Posted on Leave a comment

Weird Wednesday (Macabre Manses): Collected Souls

Upon entering the Macabre Manse, the PCs trigger the reverse possession effect of the fleshdoll stage. The entire house—including the areas outdoors such as the front porch—are encompassed by the artifact’s area of effect. If the PCs remain in the area of effect for the five minute activation period, they are automatically affected by the fleshdoll stage, their bodies dropping lifelessly to the floor, their helpless spirits drawn into the artifact.

collected souls 1The PCs remain disembodied with the foreboding sense that something terrible is happening. Though unable to communicate, each feels the sense of being bound and unable to move. Soon that feeling fades and the adventurers awaken, each sitting in a darkened area illuminated only periodically by the flashes of lightning from outside that illuminate the room from some unseen opening or window.

Madam Sutradhara has bound the souls of the PCs to fleshdolls, and they are awakening for the first time in their new bodies. She has left them set neatly upon the fleshdoll stage with her other puppets, and has retired for the evening. It will take a few moments for the party to realize that they are not in their own bodies any longer. If a character speaks, they find that their voices seem higher in pitch, and slightly hollow.

To randomly determine what fleshdolls the PCs have been bound to, use the following chart. Each member of the party should have a unique fleshdoll form, so if the roll to determine their appearance is the same as it was for another, then roll again to determine a unique fleshdoll appearance.

1d100  Random Fleshdoll Appearance
1-8 Human male in fine attire (like an aristocrat or nobleman) carrying a tiny felt tome.
9-16 Human female in a magnificent silk gown and sparkling tiara (like a princess).
17-24 Halfling male in brightly colored tights and bells with a polished glass marble in each hand.
25-32 Halfling female dressed as a swashbuckler with a daring tricord, carrying a rapier and dagger.
33-40 Elven male in miniature leather armor carrying a twine leash with a felt briar wolf.
41-48 Elven female dressed in nothing but vivid autumn leaves with a gnarled twig as a staff.
49-56 Dwarven male with tin plate armor and a fuzzy beard, dull tin battleaxe in hand.
57-64 Dwarven female wearing a cotton gown and leather apron, faux tankards of ale in each hand.
65-72 Drow male wearing tattered leather loincloth and black iron collar, mouth sewn shut.
73-80 Drow female wearing a faux spider-web dress and carrying a tiny cat o’ nine tails.
81-85 Pig wearing a lawman’s outfit, carrying a tiny club and wanted poster for a goat.
86-90 Gnarled wooden-horned goat wearing a pair of sharp leather boots and a wide brimmed hat.
91-95 Anthropomorphized donkey carrying its own pin-laden tail in hand.
96-100 Anthropomorphized chicken with articulated wings instead of arms wearing purple pantaloons and a leather falconer’s hood so that it cannot see.

The PCs are on a large stage with tall red curtains drawn shut. When they look beyond the curtains they see what appears to be a study, though everything is enormous in size as if fitted for a giant—it shouldn’t take much time for the party to figure out that they now inhabit the bodies of miniature dolls.

Awakening at generally the same time, the party likely first reconvenes behind the curtain. If the PCs are familiar with each other, they are be able to denote who is whom by their voices—though the tone of each seems more high pitched and squeaky. Otherwise, they should be able to determine who resides in each fleshdoll body by the process of elimination.

Once the PCs have spent several minutes discussing and exploring their environment they are approached by the other fleshdolls, who have been hiding in the shadows observing the new arrivals. There are five in total each elegantly crafted. There is a human maiden dressed in a vibrant red gown, what appears to be an anthropomorphized otter in a high priest’s garment, two bald halflings dressed identically with their faces painted like clowns, and lastly a long-haired, dashing hero, who seems to be in lead of the troop as he approaches in the front.

