A Gathering Darkness
Sir Thom Merelin
Son and heir of Baron Ellory Merelin of the Kingdom of Bennetonia
STR 18 (4), DEX 15 (2), CON 18 (4), INT 12 (1), WIS 12 (1), CHA 16 (3)
HP 68, AC 21
FORT 8, REF 6, WILL 5, BAB 4
9 Attack = 1 Inspire Courage, 1 Inspire Courage, +2 Rage, +1d6 Precise Strike)
10 Attack = +4 BAB, +4 STR, +2MAG
8 Attack = +4 BAB, +4 STR
Lance: (One-handed )
10 Attack = +4 BAB, +4 STR, +1 MW, +1Size
11 Attack = +4 BAB, +4 STR, +2MAG, +1Size
9 Attack = +4 BAB, +4 STR, +1Size
Mounted Charge Attack
14 Attack = +4 BAB, +4 STR, +1 MW, +4 Charge, +1 Size
1d8x3, 19-20×2 (Double damage from lance on a charge; triple
with Spirited Charge Feat).
15 Attack = +4 BAB, +4 STR, +2MAG, +4 Charge +1 Size
1d8x2, 19-20×2 (Double damage from Spirited Charge Feat)
12 Attack = +4 BAB, +4 STR, +4 Charge, +1 Size
(Double Damage from Spirited Charge Feat)
Bard Special Abilities
Bardic Knowledge (Ex): A bard adds half his class level (minimum 1) to all Knowledge skill checks and may make all Knowledge skill checks untrained.
Bardic Performance: A bard is trained to use the Perform skill to create magical effects on those around him, including himself if desired. He can use this ability for a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + his Charisma modifier. At each level after 1st a bard can use bardic performance for 2 additional rounds per day. Each round, the bard can produce any one of the types of bardic performance that he has mastered, as indicated by his level. Starting a bardic performance is a standard action, but it can be maintained each round as a free action. Changing a bardic performance from one effect to another requires the bard to stop the previous performance and start a new one as a standard action. A bardic performance cannot be disrupted, but it ends immediately if the bard is killed, paralyzed, stunned, knocked unconscious, or otherwise prevented from taking a free action to maintain it each round. A bard cannot have more than one bardic performance in effect at one time. At 7th level, a bard can start a bardic performance as a move action instead of a standard action. At 13th level, a bard can start a bardic performance as a swift action. Each bardic performance has audible components, visual components, or both. If a bardic performance has audible components, the targets must be able to hear the bard for the performance to have any effect, and such performances are language dependent. A deaf bard has a 20% chance to fail when attempting to use a bardic performance with an audible component. If he fails this check, the attempt still counts against his daily limit. Deaf creatures are immune to bardic performances with audible components. If a bardic performance has a visual component, the targets must have line of sight to the bard for the performance to have any effect. A blind bard has a 50% chance to fail when attempting to use a bardic performance with a visual component. If he fails this check, the attempt still counts against his daily limit. Blind creatures are immune to bardic performances with visual components. An archivist gains the following types of bardic performance.
Naturalist (Ex): An archivist who has identified a creature with a Knowledge check appropriate to its type can use performance to share strategies for defeating it with allies in combat. The archivist and any allies within 30 feet gain a +1 insight bonus to AC and on attack rolls and saving throws against exceptional, supernatural, and spell-like abilities used by creatures of that specific kind of monster (e.g., frost giants, not all giants or all humanoids). This bonus increases by +1 at 5th level and every six levels thereafter. This language-dependent ability requires visual and audible components. This ability replaces inspire courage.
