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4 Ways to Merge Players and Play Styles

Image_Portfolio_104_Fantasy Jason Walton 57As a game designer most of my time is spent editing, reading, and writing; what little remains is for playtesting. One of the things that comes up often with gaming sessions that see so many different players is a matter of expectations—some players are prepared for a world to be opened up in front of them, and others are scions of modules, or entirely new to the concept of tabletop gaming.

Roleplaying is an amazing experience, but some folks have a rockier entry into it than others—be that to the whole concept of assuming the role of a fictional persona, adjusting to a new gaming system or a joining a new group of players.

There are a few tricks to make this easier on the beleaguered GM (not all of which are here; you are the GM, you can bring down the iron hand and send down royal decrees and what have you), but the best thing to do is just be smart, respectful and logical about it: talk directly (separately) to the frustrated player and get an idea of where they are at.

1) Notes
If you’re keen to the divide in player styles before the session starts, this is an easier plan to implement. Even on the fly, it’s not hard to do and if you’re up for a bit of spy games, go for it. Either way, use the plot or NPCs to inform the party member in question about whatever it is they’re looking for, be it the adventure route they expect or the means to break into the world with some freedom to roam.

fashion-middle-ages-72) Extra Checks
Struggling in the sea of freedom can be a real challenge sometimes, especially for folks new to the game—juggling different player styles isn’t easy if you’ve got a mixed group. If a seasoned veteran is having trouble giving enough of the spotlight to the newbie, give the latter a chance to wander around and sprinkle them with checks (preferably skills, but perhaps attributes if you need to) to get them to somewhere the rest of the group can enjoy as well.

3) Maps
This is the primary means I go about handling this in my games; I let the PCs know the lay of the land and subtly push them into this or that direction via geography that fits into the plot. The closer they move towards a locale, the more I reveal about it and the environs. Getting down into the valley, for instance, the party sees the ruins of an old fortress down by the beach—something previously unknown about and definitely drawing attention.

4) The “Subconscious” GM Slip
If you can’t keep a straight face or always lose at poker, skip this one entirely—you have to be able to bluff in real life for this to work out.

Academic Town-Color-FLet it seem like you accidentally let slip a secret about the game as you go through a routine description. Last week (and my Thursday group won’t be looking at this before game tonight, so I’m not overly concerned of them knowing) when investigating a damaged farmhouse, I mistakenly”said that it might have been a dinosaur that did the damage, after dropping several mentions of a dragon being complicit (as far as the villagers knew). 

Of course there was jeering but I saw the change in body language as soon as the table settled—the players sat down as a united group, ready to delve into the game full bore regardless of their preference in approaching it.

Remember, the goal of the game is always to have fun! If a player keeps having a truly tough time with getting dropped into a sandbox or stuck on a railroad, be adaptive, fair, and accommodating (to a point, anyway). The tips above are a good way to go about dealing with the problems that arise from conflicting player styles, but being direct and understanding is the best thing to do!

 

 

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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WHAT?!?! – 4 Tips on Managing Player Frustration

Image_Portfolio_101_Fantasy Jason Walton 10Mischievous Meadows is about magical items; the adventurers are going to temporarily and sometimes permanently lose many of their treasured goods! In most games, these are essential resources for the PCs and a group may be less than pleased when their potions, wondrous items, rings and the like are pilfered away from them.

Sometimes however, the story calls for players to be denied of resources!
Naturally, this is going to upset some folks and any GM may find the response to one of these game sessions to be less than encouraging.

1. Temporary Compensation
As in the case of the biddlywink, the GM can dole back some of the resources removed and when doing so, give them some oomph to compensate for the loss. It’s a bit of an admission on your part but it’ll net some interest by making it clear that this isn’t a simple theft of resources, it has a greater purpose.

dragon-art-22. Intrinsic Rewards
Speaking of a greater purpose, let’s talk about expendable resources. This is essentially a trade-off: resources of one kind (typically gold) for greater access to other resources (experience). In some cases this can be very general, like potions but there are also the specific ones: arrows of slaying come to mind. This is a valid example to mention if a group throws up their arms—point out the precedent if things get too uppity.

3. Complementary Elements
Hide something that can be used to craft a stronger suit of armor in the corpse of the invisible, giant, advanced rust monster that ate away some +2 full-plate. After felling the biddlywink tree, maybe the adventurers find arcane components which can be used to craft a ring of protection that allows the creator to treat their caster level as four levels higher to get back the one the original biddlywink ate! Perhaps the knowledge garnered from their bizarre biological processes grants insight into a new spell or access to a disparate prestige class?
At its heart this is another resource trade, and the GM should be innovative in how they implement it.

