Lords of Darkness, Lord Goth

Knight on his horse.

Image via Wikipedia

   There have been some queries about what the full-power version of Anek Borez looks like – and so here are the upgrades for it. This version assumes that Borez was level nine or so, and a mighty hero of the realm, as a human and has gained at least three levels since becoming a Knight of Hades. That gives him a base level of 12, an ECL of 16 – and a probable CR of around 18 or so. Given that the originally-presented version bad a base level of 8, and ECL of 12, and a probable CR of around 13, that gives us quite a few more character points, and a few more skill points, to spend. To be precise, he gets:

  • 124 more Character Points: 96 (the base for plus four levels) +12 (for his level 9 and 12 Bonus Feats) +8 (for four levels worth of Duties) +8 (for four levels worth of specialized Fast Learner).
  • +24 Skill Points (exclusive of spending some actual CP on skills): 8 (for his racial bonus over four levels) +16 (for his Intelligence bonus over four levels).

   Now, at level twelve, Borez is basically a horrific bad-ass boss villain, capable of annihilating parties – or small armies – that don’t figure out what they’re getting into and prepare and plan appropriately. After all, boss villains should always be pretty threatening. Ergo I’m going to continue to expand on what’s already a fairly heavily-optimized build.

   Upgrading the basics is easy and straightforward. Add:

  • +4d8 HD (16 CP)
  • +4 BAB (16 CP)

   For most characters I’d spend some more on saving throws – but Borez’s saves are very good already, he gets to add his huge Charisma modifier to his Reflex and Will saves and is immune to almost everything that requires fortitude or will saves anyway. Ergo, buying up his saves too far is a waste of time and points.

  • +10 Skill Points (10 CP), for a total of 34. A fair chunk of those go into Spellcraft – to let him be sure of recognizing incoming spells to counterspell – and into another martial art. Ergo 4 SP in the Nightmare Storm martial art, 11 in Obsidian Heart Kung Fu, 8 to keep Bluff, Concentration, Diplomacy, and Intimidate maxed out, 9 to max out his Spellcraft, +1 in Ride, and +3 in Spot.

   Obsidian Heart Kung Fu (Cha)

   Obsidian Heart Kung Fu is a purely mystical form which progresses from simple evasion and awareness of the user’s surroundings (basic Defenses and Mind Like Moon) on to generating a seething aura of negative energy around the user – an amorphous, quasi-solid thing which lashes out to strike at opponents or deflect incoming attacks while the user remains virtually immobile. At it’s highest levels, the user may even support or move his or her own body with the aura, allowing him or her to accomplish some fairly impressive feats – although this comes at a considerable cost to his or her energy reserves.

  • Requires: The ability to channel negative energy.
  • Basics: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Power 2, Strike, Synergy/Hide, Synergy/Move Silently,
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Reach, Mind Like Moon (may avoid being surprised or caught flat-footed with a DC 15 reflex save), Breaking (may add martial arts skill to the strength check when trying to break objects), Expertise (May transfer up to five points from attack bonus to armor class as a dodge bonus if making an attack).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Ki Block, Light Foot, and Vanishing.

   Naturally enough, Borez will be using this form by default – making him virtually immune to being surprised, and thus making sure that no one will be able to attack him without him having a chance to manifest his armor.

   As a mortal, Borez was a heavily-armored acrobatic fighter – something that really only works in magical realms, where there are ways around the weight and encumbrance of armor. He relied on moving in fast, blocking or absorbing attacks, and hacking his foes into tiny bits.

  • Fortune/Evasion Variant (6 CP). Borez takes no damage from attacks which offer a reflex save for half effect if he saves successfully.
  • Enhanced Strike: Hammer with +2 Bonus Uses, Corrupted/Only usable with a sword (6 CP).
  • Enhanced Strike: +2 Bonus Uses on his Enhanced Strike/Crushing (3 CP).
    • Both techniques can thus be used three times per minute. He often combines them – lashing out with a single blow which can overwhelm almost any target which doesn’t result to a reflex action to get out of the way, Ki Block, or some other really major defense.
  • Upgrade his Immunity to Dexterity Maximums to the Major level (+4 CP). That will let him keep his full – enhanced – dexterity modifier despite wearing heavy plate armor.
  • Imbuement/Armor Specialized for Double Effect (Bonus of +Level/2) and Corrupted for reduced cost/only works on heavy adamant (or equivalent) armor that he has personally created (4 CP). His usual suit of self-created solidified-darkness adamant armor thus gains a +6 bonus. This is actually a minor variant ability; Imbuement is usually used on weapons, adding to both attacks and damage, but there’s no reason why it can’t be used on armor – in which case it’s only adding to one number, and so can reasonably be applied to all kinds of armor. It’s not as if characters change out the type of armor they use very often.

