Item

Descriptions

Interactive

Dialogue

NPC Dialogue

Quest

Abstracts

Creature:

The Parasite

Location:

Tygress V

Faction:

The Moritat

Character

Sketch

Format: Description of various in-game artefacts
Setting: Fantasy (Might and Magic Heroes)
Wordcount: 170 - 300 each * * * Al Quasar's Vortex of Souls
Though probably every child has heard stories of the fallen wizard Al Quasar und his twisted chimera, the nature of the Vortex of Souls remains a mystery. Some scholars claim that it is a weapon, some say it can be used for control, others say it might be some kind of spiritual nourishment. Only recently have investigations shed some light on the matter, and is seems it might be all of this, and more. Al Quasar, before his fall from grace, was a famous astronomer and stargazer, held in high esteem, right up to the day when he saw something through his telescope that frightened him so profoundly he slowly went insane over the knowledge. Driven by the mad desire to protect himself and those he loved from the evil he had seen in the stars, he began experimenting with arcane weaponry and sentient technology, spiraling deeper and deeper into an abyss of paranoia and madness until his creations became just as twisted and incomprehensible as his mind.
The culmination of his experiments was formed by a machine as complex as a star constellation, that supposedly is capable of tearing open reality, thus creating a portal to other dimensions - probably meant as a means to escape the threat Al Quasar believed to perceive. At the heart of the machine is a small cube of orichalcum, that powers the uncanny device - the Vortex of Souls, screaming and brimming with the minds of a thousand beings held within.
Since Al Quasar himself vanished without a trace before he could active the machine - and we all have the gods to thank for this - it is unknown how it is supposed to be used. Currently, it is locked away and guarded in the deepest dungeon of the Eternal Palace. Floating Charm of Blessedness
Dedicated to the goddess Shalassa, lady of waters, these charms are attached to the prow of seafaring ships. Instead of being held in place by nuts and bolts, it is floating right over the waterline, adhered to the planks by the sheer magic whirling within. It is shaped like a silver dolphin with precious sapphire eyes, but contrary to its flesh and blood brethren, it accompanies its assigned ships through all kind of weather. It is said to be blessed by the Goddess herself, and as such protects the vessels, keeping them afloat even when severely damaged. Unnecessary to say, such charms are highly prestigious and reserved for only the most important of ships. They do not, however, render a vessel invincible. As the priest of the humble Goddess like to tell with a glint in their eyes, the flagship of King Rogalt III had been equipped with a Floating Charm and went through two violent storms unscathed, only to perish in a fire caused by the pipe of the ship's sleeping steward. Dragon's Scale
The man called Dragon, contrary to popular belief, was not a warrior from the start. Indeed, he began his life as a mere peasant, toiling over the meager soil of his mountain home. Then one day, his dull life took a turn for the better - or so he suspected - when he stumbled into a burial mound while searching for his lost cow. There the man whose true name is lost to history found among metal shards and piles of rubble a suit of armor in pristine condition: black, lustrous, tiny scales dense and hard in a way no blacksmith he knew could ever hope to achieve. Driven by a strange desire, the peasant donned the shining metal skin. In that exact moment, the ghost of the warrior that had fought and died in this armor imbued him, utterly corrupting the poor man's malleable mind with his desire to conquer and dominate. Dragon, as the warrior had been called due to his apparel's likeness of the primeval beasts, drove the peasant to leave his farm, take up arms, gather followers that bowed to his newly found strength, and henceforth live as a robber baron, reveling in the conflict and thrill this life brought him. Ultimately, as his tyranny grew ever harder to tolerate, Dragon was slain by his own men. His suit of armor found its way into the hands of a knight's order, where it now gathers dust in some forgotten armory. Whether the malignant ghost still clings to its scales or finally has found peace, no one knows. Seelentrinker
In den versunkenen Tempeln von Anka'or tief im Süden ruht ein vergessenes Übel in einem unruhigen Schlaf: Ira-Attan, der Tod im Staub, liegt dort in seinem Grab im Sand, ausgestoßen, vergessen, sein Königreich zu Ruinen zerfallen - und dennoch nicht tot. Ira-Attan regt sich im Schlaf und träumt von seiner Rückkehr.
Werkzeug dieser Rückkehr ist die Klinge, der er einst, als er noch unter den Lebenden wandelte, den Namen Seelentrinker gab. Das Wort ist lang in Vergessenheit geraten, und der Dolch ist durch die Jahrhunderte gereist mit mehr Bezeichnungen als Träger, doch wie auch immer der Name sein mag: wer an dieser Klinge sein Leben lässt, dessen Seele verbleibt in der Welt, auf dunklen Pfaden gezogen zum Grab von Ira-Attan, um den erwachenden Lich zu stärken.
Und unzählige Leben sind es, die der Seelentrinker über die Jahre gefangen hat, verleiht er doch seinem Besitzer zugleich die Fähigkeiten und den unbändigen Drang zum Töten. Niemand weiß um die finstere Natur der Klinge, und niemand wäre mehr in der Lage, die haarfeinen Runen auf dem blau schimmernden Meteoreisen zu lesen, selbst wenn die Waffe nicht von einem Mörder zum andern wandern würde. Und so weiß auch niemand um das träumende Böse unter dem Sand, das mit jedem verwirkten Leben weiter erstarkt... Rubinroter Ring der Vergänglichkeit
Der Ring der Vergänglichkeit ist ein äußerst schlichtes Schmuckstück. Ein feines, silbernes Band, scheinbar für den zierlichen Finger einer Frau bestimmt, verziert mit einem einzelnen Stein von tiefroter Farbe ähnlich einem Granat oder Rubin, kaum größer als ein Regentropfen, vollkommen glatt und spiegelblank poliert. Das Licht reflektiert auf seltsame, unnatürliche Weise von der Oberfläche, gerade so, als würde der Stein von etwas anderem als irdischen Lichtquellen erhellt: in der Dämmerung von einem geisterhaften Glühen erfüllt, im strahlenden Sonnenschein dunkel wie altes Blut. Und wer ihn lange genug betrachtet, der vermeint in den dunklen Tiefen Bewegung wahrzunehmen, ein Züngeln und Wabern wie von Rauch oder Tinte in Wasser. Seit vielen Generationen befindet sich der Ring im Besitz der Familie derer von Amaciar, den unbestrittenen Herrschern der Siebten Stadt, die ihn eifersüchtig vor den Blicken und Berührungen von Außenstehenden verbergen. Aus guten Grund, denn das Juwel ist kein einfacher Edelstein, sondern ein lebendiger Tropfen vom Blut des Drachen des Chaos, welcher im Innern der Welt angekettet liegt. Die Macht dieses uralten Wesens ist selbst in dieser kleinen Menge noch so gewaltig, dass sie dem Träger des Steins die unheimliche Fähigkeit verleiht, die Gedanken und Regungen intelligenter Wesen zu lesen und unbemerkt zu lenken. Auf diese Weise halten sich die Amaciar seit solch langer Zeit an der Macht, subtil ihre Widersacher und Gegner auf dem politischen Parkett manipulierend. Doch das Blut des Drachen zu nutzen hat seinen Preis. Jede Matriarchin des Hauses Amaciar ist, ohne Ausnahme, im Laufe ihrer Amtszeit ausgedehntem körperlichen Verfall anheim gefallen, ausgedehnt über Monate und Jahre, gefolgt von einem frühen und schmerzhaften Tod. Kein menschlicher Leib ist dafür geschaffen, solche Kräfte zu bündeln - welche Auswirkungen sie auf Geist und Seele der Frauen haben... das weiß niemand außer den Machthungrigen selbst. Der Fingerknochen des Heiligen Augustus
