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Foul Machinations Friday: Uralicans Uncut – Part One

vrag the gitwerc

Uralicans Uncut takes us back to Aventyr—when we last saw our intrepid heroes, their air ship struck a vacuum mine on the way out of Timeaus and instead of being destroyed, suffocated, or both, the party is sucked into the demiplane of Uklonjen. Danger abounds however, and they are immediately pulled down into a gravity well where they must face off against a dreaded tyngdekraften, a construct as strangely empowered as this new, low-gravity realm.

After the fight the PCs must navigate through Uklonjen using a crystal compass, following its trail to the Ancestral Gateway and, hopefully, back to Aventyr. Their route takes them straight through space infested with HEL spores and bloodcensers, nefarious psionic traps and haunts sure to harrow the crew. These hazards funnel the ship straight towards HEL’s Uklonjen gateway, bringing the adventurers to the notice of a truly dangerous foe, Vrag the Candlekeeper (along with a host of devils and his pet devilbound dinosaur). The gitwerc attempts to make the PCs’ vessel his own when it nears the gateway to HEL, but by ending the wretched creature’s existence the party brings an end to the portals infernal influence.

crystalBefore heading to the next gate, we showcase one of Adventureaweek.com’s artists, Jacob Blackmon and his beautiful illustrations.

As the PCs consult the crystal compass on where to go next, the ship’s power fades, forcing the vessel to land where the party meets the natives of this plane, the Uralicans. These psionic peoples offer their help in exchange for information about their home plane, lost to them for centuries. While money isn’t useful here, the Uralicans can trade items, such as the black pudding cloak, or offer assistance in returning power to the PCs’ ship. Psionically charged xyrx crystals can be altered by taking them to the Plane of Ooze and should power the ship, but the gateway to the Plane of Ooze has been sealed away, and the only access is through a ventilation shaft. As the party approaches the gateway, the remains of an ooze who tried to return home lie in wait at the sentient ooze haunt before they can finish their mission of altering the xryx crystals.

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Magic Item Monday (Macabre Manses): Jack-o-Lantern

jack-o-lantern11

Jack-o-Lantern
Aura strong necromancy; CL 15th
Slot none; Price 6,000 gp; Weight 5 lbs.

DESCRIPTION
This pumpkin has a frightening visage carved into the front of it and a light from inside casts flickering shadows across the walls.

When lit a jack-o-lantern projects shadows on the floor, walls and ceilings within 30 ft., all taking on the shape of the carving on the pumpkin. There are as many as 2d4+1 of these shadows projected. The projected shadows require a DC 18 Perception check to spot. Each of these shadows can make a melee touch attack vs. a single target with a +4 bonus, dealing 1 Strength damage on a successful hit (no save), and causing the target to be frightened for 1d4 rounds, or shaken for 1 round if a successful DC 15 Will Save is made. The shadow disappears after the attack, successful or not. The shadows can be destroyed by exposure to sunlight or the equivalent; when they have all attacked or been destroyed, the jack-o-lantern‘s light winks out.

The pumpkin itself can be physically destroyed (AC 5, 2 hp) but if it is physically destroyed, the light immediately goes out and a single shadow streams out of the pumpkin, attacking the jack-o-lantern’s destroyer. There is a 5% chance that shadow is a greater shadow.

Once lit, the pumpkins are active for 8 hours, and then they no longer function. They do not function in daylight.

HISTORY
DC 15     Bad things happen to those that disturb a jack-o-lantern.
DC 20     Jack-o-lanterns are often found near and around occult ceremonies.
DC 25     Jack-o-lanterns are deployed to guard their own.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements one pumpkin (5 lbs. or more), create undead, cause fear; Cost 3,000 gp

The Macabre Manse’s grounds have been liberally sprinkled with jack-o-lanterns—the mere sight of these keeps most at bay.

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Tribal Troubles: Gypsy Bag

Rune-bagGypsy Bag
Aura faint transmutation; CL 5th
Slot none; Price 12,600 gp; Weight 1 lb.

