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Sidequest Saturday (Forsaken Frontier): Final Battle

Four warlords have marshaled powerful undead armies to once more fight for the rulership of the Shining City of Salamangka. This is the climax of everything the PCs have experienced since 5th level when they were first drawn to the Disputed Territories, and for the most part this sidequest is focused on making the most important information for the GM readily available.

Make sure you have the Mass Combat rules handy before getting things underway, and be mindful of the terrain around Salamangka!

FORsaken, not FOURsaken
Depending on how soon the party managed to escape from Valindar, they may have knocked out one or two of the undead leaders before the Festival of Night begins. With the exception of Syfforack Zoi, any destroyed warlord is replaced by their second in command and in lieu of that, 50% of their armies scatter as the fight begins (which armies are randomly determined).final battle - crusades-5

Forsaken Soldiers
Hopefully the PCs haven’t resigned themselves to a fate as undead under the tyrannical grip of Syfforack Zoi, but if they have been transformed into forsaken liches don’t let that end the game! Encourage the group to play through the final battle of Forsaken Frontier with the goal of seeing their master reach apotheosis, working to crush his enemies (or possibly strike him down and take the power of Salamangka as their own!)

Reaching Apotheosis
To reach Apotheosis a warlord has to occupy the central hex of Salamangka for 10 consecutive battle phases. Any battle phases the warlord is opposed by an adjacent army or warlord also occupying Salamangka count at ½ value.
Syfforack Zoi and Kaloatl begin the battle at the front of their armies. Savithrin and Doc Fell begin at the edge of the combat map.

Salamangka’s Aura
The first time any army or creature enters the hexes touched by Salamangka’s Aura they gain +5 temporary hit points. While within these hexes, undead armies gain +1 to OM, DV, and Speed.

As soon as the sun is about to set on the Disputed Territories, a soft golden glow emanates from the pleasing architecture of distant Salamangka. With each passing second the illumination becomes more intense and glorious light shines forth across the Forsaken Frontier. When it reaches its zenith a dread call for war comes from the withered unnatural throats of thousands of undead and spreads all across the territory around the Shining City, the very ground trembling at their rage.

final battle in salamangka v5

FROM THE NORTH (red)
Savithrin the vortex dragon and his armies come from the northwest and northeast.
4 Shadow Armies are opposed by Syfforack Zoi’s forces toward the west.
Toward the east, 5 Crawling Hand Armies attempt to slow down the forces of Doc Fell so the dragon’s trio of Graveknight Armies can swiftly consolidate the hexes around Salamangka (the central army is led by Boris Balescu).

Savithrin can move two hexes each battle phase and ignores difficult terrain.

 

FROM THE EAST (shaded)
Doc Fell the pale stranger and his armies come from the northeast and southeast. Doc Fell himself remains on the eastern wall of Salamangka with Sulcera Stonesmile and carefully directs his forces (occasionally firing one of the three arcane artillery pylons arrayed along the top of it himself).
Toward the north his 3 Ghast Rogue armies occupy Savithrin’s Forces.
Toward the south, the 2 Ghast Rogue armies hinder the soldiers of the Smiling Sons.
The Ghost Rogue armies are kept in reserve until another warlord reaches Salamangka or a hex adjacent to it, at which point he and these forces move directly for the Shining City’s central hex.
Doc Fell’s armies have turned at least two of the hexes on the Plains of Destryka into prepared battlefield traps, and every turn there is a 10% chance an arcane vortex trap appears in a random square there (removing any spellcaster bonus to an army’s statistics).

Doc Fell can move one hex each battle phase and can ignore up to 3 hexes of difficult terrain throughout the combat

 

final battle - medieval-crusades-3FROM THE SOUTH (blue)
Kaloatl the Eternal Eye and his Smiling Sons come from the southwest and southeast.
Toward the west Zhalak Mhun, his second in command, leads 2 Smiling Sons armies that focus on reaching and destroying Syfforack Zoi.
Toward the east Kaloatl and 3 Smiling Sons armies push directly for Salamangka. As soon as a warlord occupies the central hex, Kaloatl immediately heads for the Shining City.

Kaloatl can move one hex each battle phase but receives +1 DV and OM while in Salamangka. Once per battle phase he can act as the leader of any Smiling Sons army regardless of their position on the battlefield.

 

FROM THE WEST (green)
Syfforack Zoi and his armies come from the northwest and southwest. Syfforack heads directly for Salamangka, leaving his forces to cover his flank and keep him from being overwhelmed.
Toward the north Izali Komadri and 5 Wight armies attempt to break apart Savathrin’s forces to leave the vortex dragon vulnerable.
Toward the south are 4 Dretch armies, fodder that Syfforack uses to occupy Kaloatl’s forces while he captures Salamangka.

Syfforack Zoi can move one hex each battle phase and ignores difficult terrain. Once per battle phase he can negate a hex’s negative effects (a trap, haunt, or difficult terrain) regardless of his position on the battlefield.


Eventually the various undead armies will destroy one another, but the focus of the PCs should remain on Salamangka. As before, once a warlord and their second in command is destroyed their armies scatter—as the Festival of Night ends, any leaderless forces disperse (though of a malevolent warlord underwent Apotheosis, the adventurers have an entirely different fight to deal with!)

