The Eight Brothers
- Haiku –
Woe be to the eight
Serving the corrupt in life
United in death
Hit Dice: 4d12 (26 hp)
Speed: Fly 40 ft (perfect)
Armor Class: 19 (+2 size, +2 Dex, +5 natural), touch 14, flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/-5
Attack: Thrust +6 melee (1d10+1/19-20)
Full Attack: Thrust +6 melee (1d10+1/19-20)
Space/Reach: 2 ½ ft/5 ft
Special Attacks: Augment critical, synchronous rend
Special Qualities: Blindsight 120 ft, fast healing 5, fraternal link, hardness 10, haunt, object traits, rejuvenation, turn resistance +4, undead traits
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +6
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 15 , Con -, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Skills: Bluff +7, Escape Artist +9, Hide +10, Move Silently +24*, Sense Motive +9
Feats: Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (thrust)
Organization: Brotherhood (8)
Challenge Rating: 3 (Brotherhood 10)
Alignment: Always chaotic evil
Advancement: 5-8 HD (Tiny)
Level Adjustment: -
A ring of eight neglected katanas, blades tarnished and chipped and hilts wrapped in grimy cloth, stand in a ring in the ground. As you approach, all eight suddenly rise into the air, hovering at chest level and turning their points toward you in unison. You have only a moment to register the bizarre spectacle before they dart towards you with frightening speed.
For a samurai, there is no greater honor than dying in the service of one’s lord. But sometimes a samurai can find himself in the service of a corrupt lord, dying with doubt in his heart, his soul still wrestling with his choice of obligation over justice. His spiteful spirit may rise again in the form of his neglected sword, instinctively seeking out others who have been forced to make the same choice. When eight such souls gather together, their collective bitterness and hatred destroys their individual indentities, forming a circle of violent spirits known as “the eight brothers.” Though the name might seem to imply a unique phenomenon, it is simply the name used by locals for the specific group haunting a particular region, such as “The Eight Brothers of Niyama Pass.”
The eight brothers share several traits in common with both objects and ghosts, while not truly being either. Each of the brothers is a bit more than 3 feet long and weighs approximately 6 pounds. The brothers seem to understand each other’s thoughts perfectly, but are unable to communicate with other beings.
These spirits are known as the eight brothers because they always travel in groups of eight, referred to as “brotherhoods.” They are usually found masquerading as a group of regular swords, thrust point down into the earth or just laying on the ground. When a living creature draws near, they will suddenly fly into the air, immediately charging in blade-first, hopefully gaining the benefit of a surprise round as they attempt to skewer it with their deceptively keen blades. They all work in perfect synchrony with one another to devastating effect, usually focusing their collective attention on one opponent at a time, attempting to surround it and take advantage of flanking positions without leaving their victim any means of escape. If pressed, however, they can be nearly as fearsome when engaging multiple opponents. All eight members of a brotherhood move and strike simultaneously, creating a coordinated display that is both beautiful and disturbing to behold.
The brothers’ attacks are considered magical for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Augment Critical (Ex): The threat range for the eight brothers’ thrust attacks is 19-20/x2.
Synchronous Rend (Ex): If two or more of the eight brothers hit a single opponent in the same round, they twist in the wounds and then slash out of the body in opposite directions. A creature hit by more than one brothers in a single round is automatically dealt an extra 1d10+1 points of slashing damage for each brother hitting it. For instance, if a creature is struck by four brothers in the same round, it receives the damage from all four brothers’ thrusts, then receives an additional 4d10+4 points of slashing damage from rending.
Haunt (Su): A brotherhood is always tied to a specific site, often near a city where one or more of the brothers once served, be it a shrine, graveyard, clearing in the woods, or any other relatively remote location. This site is referred to as a Haunt. It is possible that a brotherhood can travel any distance from their Haunt, but in most cases they will not willingly move more than a mile from it.
Rejuvenation (Su): As soon as the sun rises, no matter where they are, all of the brothers automatically retreat to the ethereal plane as an immediate action and return to their Haunt as quickly as possible. As long as at least one of member of the brotherhood has returned to the Haunt, all eight appear again on the material plane with full hit points as soon as the sun sets again. Casting a hallow spell on the brotherhood’s Haunt will immediately destroy all eight brothers the moment they return to the material plane. If a spell or effect, such as dimensional anchor, prevents their ethereal travel, the brothers will be immediately destroyed at sunrise. Spells and effects that create an approximation of sunlight will not destroy the brothers, only a natural sunrise will do.
Fraternal Link (Su): All eight brothers in the same brotherhood share the same initiative roll and take their turns simultaneously. They must all have the same number of HD; if one is advanced then the other seven must be, as well. Each brother must always remain within 10 feet of at least one other. If one of the eight brothers is forced further away from another member of its brotherhood, it takes 3d8 points of damage, ignoring hardness. If it survives the damage, it returns to the nearest square within 10 feet of one of its brothers as an immediate action, regardless of distance. If one of the eight brothers is forced onto a separate plane from the majority of its brotherhood, it is immediately destroyed, though it can still be rejuvenated at the following sunset.
Object Traits (Ex): While the eight brothers are undead spirits, they take the form of physical objects, and as such share many of the appropriate traits, such as a hardness rating. Ranged weapons, electricity, and fire attacks deal half damage to them, and cold attacks do one quarter damage.
Mundane Mien (Ex): When at rest, the eight brothers look identical to regular katanas, albeit in a state of disrepair. They can be identified with a DC 20 Knowledge (religion) check, or with spells such as detect evil, detect undead, or true seeing.
*Skills (Ex): When flying, the eight brothers glide silently through the air, conferring a +15 racial bonus to Move Silently checks. This bonus is reduced to +5 when rising from the ground or any other surface, as their metal bodies tend to make a slight clattering sound.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (religion) can learn more about the Eight Brothers. When a character makes a succesful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including information from lower DCs.
---------------------------------------------------DC 20 – These eight swords are the physical manifestation of the spirits of former samurai who are ashamed of their deeds in life, but too proud to admit their shame to themselves They are known as the eight brothers.
DC 25 – The eight brothers share a magical link, and must always remain close to one another or risk destruction. They attack with devastating coordination and tactical prowess, easily able to overwhelm a single opponent in a matter of moments. When engaging a brotherhood, it is of the utmost importance to avoid being surrounded.
DC 30 – The tremendous guilt burdening the spirits of the eight brothers makes them ashamed to be seen in the light of the sun. Every morning they retreat to the ethereal plane to rejuvenate themselves, but they can be destroyed instantly if they are prevented from leaving the material plane, or if the site that they haunt has been consecrated.
- A remote farming village, at least one day’s travel from the nearest city, has stopped receiving supplies. Merchants are no longer visiting, and villagers who have been sent to the city do not return. Unbeknownst to anyone, a brotherhood haunts the road from a small travelers’ shrine, murdering anyone walking to or from the village after dark. Winter is approaching, and the lack of necessities such as firewood, lamp oil, and medicine could bring an end to the small settlement. The PCs might be hired to escort a group of villagers to the main city, or escort a group of merchants to the village, or simply to travel down the road and investigate the source of the disappearances.
- The deserted castle of a now-deceased tyrant purportedly holds a king's ransom in treasure somewhere within its walls. However, it is also said to be haunted by the vengeful spirits of his 40 dead retainers, who now prowl the castle grounds in the form of five separate brotherhoods.
- A necromancer has built a fortress over an ancient graveyard. In addition to providing him ample materials to create an undead army, the site is haunted by a brotherhood. The necromancer has used magic to dominate the eight brothers, employing them at night as silent assassins.