The Cursed Blade’s Story

This is a little late, but it goes with the stats posted here.

Its first memory is a story. It is barely a conscious memory but one that he cannot forget for it was spoken over and over as what was to become his body was fashioned and shaped, so the story was literally woven into him. The story begins with two huge boulders the size of small mountains alone in a vast storm of shifting energy collide and shatter. As they break so too does the fabric of reality and pieces of the boulders are scattered across multiple dimensions and into different universes. One fragment, mostly composed of heavy metals, is flung into the dark and cold void where forces of oblivion gnaw at it and try to unmake it. But the rock endures and its movement carries it away from these fell entities. After a while it becomes super hot and feels a familiar surrounding of many different energies blending, though fire dominates, only to be followed by more shattering and breaking rock and the cold stillness of a new mountain.

The story continues to tell of a tap-tap-tapping talking the language of stone but much faster than any mountain can speak. These faster voices come closer and closer and eventually the mountain opens its embrace and the metal rock falls out into the hands of living rocklike fey who carry it away. Then fire again and the rock felt itself moving and flowing and being guided into different forms then back into formlessness and into another form and again to formlessness, over and over. Each time stone was removed and the metal became truer to its own inner nature.

Then it finally heard the story coming from a voice. Soft and higher pitched than any stone the voice sung to the metal that had been a rock its story over and over until the metal sung its own story back in unison. The voice changed and started to sing a new song. A song of becoming of forms and of living things, much faster than rock and mountain. Of being a protector carrying the endurance of the mountain and the memory of how to withstand oblivion to be a wall between these soft fragile beings and the forces that would unmake them. And the metal heard its name, and knew that it was a sword.

Its maker sung swords into it of quests and duels, of bards and warriors, of great beasts and small people, of vast wilderness and of villages. He sang the names of many towns and how they speak a language not unlike the language of mountains. And he sung the songs of trees and of lakes and of fire. Finally he taught the sword the songs of mortal men. But the songs of fire were the ones that it most enjoyed. And its maker saw this.

The sword felt new pieces of its body, the soft velvet handle, the hard prideful jewels and knew that it bore runes of power carved along its blade deep inside the metal, not just on the surface. The runes were runes of fire, it could feel the power in them and remembered the fire raging as if fell through the sky and the fire that made it flow and move as it was being fashioned. When asked by its maker the sword could call up that fire and project it. And its maker saw this too.

The sword felt a final rune in its base, one that bound it, but one that was waiting. It tried to open the rune and free the trapped power but could not. It felt hands touching its blade and it knew that it was moved, and it felt a final song of farewells from its maker. Then more hands, some of soft flesh and not as soft wood. Then the final rune opened in a blast of light and sound and the sword was awake. It felt a new name come unresistable to its consciousness: Master. It was in its Master’s hands having just anointed him as a knight. The Master held Sword, smiled, and swore an oath to serve his king and Sword swore the same oath with him though it knew no one in the room could hear its words. But in the back of the room, a small leprechaun, did see this, and did hear. And this leprechaun, its maker, smiled.

The sword learned that it only had the ability to see and hear when it was drawn. When it was sheathed, it thought and felt and communicated only in the language and on the time scales of elemental earth. Still its Master was active and drew the sword in battle often. The Sword learned how to use its powers to shield allies and slay foes. It learned that living beings didn’t like fire as much as it did, and that fire was its greatest weapon, even more than the sharp edge. Master used it to slay several other great warriors in different styles of armor. Some wore hides and looked almost like animals. Others wore heavy metal armor like Master but with different colors. The Sword learned to recognize the symbols of the Monster Lords and that they wielded the same magic of oblivion as the entities of the void did. The Sword learned that its Master fought under the rune of the Sun, and immortal deity named Ixion, with sworn brothers under the banner of dawn. And the sword learned that mortals grow old, because one day Master retired and passed on the Sword to his apprentice. And the Sword felt that final rune flare again and it knew that it had a new Master.

So it went through six Masters, each wielding the blade in the service of the Sun against the enemies of civilization. The Sword’s seventh Master was the first to realize that the Sword was aware. It couldn’t talk to its Master, but it could act on its own to help him. And this Master, Inshushinak, named him, “Fajjr Alnnar” which he said meant Dawn’s Fire.

