Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pathfinder Xhuul House Rules: Races

In my home-brew world of Xhuul, we are using the Core Rulebook races only, but with a few mechanical tweaks and re-skinning to fit my world better.

Humans are the dominant race. All other races are few and rare, having been wiped out by disease or war. The non-human races have isolated themselves and their societies are on the decline. A few rare individuals however have left their racial homes to explore and adventure in the wider world for various reasons. These individuals are the exception and not the rule. Their homelands can be xenophobic to outsiders. Non-humans living among humans are usually ignored at best or persecuted at worst. There is prejudice and non-humans can be the scape-goats for everything from bad weather to soured wire. In Throxia, attitudes are generally neutral in regards to non-humans since it is a major City State that sees it's share of beings from elsewhere from time to time.

Elves are more tribal, much like Wild Elves in earlier editions of D&D.  They keep to themselves and do not like outsiders encroaching on their territory.  They don't follow any gods, but do believe in nature and elemental spirits. In game terms, they are mechanically the same as elves in Pathfinder.
Elves begin play speaking Common and Elven. Elves with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Camotzi, Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Thraan.

Thraan:. Thraan are re-skinned Half-Orcs. There are no 'Orcs' in Xhuul, so the term Half-Orc does not apply. In game terms, they are mechanically the same as half-orcs in the Core Rulebook, except they look like the Goliaths from 3rd Edition.  The Thraan were created in the distant past by wizards to serve as shock troops for the wars of the distant past. They did breed true among themselves but cannot breed with any other race outside their own. They have over time developed their own culture, though it is somewhat primitive.

Thraan begin play speaking Common and Thraan. Thraan with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic)

Half-Elves are the product of very rare unions between humans and elves. The prejudice they receive is probably more prevalent in Xhuul than other game worlds. Mechanically, they are the same as half-elves in the rule-book.

Halflings are probably the more numerous of the non-human races. They tend to live in the human city-states, where they are treated like second-class citizens and usually do all the menial work and labor nobody else wants to do, such as rat-catching, sewer-cleaning or garbage-collecting. These menial jobs tend to take them into parts of the city nobody else goes and digging through other people's trash tends to reveal secrets and knowledge others don't know about. As such, Halflings are viewed as smelly and unclean, given the type of work they normally do. Sort of like the caste of the Untouchables in ancient Indian society. Mechanically, they are the same as halflings in the rule-book.
Halflings begin play speaking Common and Halfling. Halflings with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic)

Gnomes are a true oddity in Xhuul. For a grim and savage world, they have a unique positive outlook and are very curious child-like beings. They claim to be from another realm, but they have not been able to prove it, so most people see them as a little crazy. Gnomes do not tend to group in large communities. They wander around in small family groups much like Gypsy clans. As such, they are regarded as con-artists and swindlers and not to be trusted in civilized areas. In rural and wilderness areas, they would be more like an isolated tribe like the elves. Mechanically, they are the same as gnomes in the rule-book with the following changes.
Defensive Training and Hatred: Replace with Warden of Nature racial trait (APG pg. 23).
Gnomes begin play speaking Common and Gnome. Gnomes with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Thraan.

Dwarves are the degenerate descendants who have lost the glory and knowledge of creating the great stone and metal-working skills of their ancestors. Dwarves are extremely xenophobic and have isolated themselves from the world. They dwell in their underground holdings, jealously guarding their knowledge and preserving the relics of their past as best they can.    If they find any non-dwarf who has a relic of dwarven craftsmanship, they will demand that item be surrendered to them as it belongs to dwarves only.  To refuse them will invite certain death. Mechanically, they are the same as dwarves in the rulebook with the following changes:

Defensive Training: Since there are no Giants in Xhuul, this racial trait should be swapped out with Deep Warrior (APG pg.11)
Hatred: Since there are no orcs or goblinoids in Xhuul, the bonuses for Hatred would apply instead to Camotzi. As an alternative, you can swap it out with Ancient Enmity (APG pg. 11)
Dwarves begin play speaking Common and Dwarven. Dwarves with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Aklo, Camotzi, Gnome, Terran and Undercommon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

5E Monk Monastic Tradition: Way of the Soulknife


You follow a monastic tradition that teaches you to focus your ki to form a blade of psychic energy. Each soulknife's personal blade, referred to as a mind blade, differs in color and shape according to his personality, mental strength and even mood.

Starting when you choose this tradition at 3rd level you learn to form a semi-solid blade composed of psychic energy. As an action, you can form the mind blade. The mind blade is identical in all ways (except visually) to a shortsword. The mind blade is considered magical for purposes of overcoming damage resistance. The mind blade is also treated as a monk weapon. The mind blade does slashing and psychic damage. By spending 1 Ki point, you may throw the mind blade as a ranged weapon up to 30 feet. Whether or not the thrown mind blade hits the target, it dissapates after the attack is made.

At 6th level, you can empower the mind blade with a build-up of psychic energy. For each Ki point spent, the mind blade does an additional 1d6 damage (maximum 4d6). This extra damage is only for one attack. However, after the mind blade is charged with the extra damage from spending ki, you can hold the charge until it is used in an attack.

