Part 3: Potential PCsUpdate 02A - Potential PCs
The following PCs are presented as their background, followed by their statblock without commentary, and to the best of my ability. I apologize in advance for sometimes the math didn't add up for those looking for specific stats, and some people didn't give me more than a vague direction of what they wanted their character to look like.
Mazian Drej posted:
If the retired Art feels they are ancient, then Mazian is downright prehistoric. An old man, his hair silver-grey, his memories of the surface are dim, but filled with burning emotion. Once he was a soldier, too. But he was a grunt and once he'd thrown down his blade and deserted, he never took it up again. Though they exiled him, time has dulled his distaste for the empire and with the situation as-is, he feels it's time to return home, no matter what that looks like. In his heart he has ambition, even as he nears the end of his life. Once it was a desire for power, but never fulfilled, it has turned into a desire to leave some lasting institution behind him. This desire is what has lead him to join up with unspecified services, in the hopes of one last adventure for a life that has never truly known any.
Nista Shore posted:
A young magical prodigy, she severely irritated her instructors by only showing interest in the flashiest and most destructive spells. Ultimately, they came to the conclusion that she was wasting her talents, and they couldn't really teach her until she was actually willing to learn. After developing a crush on a fellow female student, and subsequently being rejected because the other girl was straight, she decided her life was over and volunteered for Unspecified Services in the hope of being sent on a suicide mission. Despite her magical strength, few people can handle dealing with her melodramatic personality. Time will tell if she grows out of it.
After the end of the Exile-Empire war, the Empire was forced to abandon all of their subterranean outposts. They did their best to wipe away any information or intelligence they had gathered before they left, and in this they were aided by the fact that many of these outposts had been badly damaged by Art and her crew. However, they weren't quite as thorough as they might have liked.
We discovered "John" in one of the experimental labs at Akhronath. He appears to be an extension of standard golem magic, based on what the Empire was able to glean from their research into the Crystal Souls. Unfortunately, all notes on his manufacture were destroyed by Quickfire; he is literally one of a kind. When he was discovered, he was badly-damaged by that same Quickfire, and behaved erratically and violently. Fortunately, we were able to contain him until his inbuilt regenerative capabilities restored his crystalline structure, after which point he calmed down and was willing to be taken into custody.
John appears to be a "blank slate", and was unable to tell us anything about how he came to be. We estimate him to be of slightly above-average intelligence, and he is a rapid learner with an apparently perfect memory. However, he tends to be incurious and has precisely zero self-motivation: he instead will follow any order he is given unless prior orders conflict. As this represents a clear potential security problem, we have spent a great deal of time "programming" him with safeguard orders. Our testing indicates that he should make an admirable field agent and observer; the fact that we can rely on his witness testimony to be impartial and exact is an excellent bonus.
We would of course have appreciated having more time to test his capabilities and provide him with a more focused baseline training, but I understand that time presses. I do however request that we have the opportunity to inspect him from time to time during this operation.
Delilah is a well-regarded member of one of the up-and-coming religions of Exile, which flourished prior to the discovery of a way back to the surface as the refugees/prisoners/exiles of the underworld looked for some sort of light to replace the one they'd presumably never see again. She is charismatic, gentle, and a joy to be around - which has worked to her advantage her entire life, as it has been an excellent cover for her numerous illicit activities. In reality Delilah was born in one of the nastiest slums of the Empire on the surface and has been a talented thief ever since, her supposed innocence and good looks getting her out of whatever her hands have inadvertently gotten her in to. While the Empire eventually caught her during a foolhardy raid on a noble's house and sent her to Exile, the populace down below has been largely fooled by her act, allowing her to find Religion in a big way - granting her the resources and reputation a talented thief can only dream of.
Delilah is every bit the model Holy Woman in conversation, and may even believe some small part of what she says(I'll leave the specifics of the religion in question to you) - but is duplicitous to a fault. On her loneliest nights she wishes she could become the mask she has presented - but thoughts of riches tend to smother such urges pretty quickly. When she gets Serious, she takes a forceful tone, is a shrewd negotiator, and is relentless in her pursuit of wealth and/or power. Mostly it is just a question of how long the act will last...
