Posted on Leave a comment

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!]

Posted on Leave a comment

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!]

Posted on Leave a comment

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!]

Posted on Leave a comment

Wandering Wasteland: Fiery Apparition

fire lady - jazbeeFiery Apparition CR (varies)
XP varies
N haunt (CR * 5-ft.- radius centered around the Fiery Lady)
Caster Level equal to CR
Notice Perception DC 16 (to see the heat-lined visage of the Fiery Lady)
hp varies; Weakness susceptible to cold; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 hour
Effect Approaching the translucent visage of the Fiery Lady can quickly earn her ire [see tomorrow’s Story Locale entry for some more information on this mysterious entity SP]. The fiery apparition haunt immediately uses its relevant spell effect upon a randomly chosen creature; in the case of incinerating air it continues to do so (choosing a new target each round) until it is destroyed or there are no creatures within its range.
The fiery apparition haunt has three tiers of strength; roll randomly to determine which manifests (or at the GM’s discretion, choose according to the party’s current situation). There is a 15% chance the haunt does not initially activate.

Incinerating Air (40% of appearing)
CR 7 (3,200 xp); hp 31; effect fireball centered at target creature
The translucent apparition of the Fiery Lady stares intensely at a creature and after a few brief moments the air around it bursts into flames.
Note: This version is a persistent haunt that continues casting fireball while there are still targets.  

Scorching Servant (30% of appearing)
CR 9 (6,400 xp); hp 40; effect a greater fire elemental is conjured (as summon nature’s ally VII) and the fiery apparition haunt remains until the creature is destroyed
The visage of the Fiery Lady arches her back and throws her head towards the sky in a mock attempt at a silent scream. Flames escape her mouth and wrap her ethereal body in the blink of an eye; where the lady stood there is now a huge faintly humanoid form of dancing flames that turns two beads of obsidian towards you.

Greater Fiery Apparition (15% of appearing)
CR 10 (9,600 xp); hp 54;  effect fire storm centered on one random creature within range
The Fiery Lady’s scorching flames start twirling around her and even as the gyrating movement becomes too fast for the eye to catch, more of the air around her catches fire until entirely engulfing her and exploding out towards you in a chaotic storm of fire that engulfs everything around you.

Destruction The fiery apparition haunt can be destroyed by bringing to 0 hp or less using cold damage during a Transgression of the Sun Shard. The killing blow must be dealt within 5 minutes before or after “the dead 6’s’ of the Transgression.

 

The mysterious and powerful wandering entity encountered in the Scorched Lands, the Fiery Lady, gives birth to the fiery apparition haunts. When overzealous creatures attempt to destroy her she falls to ash, rising from the powdery residue within minutes but leaving an impression of herself behind. The Fiery Lady then continues upon her seemingly pointless meandering about the region until interfered with again.

[Submitted by Stephanos “netlich” Patelis!]

Posted on Leave a comment

Awake in Alucinar: Suicidal Shadow Haunt

suicidal shadowSuicidal Shadow Haunt      CR 10
XP 9,600
CE Persistent haunt (60-ft. to 100-ft.-radius of a Shadow Overlap)
Caster Level 10th
Notice Perception DC 22 (to notice subtle movements of the shadows)
hp 45; Trigger proximity; Reset 1 minute

Effect When the suicidal shadow haunt is triggered, creatures inside of its radius make a DC 18 Fortitude save to resist its effects. Creatures that fail this save take 1 point of Constitution damage after 1d10 rounds but seem to be unaffected otherwise, though in truth the suicidal shadow haunt grants some limited malevolence and intelligence to their shadow. Only a true seeing spell recognizes that a suicidal shadow is present before it strikes.
The next time a creature affected by the suicidal shadow haunt goes to sleep their silhouette animates itself in a fashion similar to shadow projection, though the shadow is focused entirely on killing its originator. The instant before a suicidal shadow attacks, its originator receives a DC 18 Will save to wake up and resist it but otherwise takes a coup de grace attack while they slumber (made with whatever weapons the shadow has at hand).

Destruction Removing the supernatural affliction of the suicidal shadow haunt requires a remove curse and remove disease cast within the same minute, causing an additional point of Constitution damage. To completely destroy the suicidal shadow haunt a total of 5 suicidal shadows must be simultaneously subjected to daylight effects until destroyed.

 

[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis!]