4. Call Rank
The GM is also the ultimate arbiter of the story, and somsorcereretimes it doesn’t hurt to remind folks of that. If the group is getting really upset about being taken for a bit of a ride, assure them that you’re not just randomly stealing from them; greater things are in store for those with faith.

 
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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Countess Darah Veresovich

Cultus Sangineus full color

Countess Darah Veresovich CR 10

XP 9,600
Female Klavek cleric (undead lord) 8/rogue 3
NE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +2; Perception +14
DEFENSE
AC 24, touch 13, flat-footed 19 (+7 armor, +1 deflection, +2 Dex, +1 natural, +3 shield)
hp 79 (11d8+30)
Fort +8, Ref +7, Will +10
OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft.
Melee +1 dagger +8/+3 (1d4, Crit 19-20/x2)
Ranged +1 keen light crossbow +11/+6 (1d6+1, Crit 17-20/x2, Range 80 ft.)
Special Attacks channel energy 8/day (4d6 negative, Fort DC 17), sneak attack +2d6
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 8th; concentration +11—defensive +17)
0th—bleed, detect magic, mending, virtue
1st—bane, command, deathwatch, doom, obscuring mist; cause fear
2nd—desecrate, silence (x2), spiritual weapon; ghoul touch
3rd—bestow curse, blindness/deafness x2, invisibility purge; animate dead
4th—freedom of movement, unholy blight; enervation
Domain death Subdomain undeath
STATISTICS
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 16
Base Atk +8; CMB +7; CMD 19
Feats Combat Casting, Extra Channel, Quick Channel, Rapid Reload (light crossbow), Selective Channeling, Toughness, Warrior Priest; Command Undead
Skills Bluff +17, Diplomacy +9, Knowledge (religion) +11, Linguistics +5, Perception +14, Sense Motive +14, Spellcraft +14
Languages Abyssal, Common, Infernal, Klavek, Vikmordere
SQ Aura, evasion, orisons, rogue talents (stand up), trapfinding, trap sense +1
Gear +1 breastplate, +1 heavy steel shield, amulet of natural armor +1, ring of protection +1
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Corpse Companion (Su) Countess Darah has a corpse companion that automatically follows her commands and does not need to be controlled by her. She cannot have more than one corpse companion at a time. It does not count against the number of Hit Dice of undead controlled by other methods. She can use this ability to create a variant skeleton such as a bloody or burning skeleton, but its Hit Dice cannot exceed half her cleric level. She can dismiss her companion as a standard action, which destroys it.
Death’s Kiss (Su) Countess Darah can cause a creature to take on some of the traits of the undead with a melee touch attack 6 times per day. Touched creatures are treated as undead for the purposes of effects that heal or cause damage based on positive and negative energy for 4 rounds. It does not apply to the Turn Undead or Command Undead feats.
Death’s Embrace (Ex) Countess Darah can heal damage instead of taking damage from channeled negative energy. If the channeled negative energy targets undead, she heals hit points just like undead in the area.
TACTICS
Countess Veresovich channels energy twice in the first round her opponents are in range (four uses across two move actions), sparing Count Krev or her two nearest acolytes. She then casts silence on a crossbow bolt and fires it at the square the party’s spellcaster is located in (no attack roll is required). If the spellcaster continues to prove a threat, she has another silence prepared to repeat the maneuver.
Countess Veresovich's Corpse Companion CR 4

Image_Portfolio_101_Fantasy Jason Walton 18
XP 1,200
Kraujas, Exsanguined Slave [gnarled juju zombie]
NE Large humanoid (undead, orc) fighter 2
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +2
DEFENSE
AC 31, touch 11, flat-footed 29 (+10 armor, +1 Dex, +1 dodge, +6 natural, +4 shield, -1 size)
hp 15 (2d8+6)
Fort +4, Ref +1, Will +0
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4; DR 5/magic and slashing; Immune cold, electricity, magic missile; Resist fire 10
OFFENSE
Speed 15 ft.
Melee slam +9 (1d8+12) or +1 scimitar +10 (1d8+9, Crit 18-20/x2)
STATISTICS
Str 26, Dex 13, Con, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 12
Base Atk +2; CMB +9; CMD 21
Feats Cleave, Dodge, Power Attack; Improved Initiative, Toughness
Skills Climb +16, Perception +2; Racial Modifiers +8 Climb
Languages
SQ ferocity*, light sensitivity, permanent enlarge person (CL 14th)
*While within the mansion, Kraujas retains his form past 0 HP, and treats his Charisma score as his Constitution score for the purposes of the ferocity special quality (treat these as temporary hit points; when diminished, Kraujas is destroyed).
Gear +1 full plate, +2 heavy steel shield, +1 scimitar
TACTICS
Countess Veresovich’s prized corpse companion is a tank; he wades into battle as an impassable force and charges at the first target he sees not wearing armor.

