Runequest Thursday #29 - Theudulf the Learned, Grey Lord of Lhankor Mhy!

Clint Staples

One of the things I have not done in these pages is present some of the NPCs of Brightwater, the home settlement of the Heroes in my Runequest campaign. So I thought I would rectify that by posting one central to the community and its founding - Theudulf the Learned, a Grey Lord of Lhankor Mhy, scholar and warrior, and in his youth, delver into dark places.

First a little background about Brightwater, to provide context:

 

Brightwater is a recent [2 seasons old] settlement set up by the PCs in the middle of the River of Cradles. Currently home to approximately 150 Sartarite emigres, Pavis settlers, and indigenous riverfolk from a village several miles away, Brightwater is growing and thriving, largely because of the efforts of the Heroes of the settlement - the Player Characters. Brightwater is technically in Lunar territory, the newly annexed Lunar Grantlands, but there is no one to take such a grant of land at present, and the Lunar Empire is being stretched thin enough right now that they cannot simply eradicate the upstarts.

The settlement was the brainchild of a number of ex-Sartarite Rune-levels among the Lightbringers [priests and lords of various allied temples]. The Hidden Council, as it is called, is working with those in open rebellion, to make it too costly for the Lunars to occupy Pavis and the River of Cradles. Unlike the guerilla attacks of some Orlanthi hotheads however, the Hidden Council is taking another way. They sought out a band of promising young people with similar ideals to their own, provided direction and seed money, and sent them to found a non-Lunar, though not necessarily anti-Lunar, settlement in the Grantlands. And of course, since they were going to all this trouble, they sent along one of their own as a guide, mentor and voice for the Council - Theudulf the Learned.

It was here that the Hidden Council made its first mistake. In their hope to rid themselves of an annoyance - Theudulf had long been an opinionated and vocal member of the Pavis temple of Lhankor Mhy - they instead provided Brightwater with the sort of direction the Hidden Council hoped to avoid. He had barely gotten to the site that would become Brightwater before throwing his lot and sympathies in wholeheartedly with the youngsters around him.

 

Theudulf the Learned is a Rune Lord of Lhankor Mhy, often called a Grey Lord, as opposed to the Grey Sages, the priests of the God of Intellect and study. I think of Grey Lords, of which there are relatively few, as the Indiana Joneses of Glorantha, delving into ancient ruins, forgotten temples, or the occasional nest of Chaos, not for treasure or glory [maybe a little treasure and glory] but in search of hidden lore, secrets unplumbed in an age of the world. While the Grey sages tend the temple fires of reason, study their scrolls and books, and provide answers to those coming to their temples for research and information, the Grey Lords are out collecting the scrolls, reading the weathered inscriptions, and killing the monsters that get in the way of them doing that.

At seventy-four years of age, Theudulf is past his prime, but definitely not a helpless oldster. Still vigorous, as he must be to suffer the privations of Brightwater so well, he can work a full day, whether overseeing the construction of the Wall, or rendering a map of the Domain. He is a sword-master, slower than he once was, but a deadly hand with sword or cane, or both at once, and trains daily when weather allows, often with the folk of Brightwater looking on or taking instruction. As a teacher, he is gruff and irascible, quick to complain about blockheaded pupils, but is still able to inspire and bring out hidden ability.

After a career of activity, Theudulf chafes somewhat at the duty he has been given by his superiors in the temple. But overseeing this group of young heroes is growing on him. When he first arrived, his hope was to die a meaningful death when the settlement was overwhelmed by a Lunar attack, a fate that would have been denied him in the dusty halls of the temple in Pavis, as he withered and stooped alongside the priests. But more and more, he has begun to hope that Brightwater might survive, that he might yet 'retire' and see the settlement thrive and outlive him.

 

In game terms, Theudulf provides the players with a sounding board for their ideas, and a source of information about local events, history and some more esoteric subjects. In the fullness of time, when he has a lab, he might provide them with alchemicals as well. He also is the on-site engineer and the overseer of building and other projects, as well as a de facto authority in their absence [they are PCs after all, wandering off to find, or fight, stuff with regularity].

You can find Theudulf's datafile as a link just below his portrait.