Friday, December 2, 2016

Monster: Gill-man

I kind of want to see it, but it'd probably be garbage.

The Gill-man

HD: 5+1
AC: 15
Attacks: 2 Claws (1d6 each)
Saving Throw: 10
Special: Underwater, Regenerate (Slow)

The Gill-man is an amphibian-humanoid that is known to inhabit out of the corner lagoons in far away reaches. He (typically it's a he, though scholars, men of science, and sages are unsure how to determine the gender from a mere visual examination) is known to stalk fishing boats and the occasional research expedition. Attacking crewmen or kidnapping fair women (perhaps his one weakness). Here is how he could appear in various games / campaign settings.

Weird Adventures - Rumors of artifacts and dangerous denizens have reached the CityU (City of Empire University). To the men and women of paleontology this creature represents the first evolutionary step between the creatures that crawled out of the sea and modern man (if you believe in all of that science mumbo-jumbo as critics like to say). The party is a search-and-capture team sent to darkest  Asciana to recover what might be found.

Scarabae - A lot of things get dumped into the streams and rivers that flow through the great city. A lot of sewers collect not just refuse, but magical runoff from alchemical works or factories. The Gill-man are perhaps Lizardmen or some freak creation created by the chemical spill. Now it haunts the waterways, snatching up people who get too close. Perhaps a sorcerous patron wouldn't mind for their personal zoo.

Borderlands - The Gill-man is a legendary boogieman of The Great Salt Marsh, not just by Humans either. Grippli have legends about this lone creature stalking Marsh and pulling down anything it can get its hands on. The Gill-man is especially viewed as a danger and menace to the Saurians (the Lizardmen of the Borderlands) who is said to be able to decimate entire spawning grounds. If there is truly a Gill-man is either a misunderstood creature or a muck dwelling fiend.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

10 Fighters You'll Meet in the Borderlands.

Here are 10 warrior-types you might meet in my Borderlands campaign. I don't have levels in mind, but my general rule of thumb includes: Novice (Low Level), Journeyman (Mid-levels), Expert (High Level).

1. Mindi Poplar (Goblin Gunslinger; Novice)

Mindi is a starting Goblin warrior who specializes in ranged combat over melee. Her weapon of choice is a sawed-off blunderbuss that she uses for up-close and personal work (she likes to press the blunderbuss into the stomach before firing- adding an extra d6 to damage.) As a Goblin, Mindi is native to the Borderland region before the Great War or the Migration occurred. Even as a native, she is looked on with suspicion by other natives to the area (Humans & Minotaur) and gets along with her fellow smaller natives (Gnomes, Ratfolk). She also gets along with migrant Orcs as opposed to Elves, which are cold and callous towards a Goblin. She current is freelance in the Saturn Gulch area, but would like to get into prospecting.

2. Gurnin Warboar (Orc Fighter; Journeyman)

Gurnin is a veteran of the Great War. When it was a time that Orcs fought for either the Kingdom or Empire, Gurnin's people choose to side with the Humans of the Kingdom over the Elves of the Empire. For their service, they were paid and exiled at sword point to fill the Borderlands between these two regions that serve as a buffer state to prevent future warfare. All of this has left Gurnin a bitter, bitter drinker. When not drinking he often works the docks of the Borderland's greatest city: Port Kyna. His work is typically security against thieves pilfering ship's goods in warehouses. In this, his record is a solid fighter who has a couple of notches on his hilt and a couple of Thieves looking to put a knife in his back for his 'crimes' against them. Part of him wants to bring it on, especially if they're Human.

4. Flick of the Mire (Grippli Archer; Journeyman)

Flick is a Grippli archer and 'protector' of Greenburg, one of the many remote villages that dot the Great Salt Marsh that is just south of Port Kyna and west of the smaller, more rowdy Seaside. Flick is a wandering adventurer, hunter, and part-time town defender when he's between jobs. His main roll within the region is to serve as a guide to newcomers who are interested in exploring the many Elven forts that were left since the Great War. His own predilections concern Elven art and jewels. He loves them and is in wonder when he finds they could be magical. If a party wants to hire Flick for a job and have little startup cash, make sure to tell him they are interested in Elven ruins- he'll be sure to lower his price for a larger share of the treasure.

