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Strange Salve: Needle Swarm Trap

Needle Swarm Trap     CR 6

Type magical; Perception DC 30; Disable Device DC 30
Trigger proximity; Reset automatic*
Effect 3d6 piercing damage, dazed, and 1d3 bleed damage (DC 17 Will save negates dazed, DC 17 Fortitude save negates bleed damage); difficult terrain; multiple targets (all targets in a 10-ft.-radius); lingering trap*
*A needle swarm trap follows the creature that initially triggered at a speed of 10 ft. per round for 1d10+5 rounds.

needle swarm trapMany of the old mages in Mohkba have been known to dabble in exotic experiments, and as such, many of them have quite the array of tools on hand to facilitate the advancement of their twisted research. A cruel but creative enchanter was studying swarms and due to an unfortunate magical accident, the thousands of little insects pinned to his dissection table were consumed by the needles and came to life, swarming and ripping the lab assistants to shreds before their inadvertent creator could destroy the anomaly. When he surveyed the damage he was pleased with his unintended invention and decided so long as he could instill just enough intellect into a magical creation to follow the target, that a swarm of needles would make the perfect guardian for his labs.  Years later, these traps lie in secret places, dormant until an unfortunate soul (usually looking for shelter) stumbles into one of them, leaving behind a shredded mess of humanity.

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Strange Salve: Mohkba River

If Mohkba is the heart of the Klavek Kingdom, its river is most assuredly the major artery, serving as the realm’s most important trade route by bringing goods and people from all over Aventyr.

Serpent Tail River - 1All but the largest and deepest-running ocean vessels can navigate the river up until the Three Sisters , where water from the Serpent Lake joins the Serpent Tail (during the warmer spring and summer months—otherwise the surface of the river is frozen solid). Cargo and passengers are shifted from ocean going vessels to the wide, flatter-bottomed riverboats in the trio of settlements, craft more suitable for navigating either the waterway to travel to Mohkba and Enixam, or the occasional vessel headed across the Serpent Tail River to Rybalka. The Three Sisters’ position is perfectly suited for its role as the transfer point for most goods flowing into and out of the Klavek Kingdom;  as such, each boasts offices from some of Aventyr’s largest shipping concerns.

Travel up or down the Mohkba River can be challenging at times, especially in the late spring and early summer when the snow melt causes the currents to speed up as the river swells. Those travelling downstream must navigate carefully; the current has been known to sweep more than one unwary boat into some of the rocky precipices that occupy the eastern shore.

A journey upstream is no easy task either. A ship full of strong rowers is required to overcome the current, especially during the run-off season—at its fastest, a riverboat can be lucky to travel 15-20 miles upstream per day. Luxury boats for wealthy travelers boast large staterooms, entertainment, fine food and shopping, and purchases are also generally tax free, but only the luckiest and finest of merchants are able to land the lucrative gigs on these boats (or, more than likely, those with the best political connections).

However even though it takes much longer, upstream travel is not nearly as dangerous as journeying downstream during run-off season. Exports and travel from Mohkba tend to trail off in mid-spring and usually do not pick up again until mid-summer, often leaving quite a few empty boats and idle crews in both the capital city and Enixam for the duration.

Even so, there is enough traffic flowing down river during this time that the occasional accident is bound to happen. Several small salvage firms are located down the length of the river from Mohkba to Three Sisters—they are vigilant, and any wrecked boat is generally recovered quickly, but this isn’t the only service they perform. Most of them, for the right coin, can be paid to ferry people and cargo across the waterway. Even though the Mohkba River cuts through the heart of the Klavek Kingdom, there are no bridges and no practical fords; while risky at times, braving a ferry crossing is often preferable to facing the overland journey up and around Mohkba, as the plains themselves can be quite dangerous. Of course the river itself boasts its own dangers, from riptides, to rapids, potion parasites, and river beasts.

Serpent Tail River - 2Should one need to cross the Mohkba River, there are a few options. Swimming is not a likely course of action mounts are involved, and even the most skilled athlete could end up miles downstream from where they originally entered. The best bet is to find a ferryman, normally located near some of the trickier parts of the river (likely salvage spots). A DC 25 Knowledge (geography) or Knowledge (nature) check reveals where these tough spots are and once found, a small salvage operation generally comes by in 1d4-1 hours (minimum 1).

