Isle of the Storm Giants: New Village Village

The first stop along the way to Mt. Evensil and the floating isle will most likely be New Village (aka The Village of New Village or New Village Village). It is possible that the adventures might perceive and want to check out that crashed airship nearby but without the permission of the village ‘elders’ they may meet some resistance from villages who are worshiping at or around their ‘Sacred Ship’

NEW VILLAGE VILLAGE

General Information

A small village built at the bottom of a cliff leading up to the Sentinal Peaks. Strangely enough this isolated village is filled with half-orc and goblins who are not only peaceful but have apparently achieved enlightenment.

Population: ~50

Inhabitants: From most to least prevalent Half-orc, Half-goblin, Orc, and really short goblins.

Government: Ruled by Six of the eldest villagers, who rule on principle.

Trade: Virtually none. The are simple hunters and gatherers, relying heavily on simple grains, nuts, roots, and seeds. They do keep a small but functional bit of livestock including a few cattle, chickens, and sheep, one of which is named Shadowfax ‘Lord of all Sheep’.

Culture: All who live here have been trained carefully and diligently by an expert Githerzai Monk. Many revere this monk as ‘father’ and may very well actually carry that relation. The villagers do not like to talk about the ‘father’ and will avoid the topic at great lengths. For the characters it is something of a mystery why the orcs and goblins here act like monks in a Githerzai way and can be discovered if they explore the cave (known as Father’s Cave), or if the perform a task which deems them worthy of such personal information.

Their monk training has led them to a tranquil life of balance and markedly civilized behavior. They view any outsider who is not trained in monk-like ways or peace and strength of mind to be savages. Savages are animals, and animals may not enter the village proper confining them to the barn with the livestock, unless proven to be civilized.

Coming to New Village Village

Entering the village can be somewhat tricky, and it is up to the DM to decide how far to push the PCs. The town is simple, and the people here are civil, nice, but stubborn. They are extremely reluctant to allow ‘savages’ into their village, especially fighters, warlords, and other heavily militarized classes. Rangers (one with nature), Druids(one with the animals), and Wizards(one with knowledge/history) with a show of knowledge and enlightenment can be permitted on a case by case basis. A Monk, especially a Githerzai monk, is permitted instant access and can help vouch for his companions. However, until truly proven to be ‘enlightened’ to their monastic expectations they must stay and sleep with the livestock.

At the village gate visitors will be met by two muscled and robed sentries and a short goblin dressed in white robes covered in smears of ink. The goblin has a ledger book, ink pot, and quill at hand and takes note of the comings and goings of the village (especially when outsiders are involved). The inky goblin, known as Groint, is not quite rude but is definitely firm about not admitting savages, but would be willing to set up an audience with the elders to grant access to the village. Again, non enlightened characters are confined to the livestock field and barn, while Githerzai monks and other high minded folk may walk about freely and are given a hut to spend the evenings.

Groint performs his day to day functions adequately, however he is reluctant to admit these fellows because he is possessed by an Indwelling devil..

Inside New Village Village.. Father’s Cave.. Tomb of the Orc Slayer and more!……Next time!

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Isle of the Storm Giants

In my campaign some of the characters/players have been obsessed with the idea of claiming a floating island as their own and building a magnificent stronghold there. Well they have caught hold of a rumor that one exists but is currently inhabited by giants. They have decided that they will crush said giants and take what ‘should’ belong to them. Part of me thinks that they don’t quite understand what they are getting into!

IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY PLAYING IN MY CAMPAIGN DO NOT READ THIS POST! Thanks 🙂

By Frank Tedeschi ( DnDiy.wordpress.com)

Adventure Synopsis:

There is a stronghold carved into the peak of a mountain on a floating isle, caught in an unending storm. This airy mountain castle was forged by storm giants lead by the titan Crakshar. His undying loyalty to the primordial Saeta-The Devoured, has brought him to this place because here he plans to finally unbind his former primordial master. In this floating isle the material between the planes is weak, allowing Crakshar to open a transient portal to the Elemental Chaos. The divine bonds that hold Saeta are nigh unbreakable, and only can be undone by great unholy power. That is why Crakshar has enslaved Cultists of Orcus to summon the Prince of Undeath himself and persuade him- by any means – to use the mighty Wand of Orcus to free his master.

