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Arkhan, also known as Arkhan the Cruel, is a dragonborn paladin/barbarian. He is played by Joe Manganiello.

Description Edit

Appearance Edit

Joma Cueto Arkhan The Cruel

Fan art of Arkhan, by Joma Cueto.[art 1]

Arkhan is a heavily muscled, red-scaled dragonborn, nearly 7’ in height.

Around his neck he wears a loop of golden thorns inset with dozens of gems, representing each of the chromatic dragon colors. It is an exalted legendary magical artifact called The Wreath of the Prism and grants him control over powerful beasts and monstrosities. His holy symbol is an amulet adorned with the five-headed dragon sigil of Tiamat built into the chest plate of his heavy armor. This same symbol is emblazoned on the front of his magic[citation needed] shield.

He wears a suit of jagged, spiked, obsidian-metal plate armor with green dragon scales embedded throughout the main plates. He carries a magical battleaxe carved from deep cerulean sapphire and adorned with numerous runic sigils called Fane-Eater.

Personality Edit

Biography Edit

Background Edit

Arkhan was a former hired killer who was imprisoned and nearly beaten to death in an attempted forced conversion by a religious cult. Arkhan was able to break his chains and murder his captors, aided by visions and power granted to him by the five headed chromatic dragon goddess, Tiamat.[citation needed]

Arkhan spent frustrating months researching the name of a cavern that bore his mark until he crossed paths with a monk named Duan[spelling?] of the Cobalt Reserve, who told him it was the Vault of Shumas.[spelling?] Knowing many dangers lied within he hired a small band of mercenaries: The Headmistress, Percival de Rolo, Keyleth and Dupont Dupont. Dupont Dupont activated the trap necessary to open the vault. Inside were multiple Yuan-Ti and other snake creatures that Arkhan and his hired mercenaries killed, allowing Arkhan to retrieve the powerful relic inside. [1][2]

Vander, a high elf Arkhan considered to be "the closest thing he’d ever had to a brother," was burned to death in an attack by Vecna’s Death Knight aided by Delilah Briarwood. This ambush also led to someone cutting out the still beating heart of a Goliath companion of Arkhan’s.

Arkhan then chased Delilah and the Death Knight to Thar Amphala on a white dragon named Obatalá. Obatalá was killed and Arkhan was left for dead by Vecna's followers.

"The Final Ascent" (8x14) Edit

While attempting to wrestle a gloomstalker to the ground, Arkhan stumbled into a building where Vox Machina were hiding. With the aid of Vex and Grog, Arkhan used the Wreath of the Prism to take control of the gloomstalker he dubbed “They,” thus turning it into his attuned mount.

Afterward, he and Vox Machina struck a deal. If Vox Machina could look past the religious differences between their good-natured gods and Arkhan’s Queen of Darkness, Tiamat, and help Arkhan get revenge on the Death Knight, then he would in turn join them and “fight for their lives with the fury of a man who was already dead.” The group unanimously agreed and soon after put Grog and Arkhan into position to destroy an outer sigil protecting Thar Amphala.

This unfortunately attracted the attention of Sylas and Delilah, riding atop a now undead Obatalá. Arkhan and Vox Machina managed to defeat Delilah (which ended the force reanimating Obatalá), but Sylas escaped. Arkhan then took a bit of revenge by animating Delilah's corpse into his own undead puppet.

Inside the tower of Entropis, Arkhan encountered a reanimated Vander and successfully channeled the power of Tiamat to use Control Undead on his former companion. Further up the tower, had it not been for a “lucky” natural 1, Arkhan would have beheaded Shaun Gilmore due to a trick by Vecna.

Vox Machina’s moment of relief was interrupted when Vecna’s Death Knight caught up to the group. A revenge fueled Arkhan chose to stay behind and sacrifice himself by holding the knight back with his two undead minions while Vox Machina continued on to confront Vecna himself.

"Vecna, the Ascended" (8x15) Edit

Arkhan defeated the Death Knight and rejoined Vox Machina late in their battle with Vecna. He made a dramatic entrance by tossing the severed head of Delilah Briarwood and the Death Knight’s helmet into the crevasse below. Having used a magical potion of flying to manifest a faint pair of shimmering, chromatically-shifting dragon wings, he flew up into the fight and added key support by using the last of his Divine Smites to deal 135 points of damage in a single round and then breaking Vecna’s spell concentration at a key moment in the battle, returning a banished Grog and Scanlan to the Prime Material Plane. Eventually Arkhan and Vox Machina managed to defeat Vecna using the Divine Trammels and the Tome of Isolation. Vecna imploded leaving behind no trace save for his weaponized hand. Then with the support of Vox Machina, Arkhan prepared to destroy the Hand of Vecna for good. He raised his magical battle-axe Fane-Eater above his head and whispered a prayer to his goddess Tiamat but instead of swinging the axe down onto Vecna’s hand, Arkhan chopped off his own hand at the wrist. In the wake of Vox Machina’s shock, he attached the Hand of Vecna to himself, healed himself, and then teleported out, claiming it was “just business." His whereabouts are currently unknown.

