Sunday, June 8, 2014

Another Oracle Plot

I'm having fun thinking up adventure seeds using the randomly-generated results from online Oracles.  This one I'm definitely going to use in the City State of Throxia when I run my Pathfinder game.  I may polish it up some more, but figured I'd share it to give readers some ideas to adapt it to their own games.

Sahdina, the 7th Favored Concubine of the Immortal Omnithrox has been having romantic liaisons with Kinziru Yash, Captain of the Citadel Guard. She has recently revealed to him that she is pregnant with his child since the Immortal Omnithrox has not lain with her for a long time (hence the affair.) Kinziru, fearful of the consequences, has decided to arrange an unfortunate “accident” for Sahdina. He has discretely arranged for Mukan Kala, a Sargent of the Citadel Guard, who is a ruthless bully and is ambitious to kill her.

Sahdina has gotten the sense that Kinziru was not entirely pleased with the news and she has decided to seek out an apothecary in the Great Bazaar to purchase a potion to terminate the pregnancy. While going to the Bazaar, she realizes that she is being stalked, panicking she runs. The person chasing her is Mukan and several thugs he has hired to help finish the job quickly.

PC Hook: Sahdina runs into (literally) the party, obviously shaken and looking behind her. She apologizes and continues to run. The party, if they wish can try to see what she is running from and will see the men working their way through the crowd towards them and Sahdina. If the PCs decide to intervene, a fight will break out between them and Mukan and his men. Mukan will try to escape if the battle goes badly, but if he takes enough damage, have his ring-finger be sliced off during the fight. In the aftermath of the battle, a signature ring of the Citadel Guard will be found, still on his severed finger. If the ring is closely examined, a small compartment will be revealed that contains a crystal lenses-like object. If held up to the light, it will project a map of catacombs apparently beneath the Citadel. This shows the location of the fabled Aslanyan Blade, a sword held in great esteem by the Band of Iron, a secret warrior order within the Citadel Guard. The order reveres the blade as a religious relic and their zealotry to protecting it is legendary. The Band of Iron is outlawed.

Complications: A hungry rat snatches the finger and runs into a nearby sewer access. The PC's will see the glint of metal from the ring with looks valuable... A chase may ensue into the sewers to get the ring.

If Mukan escapes, he will plot revenge against the PC's for maiming him and for his humiliating defeat.

Mukan may later be found dead (if his second attempt to kill them fails) when Kinziru discovers that he failed to kill Sahdina and has complicated matters by involving the PCs.

A Concubine of the Immortal Omnithrox doesn't go unnoticed for long within the Citadel, so after a few hours, patrols of Citadel Guards will begin searches and making inquiries. If the PCs have Sahdina, this can go against them if the Guard see them as a threat to her. Sahdina will not reveal who she truly is for as long as possible. She wants to keep her secret of her pregnancy from anyone in the Citadel, as that would mean severe punishment for her and the death of Kinziru. She will try to get the PCs to get her to an apothecary to complete her mission.

The potion that Sahdina purchases from the apothecary is more potent than it should be and not only does it kill the unborn child but induces an unstoppable bleeding and Sahdina does as well. Just in time for the Citadel Guard to come crashing through the door of the shop, following their leads.

Notes: These complications are suggestions to throw set-backs into the story to create drama and tension. I'm not advocating Sahdina's actions as any kind of social or political statement. This is a sword-and-sorcery inspired setting and these are gritty and grim tales.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Pathfinder Xhuul

So, I have about 2 months before my Pathfinder campaign launches for our group.  I have decided to set the game in my world of Xhuul, though albeit a much modified version of it.  I'm working on a new map and I am going to use (steal) the campaign set-piece starting city-state of Throxia from the World of Thool by Scott (formerly of the now defunct Huge Ruined Pile blog).  Scott wrote some really cool stuff for his setting and I was bummed when he abandoned that project many years ago.  It just oozed with flavor and was always an enjoyable read.

Whereas Scott's Thool setting was set in a black desert landscape, my setting is a mixed bag, but mostly jungles and swamp.  The setting can best be described as Dark Sun meets Tarzan meets H.P. Lovecraft, but it has all the races from Pathfinder.  I'm going for a Sword and Sorcery vibe.  It's going to be low-magic in terms of magic items (except for potions and scrolls which will be more common).  And so there will be no Item Creation feats (besides Brew Potion and Scribe Scroll), as the knowledge to make magic items has been lost.  This is a post-apocalyptic world that has rebuilt it's civilization, though albeit a more primitive one than what came before.

