A long cloak covers her from head to toe. Only the point of a scabbard peaks from the rear of the cloak, and she moves with the cautious gate of a hungry beggar. The candlelight glitters off of a porcelain masque, but the blue eyes beinhd the masque are colder than the wind from the mountains. A glove covers her left arm, it hangs in a loose sling, the fingers curled into a permanent claw. The corner of her mouth twists up, pulled by whatever injury or scar the masque hides. Her voice is smooth as silk, calm yet colder than her eyes. She speaks of death as a swooning lover and of battle as homage to the gods.
Sippenhaft was once a normal girl, aspiring to become a Princess to a handsome Prince Charming. She found herself drawn to the arts of magic at a young age, with the thoughts of marriage and children drifting away on the bubbling fumes of a steaming potion. Like many she become a lover to the art itself, feeling a great amount of emotional connection with that essence of power that she could command through skill and willpower.
But she had a rival, another student who progressed as quickly as she did. There was no spell, or potion that she did not master that he did not equal in a day or three. Now, she was not angry at his accomplishments, she was angry that as she labored over arcane grimoires and deciphered the convoluted texts, he skimmed along, socializing with the others and having a party time of things.
An associate suggested that perhaps the dashing young man had been cheating from her somehow. Enraged by the thought, she planted a trap in some of her notes, a trick that would turn the next potion he tried to copy from her into a dismal failure, but also resulting in a highly recognizable sort of failure. She wanted to be sure that he was cheating, and not just lagging behind her. To her surprise, his next potion was a success, and the tell-tale signature she watched for never appeared. It did seem that his work was well below his normal level, but there was no evidence to prove his cheating.
The finals came, and Sippenhaft brewed her final potion, closely following the notes in her grimoire. Yet something went wrong, something went violently wrong. The pinch of what was supposed to be pulverized gold beetlebone was in truth firedust. Her potion exploded out of the cauldron, searing the flesh of her face, and neck, soaking through her arm and shoulder. The pain was immense, and she was only saved by the quick thinking of the Alchemist who taught the class. Her wounds were of a magical nature, and her flesh was as much dissolved and mutated by the boiling hot potion as it was burned.
Her teacher was able to save both of her eyes, but the flesh of her left arm was horrifically withered, leaving the limb atrophied and useless. The skin of her face, especially the left side was a whorl of ruined tissue, a heavy fold covering part of her left eye, and the left ear was completely gone. Even her scalp was ruined, leaving her partly bald on the left side of her head.
She failed the final exam, and the tests given by the House of Ancient Stone are only given once. Dejected, scarred, a failure, she was expelled from the school. Many of the teachers were sympathetic, but the rules were rules and were as firm as the stone of the school. Sippenhaft burned with shame, shame that she had somehow mixed up her spell reagents, that she had failed in such a spectacular way.
She slipped into a dark depression, skulking from town to town, never staying long enough to get chummy with the locals. Why would they want her around, a freak and a failure. She would drink until she had spent what coin she could panhandle and beg for, or until she was run out by the Beggar's Guild or the city constable. They never wanted any trouble, nothing personal they would say.
A message was delivered to her, carried by an ensorcelled pigeon. She read the note and was filled with a black rage. The student whom she suspected of cheating off of her really had been. But when she had left her trap for him, he had seen it for what it was and was very angry at her actions. As an exchange of favor, he had his familiar sneak into her supplies and exchange the gold beetlebone for firedust, turing her top mark potion into a lurking bomb.
A new purpose filled her spirit and she was ready. Casting off the shell of depression, she once again began to work the art. The dreams of being a princess had been destroyed, and the ideal of being a noble sorceress has been sabotaged. Now, she had a new dream, to become the black sorceress, the avatar of vengeance. It didn't take long for her to adopt her new title, discarding her old name forever. Finding employment with a mercenary company was even easier.
Sippenhaft now plies her trade, building her strength and bidding her time until she guages herself strong enough to find him, and face him and utterly destroy the man who as a boy had so utterly ruined her but left her alive to live with the disgrace.
