Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Fool's Quest (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

This encounter takes place on a cold mountain pass beneath a cloudless sunny sky. The characters come across the scene of a young man, unconscious and laid face first upon the ground. Above him lumbers a tall humanoid creature of solid stone (large Stone Golem). If the characters approach within 30-feet of the golem or the unconscious man, it will immediately attack the them. If the character fire missile weapons or ranged spells at the golem or the man, the golem will charge at them and initiate an attack.

The unconscious man is actually a young wizard’s apprentice (3rd Level Human Wizard), sent from a distant land to obtain a rare spell component: the scale of a blue dragon. The golem was sent by the apprentice’s master to aid him in this quest. Unfortunately, the apprentice caught a fever and is delirious. He commanded the golem to guard him from “everything” before he passed out from his illness.

Remove Disease or any Cure spell will remove the fever and its effects from the apprentice.

If the characters want to save the apprentice, then they will either have to kill the golem or find a method of tricking it away from the young man’s body. Once awake, if the golem hasn’t been killed, the apprentice will immediately call it off.

The apprentice has yet to complete his quest, though he has tracked a blue dragon to this mountain range. He will ask the character’s to aid him in this task. If they agree, and are successful, the apprentice’s Master will reward the characters with a minor magical item each.

The dragon’s lair is less than a mile away, and they will arrive just in time to see the blue dragon flying away from a large open cavern in the mountain side. The apprentice will assume this means he and the characters can simply walk in, take a few scales and leave, the mother dragon actually leaves behind three Blue Dragon Wrymlings who will defend the cave bitterly.

There are, however loose scales upon the floor that can be gathered up in 3 rounds. There is also a small treasure worth at least 5,000 gp hidden in the layer. If the characters slay the wyrmlings or steal the treasure, the mother dragon (an Adult Blue Dragon) will attempt to track them down (with a 25% Chance of locating the characters) to avenge what was taken from her. However, if the characters simply battle the wyrmlings long enough to recover the scales, and leave her young alive and her treasure untouched, the mother dragon will not pursue them.

Curse of the Ring and the Sword (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

This encounter can take place in pretty much any dungeon, though it will make more sense if related to a person of great arcane power. Somewhere in the dungeon, there is a 5-foot by 5-foot simple chute-trap. The chute itself is angled at 45-degrees and is coated with a thick, wet, slippery substance (natural algae and moss grown from years of water drainage). This substance makes it very hard to climb back out of the chute unassisted (Climb DC 22).

At the bottom of the sixty-foot chute, the characters will tumble into a 20-foot by 20-foot room filled with three feet of stagnant water. There are no doors or exits from this room other than the chute opening upon the center of the ceiling. Near the northern wall of this room is a 4-foot-tall stone pillar, and atop of it is a clear glass bottle. Inside of the bottle is a very valuable looking ring, however the opening of the bottle is too small to remove the treasure from within (the bottle must be broken).

Description of the Ring:
This ring is fashioned from polished gold. The wide band has been ornately carved with an intricate stylized flames design, offset by a row of tiny garnets. The face of the ring is adorned with an perfectly spherical ruby that faintly glows within with a rolling fiery luminescence.

The container can be easily shattered, however this will activate a magical repulse effect that causing the ring to remain one-foot away from anyone trying to grab it. The characters should eventually be able to “capture” the ring with ingenuity, such as by cornering it or having more than one character attempt to obtain it. However, this repulse effect remains on the ring until it is worn by someone (a challenging feat considering the nature of this effect).

If the characters try to place the ring into a pouch or sack, they will find that the repulsing push of the ring will simply force the ring out of the container. If secured, the ring will leap from the container whenever it is opened. Only wearing the ring will nullify the repulsing effect.

Assuming one of the characters wears the ring, they will be surprised when a grim-covered longsword rises from the water, darts with blinding speed towards the wearer, and lands perfectly in the palm of their hand, as if ready to be used. When the longsword is grasped by the ring-wearer, it will burst into magical flames (+3 magical flaming longsword). If the sword is thrown down (or knocked from the wearer’s hand), it will land upon the ground (or in the water) and distinguish the flame -- however in the next turn it will quickly levitate back into the wearer’s hand and burst back into flames. This is a very useful effect, since the character cannot be disarmed.

