The Barghest: by the Wolf, the Goblin and the unholy spirit! (includes a most unique PrC...)
the monster has some history in legends, folklore and such, but i read very,very little of it. as with previous entries, i tried to inject a bit more substance to it, other than what the MM says. unlike other entries, this one might be a bit heavier on the "game mechanics" stuff. for you see- the way i expanded on the original description, a Braghest is fairly unique in origin, and thus have some specific rules for it. also- there are more than one type, and the entire race started as a union between two species, a malevolent cosmic force, to form... a Prestige Class.
got you intrigued already? good. the "mechanics" part is not very Stat heavy, more conceptual than anything. and one more important note, before i continue- i mainly play using the Eberron campaign setting, and the existence of the ancient goblinoid Empire inspired me much in this. i might make references to Eberron here and there, but everything is easily adjustable to most campaigns.
ok, time to begin. i suggest to work a little hunger, dim the lights, and think of wolves. hungry, malicious, relentless, cunning and power hungry wolves...
now, imagine you are in their debt...
Bad street Rep: this creature seems odd all around- it reminds one of lycanthropes, but not quite it. it's hunger reminds of a vampire's thirst, but not quite so again. it's definitely evil and extreme enough to be an outsider, only it doesn't fit the "ruthless/ mindless/ slave minion" type, nor the uber-strong-fighter type outsider of the outer planes (or similar). and what is with the weird progression thing? needs to feed on his enemies to gain HD? and what can a DM do with the Feeding thing- either useless or too extreme... lets just choose another monster...
i care for it because: first of all, as a series of lovely games once proclaimed "in odd we trust" (though i doubt this is what they had in mind). the two things that appealed to me first were the art for the creature (a starved looking alienish wolf, which looks cunning, fierce, and... wrong.) and the second thing was the feeding power. it was so unique, so out of place, yet sooo extreme, it just called for a story behind it.
i was then drawn to all the other kinds of strange facts: why just a goblin form? why the dependency on the feeding? why the lack of place amongst evil outsiders? this guy had a lot of potential in my mind. not as a single fight monster (though that could be done as well), but as a recurring... not necessarily villain, but definitely a dangerous, suspicious shifty character.
and now presenting to you, the new and improved Barghest:
perception and concept:
- perception: very few DMs have any clear role for this bugger. i've decided however to have several roles for it (other than the race/s history and predicament):
- a cunning predatory monster, trying to avoid detection and extermination.
- a hired demon buffing allies and weakening enemies in allies.
- a demon who crafts elaborate deals, trading services for various other debts.
- a minor or major villain (or it's helper), growing frighteningly in power each time it is met.
- a prestige class for players enjoying the "doomed martyr" roleplay experience.
- a tool by the DM to frighten a group relying on raise dead and similar spells too often
- concept: the story begins long ago, in a time where Goblinoids were numerous, (in Eberron, i refer to a time previous to the Six Kings). one region under Goblin control came into great danger. as things got worse, and each of the tribes fended for their own, one of the tribes uncovered secrets, of communicating with a primal force of creation, a force no one dealt with before. the only scripts remaining from that those time refer to it as Hunger (in Goblin), though the title seem incomplete...
the Goblins contacted the entity, wishing to deal with it, to gain some power, some help for their tribe, thinking to appease it with sacrifices and worship, as is the custom with other gods (for they thought this was one). but the entity seemed uninterested in all they suggested. communication with it has been hard. it seemed alien, strange, at the same time cunning but oblivious to many simple and well known things. the only thing that really interested it was the hunger, the hunger, the need to eat, to feed, to have a mouth.
as the tidings around them grew worse, the shamans of the tribes inquired and parlied with the entity, offering slaves and other for her to feed upon, but it demanded a body of it's own. they offered slaves as receptacles to it, but it demanded a willing subject, or in fact subjects... the more they spoke with the entity, the more it became clear that it was bound by specific rules, but that those rules could be used to make sure she cannot betray the tribe.
in the end it became clear the entity needed one feral mind, conjoined with an intelligent thinking mind. the tribe had long established connections with wolf packs, whom they treated as equals. one of the shaman suggested then one of the goblin rangers, and it's animal companion, two of them leaders within the tribe, powerful, well respected.
as the ranger and her wolf were brought in front of the shaman circle, the Hunger made it's offer: if the ranger and wolf will agree to joining with a portion of it, it will give them both great power- personal power, as well as the power to imbue their allies with victory over their enemies. bound to it's own strict and unwavering rules, the entity then added- but you will have to feed on others essence, drawing every little bit of them to you, and eventually to the Hunger. this is worse than death, as the "meal" ceases to exist entirely. more over, the hunger will slowly take both minds of wolf and goblin, if their will is not strong enough, consuming them as just other meals... the Hunger promised a slight chance of making it through the power trip, but it's a very, very slim one. will they accept?
