Thursday, November 16, 2017

Character Creation in Fantasy AGE

Wildfire, halfling mage
I've been spending a lot more time with Green Ronin's Fantasy AGE recently. It's a fun, rules-light system that is easy to prepare adventures and new content for once you have a little experience with the system. It's also one of the games that Green Ronin is most invested in promoting right now, so improving my system mastery will give me more opportunities to work with one of the my favorite companies again.

Over the next few months, I'll be sharing some of my thoughts about the games and its rules. To start off with this week, I'll review the process of character creation.

First, ask your GM for some basic information about the world they will be using, and with that in mind, create a character concept. Keep this concept simple for now--you're only a 1st-level character, so you have yet to acquire any fame or fortune. Also, unless you're using some of the optional rules (in italics below), character generation involves a great deal of random chance, which might result in you deciding to modify your original idea.

Next, determine your nine abilities: Accuracy, Communication, Constitution, Dexterity, Fighting, Intelligence, Perception, Strength, and Willpower. You roll 3d6 for each ability--in order--and consult a table to get your starting ability, which can range from -2 (if you rolled a 3) to 4 (on an 18) , with 1 (9-11) being average.

You may then swap two abilities if you wish. It can be very useful at this point to skip ahead a few steps to see which of the three classes has primary abilities (the four most important to that class) that best match what you rolled. That way, you'll have a better idea which scores could be most useful to swap. For example, the Warrior's primary abilities are Constitution, Dexterity, Fighting, and Strength. If you have good scores in three of those, but a mediocre one in the fourth, you might want to swap that low one for a better score that you rolled for one of your five secondary abilities. (This randomness in character generation makes Fantasy AGE something of a throwback to early editions of D&D, in which you also rolled your six ability scores in order, then had to choose your race and class based on those results.) Thinking about your class at this point can also inform some of your choices in the next two steps, race and background.

Each ability has a number of ability focuses that indicate a special knowledge of one aspect of that ability. If you have a focus that applies to an ability test you make, then your ability is treated as 2 higher for that roll. At character creation, you will get access to a few ability focuses through your race and background (the next two steps). You will gain additional focuses as you advance in level.

Optional rule #1: With GM permission, you can roll your nine scores, then arrange them as you wish among the nine abilities. 

Optional rule #2: This second method gives you even more control over your starting abilities. All abilities start at 0, and you get 12 advancements to spend on increasing them (on a 1-for-1 basis). You can't increase an ability above 3, but modifiers for race (see next step) are applied after buying abilities. Unlike many RPGs with point-buy systems, you can't lower an ability below 0 to get more advancements to spend on other scores.

[In my own games, I started with the default method just to see how it worked out in play. I found that using random rolls to determine abilities tends to end up with approximately the same overall total as buying them, but characters will be less optimized for their class. On the other hand, the random methods have the potential (however small) for higher--and lower--results than you can buy, and the quirky results can inspire some fun roleplaying.]

Choose your race: dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, human, or orc. Each race will give you a +1 bonus to one specific ability, give you a choice of one of two ability focuses, and will determine your starting languages, base Speed, and whether you have Dark Sight (the ability to see in darkness). In addition, you roll 2d6 twice on the race's benefits table; possible results vary by race, but are typically +1 to an another ability, an ability focus, or training with a Weapon Group.

Xerkanta, elf/gnome warrior
Optional rule: If your setting includes characters of mixed racial heritage, you can create one by choosing which race of the two races is dominant. You gain all the traits of that race, except that you only roll once on its benefits table. Instead, roll once on the other race's table.

Determine your social class and background by rolling 1d6 twice. The first roll's result will determine your social class, which determines which table you roll the second die on for background. Each background gives the choice of one of two ability focuses.

Optional rule: If you use the option for buying abilities, you can use similar rules for race and background. Instead of rolling on those tables, you get 4 advancements to spend on the options available to your chosen race and background. An ability increase costs 2 points, while any other benefit costs 1 point. 

Choose your class: Mage, Rogue, or Warrior. Your class determines your starting Health and the Weapon Groups in which you are trained (with Warrior knowing the most groups and Mage the least). You also gain the class's Level 1 powers, which include at least one talent and some other abilities.

Talents represent special aptitude or training, and include things like armor training, weapon styles, animal-related skills, and special advantages when using specific ability focuses. Each talent has three degrees (Novice, Journeyman, and Master) that add new capabilities as you gain more experience with them. All talents gained at 1st level are, naturally, at the Novice degree.

Warriors' starting talents include Armor Training (which eliminates the armor penalty to Dexterity) and two weapon styles (which give special benefits when fighting with the related weapon group, or with a shield).

Rogues start with a choice of three talents (Contacts, Scouting, or Thievery), plus the class-specific powers of Precise Strike (which adds bonus damage if your Dexterity exceeds your target's) and Rogue's Armor (which lets you ignore all penalties associated with leather armor).

Mages start with a choice of three talents (Chirurgy [medicine], Linguistics, or Lore) and two magic talents (which grant the knowledge of two spells each). They also gain Magic Points which are spent to cast spells, and a ranged attack with an arcane blast (which requires no Magic Points).

Hanamor, elf rogue
Basic starting equipment--such as how many weapons you start play with, and whether you gain armor or a shield--is largely determined by class. Each character also gets some starting money to spend as they wish, with the amount depending on their social class and a random roll.

Calculate Defense, which is 10 + Dexterity + shield bonus (if any). Only warriors with the Weapon and Shield Style talent can gain more than a +1 bonus from using a shield. Armor does not add to Defense, but instead penalizes Dexterity if you lack Armor Training. The benefit of armor is that it reduces damage from each attack.

Choose a name, some personal goals, and ties to some of the other characters, and you're ready to start play!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dreamlands Pathfinder Bestiary: A Few More Exotic Beasts

This will my last set of conversions in this series for now. I'll move on to a new subject next week, but I haven't determined what that will be yet. I plan to write some blog posts about the Fantasy AGE RPG, which I have mentioned a few times here in the past, and am finally devoting more of my time to learning. I am also overdue for crafting my next installment of "Building the Bestiary," which will probably cover serpentine creatures.

-----

The Dreamlands is home to many fantastic creatures, some magical, some merely exotic. This week, I present a few more short examples: the gentle buopoth, the beautiful magah bird, the fleet sloblubikik, the deadly winged snake, and the gigantic sea elephant. The first four creatures have been converted from The Complete Dreamlands, a supplement for the Call of Cthulhu RPG. The sea elephant appeared in the adventure The Dreaming Stone. 

Buopoth

This creature is a little larger then a horse, but resembles an elephant in general outline. It has short fur mottled mauve and light green, and two rows of protuberances along its back. It has large, liquid eyes, ears that are more human-shaped than elephantine, and a long proboscis that ends in a mouth.

Buopoth, from the Mythos CCG
BUOPOTH (CR 2)
XP 600
N Large animal
Init -2; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +13
Defense
AC 10, touch 7, flat-footed 10 (-2 Dex, +3 natural, -1 size)
hp 45 (6d8+18)
Fort +8, Ref +3, Will +2
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee slam +10 (1d6+9)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks trample (1d6+9, DC 19)
Statistics
Str 22, Dex 7, Con 16, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 16
Base Atk +4; CMB +11; CMD 19 (23 vs. trip)
Feats Endurance, Run, Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills Perception +13
Ecology
Environment any forest
Organization solitary or herd (2-12)
Treasure none

Buopoths are gentle and skittish, preferring to flee rather than fight. If cornered, a buopoth will roll up its tender proboscis under its head and attempt to knock down and trample opponents. 

