Karsis Dolor

"ubinam gentium sumus (...where the hell are we?...)"
User: James
Campaign: Sons of Fallcrest
Race: Human, Variant (1/2 human, 1/4 elf, 1/4 orc)
Gender: Male
Role: Other
Class/Level: Bard (lore) 4/Cleric (life) of Wakeen 1
Karsis Dolor
(pronounced: Car’sis Doe’lore)

Physical Description:
Karsis Dolor is half human, quarter elf, and quarter orc. His hair is a mousey color part-way between sandy blonde and brown. His eyes are green, or maybe brownish depending on the light but in no way really remarkable. He skin is just… average; perhaps a bit pale or a bit tanned depending on if it is winter or summer.

Severe malnourishment and hard living during his formative years served to permanently stunt Karsis’ growth. While he is just past 15 years of age and has nearly reached his full growth he stands only 4ft 10in and weighs perhaps 115 lbs,

Karsis is also naturally ambidexterous. A trait his parents were quick to make sure he capitalized in. He is well trained in writing or using other tools equally well in either hand. He has often used this to help augment a disguise by pretending to be a lefty or righty as the character warranted.

His only unusual features, other than his small size, is that he has just slightly pointed ears from his elven heritage and his incisors are a bit larger than normal from his orcish blood. However he usually keeps his ears out of sight under his hair and his teeth safely concealed behind a tight lips. His mixed heritage is usually impossible to determine just from looking at him. The elven and orcish features tend to cancel each other out or are blurred by the human bloodline.

Other than his ears and teeth the only really remarkable thing about his appearance is how unremarkable it is. Indeed Karsis’ appearance would make him a natural at being a spy. Even making a concerted effort, most people often find it impossible to recall and describe what Karsis looks like after encountering him. Karsis has a habit, when dealing with strangers, of keeping his teeth and ear-tips hidden, which makes it nearly impossible for the stranger to later recall any real details about the boy.

Because of his frail and undersized physique Karsis normally looks to be only 11-13 years of age. He is experienced in both disguise and deception and with a little acting and the right clothing he can easily pass himself off as being anywhere between 9 and 14 years of age or as a girl between 12-18 of age. With a bit of make-up, high-heeled boots, or other props he has passed himself off as a young man (18-28), a middle-aged woman, a young Halfling (either gender), or an elf (either gender and almost any age).

Because of his unremarkable natural appearance people generally have to look to other cues when making judgements about him and he has learned that the slightest change in clothing, hair style, posture, and tone of voice can greatly vary how people perceive him.

By strict nature Karsis is probably Neutral Good in alignment, but because of his background he is currently much more Chaotic Neutral. Years of living on his own, struggling to survive as a forgotten child has made him much more untrusting of anyone other than himself and much readier to look out for himself before any others. When dealing with those he trusts his personality will become much more neutral good. Also, when dealing with someone who is alone and struggling his good nature is much more likely to come to the fore, especially if he isn’t being observed by those that he feels may judge him.

Also, because of his years of living on his own at a very young age, Karsis has a very… skewed… moral system. He doesn’t really see any ethical issue with stealing from those that have more than they need whereas taking from someone who is already struggling to survive is one of the most heinous crimes he can imagine. He would never dream of hurting an innocent but wouldn’t blink before putting a dagger in someone’s back if they were a bully and he could get away with it without being caught.

Karsis has a very hard time trusting others. Almost everyone in his past that he trusted has failed him and several people who tried to gain his trust did it as an act of deception to trick him. However if someone does somehow gain his trust it is an almost fanatical passion to Karsis due to its rarity and his inexperience with feeling such a thing. Currently the only person Karsis trusts is Ressilmae Starlight, the head priest of the Temple of the Moonsong Temple of Sehanine (see background).

Because of his trust issues Karsis tends to be overly secretive. He often takes actions without telling others even if there really is no reason to keep the information from them. This could easily land him in trouble as he goes off on his own without telling others where he is going.