the ranger (who's name was lost to time) and her companion accepted. a dark ritual, and darker transformation took place, joining both bodies into one, and adding a third, hungry, needing, insisting presence to the two minds already present. the First Barghest was created! the Barghest has indeed changed the battle, and soon the knowledge of the ritual and the powers began to circulate in Goblins lands. the Hunger made slightly different deals with each tribe, and with each goblin and wolf who partook in the rituals, but the same basic warnings returned: great power for being a conduit to the feeding. a perpetual feeling of hunger, of emptiness. the slim possibility to survive this, but also the near certainty that you won't.
the Name Barghest originates from the ancient Goblin tongue, and means somethings on the sort of "greatest martyrs" (commemorating both), but this meaning has been lost to time. out of the hundreds or thousands of Barghest in those times, many became powerful, many became the tribes guardians and heroes, at least for a while... because almost all have succumbed to the overpowering Hunger that lay within them.
some lost their connection to this world, and were later banished to some outer plane. there they cannot feed, endlessly seek to return, to feed, to sedate their torment. they are the lowest of Barghests, and are referred to as Extraplanar hounds (would love if someone give me better names)
with others, their free minds were consumed, but not their connection to the world. the prevailing mind was the Portion of Hunger that shaped like their previous minds. they lived in the world, form there till now, reproducing as well, but keeping their general numbers low. they are called the Native hounds
the last type was a sort of an accident, that gave rise to one of the world most numerous magical beasts- the Worgs. sometime, when the Hunger began to consume the goblin mind, it consumed itself as well. what was left is a strong wolf, with imprints of malicious cunning.
there are only two known cases of Goblins making it all the way through to the end of the PrC, without turning to one or another aspect of Barghest.
they have indeed been proven to be free of the Hunger, and shining individuals, have great influence with their own kind. the two have died long ago though, and their tales are but fantasy...
several characteristics are true to both Barghest types, and the Prc. (not the worg):
- Hunger: the feeling of hunter is ever constant, ever present. it is absolutely central to being a Barghest. it can only be sated by the Feeding, which is an abominable act by most moral systems: the feeding act destroys the very essence of the "meal". most religions claims this destroys the soul, and thus vehemently object to the Barghest's existence.
- Predation reserves: as the Barghest feeds, a shred of each essence goes into the Predation reserve- a power reserve that fuels the Barghest's powers, makes it stronger, even enables it to heal, and more. as the Barghest feeds, it looks healthier, fuller, more powerful. as it expends it's reserves, it becomes thinner, bonier, eyes sunken, and such. the rapid transformations in appearance have often frightened people
- Elevating feeds: some feedings, of sufficiently strong enemies seem to have further effect on the Barghest- if enough "elevating feedings" are had, the Barghest grows in power! this is seen both as physical growth, and magical powers. the act is accompanied by a surge of Hunger, feeding on the energy of all nearby. this is a terrifying sight.
- Dark Influence:many of the Barghest powers assist his allies and hamper his enemies simultaneously. the effects occur in a radius called Dark Influence. apart from the power's effect, all of the affected feel a strong sense of evil lingering over them. this is a unique ability of the race, and can be used to identify them.
Place in the world and Reactions:
- Place in the world: today most references to the ancient role of Barghest are gone. most people who might hear of a barghest just consider it "a demon who looks like a goblin". through the centuries various religious groups have tried to eradicate the Barghests, and they have been fairly succesful... not 100% succesful though, and the barghest prefer to keep it that way. most seek to hide, to live their lives in obscurity, to tend to their hunger without drawing attention.
but there is one aspect of Barghest nature, that makes dealing with others, for whatever need, a most special matter- their Deals, and adherence to the rules. though Barghests are creatures driven by a dark compulsion, they are also very lawful. Barghest are surprisingly very honest creatures (telling the bare minimum of course, but telling it truthfully), who give great weight to any agreed upon bargain, deal, or debt. those who summon them rely on this fact, as do any who deal with them, offer them protection, and more. a Barghest will always follow the deal. after all- their entire existence stems from their one important deal...
this does not in anyway means that dealing with a Barghest is simple. it is more akin to dealing with a team of devilish lawyers, all of whom were also top notch salesmen, and the elite of the debate team. a barghest would gladly offer its services- tracking, fighting, knowledge, powers, and more, if he thinks he can gain from the deal, and if it doesn't invalidate any other. it will however abide to it in the most self serving way it can, according to the rules.
what about assurances? well, this is where the adult Barghest has a special "deal finalizer", sort to speak. when most details have been agreed upon, the barghest explains this- by one of it's powers it extract a tiny piece of bone (shoulder, sternum, finger, jaw), enchants it, and ties it around a leather cord on it's neck. (the necklace is usually kept hidden. most Barghest have several such stones on the necklace).
if any side violate their deal, both feel the bone/ place where the bone was suddenly grow very cold. if the transgression continues, then the deal is broken, and the deal breaker suffers the consequences. the barghest gets really sick, while the second party might become prey to the Barghest. (would be dealt in detail later).
deals vary upon situation, but some general details that are common:
- a promise the Barghest identity won't be shared, not now, not ever. nor will it be harmed in any way by the second party, not now, not ever.
