5e Avengers (as monsters!): Wasp

If you’re interested in stories that I first read, when I was introduced to these characters, there are a few trades of this period. They start with Under Siege (I’d recommend the Kindle edition, honestly), the story in which Hercules is beaten into a coma. That leads into Assault on Olympus, and then into Heavy Metal. The rest of the Dr. Druid story hasn’t been reprinted, which I think is a loss to our cultural history.

There are some really great Avengers stories that have been written since 1990, too. Sadly, none of them include Dr. Druid, which seems, to me, like a huge oversight. I’d recommend Kurt Busiek’s Avengers Forever, which is both a totally out-of-continuity story, and a love-letter to all of Avengers history. Busiek’s main-title Avengers stories are also some of the best. If you’re looking for others, there are a lot of options, but I’d start there. When I go back to re-read Avengers stories, I always start with Busiek (my Dr. Druid issues didn’t survive my many moves, sadly).

The “14-level build out” format took a long time and wasn’t, as far as I could tell, a big hit. As much fun as building a Dr. Druid PC was, I think that having opponents is more useful. The way that monsters are built in 5e is completely different from the way player characters are built. They use two different sets of rules, but with the same names.

I’m going to try something a little different, this week. The Avengers I’m building, Wasp and Black Knight, both require a little bit of house-ruling to make work, so they’re perfect for this experiment. The end result should be somewhere between a PC and an NPC, so if someone wanted to use them as a foe, they could, but if someone wanted to use them as a base for a PC (or argue about why they should be built differently, which is have the fun of building characters like this), that will work, too.

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5e Monsters for Iron Gods: Sabosan and Gearghost

Monsters of Numeria!

Badmudderfugger and Solomani are doing such a great job with the creatures of Iron Gods, over on DungeonMusings and Lazy Dungeon Master that there isn’t often much for me to do. They’re both pretty far ahead of me, and I know that I just use theirs without much alteration, although when I do rebuild I’m considering posting it, here, for a different perspective. Would that be useful, for anyone?

The one place I can fill in, though, is the random encounter table, and I don’t have to worry about duplicating their work, because they’re well past these bits.

In that spirit, two creatures that you might not ever see, but should be a lot of fun if you do. Who knows, they might be useful for your 5e games even if you’re not playing Iron Gods. After all, who doesn’t want to throw a giant bat-creature or a ghost made from the restless soul of an adventurer killed by a trap? (And what could be more D&D than being hunted by spirits of failed adventurers past? A truly vicious GM could literally haunt a party with their own failures…)

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Foes of Iron: The Junk Golem & The Lunerma

Two more Iron Gods creatures. One from the adventure, and one from the random encounter chart:

Paladin_BotJunk Golem

Junk Golem

Medium construct, neutral
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 68 (8d8 + 32)
Speed 30 feet
STR 18 (+4) DEX 9 (-1) CON 18 (+4) INT 3 (-4) WIS 11 (0) CHA 1 (-5)
Damage Immunities: poison, psychic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons that aren’t adamantine
Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60ft, passive Perception 10
Languages: understands the languages of its creator but can’t speak
Challenge 4 (1,100 xp)

Composite Body. If the grease spell is cast on the golem, it is treated as the haste If the arcane lock spell is cast on the golem, it is treated as the slow spell. If the shatter spell is cast on the golem, it uses its discorporate ability. If the wood shape or rusting grasp spell is cast on the golem, the spell deals 2d6 points of damage to the golem, instead of its usual effect.

Magic Resistance. The golem has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Magic Weapons. The golem’s weapon attacks are magical.

ACTIONS

Multiattack. The junk golem makes two slam attacks.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 day. The poisoned target can not speak or cast spells until after it takes a long rest or receives healing magic.

Discorporate. The golem breaks apart, becoming a swarm. It gains the following attributes:
Large: The golem’s size becomes large.
Swarm. A swarm can occupy another creature’s space and vice versa, and the swarm can move through any opening large enough for a Tiny golem. The swarm can’t regain hit points or gain temporary hit points.

Actions
While the golem is a swarm, it can take the following actions.

Tiny cuts. Melee Weapon Attack. +6 to hit, reach 0 ft., all creatures in the swarm’s space. Hit: Hit: 6 (1d4 + 4) slashing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 day. The poisoned target can not speak or cast spells until after it takes a long rest or receives healing magic.

Reassemble. The golem reverts back to its normal form. It may not move, this turn.


