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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 53 - Storm King's Thunder

Episode 53: The Double-Edged Sword
The audio on this episode was very low for me. I couldn't make out some names and other stuff. Still, a very good show!

There are a few things on this episode that are part of D&D lore. I'm going to explain them below. If you want to experience it fresh, maybe skip this review.

 The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer 

Last time, Evelyn died and was reborn as a life-sized puppet/construct. Additionally, Paultin was given a severed hand by a nest-person.

The group is separated in this episode. Strix and Diath are in the room of Citadel Adbar where the ritual took place, while Evelyn and Paultin are in the toymaker's shop.

Evelyn's soul is apparently in Master Flamebane's construct. She is not happy. She actually sort of threatens Flamebane.

Back in the ritual room, Van Richten is down. Is he dead? Nope. Van Richten is alive! They take off his goggles. He's got empty eye sockets! Smoke is billowing out of them. Jasper the dwarf picks him up and takes him to a temple. Strix and Diath are freaked out.

Diath and Strix head down a hallway, trying to figure out what to do. They realize that there are creatures lying in wait for them up ahead. Four bugbears step out of the shadows. They demand the iron flask (the magic flask currently has an earth genie trapped in it).

The heroes aren't giving up the flask so we are going to have ourselves a combat.

Jared has a new amethyst d20. He hopes it rolls well. Natural 20! Wow.

Waffles the baby owlbear has grown up a bit and wants to attack. Holly rolls for Waffles. Natural 20! This is very unwaffle-like.

Strix drops a fireball on the bugbears, using careful spell so that her allies aren't hit in the blast.

Meanwhile, Evelyn examines herself. Anna thinks she's a bit too much like a realdoll. I died laughing.

She demands answers from the toymaker. Evelyn wants Paultin to kill her so that the toymaker can reassemble Murderbot. Good gawd. Don't do that. Paultin actually leaves her and goes to get a drink. He just walks off.

Elsewhere, an invisible assailant comes at Diath and Strix. This person, a woman, is wearing some sort of gas mask. She hits Strix with a lightning bolt and Strix is down.

At one point, Diath makes a perception check. What did the amethyst die roll? Natural 20.

Then... Strix death save... natural 20! Their dice are a force of nature today.

The mysterious attacker turns invisible and flees. Strix busts out the iron flask and tells the genie to follow them. He does.

A dwarf (duergar?) approaches and asks if he's related to Ashton Woodrow. Diath says he doesn't know who that is. We eventually learn that this person is half-dwarf, half-orc.

The dwarf hands Diath a sword.. it has designs on it linked to.. Sigil! Wow. There's a word on it written in Abyssal: "Gutter." It has a keyhole in it. Hmmm.. So does one of Diath's keys work on it?

Diath takes it. The dwarf is disoriented... severed from a connection. He's upset. He wants the sword back.

The dwarf shakes it off. He says that he used to adventure with Ashton, and that the sword is meant for his descendants...

Meanwhile, Paultin goes to the bar. He's got the severed hand out. he plops it on the bar. It comes to life - it has attuned to him. It animates and moves around. It can't fly, but it can move around like a crawling claw.

Evelyn comes in and checks out the hand. It's not evil. She makes friends with it, gives it a fist bump.

Strix had told the dao to follow the bad guys. She realizes she never said for him to come back. Looks like he is free of the flask! Strix is quite perturbed about this. She seems to be rolling around on the ground, groaning.

Gutter, the magic sword, starts talking to Diath. It calls itself a "magic short sword of backstabbing." It wants Diath to use one of his keys in the sword's keyhole.

He does. A planar gate opens! What.. a creature steps through. An arcanaloth.. don't tell me this is Shemeshka.. IT IS! She's wearing the crown of razorvines!! This will be interesting.

Shemeshka the Marauder

Shemeshka is a pretty major NPC from the Planescape setting. She lives in the city of Sigil, she's a shadowy information broker/slave trader and she always has secret plans in motion. She operates out of a casino called Fortune's Wheel and has these "groom-guardians" that I always found amusing. She has a weird, adversarial relationship with another of her kind named A'kin the Friendly Fiend.

There's more about her in my Guide to Sigil.

Shemeshka recognizes Strix. They've met before?! Strix remembers.. Shemeshka tried to buy her.

Shemeshka says she will answer three questions, and then Diath must hand over a key. Each time Diath summons her to ask questions, same deal. Once the keys run out, that's it.

What's the deal with that?

Diath gets three questions.
  1. Who made this sword? "I did."
  2. Why did you make it? It's was a gift for a descendant.. Dareth...? I couldn't hear.
  3. He asks about the curse that is killing Strix and Diath. Shemeshka says that an evil god-thing might be doing this to rejuvenate itself. Learn everything you can about Acererak.
Diath gives her a key. She leaves through the portal.

There's a foppish dandy watching Paultin and Evelyn in the bar. Paultin comes over and demands to know what his problem is. This guy's name is Vorpus Krenner. I think.

Borgus says he's heard of the waffle crew. Their reputation precedes them.

The guy's food comes. Waffles! Evelyn realizes that she can't eat waffles. Anna says she sheds a single tear. Chris says: "No you don't." Everyone cry-laughs.

Paultin grabs a waffle and eats it. Con save! The waffles are poisoned?! Paultin makes his save.

It looks like this guy is a Harper, one of the secret band of do-gooders spread all throughout the Forgotten Realms.

Uhh... the bar is fading away. Evelyn had noticed Paultin's missing shadow - it stuck out to her more than normal for some reason. She was also sensing evil...

They're somewhere else. They're in a castle. Someone's coming. Paultin quickly turns Evelyn invisible.

Who walks through the door? It's Escher. WHAT. Did they just get sucked back into Barovia?!

With Strahd gone, did Escher take over Barovia? Does he now have the power to control the mists?


This episode is right up my alley. I really get a kick out of seeing Chris run "official" NPCs, and I love the mixing/combining of campaign settings. Right now, we're in a campaign that uses material from Curse of Strahd, Storm King's Thunder, Tomb of Annihilation, and the 2e Planescape boxed set.

Shemeshka will apparently be a recurring character, which I think is really cool. Any link to Planescape makes me happy. I guess Diath is from Sigil as well? I have absolutely no idea what the deal with his keys is.

Questions About the Keys: Sigil is called "The City of Doors" because it has portals to pretty much every plane of existence - The Abyss, Mount Celestia, Hell, Mechanus, etc. In Sigil, the key to opening these portals often isn't a physical key, it's a random item or gesture that is usually linked in some way to that realm. Activating a portal to Hell might require you to think an evil thought, and activating a portal to Mount Celestia might require a feather from an angel's wing.

So Diath has a ring of keys and Shemeshka, who lives in the city of doors, is taking them one by one. Is it possible she lied about making the sword and is after the keys? Were the keys planted on Diath to keep them away from her?

If she didn't make the sword, why is the portal linked to her?

Why is the sword called "Gutter"? Is it because it guts people, or is it a reference to a gutter in the Hive?

Could the group use the iron flask to trap Shemeshka? I think they can.

My favorite question: Could the group go through the portal that Shemeshka came out of? If the group gets trapped somewhere, like a cave-in or something, could they use it to escape to Sigil?

Good show!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to Oozes, Slimes and Jellies

Today, I’m going to go over what is known about oozes, slimes and jellies in Dungeons & Dragons. This should be a decent resource for you if you want to use slimes in your game, or if you are thinking about whipping up a slime dungeon of some kind.

I will start off by covering published slime adventures/slime-related NPCs, and then I’m going to list and detail all of the slimes, oozes and jellies from the main D&D monster books from each edition. I also grabbed some cool ones from other products.

Massive List: If you want a list of many, many slimes and where they came from, check this ENWorld thread right here.

Exclusions: I already wrote about Juiblex, demon lord of slimes, so I’m leaving his stuff out of this.

I am not including fogs and living spells, but I do feel the need to talk about one:

In the 3rd edition Monster Manual 3 there is a monster called a chilling fog. If you do dad jokes, I heartily endorse plopping this entity into an encounter and telling the group that it is a chilling fog. Then you say: "Hey guys, you know what this ooze is doing?" Awkward pause. "Just chilling."

Put that one in your back pocket and save it for later.

Slime-Related NPCs

The Pudding King

There are a number of weird people linked to oozes in D&D.

(Dragon #124) Haptooth: A wizard who studies gelatinous cubes and was able to use gelatinous digestive fluid to create a concoction that can protect you from the cube's acid. Haptooth explored Undermountain and he knows a lot about gelatinous cubes. He has a gross wound where his ribs stick out.

