(Author's Note: This is a complete re-imaging of my old previous Kotor of the Glade, which I have also given permission to Scrasmax to rewrite as well. Instead of updating the original, I'll give everyone a chance to see the stark difference a few years can make to an idea.)
The Tomb Encounter
After The Tomb
The Great War of 100 years ago shook the island nation of Danamar. The invasion of the Tarkonans was almost complete, if not for the triumphs of the Command Company. Composed of the premier fighters and leaders of Danamar, The Command Company won the island back in a bloody war. The majority of the Command Company have been given their rightful spots in history, except for the few who passed from view and disappeared.
Their names still live on, through descendents, hushed stories, and whispered epithets. Hugh and Jeffrey Danamax, princes both who fought for their country. Ohirion the Butcher who is still only speaken of in guarded, fearful tones. Starke the tactician and gardener. The assassin Nephenee. These names are known, revered for their actions.
To say that those who were forgotten gave any less would be unwise.
A commoner born to a stable home within the city of Luin, Reuben lived a peaceful and bright childhood. His father squired faithfully to various Royal Guards, never taking a Danamax Rapier for himself. His mother nurtured him, giving Reuben a sense of compassion that made him easy to approach, loving, and a good listener. Reuben aspired strongly to follow in his father's footsteps, training almost constantly from the age of ten with any weapon his exasperated family felt he wouldn't hurt himself with.
Water held a fascination for Reuben. A puddle, lake, stream or trickle held his rapt attention for hours. Swimming came naturally to the lanky child, although climbing did not. Reuben spent days exploring Luin, the various water-friendly areas around the city being his favorite haunts. Many of his peers could not match his physical prowress, a fact that didn't register within Reuben's mind.
By sixteen, Reuben had been selected to begin training to become a squire, much like his father. The chance to bring honor upon his family appealed greatly to Reuben. He hungered to rise his family above their keen as commoners, and a fire burned within him to succeed at any cost.
The Tarkonan invasion was forshadowed by the arrival of Kerrigan Vostan on Danamar. Her warning came too late, and the city of Luin was taken almost immediately by the invaders. Having escaped the massacre within the city, Reuben found that his traveling companions- James Starke, Ohirion the Butcher, Hugh Danamax- were nobility and much more afluent than his own family. Chaffing at first with the difference in social rank, Reuben came to be accepted within the group as a valuable, loyal friend. Reuben fought hard with the first iteration of the Command Company.
Reuben quickly grew close to those around him, his loyalty for country having been replaced by a love for his brothers and sisters at arms. He came to endure the taunts of those who felt him beneath them because of rank, taking solace in the praise given to him by his friends.
It was during the battle at the Butcher's Crater that Reuben sustained numerous mortal injuries in protection of Kirai Starke.
"I'm sorry. I... I had to save you, but you're- you're different now." Reuben heard as he awoke.
"Different? How?" The words came broken, mangled. But his friend nodded, catching the meaning.
He held out a mirror. "You'll need your left ha- your left arm. For that."
Reuben groaned, wrapping his left- tentacle?- around the handle of the mirror.
"What... did you... do?" His skin was now a shell, chitinous plates that covered his entire head. Two additional eyes stood upon stalks that rose from his forehead, focused in alignment with the other two.
His friend sighed. "Inside of you, the essences of crab and frog now keep you alive. I wanted to heal the wounds, repair the damage, but I panicked." There was a short pause as his friend clenched his fists, fighting back anger and disappointment. "I panicked. And I did the only thing that came to mind."
Reuben dropped the mirror, trying to sit up.
"You need to disappear. Nobody can know that Reuben Beatty survived the battle." His friend reached out, grasping his new left arm. "But we will not forget, Reuben. Those of us who were there, Kirai who would have been broken open by that attack... we will never-" His friend's voice broke, and Reuben flexed his left arm, unable to do anything else to console the one responsible for his transformation.
Reuben stalked the countryside for the initial years after the end of the war. His visitors from the Command Company were seldom, his contact with people besides them- almost never. Aimless, he lived as an animal might, avoiding civilization and living the life of a hunter.
Until he was approached.
"You've traveled far, Reuben."
Reuben paused. It had been years since he had last heard his name.
His friend's face was incredibly sad, almost pained. "We lost one our own today, Reuben. I want to make sure you don't die out here."
Reuben stared blankly. "What do you want me to do?"
He watched the man in front of him struggle to find words. "There's a tomb. I think it is only right that you could protect it. After all, it's going to be The Butcher's."
So it was decided... Chadrak would become the guardian of the tomb.
The Tomb Encounter
The Butcher's Tomb is a simple, militaristic resting place. The lighting is dim, provided by lightly glowly rocks set into the stone walls of the tomb. The floor is cobblestone, rough and unmaintained. Most find the tomb to be spacious, being uncramped even for those of large size.
