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Sidequest Saturday (Destiny Derailed): Blunder at Demon Pass

Blunder at Demon Pass occurs the morning that blasting resumes on the mountain west of Steamtown. With the pass nearing completion, an early morning explosives crew is sent to finish off the last of the demolition. However, when the workers blast open the last section of the pass, it unintentionally disturbs an incredibly large vein of alligotonium ore [more on this unusual material in the next Magic Item Monday article! -JAM] sending the strange metal airborne. As a natural effect of being agitated, the alligotonium becomes temporarily lighter than air, forming a cloud of debris high above the blast site. A strong prevailing easterly wind drives the alligotonium cloud towards Steamtown with alarming momentum.

blunder at demon passUnfortunately, the massive deposit of ore was also binding a powerful Ireful Hellion and his army of undead Hellion Revenants [more on both monsters in tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday article! -JAM]. Once released from its alligotonium prison, the irefull hellion kills all the blast site workers. After spending several hours reveling in the dismemberment of their corpses, the demon makes its way up the tracks towards Steamtown where its army of revenants have already begun to wreak havoc by cursing various mundane items around town.

 

I. A Morning to Remember
After having just read the headline, “A Scourge Descends on Pradjna as Blasts Open Up a Pit From Hell” that dons the front page of the newly delivered issue of the Steamtown Herald, the PCs hear several alarms being raised from outside their assigned quarters. At first a single bell is run, then others frantically join in—followed by distant exacerbated shouts and screams.

When the PCs step outside to find out what all the commotion is they are greeted by the sight of a shadowy cloud in the sky that is quickly approaching Steamtown from the direction of the tracks’ end.

Upon closer examination (DC 15 Perceptioncheck) it becomes obvious that the cloud is composed of thousands of individual pieces—jagged shapes both small and large. The cloud is actually a massive lot of agitated alligotonium adrift on the wind and just about to overtake the town [see this Trap Tuesday’s article, “Rain of Ore” for specific details on the effects of the alligotonium cloud]. The spinning and shifting bits of the metal within the cloud occasionally glint as they catch and reflect the morning sunlight.

The PCs can learn more about what is going on with the alligotonium cloud with a Knowledge (arcana, geography, history, local, nature, planes, or religion) check.
DC 10      When agitated, the alligotonium reduces in mass. If the disturbance is violent enough it can even become lighter than air.
DC 15      Because of this lightening effect, alligotonium is never mined using blasts, but instead meticulously dug by hand from its natural veins.
DC 20     When an undiscovered vein of alligotonium happens to occur at a blast site, the ore is agitated enough to become airborne where it lofts about until the lightening effect wears off and the chunks revert to their natural mass, falling back to the ground.
DC 25      An alligotonium cloud of this size would have to come from blasting a vein of unheard of proportions. The ongoing blasting at the mountain west of Steamtown must have inadvertently exploded a sizeable source of the metal, thus creating the cloud now drifting over the town.

Many of the denizens of Steamtown have witnessed alligotonium clouds before (and are aware of the inherent dangers), but this particular cloud is more than ten times the size of any that have been observed. With little more than swaths of fabric to provide cover, the workers flee the tent city and chaotically scurry through the dirt streets trying to find shelter in the town’s more substantial structures. However, there is little time—many don’t find ample shelter before the cloud overhead begins its deadly rain of sharp, heavy chunks of ore.

The alligotonium cloud completely covers the town in 1d4 rounds and the rain of ore trap triggers the preceding round. If the PCs accepted the caboose lodging, this provides them with protection from the rain of ore, though from within they hear massive chunks plummeting down upon the boxcar. If they are elsewhere within Steamtown, then it takes them 1d6 rounds to find shelter. Many who are unable to find substantial shelter are devastated by the falling metal—casualties are high, and afterwards the tent city is completely in ruin.

 

II. An Unlucky Afternoon
In the aftermath, Borys seeks out the PCs, who he now considers dependable assets, and requests their assistance. With the damage done to Steamtown, those killed by the falling alligotonium, and mass looting by survivors who are gathering the valuable metal lying about in the streets (now property of PNE), the head enforcer has his work cut out for him. However, he is aware that the cloud was almost certainly caused by the blasting at the mountain west of the settlement. Where there are alligotonium deposits, there are demons—and with this much of the metal, there are likely dozens of demons that were awakened.

gnome2Borys believes that the small group of workers and foremen who were sent out to blast at the site are likely outnumbered and outmatched. The Timerian offers the PCs 5,000 gp worth of alligotonium—of which he now has an ample supply of—to command a contingent of ten enforcers (Human warriors 3) to the blast site to assess the damage, determine the threat, and (if need be) dispatch any demons that may have been released during the clearing of the pass.