Posted on Leave a comment

Story Locale: Mangrove Maze

In this part of the Vast Swamp, onlooker sees swaths of beautiful mangroves, thick and lush, extending around the murky waters, but travelers best beware. After the Treaty Draconis was agreed upon by the dread Blackscale’s children, the divided lands began to take up the attributes of its ruler. Magical and natural terraforming has taken place throughout the centuries of rule, and now the domains mimic to an extent their owners’ nature and demeanor as well.
Kallothrax’s influence has weaved a devious natural maze, enhanced by insidious traps and his fiendish demonic lord. Unwary travelers or hunters invited by the beauty of the surroundings or the bountiful hunt of local fauna eventually find themselves lost and slowly directed towards the center of the locale. The Mud King’s servants patrol the labyrinth and utilize the many dangers of the environment to their benefit, waiting to pounce upon the unlucky victims who fall prey to them.

mangrove mazeConvalescent Leeches
Swarms of bloodsucking worms are not missing from these lands and any who wade through deeper waters for too long could easily find themselves in trouble as
parasites latch on to any exposed skin (or sometimes even wiggle through plates to get inside an armoured target). The barbarians of the Moonhowlers’ tribe actively seek these creatures out, specifically looking for a rare breed of leech that can be found amidst the waters of the Mangrove Maze. Identifying them is simple—the dead-white worms are easily distinguishable by the purple vein like tendrils crisscrossing their tiny bodies.

A convalescent leech that latches on a creature drains it of blood as a normal leech would (usually 1 point of Constitution damage per turn) but as it does so, it also releases enzymes that have a curative effect upon any disease or poison that inhibits its host’s body. For every point of Constitution damage suffered from a convalescent leech the victim is allowed a new saving throw against a disease or poison that infects their body.

Moonhowler’s Bane
An albino werewolf has haunted the local tribes that survive on the outskirts of the Mangrove Maze. If the rumors are to be believed this creature was the son of an eminent shaman of the tribes, but the fiendish whispers of the Mud King’s minions convinced him to lure his peoples’ hunters into the labyrinth’s deadly hazards, killing them  while boggards assaulted the defenseless tribal village. It is said that when the doomed warrior came back to his senses, the magical suggestions still echoing in his ears, he purveyed the destruction of his village and murdered loved ones, taking on a madness so intense that it turned his hair white. The stories also say that it was his father’s dying words that cursed him with lycanthropy (although many suspect that this is the Moonhowler’s themselves who twist the tale in order to avoid outsiders realizing that the tribe is cursed with lycanthropy.)
Encountering the Moonhowler’s Bane can be a blessing or a curse for foreigners. The werewolf (CE Dire werewolf barbarian 5; Vollensag Stalker) may as easily attack any he encounters as aid them, especially if they work against the Mud King and his minions.

[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis!]

Posted on Leave a comment

Bogs of Bane: Bewilderment Trap

Bewilderment Trap        CR 9

Type magic; Perception DC 29; Disable Device DC 29

EFFECTS
Trigger location; Reset none
Effect spell effect (confusion for 12 rounds, DC 19 Will negates; as spell but modified effect at roll 51-75: full move towards random direction)

bewilderment trapThe dragon Kallothrax has smartly utilized every available natural resource in this region of the Vast Swamp to create the bewilderment trap, a truly deadly element of the Mangrove Maze. This magical trap is often found at crucial intersections of the labyrinthine paths within his domain. Creatures affected by the bewilderment trap can easily split up from their comrades and follow separate paths to their doom. Boggards and denizens of the maze usually lurk nearby bewilderment traps to pick off wanderers one by one.
[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis!]

Posted on Leave a comment

Bogs of Bane: Mudcage Trap

Mudcage Trap        CR 9

Type magic; Perception DC 28; Disable Device DC 28
EFFECTS
Trigger location; Reset none
Effect spell effect (strangling hair for 10 rounds, Atk +10, 1d6 bludgeoning and grappled condition; DC 20 CMB or Escape Artist check to escape); spell effect (curse of disgust, sickened by clothing [permanent], DC 15 Will negates; a greater restoration or atonement is required to remove the curse)

mudcage trapThe wicked mudcage trap has been the doom of many an unwary adventurer, a device crafted by the vile impish minds of the Mud King’s demons. When a living being steps within the mudcage trap’s boundaries (usually a 5 ft. square, but larger triggers have been known to exist in order to trap more than one targets), the filth around them snaps upwards and forms into oozing walls that drip down in impressively strong strands that hold creatures long enough to meet a grisly end by fiendish claws. Bloodclaw demon hunters are extremely wary of any mud pools that appear to be at all unnatural and when a mudcage trap is found, rather than disabling the threat they use it to lure out any creatures that lurk nearby in search of prey.

