Wednesday 28 March 2018

Blazing Sands campaign diary #4 - black suns rising

We've reached the third act of the campaign - Ashana the Genie binder led the PCs on a five day desert hike to the Sakran mountains. On the way I obviously had to throw a Death Worm at them. They suffered a couple of acid hits, but they came out on top.

The mountain pass was treacherous - they found a group of serpentfolk undertaking some sort of rite and firebombed the shit out of them. One of the creatures kept mentioning the 'faceless ones'. After the fight they found a number of rock carvings depicting strange winged visitors, two black suns and a strange city.

Some of you will immediately know where this is heading.

There was also a carving of a door flanked by two balls of fire.

They ventured further up the mountain until they reached a cave, into which they delved. At the end was a big stone door flanked by two sconces. On the door was written the words: "Strange is the night where black stars rise, and strange moons circle through the skies".

They lit the sconces and the doors slowly grinded open.

Saturday 24 March 2018

Blazing Sands campaign diary #3: the Ivory City

A three week game break can take you out of it, but last night's session was great.
The party arrived in the Ivory City with the Sunriders. Kiri offered them a batch of Seer's Tea to help them make an important decision in the future. She imoressimon them NOT DRINK THE TEA - IT'S POISON. So, yeah, they're clearly going to try and poison someone at some point.

After some asking around (remember, they're trying to find the genie binder before the Black Viper) , they were led into a dingy folk market she often frequented. One of the sellers gave her location as the Hashin district - a deprived area where crime is rampant.

After reaching the district they asked a street urchin to lead then to her, which he obliged. Amir noticed he was looking a little shifty and realised he was likely a pickpocket leading them on a wild goose chase. After threatening the kid, he took them directly to the binder's door before leaving.

Out of the shadows stepped five dark figures. As Amir was the only one to have lived in the Ivory City, he had an inkling these could be the legendary Holy Slayers assassins. The fight was fierce, Younis managing to both trip and blind one of the slayers, while making another attack his friend through a paranoia spell. 

When all were dead, Razeem found a piece of paper on one of the assassins containing descriptions of the party. Someone had hired the slayers to find and kill them. 

The binder wasn't answering the door, so they broke in and found her hiding in a cupboard. She recognised Amir and Razeem and dropped her guard. After they explained she was being sought by the Black Viper and that the lost city of Kafabi was tied to this somehow, she insisted they go to the lost city. She's been training to bind a genie since she escaped the same cult as Amir and Razeem and she believes a powerful one still lives in Kafabi. This followed a great argument in the party about playing into the hands of the Black Viper but in the end they decided it was the right course. 

That night they left the city under the cover of darkness. 

Sunday 18 March 2018

Fortressmaze: Those who worship the eyes of Thamic

The Cathedral of Thamic takes up a good quarter of the first floor of Fortressmaze. Wrought first by the dwarven stonemasons of the Black Obelisk (ancient bad cult who literally worshipped a piece of rock), the cathedral was taken over by the Brothers of Thamic in a brutal miniature crusade. The Obelisk was reshaped as a sculpture depicting the Brothers' victory over the dwarves. Touching the sculpture heals 1d6+1 of HP and ability damage once per hour.

The Brothers of Thamic worship their god Thamic, a mummified beholder whose latent powers still pop to life every now and again, casting a 'blessing' on its congregation (the blessing being getting annihilated by an eye ray). The Blessing of Thamic doesn't have a set schedule (those who investigate will find a worm parasite living in the beholder that randomly triggers this).

Thamic sits in a dark room smelling of mustard. Only the Great Thod (a high bishop) may address Thamic and it is the Thod who oversees the blessings. Thod claims Thamic speaks to him, giving him orders to continue their crusade against the other denizens of the dungeon. Lately the target has been the Dream Kobolds of the East (brought to life by a dragon's dream - more on this in another post).

A giant organ in the cathedral is haunted by the ghost of the first blessed who often plays it (and is particularly protective of its organ, lashes out at anyone touching it).

The Brothers of Thamic are decorated with jewelled eyes, with eyes also painted on their faces. The more eyes you have, the higher up in the order you are.

Note that there ARE beholders deeper in the Fortressmaze and if the Brothers should meet one they would welcome a fiery doom (apart from the Great Thod, who knows Thamic is a load of bullshit).

Saturday 17 March 2018

The Dead Tower - a short Tequendria adventure

They speak of the tower in hushed tones, as if the structure had ears that would be roused by their words. They call it the Dead Tower, for decay is it's domain and dread its ever-present ally. Rain is always falling on the tower, with its diseased masonry twisted with the agonised faces of lost souls.

Two days ago the Elk Queen's heart was stolen and taken to the Dead Tower. As her life fades, she has instructed her elf tribe to find her a group of champions who would dare venture into the tower and retrieve her heart. Her heart is being used by the child of a legendary evil being to bring his father back to life.

