Friday, 13 July 2018

Magic item: knife of betrayal

Found here and cropped
Found by our party wizard during last session. Statted out for Pathfinder, but easy enough to translate to your own heartbreaker system. After writing this up, I realized the knife behaves like a variant on Dungeons & Druggies - check that out to hook your characters on sweet combat drugs.

Also: Jesus H. Christ this is longwinded. "Steals souls, each hit die stolen is a spell casting die you can use once" would work for a GLOG-ish item.

knife of betrayal - cold iron dagger +2

Rusty knife, doesn't clean up and smells faintly of blood. Sizes with its user down to medium size (the demon that powers it was aiming for the ancient giant civilization and their elf slaves. Doesn't size for smaller grubs but will work for them nonetheless.)

The knife is a gift from Jorr the Drinker, demon of murder. It's a loss leader for him to produce, and he first tests prospects by giving them a (true) vision of an upcoming betrayal. If the mark would kill to prevent it, they wake up from the vision with the knife under their left hand. Or appendage. Jorr tries to be inclusive.
  • bleed damage 2/round (doesn't stack with itself) if used on a flat-footed or flanked target
  • enhancement bonus & bleed becomes +4 if used on target that considers you an ally (obviously, for one attack only)
  • user can cast death knell 3/day as part of an attack (target must be at negative hit points, or running trauma or other injury from a death & dismemberment table
  • +4 to difficulty to resist a coup de grace with this weapon

soul theft
  • steals the soul of all sentients it kills via death knell or coup de grace. Track hit dice sacrificed this way
  • sacrificing a summoned sentient creature this way only nets you hit dice equal to the level of the summoning spell; in case of multiple creatures summoned, gotta catch 'em all
  • track only hit dice of sentient living creatures; ignore animals, undead, constructs, oozes, plants and other soulless critters

spell gift
  • as a standard action, you can have the dagger cast a spell for you from any spell list or level. Casting a spell this way costs [2x spell level] of hit dice sacrificed - deduct from the total. You can request a spell that would cost more than the amount of hit dice stored, but there will be consequences. Hit die debt = spell cost - hit dice stored
  • in addition, asking for spells of higher level than you can cast yourself, or from outside your spell list, forces a Will save, DC 15 +[2x spell level]. The spell still works, but there will be consequences. Hit die debt is equal to spell level
(highlight to read; players beware spoilers)
All options only work for negative levels gained because of the knife of betrayal. No luck getting rid of vampire suckage this way.
  • gain a temporary negative level for every hit die of debt to the dagger. For every negative level, save Fortitude against difficulty 15 + 2x spell level at the next midnight or turn this temporary negative level into a permanent one
  • can sacrifice 2 hit dice to turn a permanent negative level into a temporary one; and 2 hit dice to lose a temporary negative level.
  • murdering summoned creatures sours their attitude. Make a spellcraft check (difficulty 15 +2x spell level) when summoning them again or have them turn hostile and indismissible. Creatures summoned by a spell cast from the dagger do not turn on you
  • when you have as many negative levels as you have levels/hit dice, you die and your soul goes straight to hell - no resurrections. When you die of other causes after having used the dagger to sacrifice at least one person, likewise go straight to hell.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Jungle Trek session 6: murder conga

Last time on Jungle Trek, the party was trying to figure out who was setting the Drow and Giants on edge in the giant ruined metropolis of Pra'xi'rek. I had thought they would continue on that path, helping the Drow start a feud between different giant clans via a series of heists and looking for clues to a lost artifact in the mean time.

When did a session ever pan out right like you thought? (And when was that ever better than glorious scrambling improv?)

(Edit: As much as I liked the session, writing up this report was a chore. And it shows in the writing. This happened, then this, then this. I could edit it down and make it fun, but eh -  let's write something else instead.)

In this case, random stocking tables and planned-out relationships between the main factions let me have the party run wild a bit while still seeding hints back to the "main issue" in the scenario. One more party member bit the dust - this time, one of the two player characters. It doesn't look like death will stick though. "Can I make a pact" bargaining is running a fever via private messages.

It was a long session - write-up below, settle in with a drink before you start. The group did uncover a couple of good leads, uncovered a conspiracy in the Drow temple and maybe they'll actually follow up on that next session. Or maybe they'll start a scheme where they try to sell fakes of the scenario's macguffin to every interested party they can find. Gods only know. In any case, turns out that damage resistance is this group's achilles heel. Had a blast in two combats with an Udoroot and a Marai Rakshasa.

