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  • Strife in the Skies, Part 1: The Vagrant Nimbus – Airship Crew NPCs
Strife in the Skies, Part 1 - The Vagrant Nimbus - Banner - Small

A questionable transport airship, with 3 crew characters and 4 interesting, varied passengers.

The crew of the Vagrant Nimbus airship is preparing for their next voyage. They load their conspicuous cargo, patch the most visible holes in the hull, and accept payments of gold from those seeking passage without the hassle of questioning. While the Nimbus may not boast the same comforts or assurances that other ships do, it offers tantalizingly competitive prices and is one of few that risks the most direct path. This makes it particularly popular for bands of adventurers and anyone looking for swift relocation.

The Vagrant Nimbus

A medium-sized airship floats almost out of sight at the end of the smallest landing. The vessel is a storied patchwork of repairs both made and needed, its wood creaking under the steps of the crew currently loading cargo into its lowest deck. Scrapes, burns, and other marks adorn the hull between metal reinforcements unlike anything you’ve seen on other merchant ships. As if that were not enough to betray the ship as more than a cargo carrier, a ballista also stands on either side of the main deck. 

The Vagrant Nimbus is a cargo airship that has been outfitted with additional defenses and weapons in order to face the challenges of its voyages. These include the additional steel reinforcing its outer hull and the ballistae placed on the deck. The damage to both the interior and exterior of the ship are all results of previous travels, some of which its crew are glad to tell the tales of, and which also prompted the reinforcements and upgrades. Though its outward appearance might be unsettling, a character with knowledge of ships and airships recognizes that the Nimbus remains a sturdy and stubborn vessel. It still being in one piece despite the obvious past damage may even promote confidence in its ability to survive another conflict, should the need arise. As the Nimbus’s bosun might sardonically remark, “What’s one more catastrophic hull breach?”

In addition to the main decks, the Vagrant Nimbus features a captain’s cabin, crew quarters, and cargo hold. The captain’s cabin is the private space of Captain Carthis and is decorated with small mementos, some taken from harrowing victories and others memorializing crew members he has lost. Below the main deck is the crew’s quarters, with the necessary amenities and sleeping areas crammed closely into its limited space. The bottom-most deck is the cargo hold, filled with the necessary supplies and whatever the Nimbus has been tasked with transporting.

Map & Asset Downloads

We have a variety of maps, airships, and assets for creating the Vagrant Nimbus to fit with the airships of your world, as well as for appropriately high-altitude landscapes…

Crew of the Vagrant Nimbus

Manning the Nimbus is an experienced crew that has flown together for many years. They are a shrewd group, owing to the many challenges that they have faced and overcome and that have bonded them as a cohesive unit. This crew is represented by its three most prominent and long-serving members, the captain, navigator, and bosun, but features numerous other crew members who aid in the Nimbus’s sailing. At least one of the three is awake and on duty at all times to lead the operations of the ship. The rest of the crew go about their work with little regard for whatever passengers might have joined the particular voyage, honoring the implied secrecy that sailing on the Nimbus offers.

All of the tokens for both the crew and passengers of the Vagrant Nimbus were created using our very own Token Editor. You can save them directly from their respective images or visit the Editor and make your own!

Captain Arlon Carthis

(LN male half-orc veteran)

A half-orc man wears a heavy leather coat draped over armor that is as scuffed and scarred as his skin. The well-worn outfit is contrasted by a bright, almost shining red scarf that is tucked tightly into his clothing. His long brown hair is tied in a messy tail behind his head. The man walks with purposeful steps, his head turning to survey every individual, item, and action around him.

Captain Carthis has sailed on the Vagrant Nimbus since it was used as a smuggling vessel under a different, long-forgotten name. His stories of the ship’s history change with his mood and the number of drinks in his belly, though they often feature a harrowing ambush that left him as the last remaining crew member of a ship plummeting from the skies. Whatever the truth, Arlon took his newfound ownership of the Nimbus and used it to form his own crew, making up for the misgivings he held for its previous purpose and avoiding the mistakes of his old captain.

