The AaWBlog’s appetite knows no bounds, and the adventure path continues well past the Disputed Territories and Pradja.
Taking a valuable shipment of alligotonium down to Timeaus, the PCs are suddenly and inexplicably transported into an ambush beneath the authoritarian city of Nyamo! Throughout the month they fight off thieves, deceive guards, and either infiltrate or protect the airship production yards of the High Mages there. Whether the adventurers side with the (unjust) rulers or the beleaguered resistance movement, they ultimately leave the conflict on an airship!
You are encouraged to check out these pieces of content for the adventure path here!
Naturally, the PCs don’t get very far in their airborne vessel—a magical mishap sends them tumbling through dimensions to the strange demiplane of Uklonjen in Uralicans Uncut. Here the AaWBlog Adventure Path brings PSIONICS into the mix, as well as space jamming and all kinds of good stuff: portals to HEL, gateways to the Plane of Ooze, and all the cosmic adventure you can shake a stick at!
AIZSKARTZ ASTEROIDCR11 XP 12,800
NE Colossal construct (psionic) Init -2; Senses blindsight 400 ft., darkvision 240 ft.; Perception +20 Aura gravitic field (15 ft., DC 30, 3d6 bludgeoning and grab)
DEFENSE AC 26, touch 4, flat-footed 26 (-2 Dex, +4 deflection, +22 natural, -8 size) hp 184 (16d10+96) fast healing 4 Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +11 Defensive Abilities all-around vision; Immune cold, construct traits, electricity; PR 21; Resist acid 10, fire 10
OFFENSE Speed fly 100 ft. (perfect) Melee slam +24 (4d6+24 plus bull rush) Ranged four boulders +8 (2d8+16, Range 240 ft.) Space 60 ft.; Reach 5 ft. Special Attacks gravitic field (DC 30, 3d6 bludgeoning and grab), trample (DC 34, 4d6+24)
TACTICS Before Combat An aizskartz asteroid uses its control of psionic energy to masquerade as an asteroid with a dense gaseous exterior, sneaking up on unsuspecting foes until they are within range for a charge attack. During Combat First the aizskartz asteroid flings itself at enemies with a charging bull rush, using Power Attack and Improved Vital Strike to deal the optimum amount of damage immediately (slam +22, 12d6+24). Afterward its gravitic field grabs up foes, and the aizskartz asteroid slams again with bull rush to increase the damage opponents take when they are drawn to its surface once more. Any opponents that attempt to teleport away are placed 15 ft. away from its surface if it successfully uses divert teleport against them. Morale Few foes can stand against an aizskartz asteroid and retreat is an unlikely option at best.
STATISTICS Str 42, Dex 6, Con —, Int 16, Wis 18, Cha 15 Base Atk +16; CMB +40 (+44 bull rush/grapple); CMD 38 (42 vs. bull rush) Feats Great Fortitude, Greater Bull Rush, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Natural Attack (slam), Improved Vital Strike, Power Attack, Toughness, Vital Strike Skills Disguise +16 (+36 as asteroid), Knowledges (all) +8, Perception +20; Racial Modifiers +20 Disguise (as an asteroid); Size Modifiers -8 Fly, -16 Stealth Languages telepathy 1,000 ft.
ECOLOGY Environment demiplane of Uklonjen, space Organization always solitary Treasure quadruple
SPECIAL ABILITIES Gravitic Field (Ps) Any creature within 15 feet of an aizskartz asteroid must make a DC 30 Fortitude save or be pulled by the pulsing microgravity field and against the aizskartz asteroid. For each 5 feet a creature travels within the gravitic field, they take 3d6 points of bludgeoning damage and are subject to a grapple combat maneuver by the aizskartz asteroid at the end of their turn. Using this ability, an aizskartz asteroid can grapple up to ten creatures simultaneously with no penalty.
This ability also grants the aizskartz asteroid a +4 deflection bonus to AC.
The Uralicans justly fear aizskartz asteroids, great masses of psionically empowered stone that wander the cosmos destroying entire fleets of ships—and if what some legends claim are true, entire civilizations. Little is known about these oddities, save that they are to be avoided at all costs.
