Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Witches Gone GLOG

I was thinking about these mythologically classic figures and decided I could come up with something interesting for GLOG versions
Firstly, they're essentially wizards, though you do need to specify 'Witch.' The only difference is how their magic dice work.

I was very largely inspired by http://chaudronchromatique.blogspot.com/2016/05/hagborn-character-class.html so go read that. It's doing something different than what I'm doing but its cool.

 The deal with a Witch is that they have INFINITE MAGIC DICE!!! The downside is that they age [sum-Level] years of age whenever they cast a spell. They get an extra 'level' for old age calculation if they take double time to cast a spell.
 This means that witches prefer to cast small, slow, careful, cantrippy spells in their day-to-day lives, but if you piss them off royally they can unleash unholy cans of curse-ass that wizards simply can't rival. So that fits my idea of them being reclusive and prone to using herbalism and countercultural common sense to advise whatever small village they live in/near rather than spells, but at the same time nobody wants to get on a witches bad side, not even squads of trained warriors. But kings and such don't want them around because of their mishaps and cultural baggage.

As an unintended but not unwelcome side effect, this also means they have no reason to wear silly magic robes for extra magic dice. While noncombat witches may dress as a classic witch for effect, or simply stick to sensible, comfortable clothing, combat witches could strap on a full suit of plate and be just as magically potent. And I'm fine with this, because this marks another divide between them and wussy academy wizards. Battlewitches, hell yeah.
But inside is an elderly lady who's sick of your shit
Witches probably used to be mighty Witch-Queens and ruler of vaguely druidic tribal peoples before the establishment came along and forced witches into the shadows. I imagine the Witch-Queens won every single battle they fought in, but ultimately lost the war due to unnatural old age, and now the Old Ways are largely forgotten and taboo, not because they're actually evil, but because the establishment doesn't want the covens to organize and get the idea to reinstate the ancient reign of Witch-Queens.

The mishaps from Witchery make it hard for normal folks to look kindly upon them. As the witches are actually drawing on their own life force as much as they can, this feels very unfair, but sometimes the spells just damage or warp the life force of others.
1-Mutation, save or it is permanent. If any pregnant things are nearby, a random unborn child gets the mutation instead. Yes, you are allowed to cart a pregnant goat around to act as a lightning rod, but you have only yourself to blame when it births an honest-to-glog Monster with a capital M.
2-Toads, snakes, and worms spill from mouth when speech is attempted for 1d6 rounds.
3-Nearby milk spoils, wine sours, etc, and a random target fails their next save.
4-Animals save or get scared and angry. Horses flee, dogs probably bite the witch. Cats immune.
5-Rainclouds show up and rain on witch for 1d6 days. Rain is mildly acidic and doesn't nourish anything but swamps, will kill crops.
6-Nearby being saves, or is stricken barren/sterile.
Luckily(?) witches have no dooms. The rapid aging sure to occur from using their full power incautiously is doom enough. And unlike lecauldronchomatique, the age of these witches is only one-way- no eating babies to fend off old age, no matter how much you may want to.

It takes a long time (or the Cantrip Trait) to be able to cast spells safely, but I think players might appreciate the idea of being an intelligent character who views spells as their last choice, rather than their first, but has a trump card hidden away in case things get bad.
Note that you don't have to be a witch to cast spells in the Witch fashion, but you do have to be trained by a witch, and you won't actually have witch levels so you'll shrivel up and die of old age only slightly slower than that Nazi from Indiana Jones III.
'Local Heleognostic not so tough after culturally appropriating witch secrets'
Witches can draw on other people's life forces. Sacrificing sapient beings during spellcasting blocks an extra 1d6 years of age loss, +1 if they're a baby or something. With this option though, I don't think the Witch-Queens would have lost the war, I think they and their altars of blood-sacrifices would still rule over the land in Aztec fashion and the motto of the land would be 'It takes a witch to stop a witch.' Witchpunk!

Dispel Magic Is Dumb...

...In most settings. Most settings have a piss-poor definition of what magic actually is.
This is an issue of semantics that can become huge. You see it to a lesser extent with issues like 'is a hippogriff an 'animal?' What about a genius talking snake?' People loaded up with Charm Animal and Speak with Animal and Animal Husbandry need to know!

But 'magic' is the worst for this. Here's some examples

Is a 360 spin attack magic? What about 720?
Giant defies square-cube law- magic or not?

What about your ENTIRE setting that the gods forged with their magic powers out of primeval chaos?
Is wuv, tru wuv, magic?
Not to mention the genre problems of a spell that basically comes down to a magical powerlevel argument or worse, a spammable RNG check. Either Dark Lord Drolkrad is too high level and you can't dispel his wicked dweomers anyway, or 'Dispel Magic' becomes an unstoppable cheatcode to bruteforce problems. Oh, the Tower Perilous is surrounded by flames? Dispel magic! The townsfolk have been turned to frogs? Dispel magic! Princess cursed to sleep until true loves kiss OR any jackass wizard with Dispel magic has a free spell slot? RIP conflict. And no, D&D, splitting up remove curse and dispel magic isn't solving anything! If you wanna wake up Sleeping Beauty you gotta find her true love, that's just how it works. Maybe you can enter the dream realm and woo her yourself if there's no designated prince charming. Given that you're an adventurer you'll probably decide to have her be possessed by a local ghost and sleep-walked to a wedding with Baron von Rotund so you can earn 2000 coins but whatever, that just shows off what great plot points emerge without dispel magic. But 'dispel otherwise permanent effect just cuz I'm level 5' is terrible, simply terrible. Warriors don't get 'dispel army' at level 5, they gotta slaughter their way through the hard way, and it should be the same for wizards facing magical malarkey.

Now, you can solve this by making a 10 page list of everything that is and isn't 'magic,' maybe establish success rolls power hierarchies to keep things 'balanced' in terms of mathematical combat exercises

OR you can agree that I am the brainiest brain to ever brain and that for 99% of fantasy settings, everything is functionally magic and you should either revamp or do away with stuff like 'dispel magic.'

'Counterspell'- Lord Sicknasty tries to cast his patented 'Sicknasty Scorcher' but Gandolfo the Original Character is having none of it and casts 'Counterspell' and so the status quo of 'whoever has the brawniest sword-dude wins' is upheld. In more freeform systems this can manifest in classic wizard-duel fashion of counters countering counters- Sicknasty Scorcher is countered by Gandolfo's Invocation of Ice rather than a generic 'counterspell' that sorta thing. But the key here is that you are countering specific things, not ''magic'' itself so it is easier to have lore-friendly magic busting.

'Wizardly Knowledge'- Rather than have the wizard be the solution, the wizard can at least always know the solution. If you're leaning more storygame, the wizard can actually just make up what has to be done to overcome the magical obstacle, or they can relate information from the GM to the party.

'Pain In The Ass Ritual Dispel' If you need to find 6 other spellcasters and then dance in a ring on the full moon as you ritually burn 2000GP worth of gold-embossed prayer scrips, it becomes serious business again, and a question of time and resource management, which is classic goodstuff for dungeon delvy campaigns.

"Reduce Duration" Dispel magic does have a place in ending buffs and debuffs so a spell that cuts remaining duration of a spell down by a round per level or so fulfills that niche without becoming a one-size fits all option. Alternate modes like 'Diminish Area' or 'Weaken Effect'  or 'temporary suppression' could also be viable 'dispel' choices that allow the wizard to protect people from magical effects.

'Into the bin' The Greek Gods either couldn't or wouldn't undo the various curses they slapped on mortals. With this option, there's no takebacks on magic, which I think is appropriate. Actions have consequences, being a wizard means knowing when it is wise to use magic and when its better to just stroke your beard mysteriously, that sorta thing. Magic run amok stays amok.

"Dispel Magic" Also known as "Double Forbidden Void Unraveling" because guess what, the world is magic, souls are magic, feelings are magic, and this spell takes something of this wondrous world of magic and straight up unmakes it, leaving an unspeakable gulf of nothing behind. Because THAT'S the sort of blunt instrument for brute forcing problems you give the players, just to see how much trouble they get themselves into with it.

"Divert Magic" What if you could get rid of curses by moving them onto willing subjects? Get rid of that wall of fire around Brunhild by setting it free as a roaming fire-monster? As you can probably tell, I'm fond of solving conflict in 'messy' ways that leave more loose ends then they resolve, because you can take those loose ends and weave a long campaign out of them.

"Dispel Fantasy" Save or lose genre. The dragon becomes a poorly-lit crocodile, the treasure hoard becomes a shipment of cloves in an abandoned wagon, and the party is declared outlaws upon attempting to sell stolen cloves without a spice permit, and they die of dysentery after drinking water without boiling it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Near-Neth Experiences

Around the 3-walled, 4-districted city of Neth, home of the eastern caliphate of Saresare, there are some places of note.
Image and concept altered from default Nightmares Underneath

Firstly, from the spring and underground aquifer of Neth's mountain, there flow from the city the Twin Streams. Many small villages follow these streams, and for the most part are unremarkable sleepy goat herding villages. The streams eventually lead to Alnarij and Akbarang, renamed for their princes, which are a few days ride apart and are governed by jealous princes in constant dispute over water.

Alnarij is known for its impressive orchards, peaceful lands, marble quarries, and allegedly beautiful women. Their 'Prince of Flowers' is also regarded as weak in battle but wily in mercantilism and so more often favored by the Sultan of Neth. Higher-class political criminals chased out of Geth sometimes seek refuge in the loosely-policed lands of Alnarij if Neth itself seems too high profile, and if such things get out of control Akbarang usually assists in hunting down these escaped nobles and whatever support they rustle up. In terms of Nightmares Underneath Alignment, institutions in Alnarij tend to be Chaotic.

