A massive man with the swaggering demeanor of a true campaigner, the good Captain was clearly deep in his cups when we found him. Surrounded by his band of loyal soldiers, he had taken over the Strutting Cockerel Inn, which had obviously become his campaign headquarters. Although they had missed most of the fighting, he and his men were well on the way to victory over the landlord's cellars, judging by the empty bottles and drained casks that littered the common room. As they drank, the portly veteran kept his men entertained with rollicking tales of his exploits in previous campaigns.
'Why, lad, that campaign's wher' I picked up that nasty scar across me ribs! T'was a nasty battle, too! After we took over the city, my men and I were ensuring that none of the enemy remained around Red Lantern Street when a strumpet attacked me with a dirk! I was hard pressed to defend meself, as I had been in earnest discussion with another lady at the time! After that close call, I always made sure that I knew where my ex-wives were ere I went carousing!'
The Old Campaigner
Wherever the army marches, there you will find the inimitable Captain Jona Widebealm. An imposing figure, he will never be found in the thick of the fighting, preferring to leave that glory for younger, more aggressive warriors. Instead, he can be found inspiring his men from somewhere far behind the lines, preferably an inn or tavern of some sort. His life of military service has not marked him; where other warriors are scarred and lean, Captain Widebealm is quite obese and jovial. Widebealm's stylish beard and moustache are invariably well-groomed, and his bald pate well-polished, gleaming almost as bright as his gregarious smile.
Captain Jonas Widebealm was practically born in the army. Well over 50 years old, he has fought his king's battles for nearly 40 years, in the process learning every dodge and scheme ever devised by the mind of military man to enrich himself, elude danger, or avoid work. The noblemen and generals above him in the chain of command know full well what a lackluster soldier Widebealm actually is, but with his connections and gift for ingratiating himself with his commanders, they are generally willing to overlook a great deal of misconduct.
The Leader of Men
Whatever the racket, Captain Widebealm will be there, finding a way to make a profit. He sells equipment on the black market, demands kickbacks from suppliers, oversees regular gambling tables, and caters to the soldiers' less savory needs, but if things go wrong, other soldiers and military hangers-on will find that they are patsies for his illegal schemes. Even as he rakes in a variety of ill-gotten gains, the Captain is careful that his graft never goes far enough to force his commanders to take notice. After all, he would be the first to point out that 'A veteran campaigner never draws the attention of the enemy without need!'
Although his life is dominated by greed and shady dealing, Widebealm is still known for his loyalty to his friends and comrades. The Captain's troops know that he's willing to risk himself (almost) as much as he risks his men on those occasions when he can't dodge battle altogether, or they are caught in one of his underhanded shenanigans. If his soldiers were to be caught looting a temple, for example, he will soon arrive to smooth things over with a well-practiced arsenal of lies and influential connections. 'Well done, Sergeant! Your attention to duty does you credit! Now release my men! They were simply securing those objects for His Grace, Duke of Suthcorland! As you know, the Duke is my personal friend!'
The Well-Equipped Veteran
A fine harness, crafted by the most-skilled of armorers to perfectly fit his portly frame, Captain Widebealm's armor gleams with perfect care. An elegant sword, the gift of a grateful general some years before (Widebealm ensured that the man had fine wine during the entirety of a rather trying campaign), hangs from his intricately woven belt. The Captain's tall boots are crafted of the finest leather, tooled and polished to perfection. Captain Widebealm has several tales about how he acquired his fine harness, each more fanciful than the last. He even hints that his sword, armor, and boots are enchanted with a variety of unlikely magical powers, which change during the telling.
Widebealm rides a massive and powerful bay stallion named 'Fanfaron', a horse of such strength that it even handles his sizable bulk without strain. As loyal as the others around him, this beast will become quite obstinate for any others who try to ride it. Fanfaron knows that the good Captain will be there to give him an apple at the end of the day, and perhaps a lump of sugar if he bites anyone else that tries to ride him.
Stored behind him in the creature's elegant saddlebags are a fine selection of cheese, wine, and other delicious comestibles, for the good Captain enjoys the finer things in life, and sees no reason that his warlike occupation should deny him that pleasure. He gladly shares his bounty with those around him, happy to see his men well-provisioned and his commanders pleased.
Encounters with good Captain WidebealmAny Port in a Storm
The PCs are asked to facilitate a diplomatic meeting that may help two warring powers end hostilities, but soon discover that a variety of supplies will be needed, especially fresh meats and the fine Port wine preferred by the opposing side's representative. These items prove very difficult to locate, but nothing is impossible for the resourceful Captain Widebealm, who is sure he can find the needed items. Unfortunately, he has been ordered to storm an enemy stronghold, a dangerous mission that will need to be completed before he can help. If only someone else was willing to tackle that mission....Supplies Party
Someone has been pilfering from the Army's supply depots. Of course, Captain Widebealm is probably behind it, but finding proof may be impossible. Unfortunately, while the PCs investigate, the good Captain will be spreading red herrings far and wide, so they will find evidence of everyone BUT him being involved with the crimes. There IS always the chance that he wasn't actually involved (this time), and he will be virtuously seeking to 'aid' the investigating PCs in a variety of ways. Captain Widebealm's assistance may take many forms: He may request that some of the 'camp followers' assist them, following them around, trying to do their laundry, cook for them, and other womanly tasks; he may take a personal interest in the case and be there to encourage others to 'cooperate'; or he may even conduct his own 'investigation', 'discovering' any number of interesting things.Fatherly Affection
A lady has contacted the PCs to help her find Captain Widebealm, whom she claims is the father of her child. Apparently, she married the man, only to discover that he has severalother
wives in various cities. The Captain, demonstrating his inimitable sense of discretion, has arranged to go away on a 'secret mission' and cannot be found. He must be tracked down and hauled back to face the music. Of course, the good Captain would NEVER sink so low as to commit bigamy; he instead had one of his men imitate a churchman and conduct the ceremony. Because the ceremony was all a fake, his 'wife' will have a difficult time proving that they were ever married at all.
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? Responses (11)-11
Ah, a combination of Falstaff and Sgt Bilko. Well written with lots of character and potential dramatic hooks. He is a classic character that would be found anywhen.
There is one of his kind in every army all through history.
Very likeable, this chap. Humour and usefullness rolled into one character. Good work!
Updated: A few details were added and some rearranged for clarity.
Yes, I see the McHale's Navy influence. Well written Wulf! An eminently usable NPC. Love his name.
I echo Moon's comment. Love it!
Upon re-reading Ol' Jona, I find that I love him even more!
A fun easily adaptable npc, once again able to fit in any high or low tech campaign with minimal adjustment. Well done and inspirational.
Damn, how'd I miss this one!
Nicely done Wulf - miss yours stuff!
Heck of an NPC ... outstanding submission!