That’s an easy one. I have found Clifton Caldwell the most useful NPC to date. He featured in the very first 5e campaign I ran for my family two years ago, and he is still acting as goal doner and gold owner to this day.
According to B9 Castle Caldwell and Beyond, Clifton Caldwell is a local merchant who recently purchased a castle a few miles out of town. When he turned up to take possession, he discovered various monsters were already in situ so he needed to hire adventurers to clear it out.
I took this and decided he ran the local general store in Threshold, Caldwell’s Cauldrons. He’s an astute merchant in many ways (this castle purchase notwithstanding), and Caldwell’s Cauldrons is prosperous and successful. He is a central character in the town and Caldwell’s Cauldrons is a handy stockist point.
My family cleared out his castle for him, and visited him periodically during the next adventure – an investigation into young women who were disappearing, one of whom had worked for him. But it was in the Karameikos campaign where he came into his own.
The initial premise of the campaign was that bandits were ambushing travellers in the mountains on the road into Threshold, and the party had volunteered to investigate. Alianne Sherlane was the official at the town hall who gave them the initial information, but it was Clifton Caldwell who had put up a reward – 200gp for information as to who was causing the problem, or 1000gp for dealing with it once and for all.
So the party have been dealing with him repeatedly, both when purchasing stores and equipment, when telling him what they had found, and when trying to convince him they had solved the problem. They proposed a dummy caravan to try to entice out the culprits, and he provided the wagons, the merchandise within the wagons, and a couple of guards (Ivan and Grygory).
Once the party had cleared out The Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and came to him to claim this solved the problem, he sent a couple of his clerks with the party to check out whether the evidence really did point to this (they were convinced and he paid the reward…whether this was appropriate or not is yet to be proven…).
So Clifton is a very successful and astute merchant, but is there more? …
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