We'll wrap up this short campaign in a couple of end game sessions, after which I hope to be a player for a quick summer break. After summer I'm thinking of starting a Call of Cthulhu, Night's Black Agents or Vampire campaign, possibly even adding new players to the group.

Our band of explorers:

  • Indiana Gnoll - male Gnoll ranger with a whip, comes with gills and wall clinging suckers after experimenting with a . Deranged laugh. Hankering for strange meat, tasted Unicorn and linked with its Nightmare mate. [player: Robert]
  • Woody the Warforged Wizard, currently a black-and-white ogre-bot. Albino body, shiny black scales, extra fingers and extra mouth, sticks to walls. Dude loooooves him a mutating altar. [player: Bas] dead - beaten to a pulp and then flamed to a cinder in spite of his regeneration and fire protection. update: currently stirring again after totally innocent private messages about a deal with -- well, that would be telling.
  • Drake - male human healer [non-player character, hireling, idiot. But finally having doubts about his employers.]
  • Eorie - female human rogue [non-player character, hireling] dead - friendly fireball
  • Santash - male kalashtar psion who shoved his mind into his psicrystal [non-player character] dead - vaporised by anti-kalashtar/quori energy shield

Things that happened this session

  • asked one of the players to start with a recap. Good way to get everyone up to speed again and make them think of where to go next.
  • got surprised when "next" turned out NOT to be the quest given by the Drow Matron to start a feud between two Giant clans, but go back to the enormous henge with the Unicorn trapped inside. Indiana Gnoll, you see, had a hankering
  • On the way to the Unicorn henge, Woody spots a demonic throne and immediately sits down on it, gets a vision of being killed by Drake with some weird anti-warforged device, asks what can be done to prevent this and gets a second vision of killing Drake with an iron dagger. Wakes up and finds iron dagger beneath his left hand, pockets it of course.
  • A heavy scene followed where Indy browbeat the unicorn into letting him kill her one last time, and then set her free from the henge and its sacrificial altar. Sure enough, that worked; and after the slaughter (and Woody claiming the unicorn's horn, to give it back later), Indy glutted on sparkly angel horse. And heard mad neighing that sounded decidedly not like a unicorn. Party wrecked the altar as promised.
  • had fun stalking Indy with the dead Unicorn's mate, a hefty nightmare who had been broken free of the henge long ago. (And, for a bit of background info, had been used to protect sleeping Giants from invading nightmare spirits from the Plane of Dreams.) When I turned the stalking into the first of a couple of hit and run attacks, Indy's player surprised me again by trying to intimidate and bond with the beast, not kill it. Allowed it to chew down on his arm, fed it his blood, named it Six after his religion [Dark Six - violence and untamed things], pointed out that its mate was already resurrecting, and now free of the sacrificial altar - and came away with an understanding and wary respect. We'll see how that works out in the future.
  • allmost kill, the first: turns out the Nightmare had Indy on his last couple of hit points before it calmed down.
  • extra bonus points to Indy's player for dominating not only the Nightmare but also this DM by blasting some random metal song at me at full volume until I caved and switched from combat to, ehrm, social interaction with added bite damage.
  • laughed my ass off when Indy, now full of Unicorn meat and tainted with Nightmare blood, was magically blocked from leaving the henge. In the end, Woody teleported them out, although just carrying the Gnoll across the threshold would've worked just as well.

Opening hour and a half: heavy roleplaying, lots of fun, but no closer to the big plot in the background. Random encounter to the rescue! After all the noise, the party spotted a Drow courier moving through the jungle city to the entrance of an underground tunnel. Decided to follow.

  • underground tracking scene was uneventful - the party ranger could hang back far enough that the Drow didn't spot them while still tracing his scent. Even a hard climb down was not a problem, what with the entire party now being able to stick to walls after sharing mutations in the flying Giant citadel.
  • after some trouble getting their plus sized wizard golem through a tight squeeze, the group finds their Drow courier in an abandoned, vine covered meeting hall. It's talking to a figure in a hooded mantle, delivering a package (that Woody promptly steals via Unseen Servant spell) and giving orders. Why is a Drow priest taking orders from some weird flowe thing instead of being at temple?
  • when the party makes itself known to catch the two conspirators, it turns out the figure in the circle is a projection made by the circle of big flowers in the middle of the room - sort of like sunflowers if sunflowers were red/purple, animated all the vines in the room, tracked your movement, and hit you with everything from psychic strikes to lightning bolts and telekinesis to smack your Gnoll into the floor. Also: damage resistance, which means that Indy's already pitiful damage with his whip has almost zero chance of hurting them. It's a long, painful fight with Indy taking flight and smacking into walls when the telekinetic flower fixes on to him.