DESCRIPTION
This bag is generally made from cheap velvet or cotton made to look like silk. Simple embroidery, made to look like gold or silver, winds its way through the fabric in simple patterns.

Once per day, a gypsy bag can enchant a common item placed into it. Any item placed into the bag can be enchanted to act like a minor wondrous item of CL 3rd or below. Any item enchanted this way loses its potency in 24 hours, reverting to its mundane form. A small number of gypsy bags (1%) actually create a permanent magic item; after 5 uses however, it becomes inert. The 1% of gypsy bags that have this special property are not made any differently or made with different materials.

HISTORY
DC 15     Gypsy magic often disappears when an item crafted by the nomads leaves their territory.
DC 20     Gypsies are lucky in a way, often having a magic item to fit any need.
DC 30     It is said that a rich gypsy merchant once commissioned such a bag to be made. Rather than provide the standard shoddy materials, he gave the craftsman silk and golden thread; items made in this gypsy bag gained permanent enchantments.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Wondrous Items, bag and embroider thread, magic weapon (greater); Cost 6,300 gp

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And the MAPMASTER Contest Winner is….

Mapmaster contest winner Justin Andrew Mason's prize-winning map!

JUSTIN ANDREW MASON!

 

Congratulations Justin, you are the Mapmaster Contest winner! You’re getting a 6-month subscription to AdventureAWeek.com, 6 free PDF adventures, and are in queue to work on the upcoming Snow White Kickstarter! We are overjoyed to add you to the team. 😀

 

Thanks go out to everyone that participated; keep an eye out on the AaWBlog for future opportunities to join the dreaded AdventureAWeek Crew. In the meanwhile, enjoy the host of extra content for Twin Crossings (releasing this month)!

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Awkward Hands

Awkward HandsAwkward Hands     CR 7
XP 3,200
CN persistent haunt (40 ft. by 40 ft. copse of trees)
Caster Level 7th
Notice Perception DC 28 (to feel enveloped by slothful clumsiness)
hp 31; Trigger proximity (nearing the thief’s impromptu grave); Reset 1 day
Effect     When this haunt is triggered, the spirit of an unlikely and poorly skilled thief passes on the curse that plagued him his entire life. Its ghost manifests subtly, washing over one creature per round and forcing them to make a DC 20 Will save. Failure on this save makes the target clumsy, suffering a -4 penalty to Dexterity; they also treat both their hands as off-hands (if they have two-weapon fighting, only one is treated this way) and must spend a standard action to pull anything from their pack for the next seven days. Every day upon waking, the haunted creature is given another Will save to resist the effects of the haunt but the magic persists every day until the week ends or the haunt is destroyed.

Destruction     The bones of the clumsy thief must be retrieved from under the dirt, a tricky proposition at best. Handling them properly requires DC 15 Dexterity checks and the remains must have three consecutive cat’s grace cast upon them, and they bounce to avoid the magic (treat their effective touch AC as 15).

Adventure Hook     The wardens and scouts that travel through the region haven’t yet detected the haunt, and only recently learned of its effects—several of their number died from the haunting clumsiness and it’s been declared as a place to avoid until they have the resources to research that area of the territory. 

 

Do you have a chilling idea for a haunt or cursed item? Send it along to us at submit (at) adventureaweek.com, but please, bear the following in mind before you submit anything for review:

1. Anyone can submit an entry.
2. One entry per person at any one time. An entry must be your own work, not being published previously or considered by any other publisher, and it must original and not infringe upon copyrighted material.
3. All entries become property of Adventureaweek.com, LLP.
4. By submitting an entry you authorize the use of your name and likeness without additional compensation for promotion and advertising purposes in all media.
5. Adventureaweek.com, LLP reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this endeavor at any time without prior notice.
6. All decisions of Adventureaweek.com, LLP and their arbiters are final.
7. There is no compensation provided – any entries are given freely by their creators for use by Adventureaweek.com, LLP in perpetuity.
8. Your statblock must be properly formatted (compare to similar content on the AaWBlog for correct formatting).

