As a girl, Jesanta Beril loved nothing so much as books. After her family fled Chessenta to return to their homeland in the north, her parents died and Jesanta, too young to understand what had happened, spent her evenings curled up beside the fire in her uncle's cottage, reading anything she could get her hands on while she waited for parents, who would never return. By her tenth birthday, Jesanta began to manifest a pair of gifts, which her uncle did his best to nourish. The first gift was a love of history -- a desire to know more and to understand more about her home. Her uncle fed her curiosity for the events of history -- fed it so completely, in fact, that she learned too much of "the truth" about how the empire of Narfell had fallen. Any question she asked her uncle about their past brought her tales of how grand their family had once been, how much they had known, how they had been in line for the throne of Dun-Tharos so many generations ago -- and then, how it had all been stolen away from them. Her child's mind believed him, and she drank in every word and treated them as if they had come from the mouths of the very ancestors she so venerated. In her belief, she began her descent into madness.
Her second love, and her second gift, was magic. She studied the histories, how they spoke of magic, what they seemed to say about its possibilities, and sometimes she worked late into the night testing her own capacities. Though she didn't know it, her activities had already come to the attention of a goddess whose followers were becoming very active in the nearby region around Dun-Tharos -- the Lady of Poison, Talona.
Shortly after her twelfth birthday, Jesanta's uncle began to seek out a tutor for his niece. No sooner had he began looking when a scabrous man with a ragged beard and permanently dilated eyes appeared at their door. Before Jesanta even knew what was happening, a price had been negotiated and the old man -- she would only ever know him as Gaurin -- became her tutor. He took her away to a shack in the woods and began her formal magical training.
Though she didn't know the source of the magic until she turned fifteen and had grown remarkably in her power, the power that flowed through her was courtesy of Talona. The first time young Jesanta touched a small woodland creature and watched it shrivel beneath her hand, the magic came from Talona. The first time she fouled a stream and watched as a family of deer came, drank, and collapsed almost before they could swallow a second gulp, the magic came from Talona.
Gaurin -- a Blightlord in the service of the Rotting Man -- had high hopes that Jesanta would follow the Talonite path. Indeed, when her formal teachings on the Mother of All Plagues began, she seemed quite receptive. Always, though, there remained an undercurrent with her -- a tendency to think about things from a different perspective than a follower of Talona might prefer. "Why," she asked once, "do we not loose a true plague on the fools? My ancestors would have brought down a plague of demons, not slow disease or uncertain poison!"
She did not appreciate the penance she served for her questions, though they continued to make perfect sense to her own (increasingly twisted) mind.
Ultimately, Gaurin might have succeeded and turned Jesanta into a powerful Blightlady. In the summer of her eighteenth year, though, this became impossible.
Jesanta, while out for a walk, wandered past the edge of the forest and made her way to her uncle's house. The door hung loose on its hinges and the windows had been smashed. Inside, she found what remained of her uncle. His flesh was blackened and pulled tight over bone, and the stench was enough -- even months after his death, she estimated -- to keep most scavengers away. She examined him without tears, cracking open his mouth to check for traces of what might have killed him. She recognized the lay of his corpse, after all; she knew the poison that did this to people, because it was of Talonite design.
She returned to Gaurin only long enough to put a dagger through his eye as he slept. She then gathered her belongings and left, determined to use all that she had learned to follow the true path of her people rather than the path of a goddess who had no more regard for Jesanta's family than the family's ancient enemies had.
Working from ancient tomes and bartering with sages (some of whom she even allowed to live), Jesanta made herself into the bearer of the plague she believed to be most infectious. She has spent her life after Gaurin perfecting her skills at summoning and controlling demons. They, after all, were the way of her ancestors. They will be the way of her future.
Most recently, she met up with a sage named Benedict, who was a crinkled old man with a sharp red glint in his eye. That glint was the only thing that kept her from killing him where he stood, and it's just as well for her that she didn't try. "Benedict" was the name adopted by the Balor Fareeansis when he was summoned to this world and bound here. In exchange for his freedom, Fareeansis taught Jesanta a great deal about summoning and binding demons -- but not so much that she would ever have the ability to bind him. Now, with Fareeansis gone, the quest for knowledge, and vengeance, continues.
