Using My Monsters

Friday, 28 February 2014

Session Report - Ormid Et Al - Unholy Magic, More Undead, A Summoning

14:00 -14:10 For a while the group simply lean on the stinking, dripping walls and enjoy the feeling of not being dead. Then the doors leading from the manticore's chamber begin to boom and bulge towards them as the daemonic beast tries to smash its way free, and they back off, encountering another set of reinforced doors. These are subsequently torn open by the warforged, and the group find themselves looking at a dark crossroad; reflected firelight gleaming from the left, a barely visible sullen red glow welling from the darkness ahead.

Edging forwards the group come to a small chamber which has two exits; one to the west (a strong stink of urine and ammonia wafts from this tunnel, leading the group to assume it leads to some kind of midden), and one to the south (the red glow can be seen to emanate from here). 

14:11 - 14:40: Carefully, the group move towards the southern corridor, and at once see two huge, crude symbols on the floor, painted in (still) boiling blood, glowing with necromantic power. The symbols are promptly disabled by the artificer - who summons his Onyx Dog, invests it with a little of his own life force, and then sends it over the symbols - triggering each in a burst of repulsive, rotting light, the poor summoned animal yelping in agony as its energy is consumed, before it is sent back to the statuette.

With the symbols gone, the group carry on south, entering a narrow (10' wide) corridor that seems to turn around on itself heading mainly east. Fresh blood (less than a day old) is spattered along its filthy floor, as if something bleeding out was carried this way, and as the corridor turns northwards, the group see that it ends (in the eastern wall) with another reinforced doorway. The aether in this area is alive with energy so strong that even the Veteran is aware of it. All recognise the filthy tang of daemonic magic, and before the group attempt to open the door (which is covered in grisly blood symbols, fetishes and pieces of various animals), Ormid risks a peek into the magical realm - immediately wishing he had not, for he sees, somewhere close by, a wound in reality being torn open by potent ritual magic; a portal to some dark and unstable realm of raw chaos and malevolence. With horror, the artificer realises that someone is trying to summon a daemon to this plane of existence, and that they are very close to succeeding.

Ormid tells the group what he has sensed, and they discuss whether or not they should go on. As they discuss this, so the air become suffused with the smell of burning blood, and a psychic weight begins to press down on them. Despite their weariness, wounds and misgivings, the group realise that they can't simply stand by and allow a daemon to be called - especially as it is probably being called to deal with their "army" and "invasion".

The door is opened (no wards are found on it beyond the disturbing iconography and daubings - possibly as such magics might disrupt the ritual), and at once the throat-grabbing stink of advanced decay assaults the group. A murky, faintly luminous miasma clouds the air ahead, and the group are barely able to make out the two lumbering figures that stamp and stumble forwards until they are nearly upon them - two more animated Morgorim. These things are slain, and the group move on, soon spotting another blood sigil on the floor, in front of a another door - this time covered in well crafted circles and wards against extraplanar intrusion. By this time, a constant sense of dread and oppressive wrongness presses down on the party. From beyond the door, they can hear a number of unspeakable sounds; two gigorim voices, terrified and raw, coughing out the words to the ritual they are casting (although they sound more than a little horrified by what they are doing), an indistinguishable tearing sound, like hot knives through rotten flesh, and something else - a filthy, black, muttering in a tongue that seems to pollute their minds simply by hearing it - something ancient, malevolent beyond description, and powerful.

The group move to open remove the glyph. However, at this point a horrible, insane scream goes up from beyond the doors, and the air is suddenly wracked by echoes of wild magic and psychic screams. The entire area shakes as if in an earthquake, and the group feel something massive and terrible shift its metaphysical weight into their plane. The screams (those of one of the chanting gigorim) suddenly meld with the darker voice (although the other gigorim can still be heard screaming, his yells almost childlike in their raw terror), and the air is filled with the sound of ripping flesh and snapping bone. Sickened and suddenly worried, the group back off a little - just as the door explodes outwards in a shower of magic and splinters, and something utterly nightmarish, roaring from its multiple mouths, and lashing with its many misshapen limbs, pours through its frame (the glyph triggers uselessly beneath the flabby bulk of the horror).

It takes the artificer a moment to realise what they face, but then the copper drops.

"The daemon has possessed one of its summoners and warped their body for its own use. It's still 'putting them on' so to speak, so is a little less potent at present. Destroy it and send it back before it can truly take over its host".

