We regret to inform our avid readers that the AaWBlog is being retired (sans Tales from the Tabletop). We would like to take this opportunity to recognize the entire AaWBlog team: Mike Myler, Justin Andrew Mason, Rory Toma, Lance Kepner, Tim Snow, Stefanos Patelis, Brian Wiborg, Jonathan Ely, and the rest of our fantastic contributors.
AAW Games would like to thank Mike Myler for all his hard work managing the AaWBlog and contributing to many Adventureaweek.com projects including the Aventyr Campaign Setting. Going forward Mike Myler will no longer be working with AAW Games but will continue to be a driving force in the roleplaying game industry, AAW Games wishes him well in his future ventures.
Fret not! Our brand new Adventurer’s Chronicle magazine will release its first issue in Spring 2016. This magazine will be free and have a plethora of content for both the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and 5th Edition. In issue #1 we will have a fantastic guest article by Wolfgang Baur (Kobold Press, Tyranny of Dragons) and an in-person candid interview with actress and fellow gamer Jen Page!
Read more about the brand new FREE Adventurer’s Chronicle magazine below and make sure you sign up for our newsletter so you can be notified when it has been released (don’t worry, we won’t spam you).
Whatever catastrophe or circumstances led to the creation of the Grave Morass ensured the death of an untold number of primitive peoples and primordial beasts that sheltered in its canyon-like confines rather than suffer the prowling undead of NaeraCull’s jungles. Macabre scholars believe it an irony of the gods that these residents have become animated themselves, and none know how many of them persist or where they might tread when beneath the surface of the black. Exploratory parties sent by the warlords of the deserts or Ravine’s politicians rarely return, prompting the rulers of the southern reaches of the Scorched Lands to keep no small amount of anti-undead equipment and holy water close at hand.
Undead of the Grave Morass
Any type of non-cold skeletal undead can rise from the tar of the Grave Morass, but these animated creatures are predominantly humanoids and large primordial beasts (such as dinosaurs, mammoths, and sabertooth tigers). There is a 50% chance that the tar covering the undead that rise here has been magically affected by The Transgression and attacks from these undead have a chance of inflicting the tarred condition; each hit dice an undead possesses grants one such consecutive attack. For example, a 4 HD skeleton with two weapons would grant the tarred condition for one attack after charging, two attacks during a full-round attack the next round, and the first of its next attacks during a full-round attack the following round (but no more afterward). Any undead able to inflict the tarred condition in this way increase their CR by +1.
Tarred: You take a -4 penalty to all Charisma-based skill checks. Spells that target you instead affect a random target within 30 feet (no save) and have a 10% chance per caster level of triggering a random effect from the list below. The tarred condition can only be removed via dispel magic (CL 18th), heal, limited wish, miracle, or a wish. After 2d4+1 days the tarred condition alleviates itself as the substance crumbles away.
1 – Splay: targeted spell now affects all targets within 30 ft. of the original target
2 – Negate: targeted spell is negated and has no effect
3 – Damaging: targeted spell does twice the damage (in the case of spells that do not deal damage, double duration)
4 – Penetrating: targeted spell grants its caster a +10 circumstance bonus to bypass spell resistance
5 – Tricky: the saving throw DC(s) for the targeted spell are increased by +5
6 – Rebound: targeted spell also rebounds back on its caster
The western portion of the Scorched Lands consists of a massive series of canyons, mesas, and plateaus collectively known as the Fissures. This confusing, uneven landscape is perfectly suited to the reclusive lifestyle led by the many mutant clans who inhabit the area. After surviving the Transgression these transformed savages eke out a living in the wastes, gathering together for protection and to avoid the perils of the mutant slave trade exacerbated by magical experimentations in Timaeus. The Fissures and the ragged, difficult to navigate ecotopes found within have become a rough but safe haven for those escaping enslavement or fleeing from the rulers of Ravine so long as they don’t run afoul of the mutated clans.
Travelers that are obviously enslaved or recently freed (bearing brands, wearing chains, or otherwise obviously a thrall of some sort) gain a +4 circumstance bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks while interacting with the mutated clans of the Fissures and is treated with a starting attitude one level higher than normal. Conversely anyone that is openly a slaver takes a -4 penalty to Charisma-based skill checks with the mutated clans and when interacting with them, finds that the locals have a starting attitude two levels lower than normal.
The societies that have developed within and around the canyons and ravines that make up the Fissures are mostly barbaric and tribal in nature but all share a focus on survival against the harsh environment. Various Pilgrim’s Journals claim different numbers of mutant tribes in the area, some citing only a few dozen, others naming a hundred or more, but none are sure of exactly how many societies persist in this part of the wastes. Below are several of the more powerful and prevalent tribes that explorers might encounter, but there are many more that eke out a life in the shadows of the sands.
Acolytes of the Horned Rat: Explorers of the ravines and canyons in the Fissures are as wary of the Transgression as they are the kobolds, goblins, and other monstrous mutants that make up the Acolytes of the Horned Rat. Marked by the single-horned skullcaps they all wear, these clever savages make great tunnel networks beneath the sands and line their passages with deadly contraptions and traps to subdue trespassers.