The attraction and activation of the sword cannot be disabled or turned off. Which may lead to some interesting situations requiring creative solutions such as when the character needs to sleep. Though the wearer is immune to the flames, bedding and surrounding furniture is not.

The ring is an artifacts of sort, and as such cannot be identified. If the characters do not put the ring on in this room, the sword will still magically seek out the wearer when if it is eventually worn. The sword will levitate/fly to the ring dodging all obstacles no matter the distance (flying at a speed of 1000-feet per minute [Roughly 12-miles per hour]).

The Curse of Fire:

Initially, this will be the only obvious effect of the ring, and is intended to entice one of the characters to use it. However after one week of use, the character (and those around him) are inexplicitly attacked by 1d4 Small Fire Elementals. The next day, they will be attacked by 1d4 Medium Fire Elementals. The third day will result an attack by 1d4 Large Fire Elementals, and the fourth day with an attack by 1d4 Huge Fire Elementals. On the fifth day it is 1d4 Greater Fire Elementals, and on the sixth day 1d4 Elder Fire Elementals. The attacks will continue on a daily basis after this with 1d4 Elder Fire Elements each day with the attacking Elementals becoming more powerful than those from the day before by 3 Hit Dice.

These elementals are summoned by the ring at a random time throughout the day, and the summoned elementals are magically driven by the ring to attack its wearer any anyone assisting him. Regardless of the character’s level, this should eventually become a challenge as the toughness of the ensuing elementals becomes greater and greater with each encounter.

Eventually the characters will likely figure out the attacks are being caused by the ring, and stop using it, but it is the trap designer’s intent for them to eventually be killed for “stealing” from the dungeon.

Note: Once the ring has been attuned to a character, it “knows” who the character’s allies are, and the curse effects of the item cannot be negated by passing the ring around to other party members. Likewise, if the ring is passed on to an unsuspecting NPC, the effects are reset. The ring always remembers who its past owners were, and the curse will continue for that wearer accordingly.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dice Stories Contest

Yeah, we’re running two contests at once? Big deal! Want to fight about it?

In addition to our July-long “Follow Our Blog & Win” contest where we are giving away a great Sovereign Stone set, we’re also running this “Dice Stories” contest until the end of next week (Firday, July 17, 2009) where you can win a complete matching 10-piece set of gaming dice and a dice pouch.

Unknown Image Author

How do I do that?” you might be asking yourself. Well, we all likely have at least one crazy story about how we lost one or more of our dice. For instance, I once swallowed a d20 while chugging down a 20-ounce coke (don’t ask how - but I did learn that dice don’t float).

We want to hear the crazy stories of how you managed to loose your favorite dice, or break up your favorite dice set. At the end of the contest we’ll pick out the most interesting of the stories and that person will win a free set of dice.

Pretty easy, huh? So what are you waiting for? Post a comment with your story to this blog entry to be entered. Contest open to anyone anywhere as long as we can find a way to ship dice to you through the mail.

Charge of the Avatar (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

Late one summer evening, after the characters have set-up a light camp in the forest and a preparing for bed, they suddenly find themselves caught in one of the most massive and violent storms they have ever witnessed. The weather is fierce and arrives with unnatural speed with torrent winds blowing in nearly every direction. Seeking shelter, the characters stumble upon a circle of standing stones.

Suddenly lightning strikes the stones and the scent of electricity and ozone fills the air. The characters will have to make a Reflex Save (DC 20) be knocked to the ground and blinded 1d4 rounds. When their vision recovers, they see before them a tall, dark-skinned man carrying a glowing spear and wearing an antlered helmet. The man’s eyes are fierce and vivid blue, and he is surrounded by a pack of massive dire wolves.

