Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dolmenwood by the Dozen: The Puce Knight

With my Dolmenwood campaign coming up I’ve been delving the deeps of the Google+ community in search of things that I can utilize, and I happily came across a list by Andrew Walter, Keegan Fink, and Gavin Norman. There were no stats or lore associated with each name, so I’m going to try to stat them out by the dozen and give them some lore and fluff. I want each character to be have enough to them to build a session around them or make running into them memorable.

The first dozen characters are as follows:
1. The Puce Knight, a sadistic retainer for the capricious Prince Mallowheart.
2. Berenski, a Beetle Farmer who hosts games of chance on the banks of Ransom Creek.
3. Grey Sally, a fickle tarot-teller who collects threads for malign purposes.
4. The Highwayman known as Punctual Ched, who is compelled to finish what he starts in an exacting fashion.
5. Linbury, the Ambassador to the Dirt Giants who has lost his vaunted station as a noble due to funding many a ditch-digging expedition. But he knows what lurks beneath.
6. The Peat Burner known as Swolder, who has his hands in many pots and in dealings with...
7. ...Tog the Eel Fisher; who may be one of two men in the region who have unlocked the secrets of human immortality. It involves eels.
8. Penni Swegscott, a round-about-town gossip from Castle Brackenwold who always wants to make new friends and get involved in heavy dramatics.
9. The mysterious Bastro who never leaves his cart and makes auspicious claims about the hopelessness of mortal man in the Dolmenwood.
10. Prete a dusty orphan who runs a gang out of Castle Brackenwold; a threat to those of higher morality.
11. Inspector Rennet who is on the trail of criminals from distant High-Haggle and whose single-minded focus will be his undoing.
12. The Pipistrelle; a bat-faced beast who lurks and laments its place in the chaos-instilled Kingdom of the Nag-Lord.

Our first entry into the dozen is the Puce Knight. Tomorrow, schedule-allowing, we meet Berenski.
The Puce Knight
HD: 6
Alignment: Chaotic.
AC: 6.
Intelligence: Pompously Crafty.
Attacks: 1 (Weapon), or Spells.
Size: Medium (8’ Height).
Move: 180’ (60’) on foot. 200’ (80’) Leap.
XP: 1,600.
Morale: 12.
Possessions: Bristlewick, Fey Armor.
No. Appearing: 1 + Retinue.
Hoard: XV.

Of the many sadistic knights within the entourage of Prince Mallowheart, the one most commonly sent on quests within the Dolmenwood is the wicked Puce Knight. Tall by even Faerie standards due to his long legs, this twisted Elf wears a set of bulky brownish plate-mail which is covered in tiny hooked barbs which seem to shudder hungrily towards fleshy beings in the Knight’s presence. His helmet is a great crested affair, a galea of blond locks ripped from the scalps of maidens drape over the tick-looking helmet of autumnal nickel and bronze. A visor covers the Knight’s face, and to gaze upon his bare flesh is to assure one’s death at his hands. It is told in troubadour's song that his face is of a beauty that drives men and maidens to plead for death so they may not gaze upon anything a lesser than his glory. It is common knowledge among woodgrue and others who dwell into the Otherwold that the Puce Knight’s head is a mangled mixture of Elf and Flea, which runs red as blood during combat.

In combat the Puce Knight uses his barbed fauchard, Bristlewick, which can drain blood from victims and pour the vitae into those it impales. The Puce Knight is known to exsanguinate one victim only to burst another with the blood of the fallen, exploding them into a mess of horror and gore. Prince Mallowheart considers such displays to be astounding and hilarious. The Puce Knight enjoys leaping upon enemies and running them through, jumping in some equivalence to a flea’s leap. The Puce Knight plummeting from the sky is not an uncommon mechanism found in stage-plays that need to grab the audience’s interest with violent displays, deft stunts, and showers of chicken gizzards.
He's not a very attractive Elf without his helmet on.
Though by Elf standards he's hot to trot.


The barbed fauchard of the Puce Knight is eight feet in length, with the shaft made of a knotted old blackwood and run-ragged with the rusty red metal of its blade which is swirled throughout the weapon; as though the blade was forged and then a tree grown around it.  The Puce Knight can wield it in one hand awkwardly, dealing 1d8+1 damage; or use it in both hands to deal 1d10+2. If he slashes an enemy the amount of damage is absorbed into the fauchard as blood; causing the wood to ooze yellow-orange sap. If the Puce Knight proclaims the magic word of “Wyk Nu Cobh” while striking a second enemy while wielding the weapon in both hands, the absorbed blood is pushed into the new victim and deals an additional 1d8+1 damage. On a critical strike that forces blood into the enemy, they must make a Save vs. Death or take triple damage and began oozing blood from every pore and orifice.

Fey Armour
The brown barbed armour of the Puce Knight is functionally plate but built only for those of strangely lanky proportions. Those who attack the Puce Knight with claws, fangs, or fists run the risk of being hooked by the barbs. Those who land a blow on the Puce Knight with such weapons lose hit-points equal to their damage dice; so a 2d4 attack would see the attacker lose 2 hit-points.

The Puce Knight is a servant of Prince Mallowheart, and while not always in his company, the Knight seeks only to please his master. If the party are enemies of the One True God, the Drune, or of cruel means but respectful disposition to their betters than it is entirely possible the Puce Knight will spare them. In general the Puce Knight does not seek to trifle with mortals unless bade to by his master; he often has better things to be doing.

