The original music for the game’s DLC, Ashes of Malmouth.
History – Grim Dawn Act 4
(Again, this directly follows part #2.)
Mardirossian made her way to Fort Ikon, to the North. It was still held by the Black Legion. Furthermore, Ikon wasn’t too far from the necropolis where the blood cultists were converging.
However, Fort Ikon was badly undermanned. Prior to the Grim Dawn, the Aetherials had sabotaged it like the rest. The Legion commander had been possessed, and gave orders to greatly weaken the Legion.
But during the Grim Dawn, his men realised what was going on. They used explosives to trap the possessed commander under the fort. Then they detonated more dynamite to collapse a pass to block incoming Aetherial forces. Thus, Fort Ikon had held.
An Aetherial assault did take place, but the Devil’s Executioner arrived just in time to break it. She then destroyed the devastating, thoroughly mutated Aetherial-possessed commander under the Fort.
We are Forsaken
Howbeit the cultists, converging en masse on the necropolis and ferrying vast quantities of blood, far outnumbered the Legion. Furthermore, Aetherial agents were still watching the fort and waiting for another weakness to appear.
But Mardirossian was once again the wild card. She volunteered to invade the necropolis. Once within, she could use the Aetherial rift there to bring a Legion strike force right at the heart of the complex.
Before leaving, Mardirossian befriended another witch/arcanist/mind-reader. Anasteria the Outcast had been helping Black Legion officers with her knowledge and foretelling. However, many among the troops feared her and thought her an Aetherial. As a former Taken, the Devil’s Executioner felt common ground with Anasteria.
(There is an implication that Anasteria is a rogue Aetherial aiding Humans.)
The past never dies
The Ch’thon cultists had taken over part of the necropolis from Aetherial occupiers. The Aetherials likely didn’t realise what was going on, and thus didn’t consider a counter-attack to be a priority.
Mardirossian brutally clashed with Aetherial officers guarding the aether rift therein. Black Legion units came in, and it was agreed to fortify this perimeter. This would avoid a counter-attack from the rear via the rift, since what the Aetherial were doing was unclear. The fire wraith of the Archon Barthollem would be the key Human asset on this front.
As the Legion worked, the Devil’s Executioner did a difficult job for Father Kymon. He promised her the truth about his connection to Empyrion – and he kept his word.
Today we are cancelling the apocalypse
Ulgrim then stealthily went in to investigate what the Bloodbound had done with the magical seals around the Voice of Ch’thon’s corpse. Meanwhile, Mardirossian spearheaded efforts to disrupt Bloodbound surface logistics. In particular, she destroyed shipments of blood intended to reanimate Ch’thon and its Voice.
Then she too went in. Albeit in a less… discreet manner than Ulgrim.
As Ulgrim and Mardirossian came in, kilolitres of blood had partially awakened the Voice. Thus, the Devil’s Executioner and the chef attacked. But during the fight Ulgrim was pulled into the Chthonic Void by a sudden rift.
Though Humanity had lost perhaps its most powerful champion, Mardirossian re-killed the Voice on her own. The Cult of Ch’thon had failed. They also had taken major casualties – both in battle and through mass sacrifice of their less fanatical members.
Though the Devil’s Executioner would only learn of it later, she had simply cast the Voice back into the Chthonic Void. However, since Ulgrim was already there, he too fought and defeated the Voice. That either destroyed it for good, or cast it further back into nether dimensions beneath even the Chthonic Void.
History – Grim Dawn Act 5
But while the Black Legion, Kymon’s Chosen, Ulgrim and Mardirossian were focused on stopping the Bloodbound, the Aetherials consolidated. The cruel invaders were leaving some Humans alive to toy with, but their hold on the large city of Malmouth was now solid.
Furthermore, the land around the city has been “terraformed” by the Aetherials. It was covered with aetherfire, and thus impassable.
The aetheric creatures were also holding Port Valbury, North-East of Homestead. But the victories at Homestead, Fort Ikon and the Necropolis had boxed in the large Atherial presence there.
A brief intrusion of the Devil’s Executioner also resulted in the destruction of several “terraforming”… things around Port Valbury. It was hoped that the Aetherial would have to focus their resources on creating new ones. It also meant that Port Valbury remained accessible, and could thus be kept on the defensive using hit-and-run skirmishes.
Malmouth is burning
From Malmouth, the Aetherials playfully sent a new kind of abomination South. It almost crushed Devil’s Crossing, inflicting great casualties among the rag-tag survivors. With her crime scene experience, Mardirossian suspected that the thing had been sent to murder the witch who had once trapped her possessor. If so, it was successful.