 

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Draft of Distilled Magic

jar

Draft of Distilled Magic
Aura strong abjuration; CL 13th

Slot none; Price 3,400 gp; Weight 1 lb.

DESCRIPTION
This stout clay jar is filled with a heavy, thick liquid. In the sunlight its contents appear to be pinkish syrup, and in the reflection of the moon or torchlight it looks to be a frothy cyan beverage.

A creature that drinks a draft of distilled magic is able absorb a number of spell levels equal to their hit die. After drinking a draft of distilled magic, when the creature is next targeted by a spell, spell like-ability or supernatural effect, they automatically absorb it so long as they have at least as many hit die as the spell or spell-like ability’s level. The creature is then able to discharge the magical energies as a standard action at one target within 30 feet at any time within the next 24 hours. With a successful ranged touch attack, the discharged magic deals 1d6+1d6 per spell level force damage.
Only the first applicable spell targeting a creature that has imbibed a draft of distilled magic is absorbed (any additional un-absorbed levels are lost). For example, a 10th level fighter targeted by a ray of exhaustion absorbs 3 spell levels and can discharge a 4d6 ray of force damage; any subsequent spells targeting him are resolved normally.

HISTORY     A PC that makes a Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (history) check to learn more about the draft of distilled magic identifies the following fragments of lore:
DC 15     Tribal warriors save drafts of distilled magic over generations, using them to fight off the incursion of planar interlopers that have plagued their civilization for centuries.
DC 20     The Maxia tribe was once a great peoples that ruled a tract of hotly contested land against countless other forces. Their high mages developed these potions shortly before incurring disaster in the realm by garnering the attentions of entities far more powerful than themselves.
DC 25     Vysagodrix “the Ventilator” was the last great leader of the Maxia, and brought destruction upon his peoples. Before his death at the hands of the planar invaders, he performed a great ritual that insured his spirit would remain to impart knowledge upon the following generations.
DC 30     Every century a grand mage, tutored by the spirit of Vysagodrix, rises to power in the tribe and leads them in a deadly (and high casualty) combat to beat back the interlopers first summoned by the ghostly wizard.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, spell turning; Cost 1,700 gp 68 xp

 

 

Do you have an idea for an enchanted sword, arcane-empowered armor or unique magic item? Take a look at the submission rules and send a brief summary of your proposed enchanted item titled ‘Armory of Adventures submission’ to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with the following:

 

  • the nature of the item (weapon, armor or wondrous)
  • one or two sentences about its appearance
  • what the item in question does
  • the components and spell(s) used in its construction
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3 Ways to Play the Long Game

Image_Portfolio_1.14_Fantasy Butch Mapa 03Meaningful antagonists are often one of the lasting, remembering aspects of a story. While not always a simple thing to implement successfully, creating enemies that make an appearance in every arc of a campaign eventually becomes part and parcel to a GM’s toolbox.

If you’re starting from 1st level, try to keep things organic; have a grand plot in mind and provide strings that lead to it. Eventually the means to start these threads—a merchant, mercenary, noble, peasant or other NPC encountered by the party—will provide you with a rogue’s gallery that your players will remember and look out for. Keeping these characters alive is another matter entirely (and is sometimes downright impossible) but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring them back. As a matter of fact….

Undead Lord Spectre#1) Back and Better 
The hour you spent painstakingly crafting a critical NPC bit the dust when natural 1s and natural 20s defied probability.
These things happen—don’t panic.

Simply resurrecting an antagonist is always an option, but don’t count out reincarnation or other, less savory transformations. Not everyone needs to become a death knight, mind you, and you should take this opportunity to flex your creativity a bit. If there isn’t a template or other advancement option for that character’s next scheduled appearance, make one that fits your plot! The return of a nemesis will grab your players and with new, unexpected abilities, they’ll be a captive audience.

