Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Known World Gazetteer #3

D&D Directors Cut!
It’s been awhile!  On the Facebook(z) one of my former players was talking about Slaads, and I remembered in April I ran this little Encounter for 1st Group and it went really well.  So I decided to drop it here with commentary for those that want to use it.

Pure Chaos Encounter – Optional 1st Group Encounter
Uden Stoli, a local herb merchant, comes to the PC’s asking them to find his adopted daughter, Threllis.  A week ago she went into the woods to gather some rare herbs for him and she never returned.  There were tracks found, but they were nothing like he or his son Udi had have seen before.  They went to Kerwin Straight, but he’s been too busy to help them. 

We needed an ‘In’ here.  In the confines of the Hex Crawl I’m finding that giving the PC’s so many options is both a great thing and terrible thing.  They spent the vast majority of the session dealing with their personal business in Red Timber before I could get them to commit something.  As far as the adventure goes, I had to add in a brother, Uli, here.  It gave the PC’s a more immediate contact.  Also Threllis didn’t end up being adopted.  The Stoli’s are now all Elves.  Also the ‘herbs’ she was gathering may or may not have been drugs.  This added to the potential elicit business dealings of Cassie’s character.  It also gave Gene a chance to interact briefly with Kerwin Straight, and subtly brag that he was ‘banging’ his on again/off again love interest.  This adds potential issues in the future if Straight finds out.

As the PC’s cross through the Harvest Wood the stumble upon a low small valley shrouded mist.  In its center stands a circle of stones and in the middle of the stones a shimmering portal.  Upon closer inspection there are 1D10+1 Bullywugs, 3 Giant Frogs, & 3 Slurks standing with rapt attention at the Portal.  One of the Bullywugs, a DC 17 Perception reveals he’s a Caster of some sort, is entreating the portal while waving his hands over a stone slab where the body of an Elf lies.  If the PC’s speak Bullywug, or can make a DC 20 INT check they can get the overall impression that this caster is entreating an entity from the portal to come through and take this sacrifice. 

Basically I pushed through to the Encounter proper quickly, as the PC’s were both hemming and hawing over wanting to do more in Red Timber or fuming over the lack of violence.  So I sped up the pace and got into a pre-battle skirmish with some Bullywugs leading into the ‘main event’.  The Mob is hard to please as there are two distinct play styles vying for control of that group, both ‘tolerates’ the other and begrudgingly appreciates what the other enjoys.  Getting to the bloodshed tends to re-focus the group though and that’s what I wanted.  The PC’s were cutting through the Bullywugs like a hot knife through butter, but were not getting too many single round kills, the Bullywugs have just enough HP’s to stick around and started to tie up the PC’s.  This added some tension when the PC’s realized that something was being summoned. 

Give the PC’s one round of chanting to figure out there options, another round to begin move in as these events are going on 120 feet (24 Squares) away downhill, by the 3rd round the portal makes a strange noise and the Slaad steps out.  The Slaad speaks in nonsensical comments & questions.  Each round after combat occurs consult the chart for what it actually does if it is not directly attacked.  Should the Action change roll a 1D6, & on a 1 or a 6 the Slaad stares at the sky for 1 Round in seeming mad contemplation.

The initial skirmish with the Bullywugs and the fog gave the PC’s this bit of time to evaluate the situation, at the same time it let me move all my Slurks, Giant Frogs, and Bullywugs forward behind trees and giant mushrooms.  This also let me build some tension for the Druid to pull the Slaad through the portal.  I delayed the pulling of the Slaad through to get the PC’s to move forward with some urgency to allow the Bullywugs and their minions a chance to come out of the fog and attack.  This actually worked out really well.  Also the Slaad Random Encounter table really started to make things crazy at this point.  Once the Slaad stepped through there was a mad rush by the PC’s to get to the dais and kill EVERYTHING!  This allowed me to use some different terrain effects to slow them down and get them to continue to use up resources, which was my goal.

The Slurks protect the Bullywug Druid, the Giant Frogs & Bullywugs rush out to deal with the PC’s.  The Bullywugs fight until slain, unless the Slaad flees back into the Portal.  If that occurs then they flee leaving the Giant Frog & Slurks to cover their escape.

This worked decently.  The Slaad’s random actions ended up being mostly non-combative until James got up close, then he got impregnated.  Twice.  Also the Slaad tried to steal and impregnate the unconscious elven maid.  The Wand Of Chaos Croak ended up healing everyone over and over again, which made the PC’s terrified of what would happen if I rolled a bit better.  It also made things very interesting as it kept the Druid  & the Slaad up and dangerous for the majority of the encounter.  This one was weird as no one really dropped, but there was a lot of hooting and hollering going around and decent amount of tension.  The big thing was there an enormous amount of dread brought on by the fact the PC’s expended all their resources, especially the casters.  I’ve noticed that when that occurs, when the ranged strikers and healers are tapped out THEN the PC’s start to freak out, because their ability to retreat and to get frontline fighters back into the fray is greatly diminished.  THAT is what I really enjoy, that moment when the PC’s have to really think ‘is this fight really worth it’, make a decision with potential consequence, and see it through.  In the end I just felt like this encounter was fun.

