Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Magic Item: Shoes of Swagger (OSR and 5E friendly)

Belknapp strode confidently, almost arrogantly into the courtroom. "Honorable Magistrate Hornbrow, Polliver Binbottom is innocent of the charges against him." Belknapp had polished his magic shoes to a mirror shine before entering the room and now he had the judge's undivided attention. He rolled off a litany of alibis and reasons that his client could not have been the one that stole the missing heirloom, each one more absurd and profoundly preposterous than the last. "It is prudent that you declare him not guilty and release him forthwith." Over the loud objections from the flummoxed prosecutor, Judge Hornbrow set Polliver free. "Nice shoes!" the magistrate remarked with a broad smile as he gaveled the trial to a close.

Later, in private the two split the take from fencing the valuable brooch. "Best investment we ever made," said Polliver, buffing a blemish from the toe of one shoe.

Magic Item: Shoes of Swagger

OSR version:

After polishing the shoes they can be used once a day to influence a reaction roll. The result will be two places further in the wearer's favor.

Once a week the shoes can cast Charm Person giving the target creature -5 to their saving throw.


5e version:

The shoes have 3 charges. The shoes regain 1 charge each day at midnight. If all charges are used, roll a d20. On a 1 the shoes crumble into tattered leather and lose all magical power.

Persuasion rolls gain advantage. 1 charge required.

Charm Person, target saves at disadvantage. 2 charges required. Useable once per week.

Rarity: Rare. Character Level: 5 and above. Cost: 501 - 5,000 gold pieces.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Nbod's Room - Dungeon Magazine 51

I normally don't give much thought to adventures written for a single character, but something drew me to read this one through, and I'm glad I did. Adapting this for a full group is a simple task should you choose, or you could use it almost as-is for one PC. The scenario is short, and can be plugged into anywhere with a port.

Captain Nbod always stayed in the same inn room in the Docks District when in Ptolus. Over time he added some magical furnishings. A wardrobe, a sea chest, and a copper bathtub. They are all portals to different locations.

The captain has been missing for some time, but his room is believed to be haunted. The innkeeper has trouble renting the room, but if someone is interested and brave enough he'll be happy to oblige.

There are a couple of important NPC plots in progress in this adventure. Here are locations these portals open to:

An evil priest of the sea god Juranis (chaotic neutral) has a hidden temple in what used to be a bathhouse below a tavern in Midtown, probably near the Guildsman District. The tavern is full of lowlife types. This priest has been after a magic dagger the captain owned.

A sea hag on a tropical island also covets the magic dagger she considers a threat to her life. One portal is in her cave and another is across the atoll.

Getting the story of the haunted room into the ear of characters is not a problem, and it becomes more tempting if hidden treasure is mentioned.

Friday, November 18, 2022

The Hand of Al-Djamal - Dungeon Magazine 44

Here's another museum for your Ptolus campaign, not a side-show type with bizarre displays, but what we expect when we think museum. This one would work fine in Oldtown. (Maybe at the T intersection of Becker Street and Dalenguard Road.)

Valkner Museum has a deadly problem and the curator needs it resolved secretly. A messenger sent by Curator Valkner approaches the player characters and asks their urgent aid in a secretive matter at the museum.

They are asked to swear to secrecy before being brought in on the details of the matter. Assuming they agree, Valkner tells them  that two guards were killed last night and he knows it was the mummies he was preparing for display. When he acquired them the mummies were just bandage wrapped corpses and not undead. He reveals what he wants kept secret, that he stole them from a tomb in Uraq (sounthern continent) along with several other grave goods which are already on display.

Smarter than to hire just anyone, he'll ask if they've ever taken anything from a tomb or grave, and then continue with details of the task. Valkner wants the mummies dealt with, carefully, so they cannot harm anyone else. "Please don't use fire or other spells that would endanger the museum."

The mummies are currently inanimate in their closed sarcophagi. The sarcophagi are decorated with gold and jewels. If opened, the mummies are unmoving unless disturbed and then a fight breaks out.

When the PCs have defeated the mummies, the curator pays the reward and things appear to be just fine. Until the next morning.

