Female Van Helsing type.
Lorna or Lorka Sinstalker is a woman in her late twenties, with a face that’s usually expressionless but somber eyes that take everything in. Her trade is tracking down and hunting supernatural (horror) creatures, even if her quarry takes weeks or months. She is an expert with the crossbow and carries a host of monster hunting tools which have no effect unless the target is some type of undead, lycanthrope or demon; most of these tools only work against a specific monster and cause a specific effect. In all of her iterations Sinstalker’s greatest statistic is her startling intelligence score, even if her wisdom is low to midling, and she always somehow has immunity to fear. She is essentially Van Helsing, though she’s far more Giles than Buffy.
She started as an experiment to see if a D&D ranger could ever be as effective an undead and demon fighter as a paladin. The short answer to that turns out to be a hearty and resounding no, perhaps capitalized and in bold, ie, NO. The slightly longer answer is that while she’s not effective in the video game versions, she hopefully would be in a pen-and-paper game where ranger abilities like tracking, trap setting and animal lore are actually represented in the game. While there’s probably excellent ways to make her in campaigns like Ravenloft or Rippers, she’d also lose much of what makes her unique since those settings are filled with Van Helsings.
A quiet, measured woman with short black hair and a penchant for understatement, she either lacks a sense of humor or has a comic delivery so dry that few would ever know it. This aspect is modeled after Egon Spengler, particularly in versions where she’s more scientist than ranger.
She first appeared in a player-made world for Neverwinter Nights 1. A paladin who lost her faith, and with it her abilities, she had to switch over to ranger to continue fighting the forces of darkness. This is where the Sinstalker title came from, this invented class, though in some versions she’s not necessarily a sinstalker but merely has that as her last name. She befriended a wolf who traveled with her.
In various pen-and-paper exploits she has resurfaced, often “changing the texture map but not the model.” She has been a scientist who used alchemy to combat the supernatural world. She has been more like a cop, her crossbow shrinking to pistol size, and her tracking abilities to more of an FBI profiling style. She has been an actual ranger who starts protecting her newly haunted woods. In all these versions her intelligence was at least as high as her dexterity and she somehow had fear immunity, either by taking 3 levels of paladin or from the GMs giving her the trait to reflect her backstory. She is often found either in the company of a raven/crow or wolf, or these creatures seem to gather in the background if she lingers in one place for awhile.
She started out as a paladin/ranger combo, for the increased armor and holy abilities, but was remade and is currently pure ranger. She is a heavy crossbow specialist with a pet wolf tank, but with the addition of the Artificer class she yet again doesn’t work in a computer game. This weakness was always prevalent as her favored enemy undead usually carried a substantial penalty (crossbows deal half damage to skeleton types, half to zombie types, and can’t affect some spirit types at all.) This story is sadly a recurring theme in the video games, where at best she’s functional but weaker than the rest of the party.
She appears as an NPC: the 9th villager, second-in-command for the stained glass knight Lycurgus, and tasked with hunting down divine monsters in the human world that escape the confines of their religions. She is also an expert in all man-made weapons and the NPC to teach new fighting styles to the players upon level up. Thousands of years ago she removed her Fear and hid it in a far off land, making her incapable of feeling it but also making her a bad judge of social tact and sizing up her prey. She does not have a pet, but a lone wolf motif accompanies many of her clues to contrast with Lycurgus’ pack of lions.
As she’s the Katarina model she uses black powder, either in a rifle or dual-wielding pistols, but has no supernatural monster hunting abilities. She is accompanied by a feral black hound.
A crossbow wielding Demon Hunter, so she’s pretty accurate down to her hair and wardrobe, though her tools and traps are generic slowing and rooting in nature. Demon Hunters in the setting endure forced horror so they cannot feel it anymore; ironically Diablo himself, as god of Terror, is also incapable of feeling fear as his brothers do. Sinstalker has a raven pet and a wolf pet here.
There’s no crossbows in this game yet, so she has to use melee weapons in order to keep that gothic touch of the old world. Still, she works relatively well in the modern setting, all things considered. In this world, the ravens are a sign that the revenants are coming to steal your child away; a raven always follows Sinstalker because she narrowly escaped this fate, and the spirits have plans to obtain what they still feel is “rightfully theirs.”
The hard truth is she’d only truly work in a setting where her skills would be valuable and the other party members weren’t clerics or paladins. At the end of the day making her was an experiment to see if she’d work, and she very rarely does.
Undead/demon specialist when needed, otherwise “bard” (lore, mediocre archer, light rogue skills) to fill any party gaps.
Ranger, with varying levels of Paladin, Cleric or Fighter.
Varies, but she’s usually only beholden to her occupation and whatever it requires of her.
Weapons and Armor
Sinstalker is quite good with one of the following: hand crossbow, dual hand crossbows, light crossbow, heavy crossbow, repeating crossbow, or when appropriate some type of firearm. She is usually only skilled in one particular weapon from the above list and doesn’t switch between; she does switch her ammunition types however. When using crossbows, she sometimes employs glass-blown bulbs instead of damaging arrowheads, which are filled with various solutions that affect the target on contact; she usually has very few at a time as they’re fragile and hard to carry, keeping a handful in a padded wooden case.
She will always have a backup melee weapon, usually silver, though she’s an expert at using her crossbow at point blank range. She is usually competent enough in hand-to-hand techniques that she can flip an attacker behind her or two the ground, giving her some space to return to missile weapons.