As a sorceress, Sippenhaft excels in the creation of magical potions, and as such will have 3 to 6 potions on her at any given time. Some of these are explosive potions, a reversal of the firedust accident, others can be healing potions, truth serums, or other bizarre weapons such as a potion that when smashed freezes whatever it hit, or releases a cloud of noxious or poisonous gas.
She produces Gas potions and seals them. When the container is smashed, the potion violently evaporates into a cloud of poisonous gas. She has created a mixture that causes illness and nausea in those who are affected, a greenish gas that instantly kills and withers plantlife, and a third gas that causes a gasping choking death. (similar to tear gas, agent orange, and mustard gas respectively)
The Mercenaries she is in the employ off will often have antidotes to the gas, as well as weak to moderately enchanted weapons and armor.
Sippenhaft is a study in duality. When she dons her leatherette, a suit of armor that is light and flexible, and especially made for thieves and magic users, she is the cold hearted witch. She can watch a cloud of her toxic gas drift through a garrisoned village without blinking an eye. She can stand on the line of battle and release the worst of spells, with no regard for human life, only for terms of foe and ally. In this form she is emotionally impervious to her own state and her actions, she has to be.
In private she is a horribly disfigured woman, all the attributes that many women guage themselves by are gone, or ruined. No man would find her appealing, none would want to touch the rough and scarred flesh of her face, or kiss her lips. Who would want to hold a woman with a withered and mummified limb? At night she is horrified by what she is, and only the thin and unsatisfying fuel of vengeance keeps her going.
Strange Bedfellows - The PCs, in the employ of a noble, or some other figure find themselves working with Sippenhaft and the mercenary band she works with. What do they think of her style of chemical warfare and the way it leaves the dead in its wake? Do they respect her for her skill, deride her as a cripple, or as a woman, or as a magi?
All Quiet on the Western Front - The PCs find themselves on the recieving end of Sippenhaft's style of warfare, surviving an encounter or two before finding some way to combat it. The twist? The PCs work for the offending mage of her past. Their sorcerous mentor has a few skeletons in his closet and the PCs would have never uncovered otherwise.
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? Responses (14)-14
Oh yes. I think she will do.
She can just be another dramatic persona in the campaign. She can slowly slip into the villan role, possibly right before the character's eyes.
As a mercenary adjunct, she will easily be in places to maximize her effects.
Well written, well plotted out, lots of option. Two paws.
and a tail.
Hmmm... what a character.
One way to move her cold heart slightly, or manipulate her, would be to promise her healing. Even partial restoring of her features would be great, requiring of course powerful magic. Just don't promise her something you can't fulfil.
You mean can't fufil?
Ehhhh... right. Can't fulfil. :)
Nothing more to be said really (don't ya just hate it when that happens)
Great backstory - believable motivation - plenty of plot hooks - so 4.5 / 5
Sippenhaft is a very interesting name. I would be curious to know if it just came to you, or was there some other inspiration.
I encountered the term Sippenhaft while reading Greg Isles(?) Spandau Phoenix, and it is a germanic term that goes back to the more brutal norse times. Sippenhaft is the practice of eliminating not only one person by assassination, but the complete and total eradication of his or her blood family. This includes all of the elders, the women, and the children. The practice was 'revived' (not 100% sure on that) during the Nazi era of WWII, where some germans who tried to assassinate Hitler were imprisoned and only executed after their entire family was killed first.
Brutal, yet surprisingly effective
WOW! I love learning something new. It struck me as a very peculiar (and great!) name, and now I know why. Thanks.
The question is, does her name mean the same thing in the local tongue?
Is this her birth name or is it her 'working name'.
These decisions change the complexity and outlook of this character.
It is her working name, one adopted for the brutal definition of the term. In a sense it is a demonstration of her methodical and vindictive work ethic. As for the local tongue, I would assume that the name means nothing in particular, and generally accorded it as a term of an archaic language.
Hmm, bad 2006 Valadaar. This sub deserved more than a vote.
I like this character - she has the feel of a batman villain and I could see her play multiple roles in a campaign as others have said.