Outside the Summer Empire, Lady Melancholy is probably the most powerful human in the known world (the cleric who rules Orifai may be a match, and in certain ways any actual ruler of a kingdom is more powerful thanks to their extended resources). The following exercise explores what that looks like, so that I can keep other high-level NPCs at or below.
Lady Melancholy is an illusionist-14, and a tiny elfin woman of 137 years.
She has a familiar (Joy, giant hawk) with Beast Friendship, who maintains a small battalion of leveled giant hawk henches, armed with plate barding and silvered claws—and Joy herself is armed with enchanted versions of same. While the giant hawks are not as powerful as Melancholy’s fire hawks, they are more subtle (they don’t glow, for starters) and don’t require a rider. Most of her other henches rule the various duchies of Principality One for her.
Melancholy achieved illusionist-14 during the reign of Queen Laura II (King Friederich II’s father’s formidable aunt), working her way up from Marquess (at 9th level) to Lady of a Principality, to the Lady of Principality One (and 14th level) by the time the Queen died. Upon the Queen’s death, the primogen nephew feared Lady Melancholy too much to directly oppose her continued rule of the Principality, and after his death, both King Adalbert and King Friederich II have treated her continued position in their courts as a matter of pride.
She has ruled the Principality for 103 years, and many expect her to rule for another century as well.
STR 4, DEX 10, CON 18, INT 14, WIS 9, CHA 17.
Proficiencies (3C, 7G +4G from age): Art (Illusion) x3, Collegiate Wizardry, Diplomacy, Elven Bloodline, Familiar, Leadership, Magical Engineering, Military Strategy, Profession (Judge) x3, and Theology. Familiar Proficiencies: Animal Husbandry x3, Animal Training (Hawks), Beast Friendship, Endurance, Mapping, Military Strategy x3, Navigation, Sensing Power, Soothsaying, and Tracking.
Items of Power. Ring of Wishes (2), Bracers of Armor (AC 4) + Ring of Protection (+2), Brazier of Commanding Fire Elementals, Crystal Ball w/ESP, Eyes of the Eagle, and Dagger +1. Too many scrolls and potions to list. She also possesses a platinum circlet in which she has placed the ritual spells limited wish (×3), prismatic sphere (×1), and prismatic spray (×2). And a number of magic items she lends to her military.
Sanctum. Melancholy’s sanctum is worth several million gold, and is ridiculously well-furnished at this point. Every decade or so, she adds a new tower, wall, wing, courtyard, or similar; and numerous areas of the fortress are enchanted, permanently dweomered, coated in illusions, connected to the illusory shadow plane, and the like. Her magical library, workship, and laboratory are worth approximately a quarter-million gold each, and she has bought or constructed numerous constructs, magic items, and unique treasures. She avoids artifacts whenever possible, however, and refuses to construct or own an active dungeon. She has a fairly constant stream of apprentices, whom she “graduates” when they achieve sixth level to explore further on their own, and the Veiled Guild (illusionists) has their headquarters with its own ridiculously high-quality library and workshops within the walls of her sanctum. The sanctum employs nearly 500 people, and combined with those people living around the sanctum, qualifies as a Class V village.
In addition to the garrison she maintains for the safety of her lands (much of which is provided by the duchies), Melancholy has one hench who is not a duke or duchess:
Sir Captain Cait ó Ainníleas of Goblin March
Lawful Fighter-8; STR 7 (18 with gauntlets), DEX 17, CON 10, INT 16, WIS 7, CHA 13. HP 42, AC 7. Proficiencies (+1G age) Command, Animal Training x2 (Hawks, Fire Hawks), Fighting Style (missile weapons), Leadership, Manual of Arms ×2, Military Strategy ×3, Riding (Fire Hawk), Weapon Focus (bows & crossbows). Gauntlets of Ogre Power + Girdle of Giant Strength, “Giant” Composite Bow +2 (attack throw 5, +5 to hit, 2d6+5, 4d6+5 on natural 20), Two-Handed Sword +1 (attack throw 5, +4 to hit, 2d10+4), Plate +1.
