Monday, August 6, 2012

The Red Edge, Part 1: Lucia Calderon

An unorthodox group of assassins for your Pathfinder game

By Randy

Plot hook. Drawn in. Locate BBEG (that's "Big Bad Evil Guy"). Kill him. Profit.

That's a summation of many fantasy roleplaying adventures. Sure, there are often investigations and following clues, roleplaying encounters get NPCs to help the player characters, exploration of mythic places and such. But often, the plot can be summed up as above. Which is not necessarily a bad thing thing, but it can get stale. Which is why I like to throw a wrench in things sometimes.

What if the villain is someone who you don't want to kill or capture? What if the identity of that person is such that acting against them in any way will bring serious repercussions? This was what I was thinking when I designed this little band of baddies. At least, one in particular. This group would be a fun group to encounter in your Pathfinder game.

The Red Edge is a small group of assassins with a highly unusual membership: an eight year old girl, a teenage stableboy and his stablemaster father. But, as you can expect, their identities are more complex than this. With the help of some alien technology (from the starfaring race, the Mi-Go), a couple of aging criminals both found a way to be young again, and a way to ply their trade with far more secrecy and effectiveness.

The first member, and primary assassin of the group is Lucia Calderon. It's hard to believe she is anything but a typical eight year old girl. The truth is that her father, Valter Calderon, is in possession of her. Valter "the Barber" Calderon had been an enforcer for a crime family in Ustalav, and, when a rival family killed his employer, he fled and eventually made it to Magnimar. There he plied his trade as a barber while he got a feel for the town and learned more about its underworld. During this time, he met two important people: his wife, Maggie, and his business partner, Malkin Pederson.

Valter had learned that the assassin's trade in Magnimar was a little too regulated for his tastes. There is a guild there that specializes in assassination and is run by an elf referred to as "The Arranger". Valter had no desire to throw in his lot with another organization that very well could meet the same fate as the family he previously worked for, and he did not want to end up dead from another's mistakes. He found a like-minded person in con artist Malkin Pederson, and the two became fast allies. And shortly after, he and Maggie had a baby daughter, Lucia.

Valter, ever a cautious man, wanted to create a bit of a buffer between his work and his family life, so he relocated his family to a river town called Perdition about half a day away, where Malkin was from. Malkin himself stayed behind in Magnimar, quietly arranging contact killings, which Valter (primarily) would perform. This arrangement persisted for about six years, after which time a near run-in with The Arranger's people caused Malkin to come back to Perdition.

It is not entirely clear what happened next. Malkin disappeared for a couple weeks. Then one day, a teenage boy came to visit Valter Calderon. He explained that he was actually Malkin, but that a device he found in the swamps allowed him to take this younger body. Valter, a ruthless and cruel man, devised a plan. With Malkin's help, they disappeared into the swamps with Lucia, his daughter. A story was concosted that Valter had died protecting Lucia from a marauding beast, and he was never seen again.

In the weeks that passed, Malkin (now called Telveren Wainwright) and his "father" established a stable in Perdition. To all eyes, they seem like a typical father and son. Maggie Calderon, however, eventually grew aware that something was not right with Lucia. When asked about the matter, Lucia revealed herself as Valter, and made it clear that should Maggie ever betray that secret that Lucia would never come back.

With their new bodies, Valter and Malkin are more active than ever. Malkin continues to be the face of the group, and they have adopted a new name, The Red Edge. They still perform the majority of their work in Magnimar, and are more cautious about keeping secrets. Valter is a far more effective assassin in his new body, as few would expect a pretty braid-haired girl to suddenly produce a razor and go for their throat. Here are Pathfinder stats for her; look for a second part soon detailing Telveren Wainwright (aka Malkin Pederson) and his "father".

