Friday, February 20, 2015

Fiend Folio Friday: Firenewts

Firenewts

Firenewts are distant relatives of lizard men who live in sun-baked rocky hills, volcanic regions or any other locale which tends to be hot, dry and sometimes sulphurous, whether above or below ground.

A typical firenewt is a mottled sepia colour, darkest along the spine and fading to near-white on the belly. The smooth flesh and features are eel-like, though the flesh is dry. The eyes are deep crimson. Females are slightly shorter than males (about 5%' tall) and are a duller brown. The young are light in colour, darkening progressively as they approach maturity.

Masters of the Giant Striders

One in three firenewts encountered above ground will be mounted on giant striders, as will ninety percent of elite warriors and all priests. These beasts are trained by the priests and are highly skilled in melee even if the firenewt 'master' dismounts.

Marauding Hordes

Firenewts are cruel marauders — if firenewts are encountered they will usually be the members of a hunting party. They delight in torturing and roasting victims alive before feasting on them.

Firenewt Lairs

In a firenewt lair there will be an additional 70% females and 150% young as well as a secret, closely-guarded hatching ground containing 200% eggs. The hatching ground will be under the priests' control and will be guarded by 1-3 young fire lizards.

The lair will be ruled by an overlord firenewt who will have a close retinue of four elite warriors.

Firenewt Warrior
Medium Humanoid, Neutral Evil
Armor Class: 16
Hit Points: 22 (4d8 + 4)
Speed: 30 feet
STR 12 (+1), DEX 10 (+0), CON 13 (+1), INT 8 (-1), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Reduction: Fire
Skills: Athletics +3, Handle Animal +2
Senses: Passive Perception 10
Languages: Common, Lizardfolk, Ignan
Challenge: 1/2

Actions
  • Breath Weapon: The firenewt breathes fire on a single adjacent target as a bonus action. The target takes 3(1d6) fire damage, unless the target succeeds on a DC 11 Dexterity save.
  • Long spear: Melee weapon attack, 10 ft reach, single target, +3 attack, 5 (1d8+1) piercing damage
  • Long Sword: Melee weapon attack, 5 ft reach, single target, +3 attack 4 (1d8+1) piercing damage.
  • Shortbow: Ranged weapon attack, range 80ft/320ft, single target, +2 attack 3 (1d6) piercing damage.

Elite Firenewt
Medium Humanoid, Neutral Evil
Armor Class: 16
Hit Points: 39 (6d8 + 12)
Speed: 30 feet
STR 14 (+2), DEX 10 (+0), CON 15 (+2), INT 8 (-1), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Reduction: Fire
Skills: Athletics +5, Handle Animal +3
Senses: Passive Perception 11
Languages: Common, Lizardfolk, Ignan
Challenge: 1

Actions 
  • Breath Weapon: The firenewt breathes fire on a single adjacent target as a bonus action. The target takes 3(1d6) fire damage unless the target succeeds on a DC 13 Dexterity save.
  • Battle Axe: Melee weapon attack, 5 ft reach, single target, +4 attack 5 (1d8+2) slashing damage.
  • Shortbow: Ranged weapon attack, range 80ft/320ft, single target, +2 attack 3 (1d6) piercing damage.

Firenewt Priest
Medium Humanoid, Neutral Evil
Armor Class: 16
Hit Points: 33 (6d8 + 6)
Speed: 30 feet
STR 12 (+1), DEX 10 (+0), CON 13 (+1), INT 10 (+0), WIS 16 (+3), CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Reduction: Fire
Skills: Athletics +3, Handle Animal +2
Senses: Passive Perception 10
Languages: Common, Lizardfolk, Ignan
Challenge:

Spellcasting: The Firenewt Priest is a 4th level spellcaster. His spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 13, +5 hit with spell attacks.) The Firenewt Priest has the following spells prepared:

Cantrips (at will) druidcfraft, produce flame, thorn whip
1st level (4) animal friendship, faerie fire, fog cloud
2nd level (3) heat metal, gust of wind

Actions
  • Breath Weapon: The firenewt breathes fire on a single adjacent target as a bonus action. The target takes 3 (1d6) damage unless it succeeds on a DC 11 Dexterity save.
  • Mace: Melee weapon attack, 5 ft reach, single target, +4 attack 5 (1d8+1) bludgeoning damage.

