Absolute Corruption: More Villains for Your Campaign

The third installment of my series on detailed character profiles of evil cultists will focus on a couple of followers of the Outer Being known as Yurrgh-Thal, also known as “The Corruptor”. More information on Yurrgh-Thal and his plots, as well as those of the other six major Outer Beings, can be found in a cosmology I wrote, which is available on Bruce Heard’s blog.

Although everything written here is set in the campaign setting known as “Mystara” in the year AC 1000, readers are welcome to modify the material to suit their own campaigns.

Mystara Alphatia Frisland Heraldry
(image courtesy of Bruce Heard)

HELENA TRISMEGISTUS

Background: Helena was born in Thyatis City in AC 961 to a wealthy, politically connected family. Her father (Cassius) was an influential Senator and staunch supporter of imperial expansion, while her mother (Julia) was a well-known socialite who was frequently seen in the Empress’s extended social circle. Although Helena was the eldest child, she was not male and therefore it was expected in her conservative social circles that she would one day marry and bring about a political alliance of benefit to her family. Helena’s mother took pains to educate her in courtly manners, as well as in other social skills that would benefit a woman in the often deadly world of Thyatian high society – such as detecting deception, determining a person’s weaknesses, knowing when to use blackmail, and how to get an opponent to divulge their secrets without them realising it. Her father, an emotionally distant man, did not concern himself with his daughter’s upbringing or the goings-on in his family; he focused on his career, and his mistresses.

Her mother’s instruction bore fruit, and by the time Helena was 16 she had acquired her own social circle at court, and her inherent grace, wit, and charm began to eclipse those of her mother, who pretended not to notice. However, Julia vented her bitterness in other ways – particularly at her own family behind closed doors. She succeeded in driving Helena and her younger brother, Theodorus, away from her, and her husband soon left his family for his mistress, whom he began to make very public plans to marry. Julia went mad upon hearing the news, and arranged for her soon-to-be-former husband’s demise. Helena learned of her mother’s involvement in her father’s death, and threatened to expose her plot unless she ceded control of the family’s finances (the one thing she cared about most). Julia balked, and strongly hinted that she would murder her own daughter rather than give in.

Helena withdrew and severed all ties with her mother, and immediately began campaigning to take over her late father’s position in the Senate. Although it was very rare for a young woman to do such a thing, many of her father’s colleagues, as well as more than a few citizens, admired her spirit. After a hard-fought battle, she won. This did not go unnoticed by the cult of Yurrgh-Thal, which had been trying to make inroads into the Thyatian government and was having limited success. The naturally charismatic Helena was seen as an ideal pawn. A representative approached her, offering money in exchange for certain political favours. Understanding that this was how business was done, Helena accepted and soon badgered her fellow Senators to support greater religious freedom within the empire – and to accord recognition to the Temple of Celestial Wisdom, which claimed to be a new, but persecuted, faith. The Temple won recognition, and Helena, already deeply enmeshed in Yurrgh-Thal’s web, was formally inducted as a worshipper.

Appearance: Helena is of classic Thyatian stock – she is of average height (5’6”/167 cm) and build (135 lbs./61 kg), with hazel eyes, curly dark brown shoulder-length hair, and a light olive complexion. Her natural, finely-sculpted features (many artists in the city have claimed that a marble bust of Helena would merely repeat what Nature had created) have been subtly enhanced by the power of Yurrgh-Thal (specifically, the Rings of Yuranos) to make her even more alluring. She walks with a natural grace, with just a hint of sultriness, that turns heads as soon as she enters a room, and her naturally melodious voice can disarm the most vocal opponent – and in fact it has done so. She wears the most tasteful, luxurious court attire, and after she makes a public appearance scores of women seek to imitate her.

Statistics:

Helena Trismegistus (11th level cleric of Yurrgh-Thal): STR 12, INT 13, WIS 14, DEX 10, CON 9, CHA 17 (19). Hit Points: 38. Armour Class: 7. Alignment: Chaotic.