  • allmost kill, the second: Indy and Woody are both barely standing after the fight, and that only because Woody now regenerates (thanks again, mutation altar), and Indy has fast healing for a couple of hours because he ate Unicorn flesh.

Yes, I know, these guys are running the cultists, not fighting them. In a good Warhammer 40k story, I could've strung them up for being vile Chaos worshipers, but we're playing in Eberron and things are more relaxed here vis-a-vis unnatural urges. Anyway, we're due a short break and the party hunkers down in a side room.

  • the package delivered to the telepathic plants (basically a dead drop that can take a message) bears a magical bracelet with symbols of the four winds, and a message saying that Six Glyph has found a powerful twin to the Fang of the Sky Serpent in the packs of travelers to the city (yes, the party lost their prophetic feather artifact after being ambushed by the Drow) and will be bringing it down to Deep Master in person. Seems like there's a mole in the Drow camp.
  • it's nap time to recover spells and hit points, and the pair move to a side chamber. In the middle of their sleep cycle (ha! no spells refreshed) they spy on yet another messed up creature from the deep caverns - this time, a four-armed spindly humanoid with grey-purple skin and no eyes, that wants to bargain with the party and leaves after agreeing to bring its Deep Master to this site in a day to meet with the explorers.
  • back on the surface, the party random encounters a couple of drow working for Sorrla, Mistress of Ambush. The scouts are holding two crab men at bay, who are working to break a canal's side wall and flood the underground tunnel system where the drow hide out. Some intimidation and rubble clearing sees the crab men off and then it's time to negotiate with the drow. Again.
The party now have some indirect evidence that there's a mole in the Drow camp. They suspect Vorruul, high priest of Vulkoor the scorpion, who is withholding divine magic from the Drow until they find and bring the Stinger of Vulkoor artifact. Before the group confronts the cleric, they want backup and they make a deal to meet up with Sorrla near the temple of the Sun in a couple of hours.

But first, finish that nap and let the wizard regain spells.

  • back at the drow camp, Woody takes his nap and refreshes spells for the day, the pair catch up with Drake who is seriously ticked off that his two employers don't care about henchthief Eorie's death last session.
  • Impromptu decision: talk with Matron Gythra about the suspicions against her high priest. Gythra is not all that happy that the players are investigating conspiracies instead of starting a blood feud between giant clans, but she gets interested when she hears that Vorruul may be plotting against her - fine, the players can talk to the high priest.
Remember the players' plan to get backup from the drow scouting faction to take on the priests? Yeah, neither did they.

  • asked the players to draw the underground area set for the temple of Vulkoor. Added little side rooms and back passages and threw them into a talk with Vorruul. Who initially isn't that phased about the zero proof accusations, offers with a smirk to help the visitors find their magic feather they so carelessly misplaced, but starts to get a bit worried when there is talk about messages exchanged between 'Six Glyph' and 'Deep Master'.
  • Vorruul sends his acolytes out and seals the entrence with a silence spell for privacy, banters a bit more and concludes that the players cannot tie him directly to any conspiracy. Woody isn't taking that and drops a fireball in the middle of the room.
Fine, it's been a long, long session and a good fight to finish up sounds like just what the DM ordered. I ask for a spell resistance roll - the priest is resistant to magic of course. And I'm quite surprised (as is Vorruul) when the fireball actually breaks through.

  • The fight was quite long - damage resistance again, pitifully weak damage, invisibility and indirect damage spells made it very hard to pin down the cleric. A web spell is keeping the acolytes out of the room, Stinking Cloud spell takes Drake out of the fight puking in side corridor. Woody and Indy hit back with Black Tentacles spells to grapple anything in the area and try to dodge flaming spheres until the priest's invisibility spell runs out. When he finally shows himself (and since when do clerics cast invisibility?), his arms split into many-colored serpents, his face turns half-snakey and he cuts loose with energy beams for extra, extra damage and status effects. Marai Rakshasa suck (especially once I tweaked the thing's spells) but the party sucks harder up against this guy.
  • Both characters are now down and slowly regenerating; but Vorruul / Six Glyph is at the end of his spell list and the acolytes are bursting into the room - he needs to grab the stolen magic feather from a cupboard and get out, but that means crossing the damned grabby Black Tentacles and in the end, there just isn't time. The Rakshasa turns into fog and drifts into a hole in the wall, but not before being seen in his true form by the drow priests.
  • And a flaming sphere takes out Woody's regeneration right before it can save him from death. Exit character.
To summarize: players find hints to the shadow figure that is manipulating the drow and giants to get its hands (we're hoping for hands) on some poison stabby artifact. Players oust this figure's mole in the Drow camp but have now lost one player character and one henchman out of a 4 people party.