   Like a fair number of more mystically-inclined warriors, Borez possessed some minor occult talents as a mortal. In his case, they were Witchcraft – primarily because it was fairly easy to master the basics, its selection of psychic tricks and minor healing powers were very useful to a warrior, and because the advanced ability to create weapons and armor on the spot (a trick he STILL relies on) was pretty handy. Those abilities have changed a bit as a Knight of Hades (for example, changing his Pacts and dropping the minor healing discipline in favor of laying minor curses), but haven’t really grown very much. He has learned to weave better illusions though; they’re awfully convenient in his new line of work.

  • Witchcraft. Add Pact/Taboos (-6 CP), add +3d6 Power (14) (6 CP), and add the ability to use Shadowweave to create more powerful illusions (6 CP).

   Several minor abilities will help him handle sudden, massive, attacks, give him more followers, and ensure that he can armor and arm himself – and any nearby followers that he feels are worth equipping – at a moments notice.

  • Upgrade the Grant of Aid in the Knight of Hades template from Specialized for Half Cost to Double Effect (restores 2d8+10 points of damage per use) (6 CP).
  • Upgrade his Leadership for Double Effect instead of Half Cost (+3 CP). He’s taken that to allow him a single follower of well above the usual level (a Cauchemar Nightmare steed) and to boost the usual x2 multiplier to x3.
  • Reflex Training/may use his Nightforge witchcraft ability to create weapons and armor for himself and for willing targets regardless of initiative and without it counting as any kind of action (6 CP).

   Dark Channeling: Borez is still no Master of Channeling, but he’s learned to use the energies of death in a modest variety of ways – and to find easy opportunities to do so when those energies are released in combat.

  • Add (Cha Mod) additional daily uses of Channeling (6 CP).
  • The Opening of the Gate: As the gates of death open to receive another soul, Borez can tap into the powers that lie beyond that gate. Opportunist/whenever a sentient living creature dies in the immediate vicinity, Borez gets a free opportunity to use his Negative Energy Channeling. Specialized and Corrupted/he must personally kill the victim, he can only use his spell conversion effects, and this is a blatant act of evil since it causes the victim to expire in horrific agony as a portion of his or her inevitable death is drawn away and his or her spirit briefly lingers (2 CP).
  • Channeling/Conversion to a set of four level five effects. Corrupted/the use of these effects twists and poisons the area where they’re used, blighting plants, stirring up old horrors (which will not be under the user’s control), sending up a flare of evil energies, and attracting opposing forces (6 CP). The spells available are:
    • Dust of Ages: A version of Animate Dead that requires neither gems nor bodies. Unfortunately, the lack of a solid structure means that the creatures called forth are unstable, and will return to the dust from which they were summoned after 1d4+1 hours.
    • Harm Self: This is identical to the basic Harm spell, but is only usable on the caster.
    • Unhallow: This is a standard spell.
    • Call of Damnation: A version of Animate Dead that does not require gems and has short range (without requiring actual line of sight), so that it can be cast near bodies to have them come to the user’s aid.

   The Grand Mastery: Walking the Path of Darkness (24 CP):

   Borez’s excellent service to his infernal masters, and the swathe of destruction he has cut both across the world and through the ranks of opposing heroes have earned him the favor of the dark powers. The minor innate enchantments he had as a mortal have now been augmented and amplified by his infernal masters until they have become fearsome powers indeed.

