Hailing from the wild north-east, Roaka is highly unusual for a bugbear, having forsaken the bestial ways of his kin in favour of the peaceful ways of a Ranger of Mielikki. He has spent the last couple of years living on the outskirts of a small village, whose villagers have slowly come to accept him with the help of a local Warden.
Roaka is usually soft-spoken and careful with his movements and actions. He smiles often, and he carries an old teddy-bear on his belt, where other bugbears would probably carry around a skull.
In appearance, Roaka is nearly eight feet tall and heavily muscled, with ebony skin, black fur and a wild, fluffy black mane, some of it braided. His eyes are a golden yellow, his ears long and pointed, and he wears the stitched-together skins of a great bear or wolf. He as recently crafted a huge cloak of black crow and Kenku feathers, which he wears around his shoulders.
Roaka was raised as a typical bugbear on the southern slopes of the Copper Mountains. As a young bugbear, Roaka never knew his parents, and grew up with the other bugbear children in a communal setting of the Black Fist Tribe. He had to fight for his food, learn to steal from his neighbours (goblins, mostly), and sleep with one eye open. He was aberrant compared with his kin, however: whether by chance or fate, he heard the call of Mielikki from a young age, and
always shied away from the more brutal aspects of his culture, using his unusual size and a display of claws to intimidate rivals rather than fight. He made few friends, but most enjoyed his youth learning to be crafty from a young hobgoblin (Ferz Gaghta) associated with the nearby goblin tribes. The relationship between the goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears in the region was always tenuous, and fighting often broke out between the groups, though some controlling force kept them mostly in line (Roaka learned this later in life). Ferz taught Roaka to hone his thieving and stealth skills, as well as his ability to climb.
One day, Ferz joined a scouting mission to a cave far to the east and the group never came back, assumed killed. Roaka honed the skills Ferz had taught him, however, and that allowed him to survive to early adolescence.
When Roaka came of age at 16, the matron of his group, an old bugbear witch, came to him. She took him and several of his litter-mates on a trek higher into the mountains, to a cave. The cave entrance stank of death, and was strewn with many bones. Skulls and heads on spikes flanked the entrance, and more heads (of many different races) hung from ropes affixed to the ceiling. She told them that this was an entrance to two beings of power, one who she revered, and the other she hated. In the back of the cave, she explained, was a portal to the realm of Hrugekk, their god. However, the front of the cave was occupied by an old black dragon named Raedexyaral, who “claimed” to be the voice of their god, but who surely was not. Raedex both kept the bugbears from truly communing with their god, and from slaying their enemies around them. In order to be free of the dragon, she explained, they must first do it’s bidding, until an opening presented itself… Their god would have a dragon head on his porch one day, she whispered to them.
A year later, the Black Fist tribe began a bloody war campaign for the dragon, against another dragon and his forces. The war was fought in tunnels in the mountain and in the forest around the mountain, goblinoids against goblinoids, nearly always in small groups and ambushes. The war took a heavy toll on both sides, and the Black Fists began to run out of provisions quickly. To this point, Roaka had supplied himself with meat form deer, elk, and monsters he personally slew. He knew that his kin occasionally slew and ate goblins, and while he didn’t care for the disgusting practice, he thought the practice of eating intelligent beings ended there.
When his tribe took him along to help massacre a small village, Roaka was horrified. The tribe had run out of meat: this was a food ‘gathering’ expedition. However, Roaka was sent to scout the ‘evil’ humans before the raid, and saw the children at play, the farmers in their fields, and the strange animals (livestock) in the barns. When he reported back to his group and the band rushed in and massacred the village, Roaka was stunned and revolted by the sheer animal hatred of his kin. Surely the humans had been happy and peaceful! He managed to scare a small girl away from the village into the forest before the raid began, and she dropped her teddy bear as she ran. Roaka didn’t watch her go: he heard a roar behind him, and turned just in time to put one of his claws through one of his litter-mates who had been watching, and had tried to jump the girl. When he turned back to see where the girl was, all he found was the teddy bear. It had started to rain, and her scent and tiny footprints became untraceable in the underbrush, despite hours of searching. He never knew what became of her.
As far as he knows, his tribe (the Black Fist Tribe) forgot about him soon after his desertion, and he spent two year wandering south. During his two year wander in the forest, he heard Mielikki again, and began to hear the whispers of the trees around him. He watched squirrels at play, and learned to cull only the weak of a heard of deer, as the wolves did. He was eventually taken in by a Warden (named Coleman Darkeye), who saw that there was something special in this one. The Warden taught him to speak Common and how to better appreciate the world from the perspective of a very different race and upbringing. After several years of tutelage, the old man introduced him to the local community. They didn’t take it so well.
While they took a while to get used to the idea of a good Bugbear, the soon realized that Roaka was invaluable as a scout and in town defense. Townsfolk knew of him, but he wouldn’t sleep in the town – he has a small campsite in the woods about a mile out. Roaka will sometimes fight off bandits for the town, or kill a deer and leave it for hungy folk, or lead lost travelers back to the main path. In return, townsfolk would leave gifts at the forest edge: cooked food, supplies, maybe a cask of mead, or small momentos.
More recently the townsfolk have been more comfortable with him around, even allowing him to enter the tavern if accompanied by Coleman, and allowing him to sleep in old Flinn’s hayloft on the edge of town. It’s been said that some of the little girls in town have taken to braiding his mane, and the mothers are comfortable with him around.
As a member of WAM, Roaka acts as the party scout, often traveling ahead of the group to make sure that the way is clear. This is a comfortable role for him, being similar to what he used to do in his youth, but with the caveat that he’s doing it for friends and allies, not a war-band. He is aware that his monstrous size and the brutal history of his species will generally be met with revulsion, insults, and violence by those who don’t know him, and while he takes it stoically, he dreams of the possibility of his people being freed from their bloody gods. Ultimately, he would like to see the goblinoid races embrace peace and community.
Roaka is content helping this town, but he knows there is much, much more to the world. He wants to travel, meet new people, and see new creatures and forests. He knows that his old family may still be to the north, and wants nothing more than to keep him distance from that place. While he would recognise the specific mountain, and probably the forest near him childhood home, he forgot much when he wandered and would have trouble backtracking from where he is now. Of course, he has always wondered what became of the little girl fromyears before, and sees it as his duty to protect all innocents. Thought he wasn’t responsible for the massacre, he still feels guilt over his past, and a deep sadness for the state of his race.
Of late, Roaka has been contemplating the uses of his mighty claws. He thinks that, if he were to put his mind to it, certain things might allow him to alter the way his claws work. Roaka is also interested in learning more about being a ranger, learning to track things in the forest, and test the skills he’s learned from Coleman in a more challenging setting.
Roaka’s memory isn’t the best, so he collects things to help him remember (the bear being the first thing). He either ties mementoes to his belt, or puts them in his belt-pouch. If he participates in a major event of some sort, he’ll look for something small to pick up.