The Story of Tobias, Part 3: A Gift is Given, a Path is Chosen

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Something that I need to mention here is that the GM for this campaign said that we could each choose a special, magical object for our characters to have at the beginning of the game. I played around with a couple ideas (including something that might have been salvaged from the Devil earlier, and could possibly have turned Tobias down a more evil path), but ended up with an obviously magical item you’ll see in the story. Something that isn’t mentioned in the story, however, is the cooler ability. Basically it lets Tobias use something similar to Smite Evil once per day. The ability never came up in the story, but it’s been pretty handy in a few encounters.

Tobias ran after his friend Brakstil and laughingly shouted, “Get back here you evil fiend, so I may smite you with my sword!” Brakstil laughed as well and said in his most menacing voice, “You’ll never catch me, do-gooder!” Tobias caught up to his friend, who proceeded to cower in an exaggerated state of fear. Tobias ceremoniously took the stick he was wielding as a pretend sword and tapped his friend with it on the shoulder. Brakstil groaned and collapsed on the ground, twitching once for dramatic effect before lying still. Tobias stood triumphantly for a moment before laughing and reaching his hand out to help his friend up. By this time, the sun was low enough in the sky that Tobias knew it was time to go home. He said goodbye to Brakstil, and went home.

Today was Tobias’ birthday, so he was anxiously awaiting his dinner. While they didn’t have enough money for him to get an actual present, his mother always made sure to make his favorite stew for dinner. He ran home, burst through the door, and saw his mother sitting at the table with a parcel in her hands. “Hi Mom!” he said. He was curious about what the package contained, but figured it was probably just bandages or something similar. She smiled at him. “Hello there, honey, something came for you today.” Tobias gasped, “From who? I’ve never gotten anything on my birthday before!”   Tobias ran over and his mom handed the brown package to him. “Well it looks like this year your father finally found a way to send you something. I think he’s been trying ever side you were born.” Tobias felt his jaw drop. “It’s from dad?” She nodded.

Tobias quickly opened the parcel and found a dagger encased in a leather sheath. Beneath the dagger was a slip of parchment. He pulled out the dagger and admired it momentarily, before reading the note. It read: My son, happy birthday. At ten years old you are arriving at the time where you will need to prepare yourself to fight evil. This sheath will help you in that. Any weapon sheathed in it for at least eight hours will bond with the sheath, and return to it should it ever leave your grasp. Tobias looked at the dagger and sheath in awe. He pulled out the dagger and gently set it on the table. Within a few seconds the dagger disappeared and reappeared within the sheath. Tobias laughed and did it a few more times while his mother finished preparing dinner.

The next day, Tobias showed his friends his new possession. He drew the dagger out of the case with a flourish before setting it gently in the ground. He then ran across the street and waved the sheath proudly when the dagger returned to the sheath. They all clapped and gasped before begging him to do it again. Tobias repeated the trick a few times and most of the children continued to clap and cheer. But Harry Rosen, a young orphan a few years older than Tobias just scoffed “ten years he’s left you and your mom alone and this is all he sends?”   Tobias glared at Harry. “He had to go back to the celestial armies so you shut your mouth.” Harry stuck his tongue out “Your dad abandoned you, just like mine, so don’t try to convince yourself otherwise. He probably knew how stupid you’d turn out to be and didn’t want anything to do with you.” At this, Tobias leapt and punched Harry in the mouth. Harry responded by kicking Tobias in the shin before being pushed to the ground. One of the local clerics separated them before the fight could continue. Tobias picked up his dagger and sheath and ran towards home, crying.

Tobias burst into his house, and when his mother saw him she ran over and hugged him tightly. “Tobias, what’s the matter?” “Is dad ever going to come back?” He sobbed. She kissed him on the top of his head, “He will if he can sweetie, I’m sure of it.” Tobias jerked away from her. “Why can’t he come now? What if he just doesn’t like us and never wants to come back?” Annalee looked at him sternly. “Now Tobias, that’s just not true. Your father cares about us very much. He just–” Before she could finish Tobias yelled, “If he really cared then he would have come to see us! He doesn’t care! Well you know what? I don’t care either!” He ran back out the front door, not heeding his mother’s call for him to come back. He ran out through the town, not stopping when he reached the woods. He didn’t bother sticking to the path, but ran through bushes and over rocks, weaving and winding through obstacles.