Magah Bird

This small bird has long, lustrous, and many-colored feathers.

MAGAH BIRD (CR 1/3)
XP 135
N Tiny magical beast
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-vision; Perception +4
Defense
AC 16, touch 16, flat-footed 12 (+4 Dex, +2 size)
hp 3 (1d10-2)
Fort +0, Ref +6, Will +0
Offense
Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (good)
Melee bite +7 (1d3-4)
Space 2-1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Special Attacks captivating song
Statistics
Str 2, Dex 19, Con 6, Int 2, Wis 11, Cha 12
Base Atk +1; CMB -5; CMD 9
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Perception +4
Ecology
Environment any warm forest or jungle
Organization solitary
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Captivating Song (Su) At will, a magah bird can use its display and song to create a hypnotic pattern effect, as the spell (caster level 4th; Will DC 11). The save DC is Charisma-based.

Magah birds are native to the slopes of Mount Ngranek on Oriab Island. Their feathers are prized for their rich colors.

The magah bird uses its beautiful song and dazzling feathers to hypnotize its prey, then cautiously approaches fascinated creates to attack. The bird usually avoids attacking anything larger than itself, because it cannot kill larger creatures quickly.

A spellcaster of 3rd level or higher with the Improved Familiar feat may choose a magah bird as a familiar.

Sloblubikik

This creature looks like a small deer, about two feet tall at the shoulder, with small sharp antlers.

SLOBLUBIKIK (CR 1/2)
XP 200
N Small magical beast
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +5
Defense
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +2 dodge, +1 size)
hp 11 (2d10)
Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +0
Defensive Abilities invisibility
Offense
Speed 40 ft.
Melee gore +1 (1d4-2) or kick +1 (1d3-2)
Statistics
Str 7, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +2; CMB -1; CMD 11
Feats Dodge, Run[B]
Skills Acrobatics +7 (+11 jumping), Perception +5
SQ invisibility
Ecology
Environment warm forest or jungle
Organization solitary, pair, or herd (3-8)
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Invisibility (Su) At will, a sloblubikik can activate invisibility (self only; CL 10th; concentration +10) as a free action. Unlike the spell, the effect requires concentration, but the sloblubikik can move (including running, jumping, and dodging) without having to make a concentration check.

A sloblubikik flees combat unless it is cornered. It uses its invisibility ability to throw off pursuers.

Winged Snake

This large viper has feathered wings sprouting from its body.

WINGED SNAKE (CR 2)
XP 600
N Medium magical beast
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +7
Defense
AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+2 Dex, +4 natural)
hp 26 (4d10+4)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +1
Offense
Speed 25 ft., fly 50 ft. (average)
Melee bite +6 (1d6 plus poison)
Statistics
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 4, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 16
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Perception +7
Ecology
Environment warm jungles
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Poison (Ex) Bite--injury; save Fort DC 13; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d3 Con; cure 1 save.

Winged snakes are intelligent and can be trained to obey simple commands (at the usual -4 penalty to Handle Animal for training a magical beast), but have no language of their own.

Sea Elephant

This creature has a fish-like body and tail, covered in scaly hide, and two large clawed and finned forelegs. Its head is that of an elephant, including a trunk, tusks, and large ears, but it is even larger than that animal. Twin blowholes blast jests of spray as it surfaces, then the trunk trumpets an ear-pounding challenge.

SEA ELEPHANT (CR 6)
XP 2,400
N Huge magical beast (aquatic)
Init -2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +16
Defense
AC 18, touch 6, flat-footed 18 (-2 Dex, +12 natural, -2 size)
hp 125 (10d10+70)
Fort +14, Ref +5, Will +5
Offense
Speed swim 40 ft.
Melee gore +20 (2d6+10), trunk +15 (1d8+5 plus grab), 2 claws +15 (1d8+5)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Statistics
Str 30, Dex 7, Con 25, Int 3, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +4; CMB +11; CMD 19 (23 vs. trip)
Feats Cleave, Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills Perception +16, Swim +18
SQ hold breath
Ecology
Environment any aquatic
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Hold Breath (Ex) A sea elephant can hold its breath for a number of rounds equal to 6 times its Constitution score before it risks drowning (150 rounds, or 15 minutes, for a typical specimen).

A sea elephant is a monster rarely seen more then once in a lifetime, and even then it can be mistaken for a whale at a distance. It has gill-slits covered by its large, fan-like "ears".

If a sea elephant feels threatened by another creature or a ship--which may mean simply approaching too closely--it will attack. Against a ship, it will rear up in the water to try to claw or grapple prey from the deck. It flees beneath the waves once it has obtained a sizable morsel, or it it takes more then its hit points in damage.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dreamlands Pathfinder Bestiary: A Couple of Constructs

The following two monsters appear in the Call of Cthulhu adventure The Dreaming Stone, and have been converted here for use in Pathfinder games.

Lunar Knight

This seven-foot-tall humanoid is dressed in black full plate armor covered with baroque curliques, curves, and spikes. Its gauntlets are spiked, and it carries a long polearm wiht a crescent-shaped blade at the base of the spearhead (a ranseur). Two pale flames burn behind its visor in place of eyes.


LUNAR KNIGHT (CR 3)
XP 800
N Medium construct
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +5
Defense
AC 17, touch 9, flat-footed 17 (+8 armor, -1 Dex)
hp 42 (4d10+20)
Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +2
Defensive Abilities hardness 10; Immune construct traits
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee masterwork ranseur +10 (2d4+7/x3) or masterwork spiked armor +10 (1d6+5) or masterwork spiked gauntlet +10 (1d4+5)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 with ranseur)
Statistics
Str 20, Dex 8, Con --, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 12
Base Atk +4; CMB +9; CMD 18
Feats Improved Initiative, Power Attack
Skills Intimidate +5, Perception +5, Stealth -2
Languages Common (can't speak)
Ecology
Environment any (The Mansion on the Moon)
Organization solitary or cadre (2-8)
Treasure incidental (masterwork ranseur)

Lunar knights are hollow suits of armor animated by Vredni Vorastor, the Man in the Moon, as guards for his mansion and person. They move surprisingly quietly for walking suits of animated armor.

A lunar knight's armor and weapons are masterwork items. The knight prefers to use its ranseur, but if it cannot maintain the minimum distance, it lashes out with its spiked armor or gauntlets. If the knight is destroyed, it collapses into a pile of metal shards and black sludge, its armor and gauntlets ruined beyond repair, but its ranseur remains.


The Whisperer in the Windmill

This creature is a hairless, gray, spider-like thing about the size of a large dog. It has a spongy mass for a head, with a vertical slit for a mouth, and no eyes.