Akbarang is known for its disciplined and wide ranging oasis guard, merciless persecution of banditry, and voracious appetite for military conscription. Their 'Steel Prince' is regarded as a bold and courageous in battle and poetry alike, but draconian policies lead to constant unrest among the populace and there are a great many seditious revolutionaries lurking in the area, coming in and out with the many trading caravans from the sea. Akbarang is a fortified city and is the first real line of defense against serious invasions from across the lost bay. Institutions in Akbarang tend to be Evil due to the city's identity being defined by its enemies, within and without, and either Chaotic if they are revolutionary, or Lawful if they are part of the establishment.

The Road of the Warring Fish is not a paved road, simply a well-worn path through the dry lands of Saresare to the Lost Bay that nearly half of all Neth-bound caravans travel. Banditry is not uncommon in times of peace, but in wartime there are too many armies traveling via the road for any but the boldest bandits to try their luck.

To the northeast of Neth, there is a winding road that goes through several mountain passes. Stone pillars line this road, and gloomy Vulch often perch atop them, patiently waiting for disaster to befall travelers.As for the human inhabitants, mountain villages tend to be off the beaten path, and they do not advertise their presence. The Vulch nest in ancient ruins atop Mount Nasir, which are said to contain fabulous ancient treasures but probably contain nothing but the gnawed bones of fools and the sighs of the Vulch.

But past this bandit (and at times, monster) infested path, there is the town of Simurk, where nomads, silk wizards, and yet stranger things all clamor and trade in a mining town that has surpassed Neth in terms of raw ore production, though Neth's gemstone mines remain unparalleled.  From here, there are two more paths- one high into the mountains, and one into the dark Moonland deserts. Simurk has no prevailing institution alignment tendency.

On a high mountain plateau is the unfortunate Lenghul Monastery, which alternates between Silk Wizard library, bandit fortress, Lotus-Eater dervish cult, Nightmare incursion, military outpost, and moon-haunted ruin as often as the wind changes. It has been sacked and razed to the ground multiple times, but inevitably is reconstructed again and again.

The last major settlement to the east is Nightsand, a vast collection of tents around an oasis that despite the fragile construction of the buildings, has proved a stable settlement. Lamp oil burns in the eternal night and astronomers study the passing moons as laborers harvest crops from the banks of the central oasis, which is large, dark, still, and deep, and referred to as 'The Pool of Night'.

Most of these towns are often menaced by nightmare incursions and must petition Neth to deploy hapless adventurers from the Halls of Charity, but do not have official institutions to reward those adventurers, meaning most nightmare adventurers prefer to remain situated in Neth when possible.

As for Neth Itself...
Add caption
 Neth is a central mountain, upon which the palace of the sultan and the unknown palace rest, and at the base of which miners dig for gemstones.
Around the mountain is the Wall of Iron, a delicate looking lattice that separates the 1st district of the nobles from the hoi polloi, though the miners traverse through every day for work and may marvel at many sights seen dimly from their pit, which breeds some jealousy but for the most part means that Nethian gemstone miners are some of the most cultured and informed miners to be found in all the lands. There are relatively few structures in the 1st district- the highest Temple-Court to the Law in Neth, the Vault of Neth, which is the palace's treasury and a bank that doesn't deal in anything less valuable than gold and thieves idly dream about robbing, and the Embassy, which is practically a castle unto itself with all the hosted ambassadors of various nomad tribes, western barbarian princes, and other VIPs, to say nothing of the infrastructure required to entertain all those high-upkeep people. Residing here requires more than mere money.

Past that is the 2nd district, which is behind a stone wall adorned with the bodies of hung thieves, who hang for a few days and then are thrown out to the vulch in the 4th district. Fortified and wealthy, this is where successful craftsmen. merchants, and other specialists reside. An immediately notable building are the Halls of Charity, where dozens of legal and spiritual disputes are had every day, foreign barbarians and layabouts are assigned jobs to help them become faithful and lawful citizens of Neth (and adventurers are set out as bounty hunters against criminals and nightmare incursions alike). There is also the Hexacombs, a great cathedral/prison/vault where priests of the Law entombed the old gods, the new heretics, and recovered Nightmare Anchors, and now stand guard over this container of all things unseemly in the eyes of the Law. Living in this district requires 200 coins per month, but it is secure and full of business opportunities.

The 3rd district is behind an impressive wooden palisade wall, and the guards are bribed to direct newcomers to The Stallion Inn, which houses anyone for just 20 coins a month and is full of interesting characters like visiting merchants, nomads, adventurers, and so on. The 3rd district is full of laborers, layabouts, discount flea markets, and thieves, but the very fact that they reside IN the city gives these lower-class citizens airs of superiority and attempts at refined behavior, as opposed to the gormless worms that inhabit

The 4th District. Outside the walls of the city are ruined slums inhabited by scavenging Vulch who preach their detached philosophy to those able to bear the presence of the corpse-eating birdmen, nomad tents of wanderers too poor or too savage to be allowed inside the walls, endless hordes of lepers, beggars, and thugs, and the Twin Streams emerging from the springs and wells and aqueducts of the inner city to water the penniless hordes of Neth. Notable areas include the Grave Trees, a copse of huge, dead, hollow trees where the dead are stashed to avoid the light of Skull. Finally there are the Mound Men, a subculture of vagrants who rather than ever rise above their poverty, burrowed below it, becoming a subterranean culture living within mounds of trash and dunes of sand and by simple virtue of having some security in the lawless 4th district, became the most influential faction within it. Living within the 4th district costs a mere 2 coins per month, but will likely be as adventurous, if not moreso, than any wilderness travel.

The Happy Hunt and Dreamwraiths

MEGA EDITED- If you've seen the old version of this post, fuhgeddaboutit, this new version I wrote in 15 minutes at 4AM is way better

This is pretty much my take on Dark Souls invasions in D&D mashed up with The Nightmares Underneath

There is a spell, The Happy Hunt, that comes and goes in waves of cultish aristocratic fancy. "I am so bored" a foppish noble youth exclaims in some den of decadence, and some figure or another smirks and says, "Well, I have something fun in mind you've yet to try, I guarantee" and after some simple rituals, they dream of going off to dream of murdering someone and take a bit of their soul if successful, and the rumors and dreams of murder spread and spread until eventually the cult  grows too large and self destructs as they attack each others nightmare realms over imagined and real wrongs, or some moral authority shuts the whole thing down via torch and pitchfork. But copies of the ritual always escape or are dug up elsewhere or revealed unto mad wizards in swirling and churning nightmares.

The Happy Hunt
Target- One individual, who can be specified by name. If they are more than 10 miles away, part of their body must be in the possession of the caster, and it must be eaten. Alternately, random targets can be chosen.
Duration- [level] or [sum] hours or until the target is slain. The caster will remain asleep for the duration.
Range- 10 miles or Infinite(provided requirements are met)

Effect-The caster falls into slumber for the duration, and their psyche astrally projects to appear somewhere near their target... or so it seems. The astral projection is clearly some sort of magical entity, but it is recognizable as the caster and functions exactly as the caster would, with a few exceptions.

If the caster's projection is killed, they simply wake up.
If the caster's target is killed, they ALSO simply wake up, the events of the day being retconned into a bad dream.
However, successfully killing the target drains them of a level (or HD) of experience, and grants the Happy Hunter XP for the combat. Variants may allow other things to be stolen- spells, secrets, statistics, even the dream-versions of magic items, but the loss of level from the target is a given- the psychic trauma of being 'slain' and having bits of ones soul pillaged is extreme.

If the target is killed enough times to reduce their HD or level to 0, they are truly slain, and their body may be possessed by the offending Happy Hunter. Furthermore, the displaced and damaged soul of the slain will likely persist as a Dreamwraith.

Dreamwraiths- Not true undead, these are souls that linger in the dream realm, delaying whatever final destination their souls are drawn to. Though able to interact only with dreaming mortals typically, one salient point to make is that Dreamwraiths are perfectly capable of casting The Happy Hunt and menacing the waking world even when their bodies are long dead. However, Dreamwraiths still need an anchor to the living world, which will typically end up as the skull of their old body. Without such an anchor, they have no focal point from which to stage Hunts and will be unable to further menace the world.

Powerful Dreamwraiths can create mental palaces in the dream realm where they store pillaged and imagined dreamstuffs to create a more pleasant abode for themselves. This is an alluring alternative to any promised afterlife, as successful Happy Hunters could begin enjoying such psychic demenses even while still alive. In The Nightmares Underneath terms, these palaces would be Nightmare Realms, with the skull of the Dreamwraith/Happy Hunter serving as the Anchor.

  1. A long-dead shaman lies somewhere in a Mound, his dreamwraith hunting those to sustain its existence in Dream and slaying those who attempt to find his hidden body.
  2. In the distant past, there was a kingdom that delved deeply into the Happy Hunt and while the dreaming knights and lords and ladies fell into ruin in reality, in the dream realm they live on in immortal palaces of fancy, occasionally devouring the minds of those who trespass their ruined castles and estates. Still, that only means there's a crumbling palace in reality AND in dream to loot!
  3. A serial killer uses this spell to kill without fear of reprisal. In a city of thousands of people, the reward for his capture is stupendous, but how to find him?
  4. The spell has grown popular among drug-addled nobles, who hire outside help to assist construction of their fanciful dream-realms and to guard them from rival Hunters.
  5.  A plot to kill the Emperor with this spell has been uncovered, and hysterical witch-hunts wrack the land.
  6. A dead past PC or NPC has become a Dream Wraith, and targets the players out of vengeance or madness. Can they be reasoned with, or is a trek back to where their body is a necessity? Hopefully it's not like, at the bottom of the ocean or something.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Make Spider Encounters Spidery

When it comes to spiders in RPGs, I think they mostly just get worse as they get bigger, because they diverge from their mystique and become a mass of HP, poison, and poorly thought out web rules.