Lunarma

Lunarma

Medium aberration, neutral
Armor Class 15
Hit Points 108 (14d8 + 56)
Speed fly 60 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 12 (+1) CON 19 (+4) INT 5 (-3) WIS 12 (+2) CHA 10 (+0)
Damage Resistances: electricity, fire
Damage Immunities: cold, poison
Condition Immunities: poisoned
Skills Perception +5, Stealth +4
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive perception +15
Languages telepathy 120 ft. (other lunarma only)
Challenge 6 (2,300 xp)

No Breath. The lunarma does no need to breathe.

Barbed Carapace. Any creature that grapples a lunarma or hits it with unarmed strikes or natural weapon attacks takes 7 (2d6) points of damage from the barbs on its hide.

 

ACTIONS
Multiattack. The lunarma can attack three times with its claws and once with its bite.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8 + 3) piercing damage, and the target must succeed at a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 9 (2d8) acid damage.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8 + 3) slashing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, the lunarma can automatically hit the target with its claw attack, and the number of claw attacks it can make is reduced by one.

Acid Breath. The lunarma spews caustic acid in a 30-foot line that is 5 feet wide. Each creature in the line must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 36 (8d8) acid damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. For the next two rounds, each creature damaged by the lunarma’s acid breath takes 9 (2d8) acid damage. A creature can negate this damage to itself or another creature by spending an action to use water or another liquid to wash the acid off.

Implant Eggs. A lunarma can implant 7 (2d6) eggs in a restrained creature. The eggs hatch after one day and feed on the implanted creature for the next two days, reducing its hit point maximum by 5 per egg per day. After which the larvae leave the carcass behind to seek out a safe place to form a cocoon and mature into adults. A lesser restoration removes all eggs or larvae, or they can be removed individually with a Wisdom (Heal) ability check. A creature’s hit point maximum can only be restored by a restoration spell.


Hacking the Junk Golem & Lunarma

(A bit late, down here, due to some computer problems.) The problem with golems is that they’re all high level. Why shouldn’t low-level characters have the opportunity to fight a lair-guardian that shrugs off their attacks? For me, the most interesting aspect of the junk golem was trying to capture the “discorporate” ability. The “swarm” type in 5e is loosely defined, and there’s no way for a swarm to use the same attacks as the creature that it originated from. Making the swarm-form, essentially, a new creature that could come and go with a reaction or an action was the best way I could think of to make that work, and it should freak the players out, because nothing else in 5e does this. It may have too many hit points, though. I’ll see how that works. It’s less of a big deal, in the Iron Gods encounter, because I don’t plan for that encounter to last long. After two rounds, the combat will be called off – just long enough for things to get interesting, but not long enough for them to get deadly.

The lunarma, I’m sorry to say, didn’t have any pictures that I could find on-line, and I’m trying really hard not to do copyright infringement, if I can help it. Will my players fight one? No idea, but they’re super-creepy and I wanted to work out the “iplant egg” ability. Creatures that implants eggs in humans are, I think, the creepiest creatures. This one is especially gross, because it floats along, seemingly harmlessly, silently hunting its prey. The egg implantation is another example of 5e’s missing ability damage rules. I understand why they’re absent: they make the game significantly more complicated, but making ability scores off-limits for damage removes a huge set of tools from the GM’s toolbox: poisons, diseases, drain attacks, and egg implantation can’t work in the same way. Sometimes exhaustion is a good substitute, but not always.

I’ve been toying with a subsystem, but the fact is that anything that approximated ability damage would feel clunky and tacked-on. For now, I think the best approach is to take it on a case-by-case basis. In this case, the reduction in hit point maximum mirrors some poisons, and should represent the degree to which the eggs mess with a character’s system. The initial implantation isn’t likely to kill higher-level characters, but will be deadly for low-level parties and villager-NPCs.

Next time: Computer problems will force me to take a break on Monday, but I’ll be back Wednesday with the Darfellan!

5e Monsters for Iron Gods: Choker & Rhu-chalik/ Void Wanderer

These two creatures are coming up shortly in my group’s Iron Gods campaign…

chokerChoker

Creatures out of nightmares, chokers hunt quietly in the darkness, preferring to bring down individual prey when possible. They are small, no larger than a halfling, but their arms, legs, and fingers are disproportionately long and often twitch so quickly that they seem blurry.

