'If you could make life better for another, would you? Even if it meant doing something fundamentally evil?'
The word plain comes to mind whenever anybody looks at Thomas MacGregor. Whether you're looking at his clothes, his face, or his comb over, nothing stands out. He's just one of those faces in the crowd.
His head, partially covered in thin, dirt colored hair, is usually found below a nearly shapeless and patched old hat and his clothes all of earthen colors are equally as shabby. Thomas' face is about what one would expect of a farmer's face. Tanned and leathery from years in the fields, his face is creased with lines of age and care.
This mild tempered man has spent just about all his forty years of life tending farms, that's what he's skilled at and little else. The life of an assassin doesn't suit him in the least and he can often be heard moaning something like 'I'm too old for this,' as he flees the scene of one of his blundered attempts at murder.
If one had to think of one word to sum up the life of Thomas MacGregor, a fairly accurate word would have to be 'small'. Thomas was born in a small house, on a small farm, on the outskirts of a small city. He was born into a long line of farming folk. 'His father's father before him,' and so it goes.
Thomas' father Randall had farmed all his life just like every man in the MacGregor lineage had farmed their entire lives. His mother had been a rather attractive barmaid in her youth but Thomas had always known her as the robust and matronly woman who attended to the 'horrible wounds' he acquired playing with the twins from the next farm over(who he still spends time with to this day) or shooed him out the door whenever he returned home covered in something vile.
He lived a good life with his family and the years passed quickly. When Thomas reached adolescence and was able to work for his keep, his father realized what an asset his son was to him and even though he exploited the boy he showed him the love he never had when he was younger.
Nothing interesting actually occured in his life until about twenty years after his birth. A particularly potent strain of some virus had been travelling around the area and he and his family fell ill. He had been bed ridden for nearly a week when the disease left him and got up to find both his parents dead in their bed.
It was a sad event for Thomas, but it didn't change his disposition or his out look on life. His parents still occupy a little corner of the farm.
How An Honest Man Becomes An Assassin:
Thomas continued a simple existance, gaining enough money each year from the harvest to feed himself and the few animals that stayed on the farm with him. He spent his time either tending the crops, failing to woo the scullery girl at the local tavern (He's no casanova) or fishing with the twins from the next farm over. Thomas enjoyed his leisurely life immensely.
All that ended one night during one of the heaviest snow storms that the area had ever seen. Thomas was roused from a dose by a loud hammering on his door. He was shocked and horrified to find a child on his earthen door step. He didn't know it yet, but the biggest chore of his life was looking up at him. The only thing accompanying the child was a note of sorts. It had no explanation of why the little girl had 'graced' his home it only had a name and an address, both written in flowing, beautiful script.
The Silent Knife Tavern
The Silent Knife Tavern was a rowdy place of ill-repute. Thomas had heard of it, but had been wary of entering, so wary that he'd never gone in. He assumed 'Lilliana' was the babies name and he spent that winter learning the ins and outs of child care. When spring finally arrived he took a little trip via his old rickety wagon into the nearest big town (I'll leave it to the reader to think of a name) and payed a visit to The Silent Knife.
The bartender asked him his name when he bought a drink, which seemed odd to Thomas. What really struck him as odd however, was the fact that someone had left a message for him. It was in the same finely penned script as the first message, though a good deal more formal.
If you have recieved this letter, then you must also have recieved my daughter Lilliana. I'm she has recieved the best care you could provide. In any case, I owe you a debt of grattitude and possibly more if you would be willing to accept a business proposal of mine.
I would ask you to do something most heinous, but I would easily make it worth your while. I ask you too wait at (insert political building) for (insert lesser noble). He has troubled me greatly and I think it would be best if he were 'removed'.
Thomas knew very well what this anonymous employer wanted and he also realized this person had used his own flesh and blood as a bargaining chip. It would take a monster to do something like that to a baby and if someone from a noble family had sent him this letter, they could easily accuse him of kidnapping the girl. The constabulary would be quick to believe the party with more gold (ie: not Thomas). He had no desire to see his head on a chopping block. Thomas was in quite a pickle.
Thomas began his life of crime ten years ago. The only mission he ever actually accomplished was the very first he received. He is aware of what a pitiful assassin he makes but he still tries very hard to provide his adopted daughter with the life he thinks she deserves.
