View Full Version : [RIVALRY] The Telltale Heart

The Glyphstone
2007-01-27, 11:48 AM
You fancy me mad, don’t you? But I’m not, I’m not mad at all. He’s the mad one, he’s mad at me for killing him. I didn’t mean to kill him – I loved him…it was that traveler who made me do it. He magicked me, he did, into killing the old man. He wanted his eye, the magical sapphire the old man had where a normal eye would sit. He told me, and I heard him. I heard a lot of things, and can still hear them. I heard the old man’s snores, then that single strangled shriek as I plunged the blade into his chest. That broke the spell, and I knew what I had done. See? Madmen know nothing, and I know exactly what happened.

I could hear the burglar who made me do it approaching, so I hid the body and hid myself. You should have seen him. He tore up the house, looking for both of us and the gem. He never found us, though the steady thumping of his boots on the floor overhead terrified me in that tiny hideaway the old man had built years ago. Finally, he left, and I could free myself from that hideous confinement with a corpse of my own design. I sat there, in the bedroom chair, for some time, thinking. It took a few minutes for me to hear the sound. It grew louder – louder – louder – more minutes before I recognized it. At first, I thought it was the thief, returned and searching the house upstairs. It grew louder – louder – louder – louder! At long last, I recognized it…it was coming from below, from underneath my feet…it was the beating of his hideous heart!

I fled the house, seeking refuge in the nearby town. But that was no solace…the one who had sought the gem sought revenge in its place for my betrayal – the guards believed their anonymous tip that I had murdered the old man. I fled again, hiding in the forest. I thought I was safe, and could sleep. But I woke to that sound again, and the sight. The sight of the old man, clear as day and transparent, seething with rage, and accompanied by that infernal ever-beating heart! I’ve tried to tell him I’m sorry, tried to tell him I didn’t mean too, but he doesn’t listen. He just won’t leave me alone! LEAVE ME ALONE, I SAY!!!!!!!

The Glyphstone
2007-01-27, 11:48 AM
Old Man McKorrigan

Old Man McKorrigan
Advanced Brokenhearted
Size/Type: Medium Undead
HD: 10d12+50 (115 HP)
Initiative: +10 (+6 Dex, +4 Imp. Initiative)
Speed: 40ft., fly 60ft. (perfect)
Armor Class: 21 (+6 Dex, +5 deflection), touch 21, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +5/-
Attack: Incorporeal touch +11 melee (1d12 plus 1d3 Wisdom damage)
Full Attack: Incorporeal touch +10 melee (1d12 plus 1d3 Wisdom damage)
Space/Reach: 5ft./5ft.
Special Attacks: Wisdom damage, create spawn, depressing aura
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60ft., daylight vulnerability, incorporeal traits, +2 turn resistance, undead traits, critical weakness
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +9, Will +10
Abilities: Str -, Dex 22, Con -, Int 16, Wis 17, Cha 21*
Skills: Hide +19, Intimidate +18, Knowledge (religion) +16, Listen +18, Search +16, Spot +18, Survival +3 (+5 following tracks)
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Improved Initiative
Environment: Any near Grimsley
Organization: Unique
Challenge Rating: 8
Treasure: None or Telltale Heart
Alignment: Chaotic Evil

*Elite stat array.

The house sat on a hill, overlooking a quiet village. In it dwelt the cranky, misanthropic, and indecently rich old man McKorrigan. He had been an adventurer in his youth, becoming a banker and moneylender after he lost an eye and his vitality to one monster too many, compounding the small fortune he had accumulated into a large one. Most of his money was invested in various ventures – with the cynicism of a former tomb robber, he thought it unwise to keep too much of his wealth in solid form, as it reminded him of the dragon caves and ogre lairs he had looted countless times. His only trappings of wealth were the grand house he built to live in, the enchanted sapphire eye that spat balls of icy fire on command, and the service of his loyal servant and housekeeper, Grimsley.

Loyal, that is, until he was ensnared by the mind-control spells of an opportunistic burglar who sought McKorrigan’s riches. McKorrigan was furious when the gnome up and murdered him one night – so furious, in fact, that he returned from the grave just to punish Grimsley for his betrayal. McKorrigan’s demise had returned him as a unique type of ghost called the Brokenhearted, spirits who still carry faint physical ties to the world. He chases Grimsley from hiding spot to hiding spot, preferring to materialize and attack at night. Most times, he won’t show himself manifested unless Grimsley is alone, though he does attack and drain random passer-by on occasion, to keep Grimsley on the run from authorities believing him a murderer.


