May 18, 2009

Portrait of a Villain - Cerdic Elesing, High Chieftain of the Saxons

"Our time has come! My countrymen, you have traveled far to join me, and now I will follow through on the oaths made by our forefathers before me. The earth will drink the blood of the Britons today and we will make these Isles our own. We will make these lands Saxon!!!" -- Cerdic Elesing, just before marching on Mount Badon.
Original artwork, "Cerdic Elesing", by Hugo Solis, exclusively for The Core Mechanic. Looking for quality illustrations for your latest project? Visit Hugo's Gallery and get in touch.

Cerdic Elesing was a Saxon ealdorman who's royal family descended from a line of magistrates appointed by the Rome to care for and manage the western end of the Saxon Shore (Latin: litus Saxonicum). Although Rome had long abandoned it, the Saxons had not abandoned the dream of reclaiming Britain, a land of plenty, as their own. So, in the late 6th-century, Cerdic gathered all the ealdormen of the tribe Gewissæ together and mounted a massive invasion of Britain's southern shoreline. Within a few short years, Cerdic and his forces had destroyed the tiny kingdom of Natanleaga, taken the Isle of Wight, and conquered the southern shorelines of Britain.

Cerdic crushed all the Saxon tribes already in Britain that did not submit to his might. He never negotiated, nor ever knelt to any man. The only force in Britain that could match his army's strength was that of Arthur's cavalry. At the Battle of Mount Badon, Arthur was finally able to turn Cerdic's army back, but at a great loss to his own forces as this was Arthur's last great victory. Cerdic was not so ruined, and then sent word back to his cousins in The Continent that Britain was defenseless. Soon afterwords hordes of Saxons, Angles, Francs, and Jutes began arriving monthly along the coastlines of Britain. Cerdic was the first, but not by any stretch the last Saxon king to ravage the Isles. By 514 C.E., he had established the Kingdom of Wessex in southern Britain, and soon began to consolidate other Saxon tribes under his banner. Thereafter, Cerdic and his descendants became the largest threat to Brythonnic Kings.

Cerdic is a raging war monger. While his long term goals are the total conquering of Britain and the subjugation of all its people, his true love in life is for the rush of battle at the head of his own army. He vows to never rest. He seeks to be a pinnacle of Saxon honor, always keeps his word once he oaths a promise, and never cowers in the face of overwhelming odds. While his son Cynric governs his fledgling kingdom from its seat in Wintanceastre, Cerdic always on the move and rules from his saddle. The main focus of his military campaigns are currently the domination of the regions west of Wessex, and the eventual control of the entire southern coastline of Britain.

Adventure Hooks
Cerdic could easily be adapted to any D&D campaign set against the backdrop of an ongoing war. He represents a tyrannical king with an insatiable thirst for battle and blood. Once he sets his sites on an objective, he will go to great lengths to prove he is able to take it. Unbeknownst to many of his subjects, Cerdic is also a collector of relics. In his quest for domination, he does recognize the usefulness of powerful relics, regardless of their source of power, and often commissions adventurers to retrieve these relics to add to his collection.
  1. The Stolen Chalice (Heroic Tier): A new monk from The Church arrives in the region with intentions reclaiming a minor artifact important to his particular sect, The Monks of Valdis. The relic in question is a golden chalice stolen from the priest's chapel by a marauding band of Saxon barbarians. The raiders have taken refuge in the hills a days ride from the PCs home village and the priest urges the PCs to assist him in "reclaiming the property of The Church". In reality, the chalice belongs to the Saxons and possesses the ability to mend the broken and heal the sick. It is known to the Saxons as "The Chalice of Tyr"; from it pours forth wine that believed to be the blood that was split when Tyr offered his arm to the wolf Fenris. These raiders are delivering it Cerdric, whose youngest son is sick with the plague. If the PCs manage to take the chalice from the raiders, they will have made a mortal enemy of Cerdric. If they refuse, the monk will declare the PCs as heretics.
  2. Unleash The Isle of Wights (Paragon Tier): Rumors have surfaced that the Wihtwara, cousins of the Saxons, have recently discovered an abandoned tomb on the Isle of Wight and, instead of plundering it, have built a high mound around it in hopes of sealing it off until the High Chieftain, Cerdric, can personally inspect it. These rumors have become more tangible as the PCs have recently come into possession of an ancient text, seemingly written by the 3rd century scholar Serenus, that details an early Celtic burial site on "a tiny isle, north of Gaul, that is home to the chalk-faced walking dead who seem to step into and out of this world at will". The character's liege has commissioned them to set out and infiltrate this tomb and retrieve any lost Celtic artifacts that might otherwise fall into the hands of the Saxons. The PCs reach the site with little trouble, but find that the Saxons who were previously protecting the burial ground have followed Cerdric and his personal entourage into the crypts. Once inside, the PCs find a portal to Annwyn and discover that Cedric and his men have already passed through the gate. To what end, the PCs can only guess, but they must stop Cerdic and drive him out of Annwyn before he manages to defile it.

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