With Ulgrim gone, the Devil’s Executioner worked more closely with Creed. Creed was one of the few Inquisitors of the Luminari whom the Aetherials hadn’t killed. He thought that Ulgrim was secretly on the path to becoming a god. Thus, bringing the chef back from the Void was a priority of his.
Creed wasn’t a good enough warlock to bring his friend back. Howbeit, the ex-Inquisitor knew what Mardirossian was capable of. And he came up with a plan.
The Wendigo devours all
The area between Burrwitch and Malmouth had always been considered hostile. Almost… predatory. This had long puzzled the locals.
But the Rovers knew, and Mardirossian could quickly guess the truth. The Wendigo spirit — better known in Mardirossian’s homeland than in the Empire — was active there. And it had gone into overdrive with the Grim Dawn.
The ravenous, corrupting, contagious thing was nature at its most bloodthirsty. The Wendigo was one of the more frequent causes behind people mutating into monsters after doing awful things, such as cannibalism.
Of those who float like a duck
But the long-established, local Wendigo influence had also been exploited by a powerful coven of witches to hide from the Inquisition. Creed knew about them, and thought they could help rescue Malmouth – and perhaps even bring Ulgrim back.
The Devil’s Executioner agreed to find, and negotiate with, these witches. Besides, she had something of a grudge against the Wendigo spirit from her Arin Berd days.
With her Repurgator experience, Mardirossian wasn’t surprised to see that many locals had given themselves to the Wendigo to survive. They were preying on hapless refugees and devouring them, Leatherface-style.
She tracked them down and destroyed them all. That is the official Repurgator procedure, and the law of Arin Berd.
The Devil’s Executioner located the hidden coven. The witches were wary, but Creed had briefed Mardirossian about the sorts of gifts that would break the ice. Mardirossian was also surprised to run into the witch she had previously saved, who had made her way to the Ugdenbog. A tentative alliance was hammered out.
Eventually, the witches agreed to let Mardirossian use their abandoned altar to open a rift into the eldritch. In ages past, the coven had been almost entirely destroyed as the Witch-Gods slaughtered them for their curiosity. Thus, the witches wouldn’t touch the altar anymore. But it could take Mardirossian into the Chthonic Void.
The witches also could arrange for her both to come not too far from Ulgrim. *And* to access Aetherial rifts near Malmouth from the Void.
History – Grim Dawn Act 6
The Devil’s Executioner’s combat rescue mission did succeed, though Ulgrim was shocked and had a mangled arm. And they did exit the Void close enough to Malmouth, past the fields of aetherfire.
Past the fields of aetherfire
The pair was surprised to see that Bloodbound armies were fighting the Aetherials. The cultists were attempting to take the city.
Mardirossian theorised that the cult had been more successful in recruiting survivors than all other factions descended from the Empire, put together. As she saw it, that the bulk of Humanity was now fighting *for* its own extinction out of fear, ignorance and obedience made ample sense.
However, the blood cult had failed to gain a foothold in Malmouth. It seemed that they had been beaten back by the Aetherials, and had taken significant losses in the process.
Horror picture show
The Devil’s Executioner carried the slowly recovering Ulgrim to Malmouth’s gate. In doing so she cleft through hordes of Aetherials, Bloodbound and mutated monsters.
As far as they could tell from the city’s outskirts, the Aetherials were keeping Humans therein alive out of sheer sadism. But they also seemed to need them as raw material to build abominations. And Mardirossian suspected that the senior Aetherials in Malmouth, who had been on Cairn for years before the Grim Dawn, had developed their own priorities.
Ulgrim knew of discreet ways into the fortified city, and Mardirossian knew that survivors were hiding in the sewers. Thus, the Devil’s Executioner soon sneaked into Malmouth’s storm drains, linking up with the partisans there. She then conducted strikes for them. But the main goal was to destroy the Aetherials near the city’s drawbridge, so as to lower it.
Once that was done, Inquisitor Creed and a Black Legion detail could move into the walled city with all their ordnance.
Street Fighting Lady
Creed and the Malmouth Resistance jointly decided to retake a surface building. The Resistance had used it as an HQ, before being literally forced underground. It presented several advantages :
- Retaking it would be a major morale boost for the Resistance.
- It was a better base of operations than the sewers.
- Aetherials would take heavy losses in early counter-attacks. They wouldn’t realise that they were now facing Black Legion firepower.
- It was in the famous Steelcap District. This once-industrious area was full of manufacturing plants, arcanism shops, armouries, doctors’ offices, food shop and other supplies to scrounge.
