Aug 27, 2012

Magical Constructs in the Web of Ostigaar (3 of 3)

The final installment describing the magical constructs that were once employed by the Harmalan sorcerers (and are now features in the Harmalan ruins that make up the dungeon of the Web of Ostigaar adventure) includes three features.  This article follows on the earlier part one and part two, in providing description of the multiple magical constructs and features that the Harmalan Sorcerers left behind them.  Note that creatures mentioned, as usual, are based on stats given in the Monster Statblock Reference.  These are basically 1st edition AD&D monster stats, made generic for a multitude of OSR rules.

The Enchanted Portico of Derwa te Tale is a curious item that is a closed over portico, almost like a large gazebo, made of gold and unidentifiable gemstones, and it allows a passage between the realms of air and water.  The Ice Chandelier is a curious chandelier, not made of ice (it is constructed, apparently, of platinum and diamonds) but emanating a magical field of cold, with curious properties.  And finally, the Mosaic of Dhuul is a tiele inlaid floor that has a pattern, which if walked, will grant specific magical gifts to the user.

All of these items, as all of those constructed for the Harmalan Sorcerers, have some risk of harm or personal cost associated with their use (or misuse).  [This is part of the feel of the Valley of the Old Ones campaign - magic, other than the spells a spell caster normally employs, should be mysterious, and should have a certain risk associated with its use.]

Enchanted Portico of Derwa te Tale - This object is a very large structure, similar to a gazebo - there is a broad floor, outer columns, and a ceiling/roof covering the whole structure.  It is constructed out of gold, and set with unidentifiable gemstones.  The gold pillars have alternating carvings of birds and fish.  This object is actually one of a pair of identical objects.  One is normally placed on dry land, and one underwater - the locations being chosen by the user as somewhere particularly interesting, and deserving of being linked together.  Beings inside either one of the objects have concurrent awareness of what is going on in and around both at one time.  Also, those beings exist in both places at the same time.  If a person were to walk into the one on dry land, they would also exist inside the space of the one underwater.  While inside the Portico, the visitor is able to breathe and function normally (for them) in both environs simultaneously.  So, while a person might be able to walk and breathe both in the dry land portico, and also in the one undersea - a mermaid would be able to swim and breathe in the one underwater, as well as the one on dry land.  Once, when someone first enters the Portico, they must make a saving throw vs. spells.  If it is passed, then there is no effect, although a new saving throw must be made each turn (10 rounds) that they remain within the portico.  If the save is failed, the person loses consciousness immediately, and must make a second save to also avoid losing a point of intelligence.  This is all due to the mental overload of having full consciousness of two different realities simultaneously.  The portico is named for the original inventor, Derwa te Tale - who loved an apprentice of his, but she was a were shark.  The portico was the means by which he carried on the love affair, until she went somewhat native, and a protective bull shark ate Derwa.

Ice Chandelier - This object consists of an ornate and elaborate Chandelier - the type used to provide light within a great keep's hall - made of platinum and diamonds.  Once it is installed in a room, it will begin to chill that room, down to an incredibly cold temperature, and frost and swirling snow will become a permanent feature of the space the Chandelier is installed in.  The magical cold and swirling snows and winds are of such a nature that they have a strong effect on all in the room.  First, anyone with a resistance to cold or cold based attacks, loses that resistance while in the room (if this is from an item - such as a ring, or boots, etc - then the item retains its power, it just "shuts off" while in the room).  Second, there are no saving throws allowed vs any cold or frost magic.  All such spells will have their maximum effect while in the space of the Chandelier.  Finally, once per turn, a small group of winter wolves (1d3+1) will pass through the region that the Chandelier is affecting.  If anyone is in the space, the winter wolves will attack.  A new group will pass through once every turn (10 rounds).

