Using My Monsters

Sunday, 30 September 2012


With the chaos in my RL at the moment, gaming has been a tough prospect, the only campaign that has got any play being the Newbie game. However, I am hoping that as of this coming Friday some degree of normality will have come to be, and the game write ups will be back!

However, today I thought I would share some of the notes I made when first planning the current campaign for Ormid and the gang. I actually make a lot of notes in a dead tree "black book" (the current being the latest in a long line), and often sketch out dungeon maps on good old fashioned graph paper. However, I do like to write little bits of text and save them in my electronic archives, so I have an easily searchable database of who, what, why and when.

So, these are my personal introduction to the situation in Kadash, the rise of the Blue Lord, and his dark allies. Enjoy!

*  *  *

Ebon Eye got to the only portal into the Eastern Guild a long time ago, and spent time dismantling it. As such, by the time the group reach it, it is exquisitely wrecked. However, Ebon Eye failed to take one thing into account; the growing resources of the Unifying Order of Mages (now mostly called the Unified Order).

With the discovery of the gate's state, word has been sent to the Order, and within days, some of the finest artificers, ostiumancers and enchanters are hard at work trying to repair the damage.

However, it soon becomes clear that two groups of components are missing. One – the bone marrow and blood of a blue dracane of advanced age – is easily identified. The other, a strange resonant crystal, is unknown to anyone. And so the group will have to seek out a blue dracani whilst the experts mull over the nature of the other material.

Fortunately, there are several mages in the Order, recently joined, who represent the “House of Granite” - an order of abjurers and enchanters who come from the distant city of Kadash; the City of Aqueducts. Located in what used to be Zaepheri'Criz (the Desert of Blades) – now a region of table mountains and winding, desolate canyons, scoured continually by the sun and howling, abrasive winds – Kadash survived the upheavals of the Age of Loss, and has flourished as a principle trade city in that inhospitable region. However, for the last year, it has suffered a serious loss of trade, all thanks to “The Blue Lord”; an ancient dracani that has taken up residence in the ruins of the once splendid city of Tammatuli.

Supported by a clan of Nahokir'Gigorim (Sand Giants), as well as by worshipers within Kadash and the desert, the Blue Lord demands a “tax” from anyone trying to use the (normally) safest route through the canyons, either northwards towards the city of Braax, or south-westwards towards the oasis city of Tulan'Dezir. This has seen a cease of almost all trading between those cities (which are invaluable links to the wider world), and a massive drop is supplies within Kadash, as well as profit for its merchants.

There are a few alternative routes, but these lead through lands haunted by savage gnarrak tribes or the nameless “mantis people”. Still worse are the spectres of those who lived in the ancient cities lost when the Age of Loss began; Scarridian ghosts, Tammatulian wraiths and other immaterial undead are a threat even the gnarrak fear. However, a brave few have managed to get through on these routes, and so, Kadash endures – just.

Efforts by the “Blessed Houses” (the ruling merchant houses in Kadash) to root out those citizens working for the Blue Lord have had minimal results, and to make matters worse, a former high ranking ambassador for House Kythus, has become the principle spokesman for the Blue Lord; arriving with the “Watchers” (giants) to deliver the Lord's terms to the city. This man – Sariq Ahmed – has only survived the hate of the cities people thanks to the promise from the Blue Lord that should he be harmed, a thousand people of Kadash will be killed for each drop of blood he loses.

Having been oppressed by a dracani in the ancient past, the people of Kadash would pay handsomely anyone able to end the Blue Lord's threat – and more than a few have tried, most turning up burned and mangled in the cities central plaza, dropped from the skies by the Blue Lord himself.

So, if the group could accomplish what no others have, they would not only gain the materials they needed (and the monster's legendary hoard), but would win the gratitude of an ancient and wealthy city.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Negative Levels in 4e

My ongoing quest to return some old school pain for 4e continues with some completely un play tested (yet) rules for Negative Levels in 4e. Download, have a play, and let me know how bad it is...

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Newbie GM

Chris, one of my players from my "Newbie" group (who have now been playing for a year or so, and so cannot really be called that any more), has stepped into the precarious world of GMing, and is blogging about it. 

