Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dark Elves of Eska (Mori’edhel)

I'm back!  I was out of town on vacation for 10 days, and was able to keep up on my blog and message board reading.  Writing was a bit harder.  I also took time to set up a Patreon.  Seems like all the cool kids are doing it.  No expectations with it.  Everything on the blog will remain free, no rewards or bonus content to those who choose to support.  Just a way for people to say thanks if they want to.  Any funds raised will go towards purchasing more gaming stuff, mostly stuff from other bloggers.  If you want, just click on the link to the right.

I wanted to finish of the three elven races of Eska, but struggled a bit with my non evil dark elves.  I was stuck on them, and then one morning in my half-sleep/half awake came up with about half of what is written.  I'm still not 100% happy with this version.  I feel it's still...missing something.  I want to play on the tropes of the dark elves, but different, and not in the Eberron way.

On Eska, there are only 10 main humanoid races.  Gray, wood and dark elves, rock gnomes, surface dwarves, goblins, hobgoblins, huan'apan, humans and saurians.  None of them are going to be evil.  Sure, they have their differences and fight each other, but not evil.  There are enough monstrosities, abominations, and fiends roaming the land to fill the evil niche.

I also like each race having a distinctive slightly magical weapon unique to them.  The gray elves and their charge blades, and the wood elves lightning arrows.  The gnomes have the warforged as their "weapon".  The hobgoblins will have their shocklances, and humans will have cannons.  I haven't decided on what the other races will get yet.  I'm keeping the power level low, either causing a different damage type, or functioning like a cantrip.  The mori'edhel get the spider wands, which function like the thorn whip cantrip.

Dark Elves of Eska (Mori’edhel)

The dark elves served as the military arm of the elven empire.  Before the wars they were called the ohta’edhel, or “war elves”.  They specialized in nighttime fighting, riding giant lizards.  Since being driven underground they have been called mori’edhel, or dark elves.  They also use their liante’temol to great effect, using the webs to grapple and move their opponents.

When things started to go bad for them in the Kinslayer Wars, they were cornered and the only way left for them to go was down, and the dwarven halls of Drukat Khaz fell to their onslaught.  They drove all of the dwarves out to the surface (though some say a few dwarven clans were driven deep into the Kulaz Dharkhangron).  Now the dwarven mines and feasthalls have become the strongholds for the mori’edhel.  The mori’edhel adorn themselves with dwarven gems and gold, and arm themselves with dwarven steel.  Their goblin servants continue to work the dwarven mines, though production has dropped considerably.

Drow Portraitby CarrieBest

Like many other races of Eska, where they live has a direct influence on their appearance.  Out of sight of the sun the majority mori’edhel have taken on a dark, nearly black skin tone, with pale white or silvery hair.  A few, the iska’edhel (pale elves), have become albino, and greatly resemble grey elves with red eyes.  While the mori’edhel revel and enjoy their newfound home, the iska’edhel long for the return to the surface world, and have become forlorn and despondent.  

The White Slaveby Mavrosh

The worship of Araushnee, the Weaver of Fate has also led them to using spiders and their kin not only in their iconography, but as warbeasts and companions as well.

While they have fought, and many times still fight the gray and wood elves, the still wish to reunite with their brethren.  They hold no enmity with the dwarves, but have no desire to give up their new found home, so still fight them when attacked.  Like most other races, they are happy to see the gnomes, who bring reliable trade, but dislike the warforged because they see them as unnatural.  They also use goblins as servants, but they are generally looked down upon, though some household goblins are treated like family.  

The hobgoblins were ferocious foes during the Kinslayer Wars.  They are hated by the mori’edhel for all the deaths they caused, but still hold a certain respect for their foe.  They think that the huan’apan are “cute dogs” in a condescending way.  Humans have proven to be both friends and foes both before and during the Wars.  They respect their prowess in battle, and still employ them as mercenaries.  The mori’edhel think that the lizardfolk are brutish.

The mori’edhel use the same stats as the drow elf in the Player’s Handbook.

Liante’temol “spider wands”
Ranged Martial Weapon
This wand creates a long, sticky web that lashes out at your command toward a creature in range.  Make a melee spell attack against the target. If the attack hits, the creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage, and if the creature is Large or smaller, you pull the creature up to 10 feet closer to you. You can only make one attack per round with a liante'temol.

300 gp
1d6 bludgeoning
1 lb.
Simple, light, range 30

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Encounter at Blackwell Keep / Tomb of the Lizard King mashup part 5

This is from two different sessions.  The first session was short,  and didn't have enough for it's own blog post.

With Narcisso's turning of the wights running out of duration, the party scrambled to open the massive bronze doors that sealed the pyramid.

Previous sessions can be found here.

