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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    OK, here's another new awnshegh write up. Lately the awnsheghlien I've been interested in have taken on a distinctly undead emphasis. I don't know quite what that's about. Halloween is coming up in a few months.... The next two awnshegh I have in mind (Striga and The Phantom) also have a sort of undead/Halloween feel, so maybe that's what it is. In any case, this one is a little gruesome, but since that's the idea there wasn't really any avoiding it.

    Per usual, the stats are derived using the awnshegh character class, so they might not quite jibe with whatever individual DMs are using, but the the specifics of how the stats are generated will probably be invisible as far as actual play is concerned--a two or three point difference in the reflex save modifier is rarely noticeable when using a CR 9 monster. The blood abilities of the character are given in both standard BR manner as well as using the BP system notation that I use.

    Like the rest of the awnsheghlien descriptions, this one will appear again in the compilation text, _Legendary Beings and Mythic Monsters_, that I'm currently working on. Any comments or suggestings for this character's description that influence that final product are appreciated.

    Gary

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    The Flayed Man -- Background



    "Have you felt the kiss of the scourge?" asked a voice from the shadows.

    "No, I have never been whipped," Hagen responded. His face was passive

    but I could see his confusion. Was that a threat?

    "Remove your cloak. Show me your back."

    "I told you I have never been lashed."

    "Silence! Your back! Show it to me."

    In the hazy depths of the viewing pool I saw Hagen reluctantly remove

    his cloak and lift his shirt so the monster could see his flesh in the

    moonlight. My own skin crawled as I heard an appreciative hissing come

    from the shadows and a moist sound that I realized was the monster smacking

    its ragged lips. The lock of my colleague`s hair that helped me find him

    through the scrying pool nearly fell from my hands. As my friend lowering

    his clothing I saw the outline of a figure approach him in the darkness,

    its hand outstretched. It halted and seemed to take stock for a moment,

    then the form slowly retreated back into the darkness. I thanked the gods

    that I was merely observing the interview from the safety of our college

    headquarters in the Imperial City.

    "I have been granted safe passage," Hagen said. Despite his training

    there was a hint panic in his voice. A soft, hissing laughter was the only

    response.

    "You are here to record the tale of my life, are you not?" the voice

    asked from the shadows.

    "I am."

    "Then you shall hear it, and perhaps I will let you live to retell my

    tale…. I could kill you where you stand. You know this, little harper,

    don`t you? I`d like to kill you. I`d eat your flesh and drink your

    blood." Again that wet sound of tongue licking chops.

    "Yes, I know you could kill me, for I am no warrior," Hagen responded,

    "but I know why you will not. You have been allowed to reside here

    unmolested for some time. If I do not return to Sir Faulan`s manse by dawn

    his knights will be upon you before noon and you shall be the next one to

    die. It is only for my own edification and to prevent general loss of life

    that I was able to convince him to spare you thus far."

    The hissing from the shadows rose in intensity. A clawed hand flashed

    from the gloom and raked across an ancient tombstone, scoring it deeply

    with long, ugly marks. Hagen`s moment of bravado fled as he stared at the

    scarred stone.

    "Very well then, little man, you shall hear your tale, but know this: I

    go when I choose and where I please. I`ll humor your petty lord for I have

    fed upon his ancestors long enough, so I will move on, but if I wanted you

    and this local lord dead then I`d have you both."

    I could see that Hagen was shaken by these words, but he remained

    calm. I could not guess how he managed to stay in that place, for I know

    in my heart that I would have fled.

    "It was not long ago that I was a young man who knew his place in the

    world. I was born in Ghoere to the Mordai clan, and raised there by my

    uncle after my parents died. I never knew my father and mother would not

    speak of him often. I knew only that he made his way across the Shadow

    World before I was born and that their unhappy marriage had only lasted a

    few months. My mother was never hale. Years later my uncle would tell me

    that childbirth had been difficult for her, but she had been a strong woman

    in her youth. She died in my seventh winter and my uncle inherited our

    manor. It was not much to inherit; a modest hall and a few hundred

    villains, but it was warm and homely."

