Y is for Kalodal Ybarra, Halfling Bruce Wayne

Name: Kalodal Ybarra a.k.a. The Whisperthief
Campaign: The Umbrageous Sodality and the Ghost Opera

Normally I refer to a character by their first name, but that gives my spellcheck fits.

Ybarra was also a vigilante, and also the stealthy kind. He was known as the Whisperthief, Lady Evening’s consort, because when your epithets have epithets you know you have a reputation. He was a gambler by trade, wandering about from place to place looking for a good time. This served as his cover, explaining how Whisperthief could flit about the continent, dispensing justice under the guise of an innocent traveler. His vigilante identity was aided by his physical transformation into a creature of shadow, giving him mystical ability along with his skills.

If I had to pick a superhero analogue for Ybarra it would be Batman, not because he was a genius or combat expert but because he loved leaving fearful enemies in his wake. Ybarra is the mask and the Whisperthief is the identity; the gambler was a means to an end, explaining his movement and letting him get close to a city’s seedy underbelly so he could take it apart piece by piece. He focused on precise strikes, slowly getting into a position from which he could exert overwhelming force, and he supported himself with ambiguously magical powers. Even at the end of the campaign he didn’t reveal his identity to his allies or officially join their group, leaving it unclear whether he would be there to help in the future. He is most definitely the lancer.

Ybarra was also frustrating, but this time for valid reasons. One of my soft rules is “no summoners”, not because their power irks me but because I’m so tired of seeing them in every campaign. So, of course, in this vigilante-only campaign, Ybarra had four levels of summoner. A synthesist, no less. His form gave him several benefits: it let him change size, so figuring out his identity became almost impossible and negated one of the key dramatic tensions of the vigilante; it gave him concealment, so even if something could hit his absurdly high AC he had a change to ignore it, and he ignored sneak attack from any ruffians in the campaign; it gave him a climb speed, so he could make it almost impossible to pin him down or approach him in melee. I never came up with an opponent that could challenge Ybarra without that same opponent pancaking the party. The character wasn’t a person, he was a powergaming exercise in a flimsy person disguise, and the only reason I didn’t force a complete rebuild was because the other players didn’t seem to mind and I didn’t want to create any table drama. I don’t have the same problem between campaigns.

In addition, Ybarra started as a lone wolf and ended there. His justification was that he couldn’t trust the rest of the party with his identity, and from the standpoint of a vigilante he was right. But from the standpoint of Law 4 and the clearly-defined campaign theme he definitely was not. I expect this won’t be a problem the next time the character appears, or he won’t be appearing at all.

I did get him back, though. In eidolon form Whisperthief was tall, strong, covered in grasping shadows that could look like fur in low light, and good at stealth. Some of his victims started thinking he was a bugbear. He also attacked from above with his climb speed, so they gave him a new, criminal-approved superhero name: Dropbear.

Again, Ybarra will return when the Eight Arms Crafting Team fights the Umbrageous Sodality (take a drink; if you still have the same drink as yesterday, that’s cool). Normally I love paring good guys and bad guys off with each other, but in this case the synthesist summoners on each team will probably not fight each other. Ybarra is a lancer, so he’ll probably fight the Eight Arms’ lancer. I’m not sure if that fight will be clever and satisfying or a meaningless empty slog.

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