The Wazir of Woe

Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 12:19 PM

A tiny handful of desert hermits and sages know that the Wazir of Woe was indeed a former inhabitant of the ancient city Ombos. They have pieced together tiny pieces of information and description from the diverse tales to indicate that the Wazir was an acolyte and embalmer, likely born to the last generation of Ombos before the warlock-priests transcended and returned their beautiful city to the wasteland it had been built in. It is suspected that at least three Ombosin escaped the holocaust at Ombos, but the Wazir is the only concrete indication of one having been active long after Ombos was destroyed.

This same handful of hermits and sages are not willing to share much of their information about the Wazir, because they have also noticed that people researching very deeply into the Wazir folklore have a tendency to disappear. An astute scholar might also note that in history, those regions where the Wazir was said to have been active have a number of traits in common. First, all of them are currently harsh desert or similar inhospitable climates, uninhabited and often largely forgotten. Second, in the tales of the Wazir, all of these regions are described as having been fruitful and green in their associated stories. Third, and most telling, originally all of them were close to or bordered the Sirri desert, in the center of which Ombos once stood.

Those who sift the far-scattered records of ancient history will notice one other commonality: by rumor or fact, each of these regions was noted to have been in custody of some treasure from Ombos. In all cases, these treasures have been lost to time, and no one can say where they've gone or what has happened to them. It is well known, of course, that the incessantly wandering warlock-priests of Ombos lay waste to any trespassers that go near their ruined city, but they rarely wander so far out from the desert to attack cities or settlements at the edges of the Sirri. Further, their trail is easy to track; they are walking natural disasters, unthinkingly blasting apart buildings and streets.

The truth is that the Wazir of Woe is in fact a vestige of ancient Ombos. His name is Zindhir, and he studied under the twenty warlock-priests, learning about the primordial channeling magic they had mastered. Like other students, Zindhir sought out elemental affinities with the raw forces and aspects of nature, and he was one of three who went on a mystical pilgrimage to increase that affinity just before the warlock-priests finished their own evolution as channelers. Ombos was sundered while he was gone, and he quickly headed back to his home to find that treasure hunters were already converging on the ruin. He was outraged, and began to track down those treasure hunters who had managed to sneak past the patrolling warlock-priests.

To his dismay, he found that the warlock-priests attempted to bar him from reaching Ombos as well, and being unable to communicate with them, he interpreted this to mean that they were attempting to complete some great work he was not yet ready to be part of. This was painful for Zindhir; at the time, he thought he was the only survivor outside of the warlock-priests, and Ombos was all that he'd ever known. Dedicated to his vanished people and his faith, Zindhir chose to continue his own studies, hoping that one day he would progress far enough to be called back to Ombos again, and he also chose to track down all that had been stolen from Ombos. He would safeguard it all until the day he could return it to its rightful place.

It has been nearly five thousand years since Ombos died. Zindhir's primal magic allowed him to hibernate for long stretches of time, and it also prolongs his lifespan, which is why he is still alive to this day. But the long dormant periods and stresses of his spiritual path have worn away at Zindhir. He is a paranoid, isolationist creature who is obsessed with his privacy and the secrecy of Ombos itself. In past centuries, he would indeed arrive in those kingdoms where he'd tracked some item or scroll or teaching of his home nation, and he would work his way into the kingdom as an advisor. Zindhir would stay quiet long enough to learn specifically what traces of Ombos were present, and then he would begin a process of fomenting violent discord and unrest.

Frequently he would take control, using his powers to bring other stresses to the kingdom, and in the ensuing cloud of confusion, he would systematically eliminate anyone bearing knowledge of ancient Ombos and taking back any relic of his people. Survivors of any unrest were often driven off by the terrible weather that tended to follow Zindhir's arrival, and within a few years of the region being abandoned, the area was a wasteland where no one would want to live. Zindhir would then move on to his next work.

In the current age, Zindhir believes he has obliterated all traces of the true Ombos lore. He knows that some treasure hunters still venture into the ruins, but he is patient, and is currently more interested in furthering his progression as an Ombosin channeler. He resides in the furthest south region of Antambil, where the desert wasteland meshes with the barren, hostile tundra. The contrast of boiling desert and dry, frozen wasteland intrigues him, and these concepts are those he is cultivating an affinity for. After so much time, his piety and dedication to ancient Ombos is crystallized and sharp, but the temperament and manner that his chosen affinity demands of him makes Zindhir spend large amounts of time far from Ombos. In being like the wasteland, Zindhir must also be uncaring if not hostile to civilizations and trespassers alike, and his obsession with privacy and the secrets of his homeland has only grown. He is also bitter that so many other civilizations have thrived and flourished, and yet Ombos remains in ruins, unrecognized in the current age except as a failed remnant of a once-great civilization. Yet, Zindhir cannot show the world the teachings of Ombos, nor have them recognize any part of what he knew as a paradise.