Next session - who knows?

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Bad People that Woody the warforged wizard may or may not have sold his soul to

Still working on last weekend's session log. At the close of the session, the party wizard (warforged race from Eberron, sentient golem-like) was wiped out by a Rakshasa shapeshifter demon. After some private messages, the golem is showing signs of life.

He lives! Who or what do we have to thank for that? (d10)

  1. Archwizard Radamenus the three eyed giant, currently stranded as a ghost after her clone body was petrified before she could wake up in it
  2. Jinmenju the dirty old sentient tree, luring little meat bags to his maw with drugged fruit and now digging his roots into the half-wooden warforged
  3. Dead-but-dreaming Aboleth from the 1000 Ghost Falls
  4. Vulkoor the Scorpion, ticked off that his Drow minions cannot retrieve his swanky poison stinger artifact and taking a more personal approach
  5. Deep Master below the city, running scams via shapeshifted minions on both the Giants and the Drow in search of Vulkoor's Stinger / the Fang of the Sky Serpent
  6. Demon of the Throne of Betrayal, that Woody immediately sat down on during last session
  7. Shapeshifting asshole gnome/drow/whatever who crashed the players' airship in session 1
  8. Sorceror King on a visit from Dark Sun (warning: TV Tropes link)
  9. Quori invader from the big war 40k years ago, buried all that time in a mindcrystal. Warforged are based on the tele-operated golems that the Quori designed back then, so it only makes sense that the new line is still vulnerable to takeover
  10. Remnants of demigod produced in the Giant godforges as a custom source of divine power, mad with lack of prayer

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Stocking the ruined temple city

My home group is exploring the ruined metropolis of Pra'xi'rek. Pra'xirek? Praxirek? Fuck it. The city is described briefly in the Explorer's Handbook. I'm not linking you there, it's not worth it - as published in the book, the area is not too much to go on. Hill Giants and Drow fighting over jungle-covered ruined metropolis, water beasties in the old harbor, bunch of Cloud Giants in a flying hall - and that takes pages to explain.

I took much more inspiration from MightyBakuDan in his Dreams of Xen'drik log. City of many shrines and temples, ideas on how to play players and Drow and Giants against each other - sold, with thanks. I'll add to that industrialized religion: not faith to appease a divine overlord, but a series of mantras to leach power from a handy source. What else would you expect from the civilization that includes a handy 'please insert Drow' rune for when their magical forge needs a soul for some oomph?

Jungle-ruined metropolis crawl

Below is a bunch of tables to crawl through shrine-infested Pra'xirek.
  • Add complications between the local factions of Drow and Giants? Check it.
  • Add some scenery or add random beasties? Check out my Junglebox and its follow-up post of wandering loons.
Encounter check (d6)
Stolen/adapted from Necropraxis' overloaded encounter die. Every hour of exploration, when heading into the next area of town, or in case of excessive noise or loitering, roll d6:
  1. Encounter
  2. Trail of encounter
  3. Obstacle
  4. Shrine
  5. Building
  6. Resource depletion

