Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tales from the Watchers of the Sullen Vigil: Anton Dainasere, Demon Hunter

Well, it looks like my hiatus from writing game content is over! Sarvaelen and its haunted lands return in full force this week, this time with a profile of a member of the Order of the Watchers of the Sullen Vigil for use as an interesting NPC or ready-made PC. I am still statting everything out in BRP, my grand plan to read through RQ6 still hasn't come to fruition and I think consistency with the setting as a BRP-statted campaign is probably for the best at the moment, anyway. I am hoping Magic World comes out eventually, I plan to use that book specifically with Sarvaelen for a campaign sometime in 2013.

Anton Dainasere is a human male, 6’6”, 165 lbs., of Aeronostic descent, born in the city of Catalone along Lake Vunares, abutting the border of Esrenor. He is striking in his tallness, for most Aeronostic people are much shorter than him, usually averaging 5’9”, and his height also contributes to his gaunt, sallow features. With rough wind-blown dark brown hair, and a haunted look across his gray eyes, Anton does not blend in will with colorful crowds.

Anton’s childhood was punctuated by poverty and violence, as he was born to a young woman of ill-repute named Etria, who found she could not take care of him and so abandoned the boy when he was only three years old at the steps of the Monastery of Veramaine, a famous enclave along the eastern rural stretch outside of Catalone proper. The monastery was a place of holy learning for those who had felt the calling to give up their old lives to live as chaste students of the teachings of Nevereth, the ubiquitous goddess who had become the center of the multicultural monotheistic cult which spread like wildfire after the fall of old Camrinal. Even in the days of the old Empire it is said that the Monastery of Veramaine had thrived and prospered, a remote but prestigious location for those who felt the enigmatic call of the goddess to seek out her wisdom and teachings in one location.

The boy Anton was treated much like any other orphan placed in the custody of a band of pious and chaste monks, subjected to beatings and strenuous daily labor, with moments of schooling and education making the day more interesting. As Anton grew in years his appreciation for the knowledge he was given access to as a ward of the monastery eclipsed his hatred of the callous cruelty of so many of the monks, who seemed to believe that children were born with the sins of the Empire in their veins, and that it was their duty to beat it out.

Anton did befriend one monk who took a keen interest in him, named Garados the Humble. He learned that Garados had once been a nobleman of Aeronost, but a suspicious murder of a woman he fancied drove him into exile and eventually into the care of the monastery, where he heard the words of Nevereth one evening and was converted. He had been with the monastery for five decades now, and as an old man had not once traveled more than a mile from the monastery in all that time. Despite this isolation, Garados was well-read and still liked to recount the adventures of his youth to Anton and the other boys in the monastery, and Anton grew envious of these adventuresome tales. As he reach his teen years, he plotted and schemed of ways he, too, could embark on great adventures.

When Anton turned sixteen, Garados took the boy into the city, with an assurance that he must truly experience life outside of the monastery before deciding if he was destined to remain their forever or not. Garados knew that Anton had a lust for life that would not readily be sated, and his confinement at the monastery was only making things worse.

Anton was surprised when Garados delivered him to a brothel, one of many in the heart of the debauched and wicked center of Catalone. There he was introduced to a young woman named Nyrasel, a vibrant and beautiful young emoniae from the far west with fiery hair and stark green eyes. She took an immediate liking to the awkward young man who was only a few years younger than her, and as much as Anton was interested in her as woman he was even more fascinated at her origins, being  a daughter of the exotic lands of western sorcery beyond the Wastelands of Camrinal.

Nyrasel for her part was equally fascinated with the handsome young man presented to her, both because of his vivacious personality despite his unusually tall and sallow features, but because she sensed within him a spark of magic, a talent for sorcery. As she spoke with him, she offered to show him some of her magical talent, and in turn she prodded him to try the same.

Anton was mystified. Sorcery? Of his own? He had never even considered the possibility! Nonetheless, at her direction and prodding he tried, and much to his amazement he was able to generate some simple illusions, dancing lights, with little effort once she had walked him through the process, explained to him how to feel the arcane energies within his own spirit. You have blood from Old Camrinal in you, she told him. He couldn’t have Emoniae in him, not with such tall and dark features, but Emon was not the only land blessed with a high percentage of sorcerers; Camrinal destroyed itself and many more as a byproduct of such sorcerous talent.

