19 August 2007


Well, as you may have guessed from reading the tale of the Battle of the Sea Wyrm, and also from the synopsis “Dreams After Battle”, while the Party may have emerged victorious, things didn’t turn out so well for some of the NPCs involved.

The problem with villains is that the smart ones are just as smart as the heroes – occasionally even more so. Part of my inspiration for this whole adventure was Stephen King’s vampire novel, ‘Salem’s Lot. To my mind, the most terrifying part of facing the vampire Barlow in the novel is not his teeth; it’s the fact that he is hundreds of years old. As such, he has been around, and has been hunted, for an awfully long time, and thus has become very adept at surviving by out-thinking his opponents.

In ‘Salem’s Lot, Barlow (and his henchman/familiar, Straker) begin their campaign to take over the town by keeping a low profile while slowly neutralizing those individuals who, in their experience, are best placed to combat them. One of the first individuals that Barlow gets rid of is the priest, Donald Callahan. While he may be a poor, whisky-sodden excuse for a representative of the White, Callahan nonetheless wields the power to harm, banish or even destroy Barlow, and so he is one of the first to go (that Barlow converts rather than kills him is, I think, testimony to the vampire’s grim whimsy).

So in designing the Sea Wyrm adventure, I put a low-powered vampire in place (and let’s face it, Rant Strongale was a CR 8 at best – not so tough for a five-member 4th-5th level party, especially when bolstered by a NPC cleric like Viloriannis), but gave him free rein to get to know the town and its inhabitants. A smart vampire would immediately mark Whitefist as the primary threat; but due to the ancient priest’s poor health, Viloriannis would likely have looked more dangerous, especially to a “boss” whose principal underlings (the skeletons and zombies raised by the Orb of Undeath) were vulnerable to her Turning ability. This impression would have been reinforced by the Battle of File’s Mansion, after which Rant would have been certain that under no circumstances should he allow the Party to come against him in his lair (which they had already found) accompanied by a tough and battle-hardened cleric like Viloriannis.

This is why he (i.e., I) was delighted when the Party raised no objection to Viloriannis (i.e., me again) returning to the Manse to check on Whitefist. That was entirely in character for her, but the smart tactical move for the Party would have been to keep the group tight until sunrise to minimize the possibility of the vampire and his minions (who were clearly roaming the town) isolating and picking off the protagonists one by one.

So when Viloriannis went back to the Manse, I gamed it out. Rant went there immediately after the battle at the Mansion and mentally Dominated one of the Manse’s serving girls (no challenge whatever). She gave him the necessary invitation to the building (yes, I do play vampires that way; what can I say, I’m a traditionalist), upon which he killed her and went after Whitefist. He caught the old priest sleeping and did away with him in a fashion intended to take Viloriannis off her guard. Knowing that her first action upon entering the Manse would be to check on the old man, Rant perched himself on the wall over the door and ambushed her when she stepped into his chambers, and was stunned by the gore splashed hither and thither.

At this point I got the dice out and gamed his Domination ability. It took him two tries, during which Viloriannis got off one ineffective Turning attempt, but in the end he Dominated her as well. However, given her far more interesting capabilities (and because I wanted to give a nod to Stephen King's uber-villain, Barlow), Rant decided to convert her instead of simply killing her. He did so, and then brought her lifeless body to his secondary hiding place: the File family crypts under the chapel in File’s Mansion. This is where she awoke the following night, learning to her horror (and eventual delight) what she now was, just as the Party was enjoying its shared dreams, and congratulating themselves on killing Strongale. By doing so, of course, they had freed Viloriannis from Strongale’s bondage.

Where did her new status leave her? Well, you can’t very well be a cleric of Esu and a vampire at the same time; the Anari sort of frown on unnatural monsters from beyond the grave. Fortunately, the Uruqua are always looking for a few good evil acolytes, and as one of the corporeal undead, Viloriannis was a natural for conversion to the worship and praise of Kaaris, a Greater Servant of Tvalt, called the Lord of Lichs and the First Fang. So in a sense, she has traded in her mace, armour and raven-and-anvil holy symbol, exchanging them for the shroud, staff, and skull-on-a-black sun sigil of an undead priestess of Kaaris, Reaper of Souls.

