Meet the Villains—Nyctessa

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Hell's Vengeance Adventure Path is here, and it's time to reveal the final iconic villain for Paizo's first Adventure Path for evil characters! Today we present the iconic necromancer, Nyctessa. Pathfinder Adventure Path #108: Hell Comes to Westcrown will contain Nyctessa's full stat block. You can also download the Hell's Vengeance Player's Guide, which contains all of the new iconic villains for use as pregenerated characters!


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

In the nation of Geb, the dead far outnumber the living—and they hold the reins of political power. Most of Geb's living citizens are slaves, chattel, or most gruesomely, food for their undead overlords. Nyctessa was born into this world, yet she straddled both sides of class and society, being a dhampir—the child of a vampire and a living human mother. The heart of a living being beats in her chest, but her flesh is infused with the negative energy that animates the living dead, and she inherited her vampiric father's taste for blood. In the laws of Geb at least, Nyctessa was neither wholly alive nor truly dead.

Nyctessa's father was one of the Blood Lords, the undead necromancers who form the elite of Geb's aristocracy; her mother, a slave concubine in her father's harem. Throughout Nyctessa's childhood, both her father and mother were distant figures. She was nursed by loyal human slaves, raised by ghoul governesses, and educated by vampire tutors. She was allowed to see her mother only a few times a week, and her father even less. Nevertheless, Nyctessa always remained aware of being groomed to be her father's heir. Everyone expected her to follow in his footsteps, study necromancy, become a vampire, and eventually perhaps, centuries later, inherit his position in Gebbite society and government as one of the undying Blood Lords. She dutifully enrolled in Mechitar's prestigious Ebon Mausoleum, the same academy of necromancy her father had attended centuries earlier, and she excelled in all her studies.

When Nyctessa came of age, the time arrived when she would be presented to Mechitar society and join the social and political scene of Geb's capital city. Most of the young nobles making their debut that night were the newly made spawn of penanggalens, wraiths, vampires, and other undead, but some were the skittish, living offspring of the few mortal Blood Lords who still clung to life. Nyctessa was the only dhampir, and she could feel the mocking stares of her peers, judging her, pitying her even. Neither dead nor alive.

In the early morning, before the sun rose, Nyctessa's father presented her with a gift as the ball wound down: her mother. Nyctessa knew what he expected of her. They embraced and Nyctessa sank her teeth into her mother's neck. She greedily drank the blood, gorged herself on it, and felt a heady rush of power as her mother's drained, lifeless body sank to the floor. Her father watched in silence. Nyctessa had taken the first real step toward becoming his heir.

Nyctessa returned to the Ebon Mausoleum to finish her studies, but during that time, she could not help thinking of her mother's death at her own hands. It was expected. Morality didn't even enter into it. Nyctessa had been told over and over by her governesses and tutors that no life—or death—equaled her own. Her mother had been chattel, and Nyctessa the scion of a noble house. And her mother's blood had tasted good. Almost from the moment of her birth, Nyctessa had been trained for one role, one destiny. Her future was planned out to the tiniest detail. Only now, she questioned whether that would be enough.

At her graduation, Nyctessa's father presented another gift: a staff made from her mother's spine and skull with which to form her arcane bond. This was the last straw, the last nail in her proverbial coffin. The staff was a symbol of her father's power over her, over her future, and the rest of her existence. She could not just allow him to steal all of that possibility from her. She would not just be a pawn in his centuries-long strategies and political maneuverings.

Nyctessa left Mechitar that night, paying for passage on a ship to Jalmeray. She took her staff with her, but did not say goodbye to anyone. Before she would promise herself to death, she would see what life had to offer. Nyctessa journeyed to Jalmeray, Katapesh, Qadira, and beyond to Taldor, Andoran, and Cheliax. She left behind her family name, her father's name, and during these travels, she witnessed life itself. A grubby, hardscrabble existence, always grasping for more—more food, more money, more land, more meaning, only to see it all stolen away when death inevitably arrived. A meaningless exercise, and always far too brief.

Nyctessa chose to live, but only until she had triumphed over life completely. She would be one of the immortal, the eternal, the deathless, what mortals call the living dead—eventually. She would return home and claim her birthright, but on her own terms, through her own skills and abilities. She would not become a mindless automaton, a starving ghoul, a thirsting vampire, or even a rotting lich, but something different, something new, something uniquely Nyctessa. She would do whatever it took. She would let nothing stand in her way. Nyctessa would find the answer within herself and her magic, and she would forever bridge the divide between life and death.

Rob McCreary
Senior Developer

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Tags: Hell's Vengeance Iconics Meet the Iconics Nyctessa Pathfinder Adventure Path Wayne Reynolds
Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Finally! ^_^


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Huh.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Damn!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Tammy and Nyci are going to have a blast!


