A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

30 April 2012

[A to Z April] Z is for Zone of Terror (new spell)

Zone of Terror

Necromancy [Fear, Mind-Affecting]
Level: Brd 5, Clr 6, Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V,S,M/DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 100 ft.
Area: 40 ft. radius
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will partial
Spell Resistance: Yes

An invisible zone of ultimate fear is generated. Any creature in the area or which enters the area at any time in the duration of the zone is affected immediately. Every living creature that is affected, must make a Will save; if the Will save fails, the creature immediately cowers as if cornered. If the Will save is successful, the creature becomes panicked. Either condition lingers with an affected character for 1d12 +1 rounds after either leaving the spell’s effect or the spell’s termination.

Spells such as calm emotions or remove fear do not completely counter the effects of a zone of terror. Instead, the affected character’s condition is reduced to a lesser state of fear: cowering creatures are merely frightened and panicked creatures become merely shaken. However, the creatures must be outside of the zone of terror’s influence when the countering spell is cast for the reduction in fear to be successful. Note: the zone of terror is a static zone and cannot be moved once cast.

Last year's "Z": Z is for Zero Dice Roleplaying

29 April 2012

[A to Z April] Y is for Ylder's Timid Divinity (new spell)

Ylder’s Timid Divinity

Level: Clr 0, Pal 0
Components: V,S,DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Creature touched
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes

The recipient of this spell temporarily becomes more charming, more articulate, and more intimidating. The spell grants a +1 enhancement bonus to Charisma, adding the usual benefits to Charisma-based skill checks and other uses of the Charisma modifier. Spellcasters who rely on Charisma who are affected by this spell do not gain any additional bonus spells for the increased Charisma, but will have an increased save DC for spells they cast while under the spell’s effect.

Last year's "Y": Y is for Yllseriad, The Shrine of

27 April 2012

[A to Z April] X is for Xouvyus (new NPC)

Not much is known about Xouvyas. He is one of Coldtreath’s resident “characters”--most look at Xouvyas as little more than a town drunkard. He is known for his oversized hooded robe that drapes over his frame like a tent and his enormous, bulbous, red nose peeking out from underneath the hood. His nose is framed by two piercing blue-violet eyes.

Those few who have taken the time to talk to Xouvyas have learned that he is a cleric for a god named Soalixes, otherwise known as the “God of Justice,” or the “Great Defender.” Xouvyas has searched the length and breadth of the land and believes that he is the last cleric of Soalixes, who he has taken to calling “The Forgotten God.” This revelation has struck a blow to his faith, but he is motivated by loyalty and so he continues to struggle to worship and proselytize in Soalixes’ name.

Xouvyas has a single vice: drink. He has learned enough in his travels to be a fair brewer himself, but lacks the patience or funds to ply a brewer’s trade. He seldom has funds to provide for room and board; he is homeless and keeps himself fed by using a sustaining spoon he uncovered somewhere during his many travels.

He is a renowned gossip in Coldtreath, knowing very little about anything, but quite a bit about everything. Of course, every little bit of gossip he provides is always accompanied by at least two pearls of wisdom from or about Soalixes. He is always willing to help out with a spell or two, provided some respect is shown to the Forgotten God; usually in the form of money or, preferred by Xouvyas, strong drink itself.

Xouvyas, Cleric of the Forgotten God
Cleric 6 (Domains: Strength and Repose)
HP: 33
Init: -1;
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 11, touch 9, flat footed 11 (Leather)
Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+6
Special Attacks: Turn Undead
Single Attack: Mace, Heavy (+7) 1d8+3
Alignment: LN
Saves: Fort +8, Ref +1, Will +8
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 9, Con 13, Int 11, Wis 16, Chr 12
Skills: Concentration 9, Craft (Brewery) 4, Diplomacy 1, Heal 3, Know Religion 2, Listen 3, Perception 6, Sense Motive 7
Languages: Common
Feats: Brew Potion, Combat Casting, Great Fortitude, Heavy Armor Proficiency, Light Armor Proficiency, Medium Armor Proficiency, Shield Proficiency, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Weapon Focus (Mace)
Spells Known:
Level 0 (DC 13)
Create Water, Detect Poison, Light, Purify Food and Drink, Stabilize
Level 1 (DC 14)
Bless, Bless Water, Deathwatch, Hide from Undead, Protection from Evil
Level 2 (DC 15)
Aid, Delay Poison, Gentle Repose, Restoration, Lesser, Shield Other
Level 3 (DC 16)
Create Food and Water, Dispel Magic, Invisibility Purge, Magic Vestment

