Fallen angel: Zult the Hound-Breaker


Advice


Something bad happened to Zult a long, long time ago.

Hound Archons almost never fall. They're so devoted to their duties, so honest, so brave, and yet so kind. They're basically the ultimate Good Dogs. It's really hard to turn a Good Dog to Bad. But the multiverse is vast and ancient, and strange and terrible things have sometimes come to pass. Nobody is sure what happened to Zult. One theory is that is that he somehow got involved with the Book of the Damned, and was blasted by its soul-blackening evil. Another is that somehow he got cursed with memories too horrible even for an archon, and bargained his service to Abaddon in return for a long drink of oblivion. But everyone who would have known the truth is long dead, and Zult isn't talking.

Zult now serves Charon, the Horseman of Death. He lives in Abaddon, on a mansion overlooking the River Styx. Think of an old-fashioned plantation house on the banks of the Mississippi, except that instead of cotton fields it's a blighted, poisonous wasteland dotted with a few twisted, leafless trees, under a black sky with the only light coming from the red eye of a dead god, where the desperate souls of the damned scuttle for shelter, pursued by remorsleless packs of ravenous daemons. And instead of alligators, hydrodaemons, basking on the muddy shores of the Styx. But otherwise pretty much the same.

Zult is gaunt and white-furred, with patchy fur and pale milky eyes. Despite this decrepit appearance, he's actually strong, quick, and dangerous. He is a curiously erudite creature, and almost always ready to have a conversation about any learned topic -- most particularly literature. The interior of his mansion is mostly dark, foul, and crumbling, except for the enormous library. That's clean, pleasant, and well-lit. (And very well secured. Don't mess with Zult's library.) Zult has thousands of books, gathered from across centuries and a dozen different planes, and he's always happy to talk about them! If he's not trying to kill you, of course.

Zult's service to Charon seems to be "runner of odd jobs". While he radiates evil, he's not obviously a daemon, and he's a soft-spoken creature who is capable of diplomacy and tact. He's also a vicious fighter in a pinch, and of course he can just plane shift away from most sorts of trouble. So the Horseman of Death sends him on minor diplomatic missions, or to discover odd bits of information, or to recover lost items. He can thus be encountered pretty much anywhere. Depending on the situation, he may have up to 5,000 gp worth of magic items to help him disguise himself, locate his target, or otherwise carry out his mission.

When he's not traveling the planes, Zult is always found at his mansion, either reading a book (90%), or hunting the souls of petitioners with a pack of daemons (10%). His mansion staff includes 10 ceustodaemons, a sullen, croaking, hydrodaemon Rog3 valet, and an advanced cauchemar. At any given time, there's a 50% chance he has a visitor (1-2 a Thanadaemon discussing a mission from Charon, 3-4 a Night Hag bargaining for souls, 5-6 a Leng Ghoul come to peruse the library).

Zult's fellow archons view him with a combination of horror, loathing, fascination and pity, and they've made a number of attempts to end his awful existence. Zult has survived them all, and he truly doesn't seem to care what his former colleagues think.

Zult Hound-Breaker

Unique Fallen Hound Archon / Fighter 10 CR 12

NE Medium outsider (archon, extraplanar, evil)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., detect good, low-light vision, scent; Perception +11
Aura aura of menace (DC 21), magic circle against good

DEFENSE

AC 29, touch 12, flat-footed 27 (+9 natural; +2 Dex; +8 armor; +2 deflection vs. good)
hp 120 (16d10+32)
Fort +13, Ref +10, Will +9; +4 vs. poison, +2 resistance vs. good
DR 10/good; Immune electricity, petrification; SR 20

OFFENSE

Speed 40 ft.
Melee bite +18 (1d8+5), slam +18 (1d4+3) or greatsword +22/+17/+12 (6d6+3 vital strike / 2d6+3, crit 17-20)

Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th)

Constant—detect evil, magic circle against evil
At Will— death knell, deeper darkness, greater teleport (self plus 50 lbs. of objects only), message

STATISTICS

Str 19, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 12

Base Atk +16; CMB +20; CMD 32

Feats Breadth of Knowledge, Cleave, Greater Cleave, Improved Initiative, Improved Vital Strike, Improved Critical, Iron Will, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Bluff), Step Up, Toughness, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (Greatsword)

Skills Acrobatics +11, Bluff +20, Diplomacy +11 Intimidate +20, Knowledges (all) +9, Perception +10, Sense Motive +10, Stealth +13, Survival +14; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth, +4 Survival
Languages Celestial, Draconic, Infernal; truespeech
SQ change shape (beast shape II)

Gear +1 vicious greatsword, +1 deathless field plate, 2d6 basic soul gems. Zult can consume a basic soul gem as a standard action to gain fast healing 5 for 10 rounds.

