Sunday, May 24, 2015

World Building idea, Sinkhole

So this thread over at EnWorld got me remembering a campaign that I was thinking about running at some point, but never got out of my head and onto the screen.  It would be heavy into resource management, which is a departure for me.

I tend to run my games more "heroic" and usually handwave resource management.  Spellcasters usually have the light cantrip, so no need for torches and lanterns.  After about 3rd level or so, I declare that the party is experienced adventurers, so any mundane equipment (within reason) that they want to pull out of their backpack is there, without having to have specifically purchased it before hand.  I do charge higher monthly upkeep costs to reflect this, though.

Back to the 4x strategy game aspect, though.  For those not familiar with the term, "4X is a genre of strategy-based video and board games in which players control an empire and "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate".

The setup would be that the party would have committed some sort of political crime.  Leading or taking part in a failed coup was my main idea.  The crown, though, sees a use for them, and offers them an option as opposed to prison or death.

There is a sinkhole in that a a valuable resource has been
discovered.  Never decided what it would be, mithril? Adamantine?  Some other equally cool thing?  Mining operations opened up, but it has proven to be more dangerous than expected.  The party's sentence would be commuted to leading mining operation.  They would be lowered in, along with workers and supplies.  Given the nature and depth of the sinkhole, escape would be next to impossible.  New workers and supplies would be provided only in exchange for the fruits of the mining operation.

The difficulties presented: the workers they are provided with are also criminals.  After the failed coup the prisons are overflowing with both political prisoners as well as bandits, thieves, rioters and other general ne'erdowells that have been given the same sort of offer as the PC's: work instead of death.  Of course this would lead to all sorts of fun in trying to run the workforce, bringing it aspects of prison movies and such with having to deal with different gangs and power struggles.

Second, the leader of the surface outpost that they have to deal with is corrupt.  He provides only the shoddiest of equipment, rancid food and the like.  Given the size of the main cave under the sinkhole opening, some types of fruits can be gathered, and even land cleared for crops, as well as raising livestock.  At the beginning, the party has no choice but to interact with the surface for survival.

Once mining operations have started, which would be a priority, since that is the only way to receive new supplies, troubles of course would begin.  I was wanting to start with grimlocks, but any other underground race could be used.  I was wanting something somewhat mindless and most useful as a pure opponent, though.

So not only the dangers of mining with the lowest grade of equipment and tools, they would have to fight off a dangerous opponent, one that is not affected by the darkness of the mines at that.  An opponent with Sunlight Sensitivity would work well, now that I think of it.  The light pouring in the opening could provide areas of occasional safety during attacks.

After this first wave of attackers is dealt with, that would open up different areas for resources.  The grimlocks have food sources, of course, so this would also decrease reliance on the surface.

I see this as then opening into an Underdark type campaign, with the sinkhole, mine and grimlock lair opening into the Shallows.  Different Underdark races would then be available.  Some wanting to fight the party for resources, but others could also be useful trade partners.  If they are trade partners, they would probably have better trading terms than the corrupt surface kingdom.  Of course the party will probably want to cut ties and only trade with the more advantageous Underdark partners.  This would of course lead to reprisals from the surface...

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Encounter at Blackwall Keep/Tomb of the Lizard King mashup part 3

This is actually going to cover 2 shorter sessions that we played a couple of weeks apart.  I just never got around to writing up the earlier session.

Last time the party was very effective at defending Blackwall Keep from attacking lizardfolk, lifting the siege and routing the enemy.

With only three players, each is playing two characters.

My daughter has:
Lylas, drow elf rogue thief, level 5
Third, human fighter sentinel, level 4

One of my boys has:
Narcisso, half elf life cleric, level 5
Dravin, human moon druid, level 4

My other son is playing:
Jackson, human earth wizard, level 5
Kargash, half orc hunter ranger, level 4

The decision was made to bring the fight to the lizardfolk, rescue
the captives (including Marzena, the sorcerer they are here to see), and see if Sakatha is indeed returned.  None of the soldiers from the fort know much about the swamps.  Knowing that Stephan DeManis, the crazy hermit, has claimed to visited Sakatha, so they went to see if he would take them.  

Stephan was as crazy as ever, and I pulled some choice lines from this list.  He agreed to guide them through the swamp as well.  The journey was uneventful, the swamp getting darker and danker until the Tomb rose before them.

They climbed the steps and started exploring the columns of the ruined temple, with an irregular wall at the back.  As they moved further in, the irregular wall turned out to be shell-covered wires, and a volley of crossbow bolts fired from behind!  Stephan freaked out, and ran screaming away, tripping on a log and falling on his face before getting back up and disappearing into the swamp.

The party rushed forwards and was surprised to find Ebon Triad cultists, not lizardfolk attacking them.  They made short work of them, though, with only minor wounds.  I don't remember many details, since this was from the older session.

After the fight they found a sacrificial altar, 3 pools and a huge bas relief on the back wall of the ebon aspect that they had fought down in the Dourstone Mines in the Three Faces of Evil.  Stepping around the pools and altar, they found that the bas relief had a secret door in it, but couldn't figure out the opening mechanism.  They decided to use magical force to open it, Jackson using two charges from a wand of shatter to destroy both the door and the bas relief.  

Behind was a huge cave, with a mud floor that had a huge indentation in it, much like a sleeping dragon would leave...

A side tunnel led down to a smaller chamber with 8 black scaled
Kobold Boss by StressedJenny
kobolds.  These kobolds gave them a good fight, using pack tactics and protecting each other with their shields.  These kobold dragonshields gave the group fits, their ability to give attackers Disadvantage ruined at least three critical hits.