(Dragon #127) Lord Xador: An evil noble who punished miscreants by pouring a slime on people that hardened and turned them into living statues for 5-8 days while the ooze consumes the victim's fluids.

(Dragon Annual 1999) Volhon: A slime wizard who invented a slew of really cool slime spells.

(Dragon Annual 1999) Shandrila (human rogue), Fedrico and Javorik (gnome illusionists): A band of adventurers who survived a harrowing encounter with a gray ooze.

(Inner Planes) The Warlock of Ooze: A wizard from Krynn who was accidentally infused with the essence of chaos. He watches over a town in the paraelemental plane of ooze.

(Dungeon #132) Morbion: An ooze master who worships Juiblex. He considers humanoids to be "Slaves of Shape". Morbion teams up with an olive slime and is based out of the “sickstone caves” in the Greyhawk setting.

Ghaunadaur: A Forgotten Realms god of slimes. He’s a drow who was once allied with Lolth but split off to do his own things. His followers are outcasts and rebels. He is an ancient entity, and apparently some people think Juiblex might be an aspect of Ghaunadaur. Tons of info here.

(Dungeonscape) Bol Darus: A drow wizard who worshiped Ghaunadaur. Bol was eventually killed by an ooze, and oozes took over his sanctum. Supposedly the sanctum has treasure stashed in secret rooms and warded areas that the slimes can’t get to.

(Dungeon 192) Kyrzin, Prince of Slime: This is an Eberron NPC. He is linked to the far realm and is something of a godlike entity. Creatures who worship him do so out of fear more than anything.

(Dead in Thay) Therzt, Champion of Ghaunadaur: He’s an evil, insane drow who punishes himself when he fails.

(Out of the Abyss) Glabbagool: An intelligent, somewhat friendly gelatinous cube.

(Out of the Abyss) The Pudding King: An unhinged, slime-covered deep gnome who amassed an army of hundreds of oozes. He actually tears away his human guise and transforms into an ooze.

Bwimb and Bwimb II: The Paraelemental Plane of Ooze was ruled by an “ooze baron” named Bwimb. Bwimb was slain by Tenebrous in the classic adventure, Dead Gods. Bwimb II took over rulership of the realm, and she is believed to be either the spawn or the congealed remains of Bwimb I.

Neither of these entities have ever been statted out. There’s all of these tiny nuggets of information in old products, just one scattered idea here and there. The biggest notes are that Bwimb II is a fairly minor entity and is quite aware of it. She has forged some sort of pact or alliance with Juiblex, and she pines for Ben-Hadar, the good-aligned elemental prince of water. Bwimb is linked to the classic adventure “The Mud Sorcerer’s Tomb”, where it is revealed that she is worshiped by mud sorcerers, who built special boats that can sail on and in mud.

I made this guide to research and prepare to write a DMs Guild ooze-based adventure. I'm definitely going to stat out and write up Bwimb II in it.

Where Do Slimes Come From?

The 5e Monster Manual tells us the deal. It says that it is written in the Demonomicon of Iggwilv (!) that oozes are scattered fragments or offspring of the demon lord Juiblex. Juiblex can control oozes and imbue them with intelligence.

In older editions, it is said over and over again that some are created by wizards, and some are the results of spells gone wrong.  From the 2e Monstrous Manual: "Warped wizards seek to create life or fashion efficient dungeon scavengers." The origin of the 3e summoning ooze: "The result of a bizarre summoning ritual gone awry".

Ooze Characters

You can be an ooze person! In 3rd edition, at least.

(Dragon #297) Ooze Para-Genasi: Ooze para-genasi are repulsive and slimy. They are most often neutral with a slight tendency toward evil. They are usually heavy-set, with flabby bodies and sallow skin. Most exhibit a mall number of traits that hint at their ancestry, such as greasy skin or unusually flexible limbs.  They have darkvision, a high constitution, resistant to acid and can cast grease once per day.

(Masters of the Wild) Oozemaster: Wizards who have mastered ooze! They have special ooze powers:
  • Minor Oozy Touch: Their hands secrete ooze, make things glow, do acid damage, etc
  • Oozy Glob: Throws oozy globs!
  • Slithery Face: A master of disguise!
  • Malleability: Squeezes through cracks with the greatest of ease.
  • Indiscernable Anatomy: Your innards are a mystery.
  • One with the Ooze: You have blindsight, ooze immunities, and you can't be polymorphed.
You can also learn a special spell:

(lvl 7) Slime Wave: 15 ft radius cone, covers the targets with green slime.

Forsooth! A 4th edition oozemaster!?

(Dragon #413) Oozemaster: These spellcasters live alone, save for Ghaunadaur's insane whispers that keep them company. They like scouring enemies with acid. They’ve got powers:
  • Sudden Slime: A sudden explosion of green slime covers your opponents in corrosive acid. Does acid damage and slows them.
  • Experts at foraging and surviving.
  • Blessed with protection from oozes and slimes, resistant to acid.
  • Scouring Palm: You can secrete acid from your hands. You can melt locks and metal bars, etc.
  • Celerity Jelly: You smear the nearby ground with a slick jelly. The zone is difficult terrain for enemies and aids the movement of your allies.
  • Pudding Sight! You gain the senses of a pudding!!! Tremorsense until the end of the encounter.
(Dragon #382) Ooze Familiar: I love this idea. In Dragon #382 we get a tiny gelatinous cube familiar. “This palm-sized ooze tickles you with its weak acid.” It moves really slow and grants you acid resistance. It consumes nonliving organic objects that it touches at a rate of 1 pound of material per round.

Ooze Adventures

I’m sure there’s many more out there, but here’s the official D&D ooze adventures that I found.

Out of the Abyss

Out of the Abyss has two ooze-related scenarios.

The Oozing Temple: There's a mini adventure in Out of the Abyss where the group ends up stuck in a temple. Their air supply is running out and water is starting to fill the whole place. This is basically a two page dungeon but it feels like a full adventure, it’s pretty amazing.

The group meets Glabbagool, a gelatinous cube that gained intelligence and the ability to communicate telepathically when Juiblex showed up in the Underdark.

The Battle for Blingdenstone: Later in the book, the heroes might have to deal with The Pudding King. He lives in the Pudding Court, a cave inhabited by hundreds of ooze creatures. The group needs to raise a force to come in and take care of the Pudding King.

(Dungeon Magazine #132) Caverns of the Ooze Lord

This is set in Greyhawk. There's a cleric named Morbion who worships Juiblex. He has been using an olive slime to infect villagers, turning them into slime zombies. According to this, olive slime and green slime neutralize each other.

(Dungeon Magazine #193) The Gauntlgrym Gambit

In this one, the group is looking for the fabled dwarven city of Gauntlgrym. They're checking out a dungeon in a sinkhole and get up to their neck in oozes.

There's one encounter called the Sea of Slime, where the group has to walk on a toppled statue to cross a chasm. "Viscous sludge fills the abyss beneath the statue, its quivering surface of mottled yellow, green and brown. Worse, there are ooze tendrils coming out of the cracks of the statue!

Dead in Thay

There’s an entire section of the Doomvault devoted to slimes. The wizards are experimenting on them. They’re trying to bind slimes to undead, they’re trying to make them intelligent, all sorts of stuff. There are two memorable ooze entities in this:
  • The White Maw: A tall white column that is intelligent, but insane. It can communicate telepathically.
  • The Ooze Master: A red pillar that flows like viscous fluid. It can pull you into it and turn you into an ooze puddle.
City of Oozes

In the Forgotten Realms, there’s an Underdark city named Llurth Dreir. This place is a wreck, home to Ghaunadaur worshipers who fight each other over food. People avoid this city mainly because the avatar of Ghaunadaur actually lurks near this place. More info here.

Slimy Doom

This is a special slime disease from the 4e DMG. "Abyssal parasites devour the internal organs of the victim, turning them into quivering slime." Once this disease gets into the final stages, you turn into infectious slime from the inside out, dying horribly.

Slime Spells

There is an awesome article in Dragon Magazine annual 199: The Slime Wizard by Lloyd Brown III.

Volhom the Slime Wizard apparently lives in Erelhei-Cinlu (a drow city in the Greyhawk setting) and he rides a giant slug. “At home, he crouches amid a court of slimes and jellies that would make Juiblex proud.”

