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  1. ADVERTISEMENT: ADVERTISEMENT: History: Managing a small family Trading Coster is an awkward business on the Sword Coast. Whitehand Trading was no exception. Born (literally, in a wagon trailing into Waterdeep) into the family business, Aran grew up alternating between the open road of Trade Way and the harbor of Baldur's Gate. While his father managed clients and gladhanded trade deals, and his mother organized accounts receivable and drafted contracts, Aran learned the family business from his first word, "bandits". When his younger sister was born, the family rejoiced at the prospect of a new generation of Whitehands building the family business into a worthy competitor for the major trading companies. The varied life suited Aran well, shadowing both his mother and father. The short but fierce oar pulling to load and unload ships, standing watch and training with the hired swords, hard riding, running off bandits and gibberlings, and nightly contract copying and accounting by candlelight fed both body and mind well. If things were not always profitable, Aran was not likely to complain. As he grew, Aran built a strong supportive presence in the family business. Unfortunately, life's dreams and expectations do not always match the measure of a man. Aran was dedicated, strong, and followed his family well. But while his father could charm mithril from a dwarven smith for an elven artist's use, Aran stayed in the backround, acting notary. While his mother could master the intricacies of contract law and work with ombudsmen and creative contracts, Aran copied documents and watched from the sidelines. The hired swords were not the best of teachers, and from them he learned odd lessons, like how to stay silent when you should speak, when to brag when you should be silent, and most of all that laws could be twisted and not always to benefit the greater good. When his younger sister was born, she was the light of his life, but as she grew it became painfully obvious that in comparison Aran was just not smart enough to truly master the diplomacy, leadership, and smooth talking necessary to make a family Coster competitive. Hard work could just not compensate for a lack of innate ability. Aran would have been content with the secondary support role, riding out with caravans and handling the bookkeeping, and letting his sister become the beauty and brains for the business. He idolized his younger sister. Fate plays her tricks on everyone, though. Elena was more gifted than any in the family, and showed precocious magical talent. On a standard trade run, her beauty and intellect caught the eye of a courtier mage to the Lady of Waterdeep. With Elena offered a chance to apprentice with the young woman mage at court, the family faced some harsh economic choices. Establishing Elena in court would take more, and steadier, resources than the family could provide. Reading the future, the family decided to sell the business to a larger Baldurs Gate Trading Coster and abandon their independence. The 14 year old Elena would apprentice, and the family would retain employment with the larger firm in the central offices. 20 year old Aran would finish the last year of his "apprenticeship" in a real apprenticeship with a major trading family. "Either he will learn to work the system", the senior Whitehand said, "or it will work him." Aran lasted two weeks at the larger firm before an unfortunate remark sent a Coster hireling through a window and Aran out on his own. His restraint at not following through on the beating saved the man's life and Aran from prison, but it was obvious that the Company Life was not a good fit. Disliking the harsh dicipline (and wary of being turned into a procurement officer or staff scribe), he avoided the standard Mercenary outfits, and struck out south to build his own trading company. Rowing crew with trade galleys, hiring on with small trade caravans, and selling his services as a copyist, he gradually drifted south seeking an opportunity to begin again. Several years as a hired sword and pen have provided some harsh lessons for Aran, but he arrived finally in Calimport with some experience under his belt. Business plans have been built and abandoned, temporary travel companions come and gone, and Aran now faced a rather uncertain future. He has learned to keep silent, to hit the door with shield and shoulder hard, and to not always look carefully at what he is copying. He has also learned that there are things that he is not willing to do in the name of profit, and that generally people who write things down do not actually mean everything they write. Most of all, he has learned that going it alone is lonely, food is best shared with others, and getting too drunk is not worth the trouble. He is definitely ready for a change and a chance to forge a new direction. Psychology/Interest In the past, mostly humans as adversaries and as companions. Mostly riding travel with some sea rowing in Trade galleys. Slight awe of Elves and Dwarves, sight distrust of Dwarves and Gnomes, solid distrust of halflings. Never seen any other demi-humans. No magical ability at all; not afraid, just convinced he is not smart enough. Prefers to fight cooperativelty with companions and to write alone. Would rather fight than talk, would rather write than speak publically, and would prefer to cooperative ventures to having (or being) a leader. His one (hidden) interest is puzzling out older documents. Not the contents, which he is pretty sure he wouldn't understand anyways, but the form and structure, rebuilding documents and figuring out what should go with what. His one constancy is his letters home to Elena, which he scribes in small script to save paper and keeps (two copies; you never can be too careful, you know) in a parchament case in his belongings, searching for times to send them via post or messenger when opportunity arises. DM Notes: Scrivener rather than Sage, Copyist rather than Writer. Unlikely to tolerate heavily evil actions, but definition of "evil" is slippery, as is definition of law. Letters home are the most telling of inner workings - will be provided as he wries them (Aran is smart enough to keep to himself, but may not be smart enough to avoid snooping eyes, so material will be provided for DM subterfuge in case it is warranted). Outdoor combat oriented; longsword, shield, composite longbow. Favors shield tactics and defensive fighting but is learning other ways. Rather cautious.
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