Dwellers in Darkness. Little more intelligent than animals, chokers are often confused and fascinated by the habits and customs of civilized creatures, and will lurk for days in dark places, watching humans and other settled races go about their daily lives. When alone in a house, chokers try to touch everything in sight, moving objects around or secreting away small items that seem important. A choker can hide in an attic or an eve for days, sewing fear and mistrust within a house until they choose to stop playing and devour their prey. They subsist solely on the flesh and blood of living creatures, and prefer those with some measure of intelligence.

Bringers of Silence. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of fighting with a choker, however, is their ability to steal a creature’s voice with a touch. As they rarely speak, themselves, they little understand why voices are do important, but they know well enough that losing one is terrifying, particularly for magic-users.

Cowardly Hunters. While chokers can hunt prey of any size, they prefer to pull small or smaller creatures into the darkness and feed on them. As such, they enjoy hunting halflings, gnomes, and children from larger races. They will rarely attack someone holding a weapon, preferring to watch and wait for an opportunity to strike when the target is sleeping or unawares. If truly roused to anger, a choker will leave an armed target alone and hunt its family, instead.

Choker

Small aberration, chaotic evil
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 31 (7d6 + 7)
Speed 20 ft., climb 10 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 14 (+2) CON 13 (+1) INT 4 (-3) WIS 13 (+1) CHA 7 (-2)
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception +13
Languages: Undercommon, Aklo
Challenge 2 (450 xp)

Cunning Action. On each of its turns, the choker can use a bonus action to take the Dash, Disengage, or Hide action.

ACTIONS
Multiattack. The choker can make two tentacle attacks, unless it is currently restraining a target.
Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, 10 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until this grapple ends, the creature is restrained and can neither speak nor cast spells. The choker can restrain no more than two creatures in this way.


http://scpaps.deviantart.com/art/One-Eyed-Tentacle-Beast-Fin-23710899Void Wanderer (Rhu-chalik)

Called the rhu-chalik among its own people, the void wanderer travels the cosmos as advance scouts for dark masters that live in the spaces between the stars. Millions of these diminutive tentacled aberrations are birthed every hour and flung into the universe to seek out planets that are ripe for colonization. They can move through the void of space, whose airless cold is harmless to them, but often prefer to find interstellar ships and feed on the crew as it ship ferries its deadly, hidden cargo.

Silent Stalkers. Living invisibly among a population for decades, void wanderers wait for a society to cover a plant and advance technologically until they are almost space-faring before the summon their masters’ fleets. During this time, they prey on individuals of every species and every kind of creature, wearing them down until they enter a fitful sleep, at which time the void wanderer duplicates their consciousness and transmits it across the depths of space for some unknown purpose. The leaders and the lowly alike are copied in this way.

Immortal Hunters. As long as its eye remains intact in its gel-like casing, the void wanderer can never be truly killed. It will always regenerate. Because the void wanderer’s body and eye are so flexible, a creature must choose to attack the eye, specifically, to do damage to it. Any attack or effect that blinds the void wanderer will prevent its regeneration, as well. Void wanderers prefer to avoid direct combat, however, choosing instead to attack creatures while they sleep, inflicting increasing degrees of exhaustion until a creature is unable to fight back.

Connoisseurs of Pain. The void wanderer’s pain touch can deliver various kinds of pain, from the feeling of freezing to the feeling of being stabbed, and void wanderers often administer multiple types of pain to the same creature, to see how it will react. When they have the opportunity to share memories with a creature, they often choose an emotionally painful one, to administer yet another variety of agony.

Void Wanderer

Small aberration, chaotic evil
Armor Class  15
Hit Points 75 (10d6 + 40)
Speed 5 ft., fly 60 ft.
STR 12 (+0) DEX 16 (+3) CON 19 (+4) INT 13 (+1) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 16 (+3)
Damage Immunities cold
Condition Immunities poisoned
Skills Intimidate +6, Perception +5, Stealth +6
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15
Languages telepathy 100 ft.
Challenge 6 (2,300 xp)

Compression. The void wanderer can enter any space larger than its eye.

No Breath. The void wanderer does not need to breathe.

