Updated Hag Stats

Translating a 4e Vampire into 5e is not easy. Fortunately, the Vampire was only a Kludge to create the mechanics that best represented a Hag as a PC. In 5e there are better fits. This version uses a druid as the base, but customizes the spell list to better approximate a forest witch from old faerie tales. The wildshape no longer grants only animal forms, but also Hag form (roughly a brown bear at level 3, will get stronger at higher levels).

Combined with disguise self to make an illusion of beauty, this allows all the fun lugging around heavy objects as if they were weightless etc. And the combo of charm person and hold person still work the traditional enchantments into the build.

Shillelagh combined with a few other combat spells and hag form explain how she can protect the graveyard from undead all by herself.

And when she needs to be creepy, she has fog cloud, minor illusion, faerie fire, misty step, and pass without trace.

5e Character, Fantasy Grounds Compatible: Level 3, Druid of the Land, Uses Half-Orc as race to get the right stats

Original long story: The Hag.

 

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The Shapeshifter

Batman-Defenses

Batman-Paralysis

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The Shapeshifter has rather a lot in common with Frank Miller’s version of Batman. Both of them have survivor’s guilt. Batman feels guilty that his parents died and he lived, and the Shapeshifter feels guilty that alone out of all the people under his care he survived. Both take out their aggression on those they feel are responsible, and both want desperately to let themselves cross the line and become as bad as what they hate. But neither one does.

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Download 5e XML character compatible with Fantasy Grounds: Jushur Bel, 3rd level Paladin of Thor, Oath of Vengeance, great weapon fighter.

Homerule: As changelings do not exist yet as an official 5e race, my version gives Jushur the ability to use disguise self at will. However, he cannot change his clothes. On the plus side, this is an actual transformation not an illusion, so touch cannot reveal it as faked. Jushur can easily create new identities, but to impersonate another person requires competing his deception vs anyone who knows them’s insight. Jushur begins with two additional languages that must share a common script.

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Ideals: Responsibility. I respect those above me, and those below MUST respect me.

Bond: Nothing is more important than the other members of my Order. My word and my duty to them are sacred.

Flaw: I too often hear veiled insults and threats in every word, and I’m quick to anger.

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Jushur Bel grew up in the fortress city of Akkad, supposedly descended of a long-line of warriors, but in truth a changeling whose family had only recently come to town. Jushur and his mother both were of the tradition of changelings that mastered one form rather than constantly adopting different forms, and he came to consider his human disguise more himself than his own natural form. It was important to Jushur to ensure that his true feelings were hidden below the surface of his human disguise, known as Alalngar.

Jushur was taller and stronger than any other changeling in his family, and particularly enjoyed the brute physical might of the martial arts taught by the Father of Storms. He also enjoyed how Thor was generally hostile to shapeshifters but blood-brother to the god of shapeshifters. And how he went from laughing and friendly to angry and bellowing. Thor seemed something like a changeling himself in that way. So Jushur followed around the local knights, Order of the Stormlords, and tried to learn everything about them. But as Alalngar he took what he learned and used it to appear to be a follower of Halav the patron of weaponmakers and warriors, and patron of the oldest knightly order in Akkad.

His father, however, thought Alalngar was too soft and too small to be a good knight, and tried to discourage him.  He even went so far as to have a knight tell Alalngar all about how hard it is to join the order and all of the trials. This did convince Alalngar, but it backfired on Jushur who had become even more determined to prove his combat skills.

Rather than going through any of the usual knightly orders or churches, Jushur went out into the hills away from Akkad and invented his own  ritual to honor Thor. That night during a massive storm he performed it, was blasted by lightning and awoke unharmed (but very sore) in the morning. He soon displayed the ability to call on strength, healing, magical light, and more, he had become a paladin of Thor. A few weeks later the Castellan of Akkad observed Alalngar displaying the powers of a paladin, and assuming they were granted by Halav invited him to become a squire to Akkad’s Champion because of how rare paladins are.

Everything was going great for the first few years, Alalngar was successful as a knight and learned to use all manner of weapons. He found that he had a knack for motivating people, sometimes by befriending them, sometimes by frightening them, and it was a rare day indeed that he couldn’t get what he wanted. As the second to Akkad’s Champion, he had access to great wealth and nearly anything he wanted. Enough to build himself a secret shrine to his true deity Thor.

After years of peace a tribe of Hunters started a campaign against Akkad’s outlying villages. The Champion and Alalngar spent months gathering troops, leading raids, reinforcing villages, and generally holding the line against a very deadly and cunning force. A priestess identified the location of their base and named a time when they would be out raiding. The Champion took two knights and a band of men-at-arms to hit the shrine, while Alalngar held the village that the priestess said would be the next raid target.

Jushur awoke to see the whole village in flames, with no surviving people. There was a Hunter champion lying next to him, with his head caved in apparently by Jushur while wielding a blacksmith’s hammer. His greatsword lay shattered nearby. He looked down at his hands and didn’t recognize them. He was not in his natural changeling body, nor in his Alalngar disguise.

As he stood confused, a detachment of Knights from Kish rode up on the ruined village. They had come to relieve Akkad which was under siege and followed the smoke assuming someone might need aid. These knights were of the order of the Stormlord and they looked upon a battlefied where it appeared that a villager loyal to Thor had slain the Hunter Champion in defense of his village and was the only survivor. Jushur was too confused and disoriented to challenge their version of events, but he did mention his master was still missing. Scouts rode out and found his group, all slain apparently by ambush. The commander of the knights didn’t want to leave Jushur alone in the ruins so brought him with the contingent to Akkad.

They arrived to find the city assailed by a massive force of Hunters. The Knights didn’t hesitate, they called on Thor, summoned a booming thunder, and charged. Jushur rode with them but being untrained for mounted combat dismounted and fought on foot after connecting. Jushur went into a berserker rage, lashing about with no concern for his own safety. The Hunters took heavy losses and dissolved away in all directions. After the battle the Knight Commander said that the rage was a blessing from Thor who was known to be a berserk himself. They offered Jushur a place in their order, which he accepted and rode back to Kish with them.

In Kish he started changing every night, never wearing the same face twice. But no matter who he turned into, he couldn’t long conceal his anger. Whereas before he enjoyed his strength and power and used to show off cheerfully, he had become something of a bully. He was always angry and picking fights and saw insults in everything other people said.

