About Penance, Servant of Abadar
Attack of Opportunity macros:
[dice=AOO greatsword damage]2d6+7[/dice}
[dice=AOO greatsword, Power Attack]1d20+11[/dice}
Appearance: Standing at six-and-a-half well-muscled feet, Penance is one of those physical specimens who grabs the attention of any sergeant looking for a potential new recruit-- especially if the sergeant doesn't care about obvious orc blood, as no amount of cosmetics or fine clothing will hide skin the color of a ripe avocado. The yellow eyes that peer from beneath a heavy browline would be another clue. Despite his brawny build, a second glance will reveal that the half-orc is relatively young-- probably not yet twenty years of age.
Penance has curly black hair that he wears trimmed short to his skull. He is dressed in dully pragmatic armor and traveling clothes. Aside from his clear orc heritage, there are only two things setting Penance apart from any of a thousand other strong, tall warriors: a tarnished brass key that hangs around his neck, and the greatsword strapped to his back-- an unusual greatsword, in that the blade ends in a flat square rather than a pointed tip. The hilt's guard is in the shape of a key as well.
Like so many of his race, Penance has a not-inconsiderable chip on his shoulder. Unlike most of them, he has a conviction that his life is meant for something greater.
Twice in his young life, he has received messages and intervention that he believes come from Abadar himself. He has a strong faith in Abadar, just like he has a strong faith in the fact that the sun will rise tomorrow, but that faith doesn't prevent him from getting frustrated when he gets sunburnt (to extend the metaphor).
Penance has been in some form of slavery or servitude for all of his relatively short life, and he views his relationship with his god in the same way: Abadar is his master, rather than the god he worships or loves (he doesn't). His service to Abadar is just a fact of his existence. He believes Abadar has appointed him to be his executioner on the mortal plane: to seek out corruption and abuses of power, and to deliver final consequences to those who persist in defying the laws of the god.
It's a heavy mission for one so young- and occasionally, Penance's youth shows through the grim exterior. He has executed a score of men, but never done something so simple as courted a pretty girl, or gone out drinking with others his age. In some ways, Penance is naive-- still learning about life and relationships, and wary of others... his life experiences mean he is innately distrustful of most people and always expects to be used or exploited in some fashion.
The one person he trusts completely, and loves unconditionally, is his mother. Like any good son, he values his mother's safety more than anything else in his world, and tries to balance his need to make sure she is safe, with his need to do what Abadar has dictated for his life. For now, his mother's safety means following the Aspis Consortium's rule.
(While I doubt his mother will play any sort of role in the campaign, as she will be back in Katapesh [unless you as the GM need NPCs to tag along!], Penance will write her letters as a roleplay mechanism, which may or may not get delivered based on what level of communication the PCs are allowed with the outside world.)
City-born and bred, he's largely ignorant of the wild and of the threats wild animals and nature herself can pose.
He is inherently distrustful of most clergy, and suspects them of abusing their authority no matter what faith they follow-- Penance is in no way a 'church-appointed' paladin, and wouldn't call himself a 'paladin'-- instead, he is an individual who has been directly touched by his god, and is alternately resentful of this fact, and grateful for what Abadar has done in his life.
He is happiest when he is whittling a piece of wood for his own pleasure: he likes making things with his hands, and longs for a life where he might have been a simple carpenter, rather than a divinely-appointed warrior. But neither the Aspis Consortium, nor Abadar himself, seem inclined to let him have such a simple life.
I hope you don't mind a wall of text, but here's the Cliff's Notes version if you do:
Penance is a former slave from Nex, where he worked as a guard and executioner for the church of Abadar, under the eye of a respected high priest who was secretly his father. His mother was a half-orc slave girl who the priest had impregnated-- he had the boy's parentage kept secret, for fear of social backlash against him. When his mother eventually killed his father, Penance and his mother had to flee. They appealed to the Aspis Consortium to smuggle them out of Nex-- which the Consortium did, but the price was Penance's ongoing services as an enforcer and guard.
The average half-orc is usually imagined to be a product of rape-- a brutish, marauding father pillaging a defenseless human village and the equally defenseless human maid, or so go the stereotypes.
Sometimes, the reality is both subtler, and nastier.