CR 6

  • Sustaining spoon

Last year's "X": X is for X'rr

26 April 2012

[A to Z April] W is for Wyrm, Slimeclaw (new monster)

Wyrm, Slimeclaw

Medium Dragon
Hit Dice: 9d12+8 (67 HP)
Initiative: +9
Speed: 40 ft., climb 30 ft.
Armor Class: 22 (+5 Dex, +7 natural), touch 15, flat-footed 17
Base Attack/Grapple: +9/+5
Attack: Bite +9 (2d6+1), claw +9 (1d8), or breath attack 6d4 (DC 17)
Full Attack: Bite +9 (2d6+1) and 2x claw +4 (1d8), or breath attack 6d4 (DC 17)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./ 5 ft.
Special Attacks: Slime web
Special Qualities: Dragon traits
Saves: Fort +10, Ref +13, Will +9
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 20, Con 15, Int 8, Wis 11, Chr 8
Skills: Climb +15, hide +10, swim +10, move silently +13, perception +12
Feats: Ability focus (breath weapon), improved initiative, improved natural attack (bite), improved natural attack (claw)
Environment: Warm hills
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Chaotic neutral
Organization: Solitary or pair
Challenge Rating: 8
Advancement:: --

The slimeclaw wyrm is a six- to eight-foot long reptilian creature with six legs. They range in color from grey to black with green markings on their bodies; the green markings are a pale, light green when they hatch and darken with age to a green so dark that it is nearly black. Their undersides are a uniform grey-green. Despite their name, the slimeclaw wyrm is not a true dragon. They lack any language or spellcasting skills, as well as the ability to fly. They have six legs, slime-covered scales, and, like a lizard, are low to the ground. They also have amazing wall-crawling and ceiling-crawling abilities. However, their heads are crested and horned like a true dragon and they possess a breath weapon, which is what gave rise to their "wyrm" name.

They prefer to attack from the darkness, using their slimy acid spray every 1d4 rounds in a 60-foot cone. They are not afraid, however, to utilize their strong jaws and multiple claws to attack other creatures. Additionally, they are not afraid to use their slime-web attack, especially when they are seriously wounded and attempting to flee.
Four times per day, a slimeclaw wyrm can utilize a specialized form of their breath weapon. The wyrm has a limited 30-foot range with this attack, which comes in the form of a thick slime that is only slightly acidic in nature. The slime-web covers an area of 10 cubic feet and is similar in many ways to the web spell.

The slime-web is a nearly-solid mass of thick slime that traps and entangles those caught in it, although attacking a creature caught in a slime-web will not cause the attacker to become entangled. Anyone in the slime-web’s area must make a Reflex save (DC 17). If this save succeeds, the target is entangled, but not prevented from moving, although moving is more difficult than normal for being entangled (see below). If the save fails, the target is entangled and cannot move from its space. It can, however, break loose by spending 1 round and making a DC 20 Strength check or a DC 25 Escape Artist check. Once loose (either by making the initial Reflex save or a later Strength check or Escape Artist check), a creature remains entangled, but may move through the web very slowly. Each round devoted to moving allows the target to make a new Strength or Escape Artist check. The target moves 5 feet for each full 5 points by which the check result exceeds 10. Every round (minimum 1 round) spent in the slime-web, the target receives 1d4 HP acid damage and for every round after escaping the slime-web until the acidic slime-web residue is cleaned off from the target creature.

If you have at least 5 feet of slime-web between you and an opponent, it provides cover. Slime-web, unlike the web spell effect, is not particularly susceptible to fire or flame.