THE WHISPERER IN THE WINDMILL (CR 2)
XP 600
NE Small construct
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +4
Defense
AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 13 (+2 Dex, +2 natural, +1 size)
hp 21 (2d10+10)
Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2
Immune construct traits
Offense
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee bite +4 (1d3+1 plus poison)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 18th; concentration +20)
Constant--detect thoughts (DC 13)
Statistics
Str 12, Dex 14, Con --, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 14
Base Atk +2; CMB +2; CMD 14
Feats Persuasive
Skills Bluff +4 (+8 mimicry), Climb +9, Diplomacy +4, Intimidate +6, Perception +4, Stealth +8; Racial Modifiers +4 Bluff to disguise voice using mimicrry
Languages Common
SQ mimicry
Ecology
Environment any (Ulthar)
Organization solitary
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Detect Thoughts (Sp) The Whsiperer can continually use detect thoughts as the spell. It can suppress or resume this ability as a free action. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Mimicry (Su) The Whisperer may mimic any voice that it has heard. It may also mimic the voice of any creature that the target of its detect thoughts ability was thinking about at the time of the scan.
Poison (Ex) Injury--bite; Fort DC 12; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Charisma; cure 2 consecutive saves.

The Whisperer in the Windmill is a unique construct created by Vredni Vorastor, the Man in the Moon, in order to torment the people of Ulthar. It is blind, but can read minds, and uses those thoughts to psychologically torture its victims.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Dreamlands Pathfinder Bestiary: Haemophore and Spider Hound

These two low-level predators have been converted from The Complete Dreamlands, a supplement for the Call of Cthulhu RPG.

Haemophore

This small humanoid has webbed hands and feet. Its mouth is almost beak-like, with a W-shaped opening. It has two rows of small sucker-like rings down the front of its torso.

HAEMOPHORE (CR 1)
XP 400
N Small monstrous humanoid
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5
Defense
AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11 (+3 Dex, +1 size)
hp 1 (2d10)
Fort +0, Ref +6, Will +3
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee bite +6 (1d4-2)
Special Attacks attach, blood drain
Statistics
Str 7, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +2; CMB -1 (+3 grapple); CMD 12
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Perception +5, Stealth +12
SQ bloating
Ecology
Environment moist rocky areas
Organization solitary or pair
Treasure standard
Special Abilities
Attach (Ex) A haemophore that hits with its bite attack latches onto the opponent's body with its powerful jaws. An attached haemophore loses its Dexterity bonus to AC and thus has an AC of 11. An attached haemophore can be struck with a weapon or grappled itself. To remove an attached haemophore, the opponent must achieve a pin against the creature.
Bloating (Ex) For every 3 points of Constituion that a haemophore inflicts while draining blood, its movement is reduced by 5 ft. At 0 ft., the haemophore is too bloated to take any further actions, and releases its prey. It regains 5 ft. of movement for every hour that it does not drain blood.
Blood Drain (Ex) A haemophore drains blood form 1d3 points of Constitution damage each round that it remains attached.

A haemophore is named for its habit of filling up on blood before a migration. It will suck blood from a victim until it is monstrously bloated and unable to move. While on the hunt, however, it is cunning and quiet, and will take time to gauge the strength and suitability of potential prey before attacking.

Spider Hound

This creature's body looks like a cross between that of a dog and an insect. It moves on six multi-jointed legs, and has two smaller forelegs with grasping claws. Its head resembles that of a cockroach, and it has a long stinger where a dog's tail would be.

SPIDER HOUND (CR 2)
XP 600
N Medium aberration
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scent; Perception +5
Aura frightful presence (30 ft., DC 10)
Defense
AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dex, +6 natural)
hp 16 (3d8+3)
Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +4
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee bite +5 (1d6+3 plus trip), 2 claws (1d4+1), sting +3 (1d4+1 plus poison)
Special Attacks poison
Statistics
Str 16, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 7, Wis 13, Cha 8
Base Atk +2; CMB +5 (+9 grapple); CMD 17 (25 vs. trip)
Feats Multiattack, Skill Focus (Survival)
Skills Acrobatics +6 (+14 jumping), Perception +5, Stealth +7, Survival +5 (+9 tracking by scent); Racial Modifiers +8 Acrobatics to jump, +4 Survival to track by scent
Ecology
Environment any cold land
Organization solitary, gang (2-4), or pack (5-8)
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Poison (Ex) Sting--injury; save Fort DC 11; frequency once; effect paralysis 1d10 days; cure 1 save.

Spider hounds inhabit empty regions in the far north of the Dreamlands. They are intelligent, and use pack tactics to full advantage. While tracking prey, spider hounds are silent, but when they have a creature cornered, they emit a droning hiss to distract and madden their victims. This hissing gives them a frightful presence aura when active. Spider hounds attempt to grab prey with their mandibles, fling the victim to the ground, then inject poison to immobilize it. These monsters reply on their natural attacks in combat, but have been known to pick up weapons dropped by victims. (Their forelegs are capable of using tools, but they are not proficient with any manufactured weapons.) 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dreamlands Pathfinder Bestiary: Monstrous Fish

For the rest of October, I have decided to continue last week's theme of Cthulhu Mythos monsters converted to Pathfinder. This week, I present a few bizarre species of fish that can be encountered in the Dreamlands. These creatures have been converted from The Complete Dreamlands, a supplement for the Call of Cthulhu RPG.

Carnivorous Fish

This fish has a large mouth full of sharp teeth, and a long, strong tail.

CARNIVOROUS FISH (CR 1)
XP 400
N Small animal (aquatic)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +4
Defense
AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +1 size)
hp 9 (2d8)
Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +0
Offense
Speed swim 50 ft.
Melee bite +4 (1d4 plus grab)
Special Attacks leap
Statistics
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 10, Cha 3
Base Atk +1; CMB +0 (+4 grapple); CMD 12
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +6, Swim +8
Ecology
Environment any freshwater
Organization solitary
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Leap (Ex) A carnivorous fish can leap several feet out of the water with a successful Swim check (DC 10 + distance in feet above water). This allows the animal to make bull rush or trip attacks against targets adjacent to the water, knocking them into the water if successful. If the fish's attack fails and it ends its move on land, it must return to the water within a number of rounds equal to its Constitution or begin to suffocate (use the drowning rules). Out of the water, a carnivorous fish must take a full-round action to attempt a DC 10 Strength or Acrobatics check to move 5 ft.

This stat block can be used to represent a wide variety of aggressive predatory fish found in rivers and streams in the Dreamlands. A carnivorous fish is attracted to movement in or near the water. After grabbing prey in its jaws, it will attempt to pull the victim underwater to drown. 


Minion of Ghadamon

This creature resembles a black fish with huge jaws and a head that tapers back sharply to a narrow snake-like tail, giving its entire body a cone-like appearance. It is three to four feet long and has bright yellow eyes that stare blankly at you.

MINION OF GHADAMON (CR 1/2)
XP 200
NE Small magical beast (aquatic)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +4
Defense
AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 13 (+2 Dex, +2 natural, +1 size)
hp 11 (2d10)
Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +0
Offense
Speed swim 40 ft.
Melee bite +5 (1d4-2 plus grab)
Special Attacks gang up
Statistics
Str 6, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 3, Wis 10, Cha 4
Base Atk +2; CMB -1 (+3 grapple); CMD 11
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +10, Swim +6
Ecology
Environment any underground aquatic
Organization colony (20-100)
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Gang Up (Ex) Multiple minions of Ghadamon will work together to grapple a single opponent, in an attempt to pull it underwater to drown. For any attempt to pin or move a grappled opponent, a group of minions makes a single combat maneuver check with a +2 circumstance bonus for each grappling minion after the first.