If the PC’s accept Borys’ job offer, he gestures toward the repair yard north of the tracks and informs the PCs that there they can find a spare engine in the warehouse that was being worked on, but should now be in functional condition. Afterward he wanders off while ordering several of the goblin workers to begin clearing the tracks of chunks of alligotonium.

The workers at the repair yard warehouse ready the transport for the adventurers, getting the engine and tinder set upon the tracks. The process should only take half an hour, but a series of unlikely failures delays the process. When the PCs inquire about what is taking so long one of the repair workers apologetically informs them, “sorry for the delay! It’s as if all our tools have decided to work against us!

In fact, many of their tools have become cursed by hellion revenants [tomorrow, we swear! -MM]. Despite cursed tools that frequently cease to work properly—three hours later and after a stern visit from Borys—the workers successfully prepare the transport.

When the PCs investigate the matter of the uncooperative tools, they may determine that they have been cursed. If the curse is removed or if the tool is destroyed, the hellion revenant possessing it materializes in its humanoid shape and attempts to flee (by finding another inanimate object to possess). A total of 6-72 hellion revenants have arrived at the town after being released from the ireful hellion’s lair and immediately possessed various mundane items.

With a gnomish engineer (Gnome expert 3) at the helm, the PCs and their contingent of enforcers board the train and finally make their way westward towards the mountain blast site. With a fully functional engine the travel time would be about three hours, however with this hastily repaired engine the trip takes nearly twice as long.
demon on the rails

 

III. The Showdown at Sundown
After four hours and having traveled three-fourths of the way to the tracks end, the sun hangs low in the western sky, casting a crimson glow across the tundra-like landscape. Suddenly the brakes are applied to the engine and the train chugs to a halt. When the PC’s get out to investigate, they see their gnomish engineer running at full speed eastward up the tracks. Turning to look in the opposite direction they see a large, looming figure silhouetted by the setting sun as it makes its way towards them, walking up the tracks with a mincing gait. The approaching figure is an ireful hellion, a demon possessing power of the likes PNE workers have never seen before.

2d4 of the human enforcers accompanying the PCs become frightened and immediately turn and run eastward up the tracks following behind the engineer. The remaining enforcers begrudgingly stay to assist the party.

The ireful hellion continues to walk towards the stopped train for another three rounds before it releases a loud, echoing roar and charges towards the PCs (it takes another two rounds for the hellion to arrive at a full run.) The party automatically gains the initiative when the hellion arrives, and it engages in combat with them until it is killed. If the adventurers flee it gives chase and continues to pursue them until it catches them or reaches Steamtown—where it wreaks havoc in an enraged attack at every living creature that crosses its path.

 

IV. The Heroes of Steamtown
Assuming the PCs dispatch the ireful hellion during the initial engagement, they are without an engineer and about a four hour walk from the blast site.

The steam engine can be (poorly) operated by a character that succeeds a DC 25 Knowledge (engineering) check, but they are only able to make the vehicle operate at one-fourth of its normal speed. If the PC attempts to push the train to go any faster, the boiler becomes stressed and begin to whistle loudly. The whistling continues for 1d4 rounds before the boiler explodes, destroying the steam engine and dealing 6d6 points of concussion and shrapnel damage to any creature within a 50-ft. radius of the train.

If the PCs continue on to complete their investigation they uncover a scene of bloody carnage. All of the workers at the blast site—and their foremen—have been slaughtered and the area is scattered with severed limbs and body parts. A large crater (obviously left behind by the final blast that released the alligotonium cloud) and the dead demon behindt the adventurers are all that remains of the largest obstacle to the tracks intended path.

 

Though they gave their lives, the blast site workers managed to complete their job; when the news makes its way back to Steamtown, the company haisl both the PCs and the dead blast site workers as heroes of Steamtown. Despite the day’s death and devastation, PNE stages a moderately large celebration in the commons to honor its heroes, congratulating a completed job, and mourning the sacrifice of the dead—the site of the blasting is declared Demons Pass.

