Many of the player characters were complicated dudes, with complex pasts that often came to influence the present. I do believe all of those characters were originals– that is, characters who had been with the campaign since the first adventure. As the DM, shaping stories for the player characters was a lot of fun, something to which I gravitated. Action has its place and I certainly did not shy away from dangerous foes, but I certainly took the most enjoyment from the character stories, especially seeing the players react to and use what I gave them.
One of my favourite player characters though was Salporin Charn, a character who joined the Assembly of the Dragon in a later campaign. He was a sailor who wanted to own his own barge. He was a drinker, womanizer, hearty eater and gambler. His story was simple yet I was very interested in him, in part, because of how Jason drew him: His conical helmet, his whiskers, and the fantastic bastard sword with the falcon hilt. I remember Chris and I marveling at how straight Jason had drawn that sword. He claims to have not used a ruler and we had no reason to not believe him. It was a treat to see the original drawing still intact in the folder of old school D&D material from the 1990s.
Looking at his character sheet, Salporin was a Level 8 Fighter. His weapon of choice was the aforementioned bastard sword. His shield was emblazoned with a “spear” and “bird”. (I don’t think that shield was ever drawn.) He wore a breastplate in the bluish-silver plate of the Assembly of the Dragon. His conical helmet was plate with a “leather back”. His boots were “brown leather”. His pants were “loose” and “dark brown”. His jerkin was “dark blue” and his cloack “long, dark blue.” I quite like that his gloves were recorded as “deerskin”.
The back of his character sheet mentions that his light grey, dark grey Dhurran horse was named Boulder. Jason also saw fit to record that one of the saddle bags was filled with “tea, cups, and kettle.” I seem to think that Salporin was the campfire cook of the bunch.
Here is his biography as written at the bottom of this character sheet:
38 years old; 6ft; 228lbs, born in the spring
He was born and raised in the port city of Vilekta. His father was a riverboat captain, so naturally Salporin felt drawn to the sea. When he was old and strong enough he was hired on as a crew member of a river trade ship. He hoped to save enough money to purchase a barge of his own, but he often spent most of his earnings on drink, gambling, women and food (the latter of which accounts for his rounded figure). He was on shore for a few days when the Assembly found him. He has taken up adventuring but the sea will always be his first love. He still hopes to buy a river trade ship and has recently started saving money he earns as the captain on one of Alon’s barges. Salporin loves a good laugh and a good story– not to mention good drink and fine women. At times, his sea-going manners make him appear rude and disgusting, but the Assembly of the Dragon accepts it all in good humour. He has recently found himself involved with one of Enid de Caela’s friends, a relationship that is looked upon not-too-favorably by some of the nobility. Those closest to these two, however, wish them the best of luck. Salporin’s body is muscle, covered by some fat. His dark hair is worn short with a bald spot on top. He likes to keep a scruffy face “to tickle the cheek of a pretty woman on a close encounter”, he says.
I find it interesting that Salporin’s dad never involved him on his own riverboat. It was similar for Aspitis Previs— he was a son of a nobleman who did not support his son’s interest in seafaring. I also like that in between quests Salporin worked as a captain on a river barge. (Alon was a player character who owned several river barges.) The final quote about tickling the cheek of a pretty woman is about as salacious as I’d ever be in D&D back in those days.
I distinctly remember in the late 1990s / early 200s feeling disappointed that we never “finished” D&D. Several of the later adventures were building to a final fight with the “Dark One”, a powerful, evil force that was starting to influence the world. I often wondered how it would have all ended. I don’t think that anymore. As I look through the binder now I think about fond memories of those days, but also envision what the characters would be doing. The younger me would have certainly have made it so that Salporin did save enough money to get his own ship. The older me feels like Salporin never did save enough money– he could not cut back on drink, food, gambling, and women– and thus remains as captain of a barge within Alon’s fleet. When old age gripped him, Salporin would become an administrator of the river boat trade, often conducting business in the dockside taverns, regaling the younger folk with tales of his time with the Assembly of the Dragon.