Monday, February 28, 2011

Virtuosos of Villainy: Andrade Mirrius

I know more than a few detractors of the 2nd edition boxed set, City of Greyhawk (Those Blue and Yellow books). One common criticism of CoG is that it's "too nice" or not as gritty as the city in Gygax's novel  Saga of Old City which parts of the boxed set were actually based upon. I don't plan on ranting about merits for too long, but really, City of Greyhawk is as evil and mean as the DM who uses it, because the tools are in there if one knows where to look. And that leads me to perhaps the most insidious villain I've ever ran, Andrade Mirrius.

In the official timeline when the boxed set was published, the mysterious Hierarchs of the Horned Society had not yet been driven out of Molag and into exile by Iuz the Evil, and one of their spies abroad was a man named Andrade Mirrius, leader of the Cult of the Shriven Sickle. The City of Greyhawk cleverly presents Andrade as a long-term nemesis in three stages so that he can progress in level along with the player characters. As he begins, Mirrius is an 11th level priest of Nerull, described as 45 years old with gray-streaked black hair and brown eyes. He is the owner of "the Pit", a popular place for gladiatorial fights in the city's Foreign Quarter (Location F8 on the map). The Pit is managed for him by Pietain Morvannis a former gladiator from the Hold of Sea Princes. The Cult of the Shriven Sickle is a group of priests of Nerull based out of a secret lair in the Undercity of Greyhawk and are dedicated to spreading evil through the city. The cult is small, only numbering five including Andrade, but they are highly efficient at what they do. The cult's activities are:
  • Slaying Knights (Knights of Holy Shielding in particular)
  • Slaying of Good (priests of good deities essentially)
  • Disgracing the Good (fraudulent crimes mainly)
  • Disrupting Greyhawk (spreading deceit to hurt trade)
  • Espionage for the Horned Society (with Rhennee running the information back and forth)
  • Raising Money (through illicit means)
Andrade Progresses:
Mirrius advances to 14th level eventually (this varies but is considered to happen between 576 and 585 CY). Still the owner of the Pit, he now begins to push out other cults in the city and gain some influence over the Directors of the city, anonymously through blackmail, kidnapping and negotiation (he owns a Hat of Disguise). It is suggested that if his cult is destroyed before now, he moves to Admundfort to resume his goals, still able to clandestinely work in Greyhawk City with his magical hat. At 18th level Andrade Mirrius, if unchecked is more powerful than ever. He should have many Directors in his pocket, in addition to members of the Union of Sewermen and the Gravediggers' Guild. His influence is so subtle at this point, few of these pawns will know that anyone else is in on Mirrius' schemes. He ultimately wishes to raise an army of undead from beneath the city to surface and cause terror in the streets. If Mirrius is forced out of the city before 18th level he is now a full Hierarch of the Horned Society, hell bent on harassing the PCs with assassins, raids and monsters.

More Time Passes:
By 591 CY, the starting timeline for Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins, Andrade is still operating secretly in Greyhawk City, but the Horned Society is now in exile, defeated by Iuz during the Blood Moon Festival prior to the Greyhawk Wars. This time Andrade has a new side venture, owning the West City Warhouse (R10) under the alias of Aros Mander. Though the Thieves Guild still manage and utilize this warhouse for their own use, none realize who the mysterious owner really is. Mirrius is also joined by another Hierarch in exile, Guiliana Mortidus in spreading evil throughout the domain. Their long term goals are the same as above, yet now include the overthrow of Iuz from their home city of Molag.

One guess, which one would
be Andrade Mirrius?
 Andrade Mirrius is as sneaky as they come. In fact, for a priest he is sneakier than most rogues you'll find in Greyhawk City! Like any uber-evil villain operating out in the open, he has an Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location. The aforementioned Hat of Disguise also ensures his ability to blend into crowds and come and go at will. How slippery is he? Andrade is so slippery, there are no canon illustrations of him that I'm aware of. He is quite possibly the "Kaiser Soze" of Greyhawk (This comparison will come into play later). Speaking of slippery, he also sports a Ring of Free Action, Boots of Speed and a Necklace of Adaptation. Even if you do expose Andrade, he is hard to catch.