Who are the other fleshdolls?
The dashing hero – Thomas Hiendlewyn (CG Male human bard 8): As the former lover of Sutradhara who she feels betrayed her to his wife, he is both the original owner of this estate as well as the focus of the masterminder’s ire. His fleshdoll has been crafted in his own likeness as depicted in his youth (when he was involved with Madam Sutradhara).

collected souls 2The red-dressed maiden – Alivya Hiendlewyn (NG Female human commoner 1): The wife of Thomas, it was she whom Sutradhara blames for “stealing” her lover. Her fleshdoll has been made into the likeness of Madam Sutradhara in her youth, and she has been condemned to reenact the story of the two former lovers countless times. She is emotionally broken, and frequently speaks of just ending it all, though Thomas is quick to reassure her that one day they will escape the hellish torment of the fleshdoll stage.

The bald halfling clowns – Richard and Foster Hiendlewyn (NG Male human fighters 3): Twin brothers and the sons of Thomas and Alivya, in life they both were strapping young lads, but as fleshdolls they have been reduced to bumbling half-witted clowns. Their anger towards Madam Sutradhara is unending, and they are quick to assist the PCs with any plan hatched to kill her.

The otter priest – Vencent Tolmyre (NG Male human commoner 1): Father of Alivya, his involvement in matters was mere circumstance. He happened to be visiting his daughter at his son-in-laws estate when Madam Sutradhara first arrived with the fleshdoll stage and imprisoned the family. He is often forced by the masterminder to preside over a marriage ceremony between the maiden and hero fleshdolls—a rendition of what the crone necromancer believes was taken from her by Thomas’ betrayal.

 

Thomas has been awaiting the arrival of several able-bodied (as it were) adventurers who could help him devise and enact a plan to escape. He knows the only solution is to kill the Madam Sutradhara and he has been plotting for many years the best way to do just that.

If the PCs can earn his trust with a DC 20 Diplomacy check, he reveals to them a compartment he has crafted in the floor of the stage. Within they find a pair of sheers (broken apart to form two sturdy blades [treat as two Large-sized daggers]) which he plans to use to kill his former lover.

If the PCs gain his trust, the group may spend the evening hours plotting the plan to overthrow Madam Sutradhara, a grisly affair which must ultimately end with her murder.

Additional Information that can be learned from the other fleshdolls:

  • Thomas explains how the masterminder utilizes ventriloquism to voice their roles during a performance, and how she uses her dark powers to control their movements. Through the years he has discovered with enough focus it is possible to withstand her supernatural suggestions, though it is no easy task. He suggests that the PCs play along during the upcoming performance, showing no resistance, until the time is right to strike.
  • The PCs are told by their fellow fleshdolls about Madam Sutradhara’s perverse puppeteers bond and warned not to wander too far beyond the stage lest suffer the fiery wrath of its curse.
  • Madam Sutradhara has been writing a new play, a grand performance, and until now she didn’t have enough fleshdolls to fill all of the roles. Now that she does, it is assured that there is going to be a performance the following evening.
  • All the collected souls of theatrical torment know the story of Madam Sutradhara; who she was before becoming a dark and twisted necromancer, what drove her to the dark arts, and how the fleshdoll stage came into being. [Covered in more detail in this Friday’s post! – JAM]
Posted on Leave a comment

Trap Tuesday (Macabre Manses): The Roof is on Fire!

The Roof is on Fire!     (CR 10)
Type supernatural/physical; Perception DC —; Disable Device DC 40 (500 gallons of holy water)
Trigger destruction of the fleshdoll stage; Reset none
Effect When Madam Sutradhara is killed the destruction of the fleshdoll stage is triggered, erupting into a pyre of hellfire. The spirits of PCs trapped within fleshdolls are released and awaken 1d4 minutes later to find themselves each lying alone in one of the beds in the mansion. Unfortunately by the time they wake, the entire structure is engulfed in flames caused by the artifact’s destruction. The mansion is literally burning down around party and they have to withstand the damage caused by the heat of the flames, endure the inhalation of smoke, navigate their way through the fiery, smoke-filled hallways, and dodge falling, flaming obstacles as the roof begins to collapse inward!

roof on fire 1We don’t need no water…
The flames produced by the pyre of the fleshdoll stage (and thusly the flames consuming the mansion) are not normal fire, but hellfire caused by the release of the demon trapped within the fleshdoll stage. It requires blessed holy water of substantial volume (500 gallons) to douse the hellfire flames and prevent further burning of the structure.

