More Than Just The Stats (Part 4)
We’re back again, folks, picking up with our story and, thereby, our character build for “More Than Just the Stats.” Brace yourselves, Innmates, because this entry’s gonna be a whopper!
To this point, we’ve come up with our basic concept for a seventh level assassin, laid down the beginnings of a backstory, and utilizing that, have rolled up our initial stats, selected feats, and added skill points as are appropriate for the tale we’ve started to spin alllll the way up through level two!
That’s right, friends and neighbors; we’ve been through three of these blog posts already and we’ve only gotten our character up to a lowly level 2 ranger! Okay… maybe not so lowly because, check it out, we have packed some serious character-depth and backstory fluff into those two measly character levels! (And isn’t that really the purpose of this whole exercise?)
Think about it… in the course of building our character’s stats, we’ve built just as much if not more about his/her history by putting a little bit of the “whys and wherefores” behind our number boosting! Using Nyx, again, as an example, let’s take a look and see what we know just after two levels:
So, at a time in his life that mysteriously coincides with the end of Nyx’s second character level, let’s say that his clan is on the move, migrating from one part of their range in the wide-open spaces of central Shanurdir towards a spot closer to the border where they typically spend the winter months… That’s pretty much what nomadic people do, right? Follow their herds or what-have-you from spot to spot, seeking out the best grazing, hunting, etc?... Sure it is! So, in the winter months, the Jolbane clan migrates from the soon-to-be snow and wind scoured steppes to their winter camp in the foothills of the mountains to the east. The winter camp provides great protection against the seasonal weather but, unfortunately, also brings them closer to humans… and we know by now that, in general, that’s a bad thing, don’t we? Turns out it was a particularly bad thing for Nyx.
- Nyx is a Mith’ganni who ‘started out,’ as many of his kind do, as a hunter/warrior (read: ranger) for his clan on the Steppes of Shanurdir. We decided, too, that, given these factors, Nyx’s starting alignment was likely ‘neutral.’
- We got pretty lucky in our stat rolls and, as a result, ol’ Nyx turned out to be a fairly respectable figure stat-wise. Physically, he’s a bit above average where strength is concerned, he’s extremely dexterous, and, overall, he’s got a pretty respectable constitution. Mentally-speaking, we know that Nyx is also a bit above average when it comes to his intelligence and common sense (wisdom) and, when it comes to the fact that his particular breed of elf suffers a -4 to charisma, our boy came out pretty damn charming for what one might expect for a Mith’ganni.
- We know that our character speaks his own language, of course, and is also fluent in the speech of Gnolls and his forest-dwelling cousins the Wood Elves (Sylvan). We also know exactly why he speaks those two particular languages as opposed to any of the others that were available, don’t we?
- He’s got a good, well-spread set of skills that are appropriate to his race and class; being a Mith’ganni horseman, Nyx is pretty adept in handling and riding horses, he’s got physical and mental based skills that one would expect (spot, search, listen, survival, etc), and, best of all, we know more or less how/why he got every single rank!
- We know that Nyx is adept at fighting with a weapon in each hand and that he’s pretty darn good when it comes to fighting the humans that dare to encroach on his clan and that he’s really damn sneaky when he needs to be.
- We know that Nyx was betrothed to the clan Shaman’s daughter, Lyssa. (Most likely thanks to all of those nifty traits and characteristics above, right?)
- And, finally, we know that, in the world that Nyx lives in, Humans consider themselves “racially superior” and, in their empire-building tear across the continent, have, at last, started pushing into Shanurdir, thus, putting them more and more in conflict with the typically elusive and, to this point, relatively peaceful Mith’ganni. (Nothing good can come of that, now, can it? Noooo… I don’t think so… and that’s how, in our third level build, we’re going to slip in our alignment shift towards the ‘neutral evil’ that we need to turn our ranger into an assassin. Read on and see how it’s done…)
Building on our theme and story, here, let’s imagine that, one day, the Jolbane clan has set up camp, for the time being, in the vicinity of a relatively new ‘trade road’ that skirts the human-defined border of Shanurdir. Nyx and a couple of his clansmen are out hunting or whatever in order to ‘build up their stores’ for the winter and, in their absence, the Jolbane camp is sacked by human slavers. Nyx and crew return from their expedition to find the camp a smoldering ruin, a great number of his people dead, and the rest missing (Lyssa and her father among them).
(*gasp, swoon* Say it ain’t so!.. Sorry. It’s so. But, don’t worry, there’s a ‘good reason’ for it where building our character is concerned.)