Countersong (Su): At 1st level, a bard learns to counter magic effects that depend on sound (but not spells that have verbal components). Each round of the countersong he makes a Perform (keyboard, percussion, wind, string, or sing) skill check. Any creature within 30 feet of the bard (including the bard himself ) that is affected by a sonic or language-dependent magical attack may use the bard’s Perform check result in place of its saving throw if, after the saving throw is rolled, the Perform check result proves to be higher. If a creature within range of the countersong is already under the effect of a noninstantaneous sonic or language-dependent magical attack, it gains another saving throw against the effect each round it hears the countersong, but it must use the bard’s Perform skill check result for the save. Countersong does not work on effects that don’t allow saves. Countersong relies on audible components.Distraction (Su): At 1st level, a bard can use his performance to counter magic effects that depend on sight. Each round of the distraction, he makes a Perform (act, comedy, dance, or oratory) skill check. Any creature within 30 feet of the bard (including the bard himself ) that is affected by an illusion (pattern) or illusion (figment) magical attack may use the bard’s Perform check result in place of its saving throw if, after the saving throw is rolled, the Perform skill check proves to be higher. If a creature within range of the distraction is already under the effect of a noninstantaneous illusion (pattern) or illusion (figment) magical attack, it gains another saving throw against the effect each round it sees the distraction, but it must use the Table 3–3: Bard Base Attack Fort Ref Will Spells per Day bard’s Perform skill check result for the save. Distraction does not work on effects that don’t allow saves. Distraction relies on visual components.
Fascinate (Su): At 1st level, a bard can use his performance to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him. Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the bard, and capable of paying attention to him. The bard must also be able to see the creatures affected. The distraction of a nearby combat or other dangers prevents this ability from working. For every three levels the bard has attained beyond 1st, he can target one additional creature with this ability. Each creature within range receives a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the bard’s level + the bard’s Cha modifier) to negate the effect. If a creature’s saving throw succeeds, the bard cannot attempt to fascinate that creature again for 24 hours. If its saving throw fails, the creature sits quietly and observes the performance for as long as the bard continues to maintain it. While fascinated, a target takes a –4 penalty on all skill checks made as reactions, such as Perception checks. Any potential threat to the target allows the target to make a new saving throw against the effect. Any obvious threat, such as someone drawing a weapon, casting a spell, or aiming a weapon at the target, automatically breaks the effect. Fascinate is an enchantment (compulsion), mind affecting ability. Fascinate relies on audible and visual components in order to function.
Inspire Courage (Su): A 1st-level bard can use his performance to inspire courage in his allies (including himself ), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally must be able to perceive the bard’s performance. An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 competence bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls. At 5th level, and every six bard levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +1, to a maximum of +4 at 17th level. Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability. Inspire courage can use audible or visual components. The bard must choose which component to use when starting his performance. Inspire competence relies on
Lore Master (Ex): At 2nd level, an archivist may take 20 on Knowledge checks once per day, plus once per six levels beyond 2nd. This ability replaces versatile performance.
Magic Lore (Ex): At 2nd level, an archivist gains a bonus on Spellcraft checks to identify magic items or decipher scrolls and may take 10 on such checks. An archivist can use Disable Device to disarm magical traps as per a rogue’s trapfinding ability and gains a +4 bonus on saves against magical traps, language-dependent effects, and symbols, glyphs, and magical writings of any kind. This ability replaces well-versed.
Competence (Su): A bard of 3rd level or higher can use his performance to help an ally succeed at a task. That ally must be within 30 feet and be able to hear the bard. The ally gets a 3 at 7th, +4 at 11th, +5 at 15th, and +6 at 19th). Certain uses of this ability are infeasible, such as Stealth, and may be disallowed at the GM’s discretion. A bard can’t inspire competence in himself. Inspire competence relies on audible components.Caviler Special Abilities
Mount (Ex): A cavalier gains the service of a loyal and trusty steed to carry him into battle. This mount functions as a druid’s animal companion, using the cavalier’s level as his effective druid level. The creature must be one that he is capable of riding and is suitable as a mount. A Medium cavalier can select a camel or a horse. A Small cavalier can select a pony or wolf, but can also select a boar or a dog if he is at least 4th level. The GM might approve other animals as suitable mounts. A cavalier does not take an armor check penalty on Ride checks while riding his mount. The mount is always considered combat trained and begins play with Light Armor Proficiency as a bonus feat. A cavalier’s mount does
not gain the share spells special ability. A cavalier’s bond with his mount is strong, with the pair learning to anticipate each other’s moods and moves. Should a cavalier’s mount die, the cavalier may find another mount to serve him after 1 week of mourning. This new mount does not gain the link, evasion, devotion, or improved evasion special abilities until the next time the cavalier gains a level.