A Rude Awakening
From within a groggy darkness you awaken feeling weak and disoriented, but filled with a sense of exuberation as you realize that you are back within your own body, laying on a wooden-framed down mattress in what appears to be a bed chamber. Taking a deep breath, your lungs cough from an itchy, gagging sensation in the back of your throat. Sitting up you see a thick, grey haze of smoke lingering over the room—from the clearing beneath a closed door you see the dancing illumination of a rapidly growing fire! Seconds later the wall adjacent to your resting place suddenly bursts into flame, and a rush of sweltering heat rolls across the entire room!

To determine where Madam Sutradhara placed each of the PCs bodies (and how long it will take them to escape the burning mansion), use the following chart. There will only be the body of one PC in any given room; if a PC already occupies a room that is rolled, roll again to determine an unoccupied room.
d100:               Location where the PC awakens:         Time Required to Escape:
1-20                  Guest Room on 1st Floor (#21)                         1 Round
21-40               Guest Room on 1st Floor (#22)                         1 Round
41-50               Guest Room on 1st Floor (#20)                         2 Rounds
51-60               Guest Room on 1st Floor (#23)                         2 Rounds
61-65                Bedroom on 2nd Floor (#34)                            4 Rounds
66-70               Bedroom on 2nd Floor (#37)                             4 Rounds
71-80                Bedroom on 2nd Floor (#38)                            4 Rounds
81-90               Bedroom on 2nd Floor (#41)                             4 Rounds
91-95                Master Room on 2nd Floor (#36)                    5 Rounds
96-100             Master Room on 2nd Floor (#40)                    5 Rounds


Making a Quick Exit

The PCs have the option of jumping through the windows to escape, in which case they bypass the process of having to traveling through the mansion and are immediately safe from the remainder of this trap. Jumping through a window causes 1d6 points of slashing damage from shattered glass, and 1d6 per floors fallen in fall damage (1d6 for 1st Floor, 2d6 for 2nd Floor, and 3d6 from the observatory).


A Mad Dash for Safety

For every round spent inside the burning mansion a PC takes 1d4 points of nonlethal heat damage. During each round of escape, the adventurers must successfully make all of the following saving throws or suffer the associated ill effect:

1) Make a Constitution save DC 15 or become temporarily overwhelmed by smoke and start coughing. If a creature fails this saving throw three times in a row, they are completely overcome and fall unconscious due to lack of oxygen until stabilized by another character with a DC 15 Heal check. If a creature remains unconscious in this state for a number of rounds greater than their total Constitution score, it dies.

2) Make a DC 17 Reflex save or be struck by burning debris as it falls from above. The burning debris deals 1d4 points of bludgeoning damage and 1d4 points of fire damage. If the d20 result of the saving throw is a natural 1 and that creature is on the 2nd Floor of the mansion, the following effect takes place:
Critical Failure while Dodging Debris
: Jumping out of the way of falling debris, the creature lands on a part of the floor nearly burned through. It collapses beneath their feet and they plummet to the floor beneath (note: the maps for the 2nd and 1st floors align perfectly to determine where they fall through. This collapse and subsequent fall deals 1d6 fall damage, 1d6 bludgeoning damage, and 1d6 fire damage, and leaves the creature prone and stunned for 1d4 rounds.

roof on fire 2
A Breath of Fresh Air

Once all of the PCs have escaped to safety the mansion quickly burns to the ground, collapsing into a pile of smoldering ruins with a roiling hellfire inferno at its center.

