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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 49 - Storm King's Thunder


Episode 49 - Distraction Force

On June 2nd and June 3rd, the Stream of Annihilation will be up and running. This is an official D&D event where a bunch of different groups will be playing through adventures linked to some mysterious story. It sounds like the waffle crew will be doing something at this thing!

I am going to try and cover it as best I can, and I think I’m going to be tweeting during the whole thing. I’ll do my best to let you know what happens and hit you with the highlights.

This event, I think, launches the new D&D storyline. I have my fingers crossed that it involves Planescape. I think this is the project that included the contributions of Pendleton Ward, the Adventure Time guy.

The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Sam Sykes) Kozin Xorlarrin - Drow Fighter 

Last Time: The group beat up some drow and forced them to surrender. The heroes are getting ready to draw out the fire giants so that Diath and Kozin can sneak in to Ironslag and steal Maegara, the fiery primordial, so that the giants can't use her to create the rampaging colossus known as the vonindod.


Evelyn politely welcomes the drow to the light, and offers to take their things. The drow had the iron flask, but now it belongs to the Distraction Force.

Strix loots a staff with a spider on it. It is sticky. Strix is very into this thing.

The group learns that this delivery was a test for the drow leader. If she had failed to deliver Maegara, she would have been turned into a drider. But she succeeded, much to the disappointment of Kozin.

The dark elves call Kozin a traitor and inform him that Lolth sees all. He asks them, "Does Lolth see this?" and he kills one of the drow with his dagger.

The group asks the drow for some information about the items.

Then, the drow leader Vireth teleports onto a wall about thirty feet away from the group. She casts fly and starts to take off.

Evelyn hucks a few javelins at her and misses. Strix starts looking through the drow spell book and sees that it has a lot of new spells, including greater invisibility and cloudkill.

Diath flings daggers and rolls well for once! He does a pile of damage to her. The drow is still alive but she’s wounded badly.

Kozin tries to get the dao to help, but the drow gets away.

It is time to execute the plane. Strix casts fly on Diath and he flies down the shaft with Kozin. This dynamic duo creep around, looking for a place to hide until the Distraction Force forces a distraction.

Outside, the dao points out that while he was chasing the drow, he found Harshnagg's axe. Hmmm. The group sets up at the door. Strix creates an illusion of a short frost giant and launches a fireball at the front door. The sound reverberates throughout the complex.

It works. Duke Zalto, a bunch of fire giants and hell hounds emerge from the doors. Paultin gets mauled by the hounds. Strix casts polymorph on the duke. It works! Duke Zalto is now a chicken.

Down in the forge, Diath approaches the furnace. Through the grate, he notes that the fire is so bright that he can't look directly at it. He senses a pair of malevolent eyes in the fire.

Diath speaks the command word to activate the magic iron flask. Maegara gets a saving throw. Jared is freaked out... Maegara fails the save! Maegara is in the iron flask.

Evelyn summons Mourning Glory, her horse, in a dazzling display that includes a speech and a wink. Mourning Glory's job is to distract the hell hounds. It works. The hound are chasing the horse.

Diath realizes that there are a lot of slaves in Ironslag. Kozin doesn't want to bother with them. Diath decides that he needs to go and try to free them. Kozin takes chicken-Zalto and leaves Diath to his fate.

Evelyn activates her armor of invulnerability. The hell hounds breathe fire on her, but it does no damage. Evelyn sarcastically pretends to be hurt. Anna has been hilarious from the first second of this episode.

Kuharik, the dao, wants to go find the golem. The group hates this dude and kind of shrugs it off.

Paultin ends up thunderwaving Evelyn and the hell hounds. Evelyn takes no damage, but goes flying with the dogs.

Diath finds a bunch of prison cells, each affixed with a giant-sized lock. To pick the locks, he'll have to stick his arms in them. This will take a lot of time.

Is there a key around?

Ohh boy. Diath decides to free Maegara. I believe he can control her for one hour. She's gigantic. 50 feet tall! Diath burns and all of the dwarves die. The cells melt. Yeargh!

That’s where we stop.

Overall

Very fun episode! Lots of action, lots of humor, just as I like it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Adventures in Eberron - Thelanis, the Faerie Court

Last week, we played some more of the Eberron campaign. I have a 9th level sorcerer who now has a staff of power.

We're on a quest to get three gems from three different Eberron planes. Eberron has its own cosmology and I know absolutely nothing about it. That makes it very fun for me as I have absolutely no idea what to expect.

I googled the Eberron planes just to figure out the name of the place we went to. The DM told us what it was, but I couldn't remember.

We had come to some kind of feywild realm.We were looking at a city with lots of giant birds flying over it. There was a huge tree on top of it with tendrils that shot beams of energy. The birds were trying to snatch these seeds of power from the roof but were getting slaughtered.

It turns out that our gem was there on the roof, too. I had twinned a fly spell. We approached a bird cautiously and befriended it. We ended up with giant bird mounts.

I flew close and used telekinesis to snatch the gem. The party fighter got a seed.

The tree shot me with a laser beam (a sunbeam spell). My bird died! I fell all the way to the ground below.

There were redcaps down there, a volo's monster. I have never, ever encountered redcaps in D&D before. They have steel boots and they started gleefully kicking the crap out of me. They dropped me to 0 hit points.

I have an amulet of life protection that automatically stabilizes me when I drop to 0, so I never have to worry about death saves.

The other heroes flew down, fought the redcaps, and revived me. I cast wall of force using my staff of power and created a protective dome that shielded us from the redcaps.

The others were hurt as well, so we took a few minutes to recover. The fighter's bird was in the dome with us. It wanted the magic seed.

It ate the seed and transformed into some kind of golden ultra-bird that was super-fast. We climbed on it, I dropped the dome and we flew away, free.

We went back through the portal. That was one gem acquired!

We took a long rest and then used my well of worlds to enter another plane. I think the DM is actually rolling on a chart to see which plane we appeared on. Did he cook up a scenario for every plane?

This time, the well brought us to some kind of ocean plane. There was a storm overhead. I think this is Kythri, the Churning Chaos, but I could be wrong.

We went into the city and bought some potions and scrolls of water breathing.

The wizard has this robe with magic patches that create different things. She has one patch that creates two rowboats! Handy!

We entered the realm. In the distance was a floating tower that actually flipped upside-down every so often. As in, the top of the tower swung so that it was underwater. The roof became the basement, and vice versa.

We rowed close. We climbed in through a window and made our way to the roof. The DM began rolling each round to see if the tower flipped. We got extremely lucky. The tower didn't flip once!

There were four slaads messing with the gem we needed. We started dropping magic bombs on them. A few raced forward and attacked.

I used telekinesis to snatch the gem out of their hands. My plan from here was for us to run down the stairs and I'd make a wall of force blocking them from following us.

It didn't quite work out, as the others couldn't get away and one slaad pursued me down the stairs. I used telekinesis to keep the slaad away from me and to clear a path.

The other slaads were killed and the group joined me in the stairs. We fled to the rowboats while I held the slaad back with telekinesis.

We rowed back to the portal and escaped!

We have two gems. We had to stop there.

I really like how the DM comes up with these scenarios that are so different from each other. I don't think I ever would have come up with that flipping tower, that was really cool.

We need one more gem and then something is going to happen. I think we're actually going to connect in some way to the world in our previous 4th edition campaign, which is Nerath/the Nentir Vale, the default 4e setting.

That world got altered in the course of the 4e campaign so that during the day, the world crossed with the feywild and at night, the world crossed with the shadowfell.

I love my staff of power. It's the greatest thing ever. Was a good one!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - Converting Old Adventures to 5th Edition

I know a lot of you are newer players or people returning to the game after many years, so I feel like this might be helpful for some of you.

For some of you newer people learning the rules, I think you might be interested in these action cards (cards with no crop marks here). On top of that, this company is giving away 5e Player Handbooks, one per week. This is all in preparation for their kickstarter for color-coded dice. I am very amused at the idea of having an orange set of 8d6 specifically for fireballs.

So! Today I’m going to take a stab at explaining how you can convert older adventures to 5th edition D&D rules.

Here’s the super-short version:
  • Scale the encounters when necessary.
  • Re-skin the monsters (Take the numbers from a 5e creature appropriate to your group’s level, and apply that to the old monster’s stats).
  • Use the DC and damage guidelines in the DMG on pages 238 and 249.
  • Remember that old adventures are way overloaded with treasure and might be a bit much for 5e.
Good Adventures: There are all of these old adventures out there that are really great. I made a list of my favorites a while back.