There's more than a mummy curse at work here. An Uraqi who visited the museum a week prior had seen the other displayed grave goods and raised a loud fuss, demanding they not be displayed. He protested the robbing of graves and defiling of tombs. Al-Djamal was thrown out by the guards and thought nothing further of until the next night he was caught stealing the artifacts and subsequently thrown in jail by the City Watch.

In the original scenario Al-Djamal's hand was severed as punishment and he died by bleeding to death. This seems odd because it's likely a cleric would have been on standby since he wasn't sentenced to death. Here's my take instead.

Being a successful businessman, Al-Djamal could afford the fine so he paid it and was released. This of course was not the end of his efforts to set things right regarding the grave robbing. He sought help from a cleric of Rajek the Wanderer, but was actually dealing with a disguised priest of Maleskari, a god of undeath.

Convinced by this crooked cleric that he needed to sacrifice something of himself to gain the power to accomplish his task, Al-Djamal agreed to have his hand severed. The ritual took place in secret and the priest allowed Al-Djamal to bleed to death, imprisoning his spirit into his severed hand. Al-Djamal got his wish, he was now powerful enough to do something about the grave robbing.

The priest then snuck the hand into the museum setting it loose behind an exhibit and left the scene.

It is this powerful, angry spirit that is animating the mummies. It can also fight if need be, but by remaining hidden and casting spells, the situation will be confusing for the characters trying to deal with it.

On the next night after the party combats the mummies another museum employee is slain and Valnek comes to them for more help. If questioned he admits he had the mummies reconstructed to prepare for display, (if they could be) and they struck again.

The hand of Al-Djamal can animate corpses into undead, including previously defeated undead that are in some sense whole. 

This curator hires the characters to spend the night in the museum and of course a fight ensues.

Once the party identifies their real foe it becomes possible to put an end to the problem, but until then the hand will continue attacking and killing if able to do so.

You'll have to design the hand to work within your preferred game system.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Thursday Knights

More Eberron.

The next morning Ennark again performed a Divination, this time asking a direct question "Where is Tira Miron?" Again the answer was cryptic, but seemed contrary to the first:

Tira Miron is long dead. Her body consumed as the flame fed. Her soul was merged with the blinding light. Her rage endures from her final fight.

Ennark is almost certain these two divinations are at a\odds with one another. Perhaps the nature of the Silver Flame explains this incongruity.

Further travel led to multiple encounters with gnolls. The first was an ambush by small pack of them on foot, led by one larger one with a glaive. They proved to be only a minor threat and were all slain.

The second encounter was to the party's advantage when our owl scout detected a group approaching from the rear, slowly gaining ground. We were in a mountainous region and were able to set an ambush of our own from concealment on higher ground at a narrowing of the road. Once the pack was within easy range, Cotton fired on the leading member. Ennark got to employ his divine fireball, burning almost the entire pack to cinders. A'lan then charged and slew another while the rest of the party put an end to their tall leader.

We camped for the night on that hidden ridgeline and set out the next morning, wary of additional gnolls since we had not yet encountered any on mounts.

Later on our travels as we neared the highest point of the mountain pass the party approached a bridge crossing a high ravine with steep rocky sides. Again our scout alerted us to the rapid approach of mounted gnolls. Sending the animals and our collected relics across to the other side of the bridge, the party prepared to defend ourselves by creating a blockade at a narrow part of the road.

Ennark had a plan in mind for how to handle this pack of powerful enemies. A'lan took the forward position as he is best qualified to handle the physical combat. Ennark was directly behind him to make use of his divine powers in close formation. Cotton, Eldrid, and Anton held further back to make use of ranged capabilities.

Ennark called upon a Guardian of Faith placing the glowing Angelic avatar 10 feet ahead of A'lan. He then cast Spirit Guardian to occupy the space 15' all around him. These small angelic beings armed with spears, swords and bows would ravage any and all enemies within the radius. 

The first of the riding gnolls burst into the range of the Guardian Angel avatar and it struck them each with its great sword injuring them before it vanished. The ones closest to A'lan suffered harm from the swarming Spirit Guardians and the efforts of the party from range asand in direct combat. Half of them quickly fell with some tumbling into the ravine, 80' below the cliffside road.

