Roleplaying Resources

Taliafe the Peddler

Basics

Race: Half-elf
Age: 33
Appearance summary: 5'4“, 150lb, slightly overweight and potbellied, blue-black hair, bright eyes, rugged, sun-browned skin.
Class: Warlock
Background: Criminal
Attributes: STR=12(+1) DEX=14(+2) CON=14(+2) INT=13(+1) WIS=16(+3) CHA=18(+4)
HP: 10
AC: 12

Proficiencies

Skill Proficiencies: Deception+6, Arcana+3, Stealth+4, Sleight of Hand+4, Insight+5, Perception+5
Saving Throw Proficiencies: Wisdom, Charisma
Tool Proficiencies: Playing cards, Thieves’ Tools
Armor: Light Armor
Weapons: Simple Weapons
Languages: Common, Elf, +1

Abilities

Warlock patron: An otherworldly being known as The Conclave of Lies.
Awakened Mind: Telepathically communicate with any creature I can see within 30'. I don't need to share a language.
Fey Ancestry: Advantage vs charm, and can't be magically put to sleep.

Spells

2 cantrips, 1 spell slot (level 1), 2 spells known, DC=14, attack=+6

  • Cantrips: Eldritch Blast, Minor Illusion
  • Level 1:
    • Hex: bonus action, 90', 1hr, disadvantage on one attribute, +1d6 necrotic damage from my attacks, if drop to 0HP, can switch target as bonus.
    • Dissonant Whispers: 60', wis save, 3d6, use reaction to flee at speed.

Appearance

Taliafe is five foot four, and slightly overweight with a developing potbelly. He squints when he smiles, which he does often while selling, but rarely otherwise. Slightly pinched ears, unusually bright eyes, and a bluish tint to his very dark hair speak of a little elven blood. His hands and face are rough from exposure to sun and sand, giving him a rugged appearance of the type that some people find attractive.

While Taliafe is technically a half elf, since both of his parents have some elven blood in them, the exact amount of elf is probably a good deal less than half. When traveling, he wears heavily patched white robes. When selling, he prefers bright (if faded) colors and a wide-brimmed hat that has seen better days.

Background

Aliya Ferthorre was an acrobat, and Isif Al’Rachmad a caravan driver. The two met on the road whenever their paths happened to cross, and while there was certainly an echo of love between them, it was a love that existed now and again for a night of passion, or in shared company and pleasant conversation for a day or two when they happened to be going in the same direction. It flared briefly, and then faded quickly when they parted ways. Each accepted the unspoken terms of their relationship, that it existed for whatever time they had together, but they could, and did, have similar arrangements with an ever-changing number of other people.

Taliafe was born on the road. Aliya and Isif hadn’t tried to have a son, but the contraceptive herbs they bought from the local hedge witches weren’t always effective, so it happened. It wasn’t the only time by far. Isif had three sons and two daughters, all living with their mothers or apprenticed off, except for his oldest son, named after himself, who was being trained to carry on the family trade. Aliya had three daughters, living in cities scattered through the empire. So Taliafe, while unplanned, had eight half-siblings, between four and twelve years his elder.

As a young child, Taliafe traveled with the caravan, often being left with a nursemaid for months at a time during the more dangerous runs. When he was seven, he was handed off to his mother for a visit which was supposed to last weeks, before his father took on a hire that would keep him away for three years. So between the ages of seven and ten, Taliafe traveled the world with the carnival, and despite the neglectful parenting, that time of sneaking in and out of tents, wandering through crowds, and being raised by musicians, fortune tellers, lion tamers and freaks was one of the happiest periods in Taliafe’s life, for all that his mother didn’t seem to want him around. He learned a great deal during those years — basic acrobatics, a little slight-of-hand magic, and the lucrative cons known as fortune telling and carnival games.

From his father, Taliafe learned the value of money and negotiation for money, the even greater value of patience, and the very limited, often negative value a child had to a caravan driver. Whenever Isif lost a job because the owner of the caravan didn’t want children around, he made sure Taliafe knew whose fault it was. In fact, whenever anything went wrong, it seemed Taliafe was to blame. Isif didn’t have the capacity to train two apprentices. Isif ibn Isif would take over the business someday. Taliafe ibn Isif was dead weight at best.

Age 12 was the last time Taliafe saw his mother. The manager of the carnival offended the wrong person, and the carnival was shut down in reportedly rather bloodier fashion than was normal. Aliya survived the assault, but settled down in a city far away with one of her many lovers — farther than Isif’s caravans ever traveled. These days, Taliafe isn’t sure whether Aliya is alive or dead.

As for Isif, he certainly still lives, arranging for new business while his eldest son drives the caravans. When Taliafe was 14, Isif apprenticed him to the first person who would take his son, a chandler in Yllaruam named Baba Alshammae. While Taliafe briefly tried to do what his father wanted and learn all about the exciting textures and odors of tallow, wax and fat, he knew that candle-making wasn’t for him. He had no value as a driver, and had just as little value as a chandler.

