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NPCsby Geoff Gander
First of the Circle, Anointed of Mogreth (MU 36, Int 18, Wis 18)
The First of the Circle is considered the personal embodiment of the power of the Outer Beings, and acts as their voice. As a semi-divine being, none but the sorcerer kings may look at him, or address him directly, under pain of death. The personal details of the First’s life are, of course, closely guarded secrets. Births and deaths in his family are never announced, and the First never holds audiences or receives any visitors at his estate. As a result, many think that the current First has actually lived for centuries – or even longer.
The First is of average height, with emerald green scales and large yellow eyes. He dresses very plainly.
Tuurash, Anointed of Isshum, Second of the Circle (MU 29, Int 17, Cha 16)
Although subservient to the First of the Circle, Tuurash is widely considered the most powerful public figure in Mogreth. He is unique among the sorcerer kings in granting audiences to anyone who requests one (most do not, out of fear), and he has been known to converse with people in the street – even well-placed foreigners. In his youth, Tuurash spent many years in the Shimmering Lands and Taymor, and as a result has a better understanding of mammalian psychology than his contemporaries. He uses this to great effect in his personal dealings with outsiders, brokering deals and securing concessions where others have failed. As a result, the First relies exclusively on Tuurash to deal with foreign dignitaries – which suits Tuurash, as he enjoys playing the generous host (which inevitably involves a banquet or three).
Tuurash’s friendly, approachable exterior conceals a cunning strategist who wants to see Mogreth restored to greatness, by the most practical means possible. If this means forging an alliance with other races, or even accepting other faiths, so be it. Tuurash’s plots are well concealed, and carried out through his troglodyte aide, Uthak. Although he maintains an image of being above the petty squabbles of the other sorcerer kings, Tuurash sees the relatively innocent Haskess as a potential successor, and is quietly working to reduce Sshubarath’s influence.
Tuurash is of average height, but is obese (thanks to his love of sweet things), and makes no effort to conceal it. His scales are bright green with patches of blue, and his large eyes are bright orange. Few forget his deep voice, or his frequent laughter.
Isshkarath, Anointed of Ussur, Third of the Circle (MU 28, Int 18)
Isshkarath is among the most feared sorcerer kings, not only because of his expertise in necromancy, but also due to his appearance. Even thinner than Khalgoth, Isshkarath is swaddled in bandages (supposedly due an old experiment gone wrong) beneath his robes, and his voice is little more than a rasping whisper. He rarely leaves his palace, for which many in Ussur – who do not relish seeing his undead servants – are quietly grateful. Isshkarath has ruled Ussur largely unseen for decades, and there is some speculation that he has lived for centuries. Of all the sorcerer kings, Isshkarath involves himself the least in politics, and only socialises with his betters. Despite his off-putting nature, Isshkarath is recognised as the greatest authority in necromancy, and has been consulted by mages from other nations.
Isshkarath is tall for a lizard man (6’7”), with an emaciated build. The portions of his mottled grey skin that peek through the bandages are riddled with sores, and foul-smelling. His sunken, deep yellow eyes have a contemptuous, mocking glint in them.
Khalgoth, Anointed of Theliir, Fourth of the Circle (MU 24, Str 16, Int 17)
Khalgoth is widely regarded as the most severe sorcerer king – his distaste for parties and any open display of wealth are known throughout the upper caste. He is also distinguished by having served as an officer in the army before pursuing magical studies. His military background, and the fact that his home region is the frontier province of Theliir, have instilled in him an obsession with military matters. He frequently lobbies his colleagues to turn Mogreth’s attention towards Taymor, which, he is convinced, is poised to become a major threat. However, his manner rubs many the wrong way, and his urgings for more soldiers, and more research, frequently fall on deaf ears. Many feel that Khalgoth would be the one to lead Mogreth to regain the stature it had during the First Empire. While this resonates widely in society, those in the know also realise that a Mogreth under Khalgoth would be an austere, ruthlessly efficient nation where the army and its needs would come first.