**Creature inspired by Reaper Miniatures "Wall Crawler" #59018 (although not by the pictured color scheme).

Last year's "W": W is for Waulker

25 April 2012

[A to Z April] V is for Vapor Dwindle (spell)

Vapor Dwindle

Evocation (Air)
Level: Clr 3, Air 3, Drd 3
Components: V,S,DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 100 ft.
Effect: 20-ft. radius, 20-ft. high; see text
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: See text

This spell is designed to be cast upon cloud and mist effects to temporarily minimize their influence. When cast upon a magical effect such as fog cloud, obscuring mist, or stinking cloud or upon any natural effect such as a cloud of dust or smoke, vapor dwindle creates a cyclonic effect which begins at a 20-foot radius and 20-foot height; it draws itself inward to a 5-foot radius and 5-foot height by the start of the next round. As it shrinks, it draws in the cloud or mist effect with the cyclone and holds it in place dwindleing in the same 5-foot radius until the vapor dwindle is either dispelled or its duration terminates. While it is active, the effect appears to be a swirling mass of cloud or vapor in the reduced area.

Vapor dwindle has no effect on physical objects or beings; it will not affect their breathing or existence in any way, except if they themselves are in the midst of a cloud or mist effect, in which case the vapor dwindle may free them from the effects of the cloud. Creatures made from mist or cloud may be affected; in this instance the dwindle effect is subject to the creature’s spell resistance; such creatures may make a Reflex save versus the spell’s DC to negate the effects.

**Many thanks to my buddy Simonathi Starym for some creative assistance.

Last year's "V": V is for Vesseth

24 April 2012

[A to Z April] U is for the Upper Snarl (locale)

The Upper Snarl

A hard three-days ride from Coldtreath, high in the mountains, there is a cave. The entrance is massive, nearly 100 feet across and the same deep. Three tiers or steps each over five feet tall act as a stairway in the mouth of the Snarl.

(Get the color map here or the black-and-white version here.)

The Snarl itself is all smooth, worn stone on floors, walls, and ceilings. No one is quite sure what formed the Snarl; lava tubes, water, or some massive beast’s tunneling–all are distinct possibilities, yet each one has a distinct flaw. Throughout the Snarl, one finds rooms that are near-perfect half-domes, carved or worked out of the surrounding rocks. These chambers are close enough to perfect to be hand-crafted, yet are clearly worn stone.

Whatever its origins, the Snarl has proven time and again to be a deadly maze of tunnels. Wandering creatures who have taken refuge in the Snarl are often to blame, but it is believed that recently the so-called Abyss of Spiders has widened and intersected a portion of the Snarl. This has allowed deadly spiders of all sorts to enter the Snarl and wander its passages.

There are multiple levels to the Snarl, reached not through stairways or passageways, but through holes broken through the floors into chambers below. So far as is known, the Snarl has never been fully explored. It is not known what creatures may exist below; neither is it known what piles of treasure may be found amongst the remains of previous adventurers.

Last year's "U": U is for Urosh, Temple of

23 April 2012

[A to Z April] T is for Thord's Gore Reach (spell)

All Shiloru could do is stand by helplessly as her dwarven colleague Alakim was knocked backwards and into the cavern wall. Their foe’s eyes gleamed yellow in the darkness before them. The halfling held her hands out, first to keep her other colleagues from getting in her way and secondly to begin weaving a spell. She moved slightly to dodge yet another ghostly minotaur skull as it hurtled past her, then released her magic with a word of power.

As her spell plunged into the darkness, she heard a tortured cry, and then silence. Only then did she turn to see the tall human woman applying pressure to the dwarf’s wounds. He looked like he had been gored several times by a bull. All that Shiloru had seen, however, was a couple of ethereal skulls. She turned to peer into the darkness; “That’s powerful magic,” she thought to herself. “I must learn that spell....”

Thord’s Gore Reach

Evocation (Force)
Level: Clr 3, War 3
Components: V,S,DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5ft./level)
Target: 1 creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Reflex half
Spell Resistance: Yes

When cast, this spell creates a minotaur’s skull out of pure force. This skull surges forth from the caster’s hands in a straight line until it strikes the target, or, if a target has more than 75% cover, the target’s cover. Upon impact, the target takes 1d8 +caster’s Wisdom bonus in damage, Reflex save for half damage.