One of these terrifying, monstrous rocks has wandered Uklonjen for some time and at the last moment, discovers the PCs escaping to Aventyr! The portal is too small to fit the massive aizskartz asteroid, and rather than allow the party to use the Ancestral Gateway, if they dally too long, it has time enough to catch up to the adventurers and try to stop them out of spite.
As the PCs make their final step of the journey to the Ancestral Gateway it becomes obvious they are traveling towards a bright beacon of light that is surrounded by a vast shroud of asteroids. This is an artificial star that marks the point in which Uklonjen and the Prime Material Plane were once connected through the Ancestral Gateway.
When the great cataclysm occurred generations ago and the ancestors of the Uralicans were forever severed from contact with their brethren in the Prime Material Plane, the Ancestral Gateway violently collapsed in upon itself. The great portal’s implosion compressed all of the arcane energies within into a single, infinitely small point—in that instant, the focus of so much power into such a minute space caused the birth of an artificial star. A shining beacon of light has continuously radiated its arcane light ever since, forever marking the exact spot where the portal once existed in this dimension; it is to this point that the crystal compass is being drawn.
It takes the PCs seven days of travel to navigate through the dangerous asteroid field that envelopes the area and reach the parameter of the gateway star; a DC 30 Profession (sailor) or Profession (soldier) check reduces this to four days. The gateway star’s generates a stronger field of gravity than Uklonjen, causing the shroud of asteroids to slowly shift, roam, and collide as they revolve around it (posing a major hazard to the party.
There is a 75% chance each day that an errant asteroid suddenly shifts towards the PCs’ ship as it travels through the area. A DC 20 Profession (sailor) or Profession (soldier)check avoids the oncoming asteroid; otherwise it collides with the ship, dealing 3d12 bludgeoning damage.
On the third day traversing the asteroid field the PCs spot a glint in the distance—a twinkling metallic gleam reflecting the bright light emanating from the star. A DC 15 Perception check reveals the exact location of the oddity.
Traveling toward the strange reflection, the PCs soon notice the glint repeating in a rhythmic pattern, blinking in and out of existence. When the party is within 100 feet of the peculiarity, they discover a spyglass (eyes of the traveler) floating in open space and covered by a fine layer of silver space dust.
The collapse of the Ancestral Gateway and birth of its remnant star caused a magnificent shockwave that permeated throughout Uklonjen, and many of the ancestor’s interdimensional airships were instantly destroyed, cast into the massive asteroids that drifted in and around the portal site. The majority of these vessels smashed against the largest of a dozen asteroids within the parameter of the star, and the xyrx crystals powering their arcane engines slowly expanded until the wreckage (and even the asteroid itself) became encased within a single massive xyrx crystalis that now orbits the star.
This place is forbidden to the Uralicans; despite being the most logical point for their ancestors to have attempted to open another portal to return home, the light emitted from the star causes a sort of mindlessness, known to them as “blinding of the mind”. This has prevented research at the site for generations.
The blinding of the mind causes the descendants of those exposed to the initial shockwave from the star’s birth to quickly lose their cognitive abilities (-1 Intelligence each round) when within 10 miles of the star. The effect continues until the victim’s Intelligence is reduced to zero, at which point their minds are forever lost and they immediately die. If taken out of the area of effect before completely losing their minds, any Uralican affected by the blinding of the mind can fully recover in 1d4 +1 hours for each Intelligence point lost.
A DC 20 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals that to re-open the Ancestral Gateway, the xyrx crystalis must be knocked out of orbit, sent plummeting towards the gateway star. When the ship nears it, it begins to glow and reverberate with a loud hum as the crystalis tomb haunt triggers. After overcoming the haunt the PCs can continue in their attempt to ram the floating crystal mass.
