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Who or what is the Tom Bombadil of your game?


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aco175

Hero
I recall a Dragon article by Gygax about the lower levels of Greyhawk having a gold dwarf or gold man that appeared to be made from gems and gold itself. He was too fast for the PCs to catch and they never did even though they made several plans to catch him over several adventuring parties. This was a time where XP equaled gold gained so they all thought they would gain a level or two if they got him. Gygax left it vague what he was actually worth.

I always liked having a living world where NPCs and such are in multiple campaigns. My Phandalin campaigns all have most of the townsfolk and Gungren appear across the 4 campaigns that started there. I also have a traveling merchant that makes rounds periodically with some minor magic and is guarded by several flying swords he can control. The players all like it when he shows up since he has a small chance of having something good.
 

Right now, it's Nyr Ahthen, the Crowmage. She's an enigmatic NPC wizard that specializes in flight and transportation magic and is friends with a large murder of crows. Her appearance is entirely based (ripped off) from Eileen the Crow in Bloodborne. The party has perhaps relied on her friendship a bit much of late, so I think it'll be time for them to do her a favor.

She was offended when the party rogue asked if he could buy one of her crows...as if they were chattel to be bought and sold!

Ah, poor Tom Bombadil, never made it to any film adaptation. In a just world the Fellowship of the Ring movie would've had Bombadil and the Barrow Downs and the Hobbit movie would not have had the barrel fight scene.
 

Ryujin

Adventurer
Back in the days of my 1e Greyhawk campaign I had several gods appear, at various times, as minor NPCs. The players never caught on, more's the pity.
 

My campaign has plenty of enigmatic characters, but few as extravagant as Tom Bombadil. I think the closest character would be a traveling wizard who calls himself The Great Whamboozy. He travels from town to town, showing off his magic tricks, and often involving the audience (and coveniently the players) in his performance. The catch is, that his tricks are anything but innocent. A seemingly simple vanishing trick that he often performs, actually temporarily banishes his volunteer to another dimension, before bringing them back right around the time they start panicking. It is no surprise that he never performs in the same town twice.

He is the sort of character I throw into the campaign whenever I want some lighthearted fun that is totally unconnected to the rest of the plot.
 
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Herschel

Adventurer
Achmed/Achmed's Axe and Arrow. He's a weapons dealer who can teleport his shop to any of a number of places on the continent. He curates the best stuff, though he's a bit pricey, and has capitalized on the adventurer market. He's about the only source who can also afford to buy/trade magic items.
 

Janx

Hero
My campaign has plenty of enigmatic characters, but few as extravagant as Tom Bombadil. I think the closest character would be a traveling wizard who calls himself The Great Whamboozy. He travels from town to town, showing off his magic tricks, and often involving the audience (and coveniently the players) in his performance. The catch is, that his tricks are anything but innocent. A seemingly simple vanishing trick that he often performs, actually temporarily banishes his volunteer to another dimension, before bringing them back right around the time they start panicking. It is no surprise that he never performs in the same town twice.

He is the sort of character I throw into the campaign whenever I want some lighthearted fun that is totally unconnected to the rest of the plot.
That'd be a great part of a replacement conspiracy. Get invited to court to perform. Ask for a volunteer. Vanish them to your tower, bring back your doppelganger partner.
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
Not entirely responding to your question, but this is my favorite interpretation of Tom BomIbadil:
It basically argues that Tom is actually a new Dark Lord, waiting for Sauron to be defeated so that he can pick up his mantle after the Wizards and Elves have departed Middle-Earth.

Oldest and Fatherless: The Terrible Secret of Tom Bombadil

I read this article a while back and it inspired me to add an evil Bombadil-figure to one of my campaign settings. Since I usually run some kind of steampunk or gaslamp fantasy, my settings tend to have a very pro-progress, pro-science, pro-technology theme. So, as you might imagine, a whimsical woodsman waiting in the wings to tear it all down is probably going to come off as an existential villain.