If you're newer to the game and you see a cool adventure that uses a different version of the D&D rules, you might back off, thinking that converting it is too much work.

It's not! It's worth it! There are a lot of cool old adventures that virtually nobody has played. Converting can take a while, but it doesn’t have to. If you’re a stickler and you want to get every little detail right, it will take forever. But that’s not necessary at all. You can slap stuff together and run it just fine.

Guidelines: There are two very important pages in the DMG:
  • DC guidelines on page 238.
  • Damage guidelines on page 249.
Online Tools: Nobody can remember every spell and item in existence. When you need to know 5e stuff, you can ctrl-f and search these lists real quick:
Monsters: A lot of times, when you are converting a monster from an older edition, that monster won’t exist in 5e. In those cases, here’s what I do:
  • Google the Monster: The stats for almost any monster from 1e-3e is online. Check out its powers and description.
  • 5e Stats: Find a similar 5e monster that is a suitable challenge for your group
  • Re-Skin: Apply the 5e monster's numbers (AC, plus to hit, damage expression, save DC) to your monster. Boom. 
Tons of Treasure: In older editions, magic items are handed out by the truckload in published adventures. In 4e, magic items are expected. You have to have them!

In 5e, magic items are rarer. Adventuring groups have less of them and, at least in my games, a +2 item is ridiculously rare. I don't think I've ever given one out! In older editions, +2,+3, no big deal. +5 is usually the big time in the olden days.

I'm going to go through each edition, list some adventures and show how to convert stuff from that edition.

AD&D 1st Edition – Temple of Elemental Evil

Certain 1st edition adventures such as Tomb of Horrors and White Plume Mountain are reprinted in almost every edition, just like in 5e's Tales From the Yawning Portal.

Low AC: A low armor class is good in 1st edition. Once you get in the negatives, it's very good. AC -2 is fantastic. That’s +4 plate mail you’re wearing, there.

No Balance: The big thing to know as a DM is that most of the time, there's no encounter balance in 1e and 2e adventures! There is no math, they just threw whatever they felt like at you.

So when you're converting 1e adventures, keep that in mind. If there's a room with 20 orcs and your group is 3rd level, you have a choice: Leave it as-is or balance it. I think that kind of depends on your style and the temperament of your players.

Maintaining the Balance: If you want to balance it, go to kobold fight club and enter in your stuff. A medium challenge for four 3rd level characters would be three orcs. So you just change that room to 3 orcs instead of 20.

I converted and ran the Temple of Elemental Evil a few years ago. You might want to check out the computer game. It is buggy, but you will probably end up really excited about running this adventure. I did, anyway.

Modify It: Do not feel weird about changing things or removing sections of the dungeon that seem boring to you. Every DM does it in every edition. In the case of this adventure, this dungeon is very uneven and some of it might be a drag to play through.

Chamber of Statues (page 78, Room 311)

I picked this room because I like it a lot, and it has a lot of examples of the choices you will have to make when converting. The above image doesn't include the whole room. There's all these statues in here, too.

Scaling the Wisps: The lights are four will-o'-wisps. The 5e version of them is on MM page 301. The wisps attack the group as they look at the statues. If the group consists of four heroes that are 5th level, then 4 will-o'-wisps is a hard encounter. You could drop it to 3 wisps to make it a medium encounter.

If two wisps are slain, the others flee, which makes the encounter a bit easier. But it's a tricky choice. I'd go with less wisps, because the fun of this room has nothing to do with them. This room is all about experimenting with the statues.

Beholder Statue: It is protected by a fire trap and it has a scroll of protection from magic.

So.. I don’t see a 5e fire trap. Let's google fire trap from an older edition. It's right here.

Basically, you touch the fire-trapped thing and there's a fiery explosion. For damage and DCs, you can use the guidelines on DMG pages 238 and 249. I usually stick with DCs that are between 10-15, because even high-level characters have a hard time making those rolls.

I'd go with a DC 13 Dexterity save and 2d10 fire damage. Success = half damage. If the group is 5th level here, we're right on the border of 'setback' and 'dangerous' on page 249. I might split the difference and go with 3d10 fire damage.

I think I would have it hit everyone within 5 feet of the object. That’s always tricky because you need to know who is close without tipping the players off that it matters where they’re standing.

I'd replace protection from magic (doesn't exist in 5e) with protection from energy, PH page 270.

Dragon Statue: The box that the dragon statue is admiring has invisible runes on it. They reveal four command words:
  1. Shrinks the box to 1/12th normal size.
  2. Causes it to function as a Leomund's secret chest spell.
  3. Causes the box to go back to full size.
  4. Makes the box four times as large! It weighs 1,200 pounds.
Invisible Runes: Invisible runes! How do we decide if they're detected? Who scans every item for invisible text on it?

I would do it like a 5e glyph of warding, where the words are nearly invisible and require a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check to find. So, if the group is smart and cautious, they'll check it for traps.

No DC: In cases like these, I just let the group find it if they say they are looking. I don't like it when the group has the foresight to search something and then don't find anything because of a die roll. If they were clever enough to check, I'd give it to them.

Leomund's secret chest is on PH page 254.

Weaponized Box: One pitfall here. Your players will definitely try to drop the box from a height onto a bad guy and speak the command word so that the 1,200 pound box comes crashing down on them.

That's fun and hilarious once, but it could march into cheesy territory real easily. You might want to say that it takes the box d6 rounds to fully expand and that it makes a stretching, creaking noise when it does so.

Or! The group drops it and expands it. It falls, hits the target and cracks. It doesn’t break, but it is clear if they do it again, the box will fall apart and be useless.

Fire Giant: Has a +2 spear, cursed backbiter.

This item is in Tales from the Yawning Portal, page 229. Let’s assume you don’t have that book. We google it.

Magic Curse: The deal here is that when you roll a natural 1, it damages the wielder. Usually with these kind of items, the wielder will be affected by it magically and won't want to get rid of it. Remove curse will need to be cast to separate the wielder from the item.

In this case, I think it would be funny to say that it is just a faulty spear. The character gets hit with it one time, and they can either throw it in the garbage or maybe use it in a clever way, convincing an enemy to wield it so that they end up killing themselves with it, which would be really funny.

Manticore: It has a crossbow of speed, but the crossbow's string is missing. It says that "enchant weapon" is needed to fix it. Furthermore, the bow's new string will break whenever the wielder rolls a natural 20 to hit.

There's no crossbow of speed in 5e, but there is a scimitar of speed (DMG page 199). It's +2 and it lets you make one more attack with it as a bonus action on each of your turns. That's easy to apply to this, right?

Fixing the String: Enchant weapon isn't in 5e. It seems like the cantrip "mending" (PH page 259) would fix this just fine.

Medusa: Oh boy. Cloak of poisonousness. When you put it on.. you die. No saving throw.

That's brutal! I don't like stuff like this. If you are going to use this item, I think you should warn your players when you start this adventure that there is save or die effects in it. They'll be more cautious and they deserve a heads up. Also, it might save you some headaches if/when they die from it.

If I was going to use this item, I would make the DC low. DC 10. I'd probably also describe it in an ominous tone, and say that it slithers anxiously like a snake, eager for you to wear it.

Changing It: I think I would change this completely. I'd probably alter it to an effect where the hero is cursed and very slowly turning to stone. Each day, they lose a bit of speed and maybe gain 1 point of AC. They'll be petrified within a week, giving them ample time to remove it if they want.

I'd also love the idea of the character becoming more medusa-like. They start to grow snake hair, and their gaze sometimes turns things to stone, but they can't control it. Eventually they'd start to lose control and they'd need a remove curse before they became an NPC monster.

Players love this kind of thing, and frequently they'll request to keep the effect in some way. They might just like the snake hair. I usually let them keep it, because it's fun. I did a thing in a Blackmoor campaign where some of the heroes turned into slaads in times of stress as if they were the Hulk. They loved it so much, I just let them keep it.

Don’t Worry About It: As long as it doesn't unbalance the game, stuff like this can help get the players more into their character. That character is now utterly unique, and they are rewarded for interacting with the world.

Mummy: The staff has a glyph of warding (blindness) on it. The bottle contains strong acid that can be thrown like a grenade.

Glyph of Warding is on PH page 245, blindness/deafness is on PH page 219. That's a Con save. The blindness spell only lasts a minute, which feels a bit useless. Then again, being blind in a dungeon for a long time sucks.

Timing: I think what I'd do is have the wisps play it cool and wait for someone to be blinded, and then attack. That way the blindness matters without it being too harsh.