The assault was successful, albeit with bad casualties. From there it was possible to send scavengers, and stage more assaults. These were spearheaded by Mardirossian, as Ulgrim was busy gathering intelligence for Creed. One important target was a major quay, so as to receive reinforcements by sea.
Using alchemically-enhanced explosives, Mardirossian then opened a breach into a heavily-fortified central district of Malmouth. One objective was to kill the Aetherials who had possessed the city council before the Grim Dawn. But this also was the location of the Fleshworks, where the Aetherials were manufacturing new and exciting abominations.
March of the Devil’s Executioner
The Devil’s Executioner and Ulgrim would again attack from different spots and in different manners. This would soften the site up for Black Legion assaulters. Mardirossian had also determined that the master of the Fleshworks had been the original Aetherial infiltrator in Malmouth.
This well-placed possessor had created vast misery in town even before the Grim Dawn. During this time he had also developed an interest in biology, an alien science for the immaterial Aetherials. Though the other Aetherials had been suspicious, they had been convinced of the worth of these experiments. This is what led to the construction of abominations.
Mardirossian killed pretty much everything that moved within the Fleshworks, and burned the rest. As the Aetherials operated through collective decision-making, quickly losing their leaders in succession threw them in disarray, allowing for a retaking of the entire city.
By this point the Human survivors controlled much of the Southern tip of the fallen Erulan Empire. Fort Ikon and Malmouth were good strongholds to prevent incursions from the North. And it was now possible to ferry troops and supplies by boat between the two.
Furthermore, the Cult of Ch’thon’s menace was far less apocalyptic than before.
On the other hand, it was unclear how much damage had been actually inflicted to the Aetherials. Destroying their vessels presumably didn’t kill the possessors. And one had to assume the worse as to how much of the Erulan Empire was left…
… even assuming that the Grim Dawn had been limited to the Empire and its vicinity, rather than being a continental or even global event.
The Devil’s Executioner is a mature, athletic lady. Despite her wounds, she clearly remains in fighting trim, with wiry muscles.
She usually has a world-weary, coldly focused, badly tired expression.
Say it in broken English
English is clearly not Mardirossian’s first language. But though her sentences get mangled, their meaning is clear. And she’s better at understanding what other people say than at forming her own sentences.
Early on, she had to rely on middle school memories. Given that it’s a language she learned 30 years ago as a little girl, and seldom used since, she’s pretty good at it. Afterwards, she could learn by immersion.
It’s not the years, it’s the mileage
Mardirossian has been through an ungodly amount of violence, and hasn’t emerged unscathed. The main damage is :
- Useless and damaged right eye. This wrecks her depth perception past a few metres, though she isn’t bad at compensating.
- Heavily scarred right cheek. The nerve damage has made that side of her face mostly immobile. In a way it’s good thing she never smiles, since this mostly-paralysed side makes a grin look like a death threat.
- The nerve damage also often makes her remaining eye cry, due to dryness.
- Mostly crippled right leg. It is painful and cannot support her weight anymore. When not in the field, she mostly sits, or walks with a crutch.
- Her left hand is missing its pinky and most of the ring finger.
- Her left shoulder was badly hit by a chaos bolt. The joint is a bit painful to use, and the skin and muscle will likely never heal. The area has to be perpetually kept cleanly bandaged and treated with antiseptic. But this is simple to do – even by herself, thanks to practice.
- Paler skin than could be expected, due to drugs use and fatigue. More grey hair than you’d expect, due to stress.
Though she looks in control… most of the time… Mardirossian is unhinged. She is choking on blinding, pathological rage and lashing out.
There’s nothing cool about it. She is clearly hurt and diminished. She’s barely in control, and her soul is bleeding to death. Mardirossian has lost everything. Now she is destroying everything, including herself.
However, her exceptional spiritual strength and Repurgator experience allow her to endure. These keep her going even when that should be impossible. She has an impressive level of discipline deeply etched in, as a sort of muscle memory.
Left to herself, Mardirossian would wander off and jump off a cliff. But if there are survivors around, her professionalism means she has to help them first. Though she doesn’t realise it, she has already passed the worst of the suicidal stage. Mardirossian is actually on her way to recovery. She’s so hardboiled, even she doesn’t realise how tough she is.
That the people of Devil’s Crossing initially treated her with deep suspicion and little charity didn’t quite register. As a cop, she’s used to that.
She prefers to go by just “Mardirossian”, though she also occasionally refers to herself as “the old crippled bitch”. While she’s in her early 40s, the life expectancy in her area before the Grim Dawn was a bit short of 60. Thus, early 40s seems older than it does to those with modern medicine, nutrition, hygiene, lack of supernatural killer monsters, etc.