Tobias ran until he could no longer hear or see any sign of the town.   Eventually he couldn’t run any more, and he fell to his knees, panting for breath in between the sobs. He noticed that he was still holding the sheath, so he threw it as hard as he could at a nearby tree. The dull thunk echoed through the woods.  “That looks like too nice of a possession to throw around so carelessly,” a voice from behind him said. Tobias jumped and turned around. A tall man in a flowing cloak stood near a tall oak, with a longbow at his side. The stranger continued, “Now why would you be out here all alone?” Tobias quickly wiped his eyes. “I got mad and ran here.” The stranger nodded, and walked over and picked up the sheath from where Tobias had thrown it.  The stranger handed the sheath back to Tobias and said, “I’d hold on to that if I were you.” Tobias held it in his hands and scowled. “I’m mad at the person who gave this to me.” The archer shrugged, “Useful is useful, you should hold on to it anyway. Throwing away useful things only hurts you.”

The archer looked around before looking back at Tobias. “Do you think you can find your way back home?” Tobias looked around and shook his head, “I don’t recognize anything.” The archer smiled and said, “Well, lucky for you lad, I’m the best tracker around. We’ll just follow your trail back to town.” It took a while, but eventually the two made their way back to town.

The stranger stopped just before reaching the city limits, explaining that he didn’t do well in towns, and he needed to get back to his camp before nightfall. Tobias opened the door quietly, but his mother still heard and rushed over to him. “Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick!” Tobias could see streaks on her cheeks from where years had fallen. He looked at the ground and shuffled his feet. “I’m sorry, mom.” Her face softened for a moment before returning to the stern look she had been giving. “So help me, Tobias, if you ever do something like that again you’ll be scrubbing this house so clean that the king himself wouldn’t feel good enough to enter.”

A knock at the door stopped her threats of punishment. Tobias stepped away from the door and his mother opened it. The high priest of the nearby temple stepped in and bowed his head. “Good evening, Annalee. I have come to relieve you of the body.” Tobias stared at his mother. She nodded at the priest, who entered the back room and returned with a small body. Tobias barely held back a gasp when he recognized Harry Rosen’s face. Tobias clutched his mother’s dress. “What happened?” He whispered. “Snake bite. The venom was potent enough that i couldn’t extract it before the damage was done.”

At this point the priest said “Since no one knows where he got the items from, and no one seems to be missing anything, you’re free to keep them as repayment for your troubles.”   The priest left, and Annalee sat in her chair, a tear rolling down her cheek. Deaths for her weren’t common, and always seemed to trouble her got a few days. Tobias took this time to escape into the other room where Harry had been. Most of what was in the room consisted of the normal collection of poultices and bandages, except for a bundle of items sitting near the corner. Petting closer, Tobias saw two small gems, a piece of chalk, and a small bow.

The bow caught Tobias’ attention, as it was too small for most of the people in the village, but perfectly sized for a child. It was nothing incredibly fancy or refined, certainly not something valuable enough for Harry to believe worth stealing. Tobias reflected for a moment on the child’s cruel words earlier, and of all the times Harry had been mean to other children.  Tobias also thought about some things the archer had told him. With those thoughts in mind, Tobias removed his dagger from the magical sheath, and poked one end of the bow inside.

Instantly the sheath stretched and lengthened, covering the majority of the small bow. Once it finished growing, the sheath and bow glowed a gentle blue. Tobias waited another few seconds to make sure that the dagger wouldn’t teleport back, and then set the dagger on the table among the other oddities. Tobias then walked out of the room and said under his breath “Bye Harry. I’ll make good use of this.”

Burke the unpassable, Stats.

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Today I had a Pathfinder session with some friends. One of them is new to the game, so today’s session was to give him some practice and to get him familiar with the game’s mechanics.

When I started planning the session, I planned for the final boss to be just this un-killable wall, with the idea that their objective was through the door behind him. Burke, as I named him, wouldn’t be that good at fighting, but would fight defensively and have the biggest armor he could get. After I made him with as high of an AC as possible, it dawned on me that having someone this hard to hit and move would be frustrating for a new player to deal with, so I switched gears and went for something easier.