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Shotgun Wedding

Blog Map - rory toma background_cave__eric_quigleyAs the PCs are exploring or between encounters, an apparition of an attractive young woman appears before the adventurers. She is translucent and her opacity varies as she speaks to the party.

Help me! I was with my father cataloging his vast collection of magic items when one of them transported me to another realm. I am bound here and the only way back is to create a truly personal bond with a dweller on my own plane—a bond of marriage. The creatures here are frightening and it is only because I have a small inventory of magic with me that I am able to communicate with you and survive.”

Her image becomes very translucent for a moment, almost vanishing as the ground beneath you opens up to reveal a damp passageway that leads underground. Her eyes close for a moment and she inhales deeply. Her breath invigorates her and the image solidifies again. I have only a few more moments…please, help me. I can offer your items back as reward, plus several more. Venture underground here to one of my father’s caches!”

She gestures to her side, where an image of a small pile of items appear. You recognize a few items as ones that have been taken from you. 
Be warned, there are protections in place. When you reach the end cavern, I can briefly materialize, perhaps long enough to undergo the ceremony to bring me back. You’ll know when you’ve reached the end. There is an altar in the middle of a pool. I can only hold them off for about another hour at most. Just…please…help”

She disappears.


Adventure Location: Alby’s Cache
Dangers: Fey Mister Trap, Brick Puzzle, Scavenged Golem
Lighting: None
Environment: Underground with stone passageways, earthen floors and hanging roots from the ceiling

The entranceway is thick with roots that hang from the ceiling that thin out as the passageway descends. By the time the PCs reach the “X” marking the fey mister trap, the roots are almost gone. If the players have had any minor items stolen from them, put one or two of them in the roots near the beginning of the dungeon. These items can be spotted with a DC 22 Perception check, and freely retrieved. Give preference to items stolen by the Pickpocket Grass trap, if used, or from a biddlywink that escaped the adventurers in the previous Sidequest Saturdays.

Fey Mister Trap CR 6

XP 2,400
Type magical; Perception DC 30; Disable Device DC 30
Trigger location; Reset None
Effect Fey Mister (DC 22 Will save or become entwined in the Fey Realms for 9 hours; multiple targets(all targets in a 30′ cone).

A fey mister is a device that is partly in this world and partly in the Fey Realms. It darts around and sprays a fine mist on unsuspecting interlopers when they wander into someplace that the fey denizens would prefer them not to be. When sprayed PCs are caught partly in the Fey Realms. They see and hear Fey Realm ghost images, and even have slight physical interactions with them—this translates into sensory and other penalties.

cave-bruno-balixaWhile entwined in the Fey Realms, the PC sees and hears transient images from the Fey Realms. This gives the PC a -4 to all Perception based skill checks. Some of the images from the Fey Realms also materialize. This makes all terrain difficult terrain for the duration of the effect. If the PC takes more than one move action per round, they must make a DC 15 Acrobatics check for each movement or be limited to a 5-foot step. If this check fails by 5 or more, the PC does not move and falls prone.

During combat, there is a 20% chance that a successful melee attack strikes an obstacle from the Fey Realms and misses its intended target entirely. For ranged combat, treat the target as if they had cover (+4 AC/+2 Reflex). If the Perception check to locate the trap fails by 5 or more, the mist is not seen; all other characters in the area must make the listed Perception check to notice the mist, which lingers and remains active for 1d4-1 rounds.

The narrow passageway continues for 50 more feet where it opens into a large cavern. In the middle of the cavern is a pile of bricks. The exit on the far side of the cavern is blocked by a brick wall that has several bricks missing. Also along the far wall is a wand of mage hand (38 charges) half buried in the earthen floor (DC 25 Perception check to find).


The bricks cover a wall of force (CL 20th). PCs can see through the holes, but due to the wall of force, cannot pass through (the area is also affected by a dimensional anchor at CL 15th.)

In order to pass, the bricks must be put back into the correct empty spots. There are 11 empty spots at different heights but distributed from left to right, so it is obvious to number them from 1-11. 31 bricks, numbered from 1-31 make up the pile in the center.

