Wulf Bootman, character background

This postis a character background I wrote for a table-top warhammer fantasy 4e game. My first character background for a long while for any game, particularly WFRP.

Name: Wulf Bootmann, Nickname: “Grimmer”

Personality traits: optimistic, never say die, trusting

Sayings – “I like the river, it always has something new to show me”, 

Birthday: born under the sign of The Gloaming (a signifier of illusion and mystery) on the 4th day of Sigmarzeit, beneath a waning, gibbous Mannslieb moon.

Why adventure?

Although he had little choice Wulf enjoys being a boatman. The family trade is one that he enjoys, and despite his three brothers and sisters grumbles he often found a reason to smile at the end of each day. Wulf learned the family trade, kept his mouth shut around his bosses and clients, and enjoys the peace that riverside work can bring. Sure, it’s sometime hard work; but it’s a lot better than starving or doing a job with dull surrounding and the same people each day. The profession grew his skills and helped shape his nature. He likes meeting people, likes hearing a good story, and takes pride in his trade.

As such, Wulf didn’t actually plan to leave his home as a formality, it just happened that he spend more time on the rivers and lakes; so eventually he’d left. Camping aside lakes and streams is almost always peaceful and the rare times he’s been waylaid by bandits they’ve either not lost much or managed to beat the thieves senseless as punishment. He doesn’t mind thieves and other such dodgy folks as long as they leave him alone, but a traitor or a true bastard needs to be dealt with.

Appearance

A tall sturdy and solid built reiklander, with a full black beard and flowing hair. Wulf dresses in the layered practical clothing of the riverfolk, feeling no shame in the practicality of workman’s kit. He especially likes the warmer months when he can walk barefoot on the decks, and sleep outdoors.

Motivations

  • Repay a yet unclaimed favour Wulf and his brothers owe to a wealthy landowner in their township. The brothers got caught up in a mess and found themselves on the wrong side of a bad deal by accident. Their family name and trade meant they were offered an out instead of being beaten (or worse), however none of the lads yet know what it will be.
  • Get enough cash to buy a permanent home somewhere safe and quiet, maybe even in his hometown or somewhere close.
  • See more of the empire.
  • One day own a few boats of his own. Maybe a shipping company like his great uncle did.

Background

Wulf was born and raised on an expansive set of inlets and rivers where his extended family frequently work either as boatmen, dock workers, or any number of legal and shady jobs. He turns a blind eye to the sneaky edges of normal stock and trade of business, and has learned his father’s lesson of losing everything then his great uncle’s business went belly up. Nobody in his direct family has ever made big, but his great uncle had a shipping business that was famous and (apparently) wealthy before he died. Wulf has no idea what the truth was about what happened and has heard so many stories now that it’s a running gag in his family to tell sillier and crazier stories when they catch up.

Wulf has started from the bottom, returned there a few times, and fought with his own two hands to keep his place. He’s known as hard working, trusting, and dangerous in a fight – but unlike his older sister and two youngest brothers he doesn’t like the limelight and doesn’t like trouble.

Township of Auerswald

The lively town of Auerswald rises by the confluences of the Teufel, Tranig, and Ober rivers, so is on one of the busiest — and thus best patrolled — trade routes of the Reikland. The folk of Auerswald tend to be strong willed and determined, but their easy charm and famous wit ensures no matter how steely their negotiations, they rarely cause offence. 

Much of Auerswald is built on thick stilts over the floodplain of the River Teufel, which is often in spate. Connected by a bewildering labyrinth of ramps, bridges and rope ladders, outsiders can easily become lost. More than one careless carouser has fallen to a muddy death after over-indulging themselves in the local taverns.

Nickname

Wulf’s nickname is a byproduct of the riverfolk’s obvious black humour – won when his ever present grin caused a fight to start, and Wulf to get badly beaten up. Even in bloody defeat he was smiling, which family and friends like to remind him; the name stuck.

Gods

Wulf mostly venerates Manann (sea and tides, rivers and storms), and sometimes Taal (nature, beasts, mountains, forests), but will speak any gods name as suits the present circumstances.

