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AaWBlog Adventure Path: Duty in Drak’kal to Strange Salve

This year’s AaWBlog Adventure Path got off to a great start last month and today we’re bringing it all together so you folks can get a feel for the big picture before we push on through to June!


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The PCs hear about a lucrative position as tax collectors gathering funds in the junction town of the Three Sisters to help it recover from the destruction wrought in Disaster in Drak’kal (subscriber link). When they arrive in the settlement, however, a dangerous mob has collected outside of the Dockmaster’s house, led by a bruiser of a rabblerouser!Adventurer's Weekly #5 finalAfter resolving the situation (perhaps with words rather than steel) the adventurers are hired on by Antonio Casta, given merchant’s monickers and the right to collect taxes from the citizens of Drak’kal. Unfortunately it’s not so simple as going door to door! The animals that escaped from the Broztavya Circus and died in Drak’kal before they could be recaptured still linger on as dangerous spirits, and in the case of one particular little beast, live on but have become far more dangerous! To assuage some of the merchants the party is made to explore the sewers of Drak’kal and in the damaged tunnels they find a former organ grinder, the dangerously mischievous bard monkey! For their efforts PCs receive the cooperation of the traders, as well as a temper rod in the event some of their other tax collections go awry.

Collecting the duties of the town isn’t all grimy glory though, and the party might try their hand at laboring away in the Drak’kal Tax Office. Not all of their predecessors met with the adventurer’s kind of success and some still haunt the place (making even visiting the building a dubious proposition) but for the studious or academically inclined, it can be an effective way to fulfill Dockmaster Casta’s tasks; not all of the previous tax collectors left behind an angry legacy though, and the customs trap could prove to be a boon as well.

Like in much of the Klavek Kingdom the echoes of the past can still be a detriment in Drak’kal, though what troubles are to come will occupy the PCs’ attention more than the land’s history. One of the biggest debts on the list belongs to Lightning Stokva and collecting it from the local hero is a little more complicated than writing him a ticket—recently his companions were slain in a botched raid on a monster’s lair and he’ll only pay up after the party has killed the final beast.

Once the adventurers are in his confidence they receive Lightning Stokva’s peacock helm as a personal thank you, and he tells them of something more disturbing than docks in need of repair. His cousin Issa is a refugee from the settlement of Ullast (one of the only residents from the disappeared town) and her flight to Drak’kal has left her so traumatized that when she sleeps her nightmares become real. The hero thinks that collecting her belongings, those she forgot in the warehouse where she first slept once she reached the city, will bring the poor lass some solace.

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Within the structure the PCs don’t run into the gang that ran her out, but find instead some corpses and a truly horrifying creature (from which a canny alchemist can make a dangerous concoction): a mysterious, malfunctioning skurgxon!



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The trail of Issa’s trek to Drak’kal ran across Enixam and when their jobs as tax collectors in Drak’kal come to an end, Dockmaster Antonio Casta offers them a princely sum to travel across the Klavekian grasslands to deliver an important curative to the baroness that rules over the capital’s undesirable twin. At some point or another the PCs have to cross over the Mohkba River* (which can be quite a task even during these warm summer months) and worse yet, a new type of extremely aggressive beast* now prowls the waterway. Some treasure lay in the thing’s gullet (or the means to find more!), though large creatures aren’t the only danger that besets the party during this part of their journey!

On the other side of the waterway the adventurers come across a very strange moose* that is much more than it seems and while it may help them on the way to Enixam, ultimately the creature seeks more than good company*. Before reaching another site of death the party finds a corpse curiously covered in metal needles—clever PCs can recover valuable footwear from it, though they may come to regret disturbing the body at all—until finally reaching the leper city after traversing the natural graveyard (a place the land itself compels them to enter).
*Sidequest Saturdays and Statblock Sundays on the AaWBlog now feature additional rules for players using 5E!


Keep on stopping by through 2015 to see where this year’s AaWBlog Adventure Path is headed!
As always, thanks for reading!