I compliment you on
finding out my secret...
 Oh but Mirrius is not scared of anyone though, he can defend himself in combat; his unassuming Bracers of Defense giving him the equivalent protection of platemail armor, and you can hardly shoot at him from a distance due to his Gloves of Missile Snaring and Brooch of Shielding. At 18th level you know he throw some mean spells as well: Blade Barrier, Harm, Slay Living, Firestorm, and so on, it's no surprise the priest of Nerull delights in killing things. Then when things get up close and personal, Andrade can draw out a concealed Sickle +4, +6 versus Neutral Good (to whom it causes paralysis). He's kind of like Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars, one minute he is calm and polite, then the next second he flips out and becomes Darth Sidious.

Andrade in the Home Campaign:
In my 2nd edition campaign Andrade Mirrius was played to evil perfection. After earning a vast fortune exploring the dungeons of Greyhawk Castle, the PCs invested their gold into real estate both outside the city and in the Foreign Quarter. Valkaun Dain the Cruskii fighter, in particular became the leader of the Cairn Hills Force and eventually the owner of more than one tavern. This brought him into contact with another local businessman, Andrade Mirrius of the Pit. Valkaun and company had little cause to suspect this NPC was the most evil person in the city, after all the resident mafia don of the Foreign Quarter was Duke Garand, a vicious loan shark and bookie operating outside the rule of the Thieves Guild. Then there was the Thieves Guild itself to contend with, as well as other troublesome NPCs such as Glodreddi Bakkanin of the Greyhawk Revenue Service who was always looking to tax their loot from Greyhawk Ruins. So, all of this drama drives Andrade and Valkaun together as friends, the perfect cover.
Andrade's plans simmered for a long time and ultimately resulted in the activation of a Quest spell (epic spells from the 2nd edition Tome of Magic) called Undead Plague which raised an army of undead from the crypts to terrorize the city. With pandemonium going on in the city, the PCs finally exposed the cult and Andrade, defeating them in a climatic battle that resulted in Mirrius' Imprisonment  in temporal stasis beneath the ground. This unfortunately left Valkaun Dain to take the rap for the death and destruction as certain corrupt officials brought up trumped charges that he was a conspirator in the cult's attack on Greyhawk City. Acquitted of any wrong-doing, but forever black-listed in the public eye, Valkaun left Greyhawk City and moved back to the Cold North.

Andrade was not done however. Years later he would be rescued from his imprisonment to begin another round of evil. Without the same resources and contacts however, Andrade had to start small this time posing as "Andy" a mentally challenged servant for a new group of player characters. Needless to say, once the players found out they were fooled by Andrade Mirrius again they were stunned. This of course led to rage as they showed no mercy, making sure this time he would end up irrevocably dead (If there is such a thing in D&D). To this day, my players don't trust any NPCs who befriend them and it's all because of one villain, Andrade Mirrius.

Bonus content: 18th level not tough enough for you? Here is a 24th-level version of Andrade Mirrius for 3.5 edition, compliments of Rick Miller's NPC Archive.


Gamerstable Eric said...

Ah, yes. Andy. I took him shopping as I recall.

As for not trusting NPCs, that is certainly true... but Mort loves to put the PCs in legal peril so much, I remember paying an outrageous retainer for a uber-high level Greyhawk City attorney (just in case).

Valkaun_Dain said...

You suck.

Mike Bridges said...

You guys crack me up.

Valkaun_Dain said...

I'm trying to remember the circumstances under which "Andy" came to work for the Brotherhood. I'm also trying to remember exactly how (and who) finally put an end to his existence. Was that the "Night of Terror" for anyone dressed in black leather armor? The same night "Derek the Dark One" had a horse obliterated from underneath him as he sped toward the BH Tower?

Valkaun_Dain said...

I seem to recall Valkaun coming back to GH City under the guise of Alkuin Vaund to root out some evil doers. Gem of the Flanaess my arse. He should have leveled that whole cesspit.

OK, I've changed my mind, I want to play Golden Age again, but I want to go back to the point immediately after the trial.


Mike Bridges said...

Valkaun: Denied!

Anonymous said...

Damn Ullmaster!

I'm using COG to write the setting for my story and had planned on using Andrade Mirrius and the Cult of the Shriven Sickle. You went and spoiled it by causing everyone to remember them!

Now I must choose something else. :(

I remind you that you are a prominent figure in that story and that STDs do exist in Greyhawk!

Ahh! Revenge will be sweet! Mwahahahahaha!

Mystic Scholar

Valkaun_Dain said...

Mortellan Cribol, the Arch Wizard extraordinaire with a venereal disease? I'm sure that's been done...

Anonymous said...

Then I'll just have to make it something extra special, Valkaun. ; )

Mystic Scholar