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

With the wights closing in, Kargash pulls out the rope of climbing and the group scrambles up the first step of the pyramid.  They stood there, out of reach, before just deciding to climb down and fight the wights.  Kargash and Lylas had each taken a hit from the energy drain, lowering their hit point maximum, but Narcisso offset it with an aid spell.  

After defeating the wights, they tried the massive bronze doors, but could find no way to open it.  After many attempts, Third suggested they examine the hillside with the campfires in the distance.  As they approached, they saw a small army of lizardfolk encamped.  Lylas and Narcisso approached, claiming to have come to pay fealty to Sakatha.  "All Hail Sakatha, the Great Lizard King!"  the lizardfolk exclaimed.  During the conversation, they learn that Sakatha is indeed in the pyramid.  "All Hail Sakatha, the Great Lizard King!"  Lylas asked how to open the doors of the pryamid.  "All Hail Sakatha, the Great Lizard King!"  Suddenly a light went on on my daughter's head.  The party approached the doors, "All Hail Sakatha, the Great Lizard King!" and they silently slid open.

They entered into a T shaped hallway and went to the door on their left.  When opening the door Lylas and Third were dropped into a pit, while a large stone block dropped from the ceiling.  Kargash, Narcisso and Dravin were able to jump out of the way, but Jackson was squished.  He failed his first death saving throw, as Artophanx, his tiny earth elemental familiar started digging him out.  Artophanx freed him as Jackson rolled a 1 on his second death save.  Counting as 2 failures, we had our first party death.  Luckily Narcisso was able to cast a rivivify on him and brought him back.  They used up several of their potions of healing and brought him back up to full.

They entered the room beyond.  A mosaic on the wall depicted Sakatha and lizardfolk fighting against a group of fachan.  After fully stepping in, the fachan stepped out of the picture and attacked the party.  A fun fight, with the fachan stomping, and jumping over the party to block the exit.  The lizardfolk and lizard king stepped out after, but the party made quick work of them, with each of the dead dissipating in a puff of smoke.

Backtracking to the trapped hallway, they carefully examined the door on the opposite side, making sure to remove all traps.  Going in, they saw mosaics on the wall, depicting Sakatha on the hunt.  Lizardfolk and large hounds chasing an ape.  Figuring that this was the same idea as the other side, they quickly shut the door and went to the final door, finding and removing the traps.

They stepped in to a grand dining hall, mosaics of lizardfolk on all the walls.  As they entered, lizardfolk stepped out, "All hail Sakatha, the great lizard king!"  and invited the party to dine.  The group sat down and were served an unending feast.  After eating their fill, they started searching for secret doors, since their was nowhere else to go.  Finding a trap door under the table, they head down.

A short passage lead to a evil temple, where a dozen lizardfolk were watching an Ebon Triad high priest and two priests sacrificing puny lizardfolk young.  The party lept into action, quickly attacking in a surprise round, taking out half of the lizardfolk.

Next round the high priest called down a flame strike, while the priests each cast spirit guardians.  Third, Lylas and Kargash continued to hack into the lizardfolk, while Jackson fired, and missed with a chromatic orb.  Chromatic orb has become a bit of a joke at the table.  The only time that Jackson has hit with it is the one time that he had Disadvantage.  Every other time his dice have been cold.

Narcisso, not wanting to take chances with another flame strike, pulled out his coil of rope and went to grapple the high priest, wanting to tie him up.  Natural 20!  Critical hit.  I ruled that not only did he grapple, but was able to tie him up as well.  Dravin, having been on the receiving end of spirit guardians before, wild shaped into a giant spider and shot a web at one of the priests, successfully entangling him.

The party gained initiative on the next round, and Dravin rolled his recharge on his web.  He fired, and missed the second priest.  Jackson hit him with a fire bolt, and was able to make the priest loose concentration.  Narcisso grappled the priest while Third, Kargash and Lylas finished off the lizardfolk.

They tried to interrogate the priests, but gained no useful info, so they put them to death.  The party has a magical hourglass that allows them to take a short rest in just 1 minute.  It can only be used once per long rest.

Finding a secret door behind the altar, they followed it back and found Sakatha, alert and waiting.  I made Sakatha a combination of a Kyuss spawn and a lizard king, instead of a vampire spellcaster.  Overall, he wasn't as strong as I would've liked, though he did put Kargash down using the skewer ability, and who failed two death saves before Narcisso poured a potion of healing down his throat.

Narcisso, who rarely uses his spells in combat, kept firing off guiding bolt, whose radiant damage kept negating the regeneration, and the Advantage on the next strike proved deadly as well.  The skewer and the healing it provided did keep Sakatha in the fight for a bit.

The plan was for the priests in the previous encounter to fall back and fight with Sakatha, but players do have a way of ruining plans.  They countered the priests masterfully, so they made the next fight easier for it.