Ghadamon is a larval Great Old One that dwells in the Sterile Lake, located in the underworld of Earth's Dreamlands. It contacts dreaming creatures in the "waking world" in order to entrap their dreaming selves in its lair. The only other creatures that can survive for long in the Sterile Lake are the fish-like minions of Ghadamon, who protect their slow-moving master while feeding off of the essence of living dreamers.

Ghadamon itself has the statistics of a mythic aboleth (Mythic Adventures 178).


Scabfish

This long, narrow fish resembles a leprous eel.

SCABFISH (CR 1)
XP 400
N Small animal (aquatic)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +4
Defense
AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +1 size)
hp 9 (2d8)
Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +0
Defensive Abilities scab secretion; Immune disease
Offense
Speed swim 50 ft.
Melee bite +3 (1d4-2 plus disease)
Special Attacks disease
Statistics
Str 7, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 10, Cha 2
Base Atk +1; CMB -2; CMD 10
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +10, Swim +6
Ecology
Environment any saltwater
Organization solitary or school (2-5)
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Disease (Ex) Scabs--contact or injury; save Fort DC 11; onset immediate; frequency 1 day; effect 1 Dex damage; cure 2 consecutive saves.
Scab Secretion (Ex) Any creature that hits the scabfish with natural weapons is exposed to its disease attack.

Scabfish are eel-like animals that inhabit wrecked and sunken ships. Their main defense against predators is an irritating secretion from their skin, which creates a scab on the skin of attacking predators. These scabs itch for days, until they fall off. This secretion also affects any creature bitten by the scabfish.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dreamlands Pathfinder Bestiary: Larva of the Outer Gods

Larvae of the Outer Gods, from the Mythos CCG (Chaosium)
Larva of the Outer Gods are the mindless seeds of new Outer Gods, or the shed remnants of old or dying gods. Because they share a kinship with Azathoth, primal god of chaos, their forms and powers are highly variable. Most are random-seeming accumulations of tentacles, claws, eyes, mouths, and less definable organs. The largest and most powerful larvae eventually develop intelligence and spell-like abilities, before becoming full-fledged Outer Gods.

These larvae are found in deep space, either near the court of Azathoth, or in the cold, dark reaches that separate the Dreamlands of different worlds.

These statistics have been converted from The Complete Dreamlands, a supplement for the Call of Cthulhu RPG. Game masters who want even more chaotic, freakish godspawn should apply the eldritch template (Advanced Bestiary 133).

LARVA OF THE OUTER GODS
CN outsider (extraplanar)
Ecology
Environment vacuum
Organization solitary or swarm (2-20 of random sizes)
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Birthright (Ex or Su) A larva of the Outer Gods has one additional special attack or defense (roll 1d12):

  1. Damage reduction 5/magic (Small), 10/magic (Medium-Large), or 15/magic (Huge+)
  2. Damage reduction 5, 10, or 15 (by size)/any one of bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing
  3. Fast healing 2 (Small-Medium) or 5 (Large+)
  4. Frightful presence (within 30 ft., or 60 ft. if Gargantuan+), duration 5d6 rounds, Will save [DC 10 + 1/2 HD + Cha modifier])
  5. Immunity to acid
  6. Immunity to electricity
  7. Immunity to fire
  8. Immunity to sonic
  9. Increased reach (+10 ft.) and natural armor (+5)
  10. Poison (injury; Fortitude save [DC 10 + 1/2 HD + Con modifier]; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; 1d2 Con)
  11. Poison (injury; Fortitude save [DC 10 + 1/2 HD + Con modifier]; frequency 1/round for 4 rounds; 1d4 Wis)
  12. Spell resistance (5 + HD)
Flight (Su) Larvae of the Outer Gods are unaffected by gravity: they fly at will, cannot fall or be tripped, and are not subject to effects such as reverse gravity.
Mindless (Ex) A larva of the Outer Gods has no Intelligence score (and thus no skills or feats) and is immune to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects).
Natural Weapons (Ex) A larva's natural weapons are determined by its form, and may include any of the attack types in Table 3-1: Natural Attacks By Size (Bestiary 302). They do damage by size, attack type, and Strength. For a random choice of natural weapon, roll 1d12: 1-2 = bite*, 3-4 = claw, 5 = gore, 6-7 = slam, 8 = sting, 9 = tail*, 10-11 = tentacle, 12 = roll again twice for primary and secondary natural weapons. (* These attacks inflict the larger damage dice listed in the stat block.)
No Breath (Ex) Larvae of the Outer Gods don't need to breathe, and are immune to inhaled poisons, suffocation, and drowning. See the universal monster rules for more information.

SMALL LARVA OF THE OUTER GODS (CR 1/3)
XP 135
CN Small outsider (extraplanar)
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
Defense
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 11 (+1 size)
hp 5 (1d10)
Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +0
Immune cold, mind-affecting effects
Offense
Speed fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee natural weapon -2 (1d3-3 or 1d4-3)
Statistics
Str 4, Dex 10, Con 10, Int --, Wis 10, Cha 10
Base Atk +1; CMB -3; CMD 7 (can't be tripped)
SQ birthright, flight, no breath

MEDIUM LARVA OF THE OUTER GODS (CR 2)
XP 600
CN Medium outsider (extraplanar)
Init -1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
Defense
AC 9, touch 9, flat-footed 9 (-1 Dex)
hp 26 (4d10+4)
Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +1
Immune cold, mind-affecting effects
Offense
Speed fly 30 ft. (perfect)
Melee natural weapon +4 (1d4 or 1d6)
Statistics
Str 11, Dex 8, Con 13, Int --, Wis 10, Cha 13
Base Atk +4; CMB +4; CMD 13 (can't be tripped)
SQ birthright, flight, no breath

LARGE LARVA OF THE OUTER GODS (CR 4)
XP 1,200
CN Large outsider (extraplanar)
Init -2Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
Defense
AC 9, touch 7, flat-footed 7 (-2 Dex, +2 natural, +1 size)
hp 68 (8d10+24)
Fort +9, Ref +4, Will +2
Immune cold, mind-affecting effects
Offense
Speed fly 40 ft. (perfect)
Melee natural weapon 12 (1d6+4 or 1d8+4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Statistics
Str 18, Dex 6, Con 16, Int --, Wis 10, Cha 16
Base Atk +8; CMB +13; CMD 21 (can't be tripped)
SQ birthright, flight, no breath

HUGE LARVA OF THE OUTER GODS (CR 6)
XP 2,100
CN Huge outsider (extraplanar)
Init -3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
Defense
AC 10, touch 5, flat-footed 10 (-3 Dex, +5 natural, -2 size)
hp 118 (12d10+48)
Fort +12, Ref +5, Will +4
Immune cold, mind-affecting effects
Offense
Speed fly 50 ft. (perfect)
Melee natural weapon +19 (1d8+7 or 2d6+7)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Statistics
Str 25, Dex 4, Con 19, Int --, Wis 10, Cha 19
Base Atk +12; CMB -21; CMD 28 (can't be tripped)
SQ birthright, flight, no breath

