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Sanguine Chalice

Sanguine Chalice preppedSanguine Chalice
Aura moderate conjuration; CL 9th
Slot none; Weight 5 lbs.

This small stone chalice is inscribed with strange markings of a creature breathing forth some kind of creature breathing forth a red mist. When filled with any kind of liquid (a full-round action), the contents change to what appears to be a potion of cure critical wounds and heals 4d8+9 hit points to any creature that drinks it before making a DC 20 Will save. Creatures that fail this save are cursed until they receive a regeneration spell; any time that they are made fatigued or eat food that is not bloody (a very rare stake qualifies) they must make a DC 20 Fortitude save or vomit forth blood, taking 1d4 Constitution damage.
Dhampir, vampire and vampire spawn that drink from a sanguine chalice treat its contents as a potion of inflict critical wounds and heal 4d8+9 hit points.

CREATION
Magic Items any cup or chalice suitable for drinking from 

A character that makes a Knowledge (religion) check to learn about the sanguine chalice identifies the following fragments of lore:
DC 15     This cup was the second calling card of Valthior the Valorousevery tavern he drank in fell silent when this cup appeared at the bar. None but he was ever seen to drink from it and after witnessing its healing properties, countless brawls were said to have broken out because of it.
DC 20     The etchings and style of carvings indicate that the item is no less than 700 years old, though they are otherworldly and difficult to discern easily.
DC 25     Last seen somewhere in the Klavek Kingdom, the thief Gallro’rk the Reckless made off with the sanguine chalice to parts unknownthe rogue was last seen entering the Underworld over a decade ago.
DC 30     An ancient horror, the Exsanguinator, is depicted on this cup. It once belonged to a noble in the terrifying daemon’s bloody court.

 

 

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Sanguine Mace

Sanguine Mace croppedSanguine Mace
Aura
moderate necromancy; CL 6th
Slot none; Price 28,600 gp; Weight 10 lbs.

DESCRIPTION
The head of this regal mace is covered in flowing, floral designs wrought from silver. Crimson metal caps the weapon and is wrapped around the upper haft in more noble designs and a gravitas seems to emanate from it, as though it hungers for combat.

This +1 silver heavy mace is normally just that, but in the hands of a wielder with the the undeath domain its true properties come to the fore—on a successful critical hit, the head of the weapon opens into vicious spikes that automatically succeed with a bite attack that deals 1d4 points of Constitution damage. The wielder gains 5 temporary hit points per point of Constitution damage dealt this way.
In the hands of a dhampir, vampire or vampire spawn, a sanguine mace automatically confirms critical hits.

HISTORY
A character that makes a Knowledge (religion) check to learn more about the sanguine mace reveals some of the unique weapon’s lore:
DC 10     Valthior the Valorous was a fighter of the undead and is still celebrated widely across the land. His mace felled beasts of the night and countless monsters that threatened smaller communities in the wilds.
DC 15     While a hero of the people, holy knights and paladins chased Valthior everywhere he went and this mace quickly became his calling card. It is still sought by their orders and they’ll pay a finder’s fee to anyone that locates it.
DC 20     It’s said that the sanguine mace originally belonged to a vampire king that Valthior slain singlehandedly, though the warrior is said to have disappeared decades ago in the same keep the undead lord once occupied.
DC 25      Valthior the Valorous was in fact a dhampir and is said to live still—he is believed to exist in the keep, kept there by the slain vampire king’s spirit to save the surrounding communities from tyrrany.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, vampiric touch; Cost 14,300 gp 572 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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Sangue Malar

AWW_Blog_Blood_Vat_Map_Justin_Mason_Draft_002 jpegThe paranoia and chaos reaches a fevered pitch as midnight nears before Countess Veresovich enacts the final portion of her plan—the large floor of the ballroom suddenly drops out from under the attendees of the masquerade, dumping all of them onto a steep slope that slides each into an unremarkable hewn stone chamber hundreds of feet below.

If the PCs fall with the nobles, read the following:

The muffled panicking of the crowds of lords and ladies has grown as every member of the masquerade suddenly understands the excruciating experience of being locked in a cage with portent of only doom. Then, in a moment that immediately draws silence from everyone present, a loud, ominous clockwork gear can be hear turning somewhere along the wall.

Before anyone can react, however, the floor drops out from underneath! The crowds of nobles fall a few feet (or in some cases, a few more feet) and slam into a pitched slope that funnels them all down into a pile of frantic limbs in a nondescript cavern roughly hewn from the stone.

If the PCs are in another room when the nobles fall, read the following

A loud grinding of gears reverberates through the walls as the consternation in the main hall suddenly quiets in response. A moment later scores of crying voices ring out briefly before disappearing—the floor of the entire room dropped out from under the masquerade’s guests, funneling them directly into a large chute that goes down for hundreds of feet into the darkness. Their cries for help are easily heard and whatever uncertainty about what troubles Veresovich Manor that remains is sure to be brought to an end below.

sangue malar caveThe nobles are all too cowardly to venture farther down the cavern until the party arrives, at which point all of them assure the PCs that they are clearly better suited for danger. A good thing too; the only exit from the chamber is a narrow, 200 foot long hallway that leads down a small motley of miniature bluffs inside of a larger chamber and at its end are a dozen of the Countesses’ most fanatical acolytes. They lie in ambush, waiting to massacre anyone that’s fallen into their master’s trap, filling the sloping rooms with blood that pool in the final area.

(12) Sanguineus Acolytes; CR 4 (XP 1,200)

Sanguine AcolyteMale or Female human (Klavek) fighter 4/sorcerer 1
HP 44 (4d10+1d6+19); AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+6 armor, +3 Dex, +1 dodge)
Init +3; Speed 30 ft.; Atk mwk rapier +6 (1d6+3, Crit 18-20/x2) or mwk light crossbow +8 (1d8, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 80 ft.)
Base Atk+4; CMB +5; CMD 18
AL Neutral Evil; SV Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +3; Str 12, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14
Skills Bluff +8, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perception +5; Feats Combat Casting, Dodge, Greater Spell Focus (necromancy), Spell Focus (necromancy); Eschew Materials, Toughness, Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 1st; concentration +3, +7 defensive; spell chance failure 25%)
1st (3/day)—ray of enfeeblement (DC 15; CL 2nd), ray of sickening (DC 15; CL 2nd)
0th—acid splash, detect magic, mage hand, touch of fatigue (DC 14; CL 2nd)
Bloodline undead (sanguine)
Gear masterwork breastplate, masterwork rapier, masterwork light crossbow, 78 gold
The Blood Is the Life (Su) Sanguineus Acolytes can gain sustenance from the blood of the recently dead 5 times a day. As a standard action, they can drink the blood of a creature that died within the past minute. The creature must be corporeal, must be at least the same size as them, and must have blood. This ability heals the Sanguineus Acolyte 1d6 hit points and nourishes them as if they’d had a full meal.

After the cultists have been bested, Countess Veresovich makes her second attack: she orders her corpse companion and a second squad of 8 acolytes to assault the party.

With the blood of the fallen acolytes spilling onto the floor, you notice this entire cavern slopes towards another chamber. Inside of the next area you can clearly see Countess Darah Veresovich—her dress gown is gone, replaced by a set of vicious looking full-plate armor. She gestures at you and screams, “Kraujas, loyal followers, attack the interlopers! Coat the walls in blood! Sate your hunger for the crimson wine and drink your fill from the fallen!”

