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10-08-2003, 09:04 PM #1
Before I get into this one I just want to note a couple of things. I *am*
going to work on the whole specialty priest thing for BR D20 clerics, as
well as the "Death: The Final Adventure" article I keep mentioning. Time
is, of course, finite (and seems to grow mystically _more finite_ in recent
years--Einstein`s thoughts on time and space didn`t account for the
transtemporal effects of growing older) and the "Death" thing just keeps
getting longer and longer, but more importantly these awn-/ersheghlien keep
popping into my head and I think I should capitalize on that while the iron
is hot as it were. I am getting some work done on those two projects in
dribs and drabs, but when I finish these new character write ups they are
next on my list so I should be able to dedicate more time to them... unless
one or two other items intervene.
Preview of coming attractions: Two more awnsheghlien after this one, the
Vulture of Vosgaard and Khan Tyrannus. There`s one more awnsheghlien in
the back of my mind--I`ve got a theme for him, he just needs a catchy
name--but then it`s right to the other two articles barring, of course, new
--oo0oo--- ---oo0oo--- ---oo0oo---
"They slew my siblings, Elke and Jaren, before I knew what it was that had
attacked us. We had been prepared for a fight. Jaren built walls around
the sleighs to protect the family. It slowed us, and uncle Gren complained
that we could not make good time with such a contrivance upon our sleds,
but Jaren insisted it would give some protection from an ambush and we
could fight from behind them for some time if we were attacked. That was
the plan, but it did us little good, for they leapt down from the trees
right into the sleds. We had not expected that, and had put no roofs upon
our sleds. We had underestimated them. Orogs are clever when it comes to
meting out death."
"I escaped with my uncle, Gren. The rest were slain. Or worse. I fear
some were taken as slave. No, no.... They died. They all died. I cannot
bear the thought of them captive...."
"We ran all night, hunted by them. Chased more like, for we could hear
them on our trail the whole night long, never more than a few hundred
strides away. Seems I could feel hot breath on my neck most of that
night. I lost track of the hours. We ran from the death at our heels, or
a fate worse than death. I remembered a time when I and several other
children had been playing in the forest one morning, avoiding our
chores. Our laughter fell silent when we came upon a red and shredded
thing hanging in the trees. We hurried home to tell our elders, and one of
the boys explained that it was the body of a warrior who had been captured
and tortured to death by orogs as a sacrifice to the dark powers they
worship. That memory turned the fear in my belly to dread and the dread
became a blind terror. As the night went on it was that terror kept my
feet in motion, pushing me beyond endurance. The world became an endless
effort of will, the rush of blood in my ears drowned the sounds of the
pursuit. Pain overcame my being, each stride became an agony, but still we
"When dawn came we were still running and still alive, but Gren could run
no more. Exhaustion overcame him and he fell upon his belly and lay in the
snow gasping. I stopped as well. I could have run for another hour,
perhaps, but it was hopeless. The orogs would have us. I drew my skinning
knife--the only weapon I carried away from the ambush--and prepared to sell
my life for at least a few drops of their blood. It was not long before
they came upon us. The first one had a cracked tusk and yellow teeth. He
was covered in black war paint, and wore bones around his neck as an
ornament. He gave a short, disdainful laugh at my pathetic steel and began
to circle around behind me as more came into view. There were at least a
dozen, each holding a black, cruel weapon ready. They were breathing
heavily but were clearly more ready to fight than I. They could have
killed us with a single charge, but they moved to surround us so I knew
they meant to take us alive. I resolved to turn the small, sharp blade of
my skinning knife upon my uncle and myself. If I cut our throats it would
save us a slow dying and cheat them of their sacrifice."
