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Wandering Wasteland: Twilight Ambush

As the party settles into Ravine’s Parched Pilgrim Tavern for the evening, their adversaries have a small surprise waiting for themsometime in the middle of the night, the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.ER.S. launch a twilight ambush on the sleeping adventurers!
Twilight Ambush Map
The attack starts when the majority (if not all) of the spellcasting PCs are asleep. Creatures that are still slumbering are targeted with a nightmare spell (DC 18 Will negates). Immediately thereafter, ten P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. hirelings teleport into the area and attack. The assault is mainly a diversion—the cabal’s agents in the Grave Morass are observing the combat, taking note of the tactics and spells used by the party in order to optimize their own defenses for a conflict they’ve decided is inevitable. This offensive has an ulterior motive, however; each hireling has a wand of hostile morass (2 charges) which the criminals try to use on each party member at least once (DC 18 Will save negates). Agents in the Grave Morass are watching from afar with a scry spell (DC 24 Perception check to notice) and take note of any special attacks used by the party, preparing their defenses accordingly.

The P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. specifically developed the special hostile morass spell and provided the wands to these hirelings.

 

HOSTILE MORASS
School abjuration [evil]; Level sorcerer/wizard 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft. / 2 caster levels)
Target creature touched
Duration 1/day per caster level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
Hostile morass is only active while the target is in the Grave Morass of the Scorched Lands. While in the Grave Morass, a creature that fails its Will save suffers the following effects:
     Attract Ash The creature attracts the ash from the Grave Morass, taking a -2 penalty to Dexterity-based abilities and effects, treats all terrain is treated as difficult terrain, and their base movement rate is halved. The ash can be removed with a full round action but 1d6+1 rounds later it accumulates again.
     Attract Oil The creature attracts the oil from the Grave Morass, coating their body in a thin layer of the viscous liquid. Any open flames or fire-based effects that happen within 5 ft. of the creature cause it to catch on fire (taking 1d6 points of fire damage each round). It takes a full-round action to extinguish the flames.
     Attract Sand The creature attracts the sand from the Grave Morass, taking a -4 penalty to concentration checks.
These effects cannot be dispelled, but they can be removed with a break enchantment, limited wish, miracle, remove curse, or wish spell.

 

5E Rules

The P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. cast dream instead of nightmare.
Locating the sensor of the scrying spell requires a DC 30 Wisdom (Perception) check.

HOSTILE MORASS
5th-level abjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: 1 week
You wrap a creature in energies that draw upon the primal fundament of the Grave Morass, causing it to attract the very landscape of that region in the Scorched Lands of Aventyr. A creature targeted by this spell must succeed on a Charisma saving throw or suffer from the following effects:
     The creature attracts ash from the Grave Morass, reducing its movement speeds by half. Removing the ash requires an action and it accumulates again after 1d4 rounds.
     Oil coats the creature, causing it to ignite and take 1d6 points of fire damage each turn until it or another creature spends an action putting out the flames.
     Sand inexorably draws toward the creature, causing it to take disadvantage on Perception checks.
These effects cannot be removed with dispel magic, but they can be removed with a remove curse or wish spell.

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Wandering Wasteland: Scowl Carver

scowl carver (mutant)Scowl Carver                           CR 12
XP 19,200
Male ashen human fighter 7/rogue 5
NE Medium humanoid (ashen, human)
Init +10; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +13

DEFENSE
AC 21, touch 16, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +6 Dex)
hp 80 (7d10+5d8+19) fast healing 5
Fort +7; Ref +14; Will +4; +2 vs. fear
Defensive Abilities bravery +2, evasion, trap sense +1, uncanny dodge; DR 5/ –; Immune radiation

OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft.
Melee +2 cruel dagger +20/+15 (1d4+7, Crit 17-20/x2) and dagger +16/+11 (1d4+6, Crit 17-20/x2)
Special Attacks sneak attack +3d6, weapon training (light blades +1)

TACTICS
Before Combat Scowl attempts to ambush an enemy, attacking from the shadows if given the opportunity.
During Combat Scowl is relentlessly protective of his fellow mutants, focusing his attacks on creatures assaulting his kin before facing a direct threat to himself (even if this leaves him open to attacks of opportunity).
Morale Scowl is relentless in battle, but attempts to flee when reduced to fewer than 10 hp.