Lords of Acid: The acid grenade. I googled a 5e vial of acid. It does 2d6 acid. Since this bottle has "strong acid" let's double the damage! 4d6 acid right in the face!

Ogre Mage: The necklace has a stone that can be thrown to create an Otiluke's freezing sphere.

Otiluke's freezing sphere is on PH page 263. 60 foot radius, 10d6 damage! That's a cool one-shot item for the group to use in times of peril.

Rakshasa: A ring of delusion which performs as a ring of x-ray vision for one turn before becoming false and useless. Ring of x-ray vision is on DMG page 193.

There is no 5e version of a ring of delusion that I know of. I googled it. The user believes the item is what it appears to be and can't be convinced otherwise without a remove curse.

Cursed Items are Weird: I don't like cursed items because it's too much of a middle finger to the group. Also, how exactly did the bad guy get these things without getting cursed? The bad guy collects them? Does the bad guy expect that many intruders??

Altering It: You can have fun with this, though. You could say that the x-ray vision works half the time, and the other half it shows something really weird. So then, if there is a room where there is actually something bizarre going on, the group will have no idea if the ring is messing with them or not.

Also, you could do it in a way where the ring likes the character and deceives them to keep them safe. That might lead to all sorts of fun things.

Wight: The urn is worth 20,000 gold!!! Inside it is dust of sneezing and choking, which "spills out of the vessel if examined." Each creature within 20 feet is disabled for 5-20 rounds and must save vs. poison... or DIE.

How Much Gold? Wow. First, if the group is 5th level, 20,000 gold is a mighty sum. If you google this topic, you get a great enworld post that helps a lot.

According to that, each hero should have around 560 gold each at 5th level. At 6th, they should have 4500 gold.

Dispensing Cash: Handing out gold partly depends on how you run things. If the group can buy magic items in your world, then the amount of gold they have matters a lot. If they are able to pay spellcasters to cast high level spells for them, that matters too.

Don't Sell Your Timeshare: In D&D, characters don't do a lot with gold. What is there to buy? If you look at the prices of buildings, they are incredibly expensive. A fortress is 150,000 gold. If your group is the type to want to buy a place like that, then handing them this gold is fine! They're saving it for their fortress.

Dust of Death: Dust of sneezing and choking is on DMG page 166. DC 15 Con save or become unable to breathe and begin suffocating. They can repeat the save at the end of each turn.

I would use the dust as it is written in the 5e DMG and remove the YOU DIE part from the 1e adventure. The characters might suffocate to death using the 5e rules, but it will be through the suffocation/exhaustion rules. I hate looking those rules up. I googled it, it's right here.

Heimlich: The choking character can last at least a round before it hits 0 and starts making death saves. The only thing I'd plan for is another character trying to help their friend breathe. Medicine check? You could do an amusing heimlich maneuver or mouth-to-mouth scenario, depending on your group’s sense of humor.

AD&D 2nd Edition - The Rod of Seven Parts

Ok.. this adventure is awesome, but it's very high level. My favorite part of this whole boxed set is the third booklet that details the rod and has scenarios that might occur in the campaign, such as: "What if the group is caught by the bad guys?" That whole possibility is written out like an adventure. I love it.

In this campaign, the Queen of Chaos sends her flunkies after the heroes. She wants the pieces of the Rod of Seven Parts. The group is collecting them while avoiding her deadly spyder-fiends. Let’s convert the weakest type of spyder-fiend from 2e to 5e. Here's the 2e stat block:

We’ll go down the terms so you have an idea of what matters. Most of it doesn’t:
  • AC: Armor class.
  • MV: Their speed, which is weird in old editions (they use real-life inches on a real-life map).
  • Wb 15: I think this is the speed it has climbing webs.
  • Cl 9: I think this is the spider's climb speed (Thanks Nono).
  • HD 4: That's the challenge rating of the monster. "Hit dice" in older editions basically meant the "level" of the monster.
  • # AT 1: Number of attacks per round. It has one attack.
  • Dmg: Damage.
  • SA: Spell-like abilities.
  • SD: Special defenses.
  • SW: Vulnerabilities.
  • MR: Magic Resistance. A lot of monsters in 2e have some amount of magic resistance. When a spell is cast at them, they roll a d100. If they get that number or lower, they resist the spell. If the spell bypasses the resistance, the monster still gets to make a saving throw as normal.
  • SZ: Size.
  • ML: This is morale, a tool for the DM to figure out if a monster runs away. During a battle when things go bad, you'd make a roll. The lower the morale score, the more cowardly the monster.
THAC0: This is the stuff of legend, the core of the 2e experience. This is 2nd edition's weird way of helping you figure out what you need to roll to hit an armor class. Remember, a low armor class is good in 2e. THAC0 stands for "To Hit AC 0." The lower your THAC0 score, the better.

If you have a THAC0 of 5, that means you only have to roll a 5 on a d20 to hit a monster with an AC of 0. That’s really good!

So a THAC0 of 17 means you need to roll a 17 on a d20 to hit AC 0. Remember, a -1 AC is harder to hit. If you have a THAC0 of 17, you need to roll an 18 to hit a -1 AC.

If you want to hit a regular dude who has an AC of 10, you only need to roll a 7. It's weird, but once you get it in your head, you never lose it, ever.

Spyder Time: OK. To get these spider-y powers right, we should look at the 5e spiders to see how 5e rules use spiders. If you look, a phase spider (MM page 334) seems to be very close to what we want. It is one level lower than I'd like.

Honestly, I would probably just use these stats and add a few hit points and the bite power. But let’s try and do this thing. Basically, I’m taking the spider abilities and scaling them for a challenge 4 monster.

One thing I noticed is that giant spider poison does a pile of damage. I decided to use that. I also chose to limit the teleport power. Teleport at will seems a bit much for a low-level monster. I was torn on giving it the phase spider ethereal jaunt ability. I decided not to just to be faithful to the 2e version.

Kakkuu (Demon, Spyder-Fiend): AC 14 HP 65 Bite: +5 to hit, 6 piercing dmg piercing and the target must make a DC 11 Con save, taking 18 poison on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. If the target drops to 0, it is stable but poisoned for one hour, even after regaining hit points, and is paralyzed while poisoned in this way.
  • Immune: Lightning, poison. Resistant: Cold, fire
  • Web (recharge 5-6): +5 to hit, range 30/60, the target is restrained by the webbing. DC 12 Strength to escape.
  • Spell-like Abilities: (At-will): Darkness, (3/Day) Teleport.
There's a description of how a kakkuu can dangle a web down and swing it so that the heroes get stuck to it. Then it can reel them in at 15 feet per round. I'd make that an encounter or two, not sure how to word it exactly.

One other thing. You should probably change the name of this monster. If you have a goofy group, once they start saying “Kakkuu” out loud, you’re in for many nights full of ribald humor.

D&D 3rd Edition Life's Bazaar (Dungeon Magazine #97)


Let's do a Perkins! Chris Perkins used this adventure to kick off the first big 3e adventure path - The Shackled City. This path is really awesome, but it is a bit disjointed. The adventures don't connect that well and they don't foreshadow the big final villains, so it comes off a little weird.

This adventure has an awesome level 1 dungeon (called Jzadirune) in it. I actually converted this to 4th edition years ago, and I screwed it up. So, it seems like a good choice to talk about here.

This dungeon has gear doors:
  • The doors in Jzadirune are gear-shaped.
  • They roll into a nearby wall cavity when properly opened.
  • Burned into the center of each door is a glyph representing a letter in the gnome language.
  • The doors are locked. Opening one requires a rectangular, rod-shaped key.
  • The key fits in a tiny, diamond-shaped slot, and each key bears a tiny glyph at one end.
  • The glyph on the key must match the door to open it.
  • Opening a gear door without a key (knock spell, lock-picking, etc) activates a trap.
  • The DC on this lock is a 30! At first level! Even in 3rd edition, that's really high.
Problem: What happened in my game was that I made the DC high - attainable, but really high. The thief kept failing his attempts to pick the lock. From the text: "The trap continues to function until the door is opened or destroyed."

The thief kept failing and getting hit with the trap effect over and over. It got unpleasant, to say the least.

Converting the Traps: Each of these doors has a different trap, many of which mirrors the effect of a cantrip. There's a shocking grasp, ray of frost, cloud of corrosive gas, fan of magical flames, etc. I'd use the actual 5e cantrips with a DC of 10 where applicable.

For the other traps, I'd use a DC 10 and damage of 1d10 or maybe even 1d6.