She straps or carries tools all over her that do very specific things in battle or when set into a trap (wooden stakes, wolfsbane, spirit seals and the like.) These are usually very effective but only against one specific enemy type. She creates most of these herself they tend to take awhile. She can fashion her glass-blown bolts in the same way, though this often requires commissioning a glassworker.
Traditional ranger skills, though often tailored or at least flavored to be supernatural creature specific.
|Alchemy||She’s quite good, though specializes in the things of use to her field.|
|Concentration||Her mind’s ability to mentally focus, even in the chaos of battle, is legendary.|
|Craft||Several types allowing her to fashion the tools of her trade, as they’re usually consumable.|
|Decipher Script||Useful for understanding forgotten bibles and hastily scrawled warnings.|
|Gather Information||Though she tries to stick to tracking, sometimes villagers must be questioned.|
|Heal||Her alchemy knowledge allows her to be a bit self sufficient.|
|Hide||In order to stalk sin, you’d better be hidden.|
|Knowledge||Purchases 2 to 5, such as Religion, Curses, or Anatomy depending on the system.|
|Listen||Any good hunter needs it.|
|Move Silently||In order to stalk sin, you’d better be quiet.|
|Search||Looking for clues is important.|
|Sleight of Hand||Helps to spring tools on unwitting prey.|
|Speak Language||Common, with varying degrees of Abyssal, Infernal and Celestial.|
|Spellcraft||High, but only for necromancy and evil divine spells; not good against mages.|
|Spot||Any good hunter needs it.|
|Survival||Tracking prey for weeks or months at a time, she knows how to camp.|
|Use Magic Device||To use tools and solve ancient riddles she’d otherwise be unable to.|
Sinstalker usually picks her favored enemies in the following order, mainly for how common they are by character level: Undead, Magical Beast (if Lycanthropes fall under this,) Abberations (if Mythos inspired things fall under this,) and Outsider: Evil.
She always takes Lycanthrope if made available by the GM and sometimes takes Vermin if it includes the broader definition of rats and bugs, since these are so common when she enters crypts. She only picks Fey if evil fairies and “spirits” are a part of the setting.
Sinstalker either doesn’t have this ability, or it’s altered. Sometimes it only affects checking to see if an animal has any outward signs of supernatural sickness or corruption to be used as a tracking clue to her prey’s whereabouts. Some games it’s altered to affect the “diplomacy” of an undead, whereby she uses tools or scents to reduce or increase her aggro from it (protective chalk circles, rubbing wolfsbane over herself, presenting or defaming a holy symbol.) Very often it’s removed entirely in lieu of something else, such as her fear immunity.
She always has the archery tree, and it’s slightly altered to work on crossbows instead of bows.
She doesn’t need one, but in games where she has to she takes as gothic a beast as she can, such as a wolf or a raven. She once used a vulture, who had abilities to scout for undead (carrion.) With the exception of that vulture, her animals aren’t really pets as much as creatures that come along or hang out when they feel like it. The two tend to share a mutual understanding that she won’t ask them for anything, but she’ll never shoo them away as they’re quite silent.
Sinstalker cannot cast traditional spells, though depending on the GM and the craft/alchemy rules of the setting, she sometimes has access to divine (holy not nature) spells switched over to material components to represent her tools. This approach follows the wisdom based, up to 4th level structure already in place, though intelligence might be used instead.
Whether holy power from paladin training, experience in seeing the darkest corners of the world, or an intellect so Sherlock or House that fright is ejected as a meaningless chemical imbalance, Sinstalker can always stare down the maw of horror just like Buffy would. This is often detrimental as she has little regard for consequence in both her personal interactions and her dungeon delving, and often walks straight into danger when she should know better.
“A student of the sciences, Lorka hunts the undead and dark forces through deduction and psychological profiling. While the Silver Flame discounts her methods, she knows that even mindless undead are following the orders of someone with a motive. She knows that necromancers tend to put too much binding energy in a skeleton’s shoulder to swing a weapon, but not in the wrist that holds it. She knows that werewolves…well, werewolves just take silver. A lot of it. But a handful of coins hidden in the bait is certainly the least messy approach.”
“Lorka tends to see religion with none of the same complexity as her prey. If the dead have risen, their god has failed: and it’s up to the application of science to solve the problem. This perceived praise of her enemies coupled with her outright rejection of religious doctrine has put her squarely at the top of the Silver Flame’s problem list. But at least so far, her unique skill set has proven just too useful to lose.”
“You first heard about her in the Trammel storybook, seeing her just a few hours later with Mai Multe. A woman in her early thirties, or at least that’s how she appears. She keeps her dark hair cropped short and is very practical and utilitarian in most regards, not putting much stock into the deities Lycurgus creates. She dresses like a ranger, the only exception you saw to this being a brilliant white ceremonial cloak that seemed very out of place with the rest of her rugged outfit. You can’t imagine her actually liking to wear the thing.”
“Sinstalker is widely considered the best fighter in the village, the go-to person for when some dangerous creature walks in from one of the outlying zones, and people are wondering who might win in a fight between her and Libretto. But Lorna’s real job is to hunt down rampaging monsters. Specializing in the particularly large ones, these tend to be mythological evils from one of the religions her elder has made, that found some way to temporarily escape its confines or at least get a little off its track. She eliminates the threat with as little fanfare as possible, trying to accomplish this far out of sight of humankind.”
“Lorna’s voice and attitude sound…off, though you haven’t been able to place why. She almost sounds sleepy, bored or insolent without being any of those things. You’d say you can’t hear any emotion in her voice but that’s not it either: you’d say laid back but that’s just wrong. While not rude exactly, she doesn’t display a lot of tact or forethought.”