A middle-aged dwarf stands before you, his white beard neatly trimmed and braided, a pair of half-moon spectacles on the end of his nose, with a thin golden chain to keep them from falling off his face. He has a comfortable girth that speaks of a certain enjoyment of creature comforts, and he is sucking on the stem of a full-bowled pipe in a thoughtful manner. His other hand rests on a nicely-made walking stick. His fingers are stained with both tobacco and the traces of various chemicals. Behind his glasses, his grey eyes are keen and piercing, and shrewdly assessing. He knocks his pipe against a wall to dash out some ash, then gives you a wry look.
"So it's adventuring you'd like to hear tales of, hmn? Well, that's a young man's game. I'm old and sensible and enjoy a good seat by the fire more than traipsing around in caves and tombs and rainy weather. Of course..." a sly smile quirks beneath his beard, "...sometimes my curiosity drags me out, all the same."
Pykromer [last name TBD, see further on with familial tie-ins], known more colloquially as 'Pick,' is a dwarf who never could leave well enough alone, as his clan elders often said. He was indefatigably curious as a young dwarf, and, while curiosity is much admired among dwarves, it's usually when that curiosity is turned towards things like gears and the workings of machinery, or the charting of a new vein of ore. While Pykromer was a reasonably dab hand at such work, he found the interplay between people to be just as interesting, if not more so, and acquired a very undwarven reputation for sticking his nose into the business of other dwarves. Though outsiders are never privy to them, dwarves have scandals and secrets too-- the petty social betrayals, small lies, attempts to claim credit for another's work, political maneuvering for advantageous trade agreements... these sorts of things were Pick's bread-and-butter, and no matter how many times his grumpy elders told him to mind his own affairs, the lessons never quite took. Pyk tried, at times, to turn his attention to more socially-acceptable things-- he apprenticed to a dwarven alchemist, who primarily was interested in the making of explosive reagents and the powering of great dwarven machinery. Pyk was a dutiful enough student, but he was more prone to experimenting on his own and seeing what he might be able to mix together in new and exciting ways than he was in replicating the proven recipes that had come before, to his master's frustration. One way or another, he was said to have constantly been 'picking at things,' which was the ultimate root of his less-than-flattering nickname (though Pykromer himself regards it as a backhanded compliment).
Things came to a head when Pykromer, then about fifty years of age and only recently come of age, noticed something odd going on-- furtive meetings and messages passed between two dwarves of his settlement. Intrigued, he set himself to following them, and ultimately uncovered something both mundane, and devastating: an illicit affair. Dwarven societies prize monagamy much more highly than human societies-- affairs are nearly unknown among them.... yet all the more scandalous when they do happen... especially when one of the dwarves is highly socially ranked, and married to a third person.
Had Pick had a bit more sense, or years under his belt, he might have known to keep what he had learned secret. He did not. Burning with the notion that this scandal must come to light, Pick did that, and rocked his little community with the revelation. The consequences were harsh-- both for the couple in question, and for Pick himself. For while it might be a terrible crime to betray one's wedding oaths, there is a worse one by dwarven standards-- and that is to upset the equilibrium of things as they are, to bring needless chaos into the equation. The dwarf who had been exposed brought his family's political power to bear, and young Pick was unceremoniously exiled from the clan-cave for a span of fifty years. He was given a day's time to say his farewells, and then exiled to the outside world to make his way as best he might.
Exile from one's people is a harsh sentence for any dwarf, but Pick took to it better than some might have. The outside world was full of all manner of interesting people, after all-- people with attitudes and views as varied as there were minerals in the ground, people whose lives were more exciting than the oft-predictable rhythms of dwarven existence. He wound up as apprentice again, this time in an unlikely partnership with an elf lady named Athariesa, a elderly scholar of both books and the natural world, a woman who had a driving need to catalog just about everything she found and thought nothing of traipsing miles through dangerous terrain if there might be some unique flower rumored to exist on top of some mountain or another. From Athariesa, Pick learned to hone his powers of observation, and to speak several languages, and to refine his alchemical experiments to the point that he could even duplicate some of Athariesa's own spells. He became terribly fond of Athariesa, finding a kindred spirit in her eccentricities and intellect. When she became too old to continue stomping through the countryside, Pick sojourned on his own, to bring back samples; one day he came back to find she had passed on to whatever fate awaits the elves.
On his own, Pick resumed travel once more. He wound up working, for a stretch, with a group of self-styled 'adventurers' -- crypt-breaking and dungeon-charting. While his talents do not lie in combat, Pick could be and was a dab hand at many other elements of the work. Still, it was dangerous work, and Pick, despite his curiosity, doesn't really enjoy sticking his neck out for orc arrows anymore than the next reasonably sane fellow. He told himself he would carry on until the end of his term of exile, then return home with profits to show for it. He did so, with every intent of resuming a respectable dwarven existence...
