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Underworld Classes: The Underterror!

ahool front coverAdventureAWeek.com is gearing up to explore the endless caves of Aventyr in a host of upcoming products (some of which are part of PATHMASTER contest winner Michael Allen’s adventure path!) that introduce brand new races and classes to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game!

In a post for the playtest back in January we brought out the ahool and a bit of the drow—today we’re looking at the gitwerc, and more specifically, their horrifying warriors: underterrors! These shapeshifting horrors (a new base class!) stalk the Underworld, subduing those that refuse to parley and consider partaking of the same devilish fruits as the misbegotten deep dwarves.

 

Garenth was beginning to have doubts about heading deeper beneath the surface. Their friend and prodigious wordsmith Frednir, a dweorg merchant that became a fast ally after meeting on the road months ago in between two subterranean dwarven settlements, spoke of great riches farther into the depths but definitely downplayed the danger of such an expedition. Not three weeks ago, Garenth was forced to order his companions to flee while a monster that morphed out of the cave wall itself devoured his lifelong friend Barsk, and a few days ago the halfling cleric Kira entirely disappeared. While he liked the plucky girl, it was hard to argue with Frednir at the best of times and the meager rations she had left behind were a welcome addition to their scant meals.

With food supplies running so low, the paladin feared that he may have led his allies too far along to turn back, and that the endless caves of Aventyr might prove to be a tomb to them all. Trulai broke him from his reverie, the mage’s keen half-elven eyes picking out a flitting shadow from the darkness beyond Garenth’s torchlight. “I’m quite sure I saw something,” the wizard said, reaching for his components bag, eyes cast outward with a steel resolve. “I’m done taking chances down here, Garenth. It’s time to turn back.”

A mild guffaw from behind Garenth brought him back to ease. “Ohhhh lad, don’t be ridiculous,” Frednir said, slapping both the paladin and the elf on the back, “my dwarven eyes aren’t seeing a living thing anywhere in this chamber—you’re just paranoid from hunger. I think I’ve got a flask of ale I hid away when we visited the last tavern…”

“No, dweorg, I think not.” Something about the mage’s tone struck a chord and Frednir stepped away, his hands raised apologetically. Trulai continued, excited and invigorated, “you’ve dragged us down near the very pools of HEL and I’ve had enough of it!” The elf’s face began to turn red with rage, but then to Garenth’s astonished eyes, a crimson distinction of something more suddenly accompanied a slightly lower pitch to his voice. “Kira is gone, Barsk is dead, and it’s all your fault! Garenth, he’s a menacing curse upon us both and his time ends now! We—aaargh!”

aaw-free-4

To the astonishment of both Garenth and Frednir, the mage began to change and morph, his skin turning a hideous bright red and erupting with exploding postules that immediately hardened into chitinous scale. “Heavens, Garenth, it’s him! It’s the damned elf, of all things, it’s a demon!” The dweorg grabbed his trusty axe, slamming it into the screaming creature’s shoulder. “Attack now while it’s weak, before it’s too late!”

Drawing his blade and muttering a prayer to his god, the holy knight struck fast and true; the greatsword slammed into the wound opened by Frednir, cleaving into the elf-things chest and killing it instantly. In a moment that stretched for what felt to Garenth like hours, the warm blood flowing from his dead friend’s chest slicked the blade and the body fell down to the cold floor of the cavern with a thump that haunted the paladin for decades. Looking around for his last remaining ally in the Underworld, the dweorg was nowhere to be found—had the monstrosity attacked Frednir in the heat of the battle?

The eerie silence of Garenth’s lonely victory only lasted for a moment. In frustration and rage the paladin let loose a cry that echoed off the walls and farther down the tunnel ahead of him—and to his horror, something answered.

Winging up from the darkness, a creature in the shadows let loose a wave of sound that struck the paladin with the force of a giant’s club, smashing the cuirass of his armor into broken ribs and sending his sword scattering out of sight. Hairy, unnaturally strong arms gripped his body and though Garenth landed a few punches against his attacker’s skull, he briefly lost consciousness as his body slammed into the side of the cavern. 