Order (Ex): At 1st level, a cavalier must pledge himself to a specific order. The order grants the cavalier a number of bonuses, class skills, and special abilities. In addition, each order includes a number of edicts that the cavalier must follow. If he violates any of these edicts, he loses the benefits from his order’s challenge ability for 24 hours. The violation of an edict is subject to GM interpretation. A cavalier cannot change his order without undertaking a lengthy process to dedicate himself to a new cause. When this choice is made, he immediately loses all of the benefits from his old order. He must then follow the edicts of his new order for one entire level without gaining any benefits from that order. Once accomplished, he gains all of the bonuses from his new order. Note that the names of these orders might vary depending upon the campaign setting or GM’s preference.
Tactician (Ex): At 1st level, a cavalier receives a teamwork feat as a bonus feat. He must meet the prerequisites for this feat. As a standard action, the cavalier can grant this feat to all allies within 30 feet who can see and hear him. Allies retain the use of this bonus feat for 3 rounds plus 1 round for every two levels the cavalier possesses. Allies do not need to meet the prerequisites of these bonus feats. The cavalier can use this ability once per day at 1st level, plus one additional time per day at 5th level and for every 5 levels thereafter.
Cavalier’s Charge (Ex): At 3rd level, a cavalier learns to make more accurate charge attacks while mounted. The cavalier receives a +4 bonus on melee attack rolls on a charge while mounted (instead of the normal +2). In addition, the cavalier does not suffer any penalty to his AC after making a charge attack while mounted.
Expert Trainer (Ex): At 4th level, a cavalier learns to train mounts with speed and unsurpassed expertise. The cavalier receives a bonus equal to 1/2 his cavalier level whenever he uses Handle Animal on an animal that serves as a mount. In addition, he can reduce the time needed to teach a mount a new trick or train a mount for a general purpose to 1 day per 1 week required by increasing the DC by +5. He can also train more than one mount at once, although each mount after the first adds +2 to the DC.
Order of the Dragon
Cavaliers belonging to the order of the dragon dedicate themselves to a group of like-minded individuals, be it a mercenary company or a small band of adventurers. These cavaliers believe in loyalty and friendship, and are willing to lay down their lives to protect their allies.
Edicts: The cavalier must remain loyal to his allies and must always work to further the aims of the group. He must protect his allies from harm and defend their honor when called into doubt.
Challenge: Whenever an order of the dragon cavalier issues a challenge, his allies receive a +1 circumstance bonus on melee attack rolls against the target of his challenge whenever he is threatening the target. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels the cavalier possesses.
Skills: An order of the dragon cavalier adds Perception (Wis) and Survival (Wis) to his list of class skills. In addition, whenever an order of the dragon cavalier uses Survival to provide food and water for his allies or to protect his allies from harsh weather, he receives a bonus on the check equal to 1/2 his cavalier level (minimum +1).
Order Abilities: A cavalier that belongs to the order of the dragon gains the following abilities as he increases in level.
Aid Allies (Ex): At 2nd level, whenever an order of the dragon cavalier uses the aid another action to assist one of his allies, the ally receives a +3 bonus to his Armor Class, attack roll, saving throw, or skill check. At 8th level, and every six levels thereafter, this bonus increases by an additional +1.
Mounted Combat (Combat): You are adept at guiding your mount through combat.
Prerequisite: Ride 1 rank.
Benefit: Once per round when your mount is hit in combat, you may attempt a Ride check (as an immediate action) to negate the hit. The hit is negated if your Ride check result is greater than the opponent’s attack roll.
Ride-By Attack (Combat): While mounted and charging, you can move, strike at a foe, and then continue moving.
Prerequisites: Ride 1 rank, Mounted Combat.
Benefit: When you are mounted and use the charge action, you may move and attack as if with a standard charge and then move again (continuing the straight line of the charge). Your total movement for the round can’t exceed double your mounted speed. You and your mount do not provoke an attack of opportunity from the opponent that you attack.
Spirited Charge (Combat): Your mounted charge attacks deal a tremendous amount of damage.
Prerequisites: Ride 1 rank, Mounted Combat, Ride- By Attack.