The adventurers must make their way through the Sunken Pass, parlay with an unusual village of Orc and Goblin Monks, devise a way onto to the floating isle, and stop Crakshar before he frees a being of such catastrophic destruction and power, even the gods couldn’t kill him.

Background:

Mt. Evensil lies just beyond what is known at the Sunken Pass, a shortcut passageway through two mountains known as the Sentinel Peaks. The Sunken Pass is named for the large war galleon which is shipwrecked between the peaks a hundred miles from the nearest body of water. The path to Mt. Evensil lies through the heart of this cryptic ship whose origin has passed into myth.

Beyond the ship marks the base of Mt. Evensil, a 1000 foot sheer cliff. At the base of the cliff dwells a small village of huts and caves belonging to a mountain cult. The cult is an eccentric bunch of isolated men led by a tribunal of spiritual half-orcs which worship those found within the deep belly of the sunken galleon.

The floating isle itself was created during a devastating event at the end of the Teifling Empire, which led to the peak of Mt. Evensil breaking away from the rest of the mountain leaving a deep valley behind. A furious broil of thunder and lightning enveloped the isle which eventually drew Crakshar and the storm giants to claim it as their own. However Crakshar is not working alone he has enlisted the aid of a living glacier, who was once part of the holy glacial lattice which has imprisoned Saeta. Together they have begun to strengthen their numbers with both storm and frost giants.

The storm giants built many of the peripheral rooms open to the elements and storm outside. The red lines denote the absence of wall (and presence of cliff-like mountainside). The two circular rooms are slowly turning in the indicated directions.

A-Armory and merchant B-General storage C-Dining Hall  D-Kitchen E-Barracks F– Interrogation room G-Dungeon H-Cultist study/preparation room I-Summoning room for Orcus J-Throne/audience room K-Crakshar’s chamber L-Room of the stormstone golem whose magic keeps the isle afloat M-Large amphitheater like room, channel in center of room is used for entry/exit of the castle. This room is also used for grand storm rituals if they are to ride the wind into battle. N– Portal to Elemental Chaos and Saetia P-Tower of the Elder Elemental Eye

Due to the storm and seepage from the elemental chaos all rooms open to the outside are subject to random weather. Roll 1d10:

1.       lightning storm. Hazard rolls initiative. Every round on its turn each creature in area rolls a d20 any natural ones are stuck 3d10 +5

2.       Unusually fierce wind and snow. Movement at half speed -5 to ranged attacks.

3.       Driving rain. Sight is halved. -2 to atk rolls for obscured vision

4.       Ice. Half speed. Or acrobatics for full speed DC=16. Failure=prone slide three squares

5.       Fog. -5 perception checks. 6 squares away have partial concealment. Rogues have automatic combat advantage in this area and a +2 bonus to steath checks.

6.       Raging Wind hazard (the plane below 4e supplement)

7.       Very pleasant indeed.

8.       Overcast and quite chilly.

9.       Fist sized hail. Hazard rolls initiative. Attacks everyone on turn. +12 vs Reflex: 10 damage.

10.   Acid rain. Melee weapons deal 7 additional acid damage on hit. All armor wearers (except cloth) is at -1 AC

This is still a work in progress, one of which I hope will include many interesting encounters, side quests and unbelievable dangers. Once finished I hope to compile this adventure into a pdf module complete with some nice maps, monster stat blocks, and plenty of random generation table fun. I hope you guys enjoy this preview and check back later for the completed work!

