NPC Closeup 12/26/2003

Maenoth, Agent of the Crown

Maenoth, the Scoundrel: Maenoth reached young adulthood on the seediest streets of the capital of one of the world's largest cities. Orphaned at a young age, the urchin grew into a handsome, talented thief. He began as many thieves do by working with a group of other youngsters (yet to develop more advanced thieving skills) mobbing well-off merchants, newcomers, or tourists. While most of the group yelled at the target, begging for aid or hawking worthless gewgaws, one of the mob picked the pockets or cut the purse strings of the distracted or befuddled mark.

As he grew, Maenoth stretched his roguish wings. On occasion, he worked with the city's reigning thieves' guild, but the guild master was an evil, sadistic dwarf that didn't restrict his guild's activities to protection, fencing stolen goods, and robbing the wealthy and the noble of the city. This guild master, who called himself Atavic, also smuggled illegal goods, assassinated upstanding rulers for the right price, and engaged in a highly profitable slave trade, mainly in women and children. Maenoth took part in none of these operations, and as a result, knew he would never advance far within the guild.

So Maenoth kept to himself, developing his skills to the point where he became a moderately successful thief and cat burglar. He'd often make friends with the young, bored daughters of wealthy nobles or arrogant nobles of the city and begin romances with them. With good looks and streetwise ways, few could resist. Once he'd been invited (most commonly surreptitiously) into the young woman's home, he'd case the joint and return on another occasion to steal all he could carry.

It was on just such a return visit that Maenoth's life changed forever. The young damsel he had charmed this time was more than she seemed. She was the daughter of the king, and she was living incognito to protect her from the country's enemies and to ensure the continuation of the royal line should anything happen to her father and elder brother, the prince and heir. A few nights after wooing the lovely, auburn-haired Melisé, Maenoth snuck back into the house, only to be caught and soundly thrashed by Angston, a former adventuring companion from the king's youth and the princess's unofficial "uncle" and protector.

What no one, not even Maenoth at the time, realized was that the trysts he had shared with Melisé planted the seeds of love in both their hearts. It was only later, when it was too late, that Maenoth realized the depths of his feelings for the gorgeous, smart (despite falling for his initial ploy), and funny Melisé.

Faced with a lifetime in the royal dungeons for "endangering the princess's life and welfare," Maenoth took the only other option given him: enlistment in the royal army as Angston's "personal attaché." Maenoth soon learned there was much more to the big man than strong sword arm.

Maenoth, the Warrior: Maenoth began his new life as Angston's "aide" in the royal army. Maenoth passed every test and succeeded at every challenge. He and Angston began to share a grudging respect for each other. Once Maenoth's basic training was complete, Angston took the young man into his trust. Angston was more than just the princess's protector -- he covertly worked for the king on important errands, missions, and quests for the good of the country and its people. Angston, seeing much promise in the accomplished thief and budding warrior, offered Maenoth a place at his side. This occupation sounded much more thrilling than serving the rest of his military term in the standard army, so Maenoth accepted Angston's offer. Maenoth's first assignment was to survive Angston's harsh training regimen and martial-technique classes.

After a time, Angston felt his young charge was ready, and they re-entered active duty in the king's service. Their travels took them far and wide to many exotic cities, unknown lands, and deadly dungeons. Angston's experience and martial skills combined with Maenoth's roguish talents and his growing ability as a fighter made the pair a dangerous combination to face. In the small circle of covert agents, the pair gained a reputation and their fair share of enemies.

During this time, Maenoth felt himself changing. Not only did he come to regard Angston as a kind of surrogate father (which the old warrior reciprocated, treating Maenoth as the son the bachelor adventurer never had), but the many injustices and horrible deeds he witnessed on his assignments with Angston shifted his outlook from that of self-interested thief to a fighter for good.

Maenoth also found that his thoughts were turning increasingly often to the young Melisé, to whom he'd never had a chance to apologize after being caught and knocked around by Angston. He someday hoped to remedy that situation and told Angston of his intent to do so. However, before the pair could act on Maenoth's intent, they were called back to duty on an assignment that would change Maenoth's life again.

Maenoth, the King's Agent: Angston and Maenoth's mission this time was to uncover the traitors behind an alleged plot to kill King Stefan and his son Prince Philip. Thus, the cabal of treasonous individuals hoped to rule the kingdom by controlling a handpicked puppet. The heroic duo discovered the plot was real and that at least one member of the royal household had thrown in with the plotters. The Court Wizard (and Director Emeritus of the Royal Magery Academy) was to betray and kill the royal father and son while the group was on an annual family hunting expedition to the mountains. They wanted to make the attack look like an assassination attempt by the thieves' guild in the capital city, which had been in an uproar after a recent royal crack-down on corruption in city officials. If the traitors' plan worked, not only would the government wipe out the guild to revenge the king's and prince's deaths, it would create a power vacuum in the city's underworld that the plotters could also then fill with a new organization of their own. By controlling both the new legitimate monarch and the largest criminal group in the country's largest city, the plotters hoped their grip on the country would be unshakable.