Mardirossian oftens comes across as dour, bitter, sarcastic, impatient and harsh. But, well, she’s not wrong. When she points out a problem, it’s a genuine issue and she’ll often have a solution. But the solution will only come after the requisite rounds of kvetching and bitter, bitter complaints.
She also prefers to speak her mind. In fact, she has no tact whatsoever. That she doesn’t speak much thus may not be a bad thing.
Mardirossian is markedly less hostile toward imperiled survivors. While she exhibits little actual sympathy, she approaches vics — as she sees them in cop terms — with a professional aura of calm, efficient pragmatism.
While she lacks in niceness, distressed persons are often relieved that there’s finally a strong authority coming in to help them.
Even if said authority is a literal axe murderer.
Black Legion NCO: “Wow, you managed to *kill* those ‘cores ? Whoah hey, careful with them poison glands, lady. Manticore venom is the deadliest thing I know of.”
Mardirossian: “No. No anymore.”
“I am police, ajo. But not good police. Bad police. A special force of police. We do horrible things to horrible things. This is bad and we have no choice real, because this is magic and… how do you say հայհոյել in English ? When a warlock or bad thing makes a evil mark that never, never goes afar.”
Ulgrim: “Can we count on you to destroy these things ?”
Mardirossian (grimacing in pain and cautiously checking her shoulder bandages, then answering moodily) “If you prefer I instead tuck them and tell bedsleep stories. I’ve lots of practice on that.”
Ulgrim: “Yes, that’s what struck me when we met. Your motherly demeanour.”
“You. Demons. You all die. For what is done. You all die now.” (SHHHHKOOOM !)
(Sitting on the floor next to a painfully dying priest of Ch’thon, to rest her leg) “See, this is why the law is good. Not good like rich people say, votsh. But good still. It protects silly people who think they are strong, like you, from bad people like me. But now everything is done broken and you die bad.
“With law ? I’m good police, a good mother. I arrest your kind. There’s a trial. I feel useful. I think things are organised, ajo ? They make sense, have purpose. And you do too, I bet maybe. But now it’s all broken. And your guts get busted by crazy old angry bitch with a hammer and lightning and much much rage. This is all very stupid, very useless. It makes none of sense. You dead yet, stupid little blood cult man ?”
Father Kymon: “In this harsh and treacherous world, I will however need proof that you are on the side.”
Mardirossian: “You’re going to ask me to kill people, ajo ?”
Father Kymon: “These are foul necromancers doing the unspeakable !”
Mardirossian: “World is going into the latrine-hole, and we kill each other. Makes good sense to me, still. We all dead anyway, so we kill each other we suffer shorter, right ? Plus, that way we show that we Humans are not good people even in last days. So there’s less regret we all go dead. Which is good, votsh ? Good strategy, if you ask. Takes manly courage.”
Ulgrim: “She’s being sarcastic.”
Mardirossian (grumpily): “No.”
Ulgrim: “See ? Sarcasm again.”
(As Mardirossian bursts in to confront an Aetherial leader, a dozen zombies emerge from the ground around her. She stands motionless and with a glazed-over eye as powerful lightning bolts crash around her, shattering and frying the zombies and sending stone fragments flying.
Then Mardirossian ominously and silently raises her left arm to accusingly point at her target. She hefts her huge axe on her right shoulder. The Devil’s Executioner starts walking slowly and with a limp toward her opponent, yet somehow crosses the distance within seconds as she raises her blade.)
Marvel Universe History
She would be the Thor of a post-apocalyptic future Earth, having picked the hammer up when the Odinson fell in Yerevan.
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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly
The Devil’s Executioner
|Dex: 08||Str: 04||Bod: 05||Motivation: Responsibility|
|Int: 06||Wil: 05||Min: 07||Occupation: Act of God|
|Inf: 08||Aur: 07||Spi: 07||Wealth: 005|
|Init: 027||HP: 080|
Bomb: 06, Enhanced Initiative: 04, Lightning: 07, Regeneration: 04, Shade: 01, Vampirism: 05, Warp: 04
Bonuses and Limitations:
- Bomb has No Range, is Minimal Marginal, and is electrical damage.
- Lightning can either be Combined With her melee strikes, or receive Multi-Attack 2.
- Vampirism has a Range of but 0 APs.
- Warp cannot be used as an attack.
- Warp has a Special +12 Range Bonus, but this is done by crossing through an hostile dimension. Furthermore, Warp can only have its arrival point set to a previously inspected aether rift.