After being disciplined by the Knight Commander for ending a bar fight by crippling both of the combatants, he was sent to cool off at a shrine away from town via a week-long vow of silence and meditation. Jushur remembered his childhood ritual and tried to perform it again, but his anger kept him from connecting to his devotion. And he could not force himself into his natural form no matter how he tried. When Jushur returned no better off, the Knight Commander realized what was going on was survivor’s guilt. He dispatched Jushur to Kentarre and assigned him as Castellan to a very important but hard to fill post: the only horse ranch owned by the Stormlords.

The Knight Commander hoped that caring for the horses and bringing new foals into the world over and over would open him to the understanding that life goes on. Also, the local reeve was a completely corrupt and selfish man would would challenge Jushur’s control over his anger. The Stormlords suspected that the Reeve may have had the previous Castellan murdered, but could never prove it.

Jushur found the ranch nothing like he expected. It was a small hillfort surrounded by the most wild and overgrown forest he had ever seen. Instead of a cleric of Thor, the local shrine was tended by one of Ordana’s druids. From him Jushur learned that in the Dawn War when the gods and primordials fought Thor and Ixion established their now famous alliance specifically to battle the most powerful of all primordials, Terra, the mother of creation. When they fought her they realized that killing her would endanger all life throughout the whole multiverse, so as they fought, they had a ritual performed that channeled her power into Ordana the primordial who created trees but one who was an ally of the gods. Thus when Terra died life continued and Ordanna’s druids maintained shrines near many strongholds of Sun and Storm as a way to repay the gods for granting her dominion over all living things. The druid, Deucalion, instantly recognized Jushur for a changeling, but said nothing and didn’t reveal it.

Instead, he guided Jushur into the knowledge of several rituals including one that he claimed was to allow Jushur to transform but in fact did nothing. Jushur took the hint and changed using his own powers. Deucalion realized that Jushur couldn’t talk about things that he cannot transform into, such as his childhood and his Alalngar body, or even his own natural body. Deucalion works with Jushur to master his shapeshifting, using druidic magic to help him explore changes beyond what a changeling can do naturally, such as becoming an animal or a plant. Learning their true natures by being them in the hopes of guiding Jushur into remembering his own nature.

As much as he enjoyed the druid and mastering transformation, he and the reeve got along exactly as the Knight Commander expected: they hated each other instantly but feigned politeness. Jushur found that around the reeve his temptation to transform was too great, and feared being discovered. Also, being around the other Stormlords at the keep reminded him of the burned village. So he started to spend time in town instead of at the ranch.

In town he quickly found a bar where he could set up a number of identities and bribe the bar keep into providing aliases whenever needed. Thus he indulged his new addiction to many forms and ability to wear a new face every day. Being drunk made it hard for him to maintain a single form, so he had to stop drinking and paid more bribes to the bar tender to cover for him when he was drinking with companions. But every time he returns, he has to either exit through the south gate and ride all the way around the city, or take the Stormgate right past all the Stormlords following the shortest path.

One day while wearing the face of a cleric, pretending to be very drunk and bitter about everything, the bar owner talked to Jushur about rituals and storms and revenge. There had been Hunter attacks in northern Kentarre province, and Jushur wanted to ride out and fight them, but was not given permission to leave his keep. The bar tender shared with Jushur a ritual scroll that was very similar to his old ritual, it called on the wild powers of the world to batter the caster’s enemies with storms. The bar tender wondered if the cleric could change the ritual to make himself the center of the storm. Jushur bought teh scroll and returned to his keep. Deep in his forest he tried, calling on Thor to make him an instrument of vengeance. He was battered by lightning, which also smote a nearby great oak shattering it into flinders. Afterward, it tok him a week to recover fully, but he could feel that his powers had changed. No longer was he a protector, he was a destroyer. He wielded thunder and lightning as weapons, not warnings. So he had his men cut down a branch of the charred oak and fashion two hammers for him out of it. His warhammer and his maul. When he finally returned to town, even though he wore a different face, he could tell by the bar owner’s smirk, that he knew the ritual had worked.

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Worst-Case Scenarios

Ok, so technically these are all “almost worst-case scenarios”. I do have the rule that “on a scale of 1-10 nothing is ever a 10, because it can ALWAYS get worse”. Thus the true absolute worst case scenario for everyone involves being tortured just to the point that you never lose consciousness but far beyond your ability to cope or adapt to the pain, out through the heat death of the universe and includes the obliteration of everyone and everything else. But hey, most likely that won’t happen. So think of all these possibilities as way better than that.

Remembering that the theme of the game is not “we’re evil muhaha” but rather a combination of crime-drama with a hint of “please don’t let them find out my secret” is a tricky balance. So to help with that, here is why everyone is trying to keep their monstrous nature a secret, because this is what you are afraid will happen if the authorities learn everything about your character that you know.

Jacques D’Lantignan, the Werepanther: As a lycanthrope Jacques would be burned at the stake without trial.

The Bane Sidhe: For reasons known only to her, if servants of LaWarre learned her secrets, she would have her mind shredded to extract the information, and be turned into an undead slave. A fate worse than death. If the royal family found out when she joined the Ministry and what her original job was she would be executed.

The Red Headed Stepchild: If her vampire pursuer finds her she would be raped and abused then eventually abandoned and forgotten probably while locked in a coffin she isn’t strong enough to open to suffer for millennia from starvation and insanity and isolation. If the wrong people find out where she is from, even though she has permission to be in Kentarre, she could be murdered, and at the least would be subject to extreme discrimination, possibly violent.

The Cursed Blade: If the knights find out that it is fully sentient and not only animating the corpse of one of their own but also holding a shard of his soul from the afterlife, they would permanently kill the knight’s body (this is likely to banish the poor man’s soul to the abyss) and use rituals to cripple the sword’s intellect then lock it into a vault for a century or two before giving it to some other person who may or may not be worthy. Think Charlie from Flowers for Algernon, where he knew he was dumb and used to be smart, but the sword cannot commit suicide and will never die, just be enslaved forever with the knowledge that it failed and that it is now less than it used to be.

The Shapeshifter: If he actually does give into his rage instead of triumphing over it, and especially if he ever pulls an Annakin and wipes out a whole village of innocent hunters because of what the guilty ones did, then he would be executed. If the wrong person finds out he is a changeling he could be banished from the order for being an imposter (even though he isn’t) or killed outright. In a true worst-case scenario, someone might mistake him for a child of the Monster Lord of Faseloo, and that would involve being tortured to death using the principle that if he’s innocent he’ll die without breaking and if he’s guilty he’ll break.

