Hunter of Fiends
Male human clr 5 of Derena/rng 15:CR 20; Medium humanoid; Hit Dice 20d8+20; 113 hp; Init +6; Spd 30 ft. (6 squares); AC 24, touch 17, flat-footed 21; BAB/Grapple +17/+22; Atk +21 melee (1d8+6/19-20, +1 holy adamantine longsword), or +20 melee (1d6+5 plus disruption, +1 disruption ghost touch alchemical silver light mace), or +25 ranged (1d8+6/x3, +1 bane (dragon, outsider (evil)) holy composite longbow (+5 Str)); Full atk +19/+14/+9/+4 melee (1d8+6/19-20, +1 holy adamantine longsword) and +18/+13/+8/+3 melee (1d6+2 plus disruption, +1 disruption ghost touch alchemical silver light mace), or +23/+23/+18/+13/+8 ranged (1d8+6/x3, +1 bane (dragon, outsider (evil))holy composite longbow (+5 Str); SA turn undead 3/day, spells; SQ animal companion, aura, camouflage, evasion, favored enemy (dragon) +2, favored enemy (giant) +2, favored enemy (outsider (evil)) +6, favored enemy (undead) +4, good domain power, swift tracker, war domain power, wild empathy, woodland stride; AL NG; SV Fort +14, Reflex +16, Will +11; Abilities Str 20, Dex 23, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Climb +9 (+2 on checks involving rope, +2 with silk rope), Concentration +6, Escape Artist +6 (+2 to escape from ropes), Handle Animal +5 (+4 on checks dealing with animal companion), Heal +12, Hide +36, Jump +9, Knowledge (nature) +6, Knowledge (planes) +6, Knowledge (religion) +6, Listen +18, Move Silently +31, Ride +18, Speak Language (Common, Infernal), Spellcraft +6, Spot +18, Survival +22 (+2 in aboveground natural environments, +2 in planar environments), Use Rope +11 (+2 with silk rope); Endurance, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Manyshot, Point Blank Shot, Quick Draw, Rapid Shot, Self-Sufficient, Stealthy, Track, Two-Weapon Defense, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (composite longbow), Weapon Focus (longsword).
Typical Cleric Spells Prepared: 0th-create water, detect magic, detect poison, mending, read magic;1st-detect evil, detect undead, divine favor, hide from undead, protection from evil*;2nd-align weapon, bear’s endurance, lesser restoration, spiritual weapon*; 3rd-dispel magic, magic circle against evil*. Harold has access to the Good and War domains.
*denotes domain spells
Typical Ranger Spells Prepared: 1st-alarm, entangle, longstrider; 2nd-owl’s wisdom, spike growth; 3rd-plant growth; 4th-animal growth.
Possessions: 50 gp, 2 flasks of acid, 2 flasks of alchemist’s fire, 20 alchemical silver arrows, 20 cold iron arrows, 40 arrows, 50 ft. silk rope, backpack, bedroll, bit and bridle, +1 disruption ghost touch alchemical silver light mace, +1 holy adamantine longsword, +1 holy bane (dragon, outsider (evil)) mighty (+5) composite longbow, +3 silent moves mithral shirt, belt of giant strength +6, exotic military saddle*, gloves of dexterity +6, Large studded leather barding*, potion of barkskin +2, ring of chameleon power, ring of protection +1, silver holy symbol of Derena, winged boots.
* denotes items worn by Pilot
Pilot, his Animal Companion
Male wolf: Large animal; Hit Dice 6d8+24; 51 hp; Init +3; Spd 50 ft. (10 squares); AC 23, touch 12, flat-footed 20; BAB/Grapple +4/+14; Atk +10 melee (2d6+6 and trip, bite); SA trip; SQ link, low-light vision, devotion, evasion, scent share spells; AL N; SV Fort +9, Reflex +8, Will +3; Abilities Str 23, Dex 16, Con 19, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6.
Skills and Feats: Hide +1, Listen +3, Move Silently +5, Spot +3, Survival +2*; Improved Natural Attack, Power Attack, Track (b), Weapon Focus (bite).
Skills: Pilot has a +4 racial bonus to Survival Checks when tracking by scent.
Tricks: Pilot knows the tricks attack all, come, defend, down, guard, heel, seek, and track.
Trip (Ex): On successfully hitting an opponent with a bite attack, Pilot can attempt to trip the opponent (+6 check modifier) as a free action without making a touch attack or provoking an attack of opportunity. If the attempt fails, the opponent cannot react to trip Pilot.
Harold stands approximately six feet tall, and his physique is both muscular and lithe at two hundred pounds, so that he moves gracefully and with considerable power. Most of the time he wears his +3 silent moves mithral shirt under a nondescript oiled leather cloak, but his skin is so white as to be almost silvery, and his hair and full, curly beard match its gleaming pallor. The only hints of color about the ranger’s body are his eyes and the birthmark on his right hand, both of which are a pale blue shade. Harold takes care to cover his head with the hood of his cloak when he’s attempting to avoid being seen, since he reflects light very easily, even in moonlight.