Vor seinem Aufstieg in die Reihen der Heiligen war Augustus ein Krieger der Alten Ordnung, ein treuer Mann im Dienste seines Kaisers. Die Legende erzählt, dass Augustus auf einem Eroberungsfeldzug seines Lehnsherren gegen die Anhänger von Elrath, des Drachen des Lichts, einen plötzlichen Sinneswandel erfuhr, nachdem ihm der Drache im Traum erschienen war. Er wandte sich gegen den Kaiser und forderte ihn vor der entscheidenden Schlacht in einer flammenden Rede auf, das Schwert niederzulegen und den rechten Glauben anzunehmen. So mitreißend waren sein Worte, dass mehr als die Hälfte der Truppen und ihrer Anführer die Seiten wechselten. Der Kaiser jedoch blieb unbeeindruckt, und wutschäumend über den Verrat schlug er Augustus die Schwerthand ab, band ihn an den Füßen an den Sattel seines Pferdes und ließ ihn hinüber zu seinen neuen Verbündeten schleifen. Augustus, halbtot wie er war, kämpfte auf der Seite Elraths in der Schlacht, die Waffe in der Linken führend, und tötete mit dem letzten Schlag, den er auszuführen im Stande war, den alten Kaiser.
Später suchten und fanden seine Verbündeten die abgeschlagene Hand, um sie zusammen mit den sterblichen Überresten ihres Helden zu beerdigen. Von all den Knöchelchen, die im Laufe der Jahre aufgetaucht sind mit der Behauptung, zum Skelett des bis dato heilig gesprochenen Augustus zu gehören, ist nur ein einziger zweifelsohne göttlich gesegnet: ein langer, dünner Finger, aufbewahrt in einem goldverzierten Zylinder aus Glas, der an einer Kette um den Hals getragen wird. Dieses Artefakt kann einem Gläubigen in höchster Not beistehen, indem es die Herzen der Gegner schwächt und die Moral der Verbündeten hebt, wenn dieser ein inniges Gebet zu Elrath spricht. Augustus hält selbst im Tod schützend seine Hand über die Gläubigen, sagt man. Diese mächtige Reliquie befindet sich im Besitz der Kirche und wird nur unter strengsten Auflagen an weltliche Befehlshaber ausgeliehen. * * *
Format: Quest abstract / interactive dialogue for a CRPG
The point was to create a situation with different choices and outcomes for the player and involving a very specific item, a demon-infested garment that the player might or might not have with her. The quest and dialogue are supposed to anticipate both male and female characters as well as a broad range of mindsets from rogue to hero.
Setting: Fantasy
Wordcount: about 480 (narrative approach and dialogue script not included) * * * Synopsis
The PC enters a ruined castle in search for a quest item, an artefact needed in an important ritual or task to save a city/country/the world, depending on the desired epicness. The castle is abandoned and haunted and requires a lot of jumping and pathfinding in jeopardy of falling from great hight. When she reaches her destination (in this case the top of the highest spire, but it really could be anywhere gamedesign demands), the ghost of the artefact owner, none other than the dead king, appears to her as she touches the crownjewel.
In the ensuing dialogue, the ghost might be able to explain what has happened to his realm (if the player is interested), and explain his function as a guardian to the powerful artefact. He will also try to ask a favour in return for his support and the PC’s life, requesting her to sever the ties that have bound his spirit to the place for countless centuries – i.e. destroy the artefact. While a PC basically has two choices here, a character equipped with the item in question will have a third option available to him. All choices are meant to have both positive and negative impact on the story and a comparable yield of loot, experience points and possible follow-up quests, so there is no 'right' or imbalanced way of completing the task. 1. Release the ghost. This will destroy the artefact, thus spawning more work for the hero to find a surrogate (with the released spirit's help). Delaying the ritual might cost innocent lives, depending on the severity of the overall situation and the importance of the ritual or task the artefact is needed for. It will also gain the PC a powerful ally that will come in handy in a dark hour later on, and safe conduct out of the place. 2. Ignore the ghost's pleas and take the artefact. This will cause the ghost king and his undead minions to attack, forcing the PC to fight her way out and obliterate the spirit. This will gain her lots of loot (and of course, the needed ingredient), but seeing as the ghost is already dead, he will probably appear again later to vengefully haunt the PC and cause trouble further down the road. 3. Bind the ghost (option available for players having the item with them).
The demon inhabiting the garment will suggest to use its powers to bind the ghost into the artefact, thus enabling the PC to tap both the power of the artefact itself and the ghost shackled within.
While that will gain her a very powerful item, it will possibly put a strain on her relationship with more righteously minded henchmen characters ("what, you carry a demon on your body and a circlet possessed by an insane ghost?"), as well as cause unforeseen complications in the ritual/task the item is needed for – with disastrous consequences. Interactive Dialogue
The dialogue is split into five modules, of which three are compulsory and two are optional, depending on the dialogue choices the player makes:
1. Introduction
2. King's offer
3. Final decision
Optional: Background information
Optional: Conversation with the demon Excerpt of one possible branch
Note: For the sake of brevity I present here only an excerpt of one of the possible branches of the dialogue tree (namely the "rogue" choices). For the full tree, please view "Power In Dark Places Dialogue Script" as PDF: GHOST KING
(whispy, ethereal voice)
Who goes there? I demand to know who treads in my kingdom! PC
I am Hunter. I have come to claim your crown. Its jewel, actually. GHOST KING
Yes. Yes, I see... A hunter you must be, and of great fortitude, to set foot on this cursed lands. Reckless, too. You carry your doom right on your naked skin, hunter. As I once did… A shape begins to form in the mist, a vague impression of a human face lined with sorrow, pale hair wavering around it like smoke and dust. PC
(trying to sound bold)
That so? What's it to you? GHOST KING
You must be either very brave or very foolish to bring a demon hither and expect to remain unharmed. PC
I'd say my demon is my own business and has nothing to to with what I'm here for. GHOST KING
(sighing)
You remind me of myself, centuries ago, when I was mortal. Eager. Brimming with ambition. I thought like you did, then. Had I only known… You must not have the crown. It is dangerous. PC
Yes, I hear that all the time. Really, when has "it's dangerous" ever worked? I need it and I'm going to get it. Who d'you think you are to keep me from taking it? GHOST KING
I am the king of ashes. My name is lost to the wind. My realm lies in ruins. I was my own people's undoing. Enslaved to this place, I watch time grind my kingdom to dust, while I remain the same, eternally. PC
Tear-jerking, but I have a world to save and no time for sentimentality. I'm taking the crown jewel out of here. GHOST KING
No! A sudden chill sweeps over your face, tangles your hair, a sense of horror clinging to it. No. You do not know what you're dealing with, mortal. The stone, it will bring naught but suffering! Leave it be. There are other ways to achieve what you seek, less perilous ones. I can show them to you. Do not call ruin down upon yourself, as I did! PC
Remind me why I care? GHOST KING
Yes, listen! I have been here for an eternity. I have suffered regret beyond any mortal comprehension. I desire peace. If you were to destroy the stone, I could... go. Leave this place. Set met free, hunter. And I will aid you any way I can. PC
Thanks, but I think I'd rather take the bird that's on my hand. GHOST KING
Alas! I cannot let the jewel fall into your hands. I will kill you like all the others that came before. DEMON
(whispering)
Don't listen to that dork. He's helpless and tries to gain an advantage by playing the bully. Politicians... GHOST KING
What? I can sense it, the evil spirit stirring. Beware, mortal! DEMON
How pathetic. Listen, dear, I have a better suggestion than to smash what you came all the way for. PC
Silence, demon! I know you and your lies, get out of my head! DEMON
(sweetly)
Oh, how terribly HUMAN... Have I ever led you astray? Ever done something that was not in our best interest? You might at least hear me out, what harm could possibly come from it, hm? PC