At 11th level, you can momentarily fragment your mind blade into numerous identical blades, each of which strikes a nearby opponent. You make one attack against each opponent within reach. When using bladewind, you forfeit any bonus or extra attacks granted by other abilities.

At 17th level, when making an attack with the mind blade, you can spend 6 ki points and if the attack hits the target, it is subject to a Feeblemind spell. The save DC is 8+proficiency bonus+ Wisdom modifier.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Monster Conversion Tools for 5E

Just in case people aren't aware I have been using this tool that Brent Newhall made to convert AD&D and 3.5 edition D&D to 5E monsters.  The original basis of the tool was originally created by Stan Shinn.

It's nice to have tools made by people who have done the heavy-lifting.  Thanks guys.

I plan to do more conversions of monsters from the Fiend Folio and which are encountered in Barrowmaze for 5th Edition D&D.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pathfinder Xhuul: Game 3

Today, we continued my Pathfinder game set in my homebrew setting of Xhuul.  We did not get to play last month because of a scheduling conflict with two of the players.  The last game ended with the party inside the Emerald Spire dungeon where they had just finished a battle with Kobolds and had entered a room to the south.

Our cast of characters as follows:

Brogan, Dwarf Rogue level 1
Arkon, Human Cleric of Gorum, level 1
Runar "Malik" Liefson, Human Fighter, level 1
Kord Taan, Gnome Sorcerer (Fire Elemental Bloodline), level 1

The game started with the party deciding whether to investigate a door leading east or going back to a room to the north to check out a door also leading east.  Brogan decided to head to the door in the room they were in and listen for any noise.  He did hear several whispered conversations of Kobolds beyond the door and returned  to the party to tell them.  A plan was decided that the party would back up into the room behind a wall the divided the room into two sections and they would send Malik to the door and open it and have him yell and run back to wards the party.  They felt that maybe this would goad and entice the Kobolds beyond to chase him and lead them into an ambush.  As soon as the door was opened, only two of the four Kobolds in that room reacted enough to fire their bows at the fleeing Malik.  Both arrows missed, but they did not pursue, but instead sent one of their number out another exit to raise the alarm of the party's position.

The party waited for the Kobolds, who they were sure were going to be charging after Malik.  Malik took a position down the east west corridor that conatained the store-room they found last game and the double-doors that lead the the spiral stairs leading downwards.  The party continued to wait and that gave the Kobolds enough time to send another group of Kobolds to come up behind Malik from the room to the north.  They attacked with suprise firing arrows from their bows.  When that attack began, about two rounds later, the remaining Kobolds from the room that Malik opened the door to, exited and managed to get in a position that enabled them to fire upon Kord.  The party was being attacked to two flanks and things were getting tense.

Arkon cast an Enlarge Person spell on Malik that allowed him to block the way south to the rest of the party from the Kobolds attacking from the northern guard-room.  He had taken several hits from arrows and so could not capitalize on his new size and strength that round and had to spend it by consuming a Cure Moderate Wounds potion.  The rest of the party had thrown a flask of oil into the corridor leading south and lit it to created a hazard for the approaching Kobolds coming from the south.  One of the Kobolds risked running through the flames, slipped and died horribly to the flaming oil.  Another Kobold following behind him tried the same thing and managed to survive the flames, but was struck down by Arkon's longspear as it tried to move past him.  There was another Kobold in that group, but I don't remember which party member managed to kill it, but that was a round later.

Meanwhile, Malik and Kord were holding off the Kobolds attacking from the north, and killing them one at a time.  Malik was flanked by the Kobolds in one round and took several hits from their spears after they had dropped their bows in order to engage in melee.  They wouldn't have been able to use their ranged weapons without provoking oppurtunity attacks because of Malik's reach.

Eventually, the party killed all the Kobolds, but at the expense of all of their healing potions and oil flasks and acid flasks.  They had started the game low on spells, but they decided to press onwards.  Heading to the room the Kobolds sallied forth from to the north, it was discovered to be a mess hall with a door leading out to the east.  A quick search revealed nothing of value in the mess hall, so Brogan once again approached the door and listened for any noise beyond.  He did not hear anything so he opened the door and it revealed what appeared to be a kitchen, but there was a metal humanoid construct and a Kobold behind it wearing robes.  Brogan quickly closed the door and told everyone what he saw.  Then the door opened and the construct came in and attacked Malik.   Brogan struck the construct with a light mace and the thing began to spark and sputter with arcs of electricity, but it was still attacking.  The Kobold in robes stayed in the room beyond, and cast fire bolt from it's hand to strike Malik.

Things went south for the party very quickly.  Malik was at zero hit-points after taking a fire bolt attack from the Kobold, meaning he was staggered and could still move, but not able to attack without falling unconcious.  Brogan was slammed by the construct the next round after he struck it with his mace the previous round and he too went to zero hit points, but then took damage from the Kobold's fire bolt and that brought him to negative hit points.  The following round saw Arkon drop unconcious when the construct exploded sending electrical damage out in a 10 foot radius.  Kord panicked and ran away, seeing that the situation was at this point was dire.  He made it out of the dungeon and the rest of the party died as they were all unconcious and slain by the Kobold.

