The Hermit of Wither Tor
"In all my years of research, perhaps the best way I have found to summarize the Hermit of Wither Tor is the name given to him by the inhabitants of the Grassdancer ghettoes. These unfortunates call him, in their own tounge, AnÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â´rah GrunÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â´dar Ahr, which roughly translates into He-Who-Speaks-With-His-Fists....."
From "Locastus and beyond", by Darius Moak
At the north edge of Locastus, on the tounge of land between the rivers Urok and Slake that is known as the Witherdowns, Locastus's industrial district, stands a large, conical barrow, covered in juniper shrubbery, bracken and stunted trees. To the unfortunates that inhgabit the ghettoes of the Witherdowns, this hill is known as Wither Tor.
Towering over the surrounding ghettoes and industrial lots, this obviously artificial mound is crowned by a circle of crumbling brick ruins, the family mansion of a merchant family which perished in the Merchant Wars, half a century ago.
Since at least three decades, these ruins has been the home of a creature known as the Hermit of Wither Tor. He is a legend around these poor, crime-ridden districts, and something of a figurehead for the underground Worker's Union that operate out of the Rotwood Hive, at the foot of the Wither Tor.
The Hermit has been known to visit the Hive occasionally, bartering salvaged bricks and scrap metal for grass-seed bread and mead from the Grassdance communities.
The first impression one gets of this, almost superhuman, creature, is that of a man of extreme old age. A second look, however, reveals the power residing in this odd figure, and, especially, the frightening power of his huge hands.
The inhabitants of the Rotwood Hive draws a certain protection from his presence no gang, no matter how desperate, is willing to do violence in the Hermit's back yard - and in doing so, targeting themselves to his feared right punch.
Indeed, many skulls were cracked before the gangs finally decided to leave the Rotwood Hive alone. Newcomers, desperate for money, regularly mistake this figure for an easy target and try to rob him, an exercise that only leaves the assailants immensely more humble and several teeth short of a full garniture.
The Hermit's defining (and indeed, legendary) characteristic is his mercurial temper, which has been described as more likely to be encountered in a Talarian Seaworm with a bad case of heartburn. That, and a right punch rivalled only by a direct impact with a large astronomical body.
"The Hermit seems to fit the mold of a mystic, a reclusive ascetic, but with what god, aspect or fundamental principle of the universe he seeks communion is unknown. Judging from his fiery temper and unfriendly disposition, this divine power or truth must be a violent one - or perhaps this is just a sign that his meditations are not going well. No one knows. The only thing everyone agrees upon is that he is very, very angry......"
Excerpt from "Supernatural entities of the Locastus basin", doctoral thesis of Akela Moonlily Naar
At first glance, the Hermit of Wither Tor seems to be an exceedingly elderly man, unstooped still and taller than most, but with a gigantic, off-white beard, wrinkled, leathery skin and a wind-bronzed, bald pate.
Intelligent clear-blue eyes, bright as a gas flame, burns angrily beneath a craggy overhanging brow and bushy eyebrows. His nose, crooked and flattened like a pit-fighter's, seems to have been broken numerous times. His facial expression never wavers from its habitual frown of barely contained violence.
Distinct as he may be, the first thing one notices about the Hermit are his hands. Ridicuosly oversized, dirt-streaked and powerful, these shovel-sized, swollen-knuckled appendages are always knotted with fury. When he flexes his long, stubby-ended fingers, the sharp reports of knuckles cracking are like gunshots. These hands alone command the respect and fear of the inhabitants of the Witherdowns.
Even during the coldest months, the Hermit never wears more than a dark, threadbare hakama skirt and a maritime rope belt, knot-weighted ends dangling almost to the ground. His spare clothing reveals a lean, but muscular, build, chest and forearms covered in dense gray hair and with muscle groups, veins and tendons starkly defined beneath the sunburned skin. He is always bare-footed, and extrudes a powerful body odour, musky and overpowering like that of a tiger, pungent but not entirely unpleasant.
Although obviosly of advanced age, his powerful, sinewy physique belies any weakness. His gait is springy and sure-footed, but turned into a furious stalk by the perpetual anger burning within him.
The Hermit never speaks beyong muttered, monosyllabic grunts and curses, preferring body language for his rare interactions with ordinary people. If one would press the issue and try to make him speak, he will most likely resort to his default, tried-and-tested response; a punch in the face.
