Category Archives: Colorful Characters

Neve Canri

ErinSassinationThis post is entirely self indulgent. Any enjoyment you get out of it will be purely incidental.

Fiction

If I am the referee, then Neve Canri exists in the game world. Whether her machinations are visible to the players, or her attention is focused on some far off corner of the cosmos, she is there.

Neve Canri is a God. Various worshipers claim she is the patron of various things: secrets, lies, conspiracies, undeath. But these are human attempts to understand the divine. Neve Canri is the patron only of her own unknowable will.

On a divine scale, Neve Canri is young. But her ceaseless campaigning has left only a few gods that remember a time before her. The rest are mere infant godlings by comparison, having risen to fill the vacuums she created.

She typically appears as a dark haired woman wearing an elegant gown. There are diamonds where her eyes ought to be, and her withered hands that are little more than skin and bone.

She resides in the Citadel of the Seed, a tower hidden amongst the mountain ranges of the abyss. Each of the tower’s 16 levels appears to be a whole world, with the pathway upwards hidden somewhere in its landscape. At the center of the top level is a great mountain, at the peak of which is the granite throne from which Neve Canri rules.

Orcus is dead. All undead creatures serve Neve Canri.

The Background

Neve Canri began life circa 2008 as an NPC I largely improvised on the spot when a game session lasted well beyond the material I had prepared. I was a different kind of referee back then. The kind who planned out storylines in advance, loved D&D 3.5, and had never killed a character at his table.

I still have all my notes for that first session of what I later called the “Ascendant Crusade Campaign.” I’d recently grown close with some new friends through World of Warcraft, and I wanted to introduce them to the hobby. The first line of my notes is “Start: Almost cartoonishly generic.” This is followed by what I think is supposed to be boxed text. Like I said, a different kind of referee.

FirstPageOfNotesThe structure of the adventure was, indeed, generic. The players would begin in town A, and there was a caravan going to town B. They’d first be presented with the opportunity to join a group of bandits planning to ambush the caravan. If they turned down the job,  they’d be approached by the governor with a counter offer to protect it.

I actually wrote notes for three different paths the players could take through the adventure, and felt quite proud of myself for the level of agency I was providing. As an amusing aside: the players immediately split the party. The halfling rogue went off with the bandits, while the rest joined up with the caravan as guards. It was all sorts of amusing, but that’s neither here nor there.

More to the point, these were the halcyon days when D&D lasted for as long as everyone felt like playing. The group was still going strong, even as they approached the end of my prepared notes. So I began weaving rumors of cult activity in the town they’d just arrived in. Some additional adventuring revealed a hidden cavern beneath the city, and what appeared to be a human sacrifice in progress. A young woman lay on an altar, with chanting cultists and burning braziers around her. Her name was Erin Wallcraft.

I don’t remember exactly how much about Erin was improvised on the spot. I seem to recall it had always been my plan to have a rival adventuring party in this campaign. I might have even outlined who the characters in that rival party would be. But, I certainly didn’t plan for the whole conspiracy which grew out of this improvised moment.

See, Erin wasn’t being sacrificed. She was, in fact, a very important member of the cult, and a fellow worshiper of their god: Vecna, lord of magic, undeath, and secrets.  Under Erin’s orders, the cultists were performing a ritual to transform her into an undead creature. A ritual the players interrupted on the assumption that they were rescuing her. But Erin was pretty good at rolling with the punches, so she happily thanked the PCs for her ‘rescue.’

I was careful to note that Erin got up off the altar on her own, because of course, she hadn’t been restrained. Further, when Erin told the party that she needed to go “free” her companions, I described her running ahead of the group. She opened the door (without unlocking it), and said something to the effect of “Hey guys, these adventurers right here just rescued us from the evil death cult that was trying to kill me! Yaay!” When the players saw these supposed prisoners, I mentioned that they were all fully armed and armored.

I often think back on my younger days as a referee with some shame. To this day, though, I’m proud of how much agency the players had here. I dropped hints like crazy that Erin and her friends were lying, but the players were oblivious. It made the many betrayals that followed so much sweeter.

Erin’s adventuring party wove their way in and out of the campaign from that point onward. They showed up in roughly every 3rd adventure.  My original intent was for them to be the PCs’ rivals, but my players really liked them. The two parties became very buddy-buddy with one another, and the players would actually get excited when they ran into Erin & Co. The single longest game session I’ve ever played was 15 hours straight of of the PCs assisting Erin in recovering “her teacher’s journals” from a trap-filled dungeon. “Her teacher’s journals,” of course, being code for “The copy of Ordinary Necromancy penned in Vecna’s own hand.” Failed spot checks allowed her to slip the book under her robe and claim someone else must have raided the dungeon before them.

