Ill Winds Over Verbobonc
As co-lord of Hommlet and master of Doomwatch Keep, this wizard has the unenviable task of watching over the ruins of the Temple of Elemental Evil. He is considered one of the most powerful magi in the viscounty.
A middle-aged wizard, broad-shouldered, healthy and vital. He is neither handsome nor homely, but he does seem a little vain with his distinctive, carefully groomed light brown curtain beard, flashy green, blue and gold robes, and a matching cloak and cap. A dagger and wand are kept at his belt in addition to numerous pouches and small vials, and a knotted quarterstaff topped with a rough pierce of quartz, its wood much polished with use and care, is always with him.
The coat of arms of Lords Burne and Rufus, both of whom have been recognised as the 1st baronets of the Lordship of Doomwatch, in direct vassalage to the viscount of Verbobonc. The castle represents, of course, Doomwatch Keep itself, while the red background indicates the legacy of blood, strife, and strength that led to its founding. The badger represents not just the tenaciousness of Burne’s men-at-arms, but that of all the folk of the area, who have prevailed against evil time and again.
Like his friend and co-lord, the Most Worshipful Mage of Hommlet is a figure of growing legend throughout the eastern Viscounty of Verbobonc. And yet, Burne’s origins are humble enough. It is said that he is a native of Verbobonc, where he was raised devoutly in the faith of the Cudgeller. As a youth he learned his arts at the School of Elemental Magic, where he was prenticed to none other than the late Panduriath, a noted mage of his day who was known for his mastery of conjuration and evocation magics.
When the first Temple of Elemental Evil arose to plague the lands of Verbobonc, Burne resolved to stand against them with other young adventurers who were also dedicated followers of Saint Cuthbert. Among them would be Rufus, a gruff warrior who would in time grow to be the wizard’s most stalwart friend and ally. The determination of Burne and his companions redoubled when the school was struck in a late night surprise attack by the forces of the evil cult. Panduriath and the other senior instructors were all slain, and the school razed to the ground.
Soon after Prince Thrommel of Fairwain marshalled an army from among the folk of Furyondy and Veluna to march to the aid of beleaguered Verbobonc, Burne and his friends were quick to join them. They would fight at Emridy Meadows and earn some renown for their bravery, though it was at the cost of all their lives save Burne and Rufus themselves. In the blood of that battle their bond was forged, and no one is dearer to the wizard than his brother-in-arms.
Rufus, Burne’s oldest friend and co-lord.
Following the downfall of the temple, they undertook several years worth of adventures throughout the viscounty, the Kron, a number of valleys and peaks of the Lortmils, and the Gnarley fringe. Frequently, they were employed as troubleshooters by the Church of Saint Cuthbert, but when at loose ends they simply wandered. Throughout the course of their travels they battled goblinoids, orcs, giants, and even vanquished a green dragon.
It was this last expedition that cemented their reputation, and soon an offer came for them to take up stewardship of a castle-building project in the village of Hommlet. The commune was considered to be a vulnerable weak point on the flank of the viscounty; closest to the ruins of the vile temple and its outpost moathouse, Hommlet was the likely lightning rod that would draw a future rise in banditry.
Feeling like this was what they had been waiting for, Burne and Rufus accepted the charge and got to work. It would take years to build the castle, of course, and it soon became evident that bandits were indeed drifting back into the area. An army of two, they undertook one foray after another to bring the miscreants down. One such group was subdued but, rather than facing imprisonment or death, an inspired Burne instead offered them a respectable job as his armsmen. It had become clear to the wizard that a good number of the brigands plaguing the Kron and the Gnarley were a result of the depredations of the Temple of Elemental Evil, not its cause. Small-hold farmers all over the verge had been reduced to desperate lives, and never recovered.
The vanquished bandits were astonished, but they accepted his offer. Burne gave them, coin, security, and respect, and in return they gave him their undying loyalty. Burne’s Badgers, as they soon became known, still patrol Hommlet and the nearby hills many years later. A number have married and settled in the village and they, like their masters, are much loved by the people.
After the foremost village elder, Kenter Nevets, passed away, Burne and Rufus assumed lordship of the village as a fait accompli, with the full acquiescence of the rest of the council and with the blessing of the late Viscount Wilfrick. The feeling is that Hommlet had grown too large, and too important, for the security of the land to be overlooked anymore. With the completion of Doomwatch Keep, the surrounding lands were given a like name. It suits the temperament of its lords and also its common folk, for vigilance against evil must ever be their lot.
Lord Burne rules lightly, preferring his studies, experiments, and the company of his men to daily administration, so most decisions are still made by the village council, an arrangement which suits all parties. Most legal disputes that can’t be arbitrated by the council are handled by the teavelling judges of the viscounty. And finally, most basic defence plans are undertaken by the militia leadership, though the Badgers train with their amateur fellows to allow seamless military conduct should such be necessary. It would seem that Lord Burne is happy to delegate as much as possible, for his eye is better left fixed on the threats from the Gnarley verge rather than petty local concerns.
His personal power is considerable. He has been observed to fly, throw fireballs, unleash bolts of lightning, and call down storms of frost and create great jets and walls of ice. It is known also that should he wish, Lord Burne can travel to any settlement of the viscounty instantaneously, and return whence he came without delay. As yet, he has not tested himself against the so-called Black Sorcerer of Verbobonc, a figure of fear and mystery who sometimes meddles within the purview of Doomwatch. The effrontery of the inscrutable sorcerer pricks the pride of Lord Burne, who has failed thus far to rein him in.
Pishella, Lord Burne’s senior apprentice.
Like many wizards of power, Burne always maintains several apprentices to do his drudge work and assist in his experiments. Also like many of his ilk, the mage has been known to select biddable females who are also willing to warm his bed from time to time. Chief among these is the winsome Pishella, who has served for over a decade as her own power has grown. She frequently serves as his envoy and also his delegate to the village council and militia leadership when required. His second apprentice, Naeris, endures the simple duties of a standard apprenticeship, and is also required to wait upon her master’s every whim.