If the circumstances are such that the target would be susceptible to a charge or bull rush attack by the caster, those restrictions and bonuses may apply to a gore reach spell, including bull rush knockback and double damage from the gore reach attack. However, the distance and line-of-effect requirements must also be met. In addition, the caster may not have already moved in the round in which a gore reach attack is attempted.

This spell was originally created by Thord, a cunning minotaur cleric who had been crippled in battle, losing both legs. Needing a method by which he could still charge and gore his opponents, he petitioned his deity and, after much meditation and prayer, learned the gore reach effect, which has since become known by his name.

Material components: a small piece of minotaur horn.

Last year's "T": T is for Thoklin Oroxel

21 April 2012

[A to Z April] S is for Snake, Howler

Howler Snake

“C’mon, Dillil – it’s not that difficult of a shot. Not even for you.”

The male halfling lowered his crossbow slightly and turned his head back toward his sister. There was a bit of scorn in his face. After growing up with his twin sister, he was fairly accustomed to the ridicule. “I just want to make sure. The thing is in the shadows and I can’t quite get a good read on it’s head. It's not as big as your head, you know. It's not as slow as you are either.”

Behind both the halflings stood a middle-aged dwarf in full plate armor. He leaned heavily on the top of his greatclub, using it almost as a crutch. He yawned as he looked down at the two siblings. “Quitcher bickerin'. Y’all jes' need t’ kill the thing. Else I’ll hafta c’mon up there an’ beat the thing inta paste. It’s jes' a snake, fer cryin’ out loud. Shoot the snake, Dillil. Pull the danged trigger! An' you, Shiloru, jes' let 'im be.” Behind the dwarf, in the dark, stood a tall female figure. She simply shook her head at the proceedings.

From the shadows in front of the halflings came a high-pitched squeak, almost as if from a bat. It was followed by a second, then a third.

Dillil sighted along his crossbow and took a deep breath. “Fine, Alakin. Keep your shorts on, please...for all of our sakes.” The halfling just started to exhale and pull on the trigger and there came a dreadful sound. He dropped the crossbow and held his hands to his ears. Behind him, his sister also grabbed her ears and fell to the floor, writhing in pain. The dwarf winced, then simply tugged his helm further down onto his head. He sighed heavily and then swung his club up to his shoulder as he stepped forward. Upon reaching the edge of the shadow, he looked down and saw an eight-foot-long serpent. It was patterned with pale greens and yellows; in all respects but one it looked no different than any other snakes. The piercing sound continued, echoing from the stone walls and bouncing back and forth as the dwarf strode forward.

‘Oy,’ the dwarf thought to himself, ‘the critter ain’t got no eyes. It’s jes got one big mouth.’ His hands tightened around the base of the club and he squeezed, the wood and his knuckles creaking and crackling from his strength. “Ok, m’friends. I’ll shut the critter up fer ya. It’s jes a matter of shuttin’ his mouth.”

Alakin took a deep breath and shifted his weight. The massive oaken club lifted from his shoulder and whistled downward. At the last moment, the snake seemed to sense the danger from the onrushing club and began to move. It was not quick enough and the club smacked heavily against the hewn stone floor, catching the snake’s head between the wood and the stone.

“There y’go.” The dwarf lifted the club and looked underneath. A spot of green paste stained the floor at one shattered end of a seven-foot length of twitching serpent. “Now we’ve got somethin’ fer dinner. I’ll git cleanin’ it up if y’all will git some fire started.” He looked at the two halflings moaning and lying on the floor with blood dripping from their ears. He looked up at the tall figure as he picked up the snake’s remains and flipped it over his shoulder.“Seandi, d’ye mind gittin’ a fire started? It looks like these two’re outta commission fer awhile.”