- a promise that the second party, their allies and perhaps other people won't be fed upon, killed, or harmed in any way
- a promise that the Barghest won't assist the immediate enemies of the second party now, or later.
as listed above, most contracts are really long term, in matter of assurances, though they may be short term in matters of services. many who dealt with Barghests often forget about the deals for years to come after the service has been rended. well, except maybe for those moments where there is that dull ache in the bone there...
Barghest make deals for a lot of things, and it really depends on the type, and the individual Barghest.
the following will deal with the two known categories, as well with the PrC:
Native hounds: all Natives are offsprings of ancient Barghest who managed to both reproduce, and not lose their connection to the material plane. these Barghests have two main concerns: not getting killed, and not to lose their connection to this world. these two factors influence everything they do in their lives, and lead to many specialized survival strategies.
a Native would pick his feeds carefully, making sure the feed isn't an Elevating feed (each bump in power may means a chance of losing the connection). Natives usually feed only up till they grow to adults, perhaps one or two levels more for the careless..
a Native would always try to act carefully, in a methodical way- strategizing, planning, using its detection skills and abilities, as well as the concealment and movement powers to the best advantage. if a threat is too big, it try to gather allies from the close surroundings. lastly- it can escape. all Natives keep a few essential belongings needed for a fast flight.
most Natives live close or nearby goblinoid settlements, wolf or worg packs, or in the wild. the Barghest takes care to spy first on it's intended neighbors, and might offer a deal, one of it's special deals in order to keep it's location hidden, and have a network of allies to scout and rely upon.
goblins and wolves/ worgs as neighbors are favored because of the issue of mating. a Barghest can only mate with a willing goblin or wolf (not a fellow Barghest). usually a really serious bargain is done, often in the form of a ritual or celebration. if the mate is female, then the barghest offers more, for the birthing of a barghest litter is life threatening to the mother.
Though natives prefer to remain unknown, some of them are more brash, full of confidence in their abilities and power. these Barghests deal for all kinds of power: feeding sacrifices, knowledge, items, position, knowledge, or even the leverage of making other more profitable deals.
these Natives either flaunt who they are, loving the fear and power, or hide their true heritage by assuming some other title (werewolf, goblin sorcerer, magical Worg and so on). if so, they take a great measure to make sure they aren't exposed, feed in private, and barely use their Dark Influence powers.
Extra planar hounds: lost to the world, where they cannot feed, these being are half crazed with hunger. how they reproduce there no one knows. they usually make their appearance in the world when they are called/ summoned by someone. coming from a "i've got nothing to lose" attitude these Barghest behave quite differently from their brethern.
an Extra planar would be far more focused on the feeding benefits of every bargain, and would demand it. (these being usually arrive utterly starved anyway, their Predation reserve empty or nearly so. they need to be fed to be useful). they are far more eager, enthusiastic and engaging in their approach to their tasks. some summoners find it a disadvantage, but some who dealt with the calculating, and often long-to-execute nature of the Natives prefer this direct approach.
another aspect of the Extra planars, that go against most expectations from called outsiders, is that they like it here! they prefer long term tasks, time consuming guarding duties, and so on. this potentially makes them quite valuable to a caller, if it wasn't for their insistent need to be fed constantly!
another disadvantage is of course the ability for these guys to be banished back, to wherever they come from. this makes them far less of a threat to the aptly prepared.
PrC Barghest: these were ancient, and are no more... the various religious sects have made great efforts to destroy every single possible mentioning of the ritual, or the actual name of the entity known as Hunger. but perhaps, someone, a goblin interested in it's people ancient history, a mage who hears the secret from a random ancient demon, a priest of a new religion focused on utter annihilation, or someone else, might yet find the secrets to forming a barghest. in the "game mechanics" part there is more info.
