Dragon pix

Xavier Loude

Human Paladin

Player Character

Picture of Xavier Loude

The sun momentarily broke through the heavy white clouds one brisk winter morning, in the skies over the Loudelowe Priory. This was the only home that young Xavier ever knew. He had never known his birth parents, and never even knew their names, for he was left a swaddled baby on the steps of the priory where he was raised as an orphan.

Of course, Xavier was brought up with a certain respect for the Church of Light. Growing up he was expected to share the burden of maintaining the priory, to tend to wounded in the hospital ward, and care for visiting travelers. Under the supervision of the clergy, he was expected to learn of the healing arts and to study the history of the faith. However, just like the rest of the orphans, Xavier always felt a sense of wanderlust. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming an adventurer, and often sat rapt listening to stories from traveling warriors, priests, and poets. He would even play-fight with the other boys, recreating famous battles with sticks and pretending to be a knight (at least until he would get caught by one of the matrons and get a good scolding). Like many of the other orphans there, Xavier was raised communally by a countless series of acolytes, resident priests, traveling pilgrims, and penitent wayfarers – but none ever felt quite like family. None save for Father Harold, the gray-haired man who built and oversaw the priory.

Father Harold was the patriarch and founder of the priory – and the closest thing to a father that Xavier had ever known. He had spent his life crusading for the Church of Light and gained considerable renown among kings and men alike after recovering the Sword of Light, an artifact with the power of life and death. It was after the Great War however, that Father Harold retired to the shores of the Loudelow River to found the priory where Xavier was raised.

It was said that the wielder of the Sword of Light truly held the power over life and death. Rumor has it that when in the right hands, one blow from this ancient sword could fell even the mightiest of evil creatures. But perhaps of even greater significance, the blade seemed to radiate an aura of healing to all who looked upon it.

So it was here that the Sword of Light was enshrined – within the reliquary of the central chapel. The chapel was hewn of pure white stone standing out like a shining beacon amongst the mortared brick and timber out-buildings of the priory. Inside housed ten small alcoves, dedicated to each of the Children of Light, with the relic held at the very center. There, encased in a gargantuan block of pure white marble, was the holy sword – blade almost completely embedded in the stone, nearly all the way to the hilt. In the words of Father Harold, “The sword had shed enough blood for his lifetime. It’s time to bury the blade and let only the healing force remain.” And so he had it anchored by a powerful spell, to remain locked in that solid chunk of stone. Penitents from across the land, as well as the sick, injured, and dying would make pilgrimages to the priory, just to spend a moment in the presence of the relic. The healing power of the sword became famed among the faithful in all of Aviron.

So it was here that the Sword of Light was enshrined – within the reliquary of the central chapel. The chapel was hewn of pure white stone standing out like a shining beacon amongst the mortared brick and timber out-buildings of the priory. Inside housed ten small alcoves, dedicated to each of the Children of Light, with the relic held at the very center. There, encased in a gargantuan block of pure white marble, was the holy sword – blade almost completely embedded in the stone, nearly all the way to the hilt. In the words of Father Harold, “The sword had shed enough blood for his lifetime. It’s time to bury the blade and let only the healing force remain.” And so he had it anchored by a powerful spell, to remain locked in that solid chunk of stone. Penitents from across the land, as well as the sick, injured, and dying would make pilgrimages to the priory, just to spend a moment in the presence of the relic. The healing power of the sword became famed among the faithful in all of Aviron.

It was on the eve of his eighteenth birthday that Xavier’s world was rocked.

He had the honor of taking the trip into town to collect the supplies for the week. The trip would not take more than four hours each way, but Xavier figured his adopted family would be using this time to prepare something special for him. Of course, birthdays were never much cause for celebration in the priory, but there was always a rite of passage for orphans turning 18, about to embark upon their own lives.

Many of the other orphans that Xavier knew decided upon a life of service to the Church of Light – usually electing to become clerics or priests. Even for children who wanted nothing more than to be free of the orphanage, the clergy of the priory would host a special meal and give them blessings before sending them on their way. Xavier knew that he wanted to test his mettle, to prove himself to the world, and become an adventurer. Especially after seeing countless wounded refugees and injured soldiers trickle in during the war with the Zot, he knew he wanted to be out there fighting. He had repaid his debt to the caretakers of the orphanage. He prepared meals, tended the sick, and scrubbed floors, so this was his chance to earn glory.

It was late in the afternoon by the time Xavier was returning home. The sun was sinking low in the west and he had just led his small cart over the last ridge into the valley that was home to the priory when he saw it. Thick plumes of black smoke rose from each building. Flames leaped from the hospital and orphanage. The great tree in the courtyard in front of the chapel was aflame like a giant candle. A wave of terror washed over Xavier.

