Initiative +1; Senses dark-vision 60ft; Perception +8
(slow & steady (dwarves have a base speed of 20ft, but their speed is never modified by armour of encumbrance),
The stalwart defender can end his defensive stance as a free action; after ending the stance, he is fatigued for a number of rounds equal to 2 times the number of rounds spent in the stance. A stalwart defender cannot enter a new defensive stance while fatigued or exhausted but can otherwise enter a stance multiple times during a single encounter or combat. If a stalwart defender falls unconscious, his defensive stance immediately ends, placing him in peril of death. A defensive stance requires a level of emotional calm, and it may not be maintained by a character in a rage (such as from the rage class feature or the rage spell).
BAB (base attack bonus) +7,
After years of living as a humble baker in a human city, Logruik has finally discovered clues to the whereabouts of his family heirlooms that could grant him some insight into where he came from. He knows he is of a mountain clan whose sigil is a combination of marsh drake and direwolf and given how nobody seems to be able to tell him of where his clan might be, he knows he is far from home.
His clan's culture also seem to differ from those of most dwarves he has encountered. Although the same Gods are revered he prays to Fervus and Dauros in equal, which other dwarves find queer. Moreover, although his been taught the tales, he seems to know far far less about orcs than your average Dwarf.
It is time to gather the clues, retrieve his powerful family heirlooms (i.e. heirlooms of important symbolic significance, not super-powerful magical items), crush those who brought him here, and return home
I remember being a child, living in a typical dwarven city (large city), having a typical dwarven upbringing, becoming proficient in typical dwarven arts of war, scaling the ranks and becoming a person of political prominence, taking an interest in the culture of the marsh people, faking my death to be free of my social ties to dwarves society, living in a non-dwarven society for a few years, setting off on an exploration in a jungle of sorts... something (no memory) happening at a temple, waking at an oasis in what appears to be the middle of a dessert, finding a caravan that took pity on me that took me across a vast and lengthy journey that brought me to ravenwood where I became a baker... and found that nobody knows anything of who I am or what I came from. I gave family heirlooms (still had all my equipment with me so whoever did whatever to me at the temple didn't rob me) to the bank to gain capital so that I can get by and I had plans to make enough money to travel... and then I suddenly found that the bureaucracy that is the bank has "misplaced" my heirlooms, which is completely devastating to me as they are emblems of great significance to my house that I was allowed to adorn since I was of social and political prominence.
One more thing: I have an rubix-cubed sized object on my person which I didn't prior to whatever happened to me at that abandoned temple. It moves and bends in a way as if it is a puzzle. It has strange engravings on it that I recognize as a marsh tongue. after over a year of toying with it while in Ravenwood I've deciphered the message: "Through the distorted lens I found a cure." This is the only clue I have to what happened to me in the temple.
THIS IS NO LONGER MY CHARACTER'S LORE AND IS MERELY HERE TO SHOW WHAT INSPIRED HIM
Logruik Reneil Ogrik was born into a great mountain clan of sorts - a typical sizeable wealthy dwarvish civilization/country, really, that mined precious gems in the mountain side, had a disdain for outsiders and otherwise made all sorts of nifty Dwarfish technology and sold it for much booty to neighbouring states.
Geographically, the mountain the dwarves called home carved itself to a shore on one side of the country. Here a great port city is carved into the mountain itself so that ship can sail straight into the mountain to dock with a great underground harbour. Leagues away inland we find the capital of this fair country where Logruik was born. This great city is not easy to find and indeed, ancestors built the path leading to it going through a winding road through a jungle and swamplands through numerous valley-like escarpments one has to climb to reach the great capital. This was initially thought of as a way of keeping dwarvish society safe from outsiders and also as a rights of passage in a way - anyone wishing to congregate with this clan had to prove him or herself by making their way through the swamplands and jungle and climb the various escarpments to reach the city entrance.
With the onset of new eras trade and communication with other nations became just simply too lucrative and the silly “rights of passage for outsiders” tradition laid out by the clan’s fore-fathers became merely an impediment for progress. The merchants wanted an easier way into the capital and the mountain roads and tunnels from the harbour city weren’t going to cut it. So came a move to cut down the swamplands and forests and create a proper and great highway from the Dwarfish capital to neighbouring countries. This however had the consequence of bringing the dwarves in direct conflict with the lizardmen tribes of jungles and swampland. Either they felt they weren’t getting a fair piece of the taxes that could be made off of the new highway, or they felt their land was being encroached upon or lands sacred to their religion were being cut down… whatever the case, the lizardmen didn’t like the dwarves suddenly building through their land. War didn’t come immediately. In fact, the lizardmen were at one stage the Dwarves’s most key trade partners - geographically it simply made sense, and the differing resources that could be exchanged (stone technology from the mountains for medicinal herbs from the swamplands, for starters) meant that trade went on peacefully for generations. Alliances were forged on this trade and since both lizardmen and dwarves had such a disdain for outsiders a subtle understanding was forged over the importance and traditional significance of having a “rights of passage” for anyone who would want to make it to the Dwarfish capital, and by extension, also find their way into the Lizardmen’s swamplands.