- interactions: Barghests have a very unique state of living, and their situation cannot be understood by another. even if so, their hunger and feeding is always a put off. as such, barghest grow to be self serving creatures, and their dealings with others often reflect this. deals or hostility are often the only options. there are some exceptions though:
Goblins/Wolves- the two races usually accept a barghest into their community, provided it makes a deal with them. some groups are so used to barghests they even prepare a "standard deal" which the elders and shamans must memorize. the barghest might live in the community, or outside it, but it usually relies on the community's eyes and ears, as well as discretion. the barghest in it's stead provides added protection if danger calls, usually by it's own powers as well as the Dark Influence (which the goblinoids attribute to their own gods).
neither goblins nor wolves remember the real past, and consider barghest a sort of a protecting benefactor spirit- to be respected, but also to be wary of it. some goblin temples sometime have cryptic messages left on their doorstep by a barghest, showing a possible way to contact it if needed. goblins sometime go on "quests" when they reach maturity, to find the barghest, the protector of their tribe, and ask for a favor.
a barghest also make deals for mating with these two species (not true for an extra planar). if the female is not the barghest, she is taken to some safe local by the male barghest near the time of birth. the birthing of a litter can consume the mother, literally. if so, the barghest compensate the tribe, and family. if she survives however, then a great celebration is had, and she gains status within the tribe. a barghest never forces a wolf or a goblin to be it's mate, only by making a deal.
(in Eberron: due to the recent rise of Darguun, many Barghests secretly migrated there. the Dhakanni especially offer mates, and are also working to recover the ancient rituals to create more, and bolster their strength)
other Barghests- Natives are very protective of their young, but they raise them alone. they usually raise them up to the "mature whelp" stage", after which they either run them off, or quietly part ways.
barghests rarely work closely with other adult barghests. the constant reminder of their hunger in another's body is too much an irritation. Barghest do team up at times to discuss long term strategies, and especially territorial limits (they prefer to scatter as thinly as possible, so not to attract suspicion). Barghest rarely do actual deals with one another, but it has been known to happen. this usually have added fail-safes to them, as no one knows the cunning of a barghest more than another one!
Extra planar are another issue- they have no problem of working with another extraplanar if there is enough feeding to be had. if that is not the case, they might turn on each other, in order to feed first! all Extra planar have a special hatred for the Natives (and they can sense which is which), and will try to slay them if possible.
worgs- these are in a way the brain damaged children of this entire affair. some worgs act like wolves, adding the barghest to their number, adding to their power, for protection... others however hunt the barghest furiously, or make a deal with it to stay out of their turf (if it's too powerful). this enmity is odd considering no worg remembers their history. they just feel a hatred towards the outsider...
Lycanthropes, especially werewolves- another group that a barghest might blend into. again, a deal is usually brokered. the Barghest usually supplies its Dark Influence powers to the group, for protection and a share of any prey. these alliances are usually not strong, but there have been odd cases (for example- the lycanthrope purge in Eberron. looking back it seem some groups were strengthened by some powerful dark powers)
assasin guilds- some assassin guilds, especially ones with magical means, may contract a Native or call an Extraplanar barghest for a special assignment. one of their clients want a target dead, and beyond the possibility of resurrection. the barghest is asked to do but the final blow and the Feeding.
this type of missions are usually shunned by both types. it draws way too much heat to the Natives, and is not fitting with the "long stay, long feeds" preferences of an Extra planar. both types however can be persuaded, if the reward is right. Barghest drive very serious deals for the use of their feeding powers, knowing well that no one else could do this...
organized outsiders, devils mostly- both being strictly lawful, the barghest usually feels a bit more at ease with the devils. Extraplanar ones sometime make deals with other powerful devils, that enables them to summon the Barghest instead of their usual summoning powers! some of the devils called by wizards and clerics have this extra boon to offer...
outside the purview of deals, a barghest feels outside any meaningful order- it's origins unknown, it is shunned from any cosmic hierarchy, left to be a sort of terminal bottom feeder.
intelligent undead- unable to feed upon them, or sense their life force (they have non). the Barghests feel between dispassionate about the undead, towards outward hatred. the dealing of these two groups is strenuous at best, most time far worse. a barghest usually avoid making a deal with those it can't feed upon (it can't make it's special debt bone), and so most dealings are off... vampires might be even worse, since their feeding habits are mutually exclusive, and they both have an urging need...
however, Barghest are nothing if not pragmatic (the Native ones at least), and might work with other intelligent undead, if the deal is lucrative enough. if not, most chances are that the barghest will either run, or use other allies (whom it made different deals with) to help it destroy the undead.
unintelligent undead, unliving constructs, oozes and such- barghest usually treat anyone who isn't a potential feed as a mere nuisance. it would deal with it if necessary, but it's own life sense and hunger draw it's attention elsewhere...
