About Gilda Grabapple
Slightly Batty Widower
The cacophonous sound of a dying cat echoed through the alley adjacent to the decaying Iudeimus Tenement, discordant enough to cause the dead a mile away in the Old Kintargo cemetary to turn over in their coffins. Twice.
Except, it wasn't dying. And it wasn't a cat.
"YOU'LL PAY BARZILLAI THRUNE! YOU AND YOUR FANCY CARRIAGESH WITH THEIR... *hic* FOUR FANSHY WHEELSH! ROUND... SO ROUND..."
A rasp, hoarse voice echoed through the alley. If one got close enough, one would find the stench of cheap alcohol right behind it -- or strong axle grease. Probably alcohol, though. Hopefully alcohol.
The older woman (it was a woman, right?), her greying hair an unkepmt mess, her clothes tattered and patched, held up a brown paper bag to the night sky for all to see.
A voice yelled down from a third story window in reply.
"Shut your trap Gilda! Find another alley or pass out already! We don't want to hear it anymore!"
The woman allowed her parcel to remain aloft for a moment longer, her eyes narrowing to pinpoint the source of the voice of her challenger.
"Is that YOU? FRANKLIN MEEZE? YOU'VE NEVER KNOWN THE LOSS I HAVE! What.. what... with your wife as round and plump as she is! And your two daughters both so large, you'd need four husbands to marry them, not that you'd find anyone willing!"
The man upstairs, whether at the advice of his "round" wife nearby, or out of simple acknowledgement that the argument was one of futility, slammed the shutters closed, nearly dislodging one from its rusted hinge.
"Heh.. that's right, " the woman smiled to her bag while taking some satisfaction in inflicting misery on another.
She focused her gaze across the alley at a heaping pile of garbage, seemingly ignorant of its horrendous odor. She then shrugged to herself as if to say, this isn't the worst company I've had this year.
"Just who does he think he is? Comin' into our town and tryin' to change everything?"
"We used ta have it good... real good. Four copper Fireday sales on week old, just barely expired meats. Proper acknowledgement of the contributions of tha workin' class of Old Kintargo. None of thems awful Rack-Knights walkin' abouts. And the music..."
Gilda stood up and swayed. Part booze and part true appreciation of the arts, she hummed to herself with her arms raised in a dance with an unseen partner.
"Oh, Lenny. Them's was the days..."
Gilda tried to pour a little from her bottle only to find it dry.
"Figures, even the booze's run out. What else do I gots to live for? Maybe it's time I hurled myself into the Yolus like a salmon past its second prime."
Sniffling, Gilda hung her head low for a moment and contemplated the end to a long, happy run in Kintargo's shadows.
Suddenly, something shifted in the garbage heap that was acting as her chief counselor on the day of the loss of her most prized Sprinkles.
Snorting, she looked up and narrowed her eyes and stared into the brilliant hungry eyes of the most magnificent creature she had ever seen.
Tattered, greasy fur - possibly brown, possibly grey covered its lithe body. Something, possibly an overzealous groomer but more likely the consequence of trying to rob a fire of a cooking meal had singed away the whiskers from one side of the beast's face. It looked up to Gilda anxiously. Almost reverently.
"Hey little doggy," she cooed. "What's your name? Where's your owner?"
Gilda glanced about jealously, as if there was no owner worthy enough to call itself this mangy rat's master.
"Were you listening to my shtory?"
The "dog" seemed to nod. That, or Gilda swayed and everything was nodding, even the dumpster.
"Did you know Sprinkles? He was an angel... until that wretched Barzillai and his awful hounds.."
The "dog" darted forward, a few inches from Gilda and seemed to nudge her. It's eyes locked with hers. It spoke to her. Not with words, but with understanding.
I am Sprinkles.
Gilda blinked and rubbed her tearful eyes. Her vision was blurry but she could see well enough to know this was a moment.
Her raspy voice, the only sound now in the alley, vocalized her two-word reply.
I am the spirit of Kintargo. I will be avenged.
Gilda looked over her shoulder at the main street. Nobody was awake at this hour. Certainly none of her friends, not Gaptooth Greg nor Shivers Pete nor Three-fingered Sally. Well, maybe Shivers Pete on account of him being picked up and put somewhere by those horrid Rack-Knights and probably not having access to his Shiver.
Gilda focused and looked back at the "dog". She looked up to Franklin Meeze's window, hoping he had seen what she had seen just now. Kintargo's spirit and Sprinkle's, fused together into an angelic canine seeking vengeance and redemption. Gilda knew what must be done.
"Yes, Sprinkles Too. Oh, can I calls yous Sprinkles Too?"
The "dog" didn't shake its head no, and its yellow eyes didn't seem to argue with the proposal.