Encounters (d30 when above ground, d20 when underground, roll that 20, I dare you.)
  1. Parley between (2d30, reroll doubles)
  2. Fight between (2d30, reroll doubles)
  3. Farmer / gatherer collecting fruits of garden or fungal patch
  4. Trader from distant tribe with rare herbs, medicine, tools
  5. Dino raptor pack (3 HD, 5 bitey/harrying), directed by Songraa handler (Hill Giant ranger 2, dino taming tribe)
  6. Drow scouting party (3x rogues, 3x wizards) investigating shrine
  7. Drow raiding party (d4: 1-3 4x ranger 3; 4 plus Drow Mistress of Ambush Sorrla)
  8. Drow courier headed for dead drop with package (d4: 1-3 cleric or rogue 'bringing offering', 4 Drow Master of Scorpions Vorruul on personal mission)
  9. Crab men (4x barbarian 3, 1x sorcerer 4) clearing canal / tunnel for better access to central ruins
  10. 1d4+1 Carrion Crawlers hunting or guarding a shrine
  11. Chuul harvester clearing tunnels of scouts, headed for package dead drop
  12. Drow scorpion walker Cleric 5, 4x rogue 3 scouts, dousing for Vulkoor’s favor with a bone white ultra deadly giant scorpion (5HD)
  13. Giants filling in Drow tunnels, contemplating sending in kids (ogres), fire (risks forest fire), Dinos or water
  14. 2d4 Scorrow on pilgrimage. Holier and definitely more poisonous than thou.
  15. 2d10 Spellgorged zombies guarding treasure trove, uncovered after cave-in of hidden vault
  16. Hill Giant teenagers trying to get a Drow with a broken leg out of a narrow crawl way
  17. Fungal Garden with uppity patches of Violet Fungus infests chamber
  18. Patch of udoroot + 2d2 assassin vine, psionic illusion of a hurt Drow/Giant with foot caught in a crack.
  19. 2d3 Skin Stitchers investigating a shrine
  20. Weird telepathic/spellcasting lizard folk, psionic tattoos and crystal baubles, lightheaded from all the oxygen and plant life. Spells leave behind black ash, ruined vegetation. Frantically looking for "Dregoth's Mirror". Will offer powerful psionic items for help.
  21. Dire flytrap on dry land between ponds with Kawa Akogo lily pads. Flytrap is wound around water nymph statue/fountain that gives fire resistance 10, 1 hour for those who drink of the fountain.
  22. Dinosaur nest - eggs and mother. 1d4: 1 Triceratops, 2 Velociraptor, 3 Pteranodon, 4 T Rex.
  23. 3 Songraa Hill Giants playing hide & seek to train velociraptor pack of 5. Pack developing its own language of clicks and rattles, testing awareness of their masters.
  24. 5 Urgruk hill giants (2x brawler/grabber, 3x rock tosser) with loot just excavated - boisterous but hurt, inattentive
  25. Dorraan hill giant meditating in small garden - walking high-concentration path of stepping stones between hungry carnivorous plants
  26. Cloud Giant spying on 3 hill giants bathing, or surveying city from on high
  27. Drow druid 5 or wizard 5 meeting with Dorraan giant ascetic in cautious parley
  28. Wild triceratops, tracked by exhausted Songraa tamer
  29. City of Druxis trade party - bring exquisite drugs, come for access to magic garden or fountain. 2 snake men handlers (ranger, wizard 5) and 2d6 slaves (ogre porters, drow horticulturists)
  30. Skyfather (1d8: 1-3 with Whisper, 4-5 with son, 6-8 alone) exploring temple

Obstacle (d10)
  1. Canal, no bridge or guarded bridge
  2. Central square with lots of movement and activity, very exposed
  3. Giant workplace (leather, rope, wood, stone, food prep)
  4. Overgrowth - detour or hack through (extra encounter check)
  5. Collapsed buildings, climb or detour
  6. Cleared road, wall rigged to collapse, 1d4 Giants in hiding nearby
  7. Giants digging into building for treasure, few outside on break
  8. Marketplace - Urgruk giants trading magic baubles with Dorraan for food & tools
  9. Fallen sky bridge - climb (roll resource depletion) or detour for new encounter check
  10. Drow tunnel rigged to collapse, nasty fall (dex14/19/23 for med/large/huge, 3d8 dmg and Covered with rock, str dc 25 to clear, or  str dc 20 and 3 checks)