Void Transmission. When a creature falls unconscious while it suffers from any level of exhaustion as result of the void wanderer’s project terror ability, the void wanderer can spend 10 minutes in direct contact with the creature copying and absorbing the creature’s consciousness. If the creature is awoken before the process is completed, the void transmission fails, and the void wanderer must start again. If the process is completed successfully, the void wanderer transmits that conscious to any location of its choosing in the universe. The location must have the capacity to receive and story these transmissions. If a creature’s consciousness is successfully transmitted, it suffers from one additional level of exhaustion for the next 24 hours. This level of exhaustion cannot be cured by any means until the end of this time.

Regeneration. The void wanderer regains 5 hit points at the start of its turn. When it uses this ability, its eye glows slightly. The void wanderer dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and the single grey eye in the center of its body has been shattered. If the void wanderer is blinded by an attack or spell effect, it does not regenerate until the blindness is cured.

Innate Spellcasting. The void wanderer’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). The void wanderer can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
At will—detect thoughts, invisibility, mage armor, share memory
     1/day—modify memory, sleep

ACTIONS
Multiattack. The void wanderer makes four attacks with its tentacles.

Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (3d6) bludgeoning damage, and the void wanderer can choose one of the following effects:
     Pain Touch: The target must succeed at a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or gain disadvantage on all attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws for 2 rounds. Additional pain touches increase the duration by 2 additional rounds.
     Spell Strike. The void wanderer affects the target with any spell that it knows, regardless of the range of the spell, as though that spell has a range of touch.

Project Terror. Ranged Attack: +6 to hit, range 60 ft., one target on whom the void wanderer has used detect thoughts within the last minute. Hit: the target gains one level of exhaustion as its mind is overwhelmed by waking nightmares.

Spell

Share Memory
2nd level divination
(spell lists: Bard, Warlock, Sorcerer, Wizard)
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

Unless the target succeeds at a Wisdom saving throw, you momentarily link your mind with the target’s and share a single memory of no longer than 1 minute. You can show the target one of your memories, show the target one of its own memories (even if that memory has been buried or suppressed by magical or other means), or view one of the target’s memories.

   At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the length of the memory increases by one minute for each slot level above 2nd.

Hacking the Choker and the Void Wanderer

The choker strikes me as a creature from a horror movie, its motions jerky, its head perpetually cocked to the side as though it almost understands your pleas for mercy. It attacks from above, hiding in darkness. In the medieval fantasy setting, it’s important to remember how rare light is. Just because our clerics and wizards can cast it all day long doesn’t mean that the darkness isn’t out there, and isn’t terrifying for most people. Candles do little to fight it off. There is always the chance that something is lurking outside our vision, waiting for the feeble candle-light to die out.

The choker was a relatively easy conversion: it had to be fast (thus the rogue’s cunning action) and it had to shut down an opponent’s ability to speak. They don’t have a lot of hit points, but they’ll make your wizard think twice about relying solely on her spells…

While an individual choker might be a great threat for a low-level party, a pack of chokers could still threaten a higher level group, particularly because multiple chokers could take all of a party’s magic-users out of a fight for a few rounds while still attacking other characters.

The name rhu-chalik is catchy, but I couldn’t imagine a medieval people calling something that. They’d call them “space demons,” if they even understood the concept of “space.” I wanted to tie the regeneration ability to the eye, because that makes it a little more scary, and forces a party to think hard about disposing of the creature. Making the eye glow was important, because the characters need a hint about why the thing keeps getting back up.

I also wanted the void wanderer to have some more complex abilities. Most monsters in 5e, it seems to me, do one thing or another thing, and maybe there is a rider (grappling, poison, etc.). I haven’t seen any that could attack and then choose what happens next. Since the void wanderer has four attacks, it was important that they not do much damage, individually, but that each could have different effects: pain touch to impose disadvantage, then share memory, for example. The spell strike ability only works for the CR if the void wanderer doesn’t have any damaging spells, though. It uses those spells to get to know its opponents, or even make them seem to disappear, to frighten their allies, then it flees and uses its knowledge to attack later, invisibly.

A void wanderer with damaging spells would be a lot of fun, and would be an easy way to raise the CR.

Summerlands Antagonists: The Fey (part 2)

Building fey for the Summerlands has been a blast. Most of the antagonists are in a sort of binary opposition relationship with one or two races, but the fey are all over the place. Sure, the tunder are most likely to oppose them, and the fey respond with equal malice, but the fey are just as likely to prey on all races (more likely, because the other races lack the tunder’s build-in defenses against them). There are a lot of fey, between the editions of D&D, the legends in the world, and the possibilities of the imagination (like the lurker-in-light, a fey created especially for Pathfinder). I chose a few that I thought were interesting, that have varied abilities and environments, and the let me play with different mechanics.