 

This brings an end to the first AaWBlog Presents Adventure Path! The first of these to become a module (Tribal Troubles) is in production, but we encourage you to peruse the AdventureAweek.com website and follow the whole story (or download one of our first three collections, Armory of Adventures, Cultus Sanguineus, or Mischievous Meadows).
Next month we aren’t doing a specific theme but don’t worry—as always there will be daily posts of magic items, traps, haunts, cursed items, story locales, sidequests, and statblocks before the second AaWBlog Presents adventure path begins in April [if you are wondering what Friday posts are going to be, you are in for a treat! -MM].

Thank you for reading and following the AaWBlog!

 

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Foul Machinations Friday – Forsaken Frontier II

Final-Revoker-C (Syfforack Zoi the lich) PNGThe best lead to repair the PCs’ airship is to follow Sulcera Stonesmile, a strange thief found rooting through the vessel when the party returned to it. She assures the adventurers that her ally Doc Fell can help find the lost engine parts or possibly even help get them back. Ever the wildcard, the curious pale stranger secures the party’s aid but ultimately, he betrays them (either in a duel-turned-ambush or later on) and offers the PCs to another warlord instead: the ruler of Valindar, the dreaded lich Syfforack Zoi.

A coterie of prepared zombie mages knock the party unconscious and drag them to the City of Eternal Death. They are imprisoned and enslaved in the undead settlement, acting as the lich’s servants while his armies prepare for war and forced to weather the dangers that constantly assail mortals in Valindar. A chance to escape comes before the final battle on the eve of the Festival of Night begins, though intrepid PCs will take the fight to Syfforack Zoi before he can mobilize his soldiers (and possibly find a powerful aid, a ferryman’s toll, if they pick the right pocket in the marketplace).

His throne room is roamed by the whispers of Qexaathus haunt and though the adventurers may be raring to combat the lich head on, the false phylactery trap in the trunk their equipment is kept in may force them to think twice about it. Defeating him takes one of the four warlords out of the imminent battle between the armies of the Forsaken Frontier, and if they search the dais of his seat of power closely enough, the party finds a truly potent artifact sure to aid them in the Festival of Night. Syfforack Zoi went to great lengths to acquire the gauntlet of deracination specifically to counter the abilities of the last undead to rule the Salamangka, the vortex dragon Savithrin.final battle - crusades-5

The battle that heralds the great event begins on schedule [tomorrow’s Sidequest Saturday! -MM] and PCs who escape quickly can make alliances or assassination attempts on the other warlords as they see fit. All four will stop at nothing to call the Shining City their own, regardless of the dangers presented by the River of Contempt or the arcane vortices of the Plains of Destryka. By cutting the right deals and striking at the commanders of the legions of undead that march on Salamangka, the adventurers have the chance to bring light or darkness to the Forsaken Frontier—and perhaps all of the Disputed Territories.

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Story Locale (Forsaken Frontier): Salamangka, the Shining City

The four great warlords of the Forsaken Frontier all fight for the same prize: the Shining City of Salamangka! Once the crown of civilization in the Disputed Territories, it fell from the heights of power to disrepair but is still coveted for the great power the settlement still holds.

Every thousand years the Festival of Night occurs, empowering the citizens and creatures within the Shining City while it splays golden light over all of western Aventyr, filling the hearts of the living with spirit and vigor—and for the undead, a reinforcement of spirit so strong that for a time they seem returned to life once more. Leahcim and the Vidrefacte brought an end to that and there’s no way to tell just what the imminent Festival of Night will bring to the Forsaken Frontier, though each of the warlords has prepared extensively for it regardless [see the Apotheosis section of each Statblock Sunday! -MM].

salamangka - Campaign2_Session20_AurilsRealm - FINAL

Catastrophic Crags
These unstable mountains have caused the end of many foolhardy armies, the landmasses literally quaking as the Festival of Night draws near. When an army without the incorporeal quality moves through a hex in this area they treat it as difficult terrain and there is a 50% chance of a rockfall dealing 1d6+6 damage to the army.

Plains of Destryka
While typically dangerous enough because of spontaneously forming arcane vortices and prepared battlefield traps carefully laid out by Doc Fell’s army, the wily pale stranger has an even more dangerous weapon at his disposal. Several arcane artillery pylons once used by holy warriors have been painstakingly dragged out of the Vidrefacte’s reach by his ghostly forces’ telekinesis, set up along the walls east of the Shining City to range as far as the River of Contempt.

River of Contempt
A strong running current of water from around the western side of Salamangka’s northern bulwark forces any armies without the flight or incorporeal special abilities to succeed a DC 17 Morale check (on a failure, the army stops its movement in that hex). Each round it receives another Morale check to cross the river. Armies stopped in a hex occupied by the River of Contempt may only attack and deal damage in the Melee phase but receive +3 DV during the Ranged phase. During the Festival of Night, part of the northern waters are filled by the holy waters haunt.

Salamangka’s Walls
Enormous walls made from impervious stone over three hundred feet high tower along the cardinal perimeter of the realm that sits around the Shining City, forcing entry into the territory through the northeast, southeast, southwest, or northwest. Armies without the flight or incorporeal special abilities cannot move through Salamangka’s Walls.fantasy-cities-4

The Shining City
The effects of the Festival of Night, the full hex map, and the locations of the Forsaken Frontier’s armies (and their warlords) are all part of the final battle in this week’s Sidequest Saturday!

