Jun 30, 2012

Shadow Snakes - encounter from the Cult of the White Shadow

A particularly troublesome creature is encountered within the Cult of the White Shadow adventure.  The Shadow Snake is that creature - it is a (thankfully) very rare creature that appears in the Valley of the Old Ones, some say spontaneously, but from the prolonged interaction of the material world with magics from the shadow dimensions.  The process is rumor, and is not completely understood, but it at least offers up (however unlikely) an explanation for the presence of the Shadow Snake in the world of the Valley.

From the mad and gibbering descriptions gained from the occasional deranged Cultists that are actually captured alive, it appears as if the the infernal (or shadow) beings that the Cult is trying to summon to our world - the otherworldly and horrid Shadow Wyrms - have imitative lesser beings that the servants of shadow rely on for magical and other purposes.  Those lesser beings are the Shadow Snakes.

A Shadow Wyrm appears as a vast shadowy body of a giant man-wyrm (snake like body, with pairs of clawed legs, at intervals, appearing out of the body; the front does not end with a simple head, but rather with a humanoid torso, with arms, wings out back, and a curious cobra-hooded head, with hollow black eyes).  It is said that to look into the eyes of a Shadow Wyrm is to lose your soul.  In imitation of these vast, horrific beings, a Shadow Snake is somewhat lesser, being man sized in the torso and head, and lacking wings and legs on the lower serpentine body.  In fact, while in the world of the Valley, the Shadow Snakes appear to be (and are) quite solid and material from the torso up, but the serpentine body slowly fades to cloudy wisps of shadow.

When encountered as a hunting party that have come looking for victims for their masters, the Shadow Wyrms, the Shadow Snakes will seek out any intelligent warm blooded victim.  They usually do not give preference to gender, race, profession or ability.  (The exception to this, in the Cult of the White Shadow adventure is that preference will be given to anyone who encounters the curious orange fog).

An encountered party of Shadow Snakes will consist of some number of warriors (as per stats below), for every 10 warriors, there is a Champion (4 hit dice, 2 weapon attacks/round).  For every 20 warriors, there will be two Champions and a Priest (level 7 cleric, servant of Lady of Air).

Num Appearing:  1d6, or as summoned or created.
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Movement:  120' fly
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 2hd (12hp)
Attacks: 1 weapon attack (shadow spear), 1 bite
Damage: 1d6+2 (shadow spear); 1d8 (bite)
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Treasure: None. 
Special: If the Shadow-Snake bites its victim, make a saving throw vs. poison.  Failure means that the victim becomes allergic to light for the next 24 hours.  Any light source brighter than a dim candle, or a small torch or lantern, will result in painful burns (1d6 damage) every round the victim remains in the light.
The Shadow Spear will do double damage if it strikes in the dark.
The Shadow-Snakes are semi-invisible at all times (and to all modes of site, unless in their home shadow dimension), meaning that those who rely on site in combat are at a -4 to hit them.

Within the Cult of the White Shadow, there are circulated rumors of specific spells used to contact or summon Shadow Snakes.  Certainly, at one time, among the worshipers of the Lady of Air, there were such spells, and communication with the shadow dimension was quite common, as much so as among higher priests of the Westron Church communicating with the Astral plane.

The first such spell is known as the Shadow Clutch.  It allows a single cleric, capable of casting a 4th level spell, to summon 1d6 Shadow Snake warriors, which will remain in the world, doing the bidding of their summoner (with appropriate bribes of blood from warm blooded intelligent victims), for a period of time up to 1 day per level of the spell caster.  The true strength of the spell seems to be when it is simultaneously cast by up to five clerics (a group of five is referred to as a Clutch).  With each additional caster, past the first, the number of dice of Shadow Snake warriors that are retrieved from the shadow dimension is doubled.  So with two clerics, there are 2 dice; with three clerics there are 4 dice; with four clerics there are 8 dice; and with five clerics there are 16 dice worth of Shadow Snakes retrieved.

Shadow Clutch (spell)
Level: 4CL
Duration: 1 day per level of lowest cleric involved
Range: 30'
Successfully casting this spell brings 1d6 Shadow Snake warriors from the Shadow Dimensions to a point within 30' of the caster.  There may be multiple casters, up to five, each of which would have to know and simultaneously cast the spell.  Each additional caster after the first doubles the number of dice worth of Shadow Snake warriors to retrieve.  For every 10 warriors, there will be a Champion (4 hit dice, 2 attacks/round).  For every 20 warriors, there will be a Priest (level 7 cleric, servant of Lady of Air), as well as two Champions.  The casters must be within 10 feet of each while casting.

In addition to summoning warriors, it is also possible to subject a hated undividual to the Shadow Hunt, where they will be haunted by Shadow Snakes, their Champions and Priests, as well as Shadow Creatures - all come from the shadow dimensions in order to either destroy or retrieve the poor, unfortunate victim.  This curse can only be lifted by a Remove Curse spell, or greater.

Shadow Hunt (spell)
Level: 4MU
Duration: Until removed
A victim cursed by the Shadow Hunt spell will begin to attract beings from the shadow dimensions, who come to the world of the Valley of the Old Ones, specifically to attack and kill (or drag back to the shadow dimensions, in the case of a Shadow Snake priest) the victim.  At random intervals (determined by the DM, but should be at least once per week) new members of the hunt appear somewhere in the vicinity (within 1 mile) of the victim, and will have an uncanny sense as to the victim's location.  The number of Shadow Snakes that arrive is equal to a dice toss of 4d6.  Again, for every 10 warriors, there also appears 1 Champion.  For every 20 warriors, there also appears 1 Priest, in addition to the 2 Champions.  For ever 6 rolled on the dice, there also appears 1 Shadow Creature, serving the leader of the hunt (a Priest if available, if not then a Champion, or one of the Warriors).

Jun 29, 2012

Shadow Creatures - encounter from the Cult of the White Shadow

A creature that appears in the Cult of the White Shadow adventure is the Shadow Creature.  These are semi-ethereal (they have a solid, at least from the perspective of the prime material plane, core - even though it is shifty and elusive) beings, similar to summoned and commanded undead or elementals, but they are of the shadow dimensions.   How the shadow dimensions differ from the ethereal or astral planes is difficult to explain, and the relationship between the shadow dimensions and lower (infernal) planes is equally difficult, even the scholar archivists of Parn Tandalorn find it beyond simple explanation.

It will be recalled that the Cult of the White Shadow adventure takes place with the action mainly in a dungeon.  That dungeon is dug out of the rocky spire at the center of Khomaes, and is accessible through secret means within the estate-villa of Lady Arabelle Siago Rema.  Lady Rema is a lovely, if aging, noble woman that is regarded in the highest of social circles in the high city.  Secretly, however, she is a member of the Cult of the White Shadow, and provides resources, hired thugs, and funds for their operation.  A fact also not known, even among most of the adherents of the Cult, is that Lady Rema suffers from a curious magical affliction, similar in some regards to vampirism.  Rather than feed on human blood, however, she must feed on energies from the shadow dimensions.

Among the few learned individuals who know of her condition, it is suspected that Lady Arabelle Siago Rema contracted her shadow-vampirism through dabbling in magics beyond her understanding, and that she even owns a copy of the cursed book the Earnish-Amantic.  This book is an early text, penned by outcasts from the original Westroner travelers who settled at Dancer's Spike to form Khomaes.  Those outcasts had a curious side religion, following the foul deity Noxecatt.  They came into possession of certain Old One writings, and transcribed some of the spells related to summoning beings related to the Lady of Air.

The Shadow Creatures that are encountered in the Cult of the White Shadow adventure are permanently bound to this dimension, but differ not at all from those that can be summoned.  Following the stats of the creature, two spells from the Earnish-Amantic are presented.

