Kythernon the Cruel

Kythernon the Cruel

To celebrate the impending release of Open Design’s Soldiers of Fortune sourcebook for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, author Matt James brings you additional material for a military campaign.


This anecdotal history of an antagonist by the name of Kythernoncan be part of the background or this NPC an integral figure, interacting directly with your player characters. Whether you need a big, bad, evil guy to use in your campaign or a hook to help augment an existing story, Kythernon is an excellent reprieve for the GM on-the-run.

After being named the provincial steward over the Duchy of Isleirdir, Kythernon the Cruel proceeded to dominate the surrounding lands within 5 short years. Maintaining control of the goblin regions through careful strategy, he amassed a great army of mercenaries. Politically, he manipulated the fragile alliances among the city-state elites, favoring certain nobles over others and keeping himself above thee fray.

Kythernon managed to unify the goblin tribes of the Western Wilds against the human border states, adopting a cruel but effective style of warfare…

Kythernon (Level 15 Elite Soldier)

Medium natural humanoid, leader; XP 2,400
+12; Perception +9

HP 292; Bloodied 146
AC 31, Fortitude 28, Reflex 26, Will 27
Speed 6
Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1

Roll initiative twice. Kythernon acts on both initiative counts and has a full set of actions for each.

[M] Battleaxe (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +22 vs. AC
Hit: 1d10 + 10 damage

[m] Low Slash (weapon) • Encounter
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +20 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d10 + 10 damage, and the target is knocked prone.

[m] Mighty Hack (weapon) • At-Will when bloodied
Effect: Kythernon makes the following attack two times.
Melee 1 (one or two creatures); +22 vs. AC
Hit: 1d10 + 10 damage

[c] Bellowing Howl • Recharge when first bloodied
Attack: Close burst 5 (enemies in burst); +20 vs. Will
Hit: 2d8 + 7 damage, and the target is weakened (save ends).

Skills Diplomacy +10, History +10, Insight +8
Str 24 (+14)        Dex 16 (+10)     Wis 15 (+9)
Con 18 (+11)     Int 16 (+10)        Cha 18 (+11)
Alignment evil; Languages Common, Giant
Equipment chainmail, Ragecaller (battleaxe)

Taking Kelendor

The revolt that Kythernon led began while Yrwin, the Duke of Glasden, was raising troops in Kythernon’s lands. After the death of the queen, the duke’s demands for troops grew–even during harvest time–until the people rebelled.

As a young noble of the city of Kelendor, Kythernon roused his vassals to join the revolt, but he and his followers were expelled by the nobles of the city, including Kythernon’s own uncle Maldor. His uncle thought opposing Duke Yrwin was too great a risk.

Undeterred, Kythernon raised an army of the impoverished and seized Kelendor. Many considered him king.

Kythernon made alliances with other tribal outcasts, and having been given command of their united force, he imposed his authority through harsh discipline and brutal slavery.

Scorched Earth

Understanding the value in deceiving his opposition and starving his foes, Kythernon retreated to natural fortifications and undertook a scorched earth strategy. He burnt a dozen towns and countless villages to prevent his foes’ army from living off the land. The people suffered, and no longer spoke of him as a king, but rather as a tyrant. Others were willing to bear the burden rather than suffer under Yrwin’s rule.

Kythernon and his army won some initial minor engagements against Yrwin and his chief lieutenant Isleirdirtan. However, the Yrwin captured the capital of the rebellion and slaughtered the entire population of 12,000. The next major battle was at Kelendor, where Kythernon defeated Yrwin, inflicting heavy losses. However, the victory cost Kythernon many soldiers, including three nobles vital to his cause. Due to these losses, he retreated and moved to another stronghold, Serenday.

A Kingdom Rises, a King Falls

In the Battle of Serenday, Yrwin built a fortification around that city and prepared for a long besiege. However, Yrwin’s army was itself surrounded by the rest of Isleirdir, and Kythernon had summoned his allies to attack the besieging army, so Yrwin built a separate outer fortification against the relief armies. This created a donut-shaped defense designed to help fortify Yrwin’s remaining troops.

When the relief column came, it was in insufficient numbers, and Kythernon was cut off from them on the inside. Without his guidance, the attacks were initially unsuccessful. However, the attacks did reveal a weak point in the fortifications, and the combined forces on the inside and the outside almost made a breakthrough. Only when Yrwin personally led the last reserves into battle did he finally prevail.

Kythernon’s body was never found. Though he has not been heard from in many years, no one can say for sure whether he was able to escape—and lay plans for a future assault. His hunger for power—or justice— is surely undimmed by time.

Is Kythernon more a hero or a villain? Some figures of legend are both!

6 thoughts on “Kythernon the Cruel”

  1. Is it okay to call my own article ‘Epic’? Admittedly, I am partial ;)

    Kythernon’s new home on Midgard is fitting. I’m glad he will forever be etched in one of my favorite worlds!

  2. I like the history but he doesn’t really seem evil. Maybe borderline or closer to Unaligned.
    Of course interacting with goblins and cooperating with them is certainly suspect.

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