Darah Veresovich is a calculating and cold negotiator, both obsessed with preserving her youth and expanding her power. She is a skillful diplomat and even more talented liar—her true intentions only seem suspicious to a very astute few. The elite of Mohkba see her as an influential trader and curator of exotic lore, but in the shadows she is best known as the leader of the Cultus Sangineus.

The secret cabal is a sect devoted to two things: achieving immortality through free-willed vampirism and seeing the return of a patron that has given Countess Veresovich guidance, the Exsanguinator. Darah has carefully orchestrated events over the course of years to prepare the most impressive sacrifice for her lord and while it may seem that events have spun out of her control, it is a rare thing for the cult leader not to anticipate every contingency.

Once her trap has been set, Countess Veresovich retreats from the Sanguine Ball to enact a retinue of rituals in the prepared chambers beneath her manor.

OGL Content

Section 15: Copyright Notice – Pathfinder Module: The Witchwar Legacy
Pathfinder Module: The Witchwar Legacy. © 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Greg A. Vaughan.

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Cultus Sanguineus – A Chase in Mohkba!

Mohkba Alleyway

Synopsis
Count Krev Ragata rushes through the narrow streets in one of the less wealthy areas of Mohkba having just met with several different black market merchants and keen to quickly reach his next destination. Ne’er-do-wells in the city have something else in mind, however, and a group of them ambush the noble directly in front of the adventurers, wrestling away several prized items as they stab him in the stomach with a wicked looking dagger coated in poison.

During the struggle Count Ragata yells, “the countess requires these for the ball! You cannot have them!”, before falling limp and unconscious. One of the muggers turns to see the job finished while his compatriots bound down the alleyway, making their escape quickly in frenzied dashes.

 

A Chase Through Mohkba!

As the party (4-6 adventurers of 8th-9th level) travels the less savory backstreets of Mohkba they suddenly hear shouting and commotion from a narrow, shadowed alleyway up ahead.

A giant of a man stands over a crumpled form at his feet—behind him, two other men are starting to run down the alleyway away from you. The inert form on the ground trembles and with great effort rises his hand and points at the man clad in flashy clothes and shouts: “Stop him, he has…”, but a precise strike from the brute cuts his sentence short. The large man raises his fist again, this time with the intention to quiet his victim permanently.

Hrolff runs at full speed to get the items he carries away from the scene. Vasiliev will stop and cover Hrolffs escape with spells and scrolls, while Eignar physically engages the party, to hinder the characters from pursuing. Hrolff reaches a large street in 1d4+2 rounds, where his tracks are lost in the crowd. Should the party almost catch up to him he will duck down another alleyway where Exsanguinator manifests his will (see Alleyway of Blood from the February 5th meal for the AaWBlog!)

The alleyway is 100 feet long by 10 feet wide (its sides are from 10 feet high to 25 feet high, varying as often as the motley architecture of the homes here) and at the end it connects to the veritable maze of narrow corridors that make up Mohkba’s infamous lower class quarter, providing plenty of alleyways to pursue Hrolff through—if the party gets past Eignar and Vasiliev.