Do not miss it!

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Weird Wednesday (Forsaken Frontier): River of Contempt

Living combatants have had dire need to cross the River of Contempt for centuries, and some still remain. Almost universally their legacy has been to take the lives of those who’ve come after, preventing intrepid fools from seeking out salvation or victory in the Shining City. These bitter souls reach into the lungs of the living, drowning even the most skilled swimmers with arms of water.

FLOODED LUNGS     CR 12
XP 19,200
NE haunt (1 hex of water where a mass drowning occurred)
Caster Level 12th
Notice Perception DC 20 (to hear the sounds of panicked swimmers drowning)
hp 24; trigger proximity; reset 1 minute
Effect When a living creature enters the haunt’s area, the water becomes turbulent. Every creature in the haunts area becomes the subject of a mass suffocation spell (CL 12th, DC 23).
Destruction The flooded lungs haunt is permanently destroyed if the flow of water is stopped in its location until the riverbed is exposed.

flooded lungs haunt
The River of Contempt the last sunrise before the Festival of Night.

 

Near the sections of the River of Contempt come nearest to Salamangka, some small number of holy warriors who crossed the river in search of justice and mercy gave their spiritual purity to the water as they died. Even paladins and priests might succumb to the temptation to curse their enemies with their last breath, but the last gasp of the most devout was one for hope. The next Festival of Night, the waters over their sunken corpses changed to reflect their prayerful tears and flasks of holy water. While the current remains lethal and the miasma of undeath hangs over the waters like a frigid mist, travel above the bodies of the holy dead brings peril only to the forces of evil. Fortunately for the innocent spirits who forever swim over their mortal coils, most undead troops who dare to walk or swim through this section of the river don’t survive long enough to warn others about the hallowed haunt.

HOLY WATERS     CR 9
XP 6,400
NG persistent haunt (1 hex of the river flowing over sunken corpses)
Caster Level 9th
Notice Perception DC 20 (to hear the desperate prayers of drowning holy warriors)
hp 40; trigger proximity; reset 1 minute
Effect When this haunt is triggered, white light shines from the riverbed and illuminates the corpses of those who held on to faith until their very end. The water in the affected area temporarily becomes holy water, and affects any evil creature in the area as holy smite (CL 9th, DC 16).
Destruction The haunt is permanently destroyed when every corpse in its area is exhumed and given a burial according to the traditions the corpses each observed in life.

 

[The way a location gets its name means something. With multiple undead armies endlessly warring over an ancient city, the nearby River of Contempt begs for a bitter, murderous history. So compelling that today we offer you a pair of haunts that give the river a storied past, and a supporting role in the battle for Salamangka. There’s no denying—the river hates both the living and the dead. -SH]

FourHorsemen-logo-rough-01

[Submitted by Steve Helt!]

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Trap Tuesday (Forsaken Frontier): Arcane Vortex Trap

arcane vortex trap - Matt Morrow male human wizard-F-cArcane Vortex Trap     CR 10
Type magical; Perception DC 42*; Disable Device DC 42*
Trigger location; Reset none
Effect inhibits or modifies spellcasting depending on type
*An arcane vortex may also be found with a detect magic, revealing an overwhelming aura of the appropriate school. Dispel magic can destroy an arcane vortex trap (the dispel DC is 26).

The interdimensional travel of Savithrin has left behind regions in the Disputed Territories where the fabric of space itself is unstable. Arcane energies collect and flow, sometimes resulting in an arcane vortex trap. There are two major types of arcane vortices: rotational and irrotational. Each vortex is also associated with a random school of magic (1d8 – abjuration, conjuration, divination, enchantment, evocation, illusion, necromancy, or transmutation).

Arcane vortex traps spring up randomly and affect a 100-ft.-diameter area, from ground level up to 500 feet in the air. 10% of arcane vortices are universal magic; in the case of an irrotational vortex, they affect all magic and for rotational vortices, effects are shifted to a random spell from a different school.

Irrotational Arcane Vortex
This type suppresses and dispels magic effects from its associated school of magic. Whenever a spell from that school is cast within it, the caster must overcome SR 28 or the spell fizzles. For each magical effect from that school active on on a creature, make a dispel check at +15 vs. the spell effect. (DC 11 + CL of spell).

Rotational Arcane Vortex
This type shifts spells and standing spell effects to a random spell or effect of the same level within the school. Spells cast while in a rotational arcane vortex must overcome SR 28 or turn into a random spell of the same level from the vortex’s school. Standing magical effects are turned into an equivalent penalty, if applicable, or suppressed if a +15 dispel check vs. the spell succeeds.
For example, a +2 deflection bonus to AC becomes a -2 penalty to AC, or summon monster VI becomes acid fog.

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Magic Item Monday (Forsaken Frontier): Gauntlet of Deracination

Gauntlet of Deracination
Aura strong conjuration; CL 20th
Slot hands; Weight 5 lbs.

