Kavren Stark was born in Magnimar to a young alchemist, a junior partner in her family's prosperous business in the Silver Shore district, and her husband, a lieutenant in the city watch. Recognizing his exceptional intellect, his parents allowed him to begin apprenticeship in the alchemy business at an unusually early age. At thirteen he began studying magic as well, at Quintus Jothilian's Academy Arcane; it was there he acquired his aversion to Necromancy and wariness of the ethical quandaries posed by Enchantment.
When he turned twenty-one, Kavren set out for Sandpoint with enough money from his family to start him off in the alchemist's trade. After registering with the Sandpoint Mercantile League, he rented a three-room cottage, where he produces and sells alchemical equipment.
Rather than running a public shop that would compete directly with Nisk Tander's Bottled Solutions (welcome as that might be to those who've experienced the occasional unreliability of Tander's creations), Kavren specializes in making batches of alchemical materials to order, especially caustics for the glassworks, jeweler, and tannery, and tindertwigs and sunrods for the fishing fleet (tinder twigs come in handy for lighting lamps and deck stoves in rain or heavy spray, while sunrods can be hung over the side of a boat to attract fish at night). Nisk still doesn't appreciate the competition, but is forced to concede that his business has not been greatly affected by Kavren's presence. That may change, however, as Kavren's skills improve, and especially once he saves enough to buy a complete alchemical lab, something he hopes to do in the next few months now that his original business loan from his family is mostly paid off. He also looks forward to learning the Continual Flame spell and adding everburning torches to his product line.
When not working in his shop, Kavren is a frequent visitor to The Curious Goblin, where he has made friends with Chask Haladan and the bookstore's other habitués, Ilsoari Gandethus, Veznutt Parooh, Sabyl Sorn, and Brodert Quink. Ilsoari has become something of a mentor to Kavren, advancing the younger wizard's magical training in return for occasional help with lectures on languages or history at Turandarok Acadamy. Broddert Quink likes Kavren because Kavren is one of the few locals who not only respects Broddert's education, but treats his theories regarding the Old Light as a serious possibility worthy of scholarly investigation. Although not a devotee of Irori, Kavren's love of knowledge and willingness to attend meditation sessions at the House of Blue Stones from time to time have persuaded Sabyl to grant him access to her library on occasion.
Kavren usually spends at least a couple of evenings a week at The Rusty Dragon, where he occasionally enhances Ameiko's musical performances with displays of Dancing Lights and Prestidigitation, using the latter cantrip to make the pretty bard's exotically styled hair shift through a rainbow of improbable colors in time to her music, much to her amusement and that of his fellow patrons. He also rarely misses a new production at the Sandpoint Theater; having greatly enjoyed Magnimar's rich dramatic tradition while growing up, he was very happy to discover this outpost of his home city's culture upon arriving in the much smaller town. Rumors that he might be found on occasion at The Pixie's Kitten as well, after a particularly profitable week at the shop, remain unconfirmed, but should any of the more conservative locals complain about the brothel in his presence, he will argue forcefully for Madam Tesarani and her employees' right to conduct their business in peace, and for the social value of brothels in general so long as they are well-run and their employees well-treated, voluntary, and adult. He has also been known to shut down malicious tavern gossip about Jasper and Cyrdak's relationship with a cold stare and a flicker of arcane power around his fingertips. He manages to remain on friendly terms with both Cyrdak and Ameiko by abstaining from conversation with either of them about the other.
Several times a year Kavren will go hunting with Daviren Hosk. From the hunter's point of view, Kavren's True Strike spell, virtually guaranteeing a hit on any game animal (or goblin) that comes in range of his crossbow, more than makes up for the wizard's comparative lack of skill at navigating the woodlands, while Kavren greatly appreciates the old ranger's ability to find game for him to shoot.
Kavren loves music and rhyme enough to wonder at times if he ought to have trained as a bard rather than a wizard. In recent months, the time he's spent in Ameiko's company, his omnivorous reading habits, and, he suspects, a touch of Shelyn's divine grace have given him some of the skills and powers that set bards apart. However, much as he appreciates his newfound insights and abilities, the intoxicating thrill of working with the pure magical energy of Evocation pulls him back toward his original path.
While he enjoys his work and his friends in Sandpoint, Kavren also feels drawn to the adventurer's life -- one reason the Rusty Dragon is his preferred watering hole. Of late, he's grown more and more tempted by the inn's "Help Wanted" board, with its promises of excitement, danger and rich rewards for those who survive it. It's only a matter of time before he closes up the shop for a week or so to sign on with one of the teams setting out to explore some ruin in the wilderness beyond Sandpoint's walls.
As a wizard, Kavren is nominally a worshipper of Nethys, but he's wary of the god's capricious nature. It's one thing to thank Nethys for the gift of magic, quite another to actually attract his attention by praying to him for aid -- Kavren will do the latter only under extreme duress. He does keep a small shrine to the god of magic in a corner of his sleeping chamber, with a three-quarter profile variant of Nethys' mask symbol proclaiming his allegiance to the light aspect of the god's dual nature. He also reveres Sarenrae and Shelyn, frequently attending their services at the cathedral, and on rarer occasions those of Desna, Gozreh, and Erastil at the cathedral, and Irori at the House of Blue Stones. In his earlier life in Magnimar, he also attended services to Iomedae on a semi-regular basis. Like many Magnimarians, he sees the paladin-goddess as the rightful heir of Aroden, and her church as the Chelish people's best hope against the diabolism into which Korvosa and Cheliax itself have fallen. If it were up to him, Iomedae would have a shrine in the Sandpoint Cathedral in place of Abadar's; Kavren feels that the latter god's rigidity and amoral legalism do little to advance the general welfare, and Abadar's willingness to treat with Asmodeus makes him unworthy of worship in the young wizard's eyes. However, he's careful not to discuss his opinion of the Master of the First Vault with Gaven Deverin, the Korvaskisiblings, or anyone from the Scarnetti or Kaijitsu clans apart from Ameiko, who not only shares that opinion but is happy to express it in far more colorful terms than Kavren would ever permit himself to use.
Kavren looks fairly typical of the Chelish colonists of the Varisian coast. He stands 5'9", with a light, wiry build, dark hair and eyes, pale complexion, high forehead and cheekbones, and rather sharp facial features. He wears his hair mid-shoulder length, tying it back in a ponytail most of the time, and maintains a short, neatly-trimmed goatee. Unlike many wizards, he prefers to wear breeches rather than robes, and unlike most Chelaxians of his social status, he favors subdued dark grays and browns and practical clothes over brightly-colored finery. Around town he typically dresses like a scholar, but he owns a heavy leather apron and goggles for use in his workshop, and a complete explorer's outfit for travel and, some day, adventuring: linen shirt, leather vest and pants, broad leather belt, knee-high boots, broad-brimmed hat, and a waterproofed leather cloak with a removable woolen lining, all with numerous pockets (including a concealed dagger sheath along the back of the left boot -- Kavren is left-handed).
His prize possession is a masterwork, steel-shod quarterstaff carved from a maple sapling which had grown in a helical pattern due to the effect of a vine twining up the trunk. The growth around where the vine was is carved into the form of a snake, detailed down to the smallest scale, its forked tongue flicking inquisitively out of its mouth just below the steel knob at the head of the staff.