Mortal Fiber: The Cartographer (Seven Realms)
Many games feature quirky characters who are there for the Game Master to change the tone of adventures. Often these characters are allies, at worst they are neutral parties. The Cartographer is one such personality in Champions of the Seven Realms. He is a character who your adventurers will meet multiple times over the course of their careers. As he can turn up in in any location, he is one part mystery and one part comic relief.
His goals are simple ones:
- Map the whole of Arn, and other select portions of the Seven Realms.
- Sell maps that he has created to nations, merchants, even randomly encountered adventuring companies.
- Give up no information whatsoever about himself or his life.
As an accomplished sorcerer he is not really without defenses, even when he appears to be in a dangerous situation. His specialty however is transportation magic. He is one of the few masters of the obscure Unbound Traveler magical art. This magical path is of no use to those who wish to overcome enemies, but no other magical skill pairs the ability to move across any terrain without leaving a trace, with flight, the ability to move through solid objects, the power to active planar gates and the ability to teleport anywhere within the known world instantly.
Appearance: The Cartographer is a middle aged man of medium height. He is of dainish descent and has pale skin, faded blond hair which is beginning to turn gray, and bright blue eyes. He sometimes appears clean-shaven and sometimes he has a nicely trimmed beard. He can however be identified by his overstuffed pack with map tubes hanging off of it, his wide brimmed cloth hat, and his ever present walking stick. Other items in his possession are a magical compass, a spyglass, and a portable writing desk which should not be able to fit within his pack.
Game Use: The Cartographer is that inscrutable character capable of being a big help, even teleporting the tired shipwrecked adventurers home after their journey ends. There is no place they can get to which he cannot already be there mapping a cavern, a town, or a hillside. No foe can seriously threaten him, so he is often calm even when captured by savages. He always has a happy expression on his face and is always welcoming to the heroes, they are potential paying customers after all.
His single-minded devotion to going every place on the continent and even beyond and mapping all of it is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes he will latch onto the heroes and their mission because they are going some place which has been sealed for millennia. At other times he will conveniently already have a map to a dungeon or region the heroes need intelligence about, and all other research has turned up nothing useful.
While he isn’t a mover, or a shaker, nor does he give the heroes purpose, he is a valuable mouthpiece for the Game Master of any campaign. The mystery just makes the whole thing more interesting.
The few pieces of pertinent personal details people can discover from him personally are:
- He is a sorcerer
- He can travel to almost any place known
- He wants to put together an accurate global map
What little else is known must be gleaned from others:
- He is a member of the Wizard’s Ring, a secretive society of sorcerers that doesn’t do much that the public know, but is well respected by many nation rulers.
- Nobody knows his name. He goes by the Cartographer, and everyone calls him that. He could really be an Immortal or God masquerading as a human. He could be an amnesiac. He could have buried an unsavory past.
The Cartographer is like Fizban in Dragonlance, or Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings. He is a character who isn’t directly involved in the overall quest, who sometimes pulls the heroes out of a jam and sometimes just shows up to be quizzical and annoying. I don’t have many characters players can gossip about and go on research missions of little importance to the overall game and still have fun and it be fully within the game’s boundaries. He is an enigma, and I don’t provide reasons or backstory for him unlike most of the personalities in the game.
He doesn’t have statistics mainly because he isn’t a combatant. If he gets into real trouble he leaves. There isn’t any force short of a god or demon that can hold him in one spot, so as long as he’s conscious he can leave whenever it suits him. So when he sticks around where he isn’t wanted, it’s even more annoying knowing that he can be gone in the blink of an eye, but he wants to be where he is.
Imagine, the heroes have just fought their way through a cave system inhabited by savage humanoids, narrowly escaped becoming dinner for the tribe, and are exhausted and wounded as they make their way out onto a ridge and cliff face above the sea. They are relieved to smell the salty air and feel the blast of moisture on their faces, but also disheartened to know that they are thoroughly lost and the respite the ridge offers is false. They will be captured if they linger.
That’s when they hear, “Well met once again, young sirs and madam. It seems you’ve been put into a jam with that cave system. Might I interest you in a map of it’s environs? Only a few coppers.” Yes, there is the funny man who keeps appearing in the oddest places. Always appearing alone, and this time appearing at an unhelpful time.
At first, the players groan because a map would have been highly useful, days ago. However, those who remember what he can do should inquire as to his capability to get them back to civilization.