Deciding the DC of the Locks: This dungeon is designed in a way where I think you can get through it without opening one gear door. There's secret doors you can use to traverse the dungeon, and some of the gear doors are open. If I could do this again, I’d have lowered the DC by a lot. I think that DC 30 was some 3e thing that went over my head when converting.

1st Level Characters: This adventure is the beginning of a campaign, so if you have new players, you want to really lowball them on damage while they learn the game.

D&D 4th Edition - Siege of Bordrin's Watch (Dungeon #157)

I didn't like that Tales from the Yawning Portal didn't have a 4e adventure in it. I wracked my brain to think of one to replace Forge of Fury (we don't need two 3e adventures from the same path in Yawning Portal, right?). I realized that it should be Siege of Bordrin's Watch. I ran that and my group talked about it for years after. 

Converting 4th Edition: 4e is different. Very different! It's like D&D tactics. I loved it, but I understand why people wouldn't like it.

4e was all about game balance. In older editions, once characters hit 11th level or so, they were so powerful that they could plow through any adventure. Parties would have some characters who were weak and useless, and others who were godlike.

Players would exploit certain combinations which was fun for them, but not so much fun for the players sitting there twiddling their thumbs while their friend killed everything in one round.

4th edition completely removed that. It is extremely balanced, to the point that every class feels similar. Everyone has "powers" that are roughly equal in strength.

4e Monsters: In 4e, the monsters are streamlined. Each has a few powers that are completely explained right there in their stat block. You don't have to look up any spells. They don't have spells! They'll have a power that is like a spell, but it's described right there in the text.

4e Level Range: This adventure is for 3rd level characters. 4th edition goes from levels 1-30, so normally I'd remove a level or two for 5e. You might want to cut them by a 3rd.

For example, if you have a level 12 4th edition adventure, that would be a level 8 5th edition adventure. It doesn't matter that much, it's just something to keep in mind.

In this case, level 3 is fine.

Shrine to Moradin (page 43)

This room has 8 orcs and a cave troll. Most of the orcs are minions, a 4e type of monster that has one single hit point. I love minions, they're a lot of fun and players like slaughtering them.

Remove Orcs: For the conversion to 5e, I'd get rid of all the orcs. The troll is more than enough! After all, a troll is a deadly encounter for four level 3 characters. A troll is a hard encounter for four level 4 characters.

I like this encounter because the monster has a cool power. It's very memorable. "Improvised Weapon" lets the troll grab a creature and use them as a weapon. If the creature has heavy armor on, it does more damage!

We have some options here. We can re-skin the troll so that it's lower level, or we can use the technique from Yawning Portal/Dead in Thay. It's called "reduced threat monsters."

Reduced Threat Monsters: A reduced threat monster has half its normal hit points and -2 to attack rolls, ability checks, DCs and saving throws. That seems simple to put into effect and should shave down our troll from deadly to hard or medium.

We have to create the grabbing-and-hitting power for 5e. Regular trolls are on MM page 291.

Cave Troll AC 13 HP 42 +5/+5/+5 5dmg/5dmg/9dmg
  • Regeneration: Regains 10 HP at start of its turn unless it takes fire or acid.
  • (Action) Improvised Weapon: +5 to hit. Hit: Target is grabbed and restrained. The troll uses it as a weapon in a melee attack: +5 to hit, Hit: Both the target and the grabbed creature take 7 damage. If the grabbed creature is wearing heavy armor, the target takes 11 damage. Escaping the grab is an action: Athletics or Acrobatics check DC 11.
There we go. Good enough for a one-off encounter! I'm a little worried about the three attacks. That's a lot of damage. If I were to run this, I'd just spam the improvised weapon power.

You are now a Convert

It might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just slap some appropriate numbers on it and run it! Err on the side of caution and you’ll be fine.

Once you know the appropriate numbers that work for your group, it’s a piece of cake. Any creature you’re unsure of, you can model them after existing 5e monsters of the level you need.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to Juiblex, Demon Lord of Slimes and Oozes

Today we’re going to make ourselves a resource. I’ve collected all of the information I could find on Juiblex, the demon lord of slimes and oozes.

There’s a lot more information on the realm that Juiblex rules rather than Juiblex himself. It seems like nobody is sure what to do with him.

AD&D Monster Manual

Juiblex has got himself some weird art, here. He is known as the Faceless Lord, "the most disgusting and loathsome of all demons." Adventurers can take damage from "the caustic properties of his noisome excretions."
  • He can fly! That must look strange. Maybe he turns into a sphere?
  • Once every 10 rounds, he can spew forth a slime that is a combination of an ochre jelly and a green slime.
  • He can spread himself into a pool of slime or become an 18-foot-tall "column of disgusting ordure."
Monster Manual 2

It says here that on Juiblex's plane there are slimes, deadly puddings, jellies, and various amoeboid monsters.

Throne of Bloodstone

This adventure is nuts. Tons of info on the Abyss!

The Realm of Juiblex: "The nauseating tench of decaying matter greets you…" This place is filled with fungus and rot. It is sometimes known as the Amoebic Sea.
  • Every 30 minutes, characters need to make a save or suffer the effects of a stinking cloud spell.
  • The layer putrifies all non-magical food. Water is turned into gelatinous cube material (!).  Food becomes black pudding. When that happens, they eat through your stuff and attack you!
  • Stepping into the swam causes you to duffer the effects of: Green slime, yellow mold, ochre jelly and black pudding.
  • If you fly over the swamp, it spews great columns of muck at you.
There’s some creatures here:
  • Giant Obliviax: It drains your memories from the last 24 hours and memorized spells.
  • Giant Gelatinous Cube: It's 100 feet to a side!
  • Green Slime Colony: Lots and lots of green slimes.
The Palace of Juiblex: The largest heap of decaying garbage in all the planes. It is guarded by an assortment of demons who fight each other. If the group gets inside, Juiblex attacks them.

It actually lists the treasure in Juiblex’s Palace. It includes an alchemy jug, pipes of the sewers and a talisman of ultimate evil.

They changed Juiblex’s stats. In the Monster Manual, he had 88 hit points. Now he has 176.

Monster Mythology


Juiblex is described here as a lesser god. He spreads disease and is beyond mortal comprehension.

Some aboleths revere him, because Juiblex is slowly revealing lost magical secrets to them and the aboleths believe that he keeps their skin moist.

Dead Gods

There’s a mention of quintuplet tieflings who tried to use a building (known as "The Rotting Oracle") to channel information from Juiblex. The building sunk halfway in the mud and the tieflings disappeared.

Faces of Evil: The Fiends

The alkiliths are thought to be the creation of Juiblex.

The Inner Planes

There is a portal to the Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze in Shedaklah. The portal is a gelatinous orb 30 feet across. If you press a platinum disc to it, the portal activates. Weirdly, the person who activates it can't go through.

Juiblex has made an alliance with Bwimb II, the princess of Para-Elemental Ooze.

Planes of Chaos

Shedaklah, the 222nd layer of the Abyss. The Slime Pits:
  • Vast expanses of caustic and unintelligent slime.
  • Strange organic forms rise from the ocean of molds at Juiblex's whim.
  • Juiblex shares the realm with Zuggtmoy, demon queen of fungi.
  • According to this, Zuggtmoy is still trapped in the Temple of Elemental Evil.
Dragon Magazine #337

The caverns under Shedaklah are a perpetual battleground of oozes and fungi.

Dragon Magazine #358

You can sail the River Styx between the Slime Pits and the area of Shedaklah that Zuggtmoy rules. On the shore by the Slime Pits, the river jellifies with acidic and predatory slime.

Planar Handbook

Juiblex's Grasp: There is one area of the Slime Pits that is a shallow bay of slime that covers a forest of mushrooms. The flow of slime can create riptides and undertows

Book of Vile Darkness 3e


We learn all sorts of stuff about Juiblex:
  • Other demons refer to him as the "Lord of Nothing."
  • He does not scheme, he is content to simply exist. He hates everything and revels in destruction.
  • There are a lot of hezrous that serve him. They bring victims to Juiblex to feed on.
  • Juiblex often takes the form of a 9-foot-tall cone of jelly and slime.
  • He is nothing more than a seething pool of animate ooze.
  • He has pulsing red eyes that look in all directions.
  • If possible, he starts a combat invisible and engulfs a number of foes at once.
  • His touch does 50 acid damage to wood and metal per round.
  • He can exude a circle of cold, all within 10 feet take 6d6 cold damage per round.
  • Once per round he can spew forth a patch of green slime.
  • If engulfed, you can actually drown inside of Juiblex.
Follower: We get details on Duvamil, a gnome that worships Juiblex:
  • She can spit caustic goo, exudes acidic slime from her hand, and she secretes a smelly ooze from her pores.
  • Once per day she can summon a demon.
  • She can also summon a patch of green slime, a gray ooze, an ochre jelly or a gelatinous cube.
Darkness Given Hunger: The largest black pudding known to exist, this hezrou fused with a black pudding has become the main servant of Juiblex. It patrols the Slime Pits.

