Drakuun - General Background

4e, dnd, drakuun

To understand me, you need to understand my history. To understand my history, you need to understand the Githzerai. The Githzerai are a proud people. We escaped control of our mind flayer masters, we escaped the elemental planes, and we survived.

Well, some of us survived. Finding a home in the world is a difficult task. Refugees are never treated kindly. But the Githzerai are a proud people. This kept us together. At least for a while.

My ancestors eventually found a nice, out of the way corner of the woods to settle. Officially, the area was owned by a monastery devoted to Ioun, but the monks were as interested in learning about my ancestors as my ancestors were in learning about them. So, my ancestors were allowed to stay.

Many decades passed in peace and harmony. Githzerai were born, Githzerai died, but nothing in the culture changed. A small city began to grow. Nothing fancy – we were always practical to the point of being ascetic – but functional. Libraries were built to house the knowledge of our race: our history, accomplishments, and secrets.

From a very young age, Githzerai children are trained to be self-reliant. Inner harmony and mastery of yourself are the main avenues to advancement in society. Everything is based on merit. Children are taught to expect weakness and failure in others, and not to tolerate it. But even success in these practices weren’t enough to save the city.

A little more than 20 years after I was born, we were attacked. The servants of Vecna had learned of our libraries and wanted that knowledge only for themselves. I had only recently finished training to be part of the city defense forces. I learned the basic use of many swords, I had learned how to survive, and most importantly I had learned how to lead men. I had learned this last aspect so well, and showed so much promise, that I was regularly trusted to lead patrols into the woods.

In command of a small patrol – just 3 others besides myself – I was out in the woods scouting when the attack happened. We didn’t even know it had occurred until we were headed back and saw the smoke. The libraries had been looted, the people had been slaughtered, and the entire city had been set to flame. Some Githzerai survived, but not nearly enough.

Having seen the smoke pouring out of the city, the monks of Ioun had rushed from their monastery to help. By the time they arrived, it was too late to save anything. In a panic, the rest of my patrol had fled, but I couldn’t bring myself to stop watching as the fires engulfed my former home, reducing it, bit by bit, to ash. The monks tried to save things. They worked to put out fires on buildings that might have been saved, but it was too little too late. And all I could do was watch the city burn. All I could think about was vengeance.

The monks took me in. They tried to help me overcome my hatred – to gain some measure of peace again. After a few years, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be possible. I had watched the largest known remainder of my race turned to ash, and I wasn’t going to let that go.

Many of the monks gave up, but there was one senior monk – his name was Pirsig – that simply wouldn’t let me be. Consulting some ancient histories, he one day discovered a solution. Apparently, a long time ago, there had been an order of the followers of Ioun that was dedicated to the extermination of the followers of Vecna. As they became more and more successful, the need to train new members decreased, and eventually, as the followers of Vecna had seemed to disappear, the order had been disbanded.

Member of that order, Pirsig found, had developed a special connection with Ioun, allowing them to channel their hatred, vengeance, and other such feelings into clear minded purpose. The details of the rituals and training were sparse, but there was enough to give it a try. Perhaps, he said, it would help me to regain control and be able to live my life as I wanted. He was right on one of those counts, at least.

Over several years, I trained and performed rituals until I couldn’t move at the end of the day. I reacquired my proficiency with the fullblade, but my hatred still burned deep. When I was exhausted, Pirsig would return to the monastery archives and continue his research. One day he stumbled upon the key: a new ritual that was used to induct members into the old order. This ritual, as best we could tell (it was written in an ancient dialect), was supposed to cement the training in the initiate’s mind, granting him focus an control.

The translation wasn’t quite right, however. The ritual certainly worked to some extent: I did gain control over my rage and a purpose, but it wasn’t due to the training. The ritual bonded me to Ioun himself. I became his instrument of vengeance, desiring to seek out and destroy the followers of Vecna not because they destroyed my home, but because it was Ioun’s will.

That was not Ioun’s only will, however. As a result of this bond, my disdain for ignorance in general also increased. I began to despise stupidity. By this I don’t mean simple lack of knowledge, but rather the lack of desire to increase knowledge and especially action to inhibit or, worse, prohibit the acquisition of knowledge by others.

Having left the monastery to pursue the followers of Vecna, I one day ran into a peasant in the stocks in a small town. Asking what he had done, he indicated that he had been the assistant to the local landowner. He had been locked away because the landowner had heard a stranger passing through refer to something called “whiskeystone” and desired to know more. The assistant said he had never heard of such a thing and strongly advised the landowner not to pursue it further, as he had more pressing matters to attend to managing his estate. For this, the assistant had been given a week in the stocks.

As this was an affront to my newly acquired beliefs from Ioun, it seemed that this punishment was insufficient. With a single blow, the assistant’s head was severed from his body, and I set off in search of this “whiskeystone”.