Family

  • M: Narelle, F: Kimmel “box-nose”
  • Kids: Shaye (f), Wulf, Gerwald (m), Silvester (m), Wendell (m),
  • Great Uncle Rupprecht.

Threads for story Arcs 

  • Like to get those damn dwarves off his back. 
  • Visit his family sometime and see if they’re ok. There was an old debt. 
  • Get a home and skill for old age. 

Notes after a handful of sessions

I see Wulf as somebody who recently realised he knew very little about the wider world. He thought he knew a little about the world because of the river travel he’s done, but that now that knowledge is a slim part of his experiences travelling the Empire.

The charlatan and thug in the team have seen more than he has, and Wulf wants to travel widely to see far more of what the realms have to offer; so while they are not doing *too much* evil, he’s darn happy to travel with them. How much is too much? Well no idea, but the quest style mission into Bretonnia was downright awesome for him. It helped somebody, was tough and interesting, and made a difference. Likewise the idea of helping Otto’s family – no way in hell he’d miss out on that.

Wulf would be thinking about professions and goals which allow him to “quest” regularly. Is there any organisations who need tasks and quests done in places that normal folk don’t like to go (bounties, guides, tactical investigations, seeker of lost lore and artifacts?…)

Highlights from his recent journey were saving the gypsy elder-vision-gal, seeing the Dwarf-Ogre moot, and visiting Bretonnia to defeat a big-bad and fix the eye of his friend. That “quest” is something that Wulf would be proud of doing. Likewise saving or helping Otto’s wife is very important, as it is a quest worthy! Destroy evil, save people, do good.

He’s far less convinced that Sean should try to be a noble (but that’s not Wulf’s choice really), but can’t see the harm in all of them trying to be better than they are. He’s just a boatman after all.

In terms of an arcs – I’d like Wulf to be able to maintain a sense of right and wrong, and not have to take an action that permanently places him in with real criminals or unholy folk. His purpose is to “do some good”. That would rule out being an outlaw/criminal style person, but would be a bounty hunter or thug if he was working for an upstanding group (like a noble, city, or a guild).

I’m tempted by taking the pit fighter path because I think it could match to his personality, but also could see him becoming a little more reverent. The Warrior Priest career is tempting because he wants to be part of a great good. That doesn’t mean not breaking a few laws or hurting people, instead it’s about the outcome. It grants a wider purpose, where he could still travel the realm. Perhaps service to a powerful cult of Sigmar might let him take journeys?

In terms of rewards Wulf isn’t really interested in lots of wealth or recognition, but he is seeking a little long term stability for later in life (old age is 30+ right!!).

To do,

  • Visit his family sometime and see if they’re ok. There was an old family favor owed by his brother that might need to be sorted out. NFI what that is, but doing favors for people whilst gradually improving is very much ok.
  • Get a home, or base to work from. A city house is probably out of the question, but a remote house in a small town, where he can rest and recuperate would be good.
  • Learn a skill for old age: Carpenter is available in his next career. That’s also the spot where he might need a workshop? I had thought to first approach the Boatman’s Guild about that carpentry training, especially as Wulf has already seen a very strangely built barge.
  • Learn to read and write – we started a little of this, but I’ll have to suss how to take a Talent outside of the Career (2x xp cost, plus story effort I assume). Likewise learning some breadth in other skills which I (as a player) think are lacking at present. Perhaps Wulf finds himself drawn into a story, and then an arc helping the Cult of Verena? … On the return trip from where Otto’s family reside… “we seek help finding a missing scholar, who departed Altdorf three weeks ago and never arrived in the town of NNN. We fear he is murdered.” …but the scholar was digging too deeply into the background of powerful people, and is actually now hiding in a remote village as he suspects a price on his head.  Do we turn in the scholar to collect the reward, or protect him as he ventures to the grisly truth.

In the very long term, I like the idea of Wulf being well connected due to all the quests he’s done; but he is somebody who will underplay his achievements.

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