Once the battle seems to be going the adventurers’ way, the Countess decides to use one of her last cards: she enacts the binding rituals placed to affect the Items Sanguineus, conjuring forth whomever wore the vampiric amulet, mask and cloak (under her mental control, although it is not complete).

sangue malar 3Countess Darah takes a brief instant to survey the battle and makes a split decision, screaming, “MORTUUS VIVENS!” Wards and spiritual markings flare along the walls and roof of the ceiling in spurts that become more and more frequent before they all pop with darkness that coalesces in the center of the main cavern. In the matter of a moment, a pallid, familiar figure emerges from the inky black cloud, prominent fangs jutting from their mouth…

Vampire Dominated

Should one of the PCs have worn all three of the Items Sanguineus, they must make a DC 20 Will save each round or are under a dominate person effect controlled by Countess Darah Veresovich. If a member of the cult wears them (like Count Krev Ragata) they automatically fail their save each round unless they roll a natural 20.
Vampire Template

vampire aaaaughVampire” is an acquired template that can be added to any living creature with 5 or more Hit Dice (referred to hereafter as the base creature). Most vampires were once humanoids, fey, or monstrous humanoids. A vampire uses the base creature’s stats and abilities except as noted here.
CR: Same as the base creature + 2.
AL: Any evil.
Type: The creature’s type changes to undead (augmented). Do not recalculate class Hit Dice, BAB, or saves.
Senses: A vampire gains darkvision 60 ft.
Armor Class: Natural armor improves by +6.
Hit Dice: Change all racial Hit Dice to d8s. Class Hit Dice are unaffected. As undead, vampires use their Charisma modifier to determine bonus hit points (instead of Constitution).
Defensive Abilities: A vampire gains channel resistance +4, DR 10/magic and silver, and resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10, in addition to all of the defensive abilities granted by the undead type. A vampire also gains fast healing 5. If reduced to 0 hit points in combat, a vampire assumes gaseous form (see below) and attempts to escape. It must reach its coffin home within 2 hours or be utterly destroyed. (It can normally travel up to 9 miles in 2 hours.) Additional damage dealt to a vampire forced into gaseous form has no effect. Once at rest, the vampire is helpless. It regains 1 hit point after 1 hour, then is no longer helpless and resumes healing at the rate of 5 hit points per round.

Weaknesses: Vampires cannot tolerate the strong odor of garlic and will not enter an area laced with it. Similarly, they recoil from mirrors or strongly presented holy symbols. These things don’t harm the vampire—they merely keep it at bay. A recoiling vampire must stay at least 5 feet away from the mirror or holy symbol and cannot touch or make melee attacks against that creature. Holding a vampire at bay takes a standard action. After 1 round, a vampire can overcome its revulsion of the object and function normally each round it makes a DC 25 Will save.

Vampires cannot enter a private home or dwelling unless invited in by someone with the authority to do so.

Reducing a vampire’s hit points to 0 or lower incapacitates it but doesn’t always destroy it (see fast healing). However, certain attacks can slay vampires. Exposing any vampire to direct sunlight staggers it on the first round of exposure and destroys it utterly on the second consecutive round of exposure if it does not escape. Each round of immersion in running water inflicts damage on a vampire equal to one-third of its maximum hit points—a vampire reduced to 0 hit points in this manner is destroyed. Driving a wooden stake through a helpless vampire’s heart instantly slays it (this is a full-round action). However, it returns to life if the stake is removed, unless the head is also severed and anointed with holy water.

Speed: Same as the base creature. If the base creature has a swim speed, the vampire is not unduly harmed by running water.
Melee: A vampire gains a slam attack if the base creature didn’t have one. Damage for the slam depends on the vampire’s size (see Natural Attacks). Its slam also causes energy drain (see below). Its natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Special Attacks: A vampire gains several special attacks. Save DCs are equal to 10 + 1/2 vampire’s HD + vampire’s Cha modifier unless otherwise noted.
Blood Drain (Su): A vampire can suck blood from a grappled opponent; if the vampire establishes or maintains a pin, it drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution damage. The vampire heals 5 hit points or gains 5 temporary hit points for 1 hour (up to a maximum number of temporary hit points equal to its full normal hit points) each round it drains blood.
Children of the Night (Su): Once per day, a vampire can call forth 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or 2d6 wolves as a standard action. (If the base creature is not terrestrial, this power might summon other creatures of similar power.) These creatures arrive in 2d6 rounds and serve the vampire for up to 1 hour.
Create Spawn (Su): A vampire can create spawn out of those it slays with blood drain or energy drain, provided that the slain creature is of the same creature type as the vampire’s base creature type. The victim rises from death as a vampire in 1d4 days. This vampire is under the command of the vampire that created it, and remains enslaved until its master’s destruction. A vampire may have enslaved spawn totaling no more than twice its own Hit Dice; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit become free-willed undead. A vampire may free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, a vampire or vampire spawn cannot be enslaved again.
Dominate (Su): A vampire can crush a humanoid opponent’s will as a standard action. Anyone the vampire targets must succeed on a Will save or fall instantly under the vampire’s influence, as though by a dominate person spell (caster level 12th). The ability has a range of 30 feet. At the GM’s discretion, some vampires might be able to affect different creature types with this power.
Energy Drain (Su): A creature hit by a vampire’s slam (or other natural weapon) gains two negative levels. This ability only triggers once per round, regardless of the number of attacks a vampire makes.

Special Qualities: A vampire gains the following.
Change Shape (Su): A vampire can use change shape to assume the form of a dire bat or wolf, as beast shape II.
Gaseous Form (Su): As a standard action, a vampire can assume gaseous form at will (caster level 5th), but it can remain gaseous indefinitely and has a fly speed of 20 feet with perfect maneuverability.
Shadowless (Ex): A vampire casts no shadows and shows no reflection in a mirror.
Spider Climb (Ex): A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though under the effects of a spider climb spell.

Ability Scores Str +6, Dex +4, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +4. As an undead creature, a vampire has no Constitution score.
Skills Vampires gain a +8 racial bonus on Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive, and Stealth checks.
Feats Vampires gain Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, and Toughness as bonus feats.

As the vampire appears and some of the wards around the chamber fizzle away, a second wave of acolytes pours in from behind the nobles and a true slaughter commences as the PCs fight against the leader of Cultus Sanguineus and her vampire thrall: either a fiendish Krev Ragata now with the vampire template, a Sanguineus Acolyte (use their statblock above) with the vampire template or a turned member of the party!

 

Blood Sucking Leech Pits

Each of the pools in the main chamber is only a few feet deep but hides a greater danger than slipping down; a DC 20 Perception check reveals that leech swarms occupy the blood ponds. These creatures have been specially prepared by Countess Veresovich and are a rare breed from exotic lands that instantly latch on to anyone that steps into one of the slough—traveling through these squares requires a DC 15 Reflex save for each 5 ft.-square entered. On a failed save, creatures are subjected to one swarm attack  from the vermin as they eat their fill. Otherwise the creatures are content to stay in their confines and lap up the wave of crimson nourishment sure to pour their way.

LEECH SWARM CR 4

XP 1,200
N Diminutive vermin (aquatic, swarm)
Init +4; Senses blindsight 30 ft.; Perception +0
DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 18, flat-footed 14 (+4 Dex, +4 size)
hp 39 (6d8+12)
Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +2
Immune mind-affecting effects, swarm traits, weapon damage
Weaknesses susceptible to salt (see giant leech)
OFFENSE
Speed 5 ft., swim 30 ft.
Melee swarm (2d6 plus poison)
Space 10 ft.; Reach0 ft.
Special Attacks blood drain, distraction (DC 15)
STATISTICS
Str 1, Dex 18, Con 15, Int, Wis 10, Cha 2
Base Atk +4; CMB ; CMD
Skills Stealth +16 (+24 in swamps), Swim +12; Racial Modifiers +8 Stealth in swamps, uses Dexterity to modify Swim checks
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Blood Drain (Ex) Any living creature that begins its turn with a leech swarm in its space is drained of its blood and takes 1d3 points of Str and Con damage.
Poison (Ex) Swarm—injury; save Fort DC 15; frequency 1/round for 2 rounds; effect 1d4 Dexterity drain; cure 1 save.

 

sangue malar 2The Battle Behind Them!
The Countesses’ grand plan has led both the nobles and the acolytes (of which, there are about 50 each) to fall into states of adrenaline borne of bloodlust, fear, magic and exotic spices. During this side encounter (which occurs in the cavern the adventurers were fist ambushed in), both sorties receive the advanced template though once the PCs engage them and their master is gone, the cultists lose their fervor and cease to be a unified force (if they were an army, they aren’t anymore and disperse: see below for details).

