Friday, March 19, 2010

Detective's Flask

Not to infringe on the wonderful items put up at Sea of Stars (look -->), but here is one I’d been fiddling with for a bit . . .
Detective’s Flask
Aura faint divination; CL 1st
Slot –; Price 500 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This simple steel flask is popular amongst city watch, bounty hunters, and, of course, detectives. The flask itself is sturdy and capable of holding liquor of any flavor, be it Dwarven Stone Whiskey or Orcish Rotgut.

Portability aside, the Detective’s Flask is popular for its invigorating qualities. Once per day a draught from the flask confers a +5 morale bonus to the drinker’s next Intimidate or Streetwise check; alternatively, the drinker may reroll a failed Perception or Sense Motive check from the last 24 hours.  This reroll gains a +5 insight bonus. Only one of these benefits may be conferred per day.

 The magic is in the flask itself. No matter the liquid put in, the effect is the same.

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, guidance; Cost 250 gp

I’ve got another I’ll put up later.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Cast Cone of . . . Sonic?

You know one feat I’ve always disliked – Energy Substitution.

Effectively it allows you to turn a fireball into a frostball for no penalty in level, unlike many metamagic feats.

My issue with the feat is not its game elements per se. If people want to swap energy types so they can best tackle the creatures they may face, more power to them. What I don’t like is that it cheapens the spells as written . . . lightning bolt, burning hands, cone of cold, etc . . . These are some iconic spells in my mind, and by swapping them out for sonic bolt or what have you, it interferes with my view of the D&D world.

The way I see it, wizards always have the option to research new spells. The spells that come in the PHB and similar books are the spells that already exist. It is much, much easier (in my mind) to learn fireball, as it has been around eons, than it is to modify the spell into lighting ball. Thus explaining why it is written the way it is.

My second issue is that the feat robs one of the premier casting archetypes. The pyromancer, the ice mage, etc. These wizards may have some options for overcoming resistances and the like, but Energy Substitution is always better.

In my PFRPG campaign there will be no Energy Substitution feat. The spells that exist, exist for a reason . . . they are tried and true. However, I’ve added the following metamagic feat for those who wish to really specialize in an energy type.

Scouring Spell (Metamagic)
You can cast spells that can bypass even the most powerful of energy resistances.
Benefit: A scouring spell ignores 5 energy resistance of the same type of damage dealt by the spell. For every spell slot a level higher than the spell’s actual level, the amount of energy resistance ignored is raised by 5.

For example: A Fireball slotted as a 5th level spell (instead of a 3rd) would ignore 10 points of fire resistance. Thus a creature with Resist fire 10, now has no resistance to fire. One with a resist of 20 now has a resist of 10. And so on.

I am sure I am overlooking some 3.X feats that may do similar or better things, but again this is for my PFRPG game. Don’t hesitate to point me in the direction of some similar metamagic feats, however.

Keep your eyes open for some more feats in the near future.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Game Night #2 ~ Monkey Business

Session 2: “Monkey Business”
(Running Paizo Publishing’s AP: Curse of the Crimson Throne #1: Edge of Anarchy)

Pint Hornswaggle – Halfling Rogue/Wizard 1/1
Imilio Phillips – Human Cleric [Cayden Cailean] 2
Smog Whisprunner – Human Spell-less Ranger 2
Beebop – Gnome Summoner 2

Finding Zellara’s head amongst Lamm’s other ‘keepsakes’ immediately introduced a round of speculation amongst the PCs. The most common conjecture was that some woman in disguise or illusion had hired manipulated them into killing Lamm . . . but they didn’t know why.

Torn between storming back to Zellara’s and confronting the traitor or returning the most important piece of the wealth they found, the Queen’s brooch, the PCs opted for answers first and money second.

Emerging from the filth of the old fishery, the PCs were nearly overwhelmed by the chaos that tumbled down the avenues and alleyways of Korvosa. Buildings burned, mobs chanted, and guards, Hellknights1, and Sable Company members2, strove to limit the rioting. 

In the hour it had taken the PCs to rid the world of Gaedren Lamm, the King of Korvosa had passed.

Shouts ranged from doing away with the harlot queen, to calling for a return to Cheliax3 . . . all in all, the city was not handling the news well, and they definitely not handling themselves in any orderly manner.

This was driven home as the PCs approached Zellara’s. A young foppish noble was cornered by a half-dozen dockhands. The laborers swung clubs at him and with each increasing yell and swing their bloodlust increased.

