Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Men of Redwald: Cempa

Cempa (Champion)

To be king’s champion takes a certain kind of man. A brave man? Obviously. A skilled warrior? Of course. A cold clinical killer? Definitely. A dead eyed, soulless, shell of a man who whispers promises of blood to his blade? Yes. Mostly it’s this kind of man.

A duel between champions is a common way to resolve a matter of honour, or blood feud, between royal houses without plunging entire kingdom’s into war. When kingdoms are at war their champions will often face each other before battle is joined. Sometimes this duel of champions can decide the issue so battle isn't joined, but more often than not it’s just a morale boost and a bloody prologue to the slaughter that follows.

Of course there are less honourable ways for a king to use their champion, goading enemies in to fighting a duel is one, outright assassination is another.

There are rules to duels including forbidding the wearing of helms, and the use of shields. As such most Cempa learn to fight with two weapons, usually a Brádsweord and a Wælseax in the off-hand, but sometimes a Gebyrdæx or even a Framea might be used in the off hand.

Cempa: Armour Class: 0[19]; Hit Dice: 8+4; Attacks:3 Brádsweord (1d6+2)and Wælseax (1d3+2); Special: Bloody Name, Cold Dead Eyes, Dead to Fear, Frighteningly Fast, Blade Whisperer; Move: 11; HDE/XP: 10/750.

Gear: Beaduscrúd, Brádsweord, Wælseax, a gold plated drinking horn, a silver ring for every fool that unlucky enough to cross swords with him (5d6+6).

Of all the warriors in a king’s warband the name of his champion is the most likely to be known, and it’s a name that instils fear in all but the brave and the foolhardy. In his own kingdom there’s a 1-4 chance on a roll of 1d6 that his name is known by any NPC or that the Player Characters have heard of him, in other kingdoms it’s a 1-2 chance. Any NPC who has heard his bloody name will refuse to attack unless directly ordered to do so a lord, even so they’ll be at -3 morale.

Even if people don’t know a Cempa’s name and reputation it’s obvious by his presence, bearing, and one look from his cold dead eyes, that this is not a person to mess with. Anyone he turns his dead-eyed gaze on must make a ST. Failure means that person is more likely to sit down, shut up, and try not to make eye contact again rather than stand up to, face down,  or challenge the Cempa.

Fighting in the heat of the moment, in defence of your king, your land, life, and loved ones,  in a shield wall side by side with your brother warriors is one thing. Fighting and killing on command in cold blood is another. It not only leaves most Cempa hovering on the wrong side of sanity, it make them dead to fear itself. As such they are immune to fear inducing magic, and don’t need to make a ST against any other cause of fear.

Single combat is the stock in trade of a Cempa and being frighteningly fast is one of the ways they survive such a life. A Cempa gets +3 to initiative in single combat. In any combat situation their speed is a boon and Cempa’s get 3 attacks per round, one with their sword, and two with their off-hand weapon. Their speed combined with and off hand weapon all the shield they’ll ever need and is -3[+3] to their AC.

It’s rumoured some Cempa sleep with their unsheathed sword, held in an bloody embrace, as if it were a lover. Others are said to talk to their swords more than they talk to their fellow men. What is true is they live and die by the sword, and spend most of their time training and drilling with their swords and +3 to hit and to Damage when fighting with a sword.