“Naturally a detective doesn’t want to look like a detective, and give the whole thing away right at the start.”
— P. G. Wodehouse, The Man With Two Left Feet
Crime is inevitable no matter where you are, a sad truth some individuals learn the hard way. Dalzagley Hillhole knows that. He has been spared from major loss and violence, but many of the people in the Golemcopse Borough haven’t been as lucky. Bein’ a Belfry Goblin isn’t easy, especially when you’re on the good side of the law with the Ghost Sculptor Gangclave. That’s why he does what he can for the other good folks; you never know when mafficking turns violent and harms the innocent. Being bricky goes a long way in the streets. Though he may be half-rats and appear to be killing the canary, Dalzagley always ends up doing what needs to be done. Even if it means working with… him.
DDDhenalzagley is a Nocnitsa in the Trigate universe. Though the realm of the Dreamscape is relatively unknown and filled with mystery, its existence has been explored by some individuals with psionic talent. Dreamsmiths have had the most exposure to it, but it is still relatively unexplained, even to the greatest of them. As the saying goes, however, “if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you”. At some point, a being from the Dreamscape noticed a careless Psion from the waking world and interfered. Nocnitsa are people who unfortunately are surrounded by the nightmarish aspects of the Dreamscape, some even seeking the attention of a Dark Passenger or worse: being found by one looking to expand from their strange realm.
A rather unattractive fellow, Dalzagley (or “Zag” to his associates) grew up with his head in the clouds with stories of do-gooder soldiers, detectives, and heroes of old. Silver skin and brass metallic cords, similar to hair, offset his solid green eyes. He always seemed odd to his peers and enjoyed daydreaming, so it should be no surprise that, at his best, he enjoys wearing clothes in styles found off of Haggleshaw.
As a teenager, he had his first encounter with the nightmare-being known as Bh’dell when he was sick enough for his family to think that he was on his deathbed. In this painful, fever-ridden sleep, Bh’dell noticed Dalzagley’s psionic potential and, like a parasite, wriggled itself into the dreaming Belfry and forever changing his life.
Many years have passed since then and while Dalzagley still tries his best, Bh’dell holds him back for its amusement, which sometimes causes Dalzagley to seem clumsy. However, Bh’dell has also invested in its host and allows him to enjoy success with its aid when it deems it necessary.
We’ll take a quick run through the character sheet for Dalzagley Hillhole. Why does he have the last name of Hillhole, anyway? It was common for Belfry to take a name based on where they were located on the fateful day their species awoke. One of his ancestors was clearly in a hole on a hill… of course, these holes are typically known as sewers now, but… don’t bring that up with him.
Characteristically speaking, he’s not the strongest or most durable guy on the streets but he has good reaction time, is pretty smart and has quite a bit of willpower; a side-effect of having to deal with Bh’dell most likely. Being a Belfry does mean he’s a bit more rugged than many other sophonts in the Planar Council. This is reflected in a higher Physical and Energy defense rating, listed as PD and ED.
Looking at his Complications, there should be no surprises. Being a Belfry in a universe with many other species generally isn’t an issue, but there are always going to be people with bigoted mindsets for one reason or another. Hosting a Dark Passenger is a lot less welcoming but also thankfully harder to detect and notice. Bh’dell does tend to make things difficult for him on occasion, represented in him being Unlucky. That die roll can really interfere with some things he’d take for granted.
Getting down to his Powers, we see that he has quite a few so let us jump right in:
First up, we have a multipower pool named "Bh'dell, the Dark Passenger". If you're not familiar with the HERO System, you can think of it as a container of powers that includes a discount to the player for accepting a restriction on how much of various powers he can use in a single action. The analogy I like to give my players is this: picture the Starship Enterprise with weapons, shields, engines, life support, so on and so forth... but you can divert power between them. The multipower power pool has some disadvantages that affects the powers within:
All Slots Lockout: Using any one of the powers of the multipower pool “locks out” the use of any of the other powers. Only one can be used at a time.
Perceiveable: Normally mental powers tend to be invisible both visually and audibly. Since the Dark Passenger manifests itself into the waking world, beings normally not able to see these powers can.
Concentration: Using any of the powers halves Dalzagley’s defense the same turn he uses it, making him easier to hit. It also limits the type of actions he can use simultaneously.
Requires A Roll (PS roll, -10% per 20 Active Points modifier): Every time one of these powers are use, Dalzagley needs to make a skill roll on his Profession Skill: Nocnitsa skill which has a base value of 78%. For every 20 Active Points, the roll is made with a -10% penalty.
