Red Beard was a fearsome dwarf to behold. A grizzled sailor with his face tanned to a tough leather by years of salt spray, windburn, and hours in the sun. His right arm ended halfway down his forearm, replaced by a vicious-looking hook that itself showed many dents and scratches from years of use. He was a sight to behold and unnerved many people with his simple presence.
If you asked him, he would gladly tell the story of how he lost his hand. He had become locked in battle with a great beast that rose from the waves on a stormy night. The beast took his hand, but Red Beard managed to escape with his life. For years, he would insist that the beast still hunted him when he was on the waves, so irked that he escaped that it would one day come to finish what it started and take the rest of him beneath the waves.
To the surprise of many, including Red Beard himself, it turned out that many women preferred this kind of gruff appearance. Without even meaning to, he started building a collection of women who vied for his attention. Elf and vespidian, dryad and drider, many sought to claim him. And, to some extent, many did. To the amusement of many of those who sailed with Red Beard, a return visit to a port would often be greeted by a glimpse of a half-dwarven child.
This state of affairs continued for years, with not even the ship itself escaping his virility. The Lodka was a mangrove dryad who had left her home grove after innovating the idea of using her roots as a raft to enter the open seas. Her grove disapproved of this idea since dryads traditionally stayed in place and became queens of nature within their limited sphere of influence. Lodka was instead seized by a wanderlust that drove her to create a ship to sail the seas, to see the places her druid friend brought alive for her through stories of past adventures. Her only disappointment was that, due to the slow and unreliable reproduction of dryads, she wasn’t sure that she would ever be joined by another dryad on the high seas. This concern was alleviated thanks to a chance encounter with a powerful fertility ritual and the unwitting help of Red Beard.
This status quo was broken when the beast that Red Beard had escaped caught up with him. As their ship sailed out of a tropical bay into the open sea, all aboard were shocked and horrified as the sea seemed to boil around them. Throwing plums of water high into the sky, the arms of a massive cephalopod emerged from the wave to surround them.
These arms reached for the sky like an undulating mockery of trees before crashing down upon the ship to lock it in place. The crew rushed to defend their ship but found themselves beaten back by the sheer power of the kraken that assailed them. In desperation, one of them called out to the sea monster, begging it to tell them what it wanted so they might give up the prize peacefully. In a rumbling voice that sent a ripple of waves shooting away from the ship, the kraken answered: “Child support payments.”
At this statement, the crew stopped fighting and asked for a clarification. The kraken then explained her perspective of her previous encounter with Red Beard. The way she saw it, they shared a night of amorous affection. Maybe she got a bit rough, but nothing unusual. It was apparently lost on her that while dismemberment might be a normal thing for romantic relationships between krakens, it was not considered normal among humanoids. Regardless of their differing opinions on the nature of their encounter, the result of the night when Red Beard and the kraken clashed was undeniable. Presented before Red Beard and his crew was a young kraken. Despite standing 6 feet tall on the deck of the ship and despite her lush blue beard, she had an undeniably youthful face.
Having grown experienced at spotting the half-dwarf products of Red Beard, his crew was quick to recognize an obvious half-dwarf. What confused them though, was what a kraken needed with money. Through her sheer might, surely the kraken could seize anything she wanted from the sea and would have no one to purchase goods from in any case, or rather, no one willing to sell goods to her. When questioned, the kraken explained that while she might not have any use for gold, her daughter was half-dwarf and required gold to be fully educated in her dwarven heritage.
At this Red Beard offered a counter-proposal. Who better to teach his daughter about her dwarven heritage than himself? Especially since Red Beard was well respected in the dwarven Forge Temples and there was a high-ranking priest of the dwarven Forge who also served on the ship. The crew argued that they would have been one of the best choices to teach an aquatic half-dwarf about dwarven culture, even if none of them had a blood connection to her. The fact that she was his child just made Red Beard even happier to take her in. All of the previous mothers of his children were not interested in teaching their children about their dwarven halves (at least so far), so he relished the chance to actually be a dad rather than just a father.
The kraken loathed to say goodbye to her daughter but saw the validity in their logic. With a sorrowful promise to keep in touch, mother and daughter separated. When asked her name, the young kraken-dwarf responded that she did not have one as krakens had no need for names. So, as his first act as a dad and teacher of the ways of the dwarves to his daughter, Red Beard bestowed a fittingly dwarven name upon his daughter. Maria Cobaltbeard would learn much from her dad. How to fight, how to forge, how to hold a grudge, how to hate goblins, and many other things. In time, she would become a great power in her own right; known as a powerful and terrifying creature throughout the multiverse. But, for a time, she was content to simply be a cherished daughter to a loving father.
This short story is based on a DnD campaign that I was the DM for. I had the initial kernel for the idea when the player for Red Beard explained his backstory but wasn’t sure if I could make it work. I was lucky enough that Red Beard’s fertility independently emerged as a running joke that the whole party (including the player of Red Beard) found amusing so this plot twist worked perfectly. Unfortunately, to some extent it proved prophetic. Shortly after this game, Red Beard’s player’s wife left him unexpectedly and they had a protracted custody battle. She was far less polite about the situation than the kraken, but he did manage to win full custody of his daughter.