The roaring flames begin to extend skyward, reaching into thin tendrils that spiral around one another in a flaming vortex. An ominously deep laugh emanates from within the fiery helix followed by the terrified and agonized screams of an old woman.

The flaming, ethereal form of Madam Sutradhara flies out and towards the heavens, but the tendrils wrap themselves around her body. Her voice screeches desperately as she is dragged, flailing, back into the flames. Following a startlingly loud demonic roar, the fire is immediately extinguished and all becomes quiet, leaving only an eerie stillness that resonates from the smoldering remains of the destroyed macabre manse.

Posted on 1 Comment

Magic Item Monday: Fleshdoll Stage

The Fleshdoll Stage of Madam Sutradhara (cursed)
Aura overwhelming necromancy; CL 21st (artifact)
Slot none; Weight 120 lbs.

DESCRIPTION
This semi-portable marionette stage is made from rich mahogany wood, boasting two elegantly-carved twisting pillars on each end across which rests a polished wooden arch. The arch is engraved with a series of unusual arcane runes surrounding the words, “The Magnificent Madam Sutradhara.” A shiny carmine silk curtain with tendrils of gold tassel at the bottom hangs from behind the expanse. Covering the back of the stage is a slotted board with various painted scenes on thin wooden planks, each depicting a different backdrop that can be swapped during performances. The base of the stage itself is crafted from lightweight pine and polished to a gleaming shine, though a few scuff marks litter its surface from years of frequent use. It’s very old, but as an antique, it is obvious that the stage has been well tended to and cared for.

fleshdoll stageThe fleshdoll stage is a unique cursed artifact, created using a combination of powerful necromancy, pact magic, and demonic infusion. The power of the item is sustained by the spirit of its creator (a necromancer) and an ancient demon (of such power that it could be considered a demigod or demon lord) who both agreed to a mutual pact—the demon would lend to the artifact its dark powers and in return for this service, when the creator dies, their soul freely becomes the property of the demon to do with as it pleases.

The magic of the evil pact causes the fleshdoll stage to act as a reliquary that hosts the creator’s spirit, which in turn is closely guarded by the demon that also dwells within it, bound by its pact to remain there until the dark contract is fulfilled. When the creator dies, the demon, having fulfilled its promise, collects his prize, destroys the artifact, and returns to the depths of the abyss. The curse of the fleshdoll stage radiates in a 500 ft.-radius that affects any intelligent creature that enters into it and remains in that area of effect for longer than five minutes (there is no saving throw). If a creature moves out of and then back into the area of effect, the five minute countdown to activation resets.

When activated, the fleshdoll stage triggers a sort of reverse possession, pulling the spirit of an affected creature from within its own body and into the artifact itself. When an affected creature’s spirit is forced from its natural form, its body becomes lifeless (effectively dead, and subject to all effects of death such as decay and rigor mortis). Though unable to utilize their natural senses, the spirit of an affected creature remains conscious and is automatically aware of what is happening to it (though it may not understand the forces behind the effect). The spirit knows that it has been forced from its living body, that its body is presently dying, and that some powerful force is holding them prisoner and preventing them from returning.

Once an affected creature’s spirit is contained within the artifact, the creator has one hour to preserve (by magical means such as gentle repose) the lifeless body of the affected creature or else the creature’s spirit may make an attempt to escape the stage and return to its body with a successful DC 22 Will save (which can be attempted once per hour). If an affected creature’s lifeless body is preserved within the first hour, its spirit gets no attempt to escape their confinement in the stage. If the saving throw is failed and the creator preserves the body before the spirit can make another attempt in the following hour, no further attempts may be made to escape.