The PCs, showing some measure of restraint4, managed to intimidate the upset workers into a retreat, but not before drawing scowl’s from the group and accusations of being Queen’s men. The noble, one Amin Jalento, thanks the PCs profusely and gives them 5 platinum as a show of his gratitude.

The PCs wind their way through the streets a bit more, asking for info about the King’s death (heart failure or assassination, the rumors run rampant) and helping out where they can.

When they arrive at Zellara’s, she is waiting and tells them the truth the instant they show up.

“I’m a ghost.” The news is a bit of a revelation to say the least, but she explains she thought that sympathy was the best way to get their help. The PCs take it in stride; the whole night is full of odd portents they decide. Before she disappears, Zellara promises to keep an eye on the players and assist them as she can.

The PCs hole up over night and hope the rioting dies down.

Before visiting the Queen to return her brooch, the PCs sell off some of their items. Along the way they meet Grau, a guard so drunk he’s mistaken Smog for a friend. After settling this confusion, the PCs help the young man get back to his station, but also learn of a love triangle involving Grau, Sabina (the as-of-yet unmet bodyguard to the Queen), and an unnamed 3rd person.

The PCs pawn what items they can, but it is tough going as the riot has caused most vendors to close shops. Though the immediate chaos begins to dwindle by nightfall, the PCs still spend most of the day at the stores.


After arranging a meeting with Queen Ileosa, the PCs show up to her audience hall. Sabina expresses her gratitude on behalf of the queen and praises the group as heroes . . . immediately leading Imilio to flirt with her. She rebuffs him quite rudely.

As the meeting goes on with the stunningly beautiful queen, she thanks the PCs and asks for their help during these troubled times. Smitten by both her good looks and the 1200 gold pieces she’s just given them, they immediately agree to be of aid.

Again, Imilio flirts with her5 . . . the Queen whose husband passed the night before. She ignores the invitation and leaves the PCs with Sabina to work out the details of what needs to be done. Sabina is kind at first, making sure the PCs are comfortable before assigning them to Citadel Volshyenek to work under Field Marshall Cressida Kroft.

However, before they leave, Sabina turns to the gnome and all of her affected charm disappears as she leans in closely and says, “If you do not bow in the presence of the Queen next time, I shall immediately slice the hamstrings that allow your child-sized legs to bend.”

Refusing to bow to such intimidation, the PCs let Sabina in on the fact they know about her Grau . . . to which she gives little concern and ushers them out. Their relationship is cool, icy even as they part ways.


As the PCs make their way to the Citadel they are interrupted by the body of a guard flying past them and smashing into a fruit stand.


With a small crowd running from a pair of escaped apes, the PCs jump into the rescue. Despite Imilio dropping an obscuring mist that hindered the PCs more than the apes, the PCs made short work of the rampaging monkeys thanks to a peppering of arrows and Rocksteady’s ability to hold the frontline.


As our session ended the PCs spoke with Cressida Kroft, beautiful7, if tired woman, who was friendly to the PCs and glad to have them aboard.
“Adventurers are just what I need right now. My guards are stretched thin, and if you’re up to it, I’ve got more than enough work for you.”
With the promise of room and board at a local tavern and steady, payment (they’d seen how the crown paid once already), the PCs readily agreed.

“Good. How do you feel about hunting down a traitor?”

And so session 2 ended ---

One thing I need to mention though is that during this session the PCs met:

1. Queen Ileosa, ruler of the city.
2. Sabina, Queen’s bodyguard and leader of the Palace forces
3. Field Marshall Kroft, a general-type in charge of overseeing the forces that keep the city safe.

Smog linked these together and tried to sell the group on the idea that some Amazonian plot was afoot . . . they ignored him. Hilarious.

1 – Hellknights are mercenaries belonging to the Order of the Nail. They’ve been hired on by the crown to keep things flowing smoothly in the city; however, they hold the letter of the law with unyielding strictness and most live in fear of them.
2 – The Sable Company is Korvosa’s elite military unit – a group of well-trained griffon riders.
3 – Cheliax is the country to the south; they’ve a long history with Korvosa, and most Korvosans have some measure of Chelaxian blood.
4 – My player’s are definitely more kill first then ask questions.
5 – This should go without saying . . . when Imilio talks to a woman he is flirting. So far in the campaign he is 0/3, but stay posted . . .
6 – Instead of two escaped Apes, the encounter as written included an otyugh rising up from the sewers. Otyughs get enough play later in this AP, so I wanted to have something fun and goofy . . . the whole night was kind of a goofy night, and this combat was the only one that escalated.
7 – Yes, Imilio flirted with her. You should know this by now.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dream Spider (Pathfinder Conversion)