So, Zindhir emulates his warlock-priest teachers, wandering the uninhabited, brutal frozen desert he's chosen as his home, stopping to briefly meditate at various eroded ruins he's discovered there from a time before even Ombos. One day he may come north again and begin anew his process of seeking out treasure hunters, or perhaps someone might discover his presence and come seeking questions about the past. Given proper incentive, he might even enlist an outsider to attempt to enter Ombos and discover what has been going on there for the past few thousand years. He is very curious, and he yearns to be called home again.

Zindhir's studies have changed him physically. Though he can transmute himself into what he once looked like (or for that matter into any other human shape), his true form is broad and hunched, with a massive build and heavy head. His skin looks thick and gray, with blackened extremities. Some reptilian characteristics have begun to show; dull scales have begun to form in patches on Zindhir, his teeth have grown sharp and black, and his body constantly exudes layers of a kind of resin, which gives him a peeling appearance as if he were shedding his skin. Ancient glyph tattoos of mystical import still decorate his body, and they burn with a cold red light in brief surges.

Zindhir has embedded the most valuable Ombosin treasures he's recovered in the layers of resin on his body, which in turn is mostly covered by his layered robes. This makes him look like a walking archive of small tomes, random pieces of jewelry, icons, figurines, amulets and ceremonial pieces. Some of these things dangle slightly, making him sound like a collection of dull chimes or bells when he walks.

When he changes forms, this collection appears to be an exorbitant amount of jewelry. His mode of dress is definitely beautiful, keeping to flowing and layered garments of a delicately patterned cloth similar to silk. His chosen colors are gold, yellow, black and russet. It would be easy to assume him overdressed, considering that he wears what amounts to ceremonial clothing. On his right arm there are three cuffs of seething material; one burns like white-hot iron, one appears to be ice with the sun filtered through it, and the last is a band of constantly changing agate. These fit snugly around his upper arm, shifting size to accommodate him, and represent his three chosen realms of mastery. The Wazir's golden turban represents the yellow and gold wrappings that Zindhir keeps around his head, representative of his focus of study. The sunlight crawls and burns along the edges of this cloth, as if it were burning, but late at night, it merely appears as yellow cloth. The 'eye' is actually Zindhir's leftmost eye, which has been enchanted by magic in an ancient Ombosin tradition, and though he does not keep maps in his shoes, Zindhir's incessant wandering is certainly due to an Ombosin belief that movement is necessary to proper understanding.

In his usual human form, Zindhir appears as a spare, middle-aged man whose muscles and bones ripple underneath his dark bronze skin. His thin black hair is kept short. Faint black stubble frequently shows on his lean, wolfish face, and his eyes are incongruously pale, an old Ombosin trait.

Interactions with Zindhir are difficult. He is not interested in company, generally, and usually drives off trespassers. He does have a tendency to mutter to himself in combat, usually something to the effect of 'Mine, it is mine. Not yours. Mine.' or 'I must be alone.' However, if a dialogue does begin, Zindhir is extremely eloquent. His conversations are liberally dotted with colorful descriptions and quotes of obscure poetry. He has not adjusted his speech patterns to fit with the modern age, and it does show even when he is infiltrating in another shape. Indeed, he regards most common conversation as crass and ignorant, with no music or color to it, and refuses to compromise his art. Despite this penchant for flowery discourse, Zindhir's manner is fairly laconic and grim.

Using Zindhir:

Zindhir is not to be trifled with. Though he cannot match the raw power of the warlock-priests, he is still extremely strong, and he does not shirk at death and destruction. His ambitions are hidden from others, but his isolationist attitude might lighten a bit with proper motivation. Some of these have already been mentioned, but there are some other options for why people might interact with Zindhir.

He is a scholar of tremendous age and learning. So long as no information about Ombos is asked about, Zindhir can provide a plethora of first-hand historical information, as well as facts and locations about various ruins strewn throughout the deserts of his continent. He also knows that others might be enlisted in his quest to recover Ombosin artifacts, and he might provide information and incentive for others to do so on his behalf, though he would prefer to manipulate them into doing it rather than to be upfront about it. Of course, any pawns or associates who try to make off with Ombos lore or relics will be tracked down and destroyed. Zindhir might also send people out to gather materials from other wastelands in the world or otherwise contribute in ways to his own progression (without any real explanation of course; the phrase 'I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you' is no joke with Zindhir).

Zindhir's machinations, when he gets to them, are always convoluted and considerable. As time has gone by, he has stepped further and further away from the limelight, and prefers it that way. Unraveling a Zindhir conspiracy would make for a fine campaign, even if the heroes never actually confront Zindhir himself. He is eccentric, and over the centuries, he's developed an odd sense of the dramatic. Though he is quite subtle, Zindhir has a weakness for flares of extravagance and over-the-top events. He understands this is a habit he's trying to overcome, but he isn't done with it yet.