Lurker-in-light – The lurker is a favorite of mine – a new fey that turns the nature of terror on its head, making safe places dangerous. Don’t fear the monster under the bed: fear the sunbeam on top of it.

Nereid – Another water fey, like the kelpie, the nereid is bound to fresh-water, a way for the sea to continue to haunt sea kin who have left the shore behind.

Quickling – The quicklings are the dark, terrible thing lurking in the alley. They are fast, brutal, and merciless.

Redcap: One of my favorite villainous fey, the redcap is the picture of sadism. Like the nereid, the kelpie, and the tooth fairy, they are one of the classic “fey with a keyed item” of legend.

Tooth fairy – The Pathfinder interpretation of the tooth fairy is wonderfully terrifying.

Tunche – A rare example of a fey whose origin isn’t European, the South American tunche is one of the most powerful creatures in the Summerlands that isn’t a dragon.

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Summerlands Antagonists: The Fey

Summerlands Antagonists: The Fey

(This is the first part of my two-part look at the fey in the Summerlands.)

Everyone in the Summerlands worries about the dragons. Some concern themselves with dangers of the sea, while others focus on each other or on ancient enemies like the quaggoth. Few worry about the fey. Everyone knows they exist, of course, but at best they are a nuisance, the stuff of bedtime stories, or the butt of jokes. Except for the sea kin’s animosity with kelpies and selkies, few mortal races concern themselves with faeries, and few faeries bother mortal creatures.

This is not for lack of trying. Fey like the banshrae, the nereid, the tooth faeries and others try to feed on mortals’ emotions or lives, and are stopped only by the eternal vigilance of the tunder.

In the Summerlands, there are no “good fey.” At best, some fey, especially selkies, dryads, and nereids, may be neutral, and such a fey might bestow positive attention on a mortal, but fey are not mortal. They are not born as mortals are and do not die as they do. Their ways of thinking are alien to mortals, and such a fey might seem to fall in love with a mortal, only to disappear without warning to see what the mortal’s reaction might be. A fey who genuinely feels affection for a mortal is the most dangerous: if they identify that feeling, they might imprison the mortal in amber to keep it forever, or slay it to see what the loss feels like.

Fey are born from the land, springing into being when a tree takes root or a baby cuts its first tooth. They are created fully formed, with all the desires and drives they will ever have. The circumstances of a fey’s creation profoundly affect its life. A tooth faerie might look like a sprite, but the former is created from a baby’s cry and will spend its life stealing teeth and torturing infants. The latter are born of the tunderstorms that roll of the Endless Mountains, and bring the anger of the storm to bear on mortals they dislike.

Dryads are common anywhere there are trees. While not every tree has a dryad, it is said that a dryad lives within sight of every tree in every forest. They do not always oppose cutting trees down, particularly if is makes room for more to grow, but they dislike loggers on principle, and will interfere with their operations whenever possible. For this reason, veteran loggers always welcome tunder into their camps, whether or not they do any work.

Hags are less common, as most are powerful enough to attract the attention of adventurers, dragons, or both. Those hags who do survive, however, usually focus on destroying tunder. As soon as the hags turn their attention to other matters, the tunder gather together to strike them down.

Existing in the space between dragons and fey, faerie dragons are not protected by the laws of retribution that protect dragons from harm. They are too much like dragons for the fey to give them protection, however. As a result, they spend their lives in hiding, resenting both of their parent-races and the mortals who occasionally hunt them for sport.

Like faerie dragons, blink dogs are one of the few fey whose existence is well-known among mortals. Parents frighten their children into obedience with stories of enormous, vicious canines who can appear out of thin air, snatch a disobedient child, and be gone before anyone notices. Careless or foolhardy children of all races are referred to as “blink bait.”

Pixies and sprites look alike: both have wings, both are small, and both are invisible. Both delight in torturing mortals who offend them (such as by not leaving out food for nearby fey, whether or not the mortal know there are such fey), although sprites tend to be more violent in their retribution: pixies play cruel tricks, while sprites hound mortals to death.

Like selkies, satyrs are attracted to beautiful mortal men and women and frequently try to collect particularly attractive specimens. What a satyr with its prize depends on the fey, but it is rarely good for the mortal.

