Recurring NPCs – Vaskar Dunmarthonin

In each article in this series, an NPC is presented at various points in his or her career, with different abilities and different possibilities for crossing paths with the player characters. These NPCs are designed to be rivals, villains or occasional companions. They are characters who will grow alongside the PCs and who will continue to challenge them throughout their careers.

In this first instalment we present Vaskar Dunmarthonin – a foul-mouthed yet cunning dwarven mercenary whose casual interest in magic drew him into the embrace of a shadowy power beyond his reckoning.

Vaskar at Level 1

A mercenary adventurer with a singular determination and ruthlessness, Vaskar Dunmarthonin has always been in demand among merchant houses and underground bosses who want the job done, whatever the cost.

Vaskar is a tough, powerful warrior with a love of battle but a greater love of staying alive. Vaskar is a keen drinker and an imaginative curser when the spirit takes him. He has a relaxed attitude to personal hygiene and a lewd manner, neither of which endear him to whichever companions he is currently working with – not that he cares. His keen intellect and his commitment to getting the job done eventually win over most fellow adventurers.

Having worked alongside a number of spellcasters since leaving his clanhold, Vaskar has developed a great interest in magic. Away from the eyes of those who might mock him, Vaskar has begun studying various arcane texts. As yet, despite increasing his theoretical knowledge of magic, he has found little practical success in working spells.

Name Vaskar Dunmarthonin                                                     CR 1/2
Race/Class Dwarf Fighter 1                                                        XP 200
Size type Medium Humanoid                                                      AL NE
Init +1; Senses: Perception +2; darkvision 60’

Defense
AC 18, touch 10, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +2 shield, +1 Dex)
Hp 12 (1d10+2)
Fort +4; Ref +1; Will +1 Stubborn (+2 vs enchantment (charm or compulsion) and save again the following round if fails the first save)
Defensive Abilities defensive training (+4 dodge bonus to AC vs giants);

Offense
Speed 20 ft.
Melee dwarven waraxe +4 (1d10+2/x3)
Ranged light crossbow +2 (1d8/19-20)
Special Attacks +1 on attack rolls against goblinoid and orc humanoids

Tactics
During Combat Vaskar fires his crossbow if he has time, before meeting opponents in melee with his axe and shield. He is cautious and uses his surroundings and his comrades to his advantage, attempting to take up positions where he cannot be flanked. He encourages allies to gain flanking positions with him, always attempting to minimise the risk to himself.

He targets the physically weakest combatant first, aiming to reduce his opponents’ numbers, especially if the opponent is a magic user. He uses Knowledge (Arcana) to evaluate any spells cast during a combat, or magical effects already in place. In this way he gauges the likely power of any spellcasters and tailors his approach accordingly.

If hit by a critical hit he uses Fortified Armor Training to break his shield to turn it into a normal hit.

Statistics
Str 15, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +1; CMB +3; CMD 14 (17 vs. bull rush or trip)
Feats Fortified Armor Training, Weapon Focus (dwarven waraxe)
Skills Appraise +3 (+5 to determine the price of non-magical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones), Knowledge (Arcana) +3, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +6, Perception +1 (+3 to notice unusual stonework), Profession (Soldier) +5
Languages Common, Dwarven, Draconic, Infernal
SQ stonecunning,
Combat Gear alchemist’s fire   Other Gear chainmail, dwarven waraxe, light crossbow and 20 bolts

Vaskar at Level 5

Vaskar Dunmarthonin was once merely a mercenary warrior, albeit a particularly cunning and vicious one. His fascination with magic and his inability to harness it through arcane study developed into a frustration then a seething hatred at the wizards and sorcerers that made it seem so easy. He began to favour mercenary contracts that would lead him into conflict with arcanists of all sorts. He killed them with glee but grew ever bitterer as his examinations of their spell books and esoteric paraphernalia bore little fruit in his attempts to wield magic himself.

