Half-Orc Fighter 2/Rogue (Sapper) 2/Wizard (Siege Mage) 2/Alchemist 1
Born on the first new moon after the spring equinox in the year 4687 AR, somewhere in the southern region of Belkzen, northwest of Trunau. Tolbring was conceived on a battlefield. His mother, Gunichunga was an outcast shaman of the Bachunga tribe, living in a cabin on a hill in a scrubby wood. After a bloody Bachunga victory over the levies of Trunau, Gunichunga searched the battlefield for spellcasters and mounted a dying human (ranger, half Tian, half Shoanti) his last breath rattling out as she gathered his seed. A short while later, Tolbring, (although that was not his birth name, he doesn’t know his birth name, she wouldn’t tell him, she called him Ratfart), was fearing for his life on a daily basis. As her putative apprentice, Ratfart was subjected to an endless variety of scourgings, poisonings, brandings, burnings, ritual tattooing and scarification. After paralyzing him with some foul herbal concoction, she tattooed “Property of Guni” on his penis (he felt everything) and threatened to remove said organ in the most painful manner imaginable if he did not obey her will. He never learned how to cast spells or much of anything from her brutal training other than how to survive and endure. He did, however, learn how magic works—insights that would benefit him later. At the age of twelve, things took a drastic turn for the young half-breed.
(note: Tolbring knows how he was conceived after his mother revealed an account of the incident while she was recovering from some bizarre ordeal poison—ordeals that he himself experienced and that remain as his most uncomfortable memories—a rare and disturbing moment of tenderness shared between them. “I loved that poor dying dickhead and I hate myself for it. And out popped you, Ratfart, but I don’t hate you as much as I hate old Guni. And not as much as my father, curse that fucking shithead. You have my father’s strength and you have the dickhead’s mind and with you, I will show those fuckers, all those fucking bastards who wronged Gunichunga! When you are initiated, I will tell you your birth name.” Whatever her plans were, they were never realized.)
During the campaign season of 4699, a raiding party of orcs under the control of the red dragon, Vergedryx, found Guni’s cabin in the woods. Ratfart had been out gathering firewood before he walked up on the scene. The party leader immediately ordered his troops to seize him. Guni protested and was subsequently beheaded. Ratfart’s brief moment of joy was punctuated by being hog-tied and pole-ridden to his new career as a soldier in Vergedryx’s army.
His first XO brand came with his induction into the army. Shortly after his training, he was spotted for his intelligence and sent to work with the engineers. His obvious talents were exploited as he was selected to work under Urgics Uncas, Master War Engineer and Siege Mage. After doing his time on the engines he was sent to work with the sappers, which was when he received his second XO brand. After a couple of years he was personally selected by the Master as his apprentice and assistant. He received the third XO brand when he was initiated as a Siege Mage. (Vergedryx used the XO brand for half-orc slaves.)
Urgics Uncas. (Urg means “work” Urgics means “head-work” Unc means “think” Uncas means “thinker” Kunc means “can’t think” or “stupid ass” Urgic is short for both practical magic and practitioner, or adept)
Urgics was a relentless taskmaster. His treatment of Tolbring was harsh but not necessarily cruel. They served together through several campaigns. After a particularly successful and perfectly executed battle plan, as they surveyed the plain, sharing a pipe of warflay, at that moment Tolbring realized that his master was not (chaotic evil) but was (lawful neutral) and a devotee of Brigh, the clockwork goddess. Master Uncas was not in it for the power or the bloodlust, he was in it for the love of making things happen and the things that make things happen. The clues were always there and Tolbring had been putting them together for a while, but this was the moment. It took him a while to get Master Uncas to acknowledge this, but the subject was diverted quickly to another more pressing exigency. (It was during this time that Ratfart became Tolbring. Urgics always spoke to Tolbring in either Draconic the common tongue, probably as a way to keep certain ears out of the conversation, partially as a trait of distinction. Master Uncas frequently would yell out, “Tool! Bring!” (in common) and Tolbring had better have been paying enough attention to know which tool to bring to he would find himself acquainted with said item in a most physically intimate manner. Eventually, Urgics came to know him as Tolbring. He accepted the name gladly, spelling it phonetically in his workbooks.)
During his years with the army, Tolbring learned many crafts and trades. He was trained in metalwork, mechanics, engineering, stonemasonry, locks and traps, alchemy, demolition, sapping, mining, the use and repair of siege weapons, tactics and warcraft, with a firm grounding in arcana, dungeoneering, geography, and history as they applied to the trade, as well as various intangible tricks and insights. (although it seems that Master Uncas avoided teaching Tolbring much about locks, for reasons one might easily surmise.) Later, he learned the wizardly skills of Urgic and magical siegecraft. Master Uncas also trained Tolbring in the use of the falcata. “Greataxes, falchions, good weapons, but the Urgic needs one hand free. The falcata is the best weapon for our trade. You can chop some shit up with this.”
