Damage Control Company – Talos

The Missing Dynamic

When I submitted Heirs of Elemental Evil to the RPGA, they asked of just one change.  For a writer, a single edit on a project is a pretty rare occourance.  Usually there are many small details that need to be altered before acceptance by an editor. Unfortunately that single change was to delete the relationship between the Player Characters Talos and Hound.  I can understand their reasoning, and didn’t fight them on their request.

But for me, it was a disappointment.  Planescape was always about bending expectations and throwing tropes out of sync.  In this case, Talos was a Githyanki while Hound was supposed to be a Githzerai.  Two races, ancient enemies, that hate the other on sight.  But the two had feelings for each other, which in turn were exacerbated by the fact that Hound was a slave of Talos’, trained to track down renegade Githzerai.

The whole slavery/romantic relationship was extremely mature in nature, and could easily offend someone.  I completely understand the request to remove any reference to it.  So this little part of the Damage Control dynamic was cut, and I resigned myself to the fact that the change was necessary to avoid offense.  But I’ve always been a smidgeon disappointed by the change.

So, to “make things right” by making the relationship wrong, presented here is the unedited version of Talos, with Hound to follow up later.  I hope you at least enjoy the glimpse of what could have been…

Talos                                                                               (Pl/m githyanki/Pal(Kn)5/TO/LG(N))
Planar Githyanki Male, 5th-level Paladin (Knight), LG(N) Master of the Heart of the Transcendent Order
Kit: Skyrider (The Complete Paladin’s Handbook, pg 61, 62)

Talos of the Damage Control Company

STR:

18/68

+2 Hit/+3 Dmg  160 Wt. Allow  205 Press Open Door 13  BB/LG 25%
DEX:

10

CON:

16

+2 hp                            System Shock 95%        Resurrection 96%
INT:

9

2 Languages
WIS:

13

Spell Fail: 13%
CHA:

17

Max Hench 10               React Adj +6(4/5/-2)*         Loyalty Base +6

* — See Special Hindrances: Racial

AC Frontal: 2/0

AC Rear: 3/0

AC Shieldless: 3/0

AC Non-magical: 2

Talos wears plate mail of etherealness +3 and a greater helm, and carries a shield.

Hp: 54                                       Move: 12                      Base THAC0: 16

Alignment:            Lawful Good (Neutral)           Age:        64

Height:                   5’8″                                          Handed: Right

Weight:                  166 lbs.

Appearance:          Square jawed and muscular, Talos keeps his dark hair tightly tied back.  His thin lips and shallow eyes belie the constant strain his guilt forces on him.  Grim and tense, his body stands rigid and awkward.

Languages Known:             Githyanki (Native), Planar Common (Int:9)

WEAPON PROFICIENCIES:

(Adjustments for Strength, Specialization, Magical Bonus, etc., included)

Two-Handed Sword (+2 Silver Sword on Astral)

1/1

+4 Hit

+5 Dam

12

2d4+5/2d8+5

10 lbs

M

S

8

Horseman’s Mace

1/1

+2 Hit

+3 Dam

14

1d6+3/1d4+3

6 lbs

M

B

6

Lance (Heavy Horse)

1/1

+2 Hit

+3 Dam

14

1d8+4/3d6+3

15 lbs

L

P

8

Dagger
Held

1/1

+2 Hit

+3 Dam

14

1d4+3/1d3+3

1 lbs

S

P

2

Thrown

2/1

+3 Dam

16

1d4+3/1d3+3

1/2/3

1 lbs

S

P

2

Longbow

16

-/-

3 lbs

L

8

Flight

2/1

+2 Dam

1d6+2/1d6+2

7/14/21

* lbs

S

P

Sheaf

2/1

+2 Dam

1d8+2/1d8+2

5/10/17

* lbs

S

P

* — These items weigh little individually: ten of these weigh approx. 1 lbs.

NON-WEAPON PROFICIENCIES:

Blind-Fighting       (NA)

Riding, Land-based              (Wis+3:16/18)         (+2 bonus with bonded mount)

Riding, Airborne    (Wis-2:11/15)         (+4 bonus with bonded mount)

Survival (Astral)     (Int:9)

SPECIAL ABILITIES:

Racial:                                         from A Guide to the Astral Plane, pg 67

Movement rate of 96 on the Astral plane.