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Story Locale (Duty in Drak’kal): Klavekian Grasslands

Winters on the Klavekian Grasslands last seven to nine months, but temperatures vary beteen −40°F to 96°F throughout the year. The summers are short but sometimes even hot, with plant life exploding as if to make up for a whole year in but a few weeks. Winds are fierce on the grassy plains in the Klavekian lowlands, with gusts often blowing upwards of 25–55 mph.

During the spring, the permafrost the Klavekian Grasslands sits upon thaws just enough to let plants grow and reproduce, though the ground below it stays frozen, so the water can’t sink low, and instead forms streams, lakes and marshes found during the snowless months.

jack holliday klavek plainsRivers of the Klavekian Grassland flow over the same permafrost, so they erode their banks rather than the bottoms, drying out after the end the of the thawing period and leaving few traces behind them until next spring. They usually consist of countless channels and can be difficult to cross.

Most of the permanent rivers freeze to the bottom in some places, and in some cases water breaks the ice and then freezes on top of it—these ice plugs, called naled in the region, often don’t melt until the next autumn. If this happens on the important Serpent Tail River, which connects the Klavekian mainlands to the Serpent Lake, it’s a major obstacle for trade, so the government sends spellcasters to remove them with magical fire. Travel is not easy in these times of the year, and sometimes there are casualties in spite of these magical efforts. Locals want the magicians to be permanently located near their villages, or at least for the duration of winter, but their protests have fallen on deaf ears.

As soon as the snow melts the “Klavekian Pervenets” (“The Firstborn”) grows up thickly around the rivers and lakes, announcing the start of the growing season after the winter is gone. Its juice has a sweet taste, but leaves blisters and sores on the skin that ache for months and has a 50% chance of lowering a creature’s Dexterity score by one point until magically healed with a restoration. The people of the Three Sisters extract a form of sweet sugar out of it, and also distill wine that produces wonderful dreams after just one or two glasses. The dreams can carry portents sometimes; there is a 5% chance per glass drunk (up to a maximum of 15%), that the drinker can use augury as a spell-like ability (CL 3rd) immediately after waking up. Regardless, the next morning the drinker feels miserable and is nauseated for three hours per glass imbibed (no save). Strangely, the juice and wine distilled out of Klavekian Pervenets loses its potency after only three days, so transporting it to larger markets is a huge challenge.

Even better known in Klavek is the plant that appears shortly after the Firstborn, but keeps growing in huge patches until late autumn—Talgana. This truly giant herb reaches up to 11½ feet in height, a remarkable example of the famously tall forms of Klavek flora. In autumn, the stems can hide a wooly rhino easily, and inside the thickets the sun and skies are hidden by broad leaves that bears through to create sorts of tunnels. Talgana leaves are soft and its stems are easy to move apart with hands or a stick, and its young sprouts are edible, so much so that for large omnivorous mammals (mostly more ursine) they are a remedy against hunger in the early summer when there are neither berries nor fish to eat. During the winter, with snow on their umbels, these giant plants look like exotic trees, and numerous stories for children link them to fairies (though sages have yet to prove any connection). Upstanding Talgana continue to persist until the full burden of the winter arrives, causing them to collapse under the weight of excessive snow.

klavekian grasslands floraAside from these endemic plants, the Klavekian Grasslands support numerous other species of rare flora, particularly grasses, herbs, and shrubs. These shrublands are difficult to cross, rife with bugs and other insects in summer, but they are a much better place than the neighboring regions for surviving the winter (making them popular sources of shelter for wildlife).

One of the world’s largest herds of moose breeds in the Klavekian Grasslands and there are three kinds of elk living here, from the smaller normal elks up to the river elk and then onto the megaloceras, but all in all the region is known for its megafauna. Vast herds travel the flatland, most of them following the seasons by going north in spring and south in autumn. They are followed by predators like smilodons or ice trolls in most cases, but there are exceptions to the hunting techniques used by these creatures.

One of the greatest predators in the Klavekian Grasslands is the addanc, which lives like a beaver and builds dams; when prey tries to cross the water in its territory, it attacks like a crocodile. The various oozes of the region, most notably the grey ooze, the glacial ooze, and the white pudding, also tend to be lurking hunters. However, the king of the region is the one-eyed frostwurm, which even attacks herds of mammoth—the massive beast radiates cold, is 35 feet long, and weighs 8,000 pounds.

