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Wandering Wasteland: The Canyon March

The western canyons of the Scorched Lands are known for a loose network of mutant settlements who make their homes in its shallow caverns and abandoned mines. Many of the inhabitants are locals that suffered mutation as a direct result of prolonged exposure to the energies produced by the Shard of the Sun, but there are others with physical deformities as well (notably, escaped slaves from Timaeus fleeing the oppression of their tyrannical creators).

Pre-eminent across the region is the Canyon March, a mutant-run organization as much as it is an actual trek into the western reaches of the Scorched Lands. These smugglers follow a plotted route from civilized Timaeus to the mutant enclaves in the wastes, accompanied by escapees that are guided by sympathizers on the long journey between campsites and mutant-friendly safe houses.

canyon march (reduced)The smugglers of the Canyon March are always on the run from agents of the Six Orders. Few survivors live to tell the tale of encountering these slave hunters, but a DC 20 Knowledge (local) check uncovers a rumor of a particularly nasty Timaeus Daewi named Tigan Mek and a group of mercenary assassins under his charge that actively hunt and kill any mutant that flees their lands (as well as those who assist in their escape).

Thus the mutants in these settlements are very untrusting of non-mutants, though a rapport can be established with great effort. Unfortunately for the adventurers the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. have garnered such a relationship with the strongest of the enclaves in the Fissures. In return for allowing the cabal to run a processing facility hidden deep within an abandoned mine, the nefarious organization has agreed to funnel a stipend of revenue to help fund the operation of the Canyon March.

When the adventurers first come across the mutant enclave, a small settlement of mud structures established in a network of cliff-side recesses, its 30 mutant inhabitants are very wary. A DC 20 Diplomacy check allows the party to pass the six watchmen (N Human warrior 5 with the ashen template [see the upcoming Meta Thursday article! MM]) and enter into the hamlet. PCs that offer mundane equipment or gold as a token of friendship receive a +5 circumstance bonus to this check. The mutants provide the party with temporary shelter, water, and food (cave lizard meat) but have little-to-nothing to offer in trade or services.

The enclave is governed by a mutant man known as Scowl [check out tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday article to see his stats! JAM] Scowl is a smuggler on the Canyon March, a higher-up in the organization, and the individual who brokered the deal with the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. to operate the nearby processing facility. If the party even hint that they are seeking the location of the agents running the cabal’s operations in the Scorched Lands they are immediately taken to the abode of Scowl (by force if necessary). As soon as the adventurers are brought into the company of Scowl Carver, a group of six robed figures and a dubious man appear in a flashTigan Mek followed the adventurers to this location and has been stalking in the shadows beneath the cliff knowing that they would eventually be lead to the enclave leader.

canyon march 2 (reduced)The moment Tigan (N Male halfling rogue 4/sorcerer 5/arcane trickster 4) and his six assassins (LE Halfling rogue 5) arrive he loudly announces himself and shouts an accusation of guilt at Scowl, condemning the smuggler to death. In response the watchmen who brought the adventurers to the location quickly gather around to defend their leader. The two opposing parties pause momentarily to determine whose side the adventurers are onif the party abstains from the engagement they are presumed to be enemies of the mutants and friendly to Tigan (and are thus attacked by the local guards). Both parties fight until there is a clear victor and upon hearing the shouts of Tigan from Scowl’s abode, the remaining mutants in the enclave scatter and flee, each convinced by local lore that the Daewi is unstoppable.

If the adventurers assist Scowl and the mutants are victorious, the mutants consider them to be true allies. When informed of what the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. are really up to (manufacturing something of ill-intent for all of Aventyr) the mutants gladly tell the party of their whereabouts, explaining that the agents have completed work at the processing facility and abandoned that mine a week past. Scowl was told to visit a specific location in the city of Ravine by cover of night in three days to retrieve the final payment offered to the Canyon March in return for assisting the criminal cabal.

If the adventurers assist Tigan and the mutants are killed, he considers them to be true allies to Timaeus and presents each of the PCs with a black iron token bearing the sigil of the Order of the Cloak. He tells them that these Timean tokens are proof of their commitment and service to the nation of mages (should it ever come into question) and these items provide a single +5 insight bonus to any Diplomacy check made with an agent of the Six Orders of Timaeus. While conversing Tigan tells the party that he and his men spied a group of humans they suspected might be P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. leaving the canyons about a week past, providing the adventurers with the last known location where the cabal’s agents were seen (in the city of Ravine).