"When the first orog died I thought it was a great boulder or tree that had
crushed him, so large was the shape that sprang upon him and so crushing
was its attack that the ground shook. Three times the height of a man, it
was. A swipe from its claws ended the life of an orog and felled the tree
he had been standing near. That tree was two feet of solid pine, by my
soul. It snatched up another in its jaws and he was done for in an
instant. Several more fell to the forest floor like hideously broken
dolls. The others fled but it was their turn to be hunted, and it was
faster than they for it bowled over trees in its way like weeds before a
plow. Its roar filled the forest with sound and set the pine needles
trembling. I saw it bring down three more before they and it vanished into
the forest. It was now their turn to be hunted. I am sure none of them
"I did not follow to be sure of that, of course. I knelt to search the
body--or the torso, at least--of one of the orogs for provisions and found
myself staring at the bloody paw print of the beast in the snow beside the
corpse. It was that of a bear plain enough, but the size of a large
shield. Its claws must have been the length of my forearm. The thought
that this thing might soon return struck me, and I found my strength to run
returning at that prospect."
"I turned to my uncle lying insensible in the snow where he had
fallen. Could that have been only moments ago? When I rolled him over he
gazed up at me calmly."
"`Are we dead?` he asked."
"I gathered him up and we made our way out of the forest."
---oo0oo--- ---oo0oo--- ---oo0oo---
Rumors of the being now called Ursus have been circulating in recent years,
and accounts of the beast`s size, strength, intelligence and purpose have
varied widely. In some stories Ursus is the size of a mountain, in others
he is an avatar of Erik. In one fanciful tale the ershegh is able to
fly. But in truth, Ursus` origins are not known. Monstrous magical
experiments or the influence of demonic forces like that which led to the
creation of Ghuralli are sometimes blamed for the sudden appearance of the
beast and his monstrous size, but there is no evidence to support the
contention that either of these causes led to the creation of the
beast. Most scholars believe Ursus to be akin to the Wolf or the Boar in
that the processes that created those awnsheghlien must be similar, however
no account of a scion felled by a bear in a like manner has been recently
reported in the region of the Giantdowns where Ursus is believed to have
originated. In fact, it is not known for certain that Ursus is the product
of bloodline being transferred to a natural bear, a transformed human,
demi-human or humanoid. [But one might expect some additional information
in an upcoming "Secret Origin of Ursus" post.]
It is also important to note that unlike either of those creatures
divination and investigation by The Watch and associated priests of Erik
has revealed that Ursus` bloodline is derived from Reynir not Azrai. Some
hope is taken by those in a position to know this that Ursus may be more
kindly motivated than would be an awnshegh. Whether this expectation will
be born out by Ursus` future behavior remains to be seen.
In recent months Ursus has begun to defend the unclaimed province of Barrow
Wood in the Giantdowns against encroachment by other predators. For all
intents and purposes Ursus is now the controlling regent of that
province. Some residents of that land have dubbed that province Bear Wood
in recognition of the creature`s presence. Neither the Watch nor Ghuralli
have yet challenged the ershegh`s influence in the Giantdowns and both
appear reluctant to force the issue. The Watch is taking a "wait and see"
attitude towards the situation. They do not yet know all of the
intentions, background or powers of this new ershegh, and are inclined to
hold back until they have more information. Whether they act or not the
strength of Ursus makes it probable that they will have to mobilize much of
their own powers in order to confront him, and that can be a difficult
undertaking for the influential but scattered members of the
Watch. Representatives of the Emerald Spiral have indicated that they
believe Ursus to be the embodiment of a nature spirit, one of Erik`s
Chosen, and therefore a sacred beast, so Hogrun Njalsson is reluctant to
earn the temple`s ire by attacking the ershegh. It is not known why
Ghuralli has not acted, but most likely it is because he does not have the
manpower or enough trust in his subordinates that he can leave them
unsupervised for any period of time in order to confront Ursus directly.