This adventure is suitable for second level adventurers.

Plot hook

Vinsharda the most beautiful of elves seeks out the PCs, hearing of their adventures. She speaks of the Elk Queen's plight and of the mysterious tower. Upon retrieval, the Elk Queen will give them the Harp if Haroon, allowing them to travel unseen for three hours once played.

The Dead Tower

The exterior of the tower is coated in foul things like skulls and femurs. It howls when the wind caresses it.

A centaur called Oryan collects bracken close to the tower. He is unfriendly but enjoys the songs of his people. He speaks of squat beings who chatter and natter while the moon is full, their eyes red like blood. These are a family of gibbelins that haunt the castle. They stole Oryan's locket and he will pay 50 shards for retrieval.

The door is covered in skin and opens with a creak. The air that greets the players is humid and smells of wet leaves.

Ground floor

Bone store: a closet of bones. If disturbed the bones become three guardians of bone. They are guarding a Ether Crown, allowing the wearer to breathe while travelling in the Ether.

Statue of Gargon: a hellish turtle creature carved into stone. A hard wits test reveals this to be Gargon, the legendary beast who was born from a black star and fell to earth as a servant of chaos. Its arm can be twisted to reveal a trap door.

Trap door (secret): a shallow room that smells of stale beer. A yellow chest is down here containing an emerald-hilted longsword (enchanted longsword).

Stairs: Blood streaks up the stairs.

First floor

The ragged tapestries here depict a black sun hanging over the world.

Six gibbelins are devouring a deer carcass. They can be placated with a gift of treasure. Otherwise they attack viciously. One wears Oryan's locket.

Second floor

A warped throne of twisted cartilage is here. The blackened turtle creature Hath sits here, the child of Gargon.

On a plinth in the centre of the room is the beating ruby heart of the Elk Queen. Two gibbelins are cutting open the hulking body of Gargon with a silver blade (worth 100 shards), while another two observe. They will be putting the heart into its chest to return it to life. If this happens, the Elk Queen dies and a weaker Gargon returns.

Hath: attack d8 +2 (claw d6), defence d8+2, hits 4d8, action d8, ego d10, wits d6. Special: as an attack action Hath breathes a 15ft line of fire which does d8 damage. This can be used three times per day.

Gargon the Returned: attack d6 + 4 (claw d6), defence d6+4, hits 3d8, action d6, ego d6, wits d6. Special: Gargon creates a poison aura 5ft around him. Anyone in melee must succeed a medium action test or take 2 damage at the end of their turn.

Thursday 15 March 2018

The Wretched Cave - a short Tequendria adventure

In the purple dusk that seeps over the green hills of Mondath, something strange moves. Villagers from Pom have been disappearing in the night and now those who remain fear for their lives. Green candles flicker in the dark panes, casting a emerald glow on the frightened cheeks of those who peer out into the dying light. 

This short adventure is suitable for first level characters.

The village of Pom is being assaulted by a Rider in Black who is dragging villagers into its cave and draining their life essence, leaving dried husks. For everyone it drains, it becomes more powerful. 

Plot hook

A hunter falls across a withered grey body in the Forest of Sib. He identifies it as Floderin, the son of Hassian noble Thedew Sundale. Thedew offers whoever can find the murderer access to his Sacred Word - the most mysterious word in all of Mondath - containing the power, once said, to rain gold from the sky (useable once per day - raining 2d10x2 shards from the sky). 

The village of Pom

This small village of Pom used to sing in the dawn. Now silence reigns and people seldom leave their homes. 

The Barliman's Acre is the local Inn. The door has several huge gouges in it. The owner, Wenda, has spidery limbs and a bronze eye and has a voice like the ocean breeze. Like everyone she has heard the sound of heavy hooves and smlled sulphur on dim nights. Her daughter is missing. 

Pit is a stable hand with a wooden sword and a pet mouse called Wren. He saw a dark rider three nights ago take an old lady from the street and carry her into the forest. 

Old Nabbernook babbles incoherently about a pale face. His wife was the old woman. She was out after dark chasing after their cat. 

The Forest of Sib

Even gods do not stroll here. Sib is home to the Thunder mushroom - a 4ft mushroom that, if touched causes an electric shock (1d6 damage). 

The murky pond whispers words of death to passersby. 

Several body husks are here. The old woman carries a little cat collar. 

A bear and her cubs wander this place in search of food. She will defend to the death. 

A hermit called The Simple Man lives in the tree canopy, descending on vines. His laughter echoes. He speaks of the rider as a creature from outside the realm of mortals - a being cast out from death who must stay in this world by feasting on the life force of others. 

A wretched smelling cave is here, with hoofprints outside. 