    "My uncle was a stern man. I would have found myself under his tutelage

    as a page even had my parents not died. Now that he was ruler of our house

    it made that all the more convenient. I trained much of the time under his

    watchful eye. He was ready with a switch, but not cruel in its

    application. I learned quickly and well. Soon I was to become his squire

    and began to learn the ways of lance and shield, but a life in the saddle

    was not to be my destiny."

    "Baron Gaven Tael. How I despise the name. My uncle and he grew up

    together and he had the disdain for the man that only familiarity can

    breed. As a youth Tael was dissolute and vain, convinced of his

    superiority and sure of his destiny to rule all. He is a man who demands

    deference, but does little to earn it. My uncle spoke of him often to me,

    and we discussed the baron`s failings and shortcomings with some

    relish. How he came to learn of this I do not know. Perhaps a servant in

    our household informed upon us, or maybe the baron had other spies amongst

    my uncle`s circle of friends, but learn of it he did. Though my uncle had

    always been loyal in deed in not in mind and I was merely a lad who had

    done nothing than listened to his guardian we faced the full force of his

    wrath."

    "They came for us in the night. They captured my uncle in his bed and

    then went for me while I was still in mine. I heard my uncle shout for me

    to run, but the door came down and they grabbed me as I was halfway out the

    window. A mailed fist caught me on the jaw and I was undone. If only I

    had been a little older and further along in my training… we`d have made

    them bleed for their trouble."

    "Our hearing was a travesty. I could hear hammering outside the hall

    where the baron`s Star Chamber dispenses his rude justice. We were found

    guilty that very day and sentenced to die. We were to die that very

    day. We were not the only ones. The baron, it seems, was purging many of

    his political opponents. My uncle told me this had happened before, though

    I could scarcely believe that it was happening again or that I would be

    caught up in it. As they led us away I saw that the hammering I heard came

    from the workmen constructing a scaffold upon which sentence was to be

    carried out."

    "I did not eat, though a last meal was provided. I could barely

    speak. My uncle stood firm, and I tried to follow is example though I was

    but a boy. Throughout the day I heard the sounds of the crowd and the

    executions that preceded us, and grew paler by the moment. Some screamed

    and pled for their lives. Others had dignity and proclaimed their

    innocence. I could well understand them both, and wondered which way I

    would go when my time came. It was not long before I found out."

    "It is the Lord of Misrule officiates at executions. He stood forth and

    announced our "crimes" and sentence. It was then that I learned we were to

    be whipped to death. My courage began to fail me when I heard of this new

    indignity. An executioner`s axe was what I had expected. Only the most

    vile of criminals are so executed, and it is a horrific death."

    "My uncle went first. I could not watch. I heard the whip come down

    again and again. It was not long before he screamed with what seemed to be

    his last breath, but they whipped him still. The Lord of Misrule finally

    called a halt to the brutality and they came for me. I was tied to the

    post and stripped to the waste. One of the torturers brandished the

    scourge before my face, still dripping my uncle`s blood. I prepared myself

    for the ordeal as best I could. The attendants tore my clothes from my

    back. The torturer rested the whip against my flesh to steady his aim and

    drew it away. A long, lingering moment later the lash bit into my flesh

    and pain lanced through my body. I was too transfixed by the pain to

    scream. That did not last long. As the whip tore into me again and again

    I lost all control of my will and screamed until my voice was gone. I do

    not know how many lashes a strong man might take before he dies. I lost

    track of how many they inflicted upon me soon enough. I thought and hoped

    that I would fall unconscious, but that was not to be."