If you have something to say, say it now. DEMON
We need all the power we can get to complete your task, right? Why not take both the crown and the king? PC
I already have a pesky demon whispering without end, why would I want a ghost on top of that? DEMON
It might come in handy to have an immortal spirit at your disposal. They tend to be extremely powerful... and VERY amusing when they struggle against their fetters... PC
And how would that be done? DEMON
Spirits are so weak compared to us abyssals. I can bind him into the crown jewel. He will despise it, but that's all the more a reason. He IS a tyrant after all, right? PC
I am intrigued… DEMON
Yes, exciting, is it not? Oh, I would LOVE to do that for you, please allow me! GHOST KING The king's incorporeal eyes stare into yours, the hazy face anxious, smoky folds and strands still as frozen in time. This is what it comes down to. Each time. What is your choice then, hunter? You are rough, but I sense an upstanding soul in you. I wish not to destroy you. But I will, if I must. PC (option 3)
I am sorry, king. But you all people must know that some sacrifices can not be avoided... The ghost's tormented screams echo through the ruin as your demon forges the spirit into the gem, bending, twisting, crushing him into the artefact he has despised and guarded for centuries. Then empty silence descends on the castle, silence only interrupted by the demon's soft chuckling in the back of your head. Narrative Approach (as desired by customer, dialogue abbreviated)
It is cold here within the oppressive walls. Much colder than the thick, dark stone would account for, even colder than the wintry sea crashing against the rocks dozens of meters below in a relentless onslaught of white spray and black force. Glittering frost in places covers the ruined furniture and the frayed remnants of curtains still flapping in empty windows, looking out on a blank sky. The cold turns my breath into white mist, creeps underneath armour and clothes and over my skin, chilling to the bone, making the hair on my arms bristle. It is not a natural cold, that's for sure. Water is dripping in the distance as I cautiously pick my way through the faded splendour of the castle, an enervating regular ping above the faint roaring of the ocean below.
It is silent here, too, apart from the waves battering the empty shore and the howling winds. No birds calling. No insects humming. No small rodents rustling in the nooks and crannies. I am the only thing alive in this ruin, in this abandoned stretch of land. It is a place of the dead.
Yet, there are voices. Feeble, fluttering voices always just at the edge of my hearing, whispering, whirring, wordless. They have been accompanying me for several hours now, since I first set foot beyond the lopsided gate and onto the path leading up to this crumbling palace, perching on a cliff and overlooking the motionless land like some massive vulture, stark black against the white winter sky. They have grown more intense with every storey climbed, their words not any clearer but their whispery tones more agitated. I am not alone in here.
Shuddering, I pause in the middle of the grand banquet hall. Frozen moisture gleams on the plates and cutlery of silver and the broken crystal glass still scattered on the table, every morsel of food or drink long gone. What has happened to the people who lived here, what calamity has befallen them, forcing them to just get up and leave? Or worse, be obliterated without a trace? No one has plundered the riches left behind, gems and jewels and precious metal left to the uncaring elements. I feel the icy breeze brush my face, skulking around me in unnatural ways, dragging at my hair. No, I am not alone in here, and I am most definitely not welcome.
I set my jaw and move on. No use complaining, dwelling on the dread. I am here for a reason, a goal more important than mortal fear. I must have it, the tyrant's crown, come what may.
So up, up I climb, over decaying, treacherous stairs. Past gaps in the walls many times the height of a man, through which the freezing gales hiss at the intruder, tearing at my body, trying to fling me out into the void beneath the spires to be greeted far below by the unforgiving black rock. It is an arduous, a hazardous task. More than once I cling to life by nothing more than my fingernails. I will not turn around!
When I finally reach the top of the tower, I am covered in quickly cooling sweat, scratched, bruised, terrified, the whispering voices a furious gush by now. But there it is, my prize, one part of my key to save Rivellon - and myself along the way. A stray shaft of frail sunlight finds its way through the shattered windows, magnificent images of forgotten kings and queens now broken and faded, and glints off the crown lying innocently among the rubble of the collapsed roof, tossed away into a corner as if in disgust.
I step up to it, crouch down to pick it up. It is not what I have expected. A slender golden circlet, unadorned but for a jet-black, glittering stone the size and shape of a human eye. As I close my fingers around he icy metal, the winds die down all of sudden, and with it, the stream of voices. The unexpected silence is ringing in my ears. "Who are you?" One single voice echoing around the chamber, thin, ethereal, but no less commanding for it. "I demand to know who treads in my kingdom!"
Startled, I look about, but there's no one here, just a strange flickering in the weak rays of the sun through the thick glass, shadows shifting in the corners. I draw myself up to my full height, trying to sound confident.
"I am a Hunter. I have come to claim your crown. You won't keep me from it."
The flickering intensifies for a second, and there! A slight, eerie glow in the twighlight, ghostly white, drifting this way and that as if apprehensive.
"Yes. Yes, I see... A hunter you must be, and of great fortitude, to set foot on this cursed lands." The voice is clearer now, closer. A shape begins to form in the glow, a vague impression of a human face lined with sorrow, pale hair wavering around it like smoke and dust. "Reckless, too. You carry your doom right on your naked skin, hunter. As I once did..."
"What do you mean? Who are you, then?"
A sigh flutters around the room like a moth. "I am the king of ashes. My name is lost to the wind. My realm lies in ruins. I was my own people's undoing. Enslaved to this place, I watch time grind my kingdom to dust, while I remain the same, eternally."
I twist the crown in my hands, ancient gold glistening, the stone catching the weak light in mesmerizing sparks. No sign of wear or age. It is brimming with magic, powerful magic. Magic that I have dire need of. "Sorry for your loss, king, but I need that thing. I am going to take it with me."
"No!" A sudden chill sweeps over my face, tangles my hair, a sense of horror brought with it. Then it is quiet again. "No. You do not know what you're dealing with, mortal. The stone, it will bring naught but suffering! Leave it be. There are other ways to achieve what you seek, less perilous ones. I can show them to you. Do not call ruin down upon yourself, as I did centuries ago!" The feeling of dread, regret and guilt hanging over the place is palpable now.
"So, remind me why I care?" Much of the boldness in that phrase is bluff. The cold is creeping into me, seemingly about to turn my marrow into ice.
For a moment, the ghost is silent. When he speaks again, his voice sounds more human than before, mournful, anguished. "I am shackled to this world. It is a punishment for the sins I committed, the countless souls I condemned. I guard the stone and the power therein against any living creature, sentient or otherwise, to prevent what has ruined my own realm from happening to the world. I cannot let it fall in your hands, hunter, I will kill you like all the others."
"But I need it to save people, not condemn them!"
"Your intentions might be admirable, but my task is clear. And yet... if you were to destroy the stone, I could... go. Leave this place. Set met free, hunter. And I will aid you any way I can."