Male Gnome Expert 5
Size/Type: Small Humanoid (Gnome)
HD: 5d6+15 (33 HP)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 20ft. (4 squares)
Armor Class: 17(+3 armor, +3 Dex, +1 size), touch 14, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +3
Attack: Dagger +3 melee (1d3)
Full Attack: Dagger +3 melee (1d3)
Space/Reach: 5ft./5ft.
Special Attacks: Spell-like abilities, +1 to attack rolls vs. kobolds + goblinoids
Special Qualities: Low-light vision, +4 AC vs. giants
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +3 (+5 vs. illusions)
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 15, Con 17, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 10
Skills: Craft (Alchemy) +2, Disguise +8, Heal +2, Hide +10, Listen +9, Move Silently +10, Profession (Housekeeper) +7, Spot +7, Survival +9
Feats: Endurance, Self-Sufficient
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral

Equipment: Dagger, studded leather, grappling hook, backpack, bullseye lantern, 5 pints of oil, traveler's outfit, 3 days trail rations

Age: 60
Height and Weight: 3'5", 45 lbs.
Appearance: Brown hair, green eyes
Languages: Common, Gnome, Elven

Poor Grimsley had life in a good way. The job was easy, the pay was good, and if the old man he worked for was rather intemperate, at least he wasn’t too demanding. The only downside was the artificial eye he wore – it creeped Grimsley out, especially after he saw it spit a bluish fireball in pursuit of some overly enthusiastic peddlers who ignored the “No Trespassing” markers around McKorrigan’s property. It was almost too good to be true, particularly for a lowly gnome who had never planned or expected to amount to much.

It was too good to be true. Tending the grounds one day, Grimsley had the unfortunate luck to fall under the spells of one Ernest Waux, a sorcerer and burglar who was after the old man’s rumored treasures. Thus ensnared, Grimsley waited until dark, then stabbed McKorrigan through the heart. Afterward, he woke up from his fugue, horrified and panicked. In desperation, he concealed himself and McKorrigan’s body in a secret compartment underneath the floorboards. That saved him from the prowling Waux, who broke in and ransacked the place in search of “his” prizes before giving up in disgust. But it didn’t save him from McKorrigan’s spirit, who was bent on revenge. The spirit’s torments drove him insane – he hasn’t gotten a good night’s sleep in over two years now, with McKorrigan always appearing to awaken him by the sound of an echoing heart, the heart that Grimsley silenced once but cannot silence again. He is constantly on the run, fleeing from town to city and back to another town, with the ghost of his past constantly on his heels. Even worse is McKorrigan’s spiteful tendency to murder an innocent person in the area whenever Grimsley finds a bit of peace, then pin the crime on the gnome in some manner, forcing him to run again. Grimsley hates McKorrigan, but wishes him no further ill will – he wants only to be left alone.

Ernest Waux

Ernest Waux
Male Human Rogue 3/Sorcerer 4/Arcane Trickster 1
Size/Type: Medium Humanoid (Human)
Initiative: +7 (+3 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)
Speed: 30ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class:19 (+3 armor, +2 shield, +3 Dex, +1 deflection), touch 14, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +3/+3
Attack: Masterwork rapier +7 melee (1d6/18-20/x2) or masterwork hand crossbow +7 ranged (1d4/19-20/x2, 30ft.)
Full Attack: Masterwork rapier +7 melee (1d6/18-20/x2) or masterwork hand crossbow +7 ranged (1d4/19-20/x2, 30ft.) or 2 masterwork hand crossbows +5/+5 ranged (1d4/19-20/x2, 30ft.)
Space/Reach: 5ft./5ft.
Special Attacks: Sneak Attack +2d6, Ranged Legerdemain 1/day
Special Qualities: Trapfinding, Trap Sense +1, Evasion
Flaws: Forlorn
Saves: Fortitude +3, Reflex +9, Will +6
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 14
Skills: Bluff +13, Concentration +12, Disable Device +16, Disguise +13 (+15 when acting in character), Hide +14, Open Lock +16, Knowledge (Arcana)+13, Knowledge (Local)+13, Search +13, Spellcraft +13
Feats: Nimble Fingers, Weapon Finesse, Improved Initiative, Two-weapon fighting, Improved Toughness
Alignment: Neutral Evil

Equipment: Ring of Protection +1, +1 Darkwood Buckler, +1 Leather Armor, Cloak of Resistance +1, Handy Haversack, Pearl of Power (1st lvl spell), masterwork rapier, masterwork hand crossbow, masterwork hand crossbow, bedroll, flint+steel, trail rations, grappling hook, bullseye lantern, waterskin 90gp