Mass Combat in Cultus Sanguineus

There are a number of ways to incorporate this enormous melee combat into your game, but the AaWBlog recommends using this opportunity to try out Paizo’s excellent Mass Combat Rules.
Because of the space restriction and build of the map however, their movement and space rules differ slightly.
1) Each army always occupies 10 contiguous squares until reduced to ½ the unit’s hit points, at which point its DV and OM are both reduced by 2 and it only occupies 5 contiguous squares.
2) When reduced to ¼ hit points, the army disperses, reverting to single creatures; take the total number of the army’s remaining hit points and divide it by its maximum hit points; multiply this by 25 and round down for the total number of remaining units (which are too ineffectual to engage an army unit and are sure to die soon).
Klavekian Noble Army

N Small (50) army of humans (klavek aristocrat 6)
hp 13; ACR 3, ranged
DV 14; OM3
Special ferocity
Speed 1 (on this map, 4 squares); Consumption 1
Note Due to their hardy survival instinct, the Klavek nobles benefit from the Ferocity special ability if demoralized or routed. It may continue to act for one more Melee phase, and its OM and DV are reduced by 4 for that phase.
Adrenal Klavekian Noble CR 5 (XP 1,600)

Male human [Klavek] aristocrat 6 (temporarily advanced)
HP 39 (6d8+12); AC 16 (+4 Dex, +2 natural)
Init +4; Speed 30 ft.; Atk unarmed +2 (1d3+2, provokes attack of opportunity), rock +4 (1d4, range 10 ft.)
Base Atk +4; CMB +6; CMD 20
AL Neutral; SV Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +7; Str 14, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 17, Wis 15, Cha 19
Skills Appraise +15, Bluff +13, Diplomacy +15, Intimidate +11, Knowledge (geography) +8, Knowledge (local) +8, Knowledge (nobility) +8, Perception +8, Profession (merchant) +11, Sense Motive +11; Feats Deceitful, Persuasive, Skill Focus (Appraise), Skill Focus (Diplomacy)
Cultist Army

NE Small (50) army of humans (fighter 4/sorcerer 1)
hp 16; ACR 3, ranged
DV 15; OM 5, ranged
Special armor training, bravery, cannibalize, spellcasting 1, weapon specialization
Speed 1; Consumption 1
Notes Once per battle, increase the army’s OM for either ranged or melee attacks by 2.
Adrenal Sanguineus Acolyte CR 5 (XP 1,600)

Male or Female human (Klavek) fighter 4/sorcerer 1 (temporarily advanced)
HP 54 (4d10+1d6+29); AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+6 armor, +3 Dex, +1 dodge, +2 natural)
Init+3; Speed 30 ft.; Atk mwk rapier +8 (1d6+5, Crit 18-20/x2) or mwk light crossbow +8 (1d8, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 80 ft.)
Base Atk +4; CMB +7; CMD 20
AL Neutral Evil; SV Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +5; Str 16, Dex 16 (20 restricted by armor), Con 19, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 18
Skills Bluff +10, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (religion) +6, Perception +7; Feats Combat Casting, Dodge, Greater Spell Focus (necromancy), Spell Focus (necromancy); Eschew Materials, Toughness, Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 1st; concentration +5, +9 defensive; spell chance failure 25%)
1st (3/day)—ray of enfeeblement (DC 17; CL 2nd), ray of sickening (DC 17; CL 2nd)
0th—acid splash, detect magic, mage hand, touch of fatigue (DC 16; CL 2nd)
Bloodline undead (sanguine)
Gear masterwork breastplate, masterwork rapier, masterwork light crossbow, 78 gold
The Blood Is the Life (Su) Sanguineus Acolytes can gain sustenance from the blood of the recently dead 5 times a day. As a standard action, they can drink the blood of a creature that died within the past minute. The creature must be corporeal, must be at least the same size as them, and must have blood. This ability heals the Sanguineus Acolyte 1d6 hit points and nourishes them as if they’d had a full meal.

With Countess Darah defeated, the acolytes broken and perhaps with a few nobles left alive to tell of their deeds, the party might feel victorious as the conflict draws to a close—their moment of triumph is brief, however, as the pooled blood that now fills the main chamber begins to steam….

[Stay tuned to the AaWBlog for the FINALE of Cultus Sanguineus as the prime evil behind this debacle in Mohkba is revealed in tomorrow’s Statblock Sunday!]

Also, today’s beautiful cartography is brought to us today by Justin Andrew Mason! We cannot thank him enough and are absolutely beside ourselves to add yet another new contributor to the AaWBlog crew!

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Cultus Sanguineus (Part 2: Items Sanguineus)

Cultus Sangineus full color

Countess Darah Veresovich first heard of the Items Sanguineus while traveling abroad—where none can say (and anyone that might have died long ago). She has since devoted her entire family’s fortune and interests to acquiring the items and has already seen the trio of items lost twice; this time she’s prepared for the contingencies and has riders ready to chase after the dispersed wondrous items as soon as she can divine their location again.

Lore
Characters who have ranks in Knowledge (arcana) or Knowledge (nobility) can research the Cultus Sanguineus to learn more about these individual items. When a character succeeds on a Knowledge check to do so, some of its lore is revealed (including information from the lower DC checks). The facts below are the “true” lore—the GM is free to generate false lore to tease players into searching for the items (examples of misleading histories for these items are included in each of their individual entries).

DC 20

Originally created by the necromancer Kasigern the Lord of Bones, this foul individual continually sought novel ways to convert individuals of status and influence into powerful undead that answered only to him. This three-piece outfit set is one such trap that Kasigern used to subjugate and offer souls to his foul god.


Formerly an aspiring scion to a noble family, Kasigern excelled in the politics of the clamouring royal houses, eventually eliminating his father and two older brothers to claim his ducal birthright. However, exposure to the darkest elements of magic had taken its toll on his once-fine features, leading to a very public humiliation at a grand ball.


The debacle pushed Kasigern over the edge and fully into the hands of his dark master, shunning the noble families that had cruelly mocked him at the grand event. He sought to create items that would bend every member of the social elite to his will in permanent service for eternity. However, over time, many of these items have served their fell purpose and have either been discarded or lost.

 
Success at DC 30 or higher reveals 1d3 credible rumours to the location of other parts of this set.

Once all three items (the amulet of the sundered heart, the cloak of the dark servant and the mask of the thirst) are assembled and worn together, a magic mouth effect speaks a spell completion phrase that activates the wearer’s transformation into a vampire.


Possession and wearing two parts of this set grants the abilities of both pieces and the use of comprehend languages as a spell-like ability three times per day and cause fear as a spell-like ability once per day. The wearer is also subjected to the Sanguine Avarice haunt.

vampire aaaaugh


Once the three items have been found, reunited and worn together, the final curse sets in. The enchanted items collectively discharge all of their individual powers in a swirl of necromantic energy—a necromantic version of the baleful polymorph spell, long since lost to the knowledge of mere mortals—that destroys the wearer and all he carries. At midnight, the unfortunate subject reforms into a free-willed vampire with all the knowledge, equipment and abilities of their previous life.

The actual process forces a DC 22 Fortitude save to resist the necromantic force flowing through the subject’s body, followed by a DC 22 Will save for the subject to retain their mind and skills intact. If either save is failed, the individual is permanently slain, their soul offered up to the god of undeath.

Regardless of the result of the baleful polymorph attempt, the three items immediately disperse into shadow and reappear across a region that includes one or more cities with well-established noble families. 


Wherever the mask of the thirst 
appears a blood thirst box trap is conjured around it, the amulet of the sundered heart is found near a sanguineus mirror trap, and blood sconces manifest wherever the cloak of the dark servant travels to.

[Submitted by Jonathan Ely]
[Edited by Mike Myler]

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Cultus Sanguineus — The Sanguine Ball

sanguine ball properCultus Sanguineus—The Sanguine Ball

Either in a previous encounter (from last week’s Sidequest Saturday)—or by chance while in the city of Mohkba—the adventurers acquired an invitation to a masquerade ball and a beautiful mask of diplomacy +1 (actually a mask of thirst). The event is being held on the night after the party’s encounter with the trio of muggers and is lauded as the most grand occasion to come to the city in many months.

