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Strange Salve: Mage’s Game

Upon arriving on the docks of Mohkba, the note the PCs acquired during their passage across the river becomes noticeably warm and the next time it is looked upon or read, the adventurers find an address emblazoned on it: 531 Ripkorski Way.

Mage's GameTraveling through the metropolis isn’t easy for people new to Mohkba and finding the address on the note is difficult indeed. A DC 10 Knowledge (local) check or DC 13 Diplomacy check to gather information narrows it down to the Mariner’s Quarter, but only a result of 25 or higher (in either check) finds the place within the party’s first day there. For every additional day spent in the Mariner’s Quarter, grant PCs a cumulative +1 circumstance bonus to skill checks to find 531 Ripkorksi Way (located smack dab in the center of this part of the city).

After their first day in the city the party start to get glimpses throughout the day at more P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thugs but each time the dubious criminals utterly disappear around alleyway corners or the lips of rooftops, curiously leaving no tracks. Every day these sightings increase in frequency, generally becoming more and more common the closer adventurers get to the center of Mohkba’s Mariner’s Quarter. Even curiouser is the lack of knowledge most people have about the address the PCs are searching for—almost as if there is some great conspiracy going on, or as though the street the party is searching for wipes the memories of those who walk upon it.

When the PCs finally find 531 Ripkorski Way, read the following:

After no small bit of footwork you’ve acquired the directions to the address on the hitman’s note, carefully following them to a run down theater in the center of the Mariner’s Quarter. The street around it is similarly dilapidated and only the faded shadow of “531” appears beside the building’s ramshackle front doors. Further within its darkened interior are the vestiges of a far greater past, an eloquent room and hundreds of empty seats that have fallen into disrepair and inspire a sense of fear. Sitting in the center of a proscenium stage is a small, crooked hat, but otherwise the chamber is unremarkable, if unsettling.

mage's game theaterNothing happens until someone touches the hat (with a weapon, their hands, or magic) at which point an opsjena [tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday! -MM] appears, attacking the party! When the creature is defeated or one of the adventurers is brought below 0 hp, the monster disappears.

After defeating the creature, Jesker the Great—invisible and sitting up in the furthest seats from the stage—begins clapping, shouting, “well done!” and appears amidst the PCs in a puff of voluminous, brightly colored smoke. Before anyone can protest he doles out 2d4+4 potions of cure serious wounds and congratulates the party on their prowess and cunning, exclaiming that the stars truly were aligned and that they are indeed the ones he was waiting for.

Apologizing for his duplicity, the mage explains that he represents the Sideribus Volunt (a benevolent organization that opposes the chaos wrought by the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. at every turn) and that he requires truly devious and experienced adventurers to take the criminal cabal to task. The network of ne’er-do-wells are up to no good again, secretly transporting something into the city to undoubtedly nefarious ends. Jesker overstayed what little patience and welcome the metropolis had for him long ago, and he is well known to the society of thieves, actively opposed by their coterie of spellcasters. The mage is unable to act freely and stop the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S.; though the PCs are on their radar the adventurers still have some level of mobility and can strike back without the whole of Mohkba’s city watch responding in force. Worse yet, he suspects the disappearance of Ullast has something to do with the criminal network and that their presence in Mohkba is related.

Jesker the GreatThough it will take him some considerable doing, Jesker promises the PCs each 5,000 gold pieces and one limited wish provided by the Sideribus Volunt should they bring an end to the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. current plot, offering up half of the gold up front to fund their mission. After the party accepts the deal, he tells them of the latest shipment his informants have discovered, one arriving in the docks adjacent to the Trade Yard a few hours before the next sunrise. Unfortunately the wizard doesn’t know any more than that, unable to pierce through the cabal’s magical defenses to find out more.

If a PC falls while fighting the opsjena the creature disappears in a puff of smoke and the party fails the mage’s game. Jesker the Great doesn’t reveal himself just yet, cunningly sending them on various smaller quests until he feels they are prepared for the dangers ahead.

5E Rules

Finding out that address on the note is somewhere in the Mariner’s Quarter requires a DC 8 Intelligence (Knowledge [local]) check or DC 11 Charisma (Persuasion) check. The initial DC to narrow down the exact location of 531 Ripkorski Way is 20, and PCs gain a cumulative +2 bonus to skill checks to find it each day they spend in the Mariner’s Quarter.

