Christophe Viperstaff
Tortured Soul

 

Race:  Human
Class:  Fighter
Kit:  None
Age:  43
Alignment:  CG
STR:  11
DEX:  15
CON:  7
INT:  12
WIS:  5
CHA:  8
Level:  7
HP:  36
Player:  Matthew

 

Appearance:  Not exactly ugly, not exactly pretty - Christophe has a face that would usually just blend in with the crowd. However, he has a few distinctive features. There's some scarring around random areas of his body from battles over the years, and he has an Aztec-like design tattooed across his back, a ritual tattoo of the lizardmen given to only the bravest warriors in battle. Also, his hair is cropped short, and went prematurely grey many years ago. Christophe is uncertain exactly when this happened, but it was sometime in the middle of his stint on the island. His eyes are hazel in colour. When standing around, he has the stiff posture of a soldier, but is quickly able to disguise that if need be.

Christophe typically wears what the environment around him dictates he should wear. When possible, he likes to wear leather gloves when handling a weapon, because it gives him a better grip. Once, if he knew he'd go into battle soon, he'd throw the rusted open faced helm on, more of a hobgoblin superstition than anything else. He has since discarded that belief and the helmet, as well.

Personality:  Devoted. Detached. Cold. Possibly fanatical. Generous. Hard to get to know, but very loving and a care-giver once he makes a friend or ally. Driven.

History:  Born in Padora on Ruebon 29, 622, Christophe Leroux was a bastard son of Laurent Augustine, an errant bard of ill-repute who seemed to have a girl in every town. His mother Jillian, a barmaid at the now-defunct Velvet Goldmine Inn, raised the boy as best she could on the limited amount of money she earned and the occasional pittance she received from Laurent when he passed through town. Unfortunately, when Christophe was only three years of age, a brief, but ravaging plague passed through Padora, and claimed his mother's life.

Laurent retrieved his boy and quite literally dropped him off at the doorstep of Armel, his eldest son and one of the few scholars of the Bloodtooth region at this point in time. Armel was twenty, yet had already made a decent fortune and home for himself. He had a strained relationship with his often absent father, but could not turn away a brother, especially one so young and helpless. In later years the relationship between Armel and Christophe would also become strained and awkward, because while they were half-brothers, the age difference often turned certain situations into a father/son-like relationship.

However, the early years were a relatively happy time for Christophe. It was obvious to Armel that the boy already possessed some physical talents, he went to do minor chores on a nearby farm at the tender age of six, but Armel tried as best he could to teach the boy some knowledge from the extensive library he owned. Notably, he taught the child the spoken Hobgoblin language, which was an essential tool if a minority Eonian wanted to move up in the world in Bloodtooth. Armel himself was slowly moving into the political arena at this time, becoming a young council member before moving up to a much higher ranking position years later in the town of Dan'gen.

One of the hobgoblins on the farm first taught Christophe how to use a blade, but it was when he moved to Dan'gen with his brother that he discovered his talent for marksmanship, particularly with a crossbow. The crossbow was a standard issue weapon of the Bloodguard, of course, and this had not escaped Armel's attention. He was now within whispering distance of the then-Overlord, which he utilized to get Christophe enrolled as an apprentice to a seasoned Bloodguard lieutenant, a hobgoblin who went by the name of Chantal.

Despite any racial differences, she took the now young man under her wing and taught him the ways of the warrior. He was the first truly worthy apprentice Chantal had ever taken in, so it wasn't long before she approved of his entry into the ranks of the Bloodguard. At this point in time, Christophe considered it an honour to be a direct servant of the Overlord, for he truly thought that it was the way the world was meant to work. He didn't know any better, and although Armel was wise to some of the corruption that went on, his ambition to move up in the world kept him from ever schooling Christophe in that area.