Blackness receded just long enough for Garenth to feel a fleeting sense of hope as the familiar image of Frednir swam into view. Wrapped in the embrace of a creature he still couldn’t see and overwhelmed with pain, the warm wash of blood from his neck filled the paladin with dread but his ally was surely about to fight to free him.

underterror front cover

To Garenth’s horror, the dweorg merely grinned as of horn and tusk grew from his skin and massive, leathery crimson wings sprouted from his back. “Told you his blood would be sweet, Rorsk’haht. Was I not absolutely correct?”

Whatever held the paladin in its steely grip muttered affirmatives through sloshing gulps of blood, words Garenth couldn’t recognize. With the dweorg’s eyes locked onto his, Frednir grinned maliciously, “just make sure he doesn’t die. We gitwerc can do great things with so righteous a holy warrior. Great things indeed.”

As the realization of betrayal dawned on Garenth, the will to fight receded and the blackness consumed him once more.

The duplicitous gitwerc, bestial ahool, and monstrous underterrors are only some of the truly fantastic material about to make it to PDF! Keep an eye on the AaWBlog for more information as we bring these bloodthirsty denizens out of the Underworld of Aventyr and onto your tabletop!

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Mike Myler on the Defective Geeks Podcast!


This week I was a guest on the Defective Geeks podcast, with wonderful hosts Giselle (Gizzy B) and Dianne (the Space Pirate Queen)!

We talked about tabletop gaming, getting into freelancing for RPGs, the imminent Underworld Classes & Races product line, Rise of the Drow, the upcoming Snow White Kickstarter and much, much more!
Hear about the fantastic Jacob Blackmon art on the way, what the underterror base class is all about, disillusionment with the film industry, how I go about writing and designing game materials (and some of what’s on the way!), and how to get established in the tabletop RPG world—we covered a lot of ground.

 

To listen in, CLICK HERE!

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Cultus Sanguineus (Part 2: Items Sanguineus)

Cultus Sangineus full color

Countess Darah Veresovich first heard of the Items Sanguineus while traveling abroad—where none can say (and anyone that might have died long ago). She has since devoted her entire family’s fortune and interests to acquiring the items and has already seen the trio of items lost twice; this time she’s prepared for the contingencies and has riders ready to chase after the dispersed wondrous items as soon as she can divine their location again.

Lore
Characters who have ranks in Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (nobility) can research the Cultus Sanguineus to learn more about these individual items. When a character succeeds on a Knowledge check to do so, some of its lore is revealed (including information from the lower DC checks). The facts below are the “true” lore—the GM is free to generate false lore to tease players into searching for the items (examples of misleading histories for these items are included in each of their individual entries).

DC 20

Originally created by the necromancer Kasigern the Lord of Bones, this foul individual continually sought novel ways to convert individuals of status and influence into powerful undead that answered only to him. This three-piece outfit set is one such trap that Kasigern used to subjugate and offer souls to his foul god.


Formerly an aspiring scion to a noble family, Kasigern excelled in the politics of the clamouring royal houses, eventually eliminating his father and two older brothers to claim his ducal birthright. However, exposure to the darkest elements of magic had taken its toll on his once-fine features, leading to a very public humiliation at a grand ball.


The debacle pushed Kasigern over the edge and fully into the hands of his dark master, shunning the noble families that had cruelly mocked him at the grand event. He sought to create items that would bend every member of the social elite to his will in permanent service for eternity. However, over time, many of these items have served their fell purpose and have either been discarded or lost.

 
Success at DC 30 or higher reveals 1d3 credible rumours to the location of other parts of this set.

Once all three items (the amulet of the sundered heart, the cloak of the dark servant and the mask of the thirst) are assembled and worn together, a magic mouth effect speaks a spell completion phrase that activates the wearer’s transformation into a vampire.


