Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dangerous Enemies: Duulgrin the Warchief

When one of the players in my Neverwinter home campaign said he wanted his character to be from Luskan, I did not think much of it. The Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide had a little bit about Neverwinter and the north and the Neverwinter Campaign Setting had a little bit more detail about Luskan, but I did not think much of it when a player suggested making Luskan his hometown. Of course, all of this would change when a seemingly random tweet to the author of "the book on Luskan" was followed by an email that would change the course of my campaign...

Although it had been recommended to me many months ago, I only started reading Erik Scott de Bie's Shadowbane shortly after my Neverwinter campaign set foot in Luskan. Shadowbane is a perfect read for anybody hoping to run a campaign in post-Spellplague Luskan. As I previously blogged, the five gangs of Luskan had already become a story element of my group's adventures. After earning the trust of the Dragonblood, they decided that getting the Dustclaws involved in their assault on Dead Rat territory would be a good plan. Unfortunately, this meant preparing a monster block for the head of the Dustclaws, Duulgrin the Warchief.

The Fallen Warchief

In Shadowbane, Erik Scott de Bie writes a bit about the head of the Dustclaws. He is a former orc war chief who had been cast out of his tribe. He settled in Luskan, hoping to succeed in Luskan where he had failed earlier. He is also written as one of the most violent character imaginable. One of the early chapters of Shadowbane stands as one of the most gruesome and graphically violent bits of writing I have read in a while, a bit of writing where Duulgrin headbutts somebody to death. Nonetheless, Duulgrin was a character I had to create for my adventurers.

Duulgrin the Warchief looks like another famous Orc...
I had to make sure "Headbutt" was a thing.
Although I used various different creatures as the basis for Duulgrin, he ended up representing a somewhat custom creation as I continued to tweak him as I went until he felt like the character I was going for. The most influential creature was "Hobgoblin Warchief," although I will admit that the character changed quite as I went through development.

Duulgrin's Battle Tactics

Duulgrin is the leader of the Dustclaws. He leads from the front, smashing his enemies with his own hammer and head while his gang watches. In battle, he tends to be up front with the rest of his gang, smashing his opponents and inspiring others with his depraved violence. He also tries to reposition the rest of his gang using Tactical Deployment, allowing them to put themselves in strategic positions that maximize their abilities while granting the warchief combat advantage.

If Duulgrin is facing a single foe, using Headbutt to incapacitate that foe is prudent. If surrounded, Duulgrin will take advantage of his Encounter power Wild Swing, striking at each creature adjacent to him. As a former orc warchief, Duulgrin knows when to be strategically prudent and when to throw caution to the wind. He would never allow himself to be surrounded by foes without some sort of escape plan or backup strategy.

It is important that Duulgrin have allies in battle. As several of his abilities require the presence of allies, it would be quite the shame to not include them. Whether it be a few orcs or a group of goblins, Duulgrin is the leader of the Dustclaws. When PCs face him in battle, he should have a fair number of his gang members with him to best take advantage of his abilities.

Duulgrin as Leader of the Dustclaws

Luskan is not the environment that Duulgrin was expecting when he arrived. Although he was able to make a name for himself quickly by brutalizing many of the non-human residents, he is just clever enough to realize that brute force alone is not sufficient to rule Luskan. Thus, although it may take a bit of violence to get him to see things the way the PCs want him to, he is quite capable of coming around as a potential ally.

This is why, at the end of the day, Duulgrin could be convinced to aid a group of rag tag adventurers that are building a small alliance of Luskan gangs against the Dead Rats. Anything that reduces the power of another gang while giving him a chance to fight real opponents in battle is something he is always looking for.

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