Firenewt Overlord
Medium Humanoid, Neutral Evil
Armor Class: 16
Hit Points: 39 (8d8 + 12)
Speed: 30 feet
STR 16 (+3), DEX 10 (+0), CON 15 (+2), INT 10 (0), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Immunity: Fire
Skills: Athletics +5, Handle Animal +3
Senses: Passive Perception 11
Languages: Common, Lizardfolk, Ignan
Challenge: 1

Actions 
  • Breath Weapon: The firenewt can breath fire on a single adjacent target as a bonus action. The target takes 3(1d6) fire damage unless the target succeeds on a DC 13 Dexterity save.
  • Battleaxe: Melee weapon attack, 5 ft reach, single target, +3 attack 5 (1d8+3) slashing damage.

Giant Strider
These large flightless, featherless birds are similar to huge ostriches. Beside each of their two dully-glowing red eyes is a small duct from which the beast can project a small fireball. They are immune to fire, magical or otherwise, and in fact their  bodies have adapted to derive sustenance from warmth; consequently they are most at home in desert and volcanic regions. As a result, giant striders are often found wading in lava-beds or standing in the flames of a forest fire (it is possible that the phoenix legend derived from such a sight).

Large Beast, Neutral
Armor Class: 14
Hit Points: 4d10+8
Speed: 6o ft.
STR 16 (+3), DEX 14 (+2), CON 14 (+2), INT 2 (-4), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 7 (-2)
Damage Reduction: Fire
Senses:  Passive Perception 11
Challenge:

Actions
  • Fire balls: Giant striders can shoot a 10ft radius sphere of fire from ducts under its eyes to a range of 50 feet, doing 1d6 fire damage to all in its area. It may do this twice per short rest.
  • Bite: melee weapon attack +6, target one creature, 6 (1d8+2) piercing damage
  • Kick: melee weapon attack +6, target one creature, 7 (1d10+2) bludgeoning damage

Fire Lizard
These reptiles may be the ancestors of dragons or an offshoot of a common ancestor. In any case, these creatures resemble red dragons, but are a neutral grey in color, with mottlings of red and brown on the back and reddish undersides. Unlike true dragons, they lack wings. They are sometimes called false dragons.

Huge beast
Armor Class:16
Hit Points: 85 (10d12 + 20)
Speed: 30 ft.
STR 18 (+4), DEX 10 (+0), CON 15 (+2), INT 2 (-4), WIS 12 (+1) CHA 7 (-3)
Damage Immunities: fire
Senses:Darkvision 60 ft, Passive Perception 11
Challenge:

Actions
  • Multiattack: The fire lizard may either breath fire and claw or bite and claw.
  • Fire breath: The fire lizard may breath a 20ft cone of fire. Each creature in that cone must make a DC 13 Dexterity save or take 10 (3d6) fire damage.
  • Bite: melee weapon attack, +7 hit, reach 10 ft., 13 (2d8+4) piercing damage.
  • Claws: melee weapon attack, +7 hit, reach 10ft, 11 (2d6+4) slashing damage.





Friday, February 13, 2015

Fiend Folio Friday: Dark Creeper and Dark Stalker

Dark Creeper

The dark creeper (a folk name for the race since the race name is unknown and the race language incomprehensible to linguists) is a humanoid, slightly-built creature about the same height as a dwarf. Members of the race always dress in sombre, dark-coloured clothing, concealing as much of their pallid skin as possible. They detest light and dwell deep underground — usually leading a solitary existence though there have been rumours of underground villages inhabited by as many as 80 individuals, including 20%—25% females. These villages are always ruled by a dark stalker.

Petty Thieves

The dark creeper is particularly fond of small magical items such as rings and magic daggers — solitary individuals will carry 25% of their treasure in the copious pockets of their cloaks in the form of trinkets, small jewelry, gems and coins.

Dark Creeper
Small humanoid
Armor Class: 17 (13 in normal or better light)
Hit Points:  7 (2d6)
Speed:       20 ft
STR 8 (-1), DEX 16 (+3), CON 10 (+0), INT 10 (+0), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 10 (+0)
Skills:      Acrobatics +5, Perception +2, Sleight of Hand +5, Stealth +5
Senses:      Darkvision 120 ft, detect magic 15 ft, passive Perception 10
Languages:   Dark creeper, undercommon

Creature of Darkness
The creeper  has the innate power to create darkness once per short or long rest — this power acts as the darkness spell, but does not affect dark creepers. During this time the creeper has two main objectives. First, to destroy lanterns and tinderboxes, break flasks of oil and so on — any act which will inhibit the creation of illumination. Secondly, to steal any small magical items detected. Self-preservation ranks marginally above such objectives.