A. Too many legs, they move weird
B. Webs in your face ack
C. Clearly cleverer than other bugs
D. Other stuff like poison and reading over your shoulder when you browse the internet

We can actually have them move strangely within the game's movement system. Spiders get to move after every player action. They sense who is next in the initiative order, via spider-sense, and even what they are planning to do and so try to move somewhere disadvantageous for them. Anyone who has thrown a shoe at a spider can attest to this power.

If a player does nothing, the spider doesn't move after their inaction. Anyone who has had a silent staring match with a spider can attest to the truth of this.

Now lets talk about spider webs. Turns out they aren't flammable like that old D&D example encounter describes. The proteins just denature and coagulate. Spider webs melt, so a torch is handy to escape with, but you can't toast a nest with a single match.
 Also, spiders aren't immune to their own sticky webs, they just have maps of where the safe silk to walk on is. Spiders can totally be owned by their own webs if the fighter throws them into the wrong spot. This means that you can make spider-web mazes that are actually puzzles and not just deathtraps. And other neat stuff too. There are spiders that weave scuba gear for themselves, spiders that weave bolas, spiders that weave doors, all sorts of stuff. Also, they are designed to catch stuff with mandibles and razor exoskeletons. Just cuz you have a sword doesn't mean you can cut your way out if you get wrapped up. Maybe a magic sword, but if this is a spider that big, it's probably a little magic itself too, so a generically magic sword probably won't cut it. If you get totally caught up, you can't rescue yourself. That's a game over. Like being petrified.
1.After the first failed save, Half movement. If you stop moving, you may be able to carefully extricate yourself. It doesn't matter what you try to do, the web design has anticipated 90% of all possible prey-actions and whether you charge forward, flee backwards, or stand there flailing around in combat, you'll have to make a save each round or get more webbed up

2. Walking impossible, hindered attacks and actions. Disadvantage or a bane or whatever. This probably takes like, a minute or more to escape from. Or fire to melt the strands.

3. Following the 'three saves and you're out' rule, you're all tied up and all you can do is wriggle. You'd need a long, long time to escape and will definitely be eaten before you manage unless you have a really good trick up your sleeve.

Now we get to cleverosity. Spiders have 8 eyes, one for each side of the d8 HD. This means spiders can tell how many HP things have, and so they can tell when they should or should not pick a fight. This also means if you communicate with spiders, you could keep a friendly one around and ask it what the powerlevel of your enemies is. Also they have websense and all that but you knew that already.

And culturally, spiders have ok odds of being friendly and intelligent. Bad spiders tend to poison people with their mere presence and also have tricksy abilities, but good spiders tend to be wise and full of secrets. Mythologically speaking, they're similar to snakes- clearly not man's best friend, but not man's worst enemy either.

In any case, if you have spiders be pretty much just a tiger with a poison bite, or functionally identical to a bunch of swarming poison centipedes, you're not doing spiders justice. And by the way I've totally used spiders lamely to no effect so I'm speaking from experience. If you want to translate the spookiness of a spider to tabletop, you hafta go the extra distance.

So here's some approaches, that all feel like they're from different genres.

 Leper Spider-Poison Spider- If the poison does 1d6 con damage and you get two saves, of course no one is gonna be scared. If the poison is save or instadie, there's not much the players can do but shrug and carry on.
The happy middle ground is of course, horrible maiming.

These spiders cause intense, chronic vasoconstriction. Afflicted limbs lose bloodflow, turn white, and rot. Amputation is necessary or the victim will probably die of gangrene. You get three saves- the first is to see if the spider actually bothered injecting venom or if it was a warning bite (known in the business as a 'dry bite'.)

The second save is to see if your limb loses functionality over the course of the next minute and stays that way for a few days. It's pale and weak from no blood and you can barely move it. If you make your save it's just debilitated for an hour or so.

The final save is vs gangrene as your flesh necrotizes. You can choose amputation and avoid having to make this save, but if you fail this save, you die of gangrene as you stubbornly cling to your rotting limb. At this stage cure poison can't help you because the poison wore off as the rot set in.

These spiders can be a swarm, a single coin sized one that has descended to your backpack on silken thread for inscrutable reasons, or varying degrees of bigger and bigger. They are more hunters than lurkers and only use thread for climbing.

Leper spider venom, if properly applied, can be really good for disguising yourself as, well, a leper.

Jorōgumo-I think every animal in Japan has a myth where it turned into a cute girl and ate somebody. No exceptions.
Making them arachnid succubi is pretty weak though. I think it's better if they're just hopelessly romantic giant (or even regular)sized spiders that can't transform into anything but attempt to court people anyway via gifts of silk robes, messages delivered in embroidery (or just regular writing if the spider can get a pen). They might set up secret meetings where they use shadow-puppetry to give the impression of being a fancy lady/mysterious gentleman behind a curtain. Maybe they hire human maids to aid in this deception. Hey, gold is gold, and working for a spider probably means less workplace politics.

In any case, this probably won't end well. The adventurers might appreciate free gifts from their mysterious fan, but probably will fail to reciprocate feelings, and so the spider will feel hurt and betrayed. Depending on how far things get, the players may be hounded by divorce lawyers, or pressured into a wedding by the spider's burly parent. Depending on how magical the spider is, breaking a promise made could result in the character being whisked away by an invisible dragline thread. Or maybe the spider will get increasingly desperate and become a jealous stalker out to sabotage all other romantic prospects. Maybe the spider will sell their soul to demons for a hot human body and try to guilt the character with the ol' 'I sold myself into eternal damnation because I love you' line.

Or maybe the player will decide to go along with it. Before they can retire in marital bliss though, they probably need to find a polymorph spell, and definitely need to find 8 wedding rings. Comedy, tragedy, drama, all sorts of fun could be had. It might even be spooky as the players investigate and find out this adoring fan is something weird and uncanny.

Fiery Spiders- The Choctaw say Grandmother Spider stole fire and presented it to animals, but animals refused it and so she gave it to humans. Jorōgumo are also sometimes depicted as controlling fire-breathing spiders. Fire sometimes gets used as an 'upgrade' from poisons, as you see with dragons. Old dragons tend to be poisonous, while it's the newer ones that breathe fire. Anyway, poison and fire as spreading, hard to control dangers makes sense.

But just making the spider breathe fire is no good. That turns our encounter from a spider encounter to essentially a 8 legged dragon encounter. Suppose it's the silk- it looks normal, but you feel heat radiating from it. It sears wood and scalds flesh. Naturally it can't be burned, and structurally a burning web is more barrier than snare. Drifting strands turn a hallway deadly, a wispy web stretched across a doorway is like a wall of fire.  The Spider could leave silk behind it as it scurries around, a scorching tripwire. This is a web that works like a burning house- still with themes of entrapment and building danger though. The venom burns, of course. This sort of scenario is less horror and more terror though. Similar to a dragon attack, perhaps. Maybe in place of.  The players set out to hunt a fiery dragon, find a cave strewn with burning webs instead, and a monster that is trying to lure the players in, rather than one that's trying to ward the players away.

Wise Spiders and Wiseass Spiders
 Sure there's sagely spiders like Grandmother Spider, but there's also tricksy spiders who use their wits to get up to all sorts of shenanigans like Anansi. If a spider steals something or other, all the powers of a spider could be put into escape rather than entrapment. Spiders could be master thieves (or assassins), all they need is a bit of motivation, and then a pursuit is on!

Spider steals priceless diamond as players enter room, retreats beneath floorboards. Shenanigans ensue. It writes itself, really.

Cosmic Spiders And no I definitely don't mean in the 'has 2 million HD and eats neutronium golems' way. Spider webs look like they're strewn with stars when dew is on them and the light is right. No doubt they're chock full of secret cosmic wisdom, but if you don't have time to cajole and bargain for the info, you can divine it yourself with the proper ritual.

Read Spiderweb
This spell alters a wizard's thinking so that they may understand the secret clues hidden in spider webs.
The targeted web...
  1. contains a dead fly
  2. contains partial spell information. The spider in question can probably cast it.
  3. contains a juicy secret, ranging from gossip to forbidden lore
  4. is a treasure map. The spider deserves a 5% share if you're being fair and just.
  5. is a prophecy telling of events yet to come.
  6. acts as a dreamcatcher. It may have an errant nightmare trapped within. 
The caster rolls 1 die per magic die invested, and picks whichever rolled result they prefer.

Turning 3.5 dungeon encounters into a dungeon, part 10/10

If you thought slopping the last couple of dungeon encounter charts into a weird post-apocalyptic power ranger scenario was weird and lame, rest assured that this will just be 100% lame. This is levels 16-20, and trust me when I say it's all the same damn thing again and again. These aren't bloated with 20 entries, but now they're not just MOSTLY dragons, demons, and angels, that's literally all there is except for a few exceptions. We'll talk about the exceptions first.