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Change Shape (Su)
Zult can assume any canine form of Small to Large size, as if using beast shape II. While in canine form, he loses his bite, slam, and greatsword attacks, but gains the bite attack of the form he chooses. For the purposes of this ability, canines include any dog-like or wolf-like creature of the animal type.

Houndbreaker (Ex)
Zult treats all doglike or wolflike creatures -- including dogs, wolves, extraplanar creatures such as hell hounds or cayhounds, and hound archons -- as a ranger's favored enemy: +4 to Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks against creatures of this type, and he gets a +4 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against them.

Bound to Abaddon (Su)
Zult can only be killed in Abaddon. If he dies on any other plane, he reforms in 2d6 hours in his mansion by the Styx. This process cannot be interrupted by any magic short of a Wish or Miracle.

Studious (Ex)
All Knowledge skills are class skills for Zult, and Charon grants him 2 skill ranks / level to spend only on Knowledge skills.

As a general rule Zult will prefer to talk than fight. He's an excellent liar and a diplomat; it's impossible to insult or upset him, and he makes sure to mix plenty of truth with his falsehoods. If forced to it, he'll always teleport away first, eat a soul gem, activate any buffs available, and then teleport back. He makes liberal use of Power Attack and Cleave, and goes after weaker looking foes first, hoping to eliminate them with a critical. He can't be killed outside Abaddon, but he doesn't like failing his master; he seems to be sincerely loyal to the Horseman of Death. So while he's not afriad of death, he won't throw himself into combat pointlessly.

If encountered in Abaddon, Zult's mansion can be a relative oasis of peace... maybe. Zult loves good conversation, and a suitably high Knowledge check can get him to offer hospitality. This is always very dangerous, though; Zult is completely amoral and has no sense of honor whatsoever, and he'll turn on a guest the moment the value of their souls seems greater than the interest of their company. Also, he will absolutely betray and attack anyone whose interests may be hostile to his master. If he thinks a party is powerful enough to present a challenge, he'll dissimulate and delay while sending messengers to summon powerful allies. That said, if the visitors are amusing and their errand seems harmless to Charon, it's perfectly possible that Zult could provide a night's hospitality, several hours of really interesting conversation, and -- if the PCs are well mannered -- the chance to peruse a truly amazing library.


-- Why? To provide an interesting encounter if the PCs ever have to visit Abaddon; as a tribute to the character in _Summer in Orcus_; for theorycrafting; because fallen angels are interesting and PF doesn't have enough of them; and (of course) as a possible recurring NPC.

Also, I like the idea of a villain whose priorities are (1) getting on with his job, and (2) reading lots of books. Fighting the PCs is a distant (3): he will if he has to, but with a sigh as he puts a book down. Zult doesn't rant and he doesn't hold grudges. The only way to really upset him would be to burn down his library. And since his mansion is something like a CR 16 encounter, if you can do that making a CR 12 creature angry won't be a major concern.

Doug M.


+4 Str and +1 enhancement should be +7 base damage with the greatsword. With power attack -5/+15 he'd be up to +22, albeit vs. most PCs the -5 attack would be a bad idea. Vicious would add 2d6 which also wouldn't be increased by vital strike.

He's definitely a jack of all trades, master of none, which means he might even have a reason to hire PCs in the right situation. Nothing wrong with working for a hound archon, right?

Dark Archive

the damage is all wrong. but neat idea


avr wrote:
+4 Str and +1 enhancement should be +7 base damage with the greatsword. With power attack -5/+15 he'd be up to +22, albeit vs. most PCs the -5 attack would be a bad idea. Vicious would add 2d6 which also wouldn't be increased by vital strike.

Thanks for the corrections. Teleport lets him get close to the squishier PCs if need be, and Step Up means casters can't escape as easily as they might like. Still, all in all I don't think he's that deadly for (let's say) a group of 10th level PCs. Adjusting CR is an art, not a science, but CR 12 might be a little high.

Quote:
He's definitely a jack of all trades, master of none, which means he might even have a reason to hire PCs in the right situation. Nothing wrong with working for a hound archon, right?

He radiates evil and is obviously not a normal hound archon. That said, he can use magic to disguise or dissimulate. Or use Bluff to spin a sad, plausible yarn. (Or not, if dealing with nongood PCs.) Note that while Zult is quite evil, he's not pointlessly cruel -- he's a nihilist, not a sadist. He's thoughtful, patient, and has kept a dry sense of humor. Perhaps that's why Charon keeps him around -- he's a more flexible tool than the typical KILL EVERYTHING daemon. (Although at the end of the day, yah, kill everything.)

Doug M.

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