Return to Greyhawk – The Life and Times of Luciano Venturi, Cleric of Olidammara and Hero of the Flanaess

Luciano Venturi was born in Viareggio, a few miles west on the Ververdyva River* on the southern border, just barely within the viscountcy of Verbobonc. The Venturi surname is associated with elven lineage, as early in the family tree Venturi inter-married among the local elves that hearken from this area. Luciano’s immediate family does not know the exact side their family tree comes from, but it is distinctly human looking. Luciano’s father Lorenzo Venturi was an established leather tanner; hardworking and calloused hands often smelling pungent from his trade. Luciano’s mother Romina spent most of her time tending to Luciano’s upbringing until he was nine years old. At that time his brother Fabio** was born.

Shortly after Luciano’s brother turned one year old, he noticed that his father’s mood had soured extremely and his parents began to argue regularly about a man, Flavio Esposito. Luciano was always worldly wise and understood that his father owed Flavio a great deal of gold, for some reason he had not yet figured out. While helping gather fresh hides off the river barge one afternoon, he saw his father conversing with two others; a man that regularly provides Lorenzo hides and along him, a local purveyor of servants. Unbeknownst to Luciano at the time, this slaver was employed by Flavio. The looks that the three men gave Luciano whilst he sweated and threw hides from the barge filled him with apprehension, and Luciano’s instincts rarely failed him.

That late fall evening, when the commerce of the river died down, Luciano could hear his parents arguing once again. This time however, he could hear his own name. With a pain gnawing at his gut, he eavesdropped on the conversation and discovered that he was to be sold off to satisfy his father’s debt. That night after being put to bed, Luciano crept out into the night and never returned.

Luciano promptly migrated west to the outskirts of Verbobonc and began his career as a street rat. His first night, he came across a tavern named ‘The Kyngeshed’. He learned that it was a common place for pickpockets, accomplished thieves, bards and all manner of working folk. Spending the last coppers he had, he spent time eating and trying to get to know as many folks as he could, selling them a story of his accomplishments as a thief. His tales earned him the right to apprentice with the local thieves’ guild. It was quickly learned, however, that Luciano was not made of the same ilk. Try as he might, his attempts to pass the apprentice tests met with abysmal failure.

Luciano had become well-known at The Kyngeshed, and he knew it would only be a matter of time before his father attempted to find him. The city of Verbobonc was vast, but the outskirts were familiar to the working-class folks. One busy evening, Flavio entered the tavern, in full swing of an after-work crowd. By a stroke of luck, a local acolyte of The Laughing Rogue was attending to a small shrine nearby where most guild members normally reside. Luciano approached and quietly asked the acolyte to hide him, as his vast robes would provide plenty of cover. He promptly and quickly explained the visage of the man he wished to avoid. The acolyte simply laughed and twirled his robe, like a woman does with a long flowing dress, immediately engulfing and completely covering Luciano as he cowered and hid.

The acolyte resumed his tending to the shrine whilst humming and randomly calling out to this and that person, who always heartily replied. Moving slowly, the acolyte backed a bit further into the corner of thieves’ guild members and deposited Luciano under a table, where he quietly stayed until most everyone vacated the tavern. The acolyte motioned for Luciano to join him at the table, after many reassurances that Flavio was nowhere within sight. Introducing himself as Nikolaievitch Potir, the acolyte asked Luciano how he would show his gratitude for the service of saving his life. Using the last few copper in his possession, Luciano bought this man a meal.

Over the meal Luciano regaled to Nikolaievitch how he came to be in such a predicament. The two spent the remainder of the night talking, Nikolaievitch telling tales of his travels and whom he served, at last asking Luciano what he intended to do with his life; where he would go. To this, Luciano only shrugged, and stated he did not know. Nikolaievitch offered Luciano a path he hadn’t considered, service to The Laughing Man. With this one act, Luciano’s life was forever changed as he accepted the offer and entered the service of Olidammara. Nikolaievitch became his mentor and remained so until Luciano was fully accepted as an acolyte of the Laughing Man.

Luciano spent his adolescence and young adulthood climbing the ranks of the Laughing Man. He traveled far throughout the Flanaess, tavern to inn, causing mischief, merriment, debauchery and humor. Each year, he would return to the temple in Verbobonc and in his 30th year, caught the eye of Natalia Mar’alith: High priestess of Olidammara. A beautiful woman beyond measure, Luciano quickly gained her favor after realizing he had gained her interest and favor. Over the course of the next four years, he serviced her faithfully and earned position under her. Accepting much more responsibility within the temple, Luciano was entranced by Natalia but grew weary of his stationary service. He yearned for the travels of his youth. Fate though, had another plan for Luciano.

One fateful night, Natalia assigned Luciano to watch over the relic of their deity; the Key of Olidammara – the key to the God Trap. During a particularly stormy and windy evening, a strange woman knocked on the temple door. Wrapped in tattered white cloth and soaked to the bone, she begged shelter for the evening to warm herself by the fire. She was a a golden-eyed beauty with platinum blonde hair and in his inebriated judgment, Luciano allowed her into the temple. They stood next to one of the two fires flanking the Key of Olidammara. The woman looked frail but walked with grace, Luciano thought to himself as he made small talk. After a time next to the fire, he offered some mulled wine, to which the woman showed her excitement at the mention of wine. It would only take him a few minutes to get some from the kitchens, and he told the woman he would return shortly with the wine. Upon his return to the beauty, he found himself in shock and staring at someone completely different. Suddenly, she was not beautiful at all, nor was she by the fire. Her visage had changed to that of a hag; withered, old and toothless. The old woman thanked Luciano as she held the key in her arms and swiftly exited the temple into the storm. Luciano slumped down by the fire and in his shame, downed the bottle of mulled wine and passed out.

The next morning, Natalia was beyond distraught. She sent out emissaries to the four winds to track down and return the Key of Olidammara. Unknown to Luciano at the time, Natalia’s affection for him was the only thing that saved him from the sword that day. In all the commotion, Luciano overheard that the hag was most likely a priestess of Syrul, and Natalia planned to journey to the temple of Syrul located in the barrier peaks.

For all of her affection for him, Natalia still wanted Luciano far from her presence due to his folly. He swiftly found himself removed from his responsibilities at the temple and sent on a far away task to the Obsidian Citadel, high in the Yatil Mountains. It was this menial task that introduced him to the rag-tag group of adventurers that would test his patience, stab him with a fork***. He would fight alongside a wild dragon man, meet a pair of unlikely siblings, work with an unusually unprepared archmage and in the end, meet his ultimate demise saving his new-found family from an evil of unspeakable vileness. He died as he lived, in the moment and without regret.

Luciano Venturi – drunkard, philander, and ‘Stupid Priest’.

March 3rd 547CY – April 29th 582CY

* – (exactly at the triangle that meets at hexes F215-186, F215-185, F216-185)
** – (yes, he is beautiful with long flowing locks of hair, even for an infant)
***- (Of course, it’s Nilly.)

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