One of the most wicked generals Moonsea has seen commands a 5,000 strong army charged with protecting Melvaunt, a filthy soot-choked home with a population of 33,000. The commander is known as the Lord of Keys, which is a lifetime position appointed by the Melvaunt Council of Lords. The current Lord of Keys is Halmuth Bruil, a human who has dedicated his professional life to war and his personal life to cruelty.
Halmuth Bruil was born thirty-five winters ago into the noble family Bruil. Bruil is one of three powerful noble families in Melvaunt, the others being Leiyraghon and Nather. The three families have always kept themselves busy with their power struggles over control over the city (through attempting control of the Council of Lords), but this aspect of noble life held no interest for Halmuth. Even though at nine years old he understood the link between his family's power and his own personal gain, he wanted no part of it, believing such pursuits were unbecoming and dishonorable.
The irony of that worldview would not be realized until many years later.
Indeed, on his 12th birthday, a brazen attack by mercenaries upon the Bruil home killed, among others, several members of the only childhood friendship group he ever had -- the help staff. No Bruil ever found out for certain who sent the mercenaries, but many speculated that it was a Leiyraghon effort.
Halmuth pledged vengeance and pressed to be instructed in the martial arts beginning that very day. Given the sentiment at the moment, there's little wonder why his parents agreed to send him at so young an age to the academy where other Bruils had trained.
The lad threw himself into his training. He became so focused that it was extremely difficult for him to cultivate friendships -- a social skill he would never develop and which would make his life worse as an adult. He turned his frustrations over his murdered friends, social ostracism, and teenaged angst into a new Halmuth Bruil, one that would have a reputation as a warrior so fierce that no other noble family would dare attack his family ever again.
His prowess was the best in the class and he rightfully won top honors. Upon graduation, family influence had already secured for him command of a group of rangers charged with scouting the lands around Melvaunt. Away from the city, his family, and the terrible memories of his childhood and academy, Halmuth took the first tentative steps into real cruelty. Halmuth and company were searching for a band of orcs that had been menacing the area when a simple farm family, resentful of Bruil influence and loyal to the Leiyraghon noble family, would not cooperate during the search of their farm for hiding orcs. Halmuth had the entire farm, all buildings, all crops, and livestock burned or killed.
There were no consequences. At the time, the Leiyraghons were not in a position to retaliate. The lack of repercussion to his savagery and the praise he got from his fellow troops and his own family convinced him that he had made the right decisions about how to conduct himself as a soldier and a leader.
After that, he began to work for himself and his family when he felt he could afford the effort away from his regular duties. He began to mark his victories, small and large, with a gold chain he kept on his person, usually somewhere about the waist as a piece of jewelry. This affinity for chains eventually led to him learning the uses of the spiked chain in combat. Halmuth didn't have to study for long before becoming known as a master of the weapon. He has used it on many occasions to great effect. His proficiency has perhaps made him overconfident, but it's difficult to argue the point when he deliberately drops himself into a group of orcs and proceeds to shatter their knees in a single wide sweeping motion -- all before they have a chance to close with him.
The list of crimes and cruelties has only grown since the farmhouse. Halmuth is protected in his position by his family ties, of course, but also through his personal ability of command and weapon prowess. Cruel though he is, Halmuth does know soldiering, runs an efficient army, and is personally accomplished with his favored weapon: the spiked chain.
Halmuth Today One thing interests Halmuth currently: securing money for his retirement. Despite all that his family has given him and all he has done in return, he believes that there's a fickle element in such alliances and that he may find himself out of favor -- and out of gold -- as easily as he was put in favor. Rather than strongarm his family, he has decided to seek fortune outside the family altogether so that he has something he can use in his old age.
Halmuth knows that the cleanest and quickest way to earn money is through adventuring. He has taken advantage of his position to order "investigations" of anything that might constitute a dungeon full of riches or a similar effort that might get him some coin.
He's acting under a doctrine he developed himself, which specifies that Melvaunt has the right and authority to investigate any potential threat to its security, even if that threat is beyond what anyone would consider its area of control. Indeed, Halmuth has "investigated threats" throughout the entire Moonsea region, claiming that he has a right to unilaterally secure his home lands, despite what other cities in the region might think.
Thus far, Halmuth's exploits haven't caused any diplomatic incidents. Nevertheless, the threat of encountering him seemingly at random along a road anywhere in the region continues. One would expect a commander to conduct himself well in public or away from his normal duties, but Halmuth cares nothing for such things and will, sometimes, go out of his way to inflict "discipline" on a poor farmer or other victim if it suits his whim or if he has failed to locate a dungeon he was after. His favorite method of discipline is to crush ankles with his spiked chain.
Halmuth Bruil: Male human fighter 13; CR 13; Medium humanoid; HD 13d10+26; hp 97; Init +3; Spd 20 ft.; AC 23, touch 12, flat-footed 22; Base Atk +13; Grp +16; Atk +20 melee (2d4+8/19-20, +2 defending spiked chain); Full Atk +20/+15/+10 melee (2d4+8/19-20, +2 defending spiked chain); AL NE; SV Fort +11, Ref +8, Will +6; Str 17, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 13, Cha 16. Height 6 ft., weight 180 lbs, 35 years old.
Skills and Feats: Diplomacy +11, Gather Information +5, Handle Animal +11, Intimidate +19, Knowledge (local) +10, Profession (military general) +9, Ride +13; Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (spiked chain), Greater Weapon Focus (spiked chain), Improved Critical (spiked chain), Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Mobility, Spring Attack, Weapon Focus (spiked chain), Weapon Specialization (spiked chain), Whirlwind Attack.
Languages: Damaran, Chondathan, Midani.Possessions:+2 full plate of spell resistance (13), +1 animated heavy shield, +2 defending spiked chain, ring of protection +1, cloak of resistance +1.
About the Author
Eric Haddock is an assistant online producer for online media at Wizards of the Coast. He and his wife are still unpacking from moving into their new house, which was recently built to their exacting geeky specifications. They share the house with two cats, Oracle and Ororo.