GARGANTUAN LARVA OF THE OUTER GODS (CR 9)
XP 6,400
CN Gargantuan outsider (extraplanar)
Init -3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
Defense
AC 12, touch 3, flat-footed 13 (-3 Dex, +9 natural, -4 size)
hp 207 (18d10+108)
Fort +17, Ref +8, Will +6
Immune cold, mind-affecting effects
Offense
Speed fly 60 ft. (perfect)
Melee natural weapon +29 (2d6+11 or 2d8+11)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 15 ft.
Statistics
Str 32, Dex 4, Con 22, Int --, Wis 10, Cha 22
Base Atk +18; CMB +33; CMD 40 (can't be tripped)
SQ birthright, flight, no breath

COLOSSAL LARVA OF THE OUTER GODS (CR 13)
XP 25,600
CN Colossal outsider (extraplanar)
Init -3; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +0
Defense
AC 13, touch -1, flat-footed 13 (-3 Dex, +14 natural, -8 size)
hp 324 (24d10+192)
Fort +22, Ref +11, Will +8
Immune cold, mind-affecting effects
Offense
Speed fly 70 ft. (perfect)
Melee natural weapon +31 (2d8+15 or 4d6+15)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft.
Statistics
Str 40, Dex 4, Con 26, Int --, Wis 10, Cha 25
Base Atk +24; CMB +47; CMD 54 (can't be tripped)
SQ birthright, flight, no breath

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Sunless Citadel #6: Belak, at Last

Our heroes for The Sunless Citadel include:
  • Raven Flare, female tiefling rogue 3 (assassin, urchin)
  • Kalitni, female human ranger 3 (beast master, hermit) with Daikitsu, wolf companion
  • Xuri, female blue dragonborn sorcerer 3 (wild magic, sage)
  • Sir Dain (player-run NPC), male hill dwarf paladin 3 (oath of devotion, knight)
  • Erky Timbers (DM-run NPC), male forest gnome cleric 2 (life domain, acolyte)

(Warning: Spoilers for The Sunless Citadel follow.) 


Last time, our heroes descended to the lower level of the Sunless Citadel, and fought the goblinoids, skeletons, and twig blights that guarded the druid Belak's workshops and underground gardens. After a fight with a shadow, they retreated to rest and heal before exploring further.

On their return trip to the dragon shrine, the party investigated one other door they had previously passed by, and found some goblins collecting fungi. Apart from Raven taking an arrow in the first round, the party handily finished off the four goblins.

The door out of the dragon shrine led to a library that had been trashed and burned. Xuri wept at the loss of so many books, but after some searching, she and her companions found a couple of spell scrolls, and a tome of dragon lore.

Beyond the library, the party found a long tunnel that passed underneath the nearest fungi garden room before turning south. At the end were two doors on the left. They listened at the first door, and heard nothing. When Kalitni listened at the second door, she heard goblins talking: they were wondering what had attacked the others in the workshop, and whether it was coming back. Unfortunately, she made too much noise when she moved back to report to the party, so the four goblins were not surprised when the heroes kicked in the door. Kalitni went first, killing one goblin with a critical hit, but then the others flanked her and she took a hit herself. Raven moved in to flank and sneak attack, while Xuri employed chill touch, and the other goblins soon fell. (Dain cursed his failure to connect with his hammer throughout both this fight and the last one.)

This room's south wall had collapsed, opening into a huge rough cavern filled with pale briars and lit a dim violet color by phosphorescent fungi. The party decided to investigate the room next door first, and Raven easily picked the lock. Inside was a study with a library in much better condition than the last one. The party found many notes on weather, harvests, and similar data for the surrounding area, going back several years, all in the same handwriting. Kalitni also found a tome labelled Treasures of the Fire Lords in Draconic. Xuri insisted on seeing it, so was right next to Kalitni when the ranger read the glyph of warding trap inside. A blast of cold filled half the room, sparing only Erky and Raven, who were near the far wall. Xuri and Daikitsu fell unconscious, and Kalitni was reduced to 1 hp. Dain and Erky tended to their fallen comrades, reviving them. The ranger apologized for her mistake, and the party locked themselves in the room for a short rest to recover. While they did so, they searched the room more thoroughly, and found a couple more spell scrolls, a book of druid lore about the cycle of life and death, and a stash of coins and gems in the study's desk.

When the party was ready, then entered the cavern to the south. They could see some ruined walls here and there, and the top of a huge blackened tree to the south and west, past some of these walls. They had to move very slowly to avoid the briars filling this area. (Erky, a gnome, was small enough to move at full speed here--but rarely did, as he dislikes being in the front rank.) Some of the party could occasionally see twig blights moving through the briars in the distance. When one of the plant monsters attacked, Dain cast shield of faith on Raven, and Xuri used a scroll of expeditious retreat to allow herself to move around more easily. As the party approached the tree, more twig blights attacked, slowing their progress further.

The party reaches the grove of the Gulthias Tree
Raven was the first to reach the walls surrounding the tree. She saw three humans standing beneath it: a woman in noble robes; a man in chainmail with a sword and shield; and a second, bearded man with a staff and sickle. The first two had rough, gray skin resembling bark, and black eyes. With them were three more twig blights. The bearded man accosted the rogue, asking the party to hold off attacking for a moment so they could talk. This was Belak, the druid they sought. He claimed that he didn't want to fight them; instead, he asked for their surrender. They would be allowed to live and serve him. The heroes wanted no part of that, and moved closer in order in preparation for battle. As they did so, Raven asked what the tree was, and was told it was the Gulthias Tree, which had grown from a stake used to slay a vampire. The rogue also spotted Belak's giant frog hiding in the tree, and warned the others.

Belak ordered his minions to attack, and cast barkskin on himself. The woman, a wizard, and the man, a knight, took up positions guarding the evil druid as the twig blights engaged the party, and others slowly moved in from elsewhere in the cavern. (One or more joined the fight each round.) Xuri entered the partially walled grove from another angle, and cast thunderwave upon the druids and his human minions; the knight was knocked away, and the Gulthias Tree itself took damage from her spell. Kalitni shot the druid, who cast his own thunderwave at Xuri. Raven and Dain slowly worked their way forward through the twig blights, trying to get to Belak. As they did so, the giant frog leaped down out of the tree to join the fray.

Belak and his minions
Xuri used her draconic breath weapon to blast the frog, wizard, druid, and tree with lightning. Raven landed a sneak attack on the frog, killing it, and then taunted Belak about her deed. Dain reached the knight, who tried to strike the dwarf's hammer with his sword, but missed. The paladin hit the knight with a divine smite (using inspiration), felling him--but not killing him, because he and the woman were almost certainly the last two missing adventurers the party sought. Xuri drew on all her reserves (tides of chaos, metamagic, and inspiration) to direct a twinned witchbolt at Belak and the wizard. Both bolts hit and took down their targets. The sorcerer spared the life of the wizard, but maintained the spell on Belak an extra turn just to make certain the druid was dead.

Kalitni's wolf and Erky took out the last couple twig blights while Raven and Dain moved forward to attack the Gulthias Tree. Xuri finished off this magical plant with another witchbolt. The rogue then spotted a red fruit emerging from the trunk of the tree, which had somehow been spared from the sorcerer's spells. She climbed up and retrieved it, but was disturbed by how it grew out of the tree like a cyst rather than ripening like normal fruit. She gave it to Erky, the party healer, for safekeeping.