STATISTICS
Str 14, Dex 22, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 10
Base Atk +10; CMB +12; CMD 28
Feats Dazzling Display, Improved Critical (dagger), Improved Initiative, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Shatter Defenses, Skill Focus (Acrobatics), Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (dagger), Weapon Specialization (dagger)
Skills Acrobatics +30, Bluff +10, Climb +10, Diplomacy +10, Disable Device +14, Disguise +10, Escape Artist +10, Intimidate +20, Knowledge (local) +9, Perception +13 (+15 to find traps), Ride +10, Sleight of Hand +10, Stealth +20, Survival +10, Swim +10
Languages Common, Mutant Hand Sign (exclusive to the mutant enclaves of the Scorched Lands)
SQ armor training 2, bulbous eyes, fractured mind, rogue talents (finesse rogue, weapon training), trapfinding +2
Combat Gear potion of endure elements, potion of spider climb; Other Gear +1 chain shirt, +2 cruel dagger, dagger, solid gold symbol in the stylized likeness of the Shard of the Sun (2,000 gp art item).
Boon Scowl can assure safe passage through the mutant territories of the Scorched Lands and evoke a Friendly attitude from various mutant enclaves.

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Bulbous Eyes (Ex) Scowl has darkvision with a range of 60 ft. and low-light vision.
Fast Healing (Ex) Scowl has fast healing 5.
Fractured Mind (Ex) When Scowl fails a Will save he is confused for 1 round.
Increased Speed (Ex) Scowl’s speed increases by 10 feet.
Rugged (Ex) Scowl has DR 5/—.

 

5E RULES

Use the statistics for an “Oni” for Scowl but instead of any spellcasting abilities, Scowl gains sneak attack +4d6, uncanny dodge, and the ability to make three attacks in a round when using his glaive.

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Wandering Wasteland: The Canyon March

The western canyons of the Scorched Lands are known for a loose network of mutant settlements who make their homes in its shallow caverns and abandoned mines. Many of the inhabitants are locals that suffered mutation as a direct result of prolonged exposure to the energies produced by the Shard of the Sun, but there are others with physical deformities as well (notably, escaped slaves from Timaeus fleeing the oppression of their tyrannical creators).

Pre-eminent across the region is the Canyon March, a mutant-run organization as much as it is an actual trek into the western reaches of the Scorched Lands. These smugglers follow a plotted route from civilized Timaeus to the mutant enclaves in the wastes, accompanied by escapees that are guided by sympathizers on the long journey between campsites and mutant-friendly safe houses.

canyon march (reduced)The smugglers of the Canyon March are always on the run from agents of the Six Orders. Few survivors live to tell the tale of encountering these slave hunters, but a DC 20 Knowledge (local) check uncovers a rumor of a particularly nasty Timaeus Daewi named Tigan Mek and a group of mercenary assassins under his charge that actively hunt and kill any mutant that flees their lands (as well as those who assist in their escape).

Thus the mutants in these settlements are very untrusting of non-mutants, though a rapport can be established with great effort. Unfortunately for the adventurers the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. have garnered such a relationship with the strongest of the enclaves in the Fissures. In return for allowing the cabal to run a processing facility hidden deep within an abandoned mine, the nefarious organization has agreed to funnel a stipend of revenue to help fund the operation of the Canyon March.

When the adventurers first come across the mutant enclave, a small settlement of mud structures established in a network of cliff-side recesses, its 30 mutant inhabitants are very wary. A DC 20 Diplomacy check allows the party to pass the six watchmen (N Human warrior 5 with the ashen template [see the upcoming Meta Thursday article! MM]) and enter into the hamlet. PCs that offer mundane equipment or gold as a token of friendship receive a +5 circumstance bonus to this check. The mutants provide the party with temporary shelter, water, and food (cave lizard meat) but have little-to-nothing to offer in trade or services.