But I liked this build so much that I just wanted to share it. I’m sure that there are things that could have been done to make things better, but for something built in less than an hour I think it was pretty good. Here’s how he went.

Burke the Hobgoblin (I picked Hobgoblin because they get a bonus to Dex and Con. Since I wanted him to be hard to hit and have a lot of hitpoints, Dex and Con were my focuses).

Level 7 Fighter (armor master Archetype) and level 4 Stalwart Defender (prestige class in the Advanced Player’s guide). The armor master archetype gets him some DR that stacks with Adamantine Armor, so I figured it was a no brainer to give to a wall.

The Ability scores are: STR: 14     DEX: 16     CON: 20     INT: 13     WIS: 10     CHA: 7 (I used the point buy system, and used 20 points since that’s what I’m giving all of my players. I gave him a 13 INT just so he could get combat expertise. Highest is CON for the hitpoints, DEX for the AC boost, and STR so he’s not completely terrible at damage. WIS doesn’t matter, and a negative Charisma modifier isn’t going to hurt him at all.)

His hitpoint total ended up being 155 (we use a house rule that if you roll less than half on your hit die, you re-roll, so while this is high, the PC’s won’t be farther behind than might be expected.) He also gets DR 6/- due to Adamantine full plate, and that DR stacks with the DR gained from the Armor Master archetype. He also has a darkwood tower shield, +1 natural armor (it’s an alternate trait for hobgoblins that replaces darkvision), and a ring of protection +3. That brings his total AC to 32 before fighting defensively or using Combat Expertise.  

The other big thing that he has is an enhanced CMD. It’s normally 32, which isn’t too much higher than what’s normal. However, I got some other alternate racial traits that give him a +2 on bull rush and trips. Finally, through the Stalwart Defender class I gave him the Defensive abilities Bulwark, which adds his armor check penalty to the check for anyone to move past him using bluff or acrobatics, and the ability Halting Blow, so that anyone he hits with an Attack of Opportunity gets stopped in their tracks.

Overall I thought he went pretty well. I normally build characters that are more offensive than defensive, so this was an interesting challenge for me. I’d love to hear any suggestions or ideas in the comments.

 

 

 

The Story of Tobias, Part 2: Healed and Broken

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Mithrail was surprised to wake. Judging by the simple architecture, he wasn’t in heaven, but still on earth. He noted that his wounds had been bandaged, and from the feel of them they were no longer bleeding. While he still felt drained, he felt much better than he expected to after such injuries. He called out “Hello?”

His response was some shuffling and a pretty young woman with bright red hair walking in the room and smiling. “Nice to see you’ve woken, I was worried for a while there.” Mithrail looked at her curiously and asked “Shouldn’t I be dead? I used healing spells on myself multiple times and some of my wounds refused to heal.” The girl nodded “Oh yes, those were nasty cuts all right. Luckily for you, my mother once gave me a book about supernatural wounds. Never thought the thing would ever come in handy, I only read it because I was curious.” Mithrail stared at her for a moment, marveling that one so young would have such skill. The girl coughed nervously and said “Oh, something came for you last night. Let me go get it.” She left the room for a moment before returning with a white envelope marked with the celestial seal. She handed it to him. “Some floating lantern thing dropped this off and told me to give it to you as soon as you woke up.”

Mithrail took the letter, opened it and quickly read it. “I’ve been instructed to stay here until further notice. My superiors are concerned about why the devils would have targeted this town in particular, so I am to watch and follow the advice of the local leaders to make sure no harm befalls this village.” Mithrail began to push himself up, the bandages pushing uncomfortably against his chest with the movement. The girl looked surprised. “What do you think you’re doing?” “I’m going to set up a perimeter around the city to identify the weaker points of the city’s defense.” The girl shook her head. “Not in your current state you’re not. At least two more days of bed rest.” Mithrail shook his head. “Did you not hear what was in my letter? I have my duty to attend to.” She walked over and pushed lightly on his chest, being careful to not put pressure on any of his wounds.

