Thursday, January 22, 2015

Estarion, Games 10 and 11

Game 10

We returned from a real-life holiday break to the heroes still talking to the priestesses of Astarte to learn that the Night Hag had stolen a key from the basement of the temple, one that would open an ancient enchanted tower under the bay. The coming night, a once-a-millenium low tide will make the top of the tower rise above the waves and lower the magical wards around the entrance and allow entry. Even then, the tower is enchanted to prevent followers of the goddess and the hags and their creations from entering. Inside is imprisoned a terrible master of the hags, that they worshipped as a power before the gods, and Elder Thing waiting to awaken.

The heroes plan a shipboard dash to the tower, supported by the warrior-priestesses of Astarte. They are met by a pirate ship. Using their spell-power, they mess up the pirates, but not before they drop a barrel into the water -- which turns out to be the Apparatus of Kwalish.

The heroes gather to stop the apparatus, waiting out the tide and waiting for the tower to be swallowed up by the waves again. They then dragged the apparatus to shore, defeated the drivers -- Regga and a wererat.

The heroes manage to convince the priestesses of Astarte to introduce them to the high priestess of Hecate, who helps them sequester the key in a magical hiding place, but they now know the hags will have to wait for another opportunity.
DM’s note: This was a total railroad of a session, I hate to admit, driven by the fact that we had way too many plot threads hanging out. I wanted to get the hags back on the back burner, close out the rat cult plotline, and get the PCs back to their interest in rooting out the cult of Orcus. Not my favorite way of handling things, but the group was getting stuck on where to go, so I focused on reducing options for them to make more meaningful decisions available.

Game 11

After some thought, the heroes decide to scout out two possible approaches to fighting the Cult of Orcus. They begin by sending Meadow’s familiar to scout the brothel of Tatiana Scaevola, and find out her operation is all kink upstairs and worse kink with zombie women in the basement. The rich and sadistic’s playground, and a source of potential blackmail material and wealth for the cult. They decide that, while they are squicked out about her, she isn’t a huge threat.

Next they look at Herminia Cassius. Researching the weaknesses of the penanngalan, the group manages to set up a plan to raid her house, steal her body, and burn it in the ruins of the temple of Astarte. The plan is a hit an run, and involves kidnapping a servant, killing Herminia’s charmed husband (with Arturius killing his old friend), and destroying a quasit with a lot of fire.

They also begin spreading rumors of unsavory activity in the brothel, and have yet to figure out deprogramming Regga. 

Also, it looks as if Meadow is now secretly visiting the town orphanage with children's books, helping teach the young about the good news of her patroness, Ereshkigal, to help them see the light of her warlock patroness. That's sweet, right?

Friday, January 9, 2015

Gratuitous Dungeon Map

A simple map of a headquarters in the sewers, loosely based on the maps in one of the Slavers modules from AD&D.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sketchbook: Aboleth

A quick sketch of an aboleth, inks on brown paper.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Converting Fiend Folio Favorites: Caryatid Column

Caryatid columns are created much like stone golems. The column appears to be a column incorporating the form of a slim woman bearing a narrow, old-fashioned sword, about 7' tall.

Defensive functions. A caryatid column will always have a specific defensive function such as guarding a treasure-chest or preventing intrusion into a particular area. This task will have been set by the creator.

The caryatid column will 'activate' as soon as any act is committed which its task specifically prohibits — the approach of a potential thief towards the treasure the column has been set to guard, an intrusion into a 'forbidden' area and so on. When it does animate, the caryatid column takes on a fleshy appearance, the sword, becomes steel and it is this weapon that the caryatid column will use in melee if necessary.

However the caryatid column will not necessarily enter into combat; its main task is to guard the treasure, prevent intrusion into a particular area or another similar task and if it can carry out this task without combat it will attempt to do so. Its behaviour will depend a great deal on the circumstances and the instructions given by its creator but it might, for example, attempt to divert the attention of intruding adventurers from the forbidden area and lead them to a place where they will be trapped or attacked by a monster.

If combat is inevitable, however, the caryatid column will initiate it. When the caryatid column's task is complete — intruders killed, treasure no longer vulnerable, for example — it will return to its original position and revert to its original stone shape, the sword becoming stone as well. If the column is killed, it returns to stone (as does the sword) on the spot.

Medium Construct, Unaligned

Armor Class:    15
Hit Points:         37 (5d8+15)
Speed:             30 ft, climb 30 ft

STR 16 (+3); DEX 14 (+2); CON 16 (+3); INT 3 (-4); WIS 10 (+0); CHA 10 (+0)

Damage Immunities: Psychic, poison.
Condition Immunities: Charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned.
Damage Reduction: Bludgeoning, Piercing or Slashing damage from non-magical weapons that are not adamantine. Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages: Understands the languages of its creator, but does not speak.

Immutable form: The caryatid column is immune to any spell that or effect that would alter its form.

Magic resistance: The caryatid column has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Weapon breakage: Any nonmagical weapon that strikes the caryatid column has a 25% chance (not cumulative) per strike of breaking.


Sword: +5 melee weapon, reach 5 feet, 8 (2d4+3) slashing damage.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Three Sentient Magic Items: a rough draft.

I have noted before that I have an aversion to simple magic items, particularly ubiquitous +1 weapons and the like. I dislike how they provide an escalating pile of bonuses, how dull they are, and how they become part of the implied power economy of the game. 

That said, magic items are fun to write up. I have been thinking of bringing in some magic items to the campaign, and I have started writing up some basic descriptions. These are rough drafts for the items thus far. They are all three intelligent items, sort of mini-artifacts for my campaign.

Nimal Yaad, Trident of the Sea Lords

Weapon (trident), rare (requires attunement)
This was an ancient weapon of the Sea Lords of Kania, a symbol of their rule. The Trident marks its carrier as a ruler, the captain of his vessel, and a merchant lord among his people. The Trident came to Estarion with early traders when the city was a minor trading outpost, and was used as a weapon in battle against the Three Sisters by Abdeshmun Zinn, who fought alongside the Avatar of Astarte when the Three Sisters first sought to conquer the land. Nimal Yaad was lost decades later when Behdoun raiders destroyed the temple of Yam and took the trident as spoils of war. It was later recovered by priests of Poseidon, where it became a holy relic of Poseidon until the trident disappeared in a war with the Parsian invader Xanaton the Younger.

·      You gain a +1 to attack and damage rolls with this magic weapon.
·      You gain advantage on Charisma checks while holding Nimal Yaad.
·      You gain proficiency on Intelligence checks to appraise goods.
·      While bearing Nimal Yaad, you can use an action to cause your voice to carry up to 300 feet until your next turn.

Sentience: Nimal Yaad is a lawful neutral weapon with an Intelligence of 8, a Wisdom of 10, and a Charisma of 14. The trident has hearing and normal vision out to 60 feet and communicates by transmitting emotions to the creature carrying or wielding it.

Personality: Nimal Yaad was built for glory. It will drive its user to feats of combat and glory if possible. Made to serve merchant-kings, the weapon is less a powerful combat weapon than a useful symbol of leadership.

The Harvester

Weapon (greataxe), rare (requires attunement)
Forged, it is said, by Dagon, god of grain and field, as a weapon to defend his worshipers from raiding tribes, this axe is blessed by the virgin goddess of war and violence, Anat. The Harvester is a double-bitted long axe covered with runes and symbols. It came to the region in the hands of the Kanian Paladin Niqmad, who drove out a nest of goblins to help found Selindra. The harvester was passed to Niqmad’s sons, and only disappeared as the Aquilans came to rule the region.

·      You gain a +1 to attack and damage rolls with this magic weapon.
·      The Harvester is a vicious weapon.
·      The Harvester is made with cold iron, silver, and magic.
·      The Harvester whispers warnings to its users of danger, giving him or her a +2 bonus to initiative.
·      The Harvester acts as a ring of protection +1 (+1 saves and armor class) while it is wielded.
·      The Harvester is unbreakable.

Sentience: The Harvester is a chaotic neutral weapon with an Intelligence of 10, a Wisdom of 12, and a Charisma of 10. The trident has hearing and normal vision out to 120 feet and communicates by transmitting emotions to the creature carrying or wielding it.

Personality: The Harvester is has a love of battle and danger. It is always ready to guide its owner into conflicts, and to seek out the most powerful foe it can. It is easily bored and generally pretty impatient. It tends to be suspicious of strangers.

The Robe of Shadows

The Robe, it is said, was woven by Hecate, and given as a gift to the merchant Estarius. The black robe is woven of spider silk and enchanted to be indestructible, always clean, able to adjust to whomever wears it. The robe disappeared years ago, and it has always been assumed it was stolen long ago.

·      The robe acts as a Cloak of Invisibility.
·      The robe acts as a Cloak of Protection.
·      Gleaming: the robe never gets dirty.
·      Unbreakable: the robe can’t be broken. Special means must be used to destroy it.\

Sentience: The Robe of Shadows is a chaotic neutral robe with an Intelligence of 12, a Wisdom of 12, and a Charisma of 8. The trident has hearing and darkvision out to 120 feet and communicates by speaking, reading, and understanding High Aquilan.

Personality: The robe is haughty and demanding. It sees itself as a tool of great wizards, and has a disdain for non-wizards. It tends to push its master to preserve him or herself at any cost, sees non-wizards as expendable, and wants to see it and its master properly adorned and presented. It is ambitious for its master and, by extension, for itself.