[I had not determined the time of year before the adventure, so rolled a d20. A 1 would mean that the poisonous winter fruit was emerging; a 20 (which I rolled) would mean the health-restoring summer fruit was. I then rolled high for a saving throw for the fruit to avoid being accidentally destroyed by Xuri's spells.]

The party tied up the unconscious wizard and knight, and searched them and the druid. Belak had some potions of healing and antitoxin on his person, and a wand. The wizard bore a gold ring with the Hucrele family crest, which confirmed that she was Sharwyn Hucrele. She and the knight still had weird gray skin; Xuri intuited that they were connected to the Gulthias Tree somehow, but it worried her that they had not been restored when it was destroyed.

The party took the two unconscious adventurers with them out of the twilight grove. They stopped to collect everything from Belak's study in order to study his notes later. They then went back to burn the Gulthias Tree--Xuri wanted to make sure there was no chance of the vampire that had been staked here ever rising again--then fled the area quickly before the smoke spread. At the room with the shaft to the upper level, Xuri suggested that they could rig up some sort of pulley system to make it easier to lift their bound prisoners. Raven was able to do so, with the others' help. They retreated all the way back to the secret room that they had found just inside the first room of the Citadel. Once there, they took a long rest to recover from their ordeal.

Towards the end of this rest, the wizard and knight woke up, and the latter asked if the tree was destroyed. Xuri assured him that it was. The man, Sir Braford, explained that Belak had bound the two of them to the tree, which had absorbed them. They later emerged looking like this, and under the druid's control. Braford wanted to return Sharwyn to her family, and inform them of her dead brother Talgen's fate. After being assured that Braford and Sharwyn would not attack them, the party freed the two. Dain's retainers, who had been waiting outside the dungeon, helped the party carry their loot and the body of Talgen back to Oakhurst.

The party claimed their reward for returning Sharwyn alive, and Talgen's remains and ring. However, within hours, it became apparent that Sharwyn and Braford were dying; they were too closely connected to the Gulthias Tree to survive long after its destruction. Before his death, Sir Braford offered his magic longsword, Shatterspike, to the party in thanks for redeeming his honor as a paladin. Dain, a knight and paladin himself, accepted the sword but mourned the loss of its previous owner.

Sharwyn Hucrele (wizard), Belak the Outcast (evil druid), Sir Braford (knight),
Belak's giant frog, and twig blights.

-----

This concludes The Sunless Citadel, and our kids' first real dungeon delve. Erky has reached 3rd level, but the rest of the party still has quite a way to go until 4th level. We will continue Tales from the Yawning Portal at some point, with The Forge of Fury, but first we will try some out some adventures with Green Ronin's Fantasy AGE system.

The Sunless Citadel: Past Columns

#1: Down into the Ground
#2: Lost Dragon
#3: Through the Dragon Door
#4: Goblin Boss Battle
#5: Through Pallid Gardens
Campaign Update

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Campaigns Update

Due to many recent changes affecting my various gaming groups, it seems necessary to give a quick update on the various campaigns that I feature here on my blog.

Time of the Tarrasque (Pathfinder)

I noted in my last session summary that we have a couple players who are in the process of moving to another state. Since then, job changes have affected the short-term availability of another player in the group. I have also started a new job, which is absorbing more of my time and energy than expected as I settle into the new routine. Because of all these disruptions, I have decided to put the game on hold for now. Hopefully we can resume in a few months, once life becomes less hectic for most of us.

Lost Mine of Phandelver (D&D 5E)

School and other scheduling issues have kept this game on indefinite hiatus. We've only managed to fit in one session in the past year (in May), so I may as well pronounce this campaign over. Meanwhile, my kids and I still have Yawning Portal (below) available, which doesn't require coordinating schedules with anyone outside the household.

Tales from the Yawning Portal: The Sunless Citadel (D&D 5E)

I've just posted a summary of our latest session, from this past weekend. I think we will be able to finish The Sunless Citadel in one more session (probably this weekend). After that, we will either continue on to The Forge of Fury, or take a break for a different game. The kids and I would like to try out the AGE system, either Fantasy AGE or Blue Rose, so we may do that next.

The Sunless Citadel #5: Through Pallid Gardens

Our friend Jeff (who played in my Lost Mine of Phandelver game) joined us for the latest session of The Sunless Citadel, in which he played the paladin NPC, Sir Dain.

(Warning: Spoilers for The Sunless Citadel follow.) 


Last time, the heroes reached the hall of the hobgoblin who ruled the goblin tribe, and took down him and his entourage. They then intimidated the remaining goblins into leaving the citadel rather than share his fate. The party rested before descending to the next level of the dungeon.

The party had reached 3rd level, so left the dungeon long enough for Kalitni to find a wolf to bond with, who she named Daikitsu. (Sir Dain's retainers, who had remained outside, reported a wolf lurking around, and were glad to see the ranger take it away.) This means that the party now consists of:
  • Raven Flare, female tiefling rogue 3 (assassin, urchin)
  • Kalitni, female human ranger 3 (beast master, hermit) with Daikitsu, wolf companion
  • Xuri, female blue dragonborn sorcerer 3 (wild magic, sage)
  • Sir Dain (NPC/guest PC), male hill dwarf paladin 3 (oath of devotion, knight)
  • Erky Timbers (GM-run NPC), male forest gnome cleric 2 (life domain, acolyte)
They returned to the chief's room, which contained a deep shaft lined with pallid vines, and a dim violet light coming from below. Kalitni convinced her new wolf to allow Sir Dain (the strongest member of the party) to carry her during the climb down. The paladin and ranger went first, with the others following shortly behind them.

At the bottom, the shaft opened into a large chamber covered in soil, in which pale, sickly plants and fungi grew. The purple light came from phosphorescent fungi on the walls. Two skeletons with shovels tended the plants, and Dain and Erky recognized two saplings in the room as twig blights like the one in the chief's room. Erky's sacred flame utterly destroyed one blight, and the party quickly dispatched the other one and the two undead.

Two doors and a passage led out of the room. Xuri was closest to the open passage to the north, and heard stealthy sounds of movement from the room beyond. The party advanced down the short passage and entered a rough cavern that smelled of blood and animals. Two giant rats ambushed Dain, but only inflicted scratches. A bugbear wearing a helmet decorated with antlers emerged from a more distant niche of the room, and attacked Kalitni, yelling (in Goblin, which only the ranger understood), "Get ready to meet the cook pot!" The paladin landed a critical hit and added a divine smite to it, sorely wounding the bugbear. The party then surrounded their foe, but all missed their attacks. The big goblinoid hit Dain hard, but the paladin downed it with another solid blow.

The party found the bugbear's stash of coins, and took the collection of weapons from a rack in the back of the room. They also found a narrow, winding passage exiting the north side of the room. Kalitni saw only tracks from the bugbear and giant rats beyond this opening. The party explored it for some way, but found nothing interesting after some time, so turned back to check out the doors in the shaft room--which suggested heavier use, so more likely routes to the druid Belak. [This passage gives DMs the option of expanding the adventure, but I decided to just reveal to the players that I had nothing special planned here. There is already enough to do in this adventure--and the following ones--that I wanted to just move on.]