Maenoth and Angston acted in time to halt this vile plan, but only barely. By the time the pair reached the hunting retreat in the mountains, the villainous Court Wizard had already acted. He'd poisoned most of the royal household staff's breakfasts that morning and escorted the royal family on a hunt himself. The heroic duo reached the chalet after the hunting party left and found the servants dead or dying. Maenoth and Angston rode hard to catch the hunting party: Angston to save his lifelong friend, the king, and Maenoth to save the woman he now realized he loved, Melisé.

Meanwhile the Court Wizard, then known as Tursas, separated himself from the hunting party with the excuse of checking the area for possible dangers in the remote region where he'd led the unsuspecting royals. He had just launched his attack upon the family as Maenoth and Angston arrived. Angston told Maenoth to rescue as many royals as possible while Angston dealt with the traitorous wizard. Before it was over, the king was dead, his son, Philip and Queen Maria were badly injured, and Princess Melisé, who had immediately tried to save her brother with her own self defense skills, owed her life to Maenoth, who had personally shielded her from the worst of the wizard's deadly spells when he turned his ire to the princess. Several royal attendants were also killed. Angston drove off Tarsus, but at the cost of his own life.

Once they returned to the chalet, Maenoth told the remaining nobles of what he and Angston had uncovered regarding the plot. Once the party was ready to travel, Maenoth guided them back to the capital in a funeral procession unlike one the country had ever seen.

Soon, a semblance of order was restored. The queen recovered but, as a royal by marriage only, was ineligible to assume the throne. Prince Philip still lives, but he remains unconscious; no healing or curse-removing spell has any effect. So it is in this state that he was crowned king, with his sister, Melisé, named as his regent. The other plotters were captured and executed or fled and sentencing to exile, based on Maenoth's information. Maenoth never told Melisé of his feelings for her, concerned that she now has enough on her mind without worrying about "love."

Since the traitor Tarsus was also head of the Royal Magery Academy, Melisé, the queen, and Maenoth became concerned that more wizards with treason on their minds might exist there. Maenoth, whose role in the dramatic rescue was downplayed both to help his continued anonymity and give the late Angston some of the accolades due him from a lifetime of service, volunteered to infiltrate the wizards' school.

Maenoth, now without both his mentor and surrogate father and the woman he loves, entered the academy and has spent several years there. His progress has been slow, but he's now a respectable wizard in addition to his other skills. He's also spent much time working to uncover more traitors among the academy's faculty and students. He believes the time will come soon to act on this information, for the good of the country and for Melisé.

Using Maenoth

Use Maenoth as an adventure starter in your campaign in one of several ways.

As written, Maenoth possesses a wide range of skills, but he is not as powerful as a typical single-classed 16th-level adventurer. As a result, the Agent of the Crown may require the aid of more powerful, good-aligned heroes, such as the PCs, for help on some urgent mission for the regent.

As a more neutral party (assuming his alignment didn't shift as a result of his time with Angston), Maenoth could be an amoral agent in the service of a monarch who doesn't care how Maenoth achieves his goals, just that he accomplishes the tasks he's given, regardless of the means or any collateral damage.

As an outright villainous agent of an evil foreign power, the heroic PCs might be tasked with locating and eliminating an enemy agent that rumors say is present in the capital city or even in the royal court. This task could be the focus of a long-term campaign, using the various power levels of Maenoth as the PCs themselves advance in levels. Of course, the final battle with Maenoth should be when the 16th-level version (powered up with several of his scrolls) is a deadly but not insurmountable challenge to the PCs.

One final tidbit for DMs: Since Maenoth became a wizard, he could have summoned a familiar. Create one for him and add it to the campaign with Maenoth. If the familiar is a beautiful creature (such as a hawk) and is female, Maenoth may even name it Melisé.

About the Author

Dale Donovan is a 14+-year veteran of the gaming industry, during which time he edited Dragon Magazine, wrote or edited many Forgotten Realms products (along with every other roleplaying line produced by the company, be it TSR or Wizards), moved from rural Wisconsin to suburban Seattle when Peter Adksion of Wizards saved TSR, and served as a Managing Editor. Since going freelance, he has worked for Steve Jackson Games, Guardians of Order, White Wolf/Sword & Sorcery, and Wizards of the Coast, among others. He loves RPGs, horror and fantasy fiction, comics, movies, most every kind of music, and his lovely wife and wonderful daughter.

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