Lukas Scourgeson, The Black Beast
Every now and then, some monarch – particularly those with solid characters levels from adventuring xp – decides they need a stronger heir. After all, what good is a well-educated prince with no levels to back it up? (The answer in DnD3/3.5 is “Not Much”) On the other hand, if you send the kid out on adventure, he’s quite likely to die. You can try to spend for oodles of magic items, of course, but budgets are always tight and then there’s the problem of making them too dependent on the magical gear way above their level, etc.
Solution? It’s easy! Just get a deity or power to imbue said offspring with a nice, powerful template. A single level’s worth is quite a lot of power and if well-designed offers a great deal of survivability. Even if that prince doesn’t turn out to be terribly great as a warrior, he’s likely to be competent. Everybody wins! Except – there’s often a cost for having extreme superpowers stuffed into children. Sometimes physical, sometimes social – and sometimes psychological. Sometimes what you get isn’t even quite human.
Enter Lukas Scourgeson, often known as the Black Beast due to the way the blood coating his armor tends to make it look black on the battle-field. As a child, Lukas received the most powerful available blessing of a deity of the wild. The results were everything his father demanded and more. Lukas is incredibly strong, able to survive horrendous amounts of damage, and can kill anything within reach. There’s only the slightest of side effects… that he’s become dangerously psychotic, prone to random rages and with an unstoppable love of killing for its own sake. Given how hard it is to stop him, the kingdom preferentially keeps him out on various campaigns, where he can indulge his violent whims without repercussion. Of course, this now threatens to plunge the kingdom into horrible war as those same neighbors fear that Lukas might grow even more powerful with time, and don’t much appreciate being raided by a remorseless killer.
That suits Lukas just fine. He has no problem whatsoever commanding an army to victory or death (and those are the only options he considers). He has no care for his own life, no interest in legacies or greater power. He exists to hunt everything he can reach – an incarnation of nature red in tooth and claw. This doesn’t he’s stupid, however. Although not particularly brilliant, he’s surprisingly quick to exploit weaknesses and utterly merciless in doing so. He’s quite capable of inspiring loyalty among his men and has no reason to murder those who follow him – which are men, given his royal birth, success in battle, and frenetically inspirational nature. Eventually, Lukas will likely die a death that will echo in a dozen epics for eons to come, or fashion a huge kingdom over the bodies of his victims. He won’t care which.
Chaotic Neutral Level 7 Black Beast
Disadvantages: Irreverent, Insane, and Poor Reputation
Attribute Base (w/ bonuses) /While Raging
Strength 18 (20) /28
Constitution 24 /32
Charisma 15 (17) /21
As you can see, this is not a character most players will want to enter melee with. He’s not unstoppable based on raw stats, but think very carefully before getting within reach of his sword. Note that he *doesn’t* have a racial template. You can instantly make him anything would want, and it won’t matter much.
Disadvantages: Irreverent, Insane, and Poor Reputation. Poor Reputation applies both within and outside of his country. People are rather afraid of him.
HP: 1d20+5d10+42+30 (46)
Warcraft: +6 (36)
Saving Throws: +9 (27)
Skill Points: 18 (12)
Special Abilities: (46)
Lukas has exactly 10 points left over after this, which is enough for a couple feats if one is specialized, buying a few additional skills or saves, or whatever else you might want. It may be a good idea spending them in a way to make him resistant to any one “Big Gun” attack or tool the players have. For example, if they run around using mind-affecting spells on enemies, give him an extra saving throw against those effects or some Luck. Or if they like teleporting huge vats of flaming oil, give him some additional resistance to non-magical energy damage. The point isn’t to make him invulnerable, but to keep hi in the fight long enough to be a threat, or force the players to think very creatively. If nothing else, hand him a couple healing options as he’s got a very unpleasant way to make use of it, or Power Attack and let him destroy a middling-AC creature.
Raging Beast Template (63)
Self Development 4 (24)
Damage Reduction 8/- Specialized: Weak to Destined Heroes (9)
Stoic, Improved, Ferocity, Juggernaut (21)
Berzerker, Odinpower, Odinmight (12) [+8 Str, +8 Con, +4 Cha, -2 AC]
Yeah. I think you get the point. Note the weakness mentioned above. It may mean the power which gave him this template has an obnoxious sense of humor, or it may actually be that Lukas was a convenient threat to force a real Destined hero to develop the skills to defeat him. And if the party doesn’t have a convenient hero available, they might have to find one. Or perhaps, create one…
Intimidate 11 (9 ranks +2 Cha)
Martial Arts 14 (9 ranks +5 Str)
Lukas uses a variant of Adamantine Fist. Use Power 4, Toughness 2, and Attack 1.
