About Bjorn Stonehand
No word in the language of my people could be any more crippling and yet, such blood flows through my veins. Look on me and be deceived; though I am as strong as any warrior, an unknowable poison courses through my body.
My life started with death. I was born the only son to an Ulfen man and woman, far to the North, deep within the lands of the Linnhorm Kings. My mother was a strong woman and a fierce fighter, but the winter had been harsh and my coming harsher still; she did not survive my birth. My father, the mighty huscarl to the village jarl, mourned her passing but never blamed me for our loss.
I was raised as all Ulfen boys are. I was taught how to hunt; how to fight; how to f***; how to survive. I grew up strong. The North is not a place for the weak or soft. My existence was not a happy one but I was content. All that changed the night the trolls attacked.
They came in the black of night, trolls twice as tall as a man and three times as broad with skin the color of ice. The beasts smashed through the village gates and the few defenders posted at the time and worked their way towards the longhouses. It was a long and bloody battle, but we rallied, and as the sun rose the final trolls fell.
We had won the day but the price had been high. Too many men and woman were lost. Whispers quickly passed among the survivors that we would not survive the winter.
Also whispered by the survivors were rumors of betrayal. How else could the jadwiga forces have known the perfect time to catch us unaware? Blame was passed. Blades were drawn. More blood was spilled.
When it was finished I looked up to see the Jarl, leveling his axe at my father's throat. He growled a curse as he raised his weapon.
What happened next I only remember in pieces. The men that had served my father directly came under scrutiny as did I. My people, unsure if I would follow in my father's footsteps, banished me with little more than the clothes on my back, the weapons at my hip, and enough food to survive a night.
Meeting the Professor:
So I wandered South, far from the life and the people that were no longer my own. I took whatever jobs I could find along the way doing hard, filthy, and sometimes bloody work. I did what I had to to survive. During my travels I met and learned of the smaller and softer peoples of this world. Some hated me, calling me "savage" or "barbarian". Others feared me and paid me to make others fear them.
I traveled and worked, and after a year I found myself in Ravengro. A small dark town in the darker land of Ustalav. My time in the region had taught me that its people were shrewd and cold, traits that I found mirrored within myself.
Shortly after my employer paid out my wage for the caravan duty that had brought us to Ravengro, an old man (the one the caravan had been delivering goods to), approached me. I saw in his eyes curiosity and awe, a far cry from the fear and hatred I had grown accustomed to. He invited me within his manor and offered me food and drink. Inside, he began to ask me about myself, where I was from, what it was like there, why I'd left to travel South.
I stood up to leave.
"Please, tell me", he begged. "I've never met a pure-blooded Ulfen straight from the lands so close to Irrisen before."
I shook my head in denial. I could not bear the shame.
"I'll pay you!"
I shook my head again. I was no skald.
He looked me up and down as if seeing me for the first time.
"You're a strong lad and from what I just saw you're currently unemployed. What would you say if I offered you a job, on one condition..."
Bjorn is a huge Ulfen man standing over two meters tall and weighing near thirty stone of hard corded muscle (6'6" / 390lbs). His mane of raven-black hair is tightly bound and braided as is a thick beard that reaches midway down his barrel chest. The northman's features are square and rugged but marred by a nose that's been broken too many times. His eyes are a pale blue, just a shade lighter than a summer (non-Ustalavan) sky.
He's dresses in simple traveler's clothes; a sleeveless roughspun tunic, leather breeches, and worn hide boots. Slung over one broad shoulder he carries a leather pack with a suit of iron armor bundled and tied to its exterior.
Since finding himself in Professor Lorrimor's employ, the Ulfen has somewhat laid down roots in the town of Ravengro.
Bjorn is a man of simple pleasures, good food, hard drink, and soft company, but his harsh life has made him taciturn and a bit of a nihilist. Between these traits and his intimidating appearance, few have built a rapport with the Ulfen and fewer still consider him a friend -the Professor being an exception.
Despite appearing slow-witted, Bjorn has a short temper and is quick to put up his fists when challenged or insulted. In between jobs from the Professor, he finds work in security often as a bouncer for one of Ravengro's pubs or bars. Not surprisingly, this is work he excels at.
Ultimately, what Bjorn really wants is to belong and feel worthy again. The execution of his father and his exile have left a void in Bjorn's spirit that he's struggled to fill ever since.
Bjorn is a general close and dirty brawler. He fights like a survivor, doing whatever is necessary to win. I plan to advance him as mostly fighter, possibly taking a few barbarian levels eventually. I'm not sure if I want to focus on grapple feats or branch out to other combat maneuvers.
Bjorn will start out the reluctant hero. The world is cold dark place and he's lived this long by taking care of himself, but as the plot advances and he forms some bonds with his party members he'll start to realize that he's not the worthless son of a traitor and that perhaps some things (and people) are worth fighting for.
Hybrid Transformation (Su) (9 rounds per day*):
A bear shifter can change into a hybrid bear-humanoid form. A bear shifter can start a transformation as a full-round action. Using a full-round action to start a transformation does not count towards the number of rounds a bear shifter can stay transformed in a day. The bear shifter can also start a transformation as an immediate action after taking damage from an attack.
While in hybrid form, a bear shifter gains a +2 morale bonus to her Strength and a + 4 morale bonus to her Constitution. She also gains low-light vision and a natural bite attack that deals 1d6 points of damage. While transformed, a bear shifter cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate, and Stealth), or any ability that requires patience or concentration.
A bear shifter can end her transformation as a free action and is fatigued after the transformation for a number of rounds equal to 2 times the number of rounds spent in the transformation. A bear shifter cannot start a new transformation while fatigued or exhausted but can otherwise start a transformation multiple times during a single encounter or combat. If a bear shifter falls unconscious while in hybrid form, her transformation immediately ends, placing her in peril of death.
A bear shifter must stay in one of her two forms (see bear transformation) during transformation and can only switch between the two forms when she starts a new transformation.
Bear Transformation (Su) (9 minutes per day*):
A bear shifter can take on bear form. Bear transformation works like hybrid transformation except spending a round of transformation grants the bear shifter the ability to be in bear transformation for one minute (a fraction of a minute rounds up to one round). In addition to the benefits of hybrid form, in bear form the bear shifter has a speed of 40 feet and gains the grab creature ability. A bear shifter loses her ability to speak while in bear form. All items the bear shifter carries meld into her body in this form. When in bear transformation the bear shifter cannot use rage powers. The bear shifter cannot use bear transformation when wearing heavy armor or carrying a heavy load. A bear shifter is fatigued after the transformation for a number of rounds equal to 2 times the number of minutes spent in the transformation.
Trial Reward +2500gp
Amulet of Mighty Fists +1 -4000