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Sweeney Todd (Demon Barber of Fleet Street)

Gyzis, Nikolaos (1842-1901). The Barber (1880), Sweeney Todd
Gyzis, Nikolaos (1842-1901). The Barber (1880)

Once in his chair, he will chat to his customer to find out if they are new in town, and if they are and will not be missed for a while, he will flip the chair over, causing the customer to fall though a trapdoor into the basement to knock them out. Sweeney will then cut their throats and drag the body under the crypt through winding tunnels beneath the Church next door, to Bell Yard, where Mrs Lovett has her pie shop, where the dead customer will be used as pie filling.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sweeney Todd is a fictional character who first appeared as one of the protagonists of a penny part serial entitled The String of Pearls (1846-7). In the most common versions of the story, he is an English barber who murders his customers with a cut-throat razor (or “straight razor” in American English), and turns their remains into meat pies. His establishment is situated in Fleet Street, London. The story became a staple of Victorian melodrama and a hit Broadway musical in 1979. Sweeney Todd has also featured in several films, the most recent being Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), directed by Tim Burton, with Johnny Depp in the lead role.

Story versions

In the original story, The String of Pearls: A Romance, Sweeney Todd is a barber who murders wealthy customers by pulling a lever while they are in his barber chair which makes them fall in a trap door head over heels. Then they usually break their neck or bust open their head. Just in case they are alive, he goes to the basement and “polishes them off”, meaning he slits their throats with his straight razor. Todd also has a young assistant named Tobias Ragg.

In Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Todd was known as Benjamin Barker, a middle class barber, married to Lucy Barker with a daughter, Johanna. The villainous Judge Turpin exiles Benjamin to Australia on false charges in order to have Lucy to himself. Mrs. Lovett tells Todd that Lucy poisoned herself. Turpin adopts baby Johanna as his ward. By the time Todd returns to London, Johanna has become a young woman and falls in love with a sailor, Anthony, with whom she plans to elope. In some versions of the Sweeney Todd story Mrs. Lovett, his partner in crime and variously his friend or lover (and whose first name is variously Nellie, Marjorie, Sarah, Shirley, or Claudette), hides his crimes by butchering the corpses of Todd’s victims, baking their flesh into meat pies, and selling them to unknowing customers.

In the Sondheim musical, Mrs. Lovett takes in an orphan boy, Tobias Ragg, after Sweeney kills Toby’s previous guardian, Adolfo Pirelli. Toby is generally the first character to catch onto Sweeney Todd’s crimes and also is responsible for Todd’s death.

In almost every variation, Johanna, Anthony, and Toby are the only characters who survive.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007 film)

Sweeney Todd poster, Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures
Sweeney Todd poster, Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (also known simply as Sweeney Todd) is a 2007 British-American musical period horror film directed by Tim Burtonand an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler‘s Tony Award-winning 1979 musical of the same name. The film re-tells the Victorian melodramatic tale of Sweeney Todd, an English barber and serial killer who murders his customers with a straight razor and, with the help of his accomplice, Mrs. Lovett, processes their corpses into meat pies. The film stars Johnny Depp as the titular character, and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett.

Having been struck by the cinematic qualities of Sondheim’s musical while still a student, Burton had entertained the notion of a film version since the early 1980s. However, it was not until 2006 that he had the opportunity to realize this ambition, when DreamWorks announced his appointment as replacement for director Sam Mendes, who had been working on such an adaptation. Sondheim, although not directly involved, was extensively consulted during production. Depp, not known for his singing, took lessons in preparation for his role, which producer Richard D. Zanuck acknowledged was something of a gamble. However, Depp’s vocal performance, despite being criticized as lacking certain musical qualities, was generally thought by critics to suit the part.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street was released in the United States on December 21, 2007 and in the United Kingdom on January 25, 2008 to largely enthusiastic reviews from critics. The film won a number of awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. Carter was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and Depp was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. Although it was not an outstanding financial success in the U.S., it performed well worldwide, and has spawned a soundtrack album and various DVD releases.

Roleplaying Notes

Originally Posted by
DebiHuman of the Wizards Community forums.
On this Thread
Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 6th level rogue
Male Humanoid (Human)
Hit Dice6d6+6 (27 hit points)
Speed30 feet
Armor Class15 (+3 Dexterity +2 Deflection), Touch 15, Flat-footed 15 (12 if immobilized)
AttackTodd’s lancet +8 melee (1d3+3/17-20/x2)
Full AttackTodd’s lancet +8 melee (1d3+3/17-20/x2)
Space/Reach5 ft./5 ft.
Special AttacksSneak Attack 3d6
Special QualitiesEvasion, Trapfinding, Trap Sense, Uncanny Dodge
SavesFort +4, Ref +5, Will +2
AbilitiesStrength 14, Dexterity 16,Constitution 12, Intelligence 13, Wisdom 14, Charisma 16
SkillsAppraise +5, Balance +7, Bluff +9, Climb +2, Diplomacy +8, Intimidate +8, Escape Artist +8, Gather Information +8, Hide +7, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (local) +5, Listen +6, Move Silently +7, Open Lock +7, Profession (Barber) +9, Sleight of Hand +7, Spot +6, Swim +8, Rope Use+7
FeatsAthletic, Great Fortitude, Quick Draw, Weapon Finesse (lancet)
EnvironmentAny City
OrganizationSolitary (Unique) or with Mrs. Lovett
Challenge Rating3
AlignmentChaotic Evil
AdvancementBy Class