Magical means must be employed to move the bricks and they cannot be physically moved—when contact is made, the brick won’t budge (they radiate strong conjuration magic). Any spell that moves an object, such as mage hand, unseen servant or even teleport object does the job, however. Alby has a sick sense of humor—since this puzzle is supposed to be solved from the other side of the barrier, he left the means necessary to do it in this room (out of sight of anyone in the tunnel beyond).

The bricks need to be put, in order, from left to right: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31 (prime number sequence). When the final brick is placed, the puzzle is complete and the players pass through.

As you place the final brick, the wall shakes and dust falls from the ceiling. Bits of mortar flake off the wall and fall to the ground. A vertical row of bricks in the center of the wall parts. Each brick rotates 90 degrees as they move towards the edge. This continues, the sequence of rotating bricks parting the wall like a curtain until all that remains is a single row of bricks, framing the exit.

A short distance later, just around the bend, is an iron door guarded by a scavenged golem, magic (minor).

The passageway turns and abruptly ends in a heavy iron door worked into the stone. Standing in front of it is something that can only be described as a vertical pile of junk, with rough arms, legs and a head. What appears to be a key hangs from its neck on a metal cable.

Scavenged Golem, Magic (minor) CR 12

A collection of detritus is piled in the corner, as if someone took a bunch of semi-valuable items and stacked them up in a humanoid shape.

Scavenged Golem, Magic (minor) CR 12
XP 19,200
N Medium construct
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60ft, low-light vision; Perception +15
DEFENSE
AC 24, touch 10, flat-footed 24 (+14 natural)
Hp 140 (20d10 + 30)
Fort +15, Ref +11, Will +15
Defensive Abilities DR 10/adamantine; Immune construct traits, magic
Weaknesses magic distruption
OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft
Melee 2 slams +21 (3d6+8)
Special Attacks random spell, recharge
STATISTICS
Str 27, Dex 10, Con , Int , Wis 10, Cha 1
Base Atk+13; CMB +21; CMD +31
Feats
Skills
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Dispelling Weakness Dispel magic causes 1d6 damage per 2 caster levels (max 5d6); greater dispel magic causes 1d8 damage per 2 caster levels (max 5d8); mages’ disjunction causes 1d10 damage per 2 caster levels (max
0d10);
detect magic gives a +1 insight bonus to all attack rolls against the golem as long as it is sustained.
Random Spell (Su) As a move action, the golem can cast a spell that is determined randomly from the following table (d8). Once cast, a spell may not be cast again unless it is recharged.
1. magic missile2 magic missiles (2d4 + 2) strike the target
2. shield +4 deflection bonus to AC for 4 minutes
3. darkness as the spell, for 4 minutes at CL 4
4. mending (swift) — restores 1d4 hit points to golem
5. shocking grasp next successful melee hit deals an additional 4d6 electricity damage, and is at +3 to hit vs. metal wearing/wielding creatures.
6. burning hands as spell for 4d4 damage and DC 11 Reflex Save
7. make whole restores 4d6 hit points to golem
8. detect magic grants opponents +1 insight bonus on all attack rolls for 1d4 rounds.

Recharge (Su) As a swift action, the golem may make a DC 26 Will Save to gain the ability to recast a random spell.



cave-8Near the entrance to the cave, a DC 20 Perception check notices a single adamantine melee weapon (choose a weapon that would work for the PCs) lying in the dirt. The key is actually fused to the golem’s body. Once defeated, the creature falls apart into many pieces and the key can be retrieved (then used to open the iron door).

Once the door is opened, the PCs see the final cave.

You see a large chamber. An altar has been built from the natural stone on a small island in the middle of a pool that in the center of the room. The bride-to-be is next to the altar, offering you a flowered circlet to place on your head. A small pile of items, including some of your own, sits next to the altar.

She speaks. “Well, you made it!” She points at the intended groom to be. “Relax, honey, I have good news for you. You aren’t getting married today, or at least, not to me! I’m sure Alby will be here in a moment, now that you have broken his defenses. Since I don’t wish to remain here permanently, I’d better go. Goodbye!” With that, she vanishes—as does the pile of items.

At this point Alby, who will be described in detail in tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday appears and is dismayed that you have freed one of his PRANKSTER rivals, Elwin. He caught her pilfering items from his caches and tricked her into this cave—which he disguised as a cache but is actually a prison. Having a sense of humor, he placed items that would be useful to defeat his locks and wards at each location. Of course, these items, such as the wand and adamantine weapons, were on the wrong side of the interposing barriers and thus quite troubling for anyone trapped away from the means of their escape within sight and out of reach—the defenses were meant to keep someone in.