The Hag: As a murderous creature and a loyal citizen of the Monster Lord from Gallia she would be burned at the stake without trial.

The Blaspheme: If he completes his quest and kills the primordial who granted his power he will become a level 1 commoner without magic, probably slip into existential despair and end up one of those starving people who don’t have enough will to live to brush a fly off of their own eyeballs or even blink. If he is correct about who the primordial is, then completing the quest will also cause a blight that might result in his whole province becoming a wasteland of barren rock where no life will grow. If he fails his quest then he will lose his championship and be banished from all the lands loyal to the Royal Family. As an ex champion, the hunters and servants of the monsters will both hunt him down and try to kill him. If the wrong priest or champion finds out where he gets his magic powers, they might respond even worse than his lord and just kill him outright.

All in all, I think that the werepanther and hag probably have it best.

 

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Dominions

One of the many ways that Basic D&D was more complex than Advanced D&D is that it allowed the players to become lords and have dominions and armies and found their own religions etc. Anything from a small estate with a handful of bonded servants to ruling multiple planets in a multi-planar campaign was possible. Because almost everyone in the MAGI campaign is an aristocrat (or pretending to be) some form of rules for handling dominions and servants are necessary.

Because this is the age of computer mapping, and because I am lazy, I have decided that the word “hex” exists in-game as a unit of area. One Standard Hex is 24 miles across, one Small Hex is 8 miles across, and one Large Hex is 72 miles across. Hectares, acres, square kilometers and square miles area bitch to try and calculate. These can be overlaid onto any digital map. So characters in game will use the words because we as players will and that’s just easier.

Introduction
Any piece of land that is owned and ruled is called a dominion. It can be settled or unsettled, of any size or shape, and the ruler can be either a PC or an NPC. The ruler of any dominion is a lord. Most dominions are nested inside larger dominions, for example the lord of a small estate is inside a barony that is inside a duchy that is inside a kingdom that is inside an empire. Other words for dominion that mean the same thing are domain, demesne, lands, and holding. In the Eastern Kingdoms of Home or any setting that draws from ancient Wales you will encounter the words Cantref and Commote (cymydau), but these are more appropriately considered analogous to county and barony. A tref is a home, and a Cantref is literally “a hundred homes” but they are almost always higher population than that.

There are also ways that dominions can overlap. For example a church dominion exists independently of a political dominion and both might have one or more criminal dominions (thieves guild, assassins, street gang, etc) within their borders as well.

Dominions operate monthly, not daily or yearly. Every month a number of stats are checked for the dominion: the population may grow or decline or stay stable, the books are checked (salaries, taxes, other expenses), confidence of the population could change, and a random event might happen (visit from another aristocrat, disaster, larger than normal harvest, etc), and there could always be planned events like holidays and tournaments.

Retainers
There are many types of people who work for aristocrats, collectively they can be called retainers and include minions, mercenaries, servants, and hirelings. The most important are the peasants who form the basis of the economy. Others are skilled artisans, warriors, champions, lesser aristocrats, etc.

Home is a “perfect” feudal monarchy in every kingdom except Oceanus and parts of Faseloo and Suemonom. A perfect feudal system means that on death inheritance returns to the lord not to the dead guy’s descendants. A king might choose to give a baron’s child the right to rule her father’s lands, or he might move her somewhere else, or he might do nothing at all and she has to fend for herself. Subordinate aristocrats traditionally are expected to petition the new lord to retain their titles, and the new lord traditionally allows them to unless there is a good reason to remove one. Peasants and servants who belong to the land stay on the land, those who belong to a family go with the surviving family. Those who belong to a specific aristocrat revert to the lord as does the title and property. And as that implies retainers can belong to a lord, to a family, to a dominion, to a title, or something else.

Hirelings are all retainers that get paid and they always get paid monthly. There is no generic term for retainers that do not get paid, but sometimes servant, ally, bondsman, or slave best describes the different possible relationships. Serfs or peasants pay their lord monthly.

Military
The military in Home are a special class of retainer. By far the most important part of the military are the champions. Most dominions have a champion and most settlements do as well. Important families may have champions. In war, champions are more important than most armies because champions can defeat dozens if not hundreds of warriors. The best of the best can defeat whole armies alone. While it is possible to overwhelm a champion with numbers, usually the strategy is to have champions fight each other and the armies fight the armies because sending warriors against a champion is essentially ordering them to their deaths.

Second to the champions are the elite warriors like knightly orders and warrior guilds. These organizations typically have their own champions who protect the honor of the order, even against lords who abuse them. They are not mercenaries but nearly always need to be paid to serve a lord. Knights and Guildmasters are usually minor lords themselves so typically they are paid by giving them a small holding as their own dominion within the lords lands. Squires, trainees, hopefuls, and guilded warriors owe fealty to their knight or guildmaster and the knight or guildmaster owes fealty to the local lord. That said, typically they are so driven by honor and desire to uphold the good name of their order that they would die for the lord without question or hesitation.

Lesser warriors include men-at-arms who are permanent soldiers, scouts who spend times of peace acting as huntsmen, mariners who may be permanently armed or may spend times of peace as pirates or fishermen, militia (typically drafted from the peasants), and mercenaries who typically pack up and leave in times of peace.

Maintaining a standing army in times of peace is difficult and expensive and few dominions can afford to do this. Border lands with hostile neighbors are typically given a fort with permanent soldiers whose pay is subsidized by the lord’s lord or even higher up.

Specialists
The list of possible specialists is huge. Alchemist, animal trainer, armorer, engineer, sage, artisan craftsman, professional (eg seaman might be a rower, sailor, captain, navigator, etc), spy, artillerist, bailiff, castellan, chamberlain,, chaplain, guard captain, herald, magist, magistrate, marshal, provost, reeve, sage, seneschal, steward, warden, etc. These people are expensive and only the largest dominions have all of them.

Dominion Confidence
Confidence checks are made yearly, but the level can change monthly. Confidence is an 11-point scale from ideal through turbulent. At the high end the people work harder and give many benefits to the lord, at the low end they become rebellious and eventually it is possible that they distrust the lord so much they can never be happy until the lord is replaced.

Policies are the baseline for confidence, for example high taxes or being overworked reduces confidence steadily. Dominion events can have one-time changes, for example holidays make people happy but an earthquake makes people unhappy.

