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It is a nearly impossible task to construct an accurate history of a fiend. Part of this difficulty lies in the fact that fiends, like all of the true planar races, are immortal and tend not to feel the need to physically record their life events; they rely instead on their incredible memories. While this is true of all the planeborn, the natives of the Lower Planes face other problems which also serve to prevent them from giving in to the vanity of creating journals of their lives. All of these difficulties are other fiends. Not only do they have to worry about their racial enemies in the vast Blood War, they must also be on the watch for the machinations of members of their race - from both above and below the fiend's current station. And finally, there are the near-infinite numbers of wizards (mainly clueless Primes) who seek to summon a fiend away from the Outer Planes and into magical slavery. Any piece of information that is known about a fiend is seen as a weakness. No one knows when it could prove to be a liability, or lead to a fatal downfall.

So, instead of tumbling to the truth from its private memoirs, a sage most turn instead to two other - mostly unreliable - sources of information when creating a chronicle of a fiend and its deeds. The first is the fiend itself; specifically, whatever information it chooses to reveal about itself in conversation. However, any darks garnered from this source had best used very sparingly; remember that every fiend suffers from acute paranoia when it comes to personal information. Anything that is said is a half-truth at best, and an outright lie most of the time. The other source of information is from the histories of people and places that the fiend has interacted with. This chant is almost as equally unreliable as the words from the fiend's mouth. This is because the teller is usually uncertain as to the true identity of the being with which he dealt, or else is biased with extreme hatred at the results of the fiend's actions. Fortunately, the truth is more easily distilled from these histories simply due to the sheer volume that exists after so many centuries of the fiend's existence. It is thus much easier to find common threads and self-confirming facts in that haystack.



HistoryEdit

The succubus called Red Shroud is one of those rare tanar'ri whose name is well-known both in and out of the Abyss. Outside of her home plane the Shroud has a tri-fold reputation among planewalkers, especially those who fall on the lower end of the moral spectrum. The fiend's primary claim to fame in this circle is her position as the dictator of the Abyss' gate-town to the Outlands, Broken Reach. But Red Shroud is almost equally respected (or feared) for being both an expert in the brewing (and use) of poisons as well as being a fairly reliable source of the chant on the Great Ring. While these skills also earn her some fame in the Abyss, Red Shroud is widely known throughout her home plane (as well as many of the other Lower Planes) for her role as one of the leaders of an infamous group of succubi known as the Original Sins Cartel.

Red Shroud readily admits to having existed for two millennia. However, given how widely her skill at poisons is known throughout the Abyss, this age should be taken as a minimum. (Another reason to consider her far older than her given age is the fact that the succubus holds a position of some importance and influence in the Abyss, and thus has cause to trick potential enemies into underestimating her abilities.) In addition to the mystery surrounding her true age, her origins are also unknown. Red is canny enough to not give any clues as to whether she pulled herself fully formed from the raw Chaos and Evil that makes up the landscape of the Abyss, or if she worked her way up from origins as a simple larva. Either way, spending at least two thousand years as a tempter of mortals is a strong indication of her force of will and abilities.

It is during these early centuries that Red Shroud honed her talents as a poisoner, which she puts to great use in luring mortal souls to the Abyss. Only fledgling succubi rely solely on their personal talents to tempt mortals to their dooms. Eventually, these tanar'ri find some form of tool that can be used to supplement their innate abilities and increase their chances of success. Most often, these tools are a form of magic that can be used to hide their true identities and intentions. The Shroud turned to poison as a means to force mortals to corrupt and destroy themselves, allowing her to harvest their souls quicker and easier. The fiend has long since moved beyond poisons which damage the mortal body. Instead, she creates and uses poisons which directly harm the mind or soul, twisting the mortal's beliefs until he damns himself through his own actions. Red Shroud also makes extensive use of "reverse diplomacy". She likes to find out all the dirty secrets she can about her intended victim, and then see to it that his friends and family learn them so that they might turn against him. This skill at the poisoning of relationships has also served Red well in surviving the turbulent political structure of the Abyss. It is no coincidence that those who seek to harm the succubus find their allies suddenly turning against them at a critical moment.