He cut the cart free and jumped on the horse, urging it forward with all its speed. Approaching the priory, the roar of the fire was deafening – but then the realization cut through him like a knife – he heard no screams. There were dozens of women and children in the orphanage and support buildings, countless more wounded in the hospital ward, clergy, laymen, traveling pilgrims – yet he heard nobody crying out. Closing in, he could see the flames so intensely engulfing the buildings that there would be no way anyone could survive inside.

Instinctively he made a dash between the flames and into the courtyard. Timbers collapsed to his right as he could hear the roof collapse over the hospital. Still no screams. Then he heard it – a deafening crack came from the chapel, followed by a raspy cry of “No!” The voice was none other than Father Harold – unmistakably gruff, though no doubt in desperation.

Xavier’s heart pounded. In a surge of adrenaline, he kicked at the door of the priory. What was once a solid mass of sturdy oak crumpled feebly from the damage of the flames. He dove through the entryway, driven by some unseen force, and hurdled inside. Each of the ten alcoves was a bonfire, and the flames were spreading to the timbers of the ceiling. There on the floor right in front of Xavier, lie Father Harold. He was coughing, terribly burnt, and wearing his armor which was now badly blackened with soot. He weakly raised his arm and pointed up towards the reliquary of gleaming white marble.

Xavier looked up. Standing between the father and the marble altar was a masked figure. The mysterious man was standing literally in the fire, as pews burned all around him. He was wearing a mask that appeared to be carefully carved out of pure black stone, etched with golden glowing runes, and was wearing flowing crimson robe which somehow seemed impervious to the fires all around. In his hands was the sword. The masked man looked up and glared for a moment at Xavier. Then, with a snap of his fingers, the villain vanished, with nothing but a faint trace of sulfur in the air. Xavier stood there dumbfounded for a moment. Behind the spot where the man was standing, he could clearly see that the enormous marble altar of the reliquary had been cracked all the way down the center, and lay split in two large jagged chunks.

He snapped back into the present. Father Harold was still coughing feebly, and Xavier began to drag him out of the burning building. Not a moment after he had ushered him to the relatively safe courtyard, did the entire roof of the chapel collapse as burning timbers fell from the ceiling.

As what was left of Father Harold’s body lay there smoking, Xavier clutched him supporting his head. The once proud knight was now a burned husk, blackened from head to foot; the dying knight coughed weakly. Then Xavier noticed it. How he hadn’t seen it before shocked him momentarily, but now it shone out clearly: the holy symbol emblazoned on Father Harold’s breastplate was still gleaming white. It was as if the flames never touched the ten-pointed sun, still a brilliantly bright pattern shining as if a ray of sunshine reached down upon it. The sight of the holy symbol thusly contrasted against the blackened armor struck deep in Xavier’s heart, and he welled up with tears. For a moment, that same gleaming light shone in the paladin’s eyes, and for an instant he seemed at peace. Then his eyes closed.

By the time the fires died down, there was not one living being in sight. Xavier was alone in the valley by the Loudelow River surrounded by the smoldering ruins of the only home he had ever known. The next morning he buried the body of Father Harold. There were not even remains of the countless other people in the priory left after the fire; they had all been reduced to ash and cinder.

By the time the fires died down, there was not one living being in sight. Xavier was alone in the valley by the Loudelow River surrounded by the smoldering ruins of the only home he had ever known. The next morning he buried the body of Father Harold. There were not even remains of the countless other people in the priory left after the fire; they had all been reduced to ash and cinder.

And so he set off. He rounded up the horse, rode to the village and sold the cart, and made straight for the nearest Church of Light temple. Driven by a desire to find the masked man, uncover his motivations and conspirators, and deliver him to justice, Xavier embarked on this new path. Further, he swore to see Father Harold and the other innocents avenged in the eyes of the Gods of Light. Last but not least, he swore to recover the Sword of Light.

Proposed Great Sword (Sword of Light)

  1. Keen
  2. Holy
  3. Shock
  4. Shock becomes Shocking Burst
  5. Regeneration I
  6. Regeneration I gains 30’ radius to ALL living creatures

Potential Plot Hooks

Legacy Info

I included a framework for the Legacy Item (The Sword of Light) in the character background, and talked about it a bit in the background itself.

 

For the most part, I was intentionally vague on its history - so you can more easily weave it into the campaign without derailing everyone.

FOR EXAMPLE: if our main story arc involves stopping a powerful necromancer's diabolic plan to block out the sun, then perhaps the sword was used a millenium ago to kill a demon of darkness, and it would be the only tool for the job in stopping the necromancer now.

 

I know it's cool and all to have various "player-driven side quests," but at least at this point we need a major plot driving storyline. I would much prefer to recover my legacy item as one small step in a much more grand campaign - instead of being a personal errand that interrupts the rest of us from saving the world.