The World of Ark

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Helpful Heroes, Part 1

As a companion to the Valuable Villains series that I have started, I wanted DMs to have at their disposal some Helpful Heroes too! To kick off the series, I wanted to talk about an NPC I created a while back (2010) for the Forgotten Realms...however, he was entirely inspired by the cover art for the module C4 by Bob Blake:

Gammel Krage is a very old Druid, but rarely if ever has he walked the path of a man. None truly know his origin, but he walks as easily with the Fey as any could hope to do and not be lost forever to them.

Gammel travels the Dales and the deep woods of the Elven Court, ever on the lookout for evil creatures bent on hurting his homeland. Gammel cares little for the towns and cities of course; and more for the land and those beings that live in harmony with it. He will gladly do battle against evil creatures, but his ways are those of the slow mover. He is known to aid those who, whether they know it or not, are working to help the lands. Gammel prefers long term goals slowly worked to fruition over abrupt and immediate combat.

Because Gammel has sworn off the trappings of civilization, he has also sworn off wealth, magical items and so forth. Those that come to him are often given as gifts to lone travelers who simply find them sitting at their fire in the morning; or, as is most often his desire, Gammel simply destroys those things made by civilization and returns their component pieces to nature.

Gammel does desire two things however: the destruction of the Zhentarim and the same for the Cult of the Dragon. Gammel hates evil wizards, clerics and undead…the spreaders of ruin and destruction most unnatural in the world. He will often work behind the scenes to aid any individual or group that works against such forces.

Gammel travels most often as a bird of prey that circles high over head watching the goings on below (he favors the form of an eagle); and knows full well the range of True Seeing, and so stays well away from those he is spying upon. When Gammel finds someone of note, he will approach them in human form most often; but only after finding out all he can from a distance as a deer, wolf, bear or some other common wildlife in the area. Because he carries no magic of any sort, few ever suspect that the old man is anything but what he claims to be. His lies range from being an old hermit, to a pilgrim, to even being honest and saying he is a druid.

If Gammel finds someone he thinks needs help against unnatural forces or evil, the druid will place what help he can in the path of the individual or group; whether it is the body of an orc he mangled as a bear that carries a magical weapon they may need or leading them in the right direction using whatever animal forms he thinks are most appropriate.

On the rare occasion that Gammel aids someone directly, in combat, he will assume the form of a Giant Eagle or Giant Owl and attack fiercely any spellcaster that he thinks he can quickly over-power. If undead are the enemy, he will nearly always assume the shape of a Unicorn and activate his most potent defenses and his Holy Radiance power before attacking. He will constantly summon creatures to his aid while doing so, never relenting in his attack once engaged except to finally retreat if needed. He does not believe in giving quarter to undead…ever.

At no point will Gammel ever willingly enter a town unless he is giving chase to an enemy, or the need to communicate with someone in the town is of utmost urgency. When he does enter a town, it will usually be in the form of a common animal; he has entered an enemy stronghold once as a “lost” horse that the wizard’s soldiers found in the woodlands and captured. The wizard died that night under the claws of a great hunting cat that found its way into the wizard’s quarters through an open window.

DM NOTE: Gammel Krage has no “home” or other sentiments to protect. He has no favored meditation pool, regular sleeping area or any such thing. He travels as does a wild animal; but even more unpredictable because he intentionally varies his travels so that there is never any routine to his existence. He has been struck by a near life-long form of wander-lust and favors no home over any tree to sleep in. In fact, these days he tends to sleep in the shape of an animal; usually within a tree or burrow. His last act of killing a wizard in his keep resulted in him actually returning to the stables, taking the form of the same horse, and then being ridden out of the keep by a former retainer of the wizard. That young apprentice wizard was later found face down in the muddy tracks of a trail not too far away; his body apparently ravaged by a pack of wolves. Using Gammel a DM should never let anyone know exactly who he is and what he stands for.

In AD&D and 2e AD&D Gammel can be represented as follows:

Neutral Human Druid 9 (Str 11, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 14, Wis 19, Cha 17) with the ability to Shapechange into a Blink Dog, Giant Eagle, Giant Owl, Pegasus or Unicorn (with all powers of those creatures while in their forms) and cast spells in any shape-changed form. His Armor Class should be treated as if he were wearing Plate Mail Armor against all attacks and he can strike in melee any creature requiring +1 magical weapons to hit due to the Blessings of Lurue. He has been given this power by Lurue the Unicorn who also allows him to shed a radiance about himself that causes all undead within 10 feet to take 1d4 damage per round (no saving throw).