DESCRIPTION
This single right-handed gauntlet of segmented golden plates has been polished to a mirror-like gleam, and its bracer has been inset with three large gemstone cabochons—one of ruby, another of sapphire, and the last of emerald.

gauntlet of deracination - justin andrew masonA gauntlet of deracination functions as +1 bracers of armor but has three additional effects that may be individually activated. The active effect depends on which one of the three gemstone cabochons upon the gauntlet’s bracer have been depressed. Only one gem may be pressed at a time, and once a cabochon has been pushed in, it glows faintly and becomes locked into place for 24-hours (activating that cabochon’s associated effect for the gauntlet). After this period the gauntlet of deracination resets and the depressed gem reverts to its original state. The selected active effect may not be changed until the gauntlet of deracination has reset.

Ruby Cabochon – As a full round action, the user may make a ranged touch attack that functions as teleport (CL 20th) upon a target creature or object (Will DC 25 negates). The result of the teleport is chosen by the user and is always “on target,” however the range is limited to a 100-ft.-radius centered on the target. A target cannot be teleported to a space already occupied nor can its relative elevation altered more than 10 ft. up or down. This ability may only be used once every 1d6 rounds. In appearance this effect opens a whirling vortex of carmine light that attempts to suck the target in. When successful the vortex vanishes and immediately reappears in the defined location to force the affected target into the unoccupied space.

Sapphire Cabochon – As a full round action, the user may make a ranged touch attack that functions as telekinesis (CL 15th) to exert a single (Will DC 20 negates) violent thrust upon a target creature or object (up to 375 pounds) hurling it up to 20-feet in any direction. If the target is hurled against a solid surface it takes damage as if it had fallen 10 feet (1d6 points). This ability may only be used once every for 1d4 rounds. This effect appears as a whirling vortex of cerulean light that forms around the target and attempts to fling them in the desired direction before vanishing.

Emerald Cabochon – This effect activates a constant dimensional anchor (CL 15th) in a 100-ft.-radius centered on the user. This affects all creatures (regardless of immunities) within the field of effect, including the user.

DESTRUCTION
The gauntlet of deracination must be immersed in fields of energy on each of the four essential elemental planes (air: electricity, earth: acid, flame: fire, water: cold) before a creature strikes it with a natural attack roll of 20.

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Statblock Sunday (Forsaken Frontier): Savithrin the Vortex Dragon

This draconic creature is a pale blur of incredible speed, the glow from its horns leaves tracers in the air as it streaks past.

savithrin Final-Vampire-C

Savithrin     CR 13
XP 25,600
Young adult vortex dragon
LE Huge dragon (augmented, fire)
Init +1 (+6 with anticipate peril); Senses dragon senses, see in darkness; Perception +21
Aura alien presence (150 ft., DC 21)

DEFENSE
AC 34, touch 12, flat-footed 33 (+3 deflection, +1 Dex, +4 mage armor, +18 natural, -2 size)
hp 157 (15d12+60)
Fort +14, Ref +11, Will +13
DR 5/magic; Immune fire, paralysis, sleep; SR 24
Weaknesses vulnerable to cold

OFFENSE
Speed 60 ft., 200 ft. (good)
Melee* bite +18 (2d8+19/19-20), 2 claws +18 (2d6+16/19-20), 2 wings +15 (1d8+12), tail slap +15 (2d6+19) [* includes Power Attack]
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (15 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (50-ft. cone, 10d8 fire, DC 21), crush
Spell-like Abilities (CL 15th; concentration +19)
At will—anticipate peril, entropic shield
2/day—plane shift (DC 19)* [* Salamangka has altered Savithrin considerably, granting him early access to plane shift at the cost of slowing his movement through space. The Vidrefacte’s presence there further changed him, and now when he uses the ability a gyeongsa warp storm appears in his wake.]
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 5th; concentration +9)
2nd (5/day)—mirror image, resist energy
1st (7/day)—mage armor, magic missile, shield, vanish
0—detect magic, ghost sound, ray of frost, read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue (DC 14)

TACTICS
Before Combat Savithrin keeps anticipate peril and mage armor active at all times. When combat is imminent he casts shield, resist energy (cold), mirror image, and entropic shield. Against formidable opponents he uses his wand of stoneskin. If surprised he buys time using vanish to maneuver and raise his defenses.
During Combat In battle Savithrin relishes the crunching of bones between his jaws. He opens with a breath weapon blast on as many opponents as possible, then rushes them beneath his bulk. Once on the ground he delivers full attacks, focused on destroying one foe at a time.
Morale Savithrin flees using his plane shift spell-like ability once reduced to below 30 hp.

STATISTICS
Str 25, Dex 12, Con 19, Int 18, Wis 17, Cha 18
Base Atk +15; CMB +20*; CMD 38 [* CMB includes Power Attack]
Feats Blinding Critical, Critical Focus, Improved Critical (bite, claw), Multiattack, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (bite, claw)
Skills Bluff +22, Diplomacy +22, Fly +19, Knowledge (arcana, geography, planes, religion) +22, Perception +21, Sense Motive +21, Use Magic Device +22
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Infernal
SQ agile, galactic emissary, no breath, starflight
Combat Gear amulet of mighty fists +1, ring of protection +3, wand of stoneskin (CL 7th, 8 charges), 320 gp worth of jewelry and gemstones embedded in Savithrin’s scales
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Dimensional Emissary (Su) Savithrin is immune to any effect that bars extradimensional travel.