 

#2) Familiars 
There’s something like 70+ classes legal for 3.5 play that can grant a familiar, and plenty others in Pathfinder (there’s even an Advanced Rogue Talent for it). If none of those are  good for your villain (although they need not be villainous—see point #3). take a look at feats and the like.
The intelligent application of a familiar can allow the antagonist to act unseen and doesn’t have terrible repercussions if the creature is caught or destroyed. This also allows for scaling to occur at a rate equal to the party’s advancement, and unless you’ve played your hand too quickly, the PCs won’t be suspecting every single animal they see to be a potential spy (and if they get that paranoid, it’s probably time to lay off them a bit).

 

#3) Villainous Relativity 
What IS a villain? Is it always going to be Sauron, Morgan le Fay or Jafar from Aladdin?
This, of course, need not be the case.

Keep a list of extra names handy if you don’t have a talent for titling characters on the fly, and whenever an opportunity presents itself, have an NPC introduce themselves. Whenever plausible, have them make another appearance in the game.

003-the-boy-himself-q75-855x1373

Did the PCs really impress some maturing folks in the village  when they completed their last quest? Have one or two follow them about, emulating them—maybe the party likes them, or grows to compete with them. When things go awry, the NPC turns to resent the group and begins to act in concert against them with your chief antagonist.

What about the inadvertently maligned? The crooked merchant that profited from the thieves’ guild? The vengeful relatives of dead enemies? The offspring of murdered creatures?

Not every encounter needs to be a deeply meaningful and memory inspiring experience—that would defeat the purpose by diluting the overall effect—but if you can manage it, reoccurring NPCs will provide your game with a greater level of immersion.

Next time the PCs order a flagon, have Trevor Gralden, an inquisitive and polite new arrival to the town, bring it out to them; a year later, he might do the same in the armor of an antipaladin, but with chalices full of blood rather than ale.

 

Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays?  Send us your ideas (after reading the submission guidelines) to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with “Meta Thursday” in the subject line!

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Linen of the Chosen

mummy1__ryan_sumoLinen of the Chosen
Aura strong transmutation; CL 16th (3.5)/13th (PF)
Slot body; Price 318,276 gp; Weight 2 lbs.

DESCRIPTION
These worn cloths are yellowed from decaying and accumulating dirt over the course of centuries. They smell damp and vaguely of the dead, giving off an almost palpable aura of the unnatural.

When under the light of a full moon, anyone wearing the linen of the chosen finds their skin shrink, their organs constrict and their bodies wither as they transform into a mummy. The user’s type changes to undead, they gain darkvision 60 ft., damage reduction 5/—, and light blindness, all of their movement speeds decrease by 10 feet (minimum 5 feet), and they become vulnerable to fire. In addition, they also gain a slam attack as well as two supernatural abilities: mummy rot (Fort DC 10 + 1/2 HD + Charisma modifier) to all their natural attacks and an aura of despair (30 ft., paralyzed for 1d4 rounds, Will DC 10 + 1/2 HD + Charisma modifier).

These effects are the most apparent of the enchantments granted by linen of the chosen – whenever a creature wearing this activated magic item appears in direct sunlight the many cloth strands burst aflame (dealing 1d6 fire damage each round – Reflex DC 15 to put out while inside a shaded area). Moreover, while under the enchantments granted by linen of the chosen, the wearer is immune to aging (although any age penalties and bonuses upon transforming into a mummy remain). When removed, the user is restored to the same age they were when they first donned the linen of the chosenif the wearer is reduced to 0 hit points while under the effects of this magic item, their body turns to dust and the enchanted wrappings fall tothe ground. Any attempts to remove the linen of the chosen fail unless done under the light of a full moon. Even after they have been removed, however,the former wearer continues to suffer from light blindness until they have received a regeneration spell (this removes the light blindness for 24 hours).