First off, NPCs went so far as to follow the monster upgrade pattern. So now we have 1d3 15th level hobgob fighters, and, bizarrely enough, the 15th level kobold sorcerer teamed up with the werewolf lord for an entry on the 18th level chart. The awesome gnoll ranger with 3 invisible servants and a greater shadow have been 'upgraded' into 1d3+1 level 15 gnoll rangers.

We got various 'greaterester whatever golems' and 'd3' golems, which I suppose can be giant superrobot sentries watching over the dragon breeding grounds. Rather than being monsters, we can say they're like loot and a genre change, and after slogging through this crap who wouldn't want a genre change?

We've got 1d4+2 ropers as an encounter, which seems amazingly out of place but maybe they're dragon-predators that lurk in tunnels and pull down young ones to eat.
An Aboleth Mage, because giving a giant mind control squid monster spells is definitely a way to make it scarier and not just a stupid jumble of arbitrary abilities that will ironically be MORE familiar to players than innate monster powers would be.
And a mind flayer sorcerer because it's a regular sized mind control squidmonster so that's totally different. Whatever, tentacles, let's have another Pit of No Return here.

1d4+2 beholders. I'm pretty sure beholders are supposed to be solitary so clearly this is just one really big beholder with like 40 eyeballs like some disco ball of death

Frost Giant Jarl. His only excuse for being here is being the rider of the Very old white dragon, so there you go, a dynamic duo of chilliness.

A Nightcrawler, which we'll say is a massive Itava parasite. There's a Nightwalker too and I'll use that as an excuse to link to this post
and say the Nightwalker is a giant despair, perhaps related to that big spooky skull from earlier.

2d4+5 Abyssal Basilisks. We'll say they have a nest of petrified dragons because that sounds badass and we'll ignore that they're a numerical upgrade encounter.

And then, for the rest of 5 encounter charts, everything is demons, dragons, or angels. And mostly dragons. Very old white, old brass, mature adult bronze, it just goes on and on and on. The final chart is just Balor, Pit Fiend, Wyrm Black Dragon, Old Dragon (red or silver) Ancient Brass dragon, very old copper dragon.

I have to reveal my inner 12 year old and admit this could be a really "cool" mental image tho

So yeah, I'm done with this dungeon and its dragons. I could handle bloated encounter charts, but I couldn't handle charts that were nigh-exact rehashes of old charts, but with bigger numbers. At that point I'm not 'putting a creative spin' on things I'm just having to make stuff up out of whole cloth and may as well be staring at a blank piece of paper for all the good these encounter charts are doing.

If I had the inclination, I probably would have saved levels 9 and 10 by reducing the total numbers of dragons to 2, and then had the whole Underest conflict be a religious war over whose dragon was better, and made it weird by having angel fighting angel and demon fighting demon because they had opposing dragon-alignments. Each side could have undead, each side could have heroes and villains, etc etc, and it would be a bizarre and hopefully memorable affair that the players could interact with.

But if I'm going to do something as in-depth as that, I'm not gonna do it with the ball and chain of "1d3+1 level 15 gnoll rangers" attached to my creative process.

Turning 3.5 Dungeon Encounters into a dungeon, part 9/10

This here is the abandoned subterranean city of the Underest men. The Wyrm Road does not lead here, and this level is a composite of the dungeon encounters 11-15, just as level 8 was a composite of the encounters 8-10.

In any case, the theme of this place is that it was destroyed decades ago in a nigh-apocalyptic civilization ending war, and though the place is in ruins, the war is STILL GOING ON. No contact with the outside world, barely any context for the conflict, just ancient and unspeakable powers in an endless feud for generations.

The Last of the Underest Men
The human survivors have all become unrealistically, ludicrously powerful badasses. Those who didn't are already dead. They fight a guerilla war for survival against enemies mortals were never meant to fight. Also, they are the only good thing about the later levels of the dungeon encounter charts which are all pretty much 'hurr durr big demondragonangel'
Anyway, this is an actually intriguing encounter entry.
5th level gnoll (underest man) ranger, 1d3 invisible stalkers, 1 greater shadow.

So we have a martially skilled warrior who also somehow has the command of one or more invisible, extremely fast, and strong entities. Stop me if you're heard this one before
minimum effort jojoke but trust me it's the only good thing that's coming out of this garbage
Also we got a half celestial paladin, no level given. Naturally, they're probably the offspring of one of the original defenders of the city and a angelic being that was called to defend it, and continues in those footsteps.

A pairing of 10th level berserker and 10th level cleric, who I'll arbitrarily decide are a legless cripple cleric who hangs around the neck of the hulking berserker to whisper battle prayers. 'Cuz that's cute

Also, a 10th level wizard(supposed to be drow), who I'll say is responsible for the Clay Golems that stalk about the ruined city, and his partner, a 10th level rogue who is supported by 1d4+2 more 10th level thieves. All supposed to be goblins, but this works just as well.

Finally, a 15th level fighter (hobgoblin) and a 15th level sorceror (kobold) who I declare will fight together inside a Stone Golem like mecha pilots, the fighter providing the martial combat and the sorceror providing magical blasts and power for their stone colossus. They're probably ancient veterans of the war doing their best to prepare the survivors for when they die of old age.

And these 8+1d4 are the only Underest folk left to scrabble a living in their dark city of broken stone and awful monsters. They're probably pretty decked out with magic items, though treasure is useless and they wouldn't bother with gold.

The Dead of Underest
There's an 11th level Lich wizard, who is probably some kind of dark lord squatting in one of the few remaining towers and vowing to destroy those 'puny heroes' once and for all. He can have the Iron Golem as his mighty mecha and unleash various monsters to inevitably fail to destroy the heroes. His monsters being an Elder Black Pudding, a Dread Wraith, various demonic hordes (which trigger the remnant defense systems of the city and cause ancient runes to summon angels of defunct gods to do battle with the demons), an Abyssal Greater Basilisk, a 'truly horrid umber hulk,' a 12-headed immortal pyrohydra that grows another head every time it is defeated and returns to life, and a nightwing (giant spooky shadow not-dragon) to make escapes on.

His lieutenants can be a werewolf lord, a mummy lord, and an 'elite' vampire, though at this stage of ruination it is highly questionable what, exactly, they are meant to be the lords of. Also the existence of these classic monsters makes this whole sorry scenario feel even more like a cheezy B-movie of monster mashups. The Blob! Dracula! Wolf Man! The Mummy! All vs some Power-rangeresque

The City of Underest
Ancient malfunctioning spells of protection are built into the stones of the city, and summon angels to defeat demons and the occasional inevitable (sucky law robots that are admittedly better than Slaad, who are also all over these encounters in color coded and d3+1 variants). This helps keep the Lich in check.

The Dragons And Random Monsters of the Deep Earth
Dragons from level 10 occasionally show up hoping to pillage the place. Though it would be nice if they could succeed and put everyone out of their schlocky misery, it ain't gonna happen unless someone helps them. Some giants sometimes awake from deep caverns, remember that they planned to conquer this place centuries ago, and show up to get really disappointed and leave. Also displacer beast pack lords WITH NO PACK, and the occasional beholder. Maybe those weird cave eyes are beholder eggs.

Cripes. Well, on to level 10, the final destination of the Wyrm Road and the end of this whole once-promising method of inspiration.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Turning 3.5 Dungeon Encounters into a Dungeon parts 8/10

Back when I started this sequence of posts, I had hopes that I would be able to use each encounter chart as a level of its own.

But this was not to be because these encounters are TRAAAAAASH
I also figured out a pattern. 5th level has 1 mummy. 8th level has 1d3+1 mummies. 13th level has a mummy lord. Meanwhile the players are just mummy bored.

So I'm taking it a step beyond condensing multiple encounters, I'm condensing multiple levels.

SO! This dungeon doesn't go to 20, it goes to 10. The post titles are now awful and ruined but I really have better thought experiments to do than brainstorm the difference between Wanker, d3+1 Wanker, Greater Wanker, d3+1 Greater Wankers, and finally the Greaterest Wankerest.

