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King Stefan KarameikosOriginal design by Jeff Grubb and Aaron Allston
Previous version published in the Karameikos boxed set*
Updated for 3rd Edition D&D by Stephen Kenson
Male Human, 15th-Level Fighter
24 (+1 dodge, +8 full plate armour, +1 Dexterity, +4 large steel shield +2)
Skills: Climb+5, Diplomacy +7, Handle Animal +8, Intimidate +5, Intuit Direction +7, Jump +5, Knowledge (Heraldry) +5, Knowledge (Local History) +5, Listen +5, Profession (Sailor) +4, Ride +15, Spot +6, Swim +6, Wilderness Lore +3
Feats: Alertness, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Endurance, Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Critical (longsword), Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Mounted Combat, Power Attack, Ride-By Attack, Sunder, Track, Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Specialisation (longsword)
Languages: Thyatian, Traladaran
Possessions: At court, Stefan wears leather armour under his clothes (AC 15), but he dons a suit of full plate in battle. He has a longsword +2, large steel shield +3, a ring of protection +1, and a military saddle.
Appearance: King Stefan Karameikos is of late middle age. He is of average height (5' 10" tall) but burly. His fiery red hair, beard, and moustache are flecked with grey, and his eyes are sea-blue. Unlike many rulers with extensive military backgrounds, the king is perfectly at home in any manner of dress, so he dresses to suit the occasion. In court he bedecks himself in costly robes, when hunting he wears simple riding gear, and going to war he prefers battered armour of solid and dependable construction.
Background: The history of King Stefan Karameikos is tightly woven with the recent history of the land that bears his name. He was named after a now-dead uncle, and had he retained his connection with Thyatis, he would be known as Grand Duke Stefan III; as the first ruler of a new nation, he has dropped the numeric designation.
His vital information is as follows: Born AC 948; AC 970, assumes rulership of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos; AC 979, marries Lady (now Queen) Olivia Prothemian; AC 1006, declares the Kingdom of Karameikos an independent entity. He and Queen Olivia have three children: Adriana (born 980), Justin (born 982), and Valen (born 986).
The king shows more than faint emotion only to members of his family and his closest friends. His speech is gruff and his opinions candid and uncompromising. His judgments in trials are no gems of legal precedent, but are fair and even-handed. He appeals to his people as a stern, fair ruler.
Unfortunately, his majesty is baffled by raw evil, which he neither understands nor knows how to handle. For example, he procrastinated in the matter of his cousin Ludwig von Hendriks, who pillaged the Black Eagle Barony while the king stood aside, hoodwinked into inaction. In general, when trying to outmanoeuvre someone whose motivations stem from pure evil or madness, the king is at a disadvantage because his insights into their goals and motivations are faulty.
Stefan's shadow (and those of all the royal family, for that matter) is long in Karameikos, and while player characters should be quite aware of his influence, they are not likely to encounter him until they attain higher levels.
For low-level adventures the king will be a fabulous personage the characters have heard of but never met. He is regarded by his people as intelligent and wise, if often wrong-headed and in error. Regardless of their heritage, the Karameikan people have adopted their royal family, and Stefan expects his wife and children to live up to the respect they have been given.
In early mid-level adventures, characters may find themselves meeting him at the court in a social environment. His underlings may ask them to go on adventures that help the king, or they may stumble across plots that would harm him. By the time the characters have gained reputations for themselves, they may have helped King Stefan on numerous occasions; depending upon the circumstances, you may wish to have him grant them titles and land as they assume notoriety (9th level or higher).
Note that while King Stefan is a good-aligned individual, not all of his decisions and actions are good for the player characters. He does have a strong sense of tradition, responsibility, and duty to his noble heritage, and he is often seen as stiff-necked by those demanding immediate change (those calling for a representational democracy, for example, would find their cries falling upon deaf ears).
Sources: The Karameikos boxed set
* The official version of this character in future printed products may vary from what is presented here.
Steve Kenson has been a freelance writer in the RPG industry for five years and a gamer for far longer than he'd care to admit. He's written for a number of games including Shadowrun, Marvel Super Heroes, and Dragonlance: Fifth Age. His work appears regularly in Dragon magazine. Steve maintains a website at http://members.aol.com/talonmail, featuring his gaming articles and information about his current projects.