“Yes, and it also said to do so under the direction of the local leaders, so as chief healer of Isaudraud I order you to lie back down and get your bed rest.” Mithrail slowly lay down again, and gave her a puzzled look “You’re the chief healer of the town?” “Considering I’m the only one within at least one hundred miles who would know how to close up the wound from the tail of a horned devil, are you really surprised?” She crossed her arms and stared him down. Mithrail held his hands up in a defensive posture. “Of course, of course. I’m mostly surprised because you’re so young; you can’t be much older than seventeen.” She continued giving the archon an intimidating glare. “I’ll be turning 20 next month, thank you very much, and I can guarantee that in those 20 years I’ve patched up as many injuries as you’ve seen in however many hundred years you’ve been alive.” At this, Mithrail smiled. “Ok, miss, you win. I’ll take my bed rest.” She curtly nodded at him “Good. Now to the right of your bed I’ve placed some books I thought you might have interest in, and I’ll have lunch ready in half an hour. Just call for me if you need anything.” He smiled. “And what, pray tell, do I call you?” She smiled back “Annalee Eddins.” “Well Annalee, thank you for all you’ve done for me. My name is Mithrail Van Penn.”

The next month was spent searching for who may have summoned the devil, but no clues were found. There had been a number of visitors that had been visiting the town at the time, so it was assumed to be done by one of them. Since there were also no clues as to why the village was targeted, Mithrail took measures to ensure that the town would be better prepared to defend themselves. He had the skilled craftsmen prepare staves which he charged with dismissal spells. There was no guarantee that the charged spells would be powerful enough to dismiss the creature, but it was better than nothing. He also had a rod of healing spells made, which he gave to Annalee as thanks for healing him. Mithrail had grown quite fond of the young healer, and found he using every opportunity to spend time near her.

It was a strange feeling for Mithrail. In his legion they had been trained to let go of emotion as much as possible, but Annalee was constantly surprising him not only with her glowing smile and warm personality, but also with her ability to be completely focused and deadly serious when needed. Mithrail felt little longing for home, which was just as well since his superiors informed him that he was to stay there long enough to ensure another devil wouldn’t be summoned there. Mithrail helped build the temple to be a stronger means of fortification and protection, and within six months Mithrail realized that he never wanted to leave.

One year later Mithrail stood at the temple door, the envelope in his hands feeling closer to manacles on his wrists. He had known this would eventually come, but part of him had hoped that he would be stationed here for at least a few more years. But, he knew that he had to put his emotions aside once more and return to his proper place. First, he had to say goodbye. He walked slowly through the streets, savoring the sights and sounds of the small village He entered the front door, the sight of Annalee’s smile breaking his heart. She must have noticed his sadness, and when she looked at the envelope in his hand, her eyes stated filling with tears. She stood up, bracing herself with one hand on the table, the other protectively placed on her bulging stomach. “I had hoped the child would arrive before you had to leave, but I suppose that what time we had was miracle enough.” Mithrail walked over to her and embraced her. After holding her for a minute he took a small step back and lifted her left hand closer to his face, touching the golden ring she wore. “I suppose you’d best take this off now, since I likely can’t come back for years, if ever.” She pulled her hand away from him. “No sir, I will not. That ring means we’re married for richer or poorer, for better or worse, and there’s no way I’m breaking that just because you’re far away. The ring stays.” He smiled at her. “I’ll come back when I can,” he said. She kissed him. “I know you will.” he turned around, walked out the door, and, not being able to look back, he unfurled his wings and flew up into the sky. Annalee walked outside and watched him fly away, caressing her stomach, the kicks coming from within being her only comfort.

The Story of Tobias, Part One: Mithrail and the Devil

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It was going to be just a cautionary mission. The small village of Isaudraud had recently been the target of a few devil summonings. While individually they were minor events, to have this many devils summoned within a season was frightening. There were signs that another summoning was about to take place, so Mithrail had been sent to catch the culprit. Mithrail had acted with haste and was flying as quickly as he could. But, judging by the screams of terror and the smell of burning, he was too late to prevent the summoning.

To his horror, he recognized the signs of the summoned devil. A horned devil summoned inside the sign of the broken temple could only be Baltruan, one of the chief horned devils that all archon were trained to recognize. While the signs of the summoning were still apparent, the devil was nowhere to be seen from this height. Mithrail landed, and judging from where the loudest screams were coming from, he judged the monster to be in the eastern part of the city. Mithrail saw the horned devil Baltruan off in the distance. Mithrail prepared himself for the surely inevitable battle by casting upon himself magic vestment, Shield of faith, bulls strength, and spell immunity for fireball, since that was the only spell most horned devils could cast that would harm Archons directly.

