Henry Bowyer



The run-of-the-mill 12-year-old Half-Elf Commoner. For a time, never did anything wronger than peeing in the ale's tankard, or bullying his classmates into letting him cheat during the Knowledge (History) exam.

Unknowing servant of a creature about which all credits go to Stephen King.


If you don't see where this is heading, well...read along.

Spoiler: Introductory note
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First things first, I own none of the characters created by Stephen King that I reference here, or upon which my new characters introduced here are very closely based.

Then, this Villain and his Elder Evil fit best in an urban campaign, and a rather serious one at that: they are not really playable for laugh. Since the strenght of this villain relies on a number of moral considerations, he is best pitted against a party containing at least one Good character, lest that interesting side of the villain be more or less wasted.

Onto the meat of it!

Spoiler: The Elder Evil
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The story begins in the small city of Eldorry, a gathering of wood exploitants and woodworkers with no claim to fame. Henry Bowyer, the only son of old weaponmaker Butch Bowyer, is the local school bully, and helps out his father with bowmaking. Centuries of treecutting have slowly turned the surroundings into a swamp of undrained water. The city has adapted to that, and has developed as a result a clever network of dykes and channels, some of them underground. However, if one were to investigate as to the exact origin of the maze-like primitive sewer system, one would discover that as far as historians have delved upon the past of this forgotten corner of the world, the underground complex has always existed.
That is because, far at the bottom of the labyrinth, lies It. It has arrived there untold aeons ago, from an untold dimension. It has buried itself deep below the earth, and It has begun to exert its influence on the surface-dwellers. The first settlers founded Eldorry because they were uncannily attracted to that particular patch of forest ground: It attracted livestock. It is usually dormant, but once every 27 years or so, it awakens to feed in a great killing spree. It is a unkown and amorphous entity: to lure and devour its victims, It waits for them to be alone, and then appears to them taking the guise of their most hideous and primal fear. Fear gives taste to human meat - let alone to child meat.
One might object that the fate of this city is unfortunate enough, but after all, this is only one small community. It has nothing of a wolrd-shattering monstrosity if it keeps itself as such a small scale. And that is true that It, even if by some horrible twist of fate, were able to extend its reach to prey on any corner of the world, does not kill that much. A horrible death toll at the scale of a small town, a droplet of blood when considering the Prime. True, one It would not even be noticeable at that level.
Just as It has subconsciously attracted humans to set up a city far above its lair, It can exert a unseen and terrible influence on them. It subtly drives some humans to be his unknown servants, pushing weak individuals within its horrid maws. It has long turned the Eldorry people oblivious to the obvious: a 27-year-long cycle at the end of which a great bout of mysterious disappearances, murders and killing sprees occur. The local sheriffs have longed stopped wanting to try and understand. There are no historians in Eldorry anymore since the last one malencontrously fell from her stool while a rope was fortuitously tied around her neck from the roof.

A peek at what that historian recollected might explain her chosen fate.

Background

Knowledge (History) DC 33:
The library of Eldorry, though small, holds a great deal of work disserting about wood and its exploitation, as well as a number of history books about the development of the wood industry. Surprisingly enough, there is no study about the city's past and how it came to be. Especially given that one can find a number of texts about the history of the neighboring areas and how they all came to be connected into one single urban setting, with only a few patches remaining of the original forest. The librarian seems as surprised as the next carpenter about that subject, as if he had never noticed that peculiarity before. Some of the elders of the village, however, have a different opinion - and won't say a word about it unless they face a particularly persuasive interviewer. They seem to be deadly afraid of merely voicing an explanation as to the mysterious blank in the city's past.

DC 38:
Managing to get one of them to talk would result in them admitting the whole city half-consciously knows something is amiss. By concentrating and cross-referencing old recounts in the sheriff's office, one could discover that for one, the city has always been much more prone to disappearances and violent deaths than its neighbors. But in particular, once every 27 or 28 years, the death toll enormoulsy spikes for a few months. The culprits are never found, or some particularly unconvincingly guilty individuals are arrested and put to death - still increasing the bloody count. And that is something no one will ever find written anywhere in any account, official or not. An untold something is at hand behind, and those who dare exposing their conclusions invariably suffer one of those gruesome deaths, or decide to kill themselves as they uncover the full horror of it.