Events can be planned, like the holiday, or unplanned like the earthquake. A partial list of the sorts of things that can happen include assassinations, bandits, birth, border skirmish, new cult, magical monster, usurper/pretender to the lordship, rebellion, new specialist/artisan, spy ring, traitor, accidental death, important visitor, tornado, change to trade route (new one, or existing one lost), sinkhole, meteor, fire, flood, market change (glut or shortage), plague, etc.

Income and Resources
Each family generates “standard income” monthly. This is not money it is the value of the services provided. It can be used to pay tax to a higher lord as a simplification for game purposes. Tax income is usually a tenth or less of the standard income, but is set by the lord. Resource income can be animal, vegetable, mineral, or social.

  • Animal includes dairy, animal oil, fish, fur, fowl, herds, bees, horses, ivory, etc.
  • Vegetable includes farm produce, other foodstuffs, plant oil, fodder, wood and timber, paper, wine, etc.
  • Mineral includes valuable metals (copper, silver, gold, etc), industrial metals (iron, lead, tin, nickel, etc), gemstones, tar and oil, clay, stone quarry, coal, etc.
  • Social includes trade routes, manufactured goods (textiles, jewelry, pottery, furniture, etc), military goods (weapons, armor, etc), engineered goods (ships, wagons, construction, etc), masterwork goods made by one-of-a-kind genius artisans, etc.

Resources need to have working families assigned to them to produce income. The lord can assign workloads above normal to squeeze extra revenue at the cost of lowering confidence. On the flip side, reducing work can increase confidence at the cost of money, but not as effectively as increasing work harms confidence because people need the work to have their own money and feel useful. Social revenue is special and it may not come in monthly. Resource income is usually split between cash and non-cash. Lords most want cash because it is so flexible and thus value resources that provide cash (for example a trade route) even if it is less total value than a non-cash resource (like lumber).

Administering a Dominion
Lords don’t actually need to be onsite all the time, but everything runs more smoothly the more often the lord is present, even if the lord is unpopular (because his henchmen will work more effectively to enforce his unpopular rules while he is present). A lord will typically ask the champion to handle most of the dangerous events or situations that come up, and many lords trust simple diplomacy to their champions as well. Beyond this, every monthly event will require the lord to make at least one decision that impacts the dominion.

The lord can appoint or hire a seneschal or marshal or majordomo to run the dominion, or even multiple that each are in charge of portions. They will do their best but typically they aren’t as effective as the lord. This penalty to effectiveness gets larger every month that the lord is away, and recovers quickly once the lord returns, but does take a while. The major exception is that estates and forts are assumed to need to operate independently for extended periods of time and they have no penalty for operating without a lord for up to 6 months at a time, and then a small penalty starts to creep in but still less than any other form of dominion and it recovers faster.

Application to MAGI and Mystara
Almost all of the characters in the MAGI campaign are lords. Some have political dominions (the werepanther has an estate), some have secret dominions (the Yakuza has his bar and servants and network of connections both in and outside of town), and some leave the nature of their aristocracy up to player decision (the Banshee, Unicorn, Golem, and Red-headed Stepchild most notably). But in the end every player will need to think about how this impacts their character and how they will play it out.

In Mystara the characters have a chance to become lords if they wish. It is not required (see below), but at least the royal turned pirate might wish to reclaim her family lands in Glantry, or her noble title in Darokin, or both.

There is one other important way it will matter several years down the road. If this game goes long enough that immortality matters anyone who follows the path of the dynast (typically related to the Sphere of Time) will need to found a dominion that survives for 5 generations. This could be a religion, a guild, or a political territory. But if it is the latter, then the founder’s dynasty has to retain power for all five generations which is likely to require a lot of intervention by the PC.

 

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Learning Campaign Cartographer

I am working my way through the Tome of Ultimate Mapping by ProFantasy as a way to learn Campaign Cartographer 3+. My goal is to be able to use it for all my future campaigns to create better maps than pulling ones off random internet searches.

Thanks to my players for help paying for the software.

First test was the tutorial in the Tome, creating an island. I slacked off on the text labels, but did most of the rest. I encountered one bug with the scale icons having white backgrounds not transparent so I need to report that to ProFantasy and figure out a workaround or if I was doing something wrong how to fix it.

Anyway, my next effort will be making a crude world map of Home so I can show where all the different countries are and link them to the older blog post with the description of the Monster Lords. Then do a variation with the path that the party from my most recent campaign took.

Finally, I will make a map of Kentarre and the surrounding territories for my newest campaign, MAGI.

Here’s my tutorial map.

Gav's crappy first draft of an island per the Tome of Ultimate Mapping tutorial

Not great but not horrid either.

Update: And here’s my map of Home. I have retroactively added it to the relevant older blogs.

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The Read-Headed Stepchild

Original Short Post

Inspired, shamelessly by the short-lived comic The Berserker’s Daughter but modified for my setting. The daughter of an aristocratic family from Thitstir, thus a noble from the Monster’s hierarchy, not the Royal hierarchy. Her parents were honored to host one of the lords of Thitstir (a vampire in service to the dragon), but he decided that when the witch came of age she would be his. Of course the parents could not decline and feigned joy at this event, but immediately upon his departure reached out to the “invader” Prince Mathionwy. who had one of his champions “kidnap” the girl and send her to Kentarre on a merchant ship. She is currently living on an Imperial stipend as a ward of the crown, but at the estate of the merchant, who is now a landed noble. While a merchant with ties to Imbilot understands what it means to be a redhead from Thitstir-and how their magic works-most people in town are squeamish about blood, and especially blood magic. She moved to the city because of rumors of strangers with a “western accent” asking questions about blood mages and red heads in the harbors along the coast. In town, she stands out much less obviously, but can still live as a wastrel on the Empire’s dime. Can emphasize the barbarian (thaneborn to emphasize her personal battle cry of “RAAAAAAAAAAGGGGE” even though she doesn’t actually rage) with multiclass witch to emphasize the physically powerful side of being a Vryloka, or Witch with all the White Lotus arcane dueling feats to emphasize the blood magic side of being a Vryloka. The dragon has both a male and a female vampire serving him, so this character works with either sex. Alternatively, could go for a bit of black comedy and have the vampire in question be The Betrayer who is actually good but nobles from Thitstir would be horrified at the thought of her marrying their son.