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Strange Salve: P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thug

P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thug Image_Portfolio_1.13_Fantasy Rudolf Montemayor 06

P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. THUG      CR 2
XP 600
Half-orc slayer 3
CN Medium humanoid (human, orc)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5

AC 17, touch 11, flat-footed 16 (+6 armor, +1 Dex)
hp 30 (3d10+9)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +0
Defensive Abilities orc ferocity

Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk kukri +10 or +8/+8  (1d4+3, Crit 18-20/x2)
Ranged dagger +7 (1d4+3, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 20 ft.)
Special Attacks sneak attack +1d6, studied target +1

Before Combat The P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thugs gradually move to surround the doorways leading into and out of the room the party is in. If possible, each chooses a different studied target.
During Combat Using flanking, P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thugs cut opponents down with critical hits from their kukri, sneak attack damage, and the studied target class ability.
Morale When reduced to 5 hp or less, a P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thug briefly retreats to drink their potion of cure moderate wounds, returning to the fight as soon as possible. The second time they are damaged this severaly, a P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thug leaps into the water, swimming as far away while submerged as their lungs allow before activating their inflating gauntlets.

Str 16, Dex 13, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 12
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 17
Feats Double Slice, Power Attack, Two-Weapon Fighting
Skills Acrobatics +7, Bluff +7, Climb +7, Intimidate +3, Perception +5, Sense Motive +5, Stealth +7, Survival +3,Swim +7; Racial Modifiers +2 Intimidate
Languages Klavek, Orc
SQ slayer talent (ranger combat style [Two-Weapon Fighting], track
Gear potion of cure moderate wounds; Other Gear inflating gauntlets [tomorrow’s Magic Item Monday! –MM], mwk breastplate, mwk kukri (2), daggers (5), 42 gold


5E Rules

Use the “Spy” entry from the Monster Manual but grant each P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thug half-orc racial traits (darkvision 60 ft., Relentless Endurance, and Savage Attacks) as well as a potion of healing.

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Strange Salve: Ambush on the Water

By the time the PCs arrive to catch their boat 2 hours after the sun rises, the remainder of the ships in the pier are gone and the only viable option for crossing the river into Mohkba is their chartered vessel; any enterprising adventurers that show up early in an attempt to book other passage, are rebuffed as readily as they were the previous night. Though the party didn’t learn the name of Mazidri’s boat, it’s easy to find—there’s only one ship on the docks, the Sorrowful Plug. As the PCs climb aboard read the following:

Despite the warmth of summer, a cold wind rolls down the Mohkba River as you walk down one of Enixam’s rickety wooden piers and toward the only ship in sight: the Sorrowful Plug. One of its sailors hollers in the ship’s direction, prompting Mazidri to appear from below deck. “Greetings, friends!” he says, clearly in a more chipper mood than late last night. “Please, come aboard, file in; down the steps and into the room under the masthead, if you would.”

ambush on the water pirateThere’s certainly something strange afoot; PCs that succeed a DC 17 Sense Motive check can discern that the 8-man crew of sailors don’t seem exceptionally familiar with the vessel. If questioned about it, Mazidri explains that they are new crew as his previous employees have since retired—an opposed check against his Bluff +10 reveals that “retired” is an extremely cunningly chosen word—but a result of 22 or higher on the initial check reveals that the workers on the Sorrowful Plug are clearly not sailors at all (PCs receive a circumstance bonus to the initial check equal to half their ranks in Profession [sailor]).

A DC 13 Perception check recognizes that aside from Mazidri, every one of the sailors is a half-orc. Though that might seem strange, a DC 12 Knowledge (local) check confirms that it’s actually the norm in Eximan; a result of 20 or higher on this check, however, notices that they all have visible tattoos of various kinds, each conforming subtly to one emblematic style that matches with the motif of one of the town’s thieves’ guilds.

The Sorrowful Plug leaves port 1d4+1 minutes after the party climbs aboard, giving the adventurers some time to mingle and get their bearings on the vessel. Interactions with the crew are extremely short but with every passing minute Mazidri becomes more and more nervous, noticeably so with a successful Sense Motive check (DC 20 – 2 per previous check). When confronted he quietly reveals that his former crew was murdered, replaced by ruffians early last night—any refusal on his part would have meant an instant death.

