Beldam of Stygian Glade is an adventure location and scenario for four to six characters of levels 4-7
In a deep, dark forest there lives an old witch named Nayowayown who, long ago, was a very healthy and levelheaded young woman. In the early days, when war came to the forest village, the woman’s husband and his forces tried to protect everyone, but the might of the enemy was too great; he was slain on the battlefield in what is now known as Stygian Glade. In this glade, the woman pined for her lover, perpetually cradling his corpse and building a hut made from the bones of his comrades. Continue reading Beldam of Stygian Glade
Waves lap up against the shore with an unusual frequency, and upon closer inspection you see the surf forming bony claws that drag away the sand under them before disappearing into the waters nearby!
TIDE OF THE UNDEAD CR 4 XP 1,200
CN Huge undead (incorporeal) Init +2; Senses blindsight 40 ft.; Perception -2
fear aura (15 ft., DC 13)
DEFENSE AC 14, touch 6, flat-footed 14 (-2 Dex, +8 natural, -2 size) hp 27 (5d8+5) fast healing 1 Fort +2, Ref -1, Will +2 Immune undead traits; DR 5/bludgeoning; Resist fire 15 Weakness vulnerability to cold
OFFENSE Speed 5 ft., swim 40 ft. Melee slam +7 (1d8+9) Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft. Special Attacks engulf (DC 18, 1d8+9 bludgeoning), undead undertow Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th; concentration +6)
TACTICS Before Combat Tide of the undead uses the freeze special quality and vanish spell-like ability to optimize Stealth, washing up to the shore on the waves to ambush opponents. During Combat The mindless collection of souls attempts to engulf any creatures it can perceive, dragging them down into the water and away from the shore using undead undertow. Morale As a mindless creature, tide of the undead continues to attack until it is destroyed.
STATISTICS Str 22, Dex 6, Con —, Int —, Wis 6, Cha 12 Base Atk +3; CMB +13; CMD 21 (cannot be tripped) Feats Improved Initiative Skills — SQ freeze
ECOLOGY Environment any coastal Organization solitary or pair Treasure double
SPECIAL ABILITIES Undead Undertow (Su) Tide of the undead attempts to sink and drown any creatures it engulfs. As a swift action once per round, tide of the undead can displace an engulfed creature, pushing them into the water—as far as 20 feet away from its normal reach. This is always deeper into the water, and never towards a place of relative safety. Any creatures killed by tide of the undead via it’s undead undertow ability are raised as a tide of the undead after 1d4 rounds.
Though none are truly certain, rumors claim that tides of the undead only began to appear after the death of The Red. Not many survive an encounter with the aquatic oddity, but those that have bested one find treasures in the ichor the corpse dissipates into (trinkets from its victims). Travelers on the southern coasts of NaeraCull should be wary—even the Hungering Jungle’s coastal waters have an appetite!
Hungering Dead Zone CR 2 XP 600
Persistent NE haunt (random 10 ft. squares across NaeraCull) Caster Level 2nd Notice Perception DC 15 (to notice skeletal digits emerging from the mire) hp 9; Weakness tricked by hide from undead; Trigger touch; Reset 1 hour
Effect When this haunt is triggered, a baleful moan rises from the ground as skeletal claws scrape up from below; one skeleton emerges in an adjacent square every round that a living creature occupies any square within the hungering dead zone’s space.
Destruction Each 5 ft.-square of the haunt’s area (a total of four) must be doused with holy water or bathed in positive energy (as from a cleric’s channel energy ability).
Adventure Hook Hungering dead zones are strewn across NaeraCull, suffusing the corpses of long dead creatures with negative energy and animating them to dangerous effect. None are entirely sure how the hungering dead zones come to be or why, but the rulers of the Hungering Jungle are fine enough with a few mindless creations wandering the wilderness.
How better than to delve into a series of reviews than with an epic trilogy? The Adventureaweek.com-crew has recently launched their first multiple module spanning epic, the Rise of the Drow and today, I’m going to take a look at Part 1!