Soon I will be making a post about the first two sections of this adventure: Coming to the village of New Village home to the strange Orc and Goblin Monks and the exploration of a crashed airship.

Puzzles and Pitfalls: The Dragons Maw Puzzle

The following are a set of articles that I wrote up for the Kobold Quarterly Blog and are now putting up here for your personal enjoyment. Fire, is the theme for these puzzles/traps and they are meant to be used either in a the same dungeon together or separately, depending on your level of need for player torture.

Puzzles, traps, and hazards are a common occurrence in deadly dungeons. You might find that it can be quite time-consuming and challenging to come up with these events on the fly. In this series, you’ll find three fire-themed dungeon dangers ripe for plunder.

The Dragon’s Maw    Elite Puzzle Level 8 (XP 800)

A wave of heat washes over you when you enter a long and unusually bright room. A pit of lava as wide as the room blocks your passage. At the pit’s edge stands a four-foot-high stone pedestal with nine dull-gray glyphs upon it. A life-sized carving of a dragon’s head with a gaping mouth bigger than a man juts out from the wall. The rest of its body turns into a tiled mosaic running the length of the wall.

The Dragons Maw

The Setup

Room dimensions are 110 ft. x 30 ft., and the lava takes up a 70-ft. x 30-ft. section of the room. The hewn stone wall without the mural requires a successful DC 25 check to climb. The opposite wall with the mosaic is a DC 27 check, but it also has cracks oozing lava that require a separate Athletics or Acrobatics check to deftly navigate (DC 22).

A closer look at the dragon’s head reveals a pair of boot-shaped impressions upon the tongue, facing out of the fang-laden mouth. Directly above the boot prints are a pair of fist-sized holes in the roof of the dragon’s mouth.

The pedestal is of expert craftsmanship, carved and polished to look like a kneeling paladin displaying a large book. Inlaid upon the pages are nine dull-gray glyphs that emanate a weak magical aura.

History or Religion DC 17: This paladin was consumed by flame in his golden armor while defying the legendary red dragon, Reshkyrn.

The Mechanism

To activate the glyphs, a character must be standing in the mouth of the dragon and reach up into each of the holes and grasp the handles within. This act simultaneously binds the character magically by his or her hands and feet, and causes the glyphs to become functional, glowing brightly.

The glyphs are letters from an old dialect of Draconic that can be read easily by a character who speaks Draconic, uses the Comprehend Language ritual, or succeeds on a History check of DC 18. There are nine letters in a 3 x 3 grid.

Row one: S-L-O;                   Row two: P-E-D;                  Row Three: R-K-A

When a glyph is pressed, it glows red, and a corresponding set of stone platforms rise out of the lava to form stepping stones detailed within the diagram. Only four glyphs can be lit at any given time. The platforms are barely big enough to hold one Large humanoid; platforms 2 squares apart require a DC 30 Athletics check to jump (+5 per additional square apart). Characters can safely move between platforms that are only 1 square apart. Falling in the lava inflicts 2d10 + 8 damage per round spent in the lava.

When the first four glyphs are pressed, the dragon mouth jerks closed partially and a fire builds in the back of its throat. After these first four, a glyph must be pressed again to be deactivated before a new one can be pressed. Every two newly initiated glyphs causes the mouth to close further and fire to grow.

Glyphs Pressed Four + Two + Two + Two Final
Effect No damage 1d10 + 2 damage; heat begins to build in the dragon’s throat 2d10 + 5 fire damage 2d10 + 10 fire damage 3d10 + 5 damage with ongoing 10 damage, no save*

*The dragon’s mouth stays clamped shut, inflicting 10 damage per round until released.

The Answer

There is only one combination of four letters that provides a safe and passable path across the lava pit. If at any time the four letters S-E-A-R are all pressed, the paladin’s head lowers and the glyphs become locked from changing, indicating success. On the far side of the lava pit, the tile mosaic of the dragon’s tail protrudes from the wall, forming a movable lever. This releases the character from the dragon’s mouth and returns the mouth to its original starting position. To reset the puzzle and platforms, the paladin’s head or dragon’s tail can be physically moved back into place.