Ambush on the Water top side finalOnce the boat is moving the PCs have 1d4+1 minutes of sailing away from Enixam before the false sailors launch their ambush on the water. Parties that have already uncovered the trap and heard Mazidri’s confession are able to move about the vessel and prepare themselves for the inevitable battle, but otherwise, the adventurers are in for a surprise when the 8 P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R. Thugs attack! [Tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday, folks! –MM]

When the last blade is sheathed and the corpses of these brigands are thoroughly searched, the PCs find a cryptic note. The code is nearly impossible to break with only this message (a DC 34 Linguistics check) but any Aventyr adventurer worth their salt easily recognizes the symbol of a much larger organization: the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. criminal cabal. Once they reach the shores of Mohkba an address magically appears on the parchment, but otherwise it remains inaccessible even to magic[The contents of the note are a secret to everyone for now—keep an eye out in future posts for more clues and remember the party has it! -MM]

Ambush on the Water below deck final

5E Rules

Realizing that the sailors on the Sorrowful Plug aren’t familiar with the ship requires a DC 13 Wisdom (Insight) check. A result of 18 or higher recognizes that they are not sailors at all (any PC with the sailor background gains advantage on this check).

A DC 10 Wisdom (Awareness) check reveals that all of the sailors are half-orcs. A DC 10 Intelligence (Knowledge [local]) check notifies a PC that this is quite common in Enixam; a result of 17 or higher makes the connection to the town’s thieves’ guilds.

Noticing Mazidri’s nervousness after the ship is away from the docks requires a Wisdom (Insight) check (DC 17 – 1 per previous check).

A DC 25 Intelligence check deciphers the note.

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Strange Salve: Baroness Grandaj

Baroness GrandajBARONESS GRANDAJ     CR 6
XP 2,400
Female human ogrekin barbarian 4 (invulnerable rager)/brawler 2
N Medium humanoid (giant, human)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +6

AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +5 natural)
hp 64 (4d12+2d10+22)
Fort +10, Ref +6, Will +0
DR 2/—

Speed 40 ft.
Melee unarmed +14/+9 or +12/+12/+7 (1d6+7)
Special Attacks brawler’s flurry, rage 13 rounds/day, martial flexibility 4/day

During Combat Baroness Grandaj enters into a rage and relentlessly attacks an enemy until they have been knocked unconscious or killed before moving on to the next foe. Typically she uses martial flexibility to gain Power Attack, Improved Trip, or Boar Style.
Morale Once her ire is raised, Baroness Grandaj fights to the death.
Rage Statistics While raging, Baroness Grandaj gains 12 temporary hp and her statistics are AC 16; Fort +12, Will +2; unarmed +16/+11 or +14/+14/+9 (1d6+9); CMB +15; CMD 28

Str 25, Dex 14, Con 17, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +6; CMB +13; CMD 26
Feats Combat Expertise, Dodge, Improved Unarmed Strike[B], Mobility[B], Spring Attack[B], Weapon Focus (unarmed strike)
Skills Acrobatics +11, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (local) +4, Knowledge (nobility) +4, Perception +6, Sense Motive +5, Survival +5, Swim +11
Languages Klavek
SQ brawler’s cunning, deformities (thick skin, weak mind), extreme endurance, fast movement, invulnerability, martial training, rage powers (guarded stance, no escape), unarmed strike
Gear none

Once the shame of Mohkba royalty, Baroness Grandaj rose to a rank worthy of some respect after being granted control of the misfits of the capital settled across the river in the town of Enixam. Now that her confidence has returned she seeks a means to permanently fix her misshapen features to something more pleasant, so eager to return to the Klavek Kingdom’s finest city that she quickly flies into a rage when one of her attempts falls short.

5E Rules

For the simplest, easiest to run encounter, use the Gladiator NPC with the following changes: AC 14 (natural), no spear attack or shield, rename shield bash to unarmed strike (retaining all statistics) and allow its use three times per round, no parry. [Mick Hand’s sensible suggestion! -MM]

Baroness Grandaj
Female half-orc barbarian 4/monk 3
N Medium humanoid (half-orc)
Senses darkvision 60 ft.

Init +2
HP [62 total]
Hit Dice 7 (4d12/3d8)
AC 14 (10 + 2 Dex + 2 Con)
Proficiency Bonus +3
Speed 40 feet
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 8

Melee martial arts +7 or +7/+7 w/bonus action or +7/+7/+7 w/bonus action and ki or bonus action and rage (1d4+4 bludgeoning)
Proficiencies Light armor, medium armor, shields, simple weapons, martial weapons
Saving Throws Strength, Dexterity, Constitution
Class Skill Proficiencies Acrobatics, Athletics, drums, Intimidation, Perception
Half-Orc Abilities menacing (proficiency with Intimidation), relentless endurance 1/day, savage attacks
Barbarian Abilities rages 2 (1 minute; rage damage +2, advantage Strength checks/saves, resist all damage but psychic), unarmored defense, reckless attack, danger sense, primal path: animal totem (bear), ability score improvement (Str +1, Wis +1)
Monk Abilities unarmed defense, martial arts, 3 ki points (flurry of blows, patient defense, step of the wind; DC 12), unarmored movement, monastic training: way of the open hand (Dexterity or prone, Strength or push 15 ft., no reactions), deflect missiles 1d10+5