- game mechanics: the following describes the growth states of the Barghest. it also states the PrC! by going through the ritual the character and wolf become a Barghest! there are some major differences between a the born Native version and the PrC, but they will be explained.
i didn't try to balance this PrC. it gives a lot of power, but also a lot of complication, and a very serious threat to basically kill yourself just by going up levels. it is mostly for the feel of things.
feat: animal bond: this feat enables you to treat one specific animal type (wolf, dog, etc..) as an animal companion. you get animal empathy regarding the animal only, and it's power progresses as if you were a druid 3 levels beneath you.
the feat basically gave the ancient goblins an ability to have an animal companion without being a ranger/ druid.
Barghest PrC/ Native Barghest's growth stages
the growth stages refer to a native Barghest, from it's birth (stage 1- whelp) to it's death (reaching level 10-liberation/ death), if it goes that far. the PrC levels correlate with the stages. a new initiate effectively becomes a Whelp. only a PrC, one that passed the tests, can hope to live and reach level 10 though. Native and Extraplanar Barghests can't.
- requirements: this of course refers to the PrC only.
- a goblin with a wolf animal companion (some scholars theorize there might be other combination.. an orc and a wild boar? an elf and a leopard? in any case it's theorized that the animal must have a special connection to the race). the feat described above can qualify for this.
- special: performing the ritual that calls the entity known as Hunger. agreeing to it's terms of the deal willingly- power in exchange of being a conduit for feeding, the consistent insistent feeling of hunger, and knowing that though there is a slim chance to survive, most chances you are going to be consumed.
- after agreeing, going through the joining ritual, and passing the first of the elevation tests (will be explained shortly)
general characteristics of the PrC, and Barghest advancement:
- no turning back: once you've taken the first level of the PrC, you no longer posses any XP. advancement occurs only through elevating feeding, and by no other way. also- you must take levels/ growth states in this PrC alone, until you either succumb to it's curse, or find your way through. you cannot take levels in any other class till you finish with this one.
- power definition and numerics:
- Caster Level: your CL is always considered to be twice your growth state (2, 4, 6...)
- Self Powers: these work only on you, are always super natural (Su), and require a move action to activate, if needed. (many of these are always active). the activated powers require Predation levels.
- Group Powers: all group powers are Spell Like powers (Sp), and require a standard action to activate. they are all Dark Influence powers (tagging alignment) and work in it's burst radius. each power has two affects: one on allies, another on enemies. the activation of the power affects both at once. all these powers require Predation levels.
- Dark Influence: all group powers, and the Feeding burst when gaining a level are considered Dark Influence effects. the Dark Influence powers affect ALL targets in the burst radius, which is 10ft per growth state/ level. this replaces any range and effect lines of similar spell descriptions the power imitates! also, all affected targets (allies and whomever failed a save) are "tagged" as lawful evil for the duration of the affect, and several rounds after (equal to the growth state/ level). this affects the type of abilities and spells that can be used by the targets, and on the targets. it also affect the results of various alignment detection spells and abilities.
- Predation Reserve: a sort of a power reserve. you power all of your activated powers through this reserve. each power demands several levels of it. the only way to replenish this reserve is by feeding. the max levels you may have equals 4 times your growth state (4, 8, 12...). also, this affects your appearance- the more levels you have, the fuller you look, the less, the bonier you do.
Feeding: this is the main drive behind you and your state. there are several rules and categories for this:
- viable feed: you can only feed of a living target with an intelligence score. no vermin, undead, oozes, constructs, elementals and so on. the DM is the last to decide. Barghests are never viable feeds.
- feeding process: the barghest must make the killing blow with a natural weapon, the next round he must take a full round action to place his teeth above the target, and feed from it. the barghest is considered flatfooted for this round. if more than one round passes, only the flesh is destroyed.
- feeding consequences for "meal": if more than a round passed, the target could be resurrected, but any raising method relying on the body of the deceased doesn't work. if one round had not passed, then the spirit of the deceased was also destroyed. a wish/ miracle have 50% to reverse this affect.
- feeding consequences for the barghest: the Predation reserve fills up with the number of HD the target had. this changes if this was an elevating feed, and the barghest gained a level/ growth stage
- elevation feeds: any viable target that has int 3+, and HD equal or more is considered an elevating feed. elevating feed may cause the barghest to rise in power.
gaining a level/ growth state, and the tests involved:
with each elevating feed, beginning with the third, the Barghest has a small chance of going up a level. this begins with 5% in the third elevating feed, (20 on d20), 10% in the fourth, and so on, each time adding 5%. (the idea is to keep this still random, unlike the idea in the MM). the leveling up happens immediately after the full round of feeding! for the next round, this is what happens:
- leveling up:the Barghest spend going up level with one full round action. it's form grows, the hairs all bristle, and all the new powers become immediately known to the barghest.
