New antagonist+elemental benders

I have been doing character development for my Kuvera fiction recently. At the same time, I’ve refined the presence of “elemental benders” in Yogaz.

Elemental bending will not be a “learned art/technique”. Instead, the ability to do so is obtained by certain individuals under very specific conditions that I don’t want to yet spoil. The number of people who can bend the elements is minuscule, perhaps less than or equal to 3 individuals per element type. This number does not typically fluctuate as time goes on.

What makes Elemental Benders unique from magic wielders who could practice evocation spells, is that Elemental Benders have a direct connection to whatever Elemental Plane they would correspond to. Magic wielders cast their evocation spells by drawing magical energy from the proper Elemental Plane, though it may not be known to them that they are doing this; they may simply know that a certain set of somatic gestures and other components yields a certain magical spell effect. Elemental Benders will be naturally attuned to their corresponding Elemental Plane. They may not even be aware that such an Elemental Plane exists. They would be familiar with it, but they may not know what to call it. “A vast expanse of intense fire within me that I can unleash”.

The minimally trained Elemental Bender would be able to control or conjure elements similar to how one would see in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The “next stage” of training for Elemental Benders is to then actively link their bodies to the corresponding Elemental Plane for short periods of time (called Elemental Embodiment), vastly empowering their elemental control and conjuration. This process is very taxing on their bodies, as it partially merges their body with the Elemental Plane.

If a fire bender were to undergo Embodiment, their skin would turn a dull red, with “veins” of a bright glow, as one would picture with magma. In this “mode”, the fire bender’s fire conjuration would be of such intensity that the flames would deprive the local air of oxygen, they could conjure lava/magma on the ground, increase the local temperature (as Control Temperatures, but only increasing the local temperature and undoing the increase), and would be made aware of tectonic activity deep under the ground surface. They could potentially aggravate or calm volcanic activity. A fire bender who has been in Embodiment for too long (say maybe 6 consecutive minutes), burnt ash would begin to form on the surface of their skin, indicating that the body is suffering from the Embodiment state.

If an ice bender were to undergo Embodiment, their skin would turn a pale white and emanate a cold frost. While under the effects of Embodiment, the ice they conjure would be resistant to melting from high temperatures, have increased hardness, and deprive the local air of heat. An ice bender under the effects of Embodiment could potentially move glaciers and large masses of ice.

If an air bender were to undergo Embodiment, their body’s opacity would greatly decrease, almost becoming as clear as air. They could separate the various gases that compose common air and influence local weather systems.

The reason I bring up all of this information on Elemental benders is because this new antagonist idea I have is an ice bender named Elora. The following is canon in my Kuvera fiction:
Elora’s backstory consists of growing up in the same town/village as Phonamar and their other childhood friends, Graham and Corban. She enjoys glass-blowing as a hobby, making glass sculptures, because she was tired of making ice sculptures that would inevitably melt away with time. She is also hydrophobic, irrationally afraid that touching large bodies of water would “melt” her, trapping her in a liquid state that she could not recover from. Though she is okay with drinking water and bathing in “icy slush showers”.

Elora joined the Kuveran military at the same time as Phonamar, Graham, and Corban, and were mostly kept in the same training groups. She would help to teach Phonamar the basics on how to cast Cold Evocation spells. Her and Phonamar had been romantic even before they joined the military, but this relationship ended (not on bad terms) when she decided to move away to Valua after they finished their advanced level training. Elora had discovered how to undergo Ice Elemental Embodiment on her own during advanced level military training, and gave tips to Leon Wolcott on how to connect himself to the Elemental Plane of Fire so that he can undergo Fire Elemental Embodiment.

Elora’s antagonism comes into play after she moves away. She will be involved in aiding the undead in some places, for reasons that I have not yet determined. I’m not sure if I want her to have made the voluntary choice to aid the undead, or if she is being controlled by a more powerful being who coveted her powers.

Someplace I think Elora could be relevant in the Nirath Adventuring campaign is in the Frostfell of the Terras. Though I’m not sure what you have planned for the Terras just yet, I thought it would be appropriate that Elora could fit in here, considering her ties to the undead. Maybe she enters the Embodiment state to move the Terras (or parts of them) every so often. In the fiction, I have planned for Phonamar to fight Elora after discovering her ties to the undead, so if she is at the Terras, this could be the time and place where this happens.

