Ari El Kamau
Born the runt of a tabaxi litter, Ari spent his first years prowling the vast plains and scraggly forests of the Shaar Desolation. While on a hunt in the southern reaches of the Chondalwood, he and two of his littermates discovered a shrouded ruin. They investigated, little suspecting that they might not be the only raiders delving into the vast ruin.
The Tabaxi trio came head to head with a group of wild elves who had staked a claim to the temple, lured there by the will of a powerful object within its depths. They initially thought to kill the tabaxi for their pelts, but Ari, smallest and nimblest of the three, convinced the raiders that he would be more useful to them alive as a willing guide through the warren of chambers below.
Leading the elves down into the darkness past traps and pitfalls, he discovered a chamber full of dazzling plunder: a veritable sea of gold and magical trinkets, hoarded there before the onslaught of the Spellplague. But while the crude thieves were distracted by their prizes, Ari found himself drawn to a crude blade, pocked and dulled with the years. Light did not reflect off of the metal. When the tabaxi touched it, the weapon dissolved into shadows and passed into him.
Ari escaped the treasure hunting elves, but he found himself changed by the experience. His brothers seemed uncomfortable at his presence, and the kinship he felt with them had become a distant, alien thing. He rejoined the elves, dwelling amidst their community for years as he honed his mind and body. From the entity that he had contacted in the darkness, he felt little: once in a while, he heard a garbled voice calling out to him, or felt compelled to pursue courses of action he might otherwise avoid.
One such urge, stronger than the rest, called him to the outskirts of a village called Bairnsbarrow. He had been a wanderer for years, cut off from home and family, until he met a group of ragtag adventurers on a vampire hunt.
After freeing Bairnsbarrow from the influence of its undead guardian, Eskalpos, Ari continued traveling with the group that would become the Keepers. He found that his natural charms made him a superb negotiator on the group’s behalf, while his considerable athleticism provided the party with a stealthy ally. Ari, too, benefited from this arrangement, as he relearned a lesson that years on his own had obscured: it is easier to hunt with a pack.
While on Avernus, the party broke into the Armamentarium Infernum, an armory full of weapons used in the Blood War. There, he discovered the identity of his mysterious patron: Kas, betrayer of Vecna.
Ari traveled with his allies to Luenath, which was besieged by forces of devils and the undead. After the Keepers were defeated in battle with the undead, he abandoned his life of adventure and settled down in the city of Hazuth, founding a house of ill repute called the Blue Ball, which is actually a front for smuggling operations.
Grave Domain Cleric
Felgrin Coaltongue was born in Cornin, a small village in the East Rift. During the Spellplague, the ceiling of the Underdark had given way, crashing down upon the caverns below and creating the Shaar Desolation. But that tragedy was not without its wonders: Felgrin was among the first of his people born under the open skies of Toril. He grew to maturity amidst new-grown herbs and plants rushed to populate what had previously been the domain of mushrooms and cave lichens, and so was among the first of a new generation of healers to reap their benefits.
Ten years before the Keepers were founded, a deadly and disfiguring disease, the Stoneplague spread through the East Rift like wildfire. Only later would the illness be traced back to a fanatical death-cult of duergar, working in concert with a foreign organization known as the Cloister of the Revealing Flame. One of the Cloister’s former researchers, Athla, considered her part in the Stoneplague’s creation to be the single most damning act of her life.
Countless dwarves, humans, and halflings perished. The illness was spread not just by bodily contact, but by the contact with the infected’s fluids and flesh. Even areas spared at first, like Cornin, fell to the plague once tainted coin and other goods spread to outlying populaces.
Desperate to save his people, Felgrin sought a cure in the great city of Earthheart. What he found was a populace decimated by the disease, with no hope in sight. Realizing that there would be no salvation for his family and friends, Felgrin attempted suicide by jumping into a seemingly endless chasm.
He failed. Rescued from permanent damage or a wasting death by a halfling cleric of Kelemvor, Reema, Felgrin found himself intrigued by cleric’s matter-of-fact philosophies about life and death. A brief interaction turned into a mentorship. After a decade of training at Reema’s side, Felgrin ventured forth into the world as a proselyte, his path eventually winding toward the Winking Weasel Inn in Maarlith, Dambrath.
There, he met a group of adventurers that became a new family for him. Felgrin’s hatred for disease and rot was honed into a single-minded fury at the undead. This fact baited him into personal conflict with a vampire, Eskalpos, in the village of Bairnsbarrow. Felgrin’s rage pulled back the genteel exterior that Eskalpos had adopted, and he murdered the dwarf, raising him as a vampire to punish him.
After rising as one of the undead, Felgrin became uncertain as to his place in the world, debating whether or not he was actually himself. The fact that he began to be plagued by signs of the demon lord Orcus only complicated matters. He found himself disgusted by his need to drink blood for sustenance, but resolved to continue serving Kelemvor to the best of his ability.