Age: 24
Height and Weight: 5'6"
Appearance: Black hair, blue eyes
Languages: Common, Dwarven, Gnomish

Spells Per Day: 6/6/4
Spells Known (6/4/2): 0th - Detect Magic, Open/Close, Mage Hand, Ghost Sound, Detect Poison, Ray of Frost; 1st - Detect Secret Doors, Charm Person, Magic Missile, Expeditious Retreat; 2nd - Spider Climb, Invisibility

Ernest had clearly been born to a life of thievery. From the day he could sit up, he was grabbing things, particularly other people’s things. From the day he could crawl, then walk, he was going places he wasn’t supposed to be, and often leaving with something he wasn’t supposed to have. The dysfunctional, abuse-ridden family life he suffered through didn’t help either, nor did his spontaneous manifestation of magical abilities, and he left home at an early age. Turning to a life of crime for survival, he profited somewhat, though not tremendously. When he heard about McKorrigan, and the fabulous valuables he was rumored to be hoarding, he immediately formulated a plan. The arcane power that had served him so well already came in handy once again, and he charmed the unsuspecting gnome who worked in McKorrigan’s house.

That night, Waux waited until he heard the old man’s death cry, then worked his way into the house. To his surprise and displeasure, the rumors had been false – there were no vaults of gold or chests of jewels…and both the gnome and the body had vanished, along with the magical jeweled eye that McKorrigan had been famous for. Raging, he retreated, stopping only to place an anonymous tip with the local guards that Grimsley had snapped and murdered McKorrigan for his jewels. By blind chance, he spotted the crazed and terrified gnome as he left town, and followed.

Waux believes Grimsley knows where McKorrigan’s valuables are concealed, and will do anything to force the information out of him. He doesn’t know about McKorrigan’s ghost, and thinks Grimsley is simply fleeing from him and the authorities.

The Glyphstone
2007-01-27, 11:49 AM
Size/Type: Medium Undead (Incorporeal)
Hit Dice: 8d12+24 (76 HP)
Speed: 40ft. (8 squares), Fly 60ft. (perfect)
Armor Class: 17 (+4 Dex, +3 deflection), touch 17, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/-
Attack: Incorporeal touch +8 melee (1d12 plus 1d3 Wisdom damage)
Full Attack: Incorporeal touch +8 melee (1d12 plus 1d3 Wisdom damage
Space/Reach: 5ft./5ft.
Special Attacks: Wisdom damage, create spawn, depressing aura
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60ft., daylight vulnerability, incorporeal traits, +2 turn resistance, undead traits, critical weakness
Saves: Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +8
Abilities: Str -, Dex 18. Con -, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 16
Skills:Hide +15 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);), Intimidate +14 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);), Knowledge (religion) +13 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);), Listen +15 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);), Search +13 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);), Spot +15 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);), Survival +2 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);) (+4 (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0);) following tracks)
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack
Environment: Any land and underground
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 6
Treasure: None or Telltale Heart
Alignment: Always evil (any)
Advancement: 9-12 HD (Medium), 13-18 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment: -

The first sign of this spirit’s approach is not visual, but auditory – a steady, prevalent thump-thump….thump-thump…thump-thump…the sound of a beating heart. When it emerges out of the twilight gloom, the reason for this is clear – though as immaterial as any normal ghost overall, in the center of its chest sits a all-too-solid-looking heart, throbbing and emitting that dreadful thumping sound.

Brokenhearted are a rare and dangerous form of undead – rare because of the narrow circumstances under which they form, and dangerous because of the singleminded ferocity by which they pursue the living afterward. A brokenhearted arises from the body of any humanoid creature who is slain by a single wound to the heart. Furthermore, they must have suffered no other wounds, either before the fatal injury or afterwards. If these conditions are met, the spirit will materialize over its remains (or grave site) within 24 hours. When first formed, it is bound by an irresistible compulsion to seek out and slay the creature who caused its worldly demise, but is free to roam and hunt down other living creatures, which it does with great enthusiasm.

Brokenhearted appear as transparent versions of the creatures they were in life, with one exception. In the middle of their bodies lies their heart, remaining corporeal as opposed to the rest of their form. This is not a literally corporeal heart, as the ruined organ still rests within their corpse, but is instead a physical manifestation of the anger and hatred that fueled their creation. Similar to a ghost touch weapon or object, the heart’s apparent solidity does not impede the brokenhearted’s passage through solid objects, but it is a vulnerable point all the same that opponents can exploit.
Brokenhearted speak whatever languages they understood in life, though they are not prone to conversation.