The man is actually the Avatar of a good-aligned god (25th level Outsider/Druid), who has been sent to seek out the adventurers to aid in ridding this forest of an evil cult of demon worshippers. However, as is often the case when it comes to deities, requests often come in the form of commands. The Avatar will shout the characters in a booming, echoing and baritone voice, “Come with me, and rid this forest of its filth!

Any good-aligned character will have to make a Will Save (DC 25) or be overcome with the sense of duty, and accept the charge from the Avatar. In an instant, all who failed the saving throw will follow the man and his pack of wolves as they run off deeper into the forest. Anyone affected by the command will be able to run at twice their normal speed, and easily keep up with the man, those unaffected however can only run at normal speeds. Though, it won’t be hard to track any of their comrades who run off with the Avatar: they can easily follow the distant barks and growls of the leading pack of wolves.

Those effected by the command will retain their thoughts and free will, but be filled with purpose that compells them to do as the Avatar askes. Afterwards everything will be remembered by the characters, but seem dreamlike and unreal.

After a few minutes of dashing through the thick forest, the characters and the wolves (8 Dire Wolves), converge on what is apparently a ritual being performed by a large group of black-robed humans. Each of them wears an amulet depicting the sigil of a well-known evilly-aligned god or goddess.

At this point the Avatar will have mysteriously disappeared, but the charge effect stays in place until the entire cult has been slain. The cult is caught by surprise and flat-footed as the characters and the wolves charge in without fear or hesitation to kill them.
When the last of the cult has been felled, the wolves too seem to vanish into thin air as does the storm, and the forest will be quiet and still.

Note: The evil cult should consist of about 3x as many members as there are player-characters, and should be of equal or slightly higher level.

Each of the characters who participated in the combat with the cult (whether or not effected by the Avatar's charge) will eventually notice the mark of the good-aligned god has been scarred into their right arm.

This is a divinely magical mark, and as such, any followers (particularly high level priests or druids) who follow the god will pay the utmost homage and respect to the characters; even going out of their way to assist them whenever possible. They may even be asked to do additional favors for the god by these same followers.

If the mark is divined/identified in any way, the caster will be given a short, concise vision of the events that happened this night. The mark also provides a divine courage bonus of +5 to attack and damage anytime the characters are in combat with a follower of the same evil-aligned god that the cult worshiped.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ring of the Master Elementalist (Artifact)

Written by Justin Mason

Ring of the Master Elementalist

This intricate ring consists of two interlocking parts. An outer ring of solid platinum, and an inner ring of solid gold. The outer ring, though snugly fit inside upward beveled edges of its golden counterpart, turns on the axis of the larger inner ring. The outer ring, elegantly carved with intricate scroll work and arcane runes, also has a perfectly round hole cut into it. As the outer ring is turned, this hole reveals beneath one of four rectangle sections of inlaid pearl, inlaid amber, inlaid ruby, and inlaid blue sapphire that have each been flawlessly set into the inner ring beneath the platinum outer ring. (More simply put, the inner ring is turned to reveal one of four gemstone beneath it).

The Artifact Effects

When the ring is turned to one of these gemstones, and left for thirty seconds, the gem will briefly flash, indicating it has been attuned to the corresponding element.

(Pearl = Air, Amber = Earth, Ruby = Fire, Blue Sapphire = Water)

Once the ring has been attuned to a different element, it may not be re-attuned for 1 week. If a ring is not re-attuned after one week, it will no longer function until re-attuned. One full cycle turn will re-attune it to the same element.

Elementals of the plane to which the ring is attuned can’t attack the wearer, or even approach within 5 feet of him. If the wearer desires, he may forego this protection and instead attempt to charm the elemental (as charm monster, Will DC 20 negates). If the charm attempt fails, however, absolute protection is lost and no further attempt at charming can be made.

Creatures from the plane to which the ring is currently attuned who attack the wearer take a -3 penalty on their attack rolls. The ring wearer makes applicable saving throws from the extraplanar creature’s attacks with a +6 resistance bonus. He gains a +12 morale bonus on all attack rolls against such creatures. Any weapon he uses bypasses the damage reduction of such creatures, regardless of any qualities the weapon may or may not have.