Howler Snake

Large Animal
Hit Dice: 3d8 (13 hp)
Speed: 20 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft., burrow 20 ft.
Armor Class: 17 (+3 Dex, +4 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/+0
Attack: Bite +3 melee (1d4) or Howl +6 (1d12)
Full Attack: Bite +3 melee (1d4) or Howl +6 (1d12)
Space/Reach: 5ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Howl
Special Qualities: Blindsense, Scent
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +1
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 1, Wis 12, Chr 2
Skills: Balance , Climb , Hide , Perception , Swim
Feats: Weapon Finesse
Environment: Temperate forest
Organization: Solitary; Clutch (2-5)

CR 3

The howler snake closely resembles a large viper. They are usually decorated with a pale green and yellow pattern. They can most easily be distinguished from a viper by the complete and utter lack of eyes. The howler snake’s mouth is also actually considerably larger than a viper’s. In addition, the scales on a howler snake are thicker and stronger.

Without eyes, the howler snake must rely on echolocation instead. The echolocation also serves as a warning to potential attackers. Much like an annoyed rattlesnake will give an audible warning before striking, the howler snake will let out little beeps and squeaks, sounding similar to a bat’s cries. The howler snake, however, lacks any serious venom. The howler snake can use its echolocation ability offensively as well.

Howl: Once per round when threatened or in combat, the howler snake can howl, which deals 1d12 points of sonic damage to all creatures in a 60-ft cone (Reflex save (DC 16) for half damage). In addition, regardless of the sonic damage received, each howl attack requires a successful Fortitude save (DC 18) or the creature will suffer a -8 modifier to all perception checks for 2d6 rounds.

Last year's "S": S is for Sheriff

20 April 2012

[A to Z April] R is for Rage Hawk (monster)


Tiny Animal
Hit Dice: 2d8 (8 HP)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 10 ft., fly 60 ft. (average)
Armor Class: 17 (+2 size, +3 Dex, +2 natural), touch 15, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +0/-10
Attack: Talons +5 melee (1d4-1)
Full Attack: Talons +5 melee (1d4-1)
Space/Reach: 2-1/2 ft./ 0 ft.
Special Attacks: --
Special Qualities: Rage 1/day
Saves: Fort +15, Ref +3, Will -4
Abilities: Str 8, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 2, Wis 14, Chr 6
Skills: --
Feats: Flyby attack, weapon finesse
Environment: Temperate forests
Organization: Solitary or pair
Challenge Rating: 1
Advancement:: --

These creatures closely resemble normal hawks, save for the tufts of feathers on the top of the head forming a crimson crest that runs from between the ragehawk’s eyes over the head to the base of the bird’s neck.

Once per day a ragehawk can fly into a screaming blood frenzy. While in the rage, the ragehawk gains increased strength and durability but becomes reckless and less able to defend itself. It temporarily gains a +4 bonus to both Strength and Constitution and a +2 morale bonus on Will saves, but takes a -2 penalty to Armor Class. The increase in Constitution increases the barbarian’s hit points by 2 points per level, but these hit points go away at the end of the rage when his Constitution score drops back to normal. (These extra hit points are not lost first the way temporary hit points are.)

(The following applies to average ragehawks as well as those that are animal companions or awakened.)
While raging, a ragehawk cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (should a particular bird actually have skills), the Concentration skill, or any abilities that require patience or concentration, nor can he cast spells (including through the use of a spell which allows the animal to transfer the effect of the spell for the caster) or activate magic items that require a command word, a spell trigger (such as a wand), or spell completion (such as a scroll) to function. He can use any feat he has except Combat Expertise and metamagic feats. A fit of rage lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 + the character’s (newly improved) Constitution modifier. A ragehawk may prematurely end his rage. At the end of the rage, the ragehawk loses the rage modifiers and restrictions and becomes fatigued (-2 penalty to Strength, -2 penalty to Dexterity, can’t charge or run) for the duration of the current encounter.

Last year's "R": R is for Real Life

[A to Z April] Q is for Quickdeath (monster)

The group stopped in the passage just outside the mouth of the chamber. Several feet inside the chamber was a pool of molten silver. Alakin peered inside. “Could be quicksilver. Nice pool of it if it is.”