    "The blows rained down until my skin split and the air grew misty with

    the scent of pain. Soon I could no longer hear the crack of the whip over

    the rush of blood in my ears that grew ever louder. After what seemed

    hours even the pain began to bleed away. With it faded the rest of my

    senses. The world dissolved into a gray and lifeless hum broken only by

    the beating of my heart. Then that too drifted away and I seemed to step

    outside myself. I felt myself float up from the scaffold to look down upon

    events as a spectator. I saw the faces of those in the crowd. Some turned

    away, but most looked on intently. Some faces wore grins or smirks as if

    they were attending a churlish comedy performed by bawdy bards such as

    you. How I longed to kill them all…."

    "The torturer continued to beat my lifeless body mercilessly, grunting

    with effort. Sweat dripped off his burly body to mingle with the gory mess

    upon the scaffolding. Eventually the compere ordered the torturer to

    halt. He stepped forward and gingerly took my pulse from my neck that was

    slick with sweat and blood. He seemed satisfied that I was dead. I did

    not move. The Master of Misrule gestured to the attendants. They untied

    my wrists and took down my body, strangely gentle now that I was

    dead. They carried me to the side of the scaffold and heaved me over the

    edge into the charnel pit."

    "When my body landed on the pile of corpses my soul returned to it. I

    lay upon dozens of cooling bodies in a chaotic heap. I did not dare move

    for fear that I would be seen. In truth, I do not know if I could have

    moved if I had wanted to. I lay as still as the cadavers around me, and

    felt the blood ooze from my injuries to mingle with that of a hundred

    murdered souls. Soon the world faded away, and I knew no more."

    "When I awoke it was the dark of night. The blackness and silence

    seemed a palpable thing. I was disoriented but calm in the dark. After my

    ordeal the cool flesh of the bodies beneath me was like a bed of down and

    the quiet of night was like a blanket. Only a hunger, a ravening, in my

    belly kept me from being at peace. The emptiness grew inside me, yet there

    was no food that I could think of that would slake it. The stench of the

    charnel pit only seemed to sharpen my need and as I rested my cheek upon

    the pile of bodies I realized what it was that I had become. There was no

    mourning for my lost humanity. I was far beyond such things now. It did

    not take long before I began to satisfy my hunger."

    I could see Hagen`s eyes grow wide with horror. As it spoke the figure

    in the shadows had come closer. The monster`s outline grew solid and a

    horrifically taloned hand came into view. If anything could have been

    worse than the black claws which tipped those crooked fingers it was the

    ragged flesh that hung from that hand as if it were clothed in the offal of

    a butcher`s shop. Hagen turned to flee but found the way behind him

    blocked by the crumbling gravestone of some ancient noble.

    "The other way!" I shouted though I knew my friend could not hear me

    through the waters of the divination pool. Hagen saw the escape route just

    as I cried out, but it was too late. The earth at Hagen`s feet came

    alive. Clawed hands reached out from the soft earth and grasped his

    ankles. Bodies began to crawl from the ground. Ghouls, the foulest of undead.

    The figure emerged fully from the shadows and I saw it clearly for the

    first time. It was something out of nightmare. The Flayed Man was thin

    and hairless. His black eyes rested at the back of deeply sunken

    sockets. The red of those sockets was the only color I could see on his

    bloodless flesh. But what was most alarming about his face was his

    mouth. Rows of brown teeth sprouted from behind cracked and tattered lips

    that hung loosely to a grotesquely distended jaw. His face was covered in

    small, painful looking cuts and abrasions. The flesh of his body was in

    some places stripped away, revealing muscle, sinew and bone. In other

    places the skin was ripped and shredded and hung from him like shredded

    clothes. It seemed there was no section of his flesh that was unspoiled by

    horrifically gaping wounds.

    Hagen tried to pull away, but the hands held him fast. The Flayed Man

    came forward, his face only inches from that of the hapless bard. Hagen

    lost control of my body and whimpered like a babe when he felt the hot

    breath of the beast upon his cheek. I can only imagine the fetid scent of

    death that must surround the monster.

