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October 17, 2014, 10:29 pm

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Seven Forms Ascendant Hunter 1.0

By:

Honor is in the Eye of the Beholder

In the realm of Floating Diamonds, parents give a newborn babe a simple name which speaks of the hopes its parents hold for its future. This was the case for the parents of the girl named Hunter. At her birth, Hunter’s father cursed, for Hunter was born thin and sickly. But the midwife stilled his tongue with a glare.

"Care for this child," she told the father. "For she will become a Hunter."

Midwives in Floating Diamonds are all blessed with The Sight - or rather all those blessed with The Sight are taught to be midwives. So Hunter's father held his tongue, though he doubted her words in his heart - those with The Sight are not infallible.

From almost the time her legs could bear her weight and her hands grasp a weapon, Hunter learned to fight. Hunter's father was a harsh, unforgiving tutor. Hunter learned early to cry, and then to stop crying. From her father, and later the clan’s soldier/scholars, Hunter learned to be strong, and she learned duty. Hunter lived, ate, drank, slept, and dreamt nothing but the art of war and duty to her clan and her Lord.

On the day of her coming of age, Hunter took her second name... and her first life. Only thirteen, Hunter was the youngest in ten generations to master two forms of fighting. Always thin, her sinuous, agile frame had easily mastered the Style of the Striking Viper. But she was also deceptively strong, the strength in her arms and legs more than enough to master the Style of the Silent Constrictor. And so as her father watched proudly, the clan’s headman proclaimed her Two Forms Hunter.

Some boys from the village took exception to her name, thinking it ridiculous such a scrawny girl could master two forms. Confronting her on a wooded path after her ceremony, one boy sought to test her. While his friends egged him on, he struck Two Forms Hunter brutally, intent on doing her harm. Two Forms Hunter responded exactly as a lifetime of training taught her. In the all-too-brief fight, Two Forms Hunter struck the boy a series of seemingly delicate blows, stunning him at select pressure points. Then she wrapped a thin, sinewy leg around his neck and wrenched, snapping his neck. The other boys ran off as Two Forms Hunter shoved her first victim’s corpse away from her.

Two Forms Hunter was brought before the clan's headman for her deed. Two Forms Hunter did not shrink from the charge. She stood defiantly against his accusations and the accusations of the boys who bore witness against her. She had done exactly as she had always been taught; she had met her foe in battle and emerged victorious. She resolutely refused to apologize or even acknowledge any wrongdoing, instead demanding she be honored for her first victory in battle.

The headman looked down upon the unrepentant child and made the only decree he possibly could. Two Forms Hunter was taken from her family and delivered to the tender care of the warrior monks at Shining Temple, where she would study for five years in utmost secrecy with the revered masters. Very little is known of the secrets and techniques used at Shining Temple. But those who enter either never return, or return as battle-hardened warriors of the highest caliber.

Five years later, Seven Forms Hunter emerged from the chrysalis of Shining Temple, prepared to enter service to her Lord. To her two unarmed styles, she had added mastery of the Ring Sword, The Paired Smallswords, the Three Part Rod, The Staff, and the Whip, this latter a favorite of hers when combined with her sinuous snake-like fighting moves. She had also shown some talent with a bow, though she claimed no mastery of it. Seven Forms Hunter entered the service of her lord as warrior, soldier, and soon as champion.

In five more years, Seven Forms Hunter earned many honors and gained a great reputation. Her prowess on the field of battle and in the circle of honor were proven time and again. It was she who fought and killed Nine Forms Mastery of Water in the circle, avoiding his swift blows with even swifter moves and striking with deadly precision as he began to flag. It was Seven Forms Hunter who battled a company of the Tenth Lord of Grand Stone's warriors to a standstill in Lone Eagle Pass, holding the pass for three tireless days until reinforcements arrived. It was she who killed the Tyrant Lord of Whistling Sky, her bare hands at his throat, slowly choking the life from him as he flailed and pummeled her uselessly.

For this last act, the Lord’s champion earned the honor of her final name. But on the very night of the ritual of naming, Seven Forms Ascendant Hunter betrayed and murdered her lord. After bestowing her name, he instructed her to accompany him to his chambers. There, he set upon her. It is the duty of those who serve to submit, but Seven Forms Ascendant Hunter did not.