As it became clear that the realms of man, elf and so forth in the lands beyond the great waste would bring riches the like of which the dwarvish capital never knew there would be no argument. The highway had to be built, for dwarves are a stubborn money grabbing lot sometimes. The diplomatic negotiations with their generations old lizardmen allies turned sour and as the generations passed things turned from confusion to tension to all out war. Interestingly, race, although a key factor in this war, was not initially the chief driver of hatred. In the beginning dwarves and lizardmen were found on both sides. On the more traditionally minded side (the lizardman front) dwarvish allies who believed in the importance of keeping foreigners out and holding to tradition sided with the lizardmen. Likewise, lizardmen who saw their brethren as being too constrained by tradition and lacking in innovation sided with the drarves.
The war went on even though trade among lizardmen and dwarves didn’t halt. The lizardmen needed precious gems to augment their magic and the dwarves needed alchemical substances that could only be farmed in the swamps if their siege weapons were ever to have any hopes of laying waste to anything. In fact, some historians have pointed out that the war drove an era of unprecedented progress in both societies. So much so that a third faction emerged stylizing themselves as enthusiastic warmongers - a faction that believes the war must continue, if not for the raw excitement, veneration of their gods and purpose-giving stories it brings, but for the booty.
It is within this strange era that Logruik is born into in the capital. The Innovators and their lizardmen allies believe the road must continue being built. The Traditionalists and their dwarvish allies believe it cannot be and the Storytellers comprising of both lizardmen and dwarves believe the war is too important for any peaceful resolution and playfully sabotage both sides to attempt to keep the war as vicious as possible. It is also not strange to find two sects of the Storytellers fighting each other and then having it that the winner venerates their fallen foes in stories for years to come. In such a way the fallen are always honoured and the Storytellers constantly give “kudus” to each other for keeping the war going - even if they are burning each others homes. This ideology is in stark contrast to the Traditionalists and the Innovators who both see the Storytellers as lawless ingrates and who can have nothing but the deepest hatred for each other and a desire for peace. In fact, both Traditionalists and Innovators constantly suppress any works suggesting how worthy a foe the other is (much to the chagrin of the Storytellers).
Strange world. Those who want peace the most have the most hate. And those who want war the most treat their enemies with the sincerest courtesy and honour.
Okay… maybe I should start with the actual character now. Oh wait, I haven’t spoken about how complicated an influence differing religions have in all this.
Well, let’s just say the lizardmen have tons of aztec/mayan-like inspired Gods like Mictecacihuatl and Itzlacoliuhque and whatever else. The Dwarfish pantheon in this particular clan has shrunk to venerating two Gods more than any others - namely Dauros and Fervus. The God of law and order and the God of nature and Chaos respectively. Long have the Logruik Dwarves seen a symmetry between Choatic Berserker with beast-like allies and Orderly Stalwart Defenders with technological marvels. Just… think of one dwarf wearing a ton of armour with a heavy cross-bow that has a complicated mechanism and then think of another dwarf with no armour running straight into an enemy with two axes. Dwarves like chaos and order and see the merits of both, so much so in this case that they don’t only worship both, but venerate the intrinsic symmetry between the two and put a great deal of importance in acknowledging the value both play (whether in war or any other sphere of dwarvish society).
(Interjection: my dwarvish society is a meritocracy)Logruik’s low born status naturally leads him into becoming a mercenary for hire on the road’s construction sites. As the fighting continues he finds himself elevated in the ranks and he finally becomes a Stalwart Defender. As an obsessive tinkerer of gadgets who cant stand having to build things by the book and as one intrigued by animal handling who cant stand not having a book to follow, Logruik finds himself as someone who worships both Fervus and Dauros and wants to see both sides of the symmetry in all aspects of Dwarvish society. After a couple of campaigns where his audacity to disobey his superiors leads him to myriad victories he suddenly finds himself as Lord Commander of the Capital.