So not a Total Party Kill, but close enough.  Kord made his way back to Throxia in order to recruit new adventurers to help him take up the quest to find the two missing wizards that the wizard Ilaria Storen had hired tha party to find.

So at this point three of the players will be making new characters.  One of the contributing factors to the hardship the party faced was that the player who played Arkon the cleric, channeled negative energy, so was not built as a healer.  He was a follower of Gorum, so was more combat oriented.  Also, though their plan to try and lure out the Kobolds into an ambush was a good idea, the Kobolds were dug in to defend their positions until they knew where the party was at and then would call upon reinforcements to try and attack the party from two directions.  If the party had charged in, they would only have had to deal with 4 Kobolds instead of the 8.

At this point they did manage to clear most of the 1st level at this point, when the new party returns, they will only have to deal with the Kobold Cleric that was flinging fire bolts and the Kobold Leader whom they haven't encountered yet.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Module Research: L1 The Secret of Bone Hill

I've been reading the AD&D module, L1: The Secret of Bone Hill, to see if it would be a good place to run a 5th Edition D&D game.  It would take some tweaking for sure, but it would have to wait until the Dungeon Masters Guide comes out so I can see how monsters are designed/built and see how the magic items have changed for the new edition.  Also I would need to see how treasure distribution is implemented.  In skimming through the module, there are a bunch of magic items and loads of treasure I think would imbalance the game.  It may be okay for the 1st Edition of AD&D, but might not fit the design philosophies of 5th Edition.
Scarlet Witch scores a crit!

I went to the internet to see if others had run a campaign using this module and any reviews of it that might be helpful in running the game in general.  I found this blog The Restenford Project that discusses the module and provides some interesting insights and suppositions to the rumors tables and the NPCs in the module.  This really helps to flesh out the sparse NPC backgrounds and provides some food for thought.

Though it is never really stated what exactly the "secret" of Bone Hill is, there are certainly mysteries within that an enterprising DM can expand upon.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5E Ice Toad

Illustration from G1-2-3 Against The Giants Supermodule

Large beast, neutral
Armor Class: 11 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 57 (5d10+32)
Speed: 20 ft.
    STR         DEX       CON       INT        WIS       CHA
  15 (+2)     13 (+1)    13 (+1)     8 (-1)     10 (+0)     3 (-4)
Damage Immunities: cold 
Senses: darkvision 30 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages: ---
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Standing Leap.  The ice toad's long jump is up to 20 feet and it's high jump is up to 10 feet, with or withought a running start.

Cold Aura. The ice toad radiates cold in a 10 foot radius from it's body.  Any target within this radius at the start of their turn will take 3d6 cold damage.  A successful Constitution saving throw means the target takes half damage.

 Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft, one target, Hit: 12 (3d4+6) piercing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 14).  Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the ice toad can't bite another target.

Swallow.  The ice toad makes one bite attack against a Medium or smaller target it is grappling.  If the attack hits, the target is swallowed, and the grapple ends.  The swallowed target is blinded and restrained, it has total cover against attacks amd other effects outside the ice toad, and it takes 10 (3d6) acid damage at the start of each of the ice toad's turns.  The ice toad can have only one target swallowed at a time.
  If the ice toad dies, a swallowed creature is no longer restrained by it and can escape from the corpse using 5 feet of movement, exiting prone.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

5E Crypt Thing

Crypt things was a monster in the original AD&D Fiend Folio.  It was one of those "Gotcha!" monsters that functioned more like a trap, teleporting unwary and foolish party members each in a different direction and distance.  That can spell certain death for a party that is separated from each other by a large distance.  Fortunately, the crypt thing can only do this once per party it encounters.  It is intelligent and can communicate to party members, but will be misleading, trying to convince those that make their saving throws that it has disintegrated those it teleported away.

For a DM, using this monster might be more of a headache, since after any PCs that are teleported are now split from the party and must find some way to get back to the rest of the group.  The DM must split his attention among the PCs who are separated and possibly lost in a dungeon, creating separate mapping and exploration issues.  It can mean certain death for the lone PC(s) trying to make their way out of a dangerous area or dungeon.
Medium undead, neutral
Armor Class: 12 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 62 (6d8+38)
Speed: 30 ft.
    STR         DEX       CON       INT        WIS       CHA
  10 (+0)     14 (+2)    15 (+2)   12 (+1)    10 (+0)     5 (-3)

Damage Immunities: poison, necrotic, non-magical weapons
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, poisoned
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages: any languages it knew in life.
Challenge 6 (2300 XP)
Teleport Others. The crypt thing can teleport all targets it can see unless a DC 12 Intelligence saving throw is made.  Each target that fails the saving throw is instantly teleported in a random direction and distance. This is determined individually per each target.  Targets never arrive in solid material and will arrive in the closest open space to the target spot.  The crypt thing may only use this power once per group of target it sees.
   Direction (1d8): 1= north, 2= northeast, 3= east, 4=southeast, 5=south, 6=southwest, 7=west, 8=northwest.   Distance = 1d100 x 100 feet.

 Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft, one target, Hit: 10 (1d8+6) piercing damage
This undead creature appears as a skeleton that wears a brown hooded robe.  Crypt things are created by powerful wizards to serve as guardians to their tombs to protect special treasures.  Crypt things never leave their designated tomb and never initiate combat.  If the tomb it guards is disturbed in any way, the crypt thing will teleport the intruders away from the tomb.  If the crypt thing is attacked by those who successfully save against being teleported, it will defend itself and attack with it's bony claw.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

5E Crypt Shade

Here is another monster conversion to 5th Edition D&D from the monster section of Barrowmaze.  This looks to be an original monster created by Michael Curtis and reprinted in the Barrowmaze monster section.

Medium undead, chaotic evil
Armor Class: 9 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 20 (2d8+12)
Speed: 30 ft.
  STR        DEX       CON       INT        WIS       CHA
  7 (-2)     13 (+1)    10 (+0)   10 (+0)    10 (+0)     5 (-3)
Damage Resistance: bludgeoning, slashing and piercing non-magical weapons that aren't silvered.

Damage Immunities: poison, necrotic
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, poisoned, prone, restrained. 
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages: any languages it knew in life, but can't speak
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Detritus Form. . The crypt shade can enter a hostile creature's space and stop there.  It can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.

 Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5ft, one target, Hit: 7 (1d8+3) bludgeoning damage
This undead creature is a roughly human-shaped collection of shadows, dust, rotted burial linens, bone fragments, and other debris.  Crypt shades feed on the fear and pain of their victims.  They attack by engulfing victims within the shifting cloud of grave detritus that gives them shape, battering victims.

5E Coffer Corpse

I am continuing to plug away at converting the monsters from the back of the Barrowmaze into 5th edition D&D, as I would like to at some point run the dungeon using the new rules.

Medium undead, chaotic evil
Armor Class: 11 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 20 (2d8+12)
Speed: 20 ft.
  STR        DEX       CON       INT        WIS       CHA
13 (+1)      6 (-2)     16 (+3)     3 (-4)       6 (-2)      5 (-3)
Saving Throws: Wis +0

Damage Immunities: poison, non-magical weapons
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened,
paralyzed, poisoned
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 8
Languages: the languages it knew in life, but can't speak
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
False Death. When the coffer corpse takes 4 or more points of damage, it collapses and appears defeated. However, normal weapons do no damage to a coffer corpse and on the next round on their turn, they rise and continue to attack.

Fearful Rise.  When a coffer corpse rises from False Death, all enemies who can see it must make a Wisdom saving throw or drop whatever they are holding and become frightened (as per the 3rd level spell Fear).

Deadly Grasp.  When a coffer corpse makes a successful slam melee attack, it has wrapped it's hands around the target's throat.  The target is grappled.  Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained.  Each round thereafter, it automatically strangles the target doing 1d6 damage per round.  The grasp of a coffer corpse cannot be broken. until it is killed.

 Slam  Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) bludgeoning damage.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

5E Barrow Wight

This 5E conversion is of the barrow wight monster found in Greg Gillespie's Barrowmaze megadungeon moduleI extrapolated the Wight monster stat block from the 5E Monster Manual and made changes based on the monster's abilities in Barrowmaze.

Barrow wights are a more powerful form of wight that are found near barrows, crypts and grave-sites.  Barrow wights have thin pale skin pulled tight over the bones, abd often wear funerary shrouds which hang in tatters.  Their eyes burn with a hatred of the living, a hatred so fierce that it can burn into the mind of those who gaze upon it and drive them insane.

Medium undead, neutral evil
Armor Class: 11 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 62 (6d8+38)
Speed: 30 ft.
  STR        DEX       CON       INT        WIS       CHA
18 (+4)    14 (+2)     18 (+4)   10 (+0)   14 (+2)   15 (+2)
Skills: Perception +4, Stealth +4
Damage Resistances: necrotic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing
from nonmagical weapons that aren't silvered.
Damage Immunities: poison
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened,
paralyzed, poisoned
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages: the languages it knew in life
Challenge 4 (1100 XP)
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the barrow wight has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

Insanity Gaze.  When a creature that can see the barrow wight's eyes starts its turn within 30 feet of the barrow wight, the barrow wight can force it to make a DC 14 Intelligence saving throw if the barrow wight isn't incapacitated and can see the creature.  If the saving throw fails, the target is driven insane. An insane creature can't take actions, can't understand what other creatures say, cant read, and speaks only gibberish.  The DM controls it's movement which is erratic.  The insanity lasts until the creature is freed by the greater restoration or
heal spell.
   Unless surprised, a creature can avert it's eyes to avoid the saving throw at the start of it's turn.  If it does so, it can't see the barrow wight until the start of it's next turn, when it can avert its eyes again.  If it looks at the barrow wight in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

 Life Drain  Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8+6) necrotic damage.  The target must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or it's hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken.  This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces it hit point maximum to 0.   A humanoid slain by this attack rises 24 hours later as a normal wight under the barrow wight's control, unless the humanoid is restored to life or it's body destroyed.