I would say the immediate thought would be could a bender be represented by another class (sorcerer, monk of four elements) and just be given a different flavor for source of power? Cantrips could easily represent the infinite ability to bend. Perhaps a sorcerer archetype could give the necessary flavor.

In regards to what is going on up north, there is a lot to be fleshed out completely, but it is not void of exploration. There is a lot more going on there than the players are led to believe–to say the least.

In terms of whether or not she would fit up there, I think that point would be moot more from the standpoint that Sovilar’s activities are one more of conquest, as evidenced by the fiendish forces baring his flag. Sovilar has no purpose to remain in a place like the Terrahs given the chance.

The real question would be is what is her purpose in being there? What ultimately is she trying to obtain? What benefit does it grant a intercontinental conquest operation to have someone with power sitting in a wintry wasteland?

Now–in terms of looking beyond Sovilar and even Mor’Rahk–Sabiel is our real threat, we both know that. This means that in some way, shape, or form, there is more going on than just the undead threat. I do have more antagonists/threats for you guys beyond what you know of, both presently and in the future. Elora could easily fit in as a futuristic threat. Undead are… simple… in purpose. They destroy life. A more complex foe should easily have a greater purpose than merely spreading undeath.
[September 24, 2015 at 6:08 pm]

Those are some good points. So here’s a potential path for her:

Perhaps she feared that the Kuveran military would want to control her as she grew more powerful, and began to scorn the idea of lacking authority. Given what she has learned about the undead from her study courses, she surmised that the simple-minded (or instinct-driven?) undead would be easy servants to command and control. I think this may be viable motivation for her to leave Kuvera and seek to assist in the undead conquests.

So maybe she would seek out the likes of Sovilar, or other undead generals? It is canon in my fiction that she does aid in raising some undead, so perhaps this was the beginning to her gaining the trust of undead generals? Start out by helping to raise the undead, and then steadily gain more trust and begin to command undead?

Is there a way for someone to command or direct undead while not being undead themselves? I think it’d be interesting if (potentially) Elora had an ulterior motive for helping in the undead conquests beyond just “wanting to command a force of minions to follow her direction”, such as aiding undead conquests in order to gain better knowledge of them and then return to Kuvera and help in vanquishing them? It’d be a nice twist for the Elora-Phonamar confrontation, where Phonamar is gung-ho on taking her out because of her affiliation with the undead, and she has to covertly communicate with Phonamar that she is not working against the living, and that he’s making a mistake by trying to confront her. So then she has to escape from Phonamar or cooperate with him while feigning enmity while her undead superiors watch?

Just some brainstorming here. As you said, it sounds like the Terrahs wouldn’t be the best place for her. But if I recall correctly, the undead are weak to fire, but thrive in cold environments, so she may be able to leverage her ice-bending as a boon to undead forces, countering any fiery threats that may be used against the undead and to create colder environments for the undead to revel in.

Thoughst on this?
[September 24, 2015 at 11:47 pm]

Undead are not inherently weak to fire. Specific ones may be. The idea might be that they thrive well in cold since the cold won’t bother them.

In terms of commanding them, there are ways, like rebuking and spells and such. Necromancers do it all the time.

The issue is controlling Undead works primarily on nonintelligent Undead. Undead aren’t so much instinctual, as they are not natural. Their instincts come from magic or negative energy. They are servants of their creation. There just isn’t much to learn about them.

Intelligent Undead are a different story. They could have numerous origins.

Perhaps you could research Blizzard’s Forsaken race, essentially a race that was need but their mind somehow became free. That could be something to research as it could be an anomaly, as in the case of Vayvis.
[September 25, 2015 at 10:28 am]

What would you propose as a motivation for Elora to want to aid the undead conquests or shift her allegiance towards Sabiel or one of the undead generals?

I feel like most of the ideas I’m coming up with aren’t plausible or my assumptions are flat out wrong, so it would be better if you could posit something since you understand the mechanics of all of this.
[September 25, 2015 at 6:54 pm]

I wouldn’t say they are wrong; I’d say they are based on the rumors of the people of Yogaz who don’t know the Undead. :wink: Remember, they didn’t want to participate but were forced to after trying to avoid it.

