I’m sure there must be a lot of tabletop RPG fans out there in a crowd like this! I thought it might be fun to share snippets of fiction we never intend to publish but wrote to enhance our role-playing enjoyment, whether that’s in the form of character bios, scene-setting, or play-by-post chat.

Here’s a melodramatic little bio I’m playing around with for a half-satyr character (forest warden) in a new Pathfinder campaign.

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As a child Ven lived with his human mother in a cabin on the edge of the ancient forest of Yurning, several leagues from the nearest village. She made something resembling a living from her wood carvings and taught Ven as much of survival on the wilderness’s edge as she could. His mother taught him a healthy fear of humankind and to disguise his satyr attributes even while avoiding them. The village was strictly off-limits to him, a dangerous place his mother only ventured once a fortnight as necessary to sell her carvings at market.

Ven eventually did meet a human boy, Griff—a woodsman’s son—who often hunted in the same forest. Both were terrified at first, each regarding the other as monstrous, but thanks to a series of mishaps around their first encounter learned they had little to fear from one another. They quickly became fast friends, though they hid the relationship from their parents. Ven’s mother continued to tell him stories of the ferocity and danger of other humans, but having met one and grown close to him he started to wonder whether she might be exaggerating the threat. This idle thought turned out to have terrible consequences.

In time Griff and Ven became more than friends. Shared hunts and imaginative games in the woods turned to long, intimate conversations and ultimately trysts. Ven would entertain Griff with bizarre stories of the creatures he’d observed near the deepwoods, and Griff in turn would sate Ven’s hunger for knowledge about the human world and society. The stories of noble knights, giant cities of stone, and festival feasts all captivated Ven. Growing ever more convinced his mother was wrong about humans, Ven convinced Griff to introduce him to the village next midsummer dance. Griff had some misgivings about the plan, but he too more than anything wanted to share his life and world with his companion.

The festival was everything Ven had imagined and more. He went disguised with a bog witch’s charm, met Griff’s friends and family and enjoyed the most delicious feast of his life. He drank wine for the first time and danced the night away with Griff and his sisters between games in the village center. Both grew drunk and lost track of time; not long before midnight, the witch’s charm ran out.

What followed was Ven’s first encounter with the ugliness which lurked in the heart of humanity; it would not be his last. He and Griff barely escaped with their lives, along with the bruises and cuts of the beatings. They ran panicked that night into the woods, too terrified to do anything but hide. They waited out the better part of the night, and sleep kept them through the next day. Ven finally worked up the courage to bring Griff to his mother’s cabin where they could wait out the anger of the mob. It turned out to have reached it before them.

The witch hunters and their hounds still waited in ambush when the two boys arrived at the burning wreckage. They tried to run again, but it wasn’t drunk farmboys who chased them this time. When they threw Ven on the ground before what remained of his mother, he thought he must be in the midst of a nightmare. By the time they’d beaten Griff to death in front of him, the blood in Ven’s throat from his screams had convinced him otherwise.

He wasn’t sure how he escaped then, at the time. The world had already become a blood haze by the time the thing came from the forest. A blur of colors in vague bestial form, it tore through the witch hunters and their mob almost before they could scream themselves. Ven found his hooves then and fled blindly into the deepwood.

The forest alone knew how long Ven stumbled after chewing the last of his binds off. He’d long run out of tears by the time he collapsed in exhaustion and thirst. He fell unconscious, woke parched and famished, then staggered onward till exhaustion took him again. Between bouts of brief consciousness and fever dreams, he saw a familiar yet terrifying face looking down on him. When he awoke to a pool that shone like starlight even under darkest forest canopy, Ven drank without regard for any consequences. When the hulking figure of the deepwood creature beckoned, starshine in his black eyes, Ven waded into the waters without question.

The rest of what happened that night Ven would lock away in the deepest recesses of private memory. He lived with the satyr for years after that, though he never saw him except shrouded in the darkness of the deepwood. Malethar, the fey spirit who had saved and drawn him here, spoke to Ven only in the most cryptic of dreams. What the relationship of the fey being and the satyr was—master and servant, god and avatar—Ven was never completely certain. Malethar gave him the power to hunt down and kill every last living witch hunter, and that was enough for Ven.

For all Ven and the satyr’s hunting, the forest around the deepwood continued to recede. Humanity cut its way ever further in their voracious hunger to claim and to dominate. Whatever they encountered that frightened them, they burned away. Malethar could not stop it, out there on the fringes of his power, but he could at least preserve the forest heart. No matter how greedily the humans conquered, the satyr would stop their advance at the deepwood. Or so Ven always thought.

He learned a second lesson the day the dancing creature fell in a whirlwind of fang and blade. Once again he barely escaped with his life as another he cared for was cut down. This time Ven fought with arrow and magic and blade; against the lord’s knights and their wizards, even Malethar’s gifts were not enough.

Ven returned alone, bloodied and defeated, to the fey spirit’s pool and glade. He expected Malethar to abandon him in his failure, but the trickster godling of the deepwood had one last trick up his sleeves. And one more gift.

Yurning Wood was no more by the end of that night, but neither were the humans who claimed it.

Ven found his way south in the seasons that followed, sticking to the wilderness and the fringes of the country. Eventually he learned he’d left human lands behind him completely. It took him a number of years to trust anyone again save the forest spirits, but with time he came to trust a small number of the halflings, greenskins, and dwarfish folk he encountered here. When the offer was made by Juniper to put his skills to the test in defense of the woodlands again, he surprised even himself by accepting. Trust, it seemed, was something that—even once destroyed—could be reborn.

To this day, however, he’s never confided in anyone the truth of the seed he wears around his neck, or the nature of the waters it contains within. Only time and Malethar could tell when it would be time for that second rebirthing.