Mosaic of Dhuul - The mosaic is a large tile maze, that covers an entire floor within the room where it is constructed.  It consists of a mystical mandala, which if traversed will actually temporarily transport the person entering the maze into an alternate dimension.  Note that good clerics and paladins may not traverse the Mosaic - it has no effect and will not work for them.  The traveler that is tracing the mosaic will be in a trance-like sleepwalking state during a period of time of 1 turn (10 rounds).  At the end of which, they are (astrally) in another place.  Dhuul who constructed the Mosaic originally, was a secret worshipper of Dralizar, the night fox.  The mosaic leads to his realm, which appears as a vast desert of black and blue shadow, with a single white orb in the sky, illuminating the landscape with a harsh blue-ish white light.  The traveler will be stuck on the plane for some indeterminate period of time, and then will be attacked by a Grue appearing out of the night.  The type of grue will be random, but attacks with surprise.

dice grue type
1 Chaggrin (soil beast)
2 Harginn (flame horror)
3 Ildriss (wind terror)
4 Varrdig (fluid brute)

The traveler must do combat with the grue that attacks out of the dark, and may not use spells.  If the traveler wins, they have successfully traversed the Mosaic and may claim the prize (below).  If the traveler fails, they permanent lose a level, but suffer no other immediate effects (all hit points are restored).  In either case, the traveler finds them self back in on the floor of the mosaic, unconscious but otherwise unharmed (except, possibly, for the loss of level).

A successful traveler gains the ability to cast telepathic bond, once per day, regardless of their own class (i.e. even successful fighters and thieves can gain this ability).  The ability will not be able to bond with good clerics or paladins.

A failed traveler, other than losing a level, will now forever be hunted by grues.  At any time that the traveler finds themselves in a very dark place, there is a 10% chance that a random grue will appear and attack, with surprise, the character.  This hunting can only be stopped by a remove curse spell.

Aug 26, 2012

Magical Constructs in the Web of Ostigaar (2 of 3)

This is the second part of the series begun in part one.  These constructs will appear in the dungeon rooms of the Web of Ostigaar adventure, but are being presented here (separately) for use in other adventures, as well.

The next sequence of magical constructs features (again) three items.  The first is  the Pool of Seeing, the second is the Bleeding Cage of Viyatus, and the third is the Column of Fa'Tar.

The Pool of Seeing - This is a magical pool that draws together a sharp focus between the living, the dead, and the undead.  It is used, theoretically, as a focus for "speak with dead" spells, granting the caster some special allowances.  It basically adds three levels to the casting cleric's level, and some other benefits.  The chief benefit, however, is that as long as the deceased was known to the cleric, or some person at hand during the casting, then no remains of the deceased are necessary - if the spell is cast in the vicinity of the Pool of Seeing.
Length of time
since Death
Duration of
Number of
1 week
2 rounds
1 month
6 rounds
1 year
2 turns
10 years
4 turns
100 years
6 turns
1 hour
1,000 years
12 turns
2 hours

Now, for the cost. If contact is made with the pool, then it will immediately summon 1d4+1 wraiths that will attack whomever made contact with the pool, and all those in their company.

Bleeding Cage of Viyatus - This infernal creation was created by an evil sorceror, forced to work under magical geas for the Harmalan family, as a device to aid them in their own war against diabolical creatures.  The construct appears as a pair of large stone niches, each with a hinged metal door closing over them.  The one on the left always appears to be slick with a coating of blood.  The one on the right is clean and dry.  If the intended recipient of the "benefits" of the spell enters the chamber on the right, and a suitable victim is placed in the chamber on the left (the morally questionable Harmalan sorcerors employed prisoners and captured cultists that served the diabolical powers they were making war against), then the magic of the construct activates.  The sacrifice on the left is bled dry over the time of an hour, and the during that time, any extraordinary traits that the victim might have are passed to the recipient.  In this case extraordinary traits are defined as any ability that the victim might have that the recipient does not have.  This includes (and is mostly intended for) racial abilities.  It does not include class skills, magical talent (but innate magical abilities do count), or non-weapon proficiencies.  The victim is dead. The recipient retains the abilities for a time equal to their own constitution in days.  The cost of using this construct?  It causes horrible, horrible visions and nightmares.  Any spellcaster that uses the device will not be able to regain spells (either MU or Cleric) due to an inability to concentrate, for a period of time equal to how long they have their temporary abilities.  In addition, at the end of the period, a saving throw vs. Poison must be made, or the recipient suffers a permanent loss of (randomize) either Intelligence or Wisdom.  At the time of its construction, the evil sorceror Viyatus was forced to construct the Bleeding Cage, so that the Harmalan Sorcerors could benefit from the abilities they faced in the dark elf, and mind flayer, enemies they were warring against.