Volhom made a million new spells. Here are some of the ones I liked best:
  • (lvl 3) Volhom's Minute Missiles: You fire off small balls of acid, one per round for at least 5 rounds. Does a lot of damage to inanimate objects.
  • (lvl 4) Slime Guardian: Your skin glistens with a chromatic sheen, like a soap bubble in the sun. You are covered by a symbiotic slime, bumping up your AC.
  • (lvl 4) Wall of Gel! It’s translucent. Creatures trying to pass through must make a save or be paralyzed!
  • (lvl 5) Gelatinous Form: The caster becomes a fluid gelatin. You can shift between your form and a shapeless blob.
List of Major Oozes, Slimes and Jellies

OK! This is not a complete list, but it should give you a look at the main oozes from each edition, plus some cool weird ones from other sources.

Some oozes appear in many editions, so I compiled the info into one thing. Judging from which entities get put in the first monster manual of each edition, it seems like the main oozes, slimes and jellies are: Gelatinous cubes, ochre jellies, black puddings and gray oozes.

(3e MM3) Arcane Ooze: "Glowing veins throb and pulse with eldritch light." Known to drain arcane magic from nearby spellcasters, an arcane ooze is 15 feet across and 3 feet thick. If you try to cast a spell within 30 feet of this thing, you make a save or lose a random spell of the highest spell level that you have available!

Assassin Jelly: An urban predator that lurks in sewers near intersections, using tremorsense to pick out lone city dwellers after dusk. They actually follow people to their home and kill them in their sleep. It looks like a street puddle and has an intelligence of 10.

(Dragon #367) Azure Jelly: Living creatures are food for this thing, which freezes prey and devours them. Azure jellies emerge spontaneously from icy places, infused with arcane energy. They have the power to let out a wave that freezes all nearby

(1e MM) Black Pudding: A compound 5 feet in diameter that is composed of groups of single cells. It can flow through narrow openings, under doors, travels on ceilings etc. It has “tiny mouths and silica” that do 3-24 dmg (a lot of damage for 1st edition!). It splits into two when chipped/struck.

In the 4e MM2, it says “this mercurial ooze slithers on the ground like a massive pool of tar, waiting to turn anything it encounters into sludge.' There are also stats for black pudding spawn, which are minions (1 hit point monsters). In a few older books, there’s an elder black pudding, which is a massive, more powerful version. 

(4e Open Grave) Blood Amniote: This ooze is composed of the blood of hundreds of creatures that died in close proximity to one another. It has tendrils that grab you and drain your blood. Legend has it that priests of Orcus once unleashed a storm that rained burning blood on two armies. They died and became blood amniotes.

(4e Underdark) Blood Ooze: Spawned from the blood of Torog (a massive, bleeding god-thing that crawls around in the Underdark), the touch of a blood ooze is toxic to living flesh. It can inhabit a living host and has great ability names like "fetid caress" and ”blood infiltration”.
(3e MM 4) Bloodfire Ooze: A lot of the 3rd edition oozes are fantastic. This 15-foot tall ooze reeks of brimstone and looks like a pool of blood with faces twisted in torment. They are made of burning blood and they can let out flame bursts.

These creatures are created in cauldrons through a ritual requiring the blood of at least 100 good or neutral humanoids, and all of the ichor from a powerful demon ("10 HD or more").

(4e Open Grave) Bloodrot: Undead jellies that form when humanoids are melted by acid. A vaguely humanoid-shaped mass that reeks of blood that squeezes you with 'blood tendrils'. They crave blood of the living.

(4e Open Grave) Bone Collector: These undead oozes kill and scavenge, collecting bones to increase their mass. Three massive bone collectors, said to be over 25 feet in diameter each, inhabit the Underdark.
(3e MM 2) Bone Ooze: This thing is extremely powerful! CR 21, 320 hit points. Also known as a "rolling graveyard". It's an undulating mass of goo the color of bleached bone that is roughly spherical, over 30 feet in diameter and weighs over 40,000 pounds! When it hits you, it absorbs some of your bone structure and heals itself at the same time. It can try to absorb the skeleton of an engulfed creature into its own mass.... good gawd. These things are awesome.

(3e MM3) Conflagration Ooze: Check that out! It contains a roaring inferno, flames and fluid swirling throughout it. Gouts of flame erupt from it skin. These creatures are intelligent, they can talk and they even hoard treasure. Anyone who comes in contact with a conflagration ooze must save or be infected with a fiery toxin and your blood begins turning into liquid flame.

(1e MM2) Crystal Ooze: This ooze is a variant of Grey ooze that is 75% invisible underwater.  Blows from weapons do only 1 point of damage per hit to it.

In the 2e MM, it says that crystal oozes can exist out of water for several hours. They spawn pods, which hatch in 7-10 days. They will eat their own offspring.

(1e MM2) "Deadly Pudding" This is a category that lists brown puddings, dun puddings and white puddings. All of these things do a lot of damage., anywhere from 5-20 (5d4), up to 7-28 (7d4).
  • Brown Pudding: Dwells in marshes. Tough skin, doesn't destroy metal, does destroy leather and wood.
  • Dun Pudding: Found in arid regions, dissolves leather, eats metal half as fast as black puddings.
  • White Pudding: Cold-dwellers, 50% chance they are mistaken for snow and ice. Do not affect metal, dissolve animal/vegetable in one round.
(3e MM 2) Flesh Jelly: This one is very powerful. CR 19, 237 hit points. That is a truly repulsive creature. It rolls over foes and absorbs them into its mass. You make a save. Fail: You die! "A successful save prevents absorption that round". It expels your belongings from its body after it absorbs you. You can't be raised from the dead! Only a wish spell can bring you back. I love this one.

(1e MM) Gelatinous Cube: These clear cubes of ooze clean carrion from underground passageways. They are transparent and difficult to see. They can't digest potions, daggers, such material remains in body for several weeks before being cast out. It can paralyze you. You are "anesthetized for 5-20 melee rounds" as digestive secretions digest you.

In the 2e MM2 it says that sometimes, they reabsorb their spawn. In this article on the wizards site, we get a few variants:
  • Half-Farspawn Gelatinous Cube: So… a being from the far realm mated with a cube. How about that? This cube can assume the form of a grotesque, tentacled mass.
  • Gelatinous Cube Monk: This cube trained in a monastery for years, honing its skills and achieving inner peace. Speed 45 feet! Flurry of blows! Maybe it learned this stuff by consuming a monk?
(Dragon #124) The Ecology of the Gelatinous Cube

This is written by Ed Greenwood and is framed inside a scene where a wizard named Haptooth is holding a lecture on gelatinous cube to other wizards and sages. Haptooth claims to have created an antidote to the gelatinous cube paralyzation effect. Stuff we learn:
  • Gelatinous cubes are also known as an “athcoid.”
  • The Zoo of Amn has or had a gelatinous cube for at least 12 years.
  • Gelatinous cubes have no thoughts, respond automatically
  • They are attracted to vibrations and warmth.
  • Merging: Two can merge into one greater cube. Double cubes are 10 x 10 x 20, more of a rectangle. Eventually it divides again. Contact with a third cube causes division, they can't combine more than two.
  • To Reproduce: A cube must grow to sufficient size, then split into two.
  • They anesthetize their prey via a gummy secretion which is absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin of the victim. 
  • They can't digest metal.
  • They can move about underwater with ease, but their poison is diluted.
  • Haptooth's Antidote: It removes the paralysis within 1-4 rounds. Has no effect on other forms of paralysis. Not magical! Derived from the digestive juices.
(Dragon Magazine Annual 1997) Ghaunadan: These are intelligent ooze creatures that serve Ghaunadaur, god of oozes, slimes and jellies. These creatures have full control over their semi-liquid bodies. can pass through cracks. They can assume a humanoid form for up to 15 hours at a time, taking the form of a human male or a female drow. They have a paralytic slime attack, they’re resistant to bludgeoning and they can actually form around a weapon trying to strike it, capturing the weapon. And trapping it like a fly in amber. Their humanoid form is pleasing! CHA 15 or grater. If they look into someone's eyes, their gaze is equal to a friends spell.

(3e MM 5) Graveyard Sludge: When this sludge kills a creature, that creature’s remains rise up as a slightly more powerful than normal zombie in d4 rounds. It can give bonuses to nearby undead. They form spontaneously in graveyards, and suck spiritual energy from cadavers.

Gray Ooze: This ooze resembles wet stone and corrodes metal. It is immune to spells! The largest ones are intelligent and develop psionic abilities.