Between game sessions I was developing Erin and her party voraciously. Something about these characters took hold of me. I planned out their whole story, backwards and forward. I started drawing them a lot. I’ve never drawn so much in my life as I did when I was trying to pin down these NPCs.  I even outlined two sequel campaigns that would pick up after Erin conquered the world. In the first, the PCs would start as low-level mooks in Erin’s army, as it marched into the Abyss to overthrow Graz’zt and place one of her party members on his throne. And after that campaign ended, I’d jump forward a thousand years so the players could be the peasant children that were destined to defeat Erin once and for all. I had a bit of that frustrated novelist syndrome, for sure.

ErinLounging

Unfortunately, life began to pull everyone in different directions. Like so many other D&D games, The Ascendent Crusade petered out. The final session (played with only 2 of the original group), was meant to be the first of a new phase of the campaign. The players encountered Erin’s group. They were fording a river with a coffin, and Erin wasn’t with them. They told the PCs that they had encountered someone called “The Whispered Empress,” and that this mysterious figure had killed Erin. They were on their way to bury her now, after which they were planning to retire from adventuring for good.

What had really happened is that Erin had become a vampire, slain & replaced the High Priest of Vecna, and re-dubbed herself “The Whispered Empress” in preparation for her coming war of conquest. This encounter was one final clue for the party, albeit a subtle one. Vampires cannot cross running water under their own power.

It has always bothered me that I never got to finish Erin’s story. The very fact that I thought of that game as “Erin’s Story” speaks to my frustrated novelist syndrome, but by all accounts the players were enjoying themselves. One actually told me they wished I still ran more narrative-driven games. No harm no foul, I suppose?

Years after the campaign ended, I did have the pleasure of revealing to one of the players that Erin had been evil the whole time. I told her  my plan had been for the campaign to end when the players finally met The Whispered Empress, and it turned out to be their old friend Erin. She would have offered them positions of power within her empire, and killed them (or tried to) if they refused. That player’s complete surprise at this revelation was satisfying to me.

Erin’s adventuring party inspired me to do some of my first really serious D&D writing. Like the clumsy addiction system I put together for Erin’s drug habit, or the Arcane Surgeon class I drafted when I decided Erin’s party needed an irreligious healer. Notably, many of the very first posts on Papers & Pencils were my attempt to tell Erin’s story through The Girl and the Granite Throne. But that never really worked out either. Such is life.

WarmistressErinAtPlay

All of which finally brings us around to Erin’s transformation into Neve Canri. It was October 2012, and my younger brother Ronnie came to me and asked me to run a D&D game for him. He had never played D&D at that point, and I was happy to put together a campaign. I recruited my ladyfriend (one of the original Ascendant Crusade players), and Ronnie recruited one of his friends, and we had a quorum. I hacked together a quick custom ruleset that I called D&D&LB. Dungeons & Dragons & Little Brothers.

I set the game in the distant future of the Ascendant Crusade world. One where everything I planned had taken place, and then faded into obscure legend. Erin had conquered the world, placed one of her allies on a demon lord’s throne, and reigned for a thousand years before the world was freed from her iron-fisted grip by a band of plucky upstart heroes.

As a little treat for my ladyfriend, the whole world was designed to be vaguely recognizable. I was really just curious if she’d pick up on it. Most of the names for places and things were altered to sound like they’d gone through a thousand years of playing ‘telephone.’ So the town of Heathrop (He-Thrup) became Haetrop (Hay-Trope). Stuff like that.

It was as I was answering Jeff’s 20 questions that I decided to take it one step further. “Who are your campaign’s gods?” Why not Erin? But “Erin” is a silly name for a god. So somehow I came up with the name “Neve Canri.” I honestly couldn’t tell you how I got it. There’s a better than even chance that I just played around with syllables until I found a jumble of them that sounded good in my ear. And it still does. It’s a fuckin’ awesome name for a god, if I do say so myself.

I didn’t plan for Neve Canri to play any special role in the campaign. There were two good gods, and two evil gods, and she was just one of the latter. I suppose, though, it was inevitable that she started to show up more and more. I had such a strong sense of her character compared to the other three gods. Plus, the megadungeon the players were exploring was specifically the remnants of one of Erin’s fortresses. It was only natural the players tended to find a lot of cultists and artifacts dedicated to her.