5E Iron Cobra

Small construct, unaligned
Armor Class: 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 9 (1d6+6)
Speed: 30 ft.
  STR       DEX       CON      INT      WIS        CHA
10 (+0)    18 (+4)   13 (+1)    8 (-1)    10 (+0)     3 (-4)
Skills: Stealth +4
Damage Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing
from nonmagical weapons.
Damage Immunities: poison, psychic, necrotic
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened,
paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, stunned
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages: understands the languages of its creator but can't
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Magic Resistance.  The iron cobra has advantage on saving
throws against spells and other magical effects.

Spell Immunity.  The iron cobra is not affected by the Web spell.

Deadly Strike.  If the iron cobra surprises a creature and hits it with an
attack during the first round of combat, the target takes an extra 1d3
damage from the attack.

Limited Poison.  The iron cobra's fangs has a limited poison capacity.  Once it has successfully made 3 poisonous bite attacks, it's poison supply will be empty and it's bit attack will only do piercing damage.

 Bite Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d3+2) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw, taking 3 (1d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

5E Caryatid Column

Medium construct, unaligned
Armor Class: 12 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 28 (3d8+16)
Speed: 30 ft.
  STR       DEX      CON      INT      WIS       CHA
14 (+2)  10 (+0)   16 (+3)  10 (+0)  10 (+0)   10 (+0)
Damage Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing
from nonmagical weapons.
Damage Immunities: poison, psychic, necrotic
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened,
paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, stunned
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
Languages: understands the languages of its creator but can't
Challenge 2 (450 XP)
Magic Resistance.  The caryatid column has advantage on saving
throws against spells and other magical effects.

Weapon Breaking.  Any weapon, magical or otherwise that hits
the caryatid column has a 25% chance to snap and break, rendering
it useless.  This chance is reduced by 5% per magical 'plus' of the weapon.

 Longsword Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5ft., one target.
Hit: 8 (1d8+4) slashing damage.

Friday, October 10, 2014

[5E] Alternate Fighter Archetypes

I did not like the Fighter Archetypes for D&D 5th Edition.  When I think of an archetype, my mind does not envision the choices that WOTC created, which was essentially a 4th Edition Warlord and the Eldritch Knight (which was a Prestige Class in previous editions.).  I think the Fighting Styles that fighters can choose as part of their class, would have made ideal Archetypes in their own right (i.e. Archer, Defender, Duelist, Two-Handed Fighter, Two-Weapon Fighter.)

I took two Pathfinder Archetypes from the Advanced Players Guide, the Mobile Fighter and the Phalanx Soldier and made a D&D 5th Edition version for each.  These I feel are better examples that exemplify types of fighter than what appeared in the Players Handbook.  Let me know what you think.


This fighter focuses on speed and swiftness to move across the battlefield, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.

Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you have Advantage when making a Dexterity saving throw against effects that cause you to become paralyzed, slowed or restrained.

Starting at 7th level, when you move at least 5 feet prior to attacking, you have Advantage on attack rolls.

Starting at 10th level, you can move up to twice your movement (as if you performed the Dash action) and can make an attack at any point along that movement.

Starting at 15th level, your movement increases by 10 feet. Any checks made to Strength (Athletics) or Dex (Acrobatics) are at an additional +2 proficiency bonus.

Starting at 20th level, when you use your Action Surge, you may make an attack action against every enemy withing your reach that turn. This ability over-rides your Extra Attack ability. Each enemy within your reach can only be attacked once.


The phalanx soldier specializes in defensive tactics, using his shield to guard himself and allies

Beginning when you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you have Advantage on saves against Shoves.

At 3rd level, when you wield a shield, you may use any polearm or spear as a one-handed weapon.

Starting at 7th level, when you ready an action with your polearm or spear to anticipate a charging attack from an enemy, you can score a critical hit on a 19-20 against that charging enemy.

Starting at 10th level, you become a master of using your shield to protect you. Your AC improves by an additional +1 when using a shield.

Starting at 13th level, you have Advantage on Shoving an opponent when using your shield.

Starting at 15th level, when you are using your shield, all adjacent allies will benefit from your shield AC bonus until the start of your next turn. You cannot move during your turn when using this ability. If any ally moves away from being adjacent to you, they immediately lose to AC bonus.

At 20th level you can gain Evasion (as per the Rogue ability) to yourself when using a shield. In lieu of movement during your turn, you can grant Evasion to all adjacent allies until the beginning of your next turn.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pathfinder Xhuul: Game 2

Two weeks ago, on Saturday, our group got together to continue the Pathfinder campaign set in my home-brew world of Xhuul.  When we last played, the game ended with the group deciding that since some of the characters were low on hit points and spells, they were going to hole up in one of the rooms and rest.  I knew as a GM that it was a terrible idea, given that they had not cleared out the first level which was the home of a group of Kobolds.  I gave them hints that trying to set up a camp in an active monster lair would not be conducive to resting comfortably.  The group agreed and decided to exit the Emerald Spire and head into the ring of jungle that surrounded it and made a camp.  Malik the Fighter made a high Survival roll, so I determined they found a good spot that provided them with decent cover and a elevated spot so that the daily rain showers that lasted  3 or 4 hours would not flood them out.  The rest of the day and night passed uneventfully.