Column of Fa'Tar - There was once, in another dimension that could be visited only by magic, a city of Fa'Tar inhabited by curious three armed beings that served a mighty fire elementalist. The elementalist had a cadre of magical assistants and lieutenants known as the Flying Warlocks of Fa'Tar.  The means by which these Warlocks were able to fly was through use of the Column of Fa'Tar.  Now the column exists within the world of the Valley of the Old Ones.  It is a large (10' tall, 3' across at the base) pillar of highly polished stone, with massive bands of platinum at the base and top.  The column always is glowing, and even humming with heat, as it is constantly white hot.  Through magical means the platinum bands around the top and the base do not burn, nor do they get hot.  The column, if touched, will confer magical abilities on the one touching it.  However, the extreme heat of the surface will render the limb that touches the column as completely burnt, withered, and useless.  As a side effect of losing the limb, the toucher also suffers 3d6 hp loss.  In addition, for each touch, the character must make a save vs. paralyzation or suffer a permanent loss of 1 point of constitution.  For the first touch, the touching character gains the ability to levitate, up to 1 hour at a time, three times a day.  For the second touch (which requires the sacrificial abandonment of another limb), the toucher sprouts very large feathered wings, and can now fly for up to 1 hour at a time, up to three hours a day (this replaces the levitate ability).  The wings have a 20' wing span, however.  For the third touch, the wings are lost, and the touching agent now gets to fly, at will.  The limbs lost will not recover normally.  Nor will the hit points that they cost come back, until the limbs ARE recovered.  The method to recover the limbs is by a remove curse spell (one per limb), and then heal back the 3d6 hp loss, per limb, as the time to grow the withered part back.

Aug 24, 2012

Magical Constructs in the Web of Ostigaar (1 of 3)

There are several Magical Constructs, that is large features with magical properties, that not the typical magic item that can be easily carried around (such as a wand, ring, sword or boots).  These are unique magical items that were constructed by the Harmalan Warlocks during the age when that family wielded power.

Star Portal of Oo'Zondra - The warlock Oo'Zondra was thoroughly fascinated with not only the astral plane, but also the celestial motion of the various bodies that were propelled by the gods through the ether around the world.  To further aid him in his study of this aspect of reality, and its ability to assist with contacting the astral plane, the warlock constructed his star portal.  It is a simply a hole in the sky, but the otherside of the hole is what makes it interesting.  The hole was placed, eventually, up against the stone ceiling in a chamber, now part of the dungeons making up this adventure.  It is a permanent opening, although the air that is needed to breath by people stays on one side of the portal, and the stellar-fluous ether remains on the other side.  The three moons (the three goddesses) can be seen moving by, and sometimes even stopping to peer through the portal.  The various dark spheres above the moons (outside of their gaze, and home to the nephilim of Noxecatt) are sometimes visible, but gazing is not recommended, as it sometimes draws down one or more of the nephilim (also called star giants). A magic user spending time (one week) meditating and studying the stellar glories within the portal, will gain 1 point of intelligence.  In addition, their new-found understanding of the intricacies of magic allow them to learn a new spell (of the DM's choice), and also to re-roll for learning any spells lost to them (due to missed "chance to know spell" dice rolls) of their highest spell level.  However, a saving throw vs. magic must be made, once per day during the week, or they will attract powerful, and dangerous, creatures that traverse such dimensions.  This includes creatures such as Mind Flayers, Githyanki, certain Elementals, the Nephilim of Noxecatt, Slaads, Intellect Devourers and other horrors.  In addition, once the week of study begins, if it is interrupted for any reason (including being rendered unconscious at all during the week - normal sleep can and will be avoided without penalty during this time), then the magic user making the study will suffer a cosmic backlash, and permanently lose 1 point of intelligence.  Once this is done, the magic user will have a completely overpowering and unnatural fear of the portal, and of related creatures (such as those mentioned, and others).  A Remove Curse spell will alleviate this unnatural fear, but not restore the lost Intelligence.

The Sarcophagus of Wim - Wim was the name of one of the Reptal kings that the Harmalan Warlocks dealt with.  The Reptals were a race of lizard men, from another plane of existence, that were often visited by the Warlocks, and in turn visited the Valley of the Old Ones.
Reptal (from Tony DiTerlizzi's page at

Wim (pictured) was, according to his story, a King in his own country, yet in the world of the Valley of the Old Ones, he was content to remain alone (apart from his own kind), and to occasionally share stories with humans for interest and friendship.  During his extremely long life, towards the end, he befriended the Harmalans, and during his last decades constructed the stone sarcophagus he referred to as the Sleep Forge of Life.  It appears as a marble (with platinum bands throughout) block, big enough so that the top has a full six foot tall depression carved out for Wim, as he was when he died.  The whole block emanates magic.
If someone lays in the depression, they immediately go into a deep and restful trance, and their body begins to heal, at an extremely increased pace.  Full recovery of 3d6 hit points per 8 hour period is possible with the Sarcophagus of Wim.