Loot – The Bullywug Druid has Wand Of Chaos Croak, 1 Random Magic Item, the Crown of Ash, & 2d20 SPS.  The other monsters have no loot.  The Slaad has 3 Random Magic Items, 2 Random 1 Use Magic Items, & 3d4 Gems that have a 50% chance of turning to ash in the PC’s hands.  The Elf is a female who has amnesia.

Crown of Ash
Aura strong divination & transmutation;         Slot head; Price 29,900 gp; Weight 2 lbs.
This crown gives a +4 competence bonus on CHA checks & CHA-based skill checks when dealing with creatures of the fey type. When dealing with creatures associated w/ fey but not fey themselves, such as gnomes, the wearer gains a +2 competence bonus on these checks.  The wearer can speak, read, & understand Sylvan, If the wearer of the Crown Of Ash is not a fey, he gains low-light vision, a +4 bonus on saves against enchantment spells, & DMG Resistance against all types except Cold Iron.

Wand Of Chaos Croak: +4 to Att, 30ft cone.  The enemy makes a  DC 15 Charisma saving throw.  On a failed saving throw, the creature can't take reactions until the start of its next turn and rolls a d8 to determine what it does during that turn. On a 1 to 4, the creature falls prone and laughs hysterically. On a 5 or 6, the creature takes no action but uses all its movement to move in a random direction singing nonsense words. On a '1 or 8, the creature makes one melee attack against a random creature, or if it has no creatures within movement and reach it then begins spouting horrible truths about themselves & they take 1d4 Psychic DMG.  After every use the User rolls a 1d20, if a 1 or 20 is rolled the Wand detonates.  Roll 1d6, on an Odd result every creature in a 30ft radius takes 2d10+10 DMG, on an Even result every creature in a 30ft radius takes 2d10+10 Healing.  To use this item the wielder must be of a Chaotic alignment, if not once it is picked up their alignment shifts, but the wand become inert to them.  Any ability to check the item tells the PC’s on a DC12 that it is radiating Chaos energy.  

Ah!  The Loot!  If I remember correctly the PC’s were excited about the Loot, but were also VERY wary about using any of it.  Powerful magic items should work, but have potential consequences.  I like the idea of the PC’s using items that could come at a significant cost.  I don’t remember where I took the basics of these two items from but both work perfectly. 

The Slaad Random Actions Table

  1. The Slaad walks through the melee ignoring the battle.  It goes to the PC with the highest INT score, sits Indian Style in front of the PC and challenges them to a game.  If they should refuse it cries with a horrific howl causing a DC 15 INT save, and then attempts a Grapple to ‘soothe’ and beg the PC for a Game.  If the PC takes the game, the Slaad grabs them, hops to a large boulder and a produces a hallowed out Gnome skull containing rune stones made of bones (Use Zombie Dice).  If the PC wins the game the Slaad vigorously shakes his/her hand, licks his/her face, and hops back into the Portal, ducking back out for a moment to grab the prone Elf’s body.
  2. The Slaad uses its claws to cut itself & begins using the blood to scrawl a strange ritual on the stones.  A DC 16 Arcana reveals that it is some strange esoteric Ritual to destroy this summoning circle & everything in a 1 mile radius.  The ritual takes 1D8 Rounds.  The Slaad doesn’t stop the Ritual for anything.
  3. Continue w/ current Action 
  4. The Slaad bends down and uses its Claw to mystically mark & then insert the egg into the unconscious Elf.  It takes its time in this action with a particular and odd affection.  It then spends the next 1D4 Rounds defending the Elf from enemies who are not there.
  5. The Slaad bellows a massive croak, pushes the unconscious Elf off the alter, & sits on their for 1 Round.  The Bullywugs stop combat & kneel.  The Slaad then says it has come to offer all who will listen to the secrets to the Universe.  It then goes into a 1d4 long seizure, foaming at the mouth, speaking fragments in Supernal, Infernal, Undercommon, Bullywug, etc., and finally sitting fully erect again.  It then sagely whispers, “Kittens are delicious!” & sprints madly out into the woods.
  6. Continue w/ current Action 
  7. The Slaad attacks the nearest Giant Frog, slays it in one shot, & begins eating it.  It spends 1d4 Rounds doing this periodically choking heartily as it laughs manically as it tries to jam the whole dead Giant Frog down its gullet.
  8. The Slaad bellows, “I have come to spread MY WORD!”  It immediately ATT’s the nearest being with its claw impregnation attempting to do this to all creatures present before fleeing back into the Portal.
  9. Continue w/ current Action 
  10. The Slaad points at a PC (Roll Randomly) & screams ‘MOTHER!  LOVE ME MOTHER!’.  The Slaad then relentlessly ATT’s that PC for the remainder of the Encounter.  If the Slaad kills the PC it holds it to its breast cackling madly.  If the PC’s don’t attack it asks for them to ‘Heal Mother’, on a DC 15 CHA or CHA skill based check the Slaad gives the PC over to the Party & forcefully regurgitates a Random 1 Use Magic Item as well as 1d20 Pps as payment.  If the slain PC is brought back to 1 HP or more the Slaad profusely shakes the hands of the entire party & flees back into the portal.  If the PC’s refuse to shake its hand it becomes aggressive & rolls Init. 

The Random Encounters were crazy, but they fit the fight, and really have left me with the desire to run Slaad’s more often.  Hrm.  Perhaps a trip to the Astral Plane and then to Limbo….Well I hope you enjoyed another bit of stuff from the Known World.

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