer showed Borsht something he had long suspected, and that is that mercy, kindness, and generosity, IE good, was weak and pathetic. This turned the morally ambivalent dwarf into a ethically and emotionally bankrupt monster. He once might have cared about gaining redemption among his own kind, but now he is only interested in ale, red meat on the bone, and crushing the weak and stealing their women. He also gained an appreciation for the undead, where previously he only had scorn for the walking dead. Among dwarves, zombies are somewhat of a joke, as a dawrf company clad in good mail can walk through a zombie army. He discovered that the undead were tireless and felt no pain. They could work in a mine or a quarrey pit until they literally broke apart, which often was a good long time.
Pain is not the best motivation tool, but it is plentiful and cheap
Borsht carries a long leather bull whip that he uses with some skill and no small glee. This weapon is used to punish dissident slaves, insubordinate minions, and popping the backsides of anyone he thinks os walking too slow.
Borsht's pick-ax is a dwarven made tool, and in their culture is synonymous with the human Bastard Sword. Exiles wear the pick-ax as a sort of badge of outsider honor, so that unexiled dwarves know what they are.
Named for the fact that hardly any member is more than four feet tall, the Horde is a band of 20 some odd dwarves, halflings, and gnomes. Dwarves form the greatest part, with fewer than three or four of the others. The Horde has access to heavy armor and heavy weapons and work as a vanguard of a larger force. In the case of the Necromancer, the bulk of the horde forms his personal bodyguard, and the rest serve as a command nucleus for his zombie host.
Dwarf For Hire - Borsht is the sort of mercenary who gives mercenaries a bad name, he is brutal, merciless, and if outnumbered, will turn tail and flee or beg mercy. His loyalty is to the highest bidder, be it the local Duke, the evil Troll-King, or anyone inbetween. The Half-Horde is very loyal to old Bloody-Beard, and are competent in siegecraft and forming phalanxes.
A Matter of Opportunity - If pickings for a mercenary are slim, Borsht has no qualms about going brigand until things inprove. On their own, the Horde will be more interested in looting and stealing than killing, but will put up a much stouter defence. As a twist, Borsht has hired out the Horde to put down brigands, whose actions were actually the Horde hunting and pillaging.
Where there's a Whip - Slaving isnt a popular industry, but there is usually a market for it somewhere. Borsht tends to keep an eye out for these flesh markets and when he finds one he will start feeding it anyone he can catch and put in shackles. His preferred prey are remote farming communities and traveling merchants and peddlers. Steal their goods, then sell them to the slave traders.
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? Responses (10)
A simple, morally devoid and saddistic thug who would nevertheless make a formidable enemy for any fledgling hero taking up the sword against evil for the very first time. As bad-ass as they get.
Good solid idea. Easy to use for any GM.
Who says that Dwarves allways have to be good guys?
A very good entry level villain!
Indeed, why would they have to be the good guys all the time. There is enough darkness to be found in their hearts, and if they fall for it, it may look just like this.
In another NPC, you mentioned a certain liking that he has for the undead workers that never tire or complain, that should be included here. It is a great detail that rounds him up well.
Worth using, especially if there are other dwarves in the party.
I like this a one a good bit, it has nice enough backstory that tells you in a few brief paragraphs what you need to know about the character. He is a leader, but also a follower, a number 2 man if you will, somebody who needs others to define his purpose and position. Nicely done, wish I could use his someday.
Quite a memorable, and usable, villain.
I particularly like the 'Half-Horde' name for the band. It seems like the sort of thing that a band of outcasts could rally behind. I would like to know if the non-Dwarves are oppressed or considered lesser in the band.
Update: Added Dwarven Guild freetext for Forgemaster's Quest