His comrades need no further encouragement, and launch themselves in towards it. Their epic weapons cleave into the shifting, flame wreathed flesh of the thing, each blow triggering terrible wailing screams from the huge fanged mouths that cover its monstrous form. It responds by spewing a thick unnatural spume of fiery corrosion towards the group, drenching them in consuming abyssal energy, whilst its mere presence is enough to unseat their sanity and stop them riding the escalating winds of battle. Hurt badly, and already close to breaking point, the group almost sob with relief as the thing begins to split open - revealing a maddening weave of flesh, energy and chaos within, the remnants of the possessed gigorim slowly being hacked away to reveal the possessing spirit. Llewellyn darts here and there, the Devastating Momentum chewing chunks off the thing, whilst Ormid stays back, his magics raining down on it viciously, washing the flesh away like horrific paint. However, their victory is not easy, as the thing rips into them with claw studded tentacles, tearing through armour like paper, and sending them smashing into walls. But victory, of a kind is theirs, for suddenly, with a roar of ancient fury, the flesh form is peeled off, and the thing inside is unleashed.

"Glabrezu" gasps Ormid, as he recognises the form of the daemon; a hulking, four-armed behemoth, with the head of a rabid dog and the horns of a goat.

Billowing with magic, the summoned daemon is momentarily stunned by its unexpected transition from flesh back into spirit - and this proves to be its undoing, for before it can even react and bring its incredible powers to bear, the warforged, calling on every last ounce of his strength and resolve, focusing all the accumulated pain and rage he has gathered that day into one attack after another, leaps towards it. The Annihilator seethes with its own power, enhanced up by Ormid's castings, and time and again it strikes the abomination; each blow weakening the magics holding it to this dimension, its form becoming more and more unstable and unreal...until suddenly, with the fifth epic blow, the horror is banished in a burst of chaotic energy and deafening shrieks back to its own nightmare universe.

For a moment it is like the volume has been turned down on reality, as the rage that mantled the group subsides...only the sobbing of the last terrified gigorim filling the tainted, blood tasting air. Fumes, like shadows hover where the daemon was, almost leaving a negative impression of it, as if its evil has been burned into realities skin. However, as that fades, so too do the group come round...and turn their attention to the weeping monster.

Monday, 17 February 2014

State of Play - Arrival at Scarathane, Dark Presences, Old Allies, Fight!

30/8/1472: Three days have passed since the group left the pirate's island and continued their journey towards Scarathane, and now, at last, the island is within sight. A rumble of worry amongst the more experienced men, for a plume of volcanic smoke hangs above the city - something that should not be, for the island, though a volcano, has slumbered for as long as memory. As the group get nearer, so the air thickens with biting sulphuric fumes, and flakes of ash begin to fall like snow. A subtle shift occurs in the aether, as they enter a realm of relative dimensional stability, although strong, stinking winds, full of fire and brimstone, begin to push against the ship's sails. By the time the ships reach the point where they will split (the Sea Cunt will be staying in the Porto di Sovrani , the most expensive but finest port located on the island's east side, whilst the newly re-named Red Curse will be staying at the Porto di Capitani, located on the eastern side), they can see the city in all its hellish glory. They also see that the ports are absolutely rammed with ships (and indeed, as they get closer, observe two ships blasting at each other in order to try and secure a place, only succeeding in sinking each other - leaving a nice place for them to park). The vessels part company, and seek a place to stay.

The warlock causes great concern by suddenly having a fit whilst stood on deck staring at the city. On waking, he reveals that a great monstrous energy or presence lurks beneath the volcano..something terrifying.

Having paid for a single day only, the group decide to try and find a way of reducing a ridiculous costs of staying in the ports. Caleph states that the Feccia Del Mare run the ports, and tells them that by getting in their good books, they could probably get some discount. However, as one of the three ruling power groups in this Black Port, they will not be easy to contact.

The group decide to split up at this point. Jaeger enters the sprawling chaos of the Città nelle ombre di Fuoco, in the hopes of getting a feel for the power players of the city and of finding a way of getting into contact with the Feccia Del Mare. What he finds instead is "Narogg's Grogs", a rough bar run by an old comrade (and Unified Order defector), Narogg Gorebiter. Narogg (a surprisingly intelligent and charismatic Gorgoth) is understandably worried when he first encounters the assassin, thinking he has been sent to kill him. However, when he realises that this is not the case, the two old allies spend some time catching up (Narogg only has one arm now, having lost his limb to the corrosive bite of a Thessalhydra whilst on Order business).

Narogg tells the assassin of an "entrepreneur" named Klesp “Black Hilt” Venoo; a native to Scarathane with "a lot of dirty little fingers in a lot of dirty little pies". He also states that for a (hefty) price, he can arrange a sit down meeting with representatives of the Feccia. Jaeger tells the greenskin he will discuss the options with his allies, and returns to the SC. Narogg also tells the assassin about the many pit fights that happen around the island, including a few organised arenas, where warriors can quickly accumulate wealth and fame.

(Jaeger also bore witness to an individual, insane it seemed, being captured and dragged away by some invisible thing).