Brokenhearted are crafty, calculating creatures, who enthusiastically employ the “pop-up” tactic of lurking inside solid walls or floors, then using Spring Attack to burst out, strike, and retreat back inside. Against an opponent they know to be their killer (identifiable on sight, though they have no supernatural ability to track them), they will not retreat until victorious or destroyed; against any other foe, however, they will happily flee if outmatched, engaging in harassment tactics to keep enemies weary and off-balance until the brokenhearted is dominant again.

Wisdom Damage
Living creatures hit by a brokenhearted’s incorporeal touch attack must succeed on a DC 17 Will save or take 1d3 points of Wisdom damage. The save DC is Charisma-based. On each successful attack, the brokenhearted gains 5 temporary hit points.

Depressing Aura
A brokenhearted radiates an aura of deep melancholy and ennui, sapping willpower and motivation of living creatures nearby. Any creature within 30ft. of a brokenhearted must succeed on a DC19 Will save, or suffer a -2 morale penalty to attack rolls, Will saves, skill checks, ability checks, and Initiative rolls. The save DC is Charisma-based, and includes a +2 racial bonus. A successful save renders the creature immune to the effect for 24 hours or until they leave the radius of the effect, whichever lasts longer.

Create Spawn
If a living creature is killed outright (brought from positive HP to -10 or less in a single attack) while under the effects of a brokenhearted’s depressing aura, they will arise as a brokenhearted 24 hours later. This overrides the conditions for the spontaneous creation of a brokenhearted, so the victim can have suffered prior injuries beforehand.

Daylight Vulnerability
When exposed to natural sunlight, or the effects of a daylight spell, a brokenhearted’s weak point is more easily exploited. Any critical threats scored against a brokenhearted in this condition are automatically confirmed (see Critical Weakness, below).

Critical Weakness
Due to the semi-corporeal nature of the brokenhearted’s vital organ from which it is named, it is more vulnerable to critical hits than normal spirits. Like normal for undead, a brokenhearted does not take additional damage from critical hits or sneak attacks. However, a successful critical hit from any weapon against a brokenhearted grants that weapon the effects of the ghost touch property for that attack, allowing the wielder to ignore the brokenhearted’s 50% incorporeal miss chance.

The Glyphstone
2007-01-27, 11:49 AM
Telltale Heart

When a Brokenhearted is finally put to rest, it leaves behind one trace of its existence – the oddly corporeal heart that was the focus of its being. These remnants have become known as Telltale Hearts, because of the lingering magic and semi-sentience that permeates them. At first glance, they appear to be an ordinary heart from the brokenhearted’s living form, rubbery and solid. They do not bleed or rot, though the appearance remains that of a fresh organ.

A Telltale Heart must first be attuned to its possessor, along with anyone he wishes to exclude from its effects. This involves a ritual that requires 1 round for each participant, as well as blood sacrifices that deal 1 hit point of damage to all involved. Once complete, the ritual participants remain attuned until another ritual is performed. The wielder of an attuned Heart can activate or deactivate it at will, at which point it serves as a warning device. If any creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or greater approaches within 100 feet of the activated Heart without first being attuned, the Heart will begin to beat, producing a steady thump-thump…thump-thump…thump-thump. Mindless creatures, or any creature concealed by non-detection, mind blank, or a similar anti-divination effect, will not register to the heart, but mundane disguises or invisibility will not fool it. The sound is audible out to 100ft., or half that if the Heart is concealed within a box, bag, or other container. Once triggered, it continues to beat until deactivated by its wielder (a standard action), and it cannot be reactivated for 24 hours. The unnatural throbbing of a Heart is disturbing to any creature who has not been attuned to the Heart, cursing them with a -2 penalty to attack rolls, skill checks, ability checks, Will saves, and Initiative checks for as long as they can hear the Heart beating and for 1d4 rounds afterwards (Will DC 15 negates). Multiple Hearts do not stack. This is a sonic, mind-affecting effect.

Faint necromancy; CL 10th; Craft Wondrous Item, alarm, doom; Price 6,500 GP; Weight ¼ lb.

The Glyphstone
2007-01-27, 11:50 AM
The Rivalries: Using McKorrigan + Company in your Game

The guidelines of the contest required that you create a rivalry between two individuals. This entry goes above and beyond that, creating three potential rivalries between three different people (well, two people and a ghost), each of which can be used independently or concurrently with the others.