Lucia Caldron (Valter Calderon)
Female Human Child Rogue 8
Lawful Evil Small Humanoid (Human)
Init +5 ; Senses Perception +14
AC 23 , touch 18 , flat-footed 23 ( +5 armor, +2 deflection, +5 Dex, Size +1)
HP 70 (8d8+8+2)
Fort +5 , Ref +11 , Will +5
Defensive Abilities Evasion, Improved Uncanny Dodge
Speed 30 ft
Melee +1 Wounding Razor +14/+9 1d4+1 (+1 Bleed) /19-20 /x2 ) [+1 to hit/damage when 10’ or more away from ally]
Ranged Shuriken +12/+7 (1d2 /x2 )
Space 5 ft; Reach 5 ft
Special Attacks Sneak Attack +4d6
Before Combat Lucia will do her best to either hide, or to pass herself off as being lost and in need of help.
During Combat If at all possible, Lucia will begin combat in a position where she can surprise an opponent and use the Underhanded rogue talent. After the surprise round, she will make use of the Feint action and flanking to deliver sneak attacks.
Morale Lucia will flee if she feels a combat is going badly, or enemies have a high likelihood of capturing her.  She will protect her identity as much as possible, though.  If there are other people in earshot, she will scream for help.
Base Statistics
Str 10, Dex 20, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 16, Cha 16
Base Attack +5 ; CMB +6; CMD 22
Feats Skill Focus: Bluff , Quick Draw , Weapon Focus: War Razor , Desperate Battler , Weapon Finesse, Defensive Combat Training
Skills Bluff +16 (+20), Profession: Barber +14, Intimidate +14, Stealth +20, Sense Motive +14, Perception +14, Heal +13, Sleight of Hand +16, Disable Device +14, Climb +11, Knowledge: Local +14, Escape Artist +14, Acrobatics +11
Languages Varisian, Chelish, Halfling, Ustalav
Treasure +1 Wounding Razor, Bag of Holding, Ring of Protection +2, Trackless Boots
Venicaan Medic (+2 to treat poison/disease, Heal is class skill)
Nonchalant Thuggery (+4 trait bonus on Bluff checks to keep others from noticing your aggressive actions)
Rogue Talents
Underhanded (Ex)
Benefit: A rogue with this talent gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal a weapon. Furthermore, if she makes a sneak attack during the surprise round using a concealed weapon that her opponent didn’t know about, she does not have to roll sneak attack damage, and the sneak attack deals maximum damage. A rogue can only use the underhanded talent a number of times per day equal to her Charisma modifier (minimum 0).
Bleeding Attack (Ex)
Benefit: A rogue with this ability can cause living opponents to bleed by hitting them with a sneak attack. This attack causes the target to take 1 additional point of damage each round for each die of the rogue's sneak attack (e.g., 4d6 equals 4 points of bleed). Bleeding creatures take that amount of damage every round at the start of each of their turns. The bleeding can be stopped by a DC 15 Heal check or the application of any effect that heals hit point damage.
Fast Getaway (Ex)
Benefit: After successfully making a sneak attack or Sleight of Hand check, a rogue with this talent can spend a move action to take the withdraw action. She can move no more than her speed during this movement.
Combat Trick: Defensive Combat Training feat
Fast Stealth (5th talent from human alternate favored class bonus, levels 1-6)
Benefit: This ability allows a rogue to move at full speed using the Stealth skill without penalty.

In and of herself, she is a very formidable foe. But also consider the players are most likely to encounter her in a town or city setting. If she is unable to dispatch them quickly, she will cry out for help. Anyone responding is going to assume that she is nothing more than she seems, and that anyone outright attacking her  is the lowest sort of villain possible. If things go in her favor, this could easily lead to an angry mob pursuing the PCs, imprisonment, exile and any number of bad things. Lucia is crafty, calculating and manipulative. Use her this way in your campaign and you'll have a villain whose identity will chill your players to the core, and who they will remember for a long time afterward.

Note: All game rule information here can be found at D20 PFSRD


Do you have any favorite unorthodox villains? Tell us about them!

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