Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thessalonike of Macedon

I think I've said before that one of great things about a historical D&D campaign is how all the legends and tales from around the world form background the setting. Such is the case with this article, inspired by a Wikipedia article I found while reading about Alexander the Great.


Thessalonike of Macedon
According to history, Thessalonike of Macedon was the daughter of King Philip and thus half-sister of Alexander the Great. Legend has it that she was once visited by him, after he'd obtained the Elixir of Life, and that he used it to wash her hair, granting her tremendous longevity. Upon his death she tried to commit suicide by throwing herself into the sea, but the magic prevented her from dying. Instead she was transformed into something aking to a mermaid, one that possessed considerable power but that was also very fickle.

The stories say that she would stop passing ships and ask the sailors:

Ζει ο βασιλιάς Αλέξανδρος?
(Is Alexander the King alive?)

The proper answer is:

Ζει και βασιλεύει, και τον κόσμο κυριεύει!
(He lives and reigns and conquers the world!)

Those who answered correctly she would help speed along on their way. On the other hand, to those who answered wrongly she would reveal her true gorgon-like nature and attack.


Medium Monstrous Humanoid Sea Witch 6
Hit Dice:
12d8+12 (66 hp)
5 ft. (1 square); swim 40 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class:
16 (+3 Dex, +3 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple:
Shortbow +13/+8 ranged (1d6/x3) or dagger +13/+8 melee (1d4/19–20) or snakes +13 melee (1d4 plus poison)
Full Attack:
Shortbow +13/+8 or +11/+11/+6 ranged (1d6/x3); or dagger +13/+8 melee (1d4/19–20) and snakes +8 melee (1d4 plus poison)
5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks:
Petrifying gaze, poison; spells, ship model ritual
Special Qualities:
Amphibious, darkvision 60 ft.; attuned to the sea, spells, wind cord ritual
Fort +8, Ref +9, Will +13
Str 10, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 16
Bluff +10, Concentration +7, Diplomacy +5, Disguise +10 (+12 acting), Intimidate +5, Knowledge (sea lore) +7, Listen +6, Move Silently +9, Spellcraft +7, Spot +14
Far Shot, Iron Will, Leaping Attack, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Weapon Finesse
Mediterranean Sea
Challenge Rating:
Double standard
By character class
Level Adjustment:

At first appearance, Thessalonike appears no different from other kinds of merfolk; she has the upper body of a beautiful Greek woman, and the lower body of a fish. Her true appearance is revealed, however, if an unfortunate individual answers her question incorrectly.

Thessalonike speaks Ancient Greek and Sabir.

A medusa tries to disguise its true nature until the intended victim is within range of its petrifying gaze, using subterfuge and bluffing games to convince the target that there is no danger. It uses normal weapons to attack those who avert their eyes or survive its gaze, while its poisonous snakes strike at adjacent opponents.

Petrifying Gaze (Su): Turn to stone permanently, 30 feet, Fortitude DC 15 negates. The save DC is Charisma-based.

Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 14, initial damage 1d6 Str, secondary damage 2d6 Str. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Ship Model Ritual (Su): Unlike other sea witches, Thessalonike does not require material components or the expenditure of experience points to use the ship model ritual. Instead she can use it once per vessel encountered, either to help or harm the ship in question.

Spells per Day: Four zero-level, five 1st-level, three 2nd-level, two 3rd-level.

Spells Known: Detect magic, Guidance, Know Direction, Message, Resistance, Virtue; Bane, Bless, Doom, Endure Elements, Identify, Obscuring Mist, Summon Monster I; Aid, Augury, Gust of Wind, Protection from Arrows, Resist Energy, Status, Summon Monster II; Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Locate Object, Obscure Object, Pacify Storm*, Protection from Energy, Summon Monster III

*This spell is detailed in the Corsair rules supplement.

Using Thessalonike
Alexander's sister could be used in a campaign in many different ways; a few of the possibilities are detailed here.
  • The most obvious way she could encounter the PC's is by confronting them as they are sailing the Mediterranean Sea, as described above.
  • Alternately, the PC's could be part of a group sent to hunt down Thessalonike, perhaps in hopes of learning her secrets. This might be at the behest of the Inquisition, the Cabal, or somebody else.
  • Given that she, according to legend, gained her longevity through the Elixir of Life, the possibility that she might know where to find it could be an important discovery, indeed.
  • Her lair could, of course, contain any variety of treasures, as could the wrecks of the ships that she's sent to the bottom of the sea.

1 comment:

  1. That's a very cool and very creepy tale. Thank you for sharing. I also like your custom monster. I'm tempted to use it in my campaign at some point. Have to be soon as they're already Level 6. Hmm....