It was an early mission for the Overlord, when he was allowed to accompany some more experienced Bloodguard to a local temple where he first experienced the seeds of doubt about whether the ruler was fair or not. The entire collection tray from the temple was emptied into the Overlord's coffers after the Bloodguard bullied the priests into it, and this didn't sit right with Christophe at all. He discovered soon after that all the farms in the area were forced by law to give up fifty percent of their harvest to the Overlord so he and his cronies, Armel now included, could feast in style every night. Christophe's eyes were beginning to open for the very first time as he finally paid attention to the people forced to live out on the street, or the oppressed people who were struggling to hang on to the remains of their shelter.

Christophe was farther away from Armel now, they were quarreling more, and he seemed to be moving ever closer to the Overlord and his court. His only option was to turn to Chantal with his concerns. Chantal seemed pleased that Christophe had finally expressed such concerns, and on a whim that night, introduced him (in secret) to the legendary rogue, 'Blackjack' Harley, who was recruiting members for a cause, a rebellion, a revolution. His words were highly influential to Christophe, for he knew them to be true. There was something wrong with the world, and something had to be done about it. Christophe discovered that a small number of the Bloodguard were already on Harley's side, working as 'double agents' of sorts to try and undermine the Overlord, and Chantal was the leader of this cell.

For just over a year he performed small, minor duties for the cause. It was decided the best way to build up support for the cause was through a slow burn, getting the numbers one by one, slowly but surely pecking away at the Overlord's power. This also helped to keep attention away from the Bloodguard against the Overlord, for if they were exposed they would surely all be executed on the spot.

It was during this year that Christophe met a lovely farm girl interested in the cause named Tanya. She also developed a quick interest in Christophe, and the couple were swiftly married. In less than a whole year of marriage, his daughter Michelle was delivered, and while Christophe was perfectly content with his new family, seeing his newborn baby girl gave him even more desire to undermine the Overlord and make the land a better place for his child to grow up in.

Meanwhile, Chantal's next apprentice, Edgar, had moved quickly through training as Christophe had, and was instantly accepted into the ranks of Bloodguard. On active duty together, Christophe got along fine with Edgar, but neither Christophe nor Chantal could tell if he would be willing to switch allegiances if given the opportunity. Like she had done with Christophe earlier, Chantal gambled on Edgar and entrusted him with the secret, introducing him to the revolution.

Unfortunately, Edgar was deliberately placed as Chantal's apprentice by an overzealous adviser (and political rival of Armel) to the Overlord, who suspected that recent plights were caused by a dissenting faction. Edgar was a young spy, fiercely loyal to the Overlord. Thus, the rebels were led into a series of mighty ambushes, nearly all of them executed on the spot, including the leader 'Blackjack' Harley, who's head rested at the end of a pike until it's flesh had completely rotted away.

Christophe and Chantal, with a few other rebellion foot-soldiers were able to flee, and made it as far as Moonshadow before the Bloodguard and the vicious General Kaurath caught up with them. Kaurath, another hobgoblin, charged Chantal with Heghtay, and while she was very loyal to the rebellion, she was still fraternizing with the enemy by taking part in a revolution. Christophe was forced to watch in dismay as two Bloodguard held his mentor down and a third cut out her right eye. Then, without even tossing her so much as a dirty rag to stem some of the blood, she was handed a dagger and thrown into one on one combat with General Kaurath. Still, she showed no fear, even as Kaurath easily hacked her down within less than a minute.

It was little consolation to Christophe that Chantal had died honourably, because as he was taken in prisoner and brought forth before the Overlord, he learned that his wife Tanya had been slain along with a number of other rebellion sympathizers, in a mass execution. He didn't feel burning anger, rage, or hatred, he just felt empty, as if he had already died. Christophe hardly noticed when his half-brother came to visit him one night in his holding cell, and told him that he had managed to whisk Michelle away to safety before the killing began. Armel also used up one of his last remaining favours with the Overlord by having Christophe shipped off to Hell's Island as opposed to a quick execution. It wasn't that the Overlord felt sympathy for a family member of his underling, it was just perversely amusing to send a man to death in such an elaborate manner, for Hell's Island was supposed to be a possessed island of demons and dark magic that no one ever came back from...