A different voice whispers in the back of my head, a sweet voice, neither male nor female, familiar and slightly amused. Don't listen to that dork. He's helpless and tries to gain an advantage by playing the bully. Politicians...
"What? I can sense it, the evil spirit stirring. Beware, mortal!"
How pathetic. Listen, dear, I have a better suggestion than to smash what you came all the way for. We need all the power we can get to complete your task, right? Why not take both the crown and the king? It might come in handy to have an immortal spirit at your disposal." If a voice without a face can grin, it does. Strangely enough, the demon's vivid presence is slightly comforting in that dead tower.
The king's incorporeal eyes stare into mine, the hazy face anxious, the smoky folds and strands still as frozen in time. "Don't," he whispers plainly.
In the momentary silence, the annoying soft ping of dripping water drifts up from below. I can hear the demon chuckle softly in the back of my mind, feel the tender tug of the power writhing in the bottomless blackness of the crown jewel. And I make a decision.
The ghost's tormented screams echo through the ruin as my demon forges the spirit into the gem, bending, twisting, crushing him into the artefact he has despised and guarded for centuries. I force myself to feel nothing.
"Forgive me, king," I whisper to the ghost who can no longer hear me. "Some sacrifices cannot be avoided." * * *
Format: 'Dialogue' for a predefined non player character in preset situations Setting: Fantasy (Might and Magic Heroes)
Wordcount: max. 100 each * * * Predefined Character
Name: Rhianwen ap Fadyr
Stereotype: The Resistance, The Conscience
Main Theme: "What's a noble if he doesn't act like one?"
Subtheme: The end not always justifies the means
Attributes: physical, sensual
Traits: self-confident, quick on the trigger Rhianwen's twin brother fell in a battle and her mother died during an onslaught some time ago. The daughter of Baron Madog ap Fadyr became a resistance fighter when the region had largely rely upon its own powers. With the growing dissensions between the Emperor and the region's political and cultural course she decided that it is time to stand up for her people. Since her father ordered Rhianwen to cross the Black Adder and defend the western parts of the barony, she grew with her tasks and became a respected leader among her father's loyal troops. Mood: sincere Situation: Thoughts before battle
"May the gods grant me strength. May they guide my hand in battle and my heart in fear. And if death shall claim me, may they grant me peace."
OR
"Some things must be done. I don't relish it, no. But I'd rather fight and die here, for a purpose, than fade away knowing I did forfeit my chance for freedom when I had it." Mood: ironic
Situation: Enemy at the gates
"Well, well. Such a magnificent force to battle a peasant army under the thumb of a girl? I guess we should feel honored." Mood: angry
Situation: Has to retreat
"Enjoy your victory while it lasts, you fiends! On the morrow we'll be back, bolder and stronger, and our crops will be watered in your spilled blood!"
OR
"Take a good long look at my back - it's going to be the last time you see it!" Mood: sad
Situation: Horse died
"Farewell, my companion. You have been a true friend of mine through many a dark hour. I will honor this, your last sacrifice for me. I am going to win this fight."
OR
"It's always the gentle ones who suffer under the rule of the sword, is it not? No horse is a warrior. Yet he fought with me and died for me. I will take that as a lesson. I won't let the same happen to my innocent people." Mood: happy
Situation: Relieved to see the player again
"It's good to see you again my friend. I could use a reliable person at my side for a change. And some good news to lighten my heart." Mood: ironic
Situation: Enemy had to retreat
"So much for the peasant army, eh?"
OR
"Let's point them the way home with our arrows!" Mood: sincere
Situation: Concerned about battle to come
"Sleep? I have no time for sleep. Pass me that tactical map once again. I have changed my mind about deploying the archers in the hills, I have a hunch the enemy will anticipate that move. What do you think about lining them up here and here, and hide the cavalry in the woods? Oh, stop bothering me about resting, will you!" Mood: disillusioned
Situation: Many men have died
"There will be a lot of mourning in the days to come. Wives mourning their husbands. Sisters their brothers. Sometimes I wonder... is it worth it? Will it make a difference for those men whose soil it is they plough as long as it feeds their children? Might I, ultimately, be wrong?" Mood: fearful
Situation: Thoughts before batte
"Is this how you felt, brother, before the battle on the banks of the Adder that took your life? Did you know fear, as I do now? Did you ponder the doom that awaited you? No, you did not. You never wasted thoughts on your own life when there were so many others looking to you for leadership. And so shall I, brother. And so shall I." Mood: emotional
Situation: Holding a speech for her soldiers
"Free people of Blackbough! On this day, we stand united against the tyranny of the Emperor. Here, on the black soil of our home, where our fathers have tread and their fathers before them, shall we achieve victory over those who seek to rule us. Those who do not know us nor honor our traditions, yet claim that we must bow to them.
We will not let them have their way! On this day, we will show them, once and for all, that the sons and daughters of this land are not their own - nor will they ever be! For Blackbough!" Mood: amused
Situation: Player got lost
"What happened? Did the imps point you in the wrong direction?
OR
"There you are. Bring lunch next time you venture outside!" Mood: depressed
Situation: Thinking of her dead brother
"You know what they say? That twins are a single soul, shared between two bodies. I certainly feel like that today. When he died... I felt it, even over the distance. Like a piece of my heart ripped out. A piece that is still missing. I'm not sure if anything in this world will ever replace that. Not even time." Mood: dry
Situation: Reacting on the player's compliment
"Does that really work with women where you come from?"
OR
"I'll make sure to remind you of that next time you snap at me." Mood: bitter
Situation: Commenting on a failed assassination attempt
"So this is how my efforts are repaid! Have I not done anything and everything in my power to save this people, to free them? But they would rather live under the Emperor's yoke than fight at my side! Really, I should let them have their will...! * * *
Format: 'Adventure seeds' for the Dark Heresy Roleplaying Game by Fantasy Flight Games, supposed to provide ideas for prospective Game Masters on how to use specific items or locations from the published supplements.
Setting: Warhammer 40k by Games Workshop, a steampunk dystopia of a galaxy-spanning human empire beset with constant war and ruled by an immortal, godlike emperor. Wordcount: about 100 each * * * The least of all evils
The Acolytes hunt for an artefact of allegedly wondrous power on an Imperial fringe-world. The settlers, however friendly, have developed a semi-heretic admiration for the remnants of a xenos culture on their planet. Regardless, the Acolytes need their expertise to find what they seek. Venturing deep into the subterranean ruins of the lost civilization, they find the so-called artefact to be the power source of an alien terraforming device that essentially holds the (otherwise quake-ridden) world together. Will they follow their codex and, by destroying the xenos technology or even taking the artefact for themselves, condemn the colony to ruin? When on Phyrr, do as the Phyrrians do
The Mechanicus harvest facility on Phyrr has a new inmate, one that possesses crucial information for the Acolytes’ inquisitor. While the Priesthood of Mars and the Inquisition squabble about jurisdiction, the Acolytes are sent to extract the prisoner before the death world claims him, leaving politics to their superiors. They have to slip into the facility with forged credentials and disguised as convicts, trick their target into trusting them and, after their escape, escort him over the planet’s surface to the extraction point, facing carnivorous wildlife, failing biosuits, a capricious charge and the pursuit of the Mechanicus. Paradise comes at price
