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Leahcim the Prankster and Mischievous Meadows

jester_foolLeahcim
Titles: The Clever Shadow
Symbol: Spinning 8-faceted gem
Alignment: CN
Portfolio: Chance, Guile, Illusion, Misfortune, Self-Determination, Thieves
Domains: Chaos, Entropy, Deception, Luck, Trickery
Favored Weapons: Scimitar, Shortbow
Favored Animals Any beast with camouflage or mimicry (such as a chameleon, stick bug, etc)

History

The Aventyr god known as Leahcim was once a forgotten deity, supplanted by the doings of the colloid aeons before it ever reached the Underworld. Once a treasured god of cunning and wisdom, he was left bereft in the void of the cosmos—when Leahcim stared into the void, something from the far beyond stared back. Now slightly deranged and without an identity, the god capered throughout the universe with a will and desire at the whim of his growing insanity.Image_Portfolio_107_Fantasy Jason Walton 61

Eventually the divine energies wrought on Aventyr during the Forging of the Dvergr caught Leahcim’s attentions, drawing him to the periphery of the world to witness the rise of the progenitors and their subsequent fall into the draaki. It was the elven deities, however, that most interested the god of chance—over hundreds of years, he subtly infiltrated their pantheon and species, attributing fanatical devotees in the very flesh before spreading them across both Upper- and Underworld. He appeared inexplicably among the elven pantheon, fully adopting the drow form and gathering followers both before and after their exodus from Edhellond.

The most famous of these followers is Hivaka, the Saviour of the Masses. Leahcim took notice when she and her fellow slaves took flight from Xdot. He imparted the aspiring dark elf with some of his divine essence, forever transforming her into a demigoddess.

Leahcim continues to take an active (albeit underhanded) role in the continued existence of the drow. He travels through the Underworld, briefly touching the souls of dark elves and morphing their alignments towards chaos, neutrality or even goodness if it suits his mood. The lone raider D’thul, a cannibalistic sorcerer-barbarian in the Fungi Forest near Holoth, is one such drow. Those on the surface often see their lives subtly influenced by the trickster god, and Leahcim leads them to roles of dubious natures and unexpected rewards.

Special

Leahcim takes delight in angering the other drow gods at every opportunity; his followers may substitute Leahcim as the required deity for any item, class, feat or spell that has a drow deity requirement, and may select the Drow domain if they have access to domains. Moreover, he often creates his own agents of change—players that wish to play a drow of good alignment in a place that would otherwise prohibit that choice may choose Leahcim as their deity to avoid that.
Appearance

maybe leahcim 2The trickster god has numerous guises but he most commonly appears as an affably dressed male half-drow with an alluring grin and piercing blue eyes. Leahcim’s clothing is generally fashionable and appropriate for the environment, though it is always slightly tattered and seemingly in a state of disrepair. He casually saunters seemingly without a care in the world, a scimitar on his side and black-lacquered shortbow across his back.
Shrines to the Trickster

Leahcim doesn’t have proper churches—effigies and the like are hidden in plain sight or are places of secret pilgrimage. These shrines are often made to look like they belong to other deities, and only show their true forms when the correct prayers are uttered. Followers that fail a DC 28 Knowledge (religion) check find their god distempered with them after praying at one of these shrines, though they remain unsure as to why (regardless of any divination spells they cast).
Holy Text

Leahcim’s Lexicon is a treasured tome among thieves’ guilds, hidden drow enclaves and the trickster god’s followers. These books appear as unremarkable journals of unremarkable lives to followers of other deities (DC 26 Will save to negate) but in the hands of a devoted acolyte, provides a means to learn any rogue trick, illusion spell, or access to knowledge of prestige classes that require sneak attack as a prerequisite.

The prankster god may or may not play a direct part in Mischievous Meadows,but his followers (knowingly or not) are central to this month’s theme on the AaWBlog! Leahcim is known to sometimes take a hand in the affairs of mortals (normally from afar and rarely in person) and ensure that on occasion, even the most improbable plans bear fruit.

As the story progresses his blessings to aid his agents; once per encounter, any of the mischievous NPCs may reroll a natural 1 (they must take the result of the second roll). 