Less than a month later, Christophe was being forced off a prison ship on the shore of the cursed island. He was given nothing more than a rusty sword to protect himself, which the vicious tide washed away before he even made it to the beach. Christophe imagined he could hear the strains of laughter once he made it to land, whether it was from the Bloodguard on the ship or from the apparent demon infested jungles, he could not say. Soon after, the first of what would be MANY tropical storms started brewing up, and Christophe sought refuge in the trees and brush. He managed to survive here for many weeks, not venturing very far from his spot of safety, only killing small animals if he had to, for he soon discovered that some of the fruit on the island was poisoned.

He was surviving, just barely, and it was only when the thought of his daughter still being alive out there somewhere crossed Christophe's mind that he first had the desire to escape. For the first time, Christophe decided to venture along the coastline of the island. If nothing else, he may find other prisoners who had managed to survive on the sweltering island. What he found was the charred remains of a skeleton lying near a swamp. Rattled by this, Christophe turned to retreat back to the safety of his original hiding spot, but turned into twenty spears pointing directly at his face. Behind the spears were serpentine faces with cold, unemotional black eyes... the mythological lizardmen of Amtar had apparently made a home on Hell Island.

It seemed as if Christophe was going to be an instant meal to these lizardmen, before a score of throwing axes cut through the trees and struck their leader dead. A battle in the trees soon ensued, and although Christophe considered fleeing to safety, thoughts of 'my enemy's enemy' crossed his mind, and with his bare hands, he tackled a lizardman down and throttled him to death. The remainder of the battle didn't last long, for the ambush was successful. Christophe then came face to face with the assailants... more lizardmen!

He didn't quite understand it all, but he was taken in by the second group of lizardmen, in a more friendly manner this time. He was given a quarterstaff and a blue/green tunic that they all donned... which made Christophe believe he was being instantly drafted into their ranks to fight. After living in the wild with the lizards for a few weeks, they finally reached their destination, which was a base camp around the large lake on the island, a lake the lizards called Topoc. Christophe was quickly beginning to understand the language they spoke, even though most of it was through a series of clicks and hisses.

Taken before the leader, the scouting party told their chief that Christophe had helped in the battle, and had proven himself as an able warrior. Needing all the numbers they could muster, the lizards had brought Christophe along. As more weeks passed by, Christophe slowly absorbed bits and pieces of the story and his surroundings. The chieftain’s name was Pahualaxa, and his small tribe had broken away from a bigger tribe of lizardmen known as the Serpent's Tongue, some of which originally tried to spear Christophe. Apparently, the Serpent's Tongue were under the influence of a demon that lived atop an inactive volcano on the other side of the island. They believed that the demon should be revered and worshipped, while Pahualaxa's tribe believed his people should be free, and should rid the island of the demon, for he brought nothing but chaos to their homes.

Absorbed into his current environment, Christophe almost completely forgot about his past and became wrapped up in a new revolution. Pahualaxa's tribe used guerrilla warfare tactics to take on the Serpent's Tongue, and Christophe was taught the art of camouflage, for he would sometimes spend weeks at a time perched in the trees, waiting for just the right moment to strike the enemy. During this time, he learned more of the lizardmen's backstory: Hundreds of years ago, they lived on the south-east coast of Renosia, but were driven away by the hobgoblins to Hell's Island. The hobgoblins outnumbered the lizardmen by almost twenty to one, so their only true chance of survival was to make a new home on the island, a sweltering land of hostile jungles, mosquito-infested lakes, swamps, scorching beaches, and a brutal tropical storm that would hit once every three days without fail, and last the entire day. It was an almost inhospitable area, but if anyone could make a home out of that, it was the lizardmen.