The Acolytes stumble upon a strange custom in a flourishing, paradisiacal colony: people are being snatched from the streets in broad daylight without anybody objecting. In secret, a fallen Eldar Ranger on the Path of Damnation has taken control of the world, saving it from certain ecological doom by using advanced technology (thus showering the Imperium with rising tithes). In exchange, the colonists are letting him have his share of the most beautiful humans for his perverted debaucheries. But without the degenerate Eldar’s help, the planet will plummet once again into disaster… Indecent Proposal
A political VIP of the Lucid Court is struck down with an unknown affliction, the resulting power vacuum threatening the stability of an entire subsector. The Acolytes, as a last resort, are secretly sent to hunt up a purportedly sacred relic that is said to cure any ailment. Yet when they finally dig it out, they discover that it is by no means holy, but an occult and sentient device. Trading a life for a life, it requires a willing sacrifice to function. Will the Acolytes even bargain with the thing to protect the sector? And if so, whom will they choose? * * *
Format: Creature design for the Dark Heresy Role Playing Game by Fantasy Flight Games
Setting: Warhammer 40k by Games Workshop, a steampunk dystopia of a galaxy-spanning human empire beset with constant war and ruled by an immortal, godlike emperor. Warhammer 40.000 focuses on ideological conflicts and is known for a certain level of emotional and physical violence.
Wordcount: about 740 (stats not included) * * * The subtle creature dubbed `Parasite´ by agents of the Ordo Xenos is an alien life-form rarely seen in the Calixis Sector. It derives its name from the habit of feeding on the emotions of sentient beings by means of a hidden mind-bond between itself and a seemingly infinite number of hosts. The Parasite’s physical form is roughly humanoid, though very small and stocky with long, spindly appendages and only rudimentary hands and feet. Its faintly translucent skin is of a nondescript grey colour and displays an amazing ability for camouflaging, enabling it to stay hidden even at arm’s length if motionless. A striking feature are its four eyes, two of which are abnormally large, almost covering half of what passes for the creature’s face. Uniformly black and extremely glossy, they are able to virtually immobilize prey with their hypnotic gaze. It is yet to be investigated how the Parasite travels between places and worlds, but given the stealthy nature of the beast, it is likely that it hides aboard merchant vessels, riding with the cargo until the containers are opened again and then slipping away to a suitable hunting ground. Though solitary in nature, it usually secretly sets up its lair in heavily crowded places, as those provide enough resources and promise protection by anonymity. Once installed, the Parasite begins to build its network of hosts. Patiently scanning the environment for psychic emanations, it typically chooses people that are inherently inclined to strong emotions and easily controlled: children, the mentally instable, artists, drug-abusers and the like. Creeping up on its prey, it surprises and stuns it with the dark wells of its eyes, then forms a telepathic connection with the victim that subsists even after the initial contact. At the same time all memory of the incident is erased. From that point on, the Parasite will experience every emotion of the controlled being as its own even over great distances, feeding on its feelings like a leech feeds on blood. It doesn’t seem to be picky as to which emotions its pawns are experiencing, as long as they are intense, so it’s equally at home in the industrial hell of lower hive districts and the decadent splendour of pleasure worlds.
Additionally, the bond enables the Parasite to plant subtle suggestions into the victim’s mind, thus discreetly influencing its actions for its own purposes. The controlled humans usually know nothing of their condition, but they will soon experience a certain numbness, as their sensations are being siphoned off by the bond. As a result, they feel an urge to indulge themselves in ever greater excesses, carelessly neglecting their duties regardless of consequences. Depending on the scale of the infestation, this might have profound negative impact on a region’s economy and crime rate. As the Parasite’s psychic network grows, the infected will frequently sense the echoes of other minds and the alien presence of the xenos itself in their thoughts, leading to feelings of paranoia or schizophrenia so intense that some weaker souls simply break, turning on themselves in a fruitless attempt to escape the subjective madness.
To outsiders, the infected will seem manic and restless, frequently subject to tantrums, aggression and violent swings of mood, so the parasitic ‘infection’ is easily mistaken for mental illness or addiction. As the infection progresses, the victims will gradually lose control of their actions, submissively following their cravings and the Parasites suggestions. They often leave a trail of destruction, until they eventually expire due to exhaustion and neglect of bodily needs. And even then, those bodies that won’t be missed will be consumed by the Parasite for material sustenance. The Parasite does not appear to be overly intelligent by nature (though it possesses a vicious cunning). However, once it has begun to bring humans under its telepathic control, it partly acquires their traits and intellect, and its sentience and reason gradually grow as it attaches more minds to its network. A full-fledged Parasite infestation can encompass entire Hive districts, nursing a fearsomely intelligent xenos at its heart that, while in itself no match for a decently equipped cell of Acolytes, is able to draw on thousands of humans and their resources to protect itself. Once the xenos is slain, the victims awake like from a bad dream, though what they have destroyed in their delusion might be much harder to mend than their psychological condition, and who knows what lurks deep in such a tormented mind… The Parasite Profile
WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel 21 -- 25 30 44 50 49 63 05 Movement: 6/12/18/36 Wounds: 15 Skills: Awareness (Per), Psyniscience (Per) +10, Climb (S) +10, Concealment (Ag) +20, Dodge (Ag), Shadowing (Ag) +10, Silent Move (Ag) +10, Tracking (Int) +10 Talents: Hard Target, Jaded, Leap up, Power Well x 2, Psy Rating 4, Sprint, Step Aside Traits: Dark Sight, Fear 1, Natural Armour (1), Natural Weapons (Teeth), Size (Scrawny), Unnatural Senses (15m), Unnatural Speed, Camouflage†, Mind Bond†† Psychic Powers (Psy Rating 4): Distort Vision, Sense Presence, Touch of Madness, Mind Scan, Psychic Shriek, See me not, Terrify, Immobilize†††, Suggestion†††† †Camouflage: The Parasite's skin colouring blends into its surroundings, granting it a +20 bonus to Concealment Tests. If remaining stationary, it counts as being at Extreme Range when targeted by ranged weapons. ††Mind Bond: By succeeding at an Opposed Willpower Test, the Parasite can forge a permanent mental bond with the target, which enables it to issue telepathic commands and siphon off the targets emotions over a distance of WP Bonus x 10 kilometres. Establishing the bond takes about 10 seconds (or 2 Rounds) of uninterrupted eye contact. If successful, all memory of the encounter is wiped from the target's mind.
The bond can only be broken by an Extended Willpower Test on the part of the victim (10/1 day) or by killing the Parasite. Leaving the area of effect will temporarily suspend the connection, but not break it.
The bond (though not its source) can be detected by a Hard (-10) Psyniscience Test. †††Immobilize: Threshold: 17, Focus Time: Half Action, Sustained: Yes, Range: Line of sight