Born shortly before the outbreak of the Exile-Empire War, Loc'ess spent his youth as a refugee fleeing from the Empire's atrocities. Having been granted refuge by the Exiles, and hearing stories from his elders about the Empire's handling of nonhumans, he considers himself owing a life debt to Exile. This, combined with his aptitude for the priestly arts and an uncommonly strong wanderlust led him to become a sort of traveling healer. When Upper Exile was established, "excited" did not quite do justice to his desire to move there.
After a bit of luck, paperwork, and some favors here and there, he finally got clearance to pass the portal to the caverns above. What does fate have in store for him? Only time will tell..
Standing well over 6 and a half feet tall with a stocky frame, "Tom" is a brutish looking Nephilim with a sour demeanor and a penchant to hitting first and asking questions later (If the now thumped target is still breathing and lucid of course). Tom is an antithesis to most Nephalim, never being one to use darts or missile weapons, and instead prefers clubs, maces or whatever he can yank off the wall to fight with. Whether he's a bodyguard, a highwayman or a soldier, Tom has always stood out for never backing down from a fight, and rarely losing one, even with obvious broken bones and lacerations. Normally, such distinction would earn one a modest living based on experiences and reputation, but Tom has never really fit in with anyone in Avernum, as his frame and disposition lend people to leave him alone from fear or distrust. Tom only seems to fit in with other guards or vagabonds, and even then he rarely speaks unless spoken to. Eventually, Tom has closed himself away from other people and rarely trusts anyone.
Tom recently distinguished himself as a guard for a caravan that was nearly overrun by goblins, cracking several of their skulls and, after losing his club in the melee, picking up pairs of goblins and crushing their heads together. A member of the Unspecified Services recommended him to join this group as the previous two applicants had died in the ambush. Tom doesn't really know what to expect from his expedition, but if it as rough and tumble as the agent suggested, maybe he'll fit in a little better here than anywhere else in Avernum.
Arcturus was born in Exile to a merchant and has never seen the surface, but has eagerly studied the tales of the surface since he learned to walk. Expecting that Exile would return at some point, he studied everything the Tower of Magi had available about the surface - the flora and fauna, uses of various plants, and a little bit of magic. Unfortunately, all the time spent studying has ruined his sleeping habits for good and made him kind of...intense. Some would say a little too intense. It also limited his time to work on physical training, so he doesn't have strength, weapon skill or other physical attributes.
To most the idea of a mage is one who studies musty old tomes, experiments with arcane reagents and live in relative safety of tall towers. They spend their lives doing those things in a communal search for power, enlightenment or further knowledge of the arcane arts. Some are helpful and mindful of the populace. Some resent the populace for taking them away from their important work. Yet others lock themselves away to discover the secrets of magic undisturbed. To most, a Mage is powerful, secretive and concerned mostly with higher, theoretical learning.
To Matthias, a Mage is simply one who knows more about things than others.
Blessed with a keen observation and a powerful intuition Matthias found life in a Mage Tower self defeating. What is the use of knowledge if one does not use it? Soon after having this epiphany he left the tower having gleaned all the knowledge from it he could. Where other mages studied musty tomes, he studied lands, the nature and the people that dwelt within them. Where other mages experimented with arcane reagents, he experimented with natural ones. Where others found safety in secluded towers, he found safety in natural shelters. He uses practical solutions, magical or not, for practical problems. Sometimes for himself but almost always to help others in hopes that they can help him in return. Help that has so far eluded him. None have been able to help him battle the shortness of breath, the fevers, or the shaking hands that plague him every now and then. All signs of the tolling from his inner clock. One that, perhaps, ticks down faster for him.
No one knows exactly how or when Matthias came to Exile. One day he simply appeared and offered his services to the townsfolk, fitting in quite amicably be they Human, Nephilim or Slith. All found him quite willing, helpful and respectful, though strange for a mage. He did not boast nor did he complain, he simply carried out everything matter-of-factly no matter the hardships or oddities he faced. Never staying in one place for long his wanderings took him throughout the cavern systems and elsewhere until, almost as a matter of course he ended up at Fort Emergence not long after the first expedition to the surface had left.
"You'll need someone like me if you're going out there. I've seen enough to know the pattern that's taking place: change. Not for the better either."