Lastly, the fleshdoll stage can contain an affected creature’s spirit for no longer than 24-hours and it may contain up to a dozen different spirits at the same time. In order for an affected creature’s spirit to be permanently removed from its body, the creator of the artifact must transfer that spirit from the stage and into a new body—to fulfill this requirement, the creator must construct a fleshdoll to permanently house the affected creature’s spirit. The binding of an affected creature’s spirit to a fleshdoll requires that the original body remain magically preserved. If at any time an affected creature’s lifeless body becomes unpreserved, or if the creator of the fleshdoll stage dies, the spirit is freed from the fleshdoll and it returns to the original body (awakening in 2d4 minutes if preserved).

fleshdollFleshdolls are animated constructs crafted by a powerful necromancer from the bone, flesh and blood of the recently deceased. They are inhabited by unwilling spirits trapped in the tiny forms bound by supernatural forces to do their creator’s bidding. Mechanically, once a spirit is bound to them, they are both undead and constructs. Typically fashioned into the likeness of miniature humanoid creatures and grizzly in origin, these can be quite beautiful in appearance (depending on the talent of their creator).
The spirit trapped within a fleshdoll remains fully conscious and cognitive with all the memories of its life before becoming bound to the doll. A fleshdoll can actively seek to disobey its master, whom attempts to control it via the Necrotic Puppet Mastery supernatural ability. [More information about Fleshdolls and how to apply them to a PC on Thursday! -JAM]

DESTRUCTION
The fleshdoll stage can only be destroyed by fulfilling the pact made between its creator and the demon dwelling within it. This means the creator must die to destroy the fleshdoll stage. Afterward the demon immediately destroys the artifact in a supernatural pyre of hellfire, releasing all spirits bound in it (or bound to fleshdolls created by it) before summoning the spirit of the stage’s creator and dragging them into the depths of the inferno as it returns from whence it came.

 

The fleshdoll stage was created by Madam Sutradhara to bind the spirits of her enemies and turn them into playthings. She was once a renowned puppeteer and masterminder, celebrated by many entertainers as the most talented of her kind to ever grace the realm. However, when her lover betrayed her she became twisted with jealousy and rage that eventually drove her to insanity. Determined to never be betrayed again, she turned to dark magic and necromancy—she would control every aspect of those whom she associated with, including whether or not to grant them the gift of unlife. Her zombies proved to be true to her whims, but loneliness still drove her ever deeper into listless sorrow.

In the throes of her dark depression and endless rage, she was approached by a powerful demon who sensed her torment. Amused, the creature struck a deal with the woman, promising her that she would once again perform her craft with the skill of a master puppeteer, and that she could use her art to take vengeance upon all those who scorned her. Together, Madam Sutradhara and the demon created the fleshdoll stage, and the first of her victims were her former lover, his wife, their children, and their entire extended family. After binding their spirits to fleshdolls, she took up residence in the Macabre Manses, where she now directs nightly plays starring her helpless thralls, who perform before her obedient audience of zombie servants.

Those unlucky enough to wander upon her disheveled estate are unknowingly tempting fate, as those who are not cursed to become fleshdolls often become food for her zombies—the leftovers used by the necromancer crone to craft new fleshdolls for potential future performers.

Posted on Leave a comment

Statblock Sunday (Macabre Manses): Madam Sutradhara, the Fleshdoll Masterminder

This aged human woman has frazzled gray and silver hair pulled back, bound by simple silk scarf. She wears colorful attire of mismatched patchwork clothes, yet boasts a persona of elegance and class. Her voice, though marred by age, retains a somewhat melodic tone. Standing merely four-and-a-half feet tall, she progresses with staggered, sometimes painful-looking, movements.

madam sutradharaMadam Sutradhara appears to simply be an elderly woman, friendly and inviting in, remaining soft spoken and assuming an unthreatening demeanor. However, though well disguised, she is quite insane; an evil individual who has been twisted by years of deep depression and bitter hatred. An initial DC 35 Sense Motive check upon first encountering her reveals that something is “not quite right” with her behavior, though just what that is remains indiscernible (a “gut feeling”).