With a glance, the Parasite can bereave the target of all ability to move, including blinking, for a number of Rounds equal to its WP Bonus. Each round (including the Round in which the power manifests) the target is entitled to an Opposed Willpower Test to escape rigidity. ††††Suggestion: This psychic power works in the same manner as Compel, but can feature more complex commands such as `You'd like to go for a walk now, wouldn't you?´. In addition, the target is completely unaware of the command even if it instinctively tries to resist. Weapons: Needle-Teeth (1d10+2 R (Includes Strength Bonus), Primitive) Armour: Leathery skin (all 1) Threat Rating: Xenos Majoris * * *
Format: Planet design for the Dark Heresy Role Playing Game by Fantasy Flight Games
Setting: Warhammer 40k by Games Workshop, a steampunk dystopia of a galaxy-spanning human empire beset with constant war and ruled by an immortal, godlike emperor. Warhammer 40.000 focuses on ideological conflicts and is known for a certain level of emotional and physical violence.
Wordcount: about 1200 * * * Tygress V – an almost dead world beneath a merciless sun. There might have been cities here once, gardens, forests and oceans, but what happened to them is long lost to history. Now, only sprawling ruins bear witness to a time before rock and sand and vast fields of petrified tree stumps became the planet’s only geographical feature. Deep in the desert, the last remnants of its civilisation rust away, decomposing wreckages of obscure, monstrous machines, some of which still thud and shudder and are the subject of superstitious fears. Environment
The natives call their planet Shad A’Zhel - The Trial - and indeed it is a hard and lifelong trial to be born here and survive. Tygress V is searing hot and almost completely devoid of water, its atmosphere, yellowed from nitrous gases, is thin and riddled with holes, exposing great parts of the surface to intense solar radiation. The brittle atmosphere and lack of greater bodies of water also do not suffice to compensate for the extreme temperature drops between day and night, and violent storms accompany each dusk, with the strongest appearing in the equatorial regions where they leave little more in their wake than ionised dust.
The color of the sky ranges from rusty red to dark honey, depending on the concentration of nitric oxide in the troposphere. It’s frequently covered in heavy, sluggish, billowing cumulus clouds, chemical vapors from the volcanoes girdling the equator. Different wavelengths of sunlight are bounced off these gas clusters depending on their chemical composition, making the clouds display spectacularly shifting colors. Among the natives, certain color constellations are said to be good (or bad) omens.
Geographically, the planet consists of little more than bare mountain ranges, sandy tundra and endless plains, vitrified to vast glassy flats by the immense heat of unknown weapons from a forgotten war. All life on Shad A’Zhel is gathered around the grassy steppes of the northern pole, where the atmosphere is thickest and keeps off most of the solar heat and radiation. However, the electromagnetic assault of the restless star’s solar winds materializes here in extensive bands of aurorae borealis, visible from outer space through the debris of the dead civilization as complex, multicolored patterns that earned the world its nickname among spacefarers – Knit Beanie. The natives interpret the lights as divine messages.
What little flora and fauna survives or has developed on the planet undergoes rapid cycles of life and evolution to escape the mutagenic effect of increased background radiation. Everything that grows and lives here, including the few human inhabitants, is small, dark and short-lived. The southern hemisphere up to the equator line and some thousand kilometers beyond is uninhabitable, blazing hot, battered by gamma rays and shaken by frequent earthquakes. Still, some scattered groups of completely savage mutants survive here, more animal than human being, whom the inhabitants call the Daz’ha - the Damned - and who are equally feared, loathed and rumored. People
The Zhelani, as the natives call themselves, live a semi-nomadic life in tribes and families, hunting whatever small animals there are to be caught, gathering seeds, roots and berries from grass and wild shrubs and catching precious morning dew in sophisticated devices made of leather and hollowed deadwood. They are tough, sinewy and able to keep going unruffled for days without water or food. Freshwater, being the most precious good of their world, is sacred to them, a gift of the Nay Va-Sul, the One Beyond The Sun, which of course is the God-Emperor of Mankind. Deliberately wasting or spoiling water is one of the most grievous misdeeds among the Zhelani, resulting in immediate expulsion from the tribe (considering the hostile environment, this equals a death sentence), to protect the remaining family from the Va-Suls’s wrath. 'Water-defiler' is the literal translation of their only term for 'criminal'. Due to the importance of the colors of the sky – it’s vital to know when to seek shelter from an acidic rainstorm and other meteorologic phenomena – and the divine lights of the aurorae, Zhelani deeply believe in the significance of hues and the sanctity of certain compositions. Apart from the obvious need of camouflage in brown and ochre, they go to great lengths to find and develop new dyes, adorning themselves and their dwellings with straps of colorful cloth, dyeing their hair and covering their bodies in the patterns of the divine lights to attract the attention and goodwill of the Va-Sul. Blue and turquoise, as the rarest of colours, are generally associated with benevolence and the divine, as are black and pure white in combination, representing the stars in the nightsky, the heavenly realm. Black combined with deep red however, as displayed on the burned and pustular skin of the southern mutants, has a connotation of loss, pain, and the evil. Hunters are highly respected among the Zhelani, for their work is essential to the survival of the tribe. Every hunter is obliged to pass a trial on reaching the age of fifteen to be officially recognized as an adult: to find and kill one particular prey selected by the tribe’s elders and to bring home a trophy. Frequently, this involves the hated mutants who inhabit the hostile regions closer to the equator, and thereby a long, strenuous treck southwards. Because for all their savagery the mutants still retain some degree of human intelligence, which makes them difficult to hunt and a worthy prey. If the hunter returns successfully, the weapon of his childhood days is destroyed in a solemn ceremony and his family presents him with a new one that has been specifically manufactured for this purpose. As a reminder of this memorable event and of their new responsibility, most hunters keep spear- or arrowhead of their old weapon as a trinket in a bracelet or necklace. Relationship to the Imperium
The Zhelani are vaguely aware of the Imperium surrounding them, mainly due to the fact that at regular intervals the high priests of the one-eyed God – the servants of the Administratum - come to them in bulky, flying machines to claim their tribute. They know that those machines are called 'shuttles' or 'ships', and that they can fly to other worlds beyond the sky, where there must be other humans, but this knowledge is largely irrelevant to their everyday life.
Every ten years, a tribe’s best hunters and warriors are singled out to travel to Emneia, the only permanent settlement on the planet, where the priests of the Va-Sul take with them those they deem worthy to serve the Emperor, and it is a great honour for every Zhelani to be chosen. When the warriors and their tribes make camp at its walls, the population of the small city grows to a multiplied number, and the days and nights before the priests arrive become a veritable fair, hunters competing with spear and bow, tribes exchanging news and gossip and everyone praying and celebrating in equal measure.
