Supporting Cast

This article originally appeared in Pyramid #17

Coppers, Paranoid ShopkeeperBen Cyrus, aka Coppers

by Tim & Christine Morgan

Age 65, 5'8" (when not slouching, 5'5" otherwise), 120 lbs.; balding with frizz of yellowish-white hair, bright blue eyes, wrinkles.

ST: 10 IQ: 15 Speed: 5.25

DX: 11 HT: 10 Move: 5

Dodge: 5

PD 1, DR 1; front torso only from leather apron.

Advantages: Eidetic Memory Level 1; Magery 2; Literacy.

Disadvantages: Absent-Mindedness; Skinny; Paranoia; Delusion (gold and silver attract "Them"); Agorophobia.

Quirks: Believes Jake is alive; Will only accept copper coins; Always tries to get customers to buy love potions; Never drinks alcohol; Loves raisin bread.

Skills: Alchemy-16; Botany-13; Cooking-14; First-Aid-14; Geology-13; History-13; Literature-13; Merchant-14; Metallurgy-12; Naturalist-13; Occultism-14; Poisons-14; Pottery-14; Scrounging-13; Stealth-10; Spell Throwing (Fireball)-12; Teaching-13; Weather Sense-14.

Spells (all at 15): Sense Life, Sense Foes, Sense Emotion, Truthsayer, Compel Truth, Hide Thoughts, Seek Earth, Purify Air, Create Air, Ignite Fire, Create Fire, Shape Fire, Extinguish Fire, Fireproof, Heat, Cold, Fireball, Seek Water, Purify Water, Create Water, Destroy Water, Dehydrate, Test Food, Seek Food, Decay, Purify Food, Poison Food, Cook, Create Food, Ferment, Distill, Recover Strength, Detect Magic, Aura, Identify Spell, Analyze Magic, Light, Continual Light, Scryguard, Scrywall, Counterspell, Dispel Magic, Apportation, Seek Plant, Identify Plant, Sense Danger, Watchdog, Nightingale, Missile Shield.


The first sight anyone ever has of Coppers is of a pair of bright blue eyes peering suspiciously through a sliding panel in his door. The eyes are nestled deep in a face as brown and wrinkled as a walnut, topped by a balding age-spotted pate fringed with yellowish-white hair. His infrequent smiles reveal teeth as rickety as the fence around a haunted house. His neck is tinged green from the solid copper neckchain he always wears.

Coppers' next most noticeable feature is his scrawniness. A shirt of uncertain color billows around his thin frame, his bony wrists and gnarled hands protruding from frayed cuffs. His woolen trousers are cinched with a length of old rope. His feet, in leather sandals, are as bony and scant of meat as the rest of him. Over all, he wears a scorched and stained leather apron.

Though disheveled, Coppers is anything but lazy. His movements are rapid, jerky, almost manic. He is always whipping around to look behind him, or scuttling across the room to check the doors and windows.


House/shop, yard overgrown with weeds, windows boarded over. Door has sliding panel next to small wooden sign reading "Open." Back room holds complete alchemy lab, shelves of ingredients. Personal quarters in loft. Front room of shop lined with shelves of vials. Huge antique armoire, etched-glass door panels, used for display of collectibles and magic items. Stuffed jackalope on piece of driftwood, small brass plaque on base reading, "Jake." Behind counter is huge bin filled with copper coins.


Coppers is the last descendant of the Cyrus Clan. Generations ago, his ancestors were magical advisors to kings and emperors. In his youth, Coppers attended the finest magical schools. But as he aged and grew increasingly peculiar, he abandoned high society and established his ramshackle shop. He was married once, but his wife Agnes left him and is now married to a wealthy lord out in the country. Coppers also has a sister somewhere, but has no contact with his family and doesn't often speak of them.


During his studies, Coppers realized that wizards had enemies. These enemies, the mysterious "Them," wanted to control or destroy everyone who knew about the use of magical forces.

Coppers believed that "They" were not human, although "They" could pass for human to the untrained eye. "They" have small steely eyes, and greenish blood that can be best seen flowing through the veins on their scalps. "They" have sensitive noses and can smell out gold and silver, which wizards tend to amass.

Coppers' delusion has firmly entrenched itself. He will not accept gold or silver as payment, only copper and gems. Before letting anyone into his shop, he will quiz them to make sure they are really what they appear to be, and that they are not carrying precious metals.

His fear of "Them" has made Coppers a recluse. He hardly ever leaves the house, having his groceries delivered if he trusts the delivery person. His only friend is Jake, the stuffed jackalope on the end of his counter. Coppers believes that Jake is alive and watches over the shop.

"I dasn't take gold, nor silver. They smell it on ya, see! Got any . . . coppers? Ten thooooouuusaand copper pieces will get you this fine looooove potion!"

Adventure Ideas

Coppers can be used in any campaign when elixirs are required or items need identifying. Characters will need to go through an interrogation on each visit, even if they return more than once in the same day. They will also need to obtain large amounts of copper.

The PCs encounter a certain Lord Stuart Harcourt, whose mother on her deathbed informed him that the man who raised him was not really his father, but dies before she could tell him the entire truth. Lord Stuart is in his early forties, noble and proper and a bit arrogant, distraught by the idea that his entire life has been a lie. He is determined to find his real father. The trail leads up the overgrown path to Coppers' door.

If Coppers becomes a regular feature, the characters might begin to notice even stranger things about the shop. Maybe it's the way Jake seems to be in a different position. Or maybe it's the steely-eyed man lurking in the doorway across the street . . .

Suppose that "They" are real, and "They" have realized that Coppers knows the truth. "They" might try to kill him, but more likely would want to capture him, because "They" want to control all magic in the world. What are "They?" Where do "They" come from? And what will "They" do when "They" realize that Coppers has shared his suspicions with others?

Shopping at Coppers

Coppers' shop is likely (1-4 on 1d6) to have 2d6 of any of the following elixirs - Beast-Speech, Invulnerability, Endurance, Warrior, Speed, Strength, Huntsman, Fear, Weakness, Lecherousness, Death, Fire Resistance, Transformation, Flight, Water-Breathing, Fertility, Healing, Antidote, Sleep, Love.

At any one time, Coppers is likely to have a dozen or so items in the armoire. These are all for sale at book price.

Here are some samples:

1. Wooden whistle (Beast Summoning, any type)

2. Dark blue woolen cloak (Itch, Slow Fall, and Mage Stealth)

3. Black leather bracer with silver and garnet (Resist Pain)

4. Bronze helmet with large rams' horns (Control Person)

5. Plain grey wand with gold tip (Stone Missile)

6. Necklace with cloud, snowflake, raindrop designs (Clouds, Rain, Snow)

7. Gem-encrusted bastard sword, named Sunsfire (Flaming Weapon, Quick-Draw, Accuracy +1)

8. Quiver of six arrows (each arrow has Accuracy +2 and Puissance +2)

9. Polished oaken staff with pewter dragon's claw gripping crystal eye at end, Staff of Pormyndwyn the Sage (Staff, Know Illusion, Mage Sight, Mage Sense, See Invisible, See Secrets)

10. Dagger with black hilt (Accuracy +1, Magic Resistance, Puissance +2)

11. Jade-handled eating utensil (Purify Food)

12. Harp with strings made from a princess' hair (Mass Suggestion)

Article publication date: February 1, 1996

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