- The site where Mardirossian’s previous Warp was opened counts as a “previously inspected aether rift”. In other words, she can return to the last place where she created a Warp.
- The Warp’s opening is barely sufficient for a large man (or Mardirossian with all her gear) to crawl through.
Accuracy (Charging attack with a large melee weapon): 10, Accuracy (Sense lie): 07, Artist (Singing, dulcimer, trombone): 04, Charisma (Interrogation, intimidation): 08, Martial artist: 05, Medicine (First aid): 03, Military science (Demolitions, Field command): 03, Occultist: 06, Thief (Stealth): 03, Weaponry (Melee): 09, Weaponry (Firearms): 05
Iron Nerves, Language (Hayeren), Luck.
Ulgrim the (former) First Blade (Low), Inquisitor Creed (Low).
- Devil’s Crossing: Captain Bourbon (Low), Street (Low), Darlet the technologist (Low).
- Various Rover encampments: Rover Elders (Low).
- Homestead: Black Legion officers and Captain Somer (Low), Homestead farmers (Low).
- Kymon’s Chosen: Father Kymon (Low).
- Fort Ikon: Black Legion leaders (Low), Anasteria the Outcast (Low).
- Ugdenbog: Witches’ coven (Low).
- Malmouth: Malmouth Resistance officers (Low).
Creepy Appearance (Scars, wounds and haunted look), Guilt, MPR (One-eyed, Range penalties worsened by one Genre), MPR (crippled leg, needs at least a cane), MPI, Serious Rage, MIA toward Frankness/Bluntness, Misc.: not entirely fluent in English.
Reckless storm [SPI 05, Accuracy (Lightning): 08, Lightning: 07, Bonus: Lightning has Multi-Attack 2, but its Range is 02]. This is an electrical aura vaguely centered around Mardirossian and striking at her enemies.
Summon Wendigo’s eyes [Friction control: 03, Vampirism: 05, Casting Time: 00, Components: 00. B&L :
- Friction Control can only increase friction.
- Friction Control can only affect a patch of ground, and can only affect an area with a size of 0 APs per use.
- Vampirism can only be Combined with Friction Control, though it affects the entire area.
- Vampirism cannot be active during the Phase where Friction Control is invoked for this area of ground.
- The effect only lasts for as many Phases as the average of the APs of Friction Control and Vampirism (round down).
- Humongous bardiche [BODY 08, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 08), Stagger: 05, Descriptor: Slashing, Recommended STR 04, Note: can be used as EV when Charging.]
- ENCHANTED ASSAULT BODY ARMOUR w/HELM [BODY 05, Conditional Soaking (Slashing, Piercing, Ballistic damage), Blunting: 02, Damage capacity: 04, Enhance (Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing, Ballistic RV): 02 (cap is 09), Enhance (Laser, cold, heat/flame, Structural, Acid RV): 01 (cap is 08), Enhance (RV against Critical, Devastation and doubles): 04 (cap is 10), Enhance (Unarmed RV): 04 (cap is 11), Stealth penalty 3/ 4, Drawback: Audial Perception rolls have +2CS to their OV/RV, Drawback: Visual Perception rolls have a +1CS to their OV/RV, Bonuses & Limitations:
- Damage Capacity has the Instant Recovery Bonus.
- Damage Capacity only for Slashing and Piercing damage.]
- A MESS OF GRIS-GRIS [BODY 01, Power Reserve (STR, BODY, SPI, Lightning, Regeneration, Weaponry): 01].
- Repeater Shotgun [BODY 04, Shotgun blast (Range 03): 06, Ammo: 15, R#03, Recommended STR: 03].
- Backup revolver [BODY 03, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 06, R#02, Rec. STR 02, Drawback: Long Reload].
- Healing potions [BODY 01, Damage capacity: 05, Bonus: Consumables-based recovery (+1)].
Design notes #1
The use of a Pet allows for multiple Dice Actions during a given Phase, even if they have a completely different focus. We occasionally go for this clean, system-integrated solution even if the “Pet” is an immaterial entity, or even something completely abstract.
Intermediary examples include autonomous self-guided super-weapons such as Dagger (Tandy Bowen)’s light knives or Ksenia Venom’s glaive. These are not pets stricto censu either, but at least they have a tangible existence.
Design Notes #2
As usual with CRPG characters, all the little modifiers from the equipment treadmill have been abstracted out.
As often, I’ve also abstracted out all the money/looting/selling mechanics. These make sense in a video game, but would be quite odd in-universe.
Source of Character: Grim Dawn video game.
Writeup completed on the 9th of November, 2017.