Whilst this has been going on, the rest of the group have engaged in various activities. Varracuda has been meditating, and has realised that there is some kind of dimensional void beneath the bowels of the volcano (where it is rumored, the Zargor'Gigorim - Fire Giants - have a secret temple to Zargor), which, combined with the Warlock's words earlier, gives him cause for concern.

Thatari wanders the crowded streets and wharfs of the lower city, allowing the thoughts of the populace to enter him mind, looking for hints as to what may lurk beneath their feet. He briefly touches on an utterly alien mind; babbling with insanity - and realises that unseen things of aberrant form are lurking amongst the unsuspecting populace. He also learns of a local cult - the Cult of the Suffocating Flame - although he is unable to discern any additional information.

Shnecke and Grigori persuade some ship mates to go for a drink with them in a nameless tavern, where they encounter a powerful brew that the scarred bar man (who only has half a tongue) warns him is "dangerous". The Ulnyrr necks it regardless, and then he and the priest feed on the intoxicated crewmen; leaving three of them with the worst hangover ever, but alive...the fourth man perishing under the combined effects of the potent brew and the undead's blood drinking.

By nightfall, the group are back together on the ship. They discuss their various discoveries, and decide to pay the gorgoth to arrange a meeting with the Feccia.

23:30 - 23:55: The group move to meet with Narogg, intending to stay at the bar overnight. However, in an area they feel is oddly silent given the usual crowded nature of the Città, they encounter a band of roving Zargorim slavers, accompanied by a canine manifestation of elemental fire. Seeing the potent group, the giant's quickly move to attack, and the group, not too keen on becoming slaves, prepare to defend themselves.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Here Comes The Swarm - Slivers for 4e (Part I)

I once played a lot of Magic the Gathering, and still play it from time to time. It's an awesome game, that in truth, I have to be careful about...play too much and I am hooked again, spending too much money on single cards and getting too involved with tweaking my decks. Anyway, one of the monster types I have always thought would be ace in 4e are the Slivers - alien bug thingies that share a hive mind, and which grant other slivers in play various abilities. So, I have started converting some of them to 4e. I intend to do quite a few more - although some just don't lend themselves to it very easily.

Two caveats here. Obviously, I don't own the copywrite on these things, so if I am made aware that I am violating some kind of law, they will be taken down. Secondly, don't forget that the stat mods shown do not include the bonus added from half the monster's level (rounded down). 

Anyway, here we go!







Saturday, 15 February 2014

Unearthed Lore

I have been going through some of my old 3.5 notes, and have been wandering down some wonderful avenues of memory. However, this little fragment was something I felt like sharing, as much for the interest of my players as anything else. I hope you like it!

"The Four Great Arcane Guilds were immensely powerful orders of magic, who for long and long worked together and ushered in a golden age of magical, spiritual, psionic and technological advances - a time where mortal-kind re-discovered heights of power undreamed of since the First Age. Alas, it is in the nature for mortal things to strive for ever more power, and as time drew on, so suspicion and mistrust grew amongst the guilds. Eventually, after a failed coup by mighty Mage-Lords of the Western Guild (Encouraged by the vile necromancer, Jantherak "Shade Binder"), the tensions spilled over into one of the greatest wars to ever rock the material plane. There are extensive histories available at the Library of Tillijil / Lorehaven and of course many other great libraries, as well as a legacy of songs and poems hailing back to those dark days.

The war was horrible, as all that knowledge and power was turned towards destruction - not just physical but metaphysical. The planes of existence were rocked by the battle; gods and ancient demons were bound, mighty elemental forces unleashed and the very fabric of reality twisted and torn as the great arcanists and their allies bitterly worked to blast and unmake each other.

Ultimately, with the final spell worked by the infamous Arch-Invoker Ivig "The Insane" (helped many say by the Lady Transmuter Sednir "The Shaper"), the war was over...

...But what to do with all those war-machines, deathly spells and mighty conjurings? How could the world (or even the plane) be safe with them around?

Thus was the "All Arms Pact" written; an agreement between the survivors that the products of the war would be locked away and left to rot...though, with the formation of the Coalition States and the eventual use by the West (again) of those very weapons, they once again emerged, and once more the world was plunged into chaos.

After five great battles (and almost 1,000 years) the mightiest arch-mages realised that as long as there were those who knew of the existence of the items (and the wars that grew from them), there would never truly be peace. To address this, they worked with the Goddess Merriel'Shaava to craft a spell of awesome power (the Oblivion Seed) that would erase all memory of the weapons, their locations (now sealed in the "Lost Vaults”; pocket dimensions warded with mighty spells and watched by ineffable guardians), and the events that involved them.

