John bon Jonne
John is actually 18th in line for the dual throne of Ystavikor. For his entire life his mother and father constantly tallied and counted his position, preparing and scheming to raise his number. An entire wall of their Ystavikor manor was dedicated to mapping out the geneology which had produced John, and the relative position of the bon Jonne’s to the throne. Whenever distant cousins married or had children, all the positions changed, and John would be reminded of his new status. His childhood certainly wanted for nothing…except excitement. He was given the best tutors money could afford, tutors a petulant John routinely tortured, until they had mental breakdowns and were forced to leave. One tutor had the audacity to strike him…which resulted in a short sentence in the dungeons of Ystavikor. The sentence was a formality, as most of the royal family was secretly amused by the long needed lesson.
Despite the high rate of turnover in tutors John had the mind of a scholar, and despite his efforts managed to learn a great deal. He began dabbling with the Arcane arts, largely due to the decree forbidding members of the Royal family from partaking in these studies. He began to bribe his tutors, at the age of 14, to add additional lessons to his sessions, and over time his talents grew to the point where he could no longer hide them from his parents, who promptly fired his tutor and forbade furthering his education. As a result John’s talents are limited, despite natural proficiency in the art.
Filled with a need to rebel, John refused to attend the University of Ystavikor, generally considered the oldest and greatest in the Gold Coast. He shrewdly pointed out that strengthening ties to the Valekor community would bolster his family’s position in any future succession bids.
The next two years followed a routine pattern. John would arrive in a new city, in a new school, and promptly be dismissed. His tutelage in the Arcane Arts continued sporadically, whenever he could convince an instructor to take his gold rather than that of his parents. When he could no longer continue learning discretely, or his parents fired whoever had been teaching John he would act out. It was after a fire nearly destroyed the entire archives of Orinskor that John was out of options…there were no Universities left that would take him, outside of the dreaded Ystavikor school, under the direct eye of his parents. John, in a fit of juvenile enthusiasm packed up his few belongings, purchased an appropriate cloak of a mighty wizard and headed out to walk the world, and discover the magicks and wonders of the world through his own adventuring. It was this desire that led John to Portage, the desire for adventure on the frontier proved too strong a lure, and this city-boy took off cross country, letting fate and his own skills decide his life instead of his parents…
Back in Ystavikor, his parents are fully aware of John’s decision. They have hired a network of spies to keep an eye on their young son, watching his actions with bemused tolerance. They keep tabs on him, and the standing order is to let him get in as much trouble as he likes…so long as he never is in danger to himself or his family name.
John is actually my player character, and as such I was late to reveal any of my backstory to the group. Generally John acts as an NPC, providing fire-power and AOE attacks when the group needs them. I’m cautious to ever have John speak too much, for fear of the party conflating who is speaking to them (John or the DM) and to prevent myself from using John to drive the party in directions I want them to go.
I created John so that if and when I were to not DM and have a turn at the table there would be a character they were familiar with to fall into.
John is young and impulsive, who fancies himself a hero, and generally conducts himself with bravado and arrogance. His cloak, is in fact covered with gibberish runes, not genuine magical runes. He fancies himself looking like Dr. Strange, but to others looks like a kid wearing his father’s too big clothing. Still, John’s heart is in the right place, and he often acts out on impulsive busts of bravery. It is not uncommon to find him in the middle of combat…this is both in keeping with how I developed John’s character, but also to force John into danger, so I don’t appear to be favoring myself and keeping him from being hit.
It is a delicate balance, one that trends towards the NPC side of things, but has overall worked well.