'Come in, come in. I knew you were coming.
How did I know? Your brother told me.
Yes, yes I know your brother died in the war several years ago, he has told me all about it.'
Albus is an older man, with a full beard of formerly black hair that is surely working its way to a full and glorious silver. As it is now, it juts out in a rather comical way, giving him the appearance of having an insulted cat clinging to the bottom of his face. The rest of his hair is still mostly black, but it is turning gray, there are precious few magics that can turn back the clock truly. There is a soft reflection in his eyes, as if he is somewhere between nostalgic memories and falling asleep.
He wears the robes of a cleric, but they are always white. He also wears several medallions dedicated to several beneficial gods and their appropriate saints. Most notable is the golden symbol of the god of death and the underworld. He carries a black staff that has been oddly twisted, and seems to absorb both light and heat. It never shines, nor does it ever warm to the touch.
Albus was a yonug man once, a fact that many people are quick to forget. He was a lusty man, filled with a great desire to go and compete in tournaments, and fulfill epic quests and to shag fey elfin princesses. This was a suitable life for a while, but the quests always boiled down into political agendas, and the princesses were betrothed, or were more orcish in nature than Elfin in beauty. He was discouraged, but persevered.
Then, he and his jolly band of sellswords and scallywags were betrayed by a contractor. Albus was the only member of the band to escape with his life, and only just barely at that. He retired from the sword, leaving it in a cask in his basement. His modest career as an adventurer had left him fairly well off and he was able to look into academics. He had the desire earlier, but the testosterone fueled attitude of his friends belied any chance to delve into the arts of literature and philosophy.
Except that his friends kept coming to see him. This can be disconcerting, considering that they were dead. Albus was understandably upset, but after several startling encounters he realized that he was one of the few with the gift/curse of being to see the restless shades of the dead. Why? He wondered had the ability not manifested sooner, when his friends were alive.
Research into the matter revealed that many mediums do not manifest their talent until exposure to necrotic essence, or being in a life threatening situation in which there are casualties, especially friends or loved ones. Albus continued his studies, reading book after book, and consulting a few sages who owed him a favor or two, or could be bribed with a bit of loot from a raided tomb or lair.
When his studies passed from mundane into the realm of necromancy, and the blackest of arts, Albus isn't sure. He realized that he was delving into the magic of the dead and despite being a somewhat pious man, and certainly no fiend, devil, or black hearted necromancer, he had a talent for it. The magic came easily, summoning ghosts, and banishing them. He learned of the gloomy underworld where the restless were denied passage back into the bosom of creation.
He learned of the fetters and passions of the dead, and how to ease their passage from undeath into rebirth. Messages could be delivered, and deeds performed, and there was seemingly no end to the good he could do. Even vengeful and evil ghosts could be banished, or unraveled. St. Duncan the Exorcist became his patron saint, yet it seemed blaspemous to delve into the nether realm, the domain of the Guardian of Death, and pay no homage to that dark one.
But everything has a catch. There are a great man ghosts, and one man cannot hope to complete their needs. The dead are selfish, and they are demanding, and Albus was beset with them, unable to sleep, or eat or concentrate. He lost his wife who couldnt understand the restless or his behaviour. He almost lost his life when a particularly cunning ghost was moving him to betray a powerful mortal lord. He had to do something.
And he did. He agreed to help any ghost who asked him, but they had to do something for him first. The task or deed varied from ghost to ghost. Some were asked to share their wisdom, writting their words into ashen scrolls. Others were asked to spy on people, and some were asked to serve as protection. These would coral the others into a semblance of order, allowing the old man time to himself.
Slowly, but surely, Albus became a well known and respected magus. His wisdom was unmatched, save by the arch-magi and the Guildmaster of Sages. His library is the finest in the kingdom, containing epics of fallen kingdoms, and the wisdom of philosopher-scientists and artificers. And he endeavors on, finding satisfaction in the alms given to the churches, and helping the worthy dead find their rest.
Staff of the Underworld - Despite it's name, this staff has no massively evil or neferious powers. It was cut and hewn from the black trees that line the river of the dead, by the hands of a long dead woodsman whom wanted his remains moved to a proper burial and funeral. THe staff was his to craft and give. Being from the underworld, it does not reflect light, nor will it grow warm to the touch. It has several minor powers. It allows the owner to see into the gloomy underworld reflection of creation, and it protects the owner from being possessed, or otherwise affected by a malevolent ghost. Any attempt draws the ghost into the staff, where it resides for an undetermined amount of time before being released.
The Ghostly Quill - This is a large black feather, a foot long and tipped with charcoal colored silver. The feather came from one of the deathless birds of the underworld, and thus exists both here and there. The ghosts of the learned can use this quill to scratch out their words and knowledge on parchment. Albus researched this item since allowing ghosts to possess his body to write was a disaster from very nearly the begining.
Dirty Loot - To the untrained eye, this heap of jewelry, gold, and enchanted weapons looks like the motherlode of cash! But it is all tainted. Each item, each gold button and silver ring are grave goods of ghosts, offered as payment to the Nethermancer. Ill luck follows those who take it for greed. This could be a whole new item of its own...hmmm
Albus is a well meaning man, but he has seen the very worst of mankind. He has seen both the deeds of their hands, as well as the shades left by murder and betrayal, or depression and assassination. He is very knowledgeable, moreso than any man his age would be. He is cautious, yet impeccably polite. He is also very sensitive to deceit, infernalism, or ill-intent on the part of his visitors, be they alive or dead.
The Messenger - Albus, or an intermediary approaches the PCs. He could bring words of wisdom from a dead ally, such as pointing a bloody finger at a betrayer, or reveal the last bit of the puzzle. Alternately, he could bring a cryptic warning or the initiation of a quest sent from the land of the dead that must be heeded lest really uncool and bad stuff should happen.
Stigma - One or more of the PCs have been afflicted by the undead. (Bitten by a zombie, vampirized, possessed by an evil ghost, molested by Casper) They find by word of mouth that Albus Sintaba is their man, and they should hurry, since he is busy and their friend doesnt have much time.
Ditto - One of the PCs wishes to contact the spirit of a beloved (serious role-players here) and cannot simply go to Zagathar the Black and Lord of the Unholy Army of Death. Instead they have to follow up the path of the White Necromancer (BTW - Albus will refer to himself as a NETHERmancer and never as a NECROmancer.) Mold clay on a spinning wheel as you like.
Rings! Rings! Rings! - Beset by a particularly powerful foe (Vampire Lord, Liche, Teenage girl killed in a well) Albus will seek to enlist the aid of the PCs. He can offer them favors to be repaid later, or some base loot if the PCs are greedy. This offers the PCs a chance to meet the Nethermancer, as well as showing if they are heroes, or mercenaries.
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? Responses (10)-10
I must say that this NPC is remarkably easy to use in any setting. Apart from that I like him. He is somewhat predictable but in a good way. Because he is logically constructed I guess. Well done.
Very cool. Not what you would expect. I like this thread and the characters in it.
A believable and useful NPC, great piece of background.
He might also have some other motives, now that his life is back on its track, like winning the wife back, or organizing clergy, founding graveyards etc. to ensure that there are less restless spirits...
A very good and interesting approach to a necromancer.
Thanks for the inspiration! Another atypical necromancer on the way
Excellent NPC and the items are good too!
Well written and thought-trough character. I guess dead men DO tell tales...
One of my favorite characters here. Thumbs up!
A good person-not everyone involved with the dead should be evil.
Wow. A necromancer who is not after "UNLIMITED POWER! Muahahaha!" Believable, sympathetic, and useful. 5/5