Red ShroudEdit

The first verifiably recorded event of Red Shroud's existence occurred approximately one thousand years ago. At that time, she had a firm reputation as a poisoner and a very productive succubus. The Shroud had spent many of the previous centuries serving several individuals of the more physically powerful tanar'ri breeds before she decided to take steps to start her own rise to power. The succubus formed an alliance of convenience with two others of her breed - Chiryn (now known as the "Mistress of Pleasure and Pain") and Maretta, Lady of the Counting House. This uneasy partnership slowly turned into grudging respect and eventually became the core of what is now known as the Original Sins Cartel. The actions of these three succubi had their motivations firmly rooted in the only trait common to all of the tanar'ri - rapacious self-preservation and self-interest.

Red Shroud and Chiryn were aware of each other's existence and had actually encountered one another several times in the century or so before the formation of the cartel. Each succubi had become the favorite servant of the masters they respectively served. (This is a common practice of all such tanar'ri - the favored status allows for a fair amount of personal freedom as well as protection from those they have angered.) As it turned out, the plots of their masters came to become directly opposed to one another. Each of the powerful fiends soon came to rely on their favored servants to salvage the plans the other had spoiled. This led to Red Shroud and Chiryn ending up in the same place at the same time, and coming to actual physical conflict over mortals, or else at the head of opposing forces. The personal nature of this near-constant competition quickly grew tiresome to both succubi. Not only did the conflict lead to punishment for the loser, it also prevent the pair from further improvement of either their skills or status. Slowly, the pair came to a mutual understanding and began trying to reshape the plans of their respective masters in order to benefit themselves and avoid direct conflict. Eventually, this understanding turned into a conspiracy. Red and Chiryn finally managed to betray both of their masters at the same time, leading to their mutual destruction. While the two succubi were now free, they had flee for their lives from the revenges of other surviving servants of their former masters. They wisely sought to seek refuge in the service to a more powerful tanar'ri, one of the Abyssal Lords - Graz'zt.

At the time Shroud's and Chiryn's betrayal, the succubus known as Maretta was still new to her position as one of Graz'zt's trusted vassals. Although being responsible for one of the layers of the Triple Realm is an incredible success for a lesser tanar'ri, Maretta found she missed the freedom of being able to travel as she wished to the Prime and engage in the seduction of mortals. The succubus was almost desperate to find some way to get some of her "glory days" back again. Fortunately for the fiend, her two traitorous sisters of Red Shroud and Chiryn were fleeing a pair of vengeful armies and seeking refuge. The two had come to Maretta's holdings in hopes of pledging themselves to Graz'zt's cause - as well as playing on the slim chance that she would have some sympathy for them since they were all of the same breed. It was fortunate for the Shroud and Chiryn that Maretta was not yet comfortable with her position. The Lady of the Counting House took them in, and made them pledge themselves to her - and didn't inform Graz'zt about it. Instead, Maretta used the two traitors as a pair of personal hunters - she would send them to the Prime to bring back mortals for her own personal use.

Over the course of several centuries, the three succubi found this arrangement to be very profitable for all involved, especially when they managed to ignore their jealousy and paranoia long enough to actually work together. They eventually formalized their arrangement and began consistently harvesting more souls combined than if the three had worked individually. Although this group success granted an increase in status to the trio, Red Shroud still chafed at the idea of being beholden to any one - even a supposed equal. In addition to using the partnership to further perfect her skills as a poisoner and gatherer of information, the Shroud took the opportunity to study Maretta to learn how gain and maintain a position of importance. Finally, Red felt confident enough to take the next step on the path to power.

About four hundred years ago, Red Shroud physically distanced herself from her partners and assumed control of a small (for the Abyss) army on the Plain of Infinite Portals. Although she proved to be a charismatic and capable leader, the succubus purposely limited the numbers whom she let follow her. Red Shroud had learned much about abyssal politics while she lived in the Triple Realm. The fiend had found out that there is a very fine line between being viewed as a weak and easy target, and being viewed as a powerful threat that must be dealt with. Red Shroud carefully maintained her army at a size large enough to survive and be a dangerous force on the first layer of the Abyss, but still small enough to be viewed as just another nuisance by the more powerful and already established princes of the plane. This tactic was the first step in Red's plan to become a fiend of power and influence.