5. Sophia Knot (Human Fighter; Expert)

Dark haired with a running scar just under her eye and down the side of her face is the so-called 'Lightning of the North'. Sophia Knot is a former fighter in the Great War and was one of the first pressed into service when the Elves had gained and upper hand in the fighting. She was known for being quite good with a shortsword, quickly striking and thrusting- as if her blade was made to cut through Elven mail into the flesh. What she at first thought was good luck turned out that her heirloom blade she carried was magical, even better, the energies within the blade had a craving for blood. She was blessed by such a lucky find, but also cursed to take bolder chances. So far, her first major scar has yet to do irreparable damage to her senses- but the lesson of that Elven blade lashing at her reminds her that discipline and a degree of caution can also win the day. She currently works out of Port Kyna, having grown disgusted with the Kingdom for its treatment of Orcs who fought for it and works as a sellsword to caravans heading towards the Red Hills.

 6. Elena Tylmarande (Elven Battlemage; Expert)

Known for her piercing green eyes and short cut hair, Elena is one of the Elves who was not a willing citizen of the Borderland- rather, like a lot of members of the Elven Military, she was exiled en mass rather than return home to possibly coup against the Emperor who signed the treaty of peace. Now, the Battlemage loathes the fickleness of her government and has soundly rejected the offers of the group 'the Exiles'. Nothing would gall her more than to work with more Elves, which is what makes up the leadership of the Exiles. Instead, she is freelanced, working with groups interested in exploring Elven fort ruins or Dwarven mountain fortresses. As a Battlemage she combines her martial talent with the longsword with magical abilities, often enchanting them into her blade to go off when she strikes an opponent.

7. Glenda Greenbough (Halfling Crossbowmaiden; Journeyman)

Glenda is loved by the lads up at Gorman's junction as a fun and outgoing Halfling lass. Her dark brown hair and rosy cheeks, to a lot of fellows she'd make a good bride, instead she often notes she'd like 'one more adventure' before settling down with a fellow. She currently works the river trade as ship guard. She is known to stand with a trusty crossbow which is perfect for silence, firing in the rain or underwater, and having superior range against noisy and short ranged firearms or cumbersome bows. While she doesn't mind the work aboard river barges that run down the river into the Marsh or towards Rathmer, she would prefer work that took her out of the Junction and into wealth from a plundered treasure.

8. Dwyer Sixhammer (Dwarven Warrior; Expert)

An expert in fighting from fighting the Great War on behalf of the Kingdom as part of a Dwarven Phalanx. Dwyer, unlike the Orcs, could have stayed in the North with his kin. But rather than serve at the boots of a victorious Humanity, Dwyer choose to head south where a number of Dwarven redoubts still overlook parts of the Borderlands  where the mountains meet the river. Dwyer's current interest is actually Saturn Gulch and the town of 'Hope' where mining and the scorching sun on the plains are common. Dwyer is an independent prospector with a small working mine and about 5 other workmen trying to strike the rich vein and sell it to a larger operation. Such small operations are often at risk due to angry Gnolls, bandits, or interference from larger mining operations. Dwyer might have disliked the war, but he is glad for the training and cache of magic items he has to ward off intruders and rascals. He is currently looking for a partner to help secure the mine and strike it rich.

9. Rynkall the Grey (Gnoll Warrior; Journeyman)

Among the Gnolls, the current happenings in the Red Hills are an affront. Outsiders: Dwarves, Humans, Halflings... they are coming into the Hills specifically to mine the very stone that holds their sacred ancestors ashes. This isn't a universal case for Gnolls. Some, such as Rynkall, are Gnolls who currently work with the outsiders in exchange for money and supplies. Rynkall works as both a sellsword, a scout, and translator when Outsiders wish to leave the fort towns and head further into the Hills. He advises travelers in direction and which area to avoid so as not to offend the most militant of Gnoll clans. Despite his work to try and compromise for both sides, he is labeled 'Rynkall the Traitor' by a number of Gnoll clans.