Kavooty's Magical Spout - A large, ornate, three tiered fountain made of a giant central pedestal, and topped with three consecutive basins.  The top consists of a gold figurine of a tightly bound mermaid, with her head turned up, and a water jet bubbling up out of her mouth.  The pedestal itself is four feet across, constructed of an unidentifiable blue stone, inlaid with bands of gold.  The lowest basin extends out 2 feet in all directions from the basin, making it 8 feet across.  The basin is made of a thin layer of giant oyster shell, pink in color, but radiating a glow from the magic within it.  The second and third basins are progressively smaller, as is the pedestal supporting them, with the top (third) basin being itself only 4 feet across, with a 2 foot pedestal, upon which rests the spouting, bound mermaid statue.  The fountain is completely magical, and drinking from any of the three basins will confer different effects.  The topmost basin will, if it is sampled from, cause the drinker to make a saving throw vs. magic.  If successful, then the drinker will be conferred on with the health and lifespan of an elf.  If the drinker is already an elf, or if the saving throw is not made, then the drink is poisonous.  The drinker immediately takes 2d6 damage and becomes cursed with a horrible, non-stop, noisy and extremely unpleasant flatulence.  A cure disease (or being immune to disease) will negate the effect. The second basin will will turn normal, non-magical metal objects on the body of the drinker, into solid gold objects.  This effect only works once per day, and only works once in an individual's lifetime.  Example: Drogo takes a drink, and all the metal bits on him (weapons, armor, belt buckle, etc) all turn into gold.  It will never work for Drogo again, but if he and his party wait 24 hours, then one of his companions can attempt the drink.  The third basin will immediately begin smoking and bubling, and the whole pedestal will shake and shudder, once the water is drunk from.  After a round of this disconcerting behavior, out of the pool will spring 1d4+1 trolls, to attack whomever drank from the fountain.  The fountain was built by Doolar Kavooty, and he originally intended there to be a random sequence of effects from the fountain, but was killed by trolls before he complete the ensorcelment.

Aug 15, 2012


The past month have been a quiet one here at the Valley of the Old Ones blog, this is with good reason, however creative work on my game setting has not stopped.

First, the reason for the slow down - I have started a new position as an Assistant Professor in the School of Computer Science, at Columbus State University, in Columbus Georgia.  This involved not only a change in job locations, but also a major move (across 4 states) for my family.  But the move is done, and we are slowly getting things in our new (great) house settled.

Second, the creative work HAS been continuing, and I will begin posting again this week.  This has been in four areas.
  • First, I have finished out rooms 11-41 of the Web of Ostigaar dungeon.  Some great surprises there, and once I am finished I plan to gather the whole adventure into a pdf and post it as a downloadable product.  
  • Second, I have been gathering up the materials for the Cult of the White Shadow adventure, and am planning to enhance it somewhat (including the map and key to the estate that the dungeon is attached to, and some NPS stats), and also package it as a pdf file.  
  • Third, I have been working on wilderness encounters for the whole Darkearth Plains region of the Valley, where these adventures are located.  The far eastern portion of the Darkearth Plains were developed when I discussed the various settlements of the Storm King Barbarians and their holdings, but the rest of the region have a very distinctive feel.  It is a cold region (more-so in the north, but true throughout), and the local flora are very similar to the last major ice age on Earth, especially in North America.  There are not only the typical late-Pleistocene era animals (megatherium, wooly mammoth, saber cats, wooly rhino, etc), but also some distinctive fantasy variations of these (dire sloth, frost rhinos, etc), and an approximation of fantasy neanderthals (the Shagmen of the Aghanz Hills).
  • Fourth, I have resurrected an old dungeon that I wrote up a very long time ago, the Bear Caves of the Mad Dwarf.  It features, among other things, some most excellent undead bears, a crazed dwarf jongleur, and a shrieking gargoyle.  I am writing this up, and setting it in the Valley of the Old Ones setting, and also to submit it to an online project collecting content featuring interesting skeleton encounters.  Skeletal Cave Bears will count for that, I hope.  Especially when they have the ability to phase through walls.