From here, with thousands under his command, Logruik uses a novel and specialized set of mobile defence contraptions for dwarvish cannons and ballistics emplacements to lay waste to any incursion into dwarvish construction sites. Any survivors of any barrage is met with a disciplined and synchronized line of Dwarvish defenders, collectively holding a shield line that makes up a mobile wall that can withstand even a lizardmen warlock platoon’s death magic.
As his status grows so does Logruik’s lust for power. And he is constantly bugged with one power the Traditionalists and lizardmen have in abundance that the dwarves have only little of: magic. For dwarvish society to truly reach the peak of her glory, Logruik convinces himself that Fervus needs to be appeased and that the Gods and society of the lizardmen are an manifestation of Fervus. Moreover, the entire war being faught is one of Dauros versus Fervus. Fervus had left the Dwarves as they had decided to make Dauros more important - and it was only telling that more and more of the Dwarvish Berserker and Druidic orders were aligning themselves with Traditionalist interests in the war. Fervus needed to be appeased. Drinking ale while fighting bears naked was not enough. Dwarvish society had placed too much higher a standard on her technology. This is when Logruik - now one of the most powerful individuals of his civilization - started plotting treason. He would become a turncloak and then from the bowels of lizardmen society work his way up as he did in dwarvish society. And then when he emerged he would do so with the magical power and lizardmen influence needed to be an prophet of Fervus - knowledge and power he could take back to Dwarvish society. This is what he would tell himself when he went to sleep. Although it was true that this was his chief concern, the pull of merely having power beyond his crossbow and war-hammer also pulled on him.
No opportunity to see his religious convictions through presented itself until a mysterious diplomatic envoy arrived at the Capital’s ancient gates. It was a sect of the Storytellers and as a faction that drifts between both dwarvish and lizardmen civilizations they had been able to find another high ranking official that desired something similar to Logruik. Logruik was astounded. Koatl, one of the most respected high priests of the Traditionalist faction wanted to abandon his position. And it wasn’t a Traditionalist envoy, but the Storytellers bringing him this uncanny information? Something was amiss… With some hefty illegal meetings to discuss what arrangements could be made as well as an incident where Logruik’s life is saved by a lizardmen Storyteller, Logruik is convinced. This isn’t some trick. He would become integrated into Lizardmen society to learn their ways and magics. Koatl would become integrated into Dwarvish society to learn our discipline and technology. This sect of the Storytellers believes this switch would sow a fresher war and strengthen both sides, but Logruik would make sure that this swap would give the Storytellers a legend of peace and prosperity that would shatter their fickle philosophies.
It was interesting to note how Koatl’s motivations was a desire for knowledge and its subsequent power while Logruik’s one was one for faith and its subsequent power.
Through the Storytellers Logruik was able to talk with Koatl and through letters he began to like the lizard. Both conspired to consolidate power in key areas to make political statements that would greatly undermine the policies set forth by their superiors. Logruik drew back many men from the supply lines to the construction sites, leaving key areas almost exclusively defended by lizardmen loyal to the Innovators. This was done as a direct affront to a policy passed forbidding regiments with more lizardmen than dwarves. Of course, Koatl would lightly raid these supply lines and the lizardmen would stand strong, a point Logruik would vehemently point to in public hearings - greatly boosting his popularity with the lizardmen. Likewise, at Koatl’s request Logruik would send Boba balloon and iron clad hunting parties to forage for game such as wereboar infantry to be added to the front lines. Logruik would see to it that the regemints he sent were under-manned in engineers and certain key instruments sabotaged. The boba baloons and ironclads would then be abandoned and Koatl would recieve instructions on how to reactivate and tinker with them. This would greatly upset the High Counsel of Lizardmen society and yet his public praise of dwarvish technology and its uses would gain him support from the local dwarvish population. Those brief years of exchange through letters marked something of a turning point for Logruik. Fickle as a desire for constant warfare was, Logruik had to confess that there was something behind having a worthy adversaries he could trust and in that, manipulating war for more over-arching gains.
Logruik and Koatl agreed they would need to take up new names as the exchange date drew nearer. But as a symbol of the friendship they had forged they would also have a secret common name. They would both be Sart de Torvega - an amalgamation of Draconic and Dwarvish that roughly translates into Common as “Symmetry Incarnate.” And so Lord Commander Logruik Reneil Ogrik became Logruik Sart de Torvega and High Priest Koatl Itzpapalotl became Koatl Sart de Torvega.