If I remember correctly an arcane bond is a masterwork item, Shouldn't she be at +0 to hit with her staff instead of -1? Still the minus one to damage, of course.


AWESOME

Silver Crusade

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Damn, this has to be my favourite one, Nyctessa is definitely my favourite evil iconic.

Liberty's Edge

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Happy Mother's day, sickos!

Silver Crusade

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Do like the macabre take on the "White Mage" outfit.

Also, are her nails just a result of never trimming them, or was her mother a Changeling?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Also, are her nails just a result of never trimming them, or was her mother a Changeling?

Given that those nails are way too long to be of much use for anything, I would put it at 'never trimming'. Considering the whole point of the 'Fu Manchu' nail-style was to show how the individual in question was so superior that they didn't 'need' to resort to 'base physical labor' & could therefor allow their nails to grow so long that they would pretty much automatically break if the person ever did try to do anything with their hands. Actually, the whole aesthetic is very Asian to me, between the nails & the color scheme.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
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Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Also, are her nails just a result of never trimming them, or was her mother a Changeling?
Given that those nails are way too long to be of much use for anything, I would put it at 'never trimming'. Considering the whole point of the 'Fu Manchu' nail-style was to show how the individual in question was so superior that they didn't 'need' to resort to 'base physical labor' & could therefor allow their nails to grow so long that they would pretty much automatically break if the person ever did try to do anything with their hands. Actually, the whole aesthetic is very Asian to me, between the nails & the color scheme.

Hmm, point, she is in fact nobility.


My favorite so far, congrats!

Dark Archive

7 people marked this as a favorite.

Nyctessa - the half-undead noble Vamipre Necromancer Nyctessa no less - turns out to be one of the more reasonable, maybe personable, baddies?

Nicely done.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Also, are her nails just a result of never trimming them, or was her mother a Changeling?
Given that those nails are way too long to be of much use for anything, I would put it at 'never trimming'. Considering the whole point of the 'Fu Manchu' nail-style was to show how the individual in question was so superior that they didn't 'need' to resort to 'base physical labor' & could therefor allow their nails to grow so long that they would pretty much automatically break if the person ever did try to do anything with their hands. Actually, the whole aesthetic is very Asian to me, between the nails & the color scheme.
Hmm, point, she is in fact nobility.

D'oh! Yeah, sorry. I think faster than I type sometimes.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

For an undeniably evil character, I like her moxy.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Was looking forward to her backstory. Geb and all that.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

A pity Nyctessa doesn't realize that even undeath cannot last forever.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Damn, this has to be my favourite one, Nyctessa is definitely my favourite evil iconic.

Oh, she's definitely mine! She will make an appearance in my HV campaign.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Oh I DO like her. Creepy, motivated, evil.


Captain K. wrote:

Nyctessa - the half-undead noble Vamipre Necromancer Nyctessa no less - turns out to be one of the more reasonable, maybe personable, baddies?

Nicely done.

She isn't a vampire, she's a Dhampir with the Blood Drinker feat.

Dark Archive

Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Captain K. wrote:

Nyctessa - the half-undead noble Vamipre Necromancer Nyctessa no less - turns out to be one of the more reasonable, maybe personable, baddies?

Nicely done.

She isn't a vampire, she's a Dhampir with the Blood Drinker feat.

You know what I mean, I read she's a Dhampir, I know what a Dhampir is. It says so in the HV player's guide what she is.

What is interesting is that she was brought up to essentially become a full vampire, a vampire aristocrat at that and yet she is still probably easier to talk to than some of the evil humans, Zelhara and Linxia.


I like her.

Dark Archive Vendor - Fantasiapelit Tampere

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Now THAT's a fun and unique motive. I like it! Also, the artwork= gorgeous.

All the iconics were fun, and I can't wait until they are in miniature form so I can paint the s~** out of them.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 32

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I love the white-clad necromancer among all the dark red/black outfits of the other evil party members. Also, I liked the aesthetics of the staff before I read the backstory, and knowing its origin gets a capital-y Yikes (in a good way).

Nyctessa is definitely my favorite of this batch. Ironically, coming from the land of the dead makes her motivations and reasons for evil the most realistic to me. Sure, none of these villains come from "Good" cultures, but the others seemed to take a delight in cruelty that I found kind of off putting. Nyctessa's brand of evil seems to stem from societal and cultural value, rather than an inherent personality, which I would say is more interesting to grapple with and more true to how "Evil" occurs in reality.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

They say I'm always dead serious.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Just wait until we double cross 'Grazzy when he's set to double cross us. Now, that will make you laugh!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

eyes narrow suspiciously. Keeps sharpening Warhammer.