Though Carthis maintains the professional skepticism required of his position, he is respectful, mindful, and unshakeably loyal to those that show him the same. These all go doubly for his crew, who Arlon treats as family. Carthis sees anyone onboard the Nimbus as being under his personal protection, and anything that threatens them or the ship’s safety swiftly discovers the fury that Captain Carthis usually keeps at bay.

Velle Lumivoix, Navigator

(NG female tiefling priest)

A tiefling woman with deep purple skin pays you a warm smile, brushing silver hair from her face. She is wearing a basic tunic and leathers, though you spy the glint of chain underneath and an amulet hanging around her neck.

Velle was once a cleric intent on spreading the teachings of her god to the very corners of the world. Without much coin to her name, she was unable to afford passage on any ship but the Vagrant Nimbus. This proved fortuitous when the Nimbus and its crew came under attack and Velle’s magic proved the deciding factor in their victory. Both the battle and the following celebration struck Velle with an epiphany of where she truly belonged. She has sailed as a member of the Nimbus’s crew since, developing her study of geography for the sake of her pilgrimage into the skills needed to serve as the ship’s navigator.

Velle is a warm and inviting individual who is always glad for the new faces aboard the Nimbus. Though she remains friendly, her time on the crew has transformed her naivety into well-earned confidence, and she does not allow her compassion to cloud her insight.

Gilbert ‘Gil’ Eskowicz, Bosun

(CG male human spy)

Smears of oil stain the face and clothing of a human man who is dressed in a waistcoat and wearing a satchel of tools at his side. A pair of smudged goggles are holding up his mess of black hair, which greys at the temples. He looks at you with a blank expression before raising his eyebrows expectantly.

As the Nimbus’s bosun, Gil is responsible for the vessel’s repairs and upkeep. He does not speak of his past, but whatever it entailed trained him as an inventive and resourceful artificer, able to both keep the Nimbus flying and equip it with a number of upgrades. It also provided him with the contacts to order whatever materials he requires from equally secretive sources. Though Gil’s secrecy would usually inspire wariness, he has sailed with Carthis for long enough to have earned the captain’s total trust. Carthis is, however, fond of teasingly recounting stories of when this was not the case.

When he is not needed for patching holes in the hull or maintaining the ship’s mechanisms, Gil spends his time tinkering in the cargo hold and generally avoiding interaction with passengers. Those that do speak to him are met with a dry, prickly wit that thinly disguises his lack of interpersonal tact.

Well-stocked reserves. Gil is willing to sell excess tools and scrap to anyone onboard the Nimbus. This includes bags of caltrops and ball bearings, rope, a hunting trap, a spyglass, a spare set of tinker’s tools, a poisoner’s kit, and other, similar adventuring gear. Knowing that there are no other stores available until the Nimbus docks, Gil sells his items at a price 20% higher than most.

In addition to the listed items, Gil may be stocking a plethora of other supplies and tools. You can add almost anything of appropriate worth to his stores, or allow the party to request items and make a roll to determine whether Gil has them.

Passengers Aboard

In addition to its crew, the Nimbus’s current voyage includes a small collection of passengers. They all have their reasons for being aboard the airship and are not likely to share them with anyone they have just met. But the journey is not a short one. With nothing but time on their hands and nowhere to go on the confined airship, there is ample opportunity for conversation between the passengers, crew, and party, leading to interesting dynamics and developments.

All of the passengers on the Vagrant Nimbus have their own stories, personalities, and, most importantly, goals. These are designed with the possibility of generating friction and suspicion with each other, the party, and the crew. They are also able to act as plot hooks for the characters to follow once the Nimbus docks, as each of their stories could lead to a new adventure. The party might aid Elmer’s business, help Torryn with whatever is in the mysterious box, or protect the Senzas from their former affiliations.

Alfas Senza

(N male human noble)

A young human man who looks to have been neatly dressed and groomed several long days ago. He blinks with heavy eyelids, hands haphazardly adjusting his hair beneath the hood of his heavy coat, and clinging tightly to his packs.