Your thinking all seems to make sense. If you have ever seen The Walking Dead, several characters have this belief that the undead are still who they were in life, or that they could be brought back from their zombified state. Based on this concept, I’d say misperception could easily be a motivation for her to join–thinking there was something grand or glorious behind the undead (think about characters who pursue immortality through undeath, the most common being the Lich).

Another could be the illusion of having control; someone can only control so many undead before they simply don’t listen any more and become their own roaming entity–perhaps she believes she can control more than what would be normal.

Or perhaps someone allied with Sabiel, even someone as simple as a cultist, has persuaded her that she can obtain power by being allied with Sabiel, but who knows how long that will be? What if Sabiel is like the Joker from Batman: The Dark Knight–only keeping his allies alive long enough for him to make use of them, then killing them himself? How do we know Sabiel can be trusted? He rules by fear and false promises, or perhaps partially filled promises that come with an unreachable future reward? Does he really have power to keep all his promises? He is not God after all.

Perhaps she thought Yogaz was doomed and decided to join them and “win” rather than lose.

Perhaps her foray into undeath was one after pursuit of knowledge, but something she learned corrupted, perverted, or made her insane.

Perhaps she herself wants to become a Lich.

Perhaps a demon lord of undeath (Orcus, for instance) is her patron “Deity” and he has ordered/promised her something she doesn’t have.

Perhaps she has been infected by undeath and seeks after a cure while something ravages her body.

One other thing to explore would be the origin of undeath she is pursuing. Are they created by mortal magic/curse, divinite curse/magic, the spawn of a previous undead, the shadowfell, or simply exposure to massive necrotic/negative energy? Or is it more like zombies in modern fiction–caused by disease? Perhaps there is an outbreak of undeath occurring due to disease.

I wouldn’t by any means say you are wrong (this is fantasy after all). It is just that there are so many kinds of undead that to say all of them are one way is a lie. Consider ghosts versus zombies, mummies versus vampires.

The Forsaken from Blizzard’s Warcraft are interesting in that magic makes them, more or less, but somehow they escaped the clutches of the lich king. There is a race from Pathfinder which was essentially like a lesser lich–aristocracy spend vast sums of money to become on. I think they were called Necropolitan, or something. I bring this us to say perhaps there is coming the rise of a new undead race, one of a free mind. Consider the case of Vayvis Walker.

There are so many reasons for her to join them. Perhaps she heard some item exists in the Terrahs and she is there retrieving it for her boss–so though she is not top dog, she is some other underling in the wretched chain of command; more like a messenger than a leader.
[September 25, 2015 at 7:47 pm]

So one thing to clarify with the presence of undeath in Yogaz is a “disease” of undeath. This is the only real exposure that citizens of the Yogazian nations would have had to undeath, and even then, just word of mouth of that form of undeath from the nations that have had direct exposure.

Perhaps then, when the Yogazian nations received the distress calls from the Saer’tyrk lands, they associated this “undead threat” as this disease outbreak, and not even being aware of the Hellish/Abyssal legions that are out there.

This could then explain the lack of aid from the Yogazian nations, specifically Kuvera. Political and military leaders would say “how can we help them when we have the same problem in our homeland? It would not be wise to sacrifice our resources in this time.”

I’m glad you brought up these different types of undeath. As I’ve referenced many time, the Battle of Fort Choir is pivotal in my fiction, in which Phonamar is heavily involved. I’ve always imagined the siege upon Fort Choir to include masses of simple, unintelligent undead coupled with Hellish and Abyssal beings. This would then be the first time any Yogazian nation has been attacked by intelligent undead. This also gives precedence for Phonamar’s assigned mission to join the adventuring party in the employ of Castle Saer: investigate to see if the Saer’tyrk threat of undeath is different than the kind that Kuvera is facing, and investigate the source of intelligent undead. These nuances that you’ve mentioned fill in some shaky plot drivers that I created before.

As for Elora, there are two options that I think would fit her best:
The “pursuit of knowledge, but something she learned corrupted, perverted, or made her insane” route.
the “she has been infected by undeath and seeks after a cure while something ravages her body” route.