   At ECL level sixteen an NPC is only supposed to get 77,000-100,000 GP worth of gear, instead of the 260,000-340,000 that a PC is supposed to get. Given that essential unfairness, I’m going to let Borez have a hefty slice of cheese by allowing him to spend an additional 24 CP on his Innate Enchantments – and to take some of the most powerful abilities I can come up with to boot

  • Upgrade his three level one +2 attribute enhancements to the level two +4 versions. That’s (Spell Level Two x Caster Level Three x 2000 GP for Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal Only -1400 GP (the amount already invested) = 7000 GP each, for a total of 21,000 GP.

   Add two more first-level enhancements:

  • Infernal Vigor (the negative-energy equivalent to Immortal Vigor: Adds +12 hit points to lesser undead and +(12 + 2 x Cha Mod) hit points to greater undead. Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (for Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x.7 (for personal use only) = 1400 GP.
  • Lesser Energy Resistance. This provides Resistance 5 versus all forms of Energy. Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (for Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x.7 (for personal use only) = 1400 GP.

   Now add a horrendous fifth-level enhancement:

  • The Dominion of the Night; Guiding Hand of the Infernal Prince: This mighty talent doubles the effect of some of the character’s Innate Enchantments. That’s Add Metamagic/Amplify +4 (Double Effect) to any one spell of up to level three (Spell Level Five x Caster Level Nine) x 2000 GP (for Unlimited-Use Use-Activated) x .7 (for Personal Use Only) x .8 (for Abilities to be amplified are fixed once selected) x .6) affects a maximum of seven spells or ten levels worth of spells, whichever is less) x.8 (cannot affect spells of above level two) = 24,192 GP). Note that this cannot be applied to a particular ability more than once.

   In Borez’s case, this has been applied to his Str, Dex, and Cha boosts, and to his Personal Haste, Shield, Infernal Vigor, and Lesser Energy Resistance powers. That raises those enhancements to +8 to Str, Dex, and Cha, +2 full-BAB attacks with a full attack and +60′ Movement, +8 to AC, +(24 + 4 x Cha Mod) HP, and Energy Resistance 10 – a pretty impressive package, even if it does pre-empt a lot of other magic items and has a base cost nearly two entire levels worth of character points and a fair chunk of XP. With a net cost of +48,000 GP, this has a net cost of 24 CP – and nearly 4000 XP – even after Specialization. Fortunately, as an NPC, Borez doesn’t have to worry about those XP. As a boss-level monster for what I’d expect to be a well-optimized batch of PC’s, he also doesn’t have to worry about game master permission for this kind of cheese – although, to be fair, this large slice of cheese is probably worth adding a level, or maybe even two, to his effective challenge rating.

   Of course, the entire Infernal Command package deal, along with his Might of the Inferno ability were already a bit cheesy – so even for a major opponent, this is probably all the cheese I’m going to allow.

   Equipment:

