Death By Hobgoblin
a warforged soldier on the trail of those responsible for his death
“Arb Golux” This is not actually his name, although only another warforged or someone extremely well-versed in the popular culture of this setting is likely to realize this. During the process of their creation, all warforged have runic symbols called a ghulra emblazoned on their forehead – the word ghulra means “truth” in a number of the more ancient languages [including Primordial in some cultures and Dwarven in others]. While these symbols can be altered, defaced or even removed without causing warforged any pain, using either healing or repair magic on a warforged will also return a ghulra to the original appearance; the only way they can be permenantly destroyed is with the physical destruction of the warforged in question. [This would be death by overwhelming physical damage, such as that caused by exceeding the negative hit-point limit; warforged can be raised from the dead and can also “take 10” on a death saving throw, (even after making the roll!) although they do become inactive at 0 HP.] Arbgolux [one word] is the name of a fictional golem anti-hero in a series of what are essentially woodcut comic books popular among goblin and gnome smallfolk; Arb’s use of this for a name is basically analogous to one of us adopting the name “Erich Lensher” or “Vic Sage” – a real supernerd might recognize those as the aliases of comic book characters Magneto and The Question but it’s information that would sail right over the head of most anyone else. Sometime in the recent past, Arb’s memory was completely erased. He woke a few weeks ago without any memory of who he truly is or what his life was like, who he fought for, what his role was – anything. How does he know that he wasn’t just created, brand-new, when he first “awoke”? Well, no matter how long warforged have been around on this particular game world, there would naturally have been a number of different production models as various design parameters were worked out and perfected; Arb’s body is somewhat simian in nature, marking him as one of the earlier designs, whose massive strength was accomplished in a slightly less elegant way than later models that more closely resembled the vaguely human body average that most tools, doorways, etc. are presumably built to accomodate. So, given his body design, Arb knows he wasn’t just newly minted – which is borne out in the way he was found: covered in dust, in what seemed to be a military storehouse or abandoned building. After some deliberation, Arb came to the conclusion that whoever did this essentially “murdered” him. He is not pleased by this. As a result, the discovery of his killers is one of his primary goals and motivations. At the same time, he has decided this is an investigation best conducted alone – with no idea who might have killed him, there is no one he can trust. Furthermore, in an effort to keep any conspirators from getting wise to his investigation, he has decided to act very, very dumb – far less intelligent than his actual abilities would require. What better way to operate unmolested, he reasons, than to act as if he is clearly too stupid to be capable of conducting such an investigation in the first place?
[I should probably note at this point that it would be irresponsible to ignore the possibility Arb is just deluded or even completely crazy – afterall, the classic problem with stories of this sort, from The Count of Monte Cristo to the X-Files, is simple: why are such victims left alive to uncover the grand conspiracy in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been much easier to simply destroy Arb, rather than go through this elaborate process of erasing his memories? I’d like to think there is a decent answer to this but it’s always possible the fall-back conclusion will simply be that Arb’s just nuts.] Given the questions regarding whether or not warforged have a soul, Arb often spends his free time reading philosophy and metaphysical theory – but as it would probably ruin his cover as a big stupid brute, he doesn’t do this when anyone else is around to discover his secret. I suppose it might be one reason why he started reading stuff like the woodcuts featuring Arbgolux – everyone knows only morons and misfits read that crap, right? BACKGROUND Arb was found by three young goblins named Jupe, Brob and P’Cren – Jupe, on a dare, was in the midst of drawing a mustache on the dust-covered creature they found while scavenging in an apparently abandoned Helmsdale warehouse. In order to make some money to purchase equipment, Arb took a porter job hauling frieght from upper to lower quays… and chose his name from a comic book one of the boys is carrying around. While retaining a great deal of knowledge related to martial arts and weapon handling, he remembers almost nothing prior to his awakening in the warehouse he used as a base of operations. With few other needs, he has been using money from his job to buy armor, weapons and – most importantly – to collect information. Paying them a small retainer, Arb has been sending his “Three Investigators” out on his behalf to buy scholarly research texts on warforged history and philosophy, splitting his time between investigations into his material origins and his metaphysical potential – he’s deeply intrigued by questions concerning the intellectual properties and potential of warforged, especially those regarding the development of identity and self. Arb visits travelling booksellers in the market green to figure out what titles he might be interested in but sends the boys back to purchase the books because he wants to protect his slowly evolving cover identity as a dull-witted clod – one he struck upon as a result of his inability to know who to trust regarding his investigation. It was made easier by his initial interactions with local adults: despite strange looks from people in the village, Arb didn’t notice the smudged mustache drawn above his mouth for three days, when he caught a reflection of himself in a store window. After some deliberation, he decided to leave the drawing in place because it seemed to leave humans in particular with a patronizing, superior attitude towards him, something he believes helps to cultivate his identity as an unsophisticated dullard – certainly someone incapable of discovering the identities of the party who effectively killed him by erasing his former memory and leaving him laying under a tarp in a crumbling warehouse in a forgotten part of town. According to his research, Arb has determined that: he belongs to an early prototype series of warforged, one created with less elegant design parameters than later, more numerous models; there are apparently no other warforged within local proximity at the current time, although it is not unheard of for them to pass through town in the service of caravaan guards; he and most all other warforged were built as combat models, although reconnaisance and diplomatic designs were also considered and may have been built in limited quantities, and; warforged have only recently been granted the status of free beings, having formerly been considered property and, indeed, only partily-sentient – one account of early design tests details how a dozen warforged were simply buried alive to study the effects of long-term isolation on the artificial mind and body. When disinterred after periods ranging from six weeks to a year, all were discovered to have gone insane and were reportedly destroyed, although some accounts indicate that one of the warforged, “Subject 5”, escaped and managed to wreak some degree of unspecified revenge upon the engineers that conducted those tests. Reading such accounts has lead to a branching off of his studies, into the related subject of consciousness, identity and even the metaphysical qualities of a, for want of a better term, “soul”.