Fiendish Codex I


Some tidbits: 
  • Juiblex is the lord of oozes and shapeless things.
  • Most weapons can barely harm him. He is immune to bludgeoning damage.
  • He can spew green slime at foes and summon both oozes and demons to aid him in battle.
  • He is at war with Zuggtmoy.
Tons of info on Shedaklah:
  • It has an overcast sky of mud-brown dotted with rotten green clouds. It rains polluted water and everything in the realm is covered in a thin slimy film.
  • It says that while Zuggtmoy was trapped in the Temple of Elemental Evil, Juiblex spread throughout her layer. Now she is back and she is trying to drive him and his minions underground.
  • Shedaklah is actually infused with life-giving positive energy. All living creatures gain enhanced healing abilities... "fast healing 2" in 3e terms. Maybe in 5e you can spend healing surges as an action, no rest required?
The Forest of Poisoned Dreams: This forest has tree-sized toadstools and its fungal blooms contain phantasmagoric psychotropic plants of legendary potency. When you take those psychotropics, you must make a saving throw or die.

The Ichordeep Entity: A lowly expanding strain of colonial algae that can use giant pseudopods to pull flying creatures down from the sky. Zuggtmoy may have no control over this thing.

The Slime Pits of Juiblex: Five bubbling slime-filled chasms that "erupt onto the surface of Shedaklah like pus from a broken scab."

Xhubhullosk: A mortal settlement! An assortment of lean-tos and rotting stalk structures. It is home to 400 people who became stranded on this layer somehow. Myconid servants of Zuggtmoy guard them and try to convert them into worshipers of Zuggtmoy.

Zuggtmoy's Palace: Her stinking palace is made from the largest fungi in the multiverse. It's four miles high!

Aspect of Juiblex: When he has to make an alliance with another demon prince, he sends an aspect along with a succubus for negotiations. They're guarded by two vrocks and two black puddings.

There are two new spells:
  • Oozepuppet: You can telekinetically take control of an ooze.
  • Slime Wave: You create a wave of green slime that more or less summons about 6 green slimes. Once the wave hits you, the slimes need to be removed from your body in one round, or else you'll need to burn or freeze them off.
Monster Manual 5

We actually get some major storyline developments.

Zuggtmoy created adamantine plinths and triggered a ritual meant to banish Juiblex to a different plane but it didn't work right. A portion of Juiblex's polluted form was sent to the Elemental Plane of Water.

This polluted a section of the Plane of Water and created the spawn of Juiblex there. Those creatures eventually were banished themselves by denizens of the plane to a demiplane of filth. This demiplane is a forest with ground of pulsating slime and streams and ponds of reeking watery goo. There's a green sun and great clouds of insects in the air.

The Hermit: At the center of the demiplane of filth is a monolith that has a hut on it. That is the home of The Hermit. The Hermit was made from a single shard of Juiblex's essence and he knows a lot about the multiverse. He's an avatar of Juiblex.

When he talks, green slime leaks out of his mouth and devours his body, but he is reborn somehow.

Dungeon Magazine #132 - Caverns of the Ooze Lord


This issue has an an adventure called Caverns of the Ooze Lord We get some details on what a shrine to Juiblex is like.

There is an old cleric named Morbion who lives in the woods and is obsessed with slimes and oozes. He explored the "Sickstone Caves" where he found an olive slime, which turns those who touch it into olive slime. He's been infecting villagers with olive slime, which slowly turns them into slimes.

Olive Slime: An immobile ooze that attacks with tendrils that cause paralysis. It grows in the flesh of those it touches.
  • It is immune to non-magic weapons, lightning, poison, and most forms of magic.
  • Olive slime and green slime neutralize each other when they come into contact.
  • Secret Shrine: There's a secret shrine to Juiblex under a temple in a town. It has a long stone block fitted with chains and manacles. The cultists burn incense that gives others penalties to rolls. They have a silver urn with an olive slime in it.
The cultists get a victim, stick them on the altar and pour the olive slime in its mouth. Once the victim is infected, the slime exits the body and goes back in the urn.

Second Shrine to Juiblex: The walls glow with silver green radiance. The floor is a mire of ooze and slime. The walls weep a dark green liquid that runs down in rivulets.

The altar is made of glowing green stone. Four black candles burn with lurid green flames.

Dungeon 181: Demonomicon of Iggwilv - Juiblex

Finally! A detailed article.

Titles: He Who Slithers, the Unnameable One, Glistener, Indescribable Darkness, and the Slick of Foulest Humors.

Dagon and Pazuzu think that Juiblex was an obyrith that Tharizdun shattered, but this is not true. Juiblex was an infection in a wound of the Elemental Chaos, a mass of gel stirred into awareness when Tharizdun lodged the seed of evil into the Abyss.

Juiblex witnessed the formation of the Abyss and the battle between Tharizdun and the obyriths. Juiblex knows the true name of each obyrith! Wow, that would include Pazuzu and Obox-Ob.

Juiblex has slimes everywhere, in every realm. He ha so many of them that he cannot command them all. He is slowly accruing power and once he has enough, "the cosmos is doomed to drown in his putrescence."

Juiblex has the ability to possess oozes and transform them into an aspect of Juiblex.

Shedaklah Notes: The pits contain lakes of slime. The oldest of these lakes is called Suppurus. It is 100 miles across.

Juiblex has a sort of throne room. There is a cracked stone pedestal that he perches on. It’s pretty shabby.

Denizens of Shedaklah include hezrous and pod demons.

All of his humanoid servants are touched with disease in some way.

Ooze Scion: A minion. When it is hit, roll a d20. on an 11 or higher, it takes no damage and a new ooze scion appears next to it.

We get stats for Darkness Given Hunger. It is the mightiest ooze next to Juiblex. When it is dropped to 0 hit points, the ooze is destroyed and the hezrou inside of it stands up and attacks!

Demonomicon

Spawn of Juiblex: When these slimes die, they are reabsorbed by Juiblex and are born again. They are living extensions of Juiblex. Aboleths and otyughs are drawn to them.
  • Ooze Horror: It has a thousand eyes and it can fire acid globules and cause fear-based psychic damage.
  • Plague Hurler: It call forth a rain of effluvia that will blind you. This thing can actually take the form of a humanoid that it has seen. It can shoot virulent pustules as a ranged attack, infecting you with:
  • Slime Lord's Rot: As it gets worse, your movement is lessened. Eventually, you die and become a sludge dredge. 
  • Sludge Dredge: This is a one hit point minion. When it dies, a dead sludge dredge within 30 feet is restored to life.  That's pretty crazy.
The Plane Below

Wow. There's a whole thing in here. Juiblex has apparently acquired another layer of the Abyss.

Molor, the Stinking Realm: Juiblex is the opposite of Erathis, god of civilization. Juiblex is on the losing end of the struggle with Zuggtmoy.

Thullgrime: A town in the twisted tunnels. It is home to cultist explorers, wererats and "disease-riddled consumptives." In some places, the ground is alive and drags creatures below. Eventually, their bones bubble up to the surface.

The place is ruled by Cullis Heartrend, who is served by a creature known a the Grollog, a huge amorphous beast with dripping pits for eyes. It is somewhat intelligent and can communicate in broken Abyssal and Common. Nobody knows why it serves Cullis.

Dripping Tunnels: Filth of all sorts flows here - stinking waste, diseased refuse, rotting food...

Juiblex's Shrine: Worshipers come here to pay homage. The shrine is said to hold uncounted riches beneath it. Followers have been tossing offerings into the slime for centuries.

The Maw of Eternity: A cavern with a 15-foot-wide hole in its center that is said to be a bottomless pit. When you jump in, you fall for ten minutes and pass through an unpredictable portal that sends you to a random layer of the Abyss. Sometimes it sends creatures beyond the planes entirely.

Molor is linked to Shedaklah through a number of portals.

Out of the Abyss

This 5e adventure has got a lot of Juiblex stuff in it.

The Oozing Temple: This place is a forgotten temple that is home to servants of Juiblex. There is an intelligent gelatinous cube here name Glabbagool and it can speak via telepathy. Juiblex's arrival in the Underdark has granted it sentience. It might join the group as an NPC sidekick.

