The countdown to the Hell's Vengeance Adventure Path begins today, as we reveal the first of six iconic villains that will appear in Paizo's first Adventure Path for evil characters! We start with the iconic evil cleric, Lazzero Dalvera. Check out Pathfinder Adventure Path #103: The Hellfire Compact for Lazzero's full stat block, and keep an eye out for the upcoming Hell's Vengeance Player's Guide, which will contain all of the new iconic villains for use as pregenerated characters!
Lazzero Dalvera, the eldest child of an officer in the Molthuni army and a priest of Abadar, was born under an auspicious moon with a full head of bright red hair. Everyone assumed he would earn respect and fame as an army officer like his mother. His training began as soon as he could walk, and he attended the best military academies to which his parents' money and connections could win him entrance.
But the boy was not a strong child, and he lacked the temperament to hone his martial skills. Instead, bullies perfected their own abilities at his expense, both in formal sparring matches and between classes. Rather than retaliate with violence, Lazzero kept tabs on the children who picked on him, recording their secret transgressions—cheating, lying, petty theft, and other such behaviors common among privileged youth. When he had amassed a sufficient amount of dirt on his rivals, he ensured his teachers found it—anonymously of course—and laughed to himself as the bullies got their just rewards for their wrongdoings.
Despite his skill at countering his rivals, Lazzero still didn't excel in his martial studies, and by the age of 12 had washed out of every military academy in which his parents had placed him. With their hopes in their son dashed, they sent Lazzero to be trained by the Abadaran clergy, who counted his father among their number; if he couldn't fulfill his destiny as a military commander, he would do so in service to the Master of the First Vault.
In this endeavor Lazzero finally succeeded, for he found prayer and contemplation came naturally to him. Now among the top initiates in the Abadaran monastery, Lazzero took on the role of bully and tormentor. He didn't need to study as much as his less studious peers did, and could use the time not spent poring over religious texts making life harder for those weaker than himself. In addition to overt hazing, Lazzero maintained even more thorough records of his enemies' activities, which he took pride in turning over to his superiors—publicly this time—so that they would receive punishment for their transgressions.
While he couldn't ensure that justice was served, Lazzero believed he was doing Abadar's work. How, he asked, could his peers expect to teach Abadar's ways if they couldn't themselves follow his laws? Was he not complicit in their wrongdoing if he allowed their crimes to go unpunished? With such justifications, Lazzero convinced himself that what he did was right, that it would set him apart from his so-called equals in the eyes of his teachers and Abadar. He didn't recognize, however, that he had started down a slippery slope that would ultimately lead to his fall from grace—for Lazzero had begun to twist the law to meet his needs. The law was now a weapon he used to keep those he didn't like beneath him.
By graduation, Lazzero had distinguished himself as one of the most gifted acolytes, though he had made no friends and garnered his share of enemies, many of his teachers among them. For his apprenticeship, Lazzero traveled from Canorate to Cettigne—an inglorious posting not befitting his high marks and honors. Lazzero was to serve as the acolyte at the local temple along with a fellow graduate, a woman named Laureth. The pair were highly competitive, each aspiring to rise in the ranks of the church quickly and find a permanent placement in a more prestigious temple than Cettigne's.
Although Lazzero was the more talented cleric, Laureth was more favored, receiving a prominent position within the temple and taking on greater responsibilities. Unwilling to accept a position beneath his rival, Lazzero began plotting and spying on Laureth in the hope of catching her falling short of the high standards expected of Abadar's clergy. Laureth provided him no opportunities, however, behaving as a paragon whom all faithful of Abadar should aspire to emulate.
Frustrated and bitter, Lazzero prayed for a means of turning the law against Laureth, but Abadar provided no guidance. Rather, a different voice echoed in the recesses of Lazzero's mind, offering honeyed promises of providing all Lazzero could imagine and more. It spoke of deceptions and lies as a means to an end, of the weak serving the strong, and of always having the upper hand. Lazzero liked these words, and though he knew he would no longer be true to Abadar if he were to follow them, he did so anyway. He would see Laureth humiliated, no matter the cost.
Prompted by his mysterious new divine patron, Lazzero began committing minor crimes himself and staging evidence to point toward Laureth. Fabricated trade records for transactions under her jurisdiction, false testimony written in her hand, and unbalanced ledgers month after month with no explanation into the shortfall all built a case against his rival. Through subterfuge and sabotage, Lazzero ensured that Laureth could never be solvent in the eyes of Abadar's code. Best of all, he brought about her ruin through the very laws and regulations that had for so long kept him from achieving his own lofty goals.
When Laureth was convicted and sentenced to a life of servitude rather than clerical service, Lazzero said a prayer of thanks to the Keeper of the First Vault, asking for a blessing from his patron. Asmodeus answered in his stead, revealing himself to have been the orchestrator of Lazzero's revenge upon Laureth. In that moment, Lazzero knew that the path to his prophesied glory lay not in continuing in his father's footsteps in the temple of Abadar. The Prince of Lies had shown him the power of deceit and the means through which he could always ensure the law worked in his favor.
That night, Lazzero left Cettigne, his vestments and holy symbol left folded neatly on his modest cot, and headed south to Cheliax. He forsook all his Abadaran vows and proclaimed his faith in Asmodeus, and sought a church of his new patron. No longer did Lazzero worry that he would not achieve greatness. He was content to enter an Asmodean temple as a lowly adept with faith that his dedication would quickly raise him to the upper echelons of the church. Thus did Lazzero begin his true journey—a quest for power and glory achieved by following the Prince of Darkness.
Stay tuned over the coming months as we reveal more of the villains you'll see in the pages of our first evil Adventure Path, Hell's Vengeance!