With Sakatha slain, they were able to soon find the prisoners.  The captured soldiers from Blackwell Keep, some villagers, and Marzena, the sorcereress they came to Blackwell Keep to see.  On the way out, the stopped in the dining hall, and let the underfed prisoners to get their fill from the unending feast before returning to Blackwell Keep, where Alustran was arriving with the reinforcements.

Marzena had no real new information about the wormspawn, only that their numbers in the Cairn Hills has increased.  Alustran does have another friend, a sage in the City of Greyhawk that may be of some help...

Sakatha, Spawn of Kyuss Lizard King
Medium undead (lizardfolk), chaotic evil
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 78 (12d8 + 24)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

17 (+3)
12 (+1)
15 (+2)
11 (+0)
11 (+0)
15 (+2)

Saving Throws Con +4, Wis +2
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +5, Survival +4
Damage Resistances: Necrotic
Damage Immunities: Poison
Condition Immunities Exhaustion, frightened, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Abyssal, Draconic
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

Hold Breath.  The lizardfolk can hold its breath for 15 minutes.

Skewer.  Once per turn, when the lizardfolk makes a melee attack with its trident and hits, the target takes an extra 10 (3d6) damage, and the lizardfolk gains temporary hit points equal to the extra damage dealt.

Aura of Fear.  All creatures within 30 feet of a spawn of Kyuss must make a Wisdom saving throw vs. a DC of 11 or become frightened for 1 minute. Each time the frightened creature ends its turn without line of sight to the Spawn of Kyuss, it may attempt another Wisdom saving throw.

Regeneration. Spawns of Kyuss regain 5 hit points at the start of its turn. If the creature takes fire or radiant damage or if holy water or holy objects are held to its wounds, it does not regenerate that round.


Multiattack.  The lizardfolk makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws or trident or two melee attacks with its trident.

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

Claws.  Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) necrotic damage. The target must also make a CON save vs. DC 11 or be cursed with a leprous disease. The target cannot regain hit points and suffers disadvantage to all Charisma ability checks. The curse can only be removed with a Remove Curse spell.

Trident.  Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target.
Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage, or 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.

Worm Infection.  Melee Weapon Attack.  +5 melee weapon, reach 5 feet. As a bonus action, worms leap from Sakatha onto an opponent. If an attack succeeds, the target must attempt a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 11 to avoid infection by the worms. A failed save means the target takes 3d6 necrotic damage. If the target dies, worms will spread through the body and bring the corpse back as a spawn of Kyuss.

The spawn of Kyuss stats are courtesy of Douglas Easterly at Swords of Athanor.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Eska's Kinslayer Wars

I was starting to put the dark elves of Eska together next, but the story behind the Kinslayer War took center stage instead.  Without shame I stole most of the inspiration from two message board threads, even copy and pasting (and then editing) whole paragraphs.

I will note that in the world of Eska, Araushnee was not banished to the Abyss to become a demon lord, merely exiled from Arborea.  The transformation into Lolth has not, but may yet still, happen.

To give credit where credit is due, they are:
Corellon Larethian Must Be Stopped
Why Did Araushnee/Lolth try to Kill Corellon?

Kinslayer War

The elves have ruled Eska for as long as anyone, including them, can remember.  Legend tells that when they first came to these shores, it was a land teeming with orcs and goblins.  A series of bloody wars lead to the complete annihilation of the orcs, and subjugation of the goblins.  

After the elven nations had settled in and began to lead the idyllic lives they are commonly associated with, Araushnee, goddess of the dark elves insisted that at least some part of them must remain in a state of military preparedness to fend off any would-be attackers. Just because they had defeated Gruumsh and his orcs didn't mean that they could relax. There were other races who did not like the elves and envied what they had.  

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance," as it were. Corellon refused to allow her to keep her people, the dark elves, trained and threatened to erase them as a race if she did. So she trained them in private.  When he discovered this, he rallied the other elves against Araushnee and her people and declared war, determined to hunt the dark elves and their goddess to extinction. Her people were better prepared for war, but they were outnumbered by a long shot.

At least, that is one version of the story.  

Why would Araushnee, a goddess of fate, engage herself in a one-against-many war of the gods which she had no chance of winning? Surely the fate-goddess would back the winning team!

The fact of the matter is, Araushnee was - and still is - acting on the orders of Corellon, who she loves enough to suffer her current deformed and outcast state. The war with the dark elves, and their banishment, was an engineered event in order to imperil the elves and torture the mori’edhel.

Trapped beneath the earth's surface, the mori’edhel long for the sun and make the primary focus of their entire culture and lifestyle the redress of the injury that they suffer. Each and every mori’edhel’s entire miserable existence, they know, is the result of Corellon's decree; he is ultimately to blame for their current state, and so each and every dark elves’ life is, in a sense, a "sacrifice" to Corellon, who becomes the iconic focus of their immense hate and the ultimate author of their current misery and Araushnee’s encroaching madness. Araushnee makes her followers never lose sight of the "injustice" that Corellon inflicted on them.

