M is for Merkourios the Medusa

Merkourios

Merkourios is a Gorgon (Medusa, according to D&D), a rare male of the kind. From his desert palace he sends out to the world beautiful poetry and extremely life-like statues of famous warriors and heroes. The latter are, in fact, challengers from far and wide who sought fame in defeating the Somber King (but failed, obviously).

His works are famous; the poems are cherished by the common people because they lift up the spirits of the downtrodden and unfortunate. His statues sell for great prices for some are of legendary demi-gods and fantastic creatures, such as Minotaurs, Centaurs, Demons and even Giants. He has so far been undefeated because of the continuous stream of these exported treasures.

Background

Merkourios was once the king of a great empire. He constantly fought over ownership of the throne with his twin sibling Ammonios. While they both had equal birthright to rulership, Merkourios was far more popular with the people on account of his brother’s sorcerous ways. Ammonios seemed all too eager to resurrect the ancient rituals of human sacrifice, while Merkourios was a charismatic warrior and poet.

Through some nefarious plot, Ammonios managed to trick his brother into going on a quest to slay a threatening “cult” hiding in the desert. It turned out to be a lie; the people that Merkourios’ war party slew were, in fact, holy pilgrims of a benevolent Oasis Goddess. Angered by this barbarous act, the Goddess cursed Merkourious so that he could never be around other people without harming them and turned his greatest warriors into serpents forever melded to his skull.

Ashamed and devastated, Merkourios hid himself in the forgotten palace of his ancestors, hiring only blind servants and aides. He fell into a dark despair as his brother ruined their kingdom and turned it into a dreaded and feared canker in the land.

Using this NPC in your campaign

Merkourios has all of the powers of a typical Gorgon (Medusa), but he is a good-hearted and charitable soul burdened with countless years of pain and sadness. The heroes could encounter him in one of a few ways:

  1. They recognize a lifelike statue in a town square as one of their allies who had vanished recently; the investigation as to how this came to be could lead them into the desert.
  2. The heroes, if more combat oriented or if they’re a band of monster slayers, may hear rumors of a Medusa living in the desert. Once they get there, things become complicated when his true nature becomes revealed.
  3. The heroes are on a quest to slay the evil sorcerer in some desert kingdom. They may find an unexpected ally in Merkourios.
  4. The party Bard comes across one of Merkourios’ poems: not only is it heartbreakingly haunting, it contains a secret message: a call for help by a man wishing to end the tyranny of his evil brother.

L is for Luísiach the Lich

lich

There is a town somewhere where the locals do not fear for their lives and yet the undead patrol the streets at night.

You see, the town is governed by a powerful lich who is judge, jury and executioner. She uses her potent sorcery to see into the souls of the accused and, if judged guilty, she devours their souls and uses their corpses for manual labor and policing.

The only problem is that crime is at an all-time low and their mistress is beginning to starve. A lich going “senile” in this way becomes dangerously unpredictable. So the locals have set up a false  “thieves’ guild” and “smuggler’s association”, drawing unfortunate low lives and rogues from other parts of the land into their town. Their protector needs to feed and the people must oblige.

Background

Luísiach (pronounced lee-shock) was once a powerful wizard with dark aspirations for immortality but a profound love for her town and the people.

She has struck a mutually beneficial bargain with the townspeople: they let her manage justice and the guard and she gets to continue her necromantic studies in safety and privacy.

Using this NPC in your campaign

Here are some potential hooks:

  1. The adventuring party, if mostly composed of rogues or criminals, get tricked into joining the thieves’ guild and enter that town. Eventually they find out what they’re up against and must escape the city and its watchful, restless guards.
  2. One of the PCs has a roguish friend in that town who seeks their aid, insisting that they’re innocent but awaiting trial.
  3. One of the party’s more potent enemies has fled into this town and only the lich can help in finding him.
  4. The lich has gone silent and comatose; the townspeople desperately need fresh souls; the party could be hired to lead a band of outlaws and ruffians into town.

K is for Kojo the Kobold

Had to rush this one, sorry. No time for something unique or in color. Oh well, life, kids etc...
Had to rush this one, sorry. No time for something unique or in color. Oh well, life, kids etc…

Kojo is a remarkable creature. Unlike the rest of his species, he is nearly indestructible… as long as there are others nearby. No matter the danger or calamity, as long as there are smaller, weaker or more cowardly creatures nearby, Kojo cannot be harmed. Even the mightiest curses directed at him somehow affect someone else instead.

Thanks to this miraculous and inexplicable luck, Kojo is a very brave and arrogant being; his confidence draws many followers (who ironically believe that his luck spreads to them). He has even become famous among Kobolds by scoffing at dragons and other powerful beings who expect the typical devotion that his kind offer to them.

With his living meat-shield of devoted followers, Kojo wanders from dungeon to dungeon seeking to undo the works of evil rulers and masterminds. Mostly to avenge the abuse of his species, but mainly to become famous.

Background

Kojo was another run-of-the-mill Kobold. In other words, he was just another low HD goon sent to thin out the resources of dungeon delvers.

He saw many of his friends, siblings and even lovers brutally slaughtered by callous “heroes” while he remained unharmed. No matter what, he was always one of the few survivors. He never got thanks or recognition for his losses.

Interestingly, his anger was directed towards his masters, be they dragon, lich, beholder or whip-snapping dark elf. Eventually, he discovered that he was unkillable and became quite bold. He left the underdark with a group of followers and set off into the world to make his own destiny.

Using this NPC in your campaign

Kojo is a standard Kobold, except that he cannot be killed as long as he’s not alone. By default, any damage or negative effects targeted at him will instead affect the nearest allied creature within his vicinity. If there are no other Kobolds, the damage will hit the creature with the lowest HP. If he’s alone with his attacker, then somehow the damage reflects back against them; he will always remain unscathed.

This usually happens in a crazed Rube-Goldberg (domino) effect.

Otherwise, Kojo is rather inoffensive and hardly dangerous, even though he believes that he is.

It goes without saying that if a group of PCs come across Kojo and his gang they’ll find out quickly that he’s not an enemy (except maybe a competitor to reach the final Dungeon Boss). He’ll eagerly join them if they have a goal to defeat some villain or monster.