 

Character Builder

Witch Variant

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Rhuddem, level 3
Vryloka, Wizard (Witch)
Moon Coven Option: Dark Moon Coven
Proficiency: Weapon Proficiency (Battleaxe)
Dark Sun, Inherent Bonuses
Noble Bred for War (Noble Bred for War Benefit)
Theme: Athasian MinstrelFINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 13, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 18, WIS 10, CHA 12

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 11, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 18, WIS 10, CHA 10

AC: 15 Fort: 12 Ref: 15 Will: 14
HP: 31 Surges: 7 Surge Value: 7

TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +12, Athletics +7, Dungeoneering +6, History +10, Intimidate +7, Nature +6

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +1, Bluff +2, Diplomacy +3, Endurance +2, Heal +1, Insight +1, Perception +3, Religion +5, Stealth +3, Streetwise +2, Thievery +1

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Athasian Minstrel Feature: Poisoned Strike
Vryloka Utility: Lifeblood
Wizard Utility: Augury
Wizard Utility: Suggestion
Wizard Utility: Prestidigitation
Wizard Utility: Mage Hand
Wild Talent Cantrip: Mental Tools
: Arcane Defiling
Wizard Attack 1: Dread Presence
Wizard Attack 1: Witch Bolt
Wizard Attack 1: Beast Switch
Wizard Attack 1: Rolling Thunder
Wizard Utility 2: Daunting Presence
Wizard Attack 3: Fire Shroud

FEATS
Arcane Familiar
Level 1: Berserker’s Fury
Level 2: White Lotus Riposte

ITEMS

====== End ======

 

Playing the Witch

Rhuddem has a unique selection of abilities. Beast Switch is an arcane melee at will attack she can perform with any item she can take into her hands. Mage hand, mental tools, and prestidigitation mean it is all but impossible to keep her  imprisoned or restrained. Her invisible fey familiar is extremely subtle and helpful as well.

Her war cries are represented in the form of Daunting Presence (bonus to intimidation and anyone attacking her is -2 to hit), Dread presence, and Rolling Thunder (her screams take on a life of their own).

Her blood magic appears in the form of Augury, lifeblood, arcane defiling, and her athasian minstrel melee attack (poisons the blood of the victim rather than being an applied poison on her weapon).

Outside of her magic and her physical capabilities, she receives a stipend from the crown monthly, and is an exotic outsider who has loyalty and owes no fealty to anyone in Kentarre, most notably she is one of only two characters who are not loyal to the royal family. But she is fleeing a Monster, at a minimum the Vampire but depending on how the plot goes the Vampire has resources it can call on up to and including the Vampiric Dragon with nearly the power of a deity.

 

Long Story

The hierarchy of Thitstir goes Bloodlord, Three great Vampires, 6 Vampire Lords, and then the 64 Noble Vryloka families. There is no such thing as a poor or landless Vryloka. Should one fall on hard times such that they lose all fortune and lands, either they will swear loyalty to a higher lord who will support them, or the more successful members of their own family will have them killed to keep the family’s honor intact. This is why there are only 48 Noble Vryloka Families remaining.

Cothi ap Myfanwy Ferch Talog Ap Dafydd Ap Owen Ap Terfel Ap Talog Ap Talog fell on hard times but was managing to scrape by without shaming his family. It was known, however, that his lands weren’t producing as much as they used to, and that the mysterious disappearance of everyone in every coastal village in Thitstir hit his lands particularly hard. But he was managing.

Unfortunately, as one of the Coastal Cantref’s, and as one with a fortress just inland enough that it wasn’t effected, Cothi was honored by a personal visit from the Lord Gwynllyw ap Glywys, Left hand of the Dragon, Admiral of the Navy of Thitstir and the only remaining swordsman to have dueled The Betrayer and “lived” to tell of it. It was to be on this visit that Cothi would hand over his daughter to the Vampire to become his 19th wife and personal slave, the 18th having died some decades ago. This had been arranged long ago when Rhuddem Fech Cothi was only six.

Now, Cothi was not like the lords of the other cantrefi. The inland lords all looked on him as if he was a sea baron because half his villages were on the coast and he had a great fishing fleet. But the sea barons all looked at him as if her were a landed noble because half his villages were inland and he had a quarry a mine, and several forests he worked for lumber, hardly nautical endeavors. As a result, Cothi, like his ancestors, was used to going it alone and didn’t really have any great loyalty to his lords or he fellows. Thus when half his villages vanished he had no one to turn to for help and was seriously in danger of either losing his title, or indeed, his life. In such a circumstance marrying off his daughter to one of the Vampires could have saved everything.

Except for her. Lord Gwynllyw was a sadist who delighted in causing pain and suffering. None of his wives died a natural death, all were devoured by him after decades, and in two cases centuries, of abuse and torture. Though, three were still around in undead form. So Cothi just couldn’t bear to give his daughter to the Vampire even if it meant his own death.

Rhuddem was named for the red of her hair being darker than the traditional orange, and the fire in her heart. She could beat two of her five older brothers with an axe and was rumored to be the best blood mage in Tegeingl Cantref for at least three generations, since old Dafydd ap Owen died. She was, however, extremely stereotypical of the Vryloka: passionate, reckless, and wild. She acted without planning or forethought and succeeded, barely, usually by some combination of luck and sheer tenacity. She also was convinced that she could train herself to become a berserker, but usually just spit blood everywhere and screamed her personal battlecry “raaaaaagggggeee” while not actually raging.

Needless to say, she was the most popular member of the noble family, and brought back fond memories in the peasants of her grandmother who had lead numerous successful raids into Imbilot and the outer islands bringing wealth and plunder back to be shared by all. Much like the lord Cothi, the peasants were looked down on by all their neighbors and rather enjoyed any opportunity to one-up the buggers. Having word get out that the Vampire took away his daughter and they would never see her again, might actually cause rebellion in what remained of his lands. And, truth be told, she was his favorite despite all the grief she caused him.

Cothi hatched a devious plan. He sent his middle son, the champion of his fortress, on a mission to the very farthest eastern edge of Thitstir. All the way through the lands of the Dragon’s mortal enemy Bleddyn the Wolf, and into the bandit cantrefi along the Mountains of Death on the border of Jer’li. There Pawl ap Cothi successfully petitioned the Prince Mathionwy of Kentarre for assistance. The Prince was a rebel lord, child of the Empress and sword enemy of all the Monster Lords including all the Vampires. But he was also all alone surrounded by enemies. Several of his champions had been seen along the ravaged coastline and engaged in battle with warships out of Imbilot, and ally of the Dragon and a trading partner of Cothi. In return for favors and secret support, the Prince agreed to send one of his champions to kidnap Rhuddem but also let Cothi and his sons drive his forces out of Tegeingl. This would make the Vampires think Cothi had lost his daughter, not hidden her from his lord. And it would earn him favor for being the first of the Vryloka to best the Prince on the battlefield (thus far only Bloodhoof the Lord Vampire Unicorn and peer of the Dragon had succeeded in defeating Math’s forces).