This sense of failure was a recurring theme and a powerful motivator in Taliafe's life. After leaving Baba, he made a few coins as a pickpocket, but the risk of getting caught was high and the consequences severe. The tricks he learned in the carnival served him better. Reading a made-up fortune or convincing someone to gamble on a game stacked against them might get him kicked out of the market square, but he’d keep his hands. After a couple years of playing for coppers though, he was poor, and poverty meant failure. He came to this realization the day he won a pair of coppers from the chandler’s new apprentice, a boy two years younger than him with a clean face and clothes in good repair. If he was doing worse as a street con-man than he would have done stirring vats of boiling tallow, that was a problem.

So Taliafe kept the carnival tricks in his repertoire, but went in for a little of his father’s approach. Isif was a driver, sure, but more than that, he was a negotiator. Without being able to calculate what a caravan owner might pay and then doing his best to add a percentage on top of that, Isif would never have been successful. How could a person with as few resources as Taliafe get started in business? He’d draw from one of his many minor skills and become a tinker. And that meant going where such a person would have value.

Taliafe spent a year saving up every copper until he could afford a small cart, a run-down mule and some basic tools, and traveled among villages, oases, caravans and nomadic tribes, repairing pots, pans, tools, and whatever else needed fixing. And while he was there, a few entertaining magic tricks and games of chance couldn’t hurt to supplement his income.

By age 20, Taliafe was slightly less poor. He had upgraded his cart to a wagon, gotten a healthier mule, and started selling as well as fixing. It turned out that of all his talents, he was most skilled at sales. He would buy a broken pot, fix it, and sell it back to whomever was willing to pay the highest price. Once he found an oddly shaped rock, made up a story about it, and got someone to buy it — a rock! — for two coppers. Still, slightly less poor wasn’t his goal. He wasn’t exactly a successful businessman. To become that, he needed what his father had: contacts.

I plan to write more, but the summary is that Taliafe will do pretty much whatever it takes to improve his lot in life. He will deal with anyone for almost anything.

Contacts

The Order of the Sands

There’s an enclave of desert druids who call themselves The Order of the Sands. As far as Taliafe knows, he’s the only person who’s made a deal with them. They need very little, but they do have to restock certain practical items from time to time, so once or twice a year, Taliafe makes the fifty mile trek across the desert, and comes back with barrels of water that they fill with their magic.

Abla the Mystic

A hermit named Abla lives in a cave in the desert. Abla is an eccentric mystic, who talks to fey, demons and otherworldly powers. She has helped Taliafe trade with them for information on where to find salable items, such as his wide variety of trinkets, and his odd collection of magic items. She was also the connection through which he got a touch of magic. So Taliafe may have unpaid debts to various beings, which you should feel free to use as story hooks.

Random Contacts

Taliafe is likely to have random contacts in villages all over, who might regard him with anything from friendship to suspicion. Same goes for Yllaruam, which is basically his home base (though he doesn’t have a house or anything). Basically, while he doesn’t have everything, he knows where to get anything, and will be happy to be the middle-man.

Family
  • Father: Isif hires himself out as a caravan driver, along with his son Isif ibn Isif.
  • Mother: Aliya is settled down in a city far away.
  • Eight half-siblings: They're scattered throughout the world, with their various parents. One may be Yllaruam. I don't know. :) They do not all have Arabic-sounding names, since they were named by a variety of people, none of whom were Taliafe's parents. Maybe I'll give them all backstories at some point.
  • Daughter: Haliana, who is now eight years old, does not know her father. She lives with her mother, an herbalist in Yllaruam named Yniila.
  • Hirelings:
    • Pahd has been with Taliafe for almost a year now, taking care of the mule, guarding the wagon, delivering messages, and occasionally driving. He’s not overly bright, and he’s lousy with a sword (though okay in a brawl), but he’s useful. STR 14, DEX 10, CON 10, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 6
    • Carl: Human, male, 19. Trustworthy as long as he's paid, but a little more forward than an unskilled worker is expected to be. STR 14, DEX 10, CON 12, INT 10, WIS 8, CHA 9
    • Mort: Half-elf, male, 30. Quiet. Usually drinks and gambles his earnings. STR 10, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 7
    • Esmi: Human, female, 42. Loud-mouthed but reliable. Former wrestler. She aged out of it, but you still don't want to mess with her. STR 16, DEX 10, CON 14, INT 8, WIS 8, CHA 7
  • Jimmy the Imp: Named after a gangster in Allentia he once had dealings with, Taliafe's familiar is much more trustworthy than its Human namesake. Taliafe has made hundreds of little off-camera deals with Jimmy to retain its services.

Skills

Other than the standard D&D skills, he’s good at fixing things, sleight-of-hand magic, fortune telling, and astrology.