[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis! -MM]

Posted on Leave a comment

Bogs of Bane: Muddy Mangroves

The Vast Swamp is made of forested wetlands in southern Aventyr dotted with bogs, murky waters, and spindly mangrove trees. Only dirt paths and patches of dried land offer some safe passage to those who would brave the dangerous terrain, and many travelers use shallow rafts to easily traverse the waters that make up the bulk of region. The tumultuous history of the harsh territory goes back for numerous generations of its human barbarian denizens—the land was ruled by Tranak Blackscale, a cruel and powerful black dragon, for almost five hundred years. A brief century of respite for the revolting enslaved races came about after Blackscale’s death, but its children reared their heads and have since continued their progenitor’s legacy. For 70 years the dragons fought each other and conquered the lands anew before agreeing to split the Vast Swamp between themselves (though room enough was made for another powerful force of evil).
It is in the area belonging to the youngest of the dragons, the Muddy Mangroves, that the adventurers find themselves after emerging from the Amber Roads. The territory has become even more inhospitable than the rest of the swamp thanks to Trymgarx’ dealings with a powerful hezrou; its murky waters have grown darker and fouler, mud seeming to envelop everything (even climbing up the vegetation of the swamp). One can easily sense the devilish evil presence of the Mud King and its host throughout this realm, however, even if the encroaching filth escapes their eye.
muddy mangrovesToad-like boggards, lizardmen, and hardy fiendish creatures fight for survival with the rugged Bloodclaw barbarian tribes that call the Muddy Mangroves home. These descendants of the original human settlers of the swamp have evolved into demon-hunters and are in a never ending struggle against the thralls of the Mud King [a tough specimen of these demons was presented in the last Statblock Sunday! -SP]. Unlucky adventurers and explorers may even fall prey to the nastiest specimens of one of Aventyr’s most pervasive types of monsters: bog trolls! These fell giants are far and away the most common enemies to be found in the Vast Swamp aside from the aforementioned threats, encounters with other humanoid races being less frequent.
In the rare instances travelers do cross paths, it is often with expeditions by the Black Gold Consortium journeying in customized rafts lit by wondrous black gold lamps. This shady merchant organization, based in the city of Cherrian’s Rest, is looking for ways to expand and capitulate on the treasured but volatile resource they discovered in the swamp: black gold sludge (oil). Of course those who do not seek the safety of solid ground or some sort of vessel are likely to find that even the more natural encounters within such a harsh place can prove deadly—leeches drain unwary adventurers if they tarry too long within the murky waters, while sinkholes often host a predator or two that consider the party fair play.

Bastion of Filth
The most eye-striking feature of the Muddy Mangroves—for those unlucky enough to venture near it—is the lair of the Mud King. This complex of spires may indeed architecturally mimic similar Klavekian structures, but it is formed entirely by wet mud. Obviously powerful magic is at work in its maintenance, and the entirety of it is surrounded by mud monsters, mudlords, mud elementals, and common demons that patrol and protect the Mud King’s palace. Rumors claim that Trymgarx broods and plans his return as he is forced to serve as a plaything of the powerful hezrou, commonly found at the foot of the demon’s throne, but none can claim to have seen such a sight with their own eyes.

The Legend of Dragonbreath Mists
As the story goes, a dragon seeking power beyond its grasp struck a bargain with beings beyond Aventyr; nefarious entities from a distant world that even dragons should fear. So hideous were the creatures, however, that even looking upon them could change and mutate those that caught sight of them. The great serpent seeking nefarious power used its breath to cover its domain in mists, magical vapors that altered and hid the appearance of beings within them. But the mists’ magic was further corrupted by the evil beings, transforming them so well that not even the dragon could tell friend from foe. By the time its sorcerous powers managed to diminish the magical effect of the corrupted breath it was too late, and the otherworldly entities had usurped its land and enslaved all within it.
muddy mangroves - dragonsbreath mistWhether the tale of the dragonbreath mist has any bearing on the truth of what’s happened between Trymgarx and the demonic Mud King who rules over the inhospitable land of murky waters and mud encrusted trees remains unknown, but something rings true in the qualities of the magical vapors. Many an adventuring party has run afoul of the mists that rise from the bogs and misjudged the nature of their adversaries because of it. The gases themselves have a supernatural quality akin to common illusions used by arcanists, a power that alters and hides the appearance of creatures seen within them.
Dragonbreath mists do not permeate the whole of the Muddy Mangroves, and there’s only a 30% percent chance when any encounter is rolled that it comes with a patch of the supernatural fog, though when a party camps in this region the chance rises to 50%. Rumor has it that a constant, perpetual shroud of dragonbreath mists in the southern part of the Muddy Mangroves hides an entrance to the feared Underworld swamp, the Dar’Spelun Slugmarsh, but few can corroborate it.

Dragonbreath Mist
These magical vapors radiate faint illusion magic if perceived with detect magic. Discerning the type of a creature hidden within a patch of dragonbreath mist requires the observer to first succeed on a DC 15 Will save before attempting any Perception or Knowledge checks to identify it.

[Submitted by Stefanos “netlich” Patelis!]