Curse of Strahd
forest gnome psionic, acolyte background
PC: Lissie, gnome psionic
Mother: Nyx, gnome tempest cleric
Father: Kord, the god of athletics, storms, sports, brawls, strength, and courage
Nyx’s parents lived in a small town on the foothills of the Nether Mountains. They created mechanical works of art for a living, sometimes traveling back and forth to Everlund to sell their most complex, yet elegant, devices to the middle and upper class citizens there. While their larger devices were highly sought after, they were most proud of their smaller toys as those were renowned among the children of the city. They had successfully raised two sons when they were surprised by the arrival of a third child – Nyx.
As a child, Nyx was drawn to the outdoors, especially when a storm was brewing; this proved to be prophetic as she soon began to evidence magical abilities. For a while, her parents could hide Nyx’s experimentations, passing them off as distant thunder or other weather-related anomalies. However, her abilities grew quickly, drawing too much attention. Eventually, for her own good and that of her family, Nyx struck out on her own, seeking to see the world and to hone her skills. She joined a mercenary guild, where she found plenty of adventure (and a couple new friends, too [Thoradin: dwarf barbarian; Callie: halfing rogue]). As she worked on behalf of the guild, her abilities quickly developed. In fact, she mastered the essence of the storm so quickly that Kord (the god of storms, among other things) visited her on a mountainside one evening to “recruit” her to represent his name. She resented his intrusion and his “blessing” when she realized he had transformed her and her abilities! Rather than channeling her magic through her own essence, she now called forth the strength of the storm through the symbol Kord specially etched on her new cleric’s shield. She adapted, somewhat resentfully, but eventually came to appreciate her new self.
Over the years, Nyx traveled across much of Faerun, never settling down in one place too long, but she always returned to the Silver Marches every so often to visit her parents and her brothers. On one such trip home, Kord revealed himself to Nyx again, professing eternal love for her as his favorite cleric. Nyx initially resisted, but Kord eventually wooed her with superior feats of strength and the fury of his storm (it didn’t hurt that Kord also showered Nyx with magical gifts). A month or so later, Nyx discovered that magical gifts weren’t the only reminders she would have of her impetuous dalliance with Kord – she was pregnant.
Wanting to provide stability for her child without giving up adventuring entirely, Nyx took a bit of time for herself when Lissie was born; she then decided to become a consulting cleric, taking on less risky jobs (especially if they involved problem-solving weather-related anomalies) so Lissie would be able to accompany her. When Lissie arrived, Nyx found that her daughter strongly resembled her gnomish heritage. In fact, she was hard-pressed to initially identify anything about her daughter that reminded her of Kord, a fact that she liked to yell to the skies from time to time.
Childhood and Coming of Age
Encouraged to explore and discover by her mother, Lissie grew up a free spirit, wandering, exploring, and making friends with small animals, other children, or anyone who would play with her. She especially liked finding new and beautiful plants and flowers as she and her mother traveled. She quickly grew accustomed to her semi-nomadic lifestyle – staying in one place for a year or so, then moving on as work presented itself to her mother. However, she always relished their regular trips back to the Silver Marches to see family.
During one of these trips back home, when Lissie was six, one of her cousins innocently asked her why she had only one name. He then proceeded to rattle off his list of names and nicknames (which took a great deal of breath support). A couple other cousins joined in with their litany of names, and Lissie felt left out. When she asked her mother why she had only one name, Lissie learned that gnomes were first given a name by their mothers, then given one by their fathers; once those names were in place, anyone else could give them a name or a nickname. Lissie, having never met her father, began asking all sorts of questions about him, which her mother did her best to answer (in a good-natured, yet slightly irreverent, sort of way). She learned that her father was fickle, impulsive, stubborn, and absent, but she also learned that he had great power over the weather and was quite strong. Being a naturally open-hearted gnome, Lissie initially told herself that he had important jobs to do, which is why he never showed up. However, she always felt sad and a little embarrassed that he never gave her a name, and secretly fears that he isn’t proud of her. She often introduces herself by saying, “I’m Lissie. [sigh] Just Lissie.”