Notable persons from all over the realm will be in attendance, and the PCs are sure to meet influential and powerful individuals that hold sway over considerable resources in the Klavek Kingdom while there. Countess Darah Veresovich is the host of the masquerade, and her sizable mansion is located in the affluent area of the city. Adventurers keen to scope out the residence beforehand or wise enough to learn more about the countess may make a Diplomacy check to determine more about the event itself and the property it is being held in.

DCInformation Gained
15The countess is the sole heir to the Veresovich fortune after her older brother tragically died in a hunting accident. She is thought to have distant cousins, but they have scarcely visited Mohkba these past ten years.
25The whole ward in which the manor is located is one of the oldest parts of Mohkba, and the Veresovich estate is rumored to be coated with small magical enhancements to amplify its presence and grandeur.
35While not a recluse, after traveling to oversee Veresovich mercantile interests afar, the Countess began to create odd waves in the social climate of Mohkba that has put much of the nobility ill at ease. It’s thought that this upcoming grand masquerade is her way of mending the fences with her elite peers.

Veresovich ManorRead the following as the adventurers approach Countess Veresovich’s mansion to attend the grand ball:

A large iron-wrought gate stands open to accommodate the steady stream of gilded carriages entering the magnificent manor gardens before you. A gravelled boulevard leads up to the mansion where servants greet and assist the guests, lit by lanterns hanging from the lowliest bush to the mightiest oak, suspended on the branches of every plant in the gardens. Amongst the masked uniformed servants, a tall, gaunt man stands and surveys the scene in silence.

A servant quickly looks over your invitations and guides you to the door, where another attendant leads you to the ballroom via dimly lit corridors, finally stopping in front of a massive ornately carved door—as it opens you are overwhelmed by light and the sounds of a full-fledged nobles’ ball in Mohkba. Servants dodge dancing couples while carrying trays with glasses full of different liquors as what seems like a full symphonic orchestra provides the fantastic melodies flowing through the room.

Everywhere you look masked guests meet your gaze, some glancing cursorily in your direction. While a few avert their eyes, others seem to take a greater interest in your presence. On a long table in the back of the ballroom there are a panoply of different foods, the countess’ chefs having prepared well for the masquerade. The countess can easily be made out, a tall lithe woman dressed in a black ballgown with gold accents, her face concealed by a white porcelain mask inlaid with rubies arranged in a heart-shape pattern over the left eye. Only her smile reveals her mood behind the mask. The servant behind you whispers, “the countess wishes to make your acquaintance this eve, and wishes you to know that she expects much of you”, before closing the doors again.

Before approaching any of the members of the grand ball, the PCs can reduce the DCs for the checks required to ferret out their secrets (by 3 points) with successful DC 18 Perform (dance) checks. Otherwise, the adventurers find it challenging to get in touch with any of the nobles as the Klavek customs in observance that evening do not allow people of lesser rank to address the elite socialites of Mohkba until the unveiling at midnight. Still, the masquerade element presents an opportunity for cunning and mischievous adventurers to rub elbows with nobility—to earn their trust, however, they’ll have to Hopak!

Radimir Vlasputin, Mercantile Entrepreneur
 

Other noble guyMale human [Klavek] aristocrat 6; CR 4 (XP 1,200)
HP 33 (6d8+6); AC 12 (+2 Dex)
Init+2; Speed 30 ft.; Atk unarmed +0 (1d3, provokes attack of opportunity)
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 16
AL Neutral; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +5; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 11, Cha 15
Skills Appraise +13, Bluff +11, Diplomacy +13, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (geography) +6, Knowledge (local) +6, Knowledge (nobility) +6, Perception +6, Profession (merchant) +9, Sense Motive +9; Feats Deceitful, Persuasive, Skill Focus (Appraise), Skill Focus (Diplomacy)


Igor Rastvick, Merchant of the Rastvick Trading Company

RastvickMale human [Klavek] aristocrat 6; CR 4 (XP 1,200)
HP 33 (6d8+6); AC 12 (+2 Dex)
Init+2; Speed 30 ft.; Atk unarmed +0 (1d3, provokes attack of opportunity)
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 16
AL Neutral; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +5; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 11, Cha 15
Skills Appraise +13, Bluff +11, Diplomacy +13, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (geography) +6, Knowledge (local) +6, Knowledge (nobility) +6, Perception +6, Profession (merchant) +9, Sense Motive +9; Feats Deceitful (+2 bluff/disguise), Persuasive (+2 diplomacy/intimidate), Skill Focus (Appraise), Skill Focus (Diplomacy)


Frieda Manovitovich, Ensconced Socialite of Mohkba

FriedaFemale human [Klavek] aristocrat 6; CR 4 (XP 1,200)
HP 33 (6d8+6); AC 12 (+2 Dex)
Init+2; Speed 30 ft.; Atk unarmed +0 (1d3, provokes attack of opportunity)
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 16
AL Neutral; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +5; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 11, Cha 15
Skills Appraise +13, Bluff +11, Diplomacy +13, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (geography) +6, Knowledge (local) +6, Knowledge (nobility) +6, Perception +6, Profession (merchant) +9, Sense Motive +9; Feats Deceitful (+2 bluff/disguise), Persuasive (+2 diplomacy/intimidate), Skill Focus (Appraise), Skill Focus (Diplomacy)

 

Cultus Sanguineus Secrets!

Vlasputin
 
Diplomacy DC 20
The entrepreneur is here in the interests of several other merchants that have heard new and truly exotic (perhaps even illegal) trade will soon be coming into Mohkba, exclusively for Countess Veresovich.

Diplomacy DC 30
Radimir was asked by Count Krev to locate the fastest runners in the land for a very specific courier job; apparently, he did not trust the services available in Mohkba or the use of magic for whatever task he was up to. A DC 24 Sense Motive checkreveals that whatever it was, Radimir doubts it was entirely within the bounds of the law (though he’s smart enough not to pry or say any more on the matter).

Intimidate DC 32
Under duress he recalls that when Krev approached him about the runners, the Count seemed to know Radimir’s thoughts during the conversation and the distinctive black mask he insisted on wearing still gives Vlasputin the chills.


Rastvick

Diplomacy DC 25
Countess Veresovich is an esoteric sort that enjoys exotic delicacies. The Veresovich line has been influential to trade for decades and she has enjoyed the life of a debutante—perhaps too much.

Diplomacy DC 32
Rastvick knows for a fact that Countess Veresovich is quite mad and drinks blood in her wine—not just any blood, but the blood of young women.

Intimidate DC 32
He has several times observed how the Countess has used an exquisite necklace that beats like a heart to instill envious desires in younger women. These lasses—servants or socialites, but always extremely attractive—are never seen again. Once when Igor got close to see the amulet he himself felt an unearthly desire for it and its wearer. With all his mental might Rastvick tore his eyes from the amulet and promptly left. He will remark that the amulet she wears today does not beat like a heart at the moment, but…


Manovitovich

Intimidate DC 16
Well no need to be so rude! Let me tell you, the way you lot carry yourselves about, someone might take…no, will definitely take offense and you might find yourself at the wrong end of a Klavek dueling blade. Proper etiquette mind you, know your place. If you want to talk to someone, do impress them with a display of “Hopak”![a traditional Klavek dance, DC 18 Perform (dance) check]

Diplomacy DC 22
Frieda knows nothing of the details of the accident and is more interested in the problems with hiring good staff.
The Veresovich manor is built in the oldest ward of Mohkba, but there are some rumors that the ward is dangerous. Last year the manor of the Ollianov family fell into a sinkhole and killed half of their staff; considering how horrible it is to get good staff nowadays, can you imagine how hard it is to find so many at the same time. Poor Darah, should it happen here, her servants are so well trained; they are here, but you don’t see them, just like a disciplined dog.
Frieda shows no emotion when comparing servants to dogs and openly declares that dogs would make excellent servants, if they had opposable thumbs. She follows this macabre joke with the high-pitched laughter of the bourgeoisie.