Armored in Shadow
The dark creeper adds +4 to its armor class when in dim illumination or darkness. They are experts in using the shadows as cover for their activity.

Heatless Fire
When the Dark Creeper dies, its body undergoes a rapid transformation, releasing the dark energies inside it. All within 10 feet tahe 3 (1d6) necrotic damage and are blinded one round, or half damage and no blindness if they make a CON save (DC 20)

Actions
Poisoned Dagger, melee weapon attack, +5 hit, 5 foot reach, 1 target, 5 damage (1d4+3 plus poison — save DC 10 or extra 2d6 poison damage).

Dark Stalker

Dark stalkers are the rarely-seen leaders of the dark creepers. They are nearly a race apart, for they breed almost exclusively amongst themselves. They are instantly noticeable amongst a group of dark creepers as they are man-sized and stand head and shoulders above their underlings.

There is an average of one dark stalker to every 25 dark creepers, and each dark creeper village will contain at least one stalker ruler. Stalkers will rarely be encountered on their own, but this has been known to happen as the stalker goes about some mysterious personal mission.

They fight with short swords if they must, and some of these are magical (25% chance). All of their treasure is carried — there is a 7% chance of a magical ring and a 12% chance of 2—5 gems or 1 —2 items of jewellery on any given individual encountered. If attacked in normal illumination, the dark stalker has AC8.

If killed, a dark stalker explodes in a blinding flash equal to a 3-dice fireball.

Dark Stalker
Armor Class: 16 (12 in normal or better light)
Hit Points:  23 (4d8+5)
Speed:       20 ft
STR 10 (+0), DEX 15 (+2), CON 13 (+1), INT 10 (+0), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 10 (+0)
Skills:      Acrobatics +4, Perception +2, Sleight of Hand +4, Stealth +4
Senses:      Darkvision 120 ft, detect magic 15 ft, passive Perception 10
Languages:   Dark creeper, undercommon

Creature of Darkness
The dark stalker  has the innate power to create darkness once per short or long rest — this power acts as the darkness spell, but does not affect dark creepers. During this time the creeper has two main objectives. First, to destroy lanterns and tinderboxes, break flasks of oil and so on — any act which will inhibit the creation of illumination. Secondly, to steal any small magical items detected. Self-preservation ranks marginally above such objectives.

Create Fog
The dark stalker can use the Wall of Fog spell once per short rest.

Armored in Shadow
The dark stalker adds +4 to its armor class when in dim illumination or darkness. They are experts in using the shadows as cover for their activity.

Heatless Fire
When the Dark Creeper dies, its body undergoes a rapid transformation, releasing the dark energies inside it. All within 10 feet take 10 (3d6) necrotic damage and are blinded one round, or half damage and no blindness if they make a CON save (DC 20)

Actions
Poisoned Shortsword, melee weapon attack, +5 hit, 5 foot reach, 1 target, 5 damage (1d6+2 plus poison — save DC 10 or extra 2d6 poison damage).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Magic Item: Book of Ebon Bindings

The players in my game recently found a magical book. It's a bit powerful, even though I don't use many magic items, but its role is pretty limited in granting power to the character. (All respect to Dr. M.A.R. Barker, from whom I stole the title of the Book).

BOOK OF EBON BINDINGS

Wondrous Item, legendary (requires attunement)
The Book of Ebon bindings was granted as a gift to the wizard Hassan Al’Akar from a fiendish tutor. It is a black gook gound in black iron and inscribed with runes. It is warm to the touch, and its presence makes celestials uncomfortable.

MINOR PROPERTY

The book whispers warnings of danger to its bearer, granting +2 to initiative if the bearer isn’t incapacitated.

QUIRK

Hungry: the Book’s magical properties function only if fresh blood from a humanoid has been applied to it within the past 24 hours. It needs only a drop to activate.

ATTUNEMENT

To use the Book of Ebon Bindings, a character must attune to the book. In addition to spending a short rest focused on the book, the user must speak aloud the ritual of attunement written in the front of the book.

ARCANE SECRETS

A character attuned to the Book of Ebon Bindings has advantage on Intelligence (Arcana) and Intelligence (Religion) checks.