As she grew into a teenager, her desire for her father to be proud of her increased, as did her knowledge of who he was. When she discovered he was a god, she decided to go serve at one of his temples in an attempt to learn more about him and perhaps win his favor (or at least his presence). However, when she approached the doors of his temple, she found she couldn’t move them. She struggled to open them for a good half hour, then stubbornly sat down in front of them to wait. Shortly, one of his followers arrived, and Lissie watched as he opened the temple doors in a showy display of muscular ability. She slipped in behind him, wondering how she would be able to open those doors herself one day. Once inside, she saw a huge open air arena, complete with exercise and sporting equipment, massive weapon and armor racks, dueling dummies, and a score of brawny men and women honing their physical skills under the watchful eyes of their equally-muscular trainers. She pressed her back against the outer wall of the temple and stared, trying to calm herself with deep breaths. After a bit, she worked up the courage to walk over to the nearest person in charge of training and shouted, “Hi, I’m Lissie. Just Lissie. And I want to serve here. Do you have any jobs I can do?” Amused, the trainer smirked and looked down at her, saying, “Here, hold this,” as he handed her a mace. Much to Lissie’s embarrassment, the mace was too much for her, and she found herself pinned to the floor by its weight. The trainer roared with laughter, making Lissie angry, and she thought to herself, “Laugh if you want. I WILL serve here.” Much to her surprise, the trainer collected himself, retrieved the mace from her chest, and replied out loud, “Now, now, don’t get too feisty. I’m Ansgar, and while I don’t have anything for you, I’m sure Eliriel has a job that’s more your…size,” chuckling to himself in a kinder way and gesturing with a thumb to the temple’s athletic trainer, a lithe half-elf who was busy applying a poultice to a bruised shoulder. Taken aback, Lissie dusted herself off, tried to regain some sense of dignity, and went over to Eliriel to inquire about service. She perceived kindness in his deep green eyes, and he studied her for a minute before taking her hand and closing his eyes. Lissie eyed him watchfully, waiting for signs of scorn or mockery. Finding only sincerity, she relaxed, and after a few moments, he opened his eyes, saying, “Yes, I do believe there is room enough here for you.”
Later that day, she returned to her lodging and recounted the day’s events to her mother, who was surprised, pleased, and very interested to learn about how Lissie landed a position of service at one of Kord’s temples. Nyx made Lissie tell the story of her interactions with Ansgar and Eliriel several times, especially intrigued to hear how Ansgar replied out loud to one of Lissie’s thoughts. When she was satisfied she had the necessary details, Nyx allowed Lissie to serve at the temple, provided she didn’t get herself accidentally crushed underfoot. Shortly after their conversation, Nyx paid an clandestine evening visit to the temple, where she met with Eliriel to discuss Lissie’s mental abilities. They came to an understanding: hel would help Lissie notice and intentionally try to access her mental abilities, and Nyx would allow Lissie to serve at the temple for as long as Lissie wanted until she came of age.
Thus began Lissie’s service to the temple of Kord as assistant to Eliriel, the athletic trainer. While under his supervision, Lissie learned much about the various plants and supplies needed to keep athletes healthy and in top condition, as well as where to find them and what to avoid, though she couldn’t help pulling a few good-natured pranks on the most tolerant athletes. She became adept at performing sacred and ceremonial rites, though she sometimes intentionally mis-practiced those or referred to Kord sanctimoniously when she was in a resentful mood, much like she had seen her mother, Nyx, do when she hoped to taunt him into showing up. She also learned much about the nature and character of Kord through the feats of her athletes. She was expected to participate as she could in their rigorous physical training exercises, though the trainers always permitted her to go last, presumably so she wouldn’t hinder others’ training. While she reconciled herself to the fact that she would never excel at any physical sport, hand-to-hand combat, or raw display of strength, she quietly determined to herself to become courageous enough to do his name justice.
Time to Adventure!
After 6 years of continuous service, Lissie grew dissatisfied with temple life. While she was grateful for a stable life under Eliriel’s care, Kord had never reached out to her in any way. Lissie blamed herself; she knew she hadn’t made much progress in her physical training and assumed she hadn’t demonstrated enough courage to warrant Kord’s attention or favor. Intent on earning her second name, eager to test herself, and determined to forge her own path, she notified her mother of her plans and set off with a caravan for Everlund – a city large enough to provide opportunity and adventure, yet familiar and close enough to family to provide her with a safety net.