Dungeon levels 8-10 aren't just reached via flux space. They ARE flux space, and are all part of 'Dungeon level 8' now. So lets ignore all these awful functional duplicate encounters and get to work with the caves, picking out all the interesting encounters. Roll a d12 and use the next highest result whenever  you reroll a result of 5+. Caves not specified as 'dead end' have 1d3 exits. This cavern system is functionally infinite, you explore to find paths, not to map the whole place out. The final encounter is supposed to spook the players, but feel free to add more and more horrible things if they keep searching.
  1. Path to Level 4, the Caves Near the Cathedral of Blood and Gold
  2. Path to level 7, the Unmapped Caves over The Walls
  3. Path to Wyrm Road. Can travel to level 7 or level 10.
  4. Path to the Lost City of the Underest Men (AKA Level 9)
  5. Cave of The Unfrozen- Dead end. Man-shaped imprints inside a glacier. 3 5th level trogolodyte(actually cavemen) clerics have thawed out from their cryogenic glacier stasis and have come from the past to save the future.Only cross this out once you roll it again, indicating a random encounter with the Cavemen hero-shamen in another cave.
  6. Cave of the Unfossilized- Dead end. Strange imprints of skeletons in a rock wall. 1d3 Advanced Megaraptor skeletons have awakened from their fossilized undead stasis and have come from the past to stop the cavemen. Only cross this out once you roll it again, indicating a random encounter with the megaraptors in another cave.
  7. 1 ettin and d3 brown bears. In the absence of her husband (the captive ettin on depth 6) she has adopted d3 brown bears. This is the ettin equivalent of a catlady. She knows a path to the surface mountains.
  8. 1 Stone giant. Is actually just a statue in a cave, not a golem or nuthin. But actually it IS a stone giant, they just truly become statues when they are asleep.
  9. Stalagmite Cave. A Behir lairs here, which is a stupid monster. Instead what is here is a possessed gemstone atop a truncated stalagmite that ricochets lightning bolts in complex and deadly angles to obliterate anyone who tries to steal it.
  10. Here's an encounter that was extra weird. 1 formian taskmaster and 1 dominated 5th level human barbarian. Mindslaving ant-men. I'm gonna make it weirder though. It's just a regular psychic ant queen, in a regular ant nest. This mentally manacled barbarian guy is probably an unfrozen caveman. His friends would like him back.
  11. Small cave, dead end. Insane scratching on walls, malproportioned stick figures and "Don't look at it, don't approach it" is all that's legible. Broken knife.
  12. Hibernating Naga nest. Dark, spirit, guardian, every type of weirdass human-faced giant magic snake, in a big ol pile. There's a crack in the ceiling that goes all the way back to the surface, in the mountains somewhere.
  13. Crack in the floor, 2 feet wide and 10 deep. There's a bottle at the bottom with a Noble Djinn and a Dickass Ifrit. They'll grant you a wish, but you have to choose which one is the right one to pick to grant it. The Djinn(good) always tells the truth and the Ifrit(Dick) always lies so it shouldn't be too hard to figure it out.
  14. Ogre tribe. Ogres are fey creatures and don't really need to eat, but they want to eat you anyway. Led by an ogre mage, an ogre berserker, and consisting of d3+4 ogres. Have treasures.
  15. 1d3+1 bearded devils and an Erinyes. Engaging in bizarre roleplay with the Erinyes pretending to be an angel dispensing divine wisdom to the devils who are pretending to be saints. One of the exits is a gate to hell that has a really tricksy riddle. The devils want to go back to hell but they can't figure out the riddle so they're just killing time.
  16. Dead end, collapsed rubble. Excavation reveals a Horn of Blasting and a flat skeleton.
  17. Pit of undead- Various ancient and horrible undead are stuck in a 30 foot deep and 100 foot wide pit. This is a dead end unless you find away across.
  18. Titanic skull, exits are accessed by climbing through nose then up through eye sockets. One eye socket is scratched with markings 'i should do this'
  19. Worm of the Earth. Too huge to realistically kill. It will burrow a large path to another either existing or new location, but until its done, this place is a dead end.
  20. Winged Vrock demon perched above stalagmite maze infested with basilisks obsessed with following skerples basilisk boss monster combat rules. The Vrock will attack if you turn back, but will just watch cackling if you fight or sneak your way through its maze.
  21. Stalactite Hydra- 10 Heads are armored like stone. It has burrowed into the ceiling to bedevil passerby by impaling them with surprise ceiling attacks. Not actually a hydra, actually a colony of barnacle-like molluscs.
  22. Dragon skeleton suspended in massive spider webs. No spiders present.
  23. Massive spider web. Dragon-sized spider present. Pulls on webs to seal exits with attached boulders once players have entered. Cutting off a spider leg to unseal an exit easier than cutting web. 
  24. Frozen cavern guarded by Frost Giant and 1d4+2 dire wolves. A dead end unless you get past. One exit is portal to a strange and frozen world where the sun died.
  25. Half-fiend 7th level cleric. Absolutely hideous, but absolutely holy. Has lived in these caves in ascetic contemplation of the divine living off 1 drop of water from a stalactite a day for 99 years, and will become a saint after just one more year. May grant miracles to the pious, but is admittedly kinda snobby when it comes to people less faithful than he. Dead end.
  26. 1d4+2 5th level human paladins out to kill the above cleric. Are totally lost, both physically and spiritually speaking, and are gonna end up falling and becoming blackguards in this place.
  27. A hallway. Bobbing lights look like lanterns rapidly vanishing. Chasing after them is required to keep them in sight, and running will lead you to turn a corner and fall into a chasm all the way down to level 10 for 4d6 fall damage. Ouch. Will o' wisps.
  28. Ancient Night Hag. Has learned how to make soup from rocks. Desperate for new flavors and will pursue players in their dreams.
  29. Haunted Monolith. More insane scrawlings on walls. 'What is it' 'seeing it=taboo' 'god have i sinned' Ghosts and wraiths trapped in monolith, limited in action to reaching 1 foot from its surface and moaning so horribly that the monolith vibrates. Seeing this gives +1 appreciation of ancient gondwanan screamlord music, though you won't know this until you learn about ancient gondwanan screamlord music.
  30. Underground sea. A dead end for landlubbers. Beach infested with lobstrosities. Dad-a-chk? Did-a-chum?
  31. Eyeball room. 'stone lumps' on the walls open to reveal hundreds of glowing beachball-sized  eyeballs, as from level 6. HP of party drops to 1 from fear infliction, though they're free to go forward or back now.
  32. 5th level drow wizard, mind flayer, and hellcat. All are zany chaotic good rebels from their oppressive societies. They're also on the wrong dimension but left their astral boat somewhere around here. I thought this was interesting because while the barbarian+formian encounter specified the barbarian was mentally enslaved, no mention of such was made here, hence their weirdness.
  33. Bodak, but let's twist it up a bit. Rather than a death stare, seeing it instantly cuts your HP and all your stats in half(rounded down) and you close your eyes reflexively. It's like sneezing. You also get the immediate sense of dread, pain, mild confusion, and the certainty that if it ever gets too close to you, you'll die.There's no saving throw for this effect. That reflexive squint and you losing half your shit and leaping to an insane conclusion WAS you making the saving throw.
    This guy looks a little lame. We should give him some tentacles, or a suit, or something. Maybe both.
    Anyway, its going to follow you around very erratically. It doesn't walk, or move, it just teleports, and never to where you're already looking. It also brings with it a awful rustling noise in your head but people who haven't seen it can't hear it. It's just an audio cue that indicates you need to start worrying about seeing it standing behind a stalactite or something. It's on every encounter chart from now on, until you figure out how to rid yourself of it. You can't look at it without losing half your shit, you can't approach to melee without definitely dying, and it can teleport. Also, nobody has any idea what it is. There's a lot of stalagmite pillars in this room that it sorta hides in. And there's only one exit. There's a dead adventurer in this room with a journal of a madman. You might recognize the handwriting.

Turning 3.5 dungeon encounters into a dungeon, part 7/20

Finally, the true fortress of the Undermen, where the Underking dwells! There's a ton o' weird single encounters here, so I'll be combining a few.

There are 5 main encounter areas here- Over The Wall, The Underking's Keep, the Cathedral of Bloodiest Gold, The Garden of Corpsetakers, and the Road of the Wyrm.

If the players arrived via K3 of the above level, they enter
The Keep of the Underking. Here, the most elite of his warriors dwell, and as such I'm combining the dire bear, Invisible stalker, drider, weretigers, 5th level fighter ghost, Hill Giant, manticores, 4th level ogre barbarian, d3+1 Jann, 5th level hobgob fighter and 5th level gob thief and 1d3+1 minotaurs into The Elite Guard.

The Elite Guard are level 4 warriors who bristle with swords and crossbow and heavy armor, and they show up in groups of 2d4. Each squad is led by a 6HD warrior with a gimmick. Squads are well organized, numerous, and will seek to gang up on the PCs and destroy them.

1- Stealth- Black platemail, limited light sources, snipe from the darkness. Thief abilities.
2-Berserkers- They will never lose morale and won't die at 0HP until they fail a save
3-Deathless- So long as the Underking is alive, this squad of warrior ghosts will rise eternally.
4-Parasitized- They have Itava parasites that limit their strength but add horrible acid spraying to their bag of tricks. They moonlight as apprentice corpsetakers.
5-Golden- Worshippers of the God of Bloodiest Gold, they have max HP.
6-2 leaders, an illusionist and one with a Jann in a bottle. These are indeed the same fellows from the ravine, so if they've been killed they wont show up. Incidentally, Undermen grow weaker the closer they are to the surface, so they will indeed be tougher down herethen they were on level 4.
7- See Slaad

The Underking- He is quite displeased at his recent runaway daughter. He isn't a weenie and has 4hd, but rules via politics and charisma, not brute force or combat-ready magical powers. As a bodyguard/advisor/consort, he is accompanied by a succubus who looks a bit like the princess (because she's the the princess's mother, as it so happens, though the princess is so far disappointingly lacking in demonic powers). She will fly away with the Underking if they are threatened and can get to an exit (but note the keep has no windows, only ventilation shafts and chimneys) and can transform into a flaming skeletal tiger monster if she is forced into straight up combat (I figure combining the advised succubus and hellcat encounter is good enough). The king will attempt to parley for his life if cornered but is a proud man.

The Treasury Vault- packed with gold and interesting magic knick knacks. Situated next to the dungeon. The king has the key.

The Garden of the Corpsetakers. They farm mushrooms and skullmoths alike. Apprentice corpsetakers are just 2HD undermen armed with knives, but master corpsetakers have itava parasites to spray acid at their foes and provide an extra threat if the host is slain before the Itava.