Not all salvage operators are willing to cross the river, however; since most wrecks happen on the eastern shore, crews that are on the western shore are usually more skilled and willing to risk a crossing, thus, all social checks with these crews gain a +2 circumstance bonus. A DC 20 Diplomacy check convinces a crew to ferry across the Mohkba River, usually for 50 gp (a second DC 20 Diplomacy check reduces the price by 1 gp per point of success). Once on a ferry there is a 10% chance that an event occurs; this could be an eddy, a rock, or something else (at the GM’s discretion). When encountering these hazards without precautions, creatures that fail a DC 18 Reflex save are likely to fall off the vessel. Those falling into the water must make a DC 18 Swim check or be swept downstream, out of rescue distance from the boat, forced to swim to shore [as highlighted in the last Sidequest Saturday! -RT].

No matter when, where, or how the waterway is traversed, there is always an element of risk associated with the Mohkba River (though the rewards that await in the capital are often worth the peril.)

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Strange Salve: Potion Parasite Trap

Potion Parasite Trap     CR 6

Type mechanical; Perception DC 27; Disable Device DC 22
Trigger touch; Reset automatic
Effect all effects from magical potions are negated by the potion parasites with a host for 1d4 days after the last potion is imbibed or until any spell that recovers ability loss is cast (DC 21 Fortitude save negates); multiple targets (all targets exposed to water contaminated by potion parasites)

potion parasite - mylerThere are many dangers that plague those who travel the Mohkba River, but one of its most insidious is the obscure, nearly microscopic species known as the potion parasite. When a person is infected by a potion parasite trap, the nearly invisible organisms ingest any potions (but not extracts) drunk by the host, negating their effect. Potion parasites are fragile once removed from their outdoor environment, and if not fed a potion (either in a contained environment or while within a creature) within 1d4 days of its last feeding, potion parasites die (at which point a host can resume drinking potions normally).

Fortunately potion parasites rarely infect large swathes of water, and there is only a %1 chance that they inhabit a square of the Mohkba River that a creature is traveling through. However, the creatures often appear in freshwater streams and there is a 5% chance that any water gathered nearby the river contains potion parasites.

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Trap Tuesday (Duty in Drak’kal): Drone Trap

Drone Trap     CR 5

Type magical; Perception DC 29; Disable Device DC 29
Trigger proximity; Reset none
Effect 1d3 Con damage plus 1 bleed damage (DC 16 Fortitude negates)

drone trap - alleywayHidden in the backways and alleys of the Three Sisters, a drone trap drains blood from unsuspecting victims, filling up a hidden container. The blood lost from the bleed damage seemingly vaporizes, but it is collected in full inside the container until the bleed damage stops, at which point it is magically teleported to parts unknown.

The vampires in Mohkba placed numerous drone traps in the slums of Klavekian towns in order to supplement their food supply and though the undead are ostensibly gone, their contraptions remain. Since a drone trap is usually placed in an area populated by beggars, street urchins, and other undesirables, the collection of blood (even if it results in a few deaths) generally goes unnoticed.

 

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Trap Tuesday (Duty in Drak’kal): Reflection Pool Trap

reflection pool trap - 1024px-Sweet_Nothings_by_Godward

Reflection Pool Trap     CR 4

Type magical; Perception DC 22; Disable Device DC 21
Trigger proximity; Reset none
Effect target becomes fascinated with his own reflection (target spends 5 hours working to maximize their own personal appearance and grooming; DC 14 Will save negates); confused condition (1d4 rounds; only occurs when the reflection pool trap is disturbed as the target grooms)

One of the trendy fashions in Drak’kal involved the creation of ornate basins of water in place of traditional mirrors—as is common among Klavekian nobles, it didn’t take long for these to become the targets of pranks, becoming vandalized, discolored, or otherwise altered by mischievous vagabonds. An enterprising mage, tired of having his pool befouled on a regular basis, came up with the reflection pool trap to protect his gardens. Though the time of the trend has passed and the tastes of the Three Sisters’ elite have changed, some of these reflection pool traps are still hidden away, waiting for a weak soul to peer down into them.