Late in the campaign my brother’s Hireling died. He was bummed. He looked at me and declared that his character would call out to Neve Canri. He offered his soul in exchange for his Hireling’s life. I wasn’t really prepared for that, but the exchange seemed reasonable enough. I agreed. His hireling returned to life with full hit points, and his PC’s eyes turned into diamonds. I told him he would be expected to act always in the best interests of Neve Canri. And he did, for about ten minutes.

Maybe two sessions after that, the players slew a dragon. This was exciting not only because of the horde of treasure they earned, but also because that game allowed PCs to consume bits of dragon to empower themselves. Or maybe die, if they failed a save. My brother chose to eat the dragon’s eyes, which I warned would be a betrayal of Neve Canri. He did it anyway. A pair of dragon eyes forced the diamonds out of his sockets. He gained dragon eyes, and his resurrected hireling immediately exploded in a rain of gore.

During the last few sessions of the campaign, Neve Canri sabotaged the party at every turn. Undead would pop out of nowhere to attack at the worst possible moment. A doppleganger of my brother was created with the express purpose of assassinating and replacing him. The final session of the game was a flash-forward to 10 years in the future, where the PCs were all super high level and badass. They ventured into Neve Canri’s own realm to destroy her, which they utterly failed at. It was a good time.

It was in the aftermath of that campaign that I decided I wanted to keep Neve Canri around as a meta connection between my game worlds. She’s hardly the most original or interesting god. Honestly she’s pretty much a ripoff of Vecna that I’ve tried to contort into something vaguely resembling an original creation. But after spending 10 years with this NPC, she feels like a more substantive deity to me. Her ridiculous backstory actually happened, more or less. And while “her” story is over, I find that her continued presence pushes me to come up with schemes that are worthy of her.

So if we ever play together, remember: Neve Canri is watching.

ErinNWhisperblade

Colorful Characters 27: Bric Shilic

This is honestly EXACTLY what I pictured Bric Shilic's cart looking like. Right down to the umbrella and the bicycle wheels.
This product photo is EXACTLY what I was picturing in my head when I first described Bric Shelic to my players. The only difference would be a whole lot more dents, dings, grime, and grease.

I never expected to write another Colorful Characters post, but here we are. There’s no way I could keep this fuckin’ guy to myself.

Bric Shilic is a parts vendor. Human parts. He meanders through the back alleys of large cities. The ones that the locals have learned to avoid. When he sees someone with a serious injury or disfigurement, he calls out to them with a practiced friendliness that seems at odds with his gravelly voice. He likes to say “An arm or a leg won’t cost you an arm and a leg!” It’s a witticism he’s proud of coming up with.

He speaks speaks with all the bluster, fast-talk, and suspicious confidence of a successful street vendor. All of it comes through a foreign accent so thick it’s sometimes too dense to penetrate, but you get what he’s saying by context. I went with a stereotypical middle eastern accent myself.

Also present is Bric Shilic’s cart, covered in dried blood and grease, buzzing with gnats and flies. Inside of it, Bric Shilic has one of everything, but only one. If you’re missing an eye, he has one eye, if you’re missing a thumb, he’s got one thumb, and if you’re missing 12′ of intestine, well he’s got 14′, but he’s willing to cut it down for you. Special deal.

His prices are:

1,000 money for any small, mostly cosmetic graft. Noses, fingers, ears, etc.
2,000 money for major grafts. Arms, hands, legs, eyes, genitals, etc.
3,000 money for anything that has to go inside of you. Livers, lungs, bones, etc.

There are usually little stories to go along with each piece. “Nose came from little boy. Die in terrible accident. Was hit by…stick. Stick wielded by bad man. Not Bric Shilic. You buy. You buy.”

For any parts that are not internal, the player should be given some idea of what they look like. After all, the character is lucky just to have found someone willing to sell them a right hand. Who are they to complain that the hand comes from someone of a different age, sex, or ethnicity? It will function just fine, of course. Bric Shilic does not sell shoddy merchandise. But if the character is gonna look like a frankenstein, they oughta know it.

Flip a coin to determine the sex of the person the donated part is from. Roll 1d8 – 1 to determine the decade of life the donor was in when the part was harvested. Parts have a 1-in-6 chance to match the recipient’s ethnicity, otherwise the skin is of a noticeably different color.