Upon arriving in Everlund, Lissie wandered around the city for a while, familiarizing herself with its structure, layout, and various districts. Eventually, she found the market district. She stopped in front of a massive apothecary shop, mesmerized by the differently-shaped and brightly-colored bottles in the window. Intending to inquire about work, she began to cross the threshold of the shop when suddenly, a female halfling barreled straight into her, knocking them both to the ground. Perturbed, Lissie began to get to her feet, gathering her scattered possessions as the halfling began excitedly apologizing. Lissie looked up and got a vague sense that the halfling’s excitement stemmed more from adrenaline than from social anxiety, a sense that was confirmed when two men came into view, the pair sprinting down the street towards them. The halfling hurriedly handed Lissie’s backpack to her, exclaimed another ‘sorry!’ and dashed off in the opposite direction of the men, who gave prompt chase. After they passed, Lissie noticed that her backpack was curiously heavier than it had previously been. Investigating its contents, she found a package she hadn’t seen before: a hard lumpy object wrapped in brown butcher paper that oddly squished on one end. Unwrapping it, she discovered a small silver cat statue with glistening brown stones for eyes. Smashed rather unceremoniously on the cat’s head was a thinly-wrapped pastry. Lissie looked around and thought for a minute. She then placed the pastry to the side, wiped bits of glaze off the cat’s head (which to her surprise, started emitting a low purr), wrapped the cat statue up in the butcher paper, and placed it back in her bag, not entirely sure what to do with it. She then picked up the pastry, examined it, and, taking a big delicious bite, entered the apothecary shop, having decided she might as well look around on a full stomach.
A half hour later, Lissie was still wandering the market district when she was startled by the sudden reappearance of the halfling who had run into her earlier. The halfling began the conversation by saying, “Thanks for holding my things for me. I’ll take them back now.” Confused, Lissie asked her what she meant, and the halfling referred to the purring cat statue and the now-eaten pastry. Surprised (and somewhat relieved to find out where those items came from), Lissie pulled out the cat statue and handed it over. When the halfling asked about the pastry, Lissie admitted to eating it. Shocked and intent on having her pastry, the halfling insisted Lissie buy her a new one, but Lissie refused. After a few moments of tense conversation, the halfling said, “Let’s start over. My name is Jillian. Thank you for your help. By now, you’ve figured out that I do some thieving. There aren’t too many rules to thieving. However, there’s one I hold close, and that’s ‘you don’t steal food from someone who needs it!’” Seeing a way out, Lissie grinned and replied, “Oh! Well I was hungry and I needed a pastry!” Gritting her teeth, Jillian replied, “I wanna hate you, but I’m finding it really difficult. FINE. Let’s go get pastries.” Lissie, having eaten a pastry recently, mentioned her desire to get a job at the apothecary shop, to which Jillian replied, “This is your first day here, isn’t it?” Lissie replied affirmatively, and Jillian said, “Well it’s obvious – the apothecary shop does slave trading in the back.” Lissie rolled her eyes and said, “I don’t think they do.” Jillian replied, “Ooookkkkk – come with me, then,” and took Lissie behind the apothecary shop where they waited for what seemed like an eternity. Sure enough, after an hour or so, Lissie and Jillian saw a finely-dressed gentleman hurriedly enter the shop and leave a few minutes later, accompanied by two thin children dressed in rags. Dismayed, and with wounded pride, Lissie assented, saying, “Fine. You were right.” Jillian said, “You know, gnomes are pretty rare in Everlund. Not to say anything bad about gnomes, but the slave traders would pick you up like that,” snapping her fingers. Dejectedly, Lissie said, “Ok. So I’m not going to work for them. But they looked so nice!” Jillian explained, “That’s the problem. Some of the nicest-looking places here are really bad. So how about this: work with me and you’ll know exactly where you stand.” Lissie pondered the idea, but had some internal reservations about thieving since her mother raised her not to take what wasn’t hers. However, Jillian assuaged Lissie’s concerns, saying she only takes enough from the really rich so that the really poor don’t starve. Conveniently, Jillian neglected to mention that by the ‘really poor,’ she mostly meant ‘poor Jillian.’ Satisfied, Lissie still had several questions about this potential partnership, like what sort of jobs Jillian took and what role she herself could play, seeing as she wasn’t nearly as sneaky or well-versed in thievery as Jillian. Sensing this would be a long conversation (and not wanting to neglect the rumbling in her own stomach), Jillian suggested they continue the conversation over a drink. Lissie agreed, and together, over apple juice and pastries, Lissie and Jillian formed the beginnings of what would prove to be a fun, lucrative, and lasting relationship.
