NPC Closeup 04/24/2004

Gwall, White Dragon Samurai

The Miniatures Handbook introduced numerous new prestige classes that can be included in both your miniatures skirmishes and regular D&D adventures. Presented here is an NPC that makes use of the rules for the dragon samurai, a warrior dedicated to the power of a single type of dragon. Over time, the dragon samurai emulates the powers of his patron, and he possesses his own unique code of honor.

Gwall, the Dwarf Barbarian Leader: In the harsh tundra of the southern hemisphere, only those with a will of iron can survive. Bands of feral humanoids live in small groups, fighting against the elements and the fierce creatures that prowl the ice flows and frozen wastes. In one particularly isolated patch of ice and snow, a rugged, feral tribe of dwarves scraped out a living among the icebergs and craggy rocks, waylaying anything and anyone unfortunate to be caught in the open. During a fierce snowstorm one day, a cunning white dragon named Vixtheral flew into the tribe's village, catching them completely off guard. Having scouted the village for a week, the dragon immediately sought out the tribe's leader and killed him in his yurt with an icy blast. Failing to muster a significant defense in time, the dwarves quickly capitulated, cowering in fear under the dragon's might. Instead of wiping them out, however, Vixtheral demanded their subservience.

Vixtheral named a young, violent warrior, Gwall, as the spokesperson for the tribe, and this dwarf proved both ruthless and efficient in his rule. Over time, Gwall and his tribe trained in warfare, taught by the dragon, and set out to conquer the scattered tribes, other humanoids, and beasts that lived in the tundra. Gwall's forces quickly overran several neighboring dwarven tribes, and he demanded that the survivors join his people as slaves or serve as a meal for their white dragon patron. During this time, the young dwarf extolled the virtues of draconic kind, seeing them as superior beings to which all should serve. For his service, Vixtheral granted numerous boons and perks to Gwall as his favorite, including teaching him smatterings of arcane lore.

Gwall, the Conqueror: Over time, the tribe, led by Vixtheral and Gwall, dominated the tundra and brought every other tribe of dwarves under its heel. However, a large and particularly resistant pack of bugbears that lived on a distant ice floe resisted their complete usurpation. Trained in the ways of dragonkind, Gwall had become a true force of nature, and he harnessed the power of white dragons to a certain degree. Bolstered by an impressive army of vicious and feral barbarian dwarven warriors, Gwall led his people against an equally large force of bugbears, in hopes of bringing them to their knees.

Riding between the massive wings of Vixtheral, Gwall led his warriors to a pyrrhic victory against the mass of bugbears, who brought their own white dragon named Astheraviral into the fray. Gwall was seriously wounded in the battle as the two dragons tore each other to ribbons in the sky, and he and Vixtheral ultimately crashed into the icy water that surrounded the bugbear redoubt. Gwall barely escaped from the thrashing of the two dragons as they fought and clawed each other in the water, before they sank seemingly to their deaths. Nearly frozen and on the brink of dying from his wounds, Gwall rose up and bolstered his beleaguered tribe to victory. Gwall's forces decimated the bugbears utterly. Just after the victory, Vixtheral crawled out of the water with his draconic foe and allowed the victorious tribe to butcher and eat the corpse of the dead white dragon as a sign of his favor. Gwall, as leader of the dwarves, was allowed to feast on the liver of Astheraviral, which stimulated the power of the dragon that was growing within him.

Gwall, Leader of Armies: Several years later, the entire subcontinent fell completely under the yoke of Gwall and Vixtheral. Gwall's power as a dragon samurai, a fighter dedicated to the cause of dragonkind, had grown considerably. The pair then turned their attention to the lands to the north, which were full of wealth, glory, and mayhem ripe for the taking. Their reputation had spread before them, and armies gathered along the shores to put a stop to the advancement of the mixed horde of evil beings. Gwall and Vixtheral had begun training other dwarves in the ways of the dragon samurai, forming a corps of dedicated barbarians able to harness draconic energy.

Today, Gwall is preparing his army for a massive assault to the north, and he is gathering all the tribes from his land to assist. Riding on the back of Vixtheral, Gwall is a sight to behold as he bellows out a cry of death to any that get in his way.

About the Author

Eric Cagle works at Wizards of the Coast. He has written several articles for Dragon Magazine and the Wizards of the Coast website. He has contributed to the Arms and Equipment Guide, the Fiend Folio, several Star Wars products, and the Urban Arcana setting for d20 Modern Roleplaying Game.

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