Parts are attached by using Bric Shilic’s body fluids as an adhesive. He’s sensitive about explaining why this works, but the results are undeniable. If you need a new nose, Bric Shilic just licks the back of it, then presses it against your face for a few seconds. The process burns a little, but when he removes his hand you’ll be able to sniff,sneeze, and smell with the best of them! Of course, installing internal parts is a little more of an involved process that will require Bric Shelic to shove his entire arm down your throat. He’ll ask some of your friends to hold you down if a procedure like that is necessary.

Bric Shilic is a 6th level Magic User. If attacked, he primarily uses spells like Hold Person and Sleep.

Colorful Characters 26: Ronder Thelleper, The Drunk Warlock

 Pitcher of BeerRonder Thelleper, or as he loudly proclaims himself to anyone who will listen, “The Greatest Warlock in Existence,” is the strangest caster you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t know how to read, and he worships no gods. All he wants is a cold brew, and someone else to buy them for him. For enough coin, he’ll hire on with any band, and face any danger, for the promise of a steady stream of booze.

Armor 12, 3 Hit Dice, Movement 120′, 1 dagger attack, Morale 8 (Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules)

Magical abilities function only while Ronder is completely drunk. If he’s only tipsy, or starting to sober up, spells might function at 1/2 effectiveness, as ruled by the GM. Using any of his magical abilities requires a full round, as it does for other casters. There is no limit to the amount of times these abilities may be used in a given day.

Firebelly – Flame arcs from Ronder’s mouth, unerringly immolating his target for 2d6 damage. save v. breath for half damage.
Bubbly – Tiny bubbles pour out of Ronder’s clothes, and begin to grow larger. They float towards a targeted group. 2d6 human sized creatures must succeed on a save v. palatalization or become trapped in a bubble for 1d4 rounds. The bubble cannot be popped from the inside, but can be popped normally from the outside.
Blackout – A single target must succeed on a save v. magic, or become stupefyingly drunk. They will stumble around, tell people they love them, and probably fall asleep at the soonest opportunity. Fades as normal drunkenness would.
Reverse Goggles –
The target of this spell must succeed on a save v. magic. Upon failure, they will find Ronder irresistibly attractive for 1d4 + 2 hours. During this period they’ll do whatever they need to do to get his attention and make him happy. 

Anytime anyone asks Ronder to perform a task, roll 1d6 to determine what Ronder does.

1-2: Ronder performs the task as requested.
3-5: Ronder performs some task which he thinks will be even more beneficial to his employer. These are almost always terrible ideas.
6: Ronder gets confused. His turn is wasted. Make a morale roll to determine if he has become confused enough to change sides.

Colorful Characters 25: Sestronatara

“Cleopatra” by John William Waterhouse.
“Cleopatra” by John William Waterhouse.

NOTE: If you participate in my monthly ToKiMo Pathfinder campaign, I advise you against reading this post. It will be much more fun for you to encounter this information through play, than it will be fore you to read it here.

Six hundred years ago, she lived a peasant’s life, and knew herself by a peasant’s name. A name which does not matter, and which she has long since forgotten. Sestronatara was born from that peasant she once was, when her mistress drained her of human weakness and gifted to her a new existence as a fledgeling vampire. In that existence she has served her mistress, as fledgelings do. As she aged she grew in power, and independence. When she had been in her mistress service for roughly a century, she was given a task:

Travel to the Castle Nalew, ancient sanctum of the mad god who one walked the earth. There, locate the Blade of Boleshi, which the mad god crafted from the carapace of the mother of spiders. Retrieve it, and return.

Dutifully, Sestronatara crossed the oceans and deserts of the world, and entered the dread god’s labyrinth to begin her search. She wandered the dungeon’s halls, slaying or enslaving all she met there. Shortly after she arrived, she encountered a paladin; a dwarf named Elzhemer. He also sought the Blade of Boleshi, determined to destroy such an evil artifact. The two fought to a stalemate before retreating to continue their search with a renewed sense of urgency.

For thirty years the two searched, and fought, neither gaining the upper hand. Sestronatara became impatient, and plotted to end her game with the infuriating Elzhemer. In their next encounter, she ‘lost’ her journal while fleeing from her foe. Within, he found every note she’d made for 30 years, and combining her knowledge with his, he knew precisely where to find the long-sought blade.

But unbeknownst to the righteous Elzhemer, his nemesis had disguised herself as a spider on the ceiling. She followed his every step, through hundreds of rooms and countless deadly traps, until the two reached their prize. Before Elzhemer could move to claim the cursed blade, Sestronatara let fall her disguise and made to kill the dwarf. For a day, sparks from clashing weapons were the chamber’s only light, and howls of rage and pain were its only sound. When all seemed lost for him, Elzhemer smashed a glass vial of holy water against the vampire’s head, burning away her skin and hair, leaving her head forever bald. But Sestronatara recovered, and proved victorious. With the Blade of Boleshi, she cut her foe’s hands away, then chained him so she could drag the meat to her mistress.