Though there were powerful forces determined to stop them, they were eventually successful – casting their spell under a Blue Moon (a rare manifestation of fluctuating magical energy), and ensuring that all knowledge of the terrible weapons and magics were forever lost…

Well, until an artificer long and long after, found the rotted remains of a Guild Battle Construct deep under the sea, re-built it, and inadvertently reactivated other slumbering monsters, as their senses detected an enemy and roused them…

But that leads us to later days, and those heroes who lived in the closing centuries of the Second Age, and the Age of Loss…"


And here are some notes I found about the first of the "five great battles" and one of the major order's that fought in it...an order that would go on to great infamy in 2nd Age Arbel...

"THE FIRST FORGOTTEN WAR

9145 – It has been over 7,300 years since the Guild War ended, and peace (punctuated by the occasional war or dispute) has existed on Fey between the Four Great Coalition States for long and long. However a recent attack on the South States mining operations along the Western border has sparked concerns that they have broken the ancient “All Arms Pact”, and utilised the outlawed weapons and spells developed by the Guilds.

Though initially diplomacy is tried, the unwillingness of the Western State to disarm leads to an escalation of fear and uncertainty…and, on the 19/1/9145, a unified coalition of the three “peaceable” states is formed, to ensure that the tyranny of the West is ended – with the use of the forbidden technology if needed…


THE BLACK LEGIONS – (Standard – A four-headed black dragon, breathing fire from the two outermost heads, holding a lance in its claws. It’s wings are spread wide, and the motto “Strength, Honour, Brotherhood, Obedience” is written on a scroll which drapes from both ends of the lance).


The Fey of this age is divided into four great Coalition City States, each of which roughly collates to the four cardinal points (and the four Great Guilds). Though there is no universal council, until the events that lead to the forgotten wars, they existed in a state of relative peace. This peace was greatly aided by the formation of the Black Legions; a standing army of conscripted youth drawn from the four coalition states.


With the end of the first Forgotten War however, the legion had been used poorly, and the inbred loyalties of its soldiers were pushed. Many soldiers returned to their own coalition’s resident armies in order to ensure the safety of their lands, ideals and family. However, some saw the opportunity for power of sorts."  

And finally, I found my plans for how the early Black Legion was organised...


THE STRUCTURE OF THE EARLY BLACK LEGION

Smallest Unit

Squad - This typically consists of 17 privates, 1 private first-class, One Lance Corporal and is lead by a Corporal. Squads are numbered (1st-16th) and bear the overall insignia of their Company. Most squads also bear nicknames, earned during the history of their action. For example, the “Bridge Buster Brigade” are the 9th squad of Raven Companies B Platoon, remembered for their action during the early land wars of 8775, when they destroyed a number of key bridges being utilised by insurgents to move men and supplies into the northern coalition states.

Platoon – A Platoon consists of 4 Squads. Each platoon is overseen by a Captain, and is given a letter (A-D).

Company – Overseen by a Sergeant, a company is 4 platoons. Each company bears a specific name, which is derived from the theme invoked by their parent Battalions name. For example, “Lion Company” is a component of “Predator Battalion”. Companies are overseen by a Lieutenant, four sub-lieutenants and a variety of warrant officers (Ranks from 5th class to 1st).

Battalion – 3 Companies form a Battalion. Each battalion is named and bears its own crest and insignia. A single Battalion-Captain makes the decisions for each battalion, though always with the opinions of his non-commissioned and commissioned officers, and with the clearance of his superiors.

Regiment – 4 Battalions form a regiment. Regiments are numbered (1st-100th), and are also titled (usually the number, and a reference to the geographical area where their headquarters are. For example, the 67th Easteners). Regiments are overseen by a Major, with the direct assistance of the current Lieutenant-Colonels (of which there are 10 at any one time).

Brigade – 5 Regiments form a Brigade. Each Brigade is commanded by a Brigadier, through his Colonels (each colonel is responsible for monitoring the activities and progress of a single regiment, being responsible for seeing that the Lieutenant-Colonels obtain, understand and relay the Brigadier’s commands, and that pertinent information is relayed back).

There are 20 Brigades in all, 5 assigned to each of the four coalition states.

The upper echelons of the army include 4 Major Generals (each responsible for monitoring 5 Brigades), 2 Lieutenant-Generals, a single General, and commanding them all (though with a advice of all the above – in theory) a Field Marshall."

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Final Word Broad Sword; "Concluder" - Level 26 Unique Weapon

On page 105 of the original Unearthed Arcana, you will find the description of nine potent blades, forged with magics that make them of incredible value to even the most potent warrior. As I am intending to throw a few nice bits at the players in my up coming Stag Weekend game, I thought I would convert them (or at least one of them) to 4e. Here then, is the Concluder.