DC 43:
What only the cleverest elders have worked out - among those already maddened enough to not stop at knowing too much for their own sake - is that the something at work must have been lying around since countless years, and has actually attracted settlers to his lair in the first place. But what half-clueless ancients have discovered through educated guesses, more knowledgeable entities have already mapped out. Among the endless fonts of knowledge of the vast libraries of Mechanus, automated scribes have duled noted that, millions of years ago, an unlabeled entity has crashed onto the Material. Unchecked, unnamed and without any explanation. But ever since, even though it has no business being on the Prime, It has had a relatively minor influence on the Plane, mostly hedging out the populations of lifeforms around it according to a predictable cycle.

DC 48:
The automated records add that the gods themselves have given a special dispense for this entity not to be tracked down as an unnatural and unauthorized creature. Because when It arrived and the gods could not help but take notice, they had been utterly unable to do it the slightest harm, or detect its presence after its arrival. Unsure of what their powers could do to such an unknown, outraged at this violation of their domain, but fearing the alien entity, they have decided that the best thing was to let it to its own devices. A few citizens' lives every smattering of years was a low enough price. Now that It has entrenched itself below the world-spanning city, the gods have started to worry again - as shown by the repeated consultations they make at Mechanus' records. Eldorry's horrid curse will spread out to the globe if left unchecked.

Goals:

Knowledge (History) DC 33:
It has no known name, no origin, no explanation. One day, out of nowhere, long before sentient lifeforms had started to chip down stone into tools, It arrived on the Material Plane. So far, It has been happy munching away at whatever dinosaurs surrounded it - then took an immediate liking to the first cavemen crawling out of their grottoes. It seems to prefer scared, sentient living beings: the taste of fear makes them more palatable.

DC 38:
It can subconsciously influence the wills of those near it. It has drawn the first humanoids to it, letting them create a city that would provide a decent amount of game. Its malign influence can explain most of the unexplainable: the odd behaviours of the murderers; the lack of witnesses each and every time; the authorities who turn a blind eye to any affair that presents itself with a very generic and troubleproof explanation; the diviners who always have a better thing to do than to enquire on that case. It has completely ensnared the city within its grip. It seems to have a preference for, horrifying at it seems, children. A number of the victims have last been seen wandering off alone by their siblings, claiming to have seen their favourite imaginary friend - or most terrifying nightmare - just at the corner of the street.

DC 43:
It is akin to a shapeshifter. It can freely switch around appearances, and no one has ever taken a glance at its original form - if one such ever exists. It's favourite hunting technique is to adopt the guise of a trusted created from the fertile imagination of its child prey to lure them away from safety. It then changes to their most horrible fear, before ripping them apart and devouring them. It has always kept its puppet city small enough that its regular atrocities would go unnoticed by more powerful and suspicious mages. Not that It fears them, but because It does not want its deadly playground to be constantly shuffled around by enquirers.
Now that Eldorry has fused with the world-spanning city, each neighbor has become as anonymous as the next one. And that means that, for the first time in its ageless existence, It will be able to gorge itself on enough flesh to lay eggs.

DC 48:
It's alien nature is an enigma even to the gods, though It itself cares little about them. They are devoid of any knowledge about it, and thus have proved unable to discover its one weakness. But some years ago, the Mechanus scribes have purportedly reported that It was nearly defeated by, of all things, a band of preteens. However, the memories of the kids have been clouded by It after it recovered; they have all but forgotten its existence, or even that they were part of a band of children in their young years. They have forgotten about each other and about how they managed to wound It, and even the gods themselves cannot undo what It done to their minds. They are the only beings that It fears; and its first objective as the next cycle awakens will be to kill them or, at least, separate them once and for all.

