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Tribal Troubles: Many-Handed Jakk

Besting Many-Handed Jakk
Several years ago, a lone hoyrall was spit out by a gyeongsa warp storm and left alone in the wilds of the Disputed Territories—not unlike the PCs. Ayaxan gypsies came upon the stranded creature, the first they’d ever encountered. Their elders conferred and agreed: Jakk was a sign of good luck for their tribe. Accepting him into their number unconditionally, he has become a person of import among the Ayaxans. Word has already spread out from the Disputed Territories, and a DC 17 Knowledge (geography) check is enough to know that to truly gain the aide of the Ayaxan gypsies, one must best their strange, head warrior: Many-Handed Jakk.

aaw-website many-handed jakk - jacob blackmonAfter the PCs are spit out by a gyeongsa warp storm into the Alimpulosa, after traveling 2d4+2  miles in any direction they come across a spot of land haunted by the curse of the Ayaxa followed 1d4 miles later, they chance upon a sand blast trap. Immediately afterward, a troupe of Ayaxan gypsies come across the adventurers, gift them an Ayaxan lamp  and are offered safe passage to their base camp. Once there, a night of revelry (including a foreboding telling of some of their ancestral tales, is followed early the next morning when Many-Handed Jakk challenges all of the PCs to tests of chance, combat, or skill.

To earn the trust of the Ayaxan gypsies, the party must best the hoyrall. This can be a test of spellcasting, a traditional duel, or a competition of talents (a series of five checks of any Skill does the trick; Jakk knows or can try them all). The bard calls out any talented melee warriors first, relishing the disbelief their defeat brings to their companions, but ultimately if any one of the PCs can beat Jakk, afterward the elders request the adventurer’s help.

Many-Handed Jakk CR 9

MANY-HANDED JAKK      CR9
XP 6,400
Male hoyrall bard 10
N Small humanoid (aberration)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., carrion sense; Perception +10

DEFENSE
AC 19, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +2 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 natural)
hp 65 (10d8+20)
Fort +5, Ref +9, Will +7; +2 vs mind-affecting effects, +2 vs poison
Weakness light blindness

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee mwk daggers +9/+4 or +5/-1/-5/-5/-5^ (1d3-1, Crit 19-20/x2; disappears 1 round after leaving possession)
Ranged mwk daggers +11/+6 or +7/+1/-3/-3/-3^ (1d3-1, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 10 ft.; disappears 1 round after leaving possession)
Special Attacks bardic performance 24 rounds/day (move action; countersong, dirge of doom, distraction, fascinate, inspire competence +3, inspire courage +2, inspire greatness, suggestion), toxic blood 2/day (swift action)
Bard Spells Known (CL 10th; concentration +11)
4th (1/day)—hold monster, rainbow pattern
3rd (3/day)—crushing despair, dispel magic, major image, phantom steed
2nd (4/day)—darkness, hold person, invisibility, mirror image, sound burst
1st (5/day)—cure light wounds, disguise self, grease, hideous laughter, silent image
0th—detect magic, ghost sound, know direction, mage hand, mending, prestidigitation

TACTICS
Before Combat Jakk casts invisibility and moves, then follows up with a major image that makes it appear is if a sandstorm has overcome where he just stood.
During Combat Once his opponent has engaged the illusion, Jakk casts hold person. If the paralyzing spell takes effect, the hoyrall closes the distance and uses Arcane Strike to make his weapons into +2 daggers (melee +9/+3/-1/-1/-1^  |  ranged +11/+5/+1/+1/+1; 1d3+1).
Morale The hoyrall has found unexpected kinship with the Ayaxan gypsies and is mostly out to give them a fine show. He avoids killing those that take arms against him in contests, but if his fellows are attacked, Jakk fights to the very last, only opting to escape when reduced to 6 hit points or less.