She could have sought out an ally of Sabiel to learn more of the undead on her own volition, then something has driven her mad or insane, causing her to forget her allegiance to Kuvera and to simply wander aimlessly around the world.

Or she could have been infected by undeath, and thinking that there would be no cure to be found in Kuvera, she chose to exile herself so as to not hurt anyone and look for a cure herself. Joining an ally of Sabiel may have ran across her mind to help her understand undeath better so that she can come up with a cure by herself. “Befriending an enemy to find out their weakness”, in a sense.

Those are the two options that appeal to me most. As for where she would be involved, her earlier stages of involvement with the undead would definitely begin in Yogaz and I have several scenarios planned there. Not sure where you think she’d want to go after that. Would Mirdroth be a place that she would have good reason to be in, given the above options?
[September 25, 2015 at 10:32 pm]

Well thought out, sir!

Hmm… so the undead threat was definitely “contained” to Feldour. Sovilar’s actions are the first major spread of undeath on Mirdroth. In a way, it was a haven from the “outbreak”. I think the question would be on her end is one of two; does she seek to get close and find out more about undeath in her exile, or, does she seek to enter into solitude? Both continents have plenty of room for hiding away from folks. The question would have to be fuelled by why would she need to leave her continent? Clearly, her territory is behind on knowledge of undeath–Yogaz can’t give her the answers she seeks. Did she hear something that led her to Mirdroth? What was that something?
[September 26, 2015 at 10:10 am]

I think with Mirdroth being considered a “haven” prior to the conquests of Sovilar, we could combine both of the options presented to her.

1.) She left Kuvera but stayed in Yogaz to better understand the current undead threat. She thought joining an ally of Sabiel will give her an inside scoop and present her with good information.
2.) She inadvertently got infected with undeath in this process. Knowing she would eventually perish from this, she exiles herself to Mirdroth, so as to not return to her home and “spread” her undeath to her fellow citizens.
3.) Perhaps she sought refuge in the Terrahs, given the cold climate, to live the remainder of her life in icy bliss. Maybe she arrived in Mirdroth, caught word of the Terrahs, then started making her way up towards them.
4.) On the way to the Terrahs, she caught word of cultists of Sabiel, and maybe she caught word of the impending Sovilar conquests?
5.) “A new invasion of the undead. I could be a valuable asset to them in beginning their conquest of this continent…if I’m going to die anyway, I may as well learn what I can and relay it back to my home to help them in the future”
6.) Joins the ranks of Sovilar’s armies and aids in their conquests, so that she can learn more about the nature of the undead and where they come from.

What are your thoughts on this?
[September 26, 2015 at 12:34 pm]

Now we got a character’s story!

The question is, is she still completely sane? An “undeath disease” would likely take on the form of more than just gangrene–it would probably ravage her mind. Is she what she once was, or has some part of her soul/spirit fled her? Or, is it like a flood infection in the Halo universe (I believe it was Captain Keyes)?–where her mind is slowly losing out to the undead plague, and a battle of wills is fought inside of her, only that her own persona is slowly being consumed until death. Has she remained true to her original purpose or has that been lost given her circumstances? The evils of this magnitude surely would have a degrading affect on someone–just the presence of a fiend in the material realm is enough for plants and vegetation to wilt and wither and for animals to flee–how much more of an effect would prolonged exposure to the company of such evils torment a person’s mind and spirit? The story of D&D’s Asmodeus is one of an archangel who fought against evil so much as a radiant, valiant fighter, that eventually the evil he killed which he could not conquer corrupted him. If such a powerful angel could be consumed, what of a mortal person?

How long could one’s body last against the disease? She is mortal after all.

Eventually, she would likely come to find that there is no cure for undeath (aside from Divine intervention or a resurrection spell, which we could say is not all that common as such powers must be given to a cleric). Would despair set in?

What would cause her to continue onward with an evil group with no pity for the lives of mortals?

So she hides in the frostfell of the Sovillic Empire. Now what? The army has moved south. Its commands would appear to be simple–total war–given their destruction of the border cities of Sovilar and Iperia.

Generally, a monk has several abilities which allow their bodies to transcend the norm for mortals. Perhaps her monk-ness (going off of Airbender) has bought her some time, but how much?
[September 26, 2015 at 12:51 pm]

Let’s tackle her bodily constitution against the undead infection.