Go there, and see wot words he dun gonna' write innit?

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Wild Surges - 100 4e Wild Effects

More from the archive! Here are 100 effects that can happen when magical powers go wild in your 4e game. I created the table when Ormid and the gang were traveling through the ruins of Laertraine. Enjoy!

World Lore - The Woe of Convulos'Soth'Kulzaad

During the Primal Wars, Convulos (called also Soth'Kulzaad, Nythanox, Thrynath, Toxicus and many other names) was a soldier God, who fought at the front lines of every engagement with the Elder Gods and their allies. He was known for his cunning, his skill with magic and also his willingness to use any and every advantage.

He quickly fell from the favour of deities such as Solum'Tassadexes and Cellinthar'Valladir, who thought him a coward, and was reviled by the likes of Namaea who is also Isaala, for he was without compassion or mercy for his foes. However, paradoxically, one beautiful young Goddess thought him handsome, brave and clever – the Lady of Life, Oerdaine (who is also called Maelandra, Lau'Pei, Issranthia, Raithia, Alaria, Vaelnarda and many other names).

Oerdaine had also caught the eye of the young soldier God, and with the wars brought to the end, and the universes slowly crystallising into relatively more stable states, Convulos sought her out and made her his love.

Sick of the annihilation of the Primal Wars, Covulos and Oerdaine tended to the forming races of the nascent universes, and helped them to be strong and healthy. They opposed the likes of Sarrax, who sought to taint them with his own forms of life, Darkold (who is Sebbathor, Xantrox, Kazamoto, Uzzruel and who is known by many other names also) who wished to dominate them and steal all free will, and many other dark powers. Together they created marvellous elixirs that could cure any and all afflictions, that could grant long life and vitality, and that could protect their users from all forms of harm. New species were born by their will, that held the components for these medicines, so that the mortals could learn to use them for themselves, and for long and long they were happy in their love, and beloved by their chosen.

After much time, when the world we know was first taking on its present form, Convulos put it to his beloved that they should retire from the knowledge of the mortal races, and shift to a more remote continuum, where they could be alone and love for all eternity. He was earnest, and full of love, and was sure that the Goddess would agree...

...But alas, she did not, for she had grown to care for her children strongly, and could not bear to be apart from them, afraid that without her they would perish – especially as the mortals were now being used by many other deities for their own ends.

Convulos was stunned. His heart broke, and at once, all the love and the hope within him turned to poison. He hated as only a God could hate, and attacked the Goddess Oerdaine in a fury. She drove him off, for by this time she was as powerful as he, and Convulos was forced to retreat.

Desperate to hurt his former love as much as he could, he spoke the words of creation and twisted them, so that every elixir, component and living thing in which he had played a part in forming was corrupted by his spite and hate; their healing power turning to death, their hearts echoing the venom of the Gods wretched heart.

And so the first poisons entered the world, and the enmity between the Prince of Poisons, and the Healer Goddess was born. Very soon mortals who also hated, or who sought power came to worship Convulos, and he grew in dark power, and became the reclusive, venomous deity we know to this day.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Vile Damage in 4e?

Just come up with a super quick (and absolutely filthy) way of bringing vile damage into 4e.

For those of you that don't know, back in 3.0 / 3.5 Vile damage was harm so fundamentally evil, that it could not be simply removed by time or normal healing spells. To be cleansed of it, it required that the individual be healed within the bolstering embrace of various holy spells and protective inscriptions, meaning that characters often had to slog through an adventuring day bearing violated wounds, dripping with repugnant ichor and occasionally taking a bite at anyone nearby (it really was messed up :D ).

In 4e, I want to keep this concept - though as i don't use alignment at all, I can't really make it depend on rituals that remove "evil".

So, the rule I'm going to try are that Vile Damage is treated like an affliction. You can't heal it until you have been subjected to a Remove Affliction ritual cast by an individual of the appropriate level. It's simple, it makes it possible for the well balanced and prepared party to move on from it with the expenditure of a little time and cash, and it captures the same idea and feel as its earlier incarnation.