Seandi’s eyes lit up. “Quicksilver? Excellent. I need some for a couple of new spells I have been wanting to try.” She started to step into the chamber when a hand gripped her elbow. She turned and looked at the human owner of the hand. “Flakim? What is the meaning...?”

“Let me go, Seandi. There’s no telling what is in that chamber. Just tell me how much you will need.” The paladin held out his hand. Seandi fished in her belt pouch and came out with a small glass vial, which she placed in Flakim’s palm.

Noatil started humming softly, just loud enough for the human to hear him. Feeling the boost from Noatil’s magic, Flakim unsheathed his lonsword and strode confidently toward the pool. He stopped short of the eerie liquid silver and fiddled with the stopper on the vial.

“GAAAAH!” A scream ripped from the human’s throat; the longsword fell from his hands, clattering, to the stone floor of the cavern.

Noatil stopped his humming and yelled, “What is that thing?” Twenty feet into the chamber, the paladin stood, transfixed by a silvery, glistening pseudopod extending from the pool upward and through his body. “Flakim! Say something! How do you fare?”

“How d’y’think he fares, y’imbecile? He’s practically got a sword stickin’ through ‘im.” The dwarf shook his head in disgust. “Y’ beardless, milk-drinkin’ rockrunt.” His voice rose in a mocking tone. “‘How do you fare?’ Really? Feh.” He waved to one of the two halflings standing on the far side of the passageway. The female halfling ran to his side. Alakin reached into his belt and handed her a small clay bottle. “Lass, d’y’think y’can hit the beast with this? I’d try, but that Tel-blasted lizard messed up m’throwin’ arm somethin’ wicked. If that’s what I think it is, it’ll light right up like a torch.”

Shiloru looked up at him. “And if it’s not what you think?”

“Well, lass.... Then y’ll want to pray t’whatever god y’favor. Because what I think is bad enough. If it’s somethin’ different? We may be in even bigger trouble.”



Medium Ooze
Hit Dice: 4d10+30 (54 HP)
Initiative: +1
Speed: 40 ft., climb 30 ft.
Armor Class: 12 (+1 Dex, +1 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 11
Base Attack/Grapple: +3/+7
Attack: Gore +3 melee (1d8+1 plus 1d4 acid)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Acid, constrict 1d8+1 plus 1d4 acid, improved grab
Special Qualities: Blindsight 60 ft., immunity to cold, ooze traits
Saves: Fort +15, Ref +3, Will -4
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 13, Con 28, Int 0, Wis 1, Chr 1
Skills: --
Feats: --
Environment: Temperate mountains
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 4
Advancement:: 4-7 HD (Medium): 8-10 HD (Large)

A quickdeath resembles a pool of molten silver, or quicksilver. It will vibrate and ripple slightly as if responding to tremors in the surrounding surface. As with other ooozes, it will strike and attempt to grapple a victim. The quickdeath is considerably faster, however, than a typical ooze and will attempt to stab with a pseudopod rather than perform a slam attack. Unlike quicksilver, however, the quickdeath is susceptible to fire and fire damage and will take double damage.

A quickdeath can grow to a diameter of up to 10 feet and a thickness of about 6 inches. The typical quickdeath weighs between 600 and 800 pounds.

A quickdeath secretes a digestive acid that quickly dissolves organic material and metal, but not glass or stone. Any melee hit or constrict attack deals acid damage. Armor or clothing dissolves and becomes useless immediately unless it succeeds on a DC 16 Reflex save. A metal or wooden weapon that strikes a quickdeath also dissolves immediately unless it succeeds on a DC 16 Reflex save (both saves are Constitution based). The acidic touch deals 21 points of damage per round to wooden or metal objects, but the quickdeath must remain in contact with the object for 1 full round to deal this damage.

Constrict (Ex)
A quickdeath deals automatic piercing and acid damage with a successful grapple check. The opponent’s clothing and armor take a -4 penalty on Reflex saves against the acid.

Improved Grab (Ex)
To use this ability, a quickdeath must hit with its gore attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack or opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can constrict.