But when Sestronatara reached the entrance of the dungeon, she found she could not leave. In the 30 years the two had been here, a group of powerful wizards and clerics had banded together and sealed Castle Nalew against any entrance or exit. The vampiress raged and beat against the barrier, but could not escape. And in her 30 years of exploration, she had never discovered another pathway out. The pair were trapped.

Five hundred years have passed since then. Sestronatara has claimed a small wing of Nalew for herself, and filled it with her own fledgelings and slaves. To occupy herself, she collects what objects of beauty can be found in the dungeon, and will offer a good price for any art piece. She has grown powerful, and independent. No longer does she wish to serve the mistress who created her–though she still keeps the Blade of Boleshi hidden away. She cannot disobey her mistress’ final command.

In her chambers, beard grey with age, the handless Elzhemer remains chained. A pedestal has been placed just out of his arm’s reach, and upon it is a hammer and wooden stake he could never hope to use without hands. The paladin’s anguish soothes her.

Sestonatara (CR 8)

XP: 4,800
Female Human Vampire, Sorceress 6
NE Undaed
Init +9; Senses Perception +14, Darkvision (60ft)


Defenses


AC 23, Flat Footed 17, Touch 17 [10 + Dex(6) + Natural(6) + Dodge(1)]
hp 67 (6d8 + 36)
Fast Healing 5
Fort +3 (Immune unless effect can target objects, or is harmless) Ref +8 Will +6
DR 15/Magic & Silver
Resist Fire 20, Channel 4, Cold 15, Electricity 10
Immunities Mind affecting effects, Bleed, Death effects, Disease, Paralysis, Poison, Sleep effects, Stunning, Nonlethal Damage, Ability Drain, Energy Drain, Physical Ability Score Damage, Exhaustion, Fatigue effects, Death from massive damage, effects which require a fortitude save


Offense


Speed 30ft
Melee Staff + 8 (1d4 + 5, 20/x2)(Reflex save DC: 11 v. being knocked flat)
Melee Slam +6 (1d4 + 3, 20/x2)(Magic Weapon)(Energy Drain)
Sorcerer Spells (CL 6th; Concentration +11; +2 save DC for Evocation spells)
3rd (4/day) — Lightning Bolt
2nd (7/day) — False Life, Scorching Ray, Shatter
1st (6/day) — Chill Touch, Burning Hands, Magic Missile, Mage Armor, True Strike
0 (at will) — Dancing Lights, Flare, Light, Ray of Frost, Blood, Message, Daze
Bloodline Undead
Bloodline Arcana Corporeal undead are susceptible to your mind-affecting spells.
Bloodline Powers
Grave Touch — Able to summon a familiar.
Death’s Gift — Resist cold 5, and DR 5/Magic & Silver


Stats


Str 16 (+3) Dex 20 (+5) Con — (–) Int 13 (+1) Wis 6 (-2) Cha 21 (+5)
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 21
Feats Iron Will, Spell Focus/Greater Spell Focus (Evocation), Dominate Focus (+1 Dominate DC), Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Toughness, Eschew Materials,
Skills Perception(+12), Spellcraft (+10), Use Magic Device (+14),
Languages Common, The Gravespeech, Draconic, Goblin
SQ
–Blood Drain: If an opponent is pinned, may deal 1d4 Con damage per round. Gains +5 HP (or +5 temporary HP) for each round blood is drained.
Children of the Night: 1/day, summon 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or 2d6 wolves as a standard action. Creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds, and remain for 1 hour.
–Create Spawn: Creatures slain by blood drain or energy drain rise as subservient vampires within 1d4 days.
–Dominate: Target must succeed on a will save (DC 19) or fall under the effects of a Dominate spell.
–Energy Drain: Creatures hit by slam attacks gain two negative levels.
–Change Shape: May assume the form of a dire bat or wolf, as Beast Shape II
–Gaseous Form:
As a standard action, or upon reaching 0 HP, the vampire can assume Gaseous Form indefinitely. Has a fly speed of 20ft with perfect maneuverability.
–Shadowless: Casts no shadows, nor is he reflected in a mirror
–Spider Climb: May climb surfaces as though under the effects of the Spider Climb spell.
–Combat Reflexes: May make up to 5 attacks of opportunity per round. Even while flat footed.