When Anton returned to the Monastery with Garados, he was a changed man. Not only had he met and known a fascinating woman, she had helped him to see a hidden talent he never even imagined existed. He knew then that the monastic, chaste lifestyle of the servants of Nevereth was not for him. He confided as much in Garados about this, though he did not mention discovering his talent for magic, who nodded in agreement. Garados had, after all, sensed the wanderlust and unusual spirit of this young man, and knew he was destined for a different life.

When Anton turned seventeen the following year he was discharged of his duties to the monastery and granted the rights of a freeman of Aeronost. For the last year Anton had been stealing away at night into the city to meet with Nyrasel and others who held sorcerous talent, and learned of a coven of sorcerers and witches within the city walls who engaged in the study and practice of their magical arts in collaborative safety. The coven called themselves the Concord of Roeghast, named after an old entity which was said to have dwelled within Lake  Vunares ages before Catalone was founded. Roeghast was a center of much attention locally within the hidden cults and covens of the city, for it was said that this enigmatic elemental being could grant great power if studied long enough, revealing ancient truths that led to a pure understanding of the Hidden World. Anton, like his paramour Nyrasel, was fascinated at what this meant.

Anton lived a raucous and free-wheeling lifestyle by day, getting a job as a servant in the employ of House Elaron, which needed able bodied workers for a construction project. Count Aras Elaron had decided to build a new estate for himself on the lakeside coast west of the city, one which would rival the Duke’s own palace in the heart of Catalone, and he needed hundreds of workers to get the job done.

Anton initially was employed as a hard laborer, but he was quickly recruited by one of the chief masons as an assistant when it was revealed he had been educated in math and geometry at the Monastery of Veramaine, and within weeks he was fully apprenticed to Sir Marison Gafflows, a noted architect in the region who was personally overseeing the construction. Under Gafflows tutelage Anton learned much of architecture and design, and of new ways to employ his studies from the monastery.

Anton was twenty when the construction of Castle Elaron was near completion, and he had found less time for the studies with Nyrasel and her coven than he might have liked, but a Harvest Moon was looming and Nyrasel told him he must attend, for it was on that night that they would row out to the small island of the Starry Henge to enact a ritual of summoning to draw the attention of Roeghast himself. Anton was at first nervous, for his time spent meditating on the spirit of the lake had left him uncertain it even existed, but Nyrasel and her cohorts were convinced that this was the right course of action.

The night of the harvest moon, Anton excused himself in after nightfall from Sir Gafflows’ house where he had been living and made his way to the docks, where a dozen members of the Concord had gathered. The group found itself on the small island where an ancient stone henge of rocks, placed by the ancient druids of long ago was to be found. The ceremony was exacting in detail, as best they could construct from fragmentary texts that somehow survived the immolation of Old Camrinal, and a sacrifice of a lamb was made on the center stone. When the harvest moon suddenly eclipsed, it was then that everyone knew they had somehow succeeded.

Nyrasel was the target of unholy life, as she was drawn from the ground and held fast in the air by unseen forces, a chilling darkness entering her body and changing it in horrible ways as the sounds of flesh rending and bones snapping filled the air. Still alive, she gasped in agony and pleasure all at once as the spirit of Roeghast entered her, changed her, and made her his vessel of habitation.
Some of the coven fled at that moment, but grasping shadows dragged them to their death. Only Anton and two others stood fast against the manifestation, which leered at them through the form of Nyrasel, whom Anton demanded be free of the possession. Roeghast simply bellowed an inhuman laugh, and looked upon the three who had not fled. You are my chosen now, it said. You must go forth, to spread the word of the Old Gods, to spread the word of Roeghast. I am once more alive, and I shall require many more souls before my time is at an end.