Spot portal within 10′ on a roll 1 on 1d6; if searching, requiring one turn concentration per 10′ square, it requires a 1, 2, or 3 on 1d6.

Class:     +2 on all saving throws

Lay on hands 1/day (10 hp restored)

Kit:                            from The Complete Paladin’s Handbook, pg 61, 62

All non-missile attack while mounted are at +1

Allows missile weapon proficiency while mounted.  If at less than 1/2 movement rate, gain +1 bonus.  If over 3/4 movement rate, -2 penalty.

+2 bonus to Airborne Riding proficiency with bonded mount.

Faction:                                           from The Factol’s Manifesto, pg 149

+1 bonus on all initiative rolls.

Once initiative is first rolled in any encounter, Talos receives +1 bonus to saving throws vs. mind-affecting spells and effects such as charm person, dragon fear, a harpy’s song, etc.  If the effect allows no save, Talos receives one anyway, but with no bonus.

SPECIAL HINDRANCES:

Racial:                                         from A Guide to the Astral Plane, pg 67

Cannot plane shift.

Reaction Adjustments: -2 for good-aligned/-1 for neutral aligned/-8 for any aligned githzerai.

Class:     Cannot turn undead.

Kit:                            from The Complete Paladin’s Handbook, pg 61, 62

If Vlaakith, his bonded mount, is killed, Talos suffers -2 penalty to all attack, ability, and proficiency rolls.

Faction:                                           from The Factol’s Manifesto, pg 149

Talos is committed to perform the first action stated by the player.

SAVING THROWS:

Poison, Paralysis, and Death Magic   9*
Rods, Staves, and Wands                   11*
Petrification and Polymorph               10*
Breath Weapon                                     11*
Spell                                                       12*
* Includes Paladin Saving Throw Bonus of +2

+3 plate mail of etherealness magical armor bonus for a physical area effect.

Once initiative is first rolled in any encounter, +1 bonus to saving throws vs. mind-affecting spells and effects such as charm person, dragon fear, a harpy’s song, etc.  If the effect allows no save, Talos receives one anyway, but with no bonus.

MOUNT: (Bonded)

Vlaakith (Nightmare): Int 14; AL TN; AC -4; MV 15, Fl 36(C); HD 6+6; hp 42; THAC0 17; #AT 3; Dmg 1d6+4/1d6+4/2d8 (hoof/hoof/bite); SA: Burning hooves; SD: Paralyzing cloud; SZ L(6′ at shoulder); ML 14; MAC 10

Nightmares are the steeds of the lower planes, often serving as mounts for baatezu, tanar’ri, night hags, liches, and powerful undead lords.  They look like large, powerful horses with a jet black coat.  Nightmares have glowing red eyes, flaming orange nostrils, and hooves that burn like embers.

Nightmares have vicious fangs that they use to bite, and can emit a smoking, hot cloud of noxious  vapors that blind and choke (causing a -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls for that round) all within 10 feet of the animal unless they make a saving throw vs. paralyzation.

Although they have no wings, nightmare can magically propel themselves through the air at an impressive rate.

Tricks:  Attack, come, fetch, Identify (Hound), pack animal, pursue, speak, stay, withdraw

Tasks:  Guard, rescue (Talos), rescue (Hound), retrieve, search (Hound)

Magical Items: silver two-handed sword (+2 Astral)*, plate mail of etherealness (+3 Prime [Aebernys], 6 charges), oil of timelessness.

Normal Equipment:  Heavy horse lance, horseman’s mace, two daggers, longbow, five sheaf arrows, five flight arrows, a leather backpack, a week of dry rations, a full waterskin, a whetstone, flint and steel, a tin of polish, a prayer book, Transcendent Order badge.

Wealth:  56 cp, 24 sp, 15 gp, twelve ceramic bits, three amber (100 gp).

Background/Personality:  You were once the mightiest of Paladins in the githyanki realms.  You personally headed one of the greatest raids in history on a githzerai settlement on a prime world called Athas.  There, you butchered the damned sub-gith with your own hands, revelling in the bloodshed and terror.  As you smashed down the door to one hut, beserker rage clouding your mind like a fog of stench, you froze at the sight of a tiny, huddled child before you.  Her green eyes turned to you, wide and flooded with tears so great they could form new oceans on this ravaged planet.  As the world around you burned in hatred and anger, her locked gaze was a cool, soothing oasis.

