Tuesday, September 8, 2009

[NeoExodus] The Brotherhood - Focus on Erebus

With the creation of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, LPJ Design always planned to shift to support that game system since it being so close to 3.5 OGL. While waiting for the Pathfinder GRD, Neal Bailey completed the last 3.5 OGL only NeoExodus: A House Divided product that we would be working called Enemies of NeoExodus: The Brotherhood. The Brotherhood were influenced by B and C level super villains groups that never get the respect they deserve. So with that goal in mind, Let me introduce Erebus.

Erebus was not born into the most promising situation. With his father a victim of war and his mother dead of plague, Erebus found himself abandoned and living a dangerous life from a very young age. The existence of a street urchin in the darker alleys of the Dominion is not an easy one, but Erebus always survived - he, along with a small group of other children, served as scouts and burglars for a local thieves’ guild called the Barad Aku (the Black Hand) He had a prodigious talent and was well-loved by the entire guild.

Erebus grew up amongst the thieves and learned their ways, but his heart was always just. He only took what he needed to survive, distributing the rest amongst other orphans who he would take in and train. As he grew into a man, his inherent decency held true – he became a pillar within the Barad Aku and worked to steer it into an upright organization that worked to defend the weaker classes. All this evaporated, however, leaving his life entirely changed after one fateful burglary.

Stealing from wizards is always a risky if rewarding business. The potential gain was great – enormous wealth and a magical horn of plenty that could feed hundreds of poor families. Erebus took it upon himself to obtain these treasures alone, as he was unwilling to endanger any of his underlings in the heist. He traveled to the soaring parapets of the Ajrad Mikurk, the Sky Gardens, and broke in without any difficulties. He slipped into the treasury without a sound, grabbed some jewels and the Horn of Plenty, and was about to leave when an unusual artifact caught his eye - a full-length mirror, clearly steeped in powerful magic. Erebus felt his gaze drawn to it and resisted at first, but eventually chanced a glance. What he saw was himself… himself, but slightly different. He saw his own image, but older and vastly more powerful. Scenes played out where he headed the Barad Aku, helped entire cities, rescued the beleaguered, and saved lives. Yet the scenes were gradually changing. He saw himself aging, and turning away from helping others. Allowing friends to die. Ordering their deaths. Committing murder in cold blood. Horrified by these strange portents, Erebus lashed out and destroyed the mirror, sending shards of magical glass in all directions. Shaken, he gazed down at his bloodied hand, heard the sound of the guard gargoyles approaching, and made his retreat - but not before grabbing a shard of the mirror. He had to know what those images meant, and secretly, somewhere within himself, he had a twinge of desire for the power he had seen.

After the heist, Erebus was hailed as a hero. He made excellent use of the Horn of Plenty, distributing food to the underclass of the entire city. Within months he was ‘elected’ to head the Barad Aku, which he quickly worked to transform into a charitable organization of freedom fighters. Most alarming to him, however, was that the first vision came true. Erebus decided it was time to take the mirror shard to Tarbath, a famous diviner from the Caneus Empire.

Tarbath worked his strange magic over the shard, and came away pale and drawn. “This is a piece of the Mirror of Fate, an artifact believed lost to the sands of time. By gazing into the mirror, a man reveals what fate could hold in store for him. But this mirror is no mere augur; its visions are hints of what a man can accomplish if he were to use its true power – the power to bend his own fate to his heart’s desire.”
Erebus was silent, mulling over the images he saw. He had seen visions of himself as both a savior and a killer.
“Does it create false visions?”
“The visions it creates are neither true nor false. They are merely potentials. A man may see signs in it of both great evil and great good, but ultimately the outcome will be steered by his heart.”
Erebus was relieved by the seer’s words. “Thank you, Tarbath. I don’t yet know what I’ll do with this, but I hope I make the right decision.”
“So do I, Erebus.”

Five years passed. Vision after vision shown in the mirror came to be – Erebus formed a nation-wide network and worked hard to assist the downtrodden. All the while, he found himself gazing into the shard of mirror he kept carefully hidden in his chambers; it showed only the ghostliest of visions now, difficult to decipher.

Soon, a more immediate threat confronted the humble rogue. A local Vizier, Ashra, had outlawed the Barad Aku for acts of grand larceny against the nobility. Erebus knew the only way the Vizier could have discovered that the Barad Aku were behind the thefts was if an informant was in the ranks. Paranoid, Erebus sought out possible leaks. All the while he gazed deeper and deeper into the shard, trying to glean any clue he could find as to who was damaging his organization.