After a particularly disastrous campaign (4713), one ending in a battle that scattered Vergedryx’s army and ultimately shattered his power-base, Tolbring found Urgics on the field, mortally wounded. “Run, you fucking kunc, get out of Belkzen. Go to Absalom, find Eidolixfen, he will teach you, you will serve him. He’s a puny little gnome but he knows his shit. You were my best student, Tolbring, a true Urgic, even though you are a fucking useless idiot. Now, go!” He went.
He traveled on foot to Trunau, where he narrowly escaped conscription, onward to hobble his way along the foothills of the Mindspin Mountains into Nirmathas. In Skelt, he had the great fortune of signing on with a rat-folk caravan that liked to use half-orcs for security. He traveled with this caravan all the way to Andoran. With some of his savings he bought working passage on a merchant ship sailing from Almas to Absalom. All in all, the journey from Belkzen to Absalom took 81 days and apart from a case of dysentery, a couple of bar fights, and a few scrapes with raiders, he came out of it in pretty good shape. A bit thinner, but in good shape.
In Absalom, he went straight to the Foreign Quarter to Blackwood Manor, supposed home of Periander Eidolixfen, though it was also supposed to be the property of some powerful wizard who disappeared some while back. Periander was a bit circumspect, at first, and even made Tolbring sweat it out for a couple of days while some sort of decision was made. He was sure he was getting a good looking into, in the magical sort of way.
Blackwood Manor became his home. Well, a small room in the basement of Blackwood Manor would be more accurate. Periander agreed to take him on as an apprentice. There, he studied alchemy for three years. But not just alchemy. Tolbring was all over the place, into all sorts of things. In his first year, he had a short criminal phase, for which he was not suspected (at least by the authorities. Periander had his suspicions.) or apprehended, but he did pick up some tricks from that crowd. He read copiously, learned to sketch and draw diagrams and plans, learned a fair bit about architecture, the lore and history of engineering, a smattering of strange arcana, a good grounding in knowledge of the natural world, explosives, and guns. Lots about guns. Tolbring also studied herbalism and the healing arts with the centaur philosopher Cheiron. They made great impressions on one another and became fast friends. He made a few extra gps working for the City Guard, working as a consultant. Although not an inducted member, his expertise and insight is valued. He also volunteered time to the Temple of Brigh. Then, more recently, there were the incidents at the Clockwork Cathedral.
Periander Eidolixfen, master alchemist
Master Periander often criticized Tolbring for not being focused. Tolbring insisted that he was focused, just on a number of different topics. This would usually break down into a flayleaf hazed semantic argument about the meaning of focus. Tolbring argued that his varied pursuits were coming together toward one great work. He had no idea where it was going, but it was going there. Periander eventually grew to accept this aspect of his student and endeavored to gear his tutoring toward furthering this momentum.
Tolbring’s dedication to Brigh is free of complication and doubt. He would spend time at the Temple in Absalom, offering services to those in need or tinkering with some obsession or another. He gives 10 percent of his income to the church. Tolbring is somewhat pantheistic in his views. Due to his extensive background as a combat engineer, he occasionally offers praise to Gorum as well as Torag, Abadar, Nethys and Varg. He is an animist, of sorts, as well. His childhood was a long walk through the dark side of animism. He offers flayleaf to the spirits.
While he was working with the Guard, he grew familiar with guns. It was only natural that he would be fascinated by them. Periander often rolled his eyes when Tolbring would go on about them, but it was obvious that the gnome was fascinated by them, as well, judging by his reactions at The Quarry, a place where they blew things up and experimented with all sorts of gadgets, chemicals, formulae, explosives, incendiaries and firearms.
Tolbring would often visit The Clockwork Cathedral. He never applied for coursework, (he spent time with some of the students from the Siegers Cognate and decided it wasn’t for him) but he studied and made sketches of the building. On one occasion, a door opened when he was near. He went into a small room with a metal table that was able to form itself into various shapes. The table presented him with several amusing puzzles and games, tests, he imagined, but they seemed very simple and light hearted. After an hour or so, another door opened out onto the street and he left. About six months later, three ago, another door opened when he was nearby. He went into the room and was presented with a vision. He’s still trying to sort out what it was he saw, but he knows it was a vision from Brigh and that he was to visit a strange city and build something.
The last three years of Tolbring’s life have been marked by intensive learning, praxis, and experimentation. There have been many wonders revealed but it must be said that Tolbring was reared in a violent, merciless environment. He likes to consider himself civilized and he thanks Periander for much of that, but he has killed, killed many and when pressed will have no reservations about killing again. He’d rather go about his business without trouble but there always seems to be some kunc dickhead ready to get in the way.
After he said his farewells, Tolbring traveled to Brastlewark to deliver letters and gifts to Master Periander’s family. He was later able to travel from Cheliax to Varisia with little hassle or delay. He ran into a couple of his ratfolk buddies from the caravan in Magnimar. He bought a musket in Korvosa. Overall, his arrival in Savannah found him hale and hardy and ready for whatever was to be.
Tolbring’s grandfather, Balakachunga the Junko
Tolbring’s girlfriend, Zarita Freehamer, a bit pissed that he left
Tolbring, 23 years from now