The conceit of the setting is, "what if an Industrial Revolution happened almost immediately after the fall of a Dark Lord and the ascendancy of a new High King?" But the large forest where the High Elf Lords used to dwell has become a dark place now, and the mysterious primordial entity who goes about disguised as a wild man named Nick Näckenwald (he has a proper name in Elvish that translates to Ancient-Already-Here) wanders about the place, awakening the trees, turning their hearts dark, and spurring the friendly woodland creatures and forest-faes towards hatred of civilization and mortal men. I have yet to have a party of player characters encounter him, but if they do, they'll probably survive their first lighthearted and comical meeting with him, little knowing that they've just rubbed elbows with the whole campaign-world's meanest, nastiest, scariest BBEG.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
My campaign has plenty of enigmatic characters, but few as extravagant as Tom Bombadil. I think the closest character would be a traveling wizard who calls himself The Great Whamboozy. He travels from town to town, showing off his magic tricks, and often involving the audience (and coveniently the players) in his performance. The catch is, that his tricks are anything but innocent. A seemingly simple vanishing trick that he often performs, actually temporarily banishes his volunteer to another dimension, before bringing them back right around the time they start panicking. It is no surprise that he never performs in the same town twice.

He is the sort of character I throw into the campaign whenever I want some lighthearted fun that is totally unconnected to the rest of the plot.
Sounds a bit like the fantasy version of Robot Carnival...
 

Tonguez

Legend
Sounds a bit like the fantasy version of Robot Carnival...
I remember reading a novel set in a fantasy India once that featured gigantic Jaganatha Vehicles that would roll through and crush everything in their way whilst playing music and bright clouds of colour to glorify the gods. The Robot Carnival reminded me of that...

my favourite PC the gnome became a NPC who as the Circus day man travels ’a day’ ahead in order to make arrangements for new sites for the Grand Circus to set up. PCs have often seen his cart passing them as they arrive in a new town. Orbril leaves coded signs for the circus which others have also learnt to follow.

I also use a character based on the scarecrow Wurzel Gummidge, except mine was the Genius Loci of a turnip patch, who would be dormant in winter but due to its druidic affinity, each spring would grow himself a new body from his turnip head. He Was active during summer and autumn but by winter would again go to sleep in the turnip patch.
 
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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
M'aiq the Liar. Closely followed by Talsgar the Wanderer. Literally.

M'aiq because - he survives without allies and without money, seemingly. At least Talsgar can make some coin singing a song, but he is also untouched by bandits. Oddly, you never see the two of them at the same time...
 

I also have a traveling arabian merchant called Abdul Zafar the Enchanter, who occasionally appears at a market, to sell the players various strange magical items, after which he vanishes the moment they look away. Despite the players meeting him multiple times in different locations, he always denies being the same person. Instead he claims he has many brothers.
 
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Mad_Jack

Explorer
Achmed/Achmed's Axe and Arrow. He's a weapons dealer who can teleport his shop to any of a number of places on the continent. He curates the best stuff, though he's a bit pricey, and has capitalized on the adventurer market. He's about the only source who can also afford to buy/trade magic items.

Ali Al'Ras'Gul... ( "A little rascal"? lol) His colorful tent is almost always set up in the marketplace of any city the party is in - even if they just left him behind in the last one, lol. He's the quintessential stereotype of a sleazy fast-talking used-camel salesman, and dresses in color combinations that make the eyes bleed and boggle the mind. Visually, he's sort of based on the prison warden from the first Brendan Fraser The Mummy movie.
He sells anything listed in the PHB, as well as other common items that an an adventurer might want. He always seems to have what the party needs, or what they will need but don't know it yet. He also seems to be able to get the party... other things. (If the party could just see their way to doing him a small favor, of course...) He just happens to have whatever common magic items that the party might want, and ether can get or knows where to find the more uncommon ones. He always seems to know things he shouldn't, but always doles out information in cryptic ways, and usually trades in favors rather than cash.
The back room of his tent seems to be much larger than it should be, and it is. It's actually a nexus of doorways to other places, including the City of Doors. Ali himself is also more than he seems (and sometimes less). But nobody seems to know quite who or what that actually is. He's well known amongst the more powerful beings for being an instigator, a dabbler, a meddler, and an incorrigible agent of chaos. He's always scheming, plotting and playing an angle, and even beings such as the Lady of Pain are often left wondering just what he's up to...
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
There's a high level changeling Glamour Bard named Magic Tom who appears occasionally in any campaign world I am DMing. He lives in a Magnificent Mansion while he tours the multiverse so can really turn up anywhere where there is enough people for an audience, and he is always happy to put up some interesting adventurers for the night and maybe throw some exposition their way. He is my favorite because he may or may not actually be David Bowie.
 

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