DM-only knowledge:
The only thing that can wound It is the absolute, crystal-clear conviction that one will wound it. It will remain impervious to the fall of a meteor conjured by a god planning to methodically analyse the damage dealt to It. It will remain unmoved by the titanic blow of a Hecatoncheires's sword wanting to see how It will be wounded by that. But It will be critically injured by a toddler decidedly spraying pepper at the tentacled worm of his nightmares before him; because in his nightmares the worm is always killed off by the pepper. That is, if the kid reaches It without dying first.
That also means that when It assumes a guise other than its original form, It becomes more vulnerable: the party facing It as a troll will try to calcinate It without any hesitation, thus wounding it. Such a pity than only a handful of kids have discovered, and now forgotten, that loophole.

And these kids are the PCs.

If necessary, shorten the 27-year-long cycle so that even the youngest PC was 9 or 10 (for a human - make it appropriately younger or older for another race) last time it happened - while preventing anyone from incurring aging penalties. That can be worked out seamlessy without even having to ask the PCs to say anything specific in their background. If the PCs prefer to declare that they all know each other before the campaign begins, let's decide that in fact, It only erased the memories about their fight and not about their relationships. The only needed thing is PCs who have roughly the same age, either by player decision, or player authorisation to let you decide that.

And the last cycle of carnage ended 26 years and 6 months ago.

Alignment: It is chaotic evil.

HDs: (for purposes of the range of its malefic property) It's HDs are not fixed.
During its slumber between cycles (when its sign is faint), when It holds onto his reserves of fear and flesh, its HDs are 15. According to p.15 of Elder Evils, its malefic property only has a range of 10 miles during that time - just enough to encapsulate Eldorry and the few remnants of forest around it.
When it starts to awaken and to increase its feeding rate, however, its HDs grow accordingly. For the first few days of its awakening, as its sign grows to moderate, its HDs swell to 30: that extends its malefic property up to a range of 100 miles. That more or less coincides with where Eldorry connects to the world-spanning metropolis. 100 miles make up for an area of as big as a region, enough to hold an urban zone large as a small country. Thus, as was foretold, It's power now spreads far beyond its original city.
Just before the apex of the cycle, It's furious feeding brings it to 50 HDs, when its sign is strong: 1000 miles of area are now covered. Not only does that dilutes its track, but it also gives the PCs the opportunity to travel far and wide, and play through various environments in order to diversify the game, while still chasing after It.
As Its sign grows to overwhelming, its HDs exceed 50, its influence becomes worldwide, and the PCs must rush to prevent it from attaining that stage of existence...before the Plane is devoured by its progeny.

Sign: Nightmares made flesh


As It stirs away from its periodic slumber, strange horrors can be sighted. At first, only a few errants and beggars are targeted by creatures adopting the guise of their worst fears and carried underground by It at night. As the killing spree runs its course, more and more of the dread creatures spring from every shadow, from every corner. It is everywhere: swimming as a great shark in the river, skulking as a Drow assassin amongst the Elven area, thrashing around as a mad version of themselves to the mages afraid of no more than losing their mind. When It fully awakes, not even the middle of the street in broad daylight is safe from its terror. The PCs face, and rush to help others facing, all kinds of nightmarish creatures. As It targets the dreads of the most powerful individuals of the city, It appears as ever more potent monsters. A Halfling kid will see his hideous aunt, while the Duke will face the complete set of assassins that he knows are on his heels. All are real, but all flea before too heated a fight: It knows It is somewhat more vulnerable when It takes the forms of others.

Mechanically similar to the sign of Sertrous: Infestation, p.114 of Elder Evils. The occurence of random encounters increases as the sign grows stronger. These random encounters imply at first animals, dinosaurs with tentacles from the pseudonatural template, or other childish nightmares. If the campaign's tone is serious enough, abusive parents. The PCs then have to deal with in-world assassin squads. Blackguards hidden deep within the fears of fearless Paladins. Usurers that threaten to crush endebted families. When It targets the powerful and the wise, nightmares are made of Dragons of legend that wiped out entire countries. Powerful Liches out of the minds of Archmages afraid of their own temptation. PCs themselves that have forsaken their cause. You can alternate between a serious but light-hearted fight and an weak but truly dark phantasm. That last one is both powerful and grim.

Faint sign: There is one additional random encounter per week with a CR 2 lower than the average party level.
Moderate sign: The additional random encounter is now once per day.
Strong sign: Once every 1d4 hours, with a CR equal to the average party level.
Overwhelming: Once every hour, with a CR equal to the average party level +2. The probability of encountering wandering monsters increases from 10 to 20%.