I’d imagine that this would incur some physical degradation on her body, maybe something similar to how tuberculosis ravages the body, with an element of mental ravaging as well.
Elemental Embodiment would probably be her first recourse to counter this infection, since it makes her body partially elemental. It could provide temporary relief, but then she finds out that it is not a cure. I’d like to think it could offset some of the damage done to her from the infection. Not so much “undoing” what has already been done, but delaying further damage for a set amount of time (say, entering the Elemental Embodiment state for 5 minutes would delay further damage for 3 days or something, numbers could be subject to change).

This would then become a matter of which kills her first: the undeath infection which will inevitably consume/destroy her mind, or the taxing nature of the Elemental Embodiment state which allows her to extend her sanity but also destroys her body in its own way from such frequent usage.

As far as her mental state goes, she may not live long enough to fully “forget” her original purpose or to even find out that there is no cure for undeath apart from divine means. It may be fitting that she dies at the hands of Phonamar, who would perceive her as a traitor; a tragic end for her, to die at the hand of someone she regarded well and one of the people she was trying to protect, but could not fully communicate her true intentions because of her withered mental state. At the point of death, she would probably be having episodes of amnesia, forgetting who she is and what she is doing, slipping in and out of forgetfulness. No doubt she’s more powerful than Phonamar, so the way he could end up defeating her is with a fatal blow while she has an episode mid-combat. Maybe she keeps track of her actions so that she can remind herself what she’s supposed to be doing while she’s having these episodes.

As for why she would continue on with an evil company? She may think that the lives of people she doesn’t know don’t matter as much as the lives of those she does know. If she thinks she can find a cure by staying with this evil company and help save her homeland, should she be concerned about the lives of those in Mirdroth? I think she would be selfish in this way.

Not sure if she would hide away in the Frostfell Terrahs. She may have intended to go there after learning of them and before learning of the Sovillic conquests. After learning of and supporting the Sovillic conquests, I’d think she’d stay with them out of desperation to find a cure, knowing that she’s slipping away more and more each day. This would then give some precedence for Phonamar to view her as a traitor and lead to him killing her; he wouldn’t have reason to kill her if he found her in isolation out in the Terrahs.
[September 26, 2015 at 3:31 pm]

So what stage would she currently be in?
[September 26, 2015 at 8:02 pm]

As far as her descent into corruption/madness?

I’d surmise that she’s currently at her early episodes of amnesia, and her body has definitely lost its youthful energy. She’s not able to perform the same feats of strength or agility as she could while in Kuvera. I’d place her at about the same age as Phonamar (26 years), but her bodily health is probably more that of a healthy human in their 60s. Though this may not be visually apparent to those interacting with her (lacking wrinkles or other physical “signs” of aging).

As far as her bending capabilities, she’d still be as good as ever, but having brief and intermittent interruptions in her concentration coupled with her amnesiac episodes.
[September 26, 2015 at 9:27 pm]

So, what role do you see her playing in the storyline? A side quest/episode for Phonamar? Or more?
[September 27, 2015 at 9:15 am]

If you find it appropriate that she is in isolation in one of the Terrahs, then I’d probably prefer a side quest for that.

If you find it appropriate for her to still be marching on with the Sovillic army (or armies), then she could be an eventual boss battle for the party. In the party’s tracking of the Sovillic army, would we see formations of ice in the town’s destroyed, such as icy bridges leading over town walls, lances of ice used to impale the living, or peoples who are entombed/encased in ice (maybe she’d even preserve some individuals on whom she took pity, unknown to the undead that they are still alive or comatose)? Would there be rumors of say an “ice witch” or “frozen terror” who walks amongst the undead?
[September 27, 2015 at 10:31 am]

Probably not with the army. The army is basically a kill or submit group. Destruction is their thing, at least with the main army.

If she was to be with the armed forces, she would likely be sent on a dispatch with a smaller group. The larger group of demon would have ways of teleporting, flying, and everything else of that nature. Her powers would be more beneficial if she were separated from the main force; she can’t shine when there are so many other shiny creatures.