Skills: Ceremony – Yurrgh-Thal (WIS), Allure (CHA), Bargaining (CHA), Detect Deception (WIS), Diplomacy (INT), History – Thyatis (INT), Intimidation (INT), Law and Justice – Thyatis (WIS), Persuasion (CHA), Outer Being Lore (7). If your campaign uses the optional Weapon Mastery rulers, Helena is “Expert” in the dagger. Languages Known: Thyatian, Alphatian.

Special Abilities: Sense Tainted within 300’, ESP with Tainted within 100’. Helena can cast clerical spells as a cleric of her level.

Special Equipment: Dagger +2, energy drain, Rings of Yuranos (see below)

Personality: Helena is an engaging woman who is perfectly at ease with being the centre of attention in any social situation. When she speaks to someone, she makes direct eye contact and makes the other person feel like they are the only person who matters at that moment. The friendly image she projects makes her seem approachable, despite her illustrious background. Helena makes a point of learning one or two facts about every person she meets, now matter how humble, so that she will have something to discuss with them later. In short, Helena is a consummate politician. Publicly at least, Helena is quick to proclaim her support for the empire and its expansion.

However, underneath the veneer is a woman who spent her childhood learning to be wary of everything and everyone, and to question everything she saw and heard. In truth, Helena divides the people of the world into two camps: those who are knowledgeable and dangerous, and those who are ignorant and potentially deadly. This suspicion is so deeply rooted into her psyche that she has a network of spies who investigate everyone in her social circle regularly, in the hopes of finding evidence that they are plotting against her, or of finding information that can be used against them if necessary. However, Helena has been so thoroughly schooled in court etiquette, and in the need to maintain appearances, that she keeps this side of her personality buried whenever she is in a public place.

The only certainty in her life at the moment is provided by Yurrgh-Thal, and she follows His instructions unquestioningly.

Roleplaying Notes: Helena could have a number of important roles to play in a campaign, depending on the DM’s interest. As a shrewd political operator she is well placed to act as an unexpected benefactor for the player characters, who could give them potentially lucrative missions that are ostensibly in the interest of the imperial government, but in reality serve her own aims – or those of Yurrgh-Thal. As a result, the player characters’ actions could inadvertently cause great harm in the medium- to long-term, which could result in a great deal of personal anguish if they ever learn how they had been used. Such a revelation could set the stage for a very dramatic encounter with Helena, at which time she would unleash her abilities to their fullest extent.

She is also an excellent example of a follower of a dark entity who operates as a sort of “covert agent”. To all appearances Helena has a normal life and does nothing that would indicate where her allegiances truly lie. In fact, uncovering her true nature, and the extent to which she and her supporters have infiltrated the Thyatian government, could be a campaign arc of its own. However, uncovering the rot and destroying the visible parts may only be the beginning of the player character’s problems, because Yurrgh-Thal takes an active interest in His followers, and has been known to seek vengeance when His plots are foiled.

GEORG HOLLWEG

Background:  Georg was born to a family of farmers just outside the village of Pflenzen, in the Heldannic Territories, in AC 975. As the youngest of four boys, it was understood from the beginning that Georg was unlikely to inherit anything of note from his parents. As a result, he turned his mind to other pursuits – including, at various times, rock collecting, local history, and music – whenever he was not helping out on the farm. Although these interests kept Georg out of his parents’ hair, they were at odds with what most of the other boys did whenever they had spare time (fighting, games of skill, harassing girls, and small-scale vandalism). Consequently, Georg had few friends, and spent increasing amounts of time by himself in the countryside.