Eignar Ravnirson CR 9

Image_Portfolio_1.13_Fantasy Rudolf Montemayor 05 XP 6,400
Male human monk (tetori) 9/barbarian 1
NE Large humanoid (human)
Init +1; Perception +14
DEFENSE
AC 17, touch 17, flat-footed 13 (+1 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 monk, +2 shield, +1 Wis)
hp 81 (9d8+1d12+29)
Fort +10, Ref +7, Will +7; +2 vs enchantments
Immune disease; DR 10/adamantine (currently under the effects of stoneskin; 62 hp left)
OFFENSE
Speed 60 ft.
Melee unarmed +11/+6 (2d8+5)
Ranged tanglefoot bags +7/+2 ranged touch (entangle and half speed for 2d4 rounds; Reflex DC 15 or glued to floor, DC 17 Strength or 15 slashing damage to regain movement; Range 10 ft.)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks stunning fist 9/day (Fort DC 15; fatigue or stun 1 round or sicken 1 minute)
STATISTICS
Str 20, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +7; CMB +16 (+20 grapple); CMD 23 (30 vs. grapple)
Feats Dodge, Rapid Grappler, Snapping Turtle Clutch, Snapping Turtle Shell, Snapping Turtle Style; Improved Grapple, Stunning Pin, Greater Grapple
Skills Acrobatics +14, Climb +18, Perception +14, Sense Motive +14
Languages Common, Klavek, Vikmordere
SQ Break free, counter-grappler, evasion, fast movement, graceful grappler, inescapable grasp, ki pool (magic, cold iron, silver; 5 points), maneuver training, permanent enlarge person, rage (6 rounds/day), purity of body, still mind, unarmed strike
Gear 5 tanglefoot bags, potion of invisibility, potion of negate aroma, potion of silence, sanguine antidote (the magical poison afflicting Count Ragata does not respond to mundane cures)
RAGING STATISTICS
AC 17, touch 15, flat-footed 11; hp 96; Fort +12, Will 9; +11 vs enchantments
Melee unarmed +13/+8 (2d8+7)
CMB +18 (+22 grapple); CMD 25 (32 vs. grapple)
TACTICS
Eignar uses his grappling skills to stall the party’s pursuit of Hrolff and Vasiliev—he will not hand over the antidote he carries voluntarily.
As the party tries to revive the count, Eignar taunts them from a distance and tries to goad them into rushing him by loudly yelling, “he is as good as dead now, your magics are no match for the power of my master!”, while holding up a flask filled with cyan liquid before slipping it into his pocket and assuming a fighting stance.

 

Vasiliev Dovrovich CR 7

Image_Portfolio_1.13_Fantasy Rudolf Montemayor 01 XP 3,200
Human bard 8
NE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +7; Perception +11
DEFENSE
AC 17, touch 15, flat-footed 13 (+2 armor, +1 deflection, +3 Dex, +1 Dodge)
hp 63 (8d8+24)
Fort +3, Ref +9, Will +6; +4 vs. bardic performance, language-dependent, and sonic
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee rapier +9/+4 (1d6-1, Crit 18-20/x2)
Ranged shortbow +9/+4 (1d6, Crit x3)
Special Attacks bardic performance 21 rounds/day (move action; countersong, dirge of doom, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence +3, inspire courage +2, suggestion)
Bard Spells Known (CL 8th; concentration +13)
3rd (2/day)—deep slumber (DC 18), dispel magic (DC 18), displacement
2nd (3/day)—eagle’s splendor, hold person (DC 17), invisibility, mirror image
1st (5/day)—charm person (DC 16), comprehend languages, disguise self, expeditious retreat, lesser confusion (DC 16)
0th—daze, detect magic, light, prestidigitation, read magic, resistance
STATISTICS
Str 8, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 20
Base Atk +6/+1; CMB +5; CMD 18
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Magical Aptitude, Skill Focus (Use Magic Device), Weapon Finesse (rapier)
Skills Acrobatics +14, Knowledge (history) +13, Knowledge (local) +13, Perception +11, Perform (mime) +14, Perform (wind) +14, Spellcraft +15, Stealth +14, Use Magic Device +20
Languages Common, Klavek, Vikmodere
SQ bardic knowledge +4, lore master 1/day, versatile performance, well-versed
Gear bracers of armor +2, ring of protection +1, scroll of dispel magic (3 total at CL 9th), satchel with papers, a mask of diplomacy +1* (stolen from Count Ragata)
*This item is actually the mask of thirst, but only members of the Cultus Sanguineus are able to identify it as such.
BASE STATISTICS
Without eagle’s splendor, Vasiliev’s statistics are Bard Spells Known reduce spell DCs by 2, concentration +11; Cha 16; Skills Use Magic Device +18.
TACTICS
Vasiliev is under the effect of eagles splendor, displacement and mirror image (4 images) when the party shows up. Displacement lasts 6 more rounds. When the party arrives he takes up position in cover behind some barrels down the alley in the same direction Hrolff fled. Vasiliev intends to cover Hrolff’s escape alongside Eignar, using use his scrolls and spells to keep the party from mounting an effective chase until Hrolff is gone—Vasiliev then leaves Eignar and make his own escape with the help of his invisibility spell.

