Here’s another NPC who got cut from Compass of Celestial Directions—Malfeas, and very likely the last one I’ll post here. I’m running dry on old 2e material to post, so I may have to seek out some guest posts from my fellow writers. On the other hand, if we’re lucky, what’s left will last us until 3e’s release! Wait and see…
(As with two weeks ago’s post, I’d like to thank Richard Hughes, aka Kukla, for finalizing the Harlequin’s combat stats.)
<3>Black Jade Harlequin
The damned dead—ghosts trapped by force or deceit in Hell’s prayer mills and shantytowns—idolize those few of their ilk who have made a name for themselves in the Demon City. Among the most notorious of these is the Black Jade Harlequin. A warrior, acrobat, assassin and thief, the Harlequin sells her services to the highest bidder, calling no demon her lord or her master.
None know the Harlequin’s face. In those rare instances where she has demonstrated her skills in public, such as her infamous duel with Berengiere in the Plaza of Shattered Hands, she has clothed her small, nimble frame in worn mottled leathers of blue, red and green and concealed her visage behind a mask of black jade. Beneath that mask, she could be anyone; she is known to have the power to change her face and form, even to the point of imitating and deceiving demons.
Her admirers make a game of guessing at her origins. Some propose famous historical figures, such as the assassin Falling Glass, scourge of the nobility of Port Calin, or the actress-turned-revolutionary Lo Rian Jang of the City of the Steel Lotus. Others suggest broader categories, such as “Varang outcaste” or “Tya swordswoman.” The absence of facts only amplifies her mystique. In the end, her true past is irrelevant. She is a symbol of potential, of power and freedom for the ghost-slaves of the Demon City.
The optimistic newly dead hail her as a hero, while their cynical, envious elders view her as a sell-out. There is truth in both views. The Harlequin endured decades of bitter servitude before she escaped the prayer mills, and her hatred for Hell and its inhabitants burns inside her as a slow, cold flame. Where an ordinary ghost would be destroyed for harming a citizen, she has amassed a fortune by doing the same. That irony is her goal and her reward.
Motivation: To humiliate those who keep others as slaves.
Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 4, Stamina 4, Charisma 3, Manipulation 2, Appearance 2, Perception 3, Intelligence 3, Wits 4
Virtues: Compassion 3, Conviction 4, Temperance 2, Valor 4
Abilities: Athletics 5, Awareness 2, Bureaucracy 1, Craft (Moliation) 4, Craft (Pandemonium) 4, Dodge 3, Integrity 1, Larceny 4 (Theft +1), Linguistics 1, Lore 1, Martial Arts 3, Medicine 1 (Poisons +1), Melee 4 (Against Aristocrats and Slavers +2), Occult 2 (Malfeas +2, Demons +1), Performance 3, Resistance 2, Socialize 1 (Read Crowds +1), Stealth 3, Survival 1, Thrown 2
Backgrounds: Allies 2 (First Circle citizens), Artifact 3 (Space-Warping Needle), Artifact 2 (Black Jade Mask), Artifact 1 (Shade Knife), Contacts 3, Resources 4, Underworld Cult 3 (Malfean ghosts)
Common Arcanoi: Breeze-Carried Ash Form, Ox-Body Technique (x2), Pyre Smoke Form
Shifting Ghost-Clay Path: Ghost-Devil Form, Nine Terrors Visage, Steeling the Spirit, Waxen Ghostly Flesh, Yielding Spirit Form
Terror-Spreading Art: Black Breath of the Abyss, Corpse-Fed Radiance, Ebon Grasp of Oblivion, Flying Time Technique, Hand of the Wind, Painting the Sunset Picture, Strike of Dead Hands
Join Battle: 6
Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy 8, Damage 3B, Parry DV 5, Rate 3
Kick: Speed 5, Accuracy 7, Damage 6B, Parry DV 3, Rate 2
Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 7, Damage 3B, Parry DV —, Rate 1, Tags P
Soak: 7L/6B (Silken armor, 5L/3B)
Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-2/-2/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 6 Willpower: 8
Essence: 4 Essence Pool: 86 (90)
Other Notes: The Harlequin enjoys taking advantage of the Demon City’s bizarre terrain. She relies on acrobatics and Breeze-Carried Ash Form to claim the higher ground, attacking with her bow or a space-warping needle tipped in gallmau-spawn venom (6L/tick, toxicity 3, -5 internal penalty), then employs Flying Time Technique to speed into close range and finish the job. She reserves Ebon Grasp of Oblivion for emergencies, deeming its use both reckless and cruel.