While blights, such as needle, twig, and vine, are plant creatures, they are the creations and weapons of the fey. A dryad angry about logging might not defend her grove herself, but rather send an army of blights to drive the loggers out.

Besides these common fey (and fey-associated creatures), there are many other fey in the Summerlands.

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Adventuring in the Summerlands: Low Level Adventures

I recently heard a panel discussion where Wolfgang Baur said that adventures are the best way to build a game world, because people play adventures. The idea is that a world without adventures is built for nothing, because players have nothing to do in it. That makes sense, but it’s a little intimidating for me: I’ve never written an adventure. I don’t really read adventures, either. I read setting books and world-books all the time, because I like world-building, but even when I’m running them I tend to skim adventures, because I make things up on the fly.

Still, I like to experiment and challenge myself, so I’m giving this adventure-writing thing a shot. In less than 2000 words, there isn’t much space to really “build an adventure,” so instead I’ll put in a couple of seeds, a rough outline, and some monsters. Next time, a tighter adventure, maybe.

Betrayal at Mahana Wai

pools(An adventure for low-level characters in the Summerlands)

Mahana Wai is a bustling resort town on the central coast, a half-day’s journey from the great lighthouse at Twilight’s Eye. With its many geothermal pools, Mahana Wai is one of the few coastal cities with a real hospitality industry: its dozens of inns, taverns, and shops cater to sea kin and others who come for the relaxation and medicinal qualities of the pools. The tourism industry in Mahana Wai is strengthened by the difficulty in settling there. Residency, and the ability to build a new house that comes with it, are only granted by permission of the town mayor, and such dispensations are only typically granted to close relatives (though it is said that anyone with enough coin, regardless of their actual relation, or even their race, can become a relative of the mayor).

When a Kato Hightide, a wealthy landowner, is found dead on the beach, everyone assumes that he was killed by a selkie, and the mayor begins taking bids on his extensive lands (which if broken up, could be sold to more than a dozen new arrivals. While Hightide’s wounds look to have been made by claws of some kind, his wife is convinced that he was not killed by a selkie (and she has good reason to believe that, as she is a selkie, herself, who gave up her life to be with him). Was he killed by the mayor, to open up expansion? Was it one of the wealthy bidders, looking a quick way to settle in town? Could it be the town sheriff, who is clearly in love with Hightide’s wife? Whoever it is, how could they have made it look like a selkie attack? Did they make a deal with a local sahuagin tribe? Did they hire one of the varanus that lives outside of town?

As they investigate the murder (perhaps at the request of the widow, who can certainly pay, or on orders from the sheriff or the mayor, looking for outsiders to take the fall), the party will encounter sea kin toughs, sahuagin squatters, and a wealthy reven looking to retire by the sea, all of whom know more than they let on.

The Fallen Tower

cc Jake Murray

(An adventure for 4-6th level characters)

On the northern coast, west of the Seaway River, reven and sea kin loggers fell mighty redwood trees, while grippli and wildren observers make sure that replacements are planted and treaties are respected. Such work is always dangerous, though it is made easier by the reven ability to glide, and the sea kin facility with water. All the same, accidents are expected, and casualties are part of the job. Recently, though, loggers have been going missing during the night.

The reven suspect wildren, and tensions in the camp are high, with neither group trusting the other to solve the disappearances to their satisfaction. Outside contractors are called in. The adventurers might discover that a wildren war-band has been sabotaging the logging operations, but they, too, have been losing members during the night.

Both sets of disappearances can be tracked to a fallen tower, outside of town. Once the laboratory of wildren druid/wizard, the tower has spent a decade laying on its side, sinking into the mud. Outside, the ruin is home to swarms of bloodflies and hawkwasps, but inside there is evidence of a great battle. Skeletons of aarakocra lie among the remains of creatures that are part ape, part… something else.

While many of the wizard’s experiments escaped, some have made their homes in the tower’s ruins: spined apes, a pair of oranagons, (in a flooded room) a small tribe of apetapuses, all answering to a mighty girallon.

In the sunken room, explorers can find a cache of broken dragon eggs. In another room, bodies of reven loggers, each brutally slain. Finally, in the wizard’s laboratory, the girallon’s lair, a gruesome sight: the wizard’s corpse, half-frozen and half-burned by dragonfire as punishment for his desecration of the dragon eggs. Nearby, broken wildren, killed in the girallon’s misguided attempt to put the wizard back together.