The leaders and remaining common mounted gnolls then approached, cutting down any of their own that attempted to flee the battle. The leaders were very odd. One gnoll wore a human face and bore a triple headed flail. Another was human, clad head to toe in metal armor, the face shaped to imitate a gnoll. She was mounted on a strange beats, a giant wolf with the tail of a scorpian.

Ennark loosed his holy fireball at them doing great damage. More of the more common gnolls and their mounts were killed. The human masked gnoll managed to leap past A'lan to engage Ennark toe to toe, suffering the attacks of the Spirit Guardians. Before Ennark could call upon Radiance of the Dawn, the triple headed flail dropped him to the ground, dying.

Cotton's quick thinking saved him due to the application of a healing potion and Ennark rose. The Spirit Guardians had vanished when Ennark had lost consciousness, but he could focus to blast the powerful gnoll with three rays of holy fire. Only one struck true dealing minor burns. Then again he was felled by the triple headed flail. 

More gnolls were slain by A'lan and the others before only the two powerful leaders remained. The ranged party members and Cotton, face to face fought the gnoll while A'lan took the fight to the metal clad human and her weird mount. Eventually they too were slain and Cotton again poured a potion into Ennark, bringing him back to awareness and saving his life.

After the fight they gathered what they could from their enemies, the armor, and weapons chief among the loot. Ennark too special care with the flail. He was certain it was an artifact, the very weapon weilded by the demon lord Yeenoghu, as he could sense the evil pulsing within it. Carefully he wrapped it telling his companions that this could not be left to fall into anyone's hands and needed to be destroyed.

They continued their journey, returning to Storm Reach, unmolested, one month later.

Have a Hot Cup of Something

Time for more shameless self promotion. The blog's Zazzle store has these mugs and some other things for sale. Follow this link to see what's available. If you like something order it. Thanks!*     <----- Link

Below are the designs on three other mugs. Pardon the duplication of images. The banner design mug image copied fine, but the rest came out, well, not as mugs.

There are cards with these images, you can send to folks for whatever reason or to invite them to a special game session. 

Also there are a banner pin and a banner magnet available.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Thursday Knights


Before breaking camp and starting the return journey, Ennark performed a Divination asking "Where is the blood of Tira Miron?" The reply was cryptic: 

A famous woman nobody knows. The blood fills her veins, but does not flow. She lives today, but does not draw breath. Though she is no child of cold undeath.

This puzzled Ennark. This seemed to rule out having to find descendants of the paladin martyr. It also fit with some of the holy lore that she had returned as an immortal. What it did not do was give him any clue where to find her.

During the next several days journey we discovered we were being followed by gnolls, including some mounted on large hyena-like mounts. They often witnessed our combat capabilities.

One one occasion the party fought off an ambush by a pack of gricks led by an aloha of the species. Most of them were killed, while the employment of fire as a weapon drove off the alpha and one remaining younger grick.

On another day the party found a source of fresh water and decided to refill waterskins. Approaching the water hole triggered an ambush by two hungry bulettes. When these were dispatched, we spotted a gnoll on the ridgeline watching. As it retreated, Cotton had his owl familiar follow which is when we learned about the mounted gnolls.

The party then made camp inside a defensible cave by the spring.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Legerdemain - Dungeon Magazine 39

If you need an adventure focused on a theatre in Ptolus, this is a good one. 

There are three theatres described in the setting, but there's plenty of reason for having a fourth. That fourth can be Legerdemain. 

Complete with a colorful troupe of stand-out personalities the DM should feel encouraged to play up, the scenario holds potential for all sorts of shenanigans.

The theatre owner approaches the PCs because he thinks his director is planning to assassinate someone during the upcoming play. He wants them to work as stage hands while investigating the matter. This means they can't be armed, armored, or wearing anything that might give away that they are anything other than laborers. He's right, there is an assassination plot, but it's not the target he imagines.

In the course of the mystery, the characters will learn that the director is being extorted to set the play up for a deadly conclusion, but even he doesn't know the target, but he knows who the villain is and tells them. 

