Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christine's Gem of Life Transference

It is said that there was an ancient ritual, time-consuming and difficult, that allowed a magic-user to transfer their life into an animal, and while their life was not in them, they could not be killed. The Empress Christine, impatient with the length and cost of the ritual, created this artifact to shorten the process.

This artifact is a small blue gem about the size of a plum. It allows the bearer to transfer their life to a vessel, either an animal or a specially made object. Inside, strange runes swirl around. When placed against the bearer's forehead, it takes one round to extract the life, after which there is a glowing ball in the middle of the gem, surrounded by the runes. If the owner then places the gem against the forehead of an animal or a specially made object, the runes form a tunnel, and the glowing ball appears to fall down the tunnel. The animal must be an ordinary animal and at least the size of a songbird.

If the bearer fails to transfer the life into a person or object within one minute, the glowing ball dissipates with no harm to the bearer. Once the life has been transferred, the bearer cannot be killed. Any attack which would reduce the bearer to zero hit points or less does zero damage, though other effects take place as if the bearer took damage, excepting any effect which would kill the bearer. If the vessel is killed, the life returns to the bearer, and the bearer may be killed normally.

It makes the bearer uncomfortable to be in the same room as the vessel, causing them to suffer disadvantage on all to hit rolls, skill checks, and saving throws.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Amanitore, Witch-Empress of Thyrania

Image of Amanitore playing Senet, an ancient board game
Amanitore, sometimes called Christine especially in Adrehamaic sources, was the daughter of Fayon and ascended to the throne of Thyrania after his apotheosis. She was the daughter of the Archmage of Glantri, and had no children. It is said she ruled for 900 years. After her death, the Wars of Succession resulted in the Fall of Thyrania and the dark ages.

During her reign, the Duchy of Adreham and Queendom of Hadethia became dependencies of Thyrania, and the elves and the dwarves paid tribute. Glantri was fully integrated into the empire, and order spread its domain nearly to the Shifting Mountains.

Amanitore's personal mastery of magic has not been surpassed since, and before her only Covellia was greater. It was her runecraft that allowed such Thyranian sites as survive to outlive the Demon Wars and remain to be explored even today. She was apparently the last person to use magic to significantly extend her lifetime. It is said she communed with beings from other worlds; it is known that it was she who bound the demon king Abraxas.

During her reign, the land was at peace. War was unknown, and banditry nearly so. It was during her reign that the so-called immortal bard Aloria was first seen. Elf and dwarf were known to work their crafts together, and trade even extended into the underdark. Large ships plied the travel lanes, and there are stories of trade with lands beyond the western sea. Justice was swift and sure, if sometimes harsh.

A story is told of two women who came to Amanitore for advice. They lived together with their two daughters, but one of the daughters had died in their sleep. They asked, "Tell us, oh wise Amanitore, tell us whose child this is that remains." Amanitore asked for a sword and cut the child in two, giving one half to each woman. "See, I have given you each a child. Now go, and trouble me no more with questions that require only ordinary wisdom and mercy to carry out." And the women were grieved.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


Recently, I've been running a Princes of the Apocalypse campaign here in DC. It's been fun, but fairly unremarkable, so I haven't been posting much here. But I'm starting to toss around ideas for my next homebrew campaign.

Like most homebrew worlds, Arden Est is built off of a pastiche of various real world cultures. The last campaign, which sadly faded away rather than ending, was set in Morachi, or fake Eastern Europe. Just to the west of Morachi is Fogelon, or fake Germany. Fogelon is somewhat more settled than Morachi, but they're looking to expand. The last war with Morachi went poorly -- apparently some adventurers created an army of modified flesh golems. There's no way that's not going to go badly in the future, but that's not our problem now. South of Fogelon is Lyonia (fake France). Lyonia is far too strong for Fogelon to think about attacking, given that they escaped the brunt of the Second Demon War, not to mention their alliance with the Wemics. However, north, across the bay, is empty land, ripe for the taking. Two small towns have already been established, but the rest of the land is uninhabited. So the PCs have a writ from the crown to explore, colonize, and civilize the land.

I'm still noodling about the actual content of the campaign. I have a rough map of the area, which I'll post as soon as I can get my scanner working. I'm thinking about a cross between the Slavers series and the Rod of Seven Parts boxed set. We'll see how that looks in practice!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse Session 4

The party returned from their ghost wedding bandit ordeal to find Deliverance had finished communing with Ilmater and had been told by Kayless that there was rumor of a plague near Lance Rock. Quaff on the other hand was still a little tired from his blood loss and decided to take a day to recover. 

While the party all has particular tasks set out for them, Lance Rock is closest to town, so Deliverance, Romero, and Uthal set out to investigate the plague. 

The short trek there was uneventful, and after scouting around a bit they found a path leading down into dense undergrowth with a sign that read "plague, stay out." Deliverance called out, but received no response, so the party followed the path down to a cave which had another sign out front with a similar warning. 