Benefit: When mounted and using the charge action, you deal double damage with a melee weapon (or triple damage with a lance).
Power Attack (Combat): You can make exceptionally deadly melee attacks by sacrificing accuracy for strength.
Prerequisites: Str 13, base attack bonus 50%) if you are making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a one handed weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times your Strength modifier on damage rolls. This bonus to damage is halved (–50%) if you are making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every 4 points thereafter, the penalty increases by –1 and the bonus to damage increases by +2. You must choose to use this feat before making an attack roll, and its effects last until your next turn. The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage.
Cleave (Combat): You can strike two adjacent foes with a single swing.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: As a standard action, you can make a single attack at your full base attack bonus against a foe within reach. If you hit, you deal damage normally and can make an additional attack (using your full base attack bonus) against a foe that is adjacent to the first and also within reach. You can only make one additional attack per round with this feat. When you use this feat, you take a –2 penalty to your Armor Class until your next turn.
Precise Strike (Combat, Teamwork): You are skilled at striking where it counts, as long as an ally distracts your foe.
Prerequisites: Dex 13, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: Whenever you and an ally who also has this feat are f lanking the same the creature, you deal an additional 1d6 points of precision damage with each successful melee attack. This bonus damage stacks with other sources of precision damage, such as sneak attack. This bonus damage is not multiplied on a critical hit.
Lord Thom Merelin is the son of the Baron Ellory Merelin. Thom spent his childhood working at his father’s stables in Bennetonia. Baron Merelin managed the Duke’s Royal Stables. Thom took to working with animals as naturally as he took to playing with his cousins, Curtis and Vholm. In his free time, Thom would take his cousins out to play Knights and Goblins out in the plains surrounding the duke’s holdings, where he learned to ride.
Thom grew up hearing stories of valor from his maternal grandfather, the renowned Battle Herald Houg Tromph of the King’s Royal Cavalry whose exploits are still remembered for the role his men played in thwarting the Ruinous Tide, an incursion of scrags come ashore to raid coastal farms. Thom dreamed of living a life full of adventure like the stories he heard from his grandfather. Thom loved the stories of the Goblin Strife and the Quests Against Thirsting Dead, and even of the Coming of the Empire and more ancient tales from before the empire’s rise in the south. He would have his grandfather read the story books out of their family library over and over. When Thom was older he really loved to read the history books and all the military books about the wars and battles against fantastic creatures. He dreamt that someday he would be a hero written about in the history books.
Thom had a way about him that was hard for most to explain and some thought that he would be sent to the wizards academy in Bilan, ignoring the fact that young Thom’s strengths were in his arm and his work ethic, rather than in any particular talent for learning. Houg told Thom sometimes that he was touched by the divine in some way. Thom had some tricks. He was able to do little things here and there that could not be explained, such as always knowing when someone was coming to his quarters, or always knowing what way home was. Thom enjoyed retelling the stories Houg told him and found that this was the only way to calm his rowdy cousins.
As Thom reached the age to join the military, Baron Merelin sent him to study battle and tactics at the duke’s castle. Thom had no more knack at learning than any other, but was always motivated and strong willed. He also had that way about him that no one could explain away. He picked up languages more quickly than his fellows and became a skilled tactician, especially proficient in the mounted combat for which Bennetonian knights are known, and was favored for his skills at handling and training horses. Thom worked hard and devoted his time to refining maneuvers and learning to trust his horse as much as he did his own hands. Thom trained with every weapon in the castle, but favored a swift charge of the horse and the rush of a joust. There was nothing more exhilarating then knocking his opponent off a horse with the lance. Even wearing a full suit of armor felt came naturally to him.