The Zhelani do not know what becomes of those that are taken by the Administratum, for none of the chosen has ever returned. None but the fabled warrior Sulak - he who is loved by the Sun - who, according to legend, descended out of the skies, girded with flaming armour and a living sword, to purge the Damned that had amassed in the south, threatening to wipe out the righteous. * * *
Format: NPC / faction design for the Dark Heresy Role Playing Game by Fantasy Flight Games
Setting: Warhammer 40k by Games Workshop, a steampunk dystopia of a galaxy-spanning human empire beset with constant war and ruled by an immortal, godlike emperor. Warhammer 40.000 focuses on ideological conflicts and is known for a certain level of emotional and physical violence.
Wordcount: about 1000 * * * Philosophy
Being an imperial death cult, the Moritat’s teachings are focused on the God-Emperor’s bodily sacrifice in his battle against Horus. As such, their doctrine is mainly defined by the aspect of (self-) sacrifice for the Imperium, and by the same token death is regarded as redemption, as due settling of a debt every imperial citizen owes to the Emperor.
An initiate of the Moritat is willing to make any personal sacrifice imaginable in service of the cult, and by extension, the Imperium. He sees himself as a mere expendable tool and will subordinate his own person and wellbeing to the greater good without hesitation. Likewise, he knows that he is truly blessed, for it is his honour to bring to the sinners the Emperor’s justice. This burning hatred for the mutant, the heretic and all the other parasites of the Imperium, and the certainty of his own righteousness, is what fuels his strength and untameable will. A Moritat carries this hatred under the surface, distilled, sharpened and precise like a blade, weapon and source of power in equal measure. Death and the act of killing is sacred to the Moritat, and every drop of blood spilled, every pain experienced is his sacrifice and his gift to the Imperium of Man. Training
This attitude is achieved by a rigorous drill that starts at childhood or early youth. A pupil will always only have one master from recruitment to full initiation. Most probably, he will never meet any other members of the cult apart from his master’s other students, though the cult goes to great lengths to prevent the forming of overly personal bonds between the members of one particular cell. The cell leader picks young people already marked by loss and anger and shapes those qualities into the desired traits by subjecting his pupil to intense training one step short of outright brainwashing. As a symbol of his devotion, the fledgling Moritat is not allowed to keep any personal belongings of his past life, and he is taught to identify completely with his role as a defender of the Imperium and a weapon of the cult, to a degree that frequently only a shadow remains of the child’s original personality. Former allegiances and loyalties are rendered meaningless by the reckless commitment to the Imperium as a whole.
Methodically, the initate is disciplined to reject weak human sentiments such as affection, remorse and doubt. Through countless rituals and trials he learns to tolerate downright inhuman anguish, his body is steeled by relentless sparring and his mind by endless hours of meditation and study. Terms such as lenience, forgiveness and reward have no place in the Moritat’s schooling, but so hasn’t the application of needless cruelty – every punishment is a valuable lesson, devoid of passion and always appropriate to the transgression.
A Moritat voluntarily renounces each and any convenience and contents himself with only the bare necessities, for he knows that attachment of any kind will make him vulnerable and distract him from his actual task, be it irrelevant relationships to fellow humans or the petty needs of his own flesh. A Moritat does not set his heart on anything apart from a deep, fervent faith, and rarely permits himself emotions other than the ones essential to his work.
Disciples of the Moritat will therefore oftentimes seem callous and calculating to others, and maybe a bit eerie, for beneath the icy surface they sense the single-minded, incisive fury and indomitable will that constitute the deadliness of those assassins. Initiation
Pupils will need to undergo three trials, collectively known as the Ordeal of Hand, Head and Heart, before they are recognized as a valid member of the cult. Like their schooling, these trials aim to test different aspects of the testee’s abilities (namely physical, mental and spiritual), and to imprint on him certain lessons and messages by means of extreme emotional and physical stress. Exactly how they are carried out and what they involve is entirely up to the cell’s master, seeing as he knows best the strengths and possible weaknesses of his student. Needless to say, the trials are never made easy and commonly include a great deal of blood and sharp-edged things. Typically, the first trial takes place around the pupil’s late teenager years, but it might be way earlier or much later, as the master sees fit – but all Moritats need to pass these tests sooner or later, or die trying. Credo
The Moritat follows a strict codex, including (but not limited to) the following commandments: The Emperor Is All – The Commandment of Devotion
He who does not die is thy sole Lord, maker of the Imperium that gave life to thee, guardian of thy soul against the enemies of mankind, beginning, ending and purpose of thine existence. Thou shalt not heed any word before the word of the Emperor and shalt not bow down to any master before Him. All Is The Emperor’s – The Commandment of Focus
Thou shalt not set thy heart on the ephemeral goods of the world, nor on the gifts of the flesh, nor on the fleetingness of thy own life. Thou shalt not covet anything in life or in death but His grace and justice, for nothing is eternal but thine soul and worthy of the God-Emperor’s sacrifice. Strenghten Thyself - The Commandment of Perfection
Thou shalt always preserve the body and mind that thy Lord has bestowed upon thee, and purify them and purge them of all weakness, that they be immaculate und fit for their purpose; for thou art His weapon and His tool to cleanse His realm. Mercy is for the Weak – The Commandment of Duty
Thou shalt do all thy work in the name of thy Emperor, and on His terms all shall be judged. Never shalt thou place thy own judgement above His commandments, nor the judgement of thy elders, nor of thy heart. For it is thy sacred duty to bear the deaths of men so mankind can live, and thou shalt rejoice for the ones that perish at thy hands, for great is their reward in the Emperor’s light * * *
Format: Character Sketch of a not quite evil antagonist NPC
Setting: Dark Fantasy
Wordcount: about 1600 * * * Khalris Morvenna, a grey-scale villain Khalris Morvenna is not a good man in any sense of the word. He is a cold-blooded murderer. A poisoner. A scheming manipulator of other people. A consort of demons which he has no qualms about using as tools, a priest and follower of a barbaric, uncaring goddess that does not know right from wrong.
To others, even to members of his own culture, he seems eerie, unfeeling to the point of inhumanity, aloof to the point of arrogance, daunting, and utterly incomprehensible. His sombre appearance, his unnaturally calm manner of speech, even his way of sparingly moving and rarely blinking, all make for a deeply disconcerting impression that either intimidates others or provokes open hostility. He does not have a single confident in all the world.
In many ways, this impression is very close to the truth: Khalris, for the most part, regards ordinary people as pawns and inferior to himself, he has no problem whatsoever with manipulating or forcing them into doing his bidding if it serves the Big Picture. Though he does not specifically wish to inflict suffering on others, he is willing to sacrifice a person's wellbeing for a cause without second thought. Ruthless, callous and savage are all qualities that do indeed apply to him to a certain degree. No, he isn't a good man. And yet, Khalris Morvenna is far from being evil. In a different life and given half a chance, he might have been someone else, capable of great caring and understanding, an artist or a counsellor, even a diplomat.