Mithrail shouted at the devil, “Baltruan, leave this village and return to the depths of hell! If you stay I will be forced to rid the world of your horrid existence, which I am perfectly willing to do!” Baltruan let out a deep, growling laugh and charged towards Mithrail, striking him with the long spiked chain the demon wielded. The blow rattled Mithrail for a moment, but the archon quickly regained his balance. Not wanting to endanger the people in the village, Mithrail flew into the sky, and cast divine power to boat his fighting abilities. The devil followed, striking him again with a rattling crash of the spiked chain. Mithrail swung his great sword at the devil, striking the devil once on the shoulder, and another slash to the stomach, opening a large wound. Baltruan then struck Mithrail with his chain, bit him on the shoulder, and opened a large wound on the angel’s side with a stroke from the large spiked tail. Mithrail flew off, but that gave Baltruan the chance to strike him again with the spiked chain.

Once Mithrail was a safe distance away, he cast a healing spell on himself, only to find that the large wound caused by the devil’s tail didn’t seal up, and continued bleeding. Baltruan then cast a fireball at Mithrail, but the protective ward Mithrail had cast earlier caused the fireball to fizzle out. This delay gave Mithrail a chance to cast another healing spell before the devil charged in for another attack. Mithrail managed to strike Baltruan on the leg, but the devil came back and struck Mithrail with the spiked chain, and across the chest with his monstrous tail, opening another gash. Feeling a little dizzy from the loss of blood, Mithrail flew off again, prompting another attack from the devil’s chain. Mithrail cast his most powerful healing spell when he was a safe distance away, only to see that the two wounds from the devil’s tail still refused to heal. Mithrail had heard that the tail of the horned devils had some horrifying wound dealing abilities, but had never seen it firsthand.

The devil flew towards Mithrail, but was not able to reach him before the archon prepared his attack. Once Baltruan was close enough, Mithrail struck him with a blow to the chest. The devil struck Mithrail with the monstrous chain twice, and once more with the barbed tail. Mithrail was growing weary, but noticed that the devil was incredibly injured and that this fight could soon be finished. Mithrail swung at the devil, and struck Baltruan a mighty blow to the wing. The devil tried to attack, but without the use of one of his wings he was unable to maintain his balance, so Mithrail took this opportunity and with one last swing of his mighty great sword he struck the devil in the heart. Mithrail only had a moment of triumph before realizing that the devil’s broken body would crash into the village square below, and of course many of the villagers had come out to witness the battle. Foolishly curious mortals, he thought before flying to grab the devil. He quickly realized that the load would be too heavy to truly control. He instead focused on pushing it to the edge of the village where it wouldn’t cause too much damage. He could feel the strain on his wings but knew that he had to keep struggling. He saw a lone figure running from the square following him, and he couldn’t help but marvel at the stupidity of some mortals. He crashed heavily, and could feel himself losing consciousness. His wounds still bleeding heavily, he accepted that he was to die now, but was glad he had managed to defeat the devil. The last thing he saw before blacking out was the shadow of a villager running towards him.

The Story of Tobias, Introduction

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One of the things I enjoy most about playing Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons is simply creating a character. I love finding class archetypes and fighting styles, but most of all I enjoy finding the perfect race.

One of the characters that I’ve been playing recently is an Aasimar ranger named Tobias.  Now, I don’t think there’s a class that Aasimar’s would be bad at, but they are practically a perfect race to be a cleric or paladin. So when I was making Tobias, I felt that the most important thing would be to figure out why a half-angelic being wouldn’t be fully embracing his divine nature. This becomes doubly important when considering that I picked an archetype that doesn’t give spells, so the only magic Tobias can do is the racial spell-like ability of daylight.

While creating Tobias’ backstory with this focus, I decided to take it more in depth. Rather than a simple paragraph on my character sheet, I decided to write it out in story form. So my next four posts or so will be showing the story of Tobias’ father, a Trumpet Archon name Mithrail, Tobias’ mother Annalee, and Tobias himself, and why he becomes the person he is. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.