Wednesday 28 May 2014

Alexei Vassiliv

I think it’s about time to introduce you all a bit more closely to Alexei Vassiliv, the character played by my Husbit in our Pathfinder campaign. Some of this is stuff I’ve worked out out of character (ie, this includes stuff Svetlana doesn’t know) and is missing some details: as Husbit says “There are plenty of other things, but they are very private at the moment ;)

Alexei was a street urchin from the city of Restov in Brevoy (this is the nearest city to where Svetlana grew up). His twin brother, Ivan, was stillborn but his spirit grew up with Alexei nonetheless, giving Alexei certain access to the ethereal plane and magic from there.

To earn a living, Ivan would choose a house and haunt it. Alexei would then come in some time later to ‘exorcise’ the house, leaving with his brother and taking minimal recompense for this, just enough to live on for a while. This is, in fact, how he first met Svetlana – the pub in her home town had become haunted and he agreed to deal with this. Svetlana was dubious, but he brought with him the notice that led to Svetlana’s adventures in the Stolen Lands and he didn’t ask for much so she stayed quiet.

Really, I should have found the video for the music from 'The Frighteners', but 'Ghostbusters' is possibly Husbit's favourite film, so this works too.

Rasputin, 'The Mad Monk'
Alexei is mid-20’s. The legend of Rasputin has largely influenced his development and in appearance Alexei does look a lot like Rasputin – initially dressing in dishevelled robes, with a straggly beard complimented by wild hair and wild eyes. However, on promotion to baronhood, their advisor* convinced him to wear something a little smarter and he now dresses more in keeping with his station and his beard is well-kept, about 6 inches in length. He is an oracle and – as is traditional for oracles – he is now blind and sometimes wears a bandage over his eyes. He can see perfectly, it’s just he doesn’t use his eyes (this extends to being able to see as if well-lit even in absolute or magical darkness).
Like the Rasputin of legend, Alexei would survive a poisoning. However, he would do this by not eating or drinking the poisoned food: as well as being an oracle, he is a mythic Hierophant and has taken the ‘Sustained by Faith’ ability that means he doesn’t need to eat, drink, sleep, or even breathe. Husbit has taken this further with Alexei, and stated that he is also chaste: even his sexual appetites are sated by faith (which did lead to an orgy that time we were in Absalom and the place locked down). This is not to say he doesn’t regularly lead on women, particularly noble women; with his very high charisma score, even their husbands and closest friends don’t object to the attention he showers on them (this is going to backfire badly at some point, when the King’s sister realises Alexei isn’t actually interested in her: see below).

Alexei is not a combat character – Svetlana has learned to pick up a rapier and hurt someone when she needs to, but Alexei sticks with hiding at the back using ‘Faith’s Reach’ (another mythic ability) to deliver healing spells to the rest of us at range. He also has the leadership feat, giving him a bodyguard by the name of Evander – a fighter specialising in trip attacks. If people do look like they’re going to actually try and hurt him, he relies on his huge intimidation score, enhanced with his previously mentioned high charisma and his ability to cloak himself in shadows. This usually leaves people running for their lives but if it doesn’t he has a couple more tricks up his sleeve – the ability to shape-shift into a bird or beast (Beast Shape 1 and 3 as spell-likes due to his oracle mystery, dark tapestry, which has been thematically altered to ghostliness rather than Cthulu-esque void aliens) and, if all else fails, the dust form spell to escape.

Every time Alexei goes all shadowy and scary, this plays in my head!

In addition to Evander, his leadership feat has given him numerous followers, verging on worshippers. As a further part of his Hierophant mythic path, he has taken ‘Divine Font’, which enables him to grant spells to his followers as a god would its clerics. The domains he grants are life (healing) and death.

Early in the game, Alexei (officially True Neutral) would periodically do actions of incredibly ickiness – for instance, torturing a guy by ripping his tongue out and healing it back in back to front – that would more accurately fit a Chaotic Evil character. The general opinion was that sometimes Ivan would have more control than others**. Alexei has become (again, from the mythic rule set) ‘Beyond Morality’ which means he doesn’t have an alignment at all. Alignment annoys me because it’s subjective – Husbit and I have very conflicting, almost opposite, views of what ‘chaotic’ means, for instance – but this is pretty cool. It means that any effect that changes depending on the alignment of the target, he will always get the best result of that effect. It also means he can be conflicting whilst remaining in character – when he holds Court in the Dawnlands, it also means that at least another of the nobles (ie, Chester, Svetlana, Kieran) or at least some of their advisors needs to be there to make sure he doesn’t order something too crazy.
Despite being an oracle, Alexei has no divination abilities; his powers instead focus on healing and necromancy (life and death). He also has most of the item creation feats – whilst Svetlana believes the recently discovered forge is sealed away safely where no one can get to it, she will probably soon realise that Alexei has been using it nonetheless. What she hasn’t yet discovered is that he has soul gems in his possession: he found some on the way to Pitax and showed them to Anna Hencheck when the rest of the party were distracted (understanding that these were not an item the others would be pleased he had) – she gave him a book to help him understand the gems and it is from this book that a lot of Alexei’s wibble comes (for instance, that whole thing in Absalom in the temple of Rovagug with the dead priests: as best I understand it OC, Alexei meets a guy inside the book and it was this guy who killed the priests just by touching them).

When Svetlana and Noleski got engaged, Alexei chatted up Noleski’s sister Natalya. It is not entirely clear whether he did this because he recognised that she would be frustrated with the match and that a frustrated Natalya could be dangerous, or just because he could: Alexei’s motives are not always clear. Whilst Svetlana’s happy to travel with Alexei, she doesn’t necessarily want him as a brother-in-law…

Natalya is pretty smitten. Alexei’s chastity meant the liaison was not sexual. Instead, he painted her. Painting is not something he has done before but he did an incredibly good job (natural 20 + use of mythic chips) and the painting hangs in the portrait gallery. Her interest in Alexei may cause problems if he accidentally reveals his lack of actual interest before the Crusade: they can probably get away with it for at least the length of time they’re away otherwise, and it should be easier to work around her (and, presumably, her former partner-in-crime to whom we assume she would return, Lord Restocovic) if we’re not half a world away fighting demons.

* the very helpful Gregor, without whom many more diplomatic incidents would no doubt have occurred. I can picture him running around beside Svetlana, desperately repairing the damage she’s done by accidentally greeting the wrong person first before practically teleporting to Alexei to correct something he’s said - and back again to stop Svetlana getting whomever she is currently chatting to drunk…

** Husbit would like it pointed out that Alexei also performs unexpectedly good deeds too. However, I can’t think of any examples, either that Svetlana has seen or that I’ve spotted out of character…

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