Her lord reacted with anger and brutality, cruelly attempting to take by force that which she should have given freely, all the while promising punishment for her refusal would be equally cruel. Hunter reacted to his attack just as she'd been taught, just as she had in her Lord’s service these five years. She struck with ferocity and precision. Just as she has done to that boy ten years ago, she stunned and paralyzed him with blows to select pressure points, then she wrapped her legs around his neck. He watched her face as she hesitated a single moment, and had a moment where he thought she would spare him. Then she snapped his neck.

Honor dictated her life was forfeit for this deed. By all rights, Seven Forms Ascendant Hunter should have fallen to her knees and taken her own life. But she looked at the body of the Lord she’d served without question for five years. And she spat upon him.

Hunter fled that night, leaving behind her honor, her name, and her clan. Pursued by men she once called friends, peppered with arrows, wounded and in pain of body and spirit, she raced for the Gate, a portal known to the clan, but forbidden to all by the Lord’s decree. But the Lord was dead, and Hunter, now a desperate fugitive, dared. The Gate welcomed her, engulfing her in blackness.

Hunter woke to find herself in the care of men and women of unusual coloring and odd features. The legends were true: this was another world, with another people living here. They were paler, taller, with sharp features and eyes she found curiously exotic in their more level appearance. Their faces bore strange tattoos, an odd custom to her thinking.

These people, members of the Five Orders of the Ivory Tower, nursed Hunter to health and asked her her story. She lied, claiming the name Hunter, claiming to have escaped a losing battle and making her way to the gate to avoid capture. They accepted her story and cared for her, treating her wounds from the arrows.

As she recovered, Hunter grew restless. One day, she left her room and wandered the grounds of the estate. When she found herself near a training yard, she watched as men and women bearing golden marks on their bodies practiced with weapons and unarmed techniques. Feeling more at home here than anywhere, Hunter stepped into the yard and began to practice her own forms, not knowing the taboo she was breaking by doing so.

When one of the golden tattooed men attacked her without warning, Hunter quickly dodged his attack and broke his arm. More would have attacked her but her host intervened, pleading her ignorance. Later, once all was explained, Hunter apologized for the misunderstanding. All was forgiven and even the man she bested praised her prowess, more impressed by her skill than angry at his defeat.

After fully recovering, Hunter's hosts presented her to the leaders of the order. After speaking with her, they offered Hunter her own tattoos, and a place among them if she wished it. Being a foreigner she could not by law bear the golden tattoos of the Order of Aurous, warriors all, and so was offered the green markings of the Viridian Order. Hunter accepted the offer and the kinship of the Viridian Order. Over the following year she studied the history of her adopted people while accepting the painful markings.

Viridian’s master artist looked deep into Hunter’s soul, and etched an intricate series of supple green, leafy vines on every inch of Hunter’s flesh. Over the year of work, he came to know her body intimately... but it was the intimacy of the artist and his canvas. When he was done the unbroken length of vine wound around Hunter’s arms, legs, torso, neck and even her face. Tendrils wrapped each finger and toe, while leaves held and frames... other places.

The markings were not merely decorative. As the artist worked, Hunter felt the vines come alive on her skin, moving along her, almost growing on her. Sometimes the leaves would even blow in the breeze. Soon, Hunter learned to allow the vines to roam from her, to use as a tool to climb, to grab.

The most important days in Hunter's life were all double-edged, and the day Hunter was to present herself to the elders and begin her new life as a Sister of Viridian was just such a day. Before the ceremony could begin men arrived, soldiers from Hunter’s land searching for a murderer and traitor. They sought out the elders, demanding an audience. Despite the kindness shown her, despite the solace she had found there, Hunter fled once more, afraid the elders would turn on her the way her Lord had.

This was five years ago, and Hunter has continued to flee, never remaining in one place for very long for fear of being found, and made to face her past. She still practices each morning, but has found little need among the spheres for a warrior of her caliber. Needing coin, and needing someone to serve to feel complete, Hunter discovered a new use for her skills, and for the camouflage her tattoos afford.

Hunter has become an assassin.

Attributes and Skills

Hunter is far stronger than her thin frame would suggest, exceptionally agile, and remarkably skilled in several forms of combat. She prefers to fight unarmed but recognizes the usefulness of her other weapons in certain situations. In a fight, she can easily best a squad of trained, well-equipped soldiers.