  • Dark Ambassador“: A +1 (2000 GP) Adamant (+3000 GP) Folding (a minor variant on “Hideaway”; it fits into a dagger’s sheathe, +2000 GP) Slow Burst (critical victims are slowed for three rounds unless they make a DC 14 will save, +5000 GP), Intelligent (Neutral Evil, Int 15, Wis 15, Cha 10, Ego 11, 120′ vision and hearing, 60′ darkvision, Special Powers [all Caster Level One, Spell Level One, Usable at Will]: Produce Flame with Rapid Casting (adds 1d6+1 fire damage, will fire as a ranged touch attack at +5 to hit once per round. Just for style, it burns black. +4000 GP), Unseen Servant (+2000 GP), and Faerie Fire (+2000 GP)) Greatsword. Hardness 22, HP 23. Net cost: 20,050 GP.
    • A Lesser Crystal of Return: Allows him to draw Dark Ambassador as free action or to call it to him from up to thirty feet away as a move action (1000 GP).
    • The blade has a lions-head hilt, and is inscribed with a pattern of intertwining serpents writhing up the blade. Borez usually tucks Dark Ambassador into a forearm sheathe up his sleeve so that he can appear unarmed. Fortunately, the sleeve-material (he prefers silk) is light enough not to hinder the blades senses overmuch. He’s also taken it as a follower – granting it some levels of its own and greatly increasing its powers.
  • Vilewind“: +1 Composite Longbow of Distance (8400 GP), Adapting (adjusts to user’s strength modifier, +1000 GP), Autoloading (produces a normal arrow or bolt whenever drawn if none is already in place, +1600 GP).
    • A Lesser Crystal of Energy Assault (Fire, 3000 GP).
    • With his gauntlets, his shots have a range increment of 330 feet, allowing him to, for example, ride his nightmare steed around at an altitude of 1500 feet – taking a mere (-8) penalty to his own shots while being effectively out of range of most opponents.
  • A Handy Haversack (2000 GP).
  • Dust of Tracelessness (250 GP).
  • A Potion of Invisibility (300 GP).
Head Hat of Disguise: Disguise Self at will (1800 GP).
Eyes Goggles of Foefinding (Ignore AC bonuses from cover, 2500 GP).
Throat Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker: May take a half-move that does not provoke attacks of opportunity as a swift action three times per day (Upgraded, 3/day instead of 1/day, 1500 GP).
Torso Vest of Resistance +4 (16,000 GP).
Body Shiftweave (Emulates various clothing, does not fill slot, 500 GP).
Waist Belt of Endurance: 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 as a swift action to gain 12/18/24 temporary hit points. These last for up to ten minutes, but don’t stack with other temporary hit points (2300 GP).
Shoulders Vanisher Cloak (Brief invisibility 3/day, 2500 GP)
Forearms Bracers of Doom (the positive-energy variants are called Bracers of Life). Use Activated Harm (L6 x L11 x 2000 GP) x .1 (once per week) x .7 (only works on the wearer) = 9240 GP. These will automatically activate whenever the user drops below a chosen HP threshold – by default, 10%
Hands Gauntlets of Extended Range (a variant made for Archery, rather than for thrown weapons, 2000 GP)
Ring Ring of Retaliation. The evil version of a Ring of Vengeance; 3/day, when a critical hit is scored on the wearer, the attacker will be blasted with 5d6 profane damage, no save. No action is required (4500 GP).
Ring Ring of Mystic Fire. +1 Caster Level with Fire-Based Spells, 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 charges as part of a spellcasting action to add +2/3/4 d6 of damage to a fire-based spell (7500 GP).
Feet Boots of Stomping. 3/Day as a standard action topple creatures and objects in a 15′ cone, Reflex DC 15 to avoid falling if on the ground (600 GP)

   And figure about 500 GP worth of normal gear – A dagger or two, arrows, a blanket (mostly for keeping up appearances), pens, ink, and paper, a coil of silk rope, a few alchemical items, tools, a musical instrument, a couple of courtier’s outfits (with the relevant jewelry), and so on.

   That’s a net of 88,500 GP – halfway between the allotted amounts for NPC’s at levels sixteen and seventeen. If there’s something else you really think he ought to have, however, just go ahead and add it; townsfolk with money are easier to find – and rob – than monsters hiding in distant lairs.

   That leaves Borez with a one-point relic unassigned. There are some things that would be really useful to Borez – but which see like overkill, or at least out of character, for the moment. Still, with a relic, he can have at least one of them…

   Items in this category include:

  • Upgrading his Infernal Command ability by adding eight level six spell slots with the same limitations – at a net cost of (6 CP). This is about as far as that ability can reasonably be pushed – but allowing Borez to throw around Disintegration and Death spell effects should probably be avoided for several levels.
  • Upgrading his Berserker ability with Odinpower and Odinmight. This will allow it to add +6 to his BAB, +6 to the Caster Level of his Infernal Commands, and +6 to his Charisma (3 + Cha Mod) rounds (1 + Level/3) times per day (6 CP).
  • Or simply add another (+Cha Mod) daily uses of Channeling (6 CP) – although, this will mean that, unless the characters manage to cut off his ability to tap those energies, a fight against him may never end; with thirty or so uses of Harm available either by taking an action or whenever he kills some henchman, bystander, or companion creature, it may become virtually impossible to wear him down.

Next up, the upgraded character sheet, for our Knight of Hades in his full horror.

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2 Responses

  1. Now that is a True Horror, one that shall grace my groups presence in some epic showdown.

    Nice work Paul.

  2. […] Level Twelve: Anek Borez, Lord Goth: A fallen Paladin, now an undead Knight of the Abyss. With an ECL 16 Upgrade. […]

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