This pdf is 121 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving a whopping 116 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? The underdark is boiling from the flames of war – Maelora of House Gullion (nice tribute to fellow reviewer KTFish7, I assume?) has taken control over the drow trade-hub of Holoth via an interesting coup d’état – allying herself with the alien Vidre and siphoning power from an artifact granted by these enigmatic, crystalline schemers, she indeed triumphed and funneled the souls of her captives through the artifact to gain immense power. Unbeknown to her, half of the souls have been funneled to the greedy clutches of the alien Vidre and sacrifices have started to become harder and harder to come by. Not one to be dictated what to do, the matron managed to sever the binding ties and arcane entwinements of the pact between her and the Vidre via the Spider-Goddess’ help (we’re looking at old-school drow here, obviously) for the promise of a conquest of the worlds above – the goddess has spoken and so it shall be done. The Vidre, meanwhile, prepare for war – their thirst for souls must be slaked.
Enter the PCs via a relative of Rybalka’s blacksmith Quorron, a female named Miah, ambassador of Embla, a dwarven city that seeks to unite the denizens of the underdark to address the drow-problem. Time is of the essence, though, and the PCs will have to take a dangerous road into the underdark via the ruins of Krelgar keep (5 level-mini-dungeon, lavishly cartographed in a stunning full-color map) – and something is definitely amiss, indicated by the dimensionally shackled bralani the PCs encounter there. After encountering the first troupes of drow (thankfully only zombies), the PCs may be in for a surprise – if they can decipher a missive, they’ll realize that the dark elves have planned a raid on the surface world. Even cooler: Drow Paper, Quills and Ink are described and they are anything but common – what about e.g. quills made from giant spider fangs? Neat! Nevertheless, the PCs should think about warning Rybalka – whether they do or not, the repercussions will be felt. However, the immediate threat, the boss of this dungeon, will prove to be a challenge – the disturbing drow mhorg Yul will prove to be a worthy challenge, no small thanks to his items and the new “Third eyes of fear” that lets the users blink.
The journey through the underdark, accompanied by a cool map as well as information on various types of gases and multiple encounters will also see the PCs encounter their first driders, a wizard of house Gullion and then culminate in a chance for them to disrupt a drow raid on a dwarven caravan and then finally arrive at the gates of Embla, where the second module of the trilogy will start.
The pdf also includes the Titanic Beastmaster PrC. The class gets d8, 2+Int skills per level, full BAB, good fort- and ref-saves and focuses on taming and training the larger monsters – no spell progression or the like and the requirements for the PrC are rather steep, making it an accomplishment to actually qualify for it while granting massive enhancements to the special companion granted by it.
On page 41, the statblock-index starts with an encounter table and takes up all space till page 117 to deliver all the stats for both D&D 3.5 and PFRPG. Unfortunately, the index is not bookmarked, which makes this vast section of the pdf harder to navigate than it should by any means.
The pdf closes with two player-friendly versions of the stellar maps.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect – I encountered some minor glitches, but none that severely impeded my enjoyment of the module. Layout adheres to AaW’s full-color two-column standard and the cartography is simply awesome. I was also blown away by some of the artworks – the drow depicted mostly can stand up to the Paizo-level regarding the quality of the art. However, there are also some jarring full-color illustrations that feel somewhat shoehorned into the adventure, are of a lesser quality and detract from a unified look. I frankly would have preferred them to be left out. The pdf comes with a printer-friendly version and nested bookmarks. At the time of the writing of this review, Herolab-files have not yet been provided, but are planned.
“Rise of the Drow I” is an interesting module in that it builds up a sense of threat and consequences for the region of Rybalka and its surroundings and works well to set up not only the drow as a credible threat, but also to evoke a sense of grand changes afoot. The environmental effects and cultural details like the paper/ink etc. they use lends an added sense of credibility to the dark elves. It should be noted, though, that the drow of AaW seem to worship a certain spider-goddess and thus are different from the demon-worshipping drow of Golarion – I’m already curious how this worship interacts with a fabled origin that hearkens back to Norse mythology. All in all, this is a good module with already rather significant decisions to make, but judging the repercussions and consequences etc., for now, remains hard – I look forward to seeing how the sequels can implement these diverging paths. Content-wise, thus, there’s not much to complain about. Add to that the jarring difference in quality between beautiful and rather hideous artworks and we have some factors that conspire to keep this module from the full 5 stars. Thus, my final verdict will be a solid 4 stars with your humble reviewer looking forward to seeing how the saga continues.
All right, as always: Thank you for reading my ramblings – and see you soon in part 2!