As Georg neared adulthood, his parents decided to send him into the village in the hopes that he would pick up a trade. Unfortunately the young man lacked the interest in, and aptitude for, most of the available work in Pflenzen. As a last-ditch effort, Georg’s parents sent him to the town of Thurgau where, they hoped, the Heldannic Order might find a use for him as a common soldier. It would be a hard life, they told him, but at least he would be paid and there was prestige in serving the nation. Georg presented himself there, and was promptly enlisted. Although he lacked the religious zeal necessary to begin the long, arduous process to become a Heldannic Knight, Georg was commended for his discipline and focus, and his officers thought he would make a fine foot soldier – perhaps even a cavalry sergeant, someday. The young man found that soldiering, at least, was one thing he was good at.

While on a field exercise in the Mengul Mountains on the fringes of Denagothian territory, Georg and his unit came across a ruined shrine that seemed to be attached to some catacombs. The sergeant, who was familiar with the region, had never seen the ruins before and ordered his troops to investigate. Although the shrine had been ransacked long ago, there were fragments of idols that seemed to depict a man with branches or ropes coming out of his head. The catacombs had also been ransacked long ago, and the bones smashed beyond recognition, but Georg followed a sudden hunch and discovered a secret room that had escaped detection. There, they found skeletons of creatures that were obviously not human. While many of the soldiers fled, Georg felt drawn to one of the skeletons, and found an old pendant bearing the image of the idol. He pocketed his find and returned to camp.

Following that strange discovery Georg dreamed of a commanding man radiating wisdom and kindness, who offered to guide him to true greatness. Georg accepted and the man, who called himself Yuranos, began to instruct him in his dreams. The young man soon noticed his power and influence growing, and he began to use his new abilities to improve his lot. Yuranos discouraged him from helping his family – they didn’t help him, after all. Georg is now fully under Yurrgh-Thal’s influence, and is using his growing clerical abilities to further his master’s influence in the Heldannic Order, and by extension Heldann itself.

Appearance:  Georg stands 5’9” (175 cm) tall and weighs 180 lbs (81 kg). He keeps his light brown hair cut short and is meticulously clean-shaven (Yurrgh-Thal is savouring the notion that a veritable poster-boy for the Heldannic Order should be one of his tools in eventually subverting it). Georg always had a penetrating stare, but now his green eyes have a cold, calculating light in them – his superiors see this as the inner light of ambition. His chain mail armour is always immaculate, his sword is always razor-sharp and shining, and the tunic of the Heldannic Order that he wears over top is always crisp and white. So perfect is his appearance that he has been sent to remote villages and other gathering-places to act as a “living billboard” for the Heldannic Order. His deep, penetrating voice has an undertone that seems to attract people’s attention.

Statistics:

Georg Hollweg (3rd level cleric of Yurrgh-Thal): STR 15, INT 11, WIS 15, DEX 12, CON 14, CHA 15. Hit Points: 17. Armour Class: 4. Alignment: Chaotic.

Skills: Ceremony – Yurrgh-Thal (WIS), Intimidation (INT), Military Tactics (INT), Persuasion (CHA), Outer Being Lore (2). If your campaign uses the optional Weapon Mastery rulers, Georg is “Basic” in the normal sword. Languages Known: Hattian.

Special Abilities: Sense Tainted within 300’, ESP with Tainted within 100’. Georg can cast clerical spells as per a cleric of his level.

Special Equipment: Pendant of Yuranos (see below).

Personality:  Before falling under Yurrgh-Thal’s influence, Georg was a quiet, serious young man who had a habit of being overlooked. Ever since falling in with Yurrgh-Thal, however, he has acquired a level of confidence never before demonstrated. Although he still has a serious demeanour, he is now an active, engaging conversationalist who asks many questions. He takes pains to hide his clerical abilities, knowing that he would be severely punished if he was discovered, but is not above using those powers to advance himself within the Heldannic Order. When he is more confident and the time is right, he will try to pass himself off as a loyal follower of Vanya who has suddenly found enough favour with Her to be granted spells, and then conspire to become a Heldannic Knight. Should that happen, he will worm his way into the inner circles, and corrupt the Order further

Georg feels absolutely no guilt about what he is doing. Yurrgh-Thal has quietly reinforced the young man’s belief that he never truly fit in (while increasing his dependence on his new patron), and as a result does not owe his country or family anything. Now, Georg believes he is simply taking his due, and if others should suffer in the process it is no fault of his own.