Shrine (d8)
  1. Maw of the black, 5ft wide carved stone face looking upwards from still black pool. Eats everything put inside, CMB +10/CMD 22 or 5d6 slashing/bludgeoning each round. Used as garbage dump, mouth looks disgusted. Gift live sacrifice 3x (or 1 sentient) to receive blessing: mouth on left palm, can chew through almost anything (full round action, 1d6+Str dmg, 2lb/round, ignores hardness up to 15)
  2. Glistening library. Entrance is carved mouth of a cobra, inside are 3 round chambers on in/downward spiralling corridor, each filled with snakes. Clear out the snakes to earn displeasure of snake spirit, cursed to fail saves against next poison. On dais in central/deepest room, illuminated from ceiling holes: serpent reader to decypher the code in serpent's skins. Decode skin to gain random Druid or Wizard scrolls, spell level (d8) 1,1,2,2,3,3,4,5, minimum caster level. Snake has to have 2x HD of spell level.
  3. Demon throne, sit and receive vision of someone who will betray you. Usable 1/month, more for Will 15 +5 per extra use. Failure = beset by Nightmare spell (will 20 nightly until successful save. Demon shows how bad betrayal will be and offers you a way to outwit your betrayer. Iron dagger with ruby pommel will appear in your backpack. Kill betrayer and gain death knell-effect for 6 days.)
  4. Square with blood altars for micro blessings. Pinprick of blood (for a giant - 1d4 damage) gives a +1 bonus to (1d6) 1 dex, 2 fort, 3 will, 4 attack, 5 specific physical skill, 6 specific mental skill.
  5. Moon temple with open roof, colored lenses mounted on thin, white metal arms that focus light onto mosaic floor. Offers boon to skill checks related to whatever of Eberron's 12 moons is primary for the month. Perform proper ritual dance in the right spot of light and gain +5 bonus to related skill check, usable once or until a new moon becomes primary. d12: 1 intimidate, 2 diplomacy, 3 heal, 4 craft, 5 handle animal, 6 gather information, 7 perception, 8 perform, 9 bluff, 10 survival, 11 knowledge, 12 stealth
  6. Pillared hall around half empty pool. Waters wash away curses and mutations. Still do, now also add dysentery (Fort 16, 2 saves to cure, fatigued & staggered, 1d6 nonlethal)
  7. Garden with gazebos around magical trees (Wormwood, Ebon apple tree, Acanthus superior (sovereign glue), Heroism (+4 all d20 rolls for 1d6 rounds), Love, Simulacrum potion)
  8. Megalith henge surrounding a peaceful glade, 100x70 m oval. The Unicorn trapped inside resurrects one week after its death. Acts controlled but is quite insane. Horn creates continuous protection vs evil, 3/day purify water, 1/day cure spell (1d8+5 hp), 1/week neutralize poison. Oval's two nodes hold 1) altar to butcher unicorn and retain some power in the horn for 1 month. Other node used to imprison the Unicorn's mate, which got free ages ago. A killer of the unicorn is pursued by its raging mate - a Nightmare - for a week.
  9. Hall of Planar Melodies - oval amphitheatre with floating crystal spheres (astral, ethereal, shadow, Daanvi, Dal Quor, Dolurrh, Fernia, Irian, Kythri, Lamannia, Mabar, Risia, Shavarath, Syrania, Thelanis, Xoriat, Khyber, Syberis). Playing correct melodies on the spheres allows for Contact other Plane, 7 questions.
  10. Water nymph statue/fountain that gives fire resistance 10, 1 hour for those who drink of the fountain.

Buildings (d6)
  1. Collapsed dome, rows of seats around the edge and central stage for presentations. Decayed, used for big meetings for superior acoustics. 
  2. Septagon pit, 3 storeys deep, three walkways reach out to observation platform - fragile, creak under large load (=4 medium loads), under sudden stress starts to slip. Platforms held moon lenses to focus on floor. At bottom: platform for summoning rites. Filled with brackish water, entrance into elf tunnels. Water holds plant monsters and opportunistic snakes. Summoning circle holds supremely bored Imp.  
  3. Tower 300ft high, 30ft diameter with bulbous swelling halfway, 60ft sphere wide, for floating meditation. Corpse of a cloud giant monk drifting inside. Tower is filled with plants inside, corpse holds minor loot. Assassin vine.
  4. Square block mausoleum of essential salts, high and narrow windows. Haunted by Witchfire ghost of cloud giant (lightning damage). Rooms with decorated pots filled with essence dust of monsters and sages. Reduction room places body / living creature in sarcophagus and reduces to essential salts (fort 20: 1d6/1 Con). Theatre with stone tables, body shaped cavities in tables can hold dust for reanimating. Incantations run around the cavities, which shapeshift to show rough outline of creature. Requires blood offering (HD x d6) to activate (required hd = full cavity; ceremonial knife nearby). Chant incantation at less than required amount of blood: raise as hunting shadow. Shadow or revenant lasts for 1 turn per HD unless it can drain life force (maxed HD worth of blood, level drain, whatever.) Reverse incantation returns revenant to dust immediately - will save 25 to get one more action in.
  5. Connected low buildings house deity production program - configurable shrines and book scrolls on breeding better godlings, tuneable portfolios. References the Chains of Heaven facility for creating, binding, draining fresh godlings.
  6. Hollow facade ziggurat. Cells on the inside hold mummified high priests' heads, stored for version control of older rites and deprecated deities.