This is like a grove of tree-sized mushrooms from which the occasional corpse hangs, twitching in skull-grub zombification. This place is the 1d3+1 violet fungi and 1d3+2 shriekers, the Flesh Golem, the Hill Giant, the Eight Headed Hydra, the d4+1 wights, and the various poisonous centipedes mentioned. Itava parasites supply the level drain, corpsetakers fulfill the roll of shriekers attracting bigger bads, master corpsetakers/Individual Itava are kinda like wights, and the big monsterss are big monsters.
1-Apprentice Corpsetaker
2- d3 apprentice corpsetaker+Master corpsetaeker
3-Skullmoth swarm
4-Skullgrub Flesh Golem
5-Itava Cocoon
6-Itava Hydra
7- See Slaad

The Flesh Golem/Hillgiant- Corpses sewn together into a horrible giant, the corpsetakers wanted to see if they could reanimate something like this with skullgrub larvae. They could, and now there are several twisted abominations of haphazardly stitched flesh roaming the garden. The high numbers of skullgrubs have rendered them far tougher than the weak zombies that result from a single corpse's worth of skullgrub infestation.

Itava Hydra- The natural guardians of such a well developed Skullmoth lair, these are the final forms of Master Corpsetakers who manage to attach 5 Itava and survive. They do not leave the Garden, and freed Master Corpsetakers are unlikely to be grateful.

Hidden at the back of the Garden is the path up to the ravine, and also the Road of Wyrms. Dragon corpses are the best thing the corpsetakers have found for inducing Itava metamorphosis, and the Road of Wyrms provides a steady trickle of deep-earth dwelling dragons drawn to the smell of the Underking's gold.

The other place the players might enter from is via the unmapped flux state cave system, in which case they will find
The Wall manned by the Elite Guard that blocks off the hideous monsters of the depths from reaching the Underking's realm (a similar wall will eventually be constructed on level 4)

In addition to various tunnels leading back into the unmapped tunnels on depth 4 (and down to levels 8, 9, and 10) there is the Pit of No Return, which prisoners who have REALLY pissed off the underking are thrown into.

Things the encounter charts want me to use- Aboleth, d4+1 carrion crawlers, Chuul, chaos beast, black pudding, phasm, umber hulk. Basically a bunch of horrible amorphous monsters with horrible status effects.

This looks bad but Boba Fett totally escaped the Sarlacc so you'll probably be fine
If you fall in, you must fight your way through a randomly generated tentacle monster or be devoured horribly. This is just a abstraction of all the sloshing slime and tentacles trying to kill you. If you fall to 0 stat you can't escape without help and even if you do you're seriously fucked up and might be worse than dead (phasms are basically super doppelgangers so the bodysnatching covers them)
Tentacle monsters have 11 AC and 8HD, but you're limited to short weapons like daggers and fists. People up top though, need long weapons to assist you. It's assumed you always catch yourself about 1d10 feet down if you fall in, but if you somehow get thrown deeper in you must fight a new tentacle for every 10 feet you must climb to escape. If the party gets in in their head that they want to KILL the pit of no return, they'll need something amazing. A few barrels of burning oil and all your arrows isn't even close to enough.
  1. Brainsucking Ovipositor- Inflicts 1 point of HP damage and d6 INT damage. At 0 INT you have a baby tentacle monster injected into your skull that has all your memories. (The Aboleth analogue)
  2. Spinemelting Tentacle Eel- 1 point HP damage, d6 DEX damage. At  0 DEX your spine is now a parasitic tentacle monster that controls all your muscles except your horrified face. (The Carrion-Crawler Analogue, since they paralyze you)
  3. Giant Spiky Tentacle- Just deals 1d12 HP damage and shreds you. Has AC 15. (Chuul)
  4. Radioactive Glowing Tentacle- 1d6 HP damage and a random mutation (chaos beast).
  5. Acid-Spewing Sphincter- Each hit destroys d6 inventory slots. Once you're naked, you melt for 3d6 acid damage on hits instead.(Black Pudding)
  6. Toothy Eyeball-covered Tentacle- 1d6 HP damage, save or lose an eyeball on each hit, once you're blind, save or gain a new monster eyeball that manipulates you to do evil by making you see illusions at inopportune times. (umber hulks have a confusion ray which is sorta this I reckon)
  7. See Slaad
Anyway if the players ever lose to the Elite Guard and/or the Underking they'll probably survive, but be thrown into this pit after languishing in the dungeons for 1 day.

Also of note is the
Cathedral of Bloodiest Gold
Which is where the 5th level vampire fighter high priest lurks with a fountain of blood and a fountain of molten gold and is bad news all around. If this guy is killed, then his vampire nun underling on the 4th level upgrades to full vampire. Also since there's supposed to be a medusa down here, lets just make this guy have a paralyzing gaze attack that 'curdles your blood with fear,' draining your wisdom by 1d6 whenever you see his eyes (save not to see his eyes each combat round). At 0 wisdom you can only shiver in fear.

In addition to the high priest, there's 1d3+2 flamebrother salamanders who will be called to defend the temple if the fight starts going bad- but actually, they'll be molten gold demons in the fountain that are really bad news to fight in melee on account of basically being lava elementals. They are slow but are like roving 5d6 Fireballs just by getting too close, and the fight should mainly be with the vampire knight priest as the players are driven back through aisles of flaming pews by the advance of the molten gold demons. To stop them, the altar or fountain should be destroyed.

There are also some catacombs beneath the cathedral where a spectre and d3+1 shadow mastiffs? can be found. Let's just call these more shadow people, one of whom has extra magic powers- perhaps before the God of Bloody Gold came, this was a temple of shadow. Maybe they'll help if the players swear to convert. Probably after that shadow mirror in Carrol's mansion.

We come to the biggest route outta this place- the
Road of Wyrms
There is a dragon here, attracted by the scent of gold, but hesitant to brave the Garden. It's supposed to be a 'copper' aka 'good' dragon so this dragon shouldn't be out to eat the PCs, it just wants treasure. It could probably be enlisted to help raid the place with sufficient bribery and flattery.

The Slaad- The encounter wanted there to be a red slaad. Slaad are giant humanoid frog 'chaos' monsters that come in very conveniently color coded hierarchies. Unfortunately for the Slaad, they only appear on a 7 on a 1d6 because that's a helluva lot more 'chaotic' than anything Slaad are capable of. Seriously, Slaad are really lame and unchaotic for the face of chaos in D&D.

Turning 3.5 dungeon encounters into a dungeon, part 6/20

The "mansion" of Carroll is not just the home of the richest and most influential underman, it's also a fiendish barrier between the civilian undermen and the actual sorcerous underking.

It's split into several disconnected sections
Basically, blue is 'safe' Undermen quarters, yellow is areas full of Carrolls more dangerous toys and amusements, and the orange areas are locked off because they lead to the Underking's realm and/or have very dangerous monsters.

Let's start with Carroll's quarters, as the players may be invited here for dinner, chitchat about the surface world, and generously offered human sacrifices.

M1 is an entrance room and lounge, where the players can sit in stuffed leather chairs and converse urbanely about Under and Overmen surface politics, or perhaps about the monster heads mounted on the walls. There is also a locked door that can be opened by servant's keys, though the outer door is only accessible via Carrols key. A chandelier of hollow glass bottles each with a single skullmoth maggot and a small piece of meat is here, providing illumination. There is a cabinet with several bottles of vintage Underliquor that would be worth a lot to the right collector.

M2 is a dining hall/chapel to the God of Bloody Gold, and it is here that the players will eat dinner and have whichever servant brought them their food sacrificed on the table by Carrol after. The table is a big plank of wood over a stone altar, and this much wood is quite luxurious for the Underrealm.

M3 is a place where artistic pieces like urns and paintings are kept. There is usually a servant standing by here ready to attend to Carroll and keep the art free of dust. The art pieces can be looted and sold for good amounts, though they are massive, bulky, and distinctive, and getting them through town without being challenged would be an adventure.

M4 is Carroll's bedroom. There is a wardrobe full of grand robes, the bed is of spidersilk and bat fur, and there is a big clawed-foot bathtub that has some Mephits(Elemental Imps basically) trapped in crystals so that their amusing contortions can entertain Carroll and their powers of ice, steam, and mud can be harnessed to draw various baths. His multi-volume diaries are full of banal social interactions, brutal abuses of power, and handy bookmarked notes on dealing with the entities in A2 such as the chained ettin and the oracular medusa.

S1- This is the kitchen and pantry. A Salamander is kept in a fireplace to provide heat for cooking, and there are usually a few servants here. At the back of the pantry is a locked door that lead into A2.

S2- These are the slave quarters, where 'disposable' servants are watched over by long-term servants. If slaves please Carroll they may escape their inevitable fate and become long-term servants, otherwise they'll all end up as sacrifices to the God of Bloody Gold. d3+1 slaves and d3+1 servants are here usually.

S3- Servant Quarters. Long term servants stick around here, and greet the messengers of the Underking when they arrive. There is a secret one-way door at the end of the long, large hall that can't be entered directly from this side and appears as a normal wall, and the eastmost room has a giant chain winch that can be rotated to retract the chain. This takes nearly an hour, but will drag the Ettin of A2-5 back into A2-14 if fully wound up

The slaves and servants represent the d4+2 lantern archons for they have skullmoth lanterns, the d3+1 derro, formian workers, gnolls, trogolodytes, and yuan-ti purebloods for they are humanoids that can be negotiated with and played off each other, the ghasts for the slaves and servants will fight to incapacitate and shackle the players like paralysis, and like harpies because while no charm effects or flying is in play, the slaves are a lure into greater danger, as if you try to rescue them (or claim them as servants) you will draw the ire of the Undermen.

Well, now for the more monster-zoo areas.
A1 has 6 rooms and is Carrolls 'playground' where he uses his bloated MaxHP to play with his pet monsters, who would tear a regular human to shreds.