The wearer of the ring is able to converse with creatures from the plane to which his ring is attuned. These creatures recognize that he wears the ring. They show a healthy respect for the wearer if alignments are similar. If alignments are opposed, creatures fear the wearer if he is strong. If he is weak, they hate and desire to slay him.

Abilities of Ring When Attuned to Air (Inlaid Pearl Section)
Abilities of Ring When Attuned to Earth (Inlaid Amber Section)
Abilities of Ring When Attuned to Fire (Inlaid Ruby Section)
Abilities of Ring When Attuned to Water (Inlaid Blue Sapphire Section)
The possessor of this ring also takes a saving throw penalty as follows:
  • Attuned to Air: -10 against earth-based effects
  • Attuned to Earth: -10 against air (or electricity-based) effects
  • Attuned to Fire: -10 against water (or cold-based) effects
  • Attuned to Water: -10 against fire-based effects
Introduction of Artifact

This artifact is very a very powerful item, and as such should be introduced to a campaign with caution. Rather than just running across in a random treasure horde, or even as the loot off of some powerful advisory slain in combat, I recommend it be actually loaned to the characters with a specific goal in mind. Perhaps in seeking another item of power, a Master Elementalist (an ally) has loaned the ring to the party to aid them in successfully completing a dangerous elemental-based dungeon or a quest across the elemental planes.

Golden Oldie Surprise (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

While traversing across a high mountain plateau, the characters come across the remnants of what appears to have been a very violent battle. There are several dead bodies of armored humans strewn about. These dead bodies wear full plate armor emblazoned with the sigil of a known warlord or evil overseer of the region. There are also the remains of several wagons, shattered and dashed to splintered pieces. The bodies have nothing of real value upon them other than non-magical full plate armor and a normal longswords (perhaps a few hundred copper pieces among them all).

While the party is searching over the area, they will come across the body of a severely injured elderly human man dressed in tattered rags.

Though badly hurt, he is conscious. The man will tell the characters that he woke up here with his injuries and has no recollection of how or why he is here. He will beg them to help him return to his home in the village, where his children can tend to his wounds. He will also insist that the bodies of the soldiers be given proper burial rights, even if they may be the cause of his current predicament, stating, "It's the right thing to do."

In reality, the man is a wounded (1/4 hp) Old Gold Dragon. He was injured and exhausted during the battle, and fell into unconsciousness not long after assuming his human form. He was surprised to awaken to find people stumbling across the wrecked remnants of the dark soldiers attempt to capture him for their master.

His wounds are not so severe that he actually requires the assistance of the adventurers, but he has decided to perform this test of character upon them to determine whether or not he should kill them as well.

The dragon has taken up residence with the humans of a small village a short distance to the south (located at the base of the mountain). He has taken a particular liking to one of the village’s women who was widowed by one of the many past raids on the village. The dragon has taken the woman as his wife and adopted her children as his own.

All of the villagers know his true form, but keep his identity a closely guarded secret, and in return the dragon protects their village from raiding bandits, warlords and other such dangers.

If the characters escort the old man back to his village, nothing will seem out of the ordinary as several of the villagers will openly greet him by name. Once returned to his home he will invite the characters in for dinner, where he will eventually reveal his true form to them. For their kindness, he will also reward each of the characters with a (random) magical item from his horde, which he keeps in a cavern beneath his home.

Note: This encounter opens the opportunity to introduce additional storyline elements. Perhaps the dragon was testing the characters to determine if they were worthy being given a task of some sort. Maybe some artifact the dragon is in need of, but doesn’t feel safe obtaining himself while leaving his village and family unprotected.

However, if the characters refuse to escort, or otherwise purposefully endanger the old man, the dragon will immediately assume his natural form on the mountain plateau, and attack the characters. If they surrender or refuse to fight a gold dragon, he will allow them to live, but will have no further interaction with them, flying away to the north. If the characters make any attempt at this point to follow him, and are detected, then he will again engage in combat, this time to the death.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Wishing Tree (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

During their adventures, the characters, though means of an ancient tome, uncover a very interesting story about an unique ancient tree that has the ability to grant wishes to those who partake of its fruit. There is a map in the book, pointing to the location of this “wishing tree” as being located in small inlet of foliage high in the peaks of a nearby mountain range. This can be particularly stimulating if the characters have been searching for something without much luck -- simply being able to wish for it would be a fantastic advantage. Not to mention, any thieves in the party should already be drooling that the mouth at the prospect.