 

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Trap Tuesday (Duty in Drak’kal): Sewer Gas Trap

sewer gas trapSewer Gas Trap     CR 4

Type mechanical; Perception DC 22; Disable Device DC 21
Trigger proximity; Reset auto
Effect unprotected flame sources are extinguished (no save); targets gain nauseated condition for 1d4 rounds (DC 15 Fortitude save to be only sickened for 1 round); after 1 round open flames explode (1d6 damage in a 15-ft.-radius, DC 15 Reflex save for half damage); causticity (targets take 1d4 acid damage per round in 100-ft.-radius, no save)

Despite recent renovations, the sewers in the Three Sisters are quite old and still contain many hazards. Some of these dangers are obvious and bear murderous intent, but others are innocuous; due to collapsing tunnels and blockages, dangerous fumes build up in pockets of air trapped behind debris or waste. These sewer gas traps can easily be dislodged by a wandering party (or sometimes even from vibrations from above or below). When it hits, a sewer gas trap can extinguish flame, cause explosions, and in some deadly cases, be caustic or toxic. Creatures with the scent ability automatically notice a sewer gas trap.

 

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Statblock Sunday (Duty in Drak’kal): Bard Monkey

This small monkey is dressed in a colorful red fez and coat, but the cloth is smudged with grit and dirt. Tiny, beady red eyes can be seen in the darkness not far behind this primate, though it doesn’t seem at all concerned.

bard monkeyBARD MONKEY     CR 5
XP 1,600
CN Tiny magical beast
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +6

DEFENSE
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 12 (+2 Dex, +2 size)
hp 37 (6d10)
Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +4

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee bite +8 melee (1d3-1)
Space 2.5 ft; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks control swarms
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th, concentration +8)
2/day—cause fear (DC 13), confusion (DC 16), glitterdust (DC 14), grease (DC 13), hold person (DC 14), hypnotic pattern (DC 14), lesser confusion (DC 13), sleep (DC 13)

TACTICS
Before Combat The bard monkey sends in rat swarms and hides, waiting to take action until its minions have engaged foes.
During Combat The bard monkey uses its spell-like abilities to send enemies into disarray, attempting to keep opponents focused on the rat swarms.
Morale The bard monkey runs away if reduced to 12 hp or less.

STATISTICS
Str 8, Dex 15, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 5
Base Atk +6; CMB +5; CMD 17
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Acrobatics +15, Climb +10, Perception +7, Stealth +15; Racial Modifiers +8 Acrobatics

ECOLOGY
Environment any (Drak’kal sewers)
Organization solitary but accompanied by 1 or more rat swarms
Treasure standard (red fez, red coat, dog tag that reads “Property of Otto Schmidt”)

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Control Swarms (Su) A bard monkey can screech and yell at swarms within 100 ft., ordering them about each round with a swift action. A bard monkey can control several swarms at once, but their collective hit dice cannot exceed its own.

The bard monkey was once the property of Otto Schmidt and the Broztavya’s Circus resident organ grinder. When the circus went awry the little primate escaped but not without injury; in a bid for freedom it plunged into the Serpent Tail River, crawling up to the Crescent Stone in a state near death. The energies suffusing the holy icon (part of Sergei Madorsky’s grand plans for revenge in Disaster in Drak’kal) transformed the humble animal into a magical beast, amplifying the bard monkey’s natural talents for performance, granting it mystical abilities and renewed strength—including an instinctual control over swarms of lesser creatures. He has taken a liking to treasure (as well as other shinies) and uses the rats of the sewers along with his newfound powers to disable the shipping boats and crews that travel the waterway near his lair, stealing whatever valuables he can.

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Sidequest Saturday (Duty in Drak’kal): Lair of the Bard Monkey

lair of the bard monkey mapDrak’kal’s newly minted tax collectors are called into Antonio Casta’s office with an urgent request (after dealing with Rabblerouser and the Klavekian Mob outside, of course, though some parties may do so reluctantly). Dispensing with the usual niceties, the Dockmaster gets straight to the point.

Friends, a golden opportunity has arisen with the two skinflints, Mason and Roberto: quite a sum of overdue taxes. These two are some of the Three Sisters’ most prominent merchants and purveyors of fine goods—that they should withhold any taxes at all is scandalous, but in this case I think we have some leverage. You see, each of them lost an entire barge and crew, their shipments ruined and likely at the bottom of the Serpent’s Tail! This is a sore blow for them indeed, and I doubt that either can afford for another catastrophe like this. Were the docks rebuilt and all the debris from the river removed, the chances of their turning a profit this quarter is far greater; this is the perfect time to convince them to pay up their taxes so we can get on with cleanup and rebuilding operations. The sooner we collect the coin, the sooner we rebuild and safer river commerce prevails.