The tragedy and horror as unfolds as loving husband, Barber Sweeney Todd is falsely accused and sent to prison. After 15 years, he returns home only to find his wife has been raped and murdered by the very man who sentenced him and that their daughter is now a ward to the same judge. It is enough to drive any man insane…


Sweeney Todd is an embittered man driven by vengeance and obsession to murder and violence. Due to his unique position as a barber, Todd has great access to his victims. Although he is obsessed with killing Judge Turpin, he vents his frustration on his customers by slitting their throats when they come to his shop for a shave. His barber shop is conveniently located above Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop. His barber chair is specially equipped to allow his victims to slide down a shoot to Mrs. Lovett’s shop where the corpses are dismembered and cooked into her meat pies, which are becoming quite popular fare…

Anyone who falls from the barber chair into the basement takes 2d6 points of falling damage.

Rarely will Todd attack unless he fears his secret has been discovered and then he will use any means available – including using impromptu weapons.

Sweeney Todd speaks Common and two other languages.

Possessions: Todd’s wedding band is a +2 ring of protection giving him +2 deflection bonus to his Armor Class.

The following items were found on and are particularly appropriate to the character. [I recently checked the site and the blister cups have been replaced by the bleeding bowl.]

Todd’s Lancet

This tiny knife pops out of a palm sized silver case engraved with a picture of a pelican. Todd only made one of these knives, enchanting it to better find veins for bleeding his patients.

The tiny blade and its innocuous looking case give the wielder a +2 circumstance bonus to Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal it or to Bluff attempts made while attacking with it.

It is a +1 magical, keen (doubles the threat range) wounding (deals 1 point of Constitution damage) weapon, and has the following properties: Damage: 1d3, Critical: 17-20/x2, Type: Slashing. It is a tiny weapon.

Moderate evocation; CL 10th; Purchase DC 30; Cost 16,702 gp; Weight: 1/2 lb

Todd’s Blister Cups

Usually kept in a velvet lined box fitted with special forms, these three glass cups are heated by dropping burning material into them. The hot cup is then pressed against skin to draw up large blisters, supposedly drawing out infections along with the humors in the blood. Todd’s cups were enchanted to better facilitate this process.

When the blister cups are used on a character suffering from any natural or magical disease, they allow the character to make another save versus any one disease they are affected by (including lycanthropy). If the save is successful, the disease is cured and no longer affects the victim. Either way, the character takes 1d3 points of temporary Constitution damage each time the cups are applied.

Strong; CL 5th; Craft Wondrous Item, Remove Disease; Purchase Difficulty Check 32; Cost 15,000; Weight: 5 lbs.

Todd’s Bleeding Bowl

This white porcelain bowl, painted with a cornflower blue pattern, is missing a half moon section of its rim. It has a 1554 stamp on the bottom, and the mark of the Mieville China makers. Todd was fond of rigorously bleeding his patients, and employed bowls like this that could reverse the effects of a too-heroic bleeding.

When a character’s blood is emptied into the bowl, it disappears within one round, seeming to be absorbed by the porcelain. That person can will his blood to come back to him at a later date.

In game terms, this means that when a person has “charged” a bowl by bleeding into it, they can heal themselves by calling the blood back to them. This is a free action that must be done on the character’s turn.

The character using the bowl must charge it by sacrificing 5 hit points through a self-inflicted wound. These hit points may be healed back normally. When the character recalls their blood, they recall those five hit points. The bowl can actually absorb up to fifteen hit points, but only five can be recalled at any time.

Only a person who has bled into the bowl can call blood from it. A bowl not filled by someone else’s blood can be filled the rest of the way by a different user. Both users can then call blood from the bowl. However, if one calls the blood of someone else, they must make a fort save (DC 12) or take 1d6 points of temporary Constitution damage (the GM can rule that two creatures with the same blood type don’t run this risk). In addition, they must make a Fort save or contract any diseases carried by the other user. A bowl with blood from a previous user still in it can be cleansed by having a cause light wounds spell cast on it, which purges 5 hp of the previous user’s blood.

Weak Evocation; Caster Level: 3rd; Craft Wondrous Item, cure minor wounds; Cost 1,200 gp; Purchase Difficulty Check 30; Weight: 5 lbs.

Notes: Todd has better than average stats to reflect his ability to survive prison in Australia, a shipwreck, the loss of his wife and daughter and so forth.

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