The day came and Logruik abandoned his post. The Storyteller organization made sure his name became erased, his face altered. He would enter lizardmen society a nobody. Only his legendary repeating crossbow, Emerald tipped warhammer, tower shield and heavy armour belied his now pauper demeanour. Of course this war-gear was hidden and stored away for when the time was right.
Lizardmen society enamoured him. The fresh perspectives he adopted led him to adopt a more “tribal” style of living (think what it would be like for someone living in the Eyrie to go live with the Reeds). Soon death magic (forbidden by the dwarves, severe punishment) was at his finger tips and a pet Velociraptor named Zougie at his heels. He rose in prominence and in a mere decade saw himself as a member of the High Counsel in Lizardmen society - representing a Religious Synctretic organization with the aims of tying together the threads of lizardmen and dwarvish religion to minimize internal conflict within the Traditionalist’s borders. With this new position Logruik suddenly found himself in possession of ancient lizardmen knowledge… words of powers… forgotten maps to ruins of great power… it would be his…
An expedition into the unforboding Amazon-like jungle was set, a group organized. Afer over a decade of living with its comfort he once more donned his legendary repeating crossbow and emerald tipped warhammer (whose going to ask about it?). The expedition lasted a 2 weeks, but finally they made it to the ancient Dragon temple (think lizardmen worship dragons meets Mayan architecture in the middle of the Amazon). The traps were worked through, 2 of his comrades slaughtered by the ruin’s defenses, but finally the Power lay before him in a great chamber. The chamber has crystal clear pools of water on either side flowing from great waterfalls coming from the ceilings. In the center of the chamber are steps leading to a pedestal before a giant dragon skeleton. He wasted no time, said the incantation and opened a plane to let his soul absorb the Dragon essence within. It was at this moment, as Logruik could feel himself reaching an unspeakable peak in magical power that he was attacked and bitten by a werewolf. It was Eileene, a leader of the Capital’s Berserker guild. She was a respected and long trusted comrade. She and her Berserker’s had even been under Logruik’s command once. As Logruik wrenched free of her teeth he caught glimpse of his expedition being torn by the rest of the Berserkers. There weren’t only Dwarves amongst their ranks. Then he the Power of the temple lifted him off his feet and he was levitating in midair. It was too late. His soul was being bound to the Dragon. Quetkai stepped forth, the lizardman that had saved his life once and as the Dragon was being tied to his sole he was struck by his death magic. A curse was being placed upon him. A searing pain went through Logruik and he felt himself plummet into a corner, bloodied and now surrounded. He grasped in his hand a lexicon brought into existence from his incomplete incantation. It was turning a myriad of foul colours in his hand as Quetkai’s curse continued to manifest itself. He was on the floor, with barely enough strength to turn his head, but from the corner of his eye he saw Zougie tear open Quetkai’s throat. Eileene subsequently made short work of Zougie. The end of Quetkai’s curse suddenly sent forth a reverberating shockwave throughout the chamber. The magic of the Dragon imploded in on itself and the chamber cracked and starts to collapse. Logruik, wih heavy armour, warhammer and crossbow took his chances and with his last ounce of strength threw himself into the stream of water, now a rapid torrent amidst the collapsing chamber.
He awoke with his face in the swamp dirt at some unnamed geyser, grasping the lexicon. It takes him a while to figure out what he was looking at. He feels weak. His senses numbed. He cannot call magic anymore without unfathomable pain. Nearby he finds one of Eileene’s henchmen who survived the temple’s collapse only to have a wound that would mean her death within the hour. Dying, She manages to tell Logruik that Koatl had predicted Logruik would seek out the lizardmen’s Dragon power and had dispatched them to the temple to wait for the day he would arrive.
On the verge of death trudging alone through the jungle he collapses and awakes in a tent. A sweet Druid had taken pity on him. The next morning he awakes to horror. Her body is torn to shreds as well as that of her acolytes… and amidst it all Logruik finds himself untouched and strangely feeling stronger. The lexicon glows in his hands. A part of him fears that this is what it means to appease Fervus, but he pushes such thoughts away.
Traveling alone once more and living off the land as best as he knows how he stubbornly refuses to die and phoenix like from his would-be tomb emerges from the jungle upon the great waste - a desert. Beyond lie the lands of men, elves and many more.
That night between jungle and desert a power overwhelms him and he awakes to find a beast before him. A Dragon-Werewolf. It comes for him and the it takes magic-encrusted bolt upon bolt upon shield bash to bring the creature to yield. Instead of dying however, the creature starts to shrink and Logruik feels the being’s soul being dragged into him. He is absorbing it. He shrieks and it is done. The Being is once more inside of him. The lexicon glows in his hand. The night is once more quiet.