Berselius wrote:
A pity Nyctessa doesn't realize that even undeath cannot last forever.

Only if you're doing it wrong.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Nyctessa and Laori Vaus should team up. Fighting crime or causing it. Doesn't matter.


Irnk, Dead-Eye's Prodigal wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Also, are her nails just a result of never trimming them, or was her mother a Changeling?
Given that those nails are way too long to be of much use for anything, I would put it at 'never trimming'. Considering the whole point of the 'Fu Manchu' nail-style was to show how the individual in question was so superior that they didn't 'need' to resort to 'base physical labor' & could therefor allow their nails to grow so long that they would pretty much automatically break if the person ever did try to do anything with their hands. Actually, the whole aesthetic is very Asian to me, between the nails & the color scheme.

It's also spelled out that her mother was a chattel human who was kept alive solely for her daughter's initiation.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Still don't see her robbing a tannery.

Dark Archive

A Mite Excessive wrote:
Still don't see her robbing a tannery.

It's a bit infra dig for her, true, not exactly the spiteful little toerag HV part 1 expects one to be, but...

Nyctessa wrote:
...and during these travels, she witnessed life itself. A grubby, hardscrabble existence, always grasping for more...

... all this, the Thrunes, Cheliax, all this nonsense is just part of life's rich tapestry for her.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So she's Nebula with hair. :)


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
So she's Nebula with hair. :)

What's the necromantic equivalent of bioware/cyberware implants?

Silver Crusade

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Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
So she's Nebula with hair. :)

What's the necromantic equivalent of bioware/cyberware implants?

Necromorph?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ibrahim al-Aziz-Zaman Faysal wrote:
Berselius wrote:
A pity Nyctessa doesn't realize that even undeath cannot last forever.
Only if you're doing it wrong.

Psh, either some ends up killing her or she lives so long as a true vampire that her form starts to deteriorate. The negative energy plane consumes ALL that fully embrace it. Undeath is NOT immortality. It's a pale imitation of prolonged longevity.


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Berselius wrote:
Ibrahim al-Aziz-Zaman Faysal wrote:
Berselius wrote:
A pity Nyctessa doesn't realize that even undeath cannot last forever.
Only if you're doing it wrong.
Psh, either some ends up killing her or she lives so long as a true vampire that her form starts to deteriorate. The negative energy plane consumes ALL that fully embrace it. Undeath is NOT immortality. It's a pale imitation of prolonged longevity.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology state of undeath is indistinguishable from magic immortality." - Me


Berselius wrote:
Ibrahim al-Aziz-Zaman Faysal wrote:
Berselius wrote:
A pity Nyctessa doesn't realize that even undeath cannot last forever.
Only if you're doing it wrong.
Psh, either some ends up killing her or she lives so long as a true vampire that her form starts to deteriorate. The negative energy plane consumes ALL that fully embrace it. Undeath is NOT immortality. It's a pale imitation of prolonged longevity.

Someone clearly has not been familiarized with an easily-constructed gentle repose item. Place it on a small item of your preference that easily attaches to clothing or directly on the body. A button, a brooch, a buckle, a scarf, a sash, an eyepatch, a headband, a choker, an earring, I could go on and on. Problem solved.

Inexpensive to make, especially with the sheer amount of time an undead has to acquire funds, so if they are lost, stolen, or destroyed they are easily replaced.

Any fears of destruction can be overcome easily with lateral thinking and proper contingencies prior. Simply don't allow your pride to consume you into believing you are invincible (as opposed to merely immortal) and make proper preparations. Have safehouses, backup plans, secure locations, and trustworthy underlings.

This is the problem with paladins. They just don't know how to think outside the box.


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The King in Orange wrote:
Berselius wrote:
Ibrahim al-Aziz-Zaman Faysal wrote:
Berselius wrote:
A pity Nyctessa doesn't realize that even undeath cannot last forever.
Only if you're doing it wrong.
Psh, either some ends up killing her or she lives so long as a true vampire that her form starts to deteriorate. The negative energy plane consumes ALL that fully embrace it. Undeath is NOT immortality. It's a pale imitation of prolonged longevity.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology state of undeath is indistinguishable from magic immortality." - Me

Until you learn the science facts behind the sufficiently advanced technology state of undeath and then the distinguishment of magic immortality from fact becomes quite clear.-ME

Quote:

Someone clearly has not been familiarized with an easily-constructed gentle repose item. Place it on a small item of your preference that easily attaches to clothing or directly on the body. A button, a brooch, a buckle, a scarf, a sash, an eyepatch, a headband, a choker, an earring, I could go on and on. Problem solved.

Inexpensive to make, especially with the sheer amount of time an undead has to acquire funds, so if they are lost, stolen, or destroyed they are easily replaced.

