Getting back to the analysis of the personae of Restenford which began with Pelltar the Sorcerer, today I'd like to discuss the ill-fated Grellus, Baron of Restenford. We know from the sequel that he is not long for this world--he will meet his end at the hands of an assassin in L2 Assassins Knot--but what do we know about Grellus the man?
While Pelltar's dossier is not particularly in depth in terms of providing a description of his character, it's downright verbose compared with that of Grellus. The Baron's official write-up divulges only the following information: he is a chaotic good seventh level fighter, he's 44 years old, 6'2", 210 pounds, and has a beard and blue eyes, and his stats (S:18/53, I:13, W:13, D:15, C:16, Ch:12) and magic armaments including a Sword +1 "Flametongue" and a ring of shocking grasp. Nothing is said about his past, the history of his barony, or even his relationship with his family, counselors, or subjects. At least with Pelltar we know that his 4 apprentices are fiercely loyal to him. Of the Baron's household, only the captain of the guard is described as "a loyal retainer" though to whom he is loyal no indication is made.
Though we do learn that the Baron is married to the baroness Fairwind, with whom he has a teenaged daughter named Andrella, nothing is made explicit about their relationships. We know from the Rumor Table that Andrella is rather anxious to become the next Baron of Restenford which speaks more to her ambition than the nature of the Baron himself, but it tends to imply that she sees him as more of an obstacle to her own goals than as a revered parent. We already discussed that there is probably a fair amount of tension between the Baron and Pelltar over the latter's occupation of the castle's tower, resulting in a bit of an inferiority complex in the Baron, and that Almax the Druid may also have something on the Baron in terms of political clout in the community--much as a longstanding parish priest might hold greater sway over the hearts and minds of a small community than its elected leader. Now we learn that even his daughter might be lacking in respect for the dude. It seems hard to avoid the conclusion that the Baron is not a highly regarded leader.
What has he done to earn such a low opinion? Is he a capricious leader? Since he seems to hold such little sway over his subjects, he hardly seems in a position to exercise the sort of tyrannical powers that might make him unpopular. Has he been an absentee liege lord, spending his time off fighting wars? If he were an effective military leader it seems highly unlikely that he would stand for Pelltar's occupation of the tower. Obviously the people--including Grellus--hold Pelltar's sorcery in greater esteem than Grellus's sword.
Perhaps the all-knowing Rumor Table can help us further understand what makes Baron Grellus such a weak ruler. As always italicized statements are false, according to the Author.
- he is land poor and nearly penniless,
- he has an unguarded fortune hidden under the castle
- he has a statue that turns into a man,
- the Baron is chaotic evil
- there are evil people in town despite what he has to say on the matter.
Furthermore, the second rumor--which indicates that his fortune is "unguarded"--implies that the general population feels that stealing his fortune might be an option to consider. Well, if the baron's not doing anything with it, why not? Again, respect for his authority must be dangerously low if the populace is openly discussing the possibility of robbing their own liege lord. Is it their chaotic alignment talking? Sort of makes Pelltar's over-the-top security measures seem more justified.
The statue-man rumor is a reference to the Stone Guardians in the lower level of the Baron's castle. Stone Guardians are a new species of golem and their presence in the rumor list is a warning that, when you do try to steal the Baron's treasure you should be wary of any statues. But again, we're talking about raiding the Baron's castle here; the man can't get any love.
In rumor 5, Grellus's purported belief that there are no evil people in town reveals that the citizenry feels that the Baron is out of touch with the goings-on of Restenford and that he cannot be trusted to keep them safe from evil. Add to this the perception that the Baron himself might be evil in rumor 4 and this might explain why Pelltar and the Druid are held in higher regard than the Baron. In reality, there are only 1.5 evil people in town--Zardahl the Trickster, bait dealer/spy for the Duke of Kroten, and the schizophrenic Abbot Qualton--but only when he is in his deranged state--so who, really, is out of touch? But again, the perception is that the Baron is either unwilling or unable to fight evil within the town.
Another useful source of information on castle denizens is the Garrison Location Chart. Let's see what it reveals about the baron:
He is likely to be found in the following locations (italicized comments are my own):
- Pelltar's tower--3%/ 1% at night; as mentioned, he's likely either seeking counsel from Pelltar--or trying to eliminate him.
- Throne room--along with, quite literally, everyone else in the castle.
- Fairwind's quarters--40% day/90% night; well, they are man and wife.
- His own quarters--95% day/98% night; who doesn't like their alone time?
- Lower Level--25% day/6% night, chatting with Djinn Balooshi? Counting his treasure? In the dungeons for some S&M play with Fairwind--who is, according to the Chart, the only other person in the castle who ever goes down to the lower level.
- Servant's Room (20c) 1-2--nighttime only. Or perhaps when Fairwind is not in the mood the Baron seeks the comfort of a plump, young scullion? Nobility being no less resistant to carnal desire than anyone else, this is hardly unusual; but would Lakofka make the affair so explicit? I fear this may be a typo.
More than likely he was once a knight of some significance who served the Duke (or a higher authority) well and was rewarded with/condemned to a barony on the fringe of society. But it seems his skills in administering a barony do not live up to his prowess on the battlefield; his realm is a chaotic land filled with dangerous criminals and monsters, his subjects are disloyal and openly discuss treason, yet he seems to take no action to address any of these matters. His subjects rightfully seek authority in others; we have reason to suspect that the sorcerer and druid are held in higher regard than the ineffectual Baron. Also, his inaction in regard to the numerous rumors of violence in the area indicate that perhaps even his once-vaunted military achievements are beyond his current capacity; he has lost his nerve. Despite his impressive frame, he is an impotent shell of a man. Knowing that he lacks the respect of his subjects and even of his daughter--who, though only a teenager, is widely rumored to have ambitions for his throne even whilst still he sits on it--he holds desperately to the one truly powerful thing in his possession: the treasury.