(Dragon Annual 1999) The Ecology of the Gray Ooze

This one contains a story about two gnomes and a human trying to loot a chest in a cave, but a gray ooze kicks the crap out of them. Factoids:
  • No Surprise: You can't sneak up on a gray ooze because it "sees" everywhere at once.
  • Gray oozes reproduce asexually by budding. They eat a large meal, and release a pod the size of a small stone. In 2-3 days, the stone hatches a new gray ooze. The ooze absorbs the stone shell and wanders off in search of food.
  • Gray oozes are roughly oval in shape and they can climb stairs, but not walls. They move very slow and can go for weeks between meals.
  • Their surface is covered in pits and grooves. It is like a pit viper, detects heat at a range of 30 feet.
  • In combat, it strikes like a snake. It devours carcasses completely. Once at you’re -20 hp, you can't be raised or resurrected.
  • It cannot detect cold-blooded creatures such as reptiles, insects, and arachnids.
  • Psionics: Some grey oozes have psionic powers.
  • Their mucous coating is a valuable ingredient in making oil of acid resistance. It must be harvested within 5 rounds of its death.
In the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual, we learn that they are up to 12 feet long. Weapons striking them corrode and break. Metalworkers of great skill keep very small gray oozes in stone jars to etch and score their metal work.

In the 4th edition Monster Manual 2, it says that gray oozes are major nuisances in archaeological expeditions. In 4e, their main attack is called "bone melt". Each time a gray ooze hits you, your defenses go down by 2.

(MM) Green Slime: A strange plant growth found in subterranean places. Although they cannot move, they slowly grow. They can sense vibrations and attach to living flesh. In 1-4 rounds after attachment, the victim becomes green slime and can’t be resurrected. Green slime can be scraped off, frozen or burned. Cure disease spells kill them. Other forms of attack don't harm it. There are reports of huge slimes and colonies of dozens of them.

In the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual, we learn that sunlight dries green slimes out and eventually kills them. They are an infestation that all creatures avoid. Once a green slime has infected an area, it tends to grow back, even after being frozen or burned away.

(2e MM) Mustard Jelly: A young wizard tried to polymorph herself into an ochre jelly and her spell failed. She became the first mustard jelly. Mustard jelly is yellowish-brown, translucent and has a faint odor of mustard plants. They can secrete a vapor in a 10-foot radius that makes you lethargic – you move at half-speed. It can divide itself at will. Cannot move through tiny spaces or climb ceilings. Immune to normal weapons. Magic missiles cause a mustard jelly to grow and heals it. Cold does half damage, and it is harmed normally by other attacks.

(2e MM) Ochre Jelly: A giant amoeba that seeps through cracks, devouring flesh and cellulose. They travel on walls and ceilings. Lightning bolts divide them.

(MM2) Ooze Paraelemental: Also called a mud elemental, this is a liquid mass of dark, writhing tendrils. It uses its tendrils to constrict.

(MM2) Olive Slime: A strain of monstrous plant life akin to green slime. Olive Slimes feed on animals, vegetables and metal. It exudes a numbing poison and spreads over victim's body. sending tendrils into the body to feed on the host. It ultimately attaches to the spinal area and the host transforms into a slime creature in 1-2 weeks.

The 2nd edition Monstrous Manual says that the victim might not notice that the slime is on them. in 2d4 hours, the victim's main concern is how to feed, protect and sustain the olive slime. The victim keeps its bond with the slime secret from allies.

(Plane Below) Primeval Ooze: A weapon made by the primordial built to consume agents of the gods, primeval oozes roam the elemental chaos. A primeval ooze is ever-hungry and it envies advanced creatures. It uses pseudopods to pull you inside it. When you hit it, a cyst pops and sprays burning acid. It can eject a torrent of slime that immobilizes. They can't speak, but understand the primordial language.

(3e MM 2) Reason Stealer: This thing is brownish-yellow. It steals your intelligence and then it can roughly mimic your shape, in a vague and blobby way. It can't talk, but can randomly mumble words in that creature's language. That is awesome. All of that lasts one day. It can even cast your spells, use your ability score/skills/plus to hit! I think this one is my favorite.

(Planar Handbook) Shadow Jelly: A pool of undulating darkness, a non-sentient shadow that feeds on life and light. Made from concentrated shadow-stuff, shadow jellies drain all of the warmth and life from its target.

(Dragon 367) Shadow Slime: These slimes dwell in the Shadowfell and they can extinguish lights and drain your lifeforceA shadow slime attaches to a victim, and when it is struck, the victim takes half the damage. They are cunning and stealthy.

(MM2) Slime Creature: These are the metamorphosed hosts of olive slimes, vegetable creatures linked symbiotically with the olive slime. When they hit someone, there is a 10% chance that they infect their opponent with olive slime.

In the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual, they are also known as "slime zombies". The symbiotic bond to their host is secure within 200 miles. To return a slime zombie to normal, you need a limited wish spell! When dropped to 0 hp, they become a puddle of olive slime.

(2e MM) Slithering Tracker: Transparent plasma-draining jellies that move silently, seep through cracks, and prefer to attack sleeping or unconscious creatures. They secrete a substance that paralyzes you for 12 hours, during which it devours your plasma. Your corpse will look dehydrated. These things are actually created in a hideous process involving a living human being wherein dark wizards remove the bones of their enemies, turning them into hulking masses of jelly-like flesh.

(3e MM3) Snowflake Ooze: This does not need a safe space and it is not a "cuck". It's pretty much just a snowy ooze with a cold aura that does d6 cold damage to creatures who start their turn next to it.

(3e MM3) Spirit Ooze: Ravenous, incorporeal creatures created when wisps of matter from insubstantial undead congeal into a single amorphous entity. They have little sentience and are elusive.

Stunjelly: Relative of the gelatinous cube. These were originally designed by a forgotten mage to resemble a stone wall. Light passes through it and it smells like vinegar. They reproduce by fission, making a horrendous rending sound. It carries around undigested metals and can't slither under doors.

(Monstrous Compendium Annual 2) Stone Pudding: Solid and sluggish, a thick lump that hides on ceilings. It drops on you and absorbs your flesh over 1-10 rounds. They can't eat metal/wood/leather. Their remains are used as ingredient in oil of acid resistance.

(Monstrous Compendium Annual 2) Subterranean Pudding: A colony of hundreds of living organisms in a single pudding that has sensory organs on its underside. Sages believe that they are all altered black puddings. They don't divide, they split into two, each half just as powerful as the original.
  • Gray Pudding: More corrosive than black pudding, gray puddings dissolve their victims completely. They are susceptible to flesh to stone spells – it slows them.
  • Dense Pudding: These puddings are slow, dark blue, easy to spot, and ooze secretions that corrode  living flesh. Those hit by a dense pudding must make a save or succumb to a "debilitating disease" (which is not described).

(3e MM3) Summoning Ooze: An ooze with glowing arcane symbols. It can summon monsters. That is a really cool idea.

(3e MM3) Teratomorph: Another huge, powerful ooze. It lives deep underwater, but sometimes it washes up on the beach. Portions of it flickers with light. These things are infused with chaos, their very presence can tear holes in the fabric between the planes! When it hits you, you roll on a chart for a special effect, such as causing "tiny portions of the opponent' anatomy to vanish" or being polymorphed into a random new form.

Every round that you are close to a teratomorph, you make a save or be shifted to another plane! When it moves, it fires off random spells. There's a chart for that too. My first instinct was to ignore this thing because its name doesn't match the others (maybe they should have called this a Chaos Ooze or something) but I'm glad I didn't overlook it.

(Dragon Magazine #127) Xador's Fluid: If it hits, it combines with living skin, hardening to rock. The victim is solidified, as if coated with plastic. Make a save - success keeps it out of your nose and mouth. Fail: You pass out in one round, die d4 rounds later! While attached, it drains 1 hp per turn. After 5-8 days, it reliquifies and divides in two. Barkskin spells destroy Xador’s Fluid. A blow with a weapon shatters Xador’s fluid, but it also harms the victim.

Xador’s Fluid was named after Lord Xador, an evil noble who used this stuff to punish miscreants. Their hardened forms were displayed as statues until they died. You can use Xador’s Fluid as armor if carefully apply it to yourself for five rounds to apply. You can wear only normal clothing under it. It’s painfully tight and you can't sleep while wearing it.


DMs Guild New 5e Ooze Stats (pay what you want)
Dungeon Dozen Ooze Table
Awesome ideas for oozes - Alchemical oozes, Violet Ooze, etc.
5e Slime Creature Stats

Monday, June 19, 2017

Planescape - Blood War XV. The Endless Maze

I just put out the second adventure in my Litany of Arrows path, Warpath of Gruumsh. I put in a whole section of “downtime adventures” at the end that I think does a good job of simulating what I do in this campaign every week. For the adventure, I made a bunch of mini-charts for specific carousing scenarios. It’s very joke-y, but I figured it was bonus content, so DMs can just throw it in the garbage if it’s not their style.

DM Burnout: While I was preparing this one, I was thinking about writer’s block. I think most of us DMs have, at one time or another, hit a wall, creatively.