Relationships Edit

Percival de Rolo and Keyleth Edit

Arkhan briefly adventured with Percy and Keyleth several years before they encountered each other again in Thar Amphala. After receiving the mental image of a golden jeweled artifact during a dream provided to him by Tiamat, Arkhan ventured into the corrupted Temple of Shumas with Percival and Keyleth where they battled several Yuan-Ti before coming face to face with the Temple’s spectral guardian. Arkhan took control of the ghost using his Control Undead ability and therefore gained control of the temple’s boss, a Manticore named Changó. Wrapped around the Manticore’s neck was the same golden jeweled treasure he saw in his dream... The Wreath of the Prism. This adventure was played out in an episode of CelebriD&D.

Vander Edit

Vander, a high elf ranger, was a companion of Arkhan's and the closest thing he had ever had to a brother. Vander was incinerated by Vecna’s Death Knight during an excursion into Thar Amphala. Later, when Arkhan was traveling with Vox Machina, they encountered Vander's reanimated corpse inside the tower of Entropis. Arkhan used Control Undead to take control of Vander's corpse and bring him to the top of the tower with him. Zombie Vander was killed while assisting Arkhan during his battle with Vecna’s Death Knight.

Grubby Edit

Grubby, a gnome wizard, was another of Arkhan's companions who was killed and reanimated by Vecna. Arkhan briefly recognized Grubby's zombified corpse before it was destroyed by Pike in Entropis.

Vox Machina Edit

Arkhan’s fealty to Tiamat was a conflict with Vox Machina when they met, but their goals seemed temporarily in alignment. Arkhan joined Vox Machina and assisted them in the final slaying of Delilah Briarwood and her undead dragon before singlehandedly holding off the Death Knight with his two zombie minions so that Vox Machina could get the jump on Vecna. He defeated the Death Knight and rejoined the group, ultimately helping them to rid the Prime Material Plane of Vecna. Once Vecna was defeated, Arkhan tricked Vox Machina into believing he was going to destroy the Hand of Vecna once and for all. Instead, he cut off his own hand and used the last of his Lay on Hands pool to reattach Vecna’s Hand to himself before teleporting out, claiming this betrayal was "just business” and in no way reflected his personal feelings about the group.

Character Information Edit

Abilities Edit

As an Oathbreaker paladin, Arkhan is required to be evil, and "[w]hatever light burns in [his] heart has been extinguished. Only darkness remains." In exchange, he has immense power to control and raise undead creatures; the ability to frighten other creatures; and a +4 bonus to melee attack damage.

Arkhan multiclassed as a barbarian, granting him the ability to go into a frenzied rage.

Arkhan now wields The Hand of Vecna.

Dragonborn Abilities Edit

  • Draconic Ancestry (Red)
  • Breath Weapon (Fire)
  • Damage Resistance (Fire)

Paladin Abilities Edit

Class Features Edit
  • Aura of Courage
  • Aura of Protection
  • Cleansing Touch
  • Divine Sense[3]
  • Divine Smite[4]
  • Extra Attack
  • Fighting Style
  • Improved Divine Smite[5]
  • Lay on Hands (70 points)
  • Oathbreaker
    • Aura of Hate
    • Channel Divinity
      • Control Undead[6]
      • Dreadful Aspect
    • Oathbreaker spells
  • Spellcasting (Charisma-based ability)

Oathbreaker Spells Edit

Arkhan has access to the following spells, which do not count against the number of spells he can prepare.

1st-level Edit
  • Hellish Rebuke
  • Inflict Wounds
2nd-level Edit
  • Crown of Madness
  • Darkness
3rd-level Edit
  • Animate Dead[7]
  • Bestow Curse
4th-level Edit
  • Blight
  • Confusion

Paladin Spells Edit

Arkhan has access to paladin spells up to 4th-level. As a 14th-level paladin, he can prepare up to 11 spells per day.