Dream Spider
This child-sized spider’s blue-and-yellow-striped abdomen shimmers as it scuttles along a gossamer web. A drop of thick purple venom drips from its mandibles.
Dream Spider                                                     CR ½
XP 200
N Small Vermin
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; tremorsense; Perception +1
AC 13, touch 13, flat-footed 11 (+2 Dex, +1 size)
hp 5 (1d8+1)
Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1
Immune mind-affecting effects
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee bite +3 (1d3 plus poison)
Special Attacks dream web
Str 10, Dex 15, Con 12, Int -, Wis 12, Cha 11
Base Atk +0; CMB -1; CMD 11
Feats Weapon FinesseB
Skills Climb +10, Perception +5, Stealth +6/+10 (in web); Racial +8 climb (can use Dex mod), +4 Perception, +4 Stealth (in web only)
Environment tropical forest or any urban
Organization solitary, pair, or nest (3-8)
Treasure special (see Edge of Anarchy –it’s a drug, folks)
Dream Web (Ex) A dream spider’s webs are not as strong as similarly sized spiders, but do have strange effects. When touched, these iridescent webs cause strange hallucinations and creatures touching the web suffer 1 point of Wisdom damage (Fort DC 11 negates this loss). Every square of webs that are burned create a noxious gas that covers a 10-foot radius. Creatures in this area suffer 1d4 points of Wisdom damage (Fort DC 11 for half). This cloud remains only for 1 round. The save DC is constitution-based.
Poison (Ex) Bite – injury; save Fort DC 11; frequency 1/round for 2 rounds; effect 1d4 points of Wisdom damage; Cure 1 save

Dream spiders are native to the jungles of Golarion; however, thanks to their hallucinogenic venom, these spiders have found a home in drug dens all across the Inner Sea. The drug (detailed in Edge of Anarchy) causes its imbiber to enter a blissful stupor, where they see flashes of insight, madness, and ecstasy.
When pressed into combat, these creatures prefer to lure opponents into their webs. Often times an opponent becomes drugged and disabled, allowing the dream spider to devour its prey at its leisure. A dream spider, like most animals, will scamper away if threatened, however.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Game Night #1 ~ Something Fishy

Session 1: “Something Fishy”
(Running Paizo Publishing’s AP Curse of the Crimson Throne: Edge of Anarchy)

·         Pint Hornswaggle, halfling rogue
·         Imilio Phillips, human Cleric of Cayden Cailean
·         Beebop, Gnome Summoner
·         Smog Whisprunner, human ranger (archery)