Possession and wearing two parts of this set grants the abilities of both pieces and the use of comprehend languages as a spell-like ability three times per day and cause fear as a spell-like ability once per day. The wearer is also subjected to the Sanguine Avarice haunt.

vampire aaaaugh


Once the three items have been found, reunited and worn together, the final curse sets in. The enchanted items collectively discharge all of their individual powers in a swirl of necromantic energy—a necromantic version of the baleful polymorph spell, long since lost to the knowledge of mere mortals—that destroys the wearer and all he carries. At midnight, the unfortunate subject reforms into a free-willed vampire with all the knowledge, equipment and abilities of their previous life.

The actual process forces a DC 22 Fortitude save to resist the necromantic force flowing through the subject’s body, followed by a DC 22 Will save for the subject to retain their mind and skills intact. If either save is failed, the individual is permanently slain, their soul offered up to the god of undeath.

Regardless of the result of the baleful polymorph attempt, the three items immediately disperse into shadow and reappear across a region that includes one or more cities with well-established noble families. 


Wherever the mask of the thirst 
appears a blood thirst box trap is conjured around it, the amulet of the sundered heart is found near a sanguineus mirror trap, and blood sconces manifest wherever the cloak of the dark servant travels to.

[Submitted by Jonathan Ely]
[Edited by Mike Myler]

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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. Š 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Greg A. Vaughan.

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Mask of the Thirst

Mask of Thirst blog-readyMask of Thirst
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 6th
Slot eyes; Price 16,810 gp; Weight 0.2lbs

DESCRIPTION
This ornate half-face masquerade mask is created of the most valuable materials, crafted from finest ebony and laced with fine gold filigree. Androgynous in design, it can be worn by either men or women with equal skill—providing they are of the correct social standing. The central design on the forehead is of a ruby shaped like a drop of blood around which twelve polished ebony studs are arranged in a circle.

This represents the highest quality of dress clothing in the region and is highly desired by nobles who attend the many grand balls at court. Whenever it is found, the mask always represents the latest fashion found at the time and adjusts naturally to the size of the wearer. However, the wearer gains a mild sense of paranoia and always seeks to know whether others are plotting against them, wearing the mask more and more often to hear their thoughts.

The wearer of this mask gains +2 insight bonus to all Charisma-based skill tests and can hear the surface thoughts of others within 10 feet. It also maintains two other enchantments; the first allows the wearer to whisper a short conversation three times per day to a nominated individual within 100 feet. The second is that its true nature is obscured to prevent casual detection from non-members of the Cultus Sanguineas, making others simply believe it to be a mask of diplomacy +1 (granting a +1 insight bonus to Diplomacy checks) of the highest quality.

 

History PCs that succeed on a Knowledge (nobility) check to research the mask of thirst learn some fragments of its lore:

DC 15     This mask of diplomacy +1 is said to have once belonged to a caste of royalty that wore them day and night. They are greatly valued and if found upon someone that is not nobility, removed forcibly from their person (sometimes leading to arrest).

DC 20     Like any other contraband, thieves’ guild leaders also value these enchanted opera masks. Where they are prevalent, acolyte rogues are often made to procure one as a right of passage.

DC 25     Some scholars of esoteric items believe that these masks of diplomacy +1 are somehow related to vampires because of the masks appearance, but they are often disregarded as fools. The history of their founding by the noble caste that bears them is well documented.

DC 30     Baron Varig Norkull was the first to wear the enchanted opera mask and the fashionable item quickly became popular among society’s elite. Numerous would-be adventurers instead retired to live luxuriously as creators of these simple masks of diplomacy +1.

 

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements: Craft Wondrous Items, detect thoughts, eagle’s splendor, magic aura, message; maker must be an arcane caster and worshiper of the Exsanguinator or god of undeath. Cost: 8,405 gp 337 xp

 

[Submitted by Jonathan Ely]
Edited by Mike Myler

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

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