- emptying reserve:the barghest Predation levels sink to 0 at first, and it is fully healed. from the outside it looks like as its skin and wound heal, it becomes nearly skeletal
- Feeding Burst:there is a burst of Dark Influence. all in the radius, foes and allies alike must make a fort save to resist the affect. each affected one gains a negative level that NEVER turns to a level loss (it's a different source then negative energy). the barghest gains one Predation level for each level lost. all who failed must roll to save again. this ends when either the Predation levels are full, all are dead, or all have saved. anyone who failed even one time is tagged by Dark Influence.
- Elevation tests:the barghest must then pass two tests. the first test, The All Consuming Hunger, requires the barghest succeed in a Will throw. if he fails, his mind and the wolf minds are consumed, and all that remains is the Barghest mind. congratulation- you've just turned to a native Barghest! (providing you survive the next test). you are considered to have been consumed within one round, if someone wishes to resurrect you.
- the second test, Belonging No More, also requires a will save. if failed, you become an extraplanar outsider, and can now be banished. if you are banished, you immediately lose the first test as well. congratulations- you've just become an Extraplanar Barghest!
- the DC for both tests should be very easy to overcome. the danger is in the amount of tests (10 tries for each test, not counting some added dangers in the upper levels), and the disastrous outcome of actually failing one... if you are using this PrC, i'd suggest something on the lines of 5-10% of failing for each test. the PCs gets better will saves, but the DC for the tests grows with level as well, always a danger. (natural 1 as well always lingers)
- obviously, Natives lost the first test, and fear the second. failing the second nearly highly increase the possibility of someday, by a banishment spell, to lose the first test.
the barghest then probably rise, bigger, healed, and partially energized, though it may not necessarily be who it was.
ok, that cover the basics! lets go to the development stages/ levels already!!
1) Whelp: both PrCs and new born Barghest go through the 2 tests as they enter the world of being a Barghest. for new born pups, born out of a non-barghest mother, the Feeding Burst might kill her (the Barghest then compensate the family and then the tribe/ pack, as explained). the PrC usually conduct this ritual with no "important" targets in the burst radius (sometime animal were put there, to energize the barghest).
it is important to note that though newborn begins very small, they already posses all the mental faculties of their older versions. what they lack is experience, and knowledge of the world. that their parent provides. a new born comes to the world with 3HD (little bundle of clawing joy!), +4 nat armor, and the appropriate changes to Str and Dex in regarding to a mature Barghest that are due to size. (got no intention to calculate that).
this stage features:
- Physicality: new born are of size tiny. it can control it's hybrid form, staying in it. a PrC changes into the Hybrid form as well, staying in it, though the size depend on the size of the goblin. in most cases this form is small.
- type: outsider (native) unless you failed the test. through their lives/ PrC class, they progress as outsiders- d8 HD, full BAB, all good saves, 8 skill points per level and so on.
- bonus feats: scent, track. the scent only works in wolfs form though, which is not accessible yet...
- Life Sense: this works like other "detect..." spells. the area of effect is a cone 10x growth stage. first round: presence of viable feeding targets. second round: number of targets, and the exact HD of the strongest one. third round: exact location and HD of all targets. this power can be activated and shut down at will. it requires no Predation levels.
Immunity to positive and negative energies: Barghests, being of another origin, are unaffected by the affect of either energy, for better or worse. Barghest can only heal naturally, or by the Healing Meal power.
- Healing Meal (self power): the barghest uses as many predation levels it wishes at once. each heals 1d8+2 hp.
- Misdirection: just like the spell baring that name. it is always active, and the Barghest can change it's target by a move action. young Whelps use it to hide themselves from any detect spells. older ones with their dealings with the world.
2) Growing Whelp: after more elevation tests, the Barghest grows. new born become tougher, and begin to join hunts with their parent. the first group power manifest, and they practice with fellow litter pups, and possible allies the parent brought.
this stage features:
- Physicality: Natives grow to size small, the PrC grows mostly mentally. +1 to Str, Con, and a mental attribute of choice, and +1 to natural armor. another major change, is the ability to control which form you're in- goblin, wolf, or Hybrid.
- Dimension Leap (self Power): the same as the spell. consumes 1 Predation level.
- Mixed Blessing (group power): this Dark Influence version of Prayer allows enemies a will throw. this power consumes 2 Predation levels.
3) Maturing Whelp: after more elevation tests, the first of the stealth power appear here. the Barghest has nearly achieved adulthood. it is usually at this stage that the young ones live the den, looking for their own territory.
this stage features:
- Physicality: other than growth, nothing changes.
- Silent invisibility (self power): this works exactly like invisibility, but it also add +10 to move silently, as the power dampens sound. it cost 3 Predation levels.