STATISTICS
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 13 (15 for bard special abilities)*
Base Atk +7; CMB +5; CMD 17
Feats Arcane Strike, Combat Casting, Dodge, Eschew Materials, Improved Initiative, Weapon Focus (daggers)
Skills Acrobatics +10, Appraise +5, Bluff +10, Climb +11, Craft (alchemy) +7, Diplomacy +6, Disguise +10, Escape Artist +9, Fly +10, Intimidate +10, Knowledge (all) +10, Perception +10, Perform (act) +10, Perform (comedy) +10, Perform (dance) +10, Sense Motive +7, Sleight of Hand +11, Spellcraft +8, Stealth +15, Use Magic Device +8; Racial Modifiers +8 Climb; Size Modifiers +4 Stealth
Languages Common, Hoyr
SQ bardic knowledge +5, jack-of-all-trades (use any skill), lore master 1/day, multi-armed, resistant, stonecunning, versatile performance (act, comedy, dance), well-versed
Combat Gear +1 studded leather armor, bandolier of endless daggers`, ring of protection +1,
Other Gear Ayaxan lamp (2)

SPECIAL ABILITIES
^Multi-Armed: When attacking with all his arms, Jakk takes a -6 penalty to AC, CMB, CMD, and Reflex saves until the beginning of his next turn as he focuses more on offense rather than defense.
Toxic Blood Twice per day, Many-Handed Jakk can envenom one of his weapons as a swift action. (Paralytic Venom: Injury; save Fort DC 17; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Dex; cure 1 save.)

* ^ ` This is one of many options for this exciting new player race! To see them all, keep an eye out for the upcoming product, Underworld Races: Hoyrall!

After the party has successfully proven their worth to the tribe, their elders approach them with gifts: 2d4 randomly determined potions. Lately a strange malady has come over the land, a storm unlike any they have encountered yet; they have seen it traveling the lands of the K’naghi Tribesmen, and some of their eldest legends—mostly forgotten—foretell of such an event, and that calamity might arise from it. The shadow it casts on their history is dire indeed; though the elders try to hide their fear, a DC 16 Sense Motive check makes it clear that it is of great import to their peoples.

When the PCs accept this diplomatic mission, Many-Handed Jakk leads them toward the locus riders and after three days of travel across the barren Disputed Territories, they reach the K’naghi and face their next challenge: Banthadar [tomorrow’s post—see you there!].

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Underworld Races: The Hoyrall

Yesterday we gave out a taste of the duplicitous underterror, but today the AaWBlog dares to be even more bizarre with the otherworldly hoyrall! Back in January you might remember The Blessings of Zagn, where the insectile aliens are mentioned in passing. Jacob Blackmon is turning in the rest of the artwork this week, and it’s just too darned good not to share with everyone immediately.

Moreover, this player race takes up a very big role in the near future of Aventyr, and are a major part of PATHMASTER contest winner Michael Allen’s upcoming adventure path! They’ve terrorized Picollo in the past, and infest various regions of the Underworld—but where did they come from? What are their plans for the surface world? Why are they in Aventyr, and what keeps them here?

Today an unwitting band of apprentices dare to learn some of these secrets, perhaps biting off more than they can handle…

It was a rare day indeed, Markos thought. Not only had he, Sylveni, Karris and Jorall managed to sneak out of their rooms beneath the notice of Master Halwoan—he who bemoan, the quartet often joked—but down off of Cape Fin, jammed into a watery cove, they had found a true wonder.

cave-11The capsule (which it was Markos’ idea to call) was actually quite large, maybe 60 feet longways and another 15 across, laying at rest on a sandy beach at the far side of the watery cavern. Its exterior was pocked and marred by rocky abscesses in between chitinous scales that seemed to move ever so slightly of their own accord. Sylveni and Karris were very careful, unwilling to enter into the cove at all—it took foolish Jorall and his mischievous sling to convince them, but when the capsule didn’t show any signs of reacting to his stones their natural curiosity was sufficiently peaked. 

Cautiously, Markos produced a scroll, an invisibility spell he produced when Professor Kambrudge dozed off the other afternoon. As the others waited, he conjured forth the arcane magic and disappeared from sight, leaving only shallow footprints in the wet sand around the cave’s edge in his wake. Initially it seemed as though the entirety of the capsule was solid, but once he was quite sure that it would not react to his presence, Markos ran his gloved fingers along its edges and eventually found a large fold. With a bit of working he managed to work first one, and then both of his arms into it and with a bit of leverage, the whole thing made a large slopping noise and stretched open to make a portal within the capsule.