In either case the victors decline accompanying the adventurers back to Ravine but offer two pairs of striding boots [upcoming Magic Item Monday! —MM] and 3d4 x 100 gold as a reward for their efforts (in the case of allying with the mutants, these are the goods that can be recovered from the corpses of the Timaen agents).

 

5E Rules

For Tigan use the “Assassin” statistics, for his six agents use the “Cult Fanatic” statistics, and for the Canyon March guards use the “Berskerker” statistics.

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Foul Machinations: Wandering Wasteland

Welcome to the Scorched LandsA metallic puddle takes the PCs from Alucinar and into the Scorched Lands at the encouragement of an old friend: Jesker the Great. The old mage equips the party with some magical aid and sends them into Ravine, the nearest settlement in the unforgiving sands, to track down the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. with the help of Kara the Sun Flea. At the Parched Pilgrim tavern they are tasked with earning the Sun Flea’s trust by acting as couriers and waylaid by one of the cabal’s agents, but with her trust they are also given goggles of revealing and find clues that lead to the Sandy Gate of the Sea of Shards.

Ashen Corpse Haunt_Cinder-Ghoul-Fire-FlameThe Sun Flea gives them her best wishes and an old Pilgrim’s Journal to warn of the dangers of the Scorched Lands: the Transgression [this Thursday has the last article for it, Ashen Death! MM], the fiery apparition haunt, the ashen corpse haunt, and a smattering of other useful tips for surviving the wandering wasteland. When they track down the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. at the Sandy Gate the PCs find several gregaria sphinx killing off the criminals (and a lens shard on one of the corpses), but to reveal the cabal’s full plan the adventurers must travel all the way to the Fissures—possibly contending with any of the mutated clans they come across before finding the Canyon March.

Stay tuned throughout October as the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. devious scheme is revealed in the rest of Wandering Wasteland in preparation for the adventure path finale next month!

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Wandering Wasteland: Mutated Clans of the Fissure

The western portion of the Scorched Lands consists of a massive series of canyons, mesas, and plateaus collectively known as the Fissures. This confusing, uneven landscape is perfectly suited to the reclusive lifestyle led by the many mutant clans who inhabit the area. After surviving the Transgression these transformed savages eke out a living in the wastes, gathering together for protection and to avoid the perils of the mutant slave trade exacerbated by magical experimentations in Timaeus. The Fissures and the ragged, difficult to navigate ecotopes found within have become a rough but safe haven for those escaping enslavement or fleeing from the rulers of Ravine so long as they don’t run afoul of the mutated clans.

the fissures scorched landsTravelers that are obviously enslaved or recently freed (bearing brands, wearing chains, or otherwise obviously a thrall of some sort) gain a +4 circumstance bonus on all Charisma-based skill checks while interacting with the mutated clans of the Fissures and is treated with a starting attitude one level higher than normal. Conversely anyone that is openly a slaver takes a -4 penalty to Charisma-based skill checks with the mutated clans and when interacting with them, finds that the locals have a starting attitude two levels lower than normal.

The societies that have developed within and around the canyons and ravines that make up the Fissures are mostly barbaric and tribal in nature but all share a focus on survival against the harsh environment. Various Pilgrim’s Journals claim different numbers of mutant tribes in the area, some citing only a few dozen, others naming a hundred or more, but none are sure of exactly how many societies persist in this part of the wastes. Below are several of the more powerful and prevalent tribes that explorers might encounter, but there are many more that eke out a life in the shadows of the sands.

Acolytes of the Horned Rat: Explorers of the ravines and canyons in the Fissures are as wary of the Transgression as they are the kobolds, goblins, and other monstrous mutants that make up the Acolytes of the Horned Rat. Marked by the single-horned skullcaps they all wear, these clever savages make great tunnel networks beneath the sands and line their passages with deadly contraptions and traps to subdue trespassers.

Riders of the Wall: Traveling along the tops of the canyons chances a meeting with this nomadic tribe of mounted warriors. Their scouts sprint along the cliffsides on sand lizards as their families follow behind on secure structures built on the shells of giant desert turtles. Their leader is a scion of the flame and not to be trifled with, but the Riders of the Wall are known to be some of the most generous of the mutated clans for those able and willing to overlook physical deformities.