Nyx is, of course, outraged and devastated. Between himself and his outriders (who I named Talo and Calyn, for whatever reason), the Mith’ganni ferret out what happened and locate not only some relatively fresh tracks that indicate which direction the slavers likely went with whatever remained of their clansfolk but, also, a set that led them to believe one or more of their kinsmen not only survived but, likely, escaped. Nyx sets Talo and Calyn off in pursuit of the slave caravan while he, himself, follows the tracks of the potential survivor(s). He follows the tracks to a cave some distance from the camp and, inside, finds but one survivor – the clan Shaman. Nyx questions the cowering Shaman, of course, and discovers that Lyssa had, in fact been captured by the slavers and, even worse, the Shaman had seen the humans coming and, rather than see to the well-being of the clan in any fashion, he had run away to save himself… left the others behind to fight and/or die for themselves without any magical aide from their supposed leader.
As it turns out, this particular cave was (or, perhaps, somehow consumed), at some far distant point in the past, a shrine to the ancient Death God, Prien, and the recent slaughter at the nearby Jolbane camp, along with the near uncontrollably murderous rage emanating from Nyx when he entered, had stirred the nigh-forgotten deity’s attentions. So, as Nyx listened to the Shaman relate his tale of destruction (and betrayal), he became more and more tormented and murderous. Prien saw in Nyx, at that moment, a vehicle by which to, perhaps, revive his long-diminished worship and, as such, used his divine power to ‘nudge’ our boy over the edge so to speak. It takes some time but, over the course of the conversation between Nyx and the sniveling shaman, Prien manages to ‘override’ the Mith’ganni’s devotion to preservation of the clan and Nyx brutally murders his clan’s leader (and his would-have-been father-in-law)…
And there’s our first little ‘alignment shift’ away from true Neutral, boys and girls. Between his own rage and despair at the loss of his clan (especially his beloved Lyssa), the perceived betrayal of ‘The Jolbani,’ and the goading of a dark deity, Nyx commits his first, cold-blooded murder (and, in the eyes of his people, would have been branded a kinslayer and outcast had anyone else witnessed it), so, a little nudge to the left on the Evil – Good slider, please. Still… emotional distress… influence of an evil god… could possibly be redeemable somehow/where along the way… so not exactly enough to set that ‘evil’ in stone, perhaps, you say? I agree. So… more story!
… Nyx (compelled, for some reason, to paint his face in the semblance of a skull using the Jolbani’s blood) leaves the cave and returns to the camp to find his outriders tending to the bodies of the dead and/or salvaging what they could from the ashes of the camp. He demands to know why they haven’t found and killed the round-ears, yet, and, in response, the let him know that they found a human encampment not far off but couldn’t be sure that is was the slavers’. They, in turn, ask him if he had found any of their kin, to which his reply was “no one alive.” Nyx then demands that they abandon the tending of their dead and lead him to the human camp. His outriders protest, of course, citing tradition and respect for their fallen clansfolk and (maybe more importantly) the fact that the humans would surely have them outnumbered and certainly out-armed. Protests aside, though, Nyx reminds them that he is their senior and, thereby, their leader and, if they didn’t do something about the humans, there would be no clan left to care about tradition or respect. So, with Talo and Calyn convinced/intimidated by Nyx, the trio geared up and set out to raid the humans’ camp and, hopefully, free their captured kin (and extract some revenge).
Alright, now, Nyx and company catch up to the humans’ caravan the following day and simply stalk and observe them until the wagons stop to make camp for the night. The Mith’ganni horsemen, despite Nyx’s agitation, keep their distance and continue their scouting for a time, determining that, yes, this group of wagons was moving slaves (though they couldn’t be sure that any of them were of their clan or even Mith’ganni at all, for that matter) and that, yes, they were certainly outmanned. Despite his friends’ wise advice to seek the assistance of another clan as opposed to acting alone, Nyx devises (and bullies his buddies into complying with) a plan to sneak into the humans’ camp, free the slaves (mith’ganni or not), and, with their numbers thus bolstered, slaughter the slavers down to the last man.