Any fears of destruction can be overcome easily with lateral thinking and proper contingencies prior. Simply don't allow your pride to consume you into believing you are invincible (as opposed to merely immortal) and make proper preparations. Have safehouses, backup plans, secure locations, and trustworthy underlings.

Entropy is unstoppable dude. Even if this dhampir became a vampire and had all the backup plans in the world and lived from trillions of eons, eventually the multiverse would come to an end (something that WILL HAPPEN as it's been stated). Then, she gets to face the absolutely lovely fate of becoming one of the negative energy plane's last juicy snacks.
Quote:
This is the problem with paladins. They just don't know how to think outside the box.

If by "think outside the box" you mean draining your own mother dry of all her blood then desecrating her remains then, yeah, your right. A paladin definately wouldn't do something like that.


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While Ms. Nyctessa seems definitely evil, mayhaps good Sir Berselius, we should take the "Futility & Perils of Undeath" discussion to another thread, lest more evil be unleashed?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
So she's Nebula with hair. :)

What's the necromantic equivalent of bioware/cyberware implants?

Necrografts from Black Markets.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

First off, hands down my favorite of the villains. Secondly, I was wondering something. So I know these are appearing in the books and such, but is there any chance these villains are going to be added to the Community Use Package for pathfinder society pregenerated characters. It would be most spiffy if those and the long missing apg characters could get collected in there.

Sovereign Court

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Rawrgle wrote:
First off, hands down my favorite of the villains. Secondly, I was wondering something. So I know these are appearing in the books and such, but is there any chance these villains are going to be added to the Community Use Package for pathfinder society pregenerated characters. It would be most spiffy if those and the long missing apg characters could get collected in there.

Between their extreme evil (well beyond Meligaster and Seltyiel) and the fact that three of them use non-PFS legal races (and one has an illegal class), the chances of the iconic villains becoming PFS-legal are pretty much nil. That said, a specific adventure where you play them (in the vein of Serpents Rise) is marginally more plausible.

Finally getting the missing APG/UM iconics would be nice, though. ^_^

Dark Archive

Creepy! And I do love what was mentioned upthread, that her color scheme doesn't go with the others, who are all dark, dark, dark (with a splash of red). As with her origin story, she's all about defining herself on her own terms, and to heck with what everyone else expects.


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Dearest Uncle Urgraz wrote:
eyes narrow suspiciously. Keeps sharpening Warhammer.

Are...are they supposed to be sharp?

Grand Lodge

Oi, this is one sol-lid character description. I think I'll adapt from it when I go to create my own Necromancer. Thanks for posting it!

Scarab Sages

Dover Pro wrote:
Oi, this is one sol-lid character description. I think I'll adapt from it when I go to create my own Necromancer. Thanks for posting it!

Definitely going to mine this if I ever get around to playing a Blood Kineticist.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That's one bad lady.


Very interesting character, and one that I think is very compelling beyond just her obvious fan service. I agree with Rosgakori and mechaPoet that Nyctessa's character motivations are much more interesting and compelling.

I like to think that her evil is but a total lack of compassion brought about by a culture that views such sentiments as weakness. I envision Nyctessa as something of a dispassionate researcher. One that is emotionally and morally numb. While others in the iconic evil party may revel in the villainy, pain, and suffering they inflict, she has almost no response, being simply cold and calculating with an almost vacant or inquisitive look. To her, pain and suffering are merely data points in her experiments; she doesn't enjoy inflicting pain, but neither does she shy away. It is just part of existence. The best example I can use is Galen of Pergamon(Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus), but WITHOUT the Oath of Hippocrates and Roman Law forbidding certain practices.

Now I am going to engage in some pure speculation. Of all of the evil characters, she is the only one I see who could potentially be "redeemed". Maybe that is why I find her brand of evil more interesting. Her overriding goal is to bridge the gap between life and death or undeath. That nuance seems to me to imply that she has no desire to embrace undeath in the traditional sense. Her goal would be to achieve a "deathless" state similar to the concept in both "Book of Exalted Deeds" and the Elves in the Eberron Campaign Setting.

Now that I have opened up her motivation, I will throw out possible ways she could be turned from her Evil ways. Perhaps she comes into contact with a wise older arch-wizard who has knowledge she desires and takes her on as a professional co-worker, lab partner, peer research teammate, and co-developer. With his wisdom and the knowledge he readily shares, her eyes might be opened to perspectives that she had never considered. Another possibility could be that after taking a lover (say, elf, half-elf, or even an Azalanti human) she becomes pregnant with child and the experience of a life growing in her womb changes her outlook on life and death. Motherhood instincts are strong, and they could certainly break through the social conditioning of her upbringing such that she comes to value something other than her own existence.

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