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NPC Workshop: Vordakai’s Heralds

September 22, 2016

Some mild spoilers for book 3 of the Kingmaker adventure path, Varnhold Vanishing, follows.

So Vordakai, we are told, reveres the Four Horsemen of Abaddon (the NE plane in Golarion’s cosmology), who are pretty much like the Biblical Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death. As a necromancer, the Big V is all-in for the Horseman of Death, Charon (he’s a horseman and a boatman in Golarion, it appears). So, all well and good.

The six-player conversion of the adventure on the Paizo message boards adds a cyclops graveknight anti-paladin 5 to the final encounter, basically giving the Big V a bodyguard. I was going along with this when I was designing the encounters for my group, but in the end it didn’t sit well with me. Vordakai is NE, a big fan of Abaddon in general – he gets all his outsiders from there – and the NE Horsemen in particular, while anti-paladins are required to be CE and associate with Abyssal stuff. Also, using anti-paladin levels is a cheap dodge around the CR mechanics, in my opinion. So I rebuilt the bodyguard as a graveknight fighter 2.

Somewhat more recently, I’ve been thinking that if Vordakai is a devotee of Charon, what if his bodyguard is, say, a devotee of Szuriel, the Horseman of War? And from there it was a quick hop, skip, & jump to imagining devotees of Famine and Pestilence working for the Big V, as well.

Well, that’s not what I did.

Although if that’s what you want to do, I recommend Green Ronin’s Advanced Bestiary, which has a template for each Herald of the Apocalypse. The resulting creatures are a bit more hard-core than I was going for, and also they’re meant to fight while mounted, which didn’t fit well with this adventure.

Instead I ended up going in a slightly different direction: three lieutenants inspired by the themes of the Death Knight talent trees in World of Warcraft: frost, blood, and unholy (disease). That’s out of left field, eh? Well, graveknights are associated with a particular element, and I picked cold for mine. Then I was imagining him as this suit of black, evil-looking armor with frost pouring out of it, and I thought at least one of my players would hear that and think, “Death Knight from WoW!” And then, I already had a cool idea for a blood knight and couldn’t fit “blood” into the war/pestilence/famine setup. Or “frost” for that matter. Maybe frost could be famine (winter, dead crops) and blood could be war? So maybe that does work, after all.

One note that surprised me: I had to create my own Disease cleric domain for the Herald of Pestilence, because there wasn’t anything of sort already! That truly shocked me. Most of the domain spells are from Paizo’s Ultimate Magic book, which apparently set out to really expand the number of disease-related spells in the game.

All of the Heralds are CR 9, so good sub-bosses for the group to encounter as they deal with Vordakai’s forces. I recommend pairing them with other foes rather than featuring them as single opponents, though. Stat blocks after the jump!

Herald of Frost

Cyclops graveknight fighter 2
NE Large undead (augmented humanoid, giant)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +30
Aura sacriligious aura (30 ft., DC 19)

AC 31, touch 9, flat-footed 31 (+8 armor, +11 natural, +3 shield, -1 size)
hp 158 (12 HD; 10d8+2d10+98) max 198
Fort +13, Ref +6, Will +9 (+1 vs. fear); +6 profane bonus vs. positive energy
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4, rejuvenation; DR 10/magic; Immune cold, electricity, undead traits; SR 20

Speed 30 ft. (20 ft. in armor)
Melee scimitar +23/+18 (1d8+14/15-20 plus 3d6 cold) OR scimitar +20/+15 (1d8+20/15-20 plus 3d6 cold) power attack OR scimitar +23 (2d8+14/15-20 plus 3d6 cold) vital strike OR scimitar +20 (2d8+20/15-20 plus 3d6 cold) vital strike, power attack
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks devastating blast (3/day; 30’ cone; 8d6 cold, Ref DC 19 half), bull rush strike (on crit), undead mastery (60 HD, DC 19)

Str 32, Dex 11, Con —, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 16
Base Atk +9; CMB +20 (+22 bull rush); CMD 31 (33 vs. bull rush)

Feats Bull Rush Strike, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Mounted Combat, Power Attack (-3/+6), Ride-by Attack, Vital Strike
Skills Acrobatics -6 (-10 to jump), Climb +13, Intimidate +26, Knowledge (planes) +2, Perception +30, Ride +17, Sense Motive +5
Languages Cyclops, Daemonic, Giant

SQ flash of insight, graveknight armor, phantom mount
Gear +1 banded mail, +1 heavy steel shield, +1 scimitar, belt of giant strength +2, ivory idol of Trelmarixian

Phantom Mount
NE Huge undead

AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+5 Dex, +5 natural, -2 size)
hp 19
Immune undead traits

Speed 100 ft.; ignores sandy, muddy, swampy terrain, water walk, air walk

Herald of Pestilence

Cyclops skeletal champion cleric of Apollyon 6
NE Large undead
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +19

AC 23, touch 13, flat-footed 22 (+6 armor, +3 deflect, +1 Dex, +4 nat, -1 sz)
hp 108 (18d8+24) max 168
Fort +10, Ref +7, Will +15
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; DR 5/bludgeoning; Immune cold, undead traits