Karsis only has two keepsakes from his family and he cherishes these above all others. His mother’s thieves tools and his sister’s make-up kit. Any attempt to remove either from him will likely result in a very unexpectedly violent response from Karsis.
Thargus Dolor (Father, missing)
Thargus Dolor was a half-orc fighter (Champion - 4th level) and former adventurer. During his adventuring days he met, feel in love with, and married a fellow adventurer named Tellana Amanodel. Thargus often had issues with being accepted since he was a half-orc but he secretly enjoyed the struggle of earning peoples respect and tweaking the noses of bigots and so he handled almost all of the household’s relations with other people. When Karsis was 7 years old his father went south with a merchant caravan and never returned.

Tellana Amanodel (Mother, deceased)
Tellana Amanodel was half-elven rogue (Thief - 5th level) and former adventurer. Despite his blood, she fell in love with Thargus and the two married and retired to Fallcrest to raise their children. Tellana had a rather significant bounty on her head so she kept a very low profile, allowing Thargus to handle any dealings with the neighbors while she focused on her daughter… and eight years later her son. She died of a plague (Karsis was 8 at the time).

Rylia (Older Sister, deceased)
Rylia was an introverted, bookish and serious child growing up. She had no friends growing up, finding the other girls of Fallcrest shallow and annoying when not outright hurtful. Where Karsis didn’t really inherit the elven and orcish features of either of his parents Rylia strongly favored the orcish bloodline which made her the victim of many hurtful jests from her peers. Instead of trying to fit-in where she wasn’t wanted she turned to her family where she doted on her little brother Karsis. She died of a plague at the age of 16 (Karsis was 8 at the time).

Back in their adventuring days Thargus and Tellana (Karsis’ parents) were quite successful and even a bit infamous. Their adventuring group operated mostly in ‘grey’ areas of the law with occasional forays well into the illegal. Still they were able to retire with a tidy nest-egg and settled in the obscure little town of Fallcrest to keep out of sight of anyone that might still be looking for them from their former adventuring days. The bought a nice little two-story house in the lower.

They soon had a daughter, Rylia, and then eight years later they had a son, Karsis. These years were happy years for the family. They had plenty of money for their needs and didn’t need much. Mostly they kept to themselves. Both Tellana and Rylia had a distrust and dislike of the locals of Fallscrest and even more so for strangers. Thargus actually enjoyed shocking strangers with his half-orc nature and thumbing his nose at any bigoted locals. Still he got along fairly well with most folk and was the ‘face’ of the family, shielding the others from view.

The family also taught Karsis at home and so he grew up with an eclectic education. While she never intended for him to be a thief like herself his mother felt anybody was better knowing how to move with stealth when an emergency called for it. She was entertained the child with sleight of hand and Karsis unintentionally learned much of that skill. His sister, who had always hated her appearance, had been learning the art of makeup and would practice with Karsis and so he learned those skills as well.

In the winter of Karsis’ 7th year his father went south with a caravan. Karsis never knew why his father left exactly, but knew he would return after many months. So, while he missed his father, he wasn’t scared about his absence.

This father had not known how long he would be gone but expected it to be the better part of a year and so the family didn’t really grow concerned until almost a full year had passed and Thargus still had not returned nor sent word. Both his mother and sister tried to shield the young Karsis from their worry but were largely unsuccessful. Since neither his mother or sister really liked or trusted their Fallcrest neighbors or officials they told no one and did nothing other than privately worry and talk of him returning any day now.

That winter a plague swept through the Vale. Karsis, his mother, and his sister all became sick. Karsis, being only 8 at the time, was hit the worst. His mother and sister spent much of their time and energy nursing him through the illness, which is why he lived. But they spent too much of their own vitality in nursing him and both succumbed and died from the sickness themselves.

Karsis has absorbed much of his mother and sister’s distrust of strangers and the people of Fallcrest and so he did not go for help. Instead he buried his mother and sister secretly in the woods behind the house and then he waited for his father to return any day now.

Soon the food in the house ran out and Karsis resorted slipping out of the house late at night to eat what little he could find in garbage heaps and refuge bins. He grew thin and was constantly starving but still waited for his father to return any day now.