The plan came together perfectly. An archer and an elven champion of Kentarre lead a raiding party out of the abandoned coastal villages and into his land holdings. Three of his sons met them in battle and drove them off. But they struck again that night at his capital and he and his youngest son and his daughter handled the defense of the city.

After the battle, Cothi went up into Rhuddem’s quarters to say good bye and hand her over to Math’s champion as agreed. However, he saw that he was too late. Though the outer wall of her tower appeared intact, from the inside it had been blasted and had a gaping hole into the shadowfell. Floating in the air and vanishing out of the world into that darkness was Rhuddem, clearly unconscious and held aloft via magic along with the tallest elf Cothi had ever seen. She was, he had been told by his son Pawl who was infatuated with her, Ness Fech Caddal, one of Math’s champions. Ness was nearly 7’, extremely thin, wearing an elegant dress of utter black and out of which starlight flickered as if the dress were a portal to elsewhere. She had one hand casually held over Rhuddem directing his daughter’s movements. And without looking back her other hand traced runes in the air causing Rhuddem’s packed belongings on her bed to illuminate then crumble into ash, then the ash itself vanished into nothing. When Cothi looked up again from the bed, both Ness and his daughter were gone, leaving only a tear in reality to the Shadowfell through which a damp and chill wind was blowing.

Rhuddem, for her part, woke up she didn’t know how much later. She was in a wagon, clearly not anywhere she knew based on the view out the back where she saw dead trees with black bark and grey leaves under a twilit sky. She was also bound, gagged, and had cold iron shackles on her feet. A grey-skinned hideous man covered in tattoos and scars with at least three pounds of metal spikes, bars, balls, and hoops piercing every part of him Rhuddem could see was sitting nearby leering at her. He watched her try to speak for a while, then said “not wor’t struggling yeh? Y’ll be ‘ere soon.” Then he promptly ignored everything she did or tried to say and just kept leering. Rhuddem, for her part, never took her eyes off his, just as a point of pride. Eventually the wagon stopped lurching along and the man waved his hand past her face saying “slayp new, y’r ere.” And she blacked out.

When she woke up again, she was sitting comfortably in a chair that almost could double for a couch in a room that was far more cheerful than she liked. Instead of her favorite drake scale armor, she was wearing a satin blouse and soft leather riding pants that matched the red color of her hair with gold and silver trimmings. The windows, and lurching movement of the “ground” made it clear she was onboard a rather large and well-appointed ship. Nearby she could tell the room was deliberately policed to be safe from any weapons, even the plate of fruit and cheese set out for her had not so much as a spoon. Which was no doubt why the sailor who came to check on her and bring her lunch was completely unprepared for her to attack him with what appeared to be a battle axe roughly made from one leg of the chair for a handle and “blade” made of the bent metal fruit plate bound to the handle with strips of satin from the chair upholstery. In the end it took eleven men and two officers to disarm her and lash her securely to the mast, and several of those men were seriously wounded in the process.

Rhuddem listened politely as the captain explained that she was a prisoner of Prince Math, but he (the captain) had been assured that she had given her parole to Math and was supposed to behave. If she apologized for ruining his very expensive chair and promised to behave she could return to the captain’s quarters and enjoy the rest of the journey in comfort. Otherwise he’d leave her on the mast until they arrived in Kentarre after a month’s sailing. Rhuddem politely asked who had removed her armor and dressed her. The captain said that she was dressed exactly as he had received her from the Shadar-Kai merchants who brought her to him, and he assumed it was Ness Fech Cadal who was with them acting as representative of Prince Math. Rhuddem said, “in that case, you can let me down” and they did.

She spent the next two days lashed to the mast with a very large lump on the side of her head, and the captain had to have stitches on his arm where she bit him. After exposure to the elements seemed like it would hurt her too severely, they moved her to the brig and left her there for the rest of the journey. So Rhuddem missed out on the chance to explore the islands and ports the merchant ship stopped at on its long journey. They passed all of the lands of Thitstir, far north and around the swamps and moors of Webithcorr where the water was dark and every night the sailors stayed awake in teams praying and travelling armed. Where shadows moved around the ship and everyone heard terrifying whispers and strange buzzing noises. Eventually they turned south and left that cursed land behind. Marsh gave way to heath and then to forrest. The ship stopped at a small village of gleaming white houses with a very big wharf all built into the side of a cliff. There two heavily armed guards took her out of the brig; and shortly thereafter one heavily armed guard with a black eye and one wearing a torn red satin blouse and leather riding pants with a mild concussion presented her to the local Lord who was to take care of her per Prince Mathionwy’s instructions.

While the lord and his men never agreed to let her turn his fastest fishing ship into a pirate vessel, and none of his men would form a band with her to plunder the neighboring counties (which Rhuddem thought was a terrible way to butcher the word cantref), she did manage to enjoy her time living in his estate. She got to go hunting whenever she wished, and was given a private lodge where she could practice her magic undisturbed and without disturbing the local peasants. She was able to practice with the guards and the local champion, and even once got to help defeat an owlbear that came out of the hills. So things were good. At least, until she heard that merchants with a strange accent had come “from the north” asking about any noblewomen with red hair, and trying to purchase blood magic rituals. She and her caregiver had prepared for this eventuality and she took some money, her arms and armor, and rode a carriage to Kentarre City where she would be less noticeable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Werepanther

Old Version

Uses rules for longtooth shifter, but flavor of razorclaw and looks fully human except when shifted. Has an estate north west of town along the coast. Family have been up and down in fortune for generations, they were once shipwrights, then merchants, then one was a champion, then they lost everything and rebuilt by being willing to do import/export between the Dwarves of Imbilot and the capital. In recognition of peacebuilding between and enemy kingdom and the crown he was granted a noble title and lands, but they don’t actually need him to do anything as the lands are peaceful and well organized. So he came to town to find something interesting to spend his time and money on and ended up buying Whitehall. The cat was chosen rather than wolf to fit a little more in theme with the class and history, so napping all day long being slothful aka Imbilot’s nature, but razorclaw racial mods suck so stuck with the longtooth’s superior bonuses.