The warrior known as Penance is the child of a respected high priest of Abadar, named Kinjar, and a half-orc slave girl who belonged to him. When the girl, Adjah, announced her pregnancy to her master, Kinjar was torn: fathering children on one's slaves was unlikely to be well received by his peers in the clergy, or by his community as a whole. He ordered her not to reveal the child's true parentage-- so much easier to let the rumors fly that Adjah had slept with a guardsman, another slave, a tradesman... anything but the truth. When the child was born, his orcish blood was quite visible-- more so than Adjah's-- and thus, Kinjar escaped any suspicion of involvement for many years.
As master, Kinjar ordered that the boy-child be named 'Penance'-- supposedly, a remonstration from master to slave, for her loose conduct-- but secretly a reminder to himself.
Penance was raised as a slave in the city of Nex, although one occasionally indulged by the master. Kinjar saw to it the boy-- who grew to be tall and strong-- was trained in the basics of fighting, and by the time the boy was a youth, he was serving as a temple guard... and always reminded that this was an honor, for a slave with orc blood, and that he should be grateful that his master was a pious and generous man.
Eventually, Penance was 'promoted' to the position of executioner-- a job that few free citizens wish to do, as it carries social stigma. But Abadar is a god of law, and the worst lawbreakers must be punished with final consequences... and Penance was, again, told that this was an honor, and the best that he could hope for given his shameful origins.
It was always impressed upon him that only the grace of Abadar kept him from being sold to some other master, and that the path to survival lay in unquestioning obedience to the laws of Nex... the laws that Kinjar explained to him, of course.
If Abadar himself had not intervened, it is likely that Penance would still be doing exactly this: raising the executioner's sword over condemned criminals in the city's plaza, and patrolling the temple's grounds as a common guard, and in his free time helping out the temple's craftsman with tasks that required brute strength, such as hauling lumber (he was a favorite of the woodworkers, who showed him some of the art of planing and shaping wood).
But the god of law was not indifferent to the situation. Penance, not yet twenty years of age, began having dreams, in which a man in golden armor appeared to him and whispered that the world was not as he saw it, and that a falseness and a corruption lay close at hand...
Haunted by the dreams, Penance began to restlessly question everyone around him. He brought his concerns to his master, in good faith-- Kinjar would surely know how to intrepret them, for he was ever so much wiser than Penance, wasn't he?
The priest was shaken by Penance's questioning, as his secret had gnawed at him for years. He quickly came to the conclusion that the boy's mother must have hinted the truth to him-- Abadar himself surely would not stoop to giving messages to a lowly slave! The priest sought out Adjah to chastise her. She said she had never disobeyed his words; he spat that she was a liar, and struck her. A struggle resulted-- and at the end of it, the priest lay dead, with Adjah having buried a dagger in his throat.
Penance came into the room scant seconds later, drawn by the sounds of conflict he had heard, to see his mother standing over the corpse of the high priest.
Adjah explained the truth to him, and Penance did what he saw as the only path open to him: he took his mother's dagger, and hurriedly bloodied his hands in his master's (and father's) blood.
When the guards arrived, he claimed that he had done the deed, and submitted himself to the authority of the Law.
Penance was sentenced to death... but Abadar intervened a second time. The night before his execution, a guard in golden armor appeared in the jail and unlocked the door to Penance's cell. Wordlessly, he returned Penance's equipment to him-- especially the sword that he had used in his duties as executioner, a sword that now shone with a cold, hard light-- and gestured for him to go.
He returned to his mother, and together they planned to flee Nex. Adjah suggested some people who might be able to help them get out.... and that is how Penance made the acquaintance of the Aspis Consortium. The Consortium said that yes, they could be of assistance. They would smuggle mother and son out of Nex, north to Katapesh... for a price. There's always a price.
The price was his ongoing service to the Consortium's goals-- as a warrior, bodyguard, and enforcer. It may not be slavery, exactly-- to be fair, serving the Consortium has been profitable for Penance-- but it's close enough that Penance still resents it.
Since then, Penance and his mother have dwelt in Katapesh, where they live comfortably, as long as Penance does the tasks that the Consortium gives him. He believes that Abadar had some purpose for him, and seeks to learn what it is. For now he contents himself with exposing corruption-- with rooting out men like his damned father, those who abuse their power and cover it up behind the veil of the law, whose souls are corrupt and whose actions will inevitably bring divine retribution down on their heads.... and Penance is that retribution, as he sees it. He is Abadar's executioner, and you may make your excuses to Pharasma when you meet her.