Battle Butler
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Basic Information

In fiction, the ideal servant is someone who is a Jack-of-All-Trades, someone skilled in everything, like Jeeves or Figaro. In a role-playing game, where combat is common, an employer may wish a servant for whom "everything" includes a large helping of kicking butt.

The Battle Butler is a household domestic, sometimes a butler or valet, sometimes a chauffer or a gillie; in some cases even a maid; who has extensive combat skills and who as needed can not only polish the silver but also take out the trash. The Battle Butler can be a support character, like Bruce Wayne's Alfred; a sidekick, like the Green Hornet's Kato; or a bodyguard, like Lex Luthor's Mercy from the Animated Superman.

In real life it is not entirely unheard of for a manservant to have military experience. In the British Army it was long customary for officers to have a personal servant, or batman, selected from the enlisted ranks. Sometimes, the batman would continue in his master's employ after both had left military service, as in the fictional Bunter, servant to Lord Peter Wimsey.

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See Also



Game and Story Use

  • A character like Batman's Alfred, who has a military background and combat skills, could make a good NPC support character for a wealthy PC or a group with a wealthy patron (such as The Avengers)
    • Sometimes the character's value lies not in actually fighting himself, but from the experience his previous job brings. Going back to Batman, Alfred has sometimes been described as a skilled combat medic. Such a servant may be able to give tactical advice, and serve as important backup.
      • And yes, more than one writer has commented that before working for Batman, Alfred was himself a batman.
    • If the NPC Battle Butler does enter combat, make sure he does not overshadow the PC's.
      • Although using him as a bodyguard for a non-combatant PC and/or to fill a melee fighter slot in the party is a possibility.
  • A PC could also be the Battle Butler of another player, if he does not mind playing a subordinate role.
  • This sort of thing works particularly well in 1920s/pulp settings where the hero and his butler often served together in the Great War.
  • The maritime version can be seen in various Patrick O'Brien novels when Jack Aubrey's coxswain Barret Bonden accompanies him into episodes of life ashore … the man is more valet than butler, but definitely fulfils that "battle" part. The Captain's shrewish steward Preserved Killick also tends to participate in these sojurns, and is more in the role of domestic service, but is not much given to battle and - by the standards of polite society - is not much like a butler either.
    • For reference, Stephen Maturin's nearest equivalent is his servant Patrick Colman ("Padeen").
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