Campaign of the Month: April 2013
Myyth Realm: Legacy
Seeker of the Shattered Isle
Last Update: 01/27/2015
HALFLING LAST HILL OUTRIDER 6/RANGER 4
AC 23 (T17/FF19); HP 98
Init +4; Listen +13, Search +10, Spot +18
Fort +15, Reflex +14, Will +7
Base Atk +10 / +5; Grp +8; Speed 20
Str 14 Dex 18 Con 20 Int 14 Wis 16 Cha 10
Feats: Animal Affinity, Endurance, Mounted Combat, Rapid Shot, Ride-By Attack, Track, Mounted Archery, Spirited Charge, Shield Specialization (Buckler)
Team Feats: Tactician, Chain Attack, Improved Chain Attack
Skills: Hide +9, Move Silently +13, Handle Animal +24, Ride +26
Abilities: Animal Companion, Combat Style (Archery), Favored Enemy (Magical Beasts), Ride Bonus, Wild Empathy, Mounted Skirmish (2d6, +1 AC), Unbroken Stride, Mounted Stalker
Languages: Common, Goblin, Halfling, Orc
Current XP: 48,088
Evil comes in many forms and wears many masks. But the heart is always true and vulnerable.
“It has been two cycles since I chose to be Khalan. Life in the wild without my clutch-brothers is lonelier than I ever imagined it could be. And more dangerous. I will be long recovering from my encounter at the stream. I am on the knife’s edge, yet my senses are duller than they have ever been, otherwise those frost beetles would never have caught me unawares. I have never been so tired; without someone to keep watch during rest, I cannot truly sleep. This will be a difficult trial. I only hope I will one day meet my father again.
I miss him, and my brothers and sisters. Though it has been years since her death, I miss my mother more than I ever have before. I remember her singing to me when I was very young, years before my namingday. I can no longer remember the tune, no matter how I try. Back then I was called “Grin”, a nickname from my grand-dad, Orin, because I would never be without a smile. He told me that my smile wasn’t just one of amusement, but of knowing a joke that few others understand. Now I feel as though I will never laugh again.
My father, Orinson Ryks, is a warrior, steel hard and stoic like no other in our clan. He was once skewered by the tusk of a wild board during a cycle-long mountain trek. The outriders who were there to witness the ordeal later said that he never uttered a word of complaint. I only hope that I can live up to him. “Our strength is in each other, Finn. Never forget that,” he would often say. But now I have no clutch, no brothers. Perhaps it is time to find a new clan.”
Rykson Finn, Last Hill Outrider
Any frontier settlement should count itself lucky when an outrider clan takes root nearby. Known for their guile and cunning, halflings are the ultimate survivors, and outriders are more cunning than most. A typical outrider clan will be semi-nomadic, and consist of eight to ten extended families, most of whom perform common tasks such as cobbling or brewing. A select number are chosen as outriders, who act as clan leaders when needed, and are the hunters and protectors of the clan. Called outriders because of their talent for riding dogs, and occasionally tamed wolves, into combat. They are fearsome warriors who are well-respected by any who have witnessed them in battle.
One must be born into the outriders, and even then they must be accepted into the group, known collectively as a “clutch”. There is little shame in being rejected by the clutch, as it is a very difficult life to lead and most are simply not up to the task; death is commonplace amongst the outriders. There is no ceremony when being accepted or rejected. A halfling will typically be nominated for entry by his father, if any member objects, he states so before all members and the nominee is rejected. Outriders care little for politics, and personal motives never sway an outrider’s reasoning for rejecting a potential member. Nominees are not often rejected, due to the constant need to replenish their numbers and, when someone is rejected, there is always sound justification. There is no hierarchy among the outriders; all clutch-members have equal standing, though decisions are deferred to either the elder members or to the member with the most knowledge of the situation at-hand.
A note on halfling naming conventions: At birth, all halflings are given a nickname (sometimes several), by which they will be known until they are ready to choose a career. At this time, usually around the fifteenth birthday, they are given a full-name, often accompanied by a “Namingday” party. A halfling’s full name is much like a human’s: a familiar name, followed by a surname taken from the father’s side. Most halfings will have several nicknames as well. Clutch-members have a different naming method. When accepted into the clutch, a halfling will take his father’s familiar name as the first part of his own name, with the word “son” attached. Thus, if the father’s familiar name is “Garrett”, then the son will be known as “Garrettson”. The second part of his name will be his familiar name, which is often never used by anyone outside of the clutch, except by mothers, wives, and sisters. Humans are often frustrated by this convention, as several outrider brothers will come into town for trade and all ask to be called by the same name. Clutch members are never called by nicknames.