That changed when, after a particularly brutal battle with a half-elven magic user, he was approached by the slain mage’s familiar. The black cat, Elemanzer, presented Vaskar with a deal. The dwarven warrior would act as his protection and in return he would act as magical tutor. Vaskar cautiously agreed but promised the cat a painful death if it misled him.

Today, the pair present a formidable team. Vaskar acts as a magician of mysterious talents, whilst retaining his prowess as an axeman. He has never been more in demand as a mercenary and his former comrades are astonished at the skill he displays in his new discipline. Elemanzer is content to remain in the shadows while Vaskar demonstrates his new found magical might, pushing and prodding him into new and interesting adventures and darkening directions of study.

Name Vaskar Dunmarthonin                                                      CR 4
Race/Class Dwarf Fighter 1/Witch 4                                        XP 1,200
Size type Medium Humanoid                                                     AL NE
Init +1; Senses: Perception +1; darkvision 60’

Defense
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +1 Dex)
Hp 39 (1d10+4d6+10+5)
Fort +4; Ref +2; Will +5 Stubborn (+2 vs enchantment (charm or compulsion) and save again the following round if fails the first save)
Defensive Abilities defensive training (+4 dodge bonus to AC vs giants);

Offense
Speed 20 ft.
Melee masterwork dwarven waraxe +7 (1d10+3/x3)
Ranged light crossbow +4 (1d8/19-20)
Special Attacks +1 on attack rolls against goblinoid and orc humanoids, cackle, evil eye

Witch Spells Prepared (CL 4th ; concentration +6)
2nd – darkness, false life, vomit swarm
1st – cure light wounds, decompose corpse, silent image, snowball (DC 13)
0 (at will) – bleed, detect magic, message, putrefy food and drink
Tactics
Before Combat Vaskar casts false life if he anticipates combat.

During Combat Vaskar casts snowball at an enemy mage as soon as he is within range. If a number of opponents are gathered together he uses his scroll of web to entangle them. He uses his crossbow if he still has time before melee is reached.

He then moves towards melee, casting vomit swarm when he nears the enemy front line, attempting to distract any heavily armoured warriors. He attempts to engage weak looking or lightly armoured opponents in melee combat with his dwarven waraxe wielded in two hands.

He uses his evil eye on any opponent who gives him trouble in melee, reducing their AC if they are hard to hit, or their attack bonus if they hit him. He cackles in a deep, rumbling and sinister manner to prolong the effect if necessary.

If hit by a critical hit he uses Fortified Armor Training to break his armor to turn it into a normal hit. He then uses his scroll of juryrig to remove the broken condition until he can get his armor repaired.

Vaskar always tries to have an escape point within easy reach in combat. If reduced to 10 hit points or fewer, Vaskar attempts to flee. He casts darkness then drinks his elixir of hiding and flees into the shadows. He uses his flight hex to levitate out of harm’s way if possible.

Statistics
Str 15, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 16 (20 vs. bull rush or trip)
Feats Arcane Armour Training, Fortified Armor Training, Toughness, Weapon Focus (dwarven waraxe)
Skills Appraise +5 (+7 to determine the price of non-magical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones), Knowledge (Arcana) +10, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +6, Perception +1 (+3 to notice unusual stonework), Profession (Soldier) +5, Spellcraft +10, Stealth +9
Languages Common, Dwarven, Draconic, Infernal
SQ cantrips, flight hex, cat familiar, stonecunning, shadow patron
Combat Gear scroll of web Other Gear elixir of hiding, light crossbow and 20 bolts, masterwork dwarven waraxe, mithril chain shirt, scroll of juryrig

Vaskar at level 10

Sly and manipulative, Vaskar Dunmarthonin is a potent spellcaster and vicious warrior. He is secretive and mixes ever less with his former mercenary companions. The black cat that once slinked about his feet has been replaced by a dark, shadowy imp-like creature. The imp, also calling itself Elemanzer, forever whispers in Vaskar’s ear, guiding his actions down darker and darker avenues.

