The Guardians of Gloom and Despair
The Guardians of Gloom and Despair are the elite warriors of the kaorti ubercyst. When the cyst engages in a battle, they lead the charge. Normally a member of this order patrols the nearby area on a sky bleeder at any given time, and these warriors quell any internal disturbances within the cyst. They also recruit new warriors from the ranks of the common kaorti and then train them to be effective combatants. Currently, a total of seven Guardians of Gloom and Despair exist, and the one detailed below is representative of them as a group.
Before K'tral'sk's rise to power, the seven fighters that now serve as guardians were hand-picked by their current leader. The former leaders took a more aggressive approach against the outside world, which led to higher risks, more exposure, and numerous preventable kaorti deaths. The Guardians of Gloom and Despair were feared warriors under the old power structure, and they ultimately betrayed their former masters. At the behest of K'tral'sk, they waited until the ruling faction was meeting in private, then silently entered the room and quickly put them to the sword. When K'tral'sk assumed power, they became his most staunch supporters. K'tral'sk's ability to remain in power is partially due to the unwavering support of the Guardians of Gloom and Despair, as well as accurate information about those who are plotting against him, and his cautious and methodical approach to accomplishing their ultimate goals. The Guardians of Gloom and Despair are occasionally called on to dispose of kaorti who have the audacity to plot against K'tral'sk, or those who have displeased him in some way.
When the cyst discovers a monster threatening the peace of the forest, it is normally the Guardians of Gloom and Despair that are sent to subdue it and bring it back. Assuming that subdual is possible, the creature is brought to the cyst where it is transformed into a thrall. Although they are capable combatants, they are also knowledgeable about many of the creatures that inhabit the world, and if their target possesses spells or spell-like abilities, they are not above calling on one of the ranking sorcerers to aid them in their duty. Although few kaorti sorcerers wish to aid in these hunting expeditions, almost none of them are brave enough to refuse for fear that K'tral'sk's favor will turn against them.
When they engage in battle, the Guardians of Gloom and Despair normally set up ambushes along the roadways. When their target is in range, they begin by firing their crossbows in rapid succession at the creature that looks capable of magic or otherwise looks powerful. They do this for no longer than 2 rounds, and then engage their targets in melee combat, using their magic ribbon longswords of wounding to great effect. They normally pick battles that are not challenging; however, if the battle begins turning against them, they beat a hasty retreat. They are not interested in fighting a losing battle and they never fight to the death unless they are protecting K'tral'sk or the cyst from destruction.
Guardians of Gloom and Despair: Male and female kaorti Fighter 23; CR 24; Medium outsider (extraplanar, evil); HD 2d8+4 plus 23d10+46; hp 185; Init +7; Spd 40 ft.; AC 21, touch 11, flat-footed 20; Base Atk +22; Grp +25; Atk +26 melee (1d6+4, bite) or +33 melee (1d8+11/17-20/x4, +7 ribbon longsword) or +29 ranged (1d10+3/19-20, +3 heavy crossbow); Full Atk +26 melee (1d6+4, bite) or +33/+28/+23/+18 melee (1d8+11/17-20/x4, +7 ribbon longsword) or +29 ranged (1d10+3/19-20, +3 heavy crossbow); SA spell-like abilities, vile transformation; SQ darkvision 60 ft., immunities (poison), material vulnerability, outsider traits; AL NE; SV Fort +20, Ref +16, Will +14; Str 16, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 14.
Skills and Feats: Appraise +4, Climb +12, Concentration +7, Craft (any) +7, Craft (any) +7, Handle Animal +17, Heal +21, Intimidate +17, Jump +2, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Knowledge (the planes) +12, Ride +18, Spellcraft +9, Spot +6, Survival +7, Use Magic Device +8; Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (ribbon dagger), Exotic Weapon Proficiency (ribbon longsword), Great Cleave, Great Fortitude, Improved Critical (longsword), Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike , Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Quick Draw , Rapid Reload, Shot On the Run, Spring Attack, Weapon Finesse.
Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day -- alter self, color spray (DC 13), feather fall (DC 13), ray of enfeeblement, reduce person (DC 13), spider climb. Caster level 2nd.
Vile Transformation (Su): A guardian can infuse any living creature with otherworldly essence from the Far Realm, permanently transforming the target into a mockery of its previous form. This process takes 8 hours, during which time the guardian's jaws must be locked onto the victim, who must be either willing or helpless for the duration. After 8 hours, the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC 13). Failure indicates that the victim transforms into a kaorti (if the victim was humanoid), or into a kaorti thrall. If the victim succeeds at the save, the guardian can attempt the transformation again; each additional attempt to transform a victim increases the save DC by +1. (See the Fiend Folio for more on transformed creatures.)
Material Vulnerability (Ex): A guardian must make a Fortitude save each hour (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or take 1d6 points of nonlethal damage and become fatigued. The fatigued condition persists until the kaorti recovers all the nonlethal damage it took from its exposure to the Material Plane. If rendered unconscious through the accumulation of nonlethal damage (from this ability or from any other source), the Material Plane environs begin to deal normal damage at the same rate (Fort save negates; save DC continues to increase per check as stated above). If the guardian wears his resin suit or is inside his cyst, he is protected from the effects of the Material Plane.
Outsider Traits: A guardian has darkvision 60 ft. and cannot be raised or resurrected (though a wish or miracle spell can restore life).
Possessions:+7 ribbon longsword of wounding, +3 heavy crossbow with 20 bolts, resin full plate suit, boots of striding and springing, 5 potions of cure serious wounds.
Bringing the Parts Together
As mentioned in part 1, the PCs could travel very close to a spot that the guardians are at. The guardians already sent one of their number to retrieve their leader. They could simply be awaiting a decision on what to do with a captive away from the cyst, for instance.
Coming in Part 3 of the Ubercyst
Find out more about the mind flayer thrall.
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