Madam Sutradhara is the antagonist for this week’s Macabre Manses theme, and the creator and master of the accursed fleshdoll stage! [A magic item revealed later this week! -JAM]

Madam Sutradhara, Fleshdoll Masterminder     CR 6
XP 2,400
Female human wizard (necromancer) 7
NE Medium humanoid (human) venerable
Init -1; Perception +8

DEFENSE
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 11 (+2 deflection, -1 Dex)
hp 45 (7d6+21)
Fort +6, Ref +1, Will +8

OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., staggered movement
Melee dagger +3 (1d4, Crit 19-20/x2)
Special Attacks channel negative energy (DC 14, 6/day), necrotic puppet mastery (DC 25, at will)
Wizard Spells Prepared (CL 7th; concentration (CMB 15)
4th—animate dead, resilient sphere
3rd—gentle repose, major image
2nd—command undead, continual flame, ghoul touch, minor image, spectral hand
1st—disguise self, floating disk, silent image, ventriloquism (4)
0th (at will)—bleed, mage hand, touch of fatigue, mending, ghost sounds
Opposition Schools enchantment, conjuration

TACTICS
Before Combat If engaged directly in combat, Madam Sutradhara flees as quickly as possible towards the cellar of the mansion where she keeps her zombies when they are not participating as an audience to one of her shows. However, if she is attacked by any of the spirits possessing her fleshdolls, she becomes agitated and continues to use her necrotic puppet mastery ability to try to force them to halt and obey her commands. If this fails, she resorts to threatening to feed the preserved bodies of the spirits to her zombie servants.
During Combat Once escaping to the cellar, the necromancer lets her 4d6 zombie servants (CR ¼) do the work while she keeps a distance from her attackers. She attempts to cast touch of fatigue upon anyone that passes into her threat range while engaging her undead servants, and if attacked directly in the cellar casts ghoul touch (if available) or draws and attacks with her dagger. Madam Sutradhara uses her channel negative energy ability to attempt to heal her zombie servants as needed during the battle; when her zombie servants are all destroyed, she goes insane, frothing at the mouth, and falls to the ground (becoming prone) as she screams screams obscenities at her attackers.
Morale Once Madam Sutradhara collapses in enraged despair, she can either be killed outright or left there screaming upon the floor. She does not give chase to her attackers if they leave, but does not assist them in any way—choosing to instead spit upon and scream at them if they approach her.

STATISTICS
Str 10, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 17, Wis 12, Cha 15
Base Atk +3, CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Combat Casting, Command Undead, Craft Wondrous Item, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Scribe Scrolls, Spell Focus (necromancy), Toughness
Skills Appraise +9, Healing +6, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (Arcana) + 13, Knowledge (History) +14, Knowledge (Planes) +13, Knowledge (Religion +7), Linguistics +7, Perception +8, Perform (puppetry) +10, Spellcraft +13
Languages Common, Elf, Halfling
SQ perverse puppeteer’s bond (fleshdoll stage), undetectable alignment (magic amulet)
Combat Gear dagger Other Gear ring of protection +2, amulet of undetectable alignment (CL 8th, moderate abjuration), scrolls of gentle repose (3, CL 3rd), a surgeons toolkit, an iron bone saw, a pouch containing 47 small  onyx marbles 25gp each, a small crystal sphere 15 gp,  130gp of mundane equipment and crafting supplies, a stocked spell component pouch [a vial of ruby dust 100 gp, a small jar of salt, a splintered human metacarpal, strips of raw human flesh (2), a handful of dirt (from a graveyard), a roll of fleece gauze, a thin vial of quicksilver (mercury, 10 gp), and 2 blank pieces of parchment], bedraggled entertainers outfit, 60 gp, 5 sp, 28 cp