Speed 30 ft. (20 ft. in armor)
Melee scythe +16/+11/+6 (2d6+23/×4) OR claws +15/+15 (1d6+15)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks channel negative energy (6/day; standard, or move with 2 uses; 1d6 & sickened 3 rounds; Will DC 16 partial), channel smite (swift; add channel to next attack)

Domain Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +10)
7/day — touch of darkness (as if everyone else had concealment, 3 rounds), touch of sickness (sickened, 3 rounds)

Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 6th; concentration +10)
3rdblindness/deafness (DC 19), contagion x2 (DC 19), dispel magic
2ndhold person (DC 16), pox pustules (DC 18), resist energy, silence (DC 16), spiritual weapon (scythe; +17/+12/+7 hit, 2d6+2 dmg)
1stcause fear (DC 17), diagnose disease, protection from good, ray of sickening (DC 17), shield of faith
0 (at will) — bleed (DC 16), detect magic, guidance, resistance

Str 24, Dex 12, Con —, Int 8, Wis 18, Cha 12
Base Atk +13; CMB +21; CMD 35

Feats Blind-fight, Channel Smite, Great Cleave, Power Attack (-4/+8, included), Quick Channel
Skills Acrobatics -2 (-6 to jump), Intimidate +18, Knowledge (religion) +7, Perception +19, Profession (soothsayer) +17, Ride +1, Sense Motive +11, Spellcraft +6, Survival +6
Languages Cyclops, Daemonic, Giant

SQ flash of insight
Gear +1 scale mail, +1 scythe, amulet of natural armor +2, unholy symbol, jade idol of Apollyon

Herald of Blood

Cyclops blood knight kineticist (blood kineticist) 5
NE Large undead (augmented humanoid, giant)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +17
Aura blood slick (10’; as grease; DC 21)

AC 29, touch 19, flat-footed 27 (+8 armor, +8 deflection, +1 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 shield, -1 size)
hp 136 (15d8+65) max 185; fast healing 10
Fort +13, Ref +10, Will +8
DR 10/bludgeoning; Immune undead traits

Speed 30 ft. (20 ft. in armor)
Melee bloodblade +19 (3d6+13/19-20), slam +13 (1d8+8 + blood drain and grab)
Ranged blood geyser +14 (3d6+7/19-20)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.

Special Attacks blood drain (1 Con, 1d4 on grapple), fountain of blood (full rnd; 1/d4 rnd; 15’, exposed to poisonous blood; Fort DC 21 neg); poisonous blood (ingested; onset 1 minute; freq 1/min for 6 min; 1 Con & nauseated; cure 1 save; Fort DC 19)

Kineticist Wild Talents Known
Defense — shroud of blood (+2 shield to AC)
Infusions — kinetic blade, bleeding infusion (2 burn; 3 bleed; Fort DC 16 neg), wrack (30’; 1d8+4 ignores DR; Fort DC 15 half)
Utility — kinetic cover (total cover), kinetic healer

Str 32, Dex 16, Con —, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 18
Base Atk +11; CMB +20 (+22 bull rush, +24 grapple); CMD 45 (47 vs. bull rush)

Feats Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack (-3/+6, included)
Skills Acrobatics -2 (-6 to jump), Escape Artist +8, Heal +8, Intimidate +20, Perception +17, Profession (soothsayer) +6, Ride +4, Sense Motive +3
Languages Cyclops, Daemonic, Giant

SQ blood body, bonded armor, flash of insight, gather power (can reduce burn by 1 with move action, or by 2 with full-round action)
Gear +1 banded mail, belt of physical might +2 (Str, Con), garnet idol of Szuriel

  1. Pinkius permalink

    Wait shouldn’t the herald of blood have 3 feats at least? 1 each from 1 3 5 in kineticist possibly more from being cyclopsi?
    This concept is amazing though, I would love to run up against this sorta themed miniboss. Most AP minibosses seem to be “lore” related. The Golarion lore being really dry usually.

    • Thanks! 😀 I don’t print passive bonuses in stat blocks; trying to be economical space-wise. The Herald of Blood has: Alertness, Dodge, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Crit (Kinetic Blast), Improved Init, Iron Will, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (Kinetic Blast). Normally I wouldn’t take crap feats like Alertness but all the regular Cyclopses (Cyclopsi?) have it. Also there aren’t a lot of great class-related feats for kineticists, especially ones that are melee-focused.

  2. Very interesting! I probabæy won’t use it myself, but who knowns when (indeed if!) we get there.

  3. Chris M permalink

    Very interesting. I have yet to start converting this for my 5th edition game we are doing for Kingmaker but I was likely headed down a very similar path with the new Heralds (Darkness & Blood) released as part of the Tome of Beasts by Kobold Press. A more WoW theme would work with some of my players also. Great ideas!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kingmaker: Varnhold Vanishing, Session 10, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  2. Kingmaker: Varnhold Vanishing, Session 10, Part 2 | Daddy DM

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