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I'm writing up an elf assassin's backstory and I'd like input on what sort of monsters fit the situation I've put the PC in.

He is in the employ of a lord, living in Suzail, capital of Cormyr in Faerun. In Suzail, a wizard comes into town, takes over one of the guilds and is discovered to have plans to destroy the royal family and generally bring ruin on the region. The assassin prepares entry into the house armed with the change self, unseen servant, and invisibility spells along with various stealth enhancing thief equipment.

He prepares sleeping poisons for the guards, and haszac (mind flayer) poison to act similarly to the 5th level spell feeble mind, and a lethal poison to kill the mage after learning what he can. The haszac, per the netbook of poisons by Adrienne Mills, is different than the feeble mind spell in that it causes hallucinations and paranoid delusions rather than mental retardation.

The hit goes off perfectly: guards no problem, the haszac laced throwing daggers caught the mage in the back while he was working at his workshop. The mage turns in horror (not making eye contact with the assassin) and pleads for his life with some imagined monster, that he can still finish the mission. This turn of events causes my PC to just kill the mage, seeing no point in questioning him in his current state. He comes up to the mage and stabs him in the heart with the lethal poison laced serrated dagger and casts invisibility for his escape.

Turning around, the assassin sees the monster that the mage imagined, who it turns out was the artificer behind the plot. The monster laughs at PC and sends him onward to more trouble, i.e. the adventure which takes place in the Shadowfell.

The characteristics I'm looking for are:

  • Capable of driving a powerful mage to an evil plot
  • Would be able to transport PC to a different plane
  • Preferably would have some business in the Shadowfell itself.

Suggestions welcome!

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This is... rather specific. –  Alex P Jan 5 at 22:28
    
@AlexP I can make compromises, this is just what I have so far. I don't have a lot of familiarity with the AD&D version of monsters. I've poured through the monster manual and nothing jumped out at me yet. I'll keep searching, just hoped that players with more experience might have some possibilities that jump out to them. –  scs217 Jan 5 at 22:45

3 Answers 3

It's been a long time since I have looked into 2e books, so I'd rather go into the story aspect. If something does not fit rule-wise, you as a GM can fudge it, if it's not logical story-wise, being the GM will not help you :)

A wizard has been used to infiltrate an organisation that in turn causes harm to the royal family. That's a devious plan, very indirect, very intelligent. Only individuals that don't possess direct power use such scheming plans. A powerful individual would not have needed the wizard. A very powerful individual would not have needed the guild.

From a tactical point of view, transporting someone to another plane is a defensive move. It's deflecting. It's postponing the battle to a point in time where the transporter will have better chances in direct combat, meaning that at the point of the spell being cast, the caster recognizes it's chances to win in direct combat to be slim.

So for your story to make sense, your monster has to be highly intelligent, well versed in plane travel, but in serious trouble when directly confronted by a level 5 PC. From my point of view, neither Githyanki nor Lich fit the last part, especially a Lich in 2e can insta-kill any Level 5 PC without a sweat. A githyanki would probably need 2 full turns. I would suggest a devil. They come in all sorts, forms, colors and levels, but all of them are quite intelligent, evil and full of trickery. Think of them as the lawyers of D&D. Pick one that is weaker than your PC, so transporting him to another plane makes sense. If you pick one that is stronger, your player will wonder why it did not simply swat him like a fly.

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In the 2ed, Devils and Demons were changed a bit and were Baatezu and Tanar'ri. There's not a lot of variety given for them in the 2ed MM compared to 1st or 3rd editions, but I agree, does sound like a classic Devil schemer. –  TysoThePirate Jan 6 at 12:49
    
Sending someone to another plane can be an offensive move, if the plane is hostile enough. Most of the Inner planes are fatal to humans and demihumans who lack magical protections - and there's plenty of outer planes that can put a basher in the dead-book. Given that the basher in question survived, though, I guess that's not relevant. –  GMJoe Jan 7 at 1:57

The shadowfell is a distinctly D&D 4e thing. For AD&D 2e, you most likely want to use either the plane of shadow or the negative energy plane instead.

If you use the negative energy plane, it's very easy to find a suitable monster - any undead spellcaster would fit. The obvious choice would be a lich, but you could also use something a vampire or maybe a high level cleric of Vecna, Kyuss or Orcus.

For the plane of shadow, I would suggest a shadow dragon, or maybe just a high level illusionist of any race you like.

If you rather have something thematically linked to the 4e Shadowfell, I would suggest that you make the antagonist a member of the Tenebrous Cabal. The cabal is detailed in the Shadowfell: Gloomwrought splatbook:

A great many cabalists learned to weave shadow to both entrap their enemies and disguise themselves.

The shadow training that agents receive gives them mastery over invisibility, disguise and misdirection.

So my suggestion here would be a tenebrous cabal mage. Or a lich. You can never go wrong with a lich :)

Other monsters that might fit thematically are a planescape Shadow Fiend, or maybe a succubus - both should be easily recognizable as what they are to knowledgeable adventurers. A monster I personally like a lot would be a blood fiend, something like a vampire for demons with a very distinct look.

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Good to know about the 4e part. The group played 4e previously and has gone back to 2e. I started playing with them thereafter. I believe we are returning to some previous storyline, and existing PCs are being converted to 2e ruleset. I'll research those setting suggestions. What would you suggest for 4e? I can ask the DM to back convert the monster also if necessary. –  scs217 Jan 5 at 23:13
    
Updated the answer to account for 4e. –  Mala Jan 5 at 23:32
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Note that the negative material and the shadow planes are very unlike the Shadowfell (the negative material is mostly a sucking void of non-energy that rapidly destroys the life force of visitors; the shadow plane is just full of indistinct shadows and terrifying shadow-creatures), so neither offer adventure opportunities like the Shadowfell does, and monsters connected to them are not going to be thematically compatible with the Shadowfell. –  SevenSidedDie Jan 6 at 0:48

Githyanki

I would probably go with a high level Githyanki NPC - they are very intelligent and have Psionics abilities in addition to their class levels. With the right/appropriate magic items or spells, once could enable transport to the shadow plane for your plot, and with the right psionics, probably control or compel another character or your NPC wizard. They may not even need a magic item to enable the shift:

2.0 Monstrous Manual: "All Githyanki have the ability to plane-shift at will. They will rarely travel back and forth from the Astral to the Prime Materal Plane."

But, it sounds like they have the option to go anywhere.

As far as why a high level Githyanki might be messing about in the ShadowFell plane - apparently their deity is a lich-queen and "no Githyanki has ever progressed beyond 11th level... Githyanki that reach 12th level of experience are immediately drawn out of the Astral plane and into the presence of the lich-queen where their life-force is drawn out to feed the ravenous hunger of their cruel demi-goddess"

So, I don't know if an 10-11th level Githyanki will fit the bill for you, but I think they are fairly underused. His business in ShadowFell could have something to do with commands from the lich-queen. In the background he might even be thinking about his own personal survival, circumventing his fate or even slaying her. Could be some interesting twists there.

Also, Githyanki hate, hate, hate mind flayers, having been enslaved by them before. I noted your assassin used mind-flayer based poison, and that made me think of them a bit.

Level appropriate magic items for such a high level Githyanki might include a ring of spell turning. An intelligent, deadly opponent that plane shift in from the Astral to the Material plane at any time could certainly put the willies into a high level mage and threaten him to do whatever he wanted, especially if he had such an item.

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