You spared her, brought her back to the Astral Plane, and gave her to the githyanki psionicists to raise as a Hound — a slave beast that hunts its own kind.  But you never got the vision of those eyes out of your mind, and so visited her often in the creche as she grew and matured.  Soon she became a young woman, and you became smitten.  You began to doubt the Lich-Queen’s rule, her policies of paranoia, xenophobia, and totalitarian control.  You took Hound, and ran to Sigil, the one place in the multiverse the dead regis could not reach you.

You have turned your back on the Lich-Queen Vlaakith (whom your bonded nightmare mount is named after in tribute), and are now supported by the past Master of the Spirit factols of the Transcendent Order that have ascended to godhood.  Their philosophy of action without thought feels right.  After all, every pain in your past was caused by the over-rationalization of your actions — the killings, the betrayal, Hound…

Recently, you have fallen in with a group of adventures under the banner of the Damage Control Company, a collection of experienced bloods that hire out as “Problem Solvers with Unique Solutions.”  And with credentials like that, work is not long to follow.

Brianna: You have turned to this woman as a spiritual leader, a guide along the path of excommunication.  She has provided you with so much wisdom and direction in a time of you life filled with utter hopelessness.  You feel that, with her counsel, you are a better man.

Click:      A pest, nothing more.  Jyslin had best reign it in the next time it tries to bark orders to you, or she may find how easily you can cleave apart the baatorian green steel shell it is encased inside.

Garth:     You are proud to call this human as a friend, and enjoy sharing ideals of conduct and state with him.  As a token of friendship, he presented you with the plate mail of etherealness you wear now.  He could have been a fine holy warrior, like yourself, if only he held some inner sense of order instead of the call of nature.  Never-the-less, you gladly lend you arm in battle beside him.

Hound:   You are either unable to tell her how much you care for her.  You have caused too much pain and suffering in her life (having personally slain her family), to tell her how you feel would add nothing but insult to injury.  You would easily free her if she asked, but you are afraid she would then leave you.  Better you protect her and hope the day will come that you will not have to maintain this charade any longer.

Jyslin:    This knight of the cross trade constantly amazes you with her abilities and skills.  Never before have you seen such fluid movement, physical grace, and fast reflexes.  Woman of a  thousand faces, she makes an excellent infiltrator as long as you can keep an eye on her.  She is, after all, a thief…

Oberon: You’ve seen how Hound sometimes looks at this young man, and it hurts you.  He is everything you are not: ingratiating, friendly, charming…  But he is a womanizer of the worst degree.  So help you, if he hurts Hound, you swear you will make him very sorry.

Wraith:   You are rather ambivalent about this death wizard.  On one hand you see no compunctions about the undead, considering you once owed your allegiance to a lich-queen.  On the other, you eventually turned your back on her because of her disparagement of life, the very same attitude he exhibits.

A Quote:  “I have seen more evil and pain than any human paladin, for I lived, slept, and communed with them for most my astrally stilted life.  I must stop them, or be as guilty in their effect as those that caused them…”

Faction Philosophy:            from A Player’s Guide to the Planes, pg 29

These guys say that for a body to become one with the multiverse, he’s got to stop thinking and act.  Action without thought is the purest form of thought.  When a cutter can know what to do without even thinking about it, then he’s become one with the multiverse.

It goes like this: Every berk’s part of the multiverse, and nothing’s apart from it.  So it figures that every being knows the right action to take at just the right moment.  Problem is, some folks start thinking and mess it all up.  Thinking adds hesitation and doubt.  It overrules instinct and separates a sod from the multiverse.  By the time a poor sod’s thought about something, the right action for the moment is gone.

So all a berk’s got to do is just quit thinking, right?  `Course it ain’t that easy.  Any addle-cove can blunder in and act without giving it a thought, but that’s not the goal.  A body’s got to work hard at learning himself — learning his own mind and instincts until the right action comes automatically.  It’s done by training both the body and the mind.  Just the way thieves practice their cross-trade, a Cipher’s got to train his mind (the source of the action) and body (the actor) to be one thing.  There’s no difference between the two, no separation between thought and motion.  Body and mind act as one — the hand moves before the thought reaches it.

So what’s all this get a fellow, then?  Once mind and body are in harmony, the spirit becomes in tune with the multiverse.  A blood understands the purpose of the multiverse and knows just where and how he should be.

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