Formerly the son and heir to the head of a crime family, Alfas gave up his underworld future to flee with his beloved Ralia. The two are now escaping on the Vagrant Nimbus before any of Alfas’s father’s men can come looking for them. They hope to find a distant city where they can hide, establish new lives under their new name, and be free of any affiliation with Alfas’s family.

Alfas himself is a soft-spoken but strong-willed man who has not inherited the distasteful morality of his parents. He is currently focused solely on his and Ralia’s goal of safe escape. The stress of the situation has worn on his patience, leaving Alfas anxious and restless, though he calms once the Nimbus is a day’s travel from its departure.

Ralia Senza

(CN female half-elf acolyte)

The half-elven woman wears a taciturn expression between smiles to passersby. She is clad in an inconspicuous dress with a cloak over top and holds to a man who shares her dishevelment and the dark circles under her eyes.

Until only days ago, Ralia operated as the personal physician and healer to a gang led by the father of Alfas Senza, a position she had held for several years. Ralia and Alfas quickly fell in love with each other, sharing in their disillusionment with their situation and its control of their lives. Together, they plotted an escape. Ralia used her alchemical training and her trusted role to poison Alfas’s father, ensuring that his men would be too distracted to notice or prevent the pair’s departure. Alfas is aware of this, though neither of them is sure if the poison was enough to kill his father or if it simply rendered him catatonic.

Ralia is an intelligent, calculating, and outwardly selfless woman. Though her caring demeanor is not entirely a deception, as she does believe in helping others when one is able to, her only true loyalty is to herself and Alfas. She is cautious about anyone that might compromise their future but warms quickly to those who can convince her that they support their decision.

Penchant for poisons. A character that gains Ralia’s trust can commission her to mix potions of healing or various poisons. She requires access to alchemist’s supplies or a poisoner’s kit, respectively, and must be provided with ingredients or given the gold to locate them herself when the Nimbus docks.

Elmer Daniel Mikillier

(CG male elf commoner)

An elven man with immaculate hair holds his chin in the air, paying only a cursory glance to the people around him. He adjusts the collar of his resplendent blue coat and slides his hands down to pat each and every pocket.

Elmer is a fledgling merchant with sights on a grand and prosperous future. Unfortunately, he has faced failure after failure since beginning his enterprise, due to both his own misguided decisions and an unceasing streak of bad luck. But he is sure that this endeavor will bear fruit. Elmer has heard of a discovery that is ready and waiting to be capitalized on and that will assuredly propel him to the shining heights of fortune that he has craved for so long. He need only reach it before the rest of his gold runs dry.

The role of a merchant requires Elmer to maintain an air of professionalism and sharp wits, always exploiting whatever he can to further his business. Despite this, and to the detriment of many of his previous dealings, Elmer is a good, tender-hearted person who is always mindful of the well-being of others. He attempts to hide this under his merchant mask but his true morality is quick to appear whenever tested.

Torryn Blackhorn

(LN female black dragonborn bandit captain)

A black dragonborn stands, arms crossed, in a set of battered studded leather armor. Your eyes are drawn to the woman’s head, where three pairs of horns curl backward like a twisted crown. They are almost enough to distract from the scimitar and at least four daggers sheathed at her sides.

Torryn Blackhorn is a career adventurer whose life has lost its luster. She continues taking jobs to support herself, though her fearsome reputation has faded along with the joy she once found in traveling and fighting. But there is little else she knows how to do, so she continues. Torryn’s most recent job has her quietly transporting a locked case to its destination with only a due date and a single other instruction: do not open the case.

Though Torryn’s exhaustion and cynicism are written across her face, she does still hold onto the brave determination that saw her through many years as an adventurer. She is more reserved than she once was, content to exist privately for most of the voyage, though conversations with younger individuals in the process of pursuing their own goals help reignite a small spark within Torryn.

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About the author

Troy McConnell

Part-time DM and author of 2-Minute Tabletop's encounters, map lore, and characters. Basically, I write about all the campaign ideas that I don't have time to run. All with the assistance of my feline familiar, Wink.

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