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The Ancestral Harbinger

An RPG Character Concept

By Neal LitherlandPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 4 min read

The street had been deserted a moment before. As Garen watched, though, bodies stepped out of every alley, and most of the doors. They were clad in green and red, the colors of the Ya'sha hatchetmen. Garen licked lips nervously, and swallowed as his eyes slid from one enforcer to the next. The heavy weight of his father's old sword, the horse cutter that Garen hated so much, tugged at his shoulder. It felt warm against his back, like it smelled blood in the air and it was starting to wake up. As far as Garen knew, it could do that.

"Takes a heavy set of stones to walk through here all on your own," Tirinth said, resting both his axes on his shoulders and drawing his scarred lip back in a sneer. "Too bad you're the last of your clan, because nobody will be left to mourn what's gonna happen to you."

"Please," Garan said, holding up an empty hand. His hand shook slightly... not with fear, but with the effort of holding back what was coursing through his blood. "Don't do this."

Tirinth blew a sharp whistle through his teeth, and steel cleared leather as a battle cry went out among the hatchetmen. Everything slowed down as Garan shrugged his shoulder. The sword slid into his hand as if it belonged there, and he closed his eyes. He opened the door that he struggled so hard to keep closed, and what was on the other side rushed through.

A howl filled the air as dark forms swirled around Garan. Ghostly hands clutched phantasmal swords and spears, daggers and maces. Silent, screaming faces were there, and then gone, their empty sockets boring into the hatchetmen. Garan himself rushed forward, a deep, lusty battlecry loosed from his throat. The voice was wrong. His eyes were wrong. His blade chopped flesh and broke bones, sliding from one target to another with a speed and skill far beyond the youth who held the blade. It was as if his father, Kalth the Chopper, still wielded the Splitter.

Garan was the last of his clan to walk this world... but the others were still within him. And when it was time for swords to sing, they were a chorus who fought by his side.

Gone, But Not Forgotten

The idea behind the ancestral harbinger is that they are a bridge between this world and the next. They are a conduit to the line of warriors who came before them, and the more they grow in power, the more and more of their line can come through from the other side.

This character concept can be played in a number of different ways, as well. Perhaps the character is younger, and the strength and experience of the warriors who came before fills them during moments of danger. Perhaps they're older, or had a near-death experience, and this allows them to keep one foot in the grave, and one foot in the real world, making a kind of bridge for the dead. Perhaps they were stillborn, and brought back to life at the last moment, or they were resurrected and came back with bizarre new powers... the character might even be possessed by the strongest, most unyielding spirits of their ancestors.

But how does one achieve this kind of power set?

If you're a Pathfinder player, there are two main paths I would recommend. The first is through the Haunted Barbarian Rage Powers. These cause the spirits of the dead to swirl around you while you're raging, and the morale bonus to your Strength and Constitution could be due to the presence of the dead filling you. The second path I would recommend is the Ancestor Oracle Mystery. This provides you with a slew of unique powers, including allowing you to question the dead, to summon weapons associated with your lineage, among other terrifying gifts.

For bonus points, you could combine these two paths into a single character, and then take levels in the Rage Prophet prestige class if you're having a hard time choosing between the two of them.

Don't forget to check out my 5 Tips For Playing Better Barbarians, as well as my 5 Tips For Playing Better Oracles if you haven't given those a read over yet, as well!

You may also want to give 50 Shades of Rage: Reflavoring The Barbarian's Signature Ability a read, if you haven't come across it yet!

Like, Follow, and Stay in Touch!

That's all for this week's Unusual Character Concepts post!

For more of my work, check out my Vocal archive, and stop by the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio. Or if you'd prefer to read some of my books, like my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife or my recent short story collection The Rejects, then head over to My Amazon Author Page!

To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and now Pinterest as well! To support my work, consider Buying Me a Ko-Fi, or heading over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a regular, monthly patron. That one helps ensure you get more content, and it means you'll get my regular, monthly giveaways as a bonus!

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About the Creator

Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.



Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary

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