In room 1, we'll combine Displacer beasts and Howlers into Cu Sidhe, dogs of the Fae. The dogs are large green hounds the size of a pony and are kept in iron manacles, which hurts their flesh and is the only metal that can harm them. They are ill-tempered, bored, and restless, and capable of various faerie tricks like going invisible, mimicry of the human voice, and ventriloquism. They speak Elvish and were captured for Carrolls entertainment  by the Annis a few years back, and could be helpful allies if released from their chains and negotiated with properly, but they will be distrustful of humans.

Room 2 contains another vaguely fey creature, a Will O' Wisp. It is trapped in a contraption like a large puzzlebox of silk screens and iron bars, and shifting this contraption allows one to make various tricks and shadowpuppetry of light and shadow. Mastering the shadowbox is an artistic skill, and it would be an excellent addition to any theater company or illusionists repertoire.

Room 3 contains a pigpen. This replacement for 'Wereboar and d3 boars' is actually a prison for those who displeased the Underking, and the swine were once undermen and women who were transformed into pigs for some crime or other by the Annis. They cannot speak but display their human intellect still, and wish dearly for vengeance. They have mud from room 5 to wallow in, though they refuse to do so as a means of retaining their human identity.

Room 4 contains my combination of d4+1 shocker lizards and d3+1 locust swarms. A hive of Lightningbees hangs here, behind delicate glass doors. Their honey and stings electrocute those who experience either, and while the sensation is quite unique, ordinary people will have their heart stop from all the HP damage. Carroll and his divinely inflated HP, however, views the entire thing as a delightfully decadent experience.

Room 5 contains 1d3+1 minor Xorn, but I don't see why elemental beings capable of phasing through stone would hang around a place like this, so instead, Room 5 contains a fountain flowing with smooth mud. Covering yourself in Mud gives solid protection against Lightningbees, and Carroll sometimes tasks his slaves to try to retrieve lightninghoney for him this way, though they also have to get past the angry Cu Sidhe and avoid getting eaten by the Annis. Stone-To-Mud can be learned if you are mad enough to drink the mud, or if you fully submerge yourself so that the spirit of the fountain can impart mud secrets to you. The Annis of room 6 is sometimes here, posing as a 'Mud Nymph.'

Finally, room 6 is the laboratory of an Annis. Big books of cannibal recipes and tomes of herbalism hang here, along with a magic mushroom farm and a collection of bones and a big cauldron full of Lightning Honey. The Annis is loyal to the Underking and to Carrol, and she gets to eat everyone Carroll sacrifices. She has a key to K3 and in addition to her monstrous claws, she has the following magic abilities that she could teach as spells if coerced.
  1. Alter Self- Though her true form is a giant hag, she will take the time to pose as an attractive 'Mud Nymph' in an attempt to separate and confuse the party.
  2. Choking Smoke Potion- Throwing the correct mushroom into her cauldron will fill the entire area with choking, blinding smoke. You have to make a con save to speak or cast spells, and visibility drops to 10 feet. This also will put the lightningbees to sleep, which is the main reason she developed this trick. It requires a mushroom, honey, and extra magical energy, which lightninghoney helpfully provides.
  3. Stone To Mud- She's learned this from her mud baths, though she doesn't want to compromise the stability of her lair.
  4. Man to Swine- A curse that requires the target to be naked, muddy, and human, she can probably only cast this on someone who falls for the 'mud nymph' routine or if she remains undiscovered and the players decide to get muddy to try to retrieve honey.
 A2 occasionally claims the life of a servant if they pass through without observing proper procedure. If the players interrogate or befriend a servant they will have a much easier time with the threats of the place.

Rooms 1 and 2 are devoid of immediate threats, but 2 has a statue of a half dragon 4th level fighter, who was one of the encounters but was petrified when he looked down the hallway to 8, which has since been blocked off by some fluttering silk veils. Servants are meant to march through 2 blind and not listen to anything they hear, and anyone passing through WILL hear the medusa in 8 trying to get people to look her way and turn to stone.

Room 3- kept to scare new slaves into obedience, this room contains, not a Gauth, but a giant eyeball set into the floor. Normally protected by stony eyelids, it opens to glare at intruders, afflicting them with a sense of helpless terror and dread unless a save is made. NPCs will do anything to avoid nearing the eyeball. Rather than dictate PC behavior though (I've used fear effects in a past game and I wasn't really a fan), the effect on PCs is that their HP is immediately reduced to 1 as their limbs grow weak and trembly with fear, easy prey if they are forced into combat. The eye grows more and more bloodshot and shakes horribly if they draw near, trying to scare them off, but has no other abilities and can be easily slain if a player overcomes their fear of engaging with 1HP and moves in for the kill. If attacked at range, the eye will shut behind its stony lid, becoming immune to anything but dedicated melee smashing with a hammer or pick, or truly catastrophic damage.

Room 4 is ostensibly an alternate route to avoid the Ettin in 5, but the presence of a digester and a babau (an acid monster and an acid demon assassin) makes me think there's a Streetsweeper Ooze in here that has lost its alchemical behavior protocols and now is just a ravenous acid monster. It is pressed to the other side of the door as it hungrily senses the nearby servants, and will burst out in a surprise round if the door is unlocked, possibly blocking off escape if the players went down the hallway first. The door it is behind is very dusty and clearly hasn't been used in ages, while the 'dead end' is perfectly clear of dust, which hopefully will clue the players in.

Room 5 has an ettin with a collar and chain leading back into 12 and 14. There is also a winch mechanism that raises the secret door to the hallway south, but the Ettin will make operating that very difficult as it wants to smash people to pulp. If bothered by ranged attacks from a safe distance, the ettin will retreat to 12, crawling through the hall, and lay in wait around the bend in the hallway.

Room 6 has a door inscribed with symbols of some good god, and holes in the wall to 7. Access to this door is sealed off by spiked and golden chains from a Chain Devil. This vile creature is a servant of the God of Bloody Gold and has been tasked with preventing access to the shrine beyond. It gets 4 attacks per round and absorbs gold pieces=to damage dealt x10 on hits. It will wish to flay any players who do not worship the God of Bloody Gold, but will offer to spare them if they gift it 100xHP gold. Its chains are long enough to attack people in 7, snaking through the holes in the wall.

Room 7 is empty save for the holes in the wall and a skeletal adventurer. People looking through might lose an eye to the chain devil.

Room A2 has d4+1 shadows in it, and a giant mirror that is a portal to the plane of shadow and reflects nothing but blackness. The shadows will take over the shadow of anyone reduced to 0 STR by them, and from then on they'll be vaguely possessed. Whenever the shadow wants to do something, they have to make a save or act under the control of the shadow for 1 round.

The portal is open only when the mirror is uncovered and illuminated- in darkness, it can't reflect anything and shadows don't exist (this goes for the monster shadows too). The current shadows showed up when the Undermen retrieval squad accidentally opened the shadow gate, and the shades hope to catch the undermen when they return.

Room 8 Has a few more statues of various slaves and adventurers who were lured here or sought knowledge. Hanging from some chains is, rather than 1d3+1 cockatrices, an oracular medusa with a huge snake tail for legs that allows her to thrash and constrict the life out of anything that comes into the room, though another nasty trick she has is to haul constricted people up to her face so she can petrify them, and she'll bite off their eyelids if they think shutting their eyes will save them. She can only lie to people who can't see her, but must tell the truth to people who look at her. Anyone seeing her face will begin turning to stone from the feet up, and have 3 rounds/3 questions to ask her before their head turns to rock.

The mud bath in A1-5 will restore petrified people, and that's where the medusa will direct people who get a truthful answer on that subject. She'll direct people to come get the key from a broken servant statue in the room and enter K1 if obliged to give a false answer on the subject. She is very tired of being an immortal oracular monster and though she'll defend herself, she'd rather just die than spend her time locked up.

Room 9 is a a cluttered, abandoned storage room full of broken pottery, metal scraps and stone tailings, and moldy rags. It's a good place to hide people and things, but light here may alert the shadows in A2. There are dormant Itava parasites in some of the larger clay pots, as the encounter chart called for acid-spraying bombadier beetles and acid-spraying already introduced lifeforms seems close enough.

Room 10 is large, but empty, and there is a tablet on the floor by the north exit saying 'wrong way.' This is for the benefit of Undermen from K3, not the players.

Room 11 has a  large gong. Beating it at the appropriate tempo alerts S3 servants to retract the ettin chain to presumably make the way clear for incoming Undermen troops.

Room 12 and 14 are unremarkable save for the long chain that heads through the south wall, and possibly the Ettin lurking within. It prefers room 5 though.

Room 13 has 2 gargoyles guarding the door. They will unlock the door for people wearing Undermen guard outfits, but will fight anyone else to the death.

Finally, the 'K' vaults.

K3 is a grand staircase spiraling down to level 7 (which can also be reached by the secret door in the level 4 ravine, or perhaps by cavern exploration around the Cathedral of Bloody Gold). Skullmoth lanterns line the walls.

K2 is an abandoned shrine with a dying god. This is supposed to be some angelic being that's like an elf that can turn into a whirlwind, a Bralani, which is as good a starting point as any. This god was an enemy of the God of Bloody Gold, but was cast down and now languishes in this forgotten shrine, wasting away without any worshippers. The god appears as a blue elf with white hair fluttering in a tiny breeze, emaciated and starved. They are the god of Underground Weather, and oversee things like cavern humidity, bad air, draftiness, and the occasional fog. They also are good and seek to punish the wicked, which is how they got on the bad side of the God of Bloody Gold. For this god to return to the celestial realm, the nearby altars of the God of Bloody Gold (the cathedral one, Carroll's dinner-altar, and the main one on the level below) must all be destroyed.