Curse of the Crimson Throne starts off interestingly enough . . . the PCs all have ties to a despicable, vile old rogue named Gaedren Lamm. Each of these connections comes through in the form of a trait that grants the player a small bonus, but a large hook into the game world. This sure beats the hell of starting off in an in.
The hooks for the PCs were:
·         Beebop – Despite studying in the Acadamae1, Beebop has developed a nasty shiver habit. Shiver is a hallucinogenic drug that is derived from dream spider venom . . . it is also a drug that Gaedren Lamm pushes, and has caused much strife in our gnome summoner’s young life (see also: expulsion from school).
·         Imilio – Imilio’s father was duped by Gaedren Lamm into selling fenced goods through his auction house. Once the law caught on this led to a swift reprisal . . . effectively ruining Imilio’s family name, family fortune, and causing the young rake to find his way. This way has led to four things: an intimate knowledge of Korvosa’s many taverns, an intimate knowledge of Korvosa’s young ladies, Cayden Cailean, and a burning desire to avenge his family name.
·         Pint – Despite visiting spending more times amongst Korvosa’s criminal element, Pint always avoided the temptation of shiver and other drugs. His brother did not. Falling quickly into debt and addiction, Yuril Hornswaggle became Lamm’s lackey . . . a move that has caused the halfling to steal from his own family. Yuril has gone missing, but Pint knows who is truly behind the disappearance.
·         Smog – Smog grew up as one of Lamm’s Lambs, a group of child thieves and cutpurses. His early years were filled with beatings and berating at the hand of Gaedren, they were also filled with nights sleeping on cold streets, and the death of too many friends, most fed to Gobblegut, Lamm’s pet croc. Smog finally escaped Korvosa but the damage had been done. Growing increasingly angry and insular, Smog mastered the art of killing so he may one day revisit the injustices he saw back upon Lamm a thousandfold.
To pull these hooks together, each PC receives a mysterious Harrow card2. These harrow cards contain messages that promise the PCs their shot at revenge on Lamm, if they meet this evening. The PCs of course do follow the instructions, meet the message-writer (a fortune teller named Zellara), and promise to vanquish Lamm that evening3.
Zellara’s instructions lead the PCs to an old fishery that abuts the Jeggare River.
The fishery is rundown and decrepit. On either side it is bordered by abandoned warehouses; a rickety dock wraps itself around the building leading to the back. Despite these options, the PCs, of course, jimmy open the front window and enter.
This would have been fine – Pint was scouting ahead and making excellent stealth rolls; so good in fact the guard dog did not even here him – but, then the halfling abruptly opened a door without listening on the other side and startled a middle-aged man scribbling papers and his guard dog.
The man immediately began shouting for help, while the dog lunged at the halfling.
So began a long encounter encompassing much of the building. It essentially went down like this:
1.       Dog holds off PCs for a few rounds while the middle-aged man, Lamm’s right hand guy, rounds up his thugs and the children.
a.       The dog was ultimately killed by Imilio, but not before it had dropped Rocksteady, Beebop’s eidolon. Of course, it had a lot of help from a critical fumble from Smog that planted an arrow in the eidolon’s back . . .4
2.       The PCs rush into the back room and engage in battle.
a.       The right-hand man lobs a few acid flasks to little effect before being put down by Smog’s arrows.
b.      A half-orc bandit nearly crushes a wounded Imilio, except for a critical fumble leaves him dazed . . . long enough to be put to rest by Smog’s arrows.
c.       Imilio convinces the kids to turn on the last remaining bandit, a gnome named Hookshanks. Between the party ganging up on him, and Beebop’s steady supply of summoned monsters keeping him locked in one position, he finally met his end at the tip of Imilio’s blade.
3.       The PCs spoke with the children to learn of the Gaedren’s whereabouts . . . they pointed downwards, as in underneath the fishery. They showed the PCs how a series of chains lowered into Gaedren’s room.5

The PCs regrouped for a second before clambering down the chains into Gaedren’s lair. This did not work out so well for the big guys in the group; while Pint and Beebop landed safely on solid ground, Imilio and Smog landed in the drink . . . a pool of water containing Gobblegut, an ornery croc.
Gaedren Lamm stood at the far side of the room firing off shots at the short heroes (including a nasty critical that resulted in a bout of filth fever for Pint6), while Gobblegut tore Smog and Imilio a new one, including knocking Imilio out of the fight with one powerful clamp of its jaws.
However, the battle soon turned as the Smog freed himself from the pool and added his bow to the attacks . . . Gaedren, cursing the hero’s names the whole time, tried to make a run for it, but the old man was much, much to slow to outrun the dog, summoned by Beebop, that tore out his throat.
The rest of the night went quickly as the PCs checked the rest of the fishery (disturbing some centipedes that nearly killed them . . .) and scoured the place for treasure.
In the end they found quite a haul7, including Zellara’s harrow deck, but they also found Zellara’s severed head . . . we ended the night with that WTF moment.
1 – The Acadamae is Korvosa’s school of magic.
2 – A harrow card is, for all intensive purposes, a tarot card.
3 – I am glossing over Zellara’s motivation (her son was murdered by Lamm, and her heirloom harrow deck stolen) and the fact that she gives the PCs a free harrow reading – it foretold of doom.
4 – Big thumbs up to Paizo’s Critical Fumble and Critical Hit decks. What was hilarious about this failure was that it was the very first attack roll of the campaign.
5 – I made a mistake as to where I put this . . . it should have allowed the PCs to arrive somewhat more stealthily (and definitely avoid falling into Gobblegut’s pool . . .  .). Still, it worked out fine.
6 – A Critical Hit deck result that worked perfectly . . . Gaedren’s lair is FILTHY, DIRTY, DISGUSTING – so to have a PC contract filth fever there works great.
7 – They always say take a published adventure and make it your own . . . you can do this in a number of ways.  Even small ways. For example, one of the listed treasure pieces is a crown worth 300 gp . . . well, I added an inscription detailing it as a dwarven crown of the Orkcleaver clan . . . One of my player’s most famous characters being the founder of that clan. Fun.