The Pudding King: A deep gnome who lived among oozes. He named some of them. Princess Ebonmire is a black pudding and Prince Livid is a gray ooze.

When Juiblex arrived in the Underdark, he threw himself down and pledged loyalty. Juiblex gave him the power to command and summon oozes. He summons oozes to The Pudding Court and prepares to overtake the settlement of Blingdenstone.

The Fetid Wedding: In this chapter, Zuggtmoy is going to merge with this thing called Araumycos and become very powerful. Juiblex and the heroes can stop her.

Spies: Juiblex has two black pudding spies, which is weird.

Juiblex Stat Notes:
  • Those consumed by Juiblex are obliterated.
  • Seeing him might cause you to go mad. Effects include the need to consume everything, and refusing to part with any possessions.
  • Juiblex can eject a corrosive slime that does 55 damage! It can pull you into its body. You are obliterated within one minute.
Links

A very handy rundown of Juiblex's history in D&D

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 48 - Storm King's Thunder


Episode 48: The Hero Conundrum
There are some great pictures of the waffle crew in their gear right here. This is my favorite:


The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer
(Sam Sykes) Kozin Xorlarrin - Drow Fighter

Last time, the group met Kozin, a drow with a tattoo of a spider on his face. The heroes fought fire giants and escaped Ironslag.

Kozin wants them to go back down into Ironslag to stop the giants from putting together and activating the vonindod, a massive colossus that will go on a rampage and kill many, many people.

The giants have a flask with Maegara, a primordial, in it. They are going to use it to finish crafting the vonindod.

The group are in some caves, having climbed up in here via a chimney in Ironslag.

The crew asks Jasper, the dwarf, how he got captured by the giants. Jasper says that he and his team of dwarves ran into some giants digging up a relic when they were ambushed by yakfolk and dragged back to Ironslag to serve as slaves.

Jasper says it might be suicidal to go back down into Ironslag.

Kozin points out that drow don't like anyone. Evelyn: "Do you like me?" Kozin winks.

The group spends a lot of time debating what to do next. They need a rest, but they also need to steal Maegara back and time is of the essence.

They consider making a distraction to draw the giants out of Ironslag. As that happens, Diath can sneak in alone and steal the iron flask/Maegara.

Splitting the party! Alarming.

The group had blocked the chimney with boulders. Evelyn hears someone in there - sounds like it is one of the drow. She hears the drow swear when it realizes the exit is blocked. Evelyn is a bit offended by the drow’s potty mouth.

The group decides to remove the rocks and attack the person in the chimney. They open it. Nothing in there. Evelyn throws a boulder down the shaft.

Heyyy Kozin has faerie fire, which will reveal invisible creatures. He casts it. No invisible people. It looks like the drow climber got away.

After more deliberating, the group decides to go with the distraction plan. Evelyn makes up a theme song for the Distraction Force.

The group explores the caves and they find the exit. They want to call on Harshnag's bird. The players are trolling Sam, as they know he shot the bird last session.

Kozin tries to stammer out an excuse. The group gets suspicious of him and Kozin says he's afraid of birds, which the group finds amusing.

Paultin summons Leomund's tiny hut aka the Waffle Hut. It’s resting time!

Diath goes through the burned yakfolk village looking for loot. He runs into the dao, who is wearing the armor of invulnerability. His true name is Kuharik.

Diath makes an insight check and realizes that this dao is evil and not trustworthy. Diath plays it cool and for now, the dao is an ally of the crew.

The heroes quietly talk about the dao while he guards the hut. Diath says they can't let him get the golem. Kozin has a great point: Maegara can melt the golem.

Paultin mentions that the golem was a gift from the Bronzefire clan to cement an alliance with the giants. So that means there’s traitors in Citadel Adbar.

The group takes a long rest.

Fully refreshed, Evelyn, Strix, Paultin and the dao are going to go to the front door and draw out the giants Diath and Kozin will sneak in and get Maegara.

The group convinces the dao to loan Evelyn the armor of invulnerability.

They give Waffles the baby owlbear to Jasper, who is going back to Citadel Adbar.

The group has Jasper cast a divination spell. They learn that Maegara is not in the flask, it's in the forge. The drow have the empty flask and they are apparently nearby.

Kozin knows the command word to activate the flask. He shares it with Diath.

The group realizes that the drow will exit through the caves just like they did. They're going to set up an ambush.

The drow come out and the group gets surprise! Diath does 25 points with a sneak attack. Evelyn ignites her new magic weapon, the Heart of Spinelli, and tears into them.

Strix drop a fireball on the drow that does piles of damage. The drow are still up, but hurt badly.

One drow tries to use the iron flask to suck the dao in. She holds up the flask, utters the command word, and Kuharik makes his save. The drow surrender. That’s where we stop!

Overall

Too much planning on this one for me! It wasn’t bad, but I am ready to move on from Ironslag.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Pathfinder Bestiary 6 - Pathfinder's Archdevils

OK! Emirikol's Guide to Devils is done! It's out! I can relax. It's doing great and so far, people seem to like it. The whole thing has been really fun and since I put it up for sale, I have felt fantastic.

So I'm done with devils, right? Nope! There's some stuff I haven't been able to get to and I still want to check out. I want to read the rest of the Brimstone Angels series. Apparently there is a lot material in there, especially about Asmodeus, that I really need to know.

I want to read Elminster in Hell. Ed Greenwood is the guy who basically invented D&D Hell, and I am sure there's plenty of stuff to mine from it.

My thinking is that way down the road, I'll do Emirikol's Guide to Demons and Emirikol's Guide to the Blood War. I figure I can put the new stuff I learn about devils in the Blood War book, or I'll just update the devil book.


I've also wanted to look at the Pathfinder version of Hell. They just came out with this monster book, Pathfinder Bestiary 6. In it are their archdevils. I decided I should buy it and check it out.

First off: Paizo doesn't take paypal. That boggles my mind!

Second: The hardcover book is $45.00. How much is the pdf? $10! How crazy is that? That's a great deal. This is a gigantic book!

We'll go over the archdevils, and then I'll talk about some of the other cool stuff in there.

The first observation I have is that Pathfinder art is so great. It has a "badass" quality that D&D art lacks. That might be something that appeals to guys more than anyone else. I'm not saying all D&D art needs to be badass, but throw me a bone once in a while. The art in this book kicks the crap out of D&D, in my opinion.

The biggest problem I see with this book is that there's just too many monsters that are similar to each other. There's a pile of monsters that are half-snake and there's a million bug-monsters, which I've never really been a fan of. And there’s fish. Lots and lots of fish.

They do a cool job of coming with creative monsters, but it feels like they’ve really explored everything. I mean.. starfish monsters, blobs and tumors, all the bases have been covered.

Pathfinder's Hell: The Pathfinder Hell has 8 layers. They are "vast planes of torment." Each archdevil fits in the cosmic chain of corruption and oppression. Each layer of Hell has thousands of smaller subdomains, each being as big as a city or continent (!).

Asmodeus claimed Hell as his realm, and guided the other archdevils to power. He actually created Belial and Mephistopheles. Others pledged their allegiance to Asmodeus during heavenly rebellions.
He has also granted archdevildom to creatures of other races (that’s Barbatos and Geryon).

Baalzebul, Hell's Angel
He was an angel sidekick of Asmodeus who got too big for his britches. Asmodeus transformed him into a living swarm of insects. He craves vengeance and has a big ego.
  • When flying creatures attack him, they need to make a saving throw or the attack fails and the attacker is so awed by Baalzebul's majesty that they cannot look at him directly for d4 rounds. 
  • He can send some of his swarm of flies into your mouth.. yeargh... to suffocate you.
Barbatos

This is interesting! In D&D, the first layer of Hell is ruled by Zariel. In Pathfinder, it is ruled by a creature called Barbatos.
  • Barbatos is not a devil. Nobody knows what he is! He is the "doorwarden of Hell", guarding it from angelic invasions. Barbatos wears a cloak and has a weird, filthy beard.
  • Eyjatas: His magic quarterstaff is embedded with many eyeballs. Barbatos can use this staff to rip out people's eyeballs!
  • Once per day he can project his consciousness into a statue and talk to people or spy on them.
Belial, The Pale Kiss

D&D Belial is pretty boring. There's not much going on with him. Pathfinder Belial constantly changes shape, making him immune to polymorph, blindness, and critical hits.
  • He can make himself incredibly beautiful, causing creatures within 30 feet to run up and try to kiss him. His kiss does damage.
  • Only Asmodeus knows what Belial looks like in his true form.
  • His default form is one half shining angel, and the other half scarred devil.
  • The artistic depiction of him is extremely cool. I like this Belial better than the D&D version. 
Thinking about it... I think D&D Belial should die. Fierna rules his realm and he's not really doing much. The whole incest angle feels like it probably shouldn’t part of 5e.