Num Appearing:  As summoned or created.
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Movement:  90' shamble
Armor Class: 6 (see below)
Hit Dice: 3hd (18hp)
Attacks: 2 claws
Damage: 1d6+2/1d6+2
Save: F3
Morale: 10
Treasure: None. 
Special:The Shadow-Creature is not all of our plane of existence, part of it is of other planes of existence.  Because of that, it can often slip through the narrowest of openings.  I can easily slide through portcullis bars, or through a slightly ajar door, but it cannot fit between a door and its doorjam - there must be at least an inch or so of clearance (width) to fit through.  The Shadow-Creature is roughly man-sized (5'6" tall), and cannot double over, so the opening must be approximately as tall.
The Shadow-Creature is nearly invisible, bearing only the merest of ripples in our reality.  Means of magical sight can see the creatures just fine, but not infra-vision.  Ultra-vision can see them.  This means a -4 for anyone fighting such a creature.  Seeing the blur means that the foe of the creature has enough knowledge to know where to attack, but the -4 still applies.
The Shadow-Creature, being only semi-solid, takes half damage from non-magical weapons.

From the surviving translations of the Earnish-Amantic the following spells are available.  The book, and the spells themselves, have a curse on them, however.  Learning the Magic User version of the spell (level 4, Summon Shadow Creature) means that the student must make a -2 save vs. Spell.  Success means no ill effect, failure means the student loses 1d3 intellligence, permanently.

Copies of the book are extremely hard to locate, and are in terrible shape (originals are over 1200 years old).  There have been some transcriptions, over the years, so that evil magic user spell books, or the scrolls of EHPs might have a copy of one of these spells included.  The original Old One text (it is presumed by the Archivists at Parn Tandalorn that all of the information within the Earnish-Amantic was originally in the Book of Zargo Zar the Sage) that the Earnish-Amantic was based on are not known to still be in existence.  Quests for that original source are common, but have never proven to be fruitful.

The style of books that was used, before the reforms of the monastic developments of the early Westroner Church, about 1350 years ago,  were pressed together stacks of oblong paper.  These were encased, in a volume, between plates of wood (or sometimes, leather or ivory), and wrapped in tight strips of leather or cloth. Almost all ancient books from this period, that came from Westroners, are of this variety.  Note that the type of writing here is of a script called Abbigave Round, which is of the Abbigave people, far to the West (rumored), that the Westroners came from.  There is an alternative form called Abbigave Tall.  Abbigave Round has some influence on Westschrift

Summon Shadow Creature (spell)
Level: 4MU
Duration: 1d12 + casters level in hours
Range: 30'
This spell, when cast, means that 1d6 (plus caster's level) in Shadow Creatures (as above statistics) will appear within 30' of the caster.  He/she will then be able to issue some simple commands for the Shadow Creatures to avoid.  If the commands are troubling or contradictory, then the Shadow Creature will disappear.

The other spell is for Clerics.  It must be studied by the cleric before it can be prayed for.  It will only be granted to evil clerics.  Each time the spell is requested (i.e. - added to the list of memorized spells for the day), the Cleric must make a regular save vs. magic.  Failure results in the realization that such creatures are destructive to the world, and that it is damned folly to have anything to do with them.  This shock causes 1d12 psychic damage to the Cleric.

Knowledge of this spell, and also of the Earnish-Amantic, as well as other whispered secrets about the Lady of Air, are passed around in certain circles.  This includes those pursuants of power that pay dark homage to Noxecatt and Dralizar, but also others.

Create Shadow Creature (spell)
Level: 5CL
Duration: Permanent
Range: Touch.
This spell, when cast, will transform a recently (not more than 1 day old) dead corpse into a shadow creature.  The being will then serve the simple commands of the creating Cleric until it is destroyed.  The dead corpse is consumed in the process.

Jun 28, 2012

Khomaes Barony (2)

The current head of the Barony of Khomaes is Aldra Ap Iaggio.  The Iaggio family has ruled the Barony for 8 generations now, stretching back almost 200 years.  Although the family, as with most of the significant families, is only interested in politics and the situation in the city of Khomaes (simply called "The City" within the Barony, but sometimes derisively referred to as the Drop or the Rift, because of Dancer's Rift.  It is also common for poets to refer to it as the Spire or the Spike, for Dancer's Spike).

The population of the city is approximately 22,000, but it has been a while since a general census has been called for.  The local economy, which is based primarily on local agriculture for the lower classes, and on a combination of industrial trade (amberstone and other materials coming down out of the Aghanz Hills), trade with the nearby Baronies, and the pilgrim and traveler trade.  The pilgrims and travelers have ample reason to come to The City, and hence the City itself flourishes, and creates additional demand on the surrounding areas, affecting the whole Barony.  The pilgrims coming are for the two cathedrals in the city, and also for the School of Charm.  The cathedrals are Appuco Fast, and it's twin Ramee Tower.  Appuco Fast is dedicated to St. Norena.  Ramee Tower is dedicated to the followers of St. Ellain.  Both churches draw a large amount of pilgrim traffic, and the business that pilgrims draw, to the Barony.

Westron is spoken commonly in this Barony, as with most of the Baronies.  But because it is so far north, there is also a wide understanding of Destrikking.  All written transactions, however, use Westschrift.

The surrounding towns are (see the map):

A. Truend - Pop 2,200 - Walled against the large mammals of the Darkearth Plains, and also against the Shagmen out of the Aghanz Hills.  A small elite corps of the town guard are called the Truend Rangers, and they travel the local area, looking for traveling groups of Shagmen, and breaking them up before they can get too close to Truend, or local farm villages.

B. Khoben Vale - Population 1,800 - There is a small section of dense trees that grows on either side of a minor river called Bruuka Wash.  Carved out of that is enough space for Khoben Vale, all within the trees, and partially on a rocky island in the middle of Bruuka Wash, the rest on either bank.  There are sturdy stone bridges connecting the whole affair, and stone walls and towers inside the forest, to protect the town.  Outside the little forest, there are single and small groups of trees, all of which attract the giant lynx common to the area.  In fact, sometimes the lynx is called the Khoben Cat.

C. Sagio Mill - Population 2,800 - This is an open town, without a city wall.  There are, however, several concentric rings of watch towers extending out, 20 miles in all directions around the town.  Most of the farms, and other holdings, relying on the town, are within that set of rings.  The town gets it's name from a very large stone mill, built next to a rather impressive mill pond.  There is no river feeding this pond, but the water in it constantly rotates (due to magic means), providing motion for the very large grinding wheel.

D. Iffel - Population 2,200 - This is a town built around a small castle (D'Mosh Castle), with a curtain wall around the core town.  It is, however, built right next to the King's Highway.  The curtain wall of the town backs up to and connects with the mound of the King's Highway, and within the walls of the town, there is a curious large tower, that has in it's central area, four very, very large platforms (like rafts, made of large logs lashed together), big enough for a large wagon and team.  Each of these platforms are actually elevators, up to a stone connecting ramp over to the King's Highway.  The elevators are powered by partially trained Mammoths, captured from the wilds of the Darkearth Plains.  This access to the King's Highway means that Iffel is quite wealthy as a trade location.  There is a similar elevator tower - obviously built by the Old Ones - on the south side of the King's Highway at this same point, but nobody bothers to maintain or man it.

E. Cyclot - Population 2,400 - This town has a massive wooden great hall at the center of it, lots of professional buildings (mostly of a half timber variety), and massive palisade walls made of very large shaped logs driven into the earth.  There are two concentric walls, one only 2 miles across, in a rough oval, only 1 mile across the narrow axis.  The second concentric wall is all of five miles across, roughly circular.  Inside the first wall is the "inner town" - which is for the wealthiest families, and prestigious buildings.  The second wall contains the "outer town" which are most of the minor nobility, lesser professionals, and more important land owners, who own grazing and planting estates outside the town.  Outside the walls exists a small community of Elves, mostly Wood Elves (about 400), but a few traveling Gray Elves are always present, also.  The residents of Cyclot, and the Elves, refer to this community as Duar Village.   These Wood Elves have strong ties to the Harp Woods. Much of the industry in the town is either from the surrounding forest products (charcoal burning, and carpentry rate very highly), but also a very strong wool market is present.  The sheep, a curious three horned variety, called the Odelle Sheep, produces very valuable wool.  The flocks that graze in open pasture outside the city are protected by shepherds.  Cyclot shepherds are known to be very competent, and dangerous, mostly due to the high number of dire wolves in the area.