Houg came often to help Thom with tactics. Their conversation would always turn from a lecture to a legendary tale of how a Knight would find the weaknesses of his opponent and exploit them using the aid of his allies. Houg made battles seem more a like sport – a game. Houg made each tactical maneuver into a seamless, practical, simple movement and taught Thom how to see the whole of a battle, constantly inveighing him to “Look beyond the arc of your own blade!” Thom ate it up. With Houg’s tutoring, Thom learned quickly from the knights who taught at the duke’s keep. He would go to the training field and walk the other students through the maneuvers Houg had taught him. Thom seemed to be able to inspire the other students with his fiery words. He seemed to make them more fierce, to make them brave in the face of a joust when they would not normally be so on their own. Thom was soon known as much for his stories in the training field as he was for riding. His teachers saw, though, that Thom’s passion was not for service to the god Calgor, or even for service to the king, but for battle itself – for war and for the conquest of foes. Thom wasn’t regarded as ill-behaved or even as being unsuitable for knighthood one day, but his relative impiety meant that he was never invited to apply as a paladin of The Order of the Golden Seat, nor was he particularly encouraged to seek a place with the Order of the Lion.
Impious perhaps, but Thom always had a loyal heart. Loyal to his family and to his friends. In the early years, Thom’s father would chastise him because of the loyalty he had to his cousins rather than to the church or to the crown. Thom’s cousins were troublemakers who always played practical jokes. Thom never flinched in helping his cousins even if Thom knew he would get into trouble because of it. That was just who Thom was – and still is. Thom met many people his age at the Duke’s castle, but none did he take to more then Rhys. Maybe it was because Rhys was a troublemaker like Thom’s cousins or that Rhys had a sense of loyalty that was akin to Thom’s. If they were ever missing, Thom and Rhys could be found plotted together about all they would do once training was complete. Despite the fact that Thom and Rhys came from such different families and had such different training goals they were always helping each other get into and out of trouble. This is the time where Thom really learned to talk his way out of anything.
Upon the completion of his training, Thom entered the ranks of the Order of the Dragon and was returned to his father to apply his talent for horses to helping his father manage the royal stables and to stand ready for when the king would call on his lance. Thom ran each of the horses through maneuvers time and time again. He trained himself as much as the horses. Thom spent a lot of time with Houg during his service to the duke spending long nights studying in the library. He soon knew the contents of every book in his family’s library. Each book had a dog-eared page or two, and notes written in Thom’s hand in the margins. The story books came to Thom in the same way the history books did. Thom was hungry for knowledge. He loved the game of war because he was good at it.
After serving his conscription, Thom left his father’s estate to seek adventure. Before he bid farewell to anyone though, he went to Houg. Houg and Thom sat down together and talked about what the journey may bring. Houg instilled in Thom the need for good friends in such a dark world, people Thom could trust with his life. Reminding Thom that his most trusted ally in battle would always be his horse, Houg told Thom to take his pick from Houg’s personal stable and brought Thom his own personal lance: a masterpiece of weapon with a shaft nearly three paces long, it had a dark red, wicked-looking, dragon’s head-shaped spear point for a tip. The tail of the dragon was painted wrapping down the flaring shaft to the hilt which was bound in dark aged leather. Houg pulled out a piece of parchment and while writing, told Thom to go to the city of Calgor and find Toris Gholm, Holder of the Orders. Houg sealed the parchment in a roll and told Thom to hand it to Toris. Toris would receive Thom and teach Thom the last thing he would need to learn before setting out for adventure. Thom found his father and gave his farewells as well as to his cousins and was off to see the world.
Thom reached Calgor in a week’s time and after a few days of searching, he finally found Toris, an old battle worn veteran who didn’t seem to spare extra words. When Toris read the letter from Hough, he took Thom into his estate right away. Toris brought Thom down into a cellar room full of scrolls and dusty looking books muttering to himself about the cold and his knees. He sat Thom down at a wide map table sitting under the only oil lamp and disappeared into the catacombs of the cellar holding a weak torch above his head for light. When Toris returned, he had a thick leather bound tome in his hands. He must have left the torch back where he had come because he came slowly out of the shadows looking intently at something unseeable a few feet in front of him. As he approached the aged wooden table, he seemed to realize where he was and what he was doing. He set the thick book down in front of Thom and told him to read it. Read it all and do it with a thoughtful heart. Toris told Thom that when dinner was ready he would come get him. Still muttering to himself about the cold, Toris strutted off to the stairs with the grace of one who looks like they had been a swift fighter.
