Here’s a unique D&D 5e NPC for you!
Meet Victoria. She runs a charity designed to rescue race horses, but instead, she kills them.
She argues constantly with her business partner Tom, who she is romantically involved with. He is later found buried in a field.
Let’s get to know Victoria DeBulbonc.
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At the Field of Triumph in Waterdeep, my players were preparing for the athletic event of their lives — though they weren’t competing themselves. Victoria greeted them as guests of honor at the gate and introduced herself as the owner of Horses with Hope. This charity had been selected by a particularly problematic noble family to receive the funds raised at this event.
My players were interested in Victoria, and thought Horses with Hope was a weird and funny choice for a charity superstar in Waterdeep. I featured it more prominently going forward because of their interest.
Victoria is a vibrant, talkative, and manipulative woman. She smiles when happy and when angry, and it is nearly impossible to tell the difference. She openly gives praise to any people she feels could help her socially or financially. It is easy to see through her “charms.”
She is almost always accompanied by Tom, a small and mousy man who does her bidding and takes a verbal beating from her almost constantly. Tom manages the finances of Horses with Hope and takes care of the animals. Victoria organizes events, networks with important people, and finds funding for their operation. She is also the founder of the charity.
Do come see the fields sometime! Nothing compares to the awe-inspiring sight of the rising sun casting its warm glow upon the silhouettes of these magnificent creatures. It’s a breathtaking scene that leaves one truly mesmerized. Isn’t that right, Tom?-Victoria
Horses with Hope
Horses with Hope is a charity I made up that exists just outside the Waterdeep city gates. It is a place for retired racehorses from the Field of Triumph to live out the rest of their days in peace, without having to worry about being slaughtered for goods or convenience.
Old, injured horses and funds have been given to Horses with Hope during and after each race season for years in Waterdeep. Recently the charity’s founder became acquaintances with a powerful noble family, the Cassalanters, and thus has enjoyed more good fortune and attention as of late.
Victoria’s Backstory: A Turn of Events
When my players initially met Victoria and spoke with her at The Children’s Race and other events, she always had her business partner/lover by her side, Tom. She woefully maltreated Tom, routinely demeaning his efforts and barking orders at him.
Victoria would turn a sweet side toward my players, though, cooing over their recent conquests and being generally obsequious toward them. They thought that maybe the relationship between her and Tom had soured, but since she was so kind to the players, they turned a blind eye to her cruelty, for the most part.
Then, there was a terrible fire.
A Fire in the Fields
In order to “heat things up” for my players, I modified one of the premade quest advancement hooks for the Harpers in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and set some fields on fire outside the city.
I figured I might as well throw Horses with Hope into the mix, so Victoria sent them a message for help. A group of farmers ran to their tavern and begged for their aid, as the Waterdhavian city guard was doing nothing — the fire was burning well outside the city limits.
Two Options: Fire, or… Fire
When my players reached the fire, they had two options. They could save Horses with Hope, and try to rescue as many horses as possible, or they could try to save the farmlands and the homesteads there.
If you’ve been reading any amount of the stories about my current table, you know what they love to do best. Split the party!
Two of the five party members went to Horses with Hope to try to rescue the animals and Victoria’s charity. The rest went to the farmlands.
The group that went to the farmlands fought a fierce battle with a group of rambunctious, animated, and ironically pyromaniacal scarecrows. One of my players lost a hand permanently in the fray, but they were able to save many NPCs and even a whole radish farming homestead. I turned the NPC saving into a mini-game within combat to make the encounter a bit spicier.
Horses with Hope Group
The duo that went to Horses with Hope had a much different experience. Most of the flames had been extinguished at this point, so they played a different mini-game using success rolls to try to rescue the burned and injured horses using a combination of medicine and survival checks.
They didn’t do very well, but they had a blast at failing! They were able to save two of the five available animals.
Returning to Horses with Hope
A few days later, the players decide of their own accord to revisit Horses with Hope to offer “veterinary” services for a high cost. They are horrified to see there are no horses in the fields, and their jaws dropped when they spotted several fresh graves. Then they notice a flash of red in a window: Victoria is watching them from inside the house. She ducks behind a curtain out of sight.
My players split the party again. This time, three players go into the house to talk to and distract Victoria.
1) discover and steal her stock of “horse potions,” which are simply watered down healing potions
2) locate her financial records and notice some creative math and
3) find a letter from the Cassalanters indicating an interest in purchasing the property. It also suggests they “don’t have much choice.”
While they are talking with her and poking around her house, they notice that Tom is nowhere to be found. When asked, Victoria is evasive and tries to play a victim role.
Where is Tom?
Meanwhile, in the fields, the remaining players unearth fresh graves to find not only the two horses they had previously saved, but Tom, too. The horses throats were cut. Tom’s cause of death is not as obvious.
My players investigated Tom’s corpse and decided that based on his injuries, a horse probably kicked him. They reburied him in secret and walked away. They did still have their suspicions, though, and by this point, they loathe Victoria.
What Was Going on Here?
Ultimately, this is up to you. But I will share the details of what I had in mind for this NPC:
- Victoria and Tom were romantically involved.
- They were losing money due to old gambling debts Tom owed (this could be found in the finance ledger).
- Victoria acquired more funding and told Tom to fix the problem “Yesterday,” so he began lying about finances in their business dealings.
- A letter offering to purchase land from the Cassalanters suggests they know something shady is going on.
- After reading this letter, Victoria panics. Intent on maintaining her innocence, she purposely frightens a particularly spooky horse while Tom is cleaning its back shoes. She knows it might kick Tom. It does. Tom dies.
- Victoria tells a farmhand what happened and orders him to dispose of the horses due to their violent nature. It’s not the first time Victoria has made this type of request.
Need a Little More NPC Help?
If you’re seeking the bigger picture, make sure you read our articles on how to prep for your first D&D session, as well as how to run your first session, once you feel you have the preparations complete.
Closing Thoughts on This D&D 5E NPC
As with any NPC, the charm, the wit, the likability… or in this case, the dis-likability, has to come from you.
You know what makes your players excited or angry. You should use that to your advantage when acting on behalf of your non-player characters. I’ve given you a structure here to work with, and I know you can fill in any details or gaps your players ask about in a way that makes the story more engaging for them. I have total faith in you.
Do you have a excellent NPC you’d like to share? Did you use Victoria in your game? I’d love to read about your experiences in the comments below.
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