Rhomande Sorfinde's Insuffrable Basterds
The History and Roster of Rhómandé Sorfíndë’s Insuffrable Basterds
as recalled by the Invariable Rhómandé Sorfíndë
In Order of Appearance in the Rhómandé’s Life:
The Illustrious Rhómandé Sorfíndë was born in the Commune of Bywater, in the Elven Lands to the north of the Island Kingdom of Scottalia, where he showed an affinity for music and spectacle from the youngest of ages. He worked for years to revolutionize Traditional Elven Music, wishing to find a more progressive sound. Unfortunately, the Comhairwa - the Elven Council - is a rather conservative group, and they exiled the most famous son of their tribe for the simple sin of a disagreement in musical opinion.
That, and a pyrotechnics display that nearly caused the extinction of a very rare type of medicinal flower. But, honestly, how was the Inattentive Rhómandé Sorfíndë supposed to know that a dozen Charmed squirrels didn’t pass the Elven Safety and Health Administration’s professional standards of workmanship? And how was he to know that they didn’t even have an office in Bywater, when the elf who stepped out of a magical hole in a tree and flashed a bit of Psychic Parchment that looked like it had an official ESHA glyph? I mean, the planetraveler did give the okay, even if it seemed just to be in order to get the young impresario off his case.
This all worked out for you, in the end, though, for Rhómandé was forced to travel the worlds, always singing, always entertaining, and never resting.
Little is known about the early life of the Elven magus known as Thrimlach Lenanien. His primary areas of study seem to be Biology and Cosmology, seeing as he specializes in surgery, grafting, necromancy, and planar travel. Lenanien suffers from severe Illusiory Goblophobia, which is kept in check by strict regimen of traditional Elven Herbal Medicine.
Lenanien claims to have invented a great many things, but when in his cups he will admit that he stole the formula for Psychic Parchment from his Master at “Wizard College”, since it seemed to help his master not be noticed when engaging in Exoplanar Exploration on inhabited planes.
The earliest record of Thrimlach’s actions is an Oak Vale Town Guard report of a domestic disturbance in the home of an evil gnome wizard by the name of Izzlebink Wishwallow. Lenanien was found outside the gnome’s house, shouting for help. He claimed to have seen an “evil tiny goblin climbing into that window over there”. The Town Guards arrested him for public disorder, after spending three quarters of an hour trying to throw a cloak over his familiar, Loramar - an undead raven, which seemed to be assembled from parts of at least three separate birds.
When Thrimlach next awoke, he was in a holding cell in the Guard Station, sitting next to the Inarraignable Rhómandé Sorfíndë, who had been arrested for Begging Without a License. At the moment Thrimlach came to, the bard was explaining to Loramar that performing in the streets should never be confused with begging.
When the Guards let the two elves out of the drunk tank, they did the only natural thing: they went to the nearest taphouse.
Vragul, Son of Vorbal, King of Town Hall
The Half-Orc Vragul was born to Vorbal Three-Tusk and Marian Greensward in the town of Orc Hill. Vragul grew quickly in strength, but not in wits, and he could never understand why the other orcs consistently disputed his claims of petty Kingship. Though, he did understand why they used their fists, knees, elbows, and teeth to express such disputes - they are Orcs, after all.
When Vragul was nine years old, Marian - still a young and desirable human woman - declared that Vorbal did not appreciate her properly, and so she left the family to elope with Vishaarg the Ham-fisted, a much younger and more muscled Orc than Vorbal had been for at least six years. This left Vorbal and his mother’s mother - known now only as Great Grandm’orc - to raise Vragul in a bicultural atmosphere when they were only familiar with half the cultures involved.
As a result, a sixteen-year-old Vragul developed some “funny ideas”, which were mostly Orcish misinterpretations of Human culture. Such funny ideas were deemed Too Weird by the Orcs’ War Council, and Vragul was ejected from Orc Hill.
The young halfbreed wandered the Helsnaki wastes for another two years before finally finding a boat across the seas to Scottalia, the land of his mother’s people. A short journey later, Vragul found himself in Oak Vale, a town only nominally part of the Scottalian Kingdom. Vragul found a public house where he could announce his Rights of Kingship, the first act of which was to silence the wailing Elvish bard in the Slap & Tackle Taphouse. This was no easy task, but Vragul had studied the Old High Orc tongue, and his stream of grunts, shouts, and ear-blistering Orc profanities eventually silenced the elf. His second act as King of Bar was to declare himself King of Bard, and his third was to pass out from lack of oxygen after five straight hours of yelling in Old High Orc.