While she had her army roaming across the first layer of her home plane and generally behaving as all of the other armies, Red Shroud proceeded to slowly gain control over the Outlands gate-town of Blood Reach. Over the course of two centuries, the succubus wormed her way into the confidence of every major power in the burg. She also acquired a vast amount of information about all the people and groups in Blood Reach. Soon, there was nothing that happened in the town that the Shroud was not aware of and didn't have at least some influence over. And then, showing incredible patience for a tanar'ri, the fiend simply sat back and waited for a few decades before she finally brought her plan to fruition.

Two hundred and one years ago, Red Shroud instigated city-wide riots in the town of Blood Reach, causing it to slide into the Abyss - right into the waiting hands of her army. This allowed the succubus to take nearly instant control of the burg without having to fight other tanar'ri for it. Renaming the burg Broken Reach, Red Shroud established her authority in the town and the region with brutal and ruthless methods. She made absolutely sure that every one knew she was in charge and that she intended to keep it that way. The fiend was so effective at this that her reputation grew very quickly and soon no one even dared to challenge her any more.

For the time being, it appears as if Red Shroud is content with her current level of power and influence. She has successfully kept control over the Abyss' gate-town to the Outlands for two centuries and has eliminated all known rivals to her power. Her reputation as a poisoner and chant broker are unequaled, and the OSC - now comprised of ten succubi - is a major political power in the Abyss. Although no one has heard her make any mention of it, every one suspects that Red Shroud has plans to become a true Abyssal Lord. If she does, the succubus stands a good chance of succeeding - very few tanar'ri are willing to oppose her, for fear of retaliation.

ResourcesEdit

Over the two millennia she's be around, Red Shroud has accumulated an impressive array of personal resources. Of these, there are three that can be considered the most important - and most dangerous. The first is her knowledge of poisons. For almost as long as she's existed, the Shroud has been studying the creation and use of poisons. It is quite possible that the succubus knows more than anyone else about the subject. Over her life span, she has invented many deadly and unusual toxins. At present, demand is high for her two most recent creations. The first is a poison that is toxic enough to overcome the natural poison resistance of the fiends. The other is one that will slowly turn the victim in a undead slave.

The second important resource at Red's fingertips is her information network. The succubus is well- known across the Great Ring for being a fairly reliable source of the dark of the planes. It is not clear how she gets her information, but it is always current and often reaches into the goings-on of the Upper Planes. There is one very important thing to remember about the Shroud's information - she doesn't provide it from the goodness of her heart. The succubus only hands out chant that will harm the subject of the inquiry. While she could certainly discover the cure to a particular sod's curse, she'll never part with that dark; it'd help somebody. However, if you're looking for something with which to blackmail someone, Red's your fiend. This extensive source of information also means that it's very hard to give the tanar'ri the laugh for very long; she'll eventually find you and send one of her agents to extract a particularly gruesome revenge.

The final resource is potentially the most deadly, but also the most unreliable. That is the Original Sins Cartel. While she is one of the three co-founders, and thus has some influence over the group, all of the members are still hardened individuals. The main danger the OSC poses is through its political connections. First off, there are the individual members. Each is a skilled succubus, who has mastered a particular tool for seduction and corruption. Depending on who has offended Red Shroud, she might request the services of one her partners to help remove the annoyance. But that is not the only chip she can cash in. Since the succubi of the cartel are the most productive when it comes to the harvest of mortal souls, many Abyssal Lords have contracts with the group to purchase these souls. If extremely hard-pressed, Red Shroud can use up some of the influence and favors her group has accumulated over the centuries and send the might of one her clients after a threat to her power.

DescriptionEdit

Red Shroud's name is a fairly literal physical description of her. Her natural form is fairly typical of her breed: a beautiful human woman of pale skin and flawless complexion; bright, fiery red hair which falls in rich curls to her waist; glowing scarlet eyes; large, bat-like wings which are a deep crimson. The succubus' favored mode of dress is to drape herself with yards of nearly transparent silk (in shades of red, naturally). Due to the deliberate arrangement of the layers, various parts of the fiend's distracting beauty are alternately revealed and concealed with each body movement. When out corrupting mortals (something she does with less and less frequency), Red Shroud prefers to use a human or elven shape. In all cases, the disguise's hair is red and the body is dressed in a flowing (and usually revealing) gown. The tanar'ri temptress prefers to prey on mortals who either have a fierce temper, or else have something to hide. When doing so, the Shroud enjoys corruption through poisoning - whether it be through a victim's body, mind, soul, or relationships.



