Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage
"No one is coming to help you. No one is going to save you. You're under arrest."
- Lord Gregory Bastion, a Lord-Warden of the Silent Cage
Only the greatest of the great speak of them, and even then, only in whispers; those who wear the badge of the shattered castle. They stride through the multiverse on paths unknown to others, appearing only fulfill one of their dread charges. Rumors say they cage mages in cells that not even magic can penetrate; legends speak of their agents shackling gods to mountains at the edge of eternity, there to be bound until the end of days, but precious little is actually known about them, these Lord-Wardens, or their fortress, the Hollow Bastion.
Perhaps they prefer it that way.
Becoming a Lord-Warden of the Silent Cage
You do not find the Lord-Wardens. The Lord-Wardens find you.
A potential candidate, at first, does not even know that they are being recruited. A party of the Wardens ambush the potential recruit out of nowhere, attacking to incapacitate and using underhanded tactics and approaches. Many recruits fail this test, which is one of survival and instinct; they must evade capture while attempting to assess the situation as well as possible and find out who is after them. Successfully evading capture without killing a Warden is a surefire way to pass, as is managing to successfully capture a Warden to interrogate them; there are, of course, other ways to pass, all of which are determined by the Wardens administering the test. Either way, the next stage is to inform the recruit of the nature of their test and invite them to the Hollow Bastion, where they will speak to the current Lord (or Lady) of Chains; those who accept the Lord's offer become Wardens, while those who refuse become prisoners.
Occasionally, the Wardens attempt to recruit someone who does not actually qualify for their pussiant position; in this case, the recruit's training is done in the Hollow Bastion. Escape attempts are not reccomended.
Base Attack Bonus: +15
Alignment: Any non-chaotic
Skills: Knowledge (The Planes) 12 ranks, Craft (Metalworking) 24 ranks
Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Manacles)*, Any one Epic feat
Special: Must be able to use sixth-level or higher invocations, manuevers, powers, or spells.
Special: Must pass the Hollow Gauntlet (see Becoming a Lord-Warden of the Silent Cage, above)
* Indicates a new use for a published feat
Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Manacles
A character with this feat may use manacles and masterwork manacles as one-handed weapons that deal 1d8 points of bludgeoning damage, threatening a critical hit on a roll of 20 with a x3 modifier. Furthermore, they may choose to forgo a critical threat to instead grapple their opponent with the manacles, shackling them with a successful check.
A character with the Improved Grapple feat may choose to grapple with their manacles, substituting their normal grapple check with an attack roll made with the manacles opposed by their target's grapple check. They may, of course, also attack normally.
The Lord-Warden of the Silent Cage retains the class skill list of one base class he possessed before attaining levels in this class. Once chosen, this cannot be changed.
Skills Points at Each Level: 6 + intelligence modifier
Hit Dice: D10
1st|Empty Pathways, Take 'Em Alive, Ward of the Bastion (1-3)|+1 level of Existing Class
3rd|Curse of Hounds, Ignore Wards (Damage Reduction)|+1 Level of Existing Class
5th|Ward of the Bastion (4-6), Oppressive Aura|+1 Level of Existing Class
6th|Ignore Wards (Spells)|-
7th|Lord-Warden's Stride, Incarcerate|+1 Level of Existing Class
9th|Ward of the Bastion (7-9), Ignore Wards (Supernatural Abilities)|+1 Level of Existing Class
Weapon Proficiencies: The Lord-Warden of the Silent Cage does not gain any new weapon or armor proficiencies.
Class Features (Ex): At first level, and every two levels thereafter (so again at third, fifth, seventh, and ninth levels), the Lord-Warden of the Silent Cage gains features just as if he had advanced a level in a class he possessed before taking this one. Obviously, as an epic level character, the Lord-Warden does not increase his base attack bonus or saving throws, but he otherwise gains all special class abilities, spells known, spells per day, manuevers, power points, et cetera just as if he had gained a level in a class he possessed before he began taking levels in this one.
The Lord-Warden may choose a different class to gain features from each time he gains this class feature, but is under no obligation to do so. This ability does not affect the Lord-Warden's character level, though it might affect his caster level, initiator level, manifester level, et cetera.