The heroes investigated the southern door first. The hallway beyond went a short ways then met a shallow rift, where the earth had opened and shifted sideways. The hallway continued on the far side, but offset a good ten feet. The rift itself had none of the glowing fungi found in the other rooms, but the party had magical light sources. The floor was riddled with large, deep holes that were too deep and winding to probe very far--only Erky could have fit into them, and the gnome was not willing to risk himself exploring them alone.

The party carefully crossed the rift, and following the hallway to a room with decaying mosaics on its walls and an iron pedestal shaped like a dragon in the center of the floor. The dragon held an empty tray. Xuri, whose recalled another dragon sculpture concealing a trap, studied the stand carefully with the rogue's help. They found no traps, so the sorcerer removed the tray--and nothing happened. She then got Dain's help to rotate the heavy pedestal, but nothing worse than the painful screech of metal on stone occurred. Xuri was disappointed, but suggested that they might use this room as a place to fall back and rest while exploring this level.

The group then followed the rift going west, and found that it opened into a chamber with more of the strange holes in the floors and walls. A dim glow came from one of these holes, so the stealthier members of the party investigated. They found a fiery, serpent-like creature [a flame snake] in the hole. It soon heard one of the PCs moving, and slithered out to attack. A couple of sneak attacks from Raven, a poison spray from Xuri, and a sacred flame from Erky slew it, with those closest to it taking some damage from the intense heat of its body. Once dead, it began to cool and dim slowly, much like a red-hot iron taken away from the fire. The gnome spotted a couple small sapphires in the hole that the snake had exited, but they found no other treasure here.

The heroes then followed the rift the other direction. It ended in a hole in the wall of a small, empty room. A door on the far side of the room was ajar, so Raven crept closer to take a look. The door opened into a wide hallway that contained several tables heaped with bowls of plants and fungi, and various other tools and supplies. Six other doors exited the hallway: two more on this side and three on the far side,  all partly open, plus one door at the west end (which the rogue guessed led to the shaft room). Raven motioned the others forward, and they cautiously entered the hall. Xuri went ahead to look into the nearest door, and saw three goblins examining a giant rat strapped to a table. The goblins turned and saw her, so she quickly closed the door, but not before one of them squawked an alarm.

Two goblins door peered out of the opposite door, and Kalitni promptly shot one dead. Raven bounded across the room to run the other one through. Dain moved to the last door on the south wall, and saw two goblins just inside. Both goblins were half-covered with vegetable pulp, and the dwarf could see a large tun behind them, in which they had presumably been standing to mash things. Xuri checked the opposite room, and found three sleepy goblins just climbing out of their beds. They grabbed weapons and rushed her--but were slammed across the room and slain by her thunderwave. The heroes swiftly finished the remaining goblins.

The captive giant rat turned out to be covered in weird, fruit-like tumors, unlike any disease the PCs had ever seen. They decided to put it out of its misery.

Xuri had cast blur upon herself at the start of the fight, and was eager to press on before the spell expired. The last room in the hall contained a small stash of weapons, and a door on the east wall. The party quickly passed through it and the tiny room beyond, and found a long chamber with large patches of soil supporting fungi and some sun-starved plants. A bugbear had been tending to this weird garden, but the party's entrance caused her to attack with her sickle-bladed glaive. Dain used his protective fighting style to save Raven from a blow that would have been a critical hit without his help, so the bugbear accomplished nothing before she went down under the party's blows.

This room had three doors, one at each end (north and south) and one in the center of the east wall. Xuri opened the eastern door and found an octagonal room filled with various fungi and subterranean plants. There were more of the strange holes in the floor, and several patches of scorched plants. Seeing nothing else, and no other exits, she and her companions took the north door. This was another long chamber like the one where they encountered the bugbear gardener. Another door here led to another dead-end octagonal room, where the party fought three skeletons and two twig blights.

To the north was another octagonal room, this one with a door out. The led to a short hallway that opened into a room lit by red light coming from somewhere around a corner. They could see that the room's walls were covered in tiles decorated with dragons. Xuri's blur spell was just about to end, so the party fell back to the previous room to spend a few minutes healing their wounds before going further.

The room around the corner held a marble statue of a red dragon. The red light came from the dragon's empty eye sockets. Just in front of the statue was a disk of dark stone on which were inscribed with runes. Raven, who was in the lead, spotted a shadowy figure hiding in the inky darkness behind the statue, where the red light did not reach (but her darkvision did). When she shot it with her bow, it did less damage then she expected. Dain advanced to engage the shadow, but it landed a critical hit on him, and the paladin felt some of his strength and life force sucked away. [As a tough hill dwarf paladin, he was the only party member who would not have been taken out by that single attack!] Xuri missed with her witchbolt, and the shadow resisted Erky's attempt to turn it. Dain finally struck it, and his divine smite destroyed it--the radiant energy shredded the dark figure into nothingness.


As Erky healed the paladin, he explained how fortunate the party had been--a shadow was an incorporeal undead that, if it drained enough of your strength, would kill you and turn you into a shadow, too.

Xuri studied the statue, and concluded that it must represent Ashardalon, who was worshiped by the ancient cult who first built the Sunless Citadel. She also examined the circle of runes, which were in Draconic: "Let the sorcerous power illuminate my spirit." She recalled other Draconic inscriptions in this dungeon that produced strange effects when spoken aloud--some helpful, some painful--and asked the others to leave the room before she read these. When she did so while standing inside the circle, she was engulfed in phantom flames. (She now has advantage on Charisma checks for a limited time.)

This room had a door leading out of it. However, the party had traversed a number of rooms in a hurry, without taking time to search them, and was nearly out of spells and healing abilities. They decided to return to the room with the dragon pedestal to rest before going further, but made a point of searching each room on the way back so that they wouldn't miss anything of value. In the statue's room, they found a loose tile hiding some coins and a couple flasks of alchemist's fire.

When the reached the first octagonal room that they had seen, they found that it was not empty after all. Another one of the fiery serpents laired here. It tried to bite Erky, who managed to dodge it. Xuri reacted quickly, roaring at it to scare it off so that they wouldn't have to fight it. This intimidation worked, and the snake fled the room. Xuri followed in order to see where it went; the creature burrowed into the ground near the southern door in the gardens that the party had not yet opened.

The party retrieved the bugbear gardener's glaive, which Dain decided might be handy if he ever found himself stuck in the second rank of a crowded battle. The goblinoid also carried a potion of healing, which Kalitni claimed as she had given hers to Dain following one of the last few fights.

Back in the goblins' workshop, the party found enough supplies to make up a healer's kit, herbalism kit, and alchemical supplies. In the room with the dead, tumorous rat, they found a crystal flask filled with a liquid they could not identify. (They took the flask, but were careful not to touch or drink its contents.) The pressing room contained a tub full of mashed roots and fungi, a dirty straining basin, and several casks of finished brew. Kalitni could identify many of the ingredients, and knew that goblins liked such crude stuff; however, few other races found it palatable. The party took none of it.

The party barricaded themselves in the dragon pedestal room and took a long rest. Next time, they will see what lies beyond the dragon cult's shrine.