Winters are particularly harsh in the Vale and the next winter Karsis had to resort to odd bits of thefts of opportunity and even a bit of burglary to survive. His mother had taught how to be stealthy and him how to move quietly and avoid drawing attention from others. It had now been a year since he had buried his mother and sister and two years since his father’s disappearance. It was during this time that he first came to the attention of the town guard. Most of the guard were stiff-necked, fussy rules mongers and quickly became Karsis’ arch-nemesia. The guard suspected Karsis of both being a thief and being a homeless urchin which was an even worse crime in most of their books. Karsis was able to lie his way out of the guard’s clutches the first time but the guard was never really satisfied. Many times afterward they would try to act nice to Karsis in order to trick him into confessing to crimes and the encounters became long battles of bluff and deception between them.

The next fall one of Fallcrest’s major land owners mistakenly thought that the Dolor house was vacant (only Karsis still lived there and he kept his comings and goings very secret). The land baron somehow got title of the house transferred to his name and began to rent it out. This was particularly devastating to Karsis. He could not and would not openly show himself to others and so he could not remain in house now that it was occupied by strangers. But neither could he leave for if he did how would his father find him when he returned any day now?

Karsis, now truly homeless, took to living in abandoned buildings, nooks under eaves, and ledges in the sewers. Without decent shelter and a steady base of operations Karsis grew even more emaciated bedraggled. Occasional sightings of him began to grow into rumors of a feral child or some fey creature living somewhere in the city. Worse, winter was soon arrived.

Karsis survived the winter of his 10th year only by horribly bad luck. While robbing the house of a fat and well-to-do butcher the homeowner caught him. But rather than turning the obviously starving orphan over to the authorities the butcher, a secret follower of Loviatar (the Maiden of Pain), locked him in his basement to torture. The butcher kept Karsis alive for months, although Karsis learned what it was to wish to die. It was during this time that Karsis also realized his father was not coming home any day now, and that he had nobody in the world at all except himself.

Early in the following summer Karsis committed his first murder, in a careless moment the butcher had turned his back while accidently leaving a knife he had been using on Karsis within the boy’s reach. After killing the butcher Karsis fled back into the sewers and then made his way back to his parent’s home only to find it still occupied by the strangers.

Karsis devised a plan to drive the strangers from his family home. It was actually a bit of brilliant planning for a child not even 11 years old. It was a long con. He knew he could last in the cave until winter and so he planned to use the intervening months to slowly build things up to drive them away before winter arrived. He slowly began to convince the strange family that the house was haunted. At first he would slip in and move things when they were in other rooms. Later he would even slip into the bedroom while they slept and move things. He knew the hidden ways his parents had built into the attic and crawlspace under the house and would use them to make odd moans and whispers late at night. Finally, as winter began to close in he began to wait until they would leave the house and then go in and break things and leave trails of pig’s blood around the house, especially in the bedrooms.

Finally the strangers resorted to going to the priests of Waukeen for help in exorcising the malicious spirit. But the head priest of the temple could find not a single spirit or poltergeist in the house, despite being repeatedly called back by the family.

Karsis’ plan almost worked. In fact the strangers were planning to leave and he figured he only needed to keep things up for a few more nights. It was one of these nights, when Karsis was creeping through the starlight to the house again that he was caught. The temple had returned for one more attempted exorcism and caught the boy breaking into the house with several jars of cockroaches.

The priests of Waukeen captured the boy with magical slumber and investigated his history, as much as they could find through neighbors, the guard, and several divinations.
When Karsis awoke he was a prisoner in a tower in the Temple of Waukeen. But unlike his time in the butcher’s basement torture room his prison in the temple was one of kindness. By this time Karsis was more feral animal than human and had to be kept locked up for his own safety as the Temple nursed him back to health and civility. It took months of patient work to gradually smooth the savagery out of the boy. The priest’s tool for choice in this task was music.

By the time he was 13 Karsis was free to go from the Temple but chose to stay. He became a choirboy, learning to sing and play the flute, lute, and lyre. He found safety for himself in the music that the temple had taught him and soon learned that music even had a power of its own.

For the next year Karsis faithfully served in the Temple but then priests decided the best last phase of the healing process was for him to learn live without totally relying on the temple; to go out into the world on his own.

The priests expanded the boy’s training into a wide variety of subjects to find what else might interest the young man. History, philosophy, rhetoric, craft skills, and even weapons. At the same time the priest carefully guided the boy’s interest towards things other than himself and the temple.

On one of Karsis’ first forays into the city on his own he became involved in a bar-fight and suddenly found himself dragooned into the Sheriffs of Fallcrest..
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