Name Vaskar Dunmarthonin                                                      CR 9
Race/Class Dwarf Fighter 1/Witch 6/Eldritch Knight 3        XP 6,400
Size type Medium Humanoid                                                     AL NE
Init +1; Senses: Perception +1; darkvision 60’

Defense
AC 17, touch 11, flat-footed 16 (+6 armor, +1 Dex)
Hp 77 (1d10+6d6+3d10+20+10)
Fort +8; Ref +4; Will +7 Stubborn (+2 vs enchantment (charm or compulsion) and save again the following round if fails the first save)
Defensive Abilities defensive training (+4 dodge bonus to AC vs giants);

Offense
Speed 20 ft., fly 60 ft (6 minutes per day)
Melee +1 dwarven waraxe +11/+6 (1d10+4/x3)
Ranged light crossbow +8 (1d8/19-20)
Special Attacks +1 on attack rolls against goblinoid and orc humanoids, cackle, charm (DC 17), evil eye (DC 17)

Witch Spells Prepared (CL 4th ; concentration +6)
4thenervation (DC 18), shadow step, spite
3rdbestow curse (DC 17), lightning bolt (DC 17), stinking cloud (DC 17), vampiric touch
2nd – darkness, false life, vomit swarm (DC 16), web (DC 16)
1st – cure light wounds (2), decompose corpse, silent image (DC 15), snowball (DC 15)
0 (at will) – bleed, detect magic, message, putrefy food and drink

Tactics
Before Combat If Vaskar can avoid combat by using his charm hex to manipulate his opponents he does, charming guards or officials that get in his way.

Vaskar casts false life and spite if he anticipates combat. He binds a vampiric touch to the spite in the form of a shadowy claw tattoo on his left hand.

During Combat Vaskar casts enervation at an enemy mage as soon as he is within range. If a number of opponents are gathered together he casts stinking cloud or web to control their movements and then hits them with a lightning bolt.

He then flies towards melee, casting vomit swarm when he nears the enemy front line, attempting to distract any heavily armoured warriors. When ready, he charges into melee using his Death From Above feat, dive bombing then retreating into the air. He prefers to fight weak looking or lightly armoured opponents in melee combat with his dwarven waraxe wielded in two hands.

When battling enemy spellcasters he uses his evil eye to lower their saving throws then bestow curse to lower their casting stat. If any opponent gives him trouble in melee Vaskar uses his evil eye against them, reducing their AC if they are hard to hit or their attack bonus if they hit him.

If hit by a critical hit he uses Fortified Armor Training to break his armor to turn it into a normal hit. He then uses his scroll of juryrig to remove the broken condition until he can get his armor repaired.

Vaskar always tries to have an escape point within easy reach in combat. If reduced to 20 hit points or fewer, Vaskar attempts to flee. He casts darkness and shadow step to move out of combat before flying away. He drinks his elixir of hiding and flees into the shadows if necessary.

Statistics
Str 15, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 18, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +7; CMB +9; CMD 20 (24 vs. bull rush or trip)
Feats Arcane Armour Training, Combat Casting, Death From Above, Fortified Armor Training, Improved Familiar, Toughness, Weapon Focus (dwarven waraxe)
Skills Appraise +11 (+13 to determine the price of non-magical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones), Fly +10, Knowledge (Arcana) +16, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +10, Perception +1 (+3 to notice unusual stonework), Profession (Soldier) +5, Spellcraft +16, Stealth +14
Languages Common, Dwarven, Draconic, Infernal
SQ cantrips, diverse training, flight hex, imp (consular) familiar, stonecunning, shadow patron
Combat Gear scroll of web Other Gear elixir of hiding, headband of vast intelligence +2, +2 mithril chain shirt, potions of shield (2), scroll of juryrig, wand of unseen servant

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