Thom cracked the old worn book open. As he read, he recognized that he was reading The Six Heroes the histories of the six men whose lives had inspired the great cavalry orders, all heroes in their own rights. Heroes of Calgor, heroes of their people, of their kings, and of their nation and a cautionary tale of self-service. Each man had an unique emblem. There was a dragon, a star, a lion, a shield, a sword and a cockatrice. Each emblem resembled who the hero was. Their histories were deep and rich.
After some time Toris came creaking down the cellar stairs. He had two bowls in his hands full of a potato stew. He sat across from Thom, handed Thom a bowl with a wide spoon and began to tell Thom a tale of a young man who was setting out to war for the first time. The way Toris told the story reminded him of Houg, whom Thom was coming to miss. Toris droned on in a way that mesmerized Thom. It drew Thom into a world of battle and adventure. When Toris was done, Thom realized that he had finished his stew and the temperature of the cellar had dropped. Toris stood up and closed the book in front of Thom. He instructed Thom to head above and find his room. Toris would see him in the morning to explain why Thom was here and why he needed to read the book.
The morning came early and Toris brought Thom into the stables and handed Thom a bucket, a curry comb, dandy, and other grooming tools. Knowing what was implied, Thom began grooming his own horse, Mandarb, and moved on to the other horses along with Toris. Toris explained who he was and why Houg had sent Thom to him. Toris was the keeper of the Chronicles of Order. Toris explained the true histories of the six orders, condemning some choices Thom had only heard others laud and vindicating one hero whose choice Thom had never before seen in a noble light. Toris explained how Thom would need to devote his life to his chosen order, but also taught him how it was possible to change to a new order should there ever be a need. Toris taught Thom that commoners and nobles alike would only truly respect one who was truly devoted, but that Thom must learn to judge himself if he was to find lasting happiness.
Once they were done with the horses, Toris told Thom to go back and read the Chronicles as far and for as long as he like. When he was finished with them he was to come to Toris and explain the histories to Toris, then choose an order again – this time with a true understanding of the choice and the freedom to take up the mantle of any of the orders. Weeks passed as Thom studied the Chronicles. He read and re-read some chapters. He soon knew which one he would choose, but didn’t want to make a hasty decision. When Thom returned to Toris with the book, Thom recited the names, signs and edicts of each order with new understanding and with renewed reverence. Thom explained why each Order is equal to the other and how each has its place in the kingdom and in the world.
Toris took a long look at Thom and told Thom to claim his order. Thom told Toris that he had chosen the Order of truth and loyalty to faithful companions, renewing his allegiance to the Order of the Dragon. Toris told Thom to make the pledge and oath. Thom made the pledge to find faithful allies and pledged to guard them and be true to them. Toris told Thom that he could not receive the order until he had pledged to a companion. Thom stood there thinking for a minute and then pledged to Rhys, his friend and loyal companion from the duke’s castle. Thom made an oath to guard Rhys and to aid his ally in any endeavor they both found fit, without fail, without question, without hesitation. Thom knew, though, that there would be more companion, too, and that Thom’s loyalty to them might not always come as easily as it had to his old school chum, silently pledging to himself that he would only unite with allies worthy of his loyalty.
Toris pulled a rolled piece of cloth from a locked wooden box sitting on a nearby shelf and handed it to Thom. Thom unrolled it to reveal it was a dark red dyed cloth tabard with a white embroidered dragon on the chest. Toris told Thom to go and seek out his friend, for a Cavalier of the Order of the Dragon is no cavalier without at least one loyal companion. Toris told Thom to seek his adventures, and when he felt he needed further guidance to return. Thom thanked Toris for his help and guidance and, pledging to honor the old veteran’s lessons, set out to find Rhys.
Thom set out the next morning and with a little effort found Rhys, who was eager for a chance at glory. They set out to kill vile creatures and help build their prestige. They were both eager for excitement. Along the way they also picked up a trickster man-hunter named Gog. Gog had a real knack for getting into trouble, lending a familiarity and immediate kinship for Thom. Together, the three adventured and won wealth and fame for their tactics, strength and effectiveness. The three together thwarted a small kobold insurrection in league with rebels against the monarchy and put down a fearsome werewolf that had been raiding farms near Czelsvaria. They were best known, though, for their loyalty to each other.