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Thread: Ursus

  1. #1
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    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

    character ideas....



    --oo0oo--- ---oo0oo--- ---oo0oo---



    Ursus



    "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

    ran."



    "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

    survived."



    "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.



    Ursus

    Huge Awnsheghlien

    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

    Organization: Solitary

    Challenge Rating: 14

    Treasure: None

    Alignment: Neutral

    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

    necessary.

    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

    wilderness.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    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!

    -Osprey

  3. #3
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    Osprey writes:



    > 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

    around 22-8.



    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

    their cousins....



    Gary

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