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Insidious Inclusion – 5 Duplicitous Tips to Lure Players

Eventually, players get wise to the mimics, the hidden assassins and the unassuming forest trail. Sometimes to move the plot ahead, however, you need to really walk your group into the lion’s den. Even the most experienced player can still fall prey to a number of different ploys to draw them into an ambush, trap or unfortunate surprise; I’ve detailed a few below.

 

Knight-riding1) Appeal to Alignment

This goes without saying for paladins and antipaladins, but characters of every stripe can be called upon to act out their nature. While a great tactic, it’s not to be used too often—it isn’t likely that all the PCs share the same world views and motivations, and arguments arising from these situations can be catastrophic.

 

2) Opposing Obstacles

A bomb is about to explode, but the mayor is halfway across the city and also primed for fatal catastrophe! Sure, it’s one of the older tricks in the book, but it is effective. Watch out for the same sort of trouble you see with the above option, and avoid saturating your game with this. Forcing PCs to one or two logical solutions to being caught between a rock and a hard place too much might take away too much drama from your game, or dishearten players into feeling that their actions lack impact.

 

marbles3) Incentive

The road to hell is paved in gold and good intentions. Even the most cowardly rogue will give in to their greed and make for a dangerous situation if the gold glitters brightly enough. If you’re feeling particularly vicious, go ahead and throw one or two permanent silent image illusions their way. Eventually clever PCs might start throwing rocks at chests to see if their figments before engaging them and we’re back to traps!

 

4) Cover, Concealment, Reach and Grab

In Pathfinder awakened animals don’t go up in CR. So, for instance, an awakened giant lake octopus gains high-level tactics and 2 HD without raising its challenge rating. There’s already been talk about using terrain effectively, but imagine how an intelligent animal (especially big ones) might modify their hunting grounds. Make use of creatures with reach and grab, concealing them and enticing PCs to wander just close enough that they think they are safe (there is the Lunge feat, after all).

 

knights-armor-205) Sweet Poison Pie

Seed your real plots into innocuous happenings. These could be as simple as running into a pickpocket while at the tavern, or a little more complicated. This month the AaWBlog is taking on a bloody theme to match February’s holiday: Cultus Sanguineus. Within this mini-adventure, the PCs are invited to a grand ball. To seed this, the GM might make it clear that one of the more important members of society’s elite is only accessible to the party at high level functions; while there’s no shortage of events like this, infiltrating one is as hard as earning an invitation. When the adventurers finally find a way in, they’ll think they scored the jackpot—nobles to sleight of hand, influential contacts to make and juicy rumors to learn—only to find out differently much too late…

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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Tactical Intelligence

When I was younger I thought my dog Coppernicus (“Copper”) was about as dumb a canine as could be.
He was way too excited to be inside regularly and would get tangled in the posts of the back porch all the time (note: we made him a carpeted, insulated, heated dog house).
Turns out I was wrong.
Apparently my dad once took some lunchmeat and left it out of Copper’s tangled reach, then went inside. Copper barked for a while, then my dad shut off the kitchen light and moved back to the hallway. My dog barked a few more times then looked around to make sure nobody was watching before untangling himself to retrieve said treat.
Mike Myler
I was stunned. Copper was [he passed away some time ago; I am positive he’s humping his heart out in doggy heaven -MM] a stupid dog that humped everything and ate linoleum; that clever little pooch tricked me!

What on earth does this have to do with tabletop gaming?
My dog was using tactics.
All by himself. With no impetus other than to get attention, so not even with the kind of fervor or drive you’d expect from say, a wounded dire bear or starving wolverine.
More importantly, he showed a genuine understanding of his surroundings; Copper didn’t just trick me, he did it using terrain.

