Nataya, The Changeling Assassin

Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 16 May 2010

Mike, from Mike's D&D Blog and a player in my weekly group, ran a great one-shot yesterday with an Arabian Nights theme. For the game, I created Nataya, commonly known as Shahmat. She is a changeling assassin, the subject of many legends, both true and untrue. Recently she broke free from the feared prison Ashkabar and her main motivation was to not return there.

I have to admit, I really liked playing this character, even if she was a bit dark. Being a changeling assassin and an escaped prisoner offered a lot of role play elements, even in a one-shot game, and I tried to take advantage of them as often as possible, without being a jerk about it. We started the game in a spice tent in the town's marketplace. The wife of the shah wanted to hire us to bring back her husband, a captive of a genie. While she offered riches to us in return for her husband's return, Nataya asked for one additional reward. She wanted a pardon for all that she has done and all that she was about to do. Basically, she desired a safe haven to ensure she would not return to the dreaded prison.

In the first combat encounter, we were ambushed in a marketplace by a number of bandits seeking to rob us. During the fight, Nataya noticed the leader of the bandits running behind a bunch of the stalls. Guessing he was going to come out of a particular alley way, she thought it would be best to get on top of one of the stalls at the end of the alley. The DM gave me the chance to try an acrobatic stunt to get on top of the tent, 10 feet from the ground. Using a nearby food cart, Nataya was able to springboard her way up on top of the tent. While she missed out on her chance to surprise the leader, she was able to jump down on one of his underlings.

Another great moment in that fight came as the leader attempted to flee. Figuring an assassin would be prepared for such an event, I had provided her with a Tethercord from the starting gold. It was the best 125 GP I ever spent. Nataya flung it at the bandit leader, making it impossible for him to move more than 3 squares from the spot. This gave the rest of the group time to catch up with him and knock him out. I faded back a bit during the interrogation, my character was much too dark for the type of interaction the group wanted, although my spiked gauntlet was there if they needed it.

We then traveled to an oasis to meet with someone who could tell us where the genie was. A merchant caravan was there, peddling copper pots, books and other such items. She asked the merchants for some news about the oasis community and they provided her with a decent bit of info. Knowing that having such sources of news is always a good thing in her profession, she bought a copy of their most expensive book, a copy of the Koran, gilted with gold. She didn't have much to say to their contact in the oasis, but stayed to the shadows to ensure no harm came to the rest of the group.

The contact asked us to prove that we could be a match for the genie and gave us the task of bringing back the heart of a Roc. He gave the party a pair of feather sandals which would allow one of us to fly like a bird. The party elected to have Nataya wear them and we took off in pursuit of the bird. When we found it, we knew we had an instant problem. Most of our group lacked ranged spells or powers and the sandals made us clumsy when we flew (-4 to attacks). Out of tethercord, Nataya went into problem solving mode and came up with a plan. What if she flew up with the sandals and then roped the bird? The plan was a bit scary, as the bird was 50 feet from from the ground. However, if she was successful, she could then try to immobilize the poor bird, and bring it down to the ground where the rest of the group could then help deal with the creature. Things didn't go exactly according to plan, the bird flew away from the party with Nataya, but the group quickly adjusted and was able to get what they needed.

After dealing with the Roc, we returned the oasis. The Roc's heart was turned into a ruby-like gem that, when held up to the sunlight, pointed the way to the genie's residence. We followed the light and found a cave. However, we noticed ogre tracks. Worried about walking into a den full of ogres, we quickly thought up a plan. Nataya would disguise herself as a child ogre and the rest of the party would act as her prisoners. We quickly made the necessary changes with Nataya pretending that she was using a disguise kit to change her appearance. They then entered the cave and found an elderly female ogre attending to dinner. Instantly, a critical flaw in the plan came to light, the ogre spoke to Nataya in giant! Hoping to salvage the situation, the wizard attempted to use ghost sound to repeat back what he had heard, modifying it a bit to sound like it came from Nataya. Since the ogre had asked "How are you?" this just angered the woman a bit. Sensing the plan was about to go awry, Nataya quickly created a story the woman might buy. She told the ogre that she had been kidnapped as a baby and held as a slave, made to do degrading chores and eat disgusting food. This was why she spoke common and could not understand the words the woman spoke. She was here because she wanted to join their group and the humans with her were gifts for the group that would take her in. The ogre said while she appreciated the gifts, she would have to discuss with her son whether or not Nataya could stay. Her son should be returning soon. With the woman pacified, we looked around for a way to the genie and found the door behind the ogre woman. At this point, we decided to act and the DM granted us a surprise round with full actions. The cleric approached the ogre and commanded her forward, away from the door. The wizard used his mage hand to place the Roc heart gem in the door, opening it. Then we all ran to the door, got through and closed it behind us.

From there, we quickly met with the imprisoned shah. He told us to go away, and we almost did too. But Nataya did not want to risk going back to prison and the cleric wanted the ability to spread his faith in the Shah's lands, so we went on to try to deal with the genie. The genie took the astral diamonds we had for the ransom but said we were short a diamond. He offered instead that one of us could take the Shah's place. If I had been playing a good character, I might have been willing to take him up on that offer, but substituting one prison for another was not something Nataya would be willing to do. Eventually, we decided to fight him instead. The genie had a really neat power which basically made floor difficult terrain (aura 5), although you could decide to ignore the difficulty and take 1d6 damage instead (yay, player choices). We unleashed our dailies and encounters on him and quickly killed him, or so we thought. As we landed what we thought was going to be the death blow, the genie changed into the shah and the shah explained the genie's trick.

Nataya was sent to look in the next room for the genie. While she was gone, the genie returned, with an improved version of his aura power. Nataya was far away from the genie and her allies when this happened. Sensing their danger, she took a gulped down her potion of regeneration and headed back to the fray. Out of encounters and dailies, this is where the shroud power of the assassin really shone. Unable to ignore the extra damage from the floor, she had to take 3 rounds before she could get into melee range against the genie. However, she was able to add an extra shroud each turn. When she finally got to him, she used her shadow storm power to have the genie's shadow, as well as those of her allies, attack the genie. At the same time, she invoked her shrouds and I gave each of the other players a d6 to roll. The result was a massive amount of damage, that, while it did not kill the genie, bloodied him again. This gave us the courage to stand up to his requests for our surrender and we were able to defeat him (although not before Nataya went down for the count. May the gods bless potions of regenerations).

While Nataya was able to be a bad-ass at times, her real contribution was to help make the whole party a force to be reckoned with. This is the heart of the play boldly philosophy. A lot more went on beyond mechanical dice rolls and the application of game mechanics. And this sort of play kept us going at the table for 6+ hours even though we were tired and hungry. We wanted to see where it went; we were invested.


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