Antonio Casta - Rick HersheyWhen the PCs ask for more information, Antonio knows a little and is happy to share. The two barges were loaded with exotic cloth, foodstuffs and other perishables. Yesterday around sundown, the vessels veered towards one of the storm exits in the sewer and struck debris, causing them to sink along with the entire 4-man crew of experienced rivermen on each barge—something must have been awry. The route through the river can be dangerous, but not for experienced rivermen such as these, and an eyewitness reported that shortly before sinking, the ships were overrun with rats and a strangely attired monkey was seen screeching at the disaster before returning inside the passages beneath Drak’kal.

The offices of Mason and Roberto are quite easy to find; the two offices are nestled in an upscale business district and share an entrance. A single receptionist sits behind a large desk which mostly blocks a door that allows interior access to the rest of the offices. When the PCs ask to see either Mason or Roberto, they are politely asked if they have an appointment, and if they do not, they are politely rebuffed and told that both merchants are unavailable for the foreseeable future.
A DC 20 Diplomacy check convinces her to let the party in right away. Adventurers who mention that they are here to collect taxes receive a -4 penalty, but mentioning assistance in dealing with the barge incident grants PCs a +10 bonus. Otherwise, the party can trespass into the office straight away (she offers no physical resistance) and quickly find both men; this course of action, however, incurs a -2 penalty to all social-based skill checks until the adventurers leave the premises.

human-male-klavekianBoth men are distraught about losing their barges, genuinely listening to and contemplating what the PCs have to say. When the party is done with their sales pitch, Mason offers to pay the taxes on one condition: he wants a thorough investigation of the crash site to discover what really happened to the sunken ships. Adventurers that can verify what happened and keep it from happening again get paid a bonus 10% of the taxes collected from both traders. Since the area is difficult to navigate to from land, they also offer the PCs the services of a small skiff big enough to hold the party.

Getting into the river and near the sewer is pretty easy but navigating a vessel within 30 feet of the sewer exit requires a DC 10 Profession (sailor) check or DC 20 Acrobatics check at the end of each turn to keep the skiff from being drawn towards the sewer entrance at a rate of 20 ft./per round. Failure on any of these checks forces creatures on the vessel (including the PCs) to make a DC 20 Reflex save when the boat strikes the sewer entrance or be tossed into the water. Due to the turbulent nature of the current here, a DC 15 Swim check is required to stay afloat (allowing 5 ft. of movement per round + 5 ft. for every 5 points exceeding the DC). The gate around the storm exit is easy to enter and once inside, a single DC 10 Swim check pulls a creature from the water and onto the stone platforms that run along each of the sewer tunnels beneath Drak’kal. A successfully controlled skiff can be tied near the gate, and from there a simple DC 10 Swim check takes a creature into the subterranean passages.

While all of this occurs the party is being watched from inside the sewers of Drak’kal. Once the skiff gets within 30 feet of the storm exit a DC 20 Perception check reveals a small, oddly dressed monkey wearing a red fez [tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! –RT], screeching softly and watching the party from just inside the gate with uncharacteristic interest. As soon as the adventurers try to control the boat, the little simian conjures a hypnotic pattern (DC 12 Will save, 7+2d4 HD affected) in the middle of the vessel before running down the tunnel a moment later.

When the PCs follow (DC 15 Survival check to track) they find that the monkey has fled to the very back of the sewers, to a large, cross-shaped complex that was once a casual place for the detritus of Drak’kal to relax in concert. As the party enters they see two tunnels that lead off to small side chambers and a tunnel ahead that leads to a larger chamber. In the center of the cross chamber are several small boxes of valuable goods (about 300 gp worth) all stamped with either Mason’s or Roberto’s logo.

shadow-ratJust inside the western tunnel are two rat swarms that use Stealth to hide from and then surprise the party. Once the rat swarms have engaged the PCs the bard monkey appears at the entrance to the northern tunnel and uses its spell-like abilities to create chaos for the adventurers! It runs away when damaged, trying to get past the party as it does so (as it is cornered in this area).

At the end of the northern tunnel are more goods (another 300 gp worth) and what looks to be the lair of the bard monkey.