Empty Pathways (Su): All Lord-Wardens, upon receiving their badge of office, gain free access to the Hollow Bastion and the pathways which connect it to the rest of the multiverse. As a full-round action, the Lord-Warden may transport himself, all of his possessions, and anything he is holding in his hands (or restrained in a pair of manacles he is holding) to any plane within one "step" of the one the Hollow Bastion is attached to. For example, if the Hollow Bastion is currently attached to the Prime Material Plane of Oerth, the Warden could transport himself to the Ethereal Plane, the Astral Plane, or any of the Inner Planes, but not to the Nine Hells.
No matter where the Lord-Warden is, he may always transport himself to the Hollow Bastion as long as he is a member of the Wardens in good standing. Technically, he can transport himself there even if he is no longer a member in good standing, but his fate upon arrival would be both horrific and eternal, and thus most of those who fall out of the Warden's graces wisely choose not to do so.
Take 'Em Alive (Ex): There is always a way to incapacitate a being without doing permanent or irreprable harm to it; a Lord-Warden recieves no penalties for dealing nonlethal damage with a weapon, and may always deal nonlethal damage, even to beings who would otherwise be immune to it.
Fast healing, regeneration, and natural healing do not affect nonlethal damage dealt by a Lord-Warden of the Silent Cage, though magical healing will still recover it just fine.
Ward of the Bastion (Ex): The powerful protections of the Hollow Bastion reach out to shield its Lord-Wardens, allowing them to defend themselves against even the most insidious attacks. At level one, a Lord-Warden is entitled to a Fortitude save to resist spells or supernatural abilities that do not normally allow for one (DC = 10 + 1/2 the ability user's hit dice + the user's relevant ability score [primary casting/manifesting ability, constitution for extraordinary abilities, strength for manuevers, and charisma for miscellaneous supernatural or spell-like abilities]), and is entitled to spell and/or power resistance if he possesses any, even against spells and/or powers that do not allow for them.
At level one, these benefits only apply to spells, invocations, manuevers, and/or powers of levels one through three (though it applies to all other supernatural abilities). At level five, this ability applies to spells, invocations, manuevers and/or powers of levels four through six, and then applies to levels seven through nine once the Warden gains his ninth class level.
Additionally, the Lord-Warden eventually gains the ability to completely ignore certain supernatural effects. At level one, he ignores all spells, invocations, supernatural manuevers and/or powers of level one or two. At level five, this increases to include those of levels three and four, and at level six it increases to include those of levels five and six. The Lord-Warden is completely immune to those spells, invocations, supernatural manuevers and/or powers unless he chooses to be affected.
Warden Sight (Su): Starting at second level, a Warden's sight sharpens and becomes infused with the power of stolen divinity and pure law; he is treated as though constantly under the effect of true seeing, with a few changes. The Warden percieves not only what is true, but also what deceptive magic wishes him to see, allowing him to react as though he has been fooled. Furthermore, the Lord-Warden can always tell if a being is disguised mundanely, even if they don't necessarily know who they actually are.
A Lord-Warden wishing to lock a being in his memory may make a Will save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the being's hit dice + the being's charisma modifier) as a free action to do so. The Lord-Warden may have a total number of beings memorized at any given time equal to his intelligence modifier. Once the Lord-Warden has memorized a being, he will recognize that being upon sight, no matter what attempts the being makes to disguise itself (including, but not limited to, magic, divine intervention, surgery, sex changes, and being reincarnated). A Lord-Warden may "forget" a being as a free action, freeing up a use of this ability in the process.
Curse of Hounds (Su): A Lord-Warden of third level or higher can call upon the services of the Hollow Bastion's hounds; once per day, as a swift action, the Lord-Warden can call a pack of twelve chain-hounds into being. This pack acts as a single magical entity, chasing down a single being that the Warden can clearly imagine or name upon their summoning. These hounds chase that being down, tracking them as though they had the Track and Epic Track feats, the Scent special quality, and a Survival modifier of +65, using the fastest movement mode available to their summoner. Attempts to flee to other planes of existence won't avail the hounds' prey; they automatically move to whatever plane of existence their target is currently on. The Lord-Warden is always aware of the exact position of his hounds, and may freely percieve anything within a thirty-foot sphere of the pack.