Don’t forget about using the land around creatures; whether you declare that the wolf knows it is on higher ground or not, take advantage of terrain features when using combat because as I’ve learned, even less intelligent animals can do so effectively. 
For sake of ease, here are some examples of how a creature with relatively little intelligence (1 or 2) might reasonably make use of their surroundings in combat:

  • WolfA pack of wolves has learned that some high-hanging brush proves bothersome to taller creature, and attempt to draw their opponents into it.
    • Treat the brush as difficult terrain for other Medium sized creatures that grants 50% concealment to all wolves and characters of Small size
  • Lumbering through the woods, a particularly gluttonous dire bear has found several meals after accidentally knocking down larger trees onto unsuspecting (and otherwise unnoticed) prey.
    • Starting from 60 feet away, give PCs Spot/Perception checks to notice the bear before asking for Reflex saves (DC 15 for half damage; 4d6 bludgeoning) as it knocks a tree down onto them to begin combat.
  • A feral deinonychus lairs within a deep cave; more than one unsuspecting explorer has wandered into its home and after several such encounters, the reptile has learned that taking away a light source ensures its victory.
    • After briefly assaulting an opponent and then fleeing within the cave, the dinosaur will perform the same to anyone that follows it, attacking whomever carries the light before running once more into the darkness, hoping to corner someone who does not benefit from low-light vision.
  • In the mountainous regions a wolverine has unknowingly mastered an extremely brutal version of the game King of the Hill with other, lesser predators.
    • Attacking the PCs in a rocky gorge, this wolverine makes use of a sloped pathway covered by boulders. The creature always moves to keep the higher ground, gaining a +1 to AC and attack rolls with the advantage in height.
  • Image_Portfolio_101_Fantasy Jason Walton 01After being attacked by countless adventurers using ranged weapons, a fierce dire tiger has realized that its jaws can easily snap a bowstring or pry the weapon away. More experienced combatants came to the fore and have fallen to the jungle predator as well, though now it can recognize the scent of spell components and knows exactly how dangerous they are.
    •      Rather than make an attack on a creature using a ranged weapon, the great cat attempts to sunder bowstrings or disarm archers before closing in for the kill. Should anyone cast a spell using material components, however, they will quickly find themselves targeted by the dire tiger until they’ve divested themselves of said items.

Remember: it’s your game and it’s up to you to decide just how intelligently creatures fight. As I described above, even the most innocuous, dumbest (albeit happiest-looking) canine can be surprisingly canny. 
Don’t be afraid to really challenge your players by taking advantage of flanking, creatively using terrain and performing more complex combat maneuvering than, “the beast charges forward and attacks you!”

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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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.

 

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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Draft of Distilled Magic

jar

Draft of Distilled Magic
Aura strong abjuration; CL 13th

Slot none; Price 3,400 gp; Weight 1 lb.

DESCRIPTION
This stout clay jar is filled with a heavy, thick liquid. In the sunlight its contents appear to be pinkish syrup, and in the reflection of the moon or torchlight it looks to be a frothy cyan beverage.

A creature that drinks a draft of distilled magic is able absorb a number of spell levels equal to their hit die. After drinking a draft of distilled magic, when the creature is next targeted by a spell, spell like-ability or supernatural effect, they automatically absorb it so long as they have at least as many hit die as the spell or spell-like ability’s level. The creature is then able to discharge the magical energies as a standard action at one target within 30 feet at any time within the next 24 hours. With a successful ranged touch attack, the discharged magic deals 1d6+1d6 per spell level force damage.
Only the first applicable spell targeting a creature that has imbibed a draft of distilled magic is absorbed (any additional un-absorbed levels are lost). For example, a 10th level fighter targeted by a ray of exhaustion absorbs 3 spell levels and can discharge a 4d6 ray of force damage; any subsequent spells targeting him are resolved normally.

HISTORY     A PC that makes a Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (history) check to learn more about the draft of distilled magic identifies the following fragments of lore:
DC 15     Tribal warriors save drafts of distilled magic over generations, using them to fight off the incursion of planar interlopers that have plagued their civilization for centuries.
DC 20     The Maxia tribe was once a great peoples that ruled a tract of hotly contested land against countless other forces. Their high mages developed these potions shortly before incurring disaster in the realm by garnering the attentions of entities far more powerful than themselves.
DC 25     Vysagodrix “the Ventilator” was the last great leader of the Maxia, and brought destruction upon his peoples. Before his death at the hands of the planar invaders, he performed a great ritual that insured his spirit would remain to impart knowledge upon the following generations.
DC 30     Every century a grand mage, tutored by the spirit of Vysagodrix, rises to power in the tribe and leads them in a deadly (and high casualty) combat to beat back the interlopers first summoned by the ghostly wizard.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, spell turning; Cost 1,700 gp 68 xp

 

 

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
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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!