After calling out again and getting no response the party entered the cave, almost immediately sporting the body of a human lying down in a passage way. Deliverance was unable to tell cause of death from just a causal observation so he asked Uthal to prod it a bit with his quarter staff.

Somewhat surprisingly the body rose up revealing it to be a zombie. Deliverance, hating the undead immediately turned undead. However before the zombie even had a chance to flee Uthal and Romero took out the zombie. 

(Courtesy of Deliverance's player)

The party walked further in finding a trio of zombies in costume performing what appeared to be a play. The zombies must have been an acting troupe turned into zombies, but the party could not figure out what play they were performing or if it had any significance. 

They decided to try to skirt around the zombies to see if they were so involved in the play they would not notice them. However immediately the zombies looked up and began attacking. The party made short work of them, Uthal attacking, protected by Deliverance's shield of faith, and Romero casting lightning at the zombies. 

The party then moved on to the south trying to find the cause of the zombie infestation. And while doing so walked into a room with a human standing in the back, with 4 skeletons guarding him in front, and a zombie looking like he was trying to stitch something together. 

The party began fighting, Uthal using his bow and Romero also using ranged attacks, however as the zombie charged them they found what he had been working on was a group of 5 disembodied hands, formed into grotesque claws that came skittering toward them attacking. Uthal was able to fight them off, however he took heavy damage that not even a cure from Deliverance could completely heal. All the while the skeletons rained arrows from long bows onto them, and the human slipped out an exit to the rear. 

Deliverance healed Romero as well as he took damage, but Romero continued his assault on the skeletons, while Uthal dispatched the claws and zombie. It came down to the party and three skeletons. One skeleton wounded seriously, but all of the party suffering damage. The skeletons then got off a round of incredible shots piercing Uthal, dropping him unconscious. Deliverance made his way up to him and stabilized him while Romero continued attacking from behind a table. 

Deliverance joined Romero, throwing his hand axe and missing quite badly. Romero finished off one of the zombies and was able to destroy a second, while Deliverance fished a second hand axe out of his pack, and threw it missing equally as badly as the first. Finally the skeleton hit Romero solidly with an arrow, causing him to fall unconscious as well. 

Deliverance, fueled by his hate of the undead, and the fact he promised the party he would protect them, grabbed Romero's dagger and charged the remaining skeleton.

In what can only be described as Deliverance's finest moment to date, he shrugged off attacks from the skeleton and was able to destroy the undead with the dagger. He then used his divinity to get the entire party back to half health. They then used what healing they had to recover additional health and go after the remaining human.

Upon entering a chamber that was much nicer furnished than the rest of the cave they saw no one, but did notice a suspicious lump behind a tapestry. Readying for battle they were then assaulted by a nercomancer. He unleashed a series of magic missiles at them, damaging the party badly, but not enough to take them down. 

Deliverance asked the human to throw down his weapons and surrender or else his life would be forfeit. The head man replied that should he die his body would return to the earth and be reborn through the earth. Romero didn't like the sound of that and the party finished him off. 

Feeling like they escaped another close call the party made their way back to town, with a bit more coin and a wand of magic missile that is sure to come in handy. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Princes of the Apocalypse, Session 3

After un-earth-ing the cult beneath Red Larch, and returning Braeden to his father, the team turned in for a well earned night's sleep. They decided avoiding town would be the best strategy, so they followed up on a set of rumors that a girl had seen a ghost. Minthra introduced them to her daughter Pell, an inquisitive seven-year old who was able to guide the party to the haunted tomb. There, they found many statues of dwarves and a door that had been rusted shut. Upon touching the door, a ghost appeared, warning them to not disturb his master. The party, led by Romero, agreed, and offered to help the ghost enter into the afterlife if they could.

They next looked at their map of the valley, and saw a vale marked on the map that sounded intriguing. After a long hike, and a treacherous climb up a steep switchback, they found [the abbey]. Upon entering, they came into a courtyard dominated by a large statue of a dwarven woman, her arms open in welcome. Below the statue was a group of dwarves, who said they were part of a wedding ceremony, and the party should join. But on approaching, the dwarves attacked! Romero had noticed the wedding group was wearing chain mail, so they were not surprised, but they quickly took a beating, and began to fear for their lives after the officiant revealed herself to be an oni! They beat a hasty retreat, dashing down the steep path back into the valley.

Wounded and weary, they made their way back to Red Larch, where they spent the night. The next morning, they were awakened by a visit from Baragustas, one of the town elders. He seemed friendly enough, and suggested the party investigate a cave with bandits and their treasure, as a favor to the town. They went there, and were attacked by stirges. After defeating the foul creatures, and Quaff lost more blood than he was comfortable with, they explored the cave. However, there was no treasure to be found, so they went back to town. On the way back to town, they were ambushed by bandits, but the party made short work of them.