The Last Hill Outriders
30 years ago, the Last Hill clan arrived outside of the town of Wyvlan and decided to settle nearby. The clan would occasionally move from place to place but, until recently, always within a day’s ride of the town. They would trade with the townsfolk, offering fine pelts and furs, as well a particularly excellent variety of stout beer known as Kinglager, in return for worked goods that they cannot make for themselves. They would protect the town from beasts that wandered into the area, and would fight alongside the humans when goblinoid tribes posed a threat. The outriders were most useful during long winters when food became scare and stocks ran dry. They would hunt in every condition, and share what they had with the townsfolk, even when they didn’t have enough to feed themselves. The humans appreciated the clan during the first two decades, but over the last ten years, they began to take the halflings’ help for granted. During the winter of ‘48, one of the most brutal in living memory, the clan spared all that they could for the humans. The townsfolk offered no thanks and, in fact, demanded that the outriders supply even more. The clan decided that it was time to move on and find root somewhere to the west. This year, they left without word or notice and, as is their custom, they also left behind the Last Hill clan name. When the group finds a new home, they will take a new name and they will not look back at what once was.
Khalan, the Lone Rider
When an outrider clan leaves an area where there are still people in need of their protection, one clutch-member may volunteer to be “Khalan”, translated as lone rider. The Khalan remains behind to warn of dangers and offer what help he can to those in need. The life of a Khalan is fraught with danger. Without his clutch to watch his back, or to heal his wounds, a Khalan’s life is often as short as it lonely. It is considered to be the highest honor to volunteer for Khalan, but it is not an honor that most outriders will ever choose.
Rykson chose to stay behind when the rest of the Last Hill moved on to seek a new home. Many of the townspeople of Wyvlan give him a cold shoulder at best, resenting the outriders for seemingly abandoning the town. A few, though, remember what the outriders did for them, and treat the young Khalan with respect, if not friendship. Despite any poor treatment, Rykson will not turn away from his duty as an outrider. He is a protector, a guardian. Always.
“I will stay behind.”
The gathering of outriders turned as one towards the young ranger as he made his announcement. A few, younger, faces were stunned, but most of the wizened and battle-hardened warriors nodded with looks of acknowledgement, or simply raised an eyebrow in concern.
His father was the first to speak, as Rykson Finn had expected. The grizzled veteran was known for keeping his thoughts well-guarded, and his son did not know how the man would feel about this decision. Rykson’s great fear was that his father would be disappointed in him for abandoning the clan.
“Finn… you need not do this, lad. Ye’re as fine a rider as any in the clutch and there’s nothing that ye need to prove. With a few more years under yer belt, ye’ll be the one the clan looks to when hard decisions need to be made. Yer a leader, boy, not a loner.”
The assembled clutch-brothers nodded in agreement, they knew that the words of Orinson Ryks were not skewed because Finn was his son. The statement was absolute truth. Not only did Rykson have guile and wisdom beyond his years, but he was a good friend to everyone in the clan. He never tired of helping those in need, and always did so with a smile. Many will be saddened at the news of Rykson remaining behind.
“It is the right of every outrider to choose life as Khalan. The people of Wyvlan may still need the help of the Last Hill clan, after it has moved on. I will do what I can for them,” the youth recited his planned response, “I cannot turn my back on them.”
Garrett, his oldest brother, put his hand on Finn’s shoulder and held tightly. Garrett had often viewed himself as the protector of his younger siblings, and could not hold to the idea that Finn would be on his own, with none to watch his back.
“You cannot do this, brother. The people of that village do not deserve our help! They take more than they need, and offer no thanks in return. Trading with them has become impossible because they believe they can take advantage of us. No longer! We are leaving this place,” he looked his younger brother in the eye with a steady gaze, “all of us.”
Rykson sighed deeply and returned his brother’s look. “I cannot go, Garrett. The clan has made this place its’ home for many decades. We cannot dishonor the roots we have grown here by not making the pledge of Khalan. One of us must stay, and I believe that it must be me. I was born on Watchmound, and I plan to die here as well.”
Garrett shook his head in frustration, “Always honor with you, little brother.” But he knew that no words would change Finn’s mind. ‘He will stay behind’ Garrett thought to himself, ‘and we will part on good terms.’
He spoke quietly to his sibling. “Ride swift, brother. But remember, the pledge of Khalan does not require you to do die here. You may be called somewhere else, where a greater need lies. One day, you may even be called back to us.”
The brothers embraced as the younger riders began to gather around, offering words of support and encouragement. Though most of the clutch-members did not know what to say to the brave young warrior; they had never experienced someone volunteering as Khalan. The elder riders huddled to speak amongst themselves.