Savithrin long ago lost the thrill that soaring amongst the cosmos once created within him. His journeys beyond the stars led him to pierce the veil of the planes, and the outer dragon found much to fascinate him across the layers of the multiverse. Savithrin traversed the planar barriers so often and in so many strange places that the energies of the planes themselves seeped into him and altered his very nature. No longer a creature of void and stars, now he finds slipping between the dimensions as easy to him as beating his wings to soar through the skies—for some time now, his sights have been set on Salamangka.

When he encountered the strange city on the Forsaken Frontier, Savithrin swiftly grew to covet its power. Learning the lay of the land and the forces vying for the artifact of Salamangka, he set to work crafting an enormous army of undead dragons formed from the very remnants of the great Dracoprime, winning over the Shining City in the last Festival of Night. Leahcim’s meddling and the Vidrefacte destroyed all of Savithrin’s thralls a year past and he has been furiously scouring the planes since to gather an undead force of devastating potency. The power of Salamangka will be his, no matter how many must die beneath his fangs.

Apotheosis
Once Savithrin gains control of Salamangka his body is flooded with energy and undergoes several rapid  changes from rituals he painstakingly prepared during his flights across dimensions. First Savithrin grows in power, increasing to the adult age category in seconds, but more importantly his thirst for blood becomes all too literal and he is transformed into a vampire. Savithrin’s stats change as follows:

CR 16; XP 76,800; LE huge undead (augmented dragon, fire); Init +7; Perception +35; Aura alien presence (180 ft., DC 25)
AC 44, touch 15, flat-footed 42; hp 212 (17d8+136); fast healing 5; Fort +12; Ref +10; Will +15; Defensive abilities channel resistance +4; DR 10/magic and silver; Immune undead traits; Resist cold 10, electricity 10; SR 27; Weaknesses vampire weaknesses, vulnerable to cold
Melee bite +20 (2d8+24/19-20 plus energy drain), 2 claws +20 (2d6+19/19-20 plus energy drain), 2 wings +17 (1d8+13 plus energy drain), tail slap +17 (2d6+24 plus energy drain) [Power Attack included]; Special Attacks breath weapon (50 ft. cone, 12d8 DC 25), blood drain, children of the night, create spawn, crush, dominate (DC 25), energy drain (2 levels, DC 25), fragmented strike
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 17th, concentration +24); plane shift (DC 22); Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 7th; concentration +14); 3rd (6/day)—displacement, protection from energy; 2nd (8/day)—mirror image, resist energy, scorching ray; 1st (8/day)—mage armor, magic missile, shield, true strike, vanish; 0—detect magic, ghost sound, message, ray of frost, read magic, resistance, touch of fatigue (DC 17)
Str 33; Dex 16; Con —; Int 22; Wis 21; Cha 24; BAB +12; CMB +22 (adjusted for Power Attack); CMD 42; Feats AlertnessB, Blinding Critical, Combat ReflexesB, Critical Focus, DodgeB, Improved Critical (bite, claw), Lightning ReflexesB, Multiattack, Power Attack, ToughnessB, Weapon Focus (bite, claw); Skills Bluff +35, Diplomacy +27, Fly +23, Intimidate +27, Knowledge (arcana, geography, planes, religion) +26, Perception +35, Sense Motive +33, Spellcraft +26, Stealth +3, Use Magic Device +27 Racial Modifiers +8 Bluff, +8 Perception, +8 Sense Motive, +8 Stealth; Languages Abyssal, Aklo, Auran, Celestial, Common, Draconic, Infernal; SQ agile, change shape (dire bat or wolf, beast shape II), galactic emissary, gaseous form, no breath, shadowless, spider climb, starflight

skeletal_champion__malcolm_mcclinton

A nearly skeletal knight encased in blackened armor patched together from numerous others. Unholy flames wreath its lance and gleam in its sunken eyes.

Boris Balescu     CR 10
XP 9,600
Human graveknight fighter 9
LE Medium undead (augmented humanoid)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +19
Aura sacrilegious aura (30 ft., DC 19)

DEFENSE
AC 32, touch 14, flat-footed 28 (+10 armor, +3 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural, +4 shield)
hp 130 (9d10+81)
Fort +12, Ref +10, Will +7
Defensive Abilities bravery +2, channel resistance +4, rejuvenation; DR 10/magic; Immune cold, electricity, fire, undead traits; SR 21

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee* +1 lance +19/+14 (1d8+20 plus 2d6 fire/19-20 x3) or adamantine longsword +17/+12 (1d8+17 plus 2d6 fire/19-20) [* includes Power Attack]
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with lance)
Special Attacks channel destruction, devastating blast 3/day (30-ft. cone, 6d6 fire, Reflex DC 19 halves), undead mastery (DC 19), weapon training (spears +2, heavy blades +1)

TACTICS
Before Combat Boris is rarely without his phantom steed renews the summons every hour.
During Combat Boris’ main tactic is to charge every round to maximize his Power Attack, Ride-By Attack, and Spirited Charge feats. His phantom steed has a speed of 80 ft., and Boris deals 3d8+60 plus 2d6 fire damage on a successful charge attack with his +1 lance. If his steed is slain, Boris utilizes his devastating blast to incinerate as many opponents as possible and shifts to fighting with his adamantine longsword and shield.
Morale If reduced to less than 30 hp, Boris attempts to flee and warn Savithrin of the grave threat. This is born of his strong sense of duty rather than self-preservation, as Boris knows he will rejuvenate unless his armor is completely destroyed.

