Royan Bentblade (born Royan Chainweaver) was born a jewler’s son in Rauros. His mother died bringing Royan into this world, and his father Tormir did not take the loss of his beloved wife with grace. Although he provided for his only son, Tormir held little love for Royan, or for the rest of the world for that matter. Tormir eventually turned to liquor in an attempt to drown his despair. His habit became increasingly expensive and, as time wore on, took a noticeable toll on the quality and speed of his once renowned work. Soon, customers visiting the shop dwindled and what had once been a raging river of cash flow became a mere trickle that barely kept food on the table.
One day, when Royan was barely old enough to remember, his father went on a particularly desparate and violent binge, drinking himself into a stupor and trashing their family home. Royan hid from his father’s drunken rage in a wardrobe upstairs. At some point in the night, Royan thought he heard the sound of others in the house, followed by disturbing silence. Royan emerged from his hiding spot at dawn to discover the house empty. That night, soldiers had come for his father and sent him to debtor’s prison for failure to pay his taxes to the city. Royan wandered outside looking for his father, only to find himself watching as city merchants plundered the family home, removing every last possession to sell off toward Tormir’s tax debt.
Finding himself homeless, possessing only the clothes upon his back, and effectively an orphan, Royan took up a street urchin’s life in the alleyways and sewers of Rauros. Hunger is a magnificent, if cruel teacher, and Royan quickly found himself stealing bread, apples, fish, and whatever else he could sneak away from the market to slake his aching belly. After a number of years living this harsh life and honing the skills necessary for survival in the streets of a harsh and unforgiving city, he found himself one day facing a much larger, and much older brigand who was bent on claiming Royan’s meager purse of stolen coins for himself. Royan had plans to buy himself a number of square meals with the gold, and was determined not to let this old renegade drink away his hard-earned coin. He found quickly that the older brigand was armed with a long, wickedly curved knife, however. Royan was able to only barely dodge the thug’s blade and snatch up a large brick from the crumbling wall of an abandoned house to one side of the alley. Using the brick, he was able to parry what would otherwise have been a surely lethal jab of the wicked knife, knocking it from the thugs hand and bending the mild steel blade in the process. Continuing the attack, he knocked the brigand unconscious with the brick, before seizing up the now bent knife and dispatching him permanently with it.
Royan’s defense of himself and his coin was witnessed (unbeknownst to him) by a couple of low-level enforcers for the Black Ears thieves’ guild (interestingly, they had been coming to collect a debt owed to the guild by the very brigand Royan had just put down. The brigand had seen them coming before they saw him, and thought he’d seize the opportunity to use Royan’s coin to pay the debt). The enforcers thought that Royan had just the right combination of technical skill and raw brutality to make him a perfect addition to the Black Ears, and, after a long while convincing Royan they weren’t leading him into an ambush, they led him back to the Guild headquarters to present him to the leadership. After a number of tests and initiation missions, Royan was finally granted full membership as a Black Ear, an organization he quickly learned was run by dark elves (though this is kept a highly guarded secret to non-members, and even to less than fully trusted members).
He only worked for the Black Ears for a short while, however. After a handful of second-story jobs, pickpockets, shakedowns, hustles, and strongarms, he was given a mission to assassinate the leader of another local guild to allow the Black Ears to expand their turf. Royan had been adamant throughout his training that although he may kill in defense, he was no murderer. Upon receiving the assignment, he protested, but the guild leaders “pulled rank” and insisted that he do the jobs he’s given or they would have to “liquidate” him. Begrudgingly, he accepted the job, but double crossed the Black Ears, informing his target of the mission against him. This launched one of the most violent gang wars in the history of Rauros, and gave Royan just enough cover in the ensuing chaos to flee by attaching himself to a merchant caravan in a rush to leave the erupting warzone.
Royan’s experiences early in his life, with his father’s arrest for failure to pay taxes, and his own run-ins with the legal forces of Rauros during his days as a street urchin, already left him with a bad taste in his mouth when it came to lawful authority. He long thought that government forces were simply bullies and, essentially, legal thieves. He had thought his joining the Black Ears was a way to “stick it” to the man. However, his altercation with the leadership of the Black Ears made him finally come to the realization that all authority, no matter the rationale behind it, is dangerous and corrupt, and fit only for destruction.
To that end, Royan has made it his life’s work to sow chaos and insurrection wherever he can. His particular set of skills makes him capable of many jobs, both legal and illegal, and he’s done most of them at one time or another, but his main ‘career’ is as a smuggler. He’ll carry anything, for the right price, as sneaking items past customs and depriving the state of their dues in taxes brings great joy to him, but his favorite item to smuggle is weapons. Royan is truly passionate about getting the tools of revolution into the hands of those who need them to fight their oppressors.
He’s always willing, however, to hire himself out as a freelance adventurer to any group that finds itself in need of his particular skills. It’s a quick and easy (albeit dangerous) way to make a tremendous amount of coin. Although the rumors in the underworld claim that the Black Ears gang was almost completely destroyed in the gangwar that followed Royan’s betrayal, he has no intention of wandering back into Rauros anytime soon to find out, and is always a bit paranoid of attempts to exact thief’s justice upon him for his treachery. He has the typical dwarven contempt for the drow, but not for the typical dwarven reason why. When asked where he acquired his particular combination of skills, his answer is always the same, no matter who is asking: “Oh, here and there mostly.”
Royan is a dwarf, of about average height for a dwarf, with hair and beard that is naturally auburn but which he often dyes black (though his auburn eyebrows reveal his natural coloring in the light of day). The entire bottom of his left earlobe is tattooed black, recognized to anyone in the know as the mark of the Black Ears Guild. Although his height is unremarkable, his body and face are slim, for a dwarf, with a leanness and gauntness that speaks of a hard and hungry youth. In his role as a smuggler, he looks unassumingly like any other dwarven merchant, and he’s able to bluff most into believing that’s all he is, at least for long enough to get past the city gate and into town with his load of contraband. When hired out to an adventuring party, he dresses the part of a trap-finder and adventurer more convincingly.
Royan can be motivated by any of the following, alone or in combination:
Money, especially what he deems to be easy money
Thwarting lawful authority such as a city guard, king, soldiers, or the like. This need not be bold or direct. Any opportunity to “stick it to the man” will do.
Overthrowing authority he deems to be illegitimate (most authority, to be honest, but especially the lawful evil variety, which he sees as the worst of the worst).
Sparking or encouraging popular rebellion or civil war, especially in an area where the people have been oppressed.
If Thomas Jefferson had ever lived upon Mythrin, Royan would probably have his quote, “The tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants” tattooed on himself somewhere.
Aiding Chaotic Good powers into positions of authority. Although he isn’t CG himself, it is one of the only authorities he will willingly recognize as legitimate.
Think of taking Sam Adams, Che Guevara, Malcolm Reynolds and Han Solo, blending them together, pouring them into a dwarf, and handing him a brace of daggers. You’ve basically got Royan.