His other brothers, Aran and Mat (who was accepted as a clutch-brother only two cycles ago), could not restrain themselves. Aran, slightly older but closest in age to Finn, shed a tear as he hugged his brother. “I will miss you, man. Take this, it’s my lucky one.” He handed his brother a bone handled dagger, worn from years of use but still perfectly balanced and razor sharp. Finn recalled fondly the day, hunting birds with Aran, when his brother used it to drop a pheasant in mid-flight from 50 feet. Only the two of them were there to witness it, and most of the clanfolk didn’t believe the tall tale, as Aran was reknowned for his jokes. Finn swore that the story was true, but most thought that Finn went along with the tale because of his good nature. The dagger was Aran’s namingday gift- which were often clan heirlooms handed down through the generations. The fine weapon had been crafted by their great-great grandfather.
Mat was not as composed as his older brothers. In fact, while Aran had shed a tear and Garrett had only sniffled a bit, the youngest (but largest) brother openly bawled. It lasted only a few moments, and he was abashed at his display when it was done. But the tightly-knit clansmen only smiled to themselves, saying nothing to the young rider. Mat was emotional, but was also very kind-hearted and as strong as Daellic Wolfhound. He wordlessly offered the soft, leather belt pouch that was his naming-day gift. It was finely tooled with scenes of the forest and hills, crafted by their mother, whom Mat had never really known.
When everyone else had completed their goodbyes, exchanging small gifts or words of friendship, the eldest riders, including Finn’s father and grandfather, approached the new Khalan. It was his grandfather, Orin, who addressed the ranger.
“We would not force you to stay with the clan. But we must ask if you have considered your choice carefully, grandson. The life you choose is dangerous- deadly to most that take it up. You will know what it is to be alone.” The man who used to bounce Finn on his knee had a misty look in his eyes and, for the first time in his life, Finn saw just how old he was. The wrinkles seemed to appear before Finn’s eyes as he gazed at his grandfather’s face. Behind the forming tears, and under the arched, gray-furred eyebrow, there was a look of immense pride.
“I have given it all the thought I need, grandfather.”
“Then we wish you well, lad. The clan uproots tomorrow. Tonight, we drink to you. In the morning, you will take my riding saddle and Dagon’s barding. The old girl’s getting a bit too old to wear it anyway. I suppose I’m getting a bit too old myself.”
The other elders sat down around the fire and began giving a stream of advice on surviving alone in the wild. They wanted Finn to be fully armed with the knowledge needed to keep him alive. Across the fire, Ryks looked at his son, but said little. His father’s silence wasn’t unusual, but Finn wondered what the man was thinking.
As the mead barrels were rolled into the camp, the group around the campfire broke to hoist some drinks. It was then that Ryks sat next to his son by the fireside. He clapped him on the shoulder and leaned close to him.
“It won’t be easy, lad.”
“I know, sir. I will miss everyone”
“And you will be greatly missed, by everyone.” The gruff man sniffed hard beneath his hooded cloak. “I’d like to have yer lance, if ye’re willing to give it.”
“Of course, sir. But… what will I…” Finn’s question trailed off as his father took up his own weapon, called the Lance of Orinson, and hand it over to his son. “Ye’ll take this, and no arguing about it. It’s as fine a spear as has e’er been held by an outrider. Crafted by yer great-granddad Garret, finished on the very day yer grandad Orin was born.”
“On that day, as his wife was dying in labor, Garret led the charge that drove a tribe of orc raiders from the camp. Before he left her side, he swore an oath that no harm would come to their babe that day. After the battle, he returned to her, only to find that she had passed. He took his newborn son in his arms, and it’s said that he didn’t let him go ’till he was 2 years old!” The sound of laughter from Orinson Ryks was a rarely heard thing, and Finn couldn’t help but share with a hearty laugh of his own, despite the somber story. His father sighed and returned to the tale.
“From that day, the clan called the lance ‘Oathkeeper’. In the hands of Jekson Garret, she slew more beasts than could be counted. Until the day he met his end in the jaws of a landshark. With his last breath, he gave the lance to your granddad, a younger outrider than yerself at the time.”
“Yer granddad Orin kept her for many years, but didn’t have need to use it as often. Orin were always a man of peace, readier with a smile and kind word than he was with a spear. But, he used it more than enough, too. In his day, she was called the ‘Meadowlance’. A peaceful name for a peaceful time. He gave her to me on the day you were born, son. Didn’t know that, did ye?”
Rykson knew the tale well, but had never heard it told by his father, and had not known that his grandad Orin gave the lance to his father on his own birthday. With shaking hands he accepted the gift, but his voice caught in his throat before he could utter a word of thanks.
His father’s strong voice cracked by the smallest fraction as he said, “I could not be more proud you, my son. Remember, our strength lies in each other, even when the clan is far from ye. The Last Hill Outriders will always be with ye, and ye can always draw from our strength. But, ye can find another clutch, if ye keep your eyes open and know how to look.”
“But, we are the only outriders for many leagues around. How would I find another clutch?”
“A clutch can have many forms, son. Keep your mind open, there are many who are worthy of your brotherhood, even if they are a bit too tall and slow…” The man grinned at his son, and they shared another laugh. “Ride swift, Finn. And find us again.”