Shardalluk: Easily one of the most mystical tribes in the Fissures, these demented mutants are led by female mystics that emulate the Fiery Lady and believe the Shard of the Sun sets souls free, encouraging members of their flock to face the Transgression again and again. Induction into the ranks of the Shardalluk is open to all but not an easy task as any supplicant must survive a pilgrimage, following the Fiery Lady for no less than a week regardless of where she treads.

[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis!]

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Wandering Wasteland: Ashen Corpse Haunt

Ashen Corpse Haunt      CR 8

XP 4,800
CN haunt (15-ft.-radius centered around humanoid ash pile)
Caster Level 8th
Notice Perception DC 28 (to see a humanoid pile of cinders subtly move)
hp 16; Trigger proximity; Reset 1d4 days

Effect The ashen corpse haunt targets the first creature to approach within 15 feet of the pile of cinders. Ashen Corpse Haunt_Cinder-Ghoul-Fire-FlameThe ashen corpse rises and the nearest creature to the haunt must make a DC 22 Will save or switch souls with the deceased creature (otherwise this effect functions as the magic jar spell). The effect lasts until the ashen corpse haunt resets 1d4 days later, the ashen corpse is destroyed, or the pile of cinders is scattered by a wind effect of 50 mph or greater.

Destruction The ashen corpse haunt can be permanently destroyed by scattering the remains of the ashen corpse with a 50 mph or greater wind effect as they are cleansed by a fire-based effect (such as burning hands, fireball, and other fire-based spells with an area of effect). Once disrupted or destroyed any soul trapped in the ashen corpse is returned to his body.

The ashen corpse haunt is a relic made by one of many victims to fall to the Transgression’s deadly passing, an unfortunate soul cursed to rise as a horror of cinders every 1d4 days only to suffer its death again and again. Driven mad, the ashen corpse seeks any escape—even if only temporary—and attempts to possess any creature that wanders near it.

[Submitted by Rory Toma!]

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Wandering Wasteland: The Transgression (part 2)

[Continued from last week’s Trap Tuesday! —MM]the transgression snippet #2

During this daily period of intense heat, Fortitude saves against the environment need to be made by creatures involved in strenuous activities (such as combat) in an exposed area but are otherwise unnecessary. During the direct Transgression as temperatures rise to greater than 240° F (115° C), unprotected creatures must make a Fortitude Save (DC 15 +1 per previous check) or take 10d6 points of damage (half damage on a successful save). Half of this damage is considered fire damage and the other half is untyped. The direct Transgression lasts for 66 seconds (11 rounds; “the dread 66”). Any creature slain by the Shard must make a DC 20 Will save or be affected by the Ashen Death (see Table SL-1: Ashen Death).

TABLE SL-1: Ashen Death

1d100 Effect
1-24 Creature explodes in a burst of ash; any creatures within a 10-ft.-radius are afflicted with ashen miasma.
25-36 Creature immediately rises as an ashen version of itself.
37-49 Creature rises as an ashen version of itself after 1d4 days.
50-68 Creature explodes with sun magic, dealing hit dice x d4 fire damage to all creatures within a 5-ft.-radius.
69-80 Nothing happens.
81-94 Creature is returned to life (at 1 hp) after 1 minute and suffers a permanent charred appearance, taking a permanent -1 penalty to Constitution and Charisma. Roll on Table SL-2: Transgression Mutations.
95-100 Creature is returned to life after 1 minute with full hit points and a permanent charred appearance, as well as a +1 natural armor bonus and +1 racial bonus to Charisma. Roll on Table SL-2: Transgression Mutations. [Next week’s Trap Tuesday! —MM]

 

[The Transgression is by Scorched Lands writer Lance Keppner!]

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Wandering Wasteland: Lens Shard

Lens Shardlens shard (reduced)

Aura faint divination; CL 1st
Slot none; Price 13,110 gp; Weight 25 lbs.

DESCRIPTION
This faintly luminescent crystalline shard has been fashioned into finely polished convex lens. The dense multihued glass-like jewel stands roughly a foot tall but weighs much more.

A lens shard has the ability to intensify both negative and positive energy channeled through it, increasing the dice of channeled energy by one step (from d6 to d8).
A lens shard can replace both the focus and divine focus components of the scrying spell. Scrying through a lens shard also increases the DC of the Will saving throw to resist the spell by +1. When used while crafting a magic item, the lens shard allows the crafter to increase any applicable caster level of spell effects by one level.
If applying the downtime system, a lens shard used by an organization grants a +1 boon to Magic.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, ceremony, crystal shard of applicable size and shape from the Sea of Shards; Cost 6,550 gp