The enclave is governed by a mutant man known as Scowl [check out tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday article to see his stats! JAM] Scowl is a smuggler on the Canyon March, a higher-up in the organization, and the individual who brokered the deal with the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. to operate the nearby processing facility. If the party even hint that they are seeking the location of the agents running the cabal’s operations in the Scorched Lands they are immediately taken to the abode of Scowl (by force if necessary). As soon as the adventurers are brought into the company of Scowl Carver, a group of six robed figures and a dubious man appear in a flashTigan Mek followed the adventurers to this location and has been stalking in the shadows beneath the cliff knowing that they would eventually be lead to the enclave leader.

canyon march 2 (reduced)The moment Tigan (N Male halfling rogue 4/sorcerer 5/arcane trickster 4) and his six assassins (LE Halfling rogue 5) arrive he loudly announces himself and shouts an accusation of guilt at Scowl, condemning the smuggler to death. In response the watchmen who brought the adventurers to the location quickly gather around to defend their leader. The two opposing parties pause momentarily to determine whose side the adventurers are onif the party abstains from the engagement they are presumed to be enemies of the mutants and friendly to Tigan (and are thus attacked by the local guards). Both parties fight until there is a clear victor and upon hearing the shouts of Tigan from Scowl’s abode, the remaining mutants in the enclave scatter and flee, each convinced by local lore that the Daewi is unstoppable.

If the adventurers assist Scowl and the mutants are victorious, the mutants consider them to be true allies. When informed of what the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. are really up to (manufacturing something of ill-intent for all of Aventyr) the mutants gladly tell the party of their whereabouts, explaining that the agents have completed work at the processing facility and abandoned that mine a week past. Scowl was told to visit a specific location in the city of Ravine by cover of night in three days to retrieve the final payment offered to the Canyon March in return for assisting the criminal cabal.

If the adventurers assist Tigan and the mutants are killed, he considers them to be true allies to Timaeus and presents each of the PCs with a black iron token bearing the sigil of the Order of the Cloak. He tells them that these Timean tokens are proof of their commitment and service to the nation of mages (should it ever come into question) and these items provide a single +5 insight bonus to any Diplomacy check made with an agent of the Six Orders of Timaeus. While conversing Tigan tells the party that he and his men spied a group of humans they suspected might be P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. leaving the canyons about a week past, providing the adventurers with the last known location where the cabal’s agents were seen (in the city of Ravine).

In either case the victors decline accompanying the adventurers back to Ravine but offer two pairs of striding boots [upcoming Magic Item Monday! —MM] and 3d4 x 100 gold as a reward for their efforts (in the case of allying with the mutants, these are the goods that can be recovered from the corpses of the Timaen agents).

 

5E Rules

For Tigan use the “Assassin” statistics, for his six agents use the “Cult Fanatic” statistics, and for the Canyon March guards use the “Berskerker” statistics.

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Wandering Wasteland: Gregaria Sphinx

Gregaria SphinxGREGARIA SPHINX         CR 8
XP 4,800
N Large magical beast
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +21

DEFENSE
AC 21, touch 13, flat-footed 17 (+4 Dex, +8 natural, –1 size)
hp 102 (12d10+36)
Fort +11, Ref +9, Will +10

OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft. (good)
Melee 2 claws +15 (2d6+4, Crit 19–20/x2), sting +10 (1d6+2 plus poison)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks pounce, rake (2 claws +15, 2d6+6)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +16)
    Constant—comprehend languages, detect magic, read magic, see invisibility
    4/day—dispel magic, legend lore, locate object, remove curse
    2/week—symbol of fear (DC 20), symbol of pain (DC 19), or symbol of persuasion (DC 20)

STATISTICS
Str 19, Dex 18, Con 16, Int 26, Wis 19, Cha 11
Base Atk +12; CMB +17; CMD 31 (35 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Combat Casting, Hover, Improved Critical (claw), Improved Initiative, Iron Will
Skills Bluff +14, Diplomacy +14, Fly +10, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (all) +12, Perception +21, Sense Motive +19, Spellcraft+16
Languages Common, Sphinx