 

Background

namaste narasiṁhāya,

prahlādahlāda-dāyine,

hiraṇyakaśipor vakṣaḥ,

śilā-ṭaṅka nakhālaye

I offer my obeisances to Lord Narasiṁha, who gives joy to Prahlāda Mahārāja and whose nails are like chisels on the stone like chest of the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu. – Jayadeva 1200 A.D.

—–

For seven days Enkidu in his wonder

Lay with her in pleasure, and then at last went to seek out the company of the creatures

whose hearts delight in feeding upon the grasslands, and visiting the watering places, and

ranging the hills. But seeing him, they fled. The creatures were gone, and everything was changed.

His body that loved to range the hills was now unable to follow; but in the mind of the wild man

there was beginning a new understanding. Bewildered, he turned, and sought out the company

of the temple prostitute. – Epic of Gilgamesh, 2100 B.C.

=====

Character Builder

Werepanther Warlord

 

Playing the Lazylord

There are several builds of warlord. Taclord (tactical warlord) is pretty much the most “powerful”. This is a lazylord, one who commands. Personality wise he commands from the back, which is why he is French (and because I will never get tired of teasing the French).

So everything about this character is linked. He is a cat because he likes to lounge around and have servants. As a warlord he gives orders, not takes actions. And as an aristocrat, he has excellent history, insight and diplomacy. In that order he figures out what works, who can in fact get the job done, then convinces them to do it for him. In combat every ability he has is giving an action to another party member with bonuses. His two feats, instead of boosting his own abilities grant +1 to hit and +2 damage to any bonus attack he grants. Even his action point bonus allows an ally to take an extra basic attack or a move in addition to their normal bonus action. Woe be unto anyone who actually hurts Jacques as his daily has a pull 5 then grants up to 3 allies the ability to charge that enemy (queue up all of his bonuses to free attacks).

The longtooth shifter and werebear were chosen for their stats, these will be roleplayed as werepanther. Physically he appears fully human until he shifts whereupon he becomes fully panther and goes berserk until unconscious. And he is forced into panther form for the three nights of the full moon (not just one).

The resources he brings to the game are greater than any other character except for the Bane Sidhe. He is a bastard royal on his mother’s side (the werepanther), a direct descendent of Narasimha “the werewolf”. He has a small merchant fleet (two ships), a small province on the coast that makes wine, family that are reknowned shipwrights, and now, he owns Whitehall as well. He has not yet named either a personal champion, nor one for his estate in the north as the previous champion died with the estate’s previous lord. He also has connections through his merchant fleet with  five kingdoms, including two at war with Kentarre, and this includes Duergar who can get goods from the underdark (though they prefer payment in the form of slaves). He no longer has ties to the hunters but as a werepanther could rebuild those if he learned how best to leverage this fact.

====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======
Jacques D’Lantignan, level 3
Longtooth Shifter, Warlord (Marshal)
Warlord Option: Battlefront Leader
Commanding Presence Option: Bravura Presence
Dark Sun, Inherent Bonuses
Merchant Prince (Merchant Prince Benefit)
Theme: WerebearFINAL ABILITY SCORES
STR 17, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 15, WIS 10, CHA 14

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 15, CON 13, DEX 10, INT 15, WIS 8, CHA 14

AC: 13 Fort: 15 Ref: 13 Will: 14
HP: 35 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 8

TRAINED SKILLS
Diplomacy +8, Heal +6, History +8, Insight +8

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +1, Arcana +3, Athletics +6, Bluff +3, Dungeoneering +1, Endurance +4, Intimidate +3, Nature +1, Perception +1, Religion +3, Stealth +1, Streetwise +3, Thievery +1

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Werebear Utility: Bear Shape
Longtooth Shifter Racial Power: Longtooth Shifting
Warlord Feature: Battlefront Shift
Warlord Feature: Inspiring Word
Wild Talent Cantrip: Far Hearing
Warlord Attack 1: Direct the Strike
Warlord Attack 1: Commander’s Strike
Warlord Attack 1: Powerful Warning
Warlord Attack 1: Lamb to the Slaughter
Warlord Attack 1: Overwhelming Force Trap
Warlord Utility 2: Knight’s Move

FEATS
Level 1: Lend Might
Level 2: Lend Strength

ITEMS

====== End ======

 

Long Version of Character Story

A brief reminder of the origins of all lycanthropes and the royal family. First The Demon who everyone refuses to name as an act of disempowering and disgracing him conquers the world and performs a ritual to bind it to his will. He portions off parts of the world for his greatest servants (the Monster Lords). He enslaves all sentient beings and teaches them agriculture so there can be more people for him to kill (this is where the necropolis comes from under Kentarre and why it is so big and such a haunted and generally fucked up place). The goddess Nyx incarnates as a man-lion to kill The Demon and then instructs everyone to go back to the wilderness, but only the Hunters obey her. The rest of the civilized world realizes that being scavengers and hunter-gatherers in the wilderness most of them will starve because only agriculture can feed them all. So the man-lion says there’s an easy solution to that and starts killing people with the intent that only a few of them survive. They pray for salvation and a young woman offers to save them in return for her children receiving the same power and authority over all civilized peoples that the demon had held. The people agree. So the woman seduces the man-lion then murders it in its sleep. She has two children, the first was like his father but a man-wolf and this child she gave to the hunters, and he had many children with many women most of whom started different blood lines of were creatures. The second was human and this she took to Kentarre and she grew up to become the first Empress.

Because the child the Hunters raised was a werewolf the story has come to be that the slayer of the Demon was a werewolf too. For reasons of jealousy were-felines of any kind are discriminated against by Hunters and by other were’s. The Royal family, for their part, consider it a disgustingly false rumor that they might be related to animals, and clearly the woman only had one child and that was the Empress. Over time, due to this confusion and the fact that there are many ways people can transform into an animal and how lycanthropes can mate successfully with both people and animals, the lycanthrope bloodlines have become much more diluted than the Royal bloodline. And claims about percentage of divine blood or direct descent from are very likely to be false or at least exaggerated.

In Kentarre, lycanthropy usually results in death. Most of the major religions declare lycanthropes to be abominations because the werewolf tried to tear down civilization and because most deities are in conflict with Nyx and her allies. Because so many Hunter tribes offer fealty to descendants of Narasimha “The Werewolf” the royal family has a guilty until proven innocent policy in regard to sedition charges for lycanthropes.

