A hexer is a person who has undergone extensive training and brutal mutations to transform them into monster-killing experts.
What makes a Hexer
No one is born a hexer, no one chooses to become one, and it can be a gift and a curse. The process to become a hexer begins in childhood, most who begin it do not live to see adulthood.
The child is first subjected to a harsh physical regiment and given mutagenic foods; some die as a result of the training accidents and some die from adverse reactions to the mutagenic foods. Many survive this step, and grow physically strong from their regiment as well as maturing at an accelerated rate. The second stage is known as the Trial of the Path; it differs for each hexer school, but always involves undertaking an incredibly dangerous task in which one in five do not survive. The final step in becoming a hexer is the Trial of Transmutation; it is an alchemical and magic process which alters the fundamental biology of those who undergo it making them mutants, it is incredibly painful and traumatising with only one in five surviving. Some who survive are forever disabled by the process, however, those who survive without the negative side effects become hexers perfect monster slayers.
The process to create a hexer is kept highly secretive by hexers.
Physiology of a Mutant
Those who survive the Trial of the Path and Trail of Transmutations are forever mutated into hexers.
The mutations within a hexer provide them with a variety of physical enhancements; their eyes develop vertical pupils and reflective membranes their low light vision, a veritable metabolic rate allowing them to resist poisons, their potions, and assist them when they are losing injured, a greatly enhanced immune system which greats incredible resistance to diseases which would kill others of their races, enhanced muscle and bone density, and an increased healing rate. In total these changes to the physiology render a hexer a mutant over whichever race they were born as; as a direct result many of the denizens of Runetalras view them as mutants and outsiders.
The changes that a hexer undergoes are said to poison their seed, this is not entirely true but it is also not entirely false; hexer produce offspring at a lower rate, and their children are always born defects which requires them to Trail of Transmutations by around the age of 10 or die from the defects.
Hexers are viewed with a great deal of maccabe for hexers deal in death. The Hexer Guild is one that kills monsters for coin, and as such hexers have long been associated with the death and destruction monsters bring; indeed the connection is so strong that the arrival of a hexer is viewed as a sign of misfortune. Hexers are seen as those who exploit death to wrench as much coin as possible from common good folk, other folk recognise the hexers are an uncomfortable necessity.
The discrimnation that is far too common throughout Runetalras is oft turned against hexers, as they are viewed as mutated freaks who have become as heinous as the monsters they kill.
Mentality of a Monster Killer
A hexer is more than just a person who survived the Trial of Transmutation by random chance.
Hexers are the culmination of countless hours training in monstrous lore, alchemy, swordsmanship, combat, and signcasting. Hexers are not simply brutes that excel in fighting monsters with their steel and silver, they use their knowledge to strike when it is opportune, use alchemy to further enhance their bodies, and use signcasting, a lesser form of magic, to overwhelm their enemies. These years of training, mastery, bruises, and bloodshed have honed their skills in addition to their mutations to elevate their capabilities beyond that of most other mortals.
This lifestyle and mutations that a hexer undergoes fundamentally alters them. These alterations are so extreme that some believe that the process to create a hexer stripes them of their emotions and morality. It must be said there is a well noted tendency among hexers to be cold, calculating, and some even cruel. These features are not surprising in a person who has been raised to believe it is their profession and duty to kill, this is only worsened by a hexers constant dealings with death and interactions with those who give them nothing but contempt. It is instead perhaps the life a hexer leads, suffering discrimination, killing, and seeing so many dead, that so damages their emotions.
While it is the tendency for hexers to be cold and uncaring this is not always true; the hexer Xaviour of Duskenreach was said to be the opposite of this description.
Job and duty
A hexer is their profession, every aspect of their life is dictated by it and has been from the moment they began their training. It is their job and duty to travel and kill monsters for coin. Hexers have done so for Age tirelessly thinning out the dark things that dwell beyond town walls, and the hexers will continue to do so until Runetalras is a dead world marked only with ruins.
No hexer has ever retired, with most continuing to hunt until they take too many wounds or being killed by a monster after becoming too old and too slow. There are many things that prevent a hexer from leaving their guilds - loyalty, not having a place in the world outside the constant death, discrimination, reliving traumatic events, and fear of what actions other hexers or even their guilds may take against them if they break this Ages standing tradition.
Where the hexers dwell
A hexers job is one which requires them to live a life upon the road, always travelling to find contacts and monsters. This leads hexers to travel wide and far from the areas that their schools are located within, with some travelling continents aways. It is also not uncommon for a hexer to put down temporary roots, most oft in cities where they are able to ply their trade for months, years, or even decades before enviably moving on once more.
To a hexer their true home, or to others their inescapable prison, is where they were created, the home of their hexer school. Each hexer school has a chief fortress where they are headquartered, the Fiend within the Kasari Wastelands, the Monstrosity within the Marbled Mountains, and the Undead near the Gorjon mountain. All of the hexer schools maintain smaller holds throughout the known world and hexers oft use them to winter at or supply themselves. The locations of all the hexers headquarters and holds are kept strictly secret to outsiders.
There are several hexer schools, the most well-known being the Schools of the Fiend, Monstrosity, and Undead. Each hexer School has its own specialisation in terms of the creatures they combat and their fighting styles. The hexer Schools also have distinct reputations surrounding them, the Fiend are feared for their physicality and bruishness, Undead are for their visual similarity to humanoid undead and their willingness to take contacts on humanoids, and Monstrosity have the best reputation as those willing to seek options beyond violence.
It is worth noting that hexers from all Schools take contracts on a wide variety of creatures ranging from beast to undead to aberrations; a hexer from the School of the Fiend will likely take countless contracts against monstrosities and undead, just as hexer from those Schools are likely to take many contracts on fiends.
School of the Fiend
The School of the Fiend hexers are the most physically intimidating, they are the largest, strongest, and typically clad themselves in heavy armour. These hexers make good use of their heavy armour, as they are well known for their tendency to wade straight into the thick of the fight. They also have a reputation to resolve their contacts bloodily and with no sense of discretion.
School of the Monstrosity
School of the Monstrosity hexers are considered the most balanced of the hexer schools, mixing their skills with the blade and their signcasting. They have earned the best reputation amongst hexers, although it is still not a great one, as their contracts do not always end in a bloody heap.
School of Undead
The School of Undead hexers are the most hated and loathed of the hexers, in part because undead which they deal in, but more so because these hexers have been more willing to take contacts on the humanoid races. These hexers are more inclined to fight with multiple weapons at once and use poisons against monsters and humanoids. They are capable of great discretion in their deals, a requirement of some of their trades.