Khalgoth is of average height for a lizard man, with bright green scales and a wiry build. He lost his right eye in a duel with a Taymoran officer decades ago, and now sports an ugly scar.
Sshubarath, Anointed of Teshos, Fifth of the Circle (C 27, Wis 16)
Sshubarath, like Khalgoth, did not grow up in the cloistered world of sorcery; before assuming his current title he was high priest of the temple of Teshos. The former sorcerer king, and his apprentices, met with an unfortunate accident while accompanying the western army on an expedition to Taymor. No one challenged Sshubarath when he made his claim to the title.
Since that time, Sshubarath has added his own personal touch to his position. Teshos province is essentially a theocracy, where the priesthood of the Faith is second only to the sorcerer king. Local laws have been recast to be fully consistent with the latest religious edicts, and failing to attend religious services results in severe punishments. When in Teshos, Sshubarath frequently decries the lax morals of Mogrethian society, and has cracked down on the upper caste to set an example. He lives in a very Spartan fashion, and devotes much of his free time to prayer.
Sshubarath is an average-sized lizard man with light green and brown scales. His jaw is crooked (having been broken years ago), and he now speaks with a lisp and spits a lot.
Mashgar, Anointed of Ssugath, Sixth of the Circle (MU 13, Wis 6)
Where Isshkarath is infamous for his state of physical decay, Mashgar holds the title for his disintegrating mental state and morality. Mashgar is acutely aware of his low status in the Circle, his relatively feeble magical prowess, and of the ambitions of those under him. As a result he has become convinced that others are plotting to assassinate him, and is constantly seeking to ingratiate himself with the other sorcerer kings for protection. This has given him a reputation for being a toady, which is not helped by his natural inclinations towards lewd behaviour (it is rumoured that Mashgar is frequently in a drugged state, and consorts with his human slaves). His paranoia has also led him to pursue research that would likely get him executed, if his obscene parties had not won him some influential, discreet supporters.
Mashgar is of average height for a lizard man, with flabby lips, dull green scales, and small, piggy red eyes – some have compared him to a squinting toad. He is overweight, though he conceals his state with richly embroidered robes. He speaks softly, with a voice that is higher-pitched than the norm.
Haskess, Anointed of Ithkessh, Seventh of the Circle (MU 14, Int 16, Wis 9)
Haskess is unique among the sorcerer kings in that he recently inherited his title from his father with no contest – the Anointed of Ithkessh traditionally does not take apprentices, and no one wants to come out here, anyway. He is the youngest sorcerer king, and also the most untainted by politics. In Haskess’ view, the First will lead Mogreth to glory, the Faith will sustain the people, and the Circle will usher in a new age through its dedication. His enthusiasm is waning, however, as he sees in Mashgar the darker side of his beloved homeland. Sshubarath has taken Haskess under his wing.
Haskess is short for a lizard man, with green and grey scales and a stout, muscular build. He says little, and his bright yellow eyes take in everything. He never forgets a name or a face.
Heroes and Villains
Uthak, Servant of Tuurash (F15, Str 17, Int 14, AL L): Uthak was born to an independent tribe of troglodytes in the frontier between Mogreth and Taymor. The tribe survived by fighting for the side that offered the most coin, and Uthak was among their best warriors. During a particularly brutal war that Mogreth was winning, the Taymorans attacked the tribe (which had decided to remain neutral that time), fearing that they would be attacked from behind. Uthak and a handful of warriors escaped the slaughter, and fled deeper into the wilderness. Eventually, Uthak was separated from his companions, and wandered for months, and found himself on the fringes of Mogreth. He went to Isshum, and obtained work as a servant in Tuurash’s house. Soon afterwards, Uthak learned of a plot by some of the servants (who were secretly working for a rival) to assassinate Tuurash. He informed his master, who noted Uthak’s nobility. As the years passed, Uthak rose in prominence, and is now Tuurash’s personal servant, and de facto master of the household.