Miracles Granted to worshippers
Find The Draft- Divine knowledge of air currents allows the petitioner to find routes to surface airflow.

Air Pressure- Gusts of air and pressure differentials won't slam doors or extinguish lanterns for the faithful, though they may for the enemies of the faith.

Canary Guide- The ghost of a canary will be dispatched to warn the faithful of hypoxic environments and poison gas, and if possible, it will beat its wings to clear the air. Alternately, the faithless could be smote with a bad air pocket

K1 should contain a 5-headed cryo or pyrohydra, but instead it contains an Itava Hydra- 5 acid-spewing parasites that have totally taken over the body of someone- the torso is just an excuse as the head and limbs have atrophied and the parasites took over their functionality. A single hit cuts off a parasite, but it only DIES if 6+ damage is dealt.

If all the parasites are removed, the still living host is a '5th level lizardfolk druid' but actually it's a 6th level underman master corpsetaker who gained a sort of immortality via symbiosis with these parasites. He was the old mayor of the town and wants vengeance against Carroll, who locked him up here. He also will wax eloquent on the lifecycle of the skullmoth and how amazing their contradictory nature as biological being and negative-energy monster is, and generally come off as a creepy parasite cultist because that's what he is.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Turning 3.5 Dungeon Encounters into a Dungeon, part 5/20

Aight, Level 5 is beneath the cathedral of blood and gold. This, level 6, and level 7 will all be part of the Undermen's territory.

There are 36 encounters here, and a distressing number of them are exactly the same as depth 4 but with d3 instead of solo, or d4+1 instead of d3.

Incidentally this sort of design of 'How do we make "Enemy" a bigger challenge? I know! Enemies~!" Is part of why Dark Souls 2 is the worst dark souls.

Anyway, lets try to salvage this. Area wise, we need to think- why didn't the undermen settle in the nice open space up with the cathedral? Well, two reasons- that 'nice open space' is strategically unsound- there's too many weird little tunnels that lead into depths to keep track of them all, and if a ravening horde of monsters appears they'd have no chokepoints to defend. Also, Undermen are all agoraphobic and prefer to live in tight, twisty little little corridors.

So that's what's underneath the cathedral- the 'village' of the undermen, a bunch of tunnels wide enough for two men to walk side by side, but not to fight that way unless they're drilled in formation fighting like a hoplite and have a thrusting weapon. It's like a maze of alleyways, and doors into the small, one-or-two room homes are just stone slabs propped over the carven doorway. This is, after all, the equivalent of the peasant and craftsman district, not the great grand hall of the Underking.

Skullmoth lanterns hang about, illuminating the streets. Some buildings have iron signs hanging over them, depicting the line of work the inhabitants are in, and these building rarely have doors, as they wish to encourage people to come inside for business. They deal in blood sacrifices and gold and go to communion at the church of bloody gold every once in a while. Also, murder and slavery is not a crime, so the denizens down here are polite, tough, and evil.

In anycase, lets start translating this meaningless mix of mindless and merciless monsters into shopkeepers and townsfolk. They all count as 1d3HD combatants, except for slaves who are noncombatants. That's why they're slaves, probably.

  1. Stonecutter/Sculptor. Rather than a basilisk, we'll have a burly fellow armed with hammer and chisel. He is a rich man and has many slaves. He likes strange bodytypes and has his slaves pose for his art, and his home has many unfinished statues.
  2. Tanner/Tailor- Rather than Barghest, Bugbears, d3 celestial lions, and a cloaker, let's have a family of people well trained in turning beast hides into clothing. If the PC's want to turn monsters into clothes, this large and boisterous family has no equal. There are 4 sons and 1 daughter, and they all have swanky leather jackets. They sold their parents into slavery once they came of age, which made the parents both angry and proud.
  3. Bat Man- Rather than Bearded Devil and Dire Bats, lets have an old and shrewd bat-farmer. His colony lives in the big cave of the cathedral, but he keeps sick bats in his home to wrap them in little bat blankets and nurse them back to health. He patrols the streets hawking his mushroom batwing kabobs. He is an excellent climber and has lots of rope, spun from human hair. He is supernaturally skilled with the lasso, able to wrangle a flying bat, and might act as a grumpy master for those willing to learn his art.
  4. Brothel of Night's Desire- Drow and a doppelganger? For deception, we'll have a Illusionist Madame who tailors her (very plain) prostitutes to look like anything you can describe, for a bargain price of 5 gold! If you piss them off you may have to deal with illusion-concealed killer hookers infiltrating the party. The madame won't share her spell for anything less than a fortune large enough to retire on.
  5. Silkweaver- Ettercap and spiders- well almost. This is actually just a giant spider that provides silk to the townsfolk in exchange for slaves to eat. Silkweaver is very displeased with her errant daughter who has run off to be a playwright instead of sticking around to either take up the family trade, or be eaten. Deals in gold to buy slaves. When business is booming, she might have some living slaves kept wrapped up for later snacks. Lives in a regular underhouse.
  6. Lawyer/Arbiter- Rather than a genie, lets have the reason that retrieval squad has a bottled genie in the first place. Even in a town of evil undermen who consort with monsters and murder their own slaves, there is a need for Law. The Arbiter is a cold-eyed man with an excellent grasp of rhetoric, logic, order, and so on, and disputes are taken to him if neither party is willing to just use violence to sort things out. He is invaluable for making deals with demons, djinni, and other sticklers for the letter of the law. His wife can be a green hag (well, just a regular old woman) and his daughter can be the gibbering mouther(or rather, gibberingly insane). It's a strange household- most Underfolk would have just sacrificed their 'defective' daughter and been done with it.
  7. Smith- Instead of a manticore, we'll have a different type of spikes-thrower- a weaponsmith, purveyor of fine crossbow bolts, crossbows, spears, short swords, and shields. And regular every day stuff, but there's apprentice/slaves for that sort of work. His need for coal is insatiable.
  8. Brewery- The alcohol down here is really, REALLY strong. It can be used as a molotov cocktail with no special preparation, and unwary drinkers may find themselves becoming falling-down drunk much faster than they expected, leaving them easy prey for slavers, and thieves after their metal gear
  9. Mayor Carroll's house. Carrol usually wanders about town, and his carven halls are depth 6. There are multiple means of entry to his house via servants entrances, but he doesn't suffer trespassers kindly. The servant's entrances each require different keys, and the main entrance requires the key around Carroll's burly neck.

 Random Street Encounters
  1. Gutter Hydra-Actually a horrible knotted conglomerate of 6 Itava parasites that escaped the corpsetakers and now slithers through the streets looking for a host capable or surviving 6 parasites at once. Unique.
  2. 1d4+4 Giant Vampire Bats- They sneak about and suck blood from people not protected by skullmoth lights. Killing them earns the ire of the Bat Man.
  3. 2d4+1 Underfolk. This should be wererats, a werebear, and hellhounds, and ogres, and skum, but I think a pack of people who might be out to get some free surfacedweller slaves or might just be going to church or just shopping fulfills pretty much the same encounter possibilities. Besides, every player I've ever seen has wanted to become a werewhatever anyway so the 'threat' of lycanthropy is no threat at all.
  4. Undead Streetwalker. Gives mummy rot and is very lonely and clingy, so trying to simply bribe her to go away will pretty much only ensure repeat encounters. Naturally this is in replacement of an actual mummy encounter, but with a hooker with a heart o' gold instead of King Tut. She's probably undead because she was sacrificed, and is missing a few teeth that turned to gold and were removed post-sacrifice. Unique.
  5. Streetsweeper Ooze- Less hairy and more dangerous than the ones from depth 3, this one fills an alley-street-corridor and advances inexorably, devouring anything in its way. Probably has some coins and weapons from drunken undermen it ate. (This is basically an ochre jelly)
  6. Vengeful Spirit- Combining phase spider, wraith, and shadow mastiff, this is the incorporeal lifedraining encounter. They can't enter homes, but occasionally stalk the streets for indiscriminate vengeance upon the living. Hosting a parasite renders you invisible to them.
  7. Mayor Carroll- A hulking man who has performed lots and lots of gold sacrifices to the evil god, and as such despite being 'only' level 4, he has 1000HP.  (as opposed to the Troll encounter he is replacing, which would have effectively infinite HP due to regen). Carroll will invite newcomers to dine with him and ask about the state of the surface world, and seek to extract tribute from anyone living up there, which will then go to the Underking after Carroll takes his cut. He will also sacrifice a virgin on the table after dinner and give the players the GP, because that's just good manners. His house is quite large for an underman domicile, and is an adventure location in itself.
  8. Skullmoths. This is, as usual, a replacement for the inevitable call for snakes, scorpions, and various venomous insects. And also for Vargouilles, which are flying heads that turn you into flying heads, and Skullmoths already have a zombification breeding cycle so that's good enough.
  9. 5th level human monk NPC. A retired gladiator taken out of the arena, but the arena couldn't be taken out of him. He challenges people for duels for money, an activity sometimes disparagingly referred to as 'mugging.' Could be a replacement character or hired as a hireling if the PC's are sufficiently badass.
  10. 5th level kobold sorcerer- Rather than a kobold, lets have it be an annoying underteen with a big head who has stumbled into fantabulous magic powers after surviving a spellplague and now has magic runes evidencing on their skin as a rash. 
No map for this place, I reckon.