Hunter is not a great thinker, though she’s no dullard. She is reasonably perceptive and her eye is well trained in sizing up potential opponents.

The Viridian Vine covering Hunter offers natural camouflage. She is very hard to detect when she is in shadow or darkness, or especially among vegetation, provided she is mostly unclothed.

The vine etched on Hunter's flesh is not decorative. It is a single, living, growing vine winding its way all over her body. Hunter controls it, and it moves with a speed and strength that equals her own. It has two ends, and its total length reaches nearly the height of 20 men. Some part of it must always remain anchored to Hunter. Though tough, the vine can be severed. It will regrow however, usually in a few weeks, though healing magics used upon Hunter seem to affect the vines as well.

The vine was bestowed as a tool and an aid, and Hunter prefers to use it in this way. However, when pressed, when fighting for her life, Hunter will use every advantage, including this one.

Appearance

Hunter usually travels completely covered in a heavy, hooded traveling cloak to hide her distinctive appearance. Shrouded in her hood, only her voice and size hint at her gender. Removing her cloak reveals a an attractive, trim woman (played by actress Bai Ling). She is very slight of build, though fit and toned, and relatively tall for her people, making her about average in height among females from other lands. Under her cloak her clothes are brief, and designed to allow maximum freedom of movement.

Attitude

Hunter believes she abandoned her honor in her Lord’s chamber all those years ago. She believes herself to be a wretched thing, too much a coward to do what a lifetime of training and tradition have demanded. She still believes she should die for her crime, but even now, she refuses to do so. Because of this, Hunter is difficult to get close to. If someone learned of her past, she believes, they would surely see as she does, that she must die. Hunter would as surely be forced to kill them to remain alive too. Such is the totality of Hunter's upbringing.

Hunter avoids interacting with others wherever possible, but when she must, she is reserved and polite. She has a penchant for speaking very specifically and literally. It's not evasiveness, at least not usually. She sees the world in these terms. She is precise and exacting in her words because she is precise and exacting. She also shows little outward sign that she regrets any part of her life.

Inwardly, some part of Hunter prays she will one day meet the warrior who will finally bring an end to her existence.

Possible Hooks

Hunter is an NPC in Everway, a game characterized by multiple worlds connected by mystical gates, however this could easily be tweaked to part of a single world.

Hunter may be an assassin sent after a PC. She possesses more honor than she believes, however, and if it can be demonstrated the PC does not deserve the fate she brings, Hunter could be turned aside from her task without a fight, even taught that she deserves life.

Hunter may be found fleeing from a recent job, or from soldiers of her old home. Hunter does not wish to harm anyone more than she has to, and so she flees rather than killing her pursuers.

Earlier in her life, Hunter may be an enemy soldier, or even met during her time with the Ivory Tower. Perhaps the course of her life may change if PCs can learn of her past and convince her that only false honor demands her life for defending her virtue.

The PCs may be hired to pursue Hunter by the new Lord of Floating Diamond. Or perhaps the Aurous Warrior she bested, searching for answers and the woman he called friend for a year before she fled.

In actual play, one version of Hunter remained in service to the Ivory Tower, trying to replace the honor she lost in killing one Lord by faithfully serving another. But when that new Lord commanded her to do a dishonorable thing by betraying the PCs, she helped them instead.

In another version, Hunter bought passage on a ship owned by the Heroes, and during the voyage crewmen began dying, strangled in the night by something closely resembling her vine. It turned out her last victim was a powerful sorcerer whose spirit possessed her vine, and was killing men to frame her while she slept.



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Comments ( 11 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted knowman
September 4, 2013, 16:51
5xp
I like it. A good solid foundation to build on.

