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Wandering Wasteland: PRANKSTER Isle

The PCs have tracked the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. operations to the Grave Morass and sure enough, floating out on the lake of tar and sludge is a fortress where the criminal cabal has been hard at work. Now is the perfect time for the adventurers to disrupt the manufacture of a deadly biomechanical threat soon to be unleashed on Mohkba, the Klavek Kingdom, and the whole of Aventyr!

grave morassThis island in the Grave Morass is 250-ft. in diameter. On its southwestern shore is a 20-ft.-radius shed made from recycled metals (Bleirvar’s Workshop), on its southeastern shore is another almost identical building (slightly smaller and more angular, 15 ft. by 15 ft.) where supplies are kept, and on the north side of the landmass is a much larger shanty (40 ft. wide and across) that serves as the barracks for P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. agents.

Anyone approaching the northern shore of the island risks alerting the guards in the barracks (PRANKSTER Hirelings and PRANKSTER thugs) and while approaching from any other direction is stealthier, there is a 50% chance the PCs trigger a tar pit trap when doing so. A patrol of one hireling and two thugs walk the perimeter of the island on a leisurely lookout every 30 minutes, keen for anomalies coming from Bleirvar’s Workshop or the intervention of the meddling adventurers that have plagued the cabal’s plans for some time now. When the party is detected, P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. pour out of the barracks at a rate of 1d4 hirelings and 2d4 thugs every round (in total there are 6 hirelings and 12 thugs on the island).

The primary targets of the PCs are the Storage shanty and Bleirvar’s Workshop. Within the former the party finds two contraband cyphersthough one is empty, the other is filled by a screaming cesspool of abominated heads and limbs about the size of a children’s doll. The biomancer spends most of the time in his Workshop, carefully tending to a vast array of esoteric equipment and machines that synthesize magic and science. These devices are quite fragile and in some cases volatile; if even one device is utterly destroyed (beyond the reach of mending) or lost in the muck of the Grave Morass, the entire production process will be halted for weeks as the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. restart the operation.Bleirvar the Biomancer (Final-Mezadev-C)

As soon as he becomes aware of trespassers on PRANKSTER Isle, Bleirvar ceases the rituals required to incubate skurgxon in the pool of alchemical reagents outside of his Workshop (heated by the Transgression and catalyzed by mentis quie blooms taken from the Vast Swamp) to face the intruders. If his desk hasn’t been raided and emptied by the PCs already, he grabs his crystal ball and wand of animate dead (CL 7th, 7 charges) and fills the battlefield with undead to supplement whatever PRANKSTER underlings are still fighting.

Between Bleirvar’s boasts in combat (sure of his victory, he has no compunctions or modesty regarding the age of chaos and destruction his twisted creations herald) and inspection of his Workshop, the party easily conclude that skurgxon have been prepared for a terrorizing assault in Mohkba! Anyone able to detect magic easily recognizes that powerful conjuration magic—almost certainly teleport spells—was recently used several times recently, and records in the biomancer’s desk (a DC 14 Perception check) confirm that as many as 3 agents have already received their shipment of biomechanical horrors.

A few minutes after the battle ends, Jesker the Great arrives via teleport to share what he’s learned—all information the party has recently uncovered for themselves. With such a dire threat looming ahead the wizard wastes no time, casting conjuration spells in a flurry to rapidly bring the party to Mohkba to stop the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S. Unfortunately at the last minute he mumbles, “oh no, they were expecting me! Hold onto your helmets!” just as the world dissolves in white and the adventurers suddenly find themselves with a very, very big problem. [The players are in for a bigor rather small surprise. Tune in next week as the party find themselves in Mohkba! —SP]

5E Rules

Searching Bleirvar’s desk for his records regarding skurgxon deliveries requires a DC 11 Intelligence (Investigation) check.

 

[Submitted by Stephanos ‘netlich’ Patelis!]

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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: Sea of Shards

The northern reaches of the Scorched Lands are dominated by the Sea of Shards, a stretch of sand dunes that are endlessly shifting at the whim of the winds and dotted with strange ashen stalagmites that rise from the terrain. Traveling is difficult at best and landmarks are rare, always appearing or disappearing with the changes of the sand dunes. The few locals who dare cross this area are also superstitiously fearful of the ashen pillars, so much so that they avoid marking them as waypoints. This almost barren land is quite dangerous for any who brave it.

  1. The Fiery Apparition Haunt 
  2. Desert Terrain Hazards
    Sea of Shards
  3. Advance Scout Spire (CR 9 or 14)
    The servants of the Formian Queen have hidden exits from her vast Underworld empire among the many ashen pillars dotting the Sea of Shards. When close enough (within 500 ft.) telling them apart is simple—constructed mounds are made of hard-packed dirt and gritbut by then it may be too late, chancing that one’s presence is detected by formians scouts that scour the Scorched Lands (6 warriors and 1d4+4 workers who maintain the lair). There is a 10% chance a spire is of strategic importance to the Formian Queen and is also home to a formian myrmarch.
    There’s little to see from afar save for the shifting of patrol warbands that cycle in and out of the spire every few weeks. Adventurers may attempt to sneak to the entrance of the spire, but otherwise the beings within are alerted to their approach by warrior scouts and follow a pre-set plan of actions.
    When prepared for trespassers the six warriors assault intruders while the workers set about in activating a controlled cave-ins. After 1d10 rounds of battle the underground tunnels fall in on themselves, gradually collapsing the entire spire after 1d4 minutes. If a formian myrmarch is present it only takes part in the combat if it seems the party can be easily defeated; otherwise the elite servant of the Formian Queen is the first to retreat before the tunnels are collapsed. This defense ensures no trail is left to the Underworld complexes belonging to the formians.
    When trespassers surprise the creatures (or manage to foil their defense plan and enter the lair before it collapses) the interior of the scout spire has a simple chamber containing no treasure of great worth or any clues to the origin of its warband. [The maze-like tunnels that lead deeper could easily become an adventure arc on their own, but that is beyond the scope of this story. —SP] 
  4. Sand Traps (CR 3) and Sinkholes (CR 6)
    Due to the constantly shifting sands, the dunes in the Sea of Shards are riddled with natural sand traps (as per an ant lion’s ability) and sinkholes (as a camouflaged pit trap but Perception and Disable Device DC 28) to the unwary. The ground is rarely hard packed sand and many times seems to suck a traveler’s feet in, or for the truly unfortunate, one’s entire body.
    At the GM’s discretion, the sand that topples onto a creature that falls into a sand trap or sinkhole might trap them in without allowing them room to breathe. Without help from above the creature must succeed on a DC 22 Climb or Escape Artist check extricate themselves; otherwise suffocation rules come into play (in this case increase the hazard’s CR +2).

[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis!]