Background (noble)
position of privilege, skill proficiencies (History, Persuasion), tool proficiency (gambling dice)
Languages Klavek, Orc, Undercommon

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Strange Salve: Baroness Grandaj’s Estate

Baroness Grandaj's EstateAfter finally reaching Enixam with the curative from Dockmaster Casta [stay tuned to the next Meta Thursday and Magic Item Monday! –MM] the adventurers may have some time on their hands but are more likely to deliver the concoction to its recipient as quickly as possible. Upon reaching the town the PCs can find the location of Baroness Grandaj’s estate with a DC 12 Diplomacy or Knowledge (local) check. A result of 18 or higher on either of these checks yields more than her location, however; Baroness Grandaj is in fact of noble blood but dubious birth and keen to strike two birds with one stone, the royalty of Mohkba gave her this settlement (a semblance of control) while clearing their own streets of “undesirables” (the disfigured, lepers, and half-breeds).
When the PCs reach Baroness Grandaj’s Estate she is taciturn and rude, only becoming polite and warming once she knows the adventurers have the strange salve in hand. When she opens the door and invites the party inside, read the following:

The door to the front of the baroness’ home is much older than the rest of the structure and though clearly quite sturdy, it shakes jarringly as something is pulled away from the inside before it opens up to reveal the interior. A rich crimson rug sits on the floor with stools on either side, and a deep, pleasant, loud female voice booms, “please come in, come in. I have been expecting you and there are refreshments prepared.” Your host remains hidden behind the door until you walk inside, at which point you find one of the largest and ugliest women you have ever seen—you have to wonder what part of her isn’t human.

She takes no time greeting the guests, merely getting the entire party into her home before shutting the door (hardness 7, 120 hp) and placing a 730 pound (5 inches x 5 inches x 6 feet long) lead bar across it; only a DC 25 Strength check moves it (one PC can provide direct aid to the ability check). Baroness Grandaj leaves the adventurers, disappearing into her bath for 1d4+3 minutes to apply the mixture brought all the way from Drak’kal.
baroness grandaj's estate - frosted windowWhen the party realizes that though the ruler of the settlement has locked them inside and an attempt to breach or tamper with one of the frosted windows is made, the glass gradually cools for 1 round before becoming absolutely frigid, dealing 1d10+2 cold damage to any creature within 5 feet. Creatures that attack the frosted windows (hardness 6, 10 hp) with spells or weapons trigger the same effect, though the instant a frosted window takes damage it becomes covered in an inch of ice (hardness 4, 10 hp).
Exploring the rest of the building, the adventurers find a table in the southwest room resplendent with luxurious foods from across the river; there is a 30% chance it is fresh, but otherwise it is 1d4-1 days (minimum 1) stale. The northwest room has a simple kitchen and the stairs in the main room lead down to a dry storage room.

Whether or not the adventurers reached Enixam before the salve lost its potency is immaterial; she wouldn’t know either way and though at first it seems to work, it isn’t a lasting solution. If the mixture hasn’t expired she bursts from the bathroom with only a towel on, overjoyed, hugging the PCs vigorously. Otherwise, she is extremely angry. Read the following when the curative fails Baroness Grandaj:

A deafening “NOOOOO!” rips from the huge chest of Baroness Grandaj and her enormous bulky form seems to surge as her face melts ever so slightly. “You have failed me like the others and will suffer the same fate!”

Only a DC 28 Diplomacy check keeps the ruler of Enixam from losing her temper and attacking the party, and after 1d4+1 rounds escaping from the building becomes a dangerous prospect. Her scream brings the attention of the settlement’s citizens and they look in from outside, screaming threats at the PCs for what they’ve done and that if Baroness Grandaj is killed, the adventurers are next!
At this point subduing the enraged woman [statblock tomorrow, I swear! -MM] is the only viable option and there are a number of ways to do it; the use of magic is obvious, but as she’s effectively naked even PCs not using weapons that are designed for the task should be able to hit her (even with the -4 penalty to attack rolls for using a lethal weapon to deal nonlethal damage).

After being reduced to near unconsciousness (within 8 hp) Baroness Grandaj relents and calms, apologizing for the outburst and giving the adventurers what bit of the mixture remains [Monday, Monday, Monday! -MM] along with the rest of their payment for delivery: 2,000 gold.


5E Rules

Finding the location of Baroness Grandaj’s estate requires a DC 10 Charisma (Persuasion) check or DC 10 Intelligence (knowledge [local]) check.