So, long story short, here, (because I know you’ve gotta be pretty darn close to tired of reading), the plan doesn’t work out exactly as Nyx might have hoped. He sneaks into the camp just fine but is discovered and captured, himself, in the process of trying to open the first slave wagon. Talo and Calyn, (not sure that Nyx is completely sane anymore, for one thing, and not sure that doing anything would even make a difference, for another) do nothing until Nyx has been severely beaten and is about to be branded. At this point, Nyx’s outriders stage a ‘rescue’ that, as it turns out, does result in the freeing of the slaves and, in the end, the slaughter of the slavers. The carnage ended and found Nyx in the company of his outriders and a handful of the liberated slaves (none of whom were Mith’ganni, after all). Most all of the newly freed went on their own ways as none of them had any interest in aiding Nyx in his quest for rescue and revenge when they could try and make their way to their own homes and, in turn, Nyx had no interest in helping them do so. Before leaving Nyx and his kinsmen, though, one of these freed slaves made mention of passing another caravan that did count Twilight elves amongst its captives and provides some information on where it could possibly be found or, at least, headed.
And, again, it’s back to Nyx, Talo, and Calyn against the world and Nyx’s newfound madness (he’s started hearing ‘Prien’s voice’ in his head, now, you see, and is occasionally caught ‘talking to himself’). Anyway, as the Mith’ganni trio is briefly camped following that first ‘assault’ on the round-eared slavers, Talo and Calyn, once again, lobby against trying to find and liberate their kin on their own and, instead, recommend seeking out another clan to enlist aid or, at the very least, be allowed to join (surely they would never find or free the missing Joblane, anyway). One thing leads to another and, in the end, Nyx ends up killing Talo and Calyn and, now, being the last remaining member of his clan, sets out on his own to do the job that his “brothers” weren’t willing to or worthy of doing.
So… His clansmen are killed or enslaved, the Shaman and his two outriders have been mercilessly killed at his own hands, a ‘dark god’ is haunting his thoughts and, as a result, Nyx has set off on his path of vengeance - following/harassing imperial slave/trade routes across southern Shanurdir and, this early on, northern Garangrad. He kills savagely and indiscriminately, now, and, at times, kills at the direction of the voice that speaks to him. His alignment has most definitely shifted with no uncertainty towards evil, now.
Now, believe it or not, out of all of that, all we got was 8 skill points and, since we hit third level, another Feat pick. Here’s how I spent the skill points and why:
Okay, now, for the feat pick, I decided to climb out on the next branch of the Two-Weapon Fighting tree and chose Two Weapon Defense. There were probably other feats I could have gone with, here, but, after giving it some thought, I decided that this was the best one because, firstly, Nyx would have gotten better at wielding two weapons over the course of the last two levels and, given the fact that he’s taken to raiding human wagon trains and the like, he’s probably had more than a few opportunities to defend himself, wouldn’t you think?
- +1 Move Silently (Ongoing and increasingly frequent use)
- +1 Hide (same rationale as above)
- +2 Search (I bought two ranks this time around to account for not only ongoing but also the additional usage of this skill where tracking human caravans and the like is concerned)
- +1 Spot (see move silently and hide)
- +1 Healing (spent a point here with the thoughts that, given the increasing violence in his life and the fact that he’s now essentially ‘alone,’ Nyx would have had to start tending to his own injuries with more frequency.)
- +1 Ride (well, he’s a horseman, after all, right… and has likely been riding pretty hard of late)
- +1 Survival (aside from regular usage I decided this should be upped for much the same reasons I boosted his healing skill)
“Wow, Eol! That was a hellacious post just to get us to spend 8 skill points and pick one measly feat! Is that all we get?”
Yeah… that’s pretty much it… stat-wise, anyway… and, yeah, it was one crazy long post, wasn’t it? Buuuuut, faithful readers, we really did get quite a bit more from that hugely detailed chunk of Nyx’s history than just a boost in our numbers, didn’t we? Suuuuure… we got a nice look at what ‘pushed Nyx over the edge’ and, in doing so, also explained where the evil bent to his alignment came from (and bent that alignment on our sheet to now reflect Neutral Evil to meet our Assassin class requirements… our skill picks, too, have pushed us farther along towards meeting those requirements, too and, as far as the story-telling aspects of it go, it all pretty much makes sense… More Than Just the Stats, right?)
Okay, Innmates, that’s it for this installment… go… rest your eyes… have a drink… give some thoughts to your own character builds based on what you’ve read here and, hey, if you’ve gotten anything out of this blog series, at all, why not drop a line in the comments and let me know I’ve been marginally useful (or completely idiotic, even… I’m flexible). ;)
Join us next time and we’ll watch Nyx go Rogue. Until then, happy hunting… or whatever it is you do happily.
posted by Eol Fefalas on 8/17/2019 at 10:55:17 AM
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