Uthak is a principled troglodyte who always keeps his word, and whose loyalty to Tuurash comes before all else. He says little in public, preferring to observe everything, but is frank with Tuurash behind closed doors. While he makes a show of observing the Faith, Uthak still venerates his tribe’s deity, Ssarthanna. Uthak is burly and tall for a troglodyte, with mottled grey and brown scales and green eyes.
Bur’rug, Keeper of the Way (C20, Wis 15, AL C): Bur’rug is descended from a long line of priests of the Way of Irrub and his village, Ir’rorb, is home to one of the Sacred Tablets. Upon reaching adulthood Bur’rug entered the priesthood, and has been a central figure of the semi-outlawed faith for over 30 years. He seldom leaves the Temple of the Way, and never permits the tablet to be out of his sight. Although he maintains a low public profile, he is actively plotting with sympathetic frogfolk in Isshum to bring about a restoration of the original faith, and the ascension of his own people.
Bur’rug is a fanatical devotee of the Way, who throws sayings attributed to the Great Scribe into any discussion he has with supplicants. Devotees of the Way interpret this as a sign of Bur’rug’s near divinity; the truth is that he is obsessed, and partly mad. Bur’rug is emerald green in colour, with bulbous red eyes.
Rusa, Apprentice of Khalgoth (MU 6, Int 15, AL N): Rusa was born in the Taymoran city of Tamoraz to a prominent merchant family. From an early age she displayed strong potential in the magical arts, and her parents sought a tutor. Unfortunately, Rusa was found to have no royal blood, and thus she was forbidden from practising the craft. She grew up embittered, and upon attaining adulthood sought her fortune in the wider world. Rusa had not travelled far before being approached by a young man who claimed to know of her great magical potential, and of a powerful sorcerer who would teach her. Intrigued, she followed the man, and wound up at the court of Khalgoth in Theliir.
Rusa is conflicted over her relationship with her master: She knows that she is receiving training that would have been unavailable to her back home, but her teacher is one of her homeland’s most implacable foes. Khalgoth works her harder than his other apprentices, but otherwise treats her fairly. She does not yet suspect that Khalgoth is training her to be a secret weapon against the Taymorans, while brainwashing her at the same time. Rusa is of average height and of typical Taymoran stock – a light pink complexion, with curly dark brown hair and brown eyes.
Olan of Gathol (F12, Str 16, Cha 14): Olan was born 30 years ago in the city-state of Gathol, into a noble family. Shortly before his 15th birthday, the armies of Mogreth overran his city, and enslaved the survivors. Olan spent the next ten years farming and mining under the lash, before participating in a revolt. He managed to escape in the chaos, and fled with some of the survivors south, into Taymor. A local noble, seeing Olan as a potential tool, took him in and had him trained as a soldier. He served for a couple of years before deserting to pursue his own campaigns. He now leads a band of marauders that raids Mogreth from hideouts in the Altan Tepes.
Olan is motivated by vengeance, seeing Mogreth as a force of evil that must be destroyed, but he is also sufficiently pragmatic to realise that his small army will not topple Isshum. He focuses on raiding caravans, and freeing slaves wherever he finds them – many of these end up joining his company. Olan, like all Gatholians, is of mixed Thonian and Oltec stock, with a deep tanned complexion, brown hair, and grey eyes. He keeps a lock of his sister’s hair – the only memento of his family - in a small leather purse around his neck.