Most of the time, he is accompanied by Pilot, his wolf animal companion. Pilot is a fine specimen with thick black fur and yellow eyes, and seems uncommonly intelligent for an animal. He is also the size of a small horse or large pony, and often serves as Harold’s steed. Owing to a large amount of time spent alone in the wilderness, Harold has developed a habit of speaking to Pilot as if to a person.
Personality and History
Harold son of Alric was marked as a special person from the day of his birth. His gleaming white hair, his pale skin, and (not least) the birthmark on his right hand, shaped like the holy symbol of Derena, assured that no one would miss his importance. Manifestly, he was to grow into a champion of the faith, but the following fifteen years made it seem as if the auguries and portents were wrong.
The problem was that rather than submit to the grueling, regimented training expected of a fighting monk of the Watcher in the Night, or take orders as a paladin in service to Derena, Harold seemed to prefer hunting, riding, and swordplay. By the time he reached the age of fifteen, the young ranger was as competent a woodsman as many men ten years his senior, and had developed a talent for exasperating his religious tutors by being . . . normal.
Despite his unusual looks and his birthmark, Harold behaved much as any other young man. He found it difficult to pay attention to lectures on theological topics if they extended past an hour or so in length, and it was only an even chance whether he would finish a reading assignment or abandon it to hunt rabbits in the forests near his father’s castle. By the time he had reached adulthood, his teachers gave up on him in despair of making a holy warrior or clergyman out of him, and he was free to range through the wilderness at will.
Harold spent most of a year wandering in the northern hill country, where he carried out a one-man guerilla war against a small tribe of hill giants. Despite the obvious benefit to the safety of a number of civilized villages in the lowlands nearby, the young ranger nevertheless felt as if something was missing in his life – not that he missed the endless lectures and lessons of his boyhood. All the same, Harold felt that a lifetime killing giants was not what was intended for him.
When his hunts for giants eventually brought him into conflict with a particularly vicious tribe of ogres, Harold was surprised to find that many of the tribe’s younger members were twisted and darkened by evil, almost demonic in appearance, and he soon found himself running for his life when his frontal assault on a pair of hunters failed to produce the expected result of their deaths. Sobered by his first significant defeat and scarred for life by the razor-like claws of the fiendish giants, Harold let his steps lead him home again, where he turned to his old tutors for guidance, laying out for them what he had discovered in the hills, and submitting himself into the novitiate to become a cleric of Derena.
A year later, Harold was confirmed as a priest of the Watcher in the Night. The time between his entry into the novitiate and his ordination was occupied partly with the theological and liturgical training required of all candidates for the priesthood, but in his free time the young warrior-priest applied himself vigorously to the study of planar lore, seeking to make sense of his terrifying experience with the ogres. With his studies came insight; the giants that nearly killed him were not really ogres at all. Some kind of fiend had almost certainly been called to the Material Plane and mated with the ogre tribe – which was a chilling conclusion for Harold, and one demanding of action on his part.
Armed with his renewed faith in Derena and a new sense of purpose as a servant of his goddess, Harold obtained permission from his teachers to return to the hills where he tasted his first defeat, and began a hunt. This time, rather than use his stealth merely to get him into striking range for a direct assault against the fiend-tainted ogres, Harold took his time. Finding a hunting party, trailing it back to the tribe’s lair in an abandoned cave system which had once been used as an outpost by a clan of dwarves, and then scouting the countryside surrounding the lair took over a month, and he observed the routine of its inhabitants for a second month.
Finally Harold was ready to act. On a night when he knew that the sentry at the cave entrance would be an older member of the tribe, a particularly stupid ogre who was clean of fiendish blood, he slew the sentry and glided into the old dwarven outpost. He returned to the outside world less than an hour later, having fouled the water cistern with the corpse of a dire rat tied inside a sack full of stones. The tribe’s small stock of food was consumed in a fire he’d set.
Two weeks later, the entire tribe was dead. Without food stores, the ogres were forced to send out foraging and hunting parties enough to leave individual members isolated and vulnerable to his attacks. As the standoff continued, the ogres began to suffer from blinding sickness as they drank the tainted water in their cistern. Even those whose heritage included the bloodline of the demon that the tribe’s shaman had conjured from the Roiling Hells eventually found themselves helpless in the face of starvation and disease.