 

Hrolff Angirsson CR 7

XP 2,400
Human monk 7/barbarian 1
NE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +4; Perception +8
DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 18, flatfooted 13 (+4 Dexterity, +1 dodge, +1 monk, +2 Wisdom)
hp 58 (7d8+1d12+15)
Fort +8, Ref +9, Will +7; +2 vs enchantments
Immune disease
OFFENSE
Speed 85 ft.
Melee unarmed +7 or +7/+7/+2 (1d8+1)
Ranged tanglefoot bags +9 ranged touch (entangle and half speed for 2d4 rounds; Reflex DC 15 or glued to floor, DC 17 Strength or 15 slashing damage to regain movement; Range 10 ft.)
Special Attacks stunning fist 7/day (Fort DC 16, stun 1 round or fatigue)
STATISTICS
Str 13, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8
Base Atk +6; CMB +9; CMD 25
Feats Fleet x3, Point Blank Shot, Shot on the Run; Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Mobility
Skills Acrobatics +15 (+26 to jump), Climb +11, Escape Artist +15, Perception +8, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +15
Languages Common, Klavek, Vikmordere
SQ Evasion, fast movement (barbarian 10 ft., monk 20 ft.), flurry of blows, high jump, ki pool (magic, cold iron, silver; 5 points), maneuver training, purity of body, rage (5 rounds/day), still mind, slow fall 30 ft., unarmed strike, wholeness of body
Gear boots of striding and springing, hat of disguise, potion of invisibility, potion of negate aroma, potion of cure serious wounds, 5 smokesticks, 5 tanglefoot bags, hidden satchel (amulet of the sundered heart*, cloak of the dark servant*); currently under the effects of a potion of nondetection (CL 9th)
*If identified, these appear to be nothing more than an amulet of natural armor +2 and cloak of resistance +2.
TACTICS
The only thing on Hrolff’s mind is taking the loot back to his master, he will fight if cornered, but will take the first opportunity to continue his escape, and use his hat of disguise.

 

After the battle, Count Ragata hopefully gets the antidote (otherwise, he dies within 1d4 rounds without a restoration spell) and the party retrieves the stolen items from Vasiliev. The count assures them that all the items are accounted for, but says that the mask is not his (a DC 32 Sense Motive check reveals that he’s lying) and the party should keep it—furthermore, they are all invited to a ball held at his manor in two days time. He hands them each a gilded invitation to the masquerade ball, giving them occasion to wear the recovered mask. Again thanking the adventurers from the depths of his heart, he sincerely looks forward to seeing them at the grand event and introducing them to some of his acquaintances.

 

[A Wiborg/Myler Projekt]

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Cavern of Sleep

Somnambula Patch

Cavern of Sleep (CR 9; XP 6,400)

The PC’s are making their way through the Underworld and enter a peculiar cave; several patches of mushrooms seem to have grown into truly unusual, vividly colorful patterns.


The mushrooms in this cave glow with different colors, small puddles of water next to some of the fungus patches reflect the light up onto the cavern walls and ceilingit is a beautiful and mesmerizing sight indeed in this otherwise dark monotonous realm”

Upon observing the mushrooms closer, read the following:

As you look at the mushrooms, you begin to make out patterns and something that looks like letters or runes—but surely your mind must be playing tricks on you.”

Any kind of check related to visually interacting with the mushroom patches will trigger the trap (Knowledge, Perception, Survival, etc.; this does not include Perception checks made by a character with Trapfinding.)


Somnambula Patch     CR 5
XP 1,600
Type magical; Perception DC 30; Disable Device DC 30
Trigger special (looking at the patch); Reset automatic
Effect When seeing the symbol of sleep which has been cultured to grow in some of the patches, a character must take a DC 17 Will save or fall into a catatonic slumber for ten minutes.

The somnambula patch is not the most dangerous thing in the cavernthe gardens have been grown to catch prey for Gelwar, a svirfeneblin wizard and his deformed, adopted two-headed brother (Orak and Jeeves).


This small, hairless gnome has gray skin, and large eyes. He wears a black robe with red trimmings that sparkle in the fungal glow.