CANTRIPS

A character attuned to the Book of Ebon Bindings has access to the three following cantrips, which can be cast at will: Blade Ward, Fire Ward, Poison Spray.

RITUAL OF AUGURY

A character attuned to the Book of Ebon Binding can cast Augury as a ritual.

POWER OF FEAR

The Book has 5 charges. It regains 1d4+1 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll 1d20. On a 1, the book will not be able to use its fear powers for 2d6 days.

Command: while reading from the Book of Ebon Bindings, you can use an action to expend 1 charge and command another creature to flee or grovel, as with the Command spell (save DC 15)

Cone of fear: while reading from the yBook of Ebon Bindings, you can use an action to expend 2 charges, creating a 60 foot cone of black energy. Each cyreature in the cone must succeed in a DC15 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened of you for 1 minute. While it is frightened in this way, a creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of you. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action to try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If it has nowhere it can move, the creature can use the Dodge action. At the end of each of its turns, a creature can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.

SENTIENCE

The Book of Ebon Bindings is a sentient, neutral evil wondrous item with an Intelligence of 15, a Wisdom of 13, and a Charisma of 8. It has hearing and darkvision out to 120 feet. The Book of Ebon Bindings communicates by means transmitting emotions to the character carrying it. Its special purpose is that it believes that it and its wielder have key roles to play in future events.

PERSONALITY

The Book of Ebon Bindings is arrogant and ruthless. It sees its role as essential, as its its master, but it has a tendency to see all other creatures as disposable. It tires to guide its possessor toward power, dominance, and furthering the powers of evil. It guides its user with fear, anger, resentment, and desire to perform act of revenge, violence, and pursuit of power.

SIDE EFFECT

While you are attuned to the Book of Ebon Bindings, animals will be hostile to you,  plants that aren’t creatures wilt and die within ten feet of you, and holy water within 10 feet is destroyed .

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Estarion, Game 14

The heroes investigate what leads they have, not quite to a dead end, but to the point that they are convinced that the Intellect Devourer is part of a very heavily covered up attack, but it isn't clear who is behind it.

While investigating at the library to learn more about their foes, Jarret, Arturius, and Carver find the brothel of Tatiana Scaevola is on fire. Calling on divine powers to bring down the rain, they find the place was set on fire from the basement, but that Scaevola's office was raided. They suspect that Tatiana Scaevola covered her tracks and eliminated the brothel among rumors and murders of her colleagues. The Guard shows up to investigate, without Captain Lucanus.

They investigate more and find that the Asylum seems semi-abandoned, with no one answering the door. They wait to see if the "patients" become uncontrolled in 24 hours and look for Captain Lucanus. They explore his house and find half of a map, and evidence the Captain has skipped town, too.

The PCs follow up by breaking in to and searching the asylum. After fighting some rather hardy zombies, some mysterious undead of an unknown sort, and a necrophidius, which Tim managed to melt with a a pair of critical hits from scorching rays. They find the other half of a map, a magical book, and a box with magical traps.

At the end of the game they end up with:
  1. A map to caves with notes that the party has a bad feeling about.
  2. Knowledge that the Cult of Orcus has skipped town.
  3. A magical book they are not sure what it does or is.
  4. A bunch of books raided from Marcellus Nonus' library.
  5. A box with a magical trap they haven't opened.
  6. Arturius' theory that the Intellect Devourers (and perhaps an illithid master) have been hired by the Hags.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Current projects I'm moving forward on...

So I am thinking about making more thoughtful and a bit less amateurish work of my previous free settings and putting them up for sale:
  1. I am working on a revised and expanded Estarion: City of Knives with some expanded background, short adventures, and a pile of tables to guide ad-libbing at the table. I can't say the book will be able to aspire to Vornheim-level innovation, but I think it might be useful to all 2 or 3 of my regular readers. This project is about 75% done at this point. It will be a system-free publication just to see how well that will be received.
  2. I have started a  revision to Savage Swords of Athanor. I hope to revisit some of the proud nails I had in the original draft, and make the thing a bit more usable to others at their tables. I suspect many things will change in the revision, and the whole  will be written to be used as a setting for 5th edition. I will move from the original hexcrawl descriptions in the style of Carcosa and think about putting together some sort of Savage Worlds plot-point style adventures.
  3. I want to do the same with Swords of Mars, too.
The final versions of all three will be short — probably in the 40 page range — and I hope to get them out through some sort of pdf publishing and print-on-demand services.