"That's what we do... you and I... we team up. We start something. Something big. We get the small folk. Those of us what been trampled on by this dictator. We get it back to the good ol' days... No, we get it even better!"
Gilda had risen to her feet. She didn't sway, in fact her head was clearer than it had been in three decades, as clear as the day she had exchanged vows with Lenny and given up Calistria to be the wife of an honest chimney sweep whose only real thieving was done on Toildays and never Sundays or Moondays.
"Hey, I remember seeing a flyer bout some sorta protest. Happenin' tomorrow somewhere. You know I was thinkin', maybe if you ain't goin' with someone already, we could goes.. together?"
The "dog"'s head lifted slightly, perhaps following the raised paper bag as Gilda held it up a little.
"Yeah? Maybe Jackdaw'll be there.. in the crowd. Or maybe.."
Gilda's eyes narrowed and she leaned forward in a whisper.
"Or maybes we can be the next Jackdaw. I do look damned good in a cape. Even No-Nose Norris whistled that one time I snuck outta the opera..."
Gilda clapped her hands together, the first loud noise since her outburst echoing through the alley.
"That's it then! It's settled! A revolution starts tomorrow and we ain't sittin' down til Barz' is behind bars.. or even better, hangin' by a noose!"
With surprising speed and grace for a drunk older woman, Gilda sprung forward and scooped up the 5-lb "dog" into an oversized pocket of her apron and bounded out into the open street. She inhaled deeply and grinned to herself like a teen who just accidentally stumbled into the back of a Calistrian brothel.
"Alright, Sprinkles Too. Times t'go shopping for a really big knife!"
High Level Fluff+Crunch Summary:
I had a bullet list of things I sought to achieve with the personality and backstory of this character submission:
* Not a mainstream submission - not the dispossessed noble or the aspiring vigilante or the warrior swept up in a movement.
* Represent the forgotten elements of Kintargo - the poor and down-trodden; someone who empathized with the criminals of necessity.
* Be able to function as comedic relief. Gilda is so blunt and direct - some comes with her age giving her "permission" to say anything but also how she talks about things like getting good deals downtown on "week old expired meat" as "the good old days" to provide hooks for other PCs to generate dialogue.
* I wanted a character who was almost reverent about the "fancy stars" at the opera. Gilda thinks about the "good old days with Lenny" when they used to sit outside down the street and listen because they couldn't afford to go, but they'd sit outside afterwards and crack jokes at the "hoity-toity" elites as they exited.
This flows into the crunch. Gilda's had no real income in years. She's been a poor, impoverished member of Kintargo and has stole her share of meals and clothing. She's got a good tongue, having talked her way into or out of many things (Bluff/Diplomacy). She's probably even begged, pretending to be afflicted with a terminal illness (Disguise). She's wise, extremely street smart (great Wisdom). She's got good senses (Sense Motive) and eyes to pick out marks (Perception). She knows the city, at least her corner of it (Knowledge Local).
Crunch Plan+Build Out:
The shaman class is her core chassis. It gives her the "spirit animal" of Kintargo as a familiar. She's batty and will talk to it for advice. And that's where her power comes from.
I've selected Slums as her first wandering spirit. Her second will likely be Lore.
In combat, she's support. The shaman is a brilliant class that has access to arcane, divine and druidic magic. With the lore wandering spirit, she'll be picking up some traditionally wizard spells, potentially some AOE damage if the group needs it (maybe fireball or lightning bolt, Gilda will have fun with that). She'll pick up conditional removal spells normally (Resist Energy, Restoration, Remove Paralysis). I consider support as also bearing the burden of some crowd control, so she's already picked up Sleep and Cause Fear. I can imagine others like Hold, Blindness, Deep Slumber or Slow in the future. Definitely spells like Daylight, Dispel, Fly.
She gets access to healing too so will prepare the typical Cure spells if needed for the party. At 1st level she's picked up Healing Hex so a solid 1d8+1 heal for each member of the party each day to help blunt the early level healing. With the wandering spirit mechanic, she could pick up the Life spirit if needed instead. Or if we end up outside Kintargo, she could bond with the spirits there for Nature instead.
Speaking of hexes... To me it feels proper that she'd be using Evil Eye and Misfortune against those she deems as being "anti-Kintargo" elements (or at least her view of the way "Kintargo's s'posed t'be"). She'll use things like the Ward hex on her allies.
I would imagine the final party for Hell's Rebels doesn't have a lot of Wisdom-driven classes or potentially even a lot of Knowledge classes. Charisma is certainly the prime attribute of what I'd consider the most appropriate other submissions, so I'm a big fan of Gilda being a solid contributor at the social side (Bluff/Diplo/Disguise/Sense) but also bringing a Wisdom-driven character to the table.
I also like imagining her at a fancy party trying to fit in and act like she knows what she's doing. In fact, I can't wait for an opportunity like that.