What secrets can be found in the wizard’s hidden notebooks? What other foul experiments roam the countryside as a result of his work?

 


Summerlands Antagonists

SPINED APE
Medium beast, unaligned
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)

Hit Points 22 (4d8 + 4)
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 14 (+2) CON 13 (+1) INT 5 (-3) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Athletics +5, Acrobatics +4
Senses passive Perception 10
Languages
Challenge 1 (200 xp)

Spiked Hide. When the spined ape is hit with a melee attack, the attacker takes 2 damage.

Actions
Multiattack.
The spined ape makes two attacks. The spined ape can make a melee and a ranged attack in the same round.

Fist. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning and piercing damage.

Slam. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d68+ 3) bludgeoning and piercing damage.

Spines. Ranged weapons attack. +4 to hit, range 30/60, one target. Hit 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.

APETOPUS
Medium beast, unaligned
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 50 (8d8 + 24)
Speed 10 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 16 (+3) CON 16 (+3) INT 8 (-4) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Athletics +5, Acrobatics +4, Perception +4, Stealth +4
Senses passive Perception 12
Languages
Challenge 2 (450 xp)

Amphibious. The apetopus can breathe air and water.

Actions
Multiattack.
The apetopus makes two melee attacks or one ink cloud attack.

Fist. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

Tentacles. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 14). Until this grapple ends, the apetopus can’t use its tentacles on another target.

Ink Cloud (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). A 10-foot-radius cloud of ink extends all around the apetopus if it is underwater. The area is heavily obscures for 1 minute, although a significant current can dispense the ink. After releasing the ink, the apetopus can use the Dash action as a bonus action.

 

 

ORANGAGON
Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 96 (12d10 + 36)
Speed 50 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 12 (+1) CON 16 (+3) INT 6 (-2) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 6 (-2)
Skills Perception +2
Senses blindsight 10 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Draconic (can’t speak)
Challenge 4 (1,100 xp)

Resistance: The orangagon gains resistance to a type of damage based on its color.

Black Acid
Blue Lightning
Green Poison
Red Fire
White Cold

Breath Weapon (Recharge 5-6). The orangagon exhales a breath weapon based on its color. Each creature in the area must make a saving throw, taking 24 damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

Black 15-foot line of acid, 5 feet wide DC 11 Dexterity saving throw
Blue 30-foot line of lightning, 5 feet wide DC 12 Dexterity saving throw
Green 15-foot cone of poison DC 11 Constitution saving throw
Red 15-foot cone of fire DC 13 Dexterity saving throw
White 15-foot cone of cold DC 12 Dexterity saving throw

Actions
Multiattack.
The orangagon makes three melee attacks.

Fist. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage.

Claw. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) slashing damage.

Bite. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 14). While the target is grappled, the orangagon can use its breath weapon to affect the target, which takes disadvantage on the saving throw. When used in this way, the orangagon’s breath weapon does not affect the area listed above.

GIRALLON
Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 150 (12d10 + 36)
Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 16 (+3) CON 16 (+3) INT 9 (-1) WIS 12 (+2) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Athletics +6, Acrobatics +5, Perception +4, Stealth +5
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Draconic
Challenge 6 (2,300 xp)

Four-armed terror: The girallon can take three reactions per round in combat.

Actions

Multiattack. The girallon makes four melee attacks.

Claw. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) slashing damage. If the girallon hits the same target with two claw attacks, the creature is grappled (escape DC 15). Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained and the girallon can’t make claw attacks against another target.

Bite. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10 + 4) piercing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained and the girallon can’t bite another target.

Shake: The girallon makes one bite attack against a creature that it is grappling. If the attack hits, the girallon shakes the creature violently, doing 19 (3d10 + 4) points of damage.


 Hacking The Antagonists

I love the idea of a wildren druid-mage to committed to their ape-related magic that all their creatures are ape hybrids. It’s like the wizard who created the owlbear, except they’re asking “What does this ape need to be more awesome? Octopus genes!” The tower doesn’t have to be in the Summerlands, and the druid doesn’t have to be a wildren: D&D worlds are full of wizards who are over-enthusiastic about their theme. The same wizard would probably have ape-related spells, as well: “Ape Climb” and “Howl of the Silverback,” or something.

The adventures are one-page seeds, which should be enough to get started on them. These were meant to be quick-and-dirty prompts, because I wanted more than one.

Next time: The Reven: Dragon”born” of the Summerlands!