Gelwar     CR 6
XP 2,400
Male svirfneblin wizard (enchanter) 6
N small humanoid (gnome)
Init +7; Senses Darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision; Perception +9
DEFENSE
AC 21, touch 17, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +3 Dex, +2 dodge, +1 size)
hp 33 (6d6+12)
Fort +7, Reflex +9, Will +10
SR 17
OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft.
Melee dagger +2 (1d3-2, Crit 19-20/x2)
Ranged touch +7
Special Attacks dazing touch 6/day (standard action, melee touch, daze for one round)
Wizard Spells Prepared (CL 6th; concentration +9; arcane bond [ring])
     3rddeep slumber (DC 18), hold person (DC 18),suggestion (DC 18)
     2ndbull’s strength, hideous laughter (DC 17),invisibility, web (DC 15)
     1st—expeditious retreat, mage armor, magic missile (2)
     0th—acid splash, ghost sound (DC 13), light, resistance
     Prohibited Schools conjuration, necromancy
STATISTICS
Base Atk +3; CMB +0; CMD 13
Str 6, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 8
Feats Combat Casting, Greater Spell Focus (enchantment), Improved Initiative, Scribe scroll, Spell Focus (enchantment)
Skills Appraise +10, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +12, Knowledge (local) +10, Perception +9, Spellcraft +12, Stealth +15 (+17 when underground)
Languages Aklo, Common, Gnome, Terran, Undercommon
SQ Arcane school (enchantment), cantrips, defensive training, fortunate, hatred (+1 to hit vs. dwarven subtype), stonecunning
Gear cloak of resistance +2,dagger, potions of cure light wounds (3), potion of invisibility, ring of protection +1, spellbook, spell components, 1,542 gold pieces
TACTICS
Gelwar casts mage armor before the party reaches the cavern (the +4 to AC has already been included in his statblock). He then casts bull’s strength on his “brother” (also included in the statblock). In combat Gelwar tries to incapacitate opponents using his 3rd-level spells, then hideous laughter and web before switching to spells that deal damage. Invisibility and expeditious retreat are used to flee should the battle turn against them. If Orak and Jeeves goes down, Gelwar surrenders in the hopes of saving his friend and offers his small treasury if the party will help to kill the drow scouts in the eastern caves (see Alternate Solution).


This large lumbering ad hoc version of a svirfneblin is clad in dirty rags and sports two heads, the right one a filthy, drooling, pig-like face. The left head seems to be well-groomed but only on the left side and repeats the phrases, “jolly good mate”, “we are awfully sorry old chap”, and “pardon me, just flailing through here” while in the midst of combat. The right head merely growls in annoyance over the left head’s chattiness.

Orak and Jeeves (1)     CR 6
XP 2,400
CE large humanoid (giant)
Init+3; Senses Low-light vision; Perception +14
DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 8, flat-footed 18 (+2 Armor, -1 Dex, +8 natural, -1 size)
hp 65 (10d8+20)
Fort +9, Reflex +2, Will +5
OFFENSE
Speed 40ft.
Melee 2 flails +14/+9 (2d6+8)
Ranged 2 javelins +5 (1d8+6)
Space 10ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks superior two-weapon fighting
STATISTICS
Base Atk +7; CMB +16; CMD 25 (27 vs. trip)
Str 27, Dex 8, Con 15, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 11
Feats Cleave, Improved Initiative, Improved Overrun, Iron Will, Power Attack
Skills Handle Animal +8, Perception +12; Racial Modifiers +4 on Perception
Languages pidgin of Gnome and Undercommon
Gear a collection of shiny rocks, and a large hand puppet with blonde curly hair (named Mr. Wiggles).
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Superior Two-Weapon Fighting (Ex) Orak and Jeeves fight with a flail or javelin in each hand. Because each of its two heads controls an arm, Orak and Jeeves do not take a penalty on attack or damage rolls for attacking with two weapons.
TACTICS
Orak and Jeeves happily wade into combat, hitting the character that most recently dealt them damage in melee, but should Gelwar’s spells put any opponent prone they pummels that foe relentlessly (they let Gelwar deal with the spellcasters).

 

AREA FEATURES
The main cavern is laid out as a garden and a few stalagmites rise up and and provide sparse cover (10% miss chance). A small cavern behind a concealed entrance (Perception DC 25 to spot), make up the living quarters of the pair of svirfneblins.

SCALING THE ENCOUNTER
CR 8 (XP 4,800) 
Add the quick rules young template to both Gelwar and Orak and Jeeves, (+2 to all Dex-based rolls, –2 to all other rolls, –12 hp)

CR 10 (XP 9,600)
Add the quick rules advanced template to both Gelwar and Orak and Jeeves, (+2 on all rolls [including damage rolls] and special ability DCs; +4 to AC and CMD; +12 hp). Increase the number of somnambula patch traps to two.