Atop the inactive volcano they found the demon, a Tanar'ri expelled from the outer planes of existence. In later years, Pahualaxa's tribe would believe the demon to be completely insane, possibly due to his expulsion from his native plane of existence. The demon would feast upon unsuspecting travelers and explorers, and the occasional prisoner sent to a death sentence on the island... but when he saw all the lizardmen, he believed it could be a second chance to raise an army and do battle with the Baatezu that put him on Renosia. Although the demon's powers of mind manipulation were depleted, most all of the lizardmen bowed before him out of fear more than anything else. It would take another hundred years before a lizardman even felt the seeds of doubt within them.

Meanwhile, years had passed on the island, and Christophe was still embroiled in the civil war. The Tanar'ri on Hell's Island and his tyrannical rule over the lizardmen directly mirrored the Overlords and their rule over the people on the mainland of Renosia, so Christophe didn't have a hard time finding the motivation to fight for Pahualaxa. In those years, he had learned how to survive in the tropical environment much like the lizardmen. He was introduced to many of their customs, and now that he was able to fully speak their language, he was able to hear their myths, songs, religious beliefs, and much more... he was accepted as one of their own, and given the adopted name of Conquaxhol. In the Renosian language, they called him 'Viperstaff', because the simple quarterstaff he used was able to 'stay hidden and strike the enemy like an attacking viper'.

More time passed by, and while the tribe had lost their base camp in battle, they were able to quickly recover and utilize a roving encampment. More ground was made when Gortenq, a lieutenant of the Serpent's Tongue, and a number of his loyal followers, defected to Pahualaxa's side. They were shocked to find a human amongst the ranks. Slowly but surely, the tribe was moving in on their goal, the final battle was drawing closer.

That battle was a glorious victory for the tribe, even though Pahualaxa was slain, his death was a glorious one, and when it was all said and done, the tribe had found a new leader in Gortenq. It was unknown what exactly happened to the Tanar'ri when the last of the Serpent's Tongue laid down their weapons, but it is possible that he fled to another remote location on the island to plot a revenge, or he managed to find a way back to his native plane of existence.

Having won the revolution, Christophe was thoroughly satisfied, and thoughts of the homeland started to rush back to him. He felt that the difference he made on Hell Island could make a difference on the mainland... if the Overlords were still in power, that is. It was soon after that Christophe found a dark skinned humanoid washed up ashore, battered and beaten, wearing ragged, shredded clothing. Christophe had heard tales of the dark elf or drow before, but had never run across one before. Now he had found this one, a male named Maconsa who was also sentenced to a slow death on Hell's Island after the Overlord of Necros got bored of torturing him. His wounds were near-fatal, but Christophe quickly got Maconsa to the medicine man of the tribe, and the drow was slowly nursed back to health.

Maconsa himself was a rogue, long ago ejected from the caverns of his home for being a white sheep amongst a bunch of bad apples. He had made a living in Necros by hanging around the ludicrously rich plutocrats and occasionally picking their pockets. However, he managed to get embroiled in a drunken bar fight one fateful evening and crippled a loudmouthed soldier, who just happened to be a distant cousin to the Overlord. This was more than enough motivation for the Overlord to punish someone, even though he had never even met his distant cousin.

Once back to health, Maconsa was able to get Christophe up to speed on some current events taking place. The Overlord of Bloodtooth had been 'taken out of office', but his replacement was no different. There was mounting tension between the regions, but a small band of like-minded individuals were putting things in place to start a resistance movement. Of all the regions, the Bloodtooth rebels were clearly the most organized and had the most numbers, but there were lone-wolf operatives working all over Renosia. When Christophe questioned Maconsa about the original rebels, Maconsa told him he had heard of no such thing. It was as if the Overlord had influenced history to completely erase their ever existing.

During these exchanges between Christophe and Maconsa, Gortenq could see that the human longed to be back amongst his own people. Though the waters between Hell Island and the mainland were savage and virtually impossible for a small craft to navigate through, the tribe would go out of their way to build the best vessel they possibly could with what materials they had. The priests would bless the craft, the magicians would cast as many protective spells on it as they could muster... it would be a long shot, but Christophe and Maconsa would go against the odds and attempt escape on a balmy summer's morning...