F. Nowak - Population 2,200 - Another woodland related town, this one with a nearby Gnome community, of about 600 Gnomes, mostly underground.  The community is called Cheddom Tower, but the tower is a minor part of the underground Gnome village.  Together, the carpenters and craftsmen of Nowak and the Gnomes of Cheddom build some of the most intricate, and fabulous working artifacts (such as cuckoo clocks).  There is  a strong tradition of hunting amongst the wealthy and young from Nowak, in the Harp Woods.

G. Acron Trade - Population 2,400 - This is another walled town, built around a core of a castle (Bekno Keep), and surrounded by stone palisade walls.  It is built next to the King's Highway, and the Old Ones had constructed a curious platform settlement right next to the mound.  The platform is large enough for multiple buildings, and serves as a location for the main market of Acron Trade.  Approaches to the platform were built with a very long, shallowly sloping ramp up, so that animal and walking traffic have no trouble climbing it.  Stairs have been constructed, that are much steeper, but provide quicker access up out of the walled town of Acron Trade.  There is not a similar platform, nor an access ramp, on the south side of the King's Highway.  Although there is a thriving agricultural community of farms and villages surrounding Acron Trade, it is from trade that it makes its economy.

Note, this is part two of a two part article on the Barony of Khomaes.  Part 1 is located here.

Jun 27, 2012

Khomaes Barony (1)

So far the postings on Khomaes have been about the city itself, and some of the peculiar encounters that lurk in the darker areas of the very unique city.  An adventure (the Cult of the White Shadow) and some other details have come out.

This is the information about the barony itself.  The city of Khomaes stands in the northwestern part of the Darkearth Plains, between the Lost Mare River and the Greywater River.  It is between the Aghanz Hills to the north, and the King's Highway to the south.

The city itself has a population of 22,000.  There are a number of towns (on the map, as A-G), with an additional "urban" population of about 16,000.  In the open farmland in between these areas, which are dotted with countless unknown and nameless villages, the population reaches approximately 100,000.  Like most of the Westroner Baronies, Khomaes is very much a rural, agricultural setting.

Next postings will include the remainder of the encounters for the Cult of the White Shadow adventure will be posted, and then on to the next of the Darkearth Baronies - Werms.

This is part one of a two part article on the Khomaes Barony.  Part two is located here.

Jun 26, 2012

Rot-troll - encounter from the cult of the White Shadow

Yet another creature that is encountered in the Cult of the White Shadow adventure is the rot-troll.  It is a foul creature, classified as a type of troll, but one that has gotten some sort of vile infestation, such that the regenerating flesh on its body is in a constant state of flux, rotting and growing back at a similar rate.  The effect is that infectious troll flesh, as well as a whole host of vile maggots, are constantly sloughing off this creature, and soiling all around it.

The rot-troll is (distastefully so) inter-fertile with other trolls.  However, in addition to whatever offspring are produced, the breeding partner also is infected with the rot disease.  Because of this the various subspecies of trolls all have their own rot variation. For game stats on those unfortunate, cursed creatures - treat them as a regular member of their parent species, but with the special effects of the rot (described below).

The disgusting leavings of a rot-troll are of such a nauture that several other creatures will frequently be found in the nearby environs.  These include, primarily, carrion crawlers and a curious type of ghoul, known as the "Grave-Scourge" (see below).  In addition, a type of vulture, known as a "Hellbroom", also is frequently spotted.  An area that a group of rot-trolls has occupied as its lair, or hunting ground, is likely to feature these, and other creatures that live by eating carrion, and don't mind the source of the dead flesh.

Num Appearing: 1d6 (hunting); 3d6 (lair)
Alignment: chaotic evil
Movement: Crawl 30'/Swim 120'
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 6hd+6 (42hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite, flesh maggots (see below)
Damage: 1d4+4, claw; 2d6, bite
Treasure:  Individual - 2d6 * 10gp; Lair - all individuals, plus 1d12 gems (random value), 20% chance of magic item.
Special: The rot-troll regenerates, 3hp per round, as per a standard troll.  As with regular trolls, they can only truly be destroyed with fire and acid.

Each round of activity (such as combat) will mean that the rot-troll has sloughed off troll flesh and maggots in the area it is standing in.  This covers a circular area 10' across, but the maggots will spread out 5' in each direction (as a cloud) each round that the rot-troll stands in the same place.  The cloud of flesh maggots is deadly and infectious - anyone in the cloud, or moving through it, must make a save vs. poison, with a -2, or they are infected with the flesh maggots.
The flesh maggots will consume 1d3-1 hit points each round by burrowing, once they infect someone.  The damage can be cured normally, but the maggots can only be removed by a cure disease, or they can be burned out with open flame or hot metal, in the first three rounds of infection, although this will cause 2d6 damage to the infected person (regardless of how many maggots are being burnt out, only 2d6 damage is scored).  If the maggots are not burned out, after 2d6 rounds of burrowing, they will go dormant for 1d6 days.  Then the maggots will burst out of the victim, as a black winged moth, that will seek a corpse, or rot troll to lay a new batch of maggots on.  This process does an additional 1d6 of damage per maggot.  The amount of dormant time should be rolled by the referee and kept secret.
Flames (multiple torches, or fire from a magical source) can clear an area of flesh-maggots once a rot-troll has been defeated, and also they concentration of flesh-maggots begins to go down as soon as the troll expires.  At that point, they are not so potent (so the -2 to save is dropped).  After about 8 hours, the area is clean (the maggots either die off, or are swept away).

In addition to the rot-trolls, the details of the other creatures that are frequently encountered in the area of a rot-troll lair, are presented here as well.  The first, the Grave-Scourge, is often found near rot-troll lairs, and have a curious diet that consists of the usual Ghoul fare, but also collecting and eating the rotting troll flesh and the maggots that the rot-trolls leave behind.  A Grave-Scourge may be encountered singly, or in a small family group (1d4+2).  A number of family groups (1d6) will be found making their home in the area near the rot-troll lair.

The Grave-Scourge can be affected by, and turned by, good clerics and paladins.  As a family group living near rot-trolls, they seek to gather up as much of the flesh and rotting matter, which is viewed as a delicacy.  They try not to deal with the trolls directly (that ends badly for the Grave-Scourges), but they are addicted to the food source that they leave around.  These are the very worst sort of scavenger, they will often work to lure powerful victims, or large parties, near to the rot-trolls.

Num Appearing: 1, or 1d4+2
Alignment: chaotic evil
Movement: Run 120'
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3hd (18hp)
Attacks: Claw/Claw/Bite
Damage: 1d4 Claw; 1d6+1 Bite (special damage, see below)
Treasure: Frequently there will be a random assortment of coins and gems, never more than 1d100 in value per Grave-Scourge.
Special: The Grave-Scourge is a special type of ghoul.  In addition to living victims, it also thrives on the flesh-maggots left around by a rot-troll.  As a ghoul, it's bite can cause paralysis (save vs. Petrification, or affected as standard ghoul).  From a lifetime of consuming troll flesh (even if it is rotting), the Grave-Scourge will regenerated 1d3 per round.  The claws and teeth of the Grave-Scourge are infected with the corrosive coating that the maggots use to burrow into living flesh.  Because of this, in addition to the paralysis effect of the bite, each attack from a Grave Scourge must be saved against poison, or it will cause 1d3-1 damage per round, for 3 rounds.

The last creature that is commonly found near the lairs of a rot-troll, are the diabolical birds known as Hellbrooms.  These are larger than normal sized ravens that have been changed from eating gobbets of rotting flesh off of the rot-trolls, and also eating the flesh maggots that drop from the same creatures.  Hellbrooms fill an interesting niche in the ecology of all these rot-troll creatures, in that they have a high pitched cawing noise that they let out, as a flock, when attacking a victim.  This can sometimes serve to scare off members of large parties that wander into the area of the rot-trolls, but it also serves as a warning and call sound for the trolls to come, even when there is a stealthy group trying to move through the area.