The next morning, the party re-entered the Emerald Spire.  The human cleric, Arkon cast several Light spells on everyone, in order to enable everyone to see in the dark.  There is a magical effect that suppresses any light source to a 5-foot radius, so it helps a little.  The party learned that they all had to stay within 5-feet of each other in order to "chain" the overlapping Light spells to get a line of sight of each other and anything they were next to.  Only, Brogan the dwarf Rogue wasn't affected because he has Darkvision.  Kord, the gnome sorceror cast his Mage Armor spell before they entered.  Arkon entered first and tripped a wire that caused a string of metal shards to ring out an alarm!  The Kobolds had set up this warning system to alert them of intruders after they discovered their slain comrades killed by the party the day before.  Immediately, they were attacked by 2 Kobolds firing arrows from another doorway to the east.  They were of course hidden in the darkness and beyond the range of the Light spells.  Another two Kobolds stealthily squeezed through a barricade that blocked off the south part of the room, that was to the rear of the party, and attacked Arkon, armed with spears.  Brogan set off a trap that dropped a vial of acid to the floor.  He nimbly avoided it, but some of the acid splashed and hit Malik.

The party made quick work dispatching 3 of the 4 Kobolds.  The remaining Kobold, retreated to the room where the party discovered the trap which would collapse a large section of rubble on top of anyone from the day before.  The party did not follow tise Kobold because they figured he was going to set off the trap if they did (they were right). The party decided to head to a set of double doors that Brogan lead them to using his darkvision.  They entered the guard room that Brogan discovered last time when he traversed the secret tunnel the day before.  This room was empty, except for a table and four chairs.  Just then, the Kobold who ran away from them emerged from the secret tunnel and took a shot at Arkon but missed.  The party killed the Kobold quickly as it was wounded from the earlier fight.  They searched the area and found nothing of value.  At this time they decided to go back and do another sweep of the rooms they had cleared earlier.  They found another acid vial trap that they did not trigger.  Brogan managed to disarm it and retrieved the acid flask.  Then they returned back to the room guard room.  There was a door to the south and a 5-foot wide hallway leading west which contained a door on the north wall of the hallway and a pair of double doors directly opposite on the south wall, with the hallway continuing west past the doors, leading to a larger chamber beyond.

The party investigated the door on the north wall in the hallway and discovered it was locked.  Brogan did not spot any traps and managed to pick the lock after two tries.  The door opened to a 15' by 15' store-room containing supplies and weapons.  Most of the weapons where of poor condition and made for a small-sized humanoid.   The supplies were contained in several boxes and crates and mostly held food-stuffs and general supplies, like rope, tools and trail rations.  They searched the room, but did not find anything of any great value.  They party determined if they could load the contents of the room in a cart or wagon, it might fetch 100gp back in Throxia.

Next, the party decided to check out the double-doors across the hallway.  Determining that the doors were not trapped, Brogan opened one of the doors, which opened into a 10' x 10' landing with a set of stairs curving downward and was immediately attacked by two Kobolds armed with spears.  Behind these two Kobolds were another two armed with bows, who fired arrows.  Brogan got hit several times to zero hit-points, staggered but standing.  Arkon cast an Obscuring Mist spell that helped level the playing field a little between them and the Kobolds, by impairing their vision.  This effectively impaired the Kobolds with the bows as they could not see beyond 5 feet in front of them due to the Obscuring Mist and since they were stuck behind the ones armed with spears, they really couldn't do anything else.  The party eventually killed the Kobolds and they investigated the stairs, but made the decision not to go down until they cleared the 1st Level.

They discovered that the circular wall to the left side of the stairs that spiralled downwards was made of a glowing translucent green stone that was different than the greenish stone that the rest of the structure they had been going through was made of.  They found a strange glyph carved into the stone above the landing.  It detected as magic and a read magic spell translated the marking as the number "One".  They made a copy of the glyph and proceeded into the large chamber at the end of the hall.

At this point we ended the game as we usually only play for 4 hours and it was our usual ending time.  At this point they have explored about half the structure, and they have earned enough XP to be about 2/3rds the way to Level2.  There are a couple of boss fights upcoming and now that the place has been alerted to the party's presence, they'll be brought into play sooner and in different locations than where they normally would be encountered.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tyranny of Dragons Minis

For my birthday I received an Amazon gift card.  I bought a booster box of the new Tyranny of Dragons minis from Wiz-Kids.  I also purchased the first module of the new Pathfinder Iron Gods Adventure Path titled "Fires of Creation".  The premise of the adventure path is the introduction of technological items into the Pathfinder world of Golarion.  A massive starship crashed in the barbaric land of Numeria some time in the distant past and it has altered that land in strange ways due to radiation, leaked chemicals and rogue robots and androids.  This really hits my Gamma World buttons and I love it.  Because it is set in a land of barbarian tribes and warlords, it's really screams Thundarr the Barbarian to me.  You can even see some influences from the old TSR module "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks".

But anyway, back to the minis.  I received the minis today and opened the box.  I received a Huge Stone Giant, a Human Paladin (which I am going to get good use out of since I am playing one in a Rise of the Runelords game), a Wood Elf Druid and a small Mane Demon.  These minis look good and my only gripe is that you can't read the label that identifies the mini on the underside of the base.  Only the Huge mini is readable because for some reason Wiz Kids put the label in white ink, but didn't do so for the other minis.  Very strange.  At least the Pathfinder Battles minis are consistent that all of the labels are readable in white lettering.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thinking About D&D 5th Edition

So, I downloaded the free PDF of the D&D Basic Rules for 5E and read through it.  I was skeptical about this new version of D&D and I did not participate or read about any of the play-testing, so I was curious about how it all turned out.  I like what I see, especially that combat has been stripped down and using a grid is optional.