In D&D 3.0/3.5 Gammel can be represented as follows:

Gammel Krage
Male Dalesman Human Druid 9
NG Medium Humanoid (human)
Init +2; Senses Listen +15, Spot +15
Languages Chondathan, Common, Druidic, Sylvan, Elven, Giant
AC 21, 13 touch, 19 flat-footed (+7 Supernatural, +1 Deflection, +1 Natural, +2 Dex)
hp 59 (HD 9d8+9)
Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +13
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares); Face/Reach 5 ft./5 ft.
Melee +12/+7 (1d6x2 Staff)
Base Atk +6; Grp +12
Atk Options Staff, spells, wildshaping
Combat Gear: Quarterstaff
Druid Spells Prepared ( base DC = 16 + spell level; caster level 9th)
0th- Cure Minor Wounds x2, Detect Magic, Flare, Light, Resistance
1st- Cure Light Wounds x2, Entangle, Longstrider, Produce Flame, Speak with Animals
2nd- Barkskin, Heat Metal, Hold Animal, Owl’s Wisdom, Tree Shape, Warp Wood
3rd- Cure Moderate Wounds, Dominate Animal, Neutralize Poison, Protection from Energy
4th- Dispel Magic, Freedom of Movement, Ice Storm
5th- Stoneskin, Tree Stride
NOTE: Gammel changes his spell list often, wholly depending on what he is currently undertaking; this list is what he might have if traveling a long distance with no true purpose.

Abilities: Str 11(+0), Dex 15(+2), Con 13(+1), Int 14(+2), Wis 22(+6), Cha 17(+3)
SQ AC Bonus +7 (Su), Endure Elements (Ex), Exalted Strike +1 (Su)- any weapon or natural attack Gammel uses is considered +1 as well for purposes of damage reduction, Sustenance (Ex)- Gammel does not require food or drink, Deflection bonus +1 to AC (Su), Resistance to all saving throws +1 (Ex), Ability Enhancement (Ex), Gammel has a +2 bonus to his Wisdom score, Natural Armor bonus +1 (Ex), Mind Shielding (Ex)- Gammel is constantly protected from all attempts to discern his thoughts, detect his alignment, or discern if he is lying. Due to Gammel’s Vow of Poverty, he has been granted 5 Exalted Feats based upon his level. Animal Companion, Nature Sense, Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride, Trackless Step, Resist Nature’s Lure, Wild Shape (3xday, Large), Venom Immunity.
Feats: Sacred Vow (+2 to Diplomacy checks) (1st), Vow of Poverty (1st), Nymph’s Kiss (bonus Exalted) (+2 to Charisma related checks, +1 bonus to saves against spells, and +1 skill point per level), Nimbus of Light (+2 Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks with Good Creatures), Holy Radiance (all undead in 10’ take 1d4 damage per round), Intuitive Attack (Wis bonus on attacks), Exalted Wild Shape (may also change into Blink Dog, Giant Eagle, Giant Owl, Pegasus or Unicorn), Track (3rd), Improved Counterspell (6th), Natural Spell (9th)
Skills: Concentration +13 {12}, Diplomacy +11 (+13 with good creatures) {4} Heal +8 {2} , Knowledge: Nature +20 {12}, Listen +15 {9}, Sense Motive +12 (+14 with good creatures) {6}, Spellcraft +14 {12}, Spot +15 {9}, Survival +20 {12}
Synergy bonuses not included.

Possessions: Quarterstaff, wooden holy symbol of Lurue, old dirty gray robes and sandals.
Hook: “You’re in the Mother’s Forest now child.”

Description: Gammel is old and bent, his long hair falling freely about his shoulders and his ancient beard most likely never having been cut falls fully past his waist. He appears well into his ancient years; but is still has a spring in his step and isn’t truly fragile appearing.
Height: 6,1", Weight: 138lbs, Hair: white, Eyes: icy-blue.

I hope you find Gammel Krage (which means Old Crow) useful in your own games. Let me know how it goes if you do use him!

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