Back in middle school, I ran my first campaign, which was well-received. In high school, I ran my second. Also well-received! 10th grade hit, and I hit a wall. I had some ideas for the third campaign, but everything felt very stale and I just couldn’t come up with anything worth running.

I actually stopped running games for the group, and other players filled the void. I still ran a few long term side campaigns (Al Qadim and 2e Ravenloft), but I just couldn’t get my own homemade setting straight.

The First Campaign: I think everybody has that big storyline they want to run. Usually it’s a variation of the "big bad guy out to take over the kingdom, the world, the multiverse, etc" story. Once you run your first campaign to completion, some DMs can pull off a follow-up campaign that builds off of the events of the first one.

The Second Campaign: Usually, this second one pales in comparison and the DM starts to feel a bit of pressure. You can’t compete with the memories of the “golden time”, the first 7 or 8 sessions of D&D that people ever play.

As a DM, the pressure can build and you start to press yourself to match what you did before. It can become stressful, almost like a grind.

The Third Campaign: When that third campaign hits, you might find yourself in a weird spot. You’ve told the story you wanted to tell. Twice! All your life, you had these ideas. You used them. What now?

The Cure: That’s the spot I was in. It took me a long time, but by the end of high school I figured out the solution. For me, it was a combination of 3 things:
  1. Use published adventures and campaign settings.
  2. Use your players. Most players have a vision of their character and the cool things they want to do. Do those things!
  3. Build off of each previous session. The things the group did last time determine what happens this time. That story never ends, and it’s exciting because nobody knows where it’s going.
I haven't been burned out since that time. In fact, I have a backlog of stuff I want to run.

Pathfinder Trouble: Preparing for this one was not what I thought it would be. I was set to run a simplified version of Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth, an adventure in the maze of Baphomet, demon lord of minotaurs! This will be awesome!

But I read it, and it wasn’t what I expected. Most of the adventure takes place in a prison. There are very few encounters set in the actual maze. I dug up the 4e Baphomet article and read about the maze. Nothing too useful!

So I sat there and asked myself if I could make a maze in the time I had before the session. I tried to jot down some cool ideas, but I drew a blank. I turned to google. I found the one page dungeon site, which was a huge help. I looked at their encounters, which got the wheels turning.

What really helped the most was the 3e Book of Challenges. That is an absolutely fantastic book full of encounters for you to pull out and use.

I got rolling and ended up with too many ideas! I combined some and eliminated others, and I was excited.

Detour: Then, as I was polishing this up, I started having awesome ideas for stuff that could happen two sessions from now. It would take forever to explain. By the end of my preparation, I was dying to run that and was almost bummed I had to run this maze instead.

The Party

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

Baphomet, Demon Lord of Minotaurs

Last time, the group had obtained a divine shard that contained godly power inside of it. The heroes decided to go home and rest before heading into Baphomet’s maze to see about shutting down the portal that connected to Thanatos.

Employees: We did a bunch of joke-stuff with the group’s employees. Their talking cat is in love with a tabaxi and the group hired a new worker – she is an ooze para-elemental (a lady made of lime jell-o, basically) named Doot Fluidia. I couldn’t wait to say that name out loud.

The Greatest Thief in Sigil: The group ran into Ash Vodiran, a thief who stole a huge pile of money from them way back when. He was hitting on Theran’s baby mama! I just wanted to see if the group still hated him. They do!

Theran quietly handed Bidam his arrow of demon slaying. Bidam crept up on him and tried to stab him with it, but his stealth roll was not good. Ash immediately turned into a shadowy wisp and fled.

The group has ghost-grinding dust that can force Ash to remain substantial, but they keep forgetting that they have it. I’m in a weird spot here where I have this NPC that the group absolutely despises and I can’t figure out how to fit him in to all of these stories. He is one of the many children of
Graz’zt and Iggwilv, so I should definitely get on the ball.

Four Balls: I’m guessing you don’t want to hear to much about this, so I’ll keep it brief and vague. Bidam attached a demon scrotum to his undercarriage, so now he’s got four balls. The demon balls are BALOR BALLS that pulse with energy. He went to take a leak and his stream was so powerful that it shattered the thing he was peeing into.
Graz'zt, Demon Lord of Azzagrat

Skyshrine: At Theran’s floating castle, they walked in on Graz’zt threatening the group’s succubus nurse friend. Graz’zt was flipping out on her, because he was telling her to charm the group and she was refusing.

She got turned to stone last session, and the group paid to have her restored to normal. They saved her! She is loyal to the heroes, now.

Graz’zt drew his blade, wave of sorrow. Acid dripped from the blade to the floor.

The heroes sprung into action. Graz’zt glared at them and demanded that the group convince the devils help Graz'zt's army get into the layer that Verin (a demon who betrayed Graz’zt) is hiding in.

The group refused. Graz’zt made an ominous threat - “There will be consequences.”

This sets up what I want to do in two sessions. Graz’zt is going to do a bunch of crazy crap that will lead to a chain reaction of epic madness.

Demon-Breeding Farm: The group is in a moral quandary. They’ve been making demon crustaceans known as nephrotics. It turns out that the nephrotics are delicious, and there’s a lot of money to be made in selling them to restaurants as if they were lobsters. The group firmly decided against it. I honestly wasn’t sure what they’d do with this, that’s why I threw that out there.

The group found out that Graz’zt had been here, too. He actually stabbed Areelu, the NPC that runs this place. Graz’zt is in a bad mood because Iggwilv found out that he’s been messing around with Lamashtu (Iggwilv chanced upon the Graz’zt/Lamashtu baby in the nursery last session).

Divine Shard: The heroes studied the divine shard that fell out of the Charnel God last session. I based this off of the Nahyndrian crystals from Wrath of the Righteous. Basically, they can make it into an elixir and keep it in an iron flask. Once opened, it must be consumed within one minute or it EXPLODES for 15d6 in a 30 foot radius. When you drink it, you must make a Con save:
  • Fail: In Pathfinder terms, you take 4d6 points of Constitution damage – if you drop to 0 Con or less, you die. I haven’t exactly figured out how to handle this in 5e rules, I might just leave it like that.
  • Success: You gain MYTHIC POWER. That’s a pathfinder thing. For this game, I’m saying that it takes you on the road to becoming a god. The group’s friend, Bovina, wants to become the god of minotaurs. Now they have a thing to do it. The problem is that if she drinks it, she might die.
Soul Larvae, Pathfinder-style
Soul Larvae: The group went to the Gray Waste to rustle up a herd of soul larvae. They did so, having an encounter with a mega-popular NPC from previous campaigns: Burba Larga, the not-so-smart stepdaughter of Baba Yaga.

The group got a huge pile of larvae (keeping them in a herd by using chromatic orb spells and other magic). They split half with their hag friend, Virinis (who lives in the screaming tower from “Umbra”, which I ran way back when).

They had to decide who to give it to. Whichever demon lord got the larvae could use them to gain power. The choices:
  • Pazuzu: Demon Lord of the 1st layer of the Abyss. Nope.
  • Graz’zt: Get on his good side? Nope.
  • Xanthopsia, Queen of Obscenity: Was it finally her time to shine? Nope!
  • Uralinda, Queen of the Harpies: She’s the one who asked them to get the larvae in the first place. The group decided not to give it to her, because they were afraid she’d break up with Pazuzu and then Pazuzu would be angry at the heroes.
  • Bazuuma: Yes, they gave more soul larvae to Bazuuma, demon lord of positive energy. With her new power, she created a massive floating complex in the plane of positive energy that is safe for demons to inhabit. This is a sort of emergency lair to flee too in case things get dire.
The Endless Maze
Odeenka the Marilith
Finally! Let’s do the maze! The group went through the portal and met Odeenka, a really cool-looking marilith from the ivory labyrinth adventure. In that book, she pretty much attacks the group.

In my game, Odeenka was very, very open to being bribed. She netted herself a javelin of lightning and other fabulous prizes.

The group ended up wandering the maze for about 10 days. This adventure was an opportunity to build up Bovina, the female minotaur. She helped the group navigate the maze, getting advantage on survival checks (every day you have to make a DC 15 survival check to make progress in the maze). She rolled ridiculously well, so it worked out perfectly.

They actually ran out of rations and were getting worried about food. The maze has all sorts of different sections, some of which I used from Pathfinder and some I just made up.