However, he realizes that a resourceful group of adventurers such as these may be just what he needs to solve his biddlywink problem…

 

 

[Map by Michael Allen and content by Rory Toma!]

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Mischievous Meadows – Lunar Larceny!

Snowy ForestWhile sleeping during the evening and making camp in the forest, the PCs’ magic items are stolen from them as they rest! Each loses one or more wondrous items—and eventually they find they are short an enchanted ring a piece as during the night, the party is  visited and re-visited by strange creatures of the woods that abscond with their goods!

In the unlikely event that none of the adventurers have the requisite items, the smallest (and least powerful) magic weapons targeted first. Otherwise the party loses a total of 1d4+1 random potions and 1 wondrous magic item (minor first and medium second; never any items that hold an extradimensional space) each time they are visited upon by the thieves. The final visit ends with the theft of a ring from every PC that has one in addition to the other purloined items. Only items that weigh 5 pounds or less are stolen—anything heavier is too heavy for theft by the stealthy robbers.

Thieves in the Night!

There are a total of four of the mysterious robberies during the night; the creatures stealing the items are not only diminutive (and thus undetectable with the alarm spell) but also extremely talented at blending in with their surroundings and constantly under the effects of a nondetectionspell. Particularly difficult to see or hear (DC 36 Perception check) and not idiotic (they have an Intelligence of 8), the PCs are unlikely to find them but if they do, their quarry teleports away with a prepared dimension door spell-like ability unless the adventurers are able to hide themselves (though the thieves have arcane sight and see invisibility, so the chances of that are slim; they have a +12 bonus to Perception checks and 120 ft. darkvision).

If the PCs don’t take turns at watch during the night…

As you wake up and take account of your surroundings in the light of the rising sun, something doesn’t seem quite right. Rooting about your belongings, checking your gear, and looking over all your equipment, you realize that some of the items are missing! All of you are similarly dismayed as it becomes clear that everyone has been robbed during the night!

Or give everyone opposed Perception check (vs +12) with a -10 penalty for being asleep as something employs Sleight of Hand against the adventurers.

woods-forest-backgroundAs the initial change of watch occurs and one of the PCs is awoken to take the next shift, read the following:

Stretching your limbs and taking account of your surroundings, you notice that something isn’t quite right and with a little investigation you quickly realize that a potion is missing from your pack! Looking at all of your companions you notice something else—one of your wondrous items has disappeared as well!

You did NOT just do that!


The PCs may be giving you nasty looks as the night goes on, but don’t worry—encourage the party to have faith in their sense of adventure! The AaWBlog might be devouring their loot now but we promise, there are great rewards that await the strong of heart and anyone that endures the whole of Mischievous Meadows!

There’s virtually no hope of catching the thieves in the act without the party actively watching all their goods or keeping an eye out with detect magic. The latter proves fruitless but the former gives them opposed Perception checks (vs +12) for each item stolen as three more robberies occur while the night drags on.

Following their trail is another matter entirely!

Unlikely Trails

The mysterious thieves only steal from a distance (of 30 feet) and take the time to hide their tracks, making them move away at only 20 feet a round and leaving a meager trail—opposed Survival checks (vs +16) reveal the marks of their erratic retreat, but anyone with detect magic receives a +10 bonus to the check as drops of spilt potions appear every teen feet or so.

forest-pictures-8Eventually the PCs are led to a grove and a DC 25 Perception check finds the fresh markings of whatever left the trail leading up into a tree. Detecting the creature in the branches is virtually impossible (requiring a DC 47 Perception check as it utilizes the freeze special quality) and just as in their camp, it teleports away with a prepared dimension door spell-like ability as soon as it feels endangered.  If caught this way more than five times, half the stolen items reappear and the creature flies away until another day.

As the adventurers give up on the chase and realize their quarry is too elusive to find them, a chittering emits from the brush and a small stick-like insect latches onto an item held by one of the PCs—either a bag of holding, glove of storing, handy haversack or other wondrous item that provides an extradimensional space!

Stay tuned to the AaWBlog tomorrow to find out what the 1d4+3 creatures attacking the party are in the first Statblock Sunday for Mischievous Meadows!