One of my gripes about Pathfinder is the tactical miniatures play and how long it takes to get through a combat encounter.  Things really slow down because players spend so much time optimizing their position on the board for the best combat advantage and reducing their risk (I'm looking at you Attacks of Oppurtunity!).  It's almost like playing chess sometimes and I don't like my role-playing games devolving into a board game.  But given that the combat section discusses movement and some class abilities trigger when allies or enemies are withing 5 feet of you, I wonder if the game can truly be played gridless?

A lot of people out there in the blog-o-verse are playing 5E and the general consensus is that they are liking the game and it is fun to play.  Sure, it has its faults, but I think those are easily remedied with house-rules.  I'm enjoying reading other people's play-reports to see how the game runs.

A friend of mine let me borrow copy of the new Players Handbook to read.  There looks like some good stuff in it.  I'm not sure about the Feats.  If I were to run a game, I would want to keep it as simple and fast to play as possible.  Once you start introducing more options, it can start to drag things down.  Those fighter archetypes of Eldritch Knight and Battle Master (4E's Warlord) I was disappointed by.  You would think that Wizards could have come up with better archetypes for the fighter instead of using it for a vehicle to shoe-horn in previous edition Prestige Classes and Classes as a sub-class.  Some of the other classes suffer from this as well, such as the Rogue's Arcane Trickster archetype.  I never really liked the Warlock class.  Why introduce yet another arcane spell-using class?  What, the Wizard is no longer viable anymore? 

Frankly, I think sticking with the Basic Rules and using the Backgrounds to flesh out the character is good enough than adding more classes.  Want to play a Ranger?  Pick a Fighter and take the Outsider Background.  Play a Bard?  Pick the Rogue and the Entertainer background. Done and Done.

I may post more thoughts on 5E in another post. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

[NSFW] Now This is an Abberation

In the famous words of Jack Burton:  "What the HELL is That?!  Don't TELL Me!"

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kickstarter Rewards Rolling In

I've received a few rewards from some of the Kickstarters I backed very recently.

Firstly, I received the Through the Breach RPG books based on the Malifaux minis game from Wyrd Miniatures.  I got the Fated Almanac which is the players book, the Fatemasters Almanac which is the referee's book, the Fatemasters Kit which is a DM Screen and a ton of character record sheets, a Fate Deck for the game and several minis which I would have to assemble.  I don't really care much for the miniatures, so I'm going to have to figure out what to do with them.

I also received the Primeval Thule Campaign Setting PDF from Sasquatch Game Studios.  It's a sword & sorcery setting for use with either Pathfinder, 13th Age or 4E.  I was reading the PDF today and there is a lot of good ideas for adventures.  The map of Thule is awesome and I'm digging the place names and NPC names as it is appropriate for the setting.  I'll probably use some of the material for my Pathfinder World of Xhuul campaign.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

First Game of Pathfinder in the World of Xhuul

Yesterday, I GM'd the first game of Pathfinder set in the World of Xhuul, my home-brew campaign setting.  The campaign is centered around the City-State of Throxia ,which I am borrowing from Scott of the now defunct Huge Ruined Pile blog.  For this campaign, I am using the Emerald Spire mega-dungeon from Paizo, but adapting it for my campaign world.

The party consists of a Human Fighter named Malik, a Human Cleric named Arkon, a Dwarf Rogue named Brogan and a Gnome Sorcerer named Kord.  They started the adventure in Throxia at a local tavern named The Headless Harlot where many adventurers and fortune-seekers hang out.  Word going around was that a wizard of the Order of Saiboth (the major wizard's guild in Throxia) was seeking adventurers for a job.  Kord, the gnome sorcerer approached the wizard that was sitting in the corner table at the back of the tavern and introduced himself and inquired about the job.  The wizard, Ilaria Storen told him that she wanted a party to find and rescue two missing wizards named Tiawask and Jharun of the Order who went to the ruins of The Emerald Spire several weeks ago to research magic portals.  They have not returned.  She is willing to pay a sizable reward of 2,000gp for each wizard rescued.  She explained that the Emerald Spire is a local dungeon outside the walls of Throxia in the area of ruins beyond known as the Badlands.  The party assembled, purchased some last-minute gear and headed out the following morning into the Badlands towards the Emerald Spire.  The trip to the ruins is a short hour and a half hike through the ruins, and rubble piles of the ancient city, which appears to had been primarily destroyed when the structure of the great geodesic dome collapsed in the distant past.  Some areas have been overgrown with vegetation, and some areas are open clearings.  The Badlands are the domain of bandits and dangerous monsters that lurk and hunt among the ruins.