HISTORY     A character that makes a Knowledge (nobility) or Knowledge (religion) check to learn more about linen of the chosen identifies the following fragments of lore:
DC 15     Linen of the chosen are often gifted to only the most talented and dedicated viziers or councilors, entombed with their ruler to further assist them in the afterlife (or ensure that their return is unimpeded). Unfortunately, many of these devoted servants grow mad as the centuries pass, prowling their prisons in search of an escape or something to vent their frustrations upon.
DC 20     More than one passing pharaoh has endeavored to extend their rule through the use of linen of the chosen, only to recoil from the almighty sun upon exiting their intended place of rest.
DC 25     These embittered undead reign on regardless, forming empires of shade that quickly turn as dark as the respite they offer to their denizens.
DC 30     The truly devout quickly gather to route these settlements, seeking to curb the affront to the realm and natural order before the next full moon while the truly mad seek them out to gain the linen of the chosen for themselves.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, polymorph any object (3.5) / greater age resistance and undead anatomy III (Pathfinder), the embalmed organs of a recently mummified corpse; Cost 159,138 gp 6,366 xp

Do you have an idea for an enchanted sword, arcane-empowered armor or unique magic item? Take a look at the submission rules and send a brief summary of your proposed enchanted item titled ‘Armory of Adventures submission’ to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with the following:

  • the nature of the item (weapon, armor or wondrous)
  • one or two sentences about its appearance
  • what the item in question does
  • the components and spell(s) used in its construction

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Feeding the AaWBlog – 5 Points of Nutrition

ink quillHave you noticed the gold pieces accumulating on your account?
Thinking about submitting some articles to the AaWBlog?
Awesome! We look forward to reading them!

Despite the voracity of the AaWBlog, however, it’s a surprisingly picky eater. To keep this monster well fed, quite a bit of preparation is required on my part and there’s a few things that stand out to me when I’m looking over its meals for the week.

If you want to contribute, give them a look!

 

#1) Consistency
This is number one on my list because it was the first thing that came to mind, probably because I find it terrifically annoying. I’m not even concerned if you’re wrong (most people misspell demiplane, for instance), I just want to see that you are consistent when you are wrong. Coming across multiple different spellings of a name is problematic and troublesome, but more than anything it says to me, “I did not revise this.”

#2) Stick to the Style
Editing can be time consuming but it does not have to be time consuming; a particularly well-written adventure of 20,000 words might be polished up inside of a day, whereas a sloppily composed piece of half that size takes the same amount of time. Adhering to style and formatting guidelines makes you more attractive as a writer and shows that you put time and effort into what you’ve submitted. 

Celurian-Wishing Pen

#3) Variation
“George slashed the dragon’s throat. He plunged his sword into its neck. His armor became covered in blood,” doesn’t read well. While accurate and possibly grammatically correct, it is extremely bland and monotonous. Break out the thesaurus and use less common words, and take the time to structure your sentences in an interesting and engaging way.

#4) Address the Text
Oftentimes I will leave a comment about something being confusing, only for the writer to message me directly and explain what they initially meant. That is not the purpose of the comment; its intent was to highlight that this or that part of your thought did not come through clearly when read. Fix the sentence to read differently, or add the information that didn’t initially come through. 

books#5) Have a Dialogue, not a Debate
Nobody likes being told what to do, especially when their creative content is concerned. The mistake that many writers make is assuming that when something is commented upon, it is  necessarily to remove or drastically change it. One of my favorite joys of this task is when a writer comes back from a remark about a plot hole or what have you, creating a wonderful, complimentary element that justifies both while genuinely improving the material.

Storytelling, no matter how it is done, is a collaborative effort; the group you playtest with, the folks who do layouts and the artists all have a hand in how your tale plays out (even in oratory, how a listener ultimately realizes what you’re describing—that’s collaboration). A voice or two guiding you along, refining your work, is a valuable tool not to be discarded.

 

Do you have a contribution or idea for Meta Thursdays?  Send us your ideas (after reading the submission guidelines) to submit(at)adventureaweek.com with “Meta Thursday” in the subject line!