Travelling by a river he finally finds a road neither running into the waste or the jungle and so he picks a direction at his whim and trudges on. It doesn’t take long for a group of bandits to assault him. After knocking a bunch of them unconscious with repeated explosive shots, holding off two assaults and knocking off their leader’s head with a single blow without so much as moving a step the remaining bandits agree to take him to the nearest settlement so that he would let them live.
Logruik eventually finds himself in the middle of the waste nearby an oasis, surrounded and betrayed. There are simply too many this time. He lets the Being overtake him and then he is it. He is a Dragon-Werewolf mauling through the enemies and paying no heed to the screams of those running. He had control this time of what happened, but he awakes feeling significantly weaker, the lexicon glowing a different colour. The nearby oasis has a smugglers stash large enough to last him months. And so he waits for merchants to pass by. Sure enough they do and he has more than enough to pay them to take him across the waste - and like any good dwarf he makes off with as much gold as he can carry and hides whatever he cant for if he was to come by this way again.
As his traveling continues he starts to become obsessed with the lexicon and controlling it. It has strange inscriptions and can be manipulated into geometric shapes like an infinitely complex rubrix cube. Manipulating it, he can feel the beast inside stirring. Different configurations restrict it further, others bring it forth more easily, some make it easier to become the Being, other configurations make it easier to project the Being outside of himself. What configuration might grant him complete control of the Being and stop it from sapping his power? He can feel himself being slowly overcome.
Then one fateful day a misconfiguration and the beast is unleashed and he is staring at the merchants that have agreed to transport him as a dragon-werewolf. He has control though. He feels no urge to attack… but, he feels weak. With more control the beast is made weak. The merchants manage to break him and chase him off. He has to flee. He awakes in the middle of the waste with the lexicon glowing in his hand.
He has to get out of the waste. He knows which way the city the end of it lies. He gives control to the Being and it takes charge and runs for him. He loses track of time and a sense of himself. He would feel he is himself for a few hours, only to be somewhere else entirely later for a few hours, blood and smoke on his lips. Stronger… Stronger… Stronger… Stronger… Finally he sees he is no longer in the desert and a city is before him. He conjures up all the strength he has been gathering and projects it at the beast and brings it out in front of him. Then he brings it to heel and under his command, firmly and absolutely. It is obeying… the connection is broken and he uses all he can muster to bring the beast to death only to have it absorbed into him once more. He has won. He has regained control of himself and escaped the waste, but he feels weaker beyond reckoning. He cannot carry his armour. He removes it. He cannot hold his warhammer or repeating crossbow. He removes all of it and is forced to buy a cart from a farmer to make it to the city. It is a human city. Nobody understands him. All the money he found at the oasis is very quickly spent on a translator, rent, food and so forth. He is forced to bank his war-gear as capital that can be taken away if he is ever in debt and uses the capital to open a bakery, sufficient to make a basic enough living. He returns to one of his hobbies and bakes bread for the elite and pastries for the paupers.
By night he obsesses over the lexicon, trying time and time to solve its intricate mysteries (that no doubt require advanced math to solve). His strength is sapped so is his magic. It will not return to him and he does not know why. Sometimes he loses it and transforms. Thus far he has not been caught. Rumours of a beast in the city have spread and more than one would-be hero has met his end under his teeth and flame.
He has lived in the city as a humble baker for over a year now. He needs to get his strength back and bring this gift of Fervus inside of him to the Dwarves. He needs to find the entranceway to the Great Highway (no doubt by now completed) and then travel through it to the Capital to find the usurper Koatl and make him answer for his treachery. He also needs to redeem himself and answer for his own crimes and lust for power.
But how? He would have no friends when he returns. The Innovators see him a traitor and he has no doubt the Traditionalists would now see him a traitor too (The expedition to the temple wasn’t exactly sanctioned by the High Counsel). He would have to seek out the Storytellers - The faction he trusts the least and gain support from there.
In the meantime, he worships Dauros and Fervus in the little bit that he can through baking. He sells cheap pastries to the paupers and expensive bread to the elite. He finds a sense of joy in bringing a sense of order in bringing food to those who need it, and moreover a sense of joy in seeing the inherent unpredictable chaos in the target market he chose to bake for. It seems silly and isn’t enough, but it is something.
Ultimately he yearns to leave the city of humans, and fire his translator who he has gotten tired of paying. When will he regain but a little bit of his former power…? Who are these newcomers to his shop? Could this be the day?