Zero to Hero

How the Gnoll barbarian became the hero no one wanted, but everyone needed.


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Some backstory is necessary to tell this long tale I suppose. I had just finished playing an undead based campaign witha  DM and friend who I was partially acquainted with at the time. When the campaign came to an end me and the other players basically went our seperate ways, until one of the players decided to invite me to another group that was playing. I enjoyed playing D&D and so I accepted. At the time 4th edition was kinda in full swing an the dm and the players were starting the 9-10 prewritten campaign arc that ends withthe Prince of Undeath capiagn nearing 30th level. To me this souned like a cool idea since the character i had previously played was a gnoll dhampir barbarian who hated vampires and sought to sloughter them.

I was able to retool him for the capaign and the dm allowed it, saying it was just what was needed for the party. The other players were a cleric/paladin, a wizard who focused on evocation and illusion, abig muscly goliath warden, my friend who was playing an elven ranger with a thing for collecting animal companions, and lastly, a player who was living out some twisted repressed fetish by being a young female beautiful elf rogue in skin-tight studded leather armor who would flirt with every male they could find.

It seemed like things would go off well, but they didn't. Right away we find out the rogue is a kelptomaniac who finds all the treasue and shares not of it. As annoying as this is I didn't need any treasure as I had planned my character entire pth from early levels. But what bothered me was that the rogue would alos try to steal fromteh party while they slept, and had the stealth to do so unnoticed every time. This went withoutht he character knowledge until the rogue stole some trinkets of significance from my character. See the DM had had each character work on an elaborate backstory of some kind and alowed players to have a number of small items or trinkets, like  keepsakes, to tie their backstories together. Mine were a black book for writing down the names of vampire lords I've killed as well as dark rituals known only to my gnollsh god Yeenoghu, as well as a necklace of red ravens feathers and vampire teeth, with a single lone black feather.

After having stolen the items the player decided to chide and demean me and my character. While this meant little to me initially and really stood only to bother the ranger, my friend it didn't stop there. After the cleric realized my character was ad hampir, as well as a gnoll, he began to look at me differnetly and over time began to withhold healing from me. The warden would cosntantly min-max when he could and would challenge my charaters offensive strength for the fn of it and the wizard began to take feats to make potions and maigacl items and would share such items with everyone but the sub-educated gnoll.

Eventually the jokes became more frequent and less lighthearted. By 20th level I needed to take the ritual that turned me into a vampire lord just to receive some form of healing each round, but this just ostracized me more from the party. It was fine, I thought, for what the DM and the party didn't know, was that I owned a copy of the prewritten campaign that terminates the series and I had been formulating a long drawn out plan.

Finally the campaigns begin to wind down. Most of the party is decked out n mgical acutremants and feats/lvels that would make a powergamer proud, all except for me. The only magic item I had was a vorpal Executioners axe I had managed to pay for after nearly a dozen levels of being screwed out of my share of quest gold and loot by the klepto rogue. Near the end of the Prince of Undeath, Orcus stabs the Raven Queen with a shard of pure evil and she is encountered dying on the floor, Or us sitting in her throne watching her die.

As the party comes uponher only four of us have the ability to remove the shard, but only at risk of serious debilitation, naturally I was "volunteere" to remove the shard, which warped my right arm inthe process, preventing me from wielding 2-handed weapons. Orcus then, enraged prepared to attack. Here was my chance to turn the tables. I'd known the DM had been adding monsters to the encounters for some time to blancce the power creep the party had been acquiring. What they didn't realize was just how much damage the gnoll barbarian was actually contributing, and this I counted on. I spun a yarn about holding off the demon lord myself while the rest of the party got the goddess of death away from the palace. Naturally four of the players bought it, but my friend caught on, we'd been playing together for nearly 30 levels, he knew I had a plan.

The other players knew I couldn't kill Orcus myself, not with a bum arm, but I could soak damage, that Vampire Lord template was good for something, they could leave me to die and get pretty far so they escaped, carrying the goddess of death with them. I stood my ground and acted as rearguard for quite a few rounds, natural regeneration from beign a vampire lord helped alot, but in the end orcus reduced me to 0, took may executioner's axe, and monologuing for a time about using it to finally slay the goddess, took off after the party. Bait taken.

The party and the DM shortly thereafter found that without the damage output/hit point chunk of the gnoll vampire barbarian, they were far more ill-equipped to fight a demon lord and their arrogance and confidence began to crumble. With orcus wielding my vorpal executioners axe, his damage output was boosted as-well, to terrifying effect. It didn't take much for him to kill the rogue, stisfyingly enough by  beheading her The cleric was silenced next, followed by the wizard. With all perveyors of healing uncoscius the warden struggled to protect the goddess and the ranger simply ran. The looks of horror nd anguish on their faces was priceless as I watched them lose the character they were soproud of.

It was at that moment I made my glorious re-entry. Anticipating a glorious finale, I had taken an epic destiny (a feature granted to 20+ lvl character) thematically appropriate for those of the wild hunt, people who ran with firbolgs. The first time per day you begin a turn dying or dead you return to life at half health and double in size. Any equipement of yours does so as well (not just that which is equipped spcifically to you). Orcus was wielding a huge/gargantuan sized vorpal excutioner's axe, courtesy of moi.

I had spent the rest of that combat healing each round, forgotten b the DM but not gone. Until at my moment of glory and snuck up beind Orcus and delivered the most satisfying vampiric bite. Or us was indeed wounded from fighting the party, but more than enugh to be a threat. That is, except for another feature of the epic destiny, the ability to call hound of the hunt once per day. I called four of them, had each attack or grapple, save for the last one that disarmed orcus and gave me back my axe.

The party was stunned and more than a little annoyed when I made a short monologue. The Dm even mad ea showing of penalizing me attack rolls because of my bum arm, but I just smirked, I had planned for everything for many levels, and a gnolls pack attack was about to cme in quite handy. I swung that gargantuan vorpal executioner's axe as part of a barbarians rage strike, nat 20. The attack hit like a frieght train and the true power of a heavy crit, brutal 2, 4d6, vorpal weapon truly showed, I rolled so many dice that my DM just told me to stop. Orcus was dead, or rather discorporated. The fight was over.

My DM gave me a slow clap, he was truly amazed I had endured all the ingame hatred so long just to steal the spotlight in the end. The players each had different reactions, the player for the rogue launched into a fit about how it was unfair, the cleric got up and left the table, to angry and stunned to say anything, the warden apoligized for being so rude and actually congratulated me, the wizard never apologized and said some word of commendation under his breath but never spoke to me again afterwards. My friend beamed at me, he had always not been okay with the jokes and insults and the general way myself and my character was treated, but had stuck with me the whole time.

When the campaign ended all the players that survived, being 30th level were able to acqire immortality within the game world. The players went their seperate ways, this was almost 10 years ago. I had nearly forgotten all of it until I bumped into the DM again at a grocery store a few weeks ago. He had eventually picked up 5e and had been working on new groups and his own campaign world. But he did tell me that in evey campaign world he had made afterwards there was always the legend of the Vampire Hunting Gnoll Barbarian.


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