    "I`ve decided not to let you live after all, little man. My throat is

    dry after my tale, and I hunger for the flesh of a living man after these

    weeks of feeding upon the dead. Perhaps when I am done I shall visit this

    sir Faulan and teach him some respect for his ancestors. This crypt is

    terribly maintained."

    I began to lose contact through the scrying pool. The image faded away and

    I could see only the stone basin of the scrying pool. Only the sound of

    Hagen`s scream remained after the vision dimmed to nothing. Then that too

    was cut short.

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    The Flayed Man -- Character Stats & Campaign Notes



    Sometimes called the Ghoul of Ghoere or the Lord of Ghouls, the Flayed

    Man has begun roaming Cerilia in search of food. He and his band of ghouls

    and ghasts find succor in the graveyards that dot the land, traveling only

    at night, and remaining in the same place for only a short time.

    An appearance by the Flayed Man and his ghoulish followers can be used

    as a Monsters or Brigandage random event. As a single encounter adventure

    his appearance could also be used to portray an Assassination or Blood

    Challenge random event. If he is given additional undead followers (see

    Rumors, Hints and Adventure Hooks below) the Flayed Man`s appearance can be

    used as a Great Captain or War events.



    The Flayed Man

    Fighter 1, Awnshegh 11

    Medium Major Awnshegh

    Hit Dice: 12d10 +24 (100hp)

    Initiative: +2 (+2 Dex)

    Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)

    AC: 20 (+2 dex, +6 natural, +2 deflection) touch 14, flat-footed 18

    Base Attack/Grapple: +12/+15

    Attack: Bite +15 (1d10 +3 plus wither touch)

    Full Attack: Bite +15 (1d10 +3 plus wither touch) and 2 Claws +10 (1d6

    +1 plus wither touch)

    Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.

    Special Attacks: Wither Touch.

    Special Qualities: Body Shape, Iron Will, Light Sensitivity,

    Regeneration, Turn Vulnerability, Undead Affinity.

    Saves: Fort +12, Reflex +10, Will +6

    Abilities: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 8

    Skills: Hide +10, Intimidate +14, Listen +7, Move Silently +10, Spot +8

    Feats: Blood Aesthete, Dodge, Endurance*, Major Transformation,

    Mobility, Power Attack, Spring Attack, Toughness* x2.

    Environment: Any land (crypts, graveyards and underground.)

    Organization: Pack (6-10 ghouls and ghasts-see below.)

    Challenge Rating: 9

    Treasure: No coin, standard magic.

    Alignment: Chaotic evil

    Advancement: By character class

    Level Adjustment: -

    Blood Abilities: Minor, Azrai, 25. Iron Will(minor),

    Regeneration(major), Touch of Decay (great)

    Blood Abilities in BP Format: Az(5/18) Iron Will(2), Regeneration(5),

    Undead Affinity(7)**, Wither Touch(2/1)**

    Possessions: Ring of Protection +2. The Flayed Man is also rumored to

    have acquired a powerful artifact that influences undead (see below.)



    The Flayed Man is a human whose flesh has been shredded and torn

    revealing the muscle, gristle and bone beneath. Despite their apparent

    severity these wounds do not bleed. His gruesome appearance belies the

    fact that he does not seem to suffer overmuch from the open wounds and

    exposed muscle. In truth, he appears unaffected by his mangled form in any

    way. Aside from his torn flesh, the Flayed Man`s body is that of an

    impossibly thin, lanky man with grotesquely swollen joints. Even in those

    few spots where skin remains the outline of his bones is clearly

    visible. He is hairless and has entirely black eyes.

    The Flayed man wears only a few tatters of clothe; the looted shrouds of

    the dead loosely draped about his person. The magic items he carries are

    stolen from the bodies of those he has devoured.



    COMBAT

    In combat the Flayed Man strikes with a bite and claws. He prefers to

    attack with surprise and by coordinating the attacks of his ghoul and ghast

    followers (see below.)