McKorrigan vs. Waux: This pairing is the easiest of the three, as both of the rivals in question, while unaware or uncaring of each other's existence, are nonetheless competing for the mind, body, and sanity of Grimsley. Waux believes that Grimsley stole McKorrigan's jewels and treasure, or else knows where they are hidden, and will stop at nothing to extract that information from the gnome once he catches him. McKorrigan, conversely, is dedicated to punishing Grimsley for his murder, dedicated to driving him mad before he drains his life away forever. If the Brokenhearted knew of Waux, and knew he was ultimately responsible for his death, the rogue would be his next target after Grimsley - though Waux set it in motion, Grimsley's hand did the deed, and the quirks of a Brokenhearted's existence normally demands that vengeance first be extracted from its killer. However, McKorrigan is not a typical Brokenhearted, as his tormenting pursuit of Grimsley demonstrates, so they might yet be reconciled by one of sufficient guile and talent...

McKorrigan vs. Grimsley: Though not a rivalry in the defined sense, there is definitely an antagonistic relationship between the former butler and his pursuing spirit. McKorrigan is doing his best to make Grimsley's life a living Hell, desiring to drive him crazy, then kill him. Grimsley has so far managed to retain his sanity, but the margin is getting thin. He hates McKorrigan for haunting him, but wants only for the ghost to leave him alone. If that means destroying him, so be it, but any option would be acceptable to the increasingly unstable gnome.

Grimsley vs. Waux: Grimsley never knew exactly who that cloaked stranger was, only that he somehow hypnotized him into slaughtering McKorrigan. Were he to become aware of Waux's identity, it would give him a definite purpose to his life, one that would magnetically attract the eroding base of his mind. If he would die alone and insane at the hands of the implacable Brokenhearted that chased him, he would at least take the man responsible for his predicament with him. From Waux's point of view, Grimsley deserves his punishment for double-crossing the thief; no matter that the gnome's participation was involuntary, magically compelled, and without compensation - in the end, Waux got none of the goods, and he considers it to be Grimsley's fault. When Waux finally tracks him down, it won't be pretty - unless McKorrigan finishes him off first.

Taking the Bait: Plot Hooks to Use the Telltale Heart in your campaign

The saga of McKorrigan and Grimsley is somewhat open-ended, so the PC's could find themselves embroiled in it at any point along the way. However, certain circumstances or moments lend themselves to easier inclusion in an existing game.

-The PC's could arrive in the village where McKorrigan dwelt, mere days after his murder and Grimsley's disappearance. The townsfolk would still be gossiping heavily about the sordid crime, and the local guards would be busily searching for any traces of their suspect. There might be a reward or bounty offered by the guard for the capture and return of the wayward gnome. Waux is lying low at this point, waiting for someone else to find a trace of Grimsley.

-A chance encounter on the road or in a town might have the PC's cross paths with Grimsley, at any stage in his descent into half-crazed terror, depending on how long McKorrigan has been haunting him. If they manage to squeeze the secret of his "problem" out, he might ask or beg for their help in driving off the spirit forever.

-Waux has been pursuing Grimsley for some time, but the gnome's attempts to elude McKorrigan have only managed to foil the evil sorcerer's path. Evil PC's might be approached by the thief, or hear of the bounty he has put out on Grimsley's (mostly) undamaged hide and return for interrogation.

2007-01-28, 10:14 AM
Well, bother. Glyphstone's in the contest now. :smallfrown:

And looking strong as ever, needless to say. The fluff is great -- I must say I feel quite sorry for Grimsley -- and the crunch looks highly... crunchy.

My only concern with throwing votes at you would be that I'm in this contest too! that the contest parameters talk of a pair involved in a rivalry; I'm not sure if your rivalry is intended to be McKorrigan and Grimsley, with Waux as a supporting character, or what. It doesn't seem all that, uh, rivalrous to me, more... A torments B, B runs from A.

(Hey, wow, rivalrous is a real word.)

The Glyphstone
2007-01-28, 10:25 AM
Actually, the rivalry is more meant to be McKorrigan vs. Waux, as they're competing (unknowingly) over poor Grimsley. Really, any of the two could be considered rivals with the right spin on it, something I'll elaborate on in the section about using the crunch/fluff in your game.

2007-01-28, 10:30 AM
Okay, I understand better now. Which is of course why I brought it up. :smallsmile:

The Glyphstone
2007-01-28, 11:14 AM
That's good.

Second piece of crunch is now finished, the Telltale Heart that a Brokenhearted leaves behind. The Brokenhearted have also been edited, increasing their incorporeal touch damage from 1d6 to 1d12...I realized it was a bit odd that the Brokenhearted couldn't create another Brokenhearted, because 1d6 wasn't enough to kill a creature outright even if they were at 1 HP.