Malefic property: Hazy murderous intent


It favors influencing the weak-minded to purport butchering in its stead, either to effortlessly bring it prey, or to root out those who have discovered too much. A normal-looking Orc bartender brings his ale to a Human Watch Detective sleuthing out he has found the trail of something big. Suddenly feeling his mind foggy, the Orc puts the tankard on the table and, without even realizing, also stabs the unsuspecting Human right in the gut with his cooking knife. As it happens, none of the other customers were looking in that direction that precise moment, having an uncanny feeling that they should not delve on what just happened. When the Orc suddenly feels an irresistible urge to carry on his killing spree and turns to the other clients, they promptly flee the inn, terrified by that frenzy. And the crazed Orc's heart quickly breaks under the unnatural stress experienced. But there is no need for a proper inquiry: it was well-known that this bartender was violent when drunk and that that Human owed him money anyway.

Mechanically similar to the malefic property of Father Llymic: Discord and Woe, p.15 of Elder Evils. Additionally, there never happens to be any witnesse of what just happened, or a perfectly reasonable and convenient explanation is found right away.

Henry Bower is just one of those unknowing servants that It has not definitively pushed past the brink of madness.

Spoiler: The Servant
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See, Henry Bowyer as a young boy was a charismatic but brutal child. He was also intelligent, but his rough education at the hands of his gruff father had done nothing to develop his will to work out his mind. He never bothered to use all of his starting skill points. Bowyering is not an easy business, and Henry spent most of his free time roaming the forests to look out for the best saplings to use. Or downing and preparing those saplings. Or polishing the almost-finished weapons his father made. Or preparing arrows. And he had better do all this fast and well, because Buck Bowyer did not take slack well at all. All in all, not much time to focus at school - but bad marks were equally appreciated as bad woodwork.
That seems an easy recipe for creating the perfect school bully, ganging up with others of his age impressed by his physical strength, his aura, and his deliciously evil prank ideas. Playing the school kingpin, that Heny enjoyed much more than carving arrows. Besides, strong-arming his weaker comrades (say, four PCs in their childhood) into helping him pass the Speak Language (Common) exam was a most useful side effect of this situation.

If things had stopped here, though, Henry would have retained his original True Neutral alignment, and probably taken over his father's bowyersmithing after his retirement. But that story happens in Eldorry. And Henry happened to be the kind of minion that It particularly enjoys to manipulate. This means that, during the childhood of the party, when they stumbled upon evidence of the reality of It and started, against all odds, to track it down, It felt the need for an agent. Brash and vain Henry, often frustrated in his attempts to torment the party of braver-than-usual kids that the PCs were, was the perfect guinea pig. The whole of Eldorry is largely within the range of It's malefic property - by design, actually. And that means that Henry, with his ridiculously low Will save and his high enough Charisma to lead a small team of minions, was the perfect target of Hazy Murderous Intent. A characteristic of this malefic property is that anyone failing its saving throw against it not only enters a barbarian-like frenzy, but also undergoes a temporary alignment change. Neutral Henry Bowyer turns into a Chaotic Evil troubled killer. Usually, It's pawns do not survive long enough after their mysterious frenzy to be affected by what horrors they perpetrated during their possession. But It enjoys manipulating Henry. It takes care to trigger the poor boy's frenzy only when someone near him is able to calm him down early enough - though not so early that Henry has not had the time to finish his grisly work. The abbot of Eldorry, a Cleric with the Community domain (SRD) and as such, the granted power to use Calm Emotions once per day, has saved poor Henry more than once.

If the theme of the campaign leans sufficiently towards horror, and realism, then your players might stomach some more detailed description of the deeds Henry committed. It's global imprint on his consciousness after repeated possessions led him to atrocities not normally found in the vicinity of a 12-year-old preteen. Snapping in two the arm of a younger child. Knifecarving his name in the belly of another.