I get the whole "important days were double-edged" bit, but Hunter's 2nd escape came across as a little forced to me. Maybe I'm just a sucker for happy endings and don't like the idea that the bad guys are going to show up just in time to ruin some other important moment for her. I feel like if the intro had ended with her joining the Vridian order and that turned out to be an order of assassins, that would be a better starting point. But that's my take on it, and I thank you for providing such a strong introduction for the character.
Longspeak
September 4, 2013, 17:29
0xp
Thanks for the feedback. Maybe there's a better way to put the second escape to show my intent better. Hunter flees before she even learns what her new people will do. She never felt like she deserved this second chance and when she saw the soldiers come, she couldn't take the chance. So she fled, and she will continue to flee for as long as she lives unless something changes.
Voted Darkstand
September 4, 2013, 17:22
5xp
It is a interesting and very fully fleshed backstory that can be used in many campaigns with a little tweaking.
The culture clash that is bound to result should lead to interesting roleplay and a good DM can simply sit back and let the players do the work for a little while.
knowman
September 5, 2013, 9:22
5xp
I missed that intent you mentioned - that makes much more sense understanding that.

Maybe something like "Despite the kindness that they had shown her/despite the solace she had found there, Hunter fled once more, afraid the elders would turn on her the way her Lord had."? Just a suggestion.

But it makes more sense when you point that angle out, and I'm sure other people saw that from the way it was written originally.
Longspeak
September 5, 2013, 12:23
0xp
I liked it. I used it.
Voted Scrasamax
September 5, 2013, 20:35
6xp
Like Joss Whedon, I'm a sucker for chicks who can kick ass and take names. Good story, and again, I love the naming structures and story elements.
Voted valadaar
September 9, 2013, 22:40
6xp
An interesting character, well written and detailed. You have already painted a good picture of your world and I look forward to seeing more!
Longspeak
September 10, 2013, 18:20
0xp
Update: A few more typos noticed and a small formatting change; moved a paragraph.
Voted MysticMoon
September 21, 2013, 21:46
Only voted
Longspeak
October 15, 2014, 13:43
0xp
Update: Slight refinements and tweaks, minor editing, caught a few more typos.
Voted PoisonAlchemist
October 16, 2014, 20:52
5xp
There is a lot I like, and a lot I don't.

The Viridian Vine is worth an entire sub itself IMHO. Would love to read about that and other tattoos for each of the orders. A lot of the subtle implications are also very good but often to vague so that I am left wondering things like what her relationship with the tattoo artist was. You seem to have a very clear idea of who she is and I can see that in the last few paragraphs. She is certainly a distinctive character with a personality, motivations, and way of being worked into a game all of which is great.

My serious problem is that I never felt any of that strongly in her backstory, or even that certain events of her backstory would lead her to that who she is now. So why did I have to spend 10 minutes reading it? Her story of unrepentantly killing the young boy does not lead me to believe that that she knows what it means to die. Her spitting on her lords corpse does not lead me to believe that she is filled with guilt and simply too cowardly to do the honorable thing and kill herself. The result feels disjointed; she has 5 major scenery shifts, a major occupation shift - assassin and warrior skillsets are very different - and the shift in personality between who we have seen and who you have told us she is.

Sorry for being a jerk, but I think you can do better.
Longspeak
October 17, 2014, 12:49
0xp
PA, thanks for this. This is the sort of feedback I look for. Of course I like it when people say "5/5 HoH Would Buy Again" but only if there's really no real room for improvement. Let's look at your issues and see if there's a way to clarify or better convey some of these elements...

The Vine doesn't have a sub, but the Five Orders of Ivory Tower do have a piece which links to this one. It discusses the ruling class of the Desert Realms, the tattoo-bearing Five Orders.

Hunter's relationship with the tattoo artist was not meant to be vague. The turn of phrase was meant to say or suggest he tattooed her everywhere, without bing too vulgar about it. He touched her in places where only a lover should... but it was all so he could complete his work. Their relationship began and ended at the tip of his needle. Er.... tattooing implement. :P

"My serious problem is that I never felt any of that strongly in her backstory, or even that certain events of her backstory would lead her to that who she is now."
How can we better convey that?

"Her story of unrepentantly killing the young boy does not lead me to believe that that she knows what it means to die."
At this point in the tale, 13 year old Hunter certainly does NOT know what it means to die. She's been trained since she could walk to fight, to confront opponents, and to kill them. This part of the tale is meant to demonstrate she took her lessons perhaps too much to heart. She's confronted with her first true enemy, and performs exactly as she's been taught, killing a larger, physically stronger foe. I imagine her somewhat confused by the reactions of the adults who seem to think she did something wrong instead of giving her honor for her accomplishment.