He has been traveling with Rhómandé in his train ever since. Eventually, Vragul met Yfirma∂r of The Cave, herself a half-orc. She is the only being ever to bring Vragul to a stalemate in either physical or vocal combat, and they were wed in under a fortnight.
“Dark Brother” Smyd Kaltrops, the Bear
The Bear hails from the far off lands of the Northern Woods (which lie to the south of the land of Fenth, across the sea from Scottalia), where live the mighty Bear Clan. Brother Kaltrops’ history is largely unknown, thanks to the secrecy and brutality of his people. In fact, a common Fenthish idiom comes from this stereotype: “Does Bear Clan shit in the Northern Woods?” for “I have absolutely no idea.”
Somewhere in the wilderness, the Bear met a Half-Orc by the name of Mognok the Pious, who spent his mornings staring at a river, his afternoons punching trees, and his evenings terrifying farmers as he stole their crops and livestock. Orc Piety is an odd thing, sometimes. This seemed a good life, for a time, and the two found their martial prowess increasing ever faster, now that each had a live partner to spar with. This friendship would eventually be accounted as the founding of the Brotherhood of the Empty Paw. Eventually, they decided that raiding farms was much more work than buying a farm and making other people work the land for them.
And so, Brother Kaltrops and Mognok wandered out of the wilderness and into Oak Vale one day, each with a sack of bear grass slung over his shoulder, hoping to make enough money to buy a farm and hire a few rubes to work it. They wandered into the Slap & Tackle, a public house whose clientele largely consists of small-time fishermen. This also happened to be where the Ineffable Rhómandé Sorfíndë would enter not ten minutes later, for his West Coast Debut Concert.
Stil Colemanaani, the Druid of the Frozen Summit
A human from Oak Vale, the young Stil spent much of his time out of doors, befriending and tending the many plants, reptiles, mammals, birds, and insects of the Scottalian Western Forests. By the time he had seen seventeen winters, Stil had established a small retreat at the Frozen Summit, the largest mountain in the area, and he ventured back into town only three times a year.
His blonde beard had grown ragged and uneven in the months since he had last seen another humanoid, when he burst suddenly through the front door of the Slap and Tackle. The odd druid staggered over to the bar and opened a kerchief on its polished surface. Upon the dirty rag sat a mound of small crystals and precious gems. “Need a winter blanket and seventeen pints of lamp oil. Maybe some dried fish. Is that enough?”
This quickly caught the eye of the Inescapable Rhómandé Sorfíndë, who offered to buy the ragged human a mug of mulled wine, so that he might take notes on such a fascinating individual, in case he needed a wild man of the woods in a future opus. Stil then relayed a tale of strange happenings in the coastal forests beneath the Frozen Summit. Some form of disease had taken all the flora and fauna, causing them to swell with pus-filled buboes, which burst with a brownish fluid if found on a plant and with green if found on an animal.
From what the Druid of the Frozen Summit had seen on his journey to Oak Vale, the blight was already spreading to the farms on the outermost limits of the community. Stil had a sinking suspicion that all of these events were somehow tied to the Cancer Mage who had taken up residence in a lonely tower that stood four days’ journey down the coast.
The rest, as they say, is History. The five adventurers set out along the coast to the southeast, in search of a local evil mage to slay in return for Oak Vale’s gratitude and gold. They returned with the head of the demonic terror, finding a massive planar gate in their bay and an alien ship sidling up to a pier. The Basterds went to meet the foreigners, and trade relations were established between Oak Vale and the Ancient and Venerable Empire of the Peoples of Voladros and the Uiadhenns.
Lady Issa Featherfoot, heiress to the Imperial Nest of the Pengonquin Vale, was the first-hatched female of her parents’ four offspring. Her mother has preened her for rule since the age of five, when the skirmishes with the inland Otters and the seafaring Seals were reaching a crescendo, and the Pengonquin Tribe had reached its lowest population in seventeen generations. At the same time, her father began training young Issa in the ways of the Hunter: never to be seen or heard or smelled, to strike only with death. When the Otters finally displaced the Pengonquin with their Fire Iron magics, Issa was separated from her people, though she would never be lost in her native wilderness.