Dispater

He is a calm ruler who is big on etiquette and decorum.
  • The Eclipsing Eye: A magic mace that blinds those that it hits. It is an item given to whomever rules the greatest city of Hell.
  • Caustic Wit: He is a master of insults and "flippant dismissals." His insults actually put status effects on people.
Geryon, The Source of Blasphemies

Geryon was an "asura rana" who betrayed his kind to team up with Asmodeus.
  • Geryon is a "knot of three 20-foot-long, scaled worms."
  • Geryon can speak with the voices of anyone it has devoured.
  • Horn of Lies: It's a horn of blasting that messes with your head.
I don’t like the "3 creatures" aspect of Geryon. It doesn’t seem to add much of anything. It just feels weird and pointless. I think they could do cool stuff with it, but they haven’t.

Mammon, Vault Keeper of Hell

Mammon was an angel who died, but refused to move on. His spirit fused with his obscene wealth, and now he is a being made of treasure. His true form is a spirit that can possess objects. His main metallic body reflects light and magic.

A bad guy who inhabits magic items, you could do a lot of cool things with that. Imagine if he merged with a sphere of annihilation!

Mephistopheles 
Asmodeus created Mephistopheles from the ashes and hellfire of Hell itself.
  • He is a master of infernal contracts and is the warden of the prison plane of "Caina" (the D&D version is called "Cania," currently).
  • Visinier: He has an adamantine quill pen named Visinier that can create magical marks, magic circles and it can pen infernal contracts. Visinier can store blood from any creature it strikes, which Mephistopheles can use to summon that creature (!). What a great item.
  • He can detect lies. Anyone who tries to lie to him must make a saving throw. Fail means you can't speak for 24 hours!
I like this Mephistopheles better. There is shockingly little info on the D&D Mephistopheles and his realm. I think there's more details here on this one page.

Moloch, General of Hell

This guy is nothing like the D&D version.
  • He is 24 feet tall and is made of flames and metal. He is a great leader and tactician. He wields two artifacts.
  • Goreletch: His vorpal battle axe.
  • Ramithaine: His longsword of wounding.
  • When Moloch kills a foe with hellfire, they are reduced to ash and they can only be brought back to life via a wish or divine intervention.
  • Here's the greatest power of all time: Once per day, Moloch can cause a towering fortress to erupt from the ground at a point within 30 feet. It is up to 90 feet tall and sized for a huge inhabitant. Once created, it is permanent until Moloch uses this ability again. That is so awesome.
  • Moloch can swallow people! They fall into his body and burn. The victim must make a save or they can do nothing but shriek in pain and be on fire.
So much good stuff! I am going to rip this off for my campaign, big time.

No Asmodeus in this book! Not sure why.

Here’s some other monsters that I think are cool. Or useful for my campaign, at least.

Charnel God



When a god/demon lord/whatever dies, sometimes fragments of their power scatter into the planes. These fragments are sometimes drawn to places where the creature was worshiped. Sometimes the fragments inhabit a statue of the god and becomes a living thing - a charnel god!
  • They don't remember much of their existence and remembering their former lives causes them pain.
  • They detest anyone who worshiped them. The charnel god blames the followers for letting it die.
  • The charnel gods still long to be worshiped.
  • It gains two spells that it used to grant.
  • It has the power to cut off the connection that clerics and paladins have to their deities! Meaning.. no spells.
I can use this, too! Orcus is dead in my game and an Orcus charnel god sounds really cool.

Lilitu

The D&D lilitu is kind of lame. The 3e version is pretty goofy-looking and the 4e version is downright weird. Owl heads?! Snake parts?!

When I made the 5e lilitu, I tried to just take the basics and create a calm, elite succubus with four tails and a burning hatred for good religions. That's pretty much the basic idea of a lilitu.
  • The Pathfinder version.. first of all, they look cool. They are demons that convince mortals to sin of their own free will.
  • Her true form is that of a beautiful human woman with no eyes, horn, and a snake tail.
  • They serve specific demon lords and tend to take on traits of that demon lord.
  • Lilitus can turn those they slay into a husk - a corpse.
  • She can create a bond with these husks and magically transform herself to look like how the husk looked in life. When she takes damage that would kill her, she doesn't die. The husk is destroyed instead.
  • She can grant wishes! But the person who makes the wish must make a saving throw or they become chaotic evil.
OK.. those are awesome. Great ideas!

Yaenit

These guys are important to me and my campaign, because they serve Lamashtu, the main villain of my game.
  • They are CR 6 demons. They look like gnolls with sickly flesh. Their duty is to protect Lamashtu's priestesses and their unholy spawn.
  • In life they were evil mortals, bullies who were exceptionally cruel.
  • When they get a critical hit with their bite attack, you must make a save or have your speed reduced by 10 feet until you are magically healed.
  • Hallucinatory Aura: When you get within 20 feet of a yaenit, you must make a saving throw or take penalties to all sorts of things. It doesn't say what the hallucinations are of.
  • They can see invisible creatures. They can cast darkness and teleport at will.
  • 3 times per day they can cast hold person and vampiric touch.
Pretty cool! I'll have to come up with some hallucinations. Lamashtu is the demon lord who gives birth to monsters, so you could do all sort of weird hallucinations based on that.

Infernal Dragon
These dragons like to have entourages of mortals who debase themselves in exchange for influence. Not a lot of details on them at all.
  • Damnation Flames: Those slain by its breath weapon are condemned to Hell!
  • Once per day, it can summon a contract devil.
  • It can cast fire storm and meteor swarm once per day.
I like what's there and I love the art. I wish there was more detail on its role and stuff like that.

Szuriel, Horseman of War

In D&D, there's devils (lawful evil), demons (chaotic evil), and yugoloths (neutral evil). In earlier editions, yugoloths were known as "daemons." That daemon name was confusing, so they changed it.

In pathfinder, they're still called daemons. They are ruled over by... the four horseman of the apocalypse. Weird, right?

One of these four horseman is a woman who very much resembles what little we know of D&D’s Zariel. I think we are getting a nice optional version of Zariel here that we can plop into our campaigns if we want to.
  • She has blond hair and black eyes that weep blood.
  • Lamentation of the Faithless: This is her greatsword, a corrupted blade of "an ancient and forgotten empyreal lord." It has a black blade, and each time it hits an enemy, it heals the wielder a bit. Szuriel can hold up the sword to blind all within 60 feet and instill in them crushing despair.
  • She was once a paladin who sinned and left her faith. She became an empress who slaughtered members of her former religion.
  • Now as a ruler of the daemons, she mocks angels.
  • Her armies are strictly organized, often hired on as mercenaries.
  • Her touch contains the essence of fire.
  • When she teleports somewhere, it creates a "pyroclastic detonation,” a wave of flame in a 30 foot radius that does 20d6 damage!
There you go. Awesome book, totally worth $10! There’s so many monsters in here that you can use however you like.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Planescape – Blood War XI. The Slick of Foulest Humors

I finally finished Emirikol’s Guide to Devils. I feel so good having it done! It was fun to work on but it was definitely quite a grind. I just didn’t know realize how much time it takes to do these things.

Slimes: When I prepared for this session, I wanted to do an adventure focused on slimes and Juiblex, the demon lord of slimes. There is a pathfinder book that mentions a realm called the Abyssal Undersump, slime tunnels that connect layers of the Abyss. As soon as you hear the words “Abyssal Undersump,” you know you’re going to use that in your campaign in some fashion, right?

Making Up a Dungeon: I was afraid I was going to draw a blank when it was time to make up stuff for this session. It’s hard to come up with encounters from scratch. Worse, I looked at the 4e Juiblex article and there’s really not a lot in there that could help me.

Filth Person: The one thing I had was the Fulsome Queen from Wrath of the Righteous (a pathfinder adventure path I’m looting for this campaign). She’s a slimy woman made of filth! That’s gold where I come from. I’ve been waiting to use her for a long time.