As far as rules and house-rules, we are using 20-pt buy on ability scores, races and classes from the Core Rulebook only.  Archetypes and Traits from the Advanced Players Guide and Spells from Core Rulebook, Advanced Players Guide, Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat.

To help spur some ideas for plot seeds, I used this Oracle to create the following.  Not sure if I will use these at the start of the game, as I would like to run a dungeon adventure or two first.  I may use these at a later point in the campaign.  But for now it was a creative exercise to get ideas flowing. 

Plot 1:
Sovris-Dhorn a conjurer of the Order of Saiboth has summoned the Naga, Szallah to perform a service for the wizard. The Naga has only agreed to perform the service if the Sorvis makes a blood sacrifice of one of his Order's initiates. This would violate the Order's rules of non-aggression between wizards within the Order. Sovris-Dhorn has chosen a student, the wizardess Mara Nevoon, who has recently passed her initiation into the Order, but is largely unrecognized.. This is due to the widely held belief that they suspect she cheated in her exams and tests, but have no proof. This situation presents the opportunity for Sovris-Dhorn needs to fulfill Szallah's demand. 

The death of Mara by his hand would most likely not have any consequences for him.As such,  Sovris-Dhorn has planted information which is now in Mara's possession that an old fortress, guarding a mountain pass in the Zhaugo Mountains to the north holds magical knowledge that could improve her standing in the Order. Sovris-Dhorn and Szallah will be waiting for her when she arrives.

PC Hook: Mara hires the PCs as guards and escorts for the journey to Fortress Dzan. She will be jealous of any arcane spell-casters in the party and will not reveal her true motivations for going to the Fortress as she does not want to share the magical knowledge contained there with any of them. She tells them that the old Fortress is an ancestral holding of her family's and she intends to establish it as her new sanctum.

Complications: Mara actually did cheat in her magical studies, by contacting the Naga Szallah. When she learned all she needed from her, she broke her deal with the Naga and refused to pay her and dimissed her back to her plane. Szallah has been fuming ever since. When Sovris-Dhorn conjured her for a service, it was by simple fortune and she intends to collect on the debt from Mara with her life.

The fortress has long since been abandoned, as the pass was blocked by an avalanche caused by an earthquake many years ago. The fortress was built to protect the holdings of the City State of Thalan from northern barbarians that occasionally raided through the pass. The fortress is now haunted by ghosts of soldiers who died defending the pass. They long for their remains to be properly buried among their family back in Thalan.  They will not allow anyone to take anything from the Fortress without them attacking.

Plot 2:
Sabir Vakroon a young warrior and faithful to the god Nergal, has joined the cult's warrior-elite known as the Black Lions. He has been visited by the ghost of his father, Jalaan, to seek revenge against his older sister Nessa who had strangled him in his sleep and therefore inherited the family fortune. Jalaan had long suspected that his daughter had ambitions and made arrangements to have his then-pregnant wife who was carrying Sabir in her womb to be secretly taken to another city. When Sabir finally grew up to be strong, Jalaan pleaded with the god Nergal to have his revenge. The price was to have his son join the order of the Black Lions to fight in the name of Nergal.

Nessa has become a scheming and shrewd woman in her years, securing her position by arranging ties to several merchant families in Throxia. She is hosting emissaries from far distant land of N'kai in the hopes of securing a trade deal between the merchants of Throxia and the powerful N'kai merchant cartel of Li-Han. Several guests from the various local merchant houses are present during the event. The head of the N'kai delegation, Sung Li-Han has brought several samples of their popular ware:, silks, spices, jade and polished teak hardwoods to display.

Unbeknownst to all, a creature known as a Black Wisp, native to N'kai stowed away in one of the containers and has been roaming the estate, killing servants in secret to feed. The Black Wisp drains the life energy from its victims and devours magic and is highly resistant to spells.

PC Hooks: The PCs could be guards hired by Nessa to patrol the estate grounds outside. They could also be hired by some of the local merchant families present as body-guards. They could discover one of the dead servants, thereby alerting them of potential danger. Soon, the PCs discover the Black Wisp and while engaged with the creature, Sabir who has used this night to strike against his sister uses the distraction to enter the estate.

Complications: The death of Nessa or any of the Li-Han delegates or local merchant family members while under the protection of the PCs can invoke the wrath of powerful merchant interests in Throxia. Killing Sabir will gain the PCs rewards but at the expense of gaining enemies of the Church of Nergal and the Black Lions.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Turn at Bat

The regular Pathfinder campaign I am playing in is coming to it's conclusion.  We have been meeting once a month (more or less), with 6 players and our DM for over 2 years now, who has been running us through 'The Red Hand of Doom'.  We probably have 2 or 3 sessions remaining before the game concludes and this has spawned discussion of what our next game is going to be and who is going to DM it.