The more he used the artifact, the more its power to affect fate gradually tempted him away from his ideals and closer towards the dark visions he had forseen. He refused to allow the Barad Aku and everything he worked for to fall to ruin. He would use the shard’s power. And so he did.

Erebus altered fate in small ways at first. He arranged a few accidents for those he suspected of undermining the Barad Aku. These people, some personal friends, ‘vanished’ and everything seemed stable for a while, yet his paranoia was showing and the atmosphere in the guild had shifted from “help the less fortunate” into “preserve ourselves”. Even with these efforts, a few accidents were not enough to maintain security and Ashra was capturing members of the Barad Aku. Erebus decided that Ashra himself had to go; with the prophetic powers of the shard, it was all too easy.

Something inside him began to slip. Erebus wanted to be seen as a savior, but he wanted the superiority of a savior as well, he wanted that power to control and command. With the shard in hand, he could control and command fate itself. Even as the Barad Aku continued to function normally on the surface, Erebus’s mood darkened. He became distrustful and concerned that Ashra’s allies would come for him. He believed this so completely that the shard, unfortunately, responded, and one day they did.

Erebus was nothing if not adaptable; he bent fate and made his escape even while the rest of his organization was butchered and burned. Left without a home and under serious threat from the law, Erebus was approached by one of the men who he had hired to ‘vanish’ a few old friends in the Barad Aku – a man who revealed himself to be an unusual spirit named Ram. “You are being called in for your favor now, Erebus,” the creature said. Erebus was cornered and had little ability to resist, and quickly found himself diving deeper into the underworld than he had ever wanted.

A thin man of average height, Erebus has close-cropped, black hair, a smooth face, and sharp features. When out on a mission, he usually wears a fine porcelain mask painted dark red, light armor, and a cloak.

In the Brotherhood
Erebus serves as a second in command in the Brotherhood, dealing with stealth training. His skills center around theft and subtle murders within the criminal element itself. Erebus will never be called in to deal with people on the right side of the law.

Erebus still wants to be seen as the good guy. He gets along very well with Lo-Dora (who he considers a decent person) and Silence (who he treats something like a sidekick or younger brother; he’s been instructing silence in the arts of subterfuge). He still has a lot of good qualities – he’ll help people out, make secret charitable donations, and so on. However, he works as an assassin for the Folding Circle and is well aware that he’s murdering people for dubious reasons. He tries to switch his regret off when he’s on the job and generally succeeds with the help of an increasingly grim, fatalistic philosophy, but when left to his own designs he spends a lot of time brooding and staring into the shard to perchance catch a glimpse of what he might yet become.

Erebus Likes
-Being offered the opportunity to help a good cause (+4 diplomacy)
-People reinforcing or accepting his rationalizations for his actions (+2 diplomacy)

Erebus Hates
-Being taken to task or judged as evil (-4 diplomacy)

Rogue 5 / Assassin 6
Size/Type: Medium humanoid (Human)
Hit Dice (max): 11D6+33 (99)
Initiative: +7
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 24 (+3 armor, +7 dex, +2 deflection, +2 greater dodge), 21 touch, 24 flat-footed
Base Attack/Grapple: +7/+8
Attack: Mirrorshard +21 melee (1d6+4+laceration, 19-20/x2)
Full Attack: Mirrorshard +21/+16 melee (1d6+4+laceration/1d6+4+laceration) or Mirrorshard two weapon fighting +19/+19/+16/+14 (1d6+4+laceration, 19-20 x2, all)
Space/Reach: 5 ft / 5 ft
Special Attacks: Death Attack, Dimension Door, Mirrorshard, Mirrorshard Twinning, Sneak attack +6d6, Spells
Special Qualities: Evasion, Greater Dodge, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Laceration, Poison Use, +3 saves versus poison, Mirror Images, Ray Deflection, Trapfinding, Shattering Death, Trap Sense +1
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +9, Will +3
Abilities (52 point buy): Str 12, Dex 24 (+2 level, +4 item), Con 16 (+2 item), Int 22 (+4 item), Wis 12, Cha 14
Skills (160): Balance +9, Bluff +14, Concentration +11, Diplomacy +14, Disable Device +19, Disguise +14 (+16 in character), Forgery +16, Gather Information +16 Hide +19, Knowledge (local) +14, Listen +9, Move Silently +19, Search +18, Sleight of Hand +21, Spot +9, Tumble +19
Feats (5): Dodge, Improved Two-weapon fighting, Two-weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse (shortsword), Weapon Focus (shortsword)
Environment: NA
Organization: Second in command of the Brotherhood
Challenge Rating: 11
Equipment (66,000 gp): Amulet of Health +2 (4,000), Gloves of Dexterity +4 (16,000), Mask of Intellect +4 (16,000), Mirrorshard (cursed artifact, 21,000), Potion of Haste (750), Padded armor +2 (4,155), Ring of Protection +2 (8,000), Thief’s gear (100)