Blessed at birth with unfathomable intuition, he possesses an uncanny insight into people and situations that enables him to grasp the hidden workings of the human mind, will and emotions. It is a purely instinctive matter, but given enough time and familiarity with one subject, he may accurately guess her thoughts and sense every nuance of her feelings. What's more, he has an almost magical way with words, thus able to subtly and profoundly influence and manipulate what he comprehends so well.
His inherent understanding of the unseen forces of life does not even stop there. Khalris is constantly is aware of the hidden patterns of the world by a sense unknown to ordinary people; the interdependencies of human lives and actions within the intangible realm of future and possibility, the endless cascade of cause and effect that defines the universe. To him, this patterns and ripples that encompass everything and everyone are as real as anything in the material world - the fabric of life itself - and the fact that he'll never be able to share what he perceives has greatly contributed to his current state of dissociation. As it is, Khalris's life has been dominated by violence, coercion and fight for his very survival. Born into slavery and hurled into one disastrous alliance after another, he bears the marks of this journey on his body and his soul: fighting scars, whiplashes from his masters, runes written into his flesh, ritual cuts from his barbaric faith, the once bronze-coloured skin on his forehead reddened and mauled where his own family tried to burn out the child's 'third eye'.
He understood then that he was aberrant, set apart from other humans, that he had power over them and they were afraid of him because of that power. Later in life, when he was taught to speak to demons and the sprits of fire his ancestors worshipped - and when he first killed a man, his teacher, to be free of his spell - he learned that great might attracts great enemies, and that in order to survive he must accumulate ever greater power and influence over his brethren. Though his reckless quest for personal power begins as mere self-preservation, it soon is deepened and justified by the unchallenged authority of religion. In search for an explanation of the abilities that so haunt and elate him, he traces them back to a banned and almost forgotten goddess of his once proud and untamed people: Noeeki, mistress of horses and the Unseen. A nihilistic deity of sorts, who's tenets involve the unpredictability of existence and the futility of planning, or indeed clinging to anything, for everything in life is ephemeral - joy and suffering, slavery and freedom. To whom killing or staying alive, lie or truth, noble or wicked are all the same. And that rings so true to Khalris and his perception of the world as an ever changing, unbiased pattern. Paradoxically, it gives him - who is constantly humbled by the insignificance of a single human life in the maelstrom of time - a purpose, a sense of belonging never felt before, even as it tags everything as meaningless.
It is then that he begins to embrace his own otherness, to make it his identity, welcoming it as marking him superior - descendant of a veritable goddess! To turn the imposed isolation into a virtue, rather than fruitlessly trying to be like the ones that have cast him out and used him for their own ends. Consequently, even as he profoundly understands humans, he cuts himself off from them. He cultivates the fear he involuntarily strikes into most people to keep them at a distance, to have the whip hand over them. He'll any day prefer control over someone to being respected or loved (or that's at least what he believes).
He fervently strives not to emotionally attach himself to anything or anyone, following the doctrine of his faith, but also in an unconscious attempt to protect himself from the inevitable loss that life has taught him. This lack of commitment extends to almost every kind of sensory experience: he does not allow himself much enjoyment of food or drink (making for a rather gaunt frame), or any kind of convenience apart from the trance-inducing toxic substances featuring in his rituals (which are quite numerous). Probably the only material items in the world he ascribes any personal value to are his two blades, sacred instruments for sacred work as far as he is concerned, and the simple wooden symbol of Noeeki around his neck. He drifts through life like a ghost, barely touching it, rarely tasting it, never relishing it. He goes to great lengths to not give away anything about himself at any time, for he knows that revealing yourself to someone is to give him power over you - and he knows the treachery that can reside in the hearts of mortals. Thus, he has learned to control every little detail of his mind, to admit not a single thought or emotion that might cause him trouble down the road. This is getting to the point where even his body language and choice of words are boiled down to the absolutely essential: no unconscious gestures, no superfluous nuances in the way he stands, talks, walks. Every movement, every facial expression, is subtle, conscious, and full of intention and meaning. Nothing is ever coincidental about Khalris Morvenna. By the same token, he has become perfectionist to a fault. Everything around and within has to be neatly ordered and structured, be it his own room, his fighting techniques, his train of thoughts. His need to keep control and counterbalance the chaotic flow of the world drives him to be obsessed with details, to observe and analyze everything thoroughly in order to understand it completely. His thirst for in-depth knowledge seems boundless, as does his desire to achieve, to improve on himself and his abilities.
Yet he never allows himself to revel in his accomplishments. He never stops working, and it is never enough. He never learned how to play, how to enjoy for the sake of it, he doesn't even see the point of it. If he found himself suddenly bereft of a task or mission, he would probably be at an awful loss of what to do. For paradoxically, despite his nihilistic philosophy, he carries within himself a burning longing for purpose, to be part of something greater than himself, to give meaning to this insignificant life tossed about in the currents of creation. Combined with his desire for order and stability in the face of chaos, this makes him feel drawn to powerful individuals with far-reaching agendas. Even as he despises being leashed, he pushes himself into service, since he has never known anything else - or maybe he simply doesn't place enough importance on himself to allow for a purpose of his own.
What's more, when he chooses to serve someone, he puts his heart and soul into it, doggedly loyal even when mistreated. As long as he appreciates their goals, he'll be willing to sacrifice everything and stop at nothing to achieve them. As long as someone has his respect, he'll unreservedly throw himself into the breach to protect them - regardless of his faith that teaches the futility of such actions. In spite of everything seen from the outside, he is not half as self-absorbed as it might seem. Khalris Morvenna avidly wishes to believe that humans are nothing more than dust motes in the cosmic pattern. He strives to free himself from the entanglements of the world by not clinging to anything, by shrugging off everything mortal and laughing into the face of death and life alike.
But deep within this battered, wretched, wicked soul, a spark of zeal still remains: he craves purpose and meaning and is willing to subordinate everything to the cause; pride, life, wellbeing, his own and everyone else's. He might not be as intrinsically evil as the demons and spirits he communes with. But he is definitely a person utterly at odds with himself, contradictory, unpredictable, fierce, his values firm but far from common morals. And that makes him extremely dangerous- a deadly enemy, and a pernicious ally at best. * * *

Impressum