Four Six Heroes #3: Swords of the Serpentine pre-made adventuring party
By Kevin Kulp
This month we’re cheating and giving you six heroes instead of four; these are the pre-generated heroes used in The Dripping Throne adventure at Gen Con Online 2020, playtested with four or five different player groups. Most of the Heroes have excellent niche protection in their profession. They’re intimately tied to the city of Eversink using the “Freelance Slinks” origin (p. 29 of the SotS Adventurer’s Edition), and can be transplanted to a different setting with only a small amount of work.
The Heroes include an inquisitor with imposter syndrome, a sorcerer who’s been shunned by their family, an extremely likable (and lucky!) thief, a warrior who apparently doesn’t age, an elderly prophet forced out of the church, and their young acolyte with big secrets and big plans. These Heroes are built assuming a 5+ player game. If you have fewer players and want to use any of these heroes, add in more Investigative abilities, as noted under “Investigative Abilities” in chapter 2 of the rules.
Name: Inquisitor Hastus
Inquisitive, Suspicious, Intimidating, Over-prepared, Insecure
Drives: Punishing the iniquitous; Catching others in a falsehood; The respect of your friends and peers
Defenses – Health: Health Threshold 3, Armor 2, Health 8
Defenses – Morale: Morale Threshold 4, Grit 1, Morale 10
Offense – Sway: Sway 4: Damage Modifier +1 (threats)
Offense – Warfare: Warfare 8: Damage Modifier +1 (sword)
Investigative Abilities: Command 1, Intimidation 2, Liar’s Tell 1, Felonious Intent 2, Laws & Traditions 1, Spirit Sight 2, Vigilance 2
Allies and Enemies: Ally: Church of Denari 1; Ally: The Triskadane 1; Enemy: Sorcerous Cabals 1
General Abilities: Athletics 5, Bind Wounds 2, Preparedness 8 (Flashback), Stealth 3, Sway 4, Warfare 8 (Cleave)
Gear: Shining chainmail and inquisitorial uniform; badge of authority; sword (dmg +1); Imposter’s syndrome about whether you have what it takes to be an inquisitor; holy coin of Denari; multiple fallback plans for any eventuality; impressive shield; the dried hand of your father, severed after he was convicted for spreading Corruption, and somehow you never noticed while there was still time to save him
Design Notes: Hastus is a good solid Sentinel, loaded down with the authority of the church and the government, and yet second-guessing his authority until he figures out this role in the world. He has enough Vigilance to notice most hidden details without having to roll, and enough Spirit Sight to rip open the space between worlds and walk in the land of ghosts and memories. Relying on his Flashback ability for backup plans, he uses his Intimidation to scare the truth out of people the group doesn’t feel the need to befriend.
Name: Amadeo (“Deo”) Iaconi, disinherited nobility
Charming, Presumptuous, Genteel, Manipulative, Socially disgraced
Drives: Repaying any who have wronged you; Defeating your enemies with STYLE, not just raw force; Being worthy of your friends’ trust in you
Defenses – Health: Health Threshold 3, Health 7
Defenses – Morale: Morale Threshold 4, Grit 1, Morale 11
Offense – Sorcery: Sorcery 8 vs. Morale: Damage Modifier +1
Offense – Sway: Sway 1: Damage Modifier +1 (dismissive)
Investigative Abilities: Charm 1, Command 1, Intimidation 1, Liar’s Tell 1, Nobility 2, Corruption 3, Forgotten Lore 2
Allies and Enemies: Ally: Mercanti 1; Ally: Sorcerous Cabals 1; Enemy: Ancient Nobility 1
General Abilities: Athletics 5, Bind Wounds 2, Preparedness 8 (Flashback), Stealth 3, Sorcery 8 (Blast), Sway 1, Warfare 3
Sorcerous Spheres: (Affects Morale) Illusion; Memory; Secrets
Gear: Sketchpad and paintbrushes; this season’s most stylish sword (never used); stylish clothing you can barely afford; the (justified) hatred of your parents; Mercanti contracts for negotiation; the unfortunate attention of the inquisition; a demon squirming inside your soul who offers you true power; debts you can’t currently pay; party invitations you can’t afford to turn down
Design Notes: Deo is a thoroughly flawed hero with the chance to redeem himself. He was forced out of his family when they realized he could manipulate secrets and memories, and you really can’t blame them. So now he ekes out a living working for his family’s enemies, and he is what you might call conflicted. How he uses his abilities, and how he treats his family, determines his fate as a hero.