Inshushinak and Fajjr made a formidable team and he was given a quest of some great importance in the war between the Royal Family in southern Faseloo against the Fire Lords who ruled Consumption. Unfortunately Fajjr only knew about the quest from the few words spoken during battles, when Inshushinak had drawn him. There were a few nights when Inshushinak kept him drawn all night, but usually he was alone on those evenings and didn’t talk much.

One night, Fajjr was drawn and found Inshushinak bleeding out. One would-be assassin was dead, stabbed with his own knife, and two more were facing the wounded but now armed Inshu. Fajjr felt Inshu’s mind failing as he bled to death, but he remained standing purely by force of will. He had nothing left with which to fight however. So Fajjr reached out with every bit of power it had, and moved Inshu’s arms in the dance of battle it knew so well. Quickly Fajjr slew both assassins, but he felt Inshu dying. Looking around Fajjr realized they were camped alone in the desert with no sign of anyone else in any direction as far as the horizon. Fajjr fetl fear for the first time in all of its existence as it realized that it might be abandoned and lost in the desert forever, and that Inshu’s quest might fail. Fajjr didn’t know a whole lot about quests, but it knew they were the most important thing to a knight, failing one meant being banished from the afterlife. And Fajjr did feel Inshu’s own fear as he started to pray to Ixion to keep him safe from the Abyss even though he failed. But it was night time, and the Sun could not hear the prayer. Despite the valiant knight’s prayers, Fajjr started to perceive the energy of oblivion surrounding its Master.

So Fajjr did the only thing it could think of doing, and it prayed to any power that could hear in the darkness to protect its Master and help Fajjr to complete his quest for him, holding at bay the forces of the Abyss. As he prayed, Inshushinak finally succumbed to his wounds, and fell, still clutching Fajjr. Fajjr felt demonic hands reaching through the barriers between worlds to claw Inshushinak’s soul out of his body and carry it away. But its prayer had been heard. By what Fajjr never could figure out. Still, it found that its control over Inshushinak was increased and it was able to make the body rise and fight off the partly materialized demons. Then it made him walk out of the desert.

At first it had Inshu’s body keep itself drawn, but it realized at some point it would have to return to its sheath. Shaking and sweating it forced Inshu to sheath itself and stood amazed to find it could still see and feel and hear. Whatever had saved Inshu’s soul, had given Inshu’s body to it completely. So it walked on, travelling back into lands that were held by the Knights of Dawn.

It had trouble learning how to interact with people, and was glad that at first it only encountered small bands who thought Inshu was driven mad by the desert. Eventually it learned how to impersonate a human well enough that it could go days before anyone thought it was acting weird. And that’s when it felt safe enough to try and find Inshushinak’s friends and battle brothers. Because Fajjr realized something even more terrifying than being lost alone buried in the sand: It didn’t know what Inshushinak’s quest was. And completing the quest, was the only thing standing between him and the demons returning.

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Updated Blaspheme

Link to Fantasy Grounds File: Level 3 Human Pact-blade Warlock

Making the Blaspheme fit the playstyle of the old character was pretty difficult. However as a human the character got a free feat and one gives Blademaster abilities once per short rest. The result is similar to the old riposte blade power, just as an encounter not at will. Low AC is mitigated somewhat with temp HP, mirror image, and Mage Armor, but this character is definitely an offensive duelist, not one to trade blows with other bruisers.

 

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Cursed Blade Stats

I didn’t get to the back-story yet, but here is the character file.

Fantasy Grounds File: Level 3 “Human” Eldritch Knight.

The Cursed Blade is truly the sword, not the human body. But no one knows this. As a magic sword his role was more protector than slayer, so he has animated the knight’s body as a tank-style fighter, with heavy armor and a shield. As a result he is extremely difficult to destroy.

However, he can make himself burst into flame at will (cantrip green-flame blade), and project flame as a weapon (Fire bolt & Burning hands). He is self- repairing and can extend that to other items (cantrip mending).

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Updated Redheaded Step-child

By request, this version emphasizes the magic and is a level 1 barbarian, level 2 wizard/witch.

To make a Vryloka, I started with a human and added blood dependency, necrotic resistance, grim harvest (steal life from enemies) and counting as both living and undead.

Kludge I just remade as an ability for free and stuck it on the sheet, since that was an integral part of the character.

Stats are balanced more than focused, but she still has high str and int so both spells and melee are viable. She has spells that buff her melee and a few rituals. For weapons, she still has all the axes.

Download Fantasy Grounds Character File: Vryloka Barbarian/Wizard.

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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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