Greatsword Proficiency (1)
I really hate spending lots of points on weapon proficiencies, when most characters only want to use a specific one anyway.
Cleave, +Great Cleave (12)
Reflex Training: Heal Self, Triggered by going below 0 hp (6)
Returning: Can only be killed in a suitably epic confrontation (6)
And we have massive melee threat, a convenient cleric to heal him and maybe a couple warriors or wizard sidekicks, the ability to instantly put his wealth back in order, and he’ll miraculously survive if not taken down in a suitably epic manner. In short, he’s a massive pain and may require the party to kill him a few times before they figure out how to seal the deal. Exactly what this means depends on the deity who gave him the original template: Lukas won’t die until that deity thinks the battle was worthwhile. It also means they really can’t poison his coffee or exploit save-or-die spamming.
Innate Enchantment (6)
Charisma +2 (1400)
Strength +2 (1400)
Bonus Attack (1400)
Free Healing Belt (750)
If nothing else, this is a convenient way to give him some healing while increasing his melee threat.
Highblade of the Highlands (4)
Greatsword with Imbuement, Improved Superior (Currently +3 Greatsword)
Reflex Training: 3 Free Actions (6)
Armor of the Jotun (6)
Heavy Armor Proficiency (15)
Mighty Grant of Aid (9)
Augment Bonus: Str to HP (12)
These are extremely nice relics, and anyone who kills Lukas has definitely earned them. Of course, you’ll have to take them first, which means he’ll eagerly use their full effects on the party first.
•BAB: +11 = +6 +5 (Str) [+15 in Rage]
•Fortitude: +12 = +5 +7 (Con)
•Reflex: +1 = +0 +0 (Dex)
•Will: +4 = +4 +0 (Wis)
•Initiative: +1 (Dex)
•Armor Class: 10 +1 (Dex) +8 (Armor)
•Greatsword: +15 = +6 +5 (Str) +1 (Attack) +3 (Relic) [+19 in Rage]
•+15/+15/+10 [+19/+19/+14]; 2d10+5 [2d10+9]
Lukas has tactical weaknesses based on lackof flexibility, but not as much as you might think. Remember that he has a few bonus Reflex Actions every day usable for anything he wants – and the best option is usually to move right up into an enemy’s face, preferably a spellcaster. He’ll basically ignore any Attacks of Opportunity – that’s what his sizable health pool is for. And if he does get hurt enough to drop him below 0 hit points, he’ll use an immediate action to boost himself back up. Of course, he’ll also have a standard NPC cleric and wizard at level 4 to assist, along with a couple well-trained level 4 Fighters. Although these shouldn’t prove a massive threat, they’re strong enough to keep the party from completely overwhelming the Black Beast, and expanding his tactical options. Lukas *could* learn to use a bow or some such… but he doesn’t much care to. He has soldiers to kill things at ranges too far to taste the arterial spray from each kill.
Perhaps the easiest way to deal with Lukas is to… help him. No, really – he wants a giant bloody battle. If there’s an invading undead horde or a legion of the damned, the Scourgeson is a huge asset. At worst, he kills massive numbers of the enemy. At best, he kills massive numbers of the enemy and then dies in a climactic battle with some other enemy – thus giving the players the perfect opportunity to finish off the evil threat.
Eventually, Lukas might actually get tired of killing if he gets old enough to become bored by it. Even the oldest wolf eventually goes a bit grey, after all. The real trick is for the players to make sure there’s a civilization left, as Lukas would likely be very high level indeed by the time he hangs up the greatsword for good.
- The Balancer Of Scales, Dragonstar/Pathfinder Paladin (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Do-It-Yourself Charms and Talismans VIII – The Forces From Beyond (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Raykul Tepes, Scion of the Damned (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Dallyn Vortys, Ebonthane of Nidhogg the Devourer, Level Seven Would-Be Dark Lord (ruscumag.wordpress.com)