NPCs: In the pathfinder adventure, Baphomet periodically releases prisoners in the maze so that he and his minotaurs can hunt them. I had found this list of characters from Whose Line is it, Anyway? and I modeled some of these prisoners after them. As the group traveled, they added these people to their group:
  • Old Man Glorm: Cowardly old bystander in a western.
  • Dakra: Middle-aged woman who is proud of her body.
  • Eo Kaplan: Michael Jackson turning into a werewolf (he’s a gnoll).
They met Eo Kaplan almost right away (“Captain Eo”) and I started doing the high-pitched Michael Jackson voice. This guy was an instant hit.

The Bone Maze
  • Wall Trap: A wall panel smeared Bidam and Theran, crushing them against the opposite wall. They took 4d10 damage per round! Bidam smashed through it and pulled it back enough for Theran to slip out.
  •  Ettin: A sleeping Ettin completely blocked their path. Stealth checks: everyone rolled extremely high!! Did not expect that!
  •  Michael "Hee Hee" Jackson: Hi I’m Eo Kaplan. I’m not like other guys.
The Endless Towers

Oostarix, Eater of Men

A maze of towers connected by elevated walkways over a misty void.
  • The Iron Door: This door had a mouth and bragged that nobody had ever solved its two riddles! You can’t go through the iron door until you do so. I googled two easy riddles and George was all over this thing! He nailed both in seconds.
  • The Minotaur: Old Man Glorm was being chased by a minotaur. The idea was for the group to run down this hallway, while portcullis traps dropped. The heroes might have ended up trapped between two portcullises while the minotaur tore the bars open and came at them. Instead… Theran disintegrated the minotaur in one sizzle. He was Oostarix, Eater of Men! He has cool art, he deserved better.
  • Rotating Bridge: Bovina and Eravamont Glask (Sean Connery) fell into the void. I had this whole thing where there’s gnomes and catapults down there. The NPCs catapulted back up, and the group barely caught Eravamont. He almost went over the bridge and back down.
The Silver Stairs

Stairs up and down, spiral stairs, etc. The walls were mirrors.
  • The Reflections: Their reflections tried to get the group to touch the mirrors, but the heroes refused.
  • Circular Room: Baphomet himself appeared in the mirrors. He questioned the group. He realized that they were working with the devils, and relished the idea of killing them. He told them that the device to shut down the portal was in his tower, the Lyktion! It, too, is a maze. Next session, the group will try to navigate that maze while Baphomet himself hunts them.
  • Trap: The central part of the floor dropped out beneath them. All of the new NPCs except for Eo failed their saves and fell to their death. Way down there was a hedge maze full of labyrinth minotaurs… but the group avoided it. They continued on.
  • Haagenti’s Bridge: They came upon a bridge outside lined with statues of minotaurs with glowing eyes. At the middle was an amber statue of Haagenti, other of minotaurs. Inside it was a black flame – the vestige of Haagenti. Like the vestiges in Curse of Strahd, you could make a pact with her and receive a boon.
Bovina decided to do so. Haagenti forced them to go through three tests to prove that Bovina was worthy of the honor! An ice maze formed around them.

Haagenti’s Ice Maze
  • The Slide: The group ended up on a slide with three giants froze in massive blocks of ice sliding after them. Eo got squashed by the cubes, totally dead. The group immediately began brainstorming ways to bring him back to life. He rose up as an undead gnoll (now he’s even more Thriller-like) and we continued.
  • The ice maze was melting and the un-frozen giants were chasing them! They came to a hallway with a series of sheets of ice blocking their path. The idea was that Bovina could try to minotaur-charge through them, but Theran immediately dropped a fireball. This melted the sheets, but also melted the dungeon!
The group freaked out and ran, making it to the final room.

The exit was a swirling portal on the other end of a frozen lake with thin ice. The group tried to daintily cross. Theran cast levitate on Eravamont and handed him a rope, pulling the floating dustman across as if he was a birthday balloon.

Theran failed his save and the ice gave way beneath his feet. He tried to hold onto the rope to dangle, but he was unable. He fell into the freezing water.

The three giants jumped into the pool and lunged at Theran. Bidam, Bovina, and Eo were at the portal, but didn’t want to leave without the other two. Theran ended up swimming over to the heroes, but Eravamont was still dangling by the ceiling.

The giants had passed by him and were adjacent to Theran. Bidam tried to pull him out but took three devastating opportunity attacks while doing so.

Theran tried a maneuver. He misty stepped to Eravamont. They both fell in the water. Then Theran cast thunderwave to create a sonic blast to propel them through the air and over the giants. Arcana check! His roll: A 20!

Boom, the group escaped and the test had been passed.

The portal too them right to the front doors of the Lyktion, Baphomet’s tower. They’ll go through that next time!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Planescape - Blood War XIV. The Charnel God of Orcus

We got a late start for this one, so I had to cram a lot into a short period of time. I know a lot of DMs run things at a different pace and I think that a lot of people would have just let the group go at their own speed, but I like to chop through it and honestly, I don’t think it hurts the game too much. Nobody seems to mind, anyway.

In D&D I feel like there’s a lot of wasted time at the table. If you watch people play, it tends to be pretty boring. I’ve developed this spastic style where a few phrases get uttered many times per session:
  • “Anybody doing anything else special?”
  • “Do you go do X or do you want to do something else?”
Waffling: When you let the players sit there and haggle over what to do next, a lot of weird things happen. Sometimes the players wait for someone else to decide. Sometimes one person wants to do something, but isn’t heard. Sometimes a faction of players get into shenanigans because they’re getting bored or annoyed that a decision hasn’t been made.

I want to run a full session in under two hours. To do so, I have to set fire to all that stuff. Let’s cut to the chase! Give them the chance to do whatever they want and then move on.

I went overboard with preparing again, so this one was crammed with material.

We started off with a bunch of downtime stuff.

Scorpion Tail: Theran had a demonic scorpion tail attached to his above-butt region. I gave him the tlincalli (from Volo’s Guide to Monsters) power. It paralyzes! He’s 13th level, what the hell.

High-Pitched Metal: In the neighborhood where the group lives, there’s a mad scientist-type who makes golems. He sewed the tail onto Theran.

His name is “Dr. Stein”, which is a reference to a song by a band called Helloween. When I was a kid, I found this song to be both utterly ridiculous/delightful. My friends used to ask me to sing the one part in a thick German accent: “Dr. Shteen grows funny creatures! Lets them run – (super-high 80’s metal voice) into the niiigghhtt!" I timestamped it for you.

I should mention that Bidam got a demon scrotum sewn on, so now he has two sacks and four balls  – 2 dragonborn, 2 demon. Personally I thought it would have been cooler if there were four balls in one sack, but it’s not my character! My campaign is stupid.

The group did a bunch of goofy stuff with the new employees at their main festhall. Jessie finds it hilarious that their talking cat (Jysson, from the very 1st session of the campaign) is attracted to the new tabaxi (cat-lady from Volo's) so I’m milking that for all it’s worth.

I made sure to show Eravamont Glask canoodling with ladies. He’s my Sean Connery NPC. I realized the group has a huge pile of female NPC allies and not-so-many males, so I’m using him to try to even things out a bit.

Red Shroud: The succubus known as Red Shroud, who is a fairly major NPC from earlier editions, lives in Sigil now and is running something of a spy/information-dealing business. I am thinking of building up a sort of secret war between her and Shemeshka the Marauder.

She tipped the group off that the devil festhall had a new owner – Lilis, wife of Dispater (the lord of the second layer of hell). I think technically, she’s an archdevil and can’t enter Sigil, but for my campaign I’m saying technically she’s not an archdevil.

Honestly I am very confused in general about which devils can leave hell. Many supplements infer that none of them can, but then a whole bunch of other supplements have them coming and going all the time.

The group met with Lilis and I got to introduce her three male erinyes minions. One is her bodyguard, one is her messenger, and one is a super-handsome guy that Lilis adores name Sintelis. Jessie seemed very interested in this dude and I got the feeling she’s got something up her sleeve. I’ll keep dangling this guy out there and we’ll see what she does with it.

Lilis tried to get the group to give her information on the 1st layer of hell. The group knows one of Zariel’s secrets – she’s nuts and she talks to severed angel heads. I wanted to see if the group would spill it. They didn’t.

Demon-Making Farm: The group picked up more adult nephrotics (demon crustaceans). The heroes found out last session that the nephrotics taste delicious, and reluctantly sold four of them to Red Shroud so she could sell them to restaurants.

Skyshrine: At Theran’s floating castle in the Abyss, there was a problem. They could hear the babies crying. These babies are all children of Graz’zt, and one of them is clearly a child of Graz’zt and Lamashtu.

They went into the nursery and found that the succubus nurse had been turned to stone, and Iggwilv was here glaring at the baby! Iggwilv is angry that Graz’zt made a baby with Lamashtu.