Num Appearing: 2d6, or swarm of 2d100
Alignment: neutral evil
Movement: Fly 120'
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 1hd+1 (7hp)
Attacks: 1 beak peck (special, see below)
Damage: 1d4
Treasure:Nests will have 1d12 gemstones, worth 1d6x10gp each
Special: From eating the rotting troll flesh, the Hellbrooms have developed a form of regeneration, of 1 point per round, and also can only be destroyed (finally) by acid or fire.  If hacked apart in any other fashion, the body parts will eventually grow back (individually if they are separated), at the rate of 1 point per turn.  If still alive, the normal regeneration rate holds (1 pt per round).
The beak of a hellbroom is a horribly infected weapon.  If it strikes, and does a point of damage, it has the opportunity of infecting the victim with the flesh maggots of the rot-troll.  The victim must make a save vs. poison.  If not, then the victim is infected with the maggots, and they will begin burrowing and eventually hatch (as with the rot-troll's maggots).  The Hellbroom's maggots, however, are not as mature as those from a live rot-troll.  They will wait just under the surface of the skin, 1d12 hours, before burrowing.  The victim will, in most cases, not be aware of this.  Burning the maggots out before they begin burrowing will not be effective, as they tiny maggots don't leave enough of a trace of where they have entered the victim (in just about any open would, including the one from the Hellbroom's beak puncture).

Recall that in addition to these nearly unique creatures (they appear, at least in the setting of the Valley, only in conjunction with a rot-troll lair), the area around the lair is also likely to attract a number of carrion crawlers.  The overall ecology of the rot-trolls, the grave-scourges that their rotting flesh and killed victims attrack, the swarming flocks of hellbrooms that feed on those victims, and serve to introduce the maggots into unsuspecting travellers who carry them to other locales, and the lure of all this rotting flesh to the carrion crawlers mean that a rot-troll lair is a very dangerous environ.  The location of such a lair, which is often in a quiet, out of the way damp place, like a marshy hollow, or muddy river bank area, is likely to be known and shun by locals.  Add to that, the fact that none of the creatures involved have very large sums of treasure, and you have a monster lair that will not, by itself, lure in a lot of adventurers.  Paladins, questing knights, clerics and others who are out to perform good deeds will sometimes take on the task of clearing out a rot-troll lair, and it is always possible that a band of adventurers will be hired by some local authority to clear out the pestilence.

Jun 25, 2012

Filth-Prawns - encounter from the Cult of the White Shadow

One of the creatures encountered in the Cult of the White Shadow adventure presented previously was a vile being called a filth-prawn.  These are disgusting creatures that thrive on offal and fecund pools of liquid.  Their origination is unknown, but they are frequently found throughout many underground and secluded areas where there may be a body of liquid that goes undisturbed for a long period of time.  There are an unknown number of these creatures both in and under the various subterranean structures (basements, dungeons, cellars) in and around Khomaes, and also inhabiting some of the abandoned tunnels and burrows dug into the rock of low city.

In appearance, the filth-prawn looks like a mix between a very large (4' long) crustacean (such as a crayfish or lobster) and the high arched back of a shrimp.  There are some who speculate that it is related to the rust monster, but the peculiar abilities of those abominations are not at all apparent in the filth-prawn.

Sometimes cultivated and kept as long lasting guardian beasts by underground dwellers, the filth-prawn can be encountered nearly anywhere underground - it is an unnatural (at least to the Valley) creature that was either created by magical means, or was summoned from another world entirely.

A Filth-Prawn is somewhat easy to scare off, especially if heat and/or fire are used (hence it's reasonably low morale), however see the special details below, for an insight into its departing shot.  The Filth-Prawn exhibits a certain amount (perhaps INT 5) of intelligence, and they have a rudimentary language (that consists of low level telepathic transmission of urges and emotions, and some clicking and clacking, quite impossible for most humans to imitate without the use of magic).  Although technically intelligent, it must be remembered at all times that the goal of the creatures is to simply continue to exist, and to spread its spore.

Num Appearing: 1d6
Alignment: neutral
Movement: Crawl 30'/Swim 120'
Armor Class: 2 (see below)
Hit Dice: 3hd (18hp)
Attacks: 1 bite, 2 claw-stabs, 2 feeler stings, cloud of filth, mental wave (1x per day)
Damage: 1d6 (bite, see below)/1d6 (claw)/1d6 (claw)/1d2+2 (feeler sting, see below)
Treasure: 1d50+50 gold coins per Prawn, in their filthy, fecund pool (chance for disease)
Special: The Filth-Prawn's bite is infected with an acidic goo, and each bite will continue to cause an additional 1d6 per round, including the first, and for two more rounds.  Save vs. poison to half this corrosive damage.
The feeler stings of a Filth-Prawn are the shocking touch of long (4' long) feelers, that can attack either the same victim of a bite attack, or other nearby victims.  If the attack does damage (which isn't great), then the victim must make a saving throw vs. paralysis the first time attacked by a feeler sting.  Failure means that the victim is the subject of a Slow spell for 1d6+4 rounds, due to a partial paralysis.  Additional stings against a Slow'd victim indicated that the victim is implanted with 1d4 young Filth-Prawns.  These will each do 1 point of damage per day, until they hatch in approximately 2 weeks.  The damage cannot be healed other than by magic.  At the end of two weeks, the young Prawns will hatch, each doing 1d4 damage, as they rip out of the victims flesh.  Young Prawns are only 1hd (6hp), but already have the capability to bite and feeler-sting.  Cloud of filth and mental wave attacks only appear about 2 weeks after birth.
The Filth-Prawn, each turn that it is out of water (or some other liquid) exudes a horrible cloud of filth - this is the same as a stinking cloud spell, but with a cloud size of 30' radius.  Multiple Filth-Prawns create separate clouds, that each victim must respond to individually.  The Prawns themselves seem to be immune to each other's clouds.
 The Mental Wave that a Filth-Prawn can generate, is a once per day telepathic onslaught of desolation and despair, targeted against a single intelligent being.  If that being fails a saving throw  against magic, then it must seek to flee both the Filth-Prawn and the area of it's habitat.  Mental Wave attacks will come once per round, if there are multiple Prawns in the area.  The range seems to be about 150'. Typically, the highest intelligence and/or wisdom in the area will attract the attack.
Defensively, the Filth-Prawn has a secret weakness.  If it is struck for 8 or more points of damage in a single blow, the Filth-Prawn is knocked over on its back, rendering it (temporarily) immobile.  If this occurs, the A/C of the Filth-Prawn raises to 6, but there is a refreshed version of the cloud of filth - all must save again vs. it's effects.  This second, fear-tinged, cloud of filth affects as the first (as a stinking cloud), but also causes all characters and creatures of less than 5 hit dice to lose a round of activity, as they retch uncontrollably.

There is a chance that a special version of Monster Summoning V can be researched that will allow for the summoning of 1d3 Filth-Prawns.  This can either be researched individually by a spell caster that has personally encountered the beings, or can be learned from another caster that already knows the spell, in the usual fashion for learning spells.

[Note: In this case, I actually know where the illustration comes from.  It is from Jim Nelson's website, and is his painting. I believe it was of a D&D creature named a Craud.
http://jimnelsonart.blogspot.com/2012/04/craud.html ]

Air Sharks - encounter from Cult of the White Shadow

One of the creatures encountered in the Cult of the White Shadow adventure are the dangerous Air Sharks.  These are creatures that exist in and around Khomaes, also north into the Aghanz Hills and the southern ranges of the Destriel Mountains.  Occasionally found in the western reaches of the Harp Woods.

The Air Shark is a strange beast, that looks like a sinuous wyrm, perhaps 15 to 18 feet long (for a reasonably large adult), with feathery fins along its body at different intervals.  There doesn't seem to be a set number of fins, more pairs growing with the increasing length of the creature.  The head of the shark has a feroucious mane of spines and feathers (the feathers are always dark, from blue to purple or even black, while the scaly body is almost always a lighter shade - either blue or purple but sometimes paler colors like tan or light green - than the features).   The front end of the shark opens up to a fearsome gaping maw of teeth, reminiscent of an aquatic shark (this is where the name comes from).