Unfortunately they've been overheard and the party becomes the target of an ambush by the villains hired goons. During the skirmish it is quite possible both sides capture members of the other, leading to a potential hostage swap.

The writer of the adventure has grand visions about back and forth combats that can take place during the play with everyone running about the theatre madly while the show goes on. We DMs know all about the best laid plans, but it is certainly worth the effort to see if you can make that happen.

If the party succeeds, one of them becomes the center of attention for a fickle actress.

And all of this takes place with the party mostly disarmed.

The biggest drawback for me is all of the ink used describing the layout of the theatre. The writer could have minimized the details to just a little more than what is expected to be used in the course of events. There's some conversion work to be done, but it doesn't have to be extensive.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

New Magic Item/Monster - Strangler's Belt (OSR and 5E friendly)

Embuk stared at the third consecutive murder victim in as many days. All had been strangled to death, all with the pattern of a belt, but a different one in each instance. They were each missing their belt. "Odd," he thought. "Why would the murderer take their belts?"

Magic Item/Monster: Strangler's Belt

The magic item is sentient. Its only desire is to strangle it's owner and move on to find a new one. It is detectable as evil. After every third killing the murdering belt goes dormant during which time it is likely to have traveled some distance before needing to slay again.

Immediately after strangling its owner in their sleep, the belt slithers away, finding another belt wearer, absorbing their belt and taking its appearance.

DM's can treat this as an animated magic item, a golem, or anything in between to determine its stats should characters discover and try to destroy it. The belt will always fight back.

Give it advantage or magic resistance on saves against magic to make it tougher for higher level characters.

Experienced earned should be appropriate to the CR or monster level chosen, along with a bonus for figuring out the mystery.


Saturday, November 5, 2022

Dwarven Forge Kickstarter: Cities Untold, splitting it in two

Word now is that the Cities Untold Kickstarter became too complex for its own good and is being split into two Kickstarters a year apart.

The upcoming part (Low Town - wood) is still scheduled for January 15th 2023. The other (High Town - ashlar) part will happen some time in 2024.

Apparently there are number of other projects in the works including a board game collaboration with a large company (not sure who). Other things mentioned include Catacombs, Sewers, etc.

We will have to wait and see just what effect this will have on pledges.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Asflag's Unintentional Emporium - Dungeon Magazine 36

Here's one where a careless wizard gets snatched away by something he summoned and now things from his abode are getting out and causing trouble.

In Ptolus, summoned extraplanar creatures like demons and devils, cannot return to their home plane since the world in which Ptolus is located happens to be a prison plane. The adventure wasn't written for Ptolus of course, so the DM needs to figure out where the wizard went and if he's still alive. Maybe he was taken to the Dark Reliquary to be tortured and killed.

Meanwhile, the authorities are looking to hire some delvers to go in and put a stop to the troubles that are coming out. A successful mission will earn the party 2,000 gold pieces.

There are other interested parties that want something from the place as well. Three different magic users each try to arrange secret meetings with the party (somehow they each learned that the party got the job) to discuss what they each want.

The first is interested in acquiring anything in the way of magic that will help see or hear over distances. He offers 1,000 gold just for searching and bringing these things out. Negotiation of the price is a separate discussion.

The second wants the wizards flying carpet and offers 2,000 gold for it. She can be negotiated upward, but not too much higher.

The third is a bit of a jerk. He wants to know when the place is safe to move into and wants everything on the property to remain. His offer begins at 5,000 gold and can go as high as 7,000 gold. If rebuffed he will attack and run off.

The wizard's estate is larger than just a tower, though it does have one. His garden and abode are well defended by all sorts of traps and creatures. That includes some zombie gardeners which the city would be quite upset about if they knew. 

Placement of the estate could be anywhere, but it feels like it would work best in Midtown, maybe along Vanish Row near the river.

If the party thinks this would make a good place to make into a home and headquarters they'll need to go through all sorts of official hurdles and spend some serious money to make that a legal reality. The jerk wizard would also challenge their efforts to gain the deed, assuming he's still alive.

Plenty of fun to be had with this scenario.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

New (Plot Device) Monster: The Graven Tongue (Updated for 5e)

"Three miles deep, by seventeen northeast, by two miles west. That's where Tharsella said we would find her alleged oracle." Fiddry remarked.