Riders of the Wall: Traveling along the tops of the canyons chances a meeting with this nomadic tribe of mounted warriors. Their scouts sprint along the cliffsides on sand lizards as their families follow behind on secure structures built on the shells of giant desert turtles. Their leader is a scion of the flame and not to be trifled with, but the Riders of the Wall are known to be some of the most generous of the mutated clans for those able and willing to overlook physical deformities.
Shardalluk: Easily one of the most mystical tribes in the Fissures, these demented mutants are led by female mystics that emulate the Fiery Lady and believe the Shard of the Sun sets souls free, encouraging members of their flock to face the Transgression again and again. Induction into the ranks of the Shardalluk is open to all but not an easy task as any supplicant must survive a pilgrimage, following the Fiery Lady for no less than a week regardless of where she treads.
[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis!]
The northern reaches of the Scorched Lands are dominated by the Sea of Shards, a stretch of sand dunes that are endlessly shifting at the whim of the winds and dotted with strange ashen stalagmites that rise from the terrain. Traveling is difficult at best and landmarks are rare, always appearing or disappearing with the changes of the sand dunes. The few locals who dare cross this area are also superstitiously fearful of the ashen pillars, so much so that they avoid marking them as waypoints. This almost barren land is quite dangerous for any who brave it.
- The Fiery Apparition Haunt
- Desert Terrain Hazards
- Advance Scout Spire (CR 9 or 14)
The servants of the Formian Queen have hidden exits from her vast Underworld empire among the many ashen pillars dotting the Sea of Shards. When close enough (within 500 ft.) telling them apart is simple—constructed mounds are made of hard-packed dirt and grit—but by then it may be too late, chancing that one’s presence is detected by formians scouts that scour the Scorched Lands (6 warriors and 1d4+4 workers who maintain the lair). There is a 10% chance a spire is of strategic importance to the Formian Queen and is also home to a formian myrmarch.
There’s little to see from afar save for the shifting of patrol warbands that cycle in and out of the spire every few weeks. Adventurers may attempt to sneak to the entrance of the spire, but otherwise the beings within are alerted to their approach by warrior scouts and follow a pre-set plan of actions.
When prepared for trespassers the six warriors assault intruders while the workers set about in activating a controlled cave-ins. After 1d10 rounds of battle the underground tunnels fall in on themselves, gradually collapsing the entire spire after 1d4 minutes. If a formian myrmarch is present it only takes part in the combat if it seems the party can be easily defeated; otherwise the elite servant of the Formian Queen is the first to retreat before the tunnels are collapsed. This defense ensures no trail is left to the Underworld complexes belonging to the formians.
When trespassers surprise the creatures (or manage to foil their defense plan and enter the lair before it collapses) the interior of the scout spire has a simple chamber containing no treasure of great worth or any clues to the origin of its warband. [The maze-like tunnels that lead deeper could easily become an adventure arc on their own, but that is beyond the scope of this story. —SP]
- Sand Traps (CR 3) and Sinkholes (CR 6)
Due to the constantly shifting sands, the dunes in the Sea of Shards are riddled with natural sand traps (as per an ant lion’s ability) and sinkholes (as a camouflaged pit trap but Perception and Disable Device DC 28) to the unwary. The ground is rarely hard packed sand and many times seems to suck a traveler’s feet in, or for the truly unfortunate, one’s entire body.
At the GM’s discretion, the sand that topples onto a creature that falls into a sand trap or sinkhole might trap them in without allowing them room to breathe. Without help from above the creature must succeed on a DC 22 Climb or Escape Artist check extricate themselves; otherwise suffocation rules come into play (in this case increase the hazard’s CR +2).
[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis!]
Built into the crust of Aventyr in the central portion of the Scorched Lands is the city of Ravine, the largest settlement of the region. Hovels and dwellings crowd the sides of the busy canyon walls, while the surface level is left almost completely barren save for the sheltered guard posts and canyon lifts.. At the lowest level a stream of fresh, cool water runs throughout the canyon floor, created from a natural aquifer deep underground that runs south and west into the fissures. Pilgrims of all sorts have lived and survived here for centuries, each generation building dwellings closer and closer to the surface as space becomes more limited. The most prized and ancient of dwellings near the canyon floor are sought after and conspired for, often in the nearby market level’s giant lifts (spaced sporadically throughout to ferry goods to and from the surface on giant rock-counterweight scales). Silver plated reflectors set up along the sides of some of the canyon walls reflect sunlight into special cutout terraces that, with irrigation from the stream, provide food for the citizens.
Ravine is run by an elected mayor that serves a five year term and all positions of power within the city are elected officials or appointed by the mayor.
Corruption +4; Crime +1; Economy +7; Law +5; Lore +6; Society +6
Qualities notorious, prosperous, rumormongering citizens, strategic location, superstitious, tourist attraction
Population 75,000 (48,000 humans, 7,000 half-orcs, 6,000 half-elves, 14,000 other)
Mayor Wells Sunprince (N Male half-elf rogue 13)
Kara the Sun Flea (NG Female human investigator 5/bard 4) [this week’s Statblock Sunday! —MM]
Master Pilgrim Sandra Waster (LN Female half-orc ranger 8)
Base Value 35,692 gp; Purchase Limit 225,000 gp; Spellcasting 8th
Minor Items *; Medium Items 4d4; Major Items 3d4
[Ravine by Scorched Lands writer Lance Keppner!]