They will float even when inactive, and some believe that they now, or in the past, fed on the great blue snails that are responsible for air-floating the amberstone down out of the mountains.  Air Sharks dwell somewhere that offers some top cover to them, so appreciate inactive buildings and caves, where they will school near the top of a tall, shadowy building.  Sometimes, when encountered outdoors, they will nest in or around the top cover of tall trees.  They are almost always hungry, even more so when a mother is tending to a clutch of new hatchlings.  They lay eggs, secured to some high surface, by a gooey sticky coating on the eggs. A typical hatching event gives birth to maybe 3 or 4 dozen babies (each with 1hd, doing 1d2 damage from a bite, increasing steadily to full size).  About half of those will survive to adulthood, which takes maybe 6 months.  The young will get along peacefully until they reach adulthood, and then one day the nest frenzy takes place, and they will disgorge from their nesting area, attacking anything and everything, spreading out to cover the nearby terrain, looking for new nests.

The hide of the Air Shark can be treated to form a very attractive, but otherwise typical, set of leather armor.

Air Shark
Num Appearing: 2d6 (always at least 2); 8d6 during a nest frenzy event
Alignment: neutral
Movement: Fly 120'
Armor Class: 6
Hit Dice: 4d (25 h.p.)
Attacks: 1 bite, 1 tail lash
Damage: 2d6+2 (bite, see below)/1d6+2 (tail lash)
Treasure: Dead shark will have 1d100 gp in it's belly; nest will have 2d6 gems, worth 100gp each
Special: If a shark makes a successful bite, it can hang on, doing half damage each successive turn (1d6+1) until it is killed.  In the meantime, it can continue to tail lash other victims.  If a tail lash strikes, the poisonous quill in it can be damaging - make a save vs. poison, or take 1d8+2 damage the first round, and 1d4+1 for the next two rounds.  -1 to hit and -1 saves from the poison will inflict the victim for 24 hours.

Jun 22, 2012

Khomaes Adventure - Cult of the White Shadow

There are are very interesting forces at work in Khomaes.  Although the Barony (which includes the city) is ruled by a nominally good member of Westroner society, Baron Aldra Ap Iaggio, there are forces within the city that are far from anything recognizable as Westroner culture.  A broad, but unorganized, subculture of different groups exist within the city, some of them religious, some with more earthly gains.  One of the most bizarre, however, is the Cult of the White Shadow.  An encounter by the player characters with this cult would probably be a dangerous one, but one where good characters would probably seek to harm the cult, and its leaders, in any way possible.

This secret organization draws its members from among the families of the wealthy nobility, and yet preys on the members of the poor and dispossessed classes.  The members are typically 2nd and 3rd sons and daughters (and others, further removed from being first son or daughter), that are likely not to partake of the inherited positions of authority and power within those families.  These are drawn into the Cult, and typically have little loyalty to the culture that has little room for them.  It should not be thought that all of the sons and daughters of these families that don't stand to inherit will immediately become members of this or that cult, it is only a small percentage.  But a high percentage of the recruits of the Cult do come from these situations.

The cult believes that it has found a way to contact servitors of one of the deities of the Old Ones.  In this case, it is the Lady of Air, and her servant is the White Shadow.  The White Shadow (according to the Cult) is an ethereal creature (actually from the shadow dimensions, but they are similar in characteristics to the ethereal plane) that seeks to bring about changes to the material plane, such that all beings, especially those with a brain, are subject to the Lady of Air, and her desire to bring an end to stultifying order, and overly shackling concepts of law.  In truth the doctrine is quite complicated, and under close scrutiny (like most Cults) does not seem logical.  The Cultists, however, don't seem to mind.

One of the main activities of the Cult is the summoning of Shadow Wyrms, which are supposed to make the way open for the White Shadow to arrive.  These Shadow Wyrms are infernal creatures, not resident to the world of the Valley, but must be summoned by magical means.  It is the belief of the Cult that those means include the sacrifice of young maidens, and the gathering of those maidens is the main business of the cult, within the city.

The activities of the Cult occasionally arise throughout the city, and there have been several Paladins and Clerics of various orders within the Church that have sought to stamp it out, but it arises again, and again in spite of such efforts.  Currently, the headquarters of the Cult are located in a series of chambers, carved out of the rock of Dancer's Spike, entered via secret passage from the villa of a certain noble famly, the home of Lady Rema.  Lady Arabelle Siago Rema herself (an elderly noble woman) is a member of the cult, but other than hosting the "dungeons" where they are headquartered, has little to do with the day to day abduction and murder activities.  She does, however, maintain a social circle of various nobles that are involved.

A map of the chambers is given here, with a key below.

A. Golden Chamber - This is the main room of the cultists when they gather.  As a precaution against non cultists entering here, there are a number of pillars in the room, which are charmed to produce guardian Shadow Creatures.  These apparently appear in direct proportion to the number of invaders that enter the room.
Each round someone comes into the room, 1d3 shadow creatures appear.  There are 12 pillars, so the maximum number of creatures that can appear in one round is 12.
Smashing the pillars will cause them to cease working.  They are made out of amberstone.  The base of each pillar has a gold collar around it, worth approximately 300gp each.

B. Storage Room - This is the room where the cultists keep their weapons, used for kidnapping and killing.  It has several racks in it, all containing a variety of bladed weapons, from push daggers, on up to short swords (nothing larger).
In the room, located up near the ceiling, there are two air sharks swirling around.  These are the trained pets of the weapons master, and will attack anyone else who enters the room.
If the racks are emptied, hidden inside one (which is not apparent unless all the weapons are removed) there is a hidden magical short sword, which is +2 to hit and damage, and which does double damage vs. elves of all sorts. 

C. Guardian Room -  This room is never entered by normal members of the cult, nor would they progress to the chambers beyond here (E,F,G,H).  In this room are two rot-trolls, which will attack any who enter who are not bearing the gold White Shadow pendant that senior members of the cult bear.  They will not stir from this room, nor will they allow any to pass it while they are still "alive".  A golden lined fountain against the southern wall sparkles out a flowing supply of special unholy water.  It provides healing (as a potion of healing, 1d6+4 hp) to characters and beings of an evil alignment (the rot-trolls know this, and won't hesitate to drink from the fountain in the midst of a fight, should they need to).  It, however, acts as acid vs any characters or creatures of a lawful good or chaotic good alignment. Those of a neutral alignment (true neutral, lawful neutral, or chaotic neutral) are unaffected by the unholy water.

D. Prison Room -  This room contains a large iron cage in the middle of the floor, with approximately 8 wretches crammed into it, who are awaiting sacrifice.  These are all young women, mostly taken from the low city, who have had their minds tampered with.  Sadly, due to diabolical magical treatment, they are no longer aware of their surroundings, or what is happening to them, and are only vessels of life in the most academic sense.  Guarding the room, are 6 Shadow Creatures.

E. Fetid Room - This is a room full of a curious fungus fungus room.  There is a curious growth, covering all surfaces in here (which includes the walls, ceiling, floor, several stone benches, and a fetid pool in a low-walled (12") enclosure, about 8 feet across, in the middle of the room.  All those surfaces have a weird sort of orange fungus growing on it, which will (if it senses body heat nearby), emit a strange orange fog that will not only affect all in the room, but also all those within 10 feet of the doors to the room, even if those doors are shut.
 The orange fog disrupts magic.  It has a chance to disrupt the magical properties of items (roll, once per property, percentile dice.  A roll of 25 or less means the property is negated for a period of 1d4 hours.  Artifact level items are not so affected).  It can make spell casters forget their spells, or lose their ability to channel divine magic.  If a magic user, make a save vs. spell.  If it is failed, then 1d4+1 spells (random from among those memorized) that are currently memorized, are forgotten (i.e. can not be cast without re-memorizing).  If a cleric, make a save vs. spell.  If it is failed, then lose the ability to cast 1d4+1 cleric spells (random levels) for the rest of the day.  In addition, the orange fog (unless a save vs. paralyzation is made) will render the victim "attractive" to the Shadow Snakes in room G.
The pool, if disturbed (it has a surface crust of the orange fungus' spoors), will cause two great shelled giant rotting filth-prawns to rise up out of the muck, and begin to attack (and inject with their damned magical larvae) any in the room.