The book explains that hundreds of years ago, a council of powerful wizards surrounded this inlet where the tree is located with tall stone fortifications and cast a powerful illusion spell to keep its whereabouts hidden from those who would abuse its power. However, the book also provides instructions for seeing through this powerful illusion: a word of power that will enable the speaker to immediately disbelieve the illusion.

The journey up the mountain shouldn’t be overly difficult, but it shouldn’t be a breeze either. The characters can earn their passage with a few well placed random mountain encounters.

Once they have reached the indicated location on the map, the characters see no signs of an inlet, fortifications, or a tree. Instead they view only more huge boulders and craggy cliff facings. However, if the power word is spoken, then to whomever spoke it, one of the cliff facings will seem to melt away and reveal the small inlet, flush with life, with a single massive tree behind a perfectly circular white stone wall.

There are no apparent entrances beyond the wall. The wall is 40-feet high, and can be climbed with a successful climb check for each 10-feet of the wall (Climb DC 12).

The single tree contained within the walls stands about fifty-feet high and is surrounded by a lush and overgrown garden. The tree boasts about three dozen large round, bright blue pieces of fruit, each about 10-inches in diameter. The fruit can easily be knocked down from the tree with a single hit from any ranged implement (AC 15).

When eaten, the fruit will bestow one “wish” upon that individual, and anything they wish for will appear before them. However, rather than manifesting something from thin air, this effect actually teleports the item from anywhere within a 100-mile radius.

If the item wished for cannot be found in 100-miles, then the effect will teleport the next most similar thing within that range to the character’s location (Game Masters discretion). This effect does not try to twist or warp the wish, and it will honestly attempt to fulfill the character’s desire to the extent of its ability.

However, it shouldn’t be immediately apparent that the effect is simply teleporting items from other locations. The idea here being that, with nearly forty pieces of fruit available to them, after a few trial runs the characters will likely succumb to greed and wish for larger, more powerful items and artifacts. These more powerful or valuable items may be the property of a high-level wizard, or perhaps treasure from the horde of a powerful dragon, etc.

The unexplained disappearance of these items or creatures may not go unnoticed (and can easily be tracked via Scrying or a Locate Item, Locate Creature, or similar spell or spell-like ability). The manifestation of one of the wishes could soon be followed by the appearance of a very angry, vengeful adversary who has come to reclaim their property and punish the thieves who stole it.

Additional Notes: Living creatures, people, items, artifacts, or anything else that can fit into a 25-foot sphere can be teleported by this wish effect. If the tree is intentionally harmed in any way (more than 10 points of damage in a single attack, or more than an accumulated 120 points of damage) it will teleport the character attacking it to the brim of it’s reach: 100-miles in a random direction.

Limiting Abuse of the Wish Effect: It takes the tree 10 years to generate a single new piece of fruit, and if a piece of fruit is planted elsewhere, (10% chance of successful planting) it takes 1,000 years for the resulting sapling to grow full size and begin to produce its own fruit. Since the Wishing Tree is a magical creature, it is not effected by spells or spell-like abilities that affect other plants.

Wishing Tree - Magical Creature (HD: 100d8+10 / 720hp)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When Opportunity Calls (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

In a small rural village a rather brazen thief has been “cursed” with a reverse “Tongues” spell, and the effect bound with “Permanency.” The spells were cast upon her by a powerful wizard who was annoyed with her for stealing some of his more valuable spell components. Instead of killing the thief when he caught her, he instead amused himself by casting the curse upon her and releasing her back into her home town where she would walk the streets babbling indecipherably.

