As promised, the Priest-Chief of the Red Height Orc Tribe. Mardug is set up to be the main villain of a campaign. He’s the kind of enemy that single handedly drives the PCs into retreat even at high levels.
Backstory and Levels 1-8
Mardug Firemaw was born Mardug Redaxe. Despite a warrior tradition in his family, Mardug took more to his studies than most orcs. While he was a decent fighter, he quickly gained the favor of Selacion and began to advance in the Salamander Cult. He worked hard, learning the ways of nature, the ways of war, and the ways of his deity. He grew very able to ingratiate himself to those around him and was soon the most influential shaman in the Red Mountain Tribe. By age 24 he had been named successor by the High Priest at the time, an aging orc of 53 years. With the announcement of his succession, he received from Selacion the Blessing of Foresight. Though not yet High Priest, he began to use his influence to steer the tribe toward preparations for war.
With his ability to convince, Mardug by 29 had control of the High Priest himself. He had visions and great ambitions given him by his deity. At his Selacion’s command, he poisoned the elderly High Priest over the next three years. Shortly after Mardug’s 32nd birthday, the High Priest succumbed to the poison. Mardug became the High Priest of Selacion and chief of the tribe.
As High Priest, Selacion invited Mardug to make the three day pilgrimage into the Dragon Maw. There he witnessed the dragon that had led his people in battle a century before. The dragon taught him of his form. For the next four years Mardug led his tribe on raids against caravans, goblins, nomads, anything that would not draw attention. But each winter he returned to the dragon, learning more of its form. It is the best kept secret of the Salamander Cult and the key to his plan to move out against higher profile targets in the coming spring.
Strength: 30, Constitution: 16, Dexterity: 16,
Wisdom: 26, Intelligence: 20, Charisma: 15
Abilities: Animal Form (Small Red Dragon) XX, Prayer XII, Pray on Behalf VI, Bless VI, Weapon Mastery (Battle Axe) VI, Spell Casting V, Animal Form (Rock Lizard) IV, Rallying Call IV, Persuade VIII, Call Animal III, Natural Empathy I, Employ Poison II
Skills: Will XV, Diplomacy VI
At first blush, Mardug Firemaw isn’t much to look at. He’s strong, really strong, but his skill with a Battle Axe and his Dexterity aren’t enough to expect him to go toe to toe with any melee PC at even level 10, other than his high health (192). His magic isn’t enough to match up against more than maybe a level 5 mage, but he does have plenty of SP and high SP recovery. His high Will does mean he is practically impossible to effect with mind spells and that he will be able to fight even when very fatigued.
His primary forms of combating the PCs is through his tribe, for whom he can pray, receiving help from his deity. Prayers for himself will also often be granted, making his god’s powers a large part of his effectiveness. He will also bless the weapons of key soldiers and will use his Rallying Call as much as three times a day to bolster his soldiers.
However, his primary means of breaking villages and fighting the PCs will be his Red Dragon form. His dragon form is that of a small and fairly young red dragon, weighing just a little over 800 lbs. At 6′ 10″, 30 strength, 16 constitution, and 1 metabolism, Mardug weighs over 300 pounds, making him nearly 500 lbs lighter than his form. Even with 20 levels in the dragon form, he can only hold it for 15 minutes a day. This is plenty of time to devastate a village or chase the PCs to ground. But if the PCs can manage to run his time out, he becomes vulnerable again.
Beyond his person, Merdug is dangerous for his ability to persuade and lead people. As discussed in yesterday’s post, his tribe has a number of other powerful members. More importantly, if he is able to achieve enough victories before the PCs can defeat him, other tribes will begin to join him. Once this occurs, the PCs will be hard pressed to get to him and may need to go look for other help.