F. Nursery Chamber - In this room is a giant larval grub (15' long, 8' high and 8' wide) of a greater mist walker.  It is being tended to by six Cultists (3 Swords of the Shadow; 1 Mind of the Shadow; 2 Flames of the Shadow) at any one time.  These are senior cultists, and at least two of them are (in addition to their normal stats, see below) also trained as 7th level necromancers. The sole duty of the Cultists is to take care of the grub, and not to enter combat in other areas of the dungeon.

The grub, if attacked, can be killed without difficulty (it only requires some repeated hacking, for approximately 1d6+6 rounds).  The problem with this is, that the juices and fluids that will spray forth from the grub will affect all in the room, as per the Mental Lash of a lesser Mist Walker.
If the cultists are killed, or if the Grub is attacked, then the giant Grub will flail about, seeking to crush all in the room.  Each turn in the room with the flailing Grub, all who are smaller than Large size, must make a saving throw vs. petrification, or suffer 2d8 damage from being rolled on and crushed by the ponderous Grub.  This is in addition to any save required because of spraying juices or fluids.  If anyone is paralyzed, due to spraying fluids, then they suffer a -2 to their saving throw attempt to avoid being crushed.
The cultists each wear a gold pendant, the sort that will allow passage beyond the rot-trolls of room C.  These are worth, in gold, approximately 150 gp each.  Selling them in the city of Khomaes, however, is likely to arouse suspicion, and perhaps prompt a visit from cult assassins.

G. Portal Room - This room contains the portal, guarded though it is, to the treasure room of this dungeon.  The center of this room has, on the floor, a round slab of marble, with a carved magical circle on it, that serves as a portal.  Activating the portal consists of putting on the curious bone helmet sitting on a pedestal, within arm's length of the magical circle, and then standing on the circle.
Hanging from the ceiling,in all parts of the room other than the very center where the magical circle is, are thick, rubbery tentacle-like roots hanging from the ceiling, having forced their way through the rocky ceiling, and now filling the room.
Swirling around, through the air, and among the tentacles, are a half dozen (6) Shadow Snakes.  These will give attack preference to anyone who still bears the orange fungus gas from room E.
If metal weapons are used in combat against the Shadow Snakes, the tentacles will react, and begin spraying a protective mist into the room, which is a light acid spray.  Everyone in the room during a round when metal weapons are used (and the immediate round following) has to make a dexterity save (d20 vs dexterity) in order to avoid a thick discharge of the acidic mist.  Failure means an acid attack (2d4 first round, 1d4 for two following rounds; save vs. poison for half damage).
There are several niches in the walls around the room (which have to be looked for specifically, because the tentacles from the ceiling will hide them from casual observation).  The niches each contain an urn, most of which are full of poisonous insects (no real attack, can be smashed handily, but save vs. poison to avoid a nuisance bite, if save is failed, then take 1d3 poison, and the irritant gives -1 to all attacks for two days).  There is one urn (random) that contains gemstones worth 3000 gp.
Standing on the magical circle, while wearing the helmet, will activate the teleportation form this room to room K (the only way to enter room K is via this portal).  The actual teleportation takes 1d6 rounds, during which time the person being teleported is subjected to acid sprays (save as usual) from the tentacles, and can be attacked by the Shadow Snakes.

H. White Room. - This room is empty, and is painted white throughout.  There are blood stains on the floor, and bits of rotting flesh in the corner of the room.

J. Entrance. - This is the entrance to the Cult dungeon.  It is found at the end of a long secret passage, from a hidden room at Lady Rema's villa.  There are casks of wine stashed here, as well as a pile of clothing, and normal city garb.  On the wall are a number of peg hooks, each holding one or two grey robes, with hoods. These are the garbs of the cultists.

K. Audience Chamber. - Upon being teleported into this room from G., the room takes on a curious glow once the inhabitant is standing in it.  That glow slowly fades to black, and then stars appear all around the person in the chamber.  It appears as if they are not standing on anything, but are suspended in deep space.  From out of the space, comes a hideous, gigantic white creature, like a huge (miles long?) body of a great white moth's body.  The flesh on top of the worm is rotting, and flaking off into space, and the legs are apparently groping.  The gigantic wings are rotting through here and there.  The face of the thing is shockingly horrible - looking like a great abomination of a woman's head, but deformed in horrible ways.  The face sees the victim, and the great wretched, fetid creature begins gyrating towards the person in the chamber.  It will seek to communicate telepathically, but since it is so alien, yet strong, it has a chance of damaging the mind.
This has a huge potential of affecting the individual negatively.  First, make a save vs. spell, to see if the mind is damaged.  If the save is failed, lose 1d3 Intelligence and 1d3 Wisdom.  Next, make a save vs death magic.  If this is failed, then the alignment of the victim is affected.  First, test the law/neutral/chaos axis - roll 1d6.  On a 1-3, the alignment shifts one slot towards chaos.  Then test the good/neutral/evil axis - again roll 1d6, on a 1-3 the alignment shifts one slot towards evil.  These changes can be overcome over time, but will affect the character's behavior in the short term (several weeks).  Finally, there is a chance that the character, in being touched by the creature in space, will be affected by exposure to the magic of that being.  Roll a test vs. Intelligence.  If this is passed (use the modified Intelligence, if it was lowered), then the character has learned some secrets of the creature's magic.  The character now has a chance to learn 1d6 spells that would normally be accessible by a necromancer.  Randomize which spells, and then roll (based on the character's intelligence) the chance to know that spell.  After all this, the character takes 3d6 psychic damage, but is returned to room G.  Unless the character passes a Wisdom test, he/she will be in a coma for two days.
If the character, at any point, removes the helmet, then the connection is broken.  Immediately take 6d6 psychic damage, and return to room G.  Also make a Wisdom test to avoid coma, but if failed, then this coma lasts 4 days.

Next posting will include stats on the following creatures from this dungeon:

Jun 21, 2012

Khomaes - Monsters in the Mists

As mentioned previously, the city of Khomaes is known as the City of Mists.  This is due to the peculiar trait (not affect-able, it seems, by magic - at least none tried so far) of being filled with thick swirling clouds of mists.  The nature of the swirling clouds changes over time, but in the evenings it is quite common to have the streets of both the high city, and the low city, and the surrounding farm land, to a certain extent, be covered with thick, foglike, swirling clouds of mist.  This is sometimes so heavy it is like a low, thick fog, clogging the streets, and setting down in the farm land, cutting off any sorts of vision except in the immediate area, and even dampening noises.

The various factions in the high city see to it that there are steps taken to make the mists not nearly so dangerous.  There are postings of lantern wielding city guards, at most intersections, and patrolling most walkways and plazas.  These call out at regular intervals, 'Man o' the Mist! Man o' the Mist!  Patrol the city! Man o' the Mist!"

Needless to say, down in the low city, without the benefit of a series of guards, the safety at night plummets, and the possibility for a bad encounter skyrockets.  The same is true of the farmland in the immediate area around the walls of the city.  The walls themselves, and the multiple gates, are all manned by guardsmen equipped with lanterns, and huge lights lit, sort of like harbor light houses.

The mists, especially on nights when they are thickest, bring with them atypical threats to the population of Khomaes.  There are several creatures that roam the mists, and seem to exist only in this weird, shrouded city.

The first are the Faceless Ones.  These are creatures that appear as hairless grey humanoids, about four feet tall, that move silently.  They are called faceless, but actually have depressions where their eyes should be, and curious ears (after a fashion).  Most bizarre are their mouths, which appear to just open up, as slits in their otherwise smooth hairless orbs that are heads.  These appear first as a thin line, and then open to reveal razor sharp teeth, often clotted with the gobbets of flesh and blood of their last victim.

The origin and motives of the Faceless Ones are unknown, but they appear to have a need to feed on humans and other humanoid creatures.  They will appear, in small groups, out of the mist, often quite close, and always silently.  Light does not reflect off their skin, and they (as with some other truly outre creatures, such as hooked horrors) appear completely invisible to both ultravision and infravision.  Appearing out of the mists, usually at a range of 30 feet at the greatest, the Faceless Ones often come out in the low city, but occasionally in the high city.  They appear in groups no larger than 4, and just as often, singly.