This was a tricky little thing, here. I wanted to show that Iggwilv was now on their side, sort of. She wants Iggwilv dead. I also reminded them that Iggwilv knows Lamashtu’s truename – Lamashtu is under her control, to a degree. Iggwilv might be able to summon and bind her! Lamashtu is the big villain of this whole thing, so it’s kind of a big deal.

I also wanted to show that Iggwilv is powerful. She had a sorcerous duel with Theran a few sessions back, and Theran was a bit cocky about it. She was using low level spells! I decided she wanted to show him how powerful she was and that he’d better do as she says. I looked up her 3e stats and just grabbed a few spells:
  • Counterspell: I read up on it to make sure I ran it right. As a reaction, you can just shut down a spell. If you use a higher slot, you can auto-shut down almost any spell with no roll!
  • Dispel Magic: I grabbed this in case Theran created some sort of effect
  • Banishment: I thought it would be awesome to use this spell on the group and send them back to my homebrew setting for the 1 minute duration of the spell.
For the purposes of this encounter, her DC was a 16 and her spell attack bonus was a +10. I took these numbers right from a CR 22 mind-flayer alhoon from Volo’s. I have statistical wiggle-room because this Iggwilv is actually a simulacrum – a clone made of ice and snow.

The 3e stats give her a staff of power, so I pulled out the staff of power sheet I use for my Eberron character and I was good to go.

The group got nervous that she was going to hurt the baby. She ranted and raved, and I dropped all of that Lamashtu info. Then she cast fireball on the heroes, not hitting the babies, but setting the place on fire.

Bidam charged and she banished him.

Theran cast disintegrate. Counterspell. She cast cone of cold… he was hurt really bad. He cast something else. Counterspell. She dropped him with magic missile, I think.

Bidam appeared in my homebrew city of Olwynn. In my previous campaign, Bidam had a job taking care of a slow-witted goblin named Slurp, who lived in a tower owned by Pollidemia the Wicked, a reformed villain who’s been in my campaigns for many years.

This went over well, as I had hoped. The winged wolves barked and jumped around excitedly. Slurp yelled “Daddy!” and ran over. Pollidemia took a look at Bidam. Bidam originally was a dragonborn who picked through trash to eke out a living. Now here he was with gleaming golden armor and a massive sword of sharpness. She was most impressed. Then.. Bidam vanished. He was back at Skyshrine.

Iggwilv was gone. Bidam healed Theran and they put out the fire.

I had mixed feelings about this because I don’t like it when the heroes fight creatures that they are no match for. I justify this one by saying that it is all to build anticipation for the day when they do take her on and defeat her. It should make it feel rewarding and well-earned.

Sigil: The nurse had been turned to stone. The group brought her to Sigil and paid to have her restored. She was first enraged and began trashing the temple she’d been restored in. They politely asked her to leave.

Then she realized the group had saved her. Demons are not used to acts of kindness, so the group has earned her loyalty.

Burningwater: The 9th layer of the Abyss, home to Bidam’s wife, Bazuuma – demon lord of positive energy. The heroes had given her a pile of soul larvae. She consumed them, and gained greater power!

She used it to transform her kids – abyssal dragons named Pyranicus and Pyranica – into Young Adult Dragons. They were quite excited and asked Bidam if they could fly around and go on adventures with him. The kids were told in no uncertain terms that they were never to leave this plane without permission.

New Demon: Bazuuma gained the power to create a more powerful demon type! The chain of progression goes like this:
  1. Jovocs
  2. Red Unicorns with foul mouths
  3. Oculus Demons!
Oculus demons are from Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, which is a pretty great adventure that, like many others, goes unheralded.

Oculus Demons

These demons look really cool and they have a bunch of eyes, including eyes on their fingertips. They can shoot three rays per round. The rays are of negative energy. They do damage and slowly paralyze you!

Negative energy! Bazuuma is a demon lord of positive energy, it feels like it fits so well to just flip their beams to positive energy. They fit this NPC like a glove! I should probably have an oculus demon NPC sidekick for a few sessions to get another male in the mix and to kind of reinforce that they exist and that Bazuuma’s power is growing.

New Abyssal Realm: Last session, the group pulled a layer of the Abyss into Hell. They saw a new abyssal layer forming in the void where the old one had been.

Theran bought a scroll of plane shift and cast it (casting off a scroll is a rule I can never remember!).

I should note that Theran had to buy this scroll in Sigil. He went to the Society of Luminiferous Aether. Bovina came along. She wanted to check out a book that Theran found there last session that had details about Haagenti, the mother of minotaurs.

Bovina is a member of a faction that believes anyone can become a god. She wants to become the god of minotaurs. This was a way of setting the table for that. I got plans!

They floated in the void and saw the heart/core of the new layer. Bazuuma stuck her hands into it and crystals grew out of it.

When I was preparing this, I kept asking myself where the heck I was going to get a cool new abyssal layer from. I had no ideas! I dug through a pile of D&D stuff, and was flipping through a 3e book by Bruce Cordell called When the Sky Falls, a whole sourcebook about meteors hitting your campaign world. This is one of a billion books I’ve only flipped through and never read.

Then I remembered a pdf I have from the same line: Beyond Countless Doorways. This is a 3e book, a “planescape reunion” where people who worked on the planescape setting made up 20 new planes for you to use! New planes!!

So I dug through it and chose one. Bazuuma grew her new realm in an instant…

The Crystal Road of Deluer: Crystalline roads 30 feet wide, 6 feet thick spanning a seemingly endless blue sky. The roads connect to giant circular rocks made of a certain mineral. For now, there’s copper, bronze and mithral, among others.

On the mithral “lode” is.. The Mithral City! A city of mithral. Pretty awesome, right?

I decided Bazuuma could create a few portals, since she was forming the whole realm.
  • Plain of 1,000 Portals: Pretty much every abyssal layer has one of these, not Bazuuma’s choice.
  • A crystal tower in the plane of positive energy.
  • Deadbook Square: A secret portal hidden in a rarely-used building. The key to activate it is hair from Jysson, the talking cat.
With all that done, we finally got to the adventure.

The heroes needed to go to Thanatos, the abyssal realm that once belonged to Orcus but now is ruled by Lamashtu. Their devil army is invading.

The group made their way through the abyssal undersump. Devil guards are stationed here to hold the place, but that’s tenuous at best. They had to pay the toll to the Fulsome Queen again, which they did gleefully. She’s an official NPC from Pathfinder, a demon woman made of waste.

We got into a thing about wiping with slime which you probably don’t want to hear about.

They arrive in Thanatos. They had a mission to accomplish: Go shut down the portal to Baphomet’s Realm. If Baphomet, demon lord of minotaurs, popped through that portal and attacked the devils, the whole invasion would be ruined.
Crypt Thing
The group got on their abyssal griffons (Theran is reluctant to ride on his flying throne, for whatever reason) and they flew to the Valley of the Crypt Things.

They came upon a circle of thrones facing each other. Seated in each was a skeleton in robes. When Bidam stepped in the circle, they all stood and pointed at him. They whispered in his mind that the charnel god was loose in the Valley, and that they’d be rewarded if they dealt with it.

The charnel god is a pathfinder thing. When orcus died, shards of his divinity rocketed through the cosmos and landed in places connected to him. A shard entered into a fifteen foot tall statue of Orcus and came to life – a charnel god. Charnel gods hate their former followers, because they think it is the fault of the followers that they died.

So this charnel god of orcus is rampaging through this maze of mausoleums, causing the crypt things endless headaches. The group had to go in and find the portal to Baphomet’s maze (flying is no good due to a deadly hovering cloud of necrotic mist), so they were on their toes.

The group was going to go through three planned events, and there were three optional locations they could visit. Each location had piles of treasure. I decided that the group needed more money – cash money – so I thought this was a nice way to dump it on them.

For the optional areas, I used modified traps from the unearthed arcana traps thing. It worked fine!

Crypt of the Demon Lords: This crypt had some orcus faces on the wall, fire-breathing traps. The group did a great job of figuring it out and avoiding them. They found some stuff made of gems worth 10,000 gp, I’ll leave it to your imagination. They also found a ring with a stylized “CU” on it.

Temple of Orcus: The group had to traverse a huge temple of orcus with ornate, lode-bearing pillars. Suddenly, the charnel god exploded into the temple. It roared and charged Bidam. Bidam has the orcusword, a powerful relic of Orcus. It’s like a magnet to the charnel god.

It ran through a bunch of lode-bearing pillars and the whole ceiling collapsed. Bidam got out, but Theran was buried. He was able to misty-step out of the rubble. The charnel god was gone! Would it be back? Yes.