Personality

  • Friendly, but a little sleazy sometimes. He’s a salesman.
  • Amoral. Money and success are more important than most things. He’s not evil, but he will make deals with evil. He won’t participate in things like sex trafficking or the slave trade, due to a twinge of morality, but mainly because he doesn’t think the risk is worth the reward.
  • Greedy. He hopes to expand his trade until he has caravans of his own, instead of a single wagon.
  • Insecure. He acts confident while selling, but it’s an act. He’s terrified of failure.
  • Story-teller. He attaches a story to things he sells, to try to increase the value. He tries to learn other people’s stories, so he can use them later.
  • Superstitious. He knows that the stories he tells and fortunes he reads are lies, but he believes strongly in the truth of dreams, and in the power of spirits. I may make up dreams he’s had and act on them, and you’re welcome to use this as a story hook. Real or fake, he’ll be inclined to put a lot of faith in his own dreams and the dreams of others.
  • Ambivalent towards family. While his drive might have been caused by the way he was raised, his parents taught him how little importance family has. He doesn’t think about his many half-siblings, his parents, or his own child. Marriage is not on the table, but casual relationships are.

Secret

I haven’t figured out one big secret yet, but there are a few smaller ones:

  • His deals with spirits and demons.
  • While he’s usually a good con-man, there are people who might be on to him

Equipment

Taliafe has a wagon and two mules. He carries a variety of used items, most of the trinket table, and those three ridiculous magic items we discussed.

  • Personal items
    • Dagger
    • Playing cards
    • A few days' food, feed and water
    • Broken tinker tools (need 50gp to replace them)
    • Worn-out thieves' tools (need 50gp to replace them)
  • Business
    • Wagon drawn by two mules
  • Dry goods
    • 1lb cloves
    • 1lb ginger
    • 100lb wheet
    • 20lb salt
    • 1/5 lb peper
    • 1lb cinnamon
    • 1oz saffron
  • Cloth
    • 10 sq yd canvas
    • 10 sq yd cotton cloth
  • Misc
    • 5 baskets
    • Bell
    • 3 colored glass bottles
    • 50 candles, 50 pieces of chalk
    • hammer
    • 25 quill pens
    • 2 lamps
    • Steel mirror
    • Bottle of perfume
    • Iron pot
    • 50’ hemp rope
    • 10 signal whistles
    • 25 bars of soap
  • Most of the Trinket Table.
  • 45gp
  • Mace (5gp)

Expenses

He needs to keep his mule fed and watered, and Pahd draws a salary of 2sp/day.

Magic items

The Staff of the Archmaggot

This staff is carved from wood to look like a writhing swarm of maggots. If one watches it for a while, one might even see some of the maggots move. Three times per day, you can transform up to 100 pounds of live maggots into nutritive, edible, disease-free food, but it does nothing about the taste. Maggots so transformed release a foul, but harmless gas if any attempt is made to cook or season them.

Ring of Red Dragonfly Control

A bronze ring with delicate wings, which tend to get caught on loose cloth. As a move action, you can control the actions of a red dragonfly. The dragonfly can only do what an ordinary dragonfly can do, which includes carrying extraordinarily small messages. Dragonfly not included.

Deck of Many Holes

While this appears to be an ordinary deck of cards, it has a special power. If you place one of the 52 cards of on a flat surface and wait for 10 minutes, the card will dissolve, and leave behind a hole the size and shape of the card’s suit. The hole is up to 3” deep. The Deck does not work on magical materials.

Other notes

Origin of his name: Combination of “payment” in Welsh (taliad) and Arabic (dafe)

Lindsey's character

The oasis

There is an oasis on Taliafe's usual route, where a friendly but strangely secretive tribe lives. The settlement has a very nice spring in the center, with a pool of fresh water around it, and the people are welcoming and always open to trade.

There are rules, however. Taliafe knows to avoid the priests, or whatever they are, to limit his trade to certain areas, and to only drink from specified vessels. He knows to provide a small tithe or gift, and that attempting to get around the tithe by any means does not go over well. They have an unnerving way of being menacing with a smile on their face, when they don't like something you're doing.

Normally, Taliafe arrives in the morning, stays for a few hours, or in rare cases overnight, and moves on. However, one time several years ago, he was caught in a sandstorm. With both residents and guests, he was rushed to the innermost, safest portion of the fort, where he could barely hear himself think over the sound of wind rushing past the cooling vents, like they were designed to enhance the noise rather than suppress it.

With nothing better to do for three days, Taliafe did what he always did – trade. Trade was usually forbidden in the inner sanctum, but surely they would make an exception, given that no business could be done in the storm. Taliafe was offered a gentle but firm correction, so he switched tacts, rolling up his blanket and peddling items individually. They couldn't object to a simple conversation, one that happened to result in a transfer of currency and a novelty item or two. He was caught and asked to stop once more, before he was assigned a guard. Still, a day without trade was one step closer to failure, so Taliafe persisted.

(hm… this story doesn't flow well. Fix it)

“I will let you off with a warning….. ….if you give me that fan.”

Btw- caravan incident- you’ve heard that about a year back, a caravan sheltered at the Singing Oasis during a storm. The story is that their caravan driver was executed after the storm, and each other caravan member lost a hand before being sent on their way.