Last year, I worked through a bunch of cool character concepts based on almost every class and race I thought would be fun. This year, I’m going to work on creating my NPC’s and other characters for my Coldforged setting. Today, I have Craven, Spymaster of Tyndaria
Like King Wanderer, Craven is one of the characters from my first adventure I ran. These characters had an outsized impact on the continent, and the kingdom of Tyndaria specifically. Craven was the master of intelligence, the keeper of secrets and the financier of most of the adventures that the group went on over the course of the years we played.
Craven’s history is generally unknown. He showed up in Tyndaria two years before the lich wars and participated in the death of Guthag, the founding of the Laughing Skulls and the final battle against Moduru which created the god Drakken.
He started out as a curious thief, learning crucial skills in dungeon delving, stealth, and information gathering, but also delved into arcane magic, and mastered melee combat as well, each endeavor a chance to learn more, to understand more, to control more. He was ambitious, not virtuous.
This ambition led him to build a network throughout the continent which allowed him to broker knowledge. This knowledge he used to keep himself and his friends safe while also enriching himself. Through these endeavors, he built a guild of informants, thieves, and assassins almost accidentally, building loyalty and friendships with these informants while using what they brought him to secure both a trove of information and cement his position in Tyndaria.
However, Craven fostered a secret and one that he wasn’t particularly willing to share with anyone. While he was adventuring, he had encountered an otherworldly creature, a being that seemed innocuous at first, but after time showed its true colors. It depicted itself as an onyx broach, and when called on, would spread over cravens skin, body and gear. It would slide itself out of the silver casing it found, and form itself into inky black, iron-hard plates like a suit of armor. what craven didn’t know until later was that it was also burrowing deep into his body when called on, and created parasitic nodules of itself within and under his skin, to better protect the host, but also with a more sinister goal.
When the creature revealed itself to Craven as an alien creature from beyond the known dimensions, it was too late. The nodes had spread around Cravens’s body and were within his organs and joints, everywhere vulnerable, and would repair him from harm. The repair, though, was imperfect, and the creature’s infection seeped and spread through him, replacing his injuries and failing organs with itself. He would, eventually, be completely replaced with this creature, as a horrifying caricature of himself. what it did, offer, however, was too tempting – near immortality. Craven could no longer be killed, diseases would no longer ravage his body, and age would fail to slow him.
Craven, ever the opportunist, took this as a chance to slink into the background of the world. Being King Wanderers spymaster during his absence and eventual downfall corroded his belief in his friend, and now he simply gathers information brought to him and passes it on like before, but has made his Inn, the Laughing skull, a trap infested hellhole for anyone to get past the kitchen, dining room, and pantry. He will not be caught unawares of a fight that could damage him and increase the spread of the alien creature’s presence.
For now, he bides his time, unsure of wanderer after his absence and return, and unable to wander the wider world for fear of injury and harm that could cause the total loss of self and the replacement of him with a mad being from another dimension.
Stats and Crunch
Normally by this time, I’m pretty confident of the stat block I’ve created for the NPC, but this time around I’m having some problems. There are lots of things to take into account here, and while I want to do justice to the character as they were played, I also did some insane shit while I was younger and little of it made sense.
For stats, in 2nd edition, he was a Thief 5/Mage 5/Fighter 9. He wasn’t allowed to have fireball because I’d deemed it OP, a stance I regret now and have since backed off, and the thief wielded a glaive because he received the memories of a forebearer from the Godswar who’d used it and because he looted it from his adversary, Guthag. +2/+4 v. Humans, Elves, and Dwarves. He also had a suit of symbiote-plate armor to allow him to sneak and thief when he wanted to, cast spells when he wanted to, and then to fight with his glaive in melee combat as was his desire.
in 5e It changes a bit how he can work within each of those classes, but it’s very possible that he’s able to function simply as a translation. He wouldn’t get the sneak attack from having a glaive, I’d have to work out his symbiote and other small magic items, but I think is how I’ve started to build him:
First, he has 19 hit dice. It doesn’t give the option in most monster creators to use varied sizes, but I think d8’s is fine. He’s 19th level, so that is ok with my head.
His AC is varied, so I need to think of something here, as he can deploy and retract the symbiote armor at will. Without it, he’ll be AC 15 – 10 + Dex, and with it, he’ll be 17 (Half plate + Dex) I might add some magic modifiers onto that, but it seems reasonable.
For stats, they are going to be a bit inflated, STR of 16, Dex 20 – he was always a dex based character – and an unnatural CON of 22 to represent the symbiote. He was bright, so I’ll get the INT a 16 as well, and his wisdom was always pretty low a WIS 13 will suffice here. His charisma is pretty solid, so a CHA of 15 feels right. I’ll have to check with the player to make sure these are at least within reason.
I’ll give him a bunch of skill proficiencies and languages., and blindsight for the symbiote senses, but just out to 10 feet.
He’s always going to be in his lair, so I’ll just make his lair actions his actions. I love action-oriented design concepts, so He’ll be all over this. If he’s in combat, it better be something memorable, but he isn’t a master combatant.
First, let’s give him endless allies. Each round of combat after the first, he has allies join, in more powerful, but less numerous quantities these represent people both interested in his survival and those he has called in a favor on to protect him.
Round 2: 5 Spies
Round 3: 4 Veterans
Round 4: 2 Mages
Round 5: 1 Assassin
Let’s give him regeneration of 25 – that’s a ton of HP to be recovering every round, but he’s got an extra dimensional creature attached to him, so I think it’s appropriate. Let’s also say that he can remain awake and conscious until he hits death at negative his full HP total, representing the other creatures’ help to prevent death.
Let’s give him some spells, at 5th level wizard. A mix of destructive and stealthy spells seem the best.
A glaive cannot be used to perform sneak attacks, but I could give him the Martial Advantage of 3d6 – pulled from the hobgoblin trait.
From here, I just don’t know where to go with him, but I’ll have to dwell on it a little longer. It’s hard turning legendary player characters into legendary NPC’s, but I’ll get there, I think.
Until next time,