STATISTICS
Str 24, Dex 16, Con —, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 20
Base Atk +9; CMB +13*; CMD 30 [* includes Power Attack]
Feats Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Greater Weapon Focus (lance), Improved Critical (lance), Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Mounted Combat, Power Attack, Ride-By Attack, Shield Focus, Spirited Charge, Toughness, Weapon Focus (lance), Weapon Specialization (lance)
Skills Intimidate +25, Perception +19, Profession (soldier) +14, Ride +20, Swim +16; Racial Modifiers +8 Intimidate, +8 Perception, +8 Ride
Languages Common, Draconic, Infernal
SQ armor training 2, phantom mount, ruinous revivification
Combat Gear +1 lance, +1 full plate, +1 heavy steel shield, belt of giant strength +2, headband of alluring charisma +2, adamantine longsword, ancient crown worth 265 gp

Boris Balescu was once a fearsome warlord on another Material Plane; when he was slain in combat, his soul departed to a plane of eternal battle. Centuries of unending war passed and it wasn’t until the vortex dragon Savithrin arrived through a great tear in the sky that Boris woke from his blood-soaked reverie. Even as he perished in the dragon’s flame, it was a new birth for the lord—his spirit’s thirst for battle wouldn’t be quenched, and Savithrin plied a forbidden ritual to bond Boris’ soul to his blackened armor, raising him as a graveknight. The newly undead warrior immediately pledged his service to the dragon’s cause, and he has not regretted his decision.

 

Savithrin’s forces are gathered from across the planes of the multiverse. His most formidable troops are graveknight clerics, the Sinister. These creatures all deracinate their left hands in a show of grizzly devotion to the vortex dragon, binding their shields to the stump. The hands, in turn, are given unlife of their own and become the Left-Hand Legion. Finally, Savithrin scoured the planes for warriors of the correct spiritual temperament and sheared their very shadows. These undead shades wield black daggers with blades all too real—they are truly the Nighted Blades.

LEFT HAND LEGION CR ½
NE Huge army of crawling hands
hp 18; ACR 4
DV 16; OM +4
Tactics relentless brutality
Special bleed, climb, darkvision, grab, undead
Speed 2; Consumption 2
Commander: Savithrin; Charisma Modifier +4 [+7 after apotheosis]; Profession (soldier) 0 ranks


NIGHTED BLADES
CR 3
CE Large army of shadows
hp 22; ACR 5
DV 17; OM +5
Tactics dirty fighters, expert flankers
Special bleed, darkvision, flight, incorporeal, undead
Speed 2; Consumption 2
Commander: Savithrin; Charisma Modifier +4 [+7 after apotheosis]; Profession (soldier) 0 ranks
Note: +1 OM against any unit without mobility advantage

THE SINISTER CR 5
LE Medium army of human graveknights (cleric 4)
hp 22; ACR 5
DV 20 (30); OM +8 (ranged)
Tactics cavalry experts, sniper support
Special breath weapon, channel negative energy, darkvision, mount, significant defense, spellcasting, undead
Speed 2; Consumption 2
Commander: Boris Balescu; Charisma Modifier +5; Profession (soldier) 9 ranks

FourHorsemen-logo-rough-01[Submitted by Dan Dillon!]

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Sidequest Saturday (Forsaken Frontier): Imprisoned in Valindar

If the party agrees to help Doc Fell the army moves out on the third day as instructed. They make their way north, accompanying the army of ghast rogues while Doc Fell comes and goes along the way. A DC 35 Stealth check is required to follow without the army noticing and if either Doc Fell or the army see an adventurer attempting to follow him, Sulcera quickly confronts them and forces them to rejoin the army. If questioned about Doc Fell’s whereabouts, she states that he is scouting out the area and seeking out every advantage possible.

After a day’s march north Doc Fell pulls the party aside to review the details of his plan: with the army marching on enemy territory, the adventurers are his trump card to defeat the enemy commanders leading Syfforack Zoi’s forces. Specifically, the main commander they must focus their efforts on is Izali Komandri. While the upcoming clash will not be an easy battle, the ghasts should be able to pull away the opposing army, leaving the adventurers very few creatures to fight apart from Izali. As an aside, Doc Fell also mentions that he is optimistic about the trade. A DC 35 Sense Motive check reveals that this comment appears to be about the party rather than the army.

imprisoned in valindar - Final-Skull-BWAfter resting for the night, Doc Fell wakes up the party and offers to guide them to a good location to begin the ambush against Izali. Along the way, he states that he won’t be able to help with the ambush—he’ll be at the front of the army to ensure things don’t seem unusual. His last words to the PCs are, “just wait ’till you hear the gun shots to start to make your move.”

With the sounds of fighting and war rising, 3 loud gunshots blast and echo in the distance. The party moves out and easily finds zombies alongside Izali, hunched over at a table inside a small war tent—a DC 40 Perception check reveals it as an illusion. As the adventurers move closer, a second tent filled with seven zombie spellcasters appears behind them (NE juju zombie half-orc sorcerer 7), activating scrolls of forcecage. The zombies each spray four doses of aerosolized oil of taggit (DC 15 Fortitude save each round until unconscious for 1d3 hours) and pelt adventures who are resistant to the poison with magic missiles until the whole party is unconscious.

 

[If the adventurers went to duel Doc Fell, they may already be prisoners—in that case, skip to this part! -MM]

When the PCs awaken they are clad only in loincloths; other clothes and items have been stripped from their person, and they are trapped in a surprisingly well-crafted cell. The elegance and artistic features of the grand suite appear tailored for a queen of the utmost importance, with exception for the grime, the grisly atmosphere, and negative energy seething from the other sides of the walls. Sturdy black metal bars close off all the windows and doors, and spellcasters immediately notice that they can’t seem to gather magic. A permanent antimagic field covers the entire room reaching into the walls, just slightly beyond the windows and doors.

After a few hours of being awake a gaunt skeletal figure dressed in crimson robes appears in the doorway, his cackling voice reaching into the cell

“I hope you like your stay. It has been some time since I’ve gazed upon a living being—the last was my fallen Izali. What a great addition he made to upholding this regime, allowing us to expand and fight against that cursed dragon! A small price to leave FallowField in peace. Now the Festival of Night draws close…but there is so much to do and prepare! I am a kind master for those who do as I say and my grip is even tighter to protect what I hold. Are you ready to be part of the great city of Valindar, my lovely little liches-to-be?”

Syfforack Zoi retires to his lab to prepare for the party’s conversion into forsaken liches, leaving the PCs imprisoned in Valindar. Any slander or attempts to get the the lich in the cell or promises of working with him are dismissed with a shake of a boney hand stating, “Soon, you will be part of the family.”

Each day after the dretch provides the party food and water, Syfforack Zoi checks on the party, tormenting them with promises of freedom and escape as he judges which adventurer he should turn first. He debates between turning the one that is already most like him, or the adventurer who is most opposed to him, to break the party further.

Valindar - Campaign2_Session3_Undercity-of-Goduur - DONE

The PCs have 3d4+3 days of meager meals, subsistence nourishment, and depraved conditions before a genuine opportunity to escape presents itself (through, as it happens, Izali Komandri). Until then they are led throughout Valindar, made to perform menial tasks as the lich withers their bodies and minds against the gray stones of the City of Eternal Death.

1) Prison Cell
Though spacious, the bars keeping the PCs within are sturdy (DC 30 Strength check), the locks are masterfully crafted (DC 40 Disable Device check), and an antimagic field (CL 18th) both denies the use of spells and provides respite from the negative energy prevalent in all other areas of Valindar. Spellcasters receive a DC 35 Perception check each day to realize that there is a moment (2d4+2 rounds) near midnight where this effect wanes, allowing the casting of a few spells (at ½ caster level). Syfforack Zoi is extremely confident this reliable prison will hold the party and he does not keep any guards (or keys not kept on his person).

2) Laboratory
Various potions (3d10, randomly determined) and plenty of spellcasting reagents are arrayed on the tables throughout this chamber and all of the party’s equipment is located in an extremely heavy trunk along this room’s northeastern wall (DC 20 Strength check to open; a simultaneous Stealth check made at a -10 penalty is required to do so quietly). There is a 50% chance that Syfforack Zoi is in here at any given time—a DC 30 Perception check warns an escaping PC that the calculating lich is within before they chance his notice. A false phylactery trap can also be found within the heavy trunk.

imprisoned in valindar - mohrg__malcolm_mcclinton3) Throne Room
If Syfforack Zoi is not in his laboratory he is in this chamber (along with the whispers of Qexaathus haunt) instructing his commanders on their battle plans for the Festival of Night.

4) Commons Area
These areas are mostly occupied by the soldiers of Syfforack Zoi’s armies, but plenty of typical undead citizenry as well. 60% of the PCs’ time spent outside of their prison cell is as guarded couriers, made to carry extremely heavy materials for the smithing of weapons, crafting of armor, and the other chores normally left to a military’s grunts.

5) Marketplace
Unsavory, hardy, despicable traders operate within this enormous hall, supplying Syfforack Zoi’s forces. 20% of the PCs’ time will be spent here finding individuals the army commanders need to meet with, bringing them back to the Throne Room. Evil adventurers will find some kinship among the living and may turn an NPC found here to their cause, acquiring something to enable escape from Valindar. There is a 20% chance that if someone here is pickpocketed, the PC finds a ferryman’s toll among the coins they steal with a DC 28 Sleight of Hand check.

6) Harrowed Halls
This chamber is filled with dozens of Exhausting Architecture sculptures, forcing PCs that are made to clean this area (a 20% chance) to make three Fortitude saves across the course of a day. No matter where they are sent, Syfforack Zoi ensures that every PC is made to walk through here at least once before returning them to the prison cell (though anyone that is clearly exhausted is spared, as fresh subjects make for better undead after the rituals are complete).

imprisoned in valindar - dragon disciple-F-c7) The Demon Pit
The lich’s fell dealings with demons have made them integral to Valindar, though they remain contained within one single area on one condition: they are given a living creature for entertainment each day. No matter which PC is removed from the prison cell for a day of work in the City of Eternal Death, one of the party members is made to travel to The Demon Pit.
Whatever happens to adventurers in The Demon Pit should be cinematized—it is truly unpleasant, humiliating, humbling, and for some players and characters, unbearable. After the experience, PCs must make a DC 30 Alignment check (gaining a bonus equal to hit die) or shift one step toward Chaotic Evil.