Though the hounds are ethereal and cannot be damaged or otherwise harmed, it is possible to outrun them; evading the pack for a number of weeks equal to the Warden's character level causes the hounds to dissapate and renders their target immune to this ability for a year and a day. However, if the hounds catch up to their target, they attempt to grapple with them, using the Lord-Warden's grapple modifier to do so (the pack is treated as being the Lord-Warden's size); immunity to grappling (such as that granted by a freedom of movement spell) avails the hounds prey nothing. Failing their opposed grapple check against the hounds causes the unfortunate victim to be subject to a targeted greater dispel magic as cast by a sorcerer of the Lord-Warden's character level, as well as a dimensional anchor effect (no save).
Despite their ferocity, it should be noted that the Curse of Hounds is still a supernatural ability, and thus winks out within an antimagic field. However, unless their target is actually in such a field, they will simply detour around antimagic or wild magic obstacles, taking the shortest possible route.
Ignore Wards (Ex): The Lord-Wardens recognize that they fight, oftentimes, at a distinct disadvantage; they battle foes with incredible protections, deific fortitude, powerful magics, and other methods of evading capture. To combat this, the Lord-Wardens have developed methods by which they may ignore the protections of their enemies. At third level, they ignore an amount of damage reduction equal to their character level plus their charisma modifier. At sixth level, they ignore any bonuses to armor class their targets recieve from spells, as well as any magical concealment less than total concealment and energy resistances granted by spells. At ninth level, they ignore deflection bonuses to armor class, and all energy resistances. Additionally, when attacking a being immune to a certain kind of damage (such as fire, or slashing), the Lord-Warden instead treats that being as taking 50% less damage, rounded up, rather than no damage at all.
Solitary Confinement (Su): Perhaps the most feared of the Lord-Warden's powers, a Warden of fourth level or higher may cut off his victim from all attempts at help or aid. Once per day, as a swift action, the Lord-Warden lays his curse upon a sentient being, which is entitled to a Will save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the Lord-Warden's character level + the Lord-Warden's charisma modifier) to evade it. Those who fail their saves are struck incapable of meaningful communication, unable to even write or mime their intent. Furthermore, their friends contrive to be absent from them, and any character they encounter and attempt to entreat for help instantly turns hostile to them, attacking them as viciously and lethally as possible. Solitary Confinement lasts a number of weeks equal to the Lord-Warden's character level, or until he chooses to revoke his curse as a free action, whatever comes first.
It should be noted that Solitary Confinement does not interfere with the casting of spells or other abilities that contain verbal components. However, it does interfere with spells or other abilities that require language in order to achieve their effects, as well as magical attempts to communicate; magic mouths sputter gibberish, illusions intended to communicate turn into horrific scenes of bloodshed and chaos, et cetera. Similarly, spells or other abilities whose power are entwined with the concept of language and communication, such as symbol or power word kill are rendered wholly useless, though all attempts to cast them do, of course, expend spell slots, ability uses per day, et cetera.
Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage are immune to Solitary Confinement, and never have their attitudes towards a being changed because of it.
Oppressive Aura (Su): A Lord-Warden of fifth level or higher radiates an aura of hostility towards chaos and criminals; all beings hostile to the Lord-Warden receive a -4 sacred penalty to armor class and all rolls while within sixty feet of him. This penalty increases to -8 if said beings are nuetral on the law-chaos alignment axis, and -12 if said beings are chaotic.
Lord-Warden's Stride (Ex): The Lord-Wardens are nothing if not a puissant organization, and the very fabric of reality recognizes and aids its guardians; Lord-Wardens of seventh level or higher are never subject to difficult or dangerous terrain, and never take environmental damage, such as that inflicted by the Elemental Plane of Fire. A Lord-Warden can even walk on surfaces that would not normally support his weight, such as water, acid, lava, or mud, without suffering penalties or taking damage. The Lord-Warden may, of course, choose to swim or utilize any other form of movement he wishes. Furthermore, the Lord-Warden enjoys the benefit of a constant Freedom of Movement spell (though it should be noted that, as an extraordinary ability, this benefit cannot be dispelled).
Incarcerate (Sp): A Lord-Warden of seventh level or higher may cast plane shift as a spell-like ability once per encounter as a swift action. They pay no material cost for this ability, but they may only transport themselves or the victim they touch to the prison cells of the Hollow Bastion, where the Keepers of the Cage then proceed to incarcerate the unfortunate scum.