...but once you have the bug, it's hard to give it up entirely. The home-caves seemed terribly small and confining, after his years on the road, and Pick had also come to appreciate a varied society, elves and gnomes, halflings and humans. When one of his distance nieces (thrice removed, by way of a cousin's uncle's nephew's aunt... in the way of dwarven relations) sent a letter discussing things in the settlement of Azurestone, Pick half-jumped at the chance to get back out there again. He traveled to Azurestone, meeting his relation [either Marja or Ilda; whichever is younger], and taking up residence in Azurestone. He likes it here; it's peaceful enough, usually-- no daily threats to life or limb-- but has curiosities aplenty-- from the Azurestone and Vernal Key to the many travelers who come through the little town. Pick has managed to make a reasonably comfortable living for himself as a 'sage old man', telling adventurers of dangers ahead, and selling off the minor alchemical items he makes to them. He also works as a locksmith and translator and apothecary, and basically any other job that pays the bills and doesn't require him to work too hard. He's fond of Azurestone and its people, and contentedly expects to spend the rest of his life here. He is a confirmed bachelor.
Pick's defining trait is his curiosity; while it's been tempered some by the experiences of his youth, and he no longer thinks every secret is worth telling, he's no less interested in them. He's not above a certain vanity-- he knows he's clever, and having people come to him for advice is tremendously flattering to his ego, so he plays up his image as a "wise old man" more than is necessarily accurate-- he's not terribly wise, just a keen observer, and not as old as his white beard or his cane makes people think, either. Pick is less law-abiding than the average dwarf, and sees nothing wrong with slipping inside a door that's not locked to poke around a bit... or, well, perhaps even those that are locked, because if they'd really meant for people not to get in, they surely would have bought a better lock. By the same token, though, he's unlikely to actually take anything-- at least, anything physical; he'd be the first to huff he's not some common thief. (A fair analogy of his personality would be a modern hacker who likes to fancy themselves a white hat, cracking security for the fun and challenge of it.) Pick's a reasonably smooth talker for a dwarf, and has managed to get away with his nosiness without really ticking off anyone in Azurestone so far.... so far. It helps that he's a genuinely useful member of the community, with a soft spot for the underdog or someone who truly can't pay for his services... he's been known to leave some of his potions on a doorstep in the dead of night, and gruffly deny knowing anything about it if asked. As mentioned, he likes his creature comforts and will grump about his old, bad back (there's nothing wrong with his back) for the duration of most adventures.
Male dwarf investigator 4
N Medium humanoid (dwarf)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +13 (+15 vs traps)
AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +2 Dex)
hp 31 (4d8+8)
Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +6; +2 bonus vs. poison, +2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities
Defensive Abilities defensive training, trap sense +1; Resist poison resistance
Speed 20 ft.
Melee dagger +4 (1d4+1/19-20) or
. . mwk hanbo +5 (1d6+1)
Ranged light crossbow +5 (1d8/19-20)
Special Attacks hatred, studied combat (+2, 4 rounds), studied strike +1d6
Investigator Extracts Prepared (CL 4th; concentration +8)
. . 2nd—see invisibility, open slot
. . 1st—cure light wounds, shield, true strike, open slot
Str 12, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 18, Wis 12, Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +4 (+6 trip); CMD 16 (20 vs. bull rush, 22 vs. trip)
Feats Combat Expertise, Improved Trip
Traits clever wordplay, pragmatic activator, traveling merchant
Skills Acrobatics +5 (+1 to jump), Appraise +8, Bluff +3, Climb +4, Craft (alchemy) +10 (+14 to create alchemical items), Diplomacy +10, Disable Device +12, Disguise -3, Escape Artist +5, Fly -1, Heal -1, Intimidate -3, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +9, Knowledge (engineering) +8, Knowledge (geography) +8, Knowledge (history) +8 (+10 on checks that pertain to dwarves or their enemies), Knowledge (local) +10, Knowledge (nature) +9, Knowledge (nobility) +8, Knowledge (planes) +8, Knowledge (religion) +8, Linguistics +8, Perception +13 (+15 to notice unusual stonework), Ride +2, Sense Motive +8, Sleight of Hand +5, Spellcraft +8, Stealth +5, Survival +2, Swim +1, Use Magic Device +11; Racial Modifiers lorekeeper, +2 Perception to notice unusual stonework
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin, Orc, Terran
SQ alchemy (alchemy crafting +4), inspiration (6/day), investigator talent (infusion), keen recollection, meticulous, poison lore, swift alchemy, trapfinding +2
Money: 196 gp, 2 sp, 8 cp
Spells in Formula Book (435 spent in scribing costs before scenario*, for one 1st level spell and seven 2nd level spells):
1st: Anticipate Peril, Comprehend Languages, Cure Light Wounds, Disguise Self, Endure Elements, Heightened Awareness, Shield, True Strike