Sir Cait commands 100 fire-hawk-mounted cataphract cavalry (trained by Cait), five henches (cleric/Brigit 7, fighter 6, aristocrat 5, mage 5, and mage 5), ten sergeants (fighters of level 1–3), five exotic animal trainers (trained by Cait), armorer journeymen and apprentices for the cleric hench (who is the primary armorer), and extended staff to maintain the fire hawk nursery, quarters, and so on. Melancholy pays 25,000 gold per month to cover the expense.
The fire hawks are the crossbred creation of Melancholy’s, although much of the thought that went into them originated with Sir Cait.
Movement: 120′ (40′) and fly 450′ (150′).
Armor Class: 7.
Hit Dice: 8**.
Attacks: 2 (talons).
Damage: 2d4/2d4 (half of this is fire-based damage; add +1d4 fire when hitting cold-based creatures).
Treasure Type: None.
Dive Attack: A giant hawk can make a dive attack with its talons, dealing double damage. If a giant hawk hits a creature smaller than itself with both its talons, the giant hawk grabs the creature struck unless it makes a saving throw versus Paralysis. Grabbed creatures of human size or less may be carried off. Fire hawks can carry 30 stone without encumbrance, or up to 60 stone at half movement.
Immunities: Non-magical weapons.
Melancholy cross-bred giant hawks with fire elementals, and the result is an immense, glowing bird, whose talons glow red and whose eyes burn. They breed true only with themselves, and Melancholy expended significant resources producing enough of them to form a viable population. Their eggs are handled by special caretakers, and their riders are carefully trained.
Taming a fire hawk requires raising them from birth—adult fire hawks cannot be tamed—and takes one year (3,000 gold for 1–6 eggs). Once tamed, they can be taught tricks at a cost of 180 gold per trick (1d4 weeks, cost covers 1–6 fire hawks). Only a rare few have the exact match of temperament and talent to become trained for combat—combat training costs 7,000 gold per fire hawk and takes two years. Fire hawks usually live for 30 years, of which roughly 20 years is useful in combat. A fire hawk costs 50 gold per month in livestock consumed.
Two of Melancholy’s constructs, called obelisk daughters, are also noteworthy. Designing the obelisk daughters cost 134,000 gold and 22 weeks (she failed the first time: research 16+, with a +5 from INT, magical engineering, and library). Enchanting both constructs, she used up a pair of wishes to ensure success, with a final cost of 67,000 gold and 11 weeks each … and when they were done, destroyed the formulary as a gift to Mòr (“art should be unique”).
Obelisk Daughters (Òra and Mòira)
Movement: 120′ (40′), fly 300′ (100′).
Armor Class: 8.
Hit Dice: 16*******.
Attacks: 4 (4 fists).
Treasure Type: Special (two black opals, fine clothing and wig).
Immunities: Disease, poison, gases; charm, sleep, fear, hold, paralysis, and polymorph effects; and fire. Obelisk daughters can also see invisible.
Regeneration: Obelisk daughters regenerate 3 hit points per round. They cannot regenerate damage dealt by acid attacks or weapons coated in powdered gem stones (minimum 500 gold worth of gems).
Immense Strength: Each obelisk daughter is as strong as a hill giant (attacks already include this). This allows the daughter to throw rocks up to 200 ft. for 3d6 damage, and grants a +16 bonus to force open doors. They can carry up to 25 stone without being encumbered. They can wield one-handed melee weapons, dealing doubled dice of damage (usually 2d4 or 2d6), but usually don’t.
The now long-dead sculptor Mòr ó Ainníleas, working from memories of a near-death experience, sculpted black marble into two human-sized, nude “angels,” each with four arms, feathered wings, and black opal eyes. Originally designed to replace a portion of a slender (non-weight-bearing) pillar, each has a flat-topped head.
However, when he presented them to his patroness Melancholy, she instead enchanted them as constructs. Her personal tailor dresses them in fine silks, jewelry, and wigs to match the seasons, and it is rare that she is not accompanied by at least one of them.