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The Critics

The Critics (CR 11; 12,800)

As the party travels through the wooded area of Mischievous Meadows, they run into the critics—a group of more or less mad individuals whose exposure to art in one form or another has twisted them. Now they roam the region to sate their thirst for vengeance, while pretending to help the world by ridding it of bad art (though their interpretation of such is rather broad). Little do the adventurer’s know that an agent of a mysterious organization watches them from afar, guiding the critics toward the party to once more test their mettle!

(1) Deilarth CR 8

Gary Dupuis -Amaralda-CThis half elven redhead has a mad glint in her wild green eyes
XP 4,800
Female half elf sorcerer 9
NE Medium humanoid (half-elf)
Init +7; Senses low-light vision; Perception +12
DEFENSE
AC 20, touch 16, flat-footed 16 (+2 deflection, +3 Dex, +4 mage armor)
hp 49 (9d6+18)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +7; +2 vs. enchantment spells and effects
Immunities magic sleep effects
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger +4 (1d4, Crit 19-20/x2)
Special Attacks laughing touch 8/day (melee touch attack, target can only take a move action for 1 round)

Spells Known (CL 9th; concentration +14)
0th (at will)—daze (DC 19), detect magic, detect poison, ghost sound, prestidigitation,  read magic, resistance,  touch of fatigue (DC 15)
1st (7/day)—charm person (DC 18), entangle (DC 16), feather fall, mage armor, magic missile, shield
2nd (7/day)—bull’s strength, eagle’s splendor, hideous laughter (DC 21), see invisibility, touch of idiocy (DC 21)
3rd (7/day)—deep slumber (DC 22), fly, hold person (DC 22), lightning bolt (DC 18)
4th (5/day)—confusion (DC 23), crushing despair (DC 23), poison (DC 19)
Bloodline fey

STATISTICS
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 13
Str 10, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 20
Feats Combat Casting, Dodge, Eschew Materials, Greater Spell Focus (Enchanment), Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Skill Focus (Perception), Spell Focus (Enchantment)
Skills Appraise +8, Fly +10, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Perception +10, Spellcraft +10, Perform (painting) +6
Languages Common, Elven, Sylvan
SQ Cantrips, fleeting glance, woodland stride
Gear circlet of alluring charisma +2, ring of protection +2, handy haversack (4 potions of cure light wounds), 325 gold pieces, a collection of hastily drawn sketches, and a brass spyglass missing one lens.

TACTICS
Deilarth has mage armor cast before any encounter (included in the profile above). If she has time to plan she casts eagle’s splendor, shield, see invisibility, and fly on herself, then bull’s strength on Paddy, Faddy and Olwen. She controls her enemies with crushing despair and confusion, using lightning bolt on targets that seem immune to her enchantments.

BACKGROUND
Deilarth grew up in a small village. One day she started hearing voices telling her to create paintings—she started painting and showed such great talent that her depictions of the beautiful scenery around the village made her a well-known artist in the local area. Alas, as the months went on the voices made her paint more and more twisted versions of the nature around her village, culminating with otherworldly landscapes she saw only in her dreams.

Deilarth locked herself in the workshop and worked feverishly on a masterpiece to reveal to the villagers so they might understand her, like she understood the voices. Finally the day came where she unveiled her outstanding artwork, and the voices assured her that everything would be better afterwards. The villagers gathered in the center of the settlement to see what Deilarth had created—perhaps she had abandoned her weird style of late and returned to her roots, some said.

The painting was magnificent, although today no one knows exactly why—as the villagers were gathered a rift appeared over the artwork and several lithe figures in leather armor surged out. Some of the lookers on were slaughtered, some were taken away, and some were driven mad by the weird energies radiating from the tear in reality.

Deilarth was driven mad by the knowledge that her painting had doomed her birthplace and everyone in it. She cried out in vain to the voices she had heard, but they had grown silent. The mad artist wandered the woods and meadows until she met Olwen Oakenbranch, and she listeneded intently to his ramblings about art. Deilarth thinks art is dangerous to the untalented, as it must have been her lack of talent that created the disaster in her village.

