Welcome to the Flaming Faggot

Callovia is called "the boundless empire" yet you have managed to find its northern border - a notorious roadhouse deep within the Madrasan Marches on the edge of the wilds of Llanvirnesse. The sign above the door reads "Flaming Faggot," which would suggest a cozy, homey inn with fresh biscuits served at teatime if not for the severed troll heads mounted on pikes at the gate.

As you cross the threshold the raucous din quiets momentarily as all eyes dart to the door and calloused hands drop instinctively to well-worn sword hilts. The threat, instantly assessed, is dismissed and roadhouse patrons go about their business hardly missing a beat.

Grim, hard-eyed men huddle around tables in close conversation thick with conspiracy; caravan guards gamble away their earnings; Caemric rangers sit close to the fireplace cooking the damp of the Black Annis from their clothes as they warm their innards with Red Dragon Ale; minstrels play and buxom wenches dance for the pleasure of men who pay them little attention - until they need a companion to warm their bed.

As you approach the bar, a huge, bald barman with a greatsword slung across his back slides a mug of freshly-pulled ale towards you, its frothy head dripping over the rim.

"Pull up a seat, lad," he says, "and let me tell you a tale of high adventure."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Skolithros, the Mad Lich of Wenlock

The legend of Skolithros, which grows with each telling, has become the subject of much speculation around the hearth fires of the Flaming Faggot.  Jaded guardsmen and hard-eyed mercenaries alike shift their chairs a little closer to the fire and clutch their ale mugs a little tighter as rangers recount recent sightings of a gaunt figure in tattered robes wandering the ruins of Gorias and the surrounding Wenlock Forest, its emaciated skull bathed in the sickly green glow emanating from cadaverous eye sockets.

The stories tell that Skolithros, a powerful mage and Master of the Inner Circle, traveled from the Isle of Wizardry to Gorias to search among the ruins of the city of the gods for forbidden artifacts from the age of legends.  He found what he was looking for when, after great hardship and peril, he came to possess the fabled Golden Skull of Hel.

The legend of Skolithros has become a cautionary tale among the treasure seekers of Gorias, for the Golden Skull, which bestows the powers of life and death upon its master, exacted a terrible price upon Skolithros in exchange for ultimate power: it consumed his soul, sucking it from every fibre of his body, but left him alive albeit completely insane.

Some witnesses claim to have encountered Skolithros, and say that he bears the Skull still, clutching it tight in his bony grip, conversing with it in tones first loving then hateful.  The survivors of such encounters recount that the twisted creature is utterly capricious, granting boons to some and destroying others, without rhyme or reason, even turning the power of the Golden Skull on insects that crossed his path.

Such fanciful tales may be the lurid imaginings of travelers overwrought by the foreboding atmosphere of Wenlock, or simply fabrications calculated to wheedle free drinks from credulous listeners.  Nonetheless, while the legend is not accepted whole cloth by the many world-wise adventurers that frequent the Faggot, neither are they entirely discounted, and canny travelers would do well to steer clear of solitary strangers muttering to themselves in the Forest.

Reaper Miniature 02614

Armour Class: 0                    Special: see below
Hit Dice: 17                           Move: 12
Attacks: Touch                      HDE/XP: 20/4,400 xp

Skolithros casts spells as a 17th level magic user.  Additionally, his touch can cause paralysis with no saving throw, and mere sight of him can cause paralysis in any being of 4 HD or less.

Skolithros possesses a Staff of Wizardry and the Golden Skull of Hel

Golden Skull of Hel
This artifact is imbued with power of the Norse God of Death, and bestows upon its wielder the ability to take or give life.  Once per day the skull may be used to instantly kill any creature that fails a save versus Death.  For each sentient creature so destroyed, the skull gains one charge.  The skull may also be used to bestow life, allowing the wielder to cast Resurrection once per day.  It is much harder to bestow life than take it, however, and Resurrection drains ten charges from the skull; the God of Death will have his due.

So long as Skolithros's soul resides within the Golden Skull he can never be permanently slain.  Even if his body is utterly destroyed, such is the force of his malignant will that his corporeal form will slowly reintegrate itself over time.  Only by destroying the Golden Skull can Skolithros be truly killed.  If separated from the skull, Skolithros can sense its direction and distance, and will never cease his hunt to regain it.


Trey said...

Cool tale! You know Skolithros (great name, btw) is a badass lich 'cause he's still get a beard on his skull face.

Sean Robson said...

Thanks Trey! The name derives from the Greek, Skolythros, meaning shabby or poor. I always imagine back-stories for my miniatures while I paint and since this is my first successful attempt at object-source lighting effect I had to show it off.

kiltedyaksman said...

Love it!