The Sunless Citadel: Past Columns

#1: Down into the Ground
#2: Lost Dragon
#3: Through the Dragon Door
#4: Goblin Boss Battle

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Book of the Righteous and the World of Freeport

In 2016, Green Ronin conducted a Kickstarter to update The Book of the Righteous to D&D Fifth Edition. The print book debuted at GenCon 2017, and backers like me received their copies about the same time. I had never acquired or read the original Book (written for v.3.0), largely because it was a thick, expensive hardcover (320 pages!) and I tend to prefer creating my own pantheons for my D&D campaigns. However, I've come around to thinking that I should try using those gods in my next Freeport campaign. The City of Adventure uses deliberately generic deity names (God of the Sea, God of Pirates, etc.) to make it easy for DMs to fit Freeport into their own campaigns. Using the gods from The Book of the Righteous seems the next logical step in creating a more uniquely "Ronin" campaign.

The 5E version of the book also promised to have a wealth of new crunchy bits for religious characters. One of the few real disappointments I've had with the 5E Player's Handbook is how short the list of domains is compared to 3E. The new Book of the Righteous fills in most of the "missing" domains, and adds some new ones (like Beauty and Corruption). Non-clergy in the gods' service also get new options, with at least one new subclass or other option for each class in the Player's Handbook.  That's very welcome material for a DM like me who enjoys homebrewing, because it facilitates giving each god and their church a distinct flavor. That's ultimately what sold me on backing the Kickstarter.

The Pathfinder edition of Freeport: The City of Adventure (FCoA) gives the most extensive list of gods (pages 401-402) of any sourcebook yet produced for the setting. For the remainder of this column, I will try to match that data to suitable gods from The Book of the Righteous. (The new edition omits the original book's "Listing of the Gods," which provides a quick summary of gods by portfolio. I have used that list to double-check my own conclusions below.)

The four most prominent gods in Freeport are the Gods of the Sea, Knowledge, Warriors, and Pirates.
  • Shalimyr, CN god of water, is perfect for both the God of the Sea and God of Storms. His domains are Tempest and Water. 
  • Tinel, god of magic, knowledge, and truth, fills the role of both God of Knowledge (in his CG aspect, which is open with knowledge) and God of Magic (in his N aspect, which keeps secrets). His domain is Knowledge, but the text implies that similar domains would also be appropriate. The Arcana domain (from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide) would be another good choice for clerics of his archmage aspect.
  • The God of Warriors could be either Terak, LN/LG god of war and valor, or Canelle, CG goddess of victory and strength. The God of Strength has a separate shrine in Freeport's Temple District, making Terak the better choice for the local war god, despite FCoA listing all these martial gods (Strength, Valor, and Warriors) as chaotic. 
  • The Book of the Righteous mentions Freeport a handful of times. Two of those references (pages 103 and 162) state that Darmon, CG god of travel, wealth, and joy, is worshiped as a god of pirates in that city, and the latter mention suggests that the heretical Cult of Possession (CE) runs his temple there. Darmon is also God of Roads and God of Commerce, and possibly the God of Luck. I would recommend using the name Darmon for his more reputable aspects, and Harrimast for the god of pirates. (The name "Harrimast" is never used in FCoA, but was applied to the canonical God of Pirates in many earlier Freeport titles.) Darmon/Harrimast's domains are Travel and Trickery. 

Other gods worshiped in the city include:
  • Maal, LN god of law and justice, is both God of Justice and God of Retribution. His domain is Balance. Maal is the god of the Hexworth Inquisition, on the Continent (see FCoA, pp. 293-295). Many of his courts and inquisitors in that nation have been corrupted by the excessive zeal of the Necromantic Censure.
  • Morwyn, LG Goddess of Healing, has the Life domain. 
  • The "God of Life" is a nature god rather than a healer. Use Rontra, LG goddess of the earth (domain: Earth or Nature); Eliwyn, the N Tree of Life (whose guardians are druids); or Thellyne, NG goddess of woodcraft, nature, and the hunt (domain: Nature). Thellyne best matches the alignment given in FCoA.
  • Urian, NG god of the air and sky, is the God of the Sun. His domains are Air and Light.
  • Mormekar, N God of Death (and rebirth) has the Repose domain. The corrupted Cult of the Icy Breath (NE) worships him as God of Murder, using the Death domain. As God of Death, Mormekar is also popular among the Druzhdin of the Continent (see FCoA, pp. 291-293).
  • Thellos, NE god of greed, gluttony, and desire, seems the best match for an evil God of Thieves, though Darmon and the Cult of Possession both have significant followings in the criminal underworld. Thellos also qualifies as God of Lust (though Aymara, CG goddess of love and the arts, and Zheenkeef, CN goddess of wine, madness, and inspiration, provide non-evil alternatives).
  • Followers of the God of Penitence worship either an aspect of Shalimyr (attended by his holy ascetics, separately from the local sea god's temple) or of Mormekar (possibly led by one of the Reborn). It's conceivable that both may be true, if the shrine was established by an atoning Shalimyn.

The "Unique Gods" listed on page 402 of FCoA do not have counterparts in The Book of the Righteous. I would suggest the following domains for these gods:
  • Crawling Chaos (CN): Death, Madness, and possibly Arcana (Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide)
  • Unspeakable One (CE): Madness
  • Abaddon (CE): War
  • Dagon (CE): Madness, Water
  • Oona (NE): Madness, Repose
  • Yig, Hitthkai Sect (N): Knowledge, Trickery
  • Yig, Sskethvai Sect (NE): Fire, War

Some of these unique gods are given more detail in Cults of Freeport. I intend to write a future column about using that sourcebook with The Book of the Righteous.

In addition, cults of Asmodeus (LE god of lies, power, and fire) and various archdevils have operated in Freeport in the past (see especially Hell in Freeport). The King of Hell's domains are Fire and Tyranny.

Finally, the Continent is also home to some other religions not listed on pages 401-402:
  • The Eternal Flame, worshiped by the azhar of Kizmir, may very well be a part of the secret church corrupting the faith of Anwyn, LG goddess of homes, the hearth, and servants. The conspiracy's priests are LE.
  • The Way of Astrape is the dualistic faith of Tagmata, in which saints are revered instead of gods. Consider this religion to be NG with the Light domain. Its holy warriors are paladins with the oath of devotion.
  • Krom, God of the Orcs, is almost certainly another name for Canarak, CE god of destruction, violence, and rage. (The name "Krom" originally comes from Green Ronin's Ork! The Roleplaying Game; see also Black Sails Over Freeport, pp. 28-29.)

Note that the Great Church has not yet been mentioned in any of these suggestions. In the World of Freeport, that religion either lacks the ubiquitous nature ascribed to it in The Book of the Righteous, or it is most active in regions not dominated by a specific god's church. The latter would be the case in my proposed "all-Ronin" take on Freeport. For example. the Great Church is unlikely to have as much influence in Hexworth, where the Inquisition rules supreme, as it would in the more cosmopolitan Ivory Ports. It lacks a proper temple in Freeport, though the Continental Great Church almost certainly sponsors missionaries to seek converts in the city.

Appendix

For ease of reference, I've compiled a list of all my previous columns discussing running D&D Fifth Edition games set in Freeport.