Over the next couple of years, Lissie and Jillian pulled off many heists: some great, some that required great skill, and some that went very haphazardly. For example, they giggle mirthfully about the Apron Toe Job, their first adventure:
After some initial frustration (and a short discussion of “boundaries"), Jillian and Lissie agreed to work together on a case-by case basis. Jillian had already picked out the perfect place: a shoe store called The Heeler. This establishment was owned by a cranky curmudgeonly cobbler named Angus. He was a man of peculiar tastes, as his favorite pastime included kicking poor children with his irontoe shoes (patent pending) as he walked down the street. He was a proud discriminating man who only sold the finest shoes to the finest people. After the usual initial surveillance, Jillian convinced Lissie of Angus’ crimes against the general population, and they agreed to… disrupt his business model – for the good of the city, of course.
When they arrived, Jillian quickly picked the locks; they were off the street and inside The Heeler in record time. They began looking around, searching for valuable items to liberate. Almost immediately, Lissie saw a pair of shoes in the window she could not resist trying on. Unfortunately, in her excitement, she also knocked over a few other pairs of shoes, drawing footsteps from the street. Thinking quickly, Jillian put an apron around her neck and hopped onto Lissie’s shoulders. As Lissie struggled to hold Jillian’s weight, she saw the space around her transform to resemble Angus, the cobbler. Much to her surprise, she heard the fake Angus tell the guard to stop snooping around, and the guard left. After his departure, Jillian gleefully scolded Lissie a bit for being careless, while being secretly glad she made Angus look worse for the guards.
After collecting themselves, Jillian picked the lock on the door leading to the back workspace. She took special note that this door had a better lock than the outside door, and inside, they found something truly awful: a group of 5 enslaved pixies making shoes. When the pixies saw Lissie and Jillian, they stopped working, begged for Lissie’s help (being a fellow fey creature), and told Jillian and Lissie their woeful tales. They revealed that Angus didn’t actually know how to make shoes; rather, he forced them to make shoes while he took all the credit. Jillian and Lissie temporarily withdrew to discuss the situation, which had obviously changed drastically. Jillian convinced Lissie that, instead of taking a few pairs of shoes and some gold, they would devastate Angus’ business. They freed the pixies, and together they all ransacked the shop, taking everything that wasn’t bolted to the floor (including the apron). They departed together, fleeing to a distant alleyway to celebrate. Lissie was quickly crowned friend of the pixies, who gave her a special bell called “Tinkerbell” that would summon them if Lissie ever needed help. After proper celebrations, the pixies curiously departed, saying their evening’s work was not quite over yet. Snickering, they divulged to Jillian their recent discovery – sovereign glue – along with some very creative ideas of how to use it on Angus. Jillian almost felt sorry for him… almost.
Later that day, Jillian and Lissie distributed much of the newly-liberated shoes to the poorest of Everlund. They had an especially large haul of quality children’s shoes, which caused great joy for the children (who had never seen such finery in their lives) and varying degrees of consternation among the more perceptive townspeople who scorned the juxtaposition of ragged clothes and smart calfskins.
Then, there was the Gauntlet, their second adventure:
After giving away all the liberated shoes, Jillian was content to let Lissie feel like a noble accomplice for a couple of weeks… that is, until she was approached by a local gang looking to score big. The gang wanted to hire a team to break into an Order of the Gauntlet stronghold, and, if the two had known how prophetic the word “gauntlet” would be, they never would have taken the job. Jillian initially rejected the proposal due to the perceived danger, but agreed to take it on after the gang told her two things: 1.) how much gold she stood to earn, and 2.) that the stronghold had recently outsourced their regular guards due to a leadership mistake that spread guild members too thin. After selling the job to Lissie, the pair began to plan their infiltration.