- Dark Colors (group power): this Dark Influence version of Blur effect to all allies, and faerie fire on the enemies requires 3 Predation levels. all of the changes of light seem like dark, hungry shadows.
4) Adult Barghest: after more elevation tests, a fully mature barghest, the powers begin to increase seriously now! one of the race's most important abilities come to play now- the debt stone
this stage features:
- Physicality: the Barghest reaches medium size in it's wolf and hybrid forms (still small in goblin). +1 to Str, Con and a mental attribute of choice. Natural armor increases by +1 too.
- Non- Detection (self power): active all the time, requires no predation levels.
- Mixed Blessing improved (group power): the same as before, only now the bonuses and minuses increase to +2\-2. (and the save is harder). this takes 4 Predation levels.
- Debt bone/ Debt stone: this is the final "reassurance" a Bargest crafts to finalize a deal. if the deal is broken, both parties know. if it was the second party who broke the deal, the Barghest can now freely scry upon it, and it can paralyze the deal breaker if within the range of Dark Influence. there is no save. if the Barghest broke the deal, it immediately loses all Predation reserves, and starts to tear apart as time goes by (con damage? hp damage?) a barghest will almost never back on a deal though. if the deal breaker returns to the deal, or any side dies, or the stone is destroyed, things get back to normal. the crafting of the bone takes 1hp from the second party, and one Predation level from the Braghest. both are temporary.
5) growing adult: Native prefer not to try and get this far, if they can helps it (there have been enough elevation tests to get to adult), but some do, for the added powers. after going through another set of tests, the barghest unlocks powers directly related to the feeding, and which grants it, and it's allies great advantages.
this stage features:
- Physicality: the goblin form is also medium now. another +1 Str, Con, a mental attribute of choice, and +1 natural armor.
- Enervating Strike (self power): the barghest imbues itself with destructive powers. any natural attack that hits in the following round causes 1d4 of negative levels, similar to the ones from the Feeding Burst (they may never be permanent). the barghest may use full attack the next round to make full use of this ability. also, if the barghest is touched this round the same applies. this power takes 5 Predation levels out of the Barghest.
- Power Transfer (group power): this Dark Influence power, similar to a vampiric touch, this power transfers hp from the enemies to the allies. each enemy suffers 3d6 hp loss . the Hp from all of them is then divided amongst the allies (including the barghest) evenly, rounding up. the barghest uses 5 Predation levels for this.
6) Mature Adult: this is usually the utter limit for Natives (and even this is quite far!) after more elevation tests, this level locks more of the powers of movement and maneuverability that makes the Barghest such a valued ally, and deadly foe.
this stage features:
- Physicality: the bargest is larger than medium, but not yet large. another +1 Str, Con, a mental ability of choice, and +1 nat.
- Freedom of Movement (self power): exactly as the spell, active all the time. requires no predation levels.
- Predator and Prey (group power): this Dark Influence power acts like haste on all the allies , and slow on all the enemies (save allowed). it takes 6 Predation levels).
7) Greater Barghest: after more elevation tests. a whole new power level is reached, the size and the powers of the Barghest are kicking it up a notch. these monstrosities are considered a major threat by many, and are usually hunted down fiercely! but their new powers, boosting up their already impressive powers make it quite difficult...
note that the Hunger at this points is becoming even stronger, more demanding, more pressing. this should be felt by those who face this brute, and played by whomever might play it.
this stage features:
- Physicality: you have just reached large size, in all forms! the stat increase have increased more: +2 Str, Con, and a mental attribute of choice, and a +2 natural armor
- Power Boost (self power): the barghest can boost any of it's stats by +8 (similar to bull strength spells). this last for CL minutes. the power boost cannot be used to withstand the tests though! also, it is not cumulative with the Balance of Power described next. this power takes 7 Predation levels.
- Balance of Power (group power): this Dark Influence power, simultaneously decreases by 4 point an attribute of the enemies, and raises an attribute for the allies (these could be different attributes, must must be the same per side). saving throws are allowed, but difficult. this power takes 7 Predation levels out of the Barghest.
- the growing Hunger: this is more of a sensation than an actual feature. the barghest knows that controlling the need to feed is about to become impossible. the DC for the tests of will increases from now, to become slightly more difficult (10-15% of failure).
8) Bursting barghest: after going through (more difficult than normal) elevation tests of will the Barghest grow even stronger. the power of Hunger's mind seem evident already, palpable. the barghest find it harder to control itself. nearly at the peak of it's powers, his powers become more fine tuned...
this stage features:
- Physicality: the barghest seem like bursting at the edges, on the verge of losing control. the size increases, but just by a bit now. again, it gains +2 Str, Con, a mantal ability of choice, and +2 natrural armor.
