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 on their magical forge to squeeze some poor schmuck's 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, or 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.