Anton was disgusted, horrified to realize that Roeghast was no ancient druidic spirit of old, but a demon of the worst sort. He was about to rebuke the demon’s offer when a silvered arrow struck Nyrasel’s suffering body in the chest, ending her life and the grip of the demon. The shadows writhed in agony, striking out at all around them, slaying the rest of the coven to a man save for Anton, who rushed to the battered, broken body of Nyrasel. It was too late for her, for the bolt had only insured she suffered no more from the terrible ruination on her form.

Anton at last confronted the one who had fired the crossbow bolt, as the darkness dissipated, the demon banished without a host. He saw before him a rough, older man of many years’ toughened nature. He wore piecemeal armor of multiple nationalities, and bore a crude gray tabard with the mark of the Sullen Vigil upon it. His name was Sir Carver Drelos, and he was a knight of the order of the Watchers, a group which had long ago been appointed the protectors of Aeronost and beyond, to keep close watch on the thaumaturgical taint which had sprung from the old Empire and done so much harm to the land.

Carver Drelos took pity upon Anton, realizing that he appeared to be as much a victim of the demon’s wiles as anyone else, and instead offered to help bury and consecrate the remains of those who had been slain by Roeghast’s shadow fiends. He explained that he had actually been searching for evidence of cults worshipping Roeghast for years now, and had already dealt with a barbarian cult to the demon god in the North Mountainsof Esrenor not long ago, one which was far less naive about the demon’s desires and intentions.

Anton was at first hostile to Carver but quickly realized that the man had perhaps saved his life, and certainly put Nyrasel out of her misery. When they left the island, just after dawn, it was with the realization that his old life was over and he was now adrift, though Carver quickly realized this and explained that he could use a good hand in the coming battles. Roeghast, he explained, was always looking to seduce the unwitting or the power hungry into providing him with a vessel for his indulgence in charnel havoc, and he was far from the only one. When the Empire of Camrinal fell, Carver explained, thousands of such demons were unleashed upon the land. Many of his order saw fit to man the ancient garrisons which stood grim watch against the wastelands of the old Empire, but he was one of his order who chose to strike out and actively hunt down the demons. There were not enough of his kind, he explained; they needed more willing and hearty souls who would take up sword and crossbow against the evil that lurked in the land.
It was here at last amidst tragedy and horror that Anton found his calling, as he pledged his service to Sir Carver Drelos and the Watchers of the Sullen Vigil.

Anton Dainasere, Knight-Squire of the Sullen Watch
Human male, Age 21
STR 15, CON 14, SIZ 17, DEX 13, INT 17,  APP 12, POW 15 EDU 13; DB +1D4 HP 15 MW 7
Sanity 67 (Max 75) Madness Threshold 13            MPs 15
Notable Skills: Etiquette 25%, Teach 25%, Craft (stonemasonry) 40%, Knowledge (architecture) 35%, Knowledge (mathematics) 60%, Speak Aeronostic 85%, Speak Camrinalic 20%, Literacy (Aeronostic) 50%, Literacy (Camrinalic) 30%, Insight 30%, Research 50%, Ride 25%, Dodge 31%, Shield (full) 40%, Crossbow 50%, Sword 50%
Magic Known: Illusion 47%,  Light 37%, Perception 50%, Ward 29%
Weapons:  Long Sword (1D8+DB (1D4)), light crossbow (1D6+2, range 40)            
Armor: Lamellar (6 AP), helmet (+1 AP), plus Full Shield (22 AP/HP)
Wealth: 120 silvers

Notes: Anton did not start his career as a spellcaster and had no idea he had talent until age 16. As such, he is considered a non-magician by caster standards (so can only have 1/4th of his INT in spell knowledge in mind at any given time). Anton’s grimoire was abandoned on the Isle of the Starry Henge, so he has not regained new spells since he joined with Carver Drelos.

In Sarvaelen there is little distinction between common “hedge” magic and sorcery amongst most people. Sorcerers tend to practice both. It was Nyrasel’s belief that time would help expand Anton’s scope of power (i.e. a stat boost to POW) but that did not come to pass before tragedy struck.

 Anton’s sanity is lower than base, due to the traumatic experience on the island. Likely with time in the service of the Watchers it will degrade even further…

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