I have offered to through my hat into the ring to DM the next game, which is going to be Pathfinder with new 1st level characters.  As to what kind of game I want to run, that has been an elusive thing to nail down.  At first I thought I may want to do a 'Keep on the Borderlands' and 'Caves of Chaos'  type of game.  But the more I thought about it, the less interested I became.  Sure, it's strictly a dungeon-crawl (cave-crawl?) and there is potential for NPC interaction back at the Keep, but I don't know, just not feeling it.

Then I thought about running a mega-dungeon.  This would allow me to reprise using 'Barrowmaze' which I had run as a Pathfinder game a while back for a different group, but that imploded because of gamer flakiness and scheduling conflicts.  But the group I am playing with has been pretty solid as far as participation and attendance is concerned.  But I don't think mega-dungeons can go the distance in the long run.  At some point, dungeon-crawling is going to get old and repetitive and I don't want the group to get bored.

My recent brain-storming has shifted to something a little different.  I have been thinking of having the group explore a vast and dangerous jungle region with dinosaurs, white-furred apes, degenerate tribesmen and lost cities of gold.  There is a Pathfinder Adventure Path called 'The Serpents Skull' set in such a region in their default campaign setting, but I'm not sure I have the fortitude to run an Adventure Path.  I'm not ruling it out, but I would like to work on a story of my own creation.  And therein lies my challenge, making up something from scratch.  I still have some time to work on this and I have a sourcebook called 'Heart of the Jungle' from Paizo which will hopefully spur some ideas.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

[Numenera] Hlosh

HLOSH  2 (6)

These ultraterrestrial creatures appear as a pinkish blob that has a large red circular region on it's body that is most likely an eye.   Thet stand about 2.5 meters tall.  The Hlosh are surrounded by a tough but pliable transparent membrane that protects them from harm. This membrane allows the creature to extend it's 3 manipulator appendages and 4 locomotive appendages in order to interact and move with the outside environment. It is believed that membrane is some kind of bio-organic encounter suit which is under pressure with the native atmosphere that keeps the Hlosh alive. These alien creatures are usually encountered in ruins where they are found exploring. They sometimes capture other creatures for study. They usually carry strange alien devices and weapons to protect themselves.

Motive:  Exploration
Environment: Small parties of explorers found near ruins.
Health: 6
Damage Inflicted: 4 points
Armor: 4
Movement: Short
Modifications: Level 5 with Numenera
Combat:  Hlosh will usually only attack if they feel threatened.  If they are reduced to 2 health, it means that the structure of their membrane has been compromised.  At that point they will withdraw all appendages within their membrane and will dimensionally phase out of the physical world, back to their home dimension.  While in their home dimension they can regenerate from their wounds a 2 points of damage per round.  Once they are back to full health, their membrane is repaired.  If brought to 0 health, the membrane ruptures and the Hlosh begins to rapidly decompose as if exposed to a corrosive atmosphere.
Interaction:  The Hlosh are intelligent, but being aliens they do not understand the language of the Ninth World.  Their agenda is unknown but they seem interested in the technology found in ancient ruins.  They are curious of other life-forms and if they can overpower a creature safely, they will do so in order to study it for a period of time before going on their way.
Loot: Hlosh will usually have 1d6+2 cyphers with them that they have found in nearby ruins or taken from sentient subjects they captured for study.

Friday, February 14, 2014

[Numenera] Man Catcher

MAN CATCHER 3 (9)                                       

Man Catchers are large insect-like creatures about 1 metal tall and 2 meters long.  They are covered in a hard chitin.  They have a prominent set of large pincher-like mandibles on their head which they use to grab prey and crush them.  They also have a smaller set of pinchers attached to the back of their abdomen which is flexible, allowing it to make strikes against any prey grabbed by the large mandibles.  The Man Catcher has two stalks that grow out of each side of it's head that end in a cluster of ocular sensory organs.  This allows it to see in all directions at all times.  They are usually encountered in small groups of two to four that are on the hunt for prey.

Motive:  Hungers for flesh.
Environment: Any wooded area or jungles.
Health: 9
Damage Inflicted: 4 (Large mandible), 3 (tail pincher)
Armor: 2
Movement: Short
Modifications: Climb as level 4
Combat: When a Man Catcher successfully attacks a character with it's large mandible, he must make a Might defense roll to avoid being held fast by the crushing mandibles.  Anyone held by the mandibles automatically take damage each round.  Any physical actions the captured target attempts will be increased by one step.  The Man Catcher also gets to attack any held prey with its tail pincher at Level 5.  Attempting to break out of the hold takes an action which requites a Might-based roll.
Interaction:  Man Catchers are predatory animals. 
Use: Some local communities consider Man Catchers a tasty delicacy.  Though very dangerous to hunt or catch, they are usually roasted over an open fire and their shells cracked open and the juicy and cooked insides are eaten.  Some merchants are willing to pay several shins for each Man Catcher brought to them dead or alive, but preferably dead.

