NPC Closeup 07/23/2004

Rurik Soulforge, Illithid Hunter

Rurik Soulforge, Psion Emergent: From an early age, Rurik knew he was different from his brethren. Young dwarven warriors learned the way of the hammer and the axe. Rurik sat in dark caverns alone, quietly contemplating a growing inner light. Young dwarven clerics read and copied scripture from large stone tablets. So, Rurik chipped away at the stone around him, carving it with pure focused will. All young dwarves learned to craft the hardest metals, forging weapons, armor, and tools like no other race can. In this alone, Rurik shared something in common with those around him. He is still a dwarf after all. Aware of his growing psionic abilities, Rurik believed himself to be a sorcerer of some kind, drawing from inner strength to do magic. However, those he studied with believed that the power of Rurik's intellect was far superior to that of his personality, which is something more common in wizards. This caused a great deal of confusion in the elders of Rurik's clan, since their understanding of Rurik's capabilities defied everything they knew about magic, whether studied or innate. Rurik's confusion, and a general lack of acceptance, caused him to depart from his homeland at the tender age of 40. He delved deep into the Underdark, hoping that solitude might grant him the peace required to discover the source of his growing powers.

Solitude was not what he found however. It wasn't long before he stumbled across an elderly gnome, who was carving the most intricate patterns in the side of a large stone cavern -- though he did this with the power of his mind, and not with chisel and mallet. Rurik watched for some time, oblivious to the fact that the diminutive psion was aware of his every move. It wasn't long before the gnome approached the young dwarf, who believed himself to be hidden cleverly in a natural limestone alcove. The gnome introduced himself as Bintil (most assuredly a nickname for a gnome) and invited young Rurik to join him. The two spoke at some length, and it wasn't long before Rurik realized that Bintil could teach him more about his growing powers, and he even enjoyed the quick patter of the elderly gnome's voice, which seemed energetic and at the same time calming. Many years passed and Rurik learned from Bintil. The two roamed the Underdark, leaving carven markers on the walls that declared their presence openly to the other denizens of that world, even if unseen.

Rurik Soulforge, Underdark Explorer: As Rurik grew more comfortable with his psionic powers, he ventured out on his own to explore and observe those with whom they shared the Underdark. In his travels, he discovered the drow and duergar, neither race was particularly friendly, though if approached with caution, they could be traded and conversed with. Bintil warned him that prolonged contact with these two races always led to suffering, and so he admonished Rurik for being too trusting and hoped that he might meet with these other peoples as infrequently as possible. Unconvinced, at one point, Rurik stumbled across a band of kuo-toa, and their strange habit of enslaving or eating all non-kuo-toa led to their demise as Rurik battled their group while attempting to escape their nets. Unfortunately, it wasn't long after this incident that Rurik stumbled into his first mind flayer. Nearly paralyzed with fright, Rurik barely escaped from that encounter with his life. Soon after, he found Bintil and described the encounter, though he was shocked at the gnome's stricken reaction. Bintil had never before displayed fear so openly. The gnome made Rurik promise that he would be careful to avoid further contact with the illithid. If they were to discover the two psions, they might decide to come after them in force.

Unfortunately for them, the mind flayer took news back to his city of a strange psionic dwarf. Worried that there may be more of them, the mind flayers formed an inquisition whose sole task was to find the dwarf and any companions, and slay them before they could bring more psionic dwarves into the area. Unfortunately, the inquisition stumbled upon Bintil while carving alone in a cavern. The gnome put up quite a fight, but the combined might of the illithid inquisition was too much for him. After a day of gathering mushrooms, Rurik returned to the cave where Bintil was working. There, he discovered his friend dead, slumped over a large rock formation, his brain missing. Enraged, Rurik tracked down the inquisition, and using subterfuge, picked them off one by one. It wasn't long before the leader fell dead, with Rurik's psychokinetic spear protruding from his chest. That day, Rurik began his crusade against the mind flayers, destroying all that were foolish enough to venture too far away from their city.

Rurik Soulforge, Illithid-Bane: Rurik has hunted the illithids for many years, and even now at the age of 80, he relishes in their destruction. It isn't uncommon for the dwarf psion to recruit adventurers from the surface world to assist him in his hunt, especially when large forces of mind flayers are on the move for whatever fell purpose they might have. Rurik doesn't spend a great deal of time attempting to fathom the thoughts of such creatures, believing them to be far too alien and evil to fully comprehend. He would rather just hunt them down and destroy them, making them incapable of attacking the innocent or unwary ever again. He frequently looks for ways to hinder their activities, and he is always looking for the day that he might enter their city and destroy their precious elder brain.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Master's Guide, Expanded Psionics Handbook.

About the Author

A new contributor to the website, Chris Lindsay plays at Wizards of the Coast during the day, and he spends his evenings with his lovely wife and kids, in not-so-sunny Renton, Washington. Any free time is devoted to D&D, and he is proud to be a developer for the RPGA's Legacy of the Green Regent campaign.

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