Weaknesses
–Aversion: Cannot tolerate the strong odor of garlic, mirrors, nor strongly presented holy symbols. Must succeed on a DC 25 will save each round, or stay at least 5ft away from these objects.
Entrance: Cannot enter any private home or dwelling unless invited by someone with the authority to do so.
–Sunlight: Exposure to direct sunlight causes the staggered condition in the first round, and utter destruction in the second round.
–Running Water: Being submerged in running water deals damage equal to 1/3rd of max hit points per round. Upon reaching 0HP, the character cannot escape using gaseous form as normal.
–Wooden Stake: If a wooden stake is driven through the heart while Sestronatara is helpless, she is instantly slain. However, if the stake is ever removed, she returns to life unless her head is also severed and burned.

Gear Staff of Impact (+2, Knockdown), Key Ring (Opens her secret treasure room), Wand of Fireball (8 charges), Close-Call-Cloak (+1 to all saves)

Colorful Characters 24: Kringular Clawfist

Santa The Barbarian Comic Cover
Santa the Barbarian comic book cover, from Maximum Press

(Fun story: I made this stat block for Christmas 2011, but I didn’t get around to writing the backstory until after Christmas, so I decided to put it off for a year.)

Kringular Clawfist is one of the last truly immortal elves. Most others have long since left the mortal realm to explore other planes, or died through conflict. But Kringular has always been different. His great passion, which he never tired of in countless millenia, was family. The elf fathered many children, and loved them dearly throughout their whole lives. But long lived as elves are, none of Kringular’s children could truly be immortal as he was. Over tens of thousands of years, Kringular watched each of his children die in turn. At first he sought to find solace in his younger offspring, but they to would eventually grow old and die. To a true immortal like himself, even a hundred thousand years seemed a pitifully short time to live.

Driven mad with grief, Kringular came to believe that life was meaningless. If it has an end, what point can there be? Existence was a cruel joke played by cruel gods who wished to give the short lived a glimpse of something beautiful so just so they could take it away. And Kringular was their audience. Forced to watch the same joke repeat over and over again.

He could not bear it. He would not allow the gods their cruelty. Kringular swore an oath to end every life in defiance of the gods. For tens of thousands of years he has worked to keep that oath, walking at random, killing every living creature he encounters, and thinking it a kindness. He has become completely irrational in his quest, unable to comprehend that others may value their short lives. In his view, they have been fooled.

In quiet moments, Kringular makes toys as he once did for his children. It’s doubtful that his conscious mind is even aware of the act. He merely fiddles with the construction in his hands while he walks, or sits staring blankly ahead. He never looks at his work, and the moment a toy is completed he immediately drops it to the ground and begins another.

Kringular Clawfist (CR 6)
XP: 3,200
Male Elven Barbarian 7
CE medium humanoid
Init +2; Senses Perception +14, Low Light Vision


Defenses


AC 19, Flat Footed 14, Touch 15 [10 + Armor(5) + Dex(3) + Dodge(1)] (add +2 against traps) (Cannot be caught flat footed or flanked.)
hp 71 (7d12 + 21)
dr 1/-
Immunities Sleep effects
Fort +8 Ref +4 (+6 against traps) Will +4 (+6 v. Enchantments)


Offense


Speed 45ft
Melee Heavy Warhammer +13/8 (2d6 +6/x3)


Stats


Str 17 (+3) Dex 14 (+2) Con 17 (+3) Int 14 (+2) Wis 14 (+2) Cha 15 (+2)
Base Atk +7/2; CMB +10; CMD 22
Feats Extra Rage, Dodge, Fleet, Skill Focus (Stealth)
Skills Climb (+13), Handle Animal (+12), Craft(Toys) (+12), Perception (+14), Ride (+12), Stealth (+12), Survival (+12)
Languages Common, Elven
SQ
–Rage (25 Rounds/Day):
+4 to Str and Con, +2 to Will Saves, -2 AC
Rage Power(No Escape): Can move double-speed as an immediate action if opponent attempts withdraw action. Must end move adjacent to the enemy which withdrew.
Rage Power(Night Vision): Has Darkvision up to 60ft while raging.
Rage Power(Knockback): 1/round, may make a bull rush attempt in place of a melee attack. If successful, the target takes damage equal to Kringular’s Strength modifier, and is moved back as normal. Kringular does not need to move with the target, nor does this provoke an attack of opportunity.
Gear +3 Heavy Warhammer, +2 Studded Leather Armor, Belt of Displacement, Boots of Easy Passage, Gloves of Flight, Great Bag of Holding, 1,500 gold pieces, innumerable toys.