"Her spitting on her lords corpse does not lead me to believe that she is filled with guilt and simply too cowardly to do the honorable thing and kill herself."
Okay, I can see that. There's two things at work here I can maybe do a better job of conveying. She doesn't feel guilt initially, and never feels it for the crime. He attacked her, she defended herself, she won, he lost, end of story. She felt disgust because he did a disgusting thing. To be fair here, I might be letting my own feelings color the matter. But either way, she doesn't feel bad for the act in and of itself.

However, she DOES have a lifetime of societal indoctrination which says her worth lays in service to her lord, That tells her she's disgraced herself and the only right thing to do is kill herself. But the warrior part says "he attacked you and that's what happens to people to attack you. screw that guy." She doesn't WANT to die, but all this in her head tells her she SHOULD, that she DESERVES it. So she flees.

Any guilt she feels at this point is over her family and even town, who will now share in her disgrace. They will suffer because she didn't do the 'right' thing.

"The result feels disjointed; she has 5 major scenery shifts,"
From village to temple to service to her lord is no more significant a shift than, say, a modern character growing up, going to school, and getting a job. However
at the point she flees, she makes her way to the forbidden gate in a desperate bid to escape, which does lead to the largest scenery shift. This is originally an Everway NPC, and in that game major scenery shifts are commonplace as characters bounce from one world to the next.

This isn't super important to the character, though, save to explain how she ends up with the Orders. In a non-worldhopping game she could as easily be found riddled with arrows by a passing group of them who take her home and tend her wounds. But this accounts for what I see as the only truly major scenery shift, because the game itself is about major scenery shifts. :)
"a major occupation shift - assassin and warrior skillsets are very different -"
The intent here is to find a use for her skills which still lets her remain on her own and move around a lot. I don't see hired killer being that different from warrior in the broad strokes. She's not the black-clad, backstabbing, poison-in-your-sleep sort of assassin. She usually breaks their necks. Or just walks up to them and attacks. The important thing I want to convey is by this point she still doesn't really value life. She kills, just like she's always been taught, and she uses that to earn a living. She could be a mercenary, but I thought that would be less prone to leaving her as a lone wanderer.

"and the shift in personality between who we have seen and who you have told us she is."
On this one, I need help. Who have you seen? I've tried to be consistent here. She's largely the same person at the end, but still living with the weight of her past, telling her she should be dead, and her warrior training and instinct, telling her she should survive at all costs. How can I better demonstrate that?
PoisonAlchemist
October 17, 2014, 18:07
1xp
The midwife named the thin and sickly babe as she handed her to her father. “She will become a Hunter.” While midwives in Floating Diamonds are all blessed with The Sight - or rather all those blessed with The Sight are taught to be midwives - they are not infallible. Hunter’s father would always carry that doubt in his heart. The doubt that this small, squishy, pink being - his only daughter - would not die at the end of a blade. He would spend her childhood beating that doubt out of her at the end of a training sword.

By the time she was given to the clan’s soldiers and scholars for training Hunter had learned to cry, and to stop crying. She had grown strong and confident quickly, and demanded as much of her tutors as they did of her. Authority resents challenge. They would spend her adolescence beating fealty into her at the end of a choke-hold.

At the age of thirteen, Hunter was the youngest in ten generations to master two forms of fighting. Thin, her sinuous, agile frame had easily mastered the Style of the Striking Viper. Deceptively strong, her toned arms and legs were more than enough to master the Style of the Silent Constrictor. And so as her father watched proudly as the clan’s headman proclaimed her Two Forms Hunter.

The clan’s young men took exception at the scrawny girl’s honor, and confronted her after the ceremony to put her in her place. As the first attacked Two Forms Hunter responded exactly as a lifetime of training taught her. In the all-too-brief fight she struck the boy a series of seemingly delicate blows to his pressure points, then she wrapped a sinewy leg around his neck and wrenched. The other boys fled to the safety of authority as Two Forms Hunter shoved her first victim’s corpse aside.

When brought before the clan’s headman Two Forms Hunter did not shrink from the charge. There were no apologies to be made. She had done exactly as she had always been taught; she had met her foe in battle and emerged victorious for the honor of herself and her clan. The clan’s headman looked upon the unrepentant child, the killer they had all been complicit in creating, and made the only decree he felt could. Two Forms Hunter was to be taken from her family and delivered to the warrior monks at Shining Temple. Very little is known of the secrets and techniques used at Shining Temple, but those who enter either never return, or return as battle-hardened warriors of the highest caliber. Perhaps they would beat into her an understanding of the value of life.