Diplomacy  DC 32
Why yes, the countess is an avid collector of Klavek historical items and paraphernalia. Lately she has been actively searching for the cloak of Jaroslav Mandatin, the greatest duelist in Klavek history! Rumors say that the cloak was part of a set, consisting of a mask and an amulet as well, but that must be nothing more than an old wives’ tale, typically the fodder of the peasants. Now where were we, Lubov?”
She gives a wolf-like smile before sipping the last bit of crimson wine from her tall glass goblet and heads to refill her glass.

 

If the adventurers are not looking for the remaining enchanted items from the set the mask of thirst belongs to, Krev Ragata is! His agents are seeded throughout the event and as the night drags on, an expert hired specifically for the task approaches the PC wearing the magical masquerade mask, engaging them in a conversation that seems very friendly…

Daineus Guslar, Master of Lore

sandman bardFemale halfling bard (sandman) 7; CR 6 (XP 2,400)
HP31 (7d8+7); AC 22, touch 14, flat-footed 19 (+5 armor, +3 Dex, +3 shield, +1 size)
Init+3; Speed 20 ft.; Atk mwk rapier +4 (1d4-2, Crit 18-20/x2) or mwk light crossbow +9 (1d6, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 80 ft.)
Base Atk +5; CMB +2; CMD 15
AL Neutral Evil; SV Fort +3, Ref +9, Will +7 (+2 vs fear); Str 6, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 18
Skills Acrobatics +9, Bluff +15, Escape Artist +13, Linguistics +9, Perception +7, Perform (oratory) +18, Sense Motive +9, Sleight of Hand +13, Spellcraft +11, Stealth +12; Racial Modifiers+2 Acrobatics, +2 Climb, +2 Perception; Feats Ability Focus (slumber song), Skill Focus (Perform [oratory]), Spellsong, Voice of the Sibil; Languages Common, Halfling, Klavek, Vikmordere, 4 bonus languages (GM’s choice)
SQ Bardic knowledge, bardic performance (move action, 20 rounds/day; countersong, distraction, fascinate [Will DC 17], inspire competence +3, slumber song [Will DC 19; as deep slumber, no HD limit], stealspell [Will DC 17]), cantrips, lore master 1/day, versatile performance (Diplomacy, Sense Motive), well-versed
Gear +1 chain shirt, +1 heavy wooden shield, masterwork light crossbow (15 bolts), masterwork rapier
Bard Spells Known
3rd (2/day)—charm monster (DC 17), confusion (DC 17)
2nd (4/day)—blindness/deafness(DC 16), hold person (DC 16),suggestion (DC 16), tongues
1st (5/day)—charm person(DC 15), cure light wounds, disguise self, feather fall, summon monster I
0th—detect magic, ghost sound, lullaby, mage hand, prestidigitation, read magic
TACTICS
Daineus uses Spellsong (swift action, Perform [oratory] vs observer’s Perception/Sense Motive to realize a spell is being cast) to hide charm person and lullaby before using suggestion to draw the member of the party with the mask of thirst away into an otherwise empty chamber, where she tries to convince them to give her the item willingly—even offering another mask of diplomacy +1 in trade.
Anyone that interferes is targeted with blindness/deafness or confusion (hidden by Spellsong). If bartering fails, Count Krev (hiding in the shadows; his statistics will be on the AaWBlog tomorrow, but in the meanwhile use the “Freelance Thief” entry in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: NPC Codex if need be) loses his patience and assaults the PC, attempting to wrestle away the mask of thirst physically! Five of his most trusted acolytes, scattered throughout the masquerade, come to back him up and ensure none of the guests realize that there is an attack going on in one of the mansion’s rooms.

Sanguineus Acolyte
 
Sanguine AcolyteCR 4 (XP 1,200)
Male or Female human (Klavek) fighter 4/sorcerer 1
HP 44 (4d10+1d6+19); AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 14 (+6 armor, +3 Dex, +1 dodge)
Init+3; Speed 30 ft.; Atk mwk rapier +6 (1d6+3, Crit 18-20/x2) or mwk light crossbow +8 (1d8, Crit 19-20/x2, Range 80 ft.)
Base Atk +4; CMB +5; CMD 18
AL Neutral Evil; SV Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +3; Str 12, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 14
Skills Bluff +8, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perception +5; Feats Combat Casting, Dodge, Greater Spell Focus (necromancy), Spell Focus (necromancy); Eschew Materials, Toughness, Weapon Focus (rapier), Weapon Specialization (rapier)
Sorcerer Spells Known(CL 1st; concentration +3, +7 defensive; spell chance failure 25%)
1st (3/day)—ray of enfeeblement (DC 15; CL 2nd), ray of sickening (DC 15; CL 2nd)
0th—acid splash, detect magic, mage hand, touch of fatigue (DC 14; CL 2nd)
Bloodline Undead (Sanguine)
Gear masterwork breastplate, masterwork rapier, masterwork light crossbow, 78 gold
The Blood Is the Life (Su) Sanguineus Acolytes can gain sustenance from the blood of the recently dead 5 times a day. As a standard action, they can drink the blood of a creature that died within the past minute. The creature must be corporeal, must be at least the same size as them, and must have blood. This ability heals the Sanguineus Acolyte 1d6 hit points and nourishes them as if they’d had a full meal.
TACTICS
These cultists have little regard for their own well-being, believing (falsely) that an afterlife of pleasure or existence as an immortal undead awaits them. They will wade into battle, attempting to first weaken and sicken their targets with spells before dashing forward with their rapiers. The instant another of their group falls, however, any adjacent Sanguineus Acolytes are overcome by blood lust—they drop to the ground and feed on their recently fallen peer without regard to any dangers doing so might present.

 

Items Sanguineus 
At this point in the adventure, either Count Krev has the items and dons all three (the
mask of thirst, cloak of the dark servant and amulet of the sundered heart) or one of the PCs does: doing so causes them to disappear entirely until the stroke of midnight! However, Countess Veresovich has been prepared for the arrival of the Cultus Sanguineus items for some time and her entire mansion is warded specifically for their use. If a creature dons all three items while within her home, the entire manor and its surroundings are coated in magical darkness for 3 rounds as they are affected by the items’ rituals.

Countess Veresovich’s preparations protect the creature from the harshest of the Items Sanguineuseffects: only on a natural 1 will they fail the associated Fortitude and Will saves, though they still disappear until midnight. On the end of the third round, the magical darkness from all around the mansion draws back in on itself and explodes into a vortex of blood that splatters everywhere, coating all squares previously occupied by the disappearing creature in a fifteen-foot radius.

Blood Vortex — CR 9
 
XP 6,400
NE persistent haunt (manifestation) (15 ft. radius)
Caster Level 14th
Notice Perception DC 20 (to get a feeling of a centuries old hunger which soon shall be sated)
HP 40; Trigger (special see text); Reset 1 day
Effect When the items transform anyone into a vampire, Exsanguinator’s desire and yearning for blood manifests as a swirling vortex of razor-sharp blood droplets. The manifestation deals 10d6 damage (Reflex DC 22 for half). The vortex remains stationary and lasts for two rounds, after which the vortex harmlessly dissipates.
Destruction:  A manifestation is indestructible permanently unless the entity behind it is slain or banished back to whatever realm they came from.

After someone has donned all three of the Items Sanguineus, the nobles and merchants at the grand ball become far more talkative and Countess Veresovich is nowhere to be seen—the DCs for them to reveal their secrets drop by 10 and may be attempted again if previously failed.

Were that not enough, the Exsanguinator has been waiting, watching his acolyte Veresovich mastermind the bloodbath about to take place. The blood vortex caused by her rituals of protections and the Items Sanguineus draw his hunger; he locks the building down, barring the outsides with walls of force (CL 14th). On the other side of the walls of force are more of the blood vortex haunts, out to a radius of 20 feet from every surface of the building’s outside walls.