Last year's "Q": Q is for Quaint Folk

18 April 2012

[A to Z April] P is for Pyramid of Swords

Pyramid of Swords

The Pyramid of Swords is a monument that stands outside the Faithfuls’ Gate, the northern gate into Coldtreath. It lies one hundred yards from the gatehouse on the west side of the road. Standing some seven feet tall, the pile is an imposing sight, all jagged points and sharp edges.

It has its origins some 500 years ago at the end of the war against the Zivri and the Scourgetooth Orcs. King Lier, having brought the war to a point where the Scourgetooth Orcs fled from battle and the Zivri saw the hopelessness in continuing, negotiated a surrender at the population center nearest the final battle: Coldtreath. At that time, Coldtreath was an innocuous oceanside hamlet. It was of little loss, should the surrender be nothing more than a ruse, and in the mind of the KingColdtreath could be easily won back. After all, it had little to boast of save a few homes and some farmland and help could be sent from the nearby Frai’el Keep.

The forces of the Zivri were directed to this hamlet where General Ane’oalli accepted the surrender. As terms of the surrender, each of the vanquished army was required to turnover their weapons and shields. This pile grew tall and wide and, based on its shape, was dubbed “The Pyramid of Swords.” Immediately after the final foe-man dropped his shield, sword, daggers, and polearm into the pile a cleric prayed over the pile and gave it a blessing of peace.

In the time since the Zivri Surrender, the swords and other metal items in the heap have remained untouched by rust or blemish. This has led to the rumor that there are one or more magical weapons within the pile, weapons which magic has infused the pile with sufficient magic to repel corrosion. Any attempt to recover weapons or equipment from the Pyramid, however, end in disaster; one who attempts it counts themselves lucky if they lose only a limb. Even after five centuries, the Pyramid is not yet ready to give up its secrets or its charges.

Last year's "P": P is for Poushif Bonereader

17 April 2012

[A to Z April] O is for Oath of Righteous Magic

Oath of Rightful Magic

Evocation (Force)
Level: Clr 8, Magic 6, Protection 6, Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V,S,M/DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 10 ft.
Area: 10-ft. radius emanation, centered on you.
Duration: 10 min./level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

When this spell is cast, an invisible barrier surrounds you in a bubble and moves with you. The space within this barrier is filled with the essence of pure magic, and restores spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities within the bubble. It also allows the functioning of any magic items or spells within its confines. Because of its nature, it may be cast and is usable within an antimagic field, an area of wild magic, and a dead magic zone.

Any creature may enter the area; it will allow elementals, undead, and outsiders to be summoned into a zone described above, so long as they appear and remain within 10 feet of the caster. Dispel magic does not remove the field, though Mage’s Disjunction might.

Magical effects and attacks are usable within the bubble only. Ranged attacks with magical weapons, magical melee weapons, and ranged spells have no effect once they leave the boundaries of the spell, save for those spells or items which can normally be used in such areas of antimagic, dead magic, or wild magic. Two or more bubbles cast in adjoining spaces may increase the area in which magic may be used.

Should a creature be larger than the area enclosed by the bubble, or stand where a part of the creature’s body rests outside the bubble, any part of it that lies outside the bubble is unaffected by the oath and is subject to the antimagic, dead magic, or wild magic.

Arcane material components: a pinch of powdered pearl.

**Many thanks to my buddy Simonathi Starym for some creative spark.

Last year's "O": O is for Opening Doors

16 April 2012

[A to Z April] N is for Noises in the Dark (table)

Have you ever been in a dark building and heard a door click shut somewhere? What about in the woods and hear a twig snap in the distance? The common response of “What was that?!?!” and the sudden loosening of the bowels is akin to what your players think and feel when they hear noises in the dungeon.

OK, maybe the bowel-loosening is just me.

Please don’t judge me. Please?

I had a DM once who used noises as hooks to draw us deeper and deeper into the dungeon. And closer to our doom. So now I present a table of possible noises to use in this manner. And yes, you see correctly. It's not only a d30 table, but a 2d30-1 table. Pