Friday, June 23, 2017

Creature Loot: B






Like a wind on the leaf
Carrying forward with the letter B! If you're suffering from a Confusion spell, check out my explanation.

Banshee (4) – undead (religion)
  • 2d6 50GP art objects
  • 1 Vial of Ectoplasm: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a Potion of Invisibility or an Oil of Etherealness.
  • 1 Pinch of Spirit Dust: Acts as Dust of Disappearance.

Basilisk (3) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 1 Basilisk Eye: When held, a creature can use the eye to cast Stone to Flesh (save DC 12). This consumes the eye.
  • 1 Basilisk fang: Acts as a dagger. Can be crafted (smith’s tools) into a dagger that deals an additional 3 (1d6) poison damage on a hit.
  • 1 Basilisk Stomach: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (alchemist’s Supplies) into a salve that ends the petrified condition on a creature it is applied to.

Behir (11) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 4d4 Behir Claws: Act as daggers that can cut through dragon scales, dealing an additional 3 (1d6) piercing damage when it hits a Dragon. 20 claws can be mastercrafted (smith’s tools) into a Dragon Slayer.
  • 2 Behir Fangs: Act as daggers. Can be crafted (smith’s tools) into a dagger that deals an additional 5 (1d10) lightning damage on a hit.
  • 1 Behir Hide: Acts as a tent. Can be mastercrafted (smith’s tools) into 2 sets of studded leather armor that grant resistance to lightning damage.
  • 1 Behir Tail: Acts as a whip. Can be carefully crafted (smith’s tools) into a whip that deals an additional 5 (1d10) lightning damage on a hit.
  • 3 Half-digested Corpses: The DM selects one humanoid, one beast, and one dragon. One item from each can be salvaged from the Behir’s guts. This could be adventuring gear, weapons, or loot that would have been otherwise salvageable from the creatures.
Beholders






I found a big pokey stick and it's going in your eye, buddy
Beholder (13) – aberration (arcana)
  • 1 Large Beholder Eye: Requires attunement. While attuned, the holder can cast Antimagic Field once per day. The holder cannot be surprised while attuned to the eye. Because of the feeling of being watched, everyone within 30 feet of the eye takes an extra hour to gain a long rest. Can be mastercrafted (smith’s tools) into a grotesque Sentinel Shield. The holder of the shield cannot be surprised while attuned to it. Because of the feeling of being watched, everyone within 30 ft. of the shield takes an extra hour to gain a long rest.
  • 4 Small Beholder Eyes: Acts as an arcane focus. An eye can cast a particular beholder ray once per day. The ray is chosen randomly by the DM upon receiving the eye.
  • 1 Vial of Beholder Slime: Acts as Oil of Slipperiness.
  • 4 Beholder Eyestalks: Acts as a club. 4 of them may be mastercrafted (conjuration) by a spellcaster to summon a Spectator to guard a location for 101 years.
  • 3 Sets of Armor: The DM selects 3 sets of armor left from a Beholder’s victims.
  • In Lair: Treasure Hoard (11-16)

Death Tyrant (14) – undead (religion)
  • 1 Large Spectral Eye: Requires attunement. While attuned, the holder can cast Circle of Death once per day. Any creature killed this way becomes a zombie, which obeys the holder of the eye as long as they are attuned to it. The holder cannot be surprised while attuned to the eye. Because of the feeling of being watched, everyone within 30 ft. of the eye takes an extra hour to gain a long rest.
  • 6 Small Spectral Eyes: Acts as an arcane focus or holy symbol. An eye can cast a particular death tyrant ray once per day. The ray is chosen randomly by the DM upon receiving the eye.
  • 2 Vials of Ectoplasm: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a potion of Invisibility or an Oil of Etherealness.
  • 4 Sets of Armor: The DM selects 4 sets of armor left from a Death Tyrant's victims.
  • 1 Hideous Skull: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (alchemist’s tools) into a Potion that acts as a Raise Dead spell, except that the target must currently be undead for the spell to take effect. This potion returns the creature to life as per the spell, despite the fact that the creature is undead.
  • In Lair: Treasure Hoard (11-16)

Spectator (3) – aberration (arcana)
  • 1 Large Spectator Eye: Acts as an arcane focus. The eye can cast a particular spectator ray once per day. The ray is chosen randomly by the DM upon receiving the eye.
  • 1 Spectator Hide: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (smith’s tools) into a shield of spell reflection. The shield requires attunement. If the bearer of the shield, while attuned, makes a successful saving throw against a spell, or a spell attack misses it, the bearer can choose another creature (including the spellcaster) it can see within 30 feet of it. The spell targets the chosen creature instead of the bearer of the shield. If the spell forced a saving throw, the chosen creature makes its own save. If the spell was an attack, the attack roll is rerolled against the chosen creature.
  • 1 Spectator Tongue: Acts as a whip that deals necrotic damage instead of slashing damage on a hit.

Blights





'Bout to drop the hottest rap album in the Haunted Forest
Needle Blight (1/4) – plant (nature)
  • 1 Gulthias flower: Gives a smell that attracts Needle Blights. If it is planted, by next nightfall it will grow into a needle blight. If it is not taken from the body of the Needle Blight, it will plant itself after 1d4 hours.

Twig Blight (1/8) – plant (nature)
  • 1 Gulthias twig: Curls unnaturally. If it is planted, by next nightfall it will grow into a twig blight. If it is not taken from the body of the twig blight, it will plant itself after 1d4 hours.

Vine Blight (1/2) – plant (nature)
  • 1 Gulthias seed: Can be heard murmuring very softly. If it is planted, by next nightfall it will grow into a vine blight. If it is not taken from the body of the vine blight, it will plant itself after 1d4 hours.

Bugbear (1) – humanoid (survival)
  • 1 Tattered Morningstar
  • 1 Tattered Hide Armor
  • 1d2 Bugbear Ears: Acts as a trophy among hunters and adventurers. 
  • 1d2 Bugbear Tusk: When held, grants advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks made against goblinoids.

Bugbear Chief (3) – humanoid (survival)
  • 1 Tattered Chain Shirt
  • 1 Strong Bugbear Heart: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a potion of Hrugguk. Grants the user advantage on saving throws against being charmed, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned, stunned, or put to sleep for 1d4 hours.
  • 1d2 Bugbear Ears: Acts as a trophy among hunters and adventurers. When held, grants advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks made against goblinoids.
  • 1d2 Bugbear Tusk: When held, grants advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks made against goblinoids.
  • 1 Bugbear Chief's Morningstar: Acts as a Morningstar that can cast Augury once per day.

Bulette (5) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 1d6 Common Items: Adventuring gear or Trade Goods once owned by a Halfling
  • 1 Bulette Head Plate: Acts as a shield. Can be carefully crafted (smith’s tools) into a shield +1 that grants its weilder tremorsense out to 10 feet while holding it.
  • 2 Bulette Claws: Act as daggers. Can be crafted (smith’s tools) into daggers +1 that require attunement, and can cast Jump once per day on a creature they are attuned to.
  • 1 Bulette Tendon: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (woodcarver's tools) into a shortbow +1. On a hit, the target must make a DC 16 Strength or Dexterity saving throw (target's choice) or be knocked prone.





They jsut want to have a good time, why'd you have to kill them...?
Bullywug (1/4) – humanoid (survival)
  • 1 Bullywug bladder: Acts as a balloon. Can be crafted (leatherworker’s tools) into a waterskin.

Next week, we'll get through all the C's, and start on the Ds. As I mentioned at the beginning, there will be a LOT of monsters under the D category.






Let's ride!
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Let's write some adventure details!

http://www.scrap-metal-art-thailand.com/m/metal-animal-art-statues-sculptures-life-size-bull-dragon-horse-dinosaur-rhino-eagle.html
Not quite the dragon statues I wanted
So, we've been working our way through a cool adventure set in the arctic wastelands of Craitane. We set up some plot and an outline, then figured out where each scene is going to go. So now what?

Well, to be honest, at this point in the writing process I usually set the adventure aside for a week or so. I find that if I'm working my way through other things, such as work, social gatherings, different adventures, etc., I will invariably find cool ideas that I can throw into the session. So this article is the result of me kicking ideas around in my brain for a bit.

I know that's not the type of thing that floats everyone's boat, though, so I've been gathering all my notes here. If you like, you can imagine that I am simply a creative genius that spouts pages of neat ideas on a whim. But you probably shouldn't.

Also, for most of my adventures, a lot of these details would be improvised at the table rather than being written down. For this session, however, I want to get as complete a picture for you as possible before digging in. Next week, I'll do an actual play report, and go over what changed from my plan (this article) to the actual game.

Here's a hint: it's going to be a lot.

Anyway, let's get writing some details for these scenes.

Intro



alexaliceblog.blogspot.com/
Though this is cool, let's avoid this
"The now-legendary Bard, Leigh the Enchanter, has been searching the globe for a way to open a portal to the lower planes and retrieve her lost companions from the bowels of the nine hells. In her research, she discovered an odd and unexplained phenomenon: a pulse of magic occurring perfectly on the summer solstice, resonating from the center of the icy continent of Craitane.

Using her considerable influence, Leigh the Enchanter gathered a team of competent archaeologists, wizards, and adventurers to investigate the source of the magic. The magic seemed to be divine in nature, and if such a powerful energy source could be utilized, perhaps a portal to the lower planes could be opened. And of course, anyone who helped Leigh do such a thing would become rich beyond their wildest dreams."

I already sent that much to the players, but I can read it again at the table. Next we need some quirky NPCs to join the players on the boat. Six of them, in fact. However, I'll make 8, just in case someone wants to be one of these jobs.
  1. Captain Frodren Windbinder, bushy sideburns and colorful clothing, enthusiastic and optimistic about darn near everything. "Adventure is out there!"
  2. Cook Brungorn Tuskbleeder, a dwarf who is quite haggard with a gruesome neck tattoo, repenting for his dark past but seems to always be scheming evil plans. "Not tryin' ta start any trouble, but do ya know where I could get 'bout a dozen human fingers? No reason..."
  3. Mapper Ketie Glirsk, bright blond, braided hair, worships a God of Chaos but can't bring herself to break the law. "I always try to remind myself that I should be happy, as Olidammara wishes, but I'm not the type to throw wild parties and such!"
  4. Doctor Dover Trilbuge, very attractive but prone to fatigue and light-headedness, polite to everyone but often agitated at the thought of being a burden. "Of course I can help. Just let me sit down for a moment... my apologies, but I've become a bit startled..."
  5. Geologist, halfling with awfully large feet and lots of scars, stubborn as the rocks he studies, but also fiercely loyal to those he deems worthy
  6. Artist Renoro Covengrove, old woman with a peg leg and not much hair left, has lots of opinions and thinks she's better than most people, and its hard to argue with the quality of her portraiture. "You don't understand the first thing about chiaroscuro, honey. Keep your trap shut and let me paint you."
  7. Carpenter Hollis, a rough looking fellow who can't speak, despite this he loves practical jokes and tries to stick up for those lesser than himself. "..."
  8. Cadet Sen Kovrun, a stocky military man with a prized gold tooth, he is rumored to have killed a man and is often seen sulking around instead of doing his duties. "What are you looking at? Bug off!"

I put together the names and traits via some random generators. I think it's good to get sometimes contradictory traits, like the "Religious - Chaos" and "Law Abiding" trait, which leads to a person like Ketie Glirsk, the Mapper. We can also include a bunch of nondescript sailors with the crew.

Each of the NPCs can have a little scene to start out with, either on the boat or right off it. If I can get a PC attached to them, even better. We also need a name and description for the boat.
The SS Orianna: a three-mast sailing ship with a steel-reinforced hull for ramming ice. Its flag displays the Windbinder Crest, with the flag of Garlancia hoisted above it. Commissioned by Leigh, and named in honor of her dear friend and confidant.

The final thing to note is that it should be "several days" before the solstice. Don't want to give anything more specific, so that time can flux at the end of the adventure for dramatic tension.
You steel yourselves as the ship lurches forward from anchor. The wind is biting and the air freezes your fingers and nips your nose, but you've bundled up well and don't expect to freeze to death. As you lower the rowboats into the icy water, the captain notes that you still have several days until the summer solstice, more than enough time for the group to reach the zenith of magical energy at the center of the continent. You pack your sleds and push the sled dogs forward, heading ever southward.


The Arctic Wastes



https://www.artstation.com/artwork/18633
We'll start right about here
We need things for the group to find in the wastes, likely related to the PCs and their specialties. I don't know exactly what those are yet, but here's a list of things they could find:
  1. Watchtower: A snowy embankment reveals itself to be a stone-built tower after walking to the backside of it. Though it is collapsed and empty, the doorways seem sized for creatures 8 to 10 feet in height.
  2. Walls: Poking out of the snow about a thousand feet from shore is a long, stone wall, much larger than expected. Near the base of the wall, where the snow is thin, lies a handaxe, but of such great size that it could easily be a greataxe to any of you.
  3. Ship: in the shallows of the water, peering through the ice, you can see the wreckage of a ship that once docked about where the SS Orianna is now harbored. Strangely, there are still corpses on the boat, but not skeletons - the grey bodies seem to be fully intact dwarven figures. However, they don't move or show any indication of life.
  4. Statue: While digging a shelter from the storm, you are surprised to discover a large stone hand, coming forth from the wall at about head height. After digging out the rest of the snow, your reveal a statue of a minotaur. Though the craftsmanship is flawless, the subject seems a bit odd - the minotaur is simply walking, with a relaxed look on their face.
  5. Former Camp: Digging through the snow, you discover the remains of a campsite, surrounded by dwarf-sized tents. Nothing remains of the occupants, but they seem to have made camp and left in a hurry.

Some of these can be close to the shore, some can be during the travels, and some can be during the next event. Of course, we already know what's going to happen next: the blizzard! I wrote out the skill challenge last week, so I won't reprint it here.

However, I have made a couple updates. I decided that each check represents a day passing, and a failure means a day is "wasted" burying a fallen ally and regaining their bearings. Then, since most people interpret "several days" as less than 12-18 days, we can give the players plenty of reason to hurry by the time they reach the ruins.

Also, I raised the DC of the blizzard to 20. I want it to feel challenging, and I think if it's 20 then the players are more likely to not hit that DC as often. 15 was a bit low with all the bonuses they received. Of course, if, in game, they start failing consistently, I can always say the worst part of the Blizzard has passed, and the DC can be lowered to 15 again. That's the magic of DM'ing on the fly!

Next up, we need to set up the combat just outside the ruins. We can have more things to find in the ruins entrance, specifically, lore on the minotaurs, but when they first show up they should get a brief description of the area, then fight some White Dragon Wyrmlings.


remton.deviantart.com
This is beginning to feel more and more Skyrim
The area should have a few terrain features that help the combat feel more dynamic. What kind? Well, White Dragon Wyrmlings are mostly melee fighters. So we don't want to hinder that with things like hazards or difficult terrain. But we also want to encourage PCs that stay back at range, so perhaps no fog or snow blowing on the battlefield.

However, I'd be okay with putting an area of mist at the entrance of the ruins, so one of the Wyrmlings can retreat without fear of being shot in the back. Mist counts as lightly obscuring terrain, granting +2 on AC and Dex saves.

Additionally, we can throw in basic terrain pieces like walls, petrified Minotaurs, and crumbled stone. Dragons generally work best when their targets are all grouped up, so maybe we can have a single central "lane" to funnel the players towards the Dragons. Of course, we want ways to go around that "lane", and players who use those side paths will be rewarded with tactical advantage against the Dragon's Cold Breath.

As for the stat blocks, here is my layout for monster stats. It covers all the information in the stat block, in a concise format.

White Dragon Wyrmling (CR 2)
AC 16
HP 32, medium
Speed 30ft, Burrow 15ft, Fly 60ft, Swim 30ft, Blindsight 10ft, Darkvision 60ft, Per14, Draconic
S14(+2)D10(0)C14(+2)I5(-3)W10(0)Ch11(0)
ST D+2, C+4, W+2, Ch+2
Per+4, Stl+2
Immune: Cold
Bite: +4 hit, 5ft, 7 P + 2 cold dmg
Cold Breath (R5): 15ft cone ST C 12 or 22 cold dmg, half on pass

Also, since I don't know how many players I have just yet, I'll include this:

# of Wyrmlings per # of PCs
  • 4-5 PCs: 7 Wyrmlings
  • 6 PCs: 10 Wyrmlings
  • 7-8 PCs: 11 Wyrmlings

Of course, we'll also need a description for the entrance. That can lead right into the dragon attack, since the players will have plenty of time to explore afterwards.
The storm, finally subsided, has revealed a large, stone, temple-like structure poking out of the snow. Mist pours out of a stone archway that appears to lead inward, surrounded by crumbling walls and more snow-covered statues of minotaurs. Oddly, they all seem to be doing mundane things as well. Writing and pictographs cover the walls of the structure, possibly indicating its purpose. However, as you draw closer, you hear the crunch of snow and a low chorus of growls - you steel yourselves for battle as several white-scaled Dragons, no bigger than wolves, slink out from the ancient ruins.

From there, we simply run the combat. Of course, the last Wyrmling will retreat into the mists.

The Ancient Ruins



https://www.artstation.com/artist/berggreen
It's much bigger on the inside
Let's start by dividing up the lore.

Outside:
Long ago, when Ahneria was still young, a race of Minotaurs walked the arctic expanse of Craitane, building an empire in service of their lord Baphomet.
In an entrance hall, where the floor is crumbling and terribly thin:
They enslaved the small tribes of humans and dwarves that lived on their shores, using them to build temples, burial grounds, and monuments to their dark lord.
In a shaman's quarters, after scaling a scaffolding with falling rocks and ice:
Prophecy: Pelor, God of the humans, saw this heresy and struck it down. He placed a divine relic at the heart of the minotaur's civilization, and its power transformed all thinking creatures to inanimate stone. Thousands of innocent lives were lost, but millions of minotaurs were silenced.
What the Dragons know:
Each year, when the sun reaches the peak of its low path across the sky of Craitane, the relic is imbued with Pelor's power, and the stony fate of the minotaurs is renewed. Any (sentient) race who arrives on this continent meets the same fate at the summer solstice, when the curse of the relic changes them to statues, never to disturb the resting place of the monstrous race. Tens of thousands of years pass.

Of course, those snippets are right out of my notes. I'd like to add some flavor to each set of lore.

Outside:

Information in Pictographs (no check): This structure was created by Minotaurs. They served a God of Minotaurs, and built the temple to serve him
Information in Abyssal (no check if a PC can read Abyssal, otherwise Investigation check 20): The god they worshipped was Baphomet, a Demon Lord of the Abyss.
Implied Information (Investigation or History check 15): This structure was built tens of thousands of years ago, based on the position of the moon and stars in the engravings.

In an entrance hall, where the floor is crumbling and terribly thin:

Information on sight (no check): There are several minotaur statues here, as well as several human and dwarf statues, the first you have seen. They appear thin and beaten. Additionally, next to each minotaur is a dragon statue, much larger than the Wyrmlings you fought before, nearly the size of horses. They appear to be just about to bite the minotaurs.
Information in bas relief along the walls (no check): The minotaurs kept slaves of many races, who they forced to build their civilization. Most of the buildings were practical, such as homes, burial grounds, and temples. However, there were some monuments built specifically for the Minotaur God.
Information in Abyssal (no check if a PC can read Abyssal, otherwise Investigation check 20): The first slaves came on boats, to explore the land. The Minotaurs captured them and bred a race of slaves. They lost many slaves to Dragons, weather, and fatigue, before they figured out how to cast a powerful enchantment on the work sites to keep their slaves healthy and obedient.
Implied Information (Investigation or History check 15): There is one structure the slaves are shown building that doesn't appear to be anything like the others. It looks like it's some kind of fortress with powerful magical defenses, rather than simply a practical building or a monument.

In a shaman's quarters, after scaling a scaffolding with falling rocks and ice:

Information on sight (no check): This chamber was a holy site for a minotaur shaman, who still stands, head bowed in eternal prayer, before an altar of the Minotaur God. The shaman's divination components have long rotted away, though his marked augury bones still lie on the floor. Surrounding the minotaur statue are three Dragon statues, much larger than the Wyrmlings you fought before, nearly the size of horses. They appear to be just about to bite the minotaur.
Information in long-frozen tome, clutched in the hand of the minotaur shaman statue (no check if a PC can read Abyssal, otherwise Investigation check 20): The minotaur received a dread prophecy from his dark lord. A powerful God would reach down and touch Craitane, destroying the works of Minotaurs. The prophecy doesn't say how. The shaman had ordered the construction of a temple that would stop the divine power of the God, and the last entry is his prayer to Baphomet that his people would be protected.
If a PC touches the augury bones: Wisdom saving throw 15 or receive a vision of an endless labyrinth in a horrible, dark world. A gargantuan minotaur with glowing red eyes and three sets of horns appears in the vision and turns toward the PC, snorting in a threatening manner. Then, the vision ends.


http://wanderinginpixels.deviantart.com/art/Minotaur-shaman-466336479
Only the best in nasty sinister magics
We'll do the Dragon's lore later.

Next we should figure out how these danger areas will work. As I said last week, these areas can be fairly dangerous, since the party will be able to short rest very quickly.

For the thin floor, I wanted to use a dice pool mechanic, where the floor gradually cracks and fails. Basically, we have a big area (the entrance hall) where the erosion of time has caused the floor to become thin. Every time a player takes an action, I add a die to the dice pool, and roll them. If a die turns up as a 1, the floor cracks beneath that PC. We can make a chart of types of actions, as well.
  • Slow, small movements: add 1d10 to the pool
  • Normal movement: add 1d8 to the pool
  • Fast/Heavy movement: add 1d6 to the pool
  • Literally hitting the floor: add 1d4 to the pool
The first time I roll, I'll probably say to the players "You hear a deep groaning from the floor, like it is straining to stay in place." After that, if they don't do anything different, we'll likely have somebody falling.

Now, I should probably figure out how many actions they need to take in this area. At the very least, I'm guessing the following:
  • Information on sight - no actions
  • Information in bas relief - 1 action to inspect
  • Information in abyssal - 2 actions, one to get to the writing and one to read it
  • Implied Information - 2 actions, one to inspect the walls, the other to continue to inspect and find the unusual structure

If they move cautiously, and don't take extra actions, that's 5d10, which is about a 60% chance of nothing bad happening according to Anydice. Hopefully they don't all rush out into the room immediately, because that would be 5d8 to 6d8, a 55% chance of bad stuff happening without any reward.

Also, we can make the fall a bit more dangerous by putting a couple White Dragon Wyrmlings at the bottom of the pit. Assuming the PCs have full health here, we could easily do a 30ft drop into the next floor down and start a combat with 2-3 White Dragon Wyrmlings. That might incentivize people to jump down into the pit as well, increasing the tension! Let's go with 2, since that's a deadly encounter for a single PC.

Now, I know that's a bigger scene than I originally planned (since it now involves combat), so I think the scaffolding should be a bit less intense.

We can make this a simple challenge: roll a single athletics check, then make some dex saves.
  • Athletics check of 5 or less: 5 Dex saves
  • Athletics check of 6-10: 4 Dex Saves
  • Athletics check of 11-15: 3 Dex Saves
  • Athletics check of 16-20: 2 Dex saves
  • Athletics check of 20+: 1 Dex Save
Then, the Dexterity save is DC 15 or take some bludgeoning damage from falling rocks. I'm thinking 2d10, which is a setback for 6th-level characters.

This hazard isn't particularly interesting. However, I want to portray the danger of the old ruins, and also use up some of the character's hit dice so they really feel pressure near the end of the game. Additionally, I know some players will figure out a way to bypass some of these checks. Remembering to (most of the time) allow players to be creative can add some fun to this challenge.

Finally, let's talk about the Dragons. I think as the players move deeper into the ruins, let's give them a choice.
You exit a collapsed tunnel into a long hallway. As you do so, you see the tail of a white dragon flick around the corner, heading away from you. However, you believe the other direction would lead you closer to the central location of Craitane.

So basically, follow the dragons or head towards the relic. If they follow the dragons, they can make it to the nest, if they go towards the relic, they will find the rebellious dragons.

Rebel without a Claws
Let's do the nest first.
After following the dragon some distance, you find yourselves outside a room with a large entrance. Peering around the doorway, you see a Dragon's nest, with two Young White Dragons perched atop a small pile of frozen gold. Slinking around them are a few Wyrmlings, and it looks like there is a clutch of eggs beneath one of the larger Dragons.

At this point, I'll need to let the players know the dragons want to talk. No need to beat around the bush here - we can put the last Wyrmling from the entrance battle here too.
One of the Dragons calls out in broken common: "Who is there? Speak, you! We hurt you not!"

Then, the Dragons will discuss the lore with the players. How I usually do this is I create "sample dialogue" and pull from that/slightly modify it during the game.
  • "I is Azzyr, and is mate Bedheit."
  • "Day of stone coming. When sun is high in sky. All are stone, but not Wyrmlings. They stay."
  • "We want destroy Minotaurs. We make attack on them. When Day of Stone ends, we kill them."
  • "More Dragons need make for win. Each year, more Dragons. More Dragons stone. Will win."
  • "Is afraid. Dragon Byrru steal Day of Stone maker. Minotaurs wake. Need more Dragons. Will lose."
  • "You find Dragon Byrru? Kill? If fix Day of Stone maker, we help you. You safe in fight of Dragons and Minotaurs."
  • "Dragon Byrru is near Day of Stone maker."

That covers the lore I want, and the mission. If I need more, I'll have to improvise it. If the PCs fight the nest, I'll use 2 Young White Dragons and 3 White Dragon Wyrmlings, which will be a deadly encounter. Hopefully, though, the hazards have used up their hit dice, so they'll be hesitant to start another combat.

Now let's do the other Dragons. First, some setting dressing.
You head down the hallway, which opens up into a massive icy cavern. You guess that long ago, this area was open to the sky, a sort of courtyard. Scattered all around are more minotaur statues, most of them with a Young White Dragon statue poised to attack it. Creeping through the statues, you see another Young White Dragon - this one quite alive. You steel your swords, but the Dragon keeps its distance. "You alive, not stone! You help Byrru?"

At this point, we need more dialogue.
  • "Byrru need help. Took Day of Stone maker, Azzyr yell at Byrru."
  • "Day of stone coming. When sun is high in sky. All are stone, but not Wyrmlings. They stay."
  • "We want destroy Minotaurs. We make attack on them. When Day of Stone ends, we kill them."
  • "Byrru make Day of Stone end. Azzyr say Byrru bad. Azzyr say we lose. Byrru say we win."
  • "You want Day of Stone maker? You kill Azzyr, Byrru give. Byrru hide Day of Stone maker, no find without Byrru."
  • "If give, you take away. Far away. Dragons and Minotaurs fight. You die. No die if run away."
  • "Dragon Azzyr is in ruins, in Dragon nest."

If the PCs decide to fight Byrru, he flees back to his den in the courtyard, where his mate Neimar is guarding the relic. Then, the players can get the "Day of Stone maker" as their reward. If the players kill Azzyr, Byrru will give them the relic. However, I want to make it clear that what they find isn't the whole picture.

The relic is only half of this orrery they find, and that should be fairly obvious. Any wizard or cleric will be able to tell that this is merely the channel of power source of the divine power, not the source of the petrification effect. Additionally, any magical detection still points towards the center of Craitane, rather than towards this item.

And just so the players don't try to run off with the orrery, we can say that the divine power is completely drained from it.

The Relic



http://alchemistfox.deviantart.com/art/Sun-Artifact-163513978
In the sun, sun, having fun
So, all that's left is the relic itself. Let's do some more description.
Exiting the courtyard and the icy cavern surrounding it, you find yourselves in a valley, the sun just peeking over the wall of the canyon. Here, you can see the true size of the minotaur's civilization. Thousands of houses line the floor of the valley, each of them with minotaur statues inside. Some are bent in prayer to Baphomet, others seem to be weeping and holding their children. And many of the minotaurs have a dragon statue standing over them, prepared to close its jaws on their necks, arms, or head. Each figure is held in a deathly still pose of prostration or annihilation.
In the center of the valley, a massive crater dominates the otherwise unbroken urban scene. At the center, you can see a small object, not yet in the sunlight, but seemingly the cause of the wound upon the landscape.
When they go down into the crater:
A pedestal lies at the center, etched with symbols. A small divot in the top of the platform clearly allows the orrery to be fit within it. All across the edges of the pedestal are symbols, which are easily recognizable. They are the holy symbols and signs of Pelor, God of the Sun.

At this point, I'll basically need to spell out the choice for the players. To reiterate:
  • If they place the Orrery, the petrification effect will take place at noon. They will be frozen in place, but so will most of the Dragons and the minotaurs.
  • If they don't place the Orrery, the petrification effect will wear off at noon. The minotaurs and dragons will unfreeze, and a war will begin, which the PCs will be caught up in.

This can be conveyed through interpretation of symbols on the pedestal. Also, we'll need to specify the following information out-of-character:
  • The pedestal is indestructible. It was made by a god.
  • The recharge happens right at noon, and then not again for a full year. They only have about an hour to make their choice.
  • Based on the effect on the dragons, it affects everyone with an Int score of 6 or higher.

Finally, let's write a little end scene for each choice.

For placing the Orrery:
As the sun rises to the highest point in the sky, the Orrery begins to light up and spin. You look to one another, taking in the last sight you will see, possibly forever. As your flesh turns to stone, you are unsure if you made the right choice. But you made the choice that would keep the world safe, at least for a little longer.

For not placing the Orrery:
You run. You know what is about to happen, and you don't want to be anywhere near it. You are making your way back through the ruins when you hear the first roars of pain and fury. You don't know if it's the sound of a dragon or a minotaur, but it scarcely matters. You find a small room, huddle inside, and bar the door. You're not sure you'll make it out alive, but at least you have the chance to try. At least you have hope.

And that's the game! Whew! That little adventure clocks in at around 3500 words.

Now, as every DM knows, no plan survives contact with the players. So, next week, I'll be posting my recap (Wednesday Recap?) and making notes about how the players reacted to different scenarios, what I changed on the fly, and how the session ended.

Blame the Sun God, yo
Thanks for reading!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Recap: My First Real Character

http://karimfakhoury.deviantart.com/art/Drakonia-199779725
I cast Fog Cloud centered on the island
I was planning on doing a game of Storm King's Thunder this weekend, but once again, life got in the way. Not in a bad way, of course, but in a necessary kind of way. Good life lessons were learned.

However, another thing happened this week: I started playing my first 5th edition character! Well, not technically, since I've played characters in one-shots before, but this will be the first character I play over the course of a campaign. It's literally the first time I've gotten to level up a character and then play with the newly leveled-up character.

So, I'm going to talk about that a bit. This won't really be a recap, since I'm not really planning to write articles on this campaign. I think that's really the domain of the Dungeon Master, because they have great insight into what was or wasn't important in a game. If a player wrote it, they'd probably forget/misremember some important details.

Perhaps my DM will write some recaps. Perhaps not. Either way, we had a fun session and I'm going to ramble a bit on it.

Adventures on Jeonju


Cast of Characters
Megan: Dungeon Master
Jon: Sa Konu, wood elf monk, enjoys maps and herbalism, unsure about his place in the world

That's right, it's a solo campaign! I've never run one, so this is a new experience for both of us. I tend to really like player-to-player interactions in my own games, but from a player perspective, it was nice to just imagine the world and move at my own pace.

Also, I had to be very careful to just let things happen. Players who are also DMs can be the worst players, so I did my best to avoid telling Megan to do things one way or another. It was difficult, and I slipped up a bit, but overall I think I did well in-game. We did talk afterwards, and I gave her some advice. It's hard to say if it was overbearing, but she seemed receptive.

The game took place in my homebrewed world of Ahneria, on a distant continent entirely populated by Elves (homebrew stereotype number one). They were heavily influenced by Asian cultures (homebrew stereotype number two) and there had been a terrible disaster in recent memory that shaped the current culture on the island (homebrew stereotype number three, hat trick!).

Now, using stereotypical ideas isn't a bad thing. I could write an entire article on originality and how it doesn't really exist, but many have already done so. The key is that, through development, cliches are expanded into cool, unique ideas. The idea of lengthy seasons isn't original to Game of Thrones, but through story development, it became a powerful force in his world.

Megan has been working on building this area of the world for a while now, and some of the cliches are already showing signs of emerging novelty. There are quite a few races interacting, the culture has expanded from simply being Asian-influenced, and the disaster is starting to formulate into an interesting world-building piece.

I guess I should go into the disaster part, as I understand it. Basically, the culture has forgotten a lot of its history, not due to time, but due to this Gray Fog that has blanketed the land. It's still very mysterious, but Elves who go into the fog can't remember what they did within, or emerge scarred, mad, or worse.

It's a very interesting thing to happen to Elves in particular, with their long racial memory. What will the culture be like now that people have forgotten the ways that the previous generations did things? Will they revert back to the time they do remember? Is there anyone even alive from before the Fog?

Basically, we started out with a nice mystery and a very cool sense of wonder about the world. I think my games sometimes lack that, since I like to tell the players everything they need to know. I do my fair share of foreshadowing, but there is usually a reasonable explanation behind things.


http://samburley.deviantart.com/
Beachside property is quite expensive in fantasy real estate
So the game began at a monastery outside the Fog, which was built to help those who wandered out of the Fog. Through meditation, physical training, and interaction with nature, the monks (including Konu) would help the wanderers regain control of their mind and body.

It's interesting to point out that I'm not sure if Konu was one of those wanderers, or if he was born outside the Fog. There is a city and a few villages outside the Fog that he could have come from. Emergent background details - an exciting part of being a PC!

The monastery had five elder Elves, each with their own quirks. My favorite was Master Kim, a relatively young elder (still in the 500s) who had joined the monastery after wandering out of the fog. She had a very sympathetic worldview, and believed that each person would find their destiny by following their feelings. The conversation I had with her eventually convinced Konu that he was right in leaving his monk life and following the path on a mysterious map he found.

Once he left the monastery, we switched over to a modified version of the travel rules I enjoy so much. It was a simpler system (and I think my d12 was a bit finicky), but I ended up with two encounters that were pretty interesting.

First, Konu met a dryad named Willow, who was quite friendly. After they figured out how to communicate (Konu didn't know Sylvan and Willow spoke broken Elvish), they became traveling companions. A common issue for new DMs is not giving enough life to the NPCs, but Megan did a good job of making Willow have her own personality and goals.

The other encounter was formative for Konu: a black bear entered his camp during a night on his travels. After attempting to distract the bear with food, Konu hid in a tree rather than fight the creature. It ended up costing him half his rations, but Konu is definitely not about taking a life if he can help it.

The map lead to a long-abandoned temple, which Willow didn't want to enter. Konu decided to go in alone, and found a stone child on the altar. When he touched it, it came to life and cried, and when he had calmed it, it turned into a small heart made of gold.


http://theminttu.deviantart.com/art/Solas-464631840
Sa Konu: mildly uncertain and confused about a lot of things
It took us a while to get through this sequence, and I was reminded that it's very difficult to make sure the players understand what you are trying to convey. D&D is often set in a fantastical setting, so it's sometimes hard to convey if something is part of the magical world or the mundane.

The classic example is a skeleton: creepy set dressing or ambushing enemy? Making sure your players know what you're conveying is vital to making your game run smoothly. Of course, if you want a fantasy setting where people go around bashing corpses just in case, then good for you. But building trust between the DM and the players usually leads to better games.

Anyway, we stopped at the strange baby transformation. Also, there was some weird writing that I could read even though I didn't know how I knew the language, which makes me think that Konu might have been a wanderer in the Fog... it's fun to theorize about these sort of things.

As I said before, I'm not planning on keeping up on these recaps. But since I didn't end up running a game this weekend, I figured it'd be fun to talk about.

Next week, I should have a recap for our next session of Maze of the Blue Medusa! The hiatus is over!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Creature Loot: A




leesmith.deviantart.com
Spoopy birb does you a frighten

Here we go! The letter A. If you don't know what's going on, check out my explanation.

Aarakocra (1/4) – humanoid (survival)
  • 1d4 Tattered Javelins
  • 1 Tattered Leather Armor
  • 1d10 Aarakocra Feathers: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into incense to burn in a Censer of Controlling Air Elementals, allowing one additional use of the item per day. Consumed upon use.

Aboleth (10) – aberration (arcana)
  • 3 Aboleth Tentacles: each acts as a whip. 3 Tentacles can be Mastercrafted (Smith’s Tools) by a Drow into a Tentacle Rod.
  • 1 Vial of Aboleth Mucous: Acts as basic poison (PHB pg 153). Can be carefully crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a poison called Aboleth’s Bane. When ingested, a creature must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or become diseased. The disease has no effect for 1 minute and can be removed by any magic that cures disease. After 1 minute, the diseased creature's skin becomes translucent and slimy, the creature can't regain hit points unless it is underwater, and the disease can be removed only by Heal or another disease-curing spell of 6th level or higher. While in this stage of the disease, the creature takes 6 (1d12) acid damage every 10 minutes unless it is submerged in water or has at least two gallons of water poured on its skin.
  • 1 Aboleth Tail: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (leatherworker's tools) into a magical Whip +2.
  • 3d10 Aboleth Teeth: 20 teeth act as a bag of caltrops. Can be carefully crafted (jeweler’s tools) into a set of dice that are sensitive to psychic energy.
  • 1 Aboleth hide: Acts as a blanket. Can be mastercrafted (leatherworker’s tools) into a Cloak of the Manta Ray.
  • 1 Aboleth’s bladder: Acts as a waterskin. Can be mastercrafted (leatherworker’s tools) into a Decanter of Endless Water, with the additional choice of delivering toxic water on “Stream”. The Toxic Water acts as basic poison if ingested.

Angels
 



Not that they deserve to die... but they do have stats...
Deva (10) – celestial (religion)
  • 1 Holy Mace: Acts as a magical mace that deals an additional 18 (4d8) radiant damage upon a hit. If wielded by a creature with a different alignment than the angel's creator, on a critical failure the weapon fuses to their body, triggering a horrific transformation that cannot be stopped except by a Wish spell. The creature transforms into the original angel, who gains all its stats and abilities and has full hit points. The transformation takes 1d10 minutes, and kills the original creature.
  • 6 Holy Feathers: Each acts as a Holy Symbol. When touched, they char the skin of any creature with an alignment different than the angel’s creator. Each can replace 500 GP of Diamonds for the material component of a Resurrection Spell.
  • 2 Blessed Gauntlets: Requires attunement. When worn together, the wielder gains a +1 bonus to AC, and they may cast Spare the Dying three times per day.
  • 1 Sacred Robe: Acts as padded armor. If the wearer worships a god of the same alignment as the angel's creator, then the wearer does not need food, drink or sleep while wearing the armor.  In addition, they gain the benefits of a short rest after 30 minutes of prayer, and the benefits of a long rest after 4 hours of prayer.

Planetar (16) – celestial (religion)
  • 1 Holy Greatsword: Acts as a magical greatsword that deals an additional 22 (5d8) radiant damage upon a hit. If wielded by a creature with a different alignment than the angel's creator, on a critical failure the weapon fuses to their body, triggering a horrific transformation that cannot be stopped except by a Wish spell. The creature transforms into the original angel, who gains all its stats and abilities and has full hit points. The transformation takes 1d10 minutes, and kills the original creature.
  • 1 Consecrating Sash: Requires attunement. While attuned, the wearer can cast Death Ward on themselves once per day. If the sash is wrapped around a corpse or other remains, it has the effect of a Gentle Repose spell as long as it remains around the body.
  • 1 Divine Tongue: Can be burned in effigy to cast Zone of Truth.
  • 1 Vial of Angelic Blood: When ingested, heals 30 (6d8+3) hit points and cures any disease, poison, blindness, or deafness afflicting the consumer.
  • 8 holy feathers: Each acts as a Holy Symbol. When touched, they char the skin of any creature with an alignment different than the angel’s creator. Each can replace 500 GP of Diamonds for the material component of a Resurrection Spell.
  • 2 Blessed Gauntlets: Requires attunement. When worn together, the wielder gains a +1 bonus to AC, and they may cast Spare the Dying three times per day.
  • 1 Sacred Robe: Acts as padded armor. If the wearer worships a god of the same alignment as the angel's creator, then the wearer does not need food, drink or sleep while wearing the armor.  In addition, they gain the benefits of a short rest after 30 minutes of prayer, and the benefits of a long rest after 4 hours of prayer.

Solar (21) – celestial (religion)
  • 1 Holy Greatsword: Acts as a magical greatsword that deals an additional 27 (6d8) radiant damage upon a hit. If wielded by a creature with a different alignment than the angel's creator, on a critical failure the weapon fuses to their body, triggering a horrific transformation that cannot be stopped except by a Wish spell. The creature transforms into the original angel, who gains all its stats and abilities and has full hit points. The transformation takes 1d10 minutes, and kills the original creature.
  • 1 Holy Longbow: Acts as a magical longbow that deals an additional 27 (6d8)  radiant damage upon a hit. If wielded by a creature with a different alignment than the angel's creator, on a critical failure the weapon fuses to their body, triggering a horrific transformation that cannot be stopped except by a Wish spell. The creature transforms into the original angel, who gains all its stats and abilities and has full hit points. The transformation takes 1d10 minutes, and kills the original creature.
  • 1 Consecrating Sash: Requires attunement. While attuned, the wearer can cast Death Ward on themselves once per day. If the sash is wrapped around a corpse or other remains, it has the effect of a Gentle Repose spell as long as it remains around the body.
  • 1 Divine Tongue: Can be burned in effigy to cast Zone of Truth.
  • 1 Vial of Angelic Blood: When ingested, heals 30 (6d8+3) hit points and cures any disease, poison, blindness, or deafness afflicting the consumer.
  • 1 God’s Pendant: Requires attunement. While attuned, the wearer may cast Commune once per day. If the spell is used to contact any extraplanar being other than the Solar's creator or patron God, the wearer must make a DC 20 Wisdom check. On a failure, the spell contacts the Solar's creator or patron God.
  • 1 Head of a Solar: The head continually whispers prayers of blood and vengeance. The creature who killed the solar can always hear these prayers, no matter what distance they are from the head or what measures are taken to stop the sound. After 1d6 days, a Planetar arrives at the killer's location to collect the head. If they do not have the head, the Planetar will become hostile. If killed, another will come in 1d6 days. If the killer has the head and gives it to the Planetar, the Planetar eats the head and gives up its body to resurrect the Solar. The Solar returns with full hit points and all its weapons and abilities. The Solar will then attempt to kill the creature who killed it. Looking into the eyes of the head causes an epileptic fit of faith in any creature who does not share the alignment of the Solar's creator. The fit lasts 1d4 hours and cannot be stopped except by a Wish spell or divine intervention. A creature may make a DC 25 Wisdom saving throw to avert its gaze before looking directly into the eyes. The head can be traded for a major boon from a Lord of the Nine Hells. It can be used as a Holy Symbol and will double the effect of any hit points healed or damage dealt by a cleric spell cast by a cleric that shares an alignment with the Solar's creator. If the head is buried under a castle, the walls of that castle gain immunity to any damage dealt by any creature with a different alignment than the Solar's creator or patron God.
  • 11 holy feathers: Each acts as a Holy Symbol. When touched, they char the skin of any creature with an alignment different than the angel’s creator. Each can replace 500 GP of Diamonds for the material component of a Resurrection Spell.
  • 2 Blessed Gauntlets: Requires attunement. When worn together, the wielder gains a +1 bonus to AC, and they may cast Spare the Dying three times per day.
  • 1 Sacred Robe: Acts as padded armor. If the wearer worships a god of the same alignment as the angel's creator, then the wearer does not need food, drink or sleep while wearing the armor.  In addition, they gain the benefits of a short rest after 30 minutes of prayer, and the benefits of a long rest after 4 hours of prayer.

Animated Objects
 



Eternal guardians and it won't cost you an arm and a leg!
Animated Armor (1) – construct (arcana)
  • 1 Tattered Set of Plate Armor
  • 1 Animating Sigil: Can be used as a material component in an Animate Objects spell. If used this way, the spell can only animate 1 nonmagical object of medium or smaller size, however, it remains animated as long as the sigil remains intact on the object (no concentration required). The sigil is consumed upon use.

Flying Sword (1/4) – construct (arcana)
  • 1 Tattered Longsword
  • 1 Animating Sigil: Can be used as a material component in an Animate Objects spell. If used this way, the spell can only animate 1 nonmagical object of medium or smaller size, however, it remains animated as long as the sigil remains intact on the object (no concentration required). The sigil is consumed upon use.

Rug of Smothering (2) – construct (arcana)
  • 1 Tattered Carpet
  • 1 Animating Sigil: Can be used as a material component in an Animate Objects spell. If used this way, the spell can only animate 1 nonmagical object of medium or smaller size, however, it remains animated as long as the sigil remains intact on the object (no concentration required). The sigil is consumed upon use.
  • 1 Animate Carpet Patch: no immediate use, can be mastercrafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into a Carpet of Flying (maximum dimensions 4 x 6 feet).


It's an eat-them-before-they-eat-you world out there
Ankheg (2) – monstrosity (nature)
  • 1 Ankheg Claw: acts as a shovel. Can be carefully crafted (smith’s tools) into a Greatsword that deals an additional 1d6 acid damage on a hit.
  • 1 Vial of Ankheg acid: Acts as a vial of acid (PHB pg. 148). Can be crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a vial of potent Acid (as a normal vial, but deals 3d6 acid damage on a hit).

Azer (2) – elemental (arcana)
  • 1 Tattered Warhammer
  • 1d6 25 gp gems
  • 1 Azer Heart: If touched or held, deals 5 fire damage per round to the holder. If placed in a fire, it returns to the Elemental Plane of Fire. The heart burns out in 1d4 hours. While burning, can be carefully crafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into an Elemental Gem (Red Corundum).

Next week, we'll move on to the B's!




kerembeyit.deviantart.com
If you look real close, you can see the beauty
Thanks for reading!