  1. Sitting atop a pile of corpses (bandits, goatmen, Brackenwolder men-at-arms), doused in blood, and drinking from a wine-skin. He will attempt to bully the party into a man-flaying contest, offering them gold should they win or demanding their fealty should they lose. If the party treats him with respect but declines their offer he shall ask that they instead make it known to the next individual they meet that Prince Mallowheart is not a Lord to be easily forgotten and he need be praised on the solstice or further incidents shall transpire.

    To perform a man-flaying contest, a character needs to roll a d20+the damage dice of any knife they might own; adding their Dexterity modifier. Elfs may upgrade their knife’s damage dice by one degree; d4 to a d6, d6 to a d8; et cetera. The Puce Knight will use Bristlewick with two-hands. If the PC somehow rolls higher than the Puce Knight, the Knight will be impressed and pleased that Prince Mallowheart’s art is known among the mortals. The Puce Knight will pay the difference between the rolls in gold coins (bloody, slick, and sticky) to the victor. If the Puce Knight is victorious, the services he demands generally involve torturing prisoners and leading holymen astray in the woodlands.
  2. With his entourage of ettercaps, setting up traps off the road for some horrific hunt. If the party investigates the sounds of clinking metal and hammering off the road, the Puce Knight will demand they assist in the hunt (as bait), help set the traps (a dangerous choice), or be dealt with by his underlings as he must concentrate on studying texts upon his quarry. If the party assist in the hunt, they will be given alcohol to drink and food to eat until night falls, during which they will be slathered in blood and made to run through trap-filled wilderness in order to gain the attention of the Beast (roll a d6: 1. a catoblepas, 2. a wyrm, 3. the wandering beast, 4. a giant boar, 5. a questing knight. 6. a werewolf.)

    Should the party survive the night and the hunt, the Puce Knight will acknowledge them as useful mortals and invite them to dine with the servants at a feast for Prince Mallowheart. This is far more dangerous than the hunt itself. If the party declines due to prior engagements or other understandable obligations,  the Puce Knight will leave them a choice cut of the quarry and leave them in the woods.
  3. Taking in a poor stage-play in which the Puce Knight is said to be a character. He will respectfully watch the entire play, but there is a 50% chance he will take insult and try to butcher the entire cast and audience as soon as the play has ended. His ettercap entourage will cause problems regardless, even during the play, as they wish to impress their master by being offended on his behalf.
  4. Crucifying a friar to an old bramble-thorned tree. He carves words of High Elfish into the scalp  of the friar. If the party tries to prevent the crucifixtion, the Puce Knight and his ettercap retinue will respond with violence. If the party simply witnesses, the Puce Knight will make a speech about how those who seek to push against the workings of higher beings shall be left to the good graces of their own absent masters. The Puce Knight will then depart, allowing the party to free the friar without any issue or incident. If the party attempts to help the Puce Knight, the faerie knight will get enraged at his own servants for being too lazy to do the job proper and thank the party for their aid but decline it all the same. If the party pushes to help the Puce Knight, he will ask them to beat his servants with weapons of iron or silver.
Like all creatures of fairy origin, the Puce Knight is vulnerable to iron, suffering double damage from such weapons. He does not suffer additional damage when struck with silver, but it does sicken the Puce Knight making him unable to properly speak the magic words for his weapon without sneezing or coughing. If sickened, the Puce Knight must spend his entire turn speaking the word.

Retinue of Ettercaps
The Puce Knight is always followed by 1d4+2 ettercap servants which have the following statistics:
HD 3 (12hp), AC 9, Att: Claws/Poisonous Fangs (1d6/2d4 envenoming that slows victims by half) Ml 8, Mv 90’ (30’), Al C, XP 35.

My favorite picture of the Ettercap. So graceful. So creepy.

Such servants are tagalongs brought from Prince Mallowheart’s Realm. These hideous creatures are twisted faeries made from lesser fey who allowed their betters to die by way of their own cowardice. While some would be executed and fade from existence, others are snared in webs of guilt and self-loathing and choked into the bloated spider-like creatures known as ettercaps.

The Puce Knight’s retinue is dispatched to murder and spy upon those who are not worthy of the Puce Knight’s full attention but have still gained his or his master’s ire. They are also used to  set traps and manipulate folks with poisons and catspaws for the amusement of their lord. Those who are dispatched by the ettercaps are dragged back to the Puce Knight and either then enslaved for some short time before a cruel death in the Otherwold of Prince Mallowheart’s domain, or they suffer a worse fate---being dragged screaming into a realm between realms to be impregnated with the cruel larvae of doubt and hate and serve as walking incubators in the mortal realm who will burst in an explosion of spiders and gore to remind mortals to fear that which lurks in the woods.

Ettercaps appear about seven feet tall and horrendously thin. They tend to be crouching things that scuttle about with twisted dexterity and silent footfalls. Those who are favored by the Prince often wear nooses of silk which he can snatch at from the Otherwold to retrieve them for his own sick games. Ettercaps have the heads of spiders, with large mandibles that stop them from speaking more than sputtered sadistic laughs and pleas for mercy.

An ettercap will revert to sad and humble cowardice if more than 300’ from the Puce Knight or Prince Mallowheart. An ettercap will pull off its head and show who he once was if someone speaks its true name. An ettercap cannot suffocate. An ettercap fears spiders, for they are a punishment they cannot flee. And an ettercap cornered and broken will pledge its service in return for its life. Such dealings usually involve the ettercap making an offer to remove eight mortals from the world and to bring them to the Puce Knight or Prince Mallowheart.

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