4th-level Edit
  • Death Ward[8]

Barbarian Abilities Edit

Class Features Edit
  • Danger Sense
  • Primal Path: Path of the Berserker
    • Frenzy
  • Rage
  • Reckless Attack
  • Unarmored Defense

Notable Items Edit

  • Fane-Eater,[9] a very rare artifact battleaxe: You gain a +3 bonus to attack rolls made with this weapon. When you deal a critical hit with this weapon, the target suffers an additional 2d8 necrotic damage, and you regain an equal amount of hit points. You gain an additional use of Channel Divinity between rests while attuned to this weapon. When you bring a medium or larger living creature to 0 hit points with this weapon, you can expend a use of your Channel Divinity to gain a number of temporary hit points equal to your character level.
  • Obsidian Flint Dragon Plate +2[9]: You gain poison resistance. The bladed and jagged nature of this armor grants the wearer advantage to break non-magical grapples.
  • The Wreath of the Prism (Exalted)[9], a legendary artifact neckpiece: The wearer gains darkvision and can see invisible objects and creatures up to 60 feet. The wreath can be removed for up to 1 minute before losing attunement. If the wreath is placed around the neck of a beast, dragon, or monstrosity of CR 6 or lower (requires a successful grapple attempt against the creature), the creature must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC 17). On a success, the creature is immune to the effects of this item for 24 hours. On a failure, that creature is charmed by the attuned and will follow simple commands. This effect lasts until the wreath becomes unattuned, or another creature is charmed by the wreath. A creature that is released from the wreath's influence knows it was charmed by the bearer.
  • The Hand of Vecna, wondrous item, artifact: Your Strength score becomes 20, unless it is already 20 or higher. Any melee spell attack you make with the Hand, and any melee weapon attack made with a weapon held by it, deals an extra 2d8 cold damage on a hit. The Hand has 8 charges. You can use an action to expend 1 or more charges to cast one of the following spells (spell save DC 18) from it: Finger of Death (5 charges), Sleep (1 charge), Slow (2 charges), or Teleport (3 charges). The Hand regains 1d4+4 expended charges daily at dawn. Each time you cast a spell from the Hand, it casts the Suggestion spell on you (spell save DC 18), demanding that you commit an evil act. The Hand might have a specific act in mind or leave it up to you.

Quotations Edit

  • "Don't hurt him!" – To Vax , trying to wave him off as he tried to subdue a gloomstalker using the Wreath of the Prism.
  • "I'm sorry, it was just business. Until we meet again..." – To Vox Machina after chopping off his own hand, replacing it with the Hand of Vecna, and using it to teleport away.[10]

Trivia Edit

  • Arkhan has the highest AC (at 24) of any player character to appear on Critical Role thus far.
  • Arkhan has the highest character level of all guest characters so far, at 17.
  • Arkhan has crossed over into other one-shots more times than any other character in the series; the total number is three, beating Jester by one. In Arkhan's case: He was the character Joe Manganiello played in the episode of CelebriD&D he was featured in. He played alongside Taliesin Jaffe and Marisha Ray, who played as Percival and Keyleth respectively. Manganiello played as Arkhan again during The Wizards of the Coast's "Stream of Annihilation event, in Mike Mearls DMed "Tower of the Curator" adventure. Manganiello also plays a 6th level version of Arkhan in season two of Force Grey: Lost City of Omu.
  • Vander and Grubby are characters played by Joe's real-life brother and producing partner Nick and by writer/comedian Will Hines, respectively.
  • Gale Force Nine supplied Manganiello with a custom Arkhan miniature for him to use during episodes 113 & 114.
  • Arkhan is one of the available Champions in the game Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms.

References Edit

  1. CelbriD&D with Joe Manganiello. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IeEjfbpkt8&index=2&t=0s&list=PLayOpg5IqQC-0hwdv9cSpbCYoll7pvvMH
  2. They recognized Arkhan in "Vecna, the Ascended" (8x15), stating the CelbriD&D episode was considered semi-canon.
  3. See "The Final Ascent" (8x14) at 4:34:31.  Arkan uses his "Divine Sense" ability
  4. See "The Final Ascent" (8x14) at 2:05:11.  Arkhan uses his "Divine Smite" ability
  5. See "The Final Ascent" (8x14) at 2:05:22.  Joe states that his one-handed battleaxe deals a base 2d8 damage; Fane-Eater does not innately deal an extra d8, so one of these is from Improved Divine Smite
  6. See "The Final Ascent" (8x14) at 3:56:09.  Arkhan uses his "Control Undead" ability on Vander
  7. See "The Final Ascent" (8x14) at 3:09:52.  Arkhan casts "Animate Dead"
  8. See "The Final Ascent" (8x14) at 3:58:44.  Arkhan casts "Death Ward"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Item cards for Fane-Eater, Obsidian Flint Dragon Plate +2, and Wreath of the Prism (Exalted) were available in Matt's public Dropbox as of 10/3/2017.
  10. See "Vecna, the Ascended" (8x15).[citation needed]

Art:

  1. Fan art of Arkhan, by Joma Cueto (source).  Used with permission.