Altering the trajectory of the crystalis toward the gateway star requires a DC 25 Profession (sailor) or Profession (soldier)check; on a failure the massive object travels towards the star but fails to collide with it, continuing past it and away from the star (additional attempts are made with a cumulative +1 DC). When the enormous crystalis finally crashes into the gateway star, the beacon’s blinding light goes dark. There is a deafening vacuum-like sucking sound and a sudden rush of wind as the portal to Aventyr tears open once more, the ship and surrounding debris (a dozen huge-sized asteroids) sucked into the resulting gravity well.
As the ship and debris are sucked towards the narrow dimensional tear they all violently collide, dealing 10d10 bludgeoning damage to the party’s airship and obliterating the asteroids. A successful DC 30 Profession (sailor) or Profession (soldier)check to pilot the ship during its uncontrolled acceleration into the sucking void reduces this damage by half (a result of 40 or higher reduces the damage by half again).
When the ship emerges into Aventyr, the dimensional tear and portal in which they traveled through closes with a deafening clap and they find themselves addled with the ship roughly landed upon the ground within a very large, very dark cavern. [Continued in January when the AaWBlog explores Aventyr once again! –MM]
Continuing through the demiplane, the party comes across strange floating creatures, god spores, some of which contain avaricious xyrx crystals! Uklonjen’s strange nature can be unsettling, however, and they might be in peril of losing their composure (or worse). The odd things lead the party to a third gateway and the tentacle of a mad god; to close the portal, the PCs must fend off more of its offspring, veinar, while they ram the limb back to the misbegotten place from whence it came!
As they travel farther through Uklonjen in their efforts to return home, the party encounters a curious item floating in space, surrounded by a fine silver dust as they approach the Ancestral Gateway. When they finally get there a powerful haunt rebuffs the PCs, but to take the final step home, the party has much more to overcome—find out what in this weekend’s Sidequest Saturday and Statblock Sunday!
The subject of psionics—as a GM, as a player, and as a regular about-the-town fellow in the RPG industry (specifically in the D&D and Pathfinder genres)—comes up often. Some people hate them, some people love them, some don’t care either way, and of course, some folks don’t even know about them (if you’re still playing 3.5, you can find the psionics rules here, and if you’re on board for the Pathfinder train already, d20pfsrd.com has you covered.)
Dreamscarred Press put together great psionic rules that make for an awesome game (if you’re a subscriber, I cannot recommend The Great Pubo Hunt strongly enough), but there’s a commonly held opinion that on a fundamental level, psionics are overpowered.
This is not the place for that debate—I’m not overly interested in that aspect, and will briefly explain why: psionics are not meant to operate like (be truly equivalent to) magic, which is the mistake many of us make when we evaluate them. Yes, they produce supernatural effects and are an important part of character expression, but no, they are not magic, and you shouldn’t be treating them that way.
The reason they come off as unbalanced has to do with fooling about with the fundamental assumptions of the game. Supernatural effects are created with an entirely different (more subtle) bent, which ramps up the intrigue-level of the game in way that would otherwise require a ton of specialization.
Mike you are not being brief, what are you driving at?
I’ve got another fix for this (it’s called sanity psickness, it’s in the Veranthea Codex, and it is even simpler) but what I’ve got today is easier to incorporate into your games: xyrx crystals. Here’s their entry from The Great Pubo Hunt (though this article will be getting a bit more in-depth):
If you’ve been following Uralicans Uncut, these little guys have already made an appearance or two on the AaWBlog this month, but having a simple macguffin to neutralize a psionic PC might not do it for you. Should you need a little extra bang for your design buck to bridge the gap for your group, here are a few ways to make xyrx crystals more limiting or means to use them in a different fashion (though in these cases, 3.5 folks are out of luck—we’re looking directly at Pathfinder).
So the party has finally left where they found these xyrx crystals and mastered psionic abilities (say, a place like Varakt’s Halo) and your finding there’s too much of an edge to these new powers when employed against regular enemies.
Instead of rewarding all of a character’s power points, reduce the amount they get per day from their xyrx crystal—away from Varakt’s Halo, it isn’t as effective and they instead gain somewhere between 60%-80% when used consecutively (in the case of soulknives and aegis, reduce the enhancement bonuses of their respective astral equipment by -1 to -3). Dreamscarred Press’ psionic powers are made to scale; to manifest a power at it’s lowest expression, with variable options to scale the potency of it up.