GM Intrusion: Several Man Catchers gang up on one PC in order to bring down their prey quickly.  If the character is grabbed by any of the large mandibles and does not break free, the group begin dragging the PC away in order to eat their meal.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

[Numenera] Krthateli


Krthateli are transdimensional aliens that make raids to capture humans as slaves for physical labor.  They appear octopoidal with an over-sized head dominated by a single large eye.  Their small torso and large head are supported by four tentacles used for mobility.  They have several manipulator tentacles that sprout from their small torso and sides of their head.  They have a mouth-slit in which they ingest food, but they do not communicate verbally.  They wield a variety of weapons and numenera devices.  Krthateli stand approximately 2 meters.

Motive: Capture slaves.
Environment: Anywhere, usually in groups of two to eight.
Health: 12
Damage Inflicted: 4
Armor: 0
Movement: Short
Modifications: Might defense as level 2, Perception as level 5, Understands the numenera as level 6, level 5 in any defense rolls involving cold attacks.
Combat:  Krthateli are usually armed with numenera weapons, most notably the Stun Rod.  A hit with this device is defended by a Speed defense roll.  If struck by the cold, blue beam, the target must succeed in a level 6 Might roll or fall unconcious for an hour.  The Krthateli also have several psionic abilities, which only affect organic targets that have brains.  These do not affect automatons:
1) Mental Illusions.  Can create mental projections that appear real.  A target of these illusions must make a Level 6 Intellect defense roll, or believe the illusions to be real.
2) Invisibility.  The Krthateli can bend light around them to make themselves invisible.  Any attacks made against them are at Level 6.  If they attack, they lose their invisibility that turn.
3) Cause Fear: The Krthateli can telepathically probe a target's fear centers in the brain and can induce severe panic.  The target must make a level 5 Intellect defense roll or flee in a panic for 1d6 minutes.
Interaction:  Krthateli are highly intelligent.  They communicate by telepathy.  They do not have a high regard for humans, whom they equate more as work animals.
Use: A local community has had several of their number abducted by a group of Krthateli which have taken them to nearby ruins as slave labor to clear out rubble so that the Krthateli can get access to something within.
Loot: Stun Rod artifact device (depletion 1 in 1d10), range 6 meters.  1d6 cyphers.

GM Intrusion:  Invisible Krthateli suddenly appear as they attack the character..

[Numenera]: Doarg

I haven't posted anything since September 2013, mostly due to a lack of projects to write about, plus most of my online activity has been in the form of commenting on G+.  I recently ordered the new Numenera: Ninth World Bestiary which arrived yesterday and I spent the previous evening reading through it.

I mentioned in my last post that I thought Numenera would be an ideal game system to for the Xhuul setting.  More specifically, Xhuul would need some tweaking and just place it somewhere in the Ninth World of Numenera.  So, I plan on making future posts in this regard.

I thought it might be interesting to look over some of the monsters I made and translate them for use with Numenera.

DOARG      6 (18)
A large (20' at the head) hoofed quadraped with bovine features.  It is covered in a thick coat of green fur.  It had sharp teeth and large tusks.  It is a predator that roams the forested regions of the Ninth World.  It is aggressive and is usually on the hunt for food.  The green coloring of it's fur helps to conceal it before it attacks from dense underbrush.

Motive: Hunger for flesh. 
Environment: Doargs live in temperate forests and are found in groups numbering two to four.
Health: 18
Damage Inflicted: 6 points
Armor: 0
Movement: Short
Modifications:  Speed defense is 5 due to it's size. Hides in Forested terrain as a Level 7.
Combat: The Doarg gores it's foes or prey with it's sharp tusks.  It hides in thick underbrush ready to ambush creatures in order to feed.
Interaction:  Doargs are animal predators and cannot be reasoned with.
Use: These are very dangerous predators and when encountered in a large group can spell trouble.  Fortunately, because of their large size, their presence can be betrayed by means of their passage due to trampled foilage and broken branches.  They are good for surprise attacks.
Loot: Any loot found near a Doarg would be coincidental from a prior victim(s).  Maybe 1d6 shins and a cypher.

GM Intrusion: The Doarg charges from cover and automatically surprises the character, inflicting damage and knocking him prone.