Unfortunately, these simple villagers soon decided that she must have been touched by the gods and mistook her condition as an omen of good fortune. From that moment forward, she has been able to get away with pretty much anything that she wants. She is provided with free room and board, many of the villagers bring her trinkets and offerings, and if she gets caught stealing, the villagers simply take back what was stolen and say nothing more about the situation.

After months of this effortless free-reign, the thief has grown haphazard and sloppy with her skills. When she attempts to steal from the characters, she only has a 10% chance of success. If she fails, then the characters will notice. However, if the characters do anything to retaliate, the villagers angrily converge on them and attempt to drive them out of town.

If the effects of the spells are removed, the thief will continue to intentionally “babble,” though with a little persuasion, she can be made to admit to the villagers that she has been released from the effects of the spell. If this happens, the superstitious villagers will still be angered, believing that the characters have interfered with the work of the gods, and that good fortune no longer smiles upon them. The villagers will then drive both the characters and the thief out of town. In this instance, the thief will likely try to attack the characters for interfering with "her business."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I’m Awake!! - Power Eats for Late-Night Games

Written by Justin Mason

Here are a few quick and easy energy snack ideas to help prevent your campaign from becoming monotonous in the late night hours. Keep everyone wired awake and alert for when the helpless maiden your just saved turns out to be a disguised 20th-level evil sorceress with a grudge against adventurers.

(Just a heads-up folks: In case you didn't already know, I'm not a dietitian. I'm a gamer. In fact, I'm sure any dietitian would blow a gasket at these recommended snacks -- and likely give you a stern warning about consuming WAY too much caffeine, strange chemicals, and possible heart-attacks. Yet, I say, to quote Conan the Barbarian, "To Hell with them! Crom will laugh at them and cast them out of Valhalla.”)

Now, on to the eye-popping, dice-fidgeting goodies --

Gamer Grub Snacks
Keep the smudges off your character sheet, and your dice grease-free with these awesome individually packed tasty gamer snacks. Probably the most substantial of tonight's recommended snacks, Gamer Grub comes in four great flavors: Pizza, PB&J Wasabi, and Chocolate. Just tear open the packet, and pour directly into your pie hole. Not to mention, they're chocked full of vitamins and neurotransmitters that are sure to keep your focused on your role no matter how late your adventures last. Each pack contains: 12g of sword-swinging protein, 640 dragon-killing calories, and 404mg of a proprietary cognitive blend consisting of choline and L-glutamic acid. Just mix with your favorite caffeinated beverage or snack and you won't even remember why you needed sleep.

Buzz Bites Chocolate Chews
Now this is what I'm talking about! It's like your own personal bag-of-holding for bite-sized caffeinated tin rations... These Smooth-tasting chocolate and chocolate-mint chews contain ginseng, taurine, and five B vitamins. Buzz Bites have an abundance of energy-educed paranoia goodness, not to mention each container of 12-chews has exactly 100mg of caffeine. That's the caffeine-equivalent to 18 cans of Coke (or 7.5 Red Bulls)! And, at under $4 a container, they are considerably cheaper.

SumSeeds Caffeinated Sunflower Seeds
Maybe you want a healthier food? How about sunflower seeds? That's healthy. Well, how about sunflower seeds infused with massive amounts of caffeine!? SumSeeds come in four different flavors: Original, Salt and Pepper, Honey BBQ, and Dill Pickle. Each 3.5oz bag contains 120mg of Caffeine (yeah, even more than the Buzz Bites) for a whopping caffeine-equivalent to 22 cans of Coke. Healthy has never buzzed so good.

Cocaine Energy Supplement
Scarffing down all those snacks is sure to make you thirsty. Why break the trend? Cocaine Energy Drink offers up 8.4oz cans of buzz-worthy refreshment containing 350% more caffeine than Red Bull. That's 280mg of Caffeine in each can (or roughly the same amount that would be found in 50 -that's right, fifty - individual cans of Coke). Each serving also contains 750mg of taurine, 100mg of inositol, 50mg of L-carnitine, 250mg of D-ribose, and 25mg of Guarana. It's like a magical potion of Wake-The-F**k-Up!

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