Lifting the lead bar barring the exit takes a DC 25 Strength (Athletics) check.

Calming Baroness Grandaj requires a DC 25 Charisma check (Persuasion).

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Strange Salve: Klavek Fogwarden and Juju Zombie Moose

klavek fogwarden and zombie mooseThe snarling of its undead moose mount is unsettling enough, but the very air around this wispy creature crackles with electric death, setting your hairs on end.

XP 3,200
Fogwarden cleric 2
NE Medium aberration
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +9
Aura fear (30 ft., DC 14)

AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 12 (+2 deflection, +5 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 55 (8d8+16)
Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +9
Defensive Abilities electricity discharge (3d6 electricity, DC 13 Reflex halves for magical weapons); DR 10/magic; Immune cold, combat maneuvers, electricity, poison
Weakness vulnerability to sunlight

Speed fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Special Attacks animate dead, channel negative energy 5/day (DC 13, 1d6), lightning bolt (30 ft. line, DC 16, 3d6 electricity, usable every other round)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 2nd, concentration +4)
at will—animate dead
5 rounds/day—speak with animals

Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 5th, concentration +6)
1st—bane, calm animals, entropic shield, obscuring mist
0th—bleed, detect magic, guidance, virtue
Domain animal

Str 13, Dex 21, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 15
Base Atk +4; CMB —; CMD —
Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Flyby attack
Skills Fly +16, Intimidate +9, Perception +9, Sense Motive +6, Stealth +17 (+21 to move silently, +27 to hide in fog or mist); Racial Modifiers +4 to Stealth to move silently, +10 to Stealth to hide in fog or mist
Languages Auran, Common, Infernal
SQ aura, gaseous form



XP 1,200
NE Large undead
Init +7; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +9

AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +6 natural, –1 size)
hp 14 (4d8-4)
Fort +2, Ref +7, Will +3
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; DR 5/magic and slashing; Immune cold, electricity, magic missile, undead traits; Resist fire 10

Speed 40 ft.
Melee gore +8 (2d6+6), 2 hooves +3 (1d8+3) or slam +8 (1d8+9)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks powerful charge (gore, 2d8+9)

Str 23, Dex 17, Con —, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 7
Base Atk +3; CMB +10; CMD 23 (27 vs. trip)
Feats Endurance, Improved Initiative, Run, Toughness
Skills Climb +14, Perception +9; Racial Modifiers +8 Climb


5E Rules

Medium aberration, neutral evil
AC 13
Hit Points 31 (7d8)
Speed 0 ft., fly 40 ft.
STR 10 (+0), DEX 17 (+3), CON 10 (+0), INT 13 (+1), WIS 15 (+2), CHA 14 (+2)
Saves: Advantage on Str, Dex & Con saves
Damage Resistances all non-magical damage
Damage Immunities lightning, necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained
Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, blindsight 60 ft. passive Perception 16
Skills Stealth +5
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)
Languages Common, Undercommon
Incorporeal Movement. The Klavek fogwarden can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. It takes 5 (1d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.

Animate Corpse. The electricity emanating from a Klavek fogwarden can animate a single dead, dying, or unconscious creature up to Huge size within 20 feet, turning them into what looks like a zombie. Corpses raised this way are under the Klavek fogwarden’s electrical control, but are not undead (and cannot be turned or rebuked). When the Klavek fogwarden is slain or moves more than 20 feet from the animated corpse or animates a different corpse, the animated corpse collapses and cannot be animated by the Klavek fogwarden a second time. Use the spell description for animate object for the statistics for the animated corpses except that they return their normal—non-magical—movement rates and types (fly speed, climb speed, swim speed, burrow speed etc). As a bonus action, the Klavek fogwarden controls the animated corpse’s movement and action.
Innate Spellcasting. The fogwarden’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 14, +7 to hit with spell attacks) . It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will witch bolt (damage 2d12 lightning per round, concentration)
3/day fog cloud (radius 40 ft., concentration), chromatic orb (lightning version only, damage 4d8), lightning bolt (damage 8d6)


Large construct, neutral
AC 10
Hit Points 50
Speed 40 ft.
STR 14 (+2), DEX 10 (+0), CON 10 (+0), INT 13 (+1), WIS 15 (+2), CHA 14 (+2)
Damage Immunities lightning, necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, blindsight 60 ft, passive perception 16
Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Antlers or Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target.
Hit: 14 (2d10+2) slashing damage.


[Pathfinder builds by Tim Snow! Thanks goes out to Mick Hand for the 5E conversions of these two great monsters!]
Artwork by Sara Shijo!