But why would Corellon deliberately engender undying enmity for the elves? Without the orcs as foes, he felt the elves had grown complacent.  Who stands to gain from endless attacks from external enemies, if not the god of protective warfare? Beset by deadly, implacable foes, the elves must pray ever-harder to Corellon for his protection. They are most useful to him when they are imperiled - indeed, as a dwindling people, obsessed with their past glories and the great deeds of their race, they are most valuable to Corellon, as their entire energies are focused on the preservation of their magics (of which he is the patron) and arts (of which he is the patron) and the defense of their remaining communities (of which he is the patron) against their dark elf enemies (for whom he is responsible and from whom he draws yet more power).

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Wood Elves of Eska (Taur’edhel)

I'm wanting to get the different races of Eska done first, before moving on to classes.  My next in line was going to be dwarves, but they weren't coming together the way I wanted to.  Since the three subraces of elves formed the dominant power before the Kinslayer Wars, I'm going to finish them out before moving on to the other races.  Most of the lore of Eska is only a rough outline I have typed out as well as some nebulous ideas floating in my head, and seems to change and take shape as I write it.  Wanting to provide pictures to go along with my ideas, things get changed depending on what I can find with a Google image search as well, since I have no artistic talent.

I've noticed a linguistic shift recently as well, though not as much noticeable in what I've posted.  I've been using this English to Elvish translator to come up with many names so far.  Before the Kinslayer Wars, the elves were the rulers of Eska, and many place names and other "older" things are named in elvish.  Since the war has subsided, the elves have retreated and become reclusive.  Humans and other races are now stepping forward, and some newer names are starting to reflect this, such as the common words that now name it the Kinslayer Wars.

Wood Elves of Eska (taur’edhel)

Wood Elfby Peter-Ortiz

The wood elves, or taur’edhel, served as the scouts and provided most of the food for the elven empire that grew and roamed in their lush forests.

While the gray elves are aloof and haughty, the wood elves are a distrustful and xenephobic race.  Where the gray elves will ignore or look down upon you, the wood elves will likely kill or capture you, just for stepping foot in their lands.  

The taur’edhel are masters of the Forenya’taur, the great forest that covers the northern part of Eska.  They build great treetop cities, guarded by griffon riders, known as the thoron’raa’roch.  Many wood elves never touch the ground during their lives, except for their hunters and bands of rangers and druids accompanied by packs of cooshie that patrol the forest floor that keep outsiders at bay.

Masters of the bow, the thoron’raa’roch and rangers supplement their normal arrows with me'urra’pilin, or lightning arrows.  These function as normal arrows, having the same range when fired, but doing lightning damage instead of piercing and having a “tracer bullet” effect when fired.  About a third of arrows in a taur’edhel quiver will be me'urra’pilin.

During the Kinslayer wars, looking to bolster their numbers, the taur’edhel used their sorceries to transform their cooshie into humanoids, and set the huan’apan (dog men) packs loose to fight the mori’edhel and their spider beasts.  These huan’apan packs now roam loose throughout all of Eska.

Since the Kinslayer Wars, the taur’edhel have retreated into the Forenya’taur, and except for a few individuals, rarely leave.  While once in firm control of the huan’apan, many of them have broken free, but still remain on good terms with the taur’edhel.  While they sided with the mith’edhel (gray elves) in the fight against the mori’edhel (dark elves), they now distrust both races, since the details of the start of the War have become cloudy.  They dislike the hobgoblin forces and goblin servants of the gray elves as well.  

They trade with the rock gnomes whenever their crawlers make their seasonal stops along the edges of Forenya’taur, and festivals have begun to spring up around these trade fairs.  The crawlers are too big to enter the forest, so the rock gnomes rarely enter the forest.  Warforged are generally on good terms with the taur’edhel, since the elves find these creatures of living wood, stone and metal fascinating.  While few in number, some forest gnomes do live in the Forenya’taur.

the trackerby sandara

They consider the dwarves, or talant a joke, since the mori’edhel have driven them from their halls at the end of the Kinslayer Wars.  They usually underestimate humans, and are often amazed and surprised at their versatility.  Those saurians (takel'var) that already dwell in the Forenya’taur are tolerated, but those from outside are often killed, though the wood elves often can’t tell the difference, either killing or ignoring any groups they encounter.

The wood elves worship Rillifane Rallathil, though many are starting to follow the Seelie Court, which is causing some rumbles throughout taur’edhel society.

The taur’edhel use the same statistics as wood elves from the Player’s Handbook.

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