Crypt of The Angels: The classic Indiana Jones rolling boulder trap! The heroes made some epic die rolls and dove out of the way Treasure: Crystal chimes and a golden hourglass worth a total of 10,000 gp. A ring with a stylized “S”.

Temple of Doresain: The group needed to go through this place to keep going. They were cautious, and listened at the door. This huge temple was full of zombies! The ceiling was too low for flight, dangit. No problem, Eravamont Glask has turn undead. He was turning like crazy, creating a circle that was safe for the group to stand in.

Suddenly, the far wall exploded. Like the kool-aid man, charnel god had returned. The group smartly exploited a hole in the floor. The charnel god fell in and the group got the heck out of there. Would the charnel god be back? Yup.

Crypt of the Devils: This had a complicated trap from unearthed arcana, with slashing blades and crushing pillars. The heroes tried to ride on Theran’s flying throne to get to the treasure at the far end, but got hit by a pillar and they went hurtling in all directions. They scrambled and got the treasure: A huge pile of platinum and an emerald marital aid worth a total of 10,000 gp. Also, a ring with a stylized “OR”.

They sat there for a minute, thinking about the rings. “CU”, “S”, and “OR”. Jessie yelled “Orcus!”

Portal to the Ivory Labyrinth: Finally! The group arrived at a weird clearing – a circle of statues of orcus. All of them looked exactly like the charnel god. The portal was an archway with engravings of minotaurs and a maze design on it and appeared to be inactive. The entire area was carpeted with bodies of slain minotaurs. Apparently the charnel god was killing anyone who came through the portal.

The group scanned the area, nervous. They rolled perception checks and rolled incredibly low. I rolled for the NPCs (Eravamont and Bovina the cow lady). They rolled low, too. Dammit!

One statue came to life. The charnel god! It pounded on Bidam with a stone wand of orcus. Theran fired off a disintegrate spell, cracking it open. The group saw a swirling shard inside of it.

Somehow the group finally made a perception and they saw glowing runs on three of the statues that matched the statues of orcus. They put on the rings and took control of them!

Their statues beat the crap out of the charnel god and then Bidam reduced it to ash with two swings of the sword of sharpness.

The shimmering crystal plopped to the ground. Theran realized that it was a divine shard. With no prompting, Jessie said.. “Bovina could use that to be a god!” Yep! Sort of!

I asked them who touches the shard. I did that on purpose to give them a meta-game heads-up that maybe touching it would have consequences. They very, very carefully mage-handed it into their bag of holding.

Bad guys will want that shard! Acererak will want it! Graz’zt will want it! I’m going to base the shard’s properties on Nahyndrian crystals from Wrath of the Righteous, which I’ll talk about next time.

Next session, the group goes into Baphomet’s Maze.

Adventures in Eberron – Return to Kobold Hall

I busted out my 9th level sorcerer for some more 5th Edition Eberron stuff on Saturday. I love the staff of power that I have, but in the back of my head I worry that it’s making things difficult for the DM.

We’ve been collecting gems. We needed one more, and then we would be able to go to another world (the campaign world of our 4th edition campaign!).

I opened up my well of worlds and once again we rolled for a random Eberron plane. It was Shavarath the Battleground, a realm that was an endless battlefield. Devils, demons and angels all at war, taking and re-taking fortresses that littered the realm.

I thought that was pretty cool (I don’t know anything about Eberron) and I asked the DM if there were demon lords and archdevils here. He said that in Eberron, most entities like that are distant, if they even exist at all.

It seems like a great place for the Blood War. You could probably come up with a lot of cool stuff for this place.

We spotted the tower that we needed to get to. There was a trench between us and it. Our fighter tried to jump the trench, but barbed devils lurking in it grabbed him and pulled him in. We had a quick battle where I levitated a dude and we blasted the others with spells. Our fighter got hurt very badly.

We entered the tower and found a golem guarding the gem we needed. I’m kind of torn about what to do in these situations. I know that I can just use telekinesis to pull the gem to my hand and then cast dimension door to get back to the portal. But as a fellow DM, I feel a bit weird about it.

Powerful Characters: I feel like the DM might have to scramble, and a lot of time in the past when I ran into situations like this, I’d sort of block the player’s actions in a way that felt a bit unrealistic or heavy-handed. I think that when you’re a DM, you need to know the capabilities of your players and take them into account when you make an adventure.

In this case, though, I have so many tools at my disposal that it’s hard to design around it. It’s almost like you can’t run “item snatch” scenarios because I can pull them off so easily.

It turns out I was worried for nothing, as I realized I couldn’t dimension door, because that would leave one party member – our injured fighter, in harm’s way and he would die. So I telekinetically snatched the gem and then got stabbed! I turned our fighter invisible so he wouldn’t be a target.

We ran, and the golem caught up to me and breathed poison gas that dropped me to 4 hit points. Then I dimension doored to the portal and climbed in.

Once the gem was off the plane, the golem was confused and kind of malfunctioned. The others got through and we were successful.

We had a lot of options a far as what to do next – this campaign has a lot of storylines that we get to kind of pick through and decide what we want to do.

There’s one I am quite keen on handling. We let a succubus NPC draw from our deck of many things and she drew the donjon card – she’s trapped in a prison somewhere.

That takes a backseat for now. We wanted to use these gems and see what happened. 

Return to 4e

The next day, we used them in conjunction with my well of worlds and went through. We appeared in the Nentir Vale! The 4th edition setting! I found it very amusing. We were in 4th edition! Do we get minor actions? Don’t burn your dailies!

We were in the village of Fallcrest. In our 4e campaign, things happened and it ended up where during the day, the world crossed with the Feywild and at night it crossed with the Shadowfell.

It was daytime, so it was fey-time. We explored Fallcrest and were trolled by a number of pixie-type things that we did our best to ignore. Eventually we met the rulers, who were centaurs. They were linked to someone called the first warden.
The Transaction of Doom: Eventually we figured out that it was possible that this warden was something of our own creation. In 4th, we ended up with an extremely powerful, evil item. I think it was the headless horseman’s scythe.

We had one player fully-immersed in 4e optimization-think. He was very statistics-oriented. He decided on his own to sell the scythe for whatever he could get for it, since it didn’t fit his “build”. He did not consult us on this.

He sold an artifact of evil so he could get the next item on his magic item wishlist, a thing that gave him an extra +1 in certain conditions. Remember.. he was going to get that item soon, anyway. We were basically allowed to get one item off of our wishlist per session.

Back then, the DM found this very funny and we soon learned that the merchant that bought the scythe sold it for an incredible profit.

So now, in 5e, we all started laughing when we realized that this entire region is probably ruled by the person who bought the headless horseman’s scythe. It’s sort of like buying the Wand of Orcus for $20 and an olive garden gift card.

We ended up realizing the centaurs were not our allies. We hid out with some drow.

The Raven Queen: Long story. Basically, we learned we needed to get these feathers of the raven queen (one lesson I learned long ago - everyone loves the Raven Queen). In 4e, our characters used the feathers to kill Lolth. The feathers have the power to make sure that when somebody dies – they’re dead. That’s what we thought, anyway.

These feathers will allow us to kill the rakshasas who have been messing with us for the whole campaign. Normally, rakshasas re-form in Hell when they slain and can come back. With the feathers, we can obliterate them for good.

Where are the feathers? Kobold Hall! The introductory dungeon from the 4e DMG. I died laughing. I ran that thing a bunch of times.

What was cool was the DM re-designed it. There’s a feywild version and shadowfell version. We had to go through both! Immediately, we were all wondering about the white dragon at the end of it.

This Kobold Hall had no combat – it was all puzzles, many of them relating to our old characters. We had to obtain 6 keys – 3 silver and 3 gold. We had to figure a bunch of stuff, like giving tea to effigies of our old characters and putting roses on coffins.

One of the big rooms in Kobold Hall is this place where a boulder endlessly rolls around the room. We went through two versions of it – one with a huge singing skull rolling around (it sang a song about 4e that the DM actually made up, was very funny) and a rolling seashell in the feywild version. There was a key inside each.

Our fighter got inside the skull, but had no luck with the shell. We eventually shattered it.

Then we went below to the icy lake. White dragon? Nope. A portal.

We passed through the portal and appeared in a dark forest. Nearby was a path lined with tombstones. We followed the path and came upon a statue of the raven queen holding two feathers. The feathers we were looking for!

Then, something flew above us. It was the white dragon – in undead form. It was a dracolich!
That’s where we stopped!

Very fun session, hilarious stuff. I love 4e (though I don’t want to play it again) and I really enjoy poking around in it through a 5e lens. Really cool, this DM always has good ideas!