 

ALTERNATE SOLUTION
The pair lived in relative peace and harmony until a few months ago when they were discovered by a drow scouting party. The dark elves gave them an ultimatumthey wanted prisoners delivered to them by Gelwar or they would drag both back to their fleshcraft laboratories, where the two of them would know the meaning of horror and pain before their minds finally broke. The svirfneblin reluctantly agreed and ever since the gardens have supplied the drow with victims for their vile practices. Gelwar wants nothing more than seeing the scouting party killed, then he and his brother would be free to travel to another part of the Underworld and continue their existencea place where Gelwar could grow the mushroom patches that soothe his brother.

 

[Submitted by Brian Wiborg]

 

 

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5 Tips when Introducing New Players

thiefWhen a new player sits at your table, or when you’re bringing an entire group their first roleplay experience, take a second to be objective about how you’re going to go about it. I’ve succumbed to the same impulse I see plenty of other GMs fall prey to—you want to bring the whole gravitas of what’s going on to your friends.

This is a great motive, but think about that; how intensive can you expect their first game to be? Are they prepared to read a great deal of rules before the first session? Will they want to? What about comprehension; will players really grasp the rules without a visual example demonstrated in front of them?

So put away the 5th level pre-generated PCs you’ve made for the epic journey soon to be taken by the newbies—save them for later, after you’ve doled out a taste of what’s waiting for them down the road.

1. Character Creationdwarf2
This is a topic we’ve visited before, but I’d like to address another issue. If you’re playing Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 or another system with generally slow character advancement (in terms of varied mechanical abilities; more feats, spells, powers, etc.) then 2nd level is not unreasonable. If you’re doing Pathfinder or a game where characters accrue new abilities (read: rules) every level, consider capping things at 1st. You can level them up after the first game if it seems that things went alright, but honestly, if you can remember your first game, the opening of a truly dynamic game world is probably enough to keep them busy anyway.

2. Permanence
Create a real sense of place. Make a map of the town the game starts in and quiz your players on what it is they do on a regular day after you’ve described the setting. Even a high-action game has to start somewhere, and creating a realistic environment for people new to the experience is key in starting immersion—when they start investing time with reading through the rules, the hook is in and you’re free to reel in the line.

priestess3. ROLEplay
Allow folks some time (maybe an hour in-game, maybe a day) to familiarize their characters with one another—banter, establish nicknames and what have you. At the end of the session, you want your players to walk away with a solid connection to their characters. Letting them shape their characters into people all their own is an essential part of that process.

4. Combat—Intriguing but Inuitive
Let them win the first one and don’t overshadow them. I personally like start with a combat against a single one-level higher physically-based NPC, talking up his part substantially beforehand and putting an emphasis into one trait (Strength, Dexterity or Constitution). Statistically, they are bound to go down eventually but not before making the PCs feel like swaggering afterward; it’s going to take a fair number of rolls to beat the average-unlikely statistics behind that NPCs build, so (while inevitable) success appears to be in question.

middle-ages-clothing-25. FUN!
I hate it when people use this word as a title, but honestly, this is the point of gaming. You are supposed to be having fun; even if there’s supposed to be a TPK, don’t let the entire group perish in their first game and intercede if necessary. Provide them with a guide if they’re really at a loss for how to proceed with the game itself and then ditch that NPC as soon as they start to ride the roleplaying bike.

 

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Werewidow

werewolf-clipart-1Werewidow     CR 6
XP 2,400
CE haunt (40 ft. by 10 ft. alleyway)
Caster Level 7th
Notice Perception DC 23 (to hear the coughing of an old woman)
hp 12; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 day
Effect When this haunt is triggered, creatures within its area suddenly see an old woman hunched in the shadows. Any interaction (speaking to, looking at or acknowledgement otherwise) with this apparition incurs a gaze attack—creatures that fail a DC 16 Will save are unknowingly stricken with Werewolf Lycanthropy. This affliction can be removed with a break enchantment or remove curse, or by destroying the Werewidow haunt. Afterward the old woman disappears with a mournful howl.
Werewolf Lycanthropy
Type 
curse, injury; Save Fortitude DC 15 negates, Will DC 15 to avoid effects; Onset the next full moon; Frequency on the night of every full moon or whenever the target is injured; Effect target transforms into a wolf under the GM’s control until the next morning.