Nightmare Tap is the first power in the power pool and is a mental blast. It will do 2d6 damage to beings who have a sophont class mind, a.k.a. humanoids you’d typically interact with in civilization. It has the advantage of being indirect in that Bh’dell can position itself somewhere around Dalzagley and the power comes from there, giving it more options for its use. Aside from the disadvantages above, it also cannot be Targeted: it only can hurt someone’s brain as a psionic attack.
Dread Revelation is the second power and is an entangle. By bringing some of the nightmare from the Dreamscape into the waking world, Bh’dell can cause a plethora of inky arms and hands to reach out and grab at someone or something.
Ominous Presence is the third power and is a drain, effectively lowering one of the target’s characteristics. In this case it lowers Presence, which you can think of as charisma and force of personality. Why would you want to do that? Well…
Frightening Realizations is the fourth power and is a characteristic purchased as a power. In this case, it is Presence again. +20 Presence only to make presence attacks based around fear and intimidation. A character resists against Presence Attacks with their presence, so by lowering the target’s and raising his, Dalzagley and Bh’dell can definitely scare some folks.
Manifest Catatonic Fear is the fifth power and is a darkness power, affecting the sight sense group. By bringing some of its nightmare into the waking world, he can create an area of inky darkness that prevents people from seeing into it, out of it or through it.
Bh’dell Spies is the sixth and last power and it is clairsentience for the hearing and sight sense groups. It allows Dalzagley to “see and hear” somewhere else other than his location. The power can move as Bh’dell is the active “source” of the power and able to move.
Outside of the multipower we have Nightmare Origin. A set of characteristics purchased as a power, this time Physical, Energy, Mental and Power Defense. While active, Dalzagley becomes a lot more slippery. Since it isn’t part of the multipower, using it doesn’t lock him out of his other abilities.
Visitor to the Waking World is the lightsleep perk bought as a power. What can I say, Dalzagley doesn’t sleep much. Or very deeply.
Escape to the Dreamscape is the simulate death perk bought as a power. Essentially this allows Dalzagley to appear dead, lowering his pulse and everything else necessary. The idea behind it is that Bh’dell takes Dalzagley’s consciousness and nopes right out of there but leaves his body behind.
Lastly we can take a glimpse at his Skills to get a better understanding of what he’s capable of doing outside of raw characteristics and powers he has been bestowed with.
Everyman Skills are skills that everyone in the setting generally has a basic level of knowledge with. Allspeak (read about Allspeak here!) and Chiselwick are languages that he knows. Out of the others, Conversation, Healing, Persuasion, Stealth, and the skills necessary for him to actually be a Nocnitsa have had extra points put into them.
Armor and Weapon Familiarities tell you what Dalzagley is skilled in using and wearing. Heavy Leather armor and either a Warhammer or Cestus. Looks like he likes getting his hands dirty!
Defense Maneuvers Ⅰ & Ⅱ give him a defensive edge in combat. Rank Ⅰ means that no attacker is considered to be attack him “from behind” while Rank Ⅱ eliminates the bonuses attackers would normally get when teaming up on him.
Streetwise is a sort of combination of a social and knowledge skill. It is used in relations with those of… ill-repute, as well as to the way they tend to operate.
Criminology is essentially “Detective: The Skill”. It reflects knowledge on how to look for clues, dust for fingerprints, analyze evidence, examine criminal records and files, and perform other criminalistic tasks.
Lockpicking reflects his skill in picking locks. Sometimes the front door isn’t the best way in!
Power: Sleep Walker is an odd skill, but essentially can be thought of as Dalzagley’s ability to use Bh’dell’s powers in other ways that he doesn’t actively have a power bought for.
Knowledge Skill: The Dreamscape is a measure of his knowledge of… the Dreamscape. Thanks to Bh’dell, he does know quite a bit about it.
Cultural Knowledge: The Ghost Sculptor Gangclave is a measure of knowledge and understanding of the cultures of the Ghost Scultuptor Gangclave. On Haggleshaw, the remains of the cities the Belfry found themselves in were fought over by various gangs. As time passed, the gangs banded together to form a sort of city-state, an enclave if you will.
Area Knowledege: Borough of Golemcopse represents knowledge of a particular area, in this case the Borough of Golemcopse. This can be anything from geography (“You’re lookin’ for the beach two streets down from Highbridge, mate.” ), locations (“Guv, best pint and meats are definitely down at the Dirty Dicker.” ) and even people (“Listen ’ere luv, if you really want to know about that astromancy business, go talk to my chuckaboo Brimley Gardenstain. He’s mad as hops and prone to podsnappery, but if ya suggestionize he tells you about it, you’ll see it is a topic he’s afternoonified about.” )
TTThere we go! Dalzagley Hillhole is a functional character that I’d welcome into a game of mine. Being built on 175 points puts him on the low end of where I tend to start player characters, but given he is meant to be someone with potential for greatness who has just done small time law private investigator work, it would make sense.