The opening chamber extends forward, with statues depicting various heroes of war serving a dual purpose as pillars that hold up the roof of the structure. Futher within, a small series of hallways are filled with various memorials and pieces of art related to the Great War, and Ohirion's involvement.
A final chamber awaits at the end of the hallways. Plunging deep within the earth, a set of stairs snakes its way around the perimeter of the square room, the floor a good sixty feet below the top of the stairs. Centered in the middle of the last room is Ohirion's final resting place. A utiltarian coffin made of granite, unadorned, sits undisturbed.
Chadrak sleeps in the final chamber. A violent defender of the tomb, he awakens only to deal with intruders, attempting his best to remain out of sight until he choses to attack.
As a combatant, Reuben's new body has only improved on his prior physical conditioning. Chadrak is capable of olympian jumps and acrobatics without particular effort. His claw arm is frighteningly strong, more than capable of completely destroying any of the pillars in the opening room. His left arm, his tentacle, can stretch upwards of fifteen feet in length. Chadrak generally uses his extremely powerful jumping ability to roam throughout a battle, using his whip and claw as situation demands. His tentacle allows him to hit distant targets, often tripping them or moving them into more advantageous positions, while his claw is used in close situations.
Chadrak reserves his croak attack for times of desperation. A solid wall of sound that pounds nearby enemies, leaving them deaf, Chadrak's croak is often his last resort.
After the Tomb
Should Chadrak survive your players, he will generally be curious as to their reason for entering the tomb. If the players are amicable, Chadrak can make a valuable, interesting ally. His knowledge of the past war is partially gone due to the injuries he sustained, but he still remembers a great deal more than most of the players will about the past of one hundred years ago.
Chadrak is still a capable fighter, and is quite adept at avoiding the detection of those not used to his appearance. Chadrak willingly throws himself into danger, as long as the cause is good. When asked why he is willing to leave the tomb, he merely states "I have more important duties now."
The means to allowing Chadrak to contain the essences within him lies at the heart of Luin, where the Spirit of Luin resides, protecting the Rain Maker. An artifact vital to the survival of the world, The Rain Maker takes in water from the world- for every ocean, tributary, river and creak eventually flows to the Rain Maker, returning it to the world as Rain.
Reuben vaguely remembers the Rain Maker, as Ohirion the Butcher used it to unleash a conflagration of lightning and wind upon Luin, a storm that demonlished almost a third of the city.
After suitable perils on the part of the party and Chadrak to reach the heart of Luin, the Spirit of Luin is glad to gift Reuben with the capability to control the essences within him. This control allows Reuben to decide how his body will manifest his monstrous traits. Reuben is uncomfortable as a human, especially as finding clothes that can survive the transition. He is keenly aware of his diminished strength, the fact that he cannot see in all directions at once, and how foreign humans seem to him.
Reuben eventually gains the capability to allow only parts of himself to experience the transformation- such as allowing only his left arm to assume its tentacle form, or allowing his second set of eyes to sprout from his head. Chadrak does this without conscious effort once he becomes used to the methods controlling the essences within him.
Many of the Command Company lives on through history, their lives well-recorded. But for those, like Reuben, who faded from view, what happened to them? Were their lives triumph or defeat? These questions plague Chadrak... is he truly alone?
Chadrak stands tall, just over six an a half feet tall. His body is almost entirely covered in a tough, chitin-like shell that is heavily segmented to allow for movement. A massive claw/pincer is his right arm, similar in nature to that a crab has. His left arm is a long tentacle, which he uses to strike enemies like a frog grabs flies to eat. Chadrak’s head is protected by chitinous plates, leaving only his eyes, mouth and part of his ears uncovered. Two additional eyes on stalks grow to allow him an increased field of vision.
Chadrak’s legs are less protected by the chitin than his torso, and are extremely strong.
Reuben moves awkwardly. He is not used to his reduced size, using his hands, or not being able to see in all directions at once. Reuben is muscular, although his left arm is noticeably smaller than his right. Reuben’s copper hair tends to be unruly. Reuben hasn’t acquired a set of permanent clothes, and seems content to wear whatever is at hand. Reuben still remains a terrible climber.
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? Responses (3)
This is a great idea on a number of levels. I enjoy any scenario where the players will encounter the true depth of the game when they take a moment to go beyond minimal thought player responses. Those who would approach this situation carefully would be rewarded with a character that can provide useful information and potential plot hooks. I also think that associating so much history with the reward of plot progress and development is essentially conditioning that encourages your players to explore. Being able to fit all this into one character is pretty awesome.
I'm not crazy about his appearance or the explanation for his condition, but the first is a matter of personal taste and the second would probably make more sense if I had a better understanding of the magic at work here.
A very neat NPC - I like it a lot.