Faceless Ones
Num Appearing: 1 or 1d4
Alignment: neutral evil
Movement: Walk 120'
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3d (18 h.p.)
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1d6+1 (chance for drain, below)
Save: C3
Morale: 9
Treasure: None (may have dead victims nearby)
Special: Move completely silently, appear out of the mist (at ranges no greater than 30').  If a successful bite is made, then there is a chance for the Faceless One to drain some of the life energy out of the victim.  If this occurs, it has two immediate effects.  First, it drains 1d3 dexterity points.  These will return at the rate of 1 per day, with rest, and 1 per 2 days with activity.  Second, the bite causes the victim to make all saving throws as if they are 1 level lower for each point of dexterity they lose.  It recovers at the same rate.

 The next critter of concern, is one that lives at the very bottom of Dancer's Rift.  This wretched nomad is known as the Bottom Dweller, but it is not known if there is one, or many.  The Bottom Dweller lives at the bottom of the rift, where the low city no longer reaches, down and down.  It lives around a curious, lightless pool that takes up much of the bottom of the rift, catching water from rains and runoff from the higher reaches of the city.  In the wall of the rift, here as most of its depth, there are cave openings that stretch back into all sorts of stygian realms and unknown deep dungeons.

The size and ferocity of the Bottom Dweller make it a fearsome enough foe, but it has a curious third eye that makes it truly terrifying.  The Bottom Dweller has a third eye,and some developed paranomal sense where it can predict small tactical movements and changes. Before the creature (or creatures) got stuck at the bottom of Dancer's Rift, it must have made a terrifically efficient hunter.  Finally, there is another feature worthy of mention - the curious ability that gives the Bottom Dweller it's precognitive ability also projects a magical aura that disrupts the workings of magic.

 Bottom Dweller
Num Appearing: 1 (?)
Alignment: neutral
Movement: Run 90'

Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 8d (50 h.p.)
Attacks: 1 bite, 2 claws
Damage: 1d8+4/1d4+4/1d4+4
Save: F8
Morale: 9
Special:The Bottom Dweller, due to it's amazing precognitive sense, always goes first in combat.  It is never surprised.  This ability only applies to foes within 40' of the Bottom Dweller.  Foes from further away, would roll for initiative, etc, normally.  Within that same 40' range, the ability of the Bottom Dweller disrupts magic user based magic.  All magic user spells (and all specialty school spells), as well as spell like abilities from creatures and items that mimic MU spells, must roll a 20 sider check, and get less than the caster's level (or hit dice, in the case of a creature; or wielder's level, in the case of a device) in order for the spell to work.  In any case, the spell is expended, regardless of whether or not it works.

Finally, there is one more creature that is peculiar to the environment in and around Khomaes, and that is the Mist Walker.  This ancient creature appears only when the mists are of a peculiar hue of yellowish-green, which happens only occasionally when the moons are just right.  It is rumored that before the appearance of the Mist Walker, that there is always the faint sound of an eerie, solitary flute playing in the night - the sound of which is said to paralyze all but the most brave.  This is curious, because on nights when the mist is thickest (such as the same conditions that might bring a Mist Walker), that sound itself is often dampened, and not much can be heard from more than 20 or 30 feet away, other than the loudest of sounds.

The Mist Walker is a huge creature, easily dwarfing a mammoth, or one of the great southern swamp creatures.  Because of that it rarely appears within the city (although it has been known to be spotted in some of the larger plazas in high city, briefly appearing, lashing out, and then disappearing).  Its appearances, however, often occur just outside the city walls, and among the agricultural lands outside the city. It lurks amongst the mists, appears (temporarily) lashes out to devour some victims, and then disappears back into the mists.  It should be pointed out that these are not the Greater Mist Walker (detailed in a later posting), but rather the random young, from other planes, summoned here because of unknown reasons.

Mist Walker (lesser)
Num Appearing: 1 (always)
Alignment: neutral
Movement: Walk 70'
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 15d (95 h.p.)
Attacks: 1 mental lash
Damage: Level drain
Save: F10
Morale: special
Special: The Mist Walker will appear out of the mists, but not before all in the area have had a chance to hear the eerie flute playing.  All must make a saving through vs. paralyzation, or be paralyzed for 2d4 rounds.  The mental lash attack will attack all within 100' of the Mist Walker.  All of those must make a save vs. spell, or lose 1d3 levels.  The Mist Walker will continue this until it wanders out of range of anyone awake in the area.  It, curiously enough, does not seem to have an effect on those that are sleeping, in a coma, or for some other reason are not awake.

Jun 20, 2012

Khomaes - City of Mists

Khomaes is the name for both the City and the Barony of which it is a capital.  The city itself is built vertically, on a large rocky mound sticking up out of the earth, and then down deep into the rocky rift that surrounds the mound, on the southern and eastern side of the mound.  The mound is called Dancer's Spike, and the rift is known as Dancer's Fall. The names come from the Westroner ranger (Obar Dancer) that discovered the region, and brought back word for the Khomaes family to come and establish their family holding.

The main buildings of military, industry, and religious importance are all built either on the Spike, or down in the Rift.  The Spike is known as the high city, and the Rift is known as the low city.  Surrounding this immediate center of the city, are multiple rings of reinforced curtain walls, with defensive towers.  Outside the walls, stretching for miles in all directions, are acres and acres of farm land, spotted with small local villages.  Further out, there are five major Towns that are part of the Barony north of the King's Highway (Truend, Sagio Mill, Iffel, Acron Trade and Khoben Vale), and two additional (Cyclot, Nowak) south of the King's Highway, closer to the Harp Woods.  These fill the area, fairly regularly spread out (see map), of the Barony.  The Barony itself stretches north to the Aghanz hills, and down to the Great River  The Barony stretches from the Lost Mare River on the western edge, east to come down from the Aghanz, and split the Harp Woods.

One of the immediately noticed features of Khomaes are the swirling clouds of mist that fill its streets, and drift up the Spike to surround the Baronial castle, and the other important buildings of the high city.  The low city is almost always full of the densest clouds of mist.  These mists take on different colors, and in different parts of the cities, within a single day, will often change colors, slowly, over time.  There is a lot of speculation over their source, but it is (in truth) unknown.  They have been a part of the city since its founding, over 1200 years ago.  Magical means have been attempted to remove the mists from the city, and at best, work only temporarily.  Usually they have no effect whatsoever.

Other than the Baronial home (Castle Erthos), occupied for the past 120 years by successive members of the Iaggio family, there are numerous smaller estates and villas, the better of which are in the high city.  In addition, there are all manner of craftsmen and artisan to be found, most of which (other than various dilettante  pursuits by some of the jaded nobility) are located in home/workshop settings in the low city.  Coming out of a high point of Dancer's Spike, there is a great spring that fills a gorge, in the courtyard of Castle Erthos, and that flows down through the parts of the high city, as a river, in channels among the narrow and winding streets that go up and down the Spike.  Finally, it splits, near the lower layers of the high city, and forms several waterfalls that then drop down the rift into the low city.

In the high city, there is a very large round, stone platform, jutting out from Dancer's Spike several hundred yards, made of stone, but covered in a thick layer of soil.  On it is the most beautiful of parks, full of flowering fruit trees, and exotic and alien flowering plants of all types, small pools, fountains, and springs interspersed with lovely little open areas, surrounded by charming tended hedges and other border plants.  Between the hedges of the various little "parks" or open areas, there are lovely marble arches.  Within this large garden, known as the Garden of Charm, exists the school of enchantment and charm magic, the Glamor Hall for Bewitchment and Entrancement.  To one who needs to find the school, or who knows the key to the various charms hiding it, the school's entrance appears as a shadowy purple robe, hanging down in one of the marble archways.