Now she travels with her companions and deems art worthy, or in her case deems people talented or untalented usually on a whim; the talented travel on, and those lacking in ability are sentenced to death. To help her determine if people are talented or not, she uses an old spyglass; Olwen, Paddy, and Faddy believe it to be a magic item, but only Deilarth knows how to interpret the things she sees within it—the truth is that it is just a broken spyglass the insane painter found before meeting Olwen.

(1) Olwen Oakenbranch CR 8

tree creatureA huge tree with blackened bark strides towards you, as it approaches it seems that the trees around you come to life as well. He screams, “show me the art, or die!”
XP 4,800
NE huge plant
Init -1; Senses low-light vision, Perception +12
DEFENSE
AC 21, touch 7, flat-footed 21 (-1 Dex, +14 natural, -2 size)
hp 114 (12d8+60)
Fort +13, Reflex +3, Will +9
Immune plant traits; DR 5/slashing
Weaknesses vulnerable to fire
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 slams +17 (2d6+9/19-20)
Ranged rock +7 (2d6+13)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Special Attacks rock throwing (180 ft.), trample (2d6+13, DC 25)
STATISTICS
Base Atk +9; CMB +20; CMD 29
Str 29, Dex 8, Con 21, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 13
Feats Alertness, Improved Critical (slam), Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (slam)
Skills Diplomacy +9, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (nature) +9, Perception +12, Sense Motive +9, Stealth -9 (+7 in forests)
Languages Common, Sylvan, Treant
SQ Animate trees, double damage against objects, treespeech
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Animate Trees (Sp) A treant can animate any trees within 180 feet at will, controlling up to two trees at a time. It takes 1 full round for a tree to uproot itself, after which it moves at a speed of 10 feet and fights as a treant (although it has only one slam attack and lacks the treant's animation and rock-throwing abilities), gaining the treant's vulnerability to fire. If the treant that animated it terminates the animation, moves out of range, or is incapacitated, the tree immediately takes root wherever it is and returns to its normal state.
Double Damage Against Objects (Ex) A treant or animated tree that makes a full attack against an object or structure deals double damage.
Treespeech (Ex) A treant has the ability to converse with plants as if subject to a continual speak with plants spell, and most plants greet them with an attitude of friendly or helpful.

TACTICS
Olwen starts by using his Animate Trees ability and using them to engage the most formidable looking characters. He focuses his attacks on one enemy at a time, unless he is hurt by fire; then he attacks the source of the fire damage along with any animated trees until that threat is gone.

BACKGROUND
Years ago in a small glade two treants made their home, tending to the plants in the area. One day as Olwen returned from a trip to a nearby glade he found his friend was missing. The treant searched for him high and low, eventually finding his friend made inanimate, used as a support beam for a newly built bridge—cut down by woodsmen and used to further civilization’s encroachment on everything Olwen held dear. Furthermore a woodcarver had been hired to carve intricate designs on the bridge and now Olwen stared in horror at the scenes that adorned his friend’s trunk—happy humans dancing and playing music.

The carvings became the focus of Olwen’s rage; he detests everything humans call art and has made it his lifelong job to rid the world of all mediocre works. The treant fully understands that there is magnificent art and he intends to make sure that all humans that create mediocre art, or can’t create art at all, are destroyed along with their works.

Greengully Bridge still stands this day (Olwen cannot make himself destroy his friend’s tomb) but the he still wanders off to chat to his friend for hours. When he is home, Olwen usually stands with his back to the bridge as he cannot bear to see the crude mediocre carvings on it (meaning he hasn’t yet discovered that several people have made their own etchings into the timber and his friend). These carving are of a more explicit nature and their crude vulgarity would most likely send Olwen on a murderous rampage should he see them.