Slessht (C4, Str 15, Wis 15): Slessht grew up in a middle-caste household in Theliir, dreaming of an illustrious army career. He enlisted at adulthood, and proved to be a tough, resourceful warrior, but had little taste for slaughter. Sent behind enemy lines during a campaign in the Frontier, Slessht witnessed a human cleric ministering to the injured – even those close to death. Unaccustomed to such mercy, his worldview collapsed, and he deserted. After months of wandering, he was visited by a shimmering figure, who told him that he had the potential to ease the world’s pain, and usher in a better era. At that moment he became a cleric of Ssarthanna, and has wandered Mogreth’s borderlands since then, ministering to the various marauders and free companies, and offering what hope he can to any slaves who will accept him. Slessht is a lizard man of average height and build, with dark green scales and orange eyes. He wears a necklace of wooden beads, each with the image of a tree on them.
Hasstesh (C8, Wis 16): Hasstesh is an upper-caste lizard man from Teshos who became a priest of the Faith upon reaching adulthood. His piety became fanaticism in the years since, and now he roams Mogreth as a Tass’kar (guardian) of the Faith, using his divinatory powers to root out the unfaithful. He frequently uses the threat of exposure to blackmail others into advancing his aims. Hasstesh is tall and thin for a lizard man, with greenish-brown scales and red eyes. He is missing two fingers on his right hand (the result of a duel with a lizard man he accused of blasphemy).
Eltan of Aril (E7, Str 20, Int 18, AL C): Eltan was once a prince of Aril, an elvish stronghold that was founded shortly before the Great Rain of Fire, and kept its enemies at bay for centuries. Aril finally fell to the armies of Mogreth, and the survivors were dragged to the markets of Isshum. Eltan wound up in Mashgar’s laboratory, where he endured decades of experiments. After he became convinced there was nothing else to learn from the elf, Mashgar sent Eltan to Isshum’s Arena, but he escaped en route, and now roams the countryside in a maddened state. Eltan stands almost seven feet tall, having been horribly transformed by Mashgar’s experiments. He has inhuman strength, but retains his intellect and memories. He wants nothing less than vengeance against Mogreth.
Cityfolk and Commoners
Dargassh (F6, Str 17): Dargassh is a middle-caste lizard man who oversees several farms around Ithkesh. He was once an officer in the army, but made a costly tactical error during a battle with Taymor. Dargassh’s family connections saved his life, but he was forced to retire to the interior in disgrace. He now works for an upper-caste lizard man, and takes delight in having his troglodyte assistants drive the slaves mercilessly. When the mood strikes him, he delivers some of the beatings himself, which often improves his normally sour mood. Dargassh is squat and muscular, with dull green scales and red eyes.
Felzassh (NLM, Int 17, Cha 16): Felzassh is an upper-caste lizard man whose family claims descent from a former sorcerer-king of Isshum. Blessed without siblings, Felzassh was taught by the best masters, and in conjunction with his auspicious background, slid into the bureaucracy and rose quickly. Now middle-aged, he is the senior advisor in the court of the First, second only to the sorcerer-kings themselves. He is loyal to the First, but wonders whether the infighting between the sorcerer-kings is truly serving Mogreth. Over private discussions with like-minded generals, he is developing a new blueprint for the nation, without the Anointed. Felzassh is of average build, with mottled grey and green scales and yellow eyes.
Khelssak (F4, Str 16): Khelssak is a hulking troglodyte sergeant in the Isshum city guard, who takes his duties very seriously. Not overly bright, Khelssak tends to interpret his orders literally, and has only risen to his current rank because of his usefulness in quelling uprisings. He has a very short temper, and is not above assaulting others – even those bearing a sorcerer-king’s plaque – if he thinks he is being insulted.
Itessh (NT, Wis 16): Itessh is a lower-caste troglodyte messenger in the city if Isshum. From sunup to sundown, she delivers messages and small packages for the middle and upper castes. Her travels take her all over the city, and as a result she knows it better than most. She pads her income by making deliveries for the criminal element, as well. She is short and squat, with grey and brown scales and red eyes.