Another famous feature that is in the high city are the twin cathedrals of Appuco Fast, and Ramee Tower.  Appuco Fast is dedicated to the branch of the church under the goddess Corrise, but especially St. Norena (patron saint of fire and comfort) and Ramee Tower is dedicated to the goddess Nadene, although it is maintained by members of St. Ellain's heirarchy (patron saint of Art and Water).  The twin cathedrals are attended by elaborate tunnels deep within the Spike, and are very different internally, but were built as patronage projects by one of the older barons, F'Tarr Oma, about 600 years ago.  The only difference, other than decoration for the different festivals from the two branches of the church, that is noticeable outside are the contents of the very large fountain and well in front of each cathedral.  Appuco Fast has a great fountain of fire, bubbling out rather than jetting out, so that it appears to be the essence of the fire, and not what it is burning that is generating it. Around it, in the stone pool, is what appears to be a vast quantity of fire, just being held within the pool.  In contrast to this, of course, is Ramee Tower, which features a pool and fountain of clearest water, constantly bubbling out, but always (seemingly of its own accord - who knows?) changing patterns of spray and frequency of change to that spray.

Jun 18, 2012

New Content Theme - Three for Three

In finishing up the Darkearth Plains, there are a couple of things left to do.  These fall into two categories, write ups on cities, and write ups on regional monster populations.

Consider the already mentioned regional monster populations.  There are the Horned Ones, the Marsh Trolls, the Furlingga Gnolls, the Shagmen, the Great Herd, the Destriel Dwarves, and others.  All of these deserve, at least, some stats and encounter charts. Perhaps later, however.

There are also the cities of the Darkearth Plains, which would certainly be a focal point of any Westroner character from the region, and which feature as the home for several important features (schools of magic; major structures of the Church; military order facilities, etc).

In Darkearth, proper, there are the cities of Khomaes, Werms and Huygen.  This next round of content will focus on sandbox level maps of those cities, and their immediate surrounding areas, as well as Three other postings for each city.  So that will make a total of 12 postings.  I will try to do this within the next two weeks, or before the end of June.
Khomaes, city of mists
 In order to keep things interesting for me, and for any potential readers, I will try to mix up the extra postings.  It could be sideline adventures, religious orders, schools of magic, spell write ups, encounter stats, legendary items, additional maps, etc.

Should be interesting.  At the end, I think I will end up with three cities, each with a very different feel, some level of mapping to suggest ideas for play, and additional crunchy information (with stats, more maps, encounters - whatever) to make these cities interesting for a campaign or convention game.
Werms, Northern city of clouds

Along the way, I might cheat and do some of the other interesting filler to back up my previous "Adventure Locations" content postings, but I will label each type (and cross index, and label, as usual).
Huygen, city of lights

To get started, I read the following series of Articles on designing Fantasy Cities.  I have been designing Fantasy cities for RPGs ever since I did the sprawling ruined city of Kadesh Barnea, back in 1982, in 11th grade (that one was inspired by, and drew heavily from, the old Dragon Magazine article - "Ruins: Rotted and Risky but Worth It" or something, I am quoting the title from memory...), but this article at Stuffer Shack is quite interesting. 


Note: I have not gotten any further on the Wiki idea.  I think it is a good idea, but I am having too much fun right now just cranking out content.  I will organize further, later on.

Week of Adventure Locations - Finished!

I finally completed my self-imposed task of crafting eight new, and different, adventure locations. One along with each of the eight different River Jarl steading descriptions written during, roughly, the previous week.

The adventure locations could serve anyone with some inspiration for a new adventure, and will likely serve me in the same way in the future.  Form the location, there is enough to generate a map, encounters, rumors, and all of the normal back story that would be necessary for a single evening, or a mini-campaign event.  I would like to generate some of that material here, even if it is still in a generic way (monster and NPC descriptions; maps; sandbox suitable encounter descriptions; etc)

The eight locations, with a brief tagline, are these:

Dungeons of Igo Umblar - Dungeons, in a glacier, of the Astral Navigator that helped the Old Ones depart the valley, long ago.  Described at the end of the write up on the Steading of Icewall.

Village of Adderbak - This village is the home to the Thorny Portal - a permanent portal to the Unseely Realm.  It is defended by an Elfin maiden known as the Princess of Roses.  Described at the end of the write up on the Steading of Seawyrm.

Tower of Ontigar - A gnomish tower, at the center of a destroyed and blasted land known as Scorch, is the home of a mining operation for the rich gems that once littered Scorch.  The tower and its dungeons remain, unplundered.  Described at the end of the write up on the Steading of Bright Iron.

Glade of Time - In the Great Owl Forest, there is a glade, containing a magical clock tower (called the Clock Tower of the Great Druid, but the title's origin is unknown).  The glade itself seems to be a curious point where time does not exist normally, and future and past versions of places, people, and visitors to the glade appear and reappear occasionally during any day.  Described at the end of the write up on the Steading of Hearth Home.

Celerium of Great Truth - An abandoned monastery, that was supposed to be a northern counterpart to the great Archive at Parn Tandalorn.  The monastery was wiped out by raids from nearby marsh trolls, but the secrets of why this site was chosen originally, are buried deep underground in the multi-levle dungeons under the ruins.  Described at the end of the write up on the Steading of Rookroost.

Port City of Ohn Ohnan - This is an (abandoned) port city, built along a tributary to the Greywater River, that flows underground (under the King's Highway).  It was built as a joint venture between the Old Ones and a group of Gnomes, long, long ago.  What originally wiped out this city, and what lives in the ruins now, would have to be answered by an expedition.  Described at the end of the write up on the Steading of Clearwater.

Roaming House of the Elkman King - The great roaming house - essentially a very large, luxurious yurt - that is pulled by a matched team of giant elk.  The tribe moves all around the Fields of Aton, and might be difficult to track down, but should provide some interesting if found.  Described at the end of the write up on the Steading of Mead Hall.

Flooded Tower of Kassar Nabarns - The astronomer-wizard Kassar Nabarns had discovered something interesting, in the stars, concerning the Old Ones and their deities.  Before he could share his knowledge, however, his castle, and the surrounding valley, were flooded in a wizard's duel.  Described at the end of the writeup on the Steading of Northwind.

Jun 17, 2012

Northwind - River Jarl Steading (8)

The furthest south of all the River Jarl Steadings, Northwind is further south than the King's Highway, almost half the distance between the King's Highway and the Great River.  Some way south along the river, is the great ferry crossing of the Greywater, marking the point where the road between the baronies of Huygen and Na Kram cross the Greywater river.

The great ferry (there are actually two vessels, the service back and forth across the river is simply referred to as "the great ferry" although the individual boats are called "Azano Runner" and "Byloo Swift") is operated from a great walled keep, and watch tower, high up on a rocky cliff of the western bank of the river.  This keep and tower are named the Lisman Keep after the builder.  It is manned by a group of mostly Westeroner men at arms, drawn from Huygen, Na Kram, and further baronies.
Lisman Keep

The far side of the river, across from Lisman Keep, is the Storm King village of Eidelthorpe.  It is a small town, and only serves to house the guards for the slave rowers of the ferries (see below), and as a source of horses, and sleeping quarters, for travelers.
The two vessels, the Azano Runner and the Byloo Swift, are propelled by slave rowers, taken from the prisons at Huygen.  The vessels themselves are considered off-grounds (a point of honor for the captains and huscarls of Northwind, and elsewhere) for viking raids, and other attacks.
Westroner image of the ferries, from the Book of Huygen

Northwind is a steading that boasts a very large, and powerful, fleet of dragon ships.  It is in a position to challenge attack from any small group of other Steadings, not to mention the single freebooters on the river, or even the large turtle ships and battle barges to be found along the Great river, somewhat more to the south.

The current Jarl of Northwind, Finndar Hatholsson, has turned over the organization of the Huscarls and dragon ships for the annual raids to his son, Rolfar Finndarsson.  Finndar himself has selected a hand picked band of his twenty favored huscarls, some skalds and a wizard (Amsil Uropp), and has traveled west to the lands of the Furlingga Tribes.  There he wages war against the strongest chiefs among the Furlingga, and is attempting to make a great name for himself and his men, all the while attempting to break up the Furlingga.  His original band has grown, attracting a number of other warriors, both from Northwind and also from Mead Hall (heroes from Mead Hall are never reluctant to join such a venture).  The war they are waging against the Furlingga gnolls has met with some success, but the complete difference in numbers is daunting to an outsider.
Finndar Hatholsson and his men, searching for Furlingga gnolls
The write up of the Flooded Keep of the Astromancer was originally part of this article, but it has been removed and made into its own blog entry.  It was originally part of the Week of Adventure Locations.