ECOLOGY
Environment any desert (Scorched Lands)
Organization solitary, pair, or trio
Treasure none

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Gregaria Sphinx Poison (Ex) Sting—injury; save Fort DC 19; frequency 1/minute for 2 minutes; effect muted for 3 rounds; cure 1 save. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Gregaria Swarm (Ex) When a creature is affected by a gregaria sphinx’s poison there is a 50% chance that small maggots are implanted into its body, taking control of the host’s physical movements as the dominate person spell (CL 12th). Unlike the dominate person spell no save is triggered by forcing the target to attack an ally, and a creature so dominated can only take a standard and move action each turn. When a creature dies while under the mental effects of a gregaria sphinx’s poison, a plague locust swarm bursts from its corpse the next round (DC 16 Will save negates).

 

5E RULES

GREGARIA SPHINX
Large beast, Neutral
Armor Class 18 (+4 natural)
Hit Points 101 (12d10+36)
Speed 40 ft., fly 60 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
19 (+4) 18  (+4) 16  (+3) 20  (+5) 19  (+4) 11  (+0)

Saving Throws Con +6, Int +8, Wis +7
Skills Insight +7, Perception +7
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 17
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons, psychic
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened
Languages Common
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
Gregaria Sphinx Poison.  Description 1
Magical Strikes. All of a gregaria sphinx’s claw and stinger attacks are magical.
Spellcasting. A gregaria sphinx is an 8th-level spellcaster that uses Intelligence as its spellcasting ability (spell save DC 16; +8 to hit with spell attacks), though it can access two spells beyond the normal ken. A gregaria sphinx has the following spells prepared from the wizard spell list:
    Cantrips (at will):  mage hand, prestidigitation
    1st-level (4 slots): comprehend languages, detect magic
    2nd-level (3 slots): locate object, magic mouth, see invisibility
    3rd-level (3 slots): counterspell, dispel magic, remove curse
    5th-level (1 slot): legend lore
    7th-level (1 slot): symbol

ACTIONS
Multiattack. The gregaria sphinx makes two claw attacks and one stinger attack.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8+4) piercing damage.
Stinger. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6+4) piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 minute. If its saving throw result is 5 or lower, the poisoned target is compelled to attack its allies for the same duration, or until it is relieved of the poisoned condition or an ally pleads for the poisoned creature to stop (prompting the poisoned creature to make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw to shake off the effect). The poisoned target can repeat the saving throw on each of its turns as a simple action, ending the effect on itself on a success.

LEGENDARY ACTIONS
The gregaria sphinx can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The gregaria sphinx regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
Claw Attack. The gregaria sphinx makes one claw attack.
Activate Poison (Costs 2 actions). The gregaria sphinx may force a creature that has gained the poisoned condition from its stinger to attack one of the poisoned creature’s allies.
Cast a Spell (Costs 3 actions). The gregaria sphinx casts a spell from its list of prepared spells, using a spell slot as normal.

[Submitted by Tim Snow!]

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Wandering Wasteland: Sandy Gate

Sandy Gate mapSeeking out two establishments where a PRANKSTER’s coin is present, the PCs don’t turn up any leads, but on the third try their luck pays off—seeking out the aid of the locals in Ravine and succeeding on a DC 18 Diplomacy check reveals that a large group of the criminals were spotted heading north towards the Sea of Shards. Failure on this check means traveling back to the Parched Pilgrim and utilizing Kara the Sun Flea’s connections to the same effect.  

A 3 day trek across the Scorched Lands gets the PCs to the borders of the Sea of Shards, where the first of many ashen stalagmites rise from up ahead in the rolling dunes. If the party hurried or rushed out to the desert (without stopping to get aid from the Sun Flea) they arrive early enough to make a DC 23 Perception check and spot a group of two dozen P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings gradually headed away from Ravine. Otherwise after a day of journeying into the wastelands they start to find bodies of the ne’er-do-wells (a DC 15 Perception check every few miles); though some have been visibly slain with claws or some kind of piercing weapon, most appear to have dropped dead for no reason.