Overcoming this puzzle could involve your players trying to randomly guess the correct combination of letters or thinking through plausible solutions. During this time, they may seek more information or clues. The GM can decide how much to reveal and when about the mechanism:

Perception DC 15—Based on the fact that only four glyphs can be pushed, it is likely that the solution is a four-letter word.

History DC 18—Reshkyrn was a ferocious red dragon who was known for dwelling near active volcanoes, roasting would-be dragon slayers. He was overwhelmingly narcissistic.

History DC 22—The paladin portrayed here, Elrik, was avenged by his two siblings, Sym and Alana.

NOTE: The letters, backstory, answer, and hints of this puzzle can be changed to suit the needs of a campaign by swapping the letters out and modifying the story.

The next article for this series I will post tomorrow: The Infernal Swarm Hazzard

Improv as a DM

One of the hardest parts of DMing to master is the art of improvisation. It requires skills and training which unless you are specifically an impov actor or comic, you are unlikely to have. Personally, I have had a little experience in acting, and love improv, and have learned over the years to translate this into useful ideas while sitting behind the Dungeon Masters screen.

The first most import rule of Improv is ‘Yes, and..”

As a DM you may have read in the DMG or online that you should say yes to your players, this is a shoot off of the old improv saying ‘yes, and..’. To move the scene along, to make things flow and keep it fresh. First, you agree. “yes, there is a secret compartment at the bottom of that coffin” and then second, you elaborate.. “and it is filled with an asymmentrical pulsating red ruby which begins to grow hotter and hotter as you hold it until finally it…”

You see isn’t that more interesting than “no, there are no hidden compartments” or “there’s nothing inside but dust”

Your players are a valuable source of inspiration, they may be joking or saying things randomly or searching all the wrong places but that is perfect fodder for you to throw in something which A) they didn’t expect, and B) you didn’t expect either!

The second tip or trick that I like to use.. is called the The Improv Pool.

The Improv Pool, is something which I use during games and even conversations to keep things fresh and rolling. The Improv pool is a consortium of things, characters, ideas, scenarios, phrases and actions, which is just floating around in my head. Essentially, you read books, watch movies, listen to music, play video games and you take the most interesting people, places, and things you can find, and remember them. Then when you need something at a game, you reach into the improv pool and pull out the first thing you remember. The beauty of it is.. it won’t be perfect.. you will never remember it exactly as it was.. and thats the best part because instead you fill in all the gaps.. and when your players ask questions.. you flesh it out right there on the spot and now you have something which is unique to you.. and your game. Try adding a bunch of things to your improv pool and seeing how it works out for you.

Lastly, if you want to improve your improv skills, watch the pros, do as they do, and be comfortable doing it. The best source for hilarity and great improv is a tv show called ‘Whose line is it anyway’. These guys are improv genius’s, it is quite inspiring really plenty of good material to remember for weird or odd scenarios to add to your improv pool.

And as always, practice. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be, the easier it will become, and the better you will get. How do you practice? Tell a story and make it up as you go, ask for names and characters from whoever you are telling it to. Run a DnD game with zero preparation, just set the scene and roll with it from there. Play improv games with your friends to hone your skills. These things will all flex that seldom used muscle and in no time you will be thinking on your feet as fast as Ryan Stiles and as inspiring as Chris Perkins.

Good Luck and Enjoy!

For more DM advice check out the DM Experience articles by Chris Perkins at http://wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4dmxp/20120823

Surprising your players

At times it is hard to keep your players guessing. They think they know how the game works, what to expect, where they are going to go. And then, the world happens. Then the Demon Lord Ezzeron descends upon Fallcrest riding an enormous bone dragon, which crushes parts of the town every time it moves to make an attack. ..and they just wanted to go to town and buy a few things. 🙂

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