Ask too many questions, get sent to the sages. Ask too many questions of the Sages, and they just may keep you. Ni'aurrl fit the saying, and has been rigorously trained since she was a kit. When the Nephilim diplomats heard of the joint venture to the Surface, they jumped at the opportunity to see Home again; they sent word to the Sages, and the Sages sent her - barely an adult, calmed down enough to hunt without sound, but still a flurry of questions. The Sages have drilled her relentlessly on their surface territories, and she is keen to scout, see what has become of them, if new grounds can be acquired for their people.
Neril is eager to see, to learn, and to bring word back to her people. Prone to bursting out with questions, talking too much (too quickly), asking rapid fire questions, but has enough hunter's sense to know when to be quiet and stealthy - even if the prey is knowledge, not a living creature. She is trained to observe, to deduce and learn; these are shared by both mages and hunters, and she is a blooded huntress (rite of passage to adulthood) as well as an up-and-coming mage for the Nephilim.
She's well-read, knows some of Art's doings (what was available to public and Nephilim sources), and oh the questions she has. Not quite hero-worship, but definitely respect and excitement to get at all Art's history - especially as Art's connections to the Surface and Empire start becoming evident.
And she will (re)invent sunglasses upon seeing the Surface at high noon, because ouch that's bright. (Or wear a broad-brimmed hat, but that's less exciting.)
Dalmek had the talent and inherent magical ability to have been a really fantastic mage, but circumstances never lined up. When he should have been studying to get into the Tower of Magi, the war broke out against the Empire and he chose to enlist in the infrantry. The war was over by the time he finished his actual training so he tried to apply to the Tower of Magi -- he failed the year of silence twice, both times yelling out of frustration. He had no real interest in magical theory and was more interested in combat applications, but found that beyond a few cantrips he picked up by natural talent, he realized it was usually faster to beat his problem to death with a giant stick.
He finally found a niche in studying Alchemy, but was expelled for cooking and selling drugs out of the Tower's laboratory. Since then, he's been wandering across Exile working every odd job you can think of; he's been a lab assistant, a bouncer, an exterminator, a cook, etc etc. He found his way onto the roster for Unspecified Services by accident - an agent of the Service was at a tavern and was impressed by how quickly Dalmek beat a half-dozen bar fighters into submission with a chair.
Karl was a wild child, born to bandits and living outside civilization most of his life. He claims to have been recently exiled for banditry and that largely shuts people up about the specifics.
Which is a good thing, because he was never actually exiled at all. He was off hunting one day and returned to find an advance scouting party from Exile had wiped out the lair of his current group, so he tracked them back to their point of egress and snuck in. Not for revenge, just figuring he'd probably be safer on the side with more weapons. Karl has ridiculously cavalier attitudes about theft and murder, which are actually kind of an asset in Unspecified Services, or at least not as much of a liability.
Bendan was ten years old when he was exiled, not that long before Art's group was sent down. Young, but more than old enough to remember those events. His parents were outspoken and relatively popular pro-free market, anti-noble cronyism advocates from near the center of the Empire. They didn't get exiled. They just disappeared one night. Bendan tried to raise a fuss among their supporters to find them, but was met with frightened disinterest. He was branded an urchin and thrown into Exile. Now 19, he has a major chip on his shoulder towards the surface. He's a scrappy kid in general, and a brutal fighter, but when it comes to helping the surface, he would rather show them the indifference he remembers from his childhood. This will sometimes bring him into conflict with Art, though he's focused enough to kill the enemy first and argue with her later. This argumentative nature leads the other members of the party to "take advantage" of his Exceptional Strength to make him carry all the stuff.
Over time on the surface, he should mellow out and remember that the people there are just people, for the most part. He's a decent guy at heart. He will grow to see Art as more of a mentor, or possibly surrogate parent (with the occasional comment that she's more than old enough to be his mother). He may even eventually admit that his parents would have liked to live in Valorim (If that's true. I don't really know the social situation out there). However, he may occasionally have to bite his tongue and rant later when encountering corrupt or self-serving individuals. Also, though there may not be a good opportunity for this, at some point, maybe the team encounters a noble or corrupt judge or whatever, possibly connected to his family's disappearance. He has no evidence, but he'll be quick to point out that if a person is the kind of corrupt that leads them to make people vanish into thin air, they'll keep doing that sort of thing until someone ends them.