After another 3 days of tracking the criminals adventurers hear the din of combat near an area of the Sea of Shards known as the Sandy Gate. When they rush over the nearby sand hill they find 7 hirelings facing off with a trio of gregaria sphinx [Tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! —TS], two of which are unharmed (the last being at 46 hp). The creatures ignore the party until all of the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. are dead or one of the PCs attack them.

When the monsters are dealt with any surviving criminals flee into the Scorched Lands, trying to escape from the party. The P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. hirelings dash off into the Sea of Shards and if captured, may be coerced to reveal that the cabal is in league with some mutants from the fissures. The two groups were meant to meet and exchange a certain material with the transformed denizens of the wasteland, though what exactly they were to gather remains a mystery.

 

5E Rules

A DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings.
Use the “Bandit” statistics for the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Hirelings; there are a total of 18.
A DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check notices the corpses in the sands.

[Submitted by Tim Snow!]

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Wandering Wasteland: Kara the Sun Flea

kara-the-sun-flea_rick hersheyKARA THE SUN FLEA     CR 8
XP 4,800
Female human investigator 5/bard 4
NG humanoid (human)
Init +3; Senses; Perception +13

DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +2 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 54 (9d8+9)
Fort +3 (+7 vs. poison), Ref +11, Will +9
Defensive Abilities poison resistance +4

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk dagger +7/+2 (1d4, Crit 19-20/x2)
Ranged +1 hand crossbow +10 (1d4+1 plus drow sleep poison, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 20 ft.)
Special Attacks bardic performance 13/day (standard; countersong, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence +2, inspire courage +1), studied combat +2, studied strike +1d6
Investigator Extracts Prepared (CL 5th; concentration +7)
     2nd—invisibility, see invisibility, squeeze
     1st—negate aroma, stone fist, touch of the sea, true strike, urban grace
Bard Spells Known (CL 4th; concentration +7)
     2nd (2/day)—heroism, suggestion
     1st (4/day)—chord of shards, cure light wounds, disguise self, liberating command
     0th—dancing lights, detect magic, lullaby, mage hand, prestidigitation, sift

TACTICS
Before Combat Kara the Sun Flea avoids direct combat relying instead on others to do the fighting for her. When a situation becomes hostile she uses Spellsong and suggestion to manipulate potential enemies into attacking each other or otherwise leaving.
During Combat Kara takes cover and flees; when in an environment she is familiar with or when she has the tactical advantage, she uses her spells and poisoned crossbow bolts to render enemies unconscious (preferring to interrogate them before setting them free or bringing an end to their life).
Morale Kara is rather cowardly and flees when reduced to 30 hp or less.

STATISTICS
Str 10, Dex 16, Con 8, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 16
Base Atk +6; CMB +6; CMD 19
Feats Dodge, Greater Fortitude, Skill Focus (Perform [Act], Sense Motive), Spellsong, Toughness
Skills Acrobatics +11, Appraise +6, Bluff +18, Climb +4, Diplomacy +15, Disable Device +7, Disguise +7, Escape Artist +15, Heal +5, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (local) +14, Linguistics +6, Perception +13, Perform (act) +18, Sense Motive +16, Sleight of Hand +7, Spellcraft +8, Stealth +15, Survival +5, Swim +4, Use Magic Device +7
Languages Common, Dwarven, Elven, Undercommon
SQ alchemy, bardic knowledge, cantrips, inspiration (1d6, 6/day), investigator talents (empathy, underworld inspiration), keen recollection, mwk dagger, poison lore, swift alchemy, trapfinding, trap sense +1, versatile performance (Perform [act] for Bluff), well-versed
Combat Gear +1 hand crossbow (10 bolts poisoned with drow sleep poison), potion of alter self, potion of cure serious wounds, potion of feather fall, potion of haste, potion of spider climb; Other Gear +2 studded leather armor, 2,000 gold worth of platinum coins and gold coins

5E Rules

Use the “Spy” NPC from the Monster Manual.

 

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