    Body Shape: The Flayed Man disdains armor and most clothing, but even if

    he did not his body has been so warped that he can no longer wear standard

    armor or clothing manufactured for humanoids.

    Iron Will: From his Iron Will blood ability the Flayed Man receives a +2

    bonus to Will saves and concentration skill checks, as well as the

    Toughness and Endurance feats.

    Light Sensitivity: The Flayed Man is vulnerable to light. In daylight

    or equivalent illumination he suffers a -2 penalty to his dexterity and

    strength scores in addition to a -2 penalty to all attack rolls, skill

    checks and saving throws.

    Regeneration: The Flayed Man regenerates 2hp/round and can regrow

    severed limbs in 2-5 hours. Though hit points return, cuts and gashes to

    the Flayed Man tend to remain even after damage has been regenerated,

    leaving gaping but bloodless wounds in his skin.

    Undead Affinity: The Flayed Man can communicate with ghouls and

    ghasts. Up to 24HD of such creatures follow him willingly at any given

    time. He is able to speak with ghouls and ghasts, communicate with them

    empathically within 60` as a free action. As a standard action he can

    communicate with ghouls and ghasts telepathically within 30`. By

    concentrating (a full round action) the Flayed Man may sense the presence

    of any ghouls in his locale as if using the spell Locate Creature. He may

    call ghouls and ghasts within 1 mile and they will arrive at his location

    in 1d20 rounds.

    The Flayed Man travels with a cortege of ghouls and ghasts. He can

    control up to 24 HD of these undead, and usually has 5-8 ghouls and 1-2

    ghasts with him at any given time.

    Wither Touch: When the Flayed Man strikes in combat he can do 1d6 +2

    Strength damage. He may use this ability 3/day.



    RUMORS, HINTS AND ADVENTURE HOOKS



    Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun

    The Flayed Man has not seen the land of his birth since his transformation,

    but he longs to return to Ghoere to reclaim his family estate and

    lands. Having lost all semblance to his previous human form, the being

    that was once called Shermun Mordai could never be accepted by the normal

    Anuireans. Or could he? The Vampire has ruled over his domain for years

    and the Magian has grown extremely powerful. Would it be possible for him

    to simply take over his family`s role in Ghoerian life?

    Probably not, but the awnshegh still dreams of it, and he just may be

    deluded enough to believe it possible. In fact, he longs to take over all

    of Ghoere, becoming the dominant power not just in that realm but in all

    Cerilian politics that has eluded Gavin Tael. If he were presented with an

    opportunity to oppose his former lord he could easily be convinced to leave

    whatever realm he is haunting in order to make a foray into his

    homeland. A cunning regent might then be able to not only turn aside an

    appearance of the Flayed Man in his realm away but may be able to take

    advantage of the occasion to strike at the leadership of one of Anuire`s

    strongest and most ambitious regents by doing little more than giving the

    awnshegh little more than the proper encouragement.



    In the Cut

    The Flayed Man`s story is not entirely true. His uncle was, in fact, a

    rebel who actively sought to overthrow the baron of Ghoere. He had

    enlisted his nephew in his schemes and was in the process of training the

    boy to be a fellow conspirator. The baron`s agents discovered the

    subterfuge and executed them both to put an end to one of the last threats

    to his rule. Though subjected to the cruelest torture, neither the Flayed

    Man nor his uncle revealed the other members of the cabal. Does this

    network of moles and partisans still exist? It is unlikely that the baron

    managed to destroy them all in his purge. If a member of the cabal could

    be reached, and its members convinced that the goals of the contact

    coincided with their own a network of spies and already in place within the

    borders of one of Cerilia`s most powerful and ambitious kingdoms.

    The Flayed Man may be able to reveal the names of one or more of his

    uncle`s fellow conspirators. But what could a regent possibly offer the

    being that has become so despicable a monster in trade for such information?