True Sight (self power): just as the spell, active all the time, requires no predation levels.
- Shadow Walk: just as the spell. this takes 8 Predation levels. the Barghest now searches everywhere for viable feeding material, as well as evading his pursuers. the paths of shadow become it's own...
- Greater Mixed Blessing (group power): the same as the previous powers, only harder to resist, and the bonuses/ minueses increased to +4/-4.
- Relentless Hunger: the power within gets more and more control... there are two effects: first-if the Barghest senses an elevating feed, he must succeed on will save or abandon all other prey until this one is fed upon. second- every fourth elevating feed triggers elevation tests again, whether the Barghest gaind a level or not... (if they happen to coincide, only one test is needed!
9)Hunger's Avatar: again, after some elevation tests, (more than before) the Barghest reaches the peek of it's power! to those who lost their mind at any point, this is truly as far as they will ever get! no amount of feeding can get them further, it can only increase their tests till they will become Extraplanar (if they haven't allready), or die, if they "gain a level". they have become demons of annihilation and destruction, beings who's entire purpose is to feed ever more...
but for PrC who got this far, despite all the difficulties, salvation is just around the corner! but will they stand the tribulations ahead?
this stage features:
[*]10) Death/ liberation: a non PrC Barghest dies immediatly upon "reaching" this level, in it's own Bursting Feed. if a PrC goes through the process of gaining this level, it either dies (if it fails on the tests), or... it gets liberated, as the darkness loses hold of it, the deal is at it's end, and it passed through unimaginable darkness back into the light!
- Physicality: every movement, blinking of the eyes, twitching of an ear, somehow reflect the horrible hunter within... size remains unaltered. another +2 str, con, a menatla ability of choice, and +2 natural armor.
- Annihilation (self power): this works like destruction, except for the following- the activation of this power grants it effects to the next succesfull natural attack. the focus is unneeded. if someone was destroyed by this, it is considered as if been fed upon within one round for resurrection purposes. it takes 9 Predation levels.
- Circle of Destruction: this works like circle of death, only on viable feeding targets, but there is 12 HD limit. it works on enemies, while allies are immune to it. enyone killed by this power, is treated asfed upon within one round, for resurrection purposes. it takes 9 Predation levels. no material component is needed.
- Relentless Hunger: the power of the Hunger increases. this works exactly like in the previous level,with two modifications: the DC to avoid pursuing prey is harder, and now the elevation tests come every 3 elevation feedings.
(my ideas for this particular level are a bit obscure. i gave more thought to the "powering up" aspects, less to this, but i'd appreicate any thoughts. this is what i had in mind though: ).
the seperation of forms is not instant, and may take between a day or few. in the hour following the transcendence, (i think that word is appropriate) the wolf and goblin coexist and work perfectly in the Hybrid form. they can no longer shape shift. the Hybrid is of a clear mind, no longer driven by the need to feed, for the first time in a long time... the change through the next few days, while the wolf and goblin part, affects them both in the following ways:
- Physicality: both looks fairly lean, never ever growing fat, or even "chubby". they however feel very content, eat very little, and are carefull in their cravings. they resume their normal form, and gain the ability to change into each other, the specific person, not just the general type. they both lose the ability to shape to the hybrid form. they keep all gained attribute increases and natural armor increases- their skin and muscles as hard as steel, perhaps even more!
- Free Choice: the character gains enough XP to place her at the appropriate level to her HD. it now resume gaining experience, and has the freedom to chooe between classes.
- Powers: for the few hours after the liberation, the hybrid can use all powers as if it had a full Predation Reserve. it does not regenerate however, and the Dark Influence tags no one's alignement. as they part, the goblin retains all Group powers, while the wolf retains all Self powers. each power however has a 25% to be shared by both. they are all considered spell like powers for both. the first 4 levels used 3 times per day, levels 5-7 2 times per day, and levels 8-9 1 time per day.
- Energies: both can now choose to disregard or benefit/ suffer from each energy. they are both however immune to level loss, death affects, and being fed upon by Braghest. Braghets in fact fear, and envy both creatures deeply.
- One last reward: i have no exact idea what this may be, but i imagine the PrC getting some last reward from the deal, either something the entity and it discussed when all this journey began, or some sort of self elation/ growth/ benefit. i'm thinking of something on the lines of a wish/ limited wish, levels of power.
- debt of bones: (yes, i know there is a book by that name. still- good title) they can no longer use the Bargehst powers in regard for the bones, but perhaps the exert some other influence, some other way to compel the second party to comply? or perhaps these just crumble into dust? i think all options are viable, and should fit the story and the campaign. getting through "Barghestood" might equel bacoming a sort of a saint! what happens then?