10. Slorn Banethorn (Minotaur Warrior; Expert)

Slorn Banethorn is one of the middle-aged Minotaur who remember the stories of elder bulls and cows who told their stories of how Minotaur ruled the Borderlands and how the Humans were newcomers to the East. This pride in his people has often colored his viewed of the world. It isn't that he is against non-Minotaur, but he does have an interest in promoting his people when he can. Slorn made a name for himself during the Great War as a fighter for the Kingdom. Like a Minotaur, he was richly rewarded for his service and lost little when it ended- unlike the Orcs who were forced to give up their homes and live in the region. With his new found wealth, Slorn returned to Port Kyna and entered the political arena. He has served one term as Lord Mayor for the city and retired after growing annoyed with political squabbling and intrigue. He is still a member of his party that promotes good governance and modest taxes and will occasionally campaign when not out in Saturn Gulch trying to strike it rich, or rather, richer than what he is currently.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Adventure Remake Sketch: Tomb of Horrors

Free Candy in the Mouth
Inspired by the works of John Wick I had come determined to offer something a little different today. I won't puff my chest and talk about how I arrogantly saved Tomb of Horrors from being a meatgrinder only dungeon. Rather, I would talk about how I made the Tomb of Horrors in my image: different and story-based. Let's get our story element using elements presented to us in the original module: The Tomb of Horrors.

Adventure Focus: Acererak of <CITY>

The plot's crux focuses on the ruler and prisoner of the Tomb, Acererak. His full title is Acererak of <CITY> in this meaning that he hails from a city that is prominent in the GM's world. By all accounts when he was alive, Acererak should have been counted as one of the greats. He was both a powerful magician and scholar, sitting on the board of great universities among men of thought. His rotes in the world of magic to this day are used by many magicians. Necrotic Rays? Drain Life? Animate Dead- he didn't create these powers, but he knew the best ways to harness them and write them down for others to use. Many a necromancer burn on small black alters an offering to the grim professor. His work, specifically in the power of necromancy, was all to one goal: stave off his eventual death. He was both a male and a Human at that. The shortest lived of all the races of the world, second only to perhaps Ratfolk. Even with all of the magic he could find, he knew that his doom was approaching and yet, felt he had so much to do and needed more time to do it.

Offers such as vampirism and lichdom had appeared and tempted the magician. Both had their positives, but also their drawbacks. Vampires are most vulnerable during the day, for many of them, they must rest and revert to the corpses they are. Liches must use precious magical energy to create their phylacteries. They could of course spend time recovering it, however, during that time they can also be vulnerable to blades or spells of adventurers looking to make a name by cleaning up a lich. Acererak had pondered and researched, knowing that any day his death was approaching but wanting to maintain his power.

He gambled by linking his power into a geographic location. A place where he'd never lose power, so long as the building remained. To do this he built an underground lair far from the city. He spent university money, he sold artifacts from the museum, he spurned friends and loved ones so that his money could be used to build his fortress. Believing his body was giving out at any day he entered his finished complex and to the has yet to show himself. That is because he is no longer a man, but a creature trapped in his gilt cage. A demi-lich: a floating skull that cannot leave the premises of the Tomb as all of his power is maintained by the very stones of the building. It is believed that the area where the Tomb might be located, that his anguished cries at his gamble... the cost of existing beyond means while he is stuck echoes in the shrieking valley.

Why the Players would deal with him? Acererak had stolen a number of artifacts from the university that he served with distinction up until he began his mad quest to staving off oblivion. While some of the items he sold, he also carried with him several items into the Tomb so that he could continue to research the items could include:

-A Plot Mcguffin to the player's adventure that the player's need. He has it, he might part with it for the player's help or might deny it to players as he is denied freedom to go out into the world again.

-Riches that the player's would like to take. He is happy tempt them and then torture them by throwing them into illusionary limbo or binding their souls to magical armor- something to make the players suffer.

-He controls the Green Face Devil. Which is not a sphere of annihilation. Instead it is a portal into another realm. The players need to get to that realm in order to do something and must bargain with the demi-lich to gain access to it.

How can the Players deal with him?

-The Players can always try to fight him. Besides his own considerable magical abilities his arsenal also includes magically imbued armors, gargoyles, and bone golems who are happy to break the players and throw them to pits.

-The Players might wish to out maneuver him by sneaking in and stealing what they wish. Be warned! Polished stones, specifically rubies, serve as extra eyes for Acererak. What they see, he sees as well.

-Deal with him by offering him some magical object, news from around the world, or an exotic creature. The player's might be able to secure passage for a brief window from Acererak in exchange for work. He loves magical items to study, even better if they can be manipulated by his telekinesis rather than his hands. News he likes to focus on when he can get it is on other wizards who are active in the world.