(2) Redcaps CR 8

redcapA small wicked old man, this snarling little humanoid wears metal boots and a blood-red pointed cap.
XP 4,800
NE small fey
Init +8; Senses low-light vision, Perception +12
DEFENSE
AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+2 armor, +4 Dex, +3 natural, +1 size)
hp 60 (8d6+32), fast healing 3
Fort +6, Reflex +10, Will +7
DR 10/cold iron
Weaknesses irreligious
OFFENSE
Speed 60 ft.
Melee Medium scythe +10 (2d4+10, Crit x4), kick +4 (1d4+6)
STATISTICS
Base Atk +4; CMB +7; CMD 21
Str 18, Dex 19, Con 18, Int 16, Wis 13, Cha 15
Feats Cleave, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (Scythe)
Skills Acrobatics +15 (+27 jump), Bluff +13, Climb +15, Escape Artist +15, Intimidate +10, Knowledge (nature) +14,  Perception +12, Sense Motive +12, Stealth +19
Languages Aklo, Common, Giant, Sylvan
SQ Boot stomp, heavy weapons, redcap
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Boot Stomp (Ex) A redcap wears heavy iron boots with spiked soles that it uses to deadly effect in combat. These boots give the redcap a kick attack that it can make as a secondary attack, either as part of a full-attack action or as part of its movement just as if it had the Spring Attack feat.
Heavy Weapons (Ex) A redcap can wield weapons sized for Medium creatures without penalty.
Irreligious (Ex) Bitter and blasphemous, redcaps cannot stand the symbols of good-aligned religions. If a foe spends a standard action presenting such a holy symbol, any redcap that can see the creature must make a DC 15 Will save or become frightened for 1 minute and attempt to flee. A redcap who successfully saves is shaken for 1 minute.
Red Cap (Su) A redcap wears a tiny, shapeless woolen hat, dyed over and over with the blood of its victims. While wearing this cap, a redcap gains a +4 bonus on damage rolls (included in the above totals) and fast healing 3. These benefits are lost if the cap is removed or destroyed. Caps are not transferable, even between redcaps. A redcap can create a new cap to replace a lost cap with 10 minutes of work, although until the redcap takes a standard action to dip the cap in the blood of a foe the redcap helped to kill, the cap does not grant its bonuses.

TACTICS
Paddy and Faddy always attack enemies wearing the lightest armor; they both revel in the blood spilling and horror of their terrified foes.

BACKGROUND
In the town of Groverton lies a manor shunned by the locals; few if any will speak of it. This estate has always been the seat of the ruling duke, but now it stands empty and deserted. Two years ago the people rose up against the mad Duke Heinan von Twikelsburg (the last of his line and quite off his rocker). Heinan’s madness started showing some ten years before when he ruled that all men should wear purple hats on Sundays on penalty of death—the people chuckled at their duke’s newest idea, but two months later no one laughed when eight men were executed in the village square for unwillingness to comply with the duke’s wishes.

The people quickly adapted and wore purple hats on Sundays afterward, but the duke was bored when no new executions were forthcoming and decided that he himself would decree which weekday it was when he awoke in the morning, so eventually the people wore purple hats every day. The next ten years were a nightmare for the people of Groverton as a variety of weird laws made their duke’s descent into madness clear for all to see, though no one dared to speak out against him.

It was into this town the two redcap brothers Paddy and Faddy came—they were employed as the duke’s personal riddlers. Each would ask unanswerable questions like, “what is the color of the sound of a butterfly on a winter’s night?” No matter what the answer was, the unfortunate soul would only hear the redcaps say, “wrong off with your head!” Heinan von Twikelsburg was delighted with his newest entertainers, but the people had had enough. Paddy and Faddy escaped the raging mobs descending on the manor and during their flight they came across Olwen and Deilarth. The redcaps introduced themselves as comedians—Olwen decided that it was an artform he knew little about and therefore he needed them to tell him if a comedy was mediocre or not (so far, everything has been mediocre to the brothers.)

ALTERNATE SOLUTION
The critics require a performance to help them judge if the party should die or not—a series of five DC 20 Perform checks appeases the malicious impromptu judges.

SCALING THE ENCOUNTER
To modify this encounter, apply the following changes:
CR 10 (9,600) Apply the young simple template to all of the critics (+2 on all Dex-based rolls, -2 on all other rolls, -2 hp/HD)
CR 12 (19,200) Apply the advanced simple template to all of the critics (+2 on all rolls [including damage rolls] and special ability DCs; +4 to AC and CMD; +2 hp/HD)
Not long after the PCs have ended their encounter with the critics, a trio of strange, man-sized birds that appear to be made of fire burst from the treeline and swarm them, raining down hot death on the adventurers! Keep an eye out on the AaWBlog tomorrow to see the stats for pepfralcons and what’s in store for the party in this week’s Statblock Sunday!

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