The party did not encounter any wandering monsters and when they reach the location of the Emerald Spire, they were told by Ilaria that it was situated past a small clump of jungle that ringed the Spire, which itself sat in the middle of a 500 yard clearing in the middle.  The party searched the area for any signs of a camp possibly made by the wizards, but given the fact that several weeks had gone by and the fact that the steamy jungles that surround the outer perimeter of the Badlands cause daily rain showers that last several hours, would have eliminated any tracks.  With that, the party approach the ruins of the Emerald Spire and make their way up a worn trail that winds its way of an escarpment of rubble to a rough sized hole in the green glass-like walls of the structure.  Arkon casts light spells on himself, Malik and Kord.  Brogan, being a dwarf has darkvision and did not need such magical aid.  Entering the structure, one thing became clear, some magic effect absorbed the light so that the light of the spells only produced normal light in a 5-foot radius.  Beyond this radius, it was darkness, so that Kord's low-light vision was useless.  Brogan was unaffected and could see perfectly in the dark.

In the module, the first level of the dungeon is written to be inhabited by Goblins, Goblin dogs and a Bugbear leader.  In my campaign world, I decided I didn't want most of the standard humanoid monster races, so Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins and Bugbears don't exist.  I replaced the monsters on the first level with Kobolds instead and tweaked the encounters.  Needless to say, the first encounter with 4 Kobolds with 1 level in Ranger made it a CR 3 encounter and the party had a challenging time.  There were two things that made the encounter tougher.  The first level has a magic effect that absorbs light, so any light source only radiates light in a 5-foot radius.  Beyond this 5-foot zone, it is normal darkness, so even a race that has low-light vision would not benefit from it.  Another thing was the floors are littered with rubble and half-melted chunks of a greenish glass-like material, making it difficult terrain.  The Kobolds are not affected by it, so this slowed the party down, but gave the Kobolds better tactical advantage to run around firing their short-bows.  Things looked grim as there were some crappy attack rolls on the party's behalf and my rolls were scoring some decent hits, but small-sized shortbows being what they are, the damage was low.  The favored enemy of the Kobold Rangers were Human and since Arkon and Malik are human, they took more damage when they were attacked.  Kord the gnome helped make things a little easier by the smart use of a Dancing Lights spell which enabled him to light up a larger area with four dancing lights, using them to overlap their 5-foot radius light to make it easier to spot the Kobolds who kept retreating out of the light radius from those who had the Light spells cast on them by Arkon.

During the encounter, the Kobolds made it a habit to fall back out of the area of light as the party moved to engage them, thereby gaining advantage of not being seen and leading the party further into the ruins.  The Kobolds were trying to lure the party into a trap, but were not able to trigger it as they were eventually killed.  The party did discover that the room that one of the Kobolds retreated to had a pull-rope anchored to a wall and that on the following round if it was still alive would have pulled on it, which would have dropped a large pile of rocks in a 10 foot area, most likely burying them.  In the same room they found a concealed tunnel covered over by a sheet of canvas painted green to blend into the green color of the glass-like walls.  It was a narrow, 4-foot tall tunnel.  Brogan decided he would scout it, but took the precaution of tying a rope around his waist and had the party hold one end.  He stated he would tug the rope which would be the signal for them to pull on it together in case something bad happened, so they could pull him out.

Brogan followed the tunnel for about 40 feet before it ended in a sheet of green-painted canvas.  He could tell there was a chamber beyond and decided to listen for any noises.  He could hear breathing and he slowly lifted part of the canvas to peek into the room where he saw 2 Kobold guards sitting at a small table with four chairs.  He then decided to go back to tell the others, but his Stealth check wasn't good enough against Kobold's Perception, which I gave a penalty to as they were not expecting any trouble.  This prompted them to investigate and move aside the canvas sheet that covered the hole only to see Brogan moving away and they attacked, firing at him with their shoet-bows.  These were much weaker Kobolds, but the players had no idea of that.  Brogan pulled on the rope and the party began assisting in pulling him back.  The Kobolds entered the tunnel, giving chase and continuing to fire at Brogan.  Managing to exit the tunnel where he had entered back into the room where the party was, Brogan ran towards the back of the party.  The Kobolds rounded the corner in the tunnel, seeing the party and began to fire into the room with their bows.  It was a short battle and the party learned these Kobolds seemed much weaker.  These were Kobolds with only 1 level of Warrior, so they only had 5 HP, whereas the Kobold Rangers had 15 HP and better AC.

We ended the game there as time ran out since one of the players had to leave.  The party had taken a beating and they were low on spells, so they decided to camp in the dungeon by barricading themselves in a guard room in a tower the Kobold Rangers they killed were stationed.  This is a terrible idea.   Their best bet is to go back to Throxia since it is only an hour and a half trek back and this is an active Kobold lair.  The odds of them being interrupted during their rest is going to be very high.  As for loot, they have only so far found a Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds and mostly just the gear, weapons and armor the Kobolds carried.

This campaign world is low-magic, so there really isn't a magic item economy.  The knowledge of creating magic weapons, armor, wands, wondrous items etc., has been lost.  The only magic that can be made and purchased as potions and scrolls.  This will make any magic items they find rare and precious commodities.  Also, there is no Raise Dead or Ressurection magic.  There are the Genesis Vats where you could be regrown, but that can have some strange and unwanted side effects.

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.