Without revealing much about the terrahs, I cannot at present say if she would fit in somewhere in that region. I have an idea of where she could, but I would need you to let me have a little free reign with exactly what that is; without saying much, she wouldn’t be alone.

Depending on what you guys do, there are a number of places I could put her as a side element to adventure.
[September 27, 2015 at 2:01 pm]

Either or would be good.

I’d have to say that wherever she is, as long as there is an evident association with the undead or hellish forces, then I’m fine with it. Phonamar needs to see a direct correlation between her and the undead, and the confrontation should give little room for explanation or talking.
[September 27, 2015 at 3:03 pm]

Okay. I will see what I can do with the information.

Now, in regards to the Bender class, I have a solution.

Let’s rework the Monk class; specifically targeting the Way of the Four Elements. There is a lot we can do if we rebuild the archetype from scratch. The use of Ki in the archetype just doesn’t work. I have some solutions. I will open a channel that only Aaron, you, and me can see and post. I have several ideas I intend to work on and implement as house rules.
[September 28, 2015 at 7:58 am]

I don’t see the merit is making an actual “Elemental bender” class, because the conditions for becoming one are so extraordinarily rare (and there is a maximum number of Elemental benders allowed to exist at one time because of the “entry conditions”, if that would even be the right way to describe it without spoiling it).

The chances that a non-NPC player would become one may as well be nonexistent.

Not sure if it is worth the effort of creating the actual class, and thereby also limiting the versatility of the Elemental Benders.

I’d also like to move forward with the “benign Entombment” (or cryostasis as I’d call it) for Phonamar, in both item and magical form. Reason being, I just recently thought of another duty specific to Phonamar for his position in the Kuveran Elite Guard and the Reconnaissance Corps, is to search for and retrieve the deceased bodies of (or save severely wounded) powerful individuals, so as to prevent the forces of the undead from making use of the bodies and the residing power in them. Whether this is an irrational fear on part of the Kuveran military generals, or legitimate, I’d think that this cryostasis would be Phonamar’s method of accomplishing such a task. Whether Kuvera actually has any divine means of healing or resurrection is yet to be determined. Maybe Kuvera has contacts with powerful clerics who are a great distance away, and would want to “preserve” the bodies for when the cleric arrives.

Canonically, pre-military rule Kuvera has performed this cryostasis practice, but did they have contact with a powerful cleric back then? Not sure. IS THE GOVERNMENT HIDING A VAST UNDERGROUND STORAGE OF FROZEN BODIES?! In any case, I’d like to see Phoney participate in this.

If in the form on an item, lasts a set duration and is consumed after use?
And in the form of his Entomb spell (an alternative use), to cast on a willing (or dead) target, not dealing damage or suffocating, with extended duration (from minutes to several hours)?
[September 28, 2015 at 4:21 pm]

Elora lore edit:
Let’s have Elora, currently, losing her mind. Mutiny wouldn’t be enough cause for Phonamar to kill her. Rather, if she lashed out at him with lethal intent, he would kill her out of defense. Her circumstances of being around hellish creatures so much would contribute to her losing her mind in this way.

Here’s a general timeline of her “recent” history:
During the 2 year “training” period that the adventuring party underwent…

1st month: Phonamar has returned from the Saer’tyrk lands, reported his findings and the events to Alaric Haldwell. Phonamar is successfully initiated into the Kuveran Elite Guard. Elora awaits her assignment for eligibility into the Elite Guard.

2nd-6th month: Phonamar is trained by Alaric in the frostfell mountains. Elora helps Phonamar with his cold evocation and ice spells. She teaches Phonamar a modified version of Elemental Body, only in the capacity of Ice, also with the ability to merge with and move amongst a solid body of ice.

7th month: Elora receives her assignment, and leaves Kuvera. Phonamar continues training with Alaric.

18th month: Elora returns from her assignment, stricken with an unknown disease.

20th month: Phonamar and Elora kill Cervon.

21st month: Elora departs after realizing she has been infected from her assignment. She does not disclose the truth to Phonamar, instead telling him that she has decided to go join the undead on her own volition, and to leave her alone.

24th month: Phonamar is contacted by Gesshoku, and departs for Delirion City on the grounds of national security.
[September 28, 2015 at 7:55 pm]