Sunday, July 15, 2018

API: The Tenebrous Monks

The Art of Murder: How to Profit and Getting Away with It

The Tenebrous Monks style themselves as cult or a religious order, but in reality, they are more accurately classed as a criminal organization.  They were founded by a legendary martial artist who sought to perfect himself, morally and spiritually.  But as the years passed and the founder died, the order became corrupted as the disciples proved less virtuous than the founder.  They sought to improve themselves, not for pure reasons, but to gain power over the world.

These were the Tenebrous Monks.  They are murderers and assassins for hire, though they do other work as well.  They do work as bodyguards and consult on security measures, but assassination is easily their biggest business.  Tenebrous Monks are ruthless, efficient and effective.  Their prices vary depending on the target. 

Also, a note, if you wish to hire them.  The Tenebrous Monks is that they are not subtle.  They know lots of ways to kill people, but none of them invisible.  They strangle, stab, garotte and shoot.  They do not poison or blow people up.

Tenebrous Monks will not assassinate high-ranking political figures, Agents of the Company, or powerful magical beings such as elder Vampires or Wizards.  They could kill such people, but the odds of getting away with it are very low. 

The Monks are interested in profit, not in suicide missions.  They don't throw away their lives lightly.

To preserve secrecy, the Monks operate in fire-teams of 4-10 members, with one member being the leader and one being the connection to another Cell.  The one who has connection with another cell will meet up with the other cell's liaison, and thus most Monks don't know the identities of the other Monks.  This system means that cells can communicate and coordinate "horizontally", without the authorization of superiors.  The hierarchy also extends upward however, through the same process. However, due to the burden of leadership, certain members of the leadership are widely known to almost all Monks.  And certain members of the order are very famous among certain circles, though most of their colleagues are not.   The true leader of the Tenebrous Monks is not known, he is a shadowy figure known as 'The Grandmaster'.  Some speculate that the Grandmaster is just a myth, and the public face of the leadership cabal are the real rulers, and they use rumors of the Grandmaster to ensure loyalty.  Other Monks and members of the criminal under-class swear up and down that the Grandmaster is real, and the most dangerous man in the world.

When addressing each other, assuming the same rank, Monks usually use codenames when in public, or call each other 'Brother' or 'Sister'.  Higher ranked Monks are called Older Brothers or Older Sisters have Mr. or Mrs. appended to the front of their codename or their position.  Ex: "Mr. Brother," or "Mr. August." are both acceptable ways to address a superior.
Codenames are usually fixed, and are treated as real names by the members of the group.  When addressing a Master, they are always referred to as either "Lord Master" or have Lord appended to their codename.
If a Tenebrous Monk meets the Grandmaster, they are supposed to address him as "Your Greatness".  This is taught to all Tenebrous Monks, even though almost all of them have never meet the Grandmaster, or even seen him.

Tenebrous Monk
HD 2  AC 15  Martial Arts(+3) 1d8 or Weapon
Mor 10    Saves 10+

Assassination: When they attack and catch someone by surprise, Tenebrous Monks do an additional +1d6 damage.

Sneaky: Tenebrous Monks are very good at hiding.  They get +4 to all stealth rolls, unless something is inteferring with them.

- Use the element of surprise
- Separate targets and pick them off one by one
- Never fight fair

Weapons of the Tenebrous Monks:
- Suppressed Pistol, 2d6, Ranged, hard to detect when fired in a noisy environment
- Sniper Rifle, 2d8, Ranged, can hit a target from up to a mile away, provided they move slow and there is nothing in the way.  Though this is a bit of an extreme example, and the most common range to use this weapon from is out of pistol range.  The Colt .45 has a maximum effective range of about 150 feet, but I'm just going to round and say past 100' you might as well blow raspberries, as hitting anything from that far away with a pistol would be a feat worth celebrating.
- Garrotte, 1d6 Con damage a round, can maintain as a full action, anyone being strangled must successfully save to do anything but choke quietly, silent.  This Con damage is undone as soon as the person stops being strangled, or dies.  You pass out if the Con damage equals or exceeds your Con score.
- Short Sword, 1d6+2, Melee.  Only use when the target has no ranged weapons and no chance of beating them in melee combat.  Weapon of last resort.

They fight unfairly.  They use disguises and stealth to get close to targets, then kill them in the most brutal and efficient ways possible.  If you use a knife, they will shoot you with a gun.  If you have a gun, they will shoot you from a hundred yards, or attack you in the pitch black with a poisoned kukri knife.  They will say anything and do anything to survive and accomplish their mission.  Unless you are paying them, they are completely unreliable.  However, if you are paying them, they are professional and efficient.  They never betray a client, and almost always (80%) get their man.

They give no quarter and take none.

However, the Tenebrous Monks are not merely content with killing for coin and piling up riches.  They have bigger goals than merely purchasing finer guns to pursue more difficult assassinations.  Their goals are far bigger.  The plan is to make themselves kings, and rule over the World, with the Grandmaster as King of Kings.  They will do this by ascending.