Destruction     While in the haunt’s radius, light aflame a bowl filled with twenty silver and the blood of an alpha wolf mixed with drops from a descendant of the Werewidow

Adventure Hook     The Werewidow was once a kindly druid beloved by the settlement that has outgrown the little part of it she still resides in. As the town became a city, natural resources grew scarce and the wildlife began to suffer. She began to placate the wolves in the region, but the older she grew and the larger the settlement became, the more wolves came and the more attentions she garnered from predatory canine spirits. Eventually these spectral beings possessed her charges, killing her—while a rash of adventurers brought low the lycanthropic plagues that soon followed, in her death throes the druid remains, causing werewolves to appear for centuries.

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:
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The Divine and the Recreant – Prayer Effects & Divine Synergies

She's not really the bargaining kind...

Some GMs create elaborate pantheons of deities for their campaign settings, while others choose to utilize preexisting gods. Whether divine influence in your game comes from the fantastical or historical, why should only devout characters reap the benefits of prayer? While gods and demigods may choose to bestow special favor upon those who show devotion and dedicate their lives to their cause, it only makes sense that they would also hear the laments of those less faithful.

One way of doing this is to integrate prayer effects into your game world—here’s one example of how such a system could be designed:

Most deities have one or more aspects to their persona. For instance, a “god of war” would focus on aspects of combat tactics and strength, while a “goddess of magic” would instead lean towards the arcane and esoteric. Providing small (but relevant) temporary bonuses in return for prayer not only provides the sense that the divine truly interact within the game world, but also gives motivation for non-devout characters to seek the aide and guidance of many different gods and goddesses.Image_Portfolio_1.27_Fantasy Romans-Robots 03

Perhaps a god dedicated to learning could provide a temporary luck bonus to Knowledge skill checks, or a goddess dedicated to the hunt could provide a temporary morale bonus to attack rolls. The possibilities are endless, and can be easily defined to reflect the personality of virtually any deity.

Prayer effects should be limited to minor (though still beneficial) bonuses, and only for a limited period of time between prayers. One hour of dedicated prayer would result in a character being granted 24 hours of favor from the deity prayed to; 48 hours if the prayer occurred in a temple or shrine dedicated to that god or goddess.

Divine synergies are another potential design for such a system. If the character praying is of the same alignment as the deity being entreated (or perhaps has the same favored class or race of the god or goddess) the bonus granted might double or see its duration extended. To be fair to those characters who have dedicated themselves to a deity, the prayer effects associated to any one god or goddess could become permanent as long as that character remains devout.

GladiatorThere are endless fun ways this could be integrated into a game world to provide a true sense of worth in faith and value in characters knowing (and understanding) their chosen pantheon.

 

 [Submitted by Justin Andrew Mason]

 

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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The Blessing of Zagn

Giant Centipede smallerThe Blessing of Zagn
CR 8
XP 4,800
CE Persistent haunt (10-ft. radius circle)
Caster Level 9th
Notice Perception DC 22 (to hear otherworldly chittering from all around you)
hp 31; Weakness tricked by invisibility;Trigger proximity; Reset 1 week
Effect When this haunt is triggered, any creatures inside of its radius must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or transform into a small sized creature of the vermin type (though not of this world) as the spirits of insects swarm across and through their body.
Transformed creatures gain a +2 size bonus to Dexterity, a +2 natural armor bonus, a climb speed of 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., scent and a +2 resistance bonus to all saving throws against mind-affecting effects. Creatures that fail the Fortitude save must also make a DC 17 Will save or their Intelligence and Charisma scores drop to 1. These effects persist until the creature receives a heal, limited wish, miracle or wish spell; the single application of any of these spells reverses both effects. After 1 week, any transformed creatures return to their normal form, Intelligence score and Charisma score.

Destruction Coat the haunt’s area in holy water, acid and electricity within the same round.
Adventure Hook There isn’t a scholar in Aventyr that can reliably explain the exact nature or behavior of these bizarre anomalies, but whenever found by the hoyrall, the creatures obsessively worship and protect the area. Some legends claim that the souls of particularly devout followers of Zagnexis create these apparitions, and others postulate that they are droplets of the god’s ethereal being made manifest in the Underworld. They are sparse, but explorers of the endless caves beneath the surface that find a Blessing of Zagn and survive to tell of it often sell the information for a handsome price.

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).