Five years later, Two Forms Hunter emerged from the chrysalis of Shining Temple as Seven Forms Hunter. To her two unarmed styles she had added proficiency with the Ring Sword, the Bow, Paired Smallswords, and mastery of the Three Part Rod, The Staff, and the Whip - a favorite of hers when combined with her sinuous snake-like fighting moves. Seven Forms Hunter entered the service of her lord as warrior, soldier, and soon as his loyal champion.

In five more years, Seven Forms Hunter earned many honors and gained a great reputation. Her prowess on the field of battle and in the circle of honor were proven time and again. It was she who fought and killed Nine Forms Mastery of Water in the circle, avoiding his swift blows with even swifter moves and striking with deadly precision as he began to flag. It was Seven Forms Hunter who battled a company of the Tenth Lord of Grand Stone's warriors to a standstill in Lone Eagle Pass, holding the pass for three tireless days until reinforcements arrived. It was she who killed the Tyrant Lord of Whistling Sky, her bare hands at his throat, slowly choking the life from him as he flailed and pummeled her uselessly.

With her defeat of Tyrant Lord of Whistling Sky her lord bestowed on her what would be her last honor and final name: Seven Forms Ascendant Hunter. After bestowing her name, she was instructed to appear in his chambers. It is the duty of those who serve to submit to the desires of their lord. When forced to choose between her honor as a vassal and her honor as a woman Seven Forms Ascendant Hunter refused. Her lord reacted with brutality, attempting to take by force that which fealty dictated she should have given freely. Ten years folded in upon themselves as Hunter became thirteen again, delicately striking pressure points and wrapping a her legs around his neck, but for the briefest moment there was hesitation. Honor would demand her life for his. She snapped his neck.
---
The only way I could try and figure out what I was going for was to write it out myself, to go through your thought process and her life to get a real grasp on who she is. I have gotten this far and here is where I think the sticking point is. This is not a choice between honor and survival. By refusing her lord’s advances she already implicitly chose some value we’ve never seen expressed in her (her personal sovereignty) over fealty to her lord. This in and of itself means that loyalty as your world understands it does not mean nearly as much to her as you want. Certainly not enough to feel guilt.

Guilt is when you do something YOU (not society) believe you should not have done, and the issue is that at no point does Hunter ever believe that she should not have taken this action. We explicitly see that nothing has changed from when we saw this event ten years ago. I just can’t buy that she believes that she deserves to die. If she was the innocent servant girl used to authority, yes. If she was a fresh-faced warrior full of honorable ideals, yes. But as hard as I tried I could not flavor these events enough to make her someone who believes in the hierarchy.

Perhaps part of the problem is agency. Who a person is is best conveyed through actions and what they imply. There are only three actions in her life which are not directed by others, killing the boy, refusing the lord, and killing the lord. These events tell us the same things about her: she values her survival, skill, and personal sovereignty. We never see her responding to her father’s training with humility, which would make her authoritarian. We never see her advancing the lord’s agenda on her own accord, which would make her loyal. etc.

The closest to guilt I feel she could come to is “I should not have refused my lord, I should have let him take me.” It’s very interesting but would severely undercut your strong female character. It will also drastically change other things like how she interacts with other men, sex, and authority from that point on. How does that change her relationship with the tattoo artist when he realizes his superiors have just as intimately seen his work? How does that make her more moral superiors feel when she suddenly goes under the table because she misread a signal? What about her female superiors?

Finally, I wonder how she can value her continued life so much while still exhibiting such a disregard for life in general - she never really reconciles that in the story. If she only kills when attacked or in combat assassin is a bad job choice. Calling her a contract killer or mercenary is probably better. They’re basically assassins but don’t have that fragile or sneaky connotation. They do get around a lot, they go where the money is.

Quest

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       By: Caprin_Ternor

Ten powerful magic rings created by an Archmage have scattered to ten random people (suggest only one is PC). This happened when he died in battle. Whoever gets all ten rings inherites all the power the Archmage invested to them over his 200 year life.

Ideas  ( Items ) | June 4, 2003 | View | UpVote 1xp


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