ShroudEdit

In general, Red Shroud is motivated by power. Both her obsessive want to obtain more, and her paranoid need to firmly hold on to what she has. The seductress is also very jealous and possessive of what she has; even if Red is total control of everyone around her, she still has no desire to share anything with her servants (or allies). The succubus loves the feeling of being in control, and makes damn sure she feels that way at all times. This psychological need to flaunt her power, combined with her possessiveness, manifests itself primarily in the rules of conduct that she has dictated be used whenever anyone is in her presence. At all times, people are to show the proper respect due to a powerful leader. Do not speak until spoken to; do not sit until given leave; etc. Also, she demands that she always be addressed as the speaker's superior. For example, an officer of her private army would address Red Shroud as "Mistress-General". In return, the soldier would be addressed as "Servant-Captain".

As part of her thirst for power, the succubus wants not even the potential of a threat to her position. Thus, much of her time and that of her army and information gatherers is spent spying on her own subjects. The instant it appears as if someone could be a threat, they are confronted by the Shroud. If they can be made to serve her ends (willingly or not), they are made into servant-agents. If they can't be used, or are too dangerous, the unfortunate sod is disposed of. The one exception to this method of letting those who've caught her attention "choose" their fate is Red Shroud's offspring. Any child of hers is viewed as immediate threat and is to be removed immediately - but they're still her children. So, in a show of "kindness", these unfortunate alu-fiends (or rarely, succubi and incubi) are not killed. Rather, they are sold in an open auction in Broken Reach's market square. In all cases, Red ensures that her children are sold to masters who are cruel as they are powerful. This ensures that they will be unable to grow to challenge her power. (Red's reputation is such that no one in the Abyss even dares to think of buying a child of hers with the purpose of raising her to usurp the succubus' position.) Should she learn of a free child, it is almost guaranteed that Red Shroud will spare no effort to locate the rebel child and take care of her - permanently.

Game StatisticsEdit

Personally, I'm not terribly happy with the statistics listed here. This is more of an attempt to define things for other people, as well as to give me a guideline of what the NPC is capable of. (It mainly helps to limit how much "cheating" I as a DM can do when playing the character.) I've tried to create that stats for Red Shroud several times - I think this is the third attempt. What I'm trying to do is to show that this NPC is more powerful than the standard succubus. Red Shroud is on her way to becoming a true Abyssal Lord. Although she's not there yet, she's working on it. She's had time to grow stronger based on her will and desire. And naturally, her ability with poisons also has some influence on her innate abilities. (The stats listed below differ in several places from the standard abilities for a tanar'ri of her breed.)

INT Genius (17-18) AC -3 MV 12, Fly 18 (C) HD 8+4 THAC0 13

  1. ATT 2 or 1

DAM 1d4+1/1d4+1 or by weapon SA Energy Drain SD +2 weapons to hit, Never Surprised, Immunity: Fire, Immunity: Poison, Immunity: Electricity, Resistance: Cold (half), Resistance: Gas (half) MR 50% Innate Abilities (all at will unless otherwise noted) Infravision, Teleport without Error, Charm Person, Clairaudience, ESP, Plane Shift Shapechange, Mass Suggestion, Poison (as 4th level Mage spell), Poisonstar (as 2nd level Mage spell), Water to Poison (as 5th level Mage spell), Gate (3x/day, 50%, 1 Balor or 1d6 Cambions)

In addition to her (augmented) natural abilities, Red Shroud also has a fair number of magical items at her disposal. The vast majority of them focus their powers on either poison or control. Her favorite, which she is never found without, is a more powerful version of a Dagger of Venom. This blade differs from the standard version in three ways. First, its reservoir never runs dry. Second, it injects its poison if the to hit roll exceeds the target by 5 or more, not just on a natural 20. And third, the wielder can vary the type of poison to be injected from attack to attack. (Although Red Shroud usually prefers to use the deadliest - and most painful - poison available, she will occasionally use a paralytic poison if she has other plans for her victim.) Red Shroud is also rumored to have a Rod of Rulership. This is how many speculate (although not openly or in her presence) she was able to gain control of an abyssal army, and thus Broken Reach, in the first place.

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