Giving a thumbs up to his companions, which Markos quickly figured was actually kind of silly given that he was invisible, the apprentice mage carefully peered into the interior of the strange thing hidden in the cove of Cape Fin. A soft orange glow filled the cramped expanse, just enough that he could make out what was on—or rather, in—the walls. Chitinous statues, their eyes made of large red rubies, peered outward from strange insectile faces. Each sculpture was slightly different, but all had antennae and four arms in repose, standing on two powerful legs seamlessly encased in the wall.

Seeing the gems was one thing—Jorall would undoubtedly be pleased—but this was unlike anything Markos had even read of before! One night when they snuck out to a tavern on the far side of the gate, a minstrel told tales of similar bug-men, four-armed warriors that terrorized Picollo before he had been born. Very little was known of them to the scholarly world, however, and suddenly the student in Markos leapt to the fore—this could be his mark of distinction! The founder of an alien artifact such as this was sure to be laden with rewards and laurels for their efforts, were they not?

While the cramped confines undermined his confidence, that urge for academic recognition spurred Markos deeper into the capsule and further on, even after the opening behind him slowly closed back up. The layout made no sense to him and denied a sense of the cardinal directions. Even in so small a space it only took him a few minutes to get lost, but he came upon a room filled with carvings and hieroglyphs that demanded Markos’ attention. A great, strange serpent of some kind sailed across the stars with crowds of dozens of the insect men on its back. Once arrived on the planet, the thing tunneled into and through the sphere as its passengers spread across the surface.  With a sense of dread, the apprentice mage followed the next series of symbols, but they were the same, cycling through the sequence in nonsensical directions that covered every surface of the room he was in.

Yelping in surprise, something in Markos’ peripheral vision caught his eye; a small movement in the hallway. Creeping closer he peered at the carved statue on the wall and breathed a sigh of relief, seeing that the gems on its face were still.

But then the scales above the gem moved, and whatever pretense of safety Markos once had evaporated in an instant.

___________________

Still huddled against the entrance to the cove, Sylveni, Karris, and (most of all) Jorall were getting impatient. He looked at his fellow apprentices sternly and said, “Markos should be back by now; I say we go in and make sure he’s okay.” The conviction of his words matched the resolve on his face, and Sylveni could tell right off he wouldn’t be dissuaded. Markos had always been sweet to her and if one of them didn’t return, she knew that Master Halwoan would be furious beyond description.

“Karris—you stay here near the entrance. If Jorall and I aren’t back within the hour, run back to the academy and tell them what you saw here.” Sylveni pressed her prized hourglass—a silver-gilded ornament bestowed to her for being scholar lariat a few years ago—into Karris’ trembling hands and squeezed them briefly. For her part, the timid novice mage gave a nod and shrunk behind some stalagmites, watchful of her friends as they approached the capsule.

Hoyrall front coverJorral practically sprinted up to it, running his hands along the edge like his friend Markos had done. With a victorious shout he found it, prying his arms inward and unfolding the doorway. Unlike what Markos had seen, however, no sculptures lined the walls—instead, standing insectile four-armed men briefly regarded him with ruby eyes. For one brief moment, everything stood still as Sylveni gaped in horror at the things within the capsule—Jorall’s scream broke the reverie as half a dozen of the creatures leapt out and dragged him inside.

Sylveni began to run for the beach, yelling for her friend to get away. The bug men were on to her too, though, and the last thing she saw as they wrestled her into the capsule was Karris’ cloak flitting out of view, whipping away in the direction of Nyamo.

What did the hieroglyphs mean? What are the hoyrall’s intentions with Karris’ friends? Where are the alien bugs from and why are they on Aventyr?

The answers to these questions (and so much more!) are in the upcoming Underworld Races: Hoyrall! Keep an eye out for it and the other Underworld Classes and Races books hitting the digital selves soon!