After dispatching the kobolds, they saw what they were protecting.  The next room was filled with a couple hundred lizardfolk eggs, as well as a large, three foot tall black egg.  Jackson and Kargash wanted to destroy all the eggs, and started stomping on the smaller eggs, but the others tried to stop them.  Grappling rules came into effect, but it turned into a comedy of errors, as several fumbles were rolled by the group trying to stop them, with Third and Lylas slipping on the slick, muddy floor and smashing some eggs with their falls.  Jackson and Kargash were finally stopped, and convinced to leave the eggs for now, but not before about a quarter of the eggs were destroyed.  

Lylas wanted to take the large egg away right then, trying to figure out how to turn the three chests they had found in the back of the room into some sort of cart or sled to get it out.  She was convinced to leave it for now, that the rescue mission was the priority.  

A water filled passage left the room as well.  Dravin wild shaped into a turtle to scout out the tunnel.  He found that it led away into a deep pool in the swamp, about 200' away.

Not finding anything else back this way, they went back up to the shrine and started searching for more passages, finally finding a trap door in the floor.  Following the stairs down, they entered a pitch black room.  The twang of bow strings caused the group to all drop prone which helped with the incoming arrows, but a sudden bright light revealed three ranks of Ebon Triad soldiers rushing them, armed with swords, spears and pikes, making them hurriedly get back up.  Jackson launched an exploding boulder (fireball) at the center of the formation, taking out most of them.  Most of those that remained stood firm, being the squad leaders and officer in charge, and a wizard, who launched a fireball of his own at the group.

This was a great fight.  A lot of back and forth and a bit of a magic duel going on.  The wizard cast counterspell when targeted, but spike growth centered on him forced him to use misty step to escape.  The officer hacked into the party as well, until finally Narcisso stopped him with a hold person.  A sleep spell from Jackson took down the wounded wizard and the archers that he was now hiding behind, while another hold person from Narcisso took care of the last remaining squad leader.  The few remaining cult members tried to flee, but were chased down and killed, while Lylas took out the held and sleeping foes with a slash of her daggers.

We wrapped it up here, and the group was disappointed not to find any loot besides the normal arms and armor.

Those familiar with these modules will see that I'm using the Tomb pretty much straight up so far, but added in the egg chamber from Blackwall Keep.  I cut out the magic items used by the soldiers in TotLK completely.

I made a lot of use of the NPC section of the MM again.  Soldiers made up the bulk, with the squad leaders being Thugs, and they were led by a Knight and a Battle Mage.

The kobold dragonshields are by Quickleaf on the EnWorld forums.

Labels: ,

Sunday, May 17, 2015


The next item from Dragon Magazine issue #99's Treasure Trove II is the Catstaff, originally by Ed Greenwood.

Uncommon magical staff, requires attunement
This item is a black, 7-foot-long staff of stout wood topped with a sculpted knob resembling a cat. When carried on or strapped to one’s person, you gain Advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks as well as on Strength (Athletics) checks that have to do with jumping or climbing.  Your climb speed is also the same as your normal speed.  You also gain darkvision to a range of 60’.

You can also create a globe of semi-darkness centered on the staff with a 15’ radius.  This gloom does not block darkvision, and is negated by a light source within its confines. It can be dispelled by magical (but not normal) light which touches its periphery, and unless dispelled or cancelled by you, it remains in effect for up to 1 minute. The shadow does not allow normal vision into or through its area of effect, and as such serves as a defense against visual attacks (gaze weapons, hypnotic and dazzling effects, and the like).

The staff has 6 charges for the gloom effect.  The staff regains 1d4+1 charges each day at sunset.  However, if you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the staff blackens, vanishes into a cloud of shadow, and is destroyed.

The catstaff is a magical weapon and can be used in combat as a normal quarterstaff would be; however, it has no bonuses to hit or damage. It can be employed as a weapon while any or all of its magical properties are being utilized.

The staff never makes any noise itself while tapping, scraping, striking, or otherwise contacting any solid object. Many such staves contain secret compartments for the carrying of small items such as thievesí tools, spell components, magical tokens, and the like.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ring of Energy

Wow.  Seems like forever since I've cracked open a Dragon Magazine and converted something.  Or any blog post for that matter.  We've had a couple weeks of nice spring weather here and I've spend my free time out doing yard work instead of working on my blog.

Going to be spending some time in Dragon Magazine #99's Treasure Trove II.  The first item was originally written by Michael Persinger.

Ring of Energy
Uncommon wondrous item
This magical ring always has a gem of some sort in its setting.  Upon command, a pencil-thin beam of energy can be made to shoot out from the gem toward a target. The beam has a range of 60 feet.  The target can avoid the beam with a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw.  If the save is made, the beam will continue along its straight-line path and may hit an unintended target that lies within range.

The power beam of the ring of energy loses potency as it travels outward. Against a target within 20 feet of the ring wearer, the beam does 4d6 points of damage; at 21 to 30 feet, it does 3d6 points of damage; at 31 to 40, 2d6 points; and at 41 to 60 feet, 1d6 points.

The beam only affects living things; constructs and undead are not hurt by it, but it will hit such a creature and in so doing expend its energy.

The ring of energy has four charges, each beam expending one charge.  The ring regains 1d3 expended charges each day at dawn. However, if you expend the ring’s last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the ring crumbles into ashes and is destroyed.

Labels: ,