Pijasiros of Tamoraz (NM, Int 14, Wis 16): Pijasiros has been a fixture of the Merchant Quarter of Isshum for more than 20 years. Originally employed by a prominent Taymoran trader, he struck out on his own at 16 and within three years owned one of the largest homes in the quarter. Officially, he leads the merchant community and trades in exotic foodstuffs and spices, but he also sells drugs to the elite, and is the ringleader of an anti-slavery ring. His motives for destroying Mogreth’s social order are not entirely altruistic – he and his key allies, including Felzassh, stand to make enormous fortunes by gaining control over local trade.
Hegryd (D4 Str 16, Con 14, AL L): A veteran of the slave trade for almost 30 years, Hegryd is an outcast even among the social misfits of the Shimmering Lands. He started his trade in the normal fashion, as an apprentice to a master in the Controllers Guild, and spent his early years in the frontiers of the north collecting elves, giants, and their ilk. Although successful, he eventually turned his skills toward the enslavement of his own kind, and now trades mostly in political prisoners and others that the Moadreg Elders would rather see disappear. After living in Isshum for more than ten years Hegryd has grown accustomed to the games there, and can often be found in the Arena following the progress of his latest sales.
by John Calvin
Atarssh (F2, Str 15, Cha 14): Atarssh grew up in a rural community on the fringes of Mogreth, but went to Isshum as soon as she could. She enlisted in the army, but was discharged for dereliction of duty, and only avoided worse punishment through tenuous family connections. She has been bouncing from job to job ever since, never making much headway. Acutely aware of her lack of status, Atarssh would likely join an adventuring party to chart a new course in her life – preferably someplace far away. She makes friends easily, but is highly impulsive. She is tall for a lizardwoman (6’3”), with light green and grey scales and orange eyes.
Hrum’fri (NF, Int 16): Hrum’fri is an upper-caste frog-folk bureaucrat responsible for overseeing construction projects in Isshum. He is highly efficient, ruthless towards his colleagues and subordinates, obsequious towards his masters, and is an expert at concealing his true motives. He has entrenched himself so deeply into the bureaucracy that hardly anyone suspects that a considerable portion of the money allocated to the city is being diverted to a gnomish bank in the Shimmering Lands. Hrum’fri wears well-tailored robes of office that conceal his impressive girth. His bulbous eyes are deep yellow, and his skin is dark green with blue patches.
Torgald (F6, Str 17, Con 14): Torgald was a proud Antalian who commanded a large band of warriors on the northern borders of the Shimmering Lands, where he harassed slavers and sacked the more isolated strongholds. He was eventually captured and sent to the markets of Isshum, where he was bought by Felzassh. Appreciating Torgald’s strength, Felzassh has treated him well – on the understanding that he will kill whomever he is directed to. This has kept Torgald moderately submissive, but he has other plans should the opportunity present itself.
Ssethessh (F4, Cha 15): Ssethessh is a lizard man of modest origins who joined the army in order to improve his circumstances and see the world. His plans were dashed after a pitched battle with humanoid raiders, in which he lost an arm and an eye. Discharged with a modest pension for honourable service, Ssethessh set up an inn – The Nest – in Isshum’s Merchant Quarter. The Nest has since become the main clandestine information and goods exchange of Isshum, and hardly anything goes on there without Ssethessh’s knowledge or blessing. Having met people from all walks of life and of many races, he is willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt – moreso if they have coin, or useful information. Ssethessh is slightly portly for a lizard man, with dark green scales and an orange eye. After meeting an exotic traveller from the south, he has taken up smoking.
Suri (F2, Str 16, AL N): An Inti warrior, Suri served the Blind Fathers for nearly a decade. A captain in the Inti army, Suri led his troops from under the Great Plateau on campaigns of conquest against neighbouring lands until being captured on a raid that went horribly wrong. Now he toils under the searing light of day on a lizardman farm. Like many Inti captives, Suri's inner fire is hard to quench, and he still struggles against his scaly masters whenever given the opportunity. He has secreted away enough tools and supplies to make his escape, and may be willing to aid any other competent prisoners in their own attempts.
by John Calvin