She tracked her people’s attackers to the sea, and from there she caught a ship north to Wartemaing, a rare Dwarven port city hidden in a raging cliffside. These dwarves had been trading with the Empire of Voladros for about fifteen years at this point, and it was easy for Issa to track her prey to Sahn Daskaar - capital city of the Empire, and the Most Civilized Place in All Planes. She lost their scent in the kingdom-sized city, though, and she fell in with a dangerous crowd who made great and illegal use of her silent flippers and sharp beak.
Many questionable decisions later, Issa caught a ship out of Sahn Daskaar and first met the Insuffrable Basterds in the city of Morbaug, which stands on the edge of the Kar’ash Fen, a terrible place only inhabitable by Orcs and other monsters.
Father Maldreth the Impius
When the Basterds returned to Scottalia from Kar’ash, they were dismayed to hear rumors of an army of dragon-riding orcs, goblins, bugbears, and other monsters amassing in the North-Central zone of the Kingdom.
After a disastrous foray into the ruins of Veraat Keep that left Mognok dead and Thrimlach critically wounded, the Basterds decided to seek divine aid. They found a small chapel with a fresh sacrifice steaming upon the outdoor altar. Chains of stone adorned the tiny chapel, and hideous grotesques stood cheek-to-jowl in alternating ranks with gargoyles vomiting blood into enormous fonts.
The Ogre-blooded Father Maldreth, high (and at the time only) Priest of Makar, Father of War, then materialized from the surrounding forest, wiping the blood from his ceremonial dagger with what looked like the robes of a Priest of Gomas the Lawgiver.
Maldreth did not seem pleased to meet the Basterds at that moment, but a violent shudder seized his body, after which he dropped his head and rumbled, “Yes, my Lord of Slaughter. Thy will be done.”
The terrible priest then opened his eyes, and stretched out his arms, which shone with a thick, red light. Maldreth then seized a ceremonial mace and dipped it in the blood font. He sprinkled the Basterds with the darkly sanctified liquid. Within seconds, the Basterds were in perfect health - even Thrimlach, who had been at death’s door.
“You are all now baptized in the blood of combat and sacrifice. You shall serve the Father of War until such a time as you are broken and useless. Now, let us be about your mission.”
No other words were spoken, except for the complaints of Rhómandé who now had just removed the last set of bloodstains from his best cloak.
Imenand Shenouda, the Weaponer
Imenand Shenouda is the Lord High Weaponer of the Ancient and Venerable Empire of the Peoples of Voladros and the Uiadhenns, a position he has worked decades to secure. Shenouda was awarded this post for his invention of the Mechanically Enhanced Conglomeration of Humanoids: a fifteen-foot tall, necromantically-constructed, humanoid-shaped siege weapon that could be manned by a single, highly trained soldier.
He first encountered the Basterds when they first came as a group to Sahn Daskaar. Shenouda had heard stories of this new Strike Team’s exploits, and he wished to establish an endorsement deal with their Illustrious Eponymous Face Elf.
During the meeting, Imenand overheard the party planning their next foray. “The Imperial Orders say the gate lets us out in a town called Tarlwych,” rumbled the Bear. This caught Imenand’s attention, because Tarlwych had been mentioned as a supply post in a travelogue that was over fifteen thousand years old. No such place still existed, and this mystery was enough to cause the Weaponer to change his schedule and to delegate his more routine duties to trusted advisors, so that he could follow these foreigners into a nearly-forgotten age of the Empire’s past.
After such travels were finished, the Basterds returned to the world upon which rested the island nation of Scottalia. They set out to explore their world in sailing ships, vowing to find a route to the lands of the Pengonquin, which had been overrun by Ottermen and Seals. The search for such a passage led them through the Swamps of Gronkli, wherein lies the ancient Pyramid of the Armsmother. Within this dungeon, Master Shenouda found a ring, and when he set it upon his finger, he felt something brush against his mind.