"This cavern alone could be a mile or more across, and a hundred feet floor to ceiling. It could be anywhere in here Fiddry." Loren remarked, peering as far into the darkness as her vision would permit.

Murnon moved ahead, trying to portray confidence while shuddering slightly beneath his heavy armor. "Hope we find this thing and get what we want soon. I feel mighty uncomfortable, like something is watching."

That's when Rejjet screamed and their gnome guide Underfoot fell unconscious.

A great, moist thing, dark and warty brushed among the group physically, and something worse. Their minds reeled as if assaulted by the unknowable intruding on each person's sense of being.

Fiddry couldn't move as if frozen in his tracks. "RUN!" his mind yelled, nearly drowned out by the babbling cascading within his head in eons of lost languages. Ideas, flashed in warped, unreal imagery, through Loren's eyes. She cried tears of blood and covered them with her hands as if pleading for the agony of sight to end. And end it did as her vision left her. Murnon, writhing about upon the floor of the cavern was screaming about the worms he felt sure were devouring him from within.

It seemed like hours before their nausea passed, and they could make even the slightest sense of what had transpired. All felt as if some part of their essence had been taken from them or violated horribly. None of them dared speak of the things lingering in their minds. It would be a week before they began to guess at what the oracle meant, and longer before they gained an inkling about their role in the prophesy.

New Monster: The Graven Tongue
The Graven Tongue is thought to be an ancient flesh construct left behind by foul beings beyond understanding, though it may in truth really be a tasting organ protruding into this reality from a being beyond the world.

The tongue is a flesh construct 135 feet long and varies in thickness from 1 foot at the tip to 90 feet at the base with tendrils like veins stretching further from the base and into the cavern ceiling.  It has a mottled coloration including tones of purple, black, ochre, blood red, and flesh, with indecipherable runes carved into the slimy surface. A spell that allows understanding some of the runes will cause those reading them to suffer 4d6 psychic damage (half with DC18 Charisma saving throw) and a level of exhaustion.

The Graven Tongue hangs down from ceiling, reaching out to "taste" creatures passing within its sensory range, detecting them by their life or mental essence. Anyone touched directly by the appendage suffers a level of exhaustion in addition to the other affects. In the process of tasting creatures, they are slammed with incredible volumes of information, most of which they cannot possibly comprehend initially, but gradually some information may become clear enough to be acted upon, rightly or wrongly.

Encountering the Graven Tongue causes a one time 8d6 psychic damage to all within 40 feet, DC18 Charisma save for half. Creatures are also afflicted with at least one condition determined randomly, no save. Conditions persist until magically cured by Lesser or Greater Restoration, or more powerful magic. Returning to the Graven Tongue on future occasions will result in experiencing the damage and conditions again.

Charisma saves instead of Wisdom saves because it is affecting the creatures sense of being or self.

Random Condition Table (roll a D20)

1 - Blinded
2 - Charmed (DM should determine the meaning of this for their plot)
3 - Deafened
4 - Frightened
5 - Grappled (the tongue spends a round enjoying some flavor, creature suffers an extra 2d4 psychic damage)
6 - Incapacitated
7 - Invisible - (creature is straddling the line between worlds for one round)
8 - Paralyzed
9 - Petrified (creature is merged with the nature of another plane, turned to an element or combination useful for the plot)
10 - Poisoned
11 - Prone
12 - Restrained (the Beyond holds fast to the creature, as if studying it, for one round)
13 - Stunned
14 - Unconscious
15 - Roll twice combining conditions if possible
16 - Roll twice combining conditions if possible
17 - Roll until determining a condition, creature takes extra 2d6 psychic damage
18 - Roll until determining a condition, creature takes extra 2d8 psychic damage
19 - Roll until determining two conditions, combining them if possible, and creature takes extra 2d4 psychic damage
20 - Roll three times for conditions, combine them if possible and creature takes an extra 4d4 psychic damage.

The Graven Tongue does not engage in actual combat. If damaged by attacks causing a total of 25 points, it withdraws from the world on the following round.