If you prefer sorcerous spheres that affect Health instead, these mental spheres are easily swapped out for spheres that affect Health instead. Go with something like Stone, Water, and Air (or Fire) for a terrifying elementalist; or Flesh, Ghosts, and Necromancy for a much-reviled necromancer.
Name: Talia Songward, everyone’s friend
Likable, Funny, Bold, Lucky, Rude
Drives: A cold drink with good friends; Tricking someone you don’t trust; Helping people who can’t help themselves
Defenses – Health: Health Threshold 4, Health 10
Defenses – Morale: Morale Threshold 3, Grit 1, Morale 8
Offense – Sway: Sway 8: Damage Modifier +1 (likeable)
Offense – Warfare Warfare 1: Damage Modifier +1 (stolen sword)
Investigative Abilities: Charm 3, Liar’s Tell 1, Servility 1, Trustworthy 1, City’s Secrets 1, Ridiculous Luck 2, Scurrilous Rumors 1
Allies and Enemies: Ally: Commoners 3; Enemy: Ancient Nobility 1
General Abilities: Athletics 5, Burglary 5, Preparedness 3, Stealth 8 (Where’d She Go?), Sway 8 (Play to the Crowd), Warfare 1
Gear: Instinctive knowledge of what makes people tick; an amazing smile; friends in low places; a huge bar tab; a stolen sword you haven’t used in months (dmg +1); curiosity about others’ secrets; a snazzy hat; scars you probably deserved; a good singing voice; a hearty dislike of bullies
Design Notes: The goals here were “make a clever thief who feels like a bard” and “local hero makes good”. Talia covers most of the Thief abilities (with a healthy focus on Ridiculous Luck, but no Skulduggery, an ability covered by Greca below) and is otherwise is focused on social abilities that say “I’m likeable, I’m immensely popular with Commoners, and people trust me.” She’s designed to be a hero of the people, with no social pretensions other than being naturally charismatic and particularly convincing. As she advances in experience, she might add ranks in Command or even more ranks of Ally: Commoners to emphasize this aspect of being a neighborhood hero.
Name: Niccolo Acaldi
Ageless, Steady, Welcoming, Encouraging, Surprisingly deadly
Drives: Turning enemies into friends; Killing enemies who stay enemies; Turning a profit
Defenses – Health: Health Threshold 4, Armor 1, Health 10
Defenses – Morale: Morale Threshold 3, Grit 1, Morale 8
Offense – Sway: Sway 8: Damage Modifier +1 (authoritative)
Offense – Warfare: Warfare 10: Damage Modifier +1 (antique sword)
Investigative Abilities: Charm 1, Command 1, Liar’s Tell 1, Servility 1, Trustworthy 1, Spot Frailty 2, Tactics of Death 3, Wilderness Mastery 1
Allies and Enemies: Ally: Mercenaries 1; Ally: The Triskadane 1; Enemy: Monstrosities 1
General Abilities: Athletics 8 (Dodge), Preparedness 2, Stealth 2, Sway 8 (Play to the Crowd), Warfare 10 (Cleave)
Gear: A comfortable sense of style; very well-worn leather armor; a favorite pipe; a sword as old as you are (dmg +1); a good smile; very few living enemies; an unexplained (and secret) inability to age (you’re 600? 700? You forget); surprisingly few memories for someone as old as you are; a well-established career of helping people who need help but can’t get it officially
Design Notes: Niccolo is a nice, unassuming guy who also happens to be one of the most deadly warriors you’ll meet. He stopped aging more than half a millennium ago, but he’s not wracked by angst; instead, he’s a happy, settled ex-mercenary with a successful investigative practice and few regrets. Why he stopped aging all those years ago is up to the GM and player, but in my own head I suspect he had an illicit affair with the Goddess Denari and she gave him this as a gift, even as she stole away the memories of their passion.