Resource depletion (d6)
  1. Nasty fall or collapse - for instance, 3d6 damage, Reflex 15 for half
  2. Fatigued one step
  3. Active spells run out or spend 1 low level spell
  4. Light source runs out
  5. Rope and climbing gear used
  6. Food and drink used

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Jungle Trek session 5: treasure hunt in a ruined city

Last time on Jungle Trek, I left the party sky diving out of a flying giant fortress and into an even more giant ruined metropolis on the hell junglegarden continent of Xen'drik. They're still trying to get home after accidentally crashing a supremely expensive airship.

Our band of explorers:

  • Indiana Gnoll - male Gnoll ranger. Whip, gills, suckers. Deranged laugh. [player: Robert]
  • Woody the Warforged Wizard, currently a black-and-white ogre-bot. Albino body, shiny black scales, extra fingers and extra mouth. Dude loooooves him a mutating altar. [player: Bas]
  • Drake - male human healer [non-player character, hireling, idiot. But finally having doubts about his employers.]
  • Eorie - female human rogue [non-player character, hireling] dead - friendly fireball
  • Santash - male kalashtar psion who shoved his mind into his psicrystal [non-player character] dead - vaporised by anti-kalashtar/quori energy shield

Things that happened this session

  • Teleported into the area on board a hijacked Giant fortress/lab/tomb. Ejected when original occupant showed signs of being depetrified and revived. Landed safely in ruined giant city. The air is hot and humid, smells of decay and mad faith. There is a harbor, some large buildings are still standing. A collonaded hall floats above the city. Buildings have been shattered by the vast fallen sky bridges that used to lead up to the floating hall.
  • Woody recognizes the place from a magazine article. These are the ruins of the temple city Pra'xi'rek , where the Giants tamed divine magic.
  • Indy spots that the cities big avenues and landmarks spell out the symbol of the much younger Sovereign Host pantheon on the group's home continent of Khorvaire. What's odd is that even the Silver Flame (a faith maybe 700 years old on Khorvaire) is represented in this >40.000 year old city on Xen'drik.
  • A rescue from Giant hunters by Drow scouts turns into an ambush with sleeping poison. Woody fries a couple of Drow with a fireball, but kills Eorie and drops Drake to critical health with it. Drake gets better, buries Eorie later in the session. Eorie gets a "sorry kiddo" before the wizard moves on. And there drops the Morale meter...
  • Trying to stick characters with a slave collar (in the form of implanted burrowing beetles that can be controlled with the right poison) is easy. Preventing them from cutting the damn things out on the spot is a lot harder. In the end the party promises to help the Drow anyway. Players are sensitive about getting forced into things.
  • The party spends a lot of time talking with the Drow, scouting the city and gathering intel. They're hard at work charting power structures and agendas. 
  • At session's end, the group discover that their anti-scrying box with a prophetic feather inside has been stolen. They've used it once in session 1, then stowed it in a backpack and forgot about it. Of course, take it away, and they’ll want it back. More on that next session. 

Shrines and other encounters in Pra'xi'rek

  • Pack of tiny, alert dinosaurs guiding Hill Giant hunters.
  • Shrine of a carved stone face floating in basin filled with black liquid. The face's mouth is wide open and shows only darkness, the face's expression is of disgust. All around the shrine are the remains of refuse.
  • The huge Beacon of the Sun; still alight on top of its wireframe tower, but no clear way inside.
  • An oval megalith henge 70x100 m across with a unicorn inside. The creature appears trapped and has eroded a path into the ground in its endless circuits. An offering block at one of the oval's nodes smells of blood. (Indy pauses to wonder what unicorn tastes like, but keeps walking.)
  • A Cloud Giant drawing the city from the highest edge of the former sky bridges. He's using levitation magic not to stress the stone - Woody walking up makes the bridge creak until he too fires up a flight spell.
  • Tales of Crab Men in the harbor, where the docks float magically on the water surface.
  • A workshop and library in one, where custom holy symbols and deity statues can be altered to best draw power from obscure divinities. Being looted by three horrific skinless monsters who wear Drow skin suits and speak the underdark trade tongue. The Skin Stitchers end up dead after a long but not too eventful fight.

The Drow

The Ka'ki'kur tribe live in the old service tunnels below Pra'xi'rek. They consider the entire city their property since the Giant civilisation fell 40.000 years ago.

Matron Ghyrra leads the Ka'ki'kur Drow of Pra'xi'rek. Yes, there was an apostrophe discount.
  • She is occupied with the increased aggression of the Giants and with the religious crisis of cleric Vorruul.
  • Ghyrra's son Yruzel was one of the first Drow to fall to the new dinosaur packs the Songraa giants use. Ghyrra blames her sister Sorrla for her son's death, because she is head of the scouts and hunters where Yruzel was training.
  • Ghyrra wants to get the Giants off the Drow's case. The idea is have them feud amongst themselves. Could the visitors please steal the ceremonial sword of the Dorraan clan and murderify one of the kids of the dino taming Songraa?