Other strange hunters include flightless Ahlinni-birds or hunting parties of Mimi. The sole fairy of the Klavekian Grasslands, they keep villages in the nearby forests but roam the plains for prey. The fogwarden, aberrations that look like fog taking a humanoid form, wander the mists of the region and the sight of their ice blue eyes has doomed more than one adventurer who thought themselves predator, not prey.

woolly mammothPlace of interest
One of the few permanent lakes in the Klavekian Grassland is Lake Voltaran, an enormous flooded volcanic caldera where more than a million salmon gather and spawn every year. The water is warm and doesn’t freeze in winter due to volcanic activity—or a quasi-dormant gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire, depending on what sage you are listening to. The huge body of water is a lifesaver for many species in the dead of winter, be they prey or predator, but it is also a hunting ground for very dangerous monsters; travelers are wise to avoid it if their lives don’t depend on its warmth.

Below are hyperlinks with annotated citations to several publications by other companies.
B1               Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 1 by Paizo Publishing
B2              Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 2 by Paizo Publishing
B3              Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary 3 by Paizo Publishing
PPC: AA   Pathfinder Player Companion: Animal Archive by Paizo Publishing
P 31           Pathfinder Adventure Path #31: Stolen Land (Kingmaker 1 of 6) by Paizo Publishing
ToHC        Tome of Horrors Complete by Frog God Games
BoB           Book of Beasts: Monsters of the River Nations by John Brazer Enterprises

Table 1-1: Klavek Plains Random Encounters

d% Name CR
1-5 Mimi (fey)[ToHC] 1
6-9 Elk[B3] 1
10-14 Lynx[ToHC] 2
15-20 River Elk[P 31] 2
21-33 Herd Animal, Moose[PPC:AA] 3
34-37 Tiger[B1] 4
38-42 Gray Ooze[B1] 4
43-46 Ahlinni (flightless bird)[ToHC] 4
47-50 Bison[B1] 4
51-53 Ice Troll[B2] 4
54-56 Megaloceros (giant elk)[B2] 4
57-60 Brown Bear[B1] 4
61-65 Smilodon, Homotherium[ToHC] 5
66-68 Fogwarden[ToHC] 5
69-72 Oliphant[ToHC] 6
73-77 Glacial Ooze[ToHC] 6
78-82 White Pudding[ToHC] 6
83-85 Addanc[BoB] 7
86-89 Mastadon[B1] 9
90-92 Rhino, Wooly[ToHC] 10
93-95 Mammoth[ToHC] 10
96-97 Frost Worm[B2] 12
98-99 Mastadon, Greater[ToHC] 13
100 Elasmotherium (giant wooly rhino)[ToHC] 13
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Weird Wednesday (Duty in Drak’kal): Rapacious Bags

rapacious bags hauntRapacious Bags     CR 3
XP 800
LN haunt (15 ft. by 5 ft. alleyway)
Caster Level 3rd
Notice Perception DC 23 (to hear the metal jangling of coins)
hp 6; Weaknesses susceptible to silver weapons; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 minute

Effect When the rapacious bags haunt is triggered, spectral bags of jingling ghostly coins follow creatures within its area, growing so loud that they subtly drown out the noise of anything else and cause deafness for 2d6+2 minutes (DC 13 Fortitude negates). After 3 rounds a deafened creature makes a DC 12 Will save or falls asleep for 1d4 rounds and immediately experiences troubling dreams of being eaten by unnatural creatures.
Creatures that make their Perception check to notice the haunt see and hear the rapacious bags, but otherwise they are invisible and silent.

Destruction Bringing an end to the rapacious bags haunt requires finding out the source of the apparition with a DC 14 Knowledge (local) check to know of Galdr Bartsa the tax collector and where his remains might be found, or a DC 14 Diplomacy check to gather the information from citizens of Drak’kal. Galdr’s skeleton must be found (a DC 14 Survival check), anointed with holy water, and buried in a cemetery. When found, Bartsa’s skeleton is oddly scorched by acid—a DC 14 Spellcraft check recognizes it is from a skurgbomb.