Felgrin fell in battle against a group of sky pirates in Halruaa, and then was accidentally dispatched by his comrade, Thane. His soul, or what remained of it, descended into the Abyss, and he was presumed lost forever until the Keepers braved the raging fires of the Blood War to bring him back. After the Keepers were broken in battle in Luenath, Felgrin returned to the Armamentarium Infernum, where he joined with a tribe of afflicted dwarves whose ancestors had been infected with a polymorphic plague. Living in a place beyond the cares of the mortal world, he has dedicated himself to curing the incurable illness with what time remains to him.
Circle of the Moon Druid
Jhyr Oli was not born to his name. Raised into the faith of Hiatea, benevolent goddess of nature and the hunt, the firbolg that would become Jhyr dwelled in the forests of Lluirwood. His people happily traded with the local halfling settlements, but otherwise kept to themselves.
He was a prodigy of sorts as a child, uniquely attuned to nature. As such, he was one of the youngest firbolg ever to become a guardian of his tribe’s ancient secret: an artifact known as the Spear of Hiatea. Blazing with emerald green flames, the spear was a conduit to the well of the goddess herself, imbuing the firbolg of his tribe with tremendous prowess in the hunt, a peerless connection to plant life, and the powers of druidism.
The young firbolg was the sole guardian of the Spear on the night that it was stolen. Wild elves, thieves from afar, had come in search of the artifact. One of them struck the firbolg with a poisoned arrow, and when he came to life, the Spear was gone.
Always one to take on more than his fair share of blame, the firbolg came before his village. He swore upon his life that he would not return to them until the Spear was recovered, and gave himself–as a sign of his shame–a name: Jhyr Oli, which in the tongue of the Lluirwood elves meant “lost one”.
Jhyr could not have known how true his promise would be. Scarcely a month later, the Spellplague raged across Toril, and the Lluirwood–along with most of Lluiren–sunk forever beneath the waves of an angry ocean.
Despondent, Jhyr became a wanderer, roving across the Shining South for decades. But then, one night, he had a vision of a cleric steeped in death, and a city that he recognized as Maarlith. He would find the source of his vision in a cleric named Felgrin Coaltongue.
Jhyr is a staunch friend and one of the clear moral centers of the Keepers. He was among the first to offer his aid to Felgrin after the cleric was transformed into a vampire, and was similarly invested in aiding the former Cloister member, Athla, in her redemption.
Confronted with the corruption of his cousins, the firbolg of the Briarbite tribe, Jhyr’s despondency over Felgrin’s death led him down the path of the Spore Druid. After the defeat and disbanding of the Keepers, Jhyr returned to the Briarsbite tribe of firbolg and merged with their village’s heart tree so that he could share his wisdom with future generations.
Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer
Kilgruss is one of the few Keepers entirely foreign to the Shining South. Hailing from distant Tymanther, he lived in relative privilege until his parents were killed in a simple street robbery. An orphan in a cold and militaristic land, he became a member of a small band of thieves, Barrage, which was led by a charismatic dragonborn named Rael.
When Barrage was wiped out by the Adjudicators, the brutal police force of Djerad Thymar, Kilgruss realized that there was nothing keeping him in his homeland. He became a wandering criminal, his petty crimes abetted by a natural predilection for magic.
He came to the Winking Weasel in Maarlith in search of an easy mark, but found himself pulled in to a plot involving werewolves and revolutionary weapons.
When the Keepers voyaged forth into the magical utopia of Halruaa, Kilgruss’s sensitivities were thrust into the spotlight. He encountered a child, Phadim, who was a sorcerer of such incredible power that his magics were tearing his young body apart. The other Keepers were shocked at Kilgruss’s willingness to do anything, no matter how dangerous, to save the young boy.
While on a daring mission to rescue an arcanaloth, Kilgruss was killed by denizens of the Abyss. The tortured arcanoloth’s powers revived Kilgruss via a reincarnation spell, and now he is in the body of a small halfling woman. Oh, boy.
Oath of Vengeance Paladin
Lucien Lyonsbane was the last member to join the Keepers. The last scion of a family menaced by vampires, he swore himself not to Kelemvor, but to the vengeful ideal of eliminating every last vampire and any creature that stands in his way.
For reasons unknown, Lucien was plagued by a powerful vision on the night when Felgrin fell. He saw the dwarf’s soul tumbling into the Abyss, and was given a powerful command that tore him out of his dream: the dwarf must live again.
Lucien proved a powerful ally on the Keepers’ jaunt through the Hells and the Abyss. While in the Armamentarium Infernum, he became the host to a sentient piece of armor, Daxis. Strange and alien, it remains to be seen whether the armor’s goals will coincide with Lucien’s own. He also fell under the sway of the fallen angel Zariel, who was the ruler of Avernus. After the Keepers were defeated in the city of Luenath, Lucien returned to the Hells to find Avernus’s leader absent. He became Regent of Avernus and now seeks to become an archdevil himself so that he can rule in Zariel’s stead.