Zindhir of Ombos
Large Human (Augmented)
AC 30 (touch 18, flatfooted 25) MV 30, Init +4, BAB 15, F+22 R+6 W+18
STR 16 DEX10 CON 31 INT 26 WIS 22 CHA 26
Attacks: +18/+13/+8 melee touch attack (5d6 dessication damage) or by weapon (note 10 ft. reach)
Skills: Appraise +28, Bluff +26, Concentration +30, Diplomacy +30, Disguise +28, Forgery +20, Gather Information +28, Intimidate +28, Knowledge (arcana, history, planes) +28, Listen +20, Search +20, Sense Motive +25, Spellcraft +28, Spot +24
Feats of Note: Extend Spell, Improved Initiative, Empower Spell, Maximize Spell

Acolyte of Ombos (Sp): Zindhir casts spells as a Cleric, level 19. He may Rebuke Undead as a Cleric of the same level, and he may select any spell with the Cold or Fire descriptor from the Druid list. If you happen to have either WotC's Frostburn or Sandstorm, selecting elemental domains appropriate to Zindhir is a fine idea.
Glyphs of Dedication (Ex): Zindhir is +2 to save vs. all fire effects, and has Fire Resistance 20. He is immune to cold effects.
Ombosin Channeler (Su): Zindhir can cast spells of the fire or cold type that pierce elemental resistance. Any resistance is ignored, and fire/cold immune creatures take half damage. Fire spells cast in this way use a spell slot one level higher than usual, but any cold spell cast by Zindhir is automatically affected by this trait without adjustment. Zindhir's fire spells manifest as silent beams or blasts of shimmering desert light that scorch and wither what they touch. Likewise, his cold spells are intense washes of invisible bone-snapping cold, generally involving little to no ice or snow.
Any cold spell or effect Zindhir uses adds +2d6 damage.
Lord of the Wasteland (Su): With a touch, Zindhir can leech the moisture from a target and start to calcify them. As a melee touch attack, he can dessicate someone for 5d6 points of damage. Once per day, Zindhir can cause this effect at a distance (Medium range), causing 9d6 damage (Fortitude DC 23 halves). If the creature is killed, it becomes a perfect statue made of salt and dust, but its gear remains intact. These statues are very fragile and easily broken apart, but if a Stone to Flesh spell is cast upon one, the person is returned to life and treated as having taken no damage from Zindhir's touch.
Storm Eye (Su): Once per day, Zindhir can fix someone with the gaze of his left eye, prompting a Fortitude save (DC 22), or the target takes 2d10 cold damage and becomes Fatigued. This is a free action.
Desolate Aura (Su): 6x/day, Zindhir can create an aura around him as a free action. The aura lasts for 1 minute, and he gains a +2 bonus to Will saves and Charisma-based checks, including Rebuke/Command checks. He also inflicts an additional +2d6 damage with any cold or fire spell he casts.
Encasement (Ex): Zindhir has a +15 natural armor bonus, due to years of enduring the harshest climates and channeling brutal wasteland magic, as well as for the layers of scales, resin and treasure stuck to him. In addition, the ambient magic of some of the relics he has attached to his body contribute a +8 deflection bonus.
Ombosin Embalmer (Su): Zindhir can create golems of sand, salt or obsidian as well as mummies created by soaking corpses in brine. This process generally takes about a month for a mummy, and two weeks for a golem if he has proper wasteland ground to work with. Further, once per week, he can use a special Dominate Monster and/or Mass Charm Monster effect (DC 28) that functions only on undead, vermin, or construct creature types. The effect lasts until Zindhir chooses to relieve his servant from duty. These silent creations are the basis for the Wazir myth's 'grim servants'.
Secret Keeper (Su): Zindhir can Alter Self 3x/day. Attempts to pierce this Alter Self with True Seeing or similar spells must succeed in a caster level check against Zindhir.
Heart of the Desert (Ex): Zindhir's studies have created a well of innate power in him. The area around Zindhir for 100 feet is incredibly arid, and either intensely cold or hot depending on the prevailing weather conditions (i.e. if in winter, the cold is intense, if in summer the heat is tremendous). Unless he consciously suppresses this ability (free action) each round, it is constantly on. Every 10 minutes someone spends within this area, they must make a Fortitude save (DC 30) or take 1d4 nonlethal damage. Each additional 10 minutes adds +1 to the DC.
If Zindhir spends a year in a given location, he can create a wasteland, slowly breaking down the area to desert or a similarly hostile and arid environment. An area of 40 square miles acts as the epicenter of this effect, and it spreads 1 mile every 1d4 years afterwards. Droughts occur during the first year, and plants begin to wither and die. By the end of the second year, the earth has become extremely dry and cracked, and if a desert happens to border the region, it starts creeping in. Again, Zindhir can suppress this effect if he chooses. This is an acceleration of natural processes, using Zindhir's arid presence as a starting point, and powerful magic such as Limited Wish or Wish is needed to restore the damage done or to stop it.

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