It was supposed to be relatively simple: Jillian and Lissie would accompany a party shipment, infiltrate the stronghold, bribe someone to tell them the location of the secret vault, break in, steal the gold, and escape. The plan started well enough – Lissie and Jillian dressed as servants and hid in a couple of food crates which were accompanied by several barrels of ale, all of which were delivered successfully to the larder, helping the pair avoid most of the externally-stationed guards. As they emerged from their crates, Jillian could no longer resist the food around her and began greedily stuffing her face, making altogether too much noise and attracting a guard’s attention. As she was stumbling through some lame excuse (bits of food flying everywhere), she saw the guard’s eyes glaze over, and he said “Oh, so you are here as a waitress. Good.” With that, he turned around and walked away robotically. Presently, Lissie popped out of her crate, having trouble standing due to paroxysms of laughter in between lighthearted jabs at Jillian’s effects on men.
After gathering their composure, they made their way onto the party floor to serve, but quickly realized had failed to locate the serving stations. As they moved through the guests, searching for the stations, they were quickly shooed into the kitchen. They did experience a bit of luck here – the butler was already rosy-cheeked and jovial due to ale tastings (checking for poison, of course); all it took was a wink and a gold piece to persuade him to tell them where the vault was located. That’s where their luck stopped; in his revelry, the butler failed to reveal that 5 fire traps guarded the vault’s entrance. Many missteps and gouts of flame later, Jillian and Lissie made it to the vault’s door – both quite singed and agitated. More bad news awaited them: the Order of the Gauntlet had just upgraded their vault’s door to the Flintskin XL, a door of dwarven make that Jillian, hangry and near tears, estimated would take at least an hour to crack.
Two hours later, Jillian finally heard a supremely satisfying click and nearly cried with joy. After opening the vault she did cry… but not for joy. The vault was empty, or nearly so. The only item in the room was a small golden orb sitting on a pedestal. Lissie climbed on Jillian’s shoulders to retrieve it; there was no way the two of them were leaving empty-handed. Upon touching the orb, Lissie sensed its magic, but couldn’t figure out how it worked or what it did. Dejected, Jillian closed the vault and the two once more braved the corridor of flames. They made it back to the kitchen where they were cornered by the head butler who threatened to call the guards. Luckily, Lissie had stashed the orb and her rucksack under her shirt while running through the flames. Jillian looked at him with tears still in her eyes and said, “Surely you wouldn’t have a gnome child born in prison, would you? Please sir, we’re just a bit hungry.” Lissie, though annoyed at the lie, played along, and the butler begrudgingly handed them a couple of stale bread crusts and let them leave through the servants’ exit.
Finally, there was the Sleepover. This was supposed to be a simple job, but several mistakes and miscommunications later, Lissie and Jillian found themselves evading discovery (and prison) by hiding in a musty cellar for three days in a space barely big enough for a single person. They emerged without any trophies to show for their pain… and without much of their dignity.
Despite the unpredictabilities of their lifestyles, Lissie and Jillian make a good team and (mostly) enjoy each other’s company.
Personality Traits: I am intelligent – sometimes too intelligent for my own good (pranks, curiosity, good-natured trouble).
Ideals: I must face each situation whole-heartedly, overcoming fear through mental discipline.
Bonds: I will do almost anything to prove myself worthy of Kord’s favor.
Flaws: I’m afraid I’ll never live up to my parents’ expectations, abilities, or reputations.
- Eliriel knows Lissie is Kord’s daughter, but has discussed her heritage with no one but Nyx.
- Lissie carries a small mechanical device with her: it’s shaped like a heart and produces a tiny lightning bolt through the center of the heart when wound. Her grandparents made it for her when she was born.
- Lissie never did successfully open the main doors to Kord’s temple, much to her dismay.
- Lissie enjoys the creativity and tricksiness of her partnership with Jillian, though she feels slightly guilty about stealing.
- Lissie has not told Nyx the whole truth about her profession; Nyx only knows that Lissie helps transport goods back and forth.
- Lissie and Jillian have yet to discover the secrets of the shimmering golden orb.