Where is she now? Well, she could be anywhere, I suppose. But with her newfound powers and faith, she would certainly be unlikely to hang around a one-horse burg like Bornhavn, wouldn’t she?

(P.S. Deep genuflection here to the fabulous fantasy art of Larry Elmore and Todd Lockwood, whose work, pictured below, provided the inspiration for, respectively, Viloriannis, Cleric of Esu, and Viloriannis, vampire Cleric of Kaaris.)

* * * * *

Viloriannis of Bornhavn
(Medium Undead/Vampire, Cleric of Kaaris 6)
Stats: 5’8”, 115 lbs, 27 years old
Hit Dice: 6d12 (62 HP)
Initiative: +7 (+3 Dex, +4 Imp Init)
Speed: 30’
Armor Class: 19 (+3 Dex, +6 Natural)
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+9
Attack: Slam +9 melee
Full Attack: 2 slams +9 melee
Damage: Slam 1d6+5+Energy Drain
Face/Reach: 5’x5’/5’
Special Attacks: Rebuke Undead (11/day), Spells (Save DC 13+Spell Level), Dominate (Save DC 21), Energy Drain (2 neg lvls, DC 19), Blood Drain (1d4 permanent constitution drain, DC 19), Children of the Night, Create Spawn (1d4 days)
Special Qualities: Undead, Alternate Form (Raven), Damage Reduction (10/silver or magic), Fast Healing 5, Gaseous Form, Resistances (Cold 10, Electricity 10), Spider Climb (at will), Turn Resistance+10
Saves: F+5, R+5, W+9, (not including +1 Cloak of Resistance)
Abilities: Str 21, Dex 17, C--, Int 13, Wis 18, Cha 22
Skills: Bluff+8(14), Concentration+9(9), Diplomacy+9(15), Heal+8(12), Hide+8(11), Knowledge(Arcana)+7(8), Knowledge(Religion)+6(7), Listen+8(12), Move Silently+8(11), Search+8(9), Sense Motive+8(12), Spot+8(12)
Feats: Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Extra Turning, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Weapon Focus (Heavy Mace), Ability Focus (Domination)
Languages: Common
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Experience: 15,251 pts
Equipment: Cloak of Resistance +1
SPELLS: 0:5, 1:3+1, 2:3+1, 3:2+1
DOMAINS: Death (use of death touch, once per day), Evil (casts Evil spells at +1 caster level)
Preferred spells:
0: Destroy Water, Detect Magic, Inflict Minor Wounds, Putrefy Food and Drink, Putrefy Water
1: Bane, Command, Deathwatch, Detect Good, Doom, Inflict Light Wounds
2: Darkness, Death Knell, Desecrate, Enthrall, Inflict Moderate Wounds, Shatter, Spiritual Weapon
3: Animate Dead, Bestow Curse, Blindness/Deafness, Contagion, Deeper Darkness, Inflict Serious Wounds, Prayer, Speak With Dead

Personality: Viloriannis was a true acolyte of the Allfather, devout, reverent and ferocious in her faith. She believed that she has a personal calling to battle evil. Too confident, however, she fell afoul of the vampire Rant Strongale in Bornhavn, who ambushed her, Dominated her, and converted her into a subordinate vampire. Rant’s subsequent destruction by a party of adventurers freed Viloriannis to follow her own desires. Cast out by Esu as an abomination, her devotion was accepted by Kaaris, the Reaper of Souls, whom she now serves as an undead priestess. She has left Bornhavn, but none know where she has gone.
Appearance: Viloriannis was once a striking but severe-looking woman of average height, with long, raven hair and piercing blue eyes. Undeath, however, turned her eyes black and her hair bone-white, and has accented her stark attractiveness with an unearthly quality. She is able to walk unremarked among the living, noticed only for her incredible (and very intimidating) beauty. She no longer wears armour or carries weapons, relying on her magic to defend her against any any all attackers.