This period of non-interference, however, may be short lived. Ursus`
natural instinct to claim territory is in proportion to the beast`s size,
so the need for additional foraging grounds may lead to an ever broader
radius around Barrow Wood as a territorial claim. Conflict with neighbors
may be inevitable. Though they are content for the moment to warn
travellers and hunters to stay clear of the Barrow Woods, the Watch will be
forced to act if Ursus` territory expands and threatens travellers and
human hunters of the Giantdowns. Ghuralli may back down if Ursus moves
into the mountainous province of Silverheart, but eventually he will have
to confront this new presence in the lands he seeks to control. Just as
likely, however, is conflict with the White Witch who claims (but has not
developed) two forested provinces on the border of the Barrow Woods, and
Ursus has already been reported to have entered into Thur, a province
claimed by orogs of the Blood Skull Barony. So far the orogs have suffered
the brunt of Ursus` expansion, but most suspect that cannot last for
long. Even the elven province of Caer Cwnnar may be ripe for a visit by
the hulking ershegh.
Hit Dice: 16d8+112 (184hp)
Initiative: +1 (+1 dex)
Speed: 40 ft.
AC: 17 (+1 dex, -2 size, +8 natural)
Attacks: 2 claws +21 melee, bite +16 melee
Damage: claws 1d12+11, bite 2d10+6
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Improved grab
Special Qualities: Scent
Saves: Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +4
Abilities: Str 32, Dex 12, Con 23, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Skills: Listen +12, Move Silently +12, Spot +12, Wilderness Lore +15
Feats: Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, Track
Climate/Terrain: Any forest, hill, mountains, plains and underground
Challenge Rating: 14
Advancement: By character class
Bloodline: Reynir, minor, 23
Bloodline in BP Style: Re (6/23) BForm(3) EnSns(2)
Ursus would appear to be a typical bear of extraordinary size. Though a
huge creature Ursus is able to move quietly and with remarkable speed when
It appears Ursus goes into a period of hibernation during the winter
months as no sightings of the creature have been reported during that
season. The location of a den has not been discovered.
Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, Ursus must hit with a claw attack.
Skills: Ursus gets an additional +3 to track targets from Enhanced
Sense-Reynir(2), and +2 to both Listen and Spot checks made while in the
10-09-2003, 01:39 PM #2
Nice, Geeman! I love the story - well-written and inspiring.
A question: isn't Ursus ersheghlien rather than awnsheghlien (stats/creature type call him awnsheghlien). Also, do you think a minor bloodline could become ersheighlien? Just curious as to your thinking behind that.
But again, I love the concept - good work!
10-09-2003, 11:46 PM #3
> A question: isn`t Ursus ersheghlien rather than awnsheghlien
> (stats/creature type call him awnsheghlien).
Right-o. That should read "Huge ershegh" not awnshegh. That`s what I get
for copying and pasting from other character write ups....
> Also, do you think a minor bloodline could become ersheighlien?
> Just curious as to your thinking behind that.
They could in the original materials. Blood Trait (and Blood form) being
available as either a major or great ability in the BE:AoC text, and major
abilities start becoming available an 11+ bloodline score, so even scions
with tainted bloodlines (4d4) could become awn- or ershegh.
Of course, there`s not a lot of actual distinction drawn between those two
(major and great, that is) in the rules. Presumably, a scion with a major
ability will not transform as much or as quickly as one with a great
ability, but that`s not really addressed anywhere that I recall.
In the Bloodline Point system that I use to write these characters up it
takes 3BP to get to the awn-/ershegh class, which means most of the ones I
outline wind up having a bloodline score in the 20`s, so if anything the
bloodline system that I use tends to be high in comparison to the original
materials. When I translate that information into the standard BR bloodline
system its pretty much invisible that I used BP to write up the character
other than the fact that the bloodline scores for most of them seem to hover
In truth, I`m thinking of making the BP required to get access to that class
lower. A lower score requirement makes for a much broader range of
character descriptions and backgrounds. Not every freakishly transformed
person can be a member of the nobility--even with their tendancy to marry
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