Meet Roland Van Owen, bane of necromancers

The ole Dungeons & Dragons crew has started a new gaming campaign, and that means I got a chance to roll out a new character for the 3.5 version of the game.
What I came up with is a halfling wizard who specializes in necromancy. I ended up with some great stats, but the field was filling up quickly with martial characters, so I bit the bullet and took a spell caster.
This particular character will be a sort of melee friendly wizard. Rather than blasting away at monsters from afar, I’ll be right in the mix. In particular, he’s going to treat “touch spells” as his key weapons. That means he just has to tag the villain, and the baddie must try to shrug off a particularly devastating effect.
Now that’s all the background you need about the character’s build, but what I’m really here to tell you about is his character history.
I’ve been listening to a Warren Zevon album a lot lately, so I named this new halfling Roland Van Owen.
You also can see some of my plans for other characters in this thread at EN World.


Like so many of his kin, Roland Van Owen was born on the road. His mother went into labor as his family traveled between settlements. As halfling wanderers, they never had any permanent home, and to this day, many of them continue that life.
Van Owen clan makes their living as traveling cabinetry makers — from
handsome chests to wall-mounted extravaganzas that have hidden panels,
secret draws and secure locks. In particular, their wares are known for
ornate details, tight seals and solid construction.
Roland learned many of the tricks that are trademark Van Owen design, but his heart wasn’t exactly in such endeavours.
Roland has met hundreds of halflings in his family’s travels around the
penninsula (???), but one in particular stood out. His name was Kenley Cornish, and he was a cleric dedicated to the little known halfling god Urogolan.
As Kenley explained, Urogolan was the watcher of graves and the guide for the dead.
found himself moved by Kenley’s mission: To be caretaker to halfling
graves and to see that those have died are treated with respect.
Roland, of course, decided he should do the same.
a means to an end, Roland began adapting his family skills to that of
an undertaker. He also has some skill in eulogizing the dead.
all that, Roland didn’t become a priest of Urogalan. He became a
necromancer — something that Urogalan is said to abhor. But Roland
doesn’t have the fiendish heart of the typical necromancer, instead he’s
more of an anti-necromancer — learning the skills and spells of those
who disrespect the dead to use that knowledge against them.
traveling as a sort of nomad adventurer, Roland’s goal is to visit the
burial places of halflings around the realm, tend to their graves and
provide them with the solace they need to progress in the afterlife.
assist him in this, he carries around a mapbook which he updates with
locations and schematics of graveyards around the penninsula. Upon
earning enough money, he hopes to start a traveling funerary business
where he can offer thorough services to the grieving while at the same
time search out and find more halflings he can help.

What Roland is good at outside of a fight:

  • Talking to people about “grave” matters (Diplomacy skill)
  • Preparing and arranging ceremonies (Undertaker skill)
  • Building cabinets (Undertaker skill, future craft skill)
  • Making maps (knowledge history and a future craft skill)
  • Digging holes for graves (good strength)
  • Knowing halfling history, religion, settlements (Knowledge history, knowledge religion)

What Roland’s goals are:
  • Explore the world
  • Assist halfling-kind
  • Insure that halfling burial grounds are well maintained
  • Provide a historical record of halfling burial grounds
  • Earn the respect of Urogalan
  • Assemble
    a similar clan as his family that travels by pony-and-cart that offers
    complete funerary services to any people who need it (but funneled
    through Urogalan’s rules).
What Roland hates:
  • Disrespecting the dead
  • Disrespecting halflings and their traditions
Roland’s cast of characters:
  • Kenley Cornish — Mentor, Cleric 9/Rogue 3, presumed to be traveling the world doing what Roland is doing.
  • Pelton Van Owen — Father, Expert 2/Rogue 1. Traveling the circuit with the Van Owens.
  • Dannee Van Owen — Mother, Expert 2. Traveling the circuit with the Van Owens.
  • Garret Van Owen — Brother, whereabouts unknown, possibly an adventurer
  • Dade Van Owen — Uncle, Expert 3/Rogue 5. Leader of the Van Owen clan. Traveling the circuit with the Van Owens.
  • Lucy Linderstar — Sister (married), Traveling the circuit with the Van Owens.
  • Bart Linderstar — Brother in law. Rogue 6. The Van Owen’s security chief. Traveling the circuit with the Van Owens.
  • About 20 other Van Owens, Heelstirs and Rundels under the umbrella of the Van Owen clan.
About the Van Owen Operation:
Van Owen clan travels in a wagon train that brings its cabinetry work to those who request the service. The carts
include a few lumber carts, a hardware cart, a paint and finery cart, a
cooking cart, a tool cart and several living carts. The clan has about
two people per cart when they’re on the move, with guards on ponyback
that shuttle to the front and back. Additionally, the group keeps a
small pack of war dogs to help them with security.

Primary image courtesy of South of the White Caps (with a few alterations).


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2 Comments on Meet Roland Van Owen, bane of necromancers

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