The Ritual of Ascension

The Ritual of Ascension is a difficult and arduous process.  It involves months, if not years of meditation, prayer, and religious rites.  Years of haggling with oneself, making oaths, purifying oneself, backsliding and confessing, then trying and starting all over again.  However, the goal is not to purify oneself of sin, as they are hired killers, but to purify oneself of weakness.  The Monks believe that the main fault of Humanity is their indecision, in their inability to make decisions and dedicate themselves to their purpose.  Thought leads directly from action, so disorder in the mind leads to an imperfection in action.  To order your thoughts, to train your mind to direct itself solely toward a single purpose, that would lead to perfection of the body.

So while the lesser members of the Tenebrous order take up contracts and bounties in search of profit, mop floors and guard strongholds or guard higher members as they go about the business of the Tenebrous Order, some pursue the Ritual of Ascension.  And for many years, these Monks do little but train, meditate and endlessly examine their own actions.  Then, as they near the end of the Ritual, they slip into a deep meditative trance, from which it is nearly impossible to awaken them.  As their bodies sit in solitude, they slip into the lagoons of the subconscious, to confront their Shadow and finally reach their highest self.  They then begin to secrete a black ooze.  The amount of ooze grows and grows, eventually covering their whole body.  Then it begins to animate.  The weakness, the animal mind, is being forced out of the Monk, and here it forms on their body, sticking to them like glue.  Then the eyes form, bubbling up out of the black.  Then, it begins to move. Thus is born a Zen Beast.

Zen Beast
HD 5  AC 13  Finger Claws(+2) 1d6/1d6 or Bite 1d10+3
Mor 11    Saves 11+

Linked Body: Any effect that effects the Zen Beast also affects the Ascending One within its body.  If it dies, so does the one within it.

- Kill anything around you
- Attack whatever is loudest, brightest, or attacking you
- Cause mayhem with no purpose

Zen Beasts have wide, circular mouths like food processors.  Their fingers end in bony blades like cutlery.  Their skin is covered in slick, black flesh and oily, chitinous armor.  The Zen Beast is the mad, illogical ramblings of a rejected animal soul.  It rampages around, killing animals, people, and randomly causing problems until it gets bored, and it gets bored very easily.  Then it wanders off.  It is easily distracted by food, prey, shiny objects loud noises, and blood.  Especially fresh blood from a living animal.  It only travels at night, and always disappears before dawn.  Finding it during the day is virtually impossible.

But the Zen Beast is not just a monster and the last gasp of the animal, but a chrysalis.  For after a time, the Zen Beast will die, and when the Ascending One finishes their journey, they will emerge from within, fully perfected, finally having lost their Humanity.  However, this final molting process takes time.  Until that time, the Tenebrous Monks do their best to ensure its safety.  Teams of Hunter-Killer Monks pursue it, not to destroy it, but to protect it until the appointed time.  They stalk it in the night, killing all witnesses and discouraging those who would try and destroy the Zen Beast.

Then, in time, if all goes well, the Zen Beast dies, vanishing in a blast of white light, and the Ascended One will emerge from the remains of its oily corpse.

The Ascended One

Ascended One
HD 8  AC 17  Martial Arts(+5) 1d12 or Weapon(+5) normal damage+2
Mor 9    Saves 6+

Assassination: When It attacks and catches someone by surprise, The Ascended One does an additional +1d6 damage. 

Sneaky: The Ascended One is very good at hiding.  It gets +4 to all stealth rolls, unless something is interfering with them.

I have rejected Humanity: The Ascended One has surpassed human limitations.  It can go 4 weeks without food, two weeks without water, and five minutes without air and suffer no penalty.  It does not get tired and does not feel pain unless it wants too. It can also totally control its body and is immune to almost all conventional diseases or poisons.  It does not age.

Superior Strength: The Ascended One can break the safety limiter on its muscles and throw a punch at full power.  This does 1d20 damage instead of 1d12, and can lift cars, bend steel bars, and do ludicrous things.  However, this causes the Ascended One to take 1d3 damage automatically.

Impossible Speed: The Ascended One can move faster than you can think.  Unless surprised, they always count as rolling a '17' on Initiative rolls.

- Be ruthless
- Pick off the weakest first
- Sacrifice your allies if necessary
- Flee if you are going to die    

The Ascending One needs time to finish the process.  Do not spring this sort of enemy on your players without warning.  This is the type of thing that could very quickly end with a TPK.  Preferably, the players should be trying to stop the Ascending One from finishing.  Then, if they fail, they get to meet the end result of their failure.

Ascended Ones are Tenebrous Monks who have finally reached the final stage of their black faith.  They are super-intelligent, ruthless, and utterly evil.  They all have complex philosophies and personalities, and each one is virtually unstoppable in single combat.  Once they reach this final stage, Ascended Ones immediately set about world-changing goals, and without immediate and swift resistance, they will likely succeed.  They are super villains, but with no dramatic flair.  They take the swiftest, most effective action in any situation.  They coup de grae fallen players, take hostages, betray their allies, and do whatever it takes to survive and win.  They care nothing for honor, morality, or anyone else, their only thoughts are to win and achieve victory.  

The Ascended Ones are the ends and purpose of the Tenebrous Order.  To create these ultimate beings is the entire point, as previous Ascended Ones have changed history in the favor of the Order, killing Kings, conquered worlds, and snatched the fire of victory from the jaws of Death.  This would ordinarily be a good thing, a testament to the power and will of Humanity to achieve anything.  However, since the only people who know the method of creating Ascended Ones are a ruthless criminal order whose primary goals are world domination through criminality and murder-for-hire, this is much less of a positive.

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