I googled slime adventures and got a little bit of inspiration. For the most part, I made things up. I kept it basic and I though about a D&D sewer and what you could do with that. I came up with this:
  • A dark tunnel that had many, many green slimes on the ceiling.
  • A tunnel with slime fountains and a yellow statue with a secret compartment in it. The statue is covered in yellow mold.
  • A hall with a classic chess board floor. Trapped, of course! But also a distraction from the brown mold on the walls and ceiling.
  • A lake of slime, protected by the Fulsome Queen who demanded tribute. The group had to figure out a way how to get a devil army across the lake.
  • The final area was this sewer area with lots of pipes crisscrossing for hundreds of feet above them. There were also magic slides/conveyor belts moving gelatinous cubes around. The floor of this place was grating, underneath it was a river of slime.
  • The goal in there was to use this magic control device to move three pipes pouring slime out of the way so the group could get the army through the portal to Thanatos.
It worked out great!

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Elf Wizard

We started off with some of that sweet downtime activity.

Truename: Theran obtained a devil talisman, which gave Theran the truename of Nin, the heresy devil that serves Bidam. Nin is a real jerk and with the truename, Theran has a lot of power over him. I also used this to remind Theran that he knows the truename of a nascent demon lord trapped in the interior of Azzagrat – Xanthopsia, Queen of Obscenity! She swears a lot.

Mel Narnia: Last session, the group took D&D Trump down. Where will poor Mel Narnia and her son, Baron Flumph, live? The group let her live in the mansion they put a down payment on last session.

Theran’s Spell Quest: George told me last time that he wants to learn almost every spell. So he joined the Society of Luminous Aether in Sigil (membership costs 1,000 gp per year). They have a library full of spells and tomes. He copied down every spell over the course of a few days.

Family Time: Bidam is married to a “good” demon lord, Bazuuma. I made up a ridiculous family skill challenge involving a baby dragon who wouldn’t eat his demon crustacean dinner, a daughter who melted her dessert and cried, stupid stuff like that.

The Lifepearl: Then I had Bazuuma ask Bidam about the lifepearl the group still has. That thing can raise the dead about 20 times, create a plane or a race! She floated the idea of using it in the core of Burningwater, her abyssal realm. She senses that the Abyss is afraid/repulsed by her positive energy. She wants to see if she can transform it into something else. Not now, but down the road.

The Senseless Court: The group visited the abyssal layer that Cabiri ruled. Long story short, it’s full of demon beholders at war with each other.
My version of Zariel
Zariel: The group had told the ruler of the first layer of Hell that they’d bring her a vat of holy water. She needs it for a secret plan. They delivered it. When they arrived at her ruined, burned castle, they could hear her whispering in a back room to her severed angel heads. Last time, they crept around and eavesdropped, and she almost killed them. This time, they stayed where they were.

Zariel was given the holy water, and then she showed the group another plan of hers. Thanks to the heroes, the devils had claimed a layer of the abyss – Onstrakkar’s Nest, formerly ruled by Lamashtu. Zariel is having these massive chains of baatorian green steel made. She is coming to try to pull that layer of the Abyss into Hell! She wants to merge it with her realm, to tame it. She wants to turn chaos into law.

The group was a bit dumbfounded at this plan. I think it will be an epic adventure that we’ll do pretty soon!

Miscellaneous Threats: We did a bunch of other stuff with their businesses. Iggwilv magically threatened Theran again through a sending spell. She is trapped in Graz’zt’s palace, and she wants Theran to convince Graz’zt to let her go.

The Undersump

Bovina - I'm getting art for this campaign now

Once all that stuff was out of the way, it was time for the heroes to lead the devil army through the Abyssal Undersump. Their goal was to get to Thanatos, the abyssal realm once ruled by Orcus (he’s dead in my campaign). Now it is ruled by Lamashtu.

The ultimate goal of this whole Blood War story is to march across Thanatos, Kill Lamashtu, and help their pit fiend friend take over Thanatos. The pit fiend is going to defect from the devils and become a demon lord all his own.

The group was accompanied by Nin the Heresy devil and Bovina the cow lady/minotaur/thief/pirate.
They scouted ahead of the army to clear the path of any obstacles.

Green Slime Ceiling: The group forced Nin to go first. He has a floating throne. He also has a ring of evasion, so once the slimes started dropping, he was making some sweet dodging maneuvers. After a bit of experimentation, the group saw that the green slime was destroyed by fire, so they burned it all away with cantrips.

Yellow Mold Statue: They smartly figured out it was yellow mold and used fire again to destroy it. In the secret compartment of the statue were two vials of powdered gelatinous cube. You add water and throw it a bad guy. It shatters and turns into a gelatinous cube. Pretty sweet, right? Jessie liked that one.

Chess Board: The group prodded the chess board floor and saw that the black squares were trap doors. They dropped you into a big pit full of combined slimes and oozes! The heroes realized it was very cold in here, took a look around, and saw the brown mold.

It took a bit of experimenting, but they finally figured out that cold damage destroys it. Fire makes it expand! They were extremely alarmed after hitting it with a fire bolt.




Slime Lake: My campaign is stupid, so you can probably guess what the Fulsome Queen wanted as payment to cross the lake. You know it. They had to poop on her. And they did. We rolled for it, of course. I’ll spare you the details.

There was this whole thing about tipping over a massive statue to create a bridge across the lake.
I had another room planned, where this slime from the 4e article was going to attack the group, popping in and out of holes in pipes and statues. I like the name of this creature: Darkness Given Hunger. But we had no time so I skipped it.

The Pipes Room: I was worried I’d have a hard time describing this place so I did some sketches. Jessie loves it when I do these, she likes make fun of how she can’t figure out what the hell it’s supposed to be.

There’s three slime waterfalls falling through the grate floor, blocking the portal to Thanatos. The group needs to operate this magic panel and “turn them off.” Theran realized that each of these activities were tied to other pipes above them. A whole lot of shifting was going to take place. So, it went like this:
  1. Pipe One: Pipes above turned, spewing black puddings down at the heroes and the grate floor. The heroes made epic dexterity checks to dodge.
  2. Pipe Two: A gelatinous cube conveyor belt turned and for a round or two, it dropped cubes on the group! Bidam got hit! He was stuck in the cube as it slowly sluiced through the grate. His armor of invulnerability helped him tremendously and ultimately he got out and was fine.
  3. Pipe Three: They set off an ooze sprinkler system! Droplets of grey ooze everywhere!  How do you turn it off? There is a wheel that needs to be turned clockwise on a pipe 60 feet above them.
Nin has a flying throne. He’d been complaining all night. He’s always been shifty, looking for a way to take down Bidam, his “master.” Now he had his chance.

Nin the Heresy Devil
Bidam got on the throne with Nin and they flew up. Nin suddenly turned and dumped Bidam on a gelatinous cube conveyor belt! Bidam plopped right in a cube. To his horror, he saw that the conveyor was going to take him through a hole in a wall into some kind of lime tunnel full of gelatinous cubes.
The group freaked out. Bovina chuck a rope and grappling hook on a pipe. But the slime spray did too much damage and she went down!

Theran Misty stepped up 30 feet and balanced on a slippery pipe. He mage-handed the rope to himself and climbed up some more. He got up there and helped Bidam get out of the cube.

Theran saw Bovina was down. Bidam jumped across a gap and landed on Nin’s throne. Nin slammed him into a wall and Bidam failed a dex save. He fell 50 feet to the floor!

The floor is grating. Bidam is heavy. He’s wearing plate mail. I rolled to see if he crashed through the grating. Nope! He just dented it.

While that was going on, Theran was turning the wheel and turned off the sprinkler system. Bovina rolled a 20 on her death save! She popped up and she was angry. She did a sweet swinging maneuver on the rope and tried to jump on Nin’s throne, but.. she fell. She fell right on Bidam, and the grate gave way! They plunged into the slime river beneath the grate.

Bidam activated his armor so that he would take no damage and did his best to keep Bovina out of the slime.

Theran was quick to find a solution. He levitated Bidam. Bovina was on him, and floated up with him.

The group accosted Nin. The army came in. The pit fiend said it was time to demote Nin. The pit fiend has the power to turn devils into different types of devils. He thought a spined devil would do.
George asked me if he could keep Nin’s flying throne. Sure! I gave him a griffon lat session, they’re 13th level, it’s time to fly around, right? That seems really cool, a wizard on a flying throne.

The army marched through the portal. Drokkarn, the pit fiend general, had a map. It said that they would emerge near the “city of Licus”. Once they got there, they realized that was a typo or bad handwriting. They emerged next to the city of liches!

Yes, in Thanatos, there is a city full of liches. That’s where we stopped!

Very good session! I was very happy that it felt like an “adventure”. It’s cool to do stuff other than combat, but it is hard to pull off without being boring or flat. We did well!

Next time, I think we’ll do a little with the liches and then I want to do a blood war naval battle and use some demonic chaos ships.