The adventurers (possibly missing one of their own) are trapped within Veresovich Manor, surrounded by the extremely-panicked nobles and merchants, utterly bereft of a host or direction! They must try to divine what is going on before the stroke of midnight, when all HEL breaks loose…

[A Myler/Wiborg Projekt]

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Rain of Blood

blood rain maybeRain of Blood     CR 9
XP 6,400

NE haunt (manifestation) (100 ft. radius)
Caster Level 10th
Notice Perception DC 30 (to notice the rolling rain clouds have a blood red hue)
Hp 18; Trigger special (see text); Reset 1 day
Effect     The thunder heralds rain but when the first drops fall, it becomes apparent that the skies are in fact shedding acidic blood. When this haunt manifests the dangerous precipitation lasts for three rounds damaging all organic matter (creatures and plants, but not objects), after which the rain returns to a normal, non-lethal downpour. On the first round the rain deals 6d6 acid damage, on the second round the deluge increases and deals 8d6 acid damage, and on the third round 10d6 acid damage finishes the manifestation (DC 22 Reflex saves to halve damage each round). Full cover entirely negates the damage and a creature wearing the amulet of the sundered heart, cloak of the dark servant or mask of the thirst is immune to the haunt.

Destruction      A manifestation is indestructible permanently unless the entity behind it is slain or banished back to whatever realm they came from. To read more about the Exsanguinator and how to bring an end to his malevolence, keep reading the AaWBlog as more of Cultus Sanguineus is revealed!

Adventure Hook     This manifestation represents the Exsanguinator’s desires to see the world covered in blood. His rage over imprisonment makes the rain acidic and his manifestations are increasing in power as the seals of his interdimensional cage are further weakened by the machinations of his minions.

 

Do you have a chilling idea for a haunt or cursed item? Send it along to us at submit (at) adventureaweek.com, but please, bear the following in mind before you submit anything for review:

1. Anyone can submit an entry.
2. One entry per person at any one time. An entry must be your own work, not being published previously or considered by any other publisher, and it must original and not infringe upon copyrighted material.
3. All entries become property of Adventureaweek.com, LLP.
4. By submitting an entry you authorize the use of your name and likeness without additional compensation for promotion and advertising purposes in all media.
5. Adventureaweek.com, LLP reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this endeavor at any time without prior notice.
6. All decisions of Adventureaweek.com, LLP and their arbiters are final.
7. There is no compensation provided – any entries are given freely by their creators for use by Adventureaweek.com, LLP in perpetuity.
8. Your statblock must be properly formatted (compare to similar content on the AaWBlog for correct formatting).

 

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Mask of the Thirst

Mask of Thirst blog-readyMask of Thirst
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 6th
Slot eyes; Price 16,810 gp; Weight 0.2lbs

DESCRIPTION
This ornate half-face masquerade mask is created of the most valuable materials, crafted from finest ebony and laced with fine gold filigree. Androgynous in design, it can be worn by either men or women with equal skill—providing they are of the correct social standing. The central design on the forehead is of a ruby shaped like a drop of blood around which twelve polished ebony studs are arranged in a circle.

This represents the highest quality of dress clothing in the region and is highly desired by nobles who attend the many grand balls at court. Whenever it is found, the mask always represents the latest fashion found at the time and adjusts naturally to the size of the wearer. However, the wearer gains a mild sense of paranoia and always seeks to know whether others are plotting against them, wearing the mask more and more often to hear their thoughts.

The wearer of this mask gains +2 insight bonus to all Charisma-based skill tests and can hear the surface thoughts of others within 10 feet. It also maintains two other enchantments; the first allows the wearer to whisper a short conversation three times per day to a nominated individual within 100 feet. The second is that its true nature is obscured to prevent casual detection from non-members of the Cultus Sanguineas, making others simply believe it to be a mask of diplomacy +1 (granting a +1 insight bonus to Diplomacy checks) of the highest quality.

 

History PCs that succeed on a Knowledge (nobility) check to research the mask of thirst learn some fragments of its lore:

DC 15     This mask of diplomacy +1 is said to have once belonged to a caste of royalty that wore them day and night. They are greatly valued and if found upon someone that is not nobility, removed forcibly from their person (sometimes leading to arrest).

DC 20     Like any other contraband, thieves’ guild leaders also value these enchanted opera masks. Where they are prevalent, acolyte rogues are often made to procure one as a right of passage.

DC 25     Some scholars of esoteric items believe that these masks of diplomacy +1 are somehow related to vampires because of the masks appearance, but they are often disregarded as fools. The history of their founding by the noble caste that bears them is well documented.

DC 30     Baron Varig Norkull was the first to wear the enchanted opera mask and the fashionable item quickly became popular among society’s elite. Numerous would-be adventurers instead retired to live luxuriously as creators of these simple masks of diplomacy +1.

 

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements: Craft Wondrous Items, detect thoughts, eagle’s splendor, magic aura, message; maker must be an arcane caster and worshiper of the Exsanguinator or god of undeath. Cost: 8,405 gp 337 xp

 

[Submitted by Jonathan Ely]
Edited by Mike Myler

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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Ring of the Vampire

ring of vampire image

Ring of the Vampire
Aura strong transmutation; CL 16th (3.5)/13th (PF)
Slot ring; Price 418,000 gp; Weight

DESCRIPTION
This jet black ring holds a single, quaint red ruby in a silver fitting at its top. More of the lustrous metal covers its edges and makes up the highly stylized and esoteric runes that encircle the precious metal band.

This appears to be little more than a ring of chameleon power to anyone that fails to succeed on the Lore checks (see below) to understand its true power (alternatively, a DC 42 Spellcraft check identifies all of the properties of this item). Anyone that wears the ring of the vampire and kills in bloodlust (while using the rage class ability, rage spell or under a similar effect) or commits murder in cold blood finds their bodies change—their canine teeth grow into fangs as a gray pallor overcomes their skin and their eyes turn jet black, transforming them into a facsimile of a vampire.

In addition to the bonuses granted by a ring of chameleon power (free action for +10 Hide/Stealth, disguise self at will), the wearer’s type changes to undead and they gain the following abilities while a ring of the vampire is equipped:
Blood Drain (Su) The wearer can suck blood from a grappled opponent; if they establish or maintain a pin they drain blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution damage. The wearer heals 5 hit points or gains 5 temporary hit points for 1 hour (up to a maximum number of temporary hit points equal to its full normal hit points) each round it drains blood.
Dominate (Su) The wearer of a ring of the vampire can crush a humanoid opponent’s will as a standard action. Anyone the wearer targets must succeed on a Will save or fall instantly under their influence, as though by a dominate person spell (caster level 12th). The ability has a range of 30 feet.
Defensive and Offensive Abilities Channel Resistance +2, DR 5/silver, Resist Cold and Electricity 10, Fast Healing 2, a slam attack (1d4) and energy drain to all natural attacks (1 level, DC 10 + 1/2 HD + Charisma modifier).
Gaseous Form (Su) As a standard action, the wearer of a ring of the vampire can assume gaseous form at will (caster level 5th), but can remain gaseous indefinitely and with a fly speed of 20 feet (perfect maneuverability).
Shadowless (Ex) The wearer casts no shadows and shows no reflection in mirrors.
Spider Climb (Ex) The wearer of a ring of the vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though under the effects of a spider climb spell.
Immunity to Aging (Su) While wearing the ring of the vampire, the metabolic operations of its owner stop functioning until it is removed. They accrue attribute bonuses from aging, but none of the penalties associated with them and they cannot die from old age. When removed, the wearer of a ring of the vampire is restored to the same age that they were when they first put on the enchanted band (losing all age-based bonuses to attributes as the clarity of undeath leaves them).

These are not the only things bestowed by a ring of the vampire; its wearer suffers the litany of weaknesses vampires bear, as well as a few other detrimental side effects:
The wearer cannot tolerate the strong odor of garlic and will not enter an area laced with it.
Similarly, they recoil from mirrors or strongly presented holy symbols.