The Wretched Cave

A horse carcass lays in the cave entrance, it's eyes bulging. The stomach is expanding and will pop. Inside is a Duth fly swarm (aggressive, hits 1d8, attack d8 (sting d6), defence d8, action d6, wits, d6, ego d6, special: ranged attacks do half damage). 

Hypnotic moss gathers on the wall. Those who look at it must make a medium wits test. If unsuccessful they are physically drawn to it. Arms will reach out of the moss and attack the victim (1d8+1). 

More corpse husks

The Black Rider is here at the end of the cave, with a child tied up, hanging from the ceiling - still alive. This is Wenda's daughter. A black horse is feasting on bear guts.

Saturday 10 March 2018

Alternative damage rules for In Darkest Warrens

In Darkest Warrens has a fixed damage system, but for those who like a little more randomness, here's some simple rules.

  • Attacks with a normal weapon or a spell attack does d6 damage
  • Attacks with a magic weapon does d6+2 damage
  • Armour does not provide a bonus to wounds. Instead, it is treated as a separate number. Armour points are ablative, reduced by damage taken. They replenish after combat.
  • Armour: leather - 3 armour points, chain - 6 armour points and plate - 9 armour points. A small shield is 1 armour point and a tower shield is 2 armour points.
  • Increase the wounds of creatures in the bestiary by x4. 

Wednesday 7 March 2018

Pathfinder second edition announced

It's been 10 years since Pathfinder was let loose into the world, so I guess it's time for an update.

Paizo made the announcement yesterday on their site (hey, notice how they made a brand-new site after I criticized it a couple of weeks ago? THE POWER).

The playtest launches in August with a big fat 400 book and a 96 page adventure to take you from levels 1-20. All free, of course.

Ok, so what's changed? Looks like they've taken a few leaves from 5e's page, but here's a list of changes:

- Initiative is getting an overhaul, with contextual rolls based on skills rather than a single initiative modifier
- there's a single proficiency bonus rather than loads of bonuses
- race is now ancestry. Like in 5e, you choose backgrounds as part of character creation. Although it seems like backgrounds might have more mechanical benefit
- play is split into different time phases based on downtime (days), exploration (hours/mins) and encounter (seconds)
- monster design is streamlined
- hazards are more deadly
- different reactions based on enemies
- you now get 3 of ANY action. No 'full', ''''ft' etc. This means you can attack three times, but with penalties
- less onus of magic items buffing all your stats - another 5e philosophy.

If you want to hear the playtest in action, the Glass Cannon Podcast has run a two-parter of actual play.

I'm excited about the new edition and I'm hoping my group will get a chance to play it this summer.

Saturday 3 March 2018

On dragons

Dragons don't technically exist, but the collective bubbling of frenzied medieval imagination conjures them into the material plane. Dragons are merely composites of blackened dread - the unknown manifesting in the deep musty voids of the world, gestating in shadow while the nightmares of kings and paupers transmit from slumbering minds.

A dragon wakes when a god perishes. Amber eyes snap open and the slender scaled neck cranes naturally towards mother sky. Its breath takes the form of the element it awakens closest to - for some it's the chill of permafrost, while others emit the breath of the nine hells.

Every dragon is psychically linked to a baby born at the same moment. Their life bond may go years without becoming apparent to either of them, but as the child grows they develop small red scales on their brow and dream often of flight. Eventually, the child gains a honing instinct that drives them to search for the dragon. Once they meet the child becomes a willing servant of the dragon, an envoy to the world of humanoids. As they grow older still they more and more resemble their master - teeth becoming pointed ivory and eyes like polished bronze.

Once matured, dragons have an intrinsic need to nestle amongst gold to a point of obsession. The reason for this is simple - being born of human minds dragons also imbue the great greed for riches possessed by most people. Dragons are manifestations of such thoughts.

The dragon's servant descends on towns to recruit adventurers to plunder treasure for the dragon, or to threaten the ruler with fire and fury if a dragon tax isn't instated.

Dragons age but the sands of time can never claim them. Once their servant dies they gain the ability to speak, but they mourn for six days before flying into a rage, reaping destruction in their locality.

Thursday 1 March 2018

Fortressmaze: the way in

The first poll has run and you've chosen one of the means of entering Fortressmaze.

The stone door, grey and mottled with age, scarred with lightning and licked with moss, stands the height of a typical troll. The door bears the carvings of three large eyes, with slit pupils like those found on a serpent.

When the moon is full the eyes glimmer and shine and begin to search around for anyone who would be attempting entry. Those who attempt to force they way in will be subject to a ray blast for each eye, attacking as an HD3 creature with d8 damage and 13 save. Each eye has AC 11 (8). The eyes can be harmed and if destroyed they become stone once more. If all three are destroyed the doors will open and remain open for an hour while the door gathers its strength.


- scorch marks on the dirt close to the door
- chalk markings on a nearby wall showing moon phases, with a ring around the full moon
- rumours of strange lights some nights from the location of the door