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Necrotic Puppet Mastery (Su) A spirit trapped within one of Madam Sutradhara’s fleshdolls is compelled to adhere to her will by a supernatural force. She controls their movements at will, and can control up to 12 fleshdolls simultaneously. This effect can be negated for 1d4 rounds by successfully making a DC 17 Will save.
Perverse Puppeteer’s Bond (Su) An effect caused by the curse of the fleshdoll stage. As long as Madam Sutradhara remains alive, the spirits bound to her fleshdolls cannot escape their puppet prisons nor willingly travel further than 100 ft. from the stage itself. A fleshdoll that attempts to move further than 100 ft. from the fleshdoll stage suffers 1d4 points of Charisma damage per round until they return to within 100 ft. of the stage. If Madam Sutradhara dies, then the stage is destroyed and the spirits trapped inside the fleshdolls return to their bodies (which have been preserved at a nearby location by gentle repose as per the requirements for activation of the fleshdoll stage) in 2d6 minutes.

 

[Graphics and Content by AaWBlog Regular Justin Andrew Mason!]
Note on Artwork: Source image for transformative artwork for Madam Sutradhara is “An Old Woman (Study)” by Girolamo Nerli (c. 1880), oil on canvas. This work is in the public domain. (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Girolamo_Nerli_-_An_old_woman_%28study%29_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg)

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Sidequest Saturday: Finding the Macabre Manses – CR 5

The party begins this journey while staying in a decrepit, sparse forest. The night is unusually dark with heavy storm clouds hinting the start of a downpour. Shortly after midnight the adventurers are visited by a charming, energetic man, This fellow has no truly distinguishing features, and makes no effort to mask his presence when moving into the area.

“I am just but a humble servant from an estate a few mere miles away from here. We noticed your group traveling through the area and I was sent out to warn you about tonight—things are not what they seem. We are requesting your presence; please come and visit the mansion, where we’ll host your safety.” The man bows with a sly smile flashing across his face.

rogue 7 swashbuckler guardsmanAfter the bow and smile, lighting strikes the party’s campfire and blinds them for a round; when their sight returns the man is gone and the only thing left is a gem-studded key.

If the party searches for footprints or tracks, there a none to be found, which anyone that succeeds on a DC 18 Perception or Survival check can easily discern. Even though the forest seems the same, the atmosphere of the woods has become unrecognizable, as though a suffocating pressure weighs upon the adventurers’ minds, dulling any colors that are vivid (something noticed by anyone that succeeds a DC 25 Perception check).

creepy-houses-6When the lighting struck, the PCs were shifted to an alternate universe just slightly out of alignment with their normal dimension. This effect does not hamper the party in any way other than the slight distortion of color. Any detection spell or compass seems to still give out the right cardinal directions, but these always lead to one of the Macabre Manses until adventurers have successfully braved the haunted estate. [Of which there are four across the month of October—the first is tomorrow! -MM]

After the party has traveled roughly a mile in any direction, they find a long, broken cobble road. After about 5 minutes of walking along it the PCs run into a large gate with a pair of overlooking gargoyles statues staring at an unusually large lock hanging from the entrance.

gargoyle-small-cleanWhen the adventurers approach the gate, anyone that succeeds a DC 31 Perception check notices the statues are stirring for a fight.  The creatures take to the air and spread out, racing to see how many of the PCs they can kill.  Once the party has defeated these monsters, they find that the key unlocks the gate—should they dare to proceed into the mansion (though should they walk in any other direction, the PCs walk out of the woods and right back up to the entryway).

SCALING THE ENCOUNTER
To modify this encounter, apply the following changes:
CR 3 (XP 1,200): Remove one gargoyle from the fight and add the young template to the gargoyle (+2 to all Dex-based rolls, –2 on all other rolls, –2 hp/HD. Reduce the DR to 5/magic)
CR 11 (XP 12,800): Change the regular gargoyles to four-armed gargoyles.

 

[Submitted by Tim Snow!]