Jorn Falstaff was born an average sized dwarf in an average sized mining town called Quartzo. Hardly a single member of the town did not make their living deep in the hazardous mines, men and women both, the few exceptions being an old stubborn merchant, his son, and a small religious order devoted to the goddess Desna.
At the age of thirty-nine, Falstaff, too, seemed fated to work in the mines as his ancestors had. According to dwarven custom, Falstaff would begin his life as a miner the day he became an adult – his fortieth birthday. He soon learned, however, that fate is often not what it seems.
On the eve of his birthday, a calamity occurred. While minor cave-ins were a fact of life in Quartzo, this day brought an enormous collapse of the intricately patterned caves, the likes of which the town had never seen. In an instant, the lives of two-thirds of the townsfolk were extinguished beneath rubble and dirt, and the town itself, lacking the man-power to salvage their precious mines, fell into financial ruin. Suddenly without a family, one day before his fortieth birthday, Falstaff found himself without purpose or direction for the first time in his life.
Henry Chamberlain, a traveling cleric of the Church of Desna, witnessed this natural disaster. Though overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task, he did his best to offer assistance, both spiritual and practical, to those few who remained. Chamberlain listened with sympathy to the stories of lost loved ones, shattered dreams, and other tales of woe from the dwarves of Quartzo. Yet, one gave him pause.
Falstaff, a dwarf who had seemingly lost everything of meaning in his life, justifiably believed himself to be suffering from great misfortune. But Chamberlain saw things another way. He suggested that Falstaff’s narrow escape from death by a single day demonstrated impossible luck. Surely, Chamberlain exclaimed, Desna, the goddess of dreams and luck, must favor Falstaff immensely. Perceiving this to be divine providence, Chamberlain invited Falstaff to join him as an initiate into the Church. Seeing no viable alternatives, and admittedly somewhat curious, Falstaff agreed to accompany Chamberlain to the great sprawling city of Ka’Desna, cultural hub of the western lands and monument to the goddess from whom the city derived its name.
Falstaff spent eight peaceful years in Ka’Desna under the tutelage of Chamberlain, and on his forty-eight birthday became a fully-fledged ordained cleric of the Church of Desna. The next day, Henry Chamberlain was killed.
It seemed that, while Chamberlain had been a popular cleric among the order, highly respected by the High Priest himself, some had grown jealous of his increasing influence. One such cleric, Laers the Wise, schemed to kill Chamberlain and frame his favored pupil, Falstaff, for the murder. However, Laers was as twisted as he was cunning, and in a moment of whimsy told Falstaff that if he chose to leave Ka’Desna in self-imposed exile, Laers would make sure that the fabricated evidence never came to light.
For the second time in his life, Falstaff saw little choice in his course of action and left the city. For nearly ten years, he traveled far and wide, making his way through dangerous terrain with ease thanks to the luck granted to him by his deity. Quickly he found that he could make enough money to keep himself well fed and clothed by mapping out remote regions for local trade merchants and nobility. At the end of ten years, Falstaff had earned a significant reputation for his ability to travel without fear of harm or misfortune befalling him.
Word of Falstaff’s exploits reached the ears of solicitors both pure and corrupt in motive, the most corrupt of which was Jagger, a half-orc slaver of vicious reputation. Jagger ordered Falstaff captured and enslaved, so as to be put to work traveling with his “cargo” and insuring its safe passage as a kind of good luck charm. Falstaff, fearing that he had somehow angered the goddess Desna by straying too far from his life in the Church, put up little resistance once in custody of Jagger’s gang, and resigned himself to the miserable fate of a slave.
One day, after a few years of traveling with Jagger and his gang of slavers, Falstaff was suddenly freed. A band of anti-slavery freedom fighters ambushed a shipment which Falstaff was accompanying, killing Jagger in the process. During the skirmish, Falstaff was almost impaled by a stray blade, only to be heroically saved at the last moment by Ianamros Darkbane, a member of the freedom fighter group.
That night, in a camp comprised of freed slaves and what few anti-slavers had survived the brutal ordeal, Falstaff had a dream in which he traveled to _______. He awoke in excitement, believing the dream to be a sign that he had regained Desna’s favor, and immediately decided to heed the apparent instructions she had given him. Falstaff told Ianamros Darkbane of his dream and newly devised plan to head out for _______, and Darkbane decided to accompany Falstaff in his journey for his own inscrutable reasons. Falstaff consented to Darkbane’s companionship, knowing very well how useful he could be if things took a turn for the worse again…