Warden's Decree (Su): A Lord-Warden of eighth level or higher may issue forth a decree to hinder his enemies and make them easier to bring to justice. Once every three days, as a standard action, the Lord-Warden loudly decrees that a specific being surrender or face the consequences. Unless the being immediately (upon its first available action) throws down any weapons in hand and earnestly surrenders, it must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the Warden's character level + the Warden's charisma modifier) or gain twelve negative levels. Furthermore, its speed is reduced by half for all movement forms, and it suffers a -4 sacred penalty to armor class against the Warden's attacks. These penalties last a number of rounds equal to the Warden's class level, or until the being throws down its weapons and allows itself to be incarcerated within the Hollow Bastion, whatever comes first.
Defy Divinity (Ex): A Lord-Warden of tenth level or higher has access to the most potent protections of the Hollow Bastion, gaining the ability to defy divnity. The Lord-Warden ignores damage reduction and spell resistance of divine origin, and is always considered to be a deity of one divine rank above any and all divine beings present for the purposes of calculating initiative. Furthermore, the Lord-Warden is completely immune to any salient divine ability which does not allow a saving throw.
The Lord-Warden's protections extend even through time; a deity may not use their precognition to track the movements of a Lord-Warden of tenth level or higher, even if the Warden's actions directly relate to or affect their portfolios. Any attempts to travel back in time in order to murder the Warden before he has acquired this ability result in the deity (or other being) being transported to a random plane of existence and recieving 4d4 points of permanent wisdom drain as the threads of time snap and lash at their minds. This ability drain ignores any immunity the creature might otherwise have to ability drain, though it is, of course, useless against a being that does not have a wisdom score in the first place.
Lastly, a deity that would be immune to any of the Warden's abilities or their effects is instead entitled to a saving throw with a +6 sacred bonus. If the ability or effect in question does not have a saving throw, the deity in question may make a fortitude save (DC 10 + the Warden's character level + the Warden's charisma modifier) to negate the effects, and is still entitled to the bonus.
Sidebar: Why Extraordinary?
Mostly, to prevent the Wardens from being turned into bitches by a simple anitmagic field. Honestly, that crap is annoying, and it certainly detracts from the epic feel of an encounter when someone just drops one and proceeds to beat the living hell out of all the other characters. So certain key Warden abilities are Extraordinary, to make them a threat no matter what.
Playing a Lord-Warden of the Silent Cage
Lord-Wardens play a lot like members of whatever classes they were beforehand, with some handy little extras; don't fight fair and try to eke every drop you can out of your abilities. You know your character best, but you're also fighting enemies of literally deific power - not the time to joke around.
Combat: Lord-Wardens don't like dealing lethal damage, and try to incapacitate their enemies whenever possible to take them alive. Many of them take Improved Grapple so that they can clap their enemies in irons (see Resources, below) and several more invest in incapacitating spells to help do the same.
Advancement: Lord-Wardens typically continue advancing as members of their former base classes, though some of them grab prestige classes such as Kensai, Justicar, Assassin, et cetera. Whatever their choice, most Lord-Wardens specialize in a certain form of "target", and advance accordingly.
Resources: The Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage possess a serious armory of magical items, especially defensive items, which they loan out to their membership for specific missions and targets. Additionally, the Lord-Wardens keep several mage-smiths on retainer to forge or repair magical manacles. The Hollow Bastion contains several powerful artifacts which help to erect its defenses, in addition to those used to restrain deities, Illustrious Ones, and other highly dangerous prisoners. The current Lord of Chains is always found weilding a great chain known as Omenwrath; the chain was forged in time immemorial out of lead links, each one inscribed with a promise a man had died to keep. Rumor has it that the chain is, in fact, a captive god, bound by oath to serve the Lord-Wardens until the end of time.
Chainer's Shackles are ordinary-looking manacles forged with a combination of mechanical and magical prowess; when clapped onto a being, spikes shoot deep into their limbs, preventing the victim from escaping with the Escape Artist Skill, freedom of movement, and similar effects. Chainer's Shackles may be made by any being with Craft Magical Arms and Armor and a caster (or manifester) level of twelfth or higher. Market Price: 2,000 gold.
The Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage in the World
"The Wardens? Madmen all, I know that of which I speak. They would keep the universe in chains, and claim that this is progress. I once believed this to be true, but now? Now it is the Wardens who must be taken from this world."
--Lord Cassius Adeun, Illustrious One and one-time Lord of Chains.
The Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage are barely percieved at all; only the mightiest of beings have even heard of them, and most of those beings are afraid. The Cagers attack from ambush, immune to even deific perception, and drag their victims into the Hollow Bastion for their own inscrutable purposes. That said, deities of law are almost never the targets for the Lord-Wardens, and other lawful beings often see them as a positive force which removes chaos and disorder from the multiverse.
Daily Life: Hunt. Train. Capture. Incarcerate. The Lord-Wardens are all business, all the time. Their enemies circle them constantly, and they cannot afford to be lax or stop moving. An astounding number of things threaten the multiverse, the fabric of reality, and their lives on a nearly hourly basis - vigilance, it seems, is the price of justice.
Notables: Lord Gregory Bastion is not the leader of the Lord-Wardens, but he is one of their greatest champions. Bitter and battle-hardened, Lord Bastion has seen millennia of conflict and incarcerations, and is a fanatical supporter of the Wardens. Neophyte Wardens are given to him to train, when he is not busy on a mission. Currently, he is attempting to hunt down the rogue Wardens who travel the multiverse with the traitorous Lord Cassius.
The Lady Miralla Vain, on the other hand, is the Lady of Chains, and a more vicious and determined one the Lord-Wardens have not had in some time. Dedicated, ruthless, and cunning, the Lady Miralla's leadership has already devastated the population of powerful mortals, chaotic deities, demon princes, and even Illustrious Ones in the multiverse; she has personally had a hand in incarcerating two Illustrious Ones, which they successfully held for two centuries until slain by their own hands. The Lady Miralla Vain brooks no argument to her rule and no challenge to her leadership; obey, or be caged. There are no alternatives.
Organizations: The Lord-Wardens are their own organization; they gather together within the Hollow Bastion under the badge of the shattered castle, acting together to remove chaos and disorder from the multiverse. Together, they operate to preserve the fabric of existence, remove destabalizing influences, and expand their own power; the Lord-Wardens cooperate with all kinds of lawful beings to further the cause of order and to keep themselves well-armed and well-supplied. Leaving the order is not reccomended - the punishment for treachery is incarceration, which is very often far worse than death.
The most immediate reactions most NPCs have to the Lord-Wardens is fear, because most of those who encounter them are their targets. They lead into encounters with their Curse of Hounds, followed by cries of, "You are under arrest! Throw down your weapons!" Anger, resentment, and hostility are other common reactions; the Lord-Wardens are not a popular lot.
The Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage in the Game
The Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage play much like members of their previous class(es), with an emphasis on hitting their opposition hard and fast while they're weak. However, they do increase the sheer amount of grappling and other incapacitating manuevers used, and shift the game more towards hunting, tracking, and defending, which may not suit all games.
Adaptation: The Lord-Wardens may be somewhat hard to adapt; the easiest method, of course, is to give them more defining flavor and turn them into allies or antagonists to the PCs. The Hollow Bastion could make a great dungeon, and the Lady of Chains a villain to end all others, if done properly.
Encounters: Most encounters will, alas, be hostile, with the Lord-Wardens attacking dangerously epic player characters in an attempt to prevent them from destabalizing the fabric of existence. It is possible that the PCs are instead contracted by the Lord-Wardens to aid them in bringing in a dangerous enemy, and this is actually much more common than one might think.
The Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage and the Illustrious Ones
The Lord-Wardens of the Silent Cage hate and fear the Illustrious One phenomenon; these powerful beings strain the fabric of time, fate, destiny, and existence merely by existing, and the Cagers put their incarceration as a number one priority. When they hear of an Illustrious One, they begin tracking the nascent godling's movements, hoping to bring it in before its power grows out of control. Once the Illustrious One has achieved apotheosis, however, it is time to create a Coven of Chains and hope for the best. Those Wardens who succeed at incarcerating an Illustrious One are afforded much respect and rewards, as well as a very significant honor; a fragment of divinity, enough to raise them to Divine Rank 0. Only six living Wardens have ever recieved this honor, but all of them strive to eliminate these dangerous threats to existence.