These things don’t harm the wearer of a ring of the vampire—they merely keep it at bay. A recoiling wearer must stay at least 5 feet away from the mirror or holy symbol and cannot touch or make melee attacks against that creature. Holding a wearer of a ring of the vampire at bay takes a standard action. After 1 round, they can overcome their revulsion of the object and function normally each round they make a DC 25 Will save.

The wearer cannot enter a private home or dwelling unless invited in by someone with the authority to do so.
The wearer of a ring of the vampire is immune to aging effects, but if brought below 0 HP the enchantments granted by the ring immediately end (at which point they suffer all accrued age penalties and likely die).
Exposing the wearer to direct sunlight staggers it on the first round of exposure and destroys it utterly on the second consecutive round of exposure if it does not escape.
Each round of immersion in running water inflicts damage on a wearer of the ring of the vampire equal to one-third of its maximum hit points.
Driving a wooden stake through the heart of a helpless wearer of the ring of the vampire instantly slays them (this is a full-round action).
—The wearer of a ring of the vampire gains an unnatural aura that disturbs animals and the young; they suffer a -6 penalty to all Charisma-based checks when interacting with animals and creatures that have the young template or who have not yet reached the adulthood age category.

Removing a ring of the vampire is no simple task; they must do so at the dawn of a new day, and only if they are of Good alignment. Even then, they must succeed on a DC 30 Will save to do so. Cutting of the finger bearing the ring does not remove it; the ring of the vampire simply appears on another finger and within a few seconds, the fast healing granted by the item has repaired the lost digits.
Alternatively, particularly desperate individuals have cut off their hands to remove the ring; this provides a +15 bonus to the Will save to remove a ring of the vampire, but if the dismemberment is done at any other time than dawn, the enchantment persists (and the ring of the vampire appears on their toe until a ring slot is available on the wearer’s hands).
If the wearer’s feet are also then removed from their body, the ring of the vampire appears as an earring, then upon the lip and finally on the wearer’s eyebrows as a piercing. If all of these are cut off of the wearer’s body (incurring a cumulative permanent -1 Charisma penalty for each piece removed) the ring of the vampire finally removes itself from their person in the last piece of flesh it can cling to (leaving its previous wearer hideously deformed).

HISTORY     A character that makes a Knowledge (nobility) or Knowledge (religion) check to learn more about the ring of the vampire identifies important information about how the devious device operates:
DC 25      These rings of chameleon power once belonged exclusively to noble houses. Those who return them to the royalty that once owned the precious metal bands are rewarded extremely handsomely.
DC 30      Rings of this type are spoken of often in legend; it is said that rings of chameleon power that bear a ruby and the strange markings have turned many assassins into vampires, though how exactly none are sure.
DC 35     A barbarian warlord that plagued the northern lands for centuries wore this ring, and only when he was finally slain by a devout adventuring party was it revealed that somehow, the ring of chameleon power turned him into a vampire.
DC 40     The ring of the vampire is the powerful enchanted item you hold in your hands. Activating it requires a bloody, fatal end delivered by a raging blade or duplicitous dagger, but once that has been done, the wearer gains phenomenal powers of the undead. Removing it is another matter entirely, however, and the immortal monsters that created these rings made sure that identifying anyone who has done so is an easily accomplished task.

CONSTRUCTION
Requirements Forge Ring, polymorph any object (3.5) / greater age resistance and undead anatomy III (Pathfinder), dominate person, gaseous form, spider climb, the blood of five vampiric supplicants; Cost 209,000 gp
8,360 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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Children of the Night: Making Vampires Scary Again

Children of the Night: Making Vampires Scary Again

“I am Dracula.  And I bid you welcome, Mr. Harker, to my house.”

Dracula (1897), Bram Stoker.

There was a point in fiction and gaming, not so long ago, that vampires were villains.  They were monsters and people were right to fear them.  They had great strength, speed, and many abilities that normal humans could not cope with.  These days, it’s all sparkly skin and brooding angst and self-loathing, with a vampire playing the sometimes-reluctant hero.  As a huge fan of vampires, while I don’t have anything against the vampire hero, I miss the days of the vampire being the villain and being feared.

In this week’s Critical Hit to the Blog, I’m going to give you some tips and ideas on how to make vampires scary again.

Bumps in the Night

One of the many things that vampires represent is the fear of the dark, of the unknown.  However, it’s not the dark itself that people find frightening, it’s what’s in the dark that is scary.  Rats.  Bats.  Snakes and spiders.  All of these things are creeping while you’re sleeping and sometimes, you don’t know they’re there, but you might think they’re there and that’s enough.

The vampire has a few abilities that can allow you to play into that fear of the unknown.  The first is Children of the Night.  This ability allows the vampire to call rat swarms, bat swarms, or wolves that serve the vampire for up to one hour.  Using these allies to harass and harry the PCs can run the PCs ragged, making them use resources that would make a confrontation with the vampire easier.  One thing to remember about this ability is that if your base creature is an outsider or has a non-terrestrial subtype, you might want to consider letting the vampire summon other creatures, such as half-fiend wolves or a barghest or hellhounds instead of wolves and a vargouille instead of bats.

The second ability is Dominate.  This allows a vampire to control someone as though the vampire had used dominate person by 12th level caster.  That means this ability lasts for twelve days.  The reason this is frightening is that the PCs can’t know for sure that one of their allies is under the control of a vampire or not.  Assuming the party knows that a vampire is involved, this can cause rifts in the party, which can only make things easier for the vampire.  Even if they don’t know a vampire is involved, assuming the party posts guard at their camp during the night, their guard could become compromised due to this ability and the rest of the party wouldn’t even know it.

He's totally on your side. How could you not trust that face?

The third and fourth abilities are the vampire’s ability to change shapes.  The vampire can take the form of a dire bat, a wolf, or assume a gaseous form.  These powers can be used to play a cat-and-mouse game with the PCs.  As the PCs chase the vampire, the vampire can change shape, so that they don’t notice the bat, which then starts following them in gaseous form, only to appear in front of them as a wolf later on.

Lastly is the vampire’s spider climb ability.  This lets the vampire climb any surface as if they were under the spider climb spell.  The vampire turns a corner ahead of the PCs, but when the party turns the same corner, there’s not sign of the vampire, because the vampire climbed straight up the wall and is hanging from the ceiling above them.  Since most people don’t think to look up, the vampire can hide easily.  And when you add in the vampire’s +4 bonus to Dexterity and a +8 racial bonus to Stealth, this becomes even easier.

Wile E. Coyote: Super Genius

In a previous blog, I talked about how to make your villain really evil and all of those traits can be used with the vampire, but if there’s one thing that infuriates players, it’s having an enemy that’s smarter than they are.  Build the vampire as brilliant and don’t forget to add their +2 Intelligence bonus from the template.  Pairing the power of a genius with the vampire’s +4 to Charisma and +8 to Bluff, Perception, and Sense Motive can allow you to play the vampire in a way that will prevent the players from being able to tell exactly what the vampire knows and what they don’t.

A genius makes their opponents approach them at less than full power.  Therefore, a genius will set up challenges and encounters for the PCs that require the PCs to use up their resources, such as healing potions, healing spells, scrolls, wands, and most importantly, hit points.  If the vampire can use minions that do ability damage or ability drain, the party will most likely be weaker when they finally get to the vampire.

Change Things Up

The current view of vampires is that they males are square-jawed and handsome and the females are the most beautiful, most sensual/sexual things on the planet.  Even the picture in the Pathfinder Bestiary is fairly sexualized.  But if you look back at the movie Nosferatu (1922), the vampire Count Orlock was hideous and looked like an anthropomorphized rat.  By making a vampire look different or giving them different abilities than what the players are expecting can make a vampire scary.

Wait! I don't have my makeup on yet!

 

Okay, ready!

 

One way to do this is add the vampire template to a humanoid creature other than a human being or to add the template to a character that has class levels.  A vampire Cleric would certainly be interesting and unexpected.

You could change the gaseous form ability to invisibility or make the regular bloodsucker into a psychic vampire by having them damage Intelligence or Wisdom instead of Constitution.  This way, you can let the vampire attack without having to grapple, say an attack range of 30 ft., and the victim could have a Will Save (I’d say DC 25 or so).