Vorruul is Master of Scorpions, high cleric of Vulkoor the Scorpion.
  • He claims that the Giants hunting the Ka'ki'kur is a sign of Vulkoor's displeasure. There will be no divine aid to the Ka'ki'kur except to protect the integrity of the tribe.
  • The Ka'ki'kur can regain Vulkoor's favor by finding the Stinger of Vulkoor artifact. If the players find it, they will be rewarded handsomely.
  • Below ground, there are temples to the darker forces of the divine realm - a sketch in the sand convinces Indy that the temples spell out the sign of the Dark Six, the shadow pantheon of the Sovereign Host that makes up the surface city layout.
Sorrla is Mistress of Ambush, the leader of the Ka'ki'kur scouts and hunters.
  • Her scouting form is that of a scorpion - what else would a Drow druid use?
  • She lives in half-exile after Sorrla's son Yruzel died on her watch.
  • Sorrla is very surprised to hear that the reason the Giants are so restless is the hunt for an artifact. The fact that the Giants and the Drow started a treasure hunt at the same time cannot be coincidence.
  • She mistrusts Vorruul, but has had severe issues tracking the cleric on unexpected trips into the city. Can the players track him and provide information?
  • Sorrla's scouts can help create a diversion to help them infiltrate the Songraa compound.
  • It is good to know that Ghyrra is a skilled diviner as well as stealthy warrior.
  • The four named Drow are close to each other in skill and age.
Larruuz is Master of Visions, head of the Ka'ki'kur mages and diviners.
  • He and his cabal are running themselves ragged scrying for incoming Giants and dinosaurs, and trying to find the Stinger of Vulkoor.
  • Larruuz is eager to trade spells with Woody.
  • He is convinced that Skyfather is a minor sorceror only, with some power in the blood but no real skill. The Giant now wielding advanced magic thanks to a familiar is very puzzling and disturbing. Can the players find out more about this familiar and how to bind it?

The Giants

The overall ruler of the city's Hill Giant tribes is Skyfather, patriarch of the Cloud Giants in the flying hall above the ruins.

Skyfather and the Cloud Giants
  • Skyfather is an immense creature, with the same blueish skin as the wizardess in the floating fortress. 
  • He can use magic, but uses a hidden wand to throw lightning - his personal power is probably limited, although the Drow claim it has increased recently.
  • Woody flies up to the halls and learns that Skyfather is very interested in the magic fortress that the party teleported in on. Woody says he has the magical amulet that will drop the fort's defensive barrier, but will need to retrieve that from the city below before he can trade for it.
  • Whisper the giant air-swimming snake is Skyfather's new familiar since a few months. The creature can talk and has a hypnotic gaze. It allegedly boosts Skyfather's magic.
  • Skyfather is looking for an artifact called the Fang of the Sky Serpent and has the surface giants hunting for it. This Fang will help the Giants drive off or kill the Drow.
The Dorraan - disciples of strength and protection
  • The Dorraan are the smallest giant tribe. They are noble savages that center around the temple of Dorraan, a spitting image of a god the party knows as Dol Dorn of Strength and Protection. 
  • The titanic statue of Dorrraan looks like it should hold a sword, but apparently this ceremonial sword is kept inside the temple.
  • The Dorraan don't appear to be hunting for magical relics themselves. They trade goods and food to the Urggruk to get the minimum tribute to appease Skyfather.
The Urggruk - barbarian scavengers
  • The Urgruk are the largest Giant tribe. They are barbarians that dig into the city ruins at random in search for magical tribute to Skyfather.
The Songraa - dinosaur tamers
  • The Songraa are the second largest Giant tribe and live near the old temples of Agriculture and Hunting.
  • They have learned to tame small and large dinos a few months ago and are using the beasts to hunt the upper city and lower catacombs where the Drow live for magical relics. 
  • The camp is well guarded by packs of tiny dinosaurs with sharp eyes and noses.
  • An enormous beast is being tamed inside a newly erected palisade.

The others

In the library/workshop for custom deities, three Skin Stitchers are surprised by Woody and Indy. They can smell Indy's skin (Woody, as a sentient golem, has none), but find the ranger hard to spot. A fight (not too interesting - just a hit point slog) erupts when it turns out the pair don't work for the Deep Master.
  • Great, yet another faction. But this is the last one.