There is one path -- to power. There is one rule -- destroy your enemies. There is one acceptable end result -- victory, and repayment for generations of past wrongs. Of these things, Jesanta is certain. She sees no other path, or rule, or result. This is the only way things can ever be.
And through it all, Talona continues to smile her wicked smile on Jesanta's growing madness.
Jesanta Beril: Female human Cleric 11/Nar Demonbinder 3; CR 14; Medium-size humanoid; HD 11d8+11 plus 3d6+3; hp 73; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 16; Atk +9/+4 melee (1d4/19-20, dagger), or +12 ranged (1d8+1/19-20, +1 light crossbow); SA rebuke undead 6/day; SQ familiar benefits, fiendish familiar (Garuin the imp), inimical casting, iron sign, master summoner; AL CE; SV Fort +12, Ref +9, Will +20; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 21, Cha 16.
Skills and Feats: Concentration +18, Heal +8, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (history) +4, Knowledge (religion) +2, Knowledge (the planes) +11, Listen +7, Sense Motive +8, Spellcraft +2, Spot +7; Alertness, Education, Extend Spell, Greater Spell Focus (Conjuration), Iron Will, Spell Focus (Conjuration), Transdimensional Spell.
Fiendish Familiar: Jesanta is accompanied by an imp she summoned after meeting Fareeansis, whom she named Gaurin after her previous mentor. Gaurin is in all respects a familiar to her (as though she were a wizard or sorcerer with the Improved Familiar feat), with abilities based on her Nar demonbinder level.
Empathic Link (Su): Jesanta can communicate telepathically with Gaurin at a distance of up to 1 mile. She has the same connection to an item or a place that the familiar does.
Share Spells: Jesanta may have any spell she casts on herself also affect Gaurin if the latter is within 5 feet at the time. She may also cast a spell with a target of "You" on her familiar.
Touch: Gaurin can deliver touch spells for Jesanta. A favorite tactic they have devised is Jesanta casting deeper darkness and then giving Gaurin a harm to deliver to a flailing enemy.
Inimical Casting (Ex): Jesanta understands how to employ a variety of spells to deflect the attacks of outsiders, regardless of their alignment. When she casts one of the spells listed below, she may choose a different effect. When she uses her magic circle against good spell, she may cast it as magic circle against evil, magic circle against chaos, or magic circle against law. When she casts her dispel good spell, she may cast it as dispel evil, dispel chaos, or dispel law.
Iron Sign: Jesanta knows how to craft a magical token known as an iron sign, and she currently has one in her possession. She plans to use this iron sign as an emergency calling diagram (see the Conjuration entry in Chapter 10 of the Player's Handbook). When the iron sign is used this way, it combines the effects of a magic circle and a dimensional anchor spell and requires no Spellcraft check to use. It need only be set on a suitable surface and activated, and a creature is called to the sign. It must remain within 5 feet of the iron sign, and otherwise behaves precisely as if it were contained in a normal-size calling diagram. Her iron sign contains the called creature for up to 14 days, or until Jesanta releases it or another being moves the token. Such movement, as ever, cannot be the result (direct or indirect) of the called creature.
Master Summoner: Jesanta gains a +4 bonus on any opposed Charisma checks to compel or trap creatures called through planar binding or lesser planar binding spells.
Cleric Spells Prepared (6/8/6/6/5/4/2; save DC 15 + spell level, or 19 + spell level for Conjuration spells): 0 -- cure minor wounds (2), detect magic (2), light, resistance; 1st -- bane*, command, comprehend languages, cure light wounds (2), divine favor, protection from good, shield of faith; 2nd -- cure moderate wounds, death knell, delay poison, endurance*, lesser restoration, undetectable alignment; 3rd -- bestow curse*, deeper darkness, dispel magic, extended bull's strength, magic circle against good, protection from elements; 4th -- cure critical wounds, death ward, dimensional anchor, enervation*, summon monster IV; 5th -- dispel good, feeblemind*, slay living (2), spell resistance; 6th -- harm*, heal.