Imenand laid claim to the pyramid immediately, vowing to restore glory to the Mother of Weapons, Mëassë the Toppled.
He is now her chief priest, though all other clerics we have met claim that the Armsmother is a dead goddess, and that she was brought down by mortals, in the Days of the Curving Roads.
I do not doubt the knowledge of these priests, but I find I trust my companion quite compelling, when he says, "Gods may be born, and gods may fall, but they, too, are bound by the Laws of Conservation. Those that give and take life can be changed, but never fully destroyed."
After the Insuffrable Basterds had gone into the Empire’s deep past and escaped the downfall of the City-State of Brext, and having then survived a number of ordeals in a crumbling, subterranean temple dedicated to an Elvish water god, they finally returned to Oak Vale.
In their absence, the waterlogged hamlet had grown to a bustling port city, necessitating all of the modern accommodations typical of a larger populace. One such accommodation is, and has always been, and ever shall be, the extermination of undesirable inhabitants. Most of the time, this meant oversized rats in cellars, packs of hungry wolves in the woods, and tiny poisonous fish in the bay, but the occasional barbarian raider or lost manticore often needed the same treatment.
Thus, the founding of Tad Decent Extermination, L.L.C.
Upon returning to their home, the Basterds were confused to find a strange elf commanding so much respect and economic might on their turf; however, their consternation melted away when they found how polite, professional, and - above all - effective the Lawfully Elected Exterminator truly is.
After brief negotiations over loot shares and advertising costs, Tad Decent had been fully inducted and introduced to the party.
It was then that the messenger arrived.
Thorn the Trixie Pixie
Thorn has a troubled past, especially when one accounts for the sorts of behavior that the Fay would regard as “troubled”. The less said about that the better, so let it suffice to say that Thorn was forcefully ejected from both the Seely and Unseely courts.
Forced to wander the Prime Material Plane, Thorn found that even its most mild Pixie behavior was deemed completely unacceptable by the local populace. After some years of careful observation, though, Thorn was eventually able to figure out a way to make mischief on behalf of these funny, large creatures , and thus get itself into far less trouble with the authorities.
One such job was the sending and receiving of sensitive messages, which eventually brought it to Scottalia, where it met the client.
Thorn had only met the client once, and the client was very careful to hide its identity. Thorn was an expert on indistinguishable gender - it even knew how to tell the difference between male and female dwarves! - but it couldn’t decide on an either-or for this client. It wore a wide-rimmed hat pulled down over the face, and it sported a red cloak with a high collar. The client simply handed Thorn a purse of moneys and a letter addressed to Brother Smyd Kaltrops at the Frozen Summit Bar in Oak Vale.
Thorn only wasted a little time in making its way across Central and Western Scottalia, and it arrived just as the Basterds were concluding their business with Tad.
The Basterds swiftly forgot about Thorn, since the message threatened Bear Industries in general and Dark Brother Kaltrops in particular, with a few choice threats to Rhómandé’s lute for spice. The letter was signed “Don Vincenzo, League of Scottalian Bread Merchants.”
Thorn wasn’t particularly interested in these details, so it shrank down, cast an invisibility spell, and entered the skull of Bastet, Imenand’s skeletal cat. It cast a tiny sphere of silence, then settled down for a nap.
By the time Thorn awoke, it was on a different plane entirely.
Rhómandé Sorfíndë's Insuffrable Basterds
Vragul, Son of Vorbal, King of Town Hall
Dark Brother Smyd Kaltrops
Dark Bear Smyd Kaltrops
Stil Colemenaani, Druid of the Frozen Summit
Lady Issa Featherfoot
Lady Issa, Penguin Form
Father Maldreth the Impius
Imenand Shenouda, The Weaponer
Thorn, the Trixie Pixie
Thrimlach and his Attendants
Dame Torrea Marsvel and Spirit of the Swift Wind
Lady Issa and her Hidden Attendant
Tuxedo Beak, Issa's Admirer
Vragul, Yfirma∂r, and Bloodless
Business is Good
Thrimlach Weathers a Plaid Storm
Some of the Many Varieties of Werepenguin
The Basement of the Frozen Summit Interdimensional Bar & Grill
A Typical Run-In With A Two-Headed Dirt Serpent
The Ranged Group Clusters Again