Visages

Kas

Kas, the Bloody Handed
Vestige Level: 4th.
Binding DC: 25.
Special Requirement: No.

Once the lieutenant of the lich-now god-Vecna, Kas betrayed his master, instigating a battle that was thought to have resulted in their mutual destruction. Somehow, even after this legendary conflict, Kas and Vecna continued their battle, but only Vecna emerged into being once again. As a vestige, Kas continues to despise Vecna and all other undead.

Legend: That Vecna, Master of All that is Secret and Hidden, once existed as a cruel-minded lich is no mystery. Yet, few know of the figure lurking in the god’s past, the betrayer who crippled the Maimed Lord and bears responsibility for some of the most infamous artifacts known to the multiverse: Kas the Bloody Handed.

As Vecna ascended to power on the world of Oerth, armies of the dead rose under his black banner. Among these undead legions emerged the vampire Kas, a shadow of death clad in iron. A master of countless darkened battlefields, where Kas drew his blade victory for his lich liege followed. Although not the greatest of Vecna’s warriors, Kas proved to be cunning and ruthless, and showed no fear of his lord, a quality Vecna respected. As Kas’s successes in campaign after campaign mounted, Vecna rewarded his champion with even greater rank and profane treasures. At last, Vecna made Kas his second in command, gifting the vampire with a sword he had personally forged from black metal fallen from the stars.

Kas and his infamous blade led Vecna’s armies for years, claiming innumerable souls in the lich’s name, forging a legend as bloody as his lord’s was cruel. As he waged war, Kas increased in power, and grew in ambition. Finally came the day that Vecna’s armies faltered. After a significant loss on the field of battle, a weakened Vecna returned to his throne to find Kas waiting. Armed with his black blade, the betrayer Kas struck and a titanic battle ensued. None know how long the tireless, undying fiends clashed – some claiming months, even years. During the fray, despite Vecna’s dark powers, Kas sliced the lich’s left hand from his body and cut an eye from his face. Fearing his destruction, Vecna employed frantic, dangerous magic that annihilated both himself and Kas – or so it seemed.

Centuries passed. A cult of Vecna arose and the lich’s severed hand and eye became legends, while Kas’s name passed from memory except in relation to his black sword. What few knew, however, was that in some misty realm that even the deities avoid Vecna and Kas somehow continued to exist, locked in an otherworldly battle. For unknown years the archrivals impotently raged. Eventually, through patient plotteing, near-immortal genius, and primordial magic, Vecna shattered his prison and escaped, ascending to godhood and leaving his rival lost in the ether.

What became of Kas noone – not even the binders who deal with him now – truely know. Trapped within a maelstrom of shatter planes and godly magics, Kas was shunted into some new existence, an eternal oubliette he blames Vecna for imprisoning him in. Yet, as a vestige – or a being very much like one, his reach again stretches into the mortal world, sowing destruction and working against his rival-turned god’s immortal aspirations.

Manifestation: Kas manifests as a sword being drawn from his sign. The hilt appears first, wrapped in red leather with flecks of gold and with unicorn horn forming its quillons. A knuckleguard basket made of gold and shaped like a leering bearded face strectches from the quillons to the pommel, grimacing and groaning as if in pain as the blade arises from the ground. Casting sparks as it screeches up from the sign, a wavy blade as black as night with opalescent edges appears. With a jerk the whole of the sword suddently comes free, revealing not a point but the back of a blackened and desicated hand attached to the end of the blade. The word the flips upright and turns around, showing a moist, catlike eye glaring from the palm of the bony hand. When Kas speaks, his deep and angry voice comes from the basket guard, but it is the eye in the palm that regards the summoner.

Sign: When a binder makes a pact with Kas, an angry catlike eye opens in the palm of each of his hands. These eyes don’t provide the binder with any extraordinary sigh, nor do they inhibit the use of the binder’s hands. When the binder uses an power granted by Kas, the eyes weep small amounts of blood for 10 rounds.

Influence: Kas’s influence makes a binder act warm and affectionate toward those with whom she speaks. Kas further requires his host to kill any follower of Vecna or undead creature encountered. In addition, Kas requires that the binder betray some friend or ally in some manner during the first hour after being summoned and bound. This betrayal might be as small as breaking a promise to meet at a specific time or as great as murder, but it must be unexpected, and the ally or friend must realize that a deliberate betrayal occurred.

Granted Abilities: Kas grants binders the ability to decieve friends and blind enemies. In addition, Kas protects the binders from their enemies worst blows.
Blinding Strike: When you score a critical hit, the creature struck must make a Will save (DC 10 + half your binder level + Charisma bonus) or be permanently blinded. In addiction, when you attack undead creatures, you can affect them with critical hits and blind effect of this ability.
Bluff Bonus: You gain a +4 competence bonus on Bluff checks.
Kas’s Protection: While bound to Kas, there is a 25% chance that any critical hit or sneak attack scored against you is negated and damage is rolled normally. Sneak attacks and critical hits scored on you by undead are always negated.
Undead Reaper: When you hit an undead creature with a melee or ranged attack, you ignore any damage reduction it might have.
Weapon Proficiency: You are proficient with the bastard sword, longsword, and short sword.



h3. Vanus

Vanus, The Reviled One
Vestige Level: 6th.
Binding DC: 29.
Special Requirement: Yes.

Hated out of proportion for his sins, the smiling Vanus remains an enigma to binders. Vanus provides binders with the ability to frighten and punish weaker foes, hear evil afoot with uncanny perception, and free allies from constraints.

Special Requirement: Vanus will not appear before a binder if his seal is drawn within sight of a doorway or window of any kind. If such apertures can be hidden from view, Vanus submits to being summoned, but the moment Vanus sees a door or window, he shrieks and vanishes in a gout of blue flame. Should the binding attempt be aborted in this manner, Vanus will not appear before the binder for three days.