Recovering the goods and returning them to Mason and Roberto causes the merchants to pay 200% of their taxes (as now there are quite a few more valuables to claim) and as a result, Antonio Casta pays double for this week of work (and with a DC 15 Diplomacy check, the traders cough up the extra 10% owed to the PCs as well).

If the bard monkey is returned to its owner alive (Otto lost him during the recent Disaster in Drak’kal) the thankful old man teaches the PCs a secret tune only known to carnival folk; when performed by a bard (three full-round actions), it grants a number of temporary hit points equal to ½ the singer’s hit dice (minimum 1) for 1 hour (usable once per day).

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Story Locale (Duty in Drak’kal): Sewers of Drak’kal

The sewers of many cities serve as a de facto underground highway replete with services, hideouts, and in some cases, permanent establishments built over decades or even centuries—this is not the case for the sewers of Drak’kal in the Klavek Kingdom’s Three Sisters.

Originally built as a means to dispose of the settlement’s waste, much of the sewers changed during the last flood cycle. As the river rose, party of the rudimentary tunnels and passages were destroyed, inundating sections of the city with river water, raw sewage, debris, and rats. Other things were unearthed by the heightening tide, however; gems, coins, and even some minor magical items, spirited away from secret hiding places. Now that the waters have receded, treasure hunters descend into the sewers daily, hoping to locate the goods from the stashes of the various shady organizations that called these places home.drak'kal sewers map for website

sewers of drak'kalAbandoned Cache: There is a 20% chance that an abandoned cache has not yet been pilfered by other treasure hunters. These hidden locations require a DC 20 Perception check to spot and when they have not yet been purloined, contain a random minor wondrous item, 10d20 gold coins, or 20d20 gold worth of gems.
Flooded Passageway: These tunnels are not entirely filled with water, but they are knee-high with it. Creatures without a swim speed treat flooded passageways as difficult terrain, and Small-sized creatures must succeed on DC 10 Acrobatics checks to stay balanced each turn they move more than their base speed.
Rubble Passageway: Construction always requires the moving about of materials and these tunnels are the on-site location to dump unwanted stone. All creatures treat rubble passageway as difficult terrain.
Submerged Passageway: Far and away the most hazardous of the passageways underneath Drak’kal, these tunnels are filled with both water and debris. Simultaneous DC 18 Escape Artist and Swim checks are required for a creature to move its speed through a submerged passageway and while swimming through these squares, creatures can only hold their breath for a number of rounds equal to their Constitution modifier as stones and rocks push against them.

Sewers of Drak’kal Random Encounters
d100     Monster
1-15       Ratfolk Tinkerer      CR 1
16-30    Morlock                    CR 2
31-45     Rat Swarm               CR 2
46-60    Skum                        CR 2
61-75     Gelatinous Cube       CR 3
76-90    Ghoul Creeper          CR 3
91-100   Otyugh                     CR 4

The destroyed sections are being rebuilt and steps are being taken to prevent future flooding by building diversions and flow control mechanisms around the sewer’s exits into the Serpent’s Tail River. Unfortunately, while these improvements have considerably lessened the effects of flooding, they have—in some cases—created navigational hazards on the waterway.

thiefKeen to their use as a refuge for illicit or stolen goods, Tatiana the Moon Priestess has ensured that any new construction is devoid of exploitable nooks and crannies. When the ne’er-do-wells returned to the sewers, they found that to secure a hiding place now requires delving deeper into the subterranean tunnels beneath Drak’kal. While more efficient at preventing floods, newly constructed sections have become useless for subterfuge as they are large and somewhat easy to traverse. In response, other avenues to and from the river have been created to foster illicit activity, and the wide passages nearest the river are now all but abandoned.

Even though the waters around these outlets from the sewers are often treacherous with eddies, back currents, and debris, they generally are not too dangerous for moderately experienced crews in non-inclement weather. However, one such outlet from the sewers has recently claimed two barges loaded with expensive goods.

The experienced crews that manned those two barges did so last on a bright, sunny, and almost windless day. No one is quite sure what happened to them—all of the crew, to a man, drowned in the river after the vessels struck an unexpected something in the water and sank. There were a few witnesses who saw the sailors take on a dazed look, leaving their ships to drift into the stone archways leading into the sewers where they quickly sank. Some of the wilder reports claim that just before going down, rats overran the barges seemingly at the behest of a strangely attired monkey, though conveniently, both the rodents and their primate ringmaster quickly disappeared back beneath Drak’kal not long after.

 

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