The one thing that kept Henry's spiraling in check was his fear and obedience to his father, Buck. Until one day, a dagger of unknown provenance arrived at the Bowyer's and was specifically addressed to Henry. His father sleeping, Henry brought the package home and opened it. He then felt an inexplicable and irresistible fury cloud his mind, and did not hesitate before plainly killing his father. Without any inconvenient authority figure left to restrain the actions of poor Henry Bowyer, It was subsequently able to make Henry do whatever it needed to against the troublesome kids.

Of course, Henry can have all the excuses of the world for what evil he did. Yet he did it, and one too many times for his alignment to remain unchanged, even taking into account these circumstances. Hence his shift from True Neutral to Neutral Evil: not even remembering the misdeeds he commited, he could never properly ask for atonement magic.

What became of Henry after the child PCs near defeated It and forced it to slumber earlier than expected? The tormented lad, his mental sanity severly quaking, was found by the sheriff at the entrance of Eldorry's sewer system. Two dismembered corpses belonging to Henry's former sidekicks were found near him, completely by chance, and the bite marks on the bodies conveniently overlooked. Young Henry Bowyer had thus be framed for murder, too maddened to deny anything. No Zone of Truth was really needed to verify his claims. In regard to his state close to insanity, Henry was not executed or imprisonned, but sent to lifelong conviction to the salt mines. Over the years, his rigorous and ordered day-to-day life has slowly restored his mental health. He too has forgotten the horrors of his youth in a hazy amnesia. But, 26 and a half years later, as It awakens and discovers his nemesises are on its track again, It recalls its most loyal servant.

Spoiler: Build table
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Henry Bower is a Neutral Evil Half-Elf Commoner 20.
Ability scores:
Level 1 Str 12 Dex 10 Con 14 Int 13 Wis 8 Cha 15
Level 4 and 8 Int +1
Levels 12, 16 and 20 Cha +1

Known languages: Common, Elven, Gutterspeak (RoD p.26)

CR Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Racial /Class Features
1 Half-elf Commoner 1 +0 +0 +0 +0 Craft (bow making) 4, Intimidate (cross-class) 2 Focus skill: Intimidate,
(HoH p.125)

Never Outnumbered skill trick (CSco p.87)
Immunity to sleep, +2 to saves against enchantments, +2 to Diplomacy/Gather Information, +1 to Listen/Spot, Low-light vision

One simple weapon proficiency: dagger
2 Commoner 2 +1 +0 +0 +0 Craft (bow making) 4, Intimidate 2, Profession (miner) 5
3 Commoner 3 +1 +1 +1 +1 Craft (bow making) 4, Intimidate 2, Profession (miner) 6 Focus skill: Profession (miner), Willing Deformity (bonus) Bonus vile feat
4 Commoner 4 +2 +1 +1 +1 No change past this level. Int +1
5 Commoner 5 +2 +1 +1 +1 Deformity: Madness (bonus)(EE p.12) Bonus vile feat
6 Commoner 6 +3 +2 +2 +2 Omniscient Whispers (SRD)
7 Commoner 7 +3 +2 +2 +2
8 Commoner 8 +4 +2 +2 +2 Int +1
9 Commoner 9 +4 +3 +3 +3 Eyes to the sky(SRD)
10 Commoner 10 +5 +3 +3 +3 Chosen of Evil (bonus)(EE p.12) Bonus vile feat
11 Commoner 11 +5 +3 +3 +3
12 Commoner 12 +6/+1 +4 +4 +4 Trickery Devotion (CC p.63) Cha +1
13 Commoner 13 +6/+1 +4 +4 +4
14 Commoner 14 +7/+2 +4 +4 +4
15 Commoner 15 +7/+2 +5 +5 +5 Dark Speech(EE p.12), Dark Whispers (bonus)(EE p.12) Bonus vile feat
16 Commoner 16 +8/+3 +5 +5 +5 Cha +1
17 Commoner 17 +8/+3 +5 +5 +5
18 Commoner 18 +9/+4 +6 +6 +6 Ability focus (Dark Whispers)
19 Commoner 19 +9/+4 +6 +6 +6
20 Commoner 20 +10/+5 +6 +6 +6 Evil's Blessing (bonus)(EE p.12) Bonus vile feat, Cha +1

Spoiler: Playings Tips
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The idea behind Henry is to take one of the least optimal combinations of class and race, Half-Elf Commoner 20, and create a villain out of it. This is to enforce the theme that, in the end, Henry is just a poor soul: he did not dedicate his life to the Elder Evil, he had his life choices forced upon him by It. He is a saddening waste of a man. Since the PCs will invariably beat him in a face-to-face confrontation, the difficulty in dealing with Henry is not to mechanically defeat him, but to decide whether he deserves to be slayed here and there.