Weeks later, their clothes ragged, their supplies long ago spent, the raft ended up ashore, just miles away from the Slums. Nobody around the area paid much notice to a couple of apparent street dwellers, so the weakened duo were able to slip into the decaying town and find a makeshift home in the darkened alleys. For Christophe, seeing the Slums firsthand was the ultimate eye-opener. This was the epitome of injustice in Renosia. Something had to be done.

The unlikely pairing decided to pool their resources to get back on their feet. Christophe made some silver doing odd jobs around town - cleaning stables, leather working, even a short stint as a rat-catcher. Meanwhile, Maconsa did what he did best and snatched purses, gambled in the casinos, and scammed his way to a small fortune. His shady contacts in the local thieves' guild led him to Grek, a hobgoblin operative who was just beginning to put things together for a resistance movement in the region. Interested in helping, Christophe volunteered to perform a mission for Grek - a mission that would send him back to the Bloodtooth region.

His objective was to locate a certain Agent of the Overlord and extract a piece of information out of her. He could then report to a certain acquaintance of Grek's, a Jerros Soulstaff, leader of the Rebels in Bloodtooth, who would relay the information back to Grek. Christophe bid farewell to Maconsa, who chose to remain in the Slums to help Grek build up the resistance in the region. Mingling in with a traveling caravan of merchants, Christophe started his long voyage to Bloodtooth. Once the caravan had navigated the treacherous mountains, Christophe was able to meet up with a local contact, who gave Christophe the bad news - the Agent he seeks is in the Moonshadow region, an area that Christophe wasn't exactly thrilled about revisiting...

Campaign Events:  Once in Moonshadow, Christophe had the good luck to run into the Mithril Cell which was operating in that area at the time.  He wound up joining their cause and aiding them in several adventures (and even falling in love with Draven).  When the party reached Teal, more of his backstory was revealed when it was learned that Edgar was the new Marquis there.  When the party returned to the base, it was attacked by the Mistress of Shadows.  Christophe once again lost his lover (and unborn child) to the darkness, and was ready to give up.  It was only the courage of his companions that saved him.  Although Christophe claimed to embrace the light, the truth was that the darkness in his heart grew and festered.

It was later learned that after Christophe left Hell Island, the disembodied spirit of Kassaroff had taken refuge in his heart and slept there until this incident.  The despair and cynicism that grew in Christophe's heart nurtured the demon like mother's milk, until finally he began to have some influence over the warrior's thoughts and actions.  Eventually, Christophe succumbed to Kassaroff completely and lost full control of his body.  Kassaroff nearly killed the entire party before the ruse was discovered.

DM's Commentary: 
When Christophe was first submitted, I really enjoyed reading his bio and found it very impressive.  I also had a great deal of fun playing out the relationship between Christophe and Draven.  The idea of Christophe being possessed and eventually betraying the party was Matthew's.  I was, originally, against it; but later, he managed to convince me.  We had a lot of laughs as Matthew and I would both drop many large hints that something was up with Christophe, but nobody ever caught on.  However, once Christophe was out of the picture, Matthew did not submit another character.  He did not participate in the rest of the campaign, which was upsetting (and something I was afraid would happen when he first proposed dropping Christophe).

I had intended to make Kassaroff/Christophe a recurring nemesis for the party, eventually leading up to the final battle where he would get a chance to become a hero.  Sadly, that never happened.

Interesting sidenote:  Christophe and Draven have the same birthday.  This was completely coincidence, though.

Relations:
Psyche:  Friendly
Draven:  Love
Nari'Najya:  Friendly
Kestrel:  Indifferent
Talthul:  Friendly (later Cautious)
Lon:  Cautious
Viarra:  Cautious

Favored Weapon:  Light Crossbow
Favored Spell:  N/A
Henchmen:  None (3)
Birthday:  Ruebon 29th
Zodiac:  Renos

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