*Domain spell. Deity: Talona. Domains: Destruction (smite 1/day), Suffering (pain touch 1/day; successful melee touch attack against living creature bestows -2 enhancement penalty to subject's Strength and Dexterity for 1 minute, does not affect creatures immune to critical hits).
Nar Demonbinder Spells Known (3/2/1; save DC 13 + spell level, or 17 + spell level for Conjuration spells; caster level 14th): 4th -- Beltyn's burning blood*, dimensional anchor, dismissal, wall of fire; 5th -- flame strike, plane shift; 6th -- fiendform*. Jesanta casts her Nar demonbinder spells as a sorcerer, so metamagicked spells take a full round to cast. She often favors transdimensional walls of fire and flame strikes when dealing with problematic opponents (be they extraplanar or not).
Possessions:+1 light crossbow, dagger, potion of inflict light wounds (4; labeled as "CLW"), potion of cure light wounds (2; labeled as "poison"), potion of poison (2), ring of protection +2, bracers of armor +4, circlet of persuasion, cloak of resistance +3, Heward's handy haversack, iron sign, chalk, holy symbol, iron filings, trail rations, unholy water (5 vials).
Gaurin: Male imp; CR --; Tiny outsider (evil, lawful); HD 3d8 (effective 14d8); hp 36; Init +3; Spd 20 ft., fly 50 ft. (perfect); AC 18, touch 15, flat-footed 15; Atk +14 melee (1d4 plus poison, sting); Face/Reach 2.5 ft. by 2.5 ft./0 ft.; SA poison, spell-like abilities; SQ damage reduction 5/silver, darkvision 60 ft., fire resistance 20, immunities (poison), improved evasion, outsider traits, polymorph, regeneration 2, see in darkness, spell resistance 5; AL N; SV Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +11; Str 10, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Hide +15, Listen +5, Move Silently +5, Search +5, Spellcraft +5, Spot +5; Dodge, Weapon Finesse (sting).
Poison (Ex): Gaurin delivers his poison (Fortitude DC 11) with each successful sting attack. The initial damage is 1d4 points of temporary Dexterity damage, and the secondary damage is 2d4 points of temporary Dexterity damage.
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- detect good, detect magic, invisibility (self only); 1/day -- suggestion. Caster level 6th; save DC 10 + spell level.
Improved Evasion (Ex): If Gaurin is subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage on a successful saving throw and half damage on a failed save.
Outsider Traits: Gaurin cannot be raised or resurrected (though a wish or miracle spell can restore life).
Polymorph (Su): This ability functions like polymorph self (caster level 12th), except that Gaurin can assume only the forms of a raven or a Medium-size viper.
Regeneration (Ex): Gaurin takes normal damage from acid and from holy and blessed weapons (if they are silver).
See in Darkness (Su): Gaurin can see perfectly in darkness of any kind, even that created by deeper darkness spells.
Transdimensional Spell [Metamagic]
You can cast spells that affect targets lurking in coexistent planes and extradimensional spaces whose entrances fall within the area affected.
Benefit: A transdimensional spell has full, normal effect upon incorporeal creatures, creatures on the Ethereal Plane or Plane of Shadow, and creatures within an extradimensional space in the area affected. Such creatures include ethereal creatures, creatures that are blinking or shadow walking, manifested ghosts, and creatures within the extradimensional space of a rope trick or portable hole.
You must be able to perceive a creature to specifically target it with a spell, but you do not need to perceive a creature to catch it in the area of a burst, cone, emanation, or spread.
A transdimensional spell uses up a spell slot one level higher than the spell's actual level.
Normal: Only force spells and effects can affect ethereal creatures, and no Material Plane attack affects creatures on the Plane of Shadow or in an enclosed extradimensional space. There is a 50% chance that any spell other than a force effect fails against an incorporeal creature.
About the Author
Morrie Mullins is an assistant professor of psychology who began playing RPGs in elementary school and started writing for the RPGA in 1999, culminating in a two-year stint as Plot Director for the Living Force campaign. He has written over twenty modules for the RPGA and contributed extensively to the Living Force Campaign Guide. Currently, he teaches and does research during the day, does freelance and other writing at night, and is firmly convinced that sleep is a crutch.