Thomas knows she was used as a tool by his employer, but he loves her deeply and would do anything for the girl. For his first assassination he recieved more wealth than he'd ever known, and so far it has been the primary source of income for him and his daughter.
Behind The Scenes:
Lilliana is the biological daughter of a man named Fenrick 'The Snake'. The proprietor of Thomas' favorite tavern and the owner of several other taverns in the surrounding cities, including The Silent Knife.
Incidentally, he is also a big part of the political comings and goings in the area. He needed that particular noble (the one you inserted) out of the way and but unfortunately his current assassin had been arrested. Desperate times calls for desperate measures and Fenrick was about as desperate as they get.
He concocted a plan, one that would kill two birds with a single stone. He would be able to essentially remove an illegitament child and get that nuisance of a noble. Thomas was just in the wrong tavern at the wrong time. Fenrick had known Thomas for as long as he'd owned the pub and he decided that Thomas would at least be able to get the job done.
Fenrick can be regarded as an evil individual, but he's not entirely black hearted. He greatly over payed Thomas for his singular service and it's out of shear concern for his daughter that he continues to offer Thomas work.
Special to him maybe. Just about everything in his small cottage has some sentimental value to him. Other than that no, he's got nothing of value.
Thomas cares about his adopted daughter more than anything. He would die with a smile on his face, just knowing that she was safe.
Man Hunt: The player characters are on the tail of a notorious killer, a mishap occurs and they find themselves on the trail of Thomas instead. He could become an allie and help in the search or they could end up taking him to the authorities and pinning him with a murder he didn't commit.
The Rusty Dagger Killer: Thomas has been imprisoned for attempted murder (he failed agian), but he isn't a bad guy. Ask anyone who knows him and they'll tell you. Perhaps compassionate PC's would risk rescuing him, and perhaps he could offer a meager reward to more mercenary PC's. Would they be willing to rescue 'The Rusty Dagger Killer?'
Blast From The Past: The PC's could run into a younger version of Thomas as well. How interesting would it be to run into a bumbling assassin carrying around a baby in the medieval equivalent of a 'Snuggly'?
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? Responses (6)-6
Nice idea of an essentially worthless assasin. I am missing some more meaty plot hooks though.
Nicely done. I like this bumbling assassin. He is not just a cookie cutter killer. Actually this needs to be slapped up into the Assassin Make Over codex.
I can actually see a number of hooks for this character.
PCs casually stop him... now what?
PCs get concerned for the child being caried by the assassin?
PCs are investigating the attempted assasination and find ... this guy? Nobody would believe it.
Thomas has to do a 'hit'. The assasination attempt is actually to be a distraction for something else going on.
The PC is an assassin. The Assasin might give him some tips or send him to 'The Guild' for a little training and indoctrination.
In case you have seen the movie 'Nick of Time', there was something interesting that applies to this character: bad guys were looking for a common man to perform a murder for them - and have chosen a father that deeply loved his daughter.
That said, I have a little diffilcuty believing the story that led him down that path. All of that because of a singe letter? Perhaps the barkeep knew Thomas better than most people, and knew he would kill for somebody he loved (like, say, killing a tramp that wounded his dog while he was still young). Also, that hasty desperate plan took a whole season to unwind - hard to believe that skilled manipulator couldn't find another man to do the job.
However, the end result is just fine: a not very willing (or skilled) assassin that is beyond any suspicion. A nice colourful character with many possible plot-hooks attached. In some of those above, a certain barkeep may be the one who hired the PCs to help his friend... who couldn't do such a deed, never. :)
Yeah, I had a little trouble believing that this 'skilled' manipulator had trouble finding someone to kill a stupid old noble. But that's aboot it.
I like him.
I too have some difficulty with the concept that a 'skilled manipulator' could find no better assassin than some non-descript country bumpkin, especially since he appears to have had several months in which to do so.
That having been said, an unwilling, and highly inept, assassin is certainly an interesting idea. And I must admit that I quite like it.
3½ / 5 for an interesting, and slightly unusual, character
A better thought out reason for his becoming an assassin would have gotten you a 4
All in all, a solid first post hope to see more of your work