Roleplaying Notes:  Georg is a minor player in Yurrgh-Thal’s plots right now, but he has the potential to become quite important if he continues to work behind the scenes to spread his master’s influence. Guided by Yurrgh-Thal, Georg has located people out in the country who might be open to private sermons on his secret patron. At the same time, his position on the frontier gives him access to ruins and other sites that are generally off-limits to his countrymen. He could easily cross paths with the player characters; however, as Georg is a cautious man his true allegiance will not be apparent.

What Georg does not know is that Yurrgh-Thal has not yet decided whether He will have a use for the young soldier – His plot to corrupt the Heldannic Order is new, and He has also become aware of Thanatos’ own efforts to twist the Order toward nefarious purposes. The Outer Being may decide to let Thanatos do the dirty work and attract the attention, and then sweep the Hierarch of Entropy aside and take over when the time is right. Or He may simply walk away from the whole thing and abandon Georg – which could be fatal if he manages to masquerade as a Heldannic Knight. Either way, Yurrgh-Thal sees Georg as an amusing, but ultimately disposable, toy – and He is happy to grant the young man spells as long as he remains amusing.

NEW MAGIC ITEMS:

Pendant of Yuranos: Centuries ago, when Yurrgh-Thal was able to operate relatively openly under the guise of Yuranos, He instructed His priests to craft special pendants that would permit communication across dimensions. These pendants also became, for lack of a better term, the “holy symbols” of Yurrgh-Thal, and were worn by the faithful in those regions in which He was worshipped. Eventually, however, the Immortals soon learned of Yurrgh-Thal’s plots and sent champions to dispatch His most powerful priests and raze His temples. Although many of the pendants were destroyed, some have managed to avoid detection and can now be found in forgotten ruins and other remote places.

For all intents and purposes, a pendant of Yuranos should be treated as an unholy symbol. If worn by a follower of Yurrgh-Thal, it acts as a magical focus and allows them to speak with Him in their dreams or when meditating. If worn by someone who is not a worshipper, there is a 30% chance per week that Yurrgh-Thal will find out. If He decides that the wearer is not worth His time, or could pose a threat to His plots, He will send a lesser servitor to deal with them. The creature materialises 1d100 feet away from the intended victim, and attacks. If the target flees, the creature will pursue tirelessly.

The Rings of Yuranos: This is a two-piece magic item comprised of two rings – one gold band featuring a small smiling face with ruby eyes, and a silver band with a frowning face with onyx eyes. Each ring possesses powers on its own, but when combined the wearer receives additional abilities. These abilities are outlined below.

Gold Ring: This ring increases the morale of all of the wearer’s henchmen by 2, up to a maximum of 12, as long as they are within 100 feet. Anyone within 50 feet of the wearer also becomes more well-disposed towards them (in game terms, this effect allows up to three reaction rolls to be re-rolled per day; the player accepts the better of the two rolls). When worn in conjunction with its companion, the wearer’s Charisma increases by 2 (up to a maximum of 20).

Silver Ring: This ring can create an aura of fear (as per the spell cause fear) around the wearer with a 25′ radius five times per day, and the morale of anything hostile to the wearer (regardless of alignment) is reduced by 2 if they are within 50 feet. When worn in conjunction with its companion, this ring also renders the wearer immune to all charm spells.

If the two rings are worn together, there is a 10% chance per week that Yurrgh-Thal will take notice, and begin observing the wearer. If He decides that the wearer is worth corrupting, He will send a portion of Himself to the Prime Plane as Yuranos to speak with them. If the wearer is deemed useless, of if they refuse His invitation to worship Him, He will send a lesser servitor to destroy them.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: