A scream in the night, and a roar of triumph was the DDC’s introduction to Vasselack the Dwarfbane – the slayer of Bentane Amberhammer. He escaped justice by running through walls and out into the night – and was an enemy unlike anything encountered by the group before. Vasselack is a spirit troll – a rare offshoot of the species that has survived an unusual death and been reborn in a new and unusual form.
When the mindflayers took over the Amberhammer Hold, they scoured the lands around for materials to craft misshapen aberrations. They created dolgaunts and dolgrims from dwarves and goblins, hobgoblins and ogres – from anything that they could warp in the service of their daelkyr master.
Vasselack was a hunter who saw an opportunity to strike at his tribe’s old enemies while they were vulnerable. He hunted and slew refugees from the Hold by the dozen, but even this hate-filled monster paled before the mindflayers who tracked him down and stripped the soul from his body with psionic blasts before eating his brain.
And yet this was not his end. Trolls are hardy creatures almost beyond relief, and enough of his angry spirit remained to grow a new body of pure psychic energy. Insubstantial as a shadow, he crept back into the darkness and would have become a lone horror had he not been found by Irreck. Irreck brought him to the Circle of Rot and they re-bound his essence through the power of the Eye of Khyber so that he could take on physical form again for periods of time. Grateful, he swore himself to Irreck as his personal assassin.
And so, hearing that the Amberhammer Clan had retaken its Hold, and keen to strike down its leaders before they could properly settle, Vasselack was sent to strike down the old Chief Bentane, who had led his people to drive the trolls off all those years ago. Accompanied by necromantic shadows conjured by Missy Lambrot, he slipped through the walls of the Hold and began a murderous spree.
He escaped the Hold’s defenders and slipped away into the night. The first real blow of the fight has landed. Who know what will happen next?
There’s nothing like a good villain for an adventure to highlight. Here I am again unwinding after a long day and rather than heroic or nuanced characters I thought I’d go with something a bit more malevolent for adventurers to contend with. Using my general approach of start with a random template and start playing around, I had a bit of a play in HeroForge and came up with this pleasant chap: Berenghast the Dire
Berenghast belongs to that wonderful pantheon of delvers after forbidden knowledge and power who don’t let a little thing like dying and the corruption of their immortal soul get in the way of results. As his skeletal appearance suggests, he did not rest in his grave easily – and the broken horns on his brow suggest the nature of the entities with which he dealt. There’s a rawness and bloody tinge to his bones and fanged maw that suggests he is still somewhat fresh from what should have been his final fate – and his magical blades positively gleam with potency. The scimitar in his right hand gleams with ruby light, while the blackened poniard in his left boils with greasy flame. The remains of purple robes still twine around his body, hinting at royal ambitions. Even his token suggests something twisted compared to the simpler circles of others.
Now, I have no idea what use I’ll put him to – so he’s going in the back pocket for now. If you use him in your own games or stories, let me know what he gets up to.
An influential background character who hasn’t had much visibilty so far is Kerne’s younger sister, Faye – who went to study in the Feywild after their family was split up. There’s been a loose connection between the sisters by way of an enchanted journal, which each has a copy of, and that they can read and reply to each other by writing in it.
It was fairly late in the first year – as the group closed in on a group of Hags who had kidnapped an alchemist – that the DDC realised that Faye was apprenticed to the same Hags, and had been learning their crafts. When they defeated the coven, there was no sign of Faye – and it looked like she had fled with some of their research and materials after chaining up the nearby portal to the Feywild with iron. Removing the chains allowed Faye’s warlock patron – the Winter’s Knight – to emerge into the swamp. He too wanted to know where Faye was – but on learning that Kerne didn’t know anything permitted the group to leave.
Later investigations determined that a block on the group’s memories about their first adventure had been put there through the actions of Faye so that they would not remember Faye’s involvement in an ambush that took place by Morgrave University, and for a while there was a chill in relations between the siblings.
During their most recent adventure, the sisters began sharing knowledge again. Faye confirmed that she was on the run from the Winter’s Knight as the research she had taken pertained to making a drug that the Hags had been creating and planning to spread that made people more susceptible to magics cast by the fae. She was keeping that knowledge hidden to frustrate those plans while the DDC acted against Knight. Cooperating, the siblings were able to create a potion to cure lycanthropy, with Faye passing on the Hag recipe and Kerne interpreting the instructions and ingredients to what was available locally.
What is known is that Faye is Dragonborn, and a warlock sworn to the Winter’s Knight or some other high ranking Fey. She may or may not have taken on Hag-like characteristics as part of her training with the Broken Eye Coven – and quite what her plans and allegiances are remain somewhat nebulous.
As ever, feel free to appropriate character design and concept for your own uses