Path of the Zealot Barbarian
Goliaths are a peculiar sight in Halruaa, and for good reasons. Most of the giantfolk in the region keep to themselves in scattered clans, and Monok’s early days were little different. Clan Sagebane had lived within the North Wall of Halruaa since the dawn of their memories. While they had no more than a giant’s usual disdain for humans, Sagebane’s oldest traditions were fundamentally incompatible with the land in which they dwelled, for they despised arcanists. None knew what incident had incited this spite, but the Sagebane goliaths were taught–almost from birth–to never suffer a mage to life.
Monok learned too late the value of this precept. While playing with three of his brothers in the foothills of the North Wall, he was abducted by members of the Cloister of Revealing Flame. Only his eldest brother, Rell, escaped.
What followed were weeks of crude experimentation guided by members of the Far Realm cult, during which he witnessed the death of one sibling and the disappearance of another. When Clan Sagebane, led by his father and Rell, assailed the cultists’ holdfast, there was little of Monok left to recover.
His sanity was shattered by the experience. He became a dark mark upon the family’s name, tormented by nightmares while waking and asleep. At last, in desperation, Rell deposited him at the gates of the vast Mystran temple at Mount Talath. It was the most mercy a goliath could muster.
There, a powerful priest named Father Anthrim took Monok on as a special project. He taught Monok to master the mutations that farflame had wrought upon him, and worked tirelessly to help piece back together the goliath’s broken mind.
Monok became fanatically devoted to Mystra and to protecting the Weave. He might have become a skilled wizard were it not for the fact that attempting anything more than a simple cantrip drove him into blind rages. Whether this was from his upbringing or a handicap instilled in him through the cultists’ meddling, Monok would never become a mage.
He instead trained as a guardian of the temple, coming in to the Keepers’ orbit when they came seeking a resurrection for their fallen comrade, Felgrin. Initially suspicious of the Keepers due to their continued brushes with the Cloister, Monok became a stalwart, if difficult, companion for the party. He despises their ally, Athla, who was once a Far Realm cultist herself, but he learned to put vengeance aside before the party’s voyage to Avernus.
Upon their return, Monok learned of a Cloister operation in Vaelan and briefly joined the Harbingers in their travails there.
A taciturn, distant wood elf from far beyond Dambrath, Emerion Alopex was one of the original adventurers who converged on the Winking Weasel Inn on the night that the Keepers were born.
When just a young elf, he and his sister were pursued by dire wolves through the northern reaches of the Forest of Amtar. A foreign power filled the desperate Emerion, driving the wolves away with blinding radiance, but too late to save his fallen sister. In the wake of such devastating tragedy, Emerion burned away his waking hours in trances, hoping to lose himself in the memories of his forebears entirely. Instead, he made contact with the creature that had saved him: a celestial patron that he named Sennadron.
Sennadron seemed, at turns, gentle and capricious, bestowing considerable healing magics upon its elven pact-mate while being utterly unresponsive to Emerion’s efforts to divine its identity or nature. It was only when the elf traveled to the broken city of Luenath, home to a pack of benevolent werewolves, that he came face-to-face with the being that had rescued him from darkest despair.
A group of adventurers, the Harbingers, had lured a ki-rin from the depths of its forest home to dwell in the city. Its presence caused the plants in the ruins to flourish beyond any natural expectation, transforming the place into a wondrous paradise.
Staggered by the depth of goodness within the celestial being, Emerion left the Keepers and became the ki-rin’s faithful servant. When the Keepers engaged a force of undead and demons besieging Luenath, Emerion was killed defending the ki-rin.
Storm Sorcerer • Tempest Domain Cleric
Thane was born out of an unusual lineage–human and storm giant–but proved to be an aasimar due to a long-past rendezvous between an ancestor and a celestial being. Perhaps the most peculiar of the Keepers, he is driven by inscrutable whims and the demands of a distant deva.
He dwelled among sea elves for much of his young life, delighting in the sea and storm, but as he rose to maturity, the demands of his deva pushed him into a more rigid life of service and contemplation. At her urging, he swathed himself in sharkskin from head to toe and set forth into the world, hoping to prove himself against her strange edicts.
Thane came into contact with the Keepers at the Gate of Iron Fangs, where he had been seeking to breach into an old palace to recover a weapon concealed there. The weapon proved not to be the ancient power he desired, and he gave it–the Hammer Ul-Kahath–to his new compatriot, Ari.
While in Halruaa, Thane seemed at times enchanted and confused by the behavior of land mammals. He was especially amazed, when staying among the nomadic Arambrai, that so much of the purpose of keeping livestock was based around collection of their milk.
Thane’s unusual perspective on the world, combined with his secretive nature, made it difficult for the Keepers to trust him. Although he was instrumental to their defeat of the villainous Rysar Golenoi, the party still seemed hesitant to embrace him.
Grown more confident in himself after his travails in Halruaa, Thane conducted a ritual to rid himself of his sharkskin garb. It became, through no fault of his own, a vision quest where he discovered that his deva had been captured by two vile cambions of Orcus, Arimandrea and Vysith. He has since redoubled his commitment to the Keepers’ efforts, wherever they might lead.