Since this first great victory in his fight against the denizens of the Lower Planes, Harold has killed dozens of evil outsiders, and the focus of his efforts has shifted from the demonic forces behind the ogre tribe’s power to the subtler, more organized threat posed by devils and their minions. Never one to shirk a difficult but necessary task, Harold has pursued a relentless vendetta against the Church of Lereina’s infernal allies. Entire caravans of supplies and spell components sometimes disappear on their way to Lereina’s hidden temple complexes in the Arentine Mountains thanks to his diligence, and lately it has become difficult for the Golden Harlot’s clergy to recruit new allies from among dragonkind because of the messy example he recently made of a pair of juvenile blue siblings who agreed to protect the church’s caravan shipments.
On the other hand, Lereina’s clergy also maintains a political network in the imperial city of Auresh, and recently this has borne dividends in the form of a successful propaganda campaign designating Harold’s conduct as banditry. The charges are technically correct, in one or two cases; the worship of Lereina is legal under Imperial Law, although most of the rituals enacted in the Dragon Lady’s hidden temples decidedly are not, and Harold has several times attacked supply caravans which did not carry the paraphernalia of forbidden rituals amongst their cargoes.
Harold is not bothered by this technicality, since he views his activities as warfare rather than banditry, but there is now a price on his head and several evil or simply greedy bands of adventurers and bounty hunters have already tried to collect on it. So successful has the propaganda been, and so isolated is Harold, that even his superiors in the Church of Derena have begun to wonder if the charges are true.
Goals and Motives
It’s simple to understand what drives Harold: faith. He genuinely believes that he has been selected by his god to oppose the machinations of the Bleak Vista in the world of mortal men, and to fight the spread of the Church of Lereina. In the short term, his methods have been extraordinarily successful, as the trail of slain fiends and Lereina-worshiping priests and mercenaries in his wake attests.
In the long term, Harold’s methodology is limited by the nature of his foes. As an answer to the martial threat posed by unrestricted operation on the part of the Church of Lereina, Harold is superlative. As an answer to the diplomatic clout already possessed by the ranking clergy of the Mistress of Coins, he falls short of the mark, as demonstrated by the success of their attempt to get him outlawed. He recognizes the problems posed by his lack of political acumen, and one of his ongoing projects at the moment is to find allies with the means to hinder or dismantle the Dragon Lady’s propaganda mill.
Harold is used to fighting against overwhelming numbers, and makes no bones about starting a fight when he’s outnumbered. He favors ambush tactics, and is not averse to whittling down a column of troops or an enemy caravan by making a series of hit-and-run attacks over hours or even days. The best way to forestall an attack from him is to have access to mobility to match that provided to him by Pilot, or to demonstrate that you possess ranged attack capabilities to match his own.
Because of his excellent visual acuity and sense of hearing, it is very difficult to sneak up on Harold. In the event that he is surprised, his usual reaction is to flee for cover, usually pausing to riddle his attacker or attackers with arrows. Once he reaches cover, Harold relies on his excellent stealth abilities to protect him, and makes use of his ranger and cleric spells to hinder enemy movements and bolster his own attacks and mobility. If cornered, he fights to the death unless offered quarter.
If Harold expects a fight, he usually does the following to prepare for it:
Round -20 to -10: Harold slips ahead of his enemies’ current position on their route of travel, and casts spike growth in an area which his enemies will have to cross in order to reach him, forming a barrier against attempts to charge at him or otherwise close for melee combat.
Round -4: Harold conceals himself and Pilot by using the Hide skill for himself. He uses the “stay” trick to order Pilot to remain still and quiet behind total cover (usually a thick stand of vegetation).
Round -3: Harold identifies the most dangerous opponent, if possible, and casts animal growth on Pilot. Typically, he considers evil outsiders or dragons most dangerous, followed by spellcasters, then by ranged warriors, then by monks and mounted warriors, and then by other sorts of threats.
Round -2: Harold uses his potion of barkskin on Pilot to help bolster the wolf’s defensive capabilities.
Round -1: Harold casts divine favor on himself to bolster his attacks.
Surprise Round: Harold uses Manyshot to fire four arrows at the opponent he identified as most dangerous.
Round 1+: Full ranged attack against most dangerous opponent, or full attack against next most dangerous opponent if the first opponent dies.
Round 2+: Continued ranged attacks down the hierarchy until ranged or magical counterattacks begin, or until a melee attacker bypasses the spike growth effect.
Round 3+: Flee from combat, riding Pilot as a mount. Pursuit in force is to be hindered with plant growth, enlarging vegetation into an impenetrable tangle. If pursued by only a few foes that are incapable of ranged attack, Harold often attempts to lead his pursuers far enough away from their allies that he can pin them down with entangle, and then dispatches them with ranged attacks.
If there are survivors after such an attack but they have not pursued him, Harold often returns to the scene of the attack or trails his opponents to make a second attack after an hour or two. If he is injured to 50% of his maximum hit points, he typically uses spontaneous cure spells to heal himself, and then hurries to get ahead of his victims and rest for a second attack the following day, or even during the night if the enemy camps and only a few threats remain.