Cog 11 is the gnome rogue I am playing in my new 13th Age campaign, the Eroding Empire.
Cog 11 (“Cog”) is a cold-hearted, selfish and anti-social wretch. Orphaned (or abandoned) on the edge of the Wild Wood when he was very small, Cog grew up as a wildling, a member of a small group of children who roam wild in the woods. No one knows why, but the Wild Wood seems to attract such hapless children, and they are somehow able to survive on its fringes. They wander the forest in small bands, eating what they can find and sleeping where they will. They often sneak into outlying towns and villages, stealing anything that is not nailed down and generally getting into trouble. Usually multi-racial and multi-national, these bands evolve their own language from the mix of whatever is in their group. They are rumoured to sometimes steal civilized children to join their gang, but this is unlikely. Some are rumoured to be cannibalistic, but this is also likely a lie. Certainly they live hard, desperate lives and very few become old enough to leave their group behind for better days: most fall prey to the vicious beasts of the forest, or are abducted by the vicious beasts of the human world.
Cog 11 was treated well when he was a child by a wood elf resident of a temple complex on the outskirts of the Wild Wood, and subsequently met this wood elf, Lithvar, again, joining his adventuring group. This early memory of being well-treated made Cog 11 (foolishly) over-inclined to trust priests. When he was still a child, but one of the oldest members of his wildling band, he was offered shelter and succour by a priest from a mysterious organization called the Watch. Trusting this priest too much, he left the wildling band to become a Disciple of the Watch. He spent the rest of his childhood in the Watch.
The Watch is a vile and sick cult that believes the world is empty of gods, and runs as a machine of clockwork, its mechanisms hidden from the eyes of mortals. The Disciples of the Watch believe that free will prevents humans from understanding the full glory of the machine, and aims to destroy free will in all mortals, cast down false idols, and restore the machine of the universe to perfection. They believe that humans can be programmed, and that only a very small and elite number of humans should have any free will – these people would then guide the machine and “operate” all other humans. They have a monastery in an obscure place near the Wild Wood, and abduct sentient creatures of all race to conduct “reprogramming” experiments. Disciples of the Watch do not have names, only functions and numbers: this is the basis of Cog’s name. For 5 years Cog 11 was a devoted Disciple of the Watch, but he slowly uncovered their darker secrets, lost faith, and fled. Usually people who attempt to leave the Watch are treated as defective parts, captured and subject to hideous reprogramming before being discarded, but Cog 11 was able to escape from the Watch – he is probably the only person ever to do this.
Lost and alone, Cog 11 joined a mercenary company called the Black Company, which is famous for its cruelty and deceptions. He worked as a scout and spy, learning to fight and all the tools of spycraft. He was with the Black Company for several years before abandoning it on a whim to join Lithvar’s group.
Cog 11 lost all his faith in humanity while he was a Disciple of the Watch. Although he has shaken off the Watch’s teachings about the evil of magic and the non-existence of other Gods, he cannot relinquish the idea that mortals are mere machines without souls, capable of being reprogrammed and to be viewed only in terms of their usefulness. He takes joy only in his work as a scout, and in killing living things. Although he could perhaps be mistaken for handsome, this complete absence of empathy coupled with his rough manner and lack of social graces makes him almost completely unlovable and without charm. He has no sense of humour and his language skills are one-dimensional and functional, the consequence of growing up as a wildling. The only kindness he has ever experienced was a few precious weeks with Lithvar when he was a child; he has never experienced the bond between family members except when he watched people grieve over relatives he had killed; he has never experienced a woman who was not forced or paid; and his only experience of comradeship has been in battle with paid killers. He is thoroughly isolated from the normal emotional life of ordinary mortals.
Cog 11 wears worn and cheap black leather armour, is festooned with wicked-looking knives, and carries a small shortbow. He has few possessions, and no distinguishing features. He is lean, thin and wiry, with no facial hair, very pale blue eyes completely lacking in humanity, and blond hair. But for his height and the clear signs of sociopathy, he is non-descript.
Some 13th age details are below.
One unique thing
Cog 11 is the only person ever to escape from the Watch alive, and he knows all their secrets
The archmage (Negative, 1): The archmage is implacably opposed to the Watch, and anyone who was ever a member of the organization is a potential enemy of this icon. However, the Watch is a tiny and largely irrelevant organization, so a negative relationship with the archmage is unlikely to be strong
The High Druid (Conflicted, 1): Although the Wild Wood seems to somehow support wildling bands, the denizens of the wood also prey on them, and the High Druid does not seem to approve of them. Those who grew up in wildling bands see the High Druid as a kind of intolerant, capricious and violent father: loving, but not to be trusted and perhaps not fully aware of its own mind on the matter of their continued existence.
The Dwarf King (Negative, 1): The Dwarf King has a tenuous relationship with the Watch, though no one really understands why or how close they are. Escaping from the Watch with its secrets would not have endeared Cog 11 to the Dwarf King, though again the inconsequential nature of the Watch precludes any negative relationship with its patrons from being very strong.
Burglar (5): years of sneaking around breaking into settlements in the Wild Woods has made Cog 11 excellent at breaking and entering buildings, and the Watch further honed these skills to its own purposes
Wildling (5): years of staying alive in the wilderness has taught Cog 11 how to survive in the wild, how to sneak and climb and a little bit about how to identify and avoid animals.
Black Company (3): Cog 11 never got involved in old-fashioned ground combat, but his time in the Black Company taught him how the military works, and his role as a scout and spy meant he often was involved in formulating attack plans – he thus has a good military sense
The Watch (2): Cog 11 was taught about machinery by the Watch, so he understands how even quite complex mechanisms work, is able to make basic clockwork machinery, and so on. This time also gave him a corrupted understanding of theology and humanity, though, so it might serve as a penalty on his attempts to understand how human interaction works …