Sasserithrasix is a happy-go-lucky Slith with a hippy streak. He is also the poster-child for why practice and commitment trump natural talent. While he had the potential to become a great fighter or a great mage, his lack of discipline and inability to focus on any one thing for long left him skilled, but far short of his more committed peers. As he nears middle age, it seems clear to him that it's too late to live up to what he expected to accomplish when he was young. He has wandered Avernum performing a variety of combat related jobs, but because of his mixed skill set, intelligence (very smart, though perhaps not quite so much as he makes himself out to be) and general attitude, he naturally gravitated towards unspecified services.
In terms of personality, he generally takes things as they come and tends to find the behavior of most intelligent creatures to be absurd, that of the sliths very nearly as much so as that of humans or nephilim. He comes across as not very serious, but kind, intelligent and invested doing the right thing, as long as it's not too much trouble. But behind his cheerful disposition, somewhat lackadaisical attitude and good-natured ribbing, people who know him see flashes of self-abasement, resentment and bitterness. He has a surprisingly short temper and when he erupts in a burst of vitriol, the veil shading his disappointment in himself and his life becomes very thin. He also has hates authority, often unfairly so, probably because it reminds him of what he sees as his own failure. This means he will be fascinated by Art, like her very much, and also resent her, occasionally bursting out into a mostly ungrounded tirade about how she's screwing up.
In spite of this, his outward appearance mostly reflects the reality of his character. He really does believe and follow a philosophy of appreciating the simple and constant beauty of life and typically manages to enjoy each moment. He has the wisdom to perceive when others, and occasionally even he himself, are being ridiculous and always takes genuine, but not mean-spirited amusement in pointing it out.
They might not have been lofty heights, but they were hers. Story of her life, really. Was third in command of a fairly lucrative merchant troupe - right up until her boss annoyed the wrong Empire official. By then, shipping people off to Exile was a non-option - that particular punishment having died with Hawthorne - so they'd gone for something more severe, to 'make an example'. Execution, and confiscation of everything the troupe owned. Thanks to that 'reasonable' option being gone, everything was torn apart.
So her life was ruined. Fine. She could rebuild. Legally, not so much - but the law wasn't on her side to begin with. So she found her way to the shadier side of business, eventually signing on with a bandit gang. Knowledge of how caravans ran, of how valuable goods could be...well, that made her command material.
So she got better. Learned to fight, got practised at ambushing, and worked her way up to sub-commander of a fairly hefty bandit troupe. Thugs under her command - brutal sorts who'd backstab her as easily as anything. Fine - she never expected loyalty, the world was a brutal enough place. And they got a bit big, and needed a place to hide out from Empire patrols...so they started building a fort, and 'Blue' near the top of its pecking order.
Not exactly lofty heights, but they were hers. Right up until there was an accident, or maybe a betrayal - she'd been checking on an outer wall, a catwalk collapsed, and she fell into the abyss.
Filthy caves. Filled with monsters. A hard woman could find a way to endure, but swords dull, armour breaks...and when a bedraggled woman hit her limit, she finally found other people.
For loose definitions of 'people'. Exiles. So she was swept up, because Unspecified Services would just love to hear about the current state of the surface world - and she'd travelled enough as a merchant-turned-bandit to know a little bit about a lot of things. Was 'recommended' to sign up with Unspecified Services, because monster-infested caverns are a hard thing to survive alone...
She's bitter. Over the Exiles' role in the turmoil of the last decade. Over her supposed comrades effectively stabbing her in the back. Over how a pretty good life has fallen apart twice now...but fine.
She can come out on top again.
And these are your 14 potential PCs! As stated earlier, everyone gets four votes from +4 to +1 indicating how much you love that PC. And, because there is so much competition for the 5 slots, I will give everyone two -1 Votes to work with as well. You can use them on different PCs, the same one, or none at all!
Voting will last until Midnight, Sunday 13 March 2016, at which time I will tally the votes, and announce the winners, with the next update to follow soon after.