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The "Tragedy" of Lord Vindex

by Jamie Baty

I thought I'd post a little bit about one of our campaign's deadlier villains. Right now he is partially converted to 3.5E, and his history needs more fleshing out (especially how to integrate him into the timeline properly) but here it is:

A mouldy tome is placed before you by an aged knight, too old to properly wield a sword and relegated to librarian duties.

"Our order has quietly opposed Vindex for over two hundred years. Few outside of the Temple know of his existence. We are allowing you to view this tome only because we know he has taken an interest in you. Many of our brothers and sisters have died opposing him and his plans- do not disregard the information they gave their lives for!"

Many ages ago, Paladins of Pax kept the peace along the borderlands between civilisation and humanoid tribes. Trained for diplomacy and negotiation, they remained non-violent and, if pressed, would resort to non-lethal damage to maintain peace. Over the years, as the borders of the civilised world expanded at the expense of humanoids, these paladins were increasingly met with hostility and violence from both sides. As a result, an internal order rose, The Hawks of Pax. Their job became to defend the "doves" and the helpless in the border regions.

Gaius Vindex was one of the first Hawks, and one of the best. He patrolled a borderland are in southern Davania, and was as respected for his wisdom as he was feared for his strength of arms. Although Hawks were not allowed to marry, he was committed to a young woman, Milia, whom he rescued from orcs when she was a child. She was raised by a local family, and sought him out after she came of age. She was equally devoted to him.

Eventually, Vindex received a vision to seek out an item known as the Periapt of Pax. He immediately consulted his order's Patriarch, who gave his consent to start the journey. Vindex started off into the wild and after several days journey met "The Dark Lady," a beautiful, charming and mysterious sorceress. She asked to join him, stating she could be of use with her arcane skills. At first, he was reluctant, but changed his mind when she mentioned a vision that told her to seek him out.

Their relationship was frosty at first but slowly they became much friendlier. With her help, no foe could stop them and the Periapt was in his hands a year after they set out. They began the return journey, when she revealed that she had seen another vision- he would have additional trials, but she would find him and lend aid as best she could. Before they reached his order's temple, she disappeared.

At the temple, he rested and received another a vision form Pax himself. Vindex was to embark on the path of the Polymath to achieve immortality, and he was to start immediately. His memories vanished, he began the quest anew. And sure enough, "The Dark Lady" found and joined him on his quest. This time however, their relationship began to warm up and he fell under her charms. He began taking her advice, and he made some questionable choices in pursuit of the Periapt. Yet he eventually succeeded in acquiring it.

Again he set out to acquire the Periapt, and again the Dark Lady found him. Vindex found himself more captivated by her than ever. Vindex found himself listening to her advice to channel his power, to not let things stand in his way to acquire the Periapt. The third time he acquired it, he left a wake of destruction in the goblinoid lands so large that it took them years to recover. This did not sit well with Pax, who sent him a vision saying he was jeopardising everything he had worked for by bending the tenets of his faith.

Vindex then set out on his final trial to find the Periapt. The Dark Lady joined him for the fourth time. She told him of the power he was about to achieve, how he could be the most powerful being in Mystara, how she could help him being peace and order to the world. Her silver tongue slowly convinced him she was right. He would no longer let anything stand in his way- even the small toddler jealously holding onto the Periapt as if it was his favourite toy- to bring peace and order. They began the return journey with the child's blood still on the Periapt.

As they approached his temple, the Dark Lady rode off to prepare for his arrival. He was greeted at the temple by an enraged Patriarch, surrounded by the might of the order-many were Hawks and his friends. He did not see the Dark Lady smiling behind the armed men. The Patriarch excommunicated him on the spot, ordering him to leave and never return. He raised his sword to battle them, but a vision stopped him. Pax sent him a message- Go in peace, tend to Milia, repent. He sheathed his sword and rode to Milia.

She had waited for him loyally while he was questing, hoping he would return alive. Unfortunately for Vindex, The Dark Lady found her first. Told of their romance and Vindex's actions, Milia committed suicide. Vindex arrived to late and the Dark Lady revealed herself as Nyx. She had selected him to rule her world wreathed in undeath and darkness. If he devoted himself to her cause, she would raise Milia as his queen. Vindex realised Milia was too innocent for this end, and he agreed to be a servant of Nyx, but Milia was to be raised and left to live the life she deserved.

Nyx told Vindex to destroy his old order and when done they could set in motion Nyx's plan. In no time the temple was coated in blood, and Nyx transformed him into a death knight. She gave him his orders- hunt down every intelligent undead being- either they swear fealty to her and Vindex, or they are to be destroyed. Use them to amass an undead army, with cells throughout Mystara. When the time was right he would unleash them and create a new world order.

As for Milia, Nyx knew Vindex would always be vulnerable to her, so she cursed her body to be unraisable. Vindex was crushed with anger at the betrayal of Nyx, but he kept his wits and said nothing. Nyx then left (taking the Periapt with her), telling him to take time to fortify a stronghold and then begin his mission.

Vindex took the old temple as his fortress, placing Milia's body in a grand catacomb that would become his throne room. He rode out every night spreading slaughter as far as he could, until over time everything feared to be within 100 miles of the old temple. Its location was eventually lost to the wildlands. Vindex seethed with anger at Nyx, and appeared to perform his tasks for Nyx. Secretly though, he had the undead swear fealty to himself only, and quickly gained some powerful lieutenants to aid him. Nyx underestimated Vindex and his wrath, paid to much attention to other plots, and didn't realise what was happening until Vindex was a threat to her manifestations on the Prime. Vindex swore her off, embracing pure entropy.

Over the years he has acquired undead agents virtually all over Mystara. Vindex is obsessed with destroying anything related to Nyx, hunting her followers down with glee. He destroys any undead creature that doesn't obey his commands to the letter. Any large-scale undead activity on Mystara takes place only with his knowledge and perhaps, consent. It seems Nyx's original plan is still in place in his mind, except he answers to no one.

The Brotherhood has noticed several interesting things about Vindex. He seems to have recovered some sense of honour over the years. He does not animate any foe who fights bravely and with honour, but will not hesitate to do so to cowards and dishonourable foes. If people begin interfering with his plots, he sends warnings to them first. He almost never fights anyone he can dispatch easily anymore, preferring to incapacitate them if he must fight them. Repeat foes will draw his full fury however. His hatred of Nyx overrides any other consideration and he will seek Shrines of Nyx to destroy, and will exterminate her followers when found. He has a huge network of undead followers all over, yet he limits their activities to keep them from gaining attention. He often will spend months on end locked in his throne room with the corpse of Milia, often to emerge freshly enraged and seeking blood.

Now some partial 3.5E notes
Lord Vindex
Death Knight 10 Paladin/20 Blackguard/ 14 Cleric of Entropy/ 11 Sorceror/ 13 Rogue/ 5 Lord of the Dead/ 5 Evolved Undead

Obviously way beyond anything a PC can do- purposefully. This is an enemy that cannot be defeated by force alone, and one that potentially could be working to a similar goal as the PCs.

Anyway, he needs a lot of fleshing out, and I'd like to get him more firmly rooted in time and location to Mystara's history.