Henry as a kid is a Commoner 1. After the events of his youth, he is sent to the salt mines, where he reaches Commoner 3 over the decades. This is at this stage of his life that It decides to call him back to it and to definitely overtake his mind. When that happens, Henry, faced with the concrete reality of It's empire over him, loses his sanity, and surmises his free will to It. At that moment only does he become, in a way, a willing servant of the Elder Evil. He thus starts gaining his due Vile feats starting no earlier than level 3.
It then bolsters Henry's lifeforce, and this is by that way that Henry grows within a few months from Commoner 3 to Commoner 20. All that matters to It is to make his servant more powerful and more effective at killing for it. It doesn't care about improving Henry's abilities as a miner or a bowmaker. Hence, Henry never spends any skill points past level 3, they are simply wasted.

Spoiler: RAW lawyering
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I did not find any RAW about voluntarily giving up skill points, so here is a RAW way to do it. Henry spends all his skill points in an arbitrarily high number of cross-class skills, one at a time. As a result, he has one-half skill rank in that many skills, none of them eventually converting into a real skill rank. Perform being a cross-class skill for Commoners, Henry buys one-half rank into Perform (piano), then Perform (fiddle), then Perform (comedy), then...
Henry has a total of 76 skill points to waste in this fashion. This also accounts for the unspent skill points Henry has at level 1, standing for his laziness to work out his intelligence. And there exists far more than 68 different musical intruments or forms of art to waste skill points on.

Spoiler: CR 6//CR 1, sweet spot
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An archivist NPC living in Eldorry, one of those that know something but will not tell, worries to see the cycle starting again. In order to gather information, he asks the gods about the whereabouts of Henry Bowyer, since he was heavily connected to the events of the last cycle. He then adds a Scrying spell and makes sure Henry is still confined to his salt mine. All good. He must hurry to gather the PCs and talk them through what is happening. Each day, dozens of mysterious outbreaks of killing frenesy are reported throughout the neighborhood - with probably dozens more undiscovered or unreported by shameful families.
Henry is sleeping in his barracks, when he suddenly hears the moon whispering to him. The moon? Bewildered, Henry pays attention to what it says. Do note that the wording of the Omniscient Whispers feat suggests the voices proactively appear in one's mind as soon as one gains the feat. Henry looks through the window and as his mind breaks, sees a face on the moon, that tells him to come back at Eldorry. To make things easier, one of the guards of the mines has gone on a sudden killing frenzy just as he was going to lock Henry's dormitory for the night, and has started to attack his fellow surveillants. Henry thus has an easy escape, and, by night, starts the way back home.
In Eldorry, the PCs have gathered after the call for help of a local NPC that claims to have very important intelligence to deliver about the mysterious ongoing streak of disappearances. They arrive at dusk, and, by the next morning, discover that the NPC has been coup de grāce'd in his sleep, a miner's pick blow right to the forehead. A rather simple Spot or Listen check, given Henry's lack of ranks in Hide or Move Silently, would then reveal It's pawn noisily fleeing in the street, It assessing that Henry is outnumbered. Only when they see him do the PCs remember. They remember Henry, and they remember part of their shared childhood. Now is the time for a Knowledge (History) check to see what they recall about It. Ideally, the PCs will only succeed on the DC 33 information, so that they don't discover everything at once. A 6th level Wizard with 20 Int, 9 ranks in Knowledge (History), Aid another from his Familiar and a masterwork item achieves +18, so the DC 38 data is reasonably out of reach.