Legend: Legend remembers Vanus by many epithets: the Betrayer, the Craven One, the Foul Prince, the Maggot, the Fearmonger, and even the Hellbringer. Binders simply call him the Reviled One. The hatred traditionally heaped upon Vanus seems out of proportion to his faults, a mystery that binders have yet to unravel.

The story of Vanus begins in a grand kingdom, a peaceful empire that existed long before the current age. Human legend ascribes the kingdom to dwarves, while the dwarven story of Vanus claims elves to be that realm’s rulers. Elven mythology lays no claim to Vanus, relating instead that the kingdom belonged to a still more ancient race now largely gone from the world, similar to titans. Despite this difference and other variations, the basics of the tale remain the same.

The ancient kingdom prospered in peace for years because of the evil it kept trapped at it heart. Before the kingdom existed, the founders of that great nation fought a terrible battle against a powerful fiend (such as a balor or pit fiend). Although they could not kill their enemy, they did manage to trap it beneath the earth. To be certain they could keep their foe in check, they built a castle upon that unholy ground. That castle became the capitol of their kingdom.

While goodness flowed from that fortress, evil lingered there, ever watchful, always waiting. The leaders of the country posted a continual guard on the dungeon the fiend remained trapped within, wary of any attempt to escape. For centuries it remained thus, until the fateful night Vanus took over as guardian.

Vanus was a vain prince of the realm, selfish and obsessed with frivolity. To punish the prince for an embarrassment his petulance caused, the king commanded Vanus to serve with the guards of the dungeon during the party to celebrate the monarch’s birthday. Deep in the dark and clammy halls, Vanus determined to ignore the chatter of the guards and strained to hear the noise of the celebration above. He could hear little, just the distant tones of music punctuated by laughter. As he listened, the sound of one voice became clearer. A deep and commanding speaker was saying something Vanus could not quite discern. As Vanus neared the door to the fiend’s prison, the voice became even clearer, and Vanus thus moved past the guards and closed the distance to the ancient portal.

When Vanus put his ear to the door, he heard a voice unlike any other, and what it told him terrified him. Vanus ran from the dungeon screaming that the fiend was escaping. The guards, knowing they were not like the heroes of old, and seeing the prince of the realm in panic, also fled. The prince ran through the party, ranting about their coming doom, and soon the whole castle was being evacuated.

Panic spread across the countryside, and the people fought with one another in their haste to escape. Battles erupted between families and towns, and the citizen of that ancient kingdom left their lands a war-torn ruin. In the conflicts that followed, the people forgot their original cause for leaving and focused on their new enmity. The kingdom dissolved, the castle fell into ruin, and the fiend laughed in its prison.

Some legends say that the fiend then freed itself, and the gods cursed Vanus for his gullibility and cowardice. Others say that Vanus returned and freed the fiend, and the gods cursed him for this evil. Still other legends claim that Vanus became the fomenter of wars and breeder of terror, assuming the fiend’s place in the cosmos, becoming imprisoned by his fears even as the fiend’s evil spread beyond the walls of the dungeon.

Manifestation: Vanus appears in his seal as though stepping down from a carriage not visible to the binder. He always takes the form of a handsome male member of the binder’s race, dressed in fine clothing as a person of wealth and privilege. Vanus smiles and bows low to his summoner, but when he rises, his visage will have changed. Vanus then appears demonic, with six black horns growing from his face, and his skin covered in dark boils that swim with maggots. Blood wells up in his eyes like tears and pours down his smiling face to where he licks his lips. In this form, Vanus again bows. When he rises once more, he retains his demonic body and awaits his summoner’s pleasure.

Sign: When a binder makes a pact with the Reviled One, a boil appears on his body. Within the ruddy fluid in this boil swims a maggot. Should the boil be broken, the maggot slides swiftly across the binder’s body, eluding any attempt to catch it, and digs again beneath the skin. Before the original boil can scab over, another grows and the maggot appears within. Only by ending the pact with Vanus can the binder be rid of the foul insect and the disgusting homes it makes for itself.

Influence: Under the influence of Vanus, you take every opportunity to revel. Even small victories seem like cause for grand celebrations, and if you’re happy, you want everyone around to share your joy. If you see others in the act of celebration, you must join in. If you achieve victory in combat, you must immediately spend a full-round action crowing about your triumph.

Granted Abilities: Vanus grants you tremendous hearing, the ability to foment fear by your presence alone, skill at fighting foes weaker than yourself, and the power to free allies from imprisonment.

Fear Aura: Enemies that you are aware of who come within 10 feet must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 effective binder level + Cha modifier). Those who fail are either shaken or frightened; you decide which for each. Foes remain shaken or frightened for a number of rounds equal to half your binder level. Creatures that fail the save must roll again if they again come within 10 feet after the duration expires, but not before. A creature that makes its save against this ability need not make another save for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting fear effect.

Free Ally: You may designate any ally within 5 feet per binder level to gain the benefits of the freedom of movement spell or the gaseous form spell. The ally may also take an immediate move action that it can only use to move (and not to draw a weapon, etc.). The benefits the ally gains apply only during your turn. Thus, at the end of your turn, the ally reverts to its natural form.

You can instead use this ability to free a creature from an imprisonment spell or Halphax’s imprison ability if you witnessed its imprisonment.

You cannot use this ability on yourself. Once you have used this ability you cannot do so again for 5 rounds.

Noble Disdain: When attacking a foe of fewer Hit Dice than yourself with a ranged or melee weapon, you deal +1d6 points of damage.

Vanus’s Ears: Being bound to Vanus grants you a +5 bonus on Listen checks. This bonus increases to +10 if the creature making the noise is evil.

Visages

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