Mixed Profession: Sorcerer and Thief
Name: Master-seer Bennoc, Retired Church Prophet
Elderly, Adventurous, Risk-taking, Pious, Making up for lost time
Drives: Doing, instead of just telling others to do; Manipulating fate to serve you; Proving to yourself you’re not too old for this
Defenses – Health: Health Threshold 3, Health 6
Defenses – Morale: Morale Threshold 4, Grit 1, Morale 12
Offense – Sway: Sway 8: Damage Modifier +1 (mysterious)
Offense – Warfare: Warfare 1: Damage Modifier +0 (any convenient object)
Investigative Abilities: Liar’s Tell 1, Trustworthy 1, Forgotten Lore 1, Leechcraft 2, Prophecy 3, City’s Secrets 1, Scurrilous Rumors 1
Allies and Enemies: Ally: Church of Denari 1; Ally: City Watch 1; Enemy: Church of Denari 1
General Abilities: Athletics 4, Bind Wounds 8 (Plenty of Leeches), Preparedness 8 (Flashback), Stealth 1, Sway 8 (Play to the Crowd), Warfare 1
Gear: Mandatory retirement letter forcing you from the church’s service; the pitying glances of your former friends who thought your sanity was breaking; the urge to prove yourself once again before it’s too late; the constant whispering knowledge of events in the world; a church-assigned acolyte and servant whose name you forget, but she makes good tea
Design Notes: Prophecy is a joy for the GM because it means they can feed the player visions and clues as needed. Just remember that Prophecy always points to a person or a place that has the information a Hero needs, instead of giving the Hero that information directly.
Bennoc is a crotchety old man with a huge chip on his shoulder and something to prove. Let the player pick the method of prophecy, whether it is mystical visions in a copper tub or his own garbled memories from the future. He’s a great choice for players who enjoy playing untraditional heroes and for those who like access to (or declaring for themselves) hidden information about the world.
Mixed Profession: Sentinel, Sorcerer, and Thief
Name: Greca Leoni, Under-Acolyte in Training
Willful, Creative, Innocent-looking, Rebellious, Eager to learn
Drives: Not getting caught; Blaming it on someone else; Learning how to do it even better
Defenses – Health: Health Threshold 3, Armor 1, Health 9
Defenses – Morale: Morale Threshold 3, Grit 1, Morale 9
Offense – Sway: Sway 4: Damage Modifier +1 (sarcastic)
Offense – Warfare: Warfare 6: Damage Modifier +0 (dagger)
Investigative Abilities: Charm 1, Liar’s Tell 1, Servility 1, Taunt 1, Laws & Traditions 1, Leechcraft 1, City’s Secrets 1, Ridiculous Luck 1, Skulduggery 2
Allies and Enemies: Ally: Thieves’ Guilds 1; Ally: Church of Denari 1; Enemy: City Watch 1
General Abilities: Athletics 5, Bind Wounds 1, Burglary 8 (Fast Hands), Preparedness 2, Stealth 4, Sway 4, Warfare 6
Gear: A talent for seeming helpless; very fast hands; old enemies who want you dead; the protection of the church (at least for now); reinforced peasant’s dress (Armor 1); a burning desire to learn from anyone who will teach you; a sharp, slim dagger (dmg +0); a talent with improvised weapons; a dislike of rules; a church-contract of indentured servitude you look forward to buying off
Design Notes: Greca is a wonderfully willful kid of undetermined age (we assume she’s about 12) who robbed the wrong person, took shelter with the Church, and who now has been assigned to Master-Seer Bennoc as punishment. She has plans of her own and who isn’t afraid to manipulate the adults around her to get it. As a child, we want to emulate her relative inexperience in combat even though she’s built with as many points as everyone else. We do this in three ways:
- With her Health and Morale balanced at 9 each, this makes both her Health and Morale Thresholds 3 instead of 4. In combat she’ll get hit more often than other Heroes.
- Other than Skulduggery, she hasn’t specialized in any one Investigative ability. This gives her wide capabilities but relatively low burst damage in a fight.
- Neither her Sway nor Warfare is 8+, so Greca doesn’t get combat Boosters. This makes her more effective at targeting a single foe instead of large numbers of Mooks at once. And hey, with Stealth and the Fast Hands talent, she can steal an enemy’s sword out of their sheath before they even realize she’s there.
Kevin Kulp (@kevinkulp) and Emily Dresner (@multiplexer) are the co-authors of Swords of the Serpentine, currently available for pre-order. Kevin previously helped create TimeWatch and Owl Hoot Trail for Pelgrane Press. When he’s not writing games he’s either smoking BBQ or helping 24-hour companies with shiftwork, sleep, and alertness.