All of which made Jacques D’Lantignan completely terrified to have his secret discovered especially after being made the lord of his own province along the north eastern coastline of Kentarre in a ceremony presided over by two members of the Royal Family and three knights. His family was very proud of him. It had been many generations since one of them was made a noble. The family fortune had waxed and waned so many times, and things had been looking like they might be in for another hard fall. But Jacques saved the family reputation. At least, so the story goes.

Originally the D’lantignan’s (At the time their name was Langannan) were a fishing family who had worked the Inland Sea north of Kentarre city all the way back to the days of the Demon. Soon after the Demon’s death the family had their first big increase in prosperity and became shipwrights. Wealth didn’t work out so well for them and the family fell deeply into debt and in fact were banished from Kentarre lashed to the hold of one of their own ships. The ship ended up in Imbilot where the family were sold into slavery but eventually one especially great warrior won his freedom and a small fortune in a Duergar gladiator pit. He turned the small fortune into a large fortune by investing in a sea trade route between Imbilot, Webithcorr and Thitstirr capitalizing on the fact that dwarves hate the sea but everyone loves dwarven made goods. Unfortunately the great war came to Thitstir a few generations later and again the family lost their merchant fleet. Fleeing from a pirate ship their last merchant vessel hit a widdershins going round an island near Webithcorr and suddenly found itself outside Kentarre with a cargo hold full of dwarven goods from enemy territory. No one in Kentarre remembered the 300 year old banishment, and captain Roland D’Lantignan not only sold his unique wares at a huge profit, but he signed contracts for a second, larger shipment. He and his young son, Jacques, convinced two other merchants to follow them to Imbilot with a hold full of foods and tools that the dwarves had never seen and thus established the first stable trade route between warring kingdoms. Roland’s luck ran out eventually and he was killed by pirates and it was all on Jacques’ lap.

Jacques was a horrible sailor. Jacques was probably the worst sailor in his family’s entire history. Well, his father’s side anyway, he always assumed he got it from his mother. He was not a terrible sailor just because he was terribly lazy. Though he really was terribly lazy. Rather, he didn’t know how to tie knots. He had a hard time climbing the rope ladders and kept twisting his ankle. He kept forgetting the names of the parts of the ship. He could never remember if he was supposed to say ship or boat and didn’t understand why the crew got so upset when he said the wrong word. He got violently sea sick. He couldn’t swim to save his life. And, from time to time, he turned into a rampaging monstrous panther that killed and ate every human being on board. Being stuck on board a ship for weeks at a time was just about as close to hell as Home can get for both Jacques and any poor soul unfortunate enough to be on his crew.

On the other hand, Jacques was an extremely charismatic and influential man and never had difficulty convincing people to do what he wanted them to do. And he was very opportunistic and crafty, and knew how to give commands so that his servants thought he knew what he was doing, when really he was just telling them “figure it out yourself and do what you think is best”. As a solid judge of character, he never hired anyone who was at all like himself and thus was always served by excellent sailors, with magnificent first mates who kept his ship working like a charm. Well, until he killed and ate the first mate. Then it was always a really bad situation until he could hire a new one.

For example, the day he got a magical message from his niece that his father was dead. He had actually been hoping that his father would come save him, because he was all alone, drifting on a blood soaked ship with no living crew but himself. It was really a shame, he felt, that the message was a one-way communication. Yet luck smiled on Jacques and he ran aground before running out of drinkable water. Even better, he ran aground in Imbilot where he was able to take on a new crew and sail back to Kentarre. But he did swear never to sail again, and promoted his first mate to captain and sent the man back for another round trip.

While selling his latest imports he found that due to his reputation for having all manner of exotic goods from far away, he was receiving requests for difficult to acquire local goods too. Specifically art and magical items that only Hunters can make. People figured if he could broker deals with the Dwarves of Imbilot, the local Hunter tribes should be no problem. Of course, while owning their items was not illegal, actually trading for them was.

But Jacques found a way to contact a couple tribes and negotiated some deals. Soon he was managing a flourishing import/export network and selling goods from Monster lands to Hunters and Hunter goods to Kentarre and Kentarran goods to Monster lands. One of the Kentarran Dukes decided to honor him for his efforts to broker peace between the Kingdoms and he received a small property of his own as a gift. Just a month later a large band of Hunters murdered his lord in a surprise nighttime raid. But Jacques had gone to get help and brought knights who wiped out the Hunters completely. For his work securing the land from this assault the Duke promoted him from landowner to Noble.

Luckily, no one looked too deeply into why a band of Hunters had raided the old lord’s home so deep in civilized lands. And no one knew how he had been importing magical artifacts from Monster-held lands and trading them to Hunters for magical items of their own unique manufacture. Or how the Hunters found out he was cheating them and had come to settle up with him but found he had told them all along that HE was the lord of the province. So really they were looking to kill him, not the true Lord. And then he told the knights about the pending attack so the knights could clean up his mess for him.

Jacques then promoted the old Lord’s majordomo and let the good man run everything for him. Having now a small winemaking province as well as a successful (though no longer illegal as he didn’t have any remaining Hunter clients) trade business, Jacques was feeling very good about life. After a few years though, he found that simply collecting money for other people’s hard work was just not doing it for him. He had an active mind and really wanted to do something more challenging. Though hopefully not so much more physically demanding. So he thought he would move to the big city and see what living like a noble really meant.

As he rode into town he noticed a particular tower in an old building overlooking the harbor. It had a sea-side balcony with a magnificent view of the harbor. While he hated sailing, Jacques always loved the sea and sailing ships. He thought to himself, he absolutely had to have that balcony for himself. Especially since it was secluded, hard to see from below, and drenched in sunlight. It appeared to be the perfect place to lounge and smoke and daydream.

So he was overjoyed to find the building was actually for sale. Apparently some disagreement between two ministries had resulted in it being auctioned off. It did come with a complex contract where he wasn’t allowed to change anything and had to let the ministry staff that used it as an office perform their duties. But since that mostly meant just an archivist he didn’t see the harm. Plus they had a magnificently decorated drawing room that would be perfect for a gentleman’s club. And the ministry had been the center for investigating magical mysteries about town, which seemed to him to be a perfectly fascinating thing for a group of gentlemen to discuss while having a proper smoke and a good drink. He didn’t even need to install a new cell for “those days”, as the building, Whitehall, came with both a holding cell and an oubliette. He felt like a true aristocrat at last, he could banish neerdowells to his own oubliette, while solving mysteries and helping people. What could possibly go wrong?

 

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