Racial Abilities
  • Bonus Feat (ex): Humans gain a bonus feat at first level.
  • Bonus skills (ex): Humans gain 4 bonus skill points at first level, and an additional bonus skill point at each subsequent level.
Spells (5/5/2)
3rd – Deep slumber, Misdirection, non-detection
2nd – Darkness, invisibility, pass without trace, spider climb
1st – Disguise self, feather fall, jump, obscuring mist, true strike

Special Attacks
  • Death Attack (ex): After observing a victim for 3 rounds and making a successful sneak attack against them, Erebus can choose to either kill them instantly or paralyze them for 1d6+6 rounds. There is a DC 23 fortitude save to prevent the effect.
  • Dimension Door (su): Erebus can literally use the Mirrorshard to cut a hole in the world, forming a dimension door, as per the spell. This requires a standard action, and is cast as if by an 11th level wizard. Erebus will use this ability to escape if necessary.
  • Mirrorshard (su): This is Erebus’s shard of mirror. It is a potent magical weapon (considered a +3 shortsword), set with a silver pommel. The Mirrorshard allows Erebus, through the power of his belief, to alter fate over long periods of time (this is a powerful background ability and plot point). In combat, it functions in a more limited fashion. The mirrorshard can be called upon to perform any of the following functions as free, immediate actions 1/round at any time (including after rolls are already made).
  • Cause a melee attack with the Mirrorshard to automatically critical. (3/day)
  • Cause a melee attack with the Mirrorshard to automatically hit. (5/day).
  • Cause an incoming attack on Erebus to miss. (5/day).
  • Cause a saving throw made by Erebus to automatically succeed (3/day).

Whenever the Mirrorshard is called upon, it briefly flashes.

  • Mirrorshard Twinning (su): As a swift action, Erebus may command the Mirrorshard to Twin, producing a second, identical weapon in his offhand.

Sneak Attack (su): As per standard sneak attack. +6d6 damage on a flat-footed or flanked opponent.

Special Qualities

  • Evasion (ex): Erebus takes no damage on a successful reflex save.
  • Greater Dodge (ex): Erebus’ extreme agility increases his dodge bonus from dodge to +2, and it is applied to anyone who tries to strike him. This bonus applies at all times.
  • Laceration (ex): The mirrorshard is a brutally sharp weapon, and strikes with it cause the Laceration effect. This is a stacking effect that causes all subsequent attacks with the mirrorshard to deal 1 additional point of damage. Laceration is removed when the sufferer is healed to full.
  • Mirror Images (sp): As a standard action, Erebus can manifest 3 mirror images around himself. These mirror images are unlike those created by the Mirror Image spell. Each has 10 hit points and the same armor class, movement, saving throws, special qualities (except shattering death), and BaB as Erebus himself. Each can make the same number of attacks per round at the same attack bonus, but their attacks only deal 1 damage under regular circumstances. However, they cause and are affected by the laceration effect. Additionally, Erebus can flank with them, but the mirror images cannot sneak attack. Whenever a mirror image is destroyed it breaks and fades away, causing Erebus to regain 10 hit points.
  • Ray Deflection (ex): Any ray or beam attacks cast on Erebus are automatically reflected back upon their caster by the power of the Mirrorshard.
  • Shard Attunement (su): For better or for worse, the Mirrorshard has become attuned to Erebus and cannot be separated from him. Any attempt to disarm the shard or grasp it has a similar result – horrible laceration of the person interfering with the shard (4d6 damage +2 bleed damage per round until magically healed), and the shard stays in Erebus’ hand.
  • Shattering Death (su): If Erebus is killed, he collapses into hundreds of shards of razor-sharp, scintillating glass. This causes 8d6 damage to all within a 10 foot burst of Erebus. Each shard features a frozen image of a younger Erebus as he first gazed into the mirror.
  • Uncanny Dodges (ex): Erebus retains his dexterity bonus to armor class when flat footed. Additionally, he cannot be flanked, and may not be sneak attacked except by rogues of 15th level or greater.

In Combat
Erebus is deadly serious and doesn’t fight for sport. He will only fight if he’s trying to kill someone and does his level best to make an escape after the job is done. He is a calculating genius and never gets into a fray without some type of ace up his sleeve. Any fight with him is a losing situation for the opposition unless they manage to catch him unawares – something that is not very likely.