Adventure Hook Tax collectors have been subjected to several extremely vicious ends in Drak’kal, and the rapacious bags are a remnant of one of these impromptu public lynchings. In this particular instance, the poor soul of Galdr Bartsa was locked in an enclosed metal box, batted at with swords for hours until his ear drums exploded. Left without his hearing and unable to take refuge in the city, he wandered northwest of Drak’kal where beasts waylaid him not long after.

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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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Magic Item Monday (Duty in Drak’kal): Skurgbomb

skurgbomb - Celurian-Bottle of LiniumSkurgbomb

Aura faint conjuration; CL 3rd
Slot none; Price 420 gp; Weight

A bronze holder encases this gold-stoppered bottle, its contents obscured by smoked glass.

A skurgbomb is filled with the ethereal digestive juices of a skurgxon and anathema to all creatures (living, dead, or otherwise). Skurgbombs are splash weapons that deal 1d8+2 acid damage on a direct hit; this acid ignores acid resistance and immunity. Creatures within 5 ft. of a square targeted by a skurgbomb take 1d4+1 acid damage (Reflex DC 15 halves; this acid damage operates normally).
Creatures that take 10 points or more of acid damage from skurgbombs in a single day must make a Will save (DC equal to the total amount of skurgbomb acid damage taken in the past 24 hours) or find that their rest is fitful. Failure on this Will save makes it impossible for a creature to recover hit points, daily uses of class or racial abilities, or spells for the next 24 hours. Unless carefully washed away with prestidigitation (one minute of concentration on a creature with fitful rest) or a dispel magic removes the magical aura left behind by a skurgbomb, but if not, its aura lingers for ten times the normal amount of time.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, skurgxon corpse, acid arrow, sleep; Cost 210 gp

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Statblock Sunday (Duty in Drak’kal): Malfunctioning Skurgxon

malfunctioning skurgxon by Sara Shijo

When this creature scuttles an unlikely rustling whistle hums through the air, the wind blowing back the lank, off-yellow skin hanging from its mutated bones and twisting muscles as it moves toward you with alarming speed!

XP 1,600
CE Medium outsider (native, extraplanar)
Init -1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., lifesense, low-light vision; Perception +10

AC 16, touch 9, flat-footed 16 (-1 Dex, +7 natural)
hp 41 (6d10+8); fast healing 5
Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +6

Speed 60 ft. climb 20 ft.
Melee bite +8 (1d6+4), 3 claws +3 (1d4+2)
Special Attacks virulent touch (1d6 negative energy damage after 1d4 rounds)

Before Combat A malfunctioning skurgxon uses Stealth to hide, waiting until an enemy is within range of a dash and bite.
During Combat A malfunctioning skurgxon focuses its attacks on spellcasters and other magical creatures before attacking any physically adept enemies.
Morale Though a malfunctioning skurgxon flees when reduced to 20 hp or less, it quickly returns after growing back one of its limbs.

Str 18, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 15
Base Atk +6; CMB +10 (+12 to sunder); CMD 19 (23 vs. trip)
Feats Combat ReflexesB, Great Fortitude, Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Power Attack
Skills Acrobatics +5, Climb +18, Perception +10, Sense Motive +10, Stealth +12, Survival +7; Racial Modifiers +4 Stealth
Languages none
SQ decaying body

Environment any (Klavek Kingdom)
Organization solitary
Treasure standard

Decaying Body (Ex) After taking 10 points of damage fr
om a single attack or spell there is a 60% chance that a malfunctioning skurgxon’s limb dissolves and falls apart, dealing an additional 1d6 damage to it. The failed protype skurgxon can lose up to one leg (reducing its speed to 45 and its CMD vs trip to 22) and two arms (immediately removing Combat Reflex and up to two claw attacks), though after that decaying body has no effect. When the malfunctioning skurgxon heals 10 hit points, one of its limbs regrows.
Virulent Touch (Ex) When a malfunctioning skurgxon deals damage with one of its natural weapons, a creature or object hit by it takes an additional 1d6 negative energy damage 1d4 rounds later (DC 15 Fortitude save negates).


[Submitted by Tim Snow and beautifully illustrated by Sara Shijo!]