If you, for some desperate reason, decide to seek the Hermit's advice, he may throw you some mouldy old book that may or may not pertain to the subject of your inquiry. If your question offends him and there is no way of predicting what he may find offensive there is a high possibility you will, once again, meet the ultimate, swollen-knuckled negotiation tool at the end of his right arm.
In some ways, the Hermit is a thouroughly perdictable creature.
"The Hermit? Tell ya what, pal, I'll give ya the all the dark ya need on the Hermit. See the brick wall over there, huh? Yeah? See the hole innit? That's where he punched poor ol' Davio so hard his head stuck inna wall....."
Jebedidah "Madbolt" Sever, 34, resident of the Rotwood Hive, Witherdowns
The Hermit is a creature of animal instincts and barely controlled rage, an anger of almost elemental proportions. In effect, he is nothing less than an anthropomorphic personification of unthinking fury, and a harbinger of chaos.
He has powers approaching those of a godling, his mortal flesh boosted by his connection with the universal fountainhead of anger. These powers are in no way subtle or sophisticated, they just ensure he can continue to express the anger of the universe. He can punch his way through a foot of steel, heal serious injuries within hours and even, should he wish it, put a dent in an Aphex slab.
Though his powers could perhaps be more subtly channeled, his disposition and identification with the Principle of Rage makes such niceties impossible. The Hermit simply is no planner, he just wants to beat the world to pulp.
So long has he sought communion with this fundamental principle that he has become an avatar of animalistic rage and his actions will, first and foremost, be dictated by that.
"You see that rusting old hulk over there, cutter? That is a steam-tank, that is. Been here ages, since that last big riot. You see them dents up front, huh? Those are knuckle imprints, cutter. These Gov'nt boys tried to run 'im over, and he didn't like that. Not one bit...."
Jebedidah "Madbolt" Sever, 34, resident of the Rotwood Hive, Witherdowns
However, he is no monster. Even though many has felt the impact of his sledgehammer blows, he avoids killing anyone, and tends to be gentle to children and animals, even going out of his way occasionally to rescue innocents from danger.
He can often be found feeding stray dogs, cast-off kittens and street kids. Hurting any of his charges, human or otherwise, is a sure-fire way of making him lose his temper and a wonderful opportunity for intimately getting to study the subject of facial reconstruction.
Powerful as he is, there is still some humanity left in the Hermit. Those incapable of aggression - and those truly innocent are safe from him. Some shred of the person he once was recognizes those that deserve his protection and those that only deserve the blessing of his fist. This last vestige of humanity keeps back the destructiveness that fuels his soul, redirecting it to serve some kind of purpose.
"The first thing that strikes me as odd about this creature is the sheer volume of myths and stories in circulation. (...) Every fishwife and beggar of these rough neighborhoods has a tale or five about how the Hermit has saved a street kid from beneath the hooves of a stampeding Reagh herd, or a kitten from a burning house. (...) From what I have observed myself, he appears to just walk about the community, punching people at random..."
From "Locastus and beyond", by Darius Moak
No one knows exactly where the Hermit came from, or who he was before the Principle of Rage took him over. It is probable, though, that he was yet another cast-off piece of human wreckage, a product of one of the many wars the Locastus has engaged in the last century.
It may have been some exceptional trauma inflicted upon him in combat that opened his mind to the Principle and in its harsh teachings found a new purpose. In the horror of war, his powers were revealed to him and he returned home not just another person, but no longer completely human.
Fuelled by his newfound power, he immersed himself in its nature and became an avatar, a crusader to its cause in the material world. The Principle does not care for empathy and love it just wants to watch the world burn.
The Hermit became a denizen of the ruins atop Wither Tor roughly at the same time the industrial revolution kicked off, some 50 years ago. For the first few years, he drew little attention to himself, preferring to barter for food exclusively with the growing ghetto at the foot of his Tor.
Slowly, his reputation began to build, until he became a legend, a figurehead for the unfortunates of these rough neighborhoods.
The inhabitants of the Rotwood Hive reveres him as a living god and continues to do so even though their worship regularly awards them a punch or two in the face. To the mixed Grassdancer and Hill tribes of the Rotwood Hive, to be knocked out by the Hermit is a benediction and a holy communion of sorts.