This is the time to play a childhood flashback sequence. The PCs, all children, are pursued by Henry and his two henchmen at the entrance of the sewers. Henry is armed with his favourite knife and intents to use it, but his two comrades only pretend to bare-handedly humiliate the children without really hurting them. The PCs must either escape or damage Henry enough to disable him - hurting him will only deepen his anger. Once they have succeeded, the flashback ends.

The trick is that Commoners do not have a stated starting age. As such, it is RAW to make 12-year-old Henry and his two sidekicks 1st level Commoners. Since the PCs are below the starting age for any PC class, they are given one level of Commoner as well, that they can by RAW retrain in their normal build later. Henry, boasting a +4 in Diplomacy even with no ranks invested, has managed over the school months to hit the DC 15 to turn his comrades from Indifferent to Friendly, and then the DC 20 from Friendly to Helpful. Henry's 1d4+1 dagger damage can down in one or two blows even a 1st level Commoner PC with Constitution 18, and if the occasion to do it with a quick means to end it presents itself, It can trigger a rage that will increase that damage to 1d4+3 with a +3 to-hit. Besides, Henry's +7 in Intimidate couple with Never Outnumbered has a good probability to render all of the PCs shaken. His two goons restrain themselves to unarmed strikes, but even 1d3 of nonlethal damage adds up when PCs have in the vicinity of 5 HPs. For this one and only time, Henry puts up all by himself a difficult challenge, this is his sweet spot.

Spoiler: CR 12
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As It's feeding increases, his Hazy Murderous Intent goe farther and farther away. Any 1st level NPC will succeed on its will save on a 20 only. Using one standard action per round for 24 hours to exert its malefic property onto an unsuspecting citizen, It gleefully turns 13630 people per day into frenzied murderers, each of those with an increased strength and the burning desire to slay the closest living being. This routine has been going on for months since It awakened. The direct death toll is measured in millions of individuals. And then one adds the progressive unrest, the riots against a government that cannot seem to prevent or slow down the horrific outbreak. Gods that remain silent on the subject. Some regions are bordering the civil war.
The party must find back one of Eldorry's elders who has moved out since the end of the last cycle. Thinking she would be safe from It's clutches, Eldorry's former librarian has settled in a faraway city to escape the dread atmosphere of her hometown. She knows, however, that doing so is something of a cowardice, since that amounts to her withholding the crucial information she has garnered about the lurking monster. This will offer a decent challenge for the party face, who will have to bring her to say what she knows. Unfortunately, as It awakens more and more, the range of its malefic property increases. As the PCs make their way to the librarian's secluded place, fighting their way through the Nightmares Made Flesh, more and more NPCs go berserk around them and try to kill them, despite the distance from Eldorry. Even though a party of level 12 characters is barely threatened by an innkeeper noisily trying to murder them in their sleep, this adds up to the atmosphere of dread and fury around them. What's more, they cannot find out where Henry lurks. Each time they try to Scry on him, it appears that Henry uncannily detects the scrying sensor, and has readied an action to pull a sheet of lead out of his pocket and to hold it in front of the sensor as soon as he detects it. He then waits for the scrying spell to expire, knowing thanks to his Eyes to the Sky feat when the sensor disappears.

They would find that Henry is rushing to the librarian as fast as he can, given that, for the time being, It's malefic property cannot reach her to bring her to selfdestructing frenzy. The goal here is to let the PCs gather the intel they need, but there are different means to achieve this. Either the party is too late, and Henry has arrived first. Using his Trickery Devotion feat, he creates a double that knocks at her door. When she opens cautiously, seeing a disheveled but unarmed man at her entrance, the real Henry that remained out of sight picks up his mining pick and assails her. The librarian does not wish to be raised, unless persuaded otherwise by the PCs; or a Speak with Dead can suffice but gives partial information. Or the party manages to find her first. In that case, It reaches the next HD threshold just as they speak, and instantly submit the librarian to its Hazy Murderous Intent ability. The danger here is that if the party cannot stop the rage but simply Holds the librarian, for example, her four HPs of Commoner 1 are taken out by vile damage in four turns.

Whatever is chosen, CR 12 comes from the fact that either in the middle of the negociations with the librarian's soul, or with the librarian still alive, a manifestation of It breaks in as per the Nightmares Made Flesh sign. The sign is strong at that point, so the CR of the encounter is equal to the average level of the party. Amidst the chaos, Henry sends his double to see through its eyes and assess the situation, but he does not reveal himself unless he can kill off a weakened PC with a coup de grāce.