My personal favorite way to alter monsters is to use the Monster Modifier by Adamant Entertainment.  With a few rolls of the dice, you can completely alter the way a monster looks, how it moves, or what it can do.  For example, I was running a module for my Pathfinder group that contained a monster called a barrow spider.  The party was a higher level than the module, so I was adjusting as I went.  I got to the barrow spider and got out the Monster Modifier.  A few rolls of the dice later, the spider was one size category larger, was a different color and had 12 legs instead of 8.  The four extra were two human legs and two grasshopper legs, which gave the spider ranks in Jump, which was a surprise to the group.

You can find the Monster Modifier at DriveThruRPG here: Monster Modifier.  It’s $2 and in my opinion, very much worth the investment.

By mixing things up, you can really throw the party for a loop.  Is the vampire not a spellcaster but can suddenly use fireballs?  Is their dominate ability changed to a gaze attack that paralyzes or petrifies instead of commanding?  What if the vampire can change into an elemental instead of a bat or a wolf?  If your base creature has spellcasting ability and can use alter self (and it’s chain of spells), elemental body, or beast shape, this can also help throw the heroes off the scent by changing into other people, elemental creatures, or animals other than a rat or a bat.

Casting Against Type

The “standard” image of the vampire is well dressed and well mannered.  An opera cape and a widow’s peak don’t hurt either.  But what if your vampire is nothing but a flying head, like the penanggalen, or a spirit that doesn’t have a physical form, like the lamia from Greek myth (which is totally different than the lamia presented in the Bestiary 3)?  In Filipino myth, the aswang was a woman who, after rubbing a magical ointment on their skin, turned into a large bird that flew through the village and released a long, pointed tongue that the aswang would use to drain blood.  There are also stories of vampiric rabbits, so using animal vampires is also possible.

Because the vampire template can be added to humanoids, fey, or monstrous humanoids and not just humans, your options expand greatly for the base creature.  A vampiric Minotaur.  A vampiric pixie.  A vampiric storm giant.  Let your imagination run wild.

Overcoming Weaknesses

There are a few classic weaknesses of the vampire, such as garlic, the crucifix, and mirrors.  Vampires also have an aversion to running water and sunlight.  Everyone who has seen a vampire movie will know these weaknesses and act on them.  The best way to combat this is to alter or remove weaknesses.  There have been jokes and movies that have to deal with Jewish vampires that aren’t repelled by the cross, but are driven back by the Star of David.  Use that.  If your base creature is part of a particularly strong religion, replace the crucifix with the religious symbol of that religion.  If nothing else, that requires the characters to figure out why a crucifix didn’t work.

The vampiric aversion to mirrors was created in Dracula (1897), but has been interpreted as the vampire, being undead, has no soul, and therefore casts no reflection or shadow.  If your vampire is a spellcaster or has a spellcaster on their staff, a simple application of the prestidigitation spell can either present a reflection or shadow or, if needed, remove a shadow or reflection to cast suspicion onto someone else.

Normally, a vampire cannot enter a private home or dwelling without permission of the owner, but adventurers usually stay at an inn or tavern; these are public places, so in that case, the vampire can enter freely.  And there’s nothing in the rules that says the vampire has to gain permission while the PCs are standing there.  If the party is helping with a “vampire problem,” then the vampire might have already obtained permission to enter someone’s house before they were suspected of being a vampire.

According to more modern vampire movies and books, vampires are destroyed by sunlight, but in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula was capable of walking around in broad daylight.  He wasn’t destroyed but he did lose his powers, making him more or less a normal human being.  This can also help disorient the characters.  If they see who they think is a vampire walking down the street at noon, they may be convinced that that person isn’t a vampire.

SPF 1,000, baby. Sun ain't nothin!

A stake to the heart (originally it was a spike to pin the corpse to the ground) will kill a vampire and the vampire will remain dead until the stake is removed, unless the head is cut off and the body burned or anointed with holy water.  However, in one Batman comic, Batman fought a vampire who had removed his heart and hid it so that the vampire was unkillable until Bats found the heart and pierced it with an arrow.  In this case, the heart worked similar to a lich’s phylactery.  You can do all the damage to the body that you want, but until you find the heart, the vampire won’t die.  This could be turned into a search through a haunted house for the vampire’s heart with the vampire and vampire spawn and minions hunting the PCs.

Switching Sides

Another option in making your vampire menacing is to make them Lawful Evil and then team that vampire up with the PCs for some reason.  They are ordered to accompany the vampire, but they only have his word that there will be no neck biting in the night (“But he’s evil!”).  The party might be tempted to stake their “partner” in the day and be reluctant to trust him when it comes his time to stand guard.  Have the PCs (particularly the female ones for a male vampire, males for a female vampire) make Perception/Spot checks when the entire party is together.  If they succeed, they catch the vampire staring at their neck.  Are they sure he is Lawful Evil?  Maybe he’s Neutral Evil and simply playing a game with the PCs and will attack given any opportunity or even the worst possible moment.

This can also go back to the dominate ability.  Perhaps the vampire has taken control of one of the party members or an NPC, like a hireling or follower, and the PCs aren’t aware of it.  When will this NPC turn on the PCs and help the vampire?

(Ig)Noble Savage

Vampires, for all of their brooding and sparkling and their nice clothes and fancy accents, are predators.  Watch other predators like lions and tigers.  Do they stop and chat and try to seduce or dominate their prey?  No.  They chase their prey, bring them down, and tear into the flesh to get what they want.  Make your vampire that way, too.  If the PCs discover a body, the throat might be slashed open from side to side or the body even decapitated.

Unless the vampire has used its dominate ability, there should be nasty defensive wounds on the body, usually claw or bite marks on the outside of the arms.  Since the vampire most likely has a high Strength score (Van Helsing said that Dracula had the strength of 20 men), broken bones and cracked ribs are a definite possibility.

A victim’s best bet is to hope for a Lawful Evil vampire.  At least that way, there’s a chance of negotiating their way out.  If the vampire is Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil, then forget it.  Unless you want the suave, sophisticated vampire, these two are the vampires you want to make your villains.  They have no remorse and will do whatever they want.

Make them savage and cunning creatures of the night.  Reduce the bonuses to Intelligence and Wisdom and increase the bonuses to Strength and Dexterity (for better Armor Class) or Strength and Charisma (for more hit points).

Mix it Up

When a party of PCs shows up at the bad guy’s door, the group is usually made up of various classes.  When facing a (suspected) vampire, have the PC encounter various minions, each with a different skill set.  This will make it more difficult to focus on one enemy (the vampire) because the various characters may be needed to deal with a specific threat.

For example, if the party has a Monk, the Monk may be needed to negate an enemy spellcaster.  The Fighter, Barbarian, or Paladin (or possibly all of them) might be needed to handle the vampire’s “muscle.”  Clerics might need to turn or damage undead that work for the vampire, as well as healing.  And don’t be afraid to have the minions switch “partners” on the PCs.  Keep the players (and their characters) on their toes!

Looking for Group

Vampires in fiction tend to fall into two types.  The first type is the angsty loner who might or might not be trying to redeem himself.  The second type is the “nest,” where any vampire can come and be considered “family.”

One big happy, blood family

 

Just like any family, these vampires will work together to defend their home.  The “savage” vampires will wade in and deal physical damage, while the psychic vampires can target the spellcasters, which usually stay in the back.  The “normal” vampires can play the middle, by targeting melee types with their domination ability.

As with the section on mixing it up, vampires often kept human slaves or minions.  These helpless or dominated minions might make assaulting a vampire lair more difficult.  Do the slaves/minions immediately become enemies?  Is it possible to save them?  If the party does save them, what happens when the party gets them out?  Will the vampire chase the party down to get his slaves back?  Will the party be able to fight back while protecting the slaves or will everyone become too vulnerable?  What will a vampire’s wrath contain?

So, there you go.  Some tips and ideas on making vampires scary again.

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Thanks for reading and until next time, be awesome to each other and good gaming.

Will.