"Aye, once and once only was I knocked out - and that wasn't even in a regular fight. I curse the day I first heard about that damn Hermit of Wither Tor..."
Albius "Leadhead" Quill, five times heavyweight pit-fighting champion
Once upon a time, many moons ago, I punched certain criteria into a random generator for barbarian nicknames and were presented with "He who speaks with his fists". Some things, you just have to expand upon, no matter how weird the result is going to be - and so the Hermit was born.
Roleplaying-wise, he's hopeless. He's an unstoppable force that communicates via the medium of his fists approaching your face at high velocity. I dont know if he's much use for anybody's game, but he was fun to write...
PS: This is the anniversary submission for me, Ive been registred at Strolen for a year (and some change) Cant believe its only been a year... DS
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? Responses (15)
Has he ever been attacked by the forces of Law and Order?
I really like this idea; it's a great twist on the notion of the hermit, and doesn't involve the cliche that if the hermit is able to defend himself, he must be a wizened old master of some obscure martial art. I can, to a degree, even empathize with his nature; exposure to the worst portions of humanity can certainly kindle an anger of incredible proportions.
While he might not be much in most RP systems, he's certainly a colorful figure, and would likely do well in a more story-oriented session, or as a color figure in a written story. Perhaps one of those moldy old books he has contains some information of value, and since the hermit would rather knock your teeth out rather than give up that book, perhaps someone needs to be hired to sneak in and retrieve it - which will undoubtedly incur the hermit's total wrath when he finds out about it.
I am certainly amused by the section about his ability to dent Aphex plating, since this speaks volumes of the strange power he has; given that the substance has specific criteria for how it interacts with various forms of energy, you have to wonder what strange force the hermit's might embodies. A kind of Torque-like force, perhaps, bludgeoning the universe violently into the shape it wants.
Hm. An interesting piece of scenery to place here and there in your sessions, perhaps as a reminder to the PCs that there are always those greater than they. Sidenote: I love the imagery evoked by the fact that he can dent Aphex. That sort of interweaving (verisimilitude?) is what makes worlds like yours so great. Nice work.
Thank you for the chuckle. An immortal(?) creature of great power, that you can easily plop into any random poor neighborhood. And there ARE PCs, who would find a lesson or two from the hermit valuable (you can't help but see, that someone would send them to him).
A very proper fantasy NPC.
Partly, this was inspired by Urko Crust, a minor character of Steven Erikson´s Malazan series, who also solved most problems with a fist in the face, usually the face of his superiors.
Mostly, though, I just wanted to experiment with a more Pratchettesque style of writing, mixing quite sophisticated philosophy with understated humor, in the British comedy tradition. It´s actually harder than it looks, too much humor and it turns into slapstick, too little and the humor just seems lost, sad and out of place, instead of becoming a medium in which to address serious philosophical matters. Used right, humor is such a powerful tool.
There are a few true masters out there: Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Iain M. Banks, for example. Guess there is a reason why so few can do what they do..
Hope you have all had a nice Halloween!
Okay, this got a good snort from me - I do like him a lot! I love the writing style too. Let me know WHEN you write your Locastus book - I'll pick up a copy :P
When the hermit's elemental rage finally does overcome him, can we expect to see a rampaging brute that will destroy everything in its part until he is finally put down?
It would appeal more to my sense of tragedy if he killed himself when his control finally slips....
I'm imagining a very Samson-like ending...The parallels one can draw are quite notable.
yes, oh yes... that would be fitting, going out with a bang of biblical proportions... Now who will play his Delilah?
Perhaps she should be one of your quest subs. ;)
My, my, what a fiery little character, while he wouldn't hold much for me in a campaign, he could be given a mention in one.
Besides i believe that what manfred said about them possibly learning something from him, would indeed be interesting to see...
..even if it were nought but a blow to the face.
Here is an HOH from me.
"He who speaks with his fists" Love it. Great character. Person of depth who has no speaking lines. Awesome littel enigma without a real answer. Great job painting and picture and I love the quotes scattered. Really put it all together and gave me enough to want to stay the hell away from him. Too bad PCs will have to learn the hard way!
If he developed magic he would make a great Rage Mage .