Either this time or the next, however, such high level PCs will manage to capture Henry. But what will they do? They can see that Henry is utterly mad. They see a ruin of a man that hears voices, and obeys them. Is he really responsible? Is executing him the sensible thing to do? If it comes to justice, poor Henry has already spent more than twenty years in forced labour, since the age of twelve. He has no family anymore since he killed his father under mind control. Wasn't he punished enough already? It's not as if the party had defeated an evil and supremely powerful Wizard lord. No, the party has defeated a Commoner, and an utterly powerless Commoner if not from the Elder Evil guiding him. The PCs know and remember enough about It to know that Henry is little more than a remote controlled puppet. Is death deserved? Moreover, what would prevent It from simply choosing a new pawn to distort and take over? That means condemning an innocent to this fate. And at least, they are aware of what Henry looks like, can and cannot do.
On the other hand, the party is well aware that no prison will prevent It from freeing Henry at a moment's notice. What to do?

Spoiler: CR 15
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Either Henry has been spared, and then he will be set free by It soon enough. Or he has been killed off or sent to another plane where It's influence is inexistent, in which case the Elder Evil will happily turn another innocent Commoner into a monstrous servant. All in all, once the PCs have finally come back to Eldorry and set foot into the sewer system, Henry will be there one last time to chase us.

The PC's memories are progressively unlocked. But note that the exact description of the true weakness of It is above any Knowledge check. It cannot be beaten by raw power, but that the PCs don't remember yet. They will know only when they face It in its true form once again, 27 years after. A few hours before, alarming reports of the sign of it seen on the other side of the world have arrived. Whole countries have descended into street butchering by huge swaths of frenzied citizens. The sign is now overwhelming, It is going to reproduce. As they rush through the maze of tunnels, It manifests under an adopted guise again, an encounter with a CR 2 more than the average party level, once per hour. The party wades through the labyrinth for one hour and, before they reach the lair of the creature, face themselves. A mirror of the party debased into a servant of It itself, gorged with bonus vile feats and deformities. Give two negative levels to each of those PCs, so that four of them make up for a (average party level + 2) challenge rating. In the middle of the fight, Henry sneaks from behind, and unleashes his Dark Whispers, the one relevant thing he can still hope to do. The defiled version of the party is protected from the effect thanks to Deformity (Madness), but each turn, the PCs face a Will save DC 20 against confusion. A barrage of dispelling provided by the twisted versions of the party's spellcasters can help break through Mind Blanks and save enhancements. It knows that Henry and his quasi-real double are one standard action away to be instantly slayed by any of the PCs, but at that level, one standard action means much more than the life of what is, at the end of the day, a 12-year-old Half-Elf who grew up in the wrong hometown. Once the PCS defeat themselves, they should pay heed to that fact.

And once they finally enter It's lair, their final memories come back...It descends upon them in its original form, and all that they have left is their conviction. But this is all that is needed. No attack rolls, no Intelligence checks. An Elder Evil should not be defeatable through sheer numbers - if the gods themselves could not crush It, it is not because their build was poorly optimised. What happens here is exclusively in the domain of the roleplaying. With maybe a Spot check to ensure that not one of the hundreds of eggs has been left unsquashed.

It slayed once and for all, its malign influence disappears. Enraged fanatics worldwide return to stunned Commoners. But its aura was the only thing that sustained the rotten city of Eldorry, that fetid trap of a town. Which has been since connected to the world-spanning city. It gone, the PCs rush to leave the place as a great ripple courses through the earth. As they exit, a titanic cave-in appears. Eldorry is slowly swallowed by the Earth, and disappears with its master. The world still need to recover from the bloodshed, however.

If the PCs really are good, they intervene in favor of Henry's soul before it is turned into a Mane and expelled to Hell.


Spoiler: Sources
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CC: Complete Champion
CSco: Complete Scoundrel
EE: Elder Evils
HoH: Heroes of Horror
RoD: Races of Destiny