Item Descriptions


Belt of Displacement Allows Kringular to pass through solid objects such as walls or floors at will. Activating this ability is a standard action.
Boots of Easy Passage Allows Kringular to cast gaseous form as the spell at will.
Gloves of Flight Allow Kringular to cast Flight as the spell at will.
Great Bag of Holding is a bag of holding which holds a potentially limitless amount of items. Only Kringular can use this item without being encumbered. Even a horse, or cart, or giant would find itself struggling to hold the heavy object.

Colorful Characters 23: Higgins Dreadgrin

skeleton wizard by dulemorison
Skeleton Wizard by DuleMorison

When it all started, Higgins was just a lowly magician’s apprentice tagging along on his master’s adventures. He learned spells as best he could from the elder mage, but his primary job was to carry scrolls and lanterns, and occasionally fire a crossbow. That was fine until stray skeleton’s claw tore the face from Higgins’ mentor. Just like that, the apprentice was the only wizard in the room, and his companions needed a wizard. Higgins stepped up and did his best to fill his master’s role in the party, and succeed beyond his wildest imaginings.

Master Waggletongue had always seemed so accomplished to Higgins. He had hung on the elder caster’s every word, but it wasn’t long before he reached parity with, and then exceeded, his mentor’s abilities. The rush of power Higgins felt as his mastery over the arcane grew was addicting. He lusted for greater power more than he had ever lusted for anything in his life. Through his adventures, he continued to gain more and more of it. He uncovered ancient rituals scribed in tomes beneath the earth, and rediscovered spells which had been forgotten centuries ago.

As he grew more powerful, Higgins also grew more ambitious. Why should he limit his quest for power to the arcane arts which common folk considered ‘socially acceptable.’ Who were they to place limits upon a wizard? For that matter, why should he limit his pursuit of power to the arcane arts at all. Who better to lead those pitiful common folk than he? In darkness, Higgins began to study forbidden magical arts. And in silence, he began to plot the overthrow of Zorfath’s ruling council. Once he ruled this pitiful town he might even extend his reach further. Perhaps one day, he could even match the great Necromancer King who wages his bloody wars in the south!

Higgins became so caught up in his grand plans that he began to view them as inevitable. Nothing would stop him, because nothing could stop him. Without realizing it, Higgins began to doubt his own mortality. He tried never to act foolishly, but all it took was one slip. One arrogant step forward when his companions were staying back. Higgins Dreadgrin had his mortality reaffirmed by a quartet of skeletal demon rats which tore the flesh from his bones. His companions fled, turning to Higgins’ apprentice for assistance, as they had once turned to him so long ago.

Unlike most men, though, the tale of Higgins Dreadgrin does not end with his death. For the place in which he died was cursed. A powerful aura of evil permeated the place, and mere hours after breathing his last breath, Higgins’ bones clambered out of their skin, and stood on their own. Higgins had been raised as a skeleton, like the ones which had killed his master. Like the ones which had recently killed him. And yet, for some strange reason which is still not entirely clear to the wizard, Higgins did not become mindless. Perhaps it is because of the power of his intellect, or because of his budding knowledge of necromancy. Perhaps destiny itself would not allow his existence to end on the stone floor of a forgotten dungeon.Whatever the reason, Higgins retained all of his mind, even when the only thing he retained from his body was his bones.

With nowhere else to go, Higgins traveled South, to the lands of the Necromancer King. He traveled only at night so his monstrous form would not be noticed. But once he crossed into the Necromancer King’s lands, it was remarkably easy to fit in. He made his way, in the open, to the palace of the Necromancer King himself. He easily made his way inside with the other workers, and once there, found that he essentially had the run of the castle. Occasionally he had to perform some task or another so he could maintain the illusion that he was only a mindless undead, but Higgins actually had most of his time to himself. Every living creature who might have found his presence suspicious simply ignored him. All of the skeletons looked alike, and since none of them had a mind of their own, everyone assumed that whatever a skeleton was doing was a task given to them by someone else.

For decades, Higgins hid himself amongst the Necromancer King’s servants. He observed rituals, analyzed incantations, and read every scroll and codex in the castle a dozen times over. He turned the greatest necromantic resource in the world inside out. And when he was done, he walked up behind the Necromancer King, and cut out his heart before he could cry out. Higgins considered tearing out the king’s skeleton, and wearing his meat like a suit. He could make it look convincing if he was careful, and as he started to decompose he could claim he was becoming a Lich. After a year, he could shed the skin altogether, and none would be the wiser.