    The Grateful Dead

    The Flayed Man controls several ghouls and ghasts through the abilities

    granted by his bloodline and transformation, but in recent months he has

    begun to collect a number of such creatures beyond the limits of his

    powers. Undead have clawed their way from their crypts and catacombs to

    join his following. In addition to ghouls and ghasts he leads skeletons

    and zombies. There are rumors that he has discovered some ancient artifact

    that improves the efficacy of his blood ability or simply grants him

    control over the undead. Whatever the truth of the matter the Flayed Man

    is a growing threat looming over the people of Cerilia.

    The number of undead that have begun to follow him is not yet known, but

    several there may be dozens or even hundreds. Enough to make up several

    units of undead soldiers.

    The Skull of Klinn Banlocke: Banlocke is a long dead member of the Lost,

    a necromancer of devastating power who threatened all of Cerilia in a time

    long since forgotten. Only only a few Cerilians remember his name now, but

    amongst them it is a that name still inspires dread. Two millennia ago

    Banlocke was, perhaps, the only living being that the man that became the

    Magian respected… almost as much as he feared him. Banlocke`s tale is

    shrouded in mystery. It seems even his lord Azrai sought to erase the

    man`s memory from the face of Aebrynis for, after setting him upon his path

    and empowering him with the ability to cast true magic, Azrai`s pupil soon

    outstripped his master in ambition and recklessness. Banlocke sought to

    master death itself, and tampered with powers that few comprehend and none

    but the insane broach for they make up the very fabric of the universe. In

    the end he was destroyed by his own titanic hubris, consumed by energies

    beyond the ken of mortals and most gods. Banlocke exists now only in the

    memories of a very small and exclusive group of beings-and even they have

    done their best to forget him. Among those few who know his tale there is

    speculation that it was Banlocke who revealed mysteries that Azrai would

    himself use to gain power beyond that of the other Cerilian gods.

    Banlocke`s skull is all that survived his destruction, and some of the

    energies the necromancer possessed or dabbled with while he existed still

    reside in this last fragment of his body, making it a major artifact. The

    skull is black, jawless and toothless. There are about a dozen holes in

    the cranium, the edges of which point outward.

    The skull has all the powers of a Darkskull. In addition, it may be

    used to cast Animate Dead or Create Undead at will using the wielder`s

    character level to determine the type of undead that can be

    created. However, the cost of creating undead does not come cheap. The

    wielder must sacrifice 5 XP per hit die to create skeletons or zombies and

    10 XP per HD of other undead. The creation of a unit of undead soldiers

    requires the sacrifice of 2,000 XP. A regent in possession of Banlocke`s

    skull may sacrifice 4RP in place of XP to create a unit of undead.

    The Skull of Banlocke can only be destroyed by a powerful, holy magic

    item in the hands of a good-aligned paladin or cleric. It has a hardness

    of 20 and 5 hit points. If the skull is destroyed or its wielder slain all

    undead created by the artifact are banished.

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    The Flayed Man -- Notes and References



    Not a lot of notes for this one, but a couple of things I wanted to point out.



    1. The Flayed Man`s moniker comes, of course, from his background, and the

    circumstances of his transformation manifesting. That aside, calling him

    "The Ghoul of Ghoere" was just too punny to be the character`s primary

    designation, but I couldn`t resist at least putting that name in the

    description someplace.



    2. The Flayed Man`s mortal name, Shermun Mordai, is a fantasy version of

    the name Sherman, which means shear-man, the person who shears the

    sheep. In this case I thought that was apt since his own cut up flesh gave

    him a little irony. "Mordai" is a homonym and one that has a nice

    connection to the derivation of the words for mortality, mortal, etc.



    3. There are a couple of feats in the character stats that are related to

    the BP system, so if one wants to replace the "Blood Aesthete" and "Major

    Transformation" feats with something else then I`d suggest Power Attack and

    Cleave for simplicity`s sake.



    Gary

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