What do you think?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Making The Gelatinous Cube Awesome

The first monster I remember ever being taken by in D&D was the Gelatinous Cube. I was reading through the monster pamphlet that came with the original Red Box, and found myself reading about something that was essentially a carnivorous jelly cube. It struck me as rather absurd at the time, and to be honest, still does, though in a good way. 

4e's Gelatinous Cubes share many of the traits of their earlier brethren - near invisibility, a paralysing touch and the ability to engulf their prey -  but felt a little rubbish in comparison to them. To address this I have souped my Cubes up...and here is one souped up from the basic Monster Manual version. Enjoy

So, what have I done? Well, I've given them back their immunity to lightning, and have upped the damage to make it a proper elite brute. The Squeal power is designed to give the cube a chance to control mobbing adventurer's and feels kinda' right for a shivering, wobbly death jelly. 

By making its Engulf attack more vicious when it's bloodied, the cube really feels like an elite, and becomes a truly deadly foe. Without teamwork, good rolls and maybe some acid resistant trousers, a characters absorbed by the cube could easily find themselves looking down the wrong end of a death penalty.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Steel Separatist Grunt - Level 4 Soldier Minion

Firstly, this is a bit spoilery if you happen to be one of the players in the "Newbie" group, as you have not yet met (or battled) these guys. However, I feel like sharing, and so, present to you the foot soldiers of the "Steel Separatist" movement - a group of Warforged dedicated to the teachings of the Ebon Eye, who cause all sorts of problems in Irin in the first centuries following the Sundering. 

Fiercely opposed to the Unified Order's strong presence in Irin (their last bastion), these warforged want all their kind to throw off the shackles of their human oppressors, and to rise up and take the ancient city. Many of their kind however understand that this would be a fruitless war that would simply see them exterminated, and so, at the time the campaign is set, nothing has happened...but tensions are rising. Word has got out that the avatar of the Ebon Eye has appeared in the New Forge district (A.K.A. Clanktown), and that strange and potent new warforged, bearing the marks of divine transformation are abroad amongst their mundane brethren, seeking to enhance them for the battles to come...

...But there are other machine Gods about, and it seems unlikely that The Veteran in the very least will allow the Ebon Eye to go unchallenged.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


"Carsan was hurt, really hurt, and that last healing potion he had downed didn't seem to be doing a damn thing. Shaking his head to clear away the cobwebs, and trying to ignore the cold, leaden ache that was turning his shaking legs to stone, he focused on the Hand of Iniquity mage before him.
A line of sizzling power suddenly sprang from their fingers, and Carsan wasn't fast enough to dodge it; the icy energy sealing his legs in burning shackles of preternatural ice. Screaming in pain, he tried to struggle against the spell's grip – and to his amazement felt the “broken” potion stir within him; filling his body with warmth and power, sealing his wounds, and giving him the might to break free from the icy bindings, leap across the space between him and the mage, and throttle the life from them..."

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Toughen Up - Three New Feats For Living Constructs

Firstly, once again, sorry for the lack of updates. My life situation was critically hit recently, and I am afraid I have not had much time or motivation to write or game. However, I do have tons of stuff already written, and so, shall hopefully get that posted up whilst I am getting a Remove Affliction cast on my RL concerns. 

Anyway, let's forget all that, and look at these; three feats from the Duodrone race I have created. These are of interest because they are not unique to that strange species, and can be taken by any Living Construct PC. Let me know what you think, and as  always, real play feedback is always appreciated! 

Greater Fortification
Prerequisite: Improved Fortification Feat, Constitution 25
Benefit: When you would be hit by a Critical Hit, roll 1d20. On a roll of 15 or less, the triggering hit is a normal hit instead.

Improved Fortification
Prerequisite: Living Construct, 21st level or higher
Benefit: When you would be hit by a Critical Hit, roll 1d20. On a roll of 10 or less, the triggering hit is a normal hit instead.

Lesser Fortification
Prerequisite: Living Construct, 11th level or higher
Benefit: When you would be hit by a Critical Hit, roll 1d20. On a roll of 5 or less, the triggering hit is a normal hit instead.