 

ESCAPE!
If the party hasn’t already secured their freedom by the time Syfforack Zoi is prepared to transform them into forsaken liches, Izali Komandri personally unlocks their cell, leaving their equipment outside of the cell in one last desperate attempt at redemption after falling so far. This is all the aid he renders, however—the next time he meets the party he is hostile, keen not to suffer the wrath of his master.

However, a DC 18 Linguistics check realizes that the otherwise intelligible scroll left with their gear is actually the secret of where the true phylactery is kept: a portrait in the dining hall on the northeastern corner of the Throne Room.

Should the PCs take the fight to Syfforack Zoi they face off against at least three dozen undead soldiers (of a CR no higher than 4), a dozen undead commanders (none higher than CR 7), and Izali Komandri. All enemies lay down their weapons and offer armistice as soon as the lich is destroyed, sincerely promising to leave the Forsaken Frontier, never to return. Behind his throne, however, the party can find a truly powerful tool for the imminent battle at the Festival of Night: the gauntlet of deracination. [Magic Item Monday! –MM]

 

[Submitted by Tim Snow!]

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Fiction Friday (Forsaken Frontier): Festival of Night

Avythian’s Journal, Mohzet 1347; Ayaxan Elders and the Festival of Night
The following excerpt is my closest accounting of a chilly night in the deserts of the Disputed Territories, one I spent in the comfort of the hospitable Ayaxa Tribe. There is no doubt in my mind that the events they spoke of merit the most serious attention, and it is my intent to notify the various powers of Aventyr to them; should you be reading this journal after my demise, please see the quest through lest the civilized realms be overrun by a scourge of undeath from the far west in the eclipse of this “Festival of Night”. —Avythian

Come, traveler—sit by the fire and hear the terrible tale of the lands to the west, words of brave warriors from our tribe that have explored the Disputed Territories and lived to share their stories.

Hear of Salamangka and the Festival of Night.

The Shining City is a place of legend but even its very name rings truth in the hearts of us all—elf, dwarf, man, or otherwise. It is a great sadness, though few ever know why, that living creatures have been denied it for so long.

skeleton_orc__eric_quigley-2Many say the undead there war for souls, or gems, or treasure, or that nowhere on Aventyr do the corpses of men and beast alike walk the lands in legion. These are cowards or fools, one and all, ignorant to the great threat that looms from the pinnacle that was once Salamangka.

Yet even the fell necromancy that besets it cannot contain its purity and rumor claims there are champions among the undead hordes—some noble, some not, but each powerful and animated all the same, and generations of our elders have long wondered if we might ever set foot in the Shining City again while they roam its forsaken frontier. Even the greatest of our seers can see only glimpses of Salamangka’s possible future, and it is precipitous indeed.

Most terrible is the dreaded dragon Savithrin. Even his kin find the beast beyond reproach, but it and its draconic undead—said to be crafted from the remnants of the Dracoprime itself—have flown the skies over Salamangka as victors for nearly a century, turning the Shining City into little more than a glorified lair.

His greatest enemy and our finest hope is Kaloatl, the Eternal Eye. Once a brilliant general and forever dedicated to gods of the great sun above, he shed mortal life and inspired his armies to do the same. They fight for Salamangka long after death, swathed and empowered by holy garments, carrying out their crusade from the Rungkung Jungle.

The light these soldiers bring to the Shining City is all but eclipsed by the foul Syfforack Zoi—cursed be his name. Once the benign ruler of lofty Valindar, he lost sight of nobility and fell in league with demons, cursing his subjects to eternal torture caught between this world and the next. Salamangka has caught the lich’s rotting eye and he yearns to take it to once more defy death, or if our prophet’s greatest fears are true, far worse.

Keeping the undead mage’s attentions is possibly the only boon paid upon Salamangka by the curious Doctor Fell. One of our own, an old elder long dead but known to my eldest kin, is said to have met him while traveling through Fallowfield long before his change. Even then it was said none could predict what he was likely to do, and no prophecy of his ascension in the Shining City is ever the same.

Festival of Night - Sade p02Ah, but the ascension! The Festival of Night!

Salamangka was a place unlike any other in our world, steeped with the very energy of life and a blessing to all of Aventyr. Yet millennia ago a catastrophe—so terrible that even our legends have forbid speaking of it directly—cast the Shining City down, dampening its light and ushering forth an age of darkness that held the realms for nearly a thousand years.

Until the first Festival of Night.

A magnificent dawn comes across the whole of the Disputed Territories once a millenium, splaying golden light on the minds of all it touches. Overwhelming joy fills the hearts of the living, rejuvenating them, but even the walking dead feel its glorious touch.

It is this, the Festival of Night, that draws the undead to sacred Salamangka.

The great event draws near and we are truly blessed to live while it graces our lands, but our seers and elders warn that this may be the final Festival of Night—it heralds either a brilliant new dawn in the Disputed Territories or a horrendous darkness on Aventyr, and no prophecy yet can claim which.

But that is enough for this cold evening, and it is best not to mention the terrible dragon’s name too often. It is well known that draconic teeth draw from the aether often come to gobble up young children, sent away to rest hours ago but found instead in the shadows of a guest!