While the possibility for high effect powers remain, with less PP to use each day psionic characters aren’t going to be quite so ready to amp up manifestations.
Investment Who can say what these crazy psionic gems are capable of? Given how much adventurers love gold—and enchanted items—this is definitely an avenue that can prove useful. This could be as simple as taking up an item slot (or two), but could be more serious; maybe the nearest 5 gold is turned into copper for each power point expended, or every use of a psionic ability temporarily reduces the effective caster level of an item until it ceases to function (caster levels returning at a rate of one per hour or, if you’re feeling particularly candid, one per day).
You’re forcing the PCs to invest their resources into their divergent abilities, which will do much as above (curb their use).
Drain The final solution is along the same lines as the other two, but definitely more severe: draining the xyrx crystal too quickly incurs damage. In this case, activating psionic abilities and powers doesn’t just cost PP, they can cost HP—any time that a xyrx crystal-using character manifests a psionic power of a level greater than half its hit die, they take 1d4 damage for each power level higher.
No matter how you choose to incorporate psionics into your game, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you do so! They absolutely introduce a new flavor to the world and while including it can sometimes require changes in the ultimate design and how things play, it is absolutely worth exploring.
Crystalis Tomb CR 15 CN Persistent psionic haunt (150-ft.-radius around the Xyrx Cystalis) ML 15th Notice automatic (the character’s airship slams to a jolting stop) hp 68; Resist positive 10 Effects When this haunt is triggered, telekinetic force (its power hundredfold via the arrangement of psionic gem around it) repels objects away from the Xyrx Crystalis. The crystalis tomb can move up to 25,000 lbs. as far as 100 feet per round, and is of sufficient force to counter even fully powered forward momentum by the PCs airship, bringing it to a dead halt at full power (or moving it away from the Crystalis at 50-feet per round at half power, or 100-feet per round if unpowered).
Destruction The only way to destroy this persistent haunt is to reduce its hit points to zero.
As your ship rushes forward towards the colossal Xyrx Crystalis its massive form eclipses the blinding light emanating from the nearby star. Shrouded from the brightness, the rocky core (a large asteroid) at its center becomes clearly visible. As you speed towards the adamant surface of the Crystalis, unusual shapes appear far beneath the surface of the translucent crystalline sheath—strange airships arrayed in a graveyard containing scores of the vessels. Splintered and shattered, they are are of a design you have never seen before and were obviously once far superior to your own craft.
As you near its surface—perhaps seventy five yards from impact—your ship comes to a sudden and very jolting stop. A massive, featureless humanoid face takes shape beneath the crystalline surface and opens its mouth wide. Moments later the near deafening sound of thousands of individuals crying out in agony fill the area and the deck of the ship begins to vibrate violently!
The collective spirit of the Ural who died here when their ships were wracked against the asteroid have coalesced into a single entity that comprises the crystalis tomb. They have long since been driven insane by the combined effects of being encased in xyrx crystal and the arcane light cast from the gateway star, and in their insanity believe that they are saving the PCs’ airship from sharing their own fate.
The force projected upon the approaching ship is completely psionic in nature and has absolutely no physical effect upon the position of the crystalis [in effect negatingNewton’s Third Law of Motion -JAM]. The telekinetic force affects only the ship (and not individual creatures, projectiles, or other matter hurled towards the surface of the Crystalis).
As long as the ship remains within 150 feet and is actively travelling towards the Crystalis, the haunt stops at nothing to prevent the two from colliding and pushes the ship back until it is out of range of the crystalis tomb.
The Dangers of Maintaining Forward Momentum The violent vibration of the ship’s deck is actually being caused by the crystals powering it as they continue to attempt to propel the ship forward against the telekinetic force generated by the crystalis tomb. A DC 20 Knowledge (engineering) check reveals that the vibrations are coming from the strain on the arcane engine as well as the knowledge that reducing the ships power by 50% or more would likely stop the vibration. Each round of vibration (including the first) causes 1d6 points of sonic damage to the hull of the ship.