But after decades, Higgins was done hiding. Instead, he paraded the corpse of the mighty Necromancer in front of his greatest servants, and demanded that they submit to him as their master’s successor. A few dissented, but the majority bent their knee to Higgins Dreadgrin when the dissenters were immolated. It was a rush of power like none Higgins had ever felt before. It was intoxicating beyond imagining. And more than anything, he found he wanted to go back to where it all began, so he could easily accomplish the ‘lofty’ goals which had been denied to him in life.

That night, the armies of Lord Dreadgrin marched North, to Zorfath.

Higgins Dreadgrin (CR 16)
XP: 76,800
Male Human Skeleton Wizard 17
LE medium undead
Init +8; Senses Perception +0


Defenses


AC 20, Flat Footed 16, Touch 16 [10 + Dex(4) + Natural Armor(2) + Robes of Natural Armor (2) + Ring of Protection (2)]
hp 116 (17d8 +34)
Fort +5 Ref +9 Will + 12
DR 5/Bludgeoning
Defensive Abilities Channel Resistance +4, Immune to Cold, Undead Traits


Offense


Speed 30ft
Melee Claw Attack (x2) +7/2 (1d4 – 1)
Ranged Heavy Crossbow + 14/9 (1d10 + 1)(19-20/x2)(120ft) (Speed: During full attack, may make 2 attacks at max BAB)

Prepared Wizard Spells (CL 17th; Concentration +21; +2 save DC for Necromancy and Evocation spells)
9th — Meteor Swarm +Energy Drain
8th — Polar Ray x2 +Horrid Wilting
7th — Delayed Blast Fireball, Forcecage, Mage’s Sword +Finger of Death
6th —  Chain Lightning, Contingency x2, Eyebite +Undeath to Death
5th — Cloudkill x2, Cone of Cold, Symbol of Pain +Waves of Fatigue
4th — Black Tentacles, Dimension Door, Ice Storm, Wall of Fire x2 +Contagion
3rd — Protection from Energy, Phantom Steed, Fireball x2, Wind Wall, Flame Arrow, Gaseous Form, Haste, Greater Magic Weapon+Vampiric Touch
2nd —Fog Cloud, Detect Thoughts, Shatter, Darkness, Ghoul Touch +False Life
1st — Burning Hands x2, Magic Missile x3+Cause Fear
0 (at will)– Bleed, Open/Close, Ray of Frost x2

Bonded Object The right index finger of Higgins’ teacher, on a chain around Higgins’ neck.
Arcane School
Necromancy
Opposed Schools Enchantment, Illusion
School Powers
Power Over Undead (Su): 9/day, may channel energy to Command Undead as the feat.(PFSRD Pg. 120)  DC: 19
Grave Touch (Su): 7/day, may make a melee touch attack causes living creature to become shaken for 8 rounds. (already shaken creatures become frightened for 1 round if they have fewer than 17HD).
Life Sight (Su): For 17 rounds per day, can detect living and undead creatures up to a range of 30ft, as a form of Blindsight


Stats


Str 9 (-1) Dex 18 (+4) Con — (–) Int 19 (+4) Wis 11 (+0) Cha 12 (+1)
Base Atk +8/3; CMB +7; CMD 20
Feats  Scribe Scroll, Craft Magical Arms and Armor, Weapon Focus (Crossbow), Extra Channeling, Iron Will, Spell Focus (Necromancy), Greater Spell Focus (Necromancy), Spell Focus (Evocation), Greater Spell Focus (Evocation), Channel Resistance +4; Metamagic: Extend Spell, Empower Spell, Widen Spell, Quicken Spell, Improved Initiative
Skills Bluff (+18), Craft(Tailoring)(+24), Knowledge(Arcana)(+24), Knowledge(Dungeoneering)(+24), Knowledge(Undead)(+24), Spellcraft (+24)
Languages Common, Ancient Common, Gestural Common, The Gravespeech, Draconic
Gear Three Spellbooks, each bearing a powerful curse if stolen: Arcanum Necronomica, The Book of Pain, and Utilis Magicam; An iron, 3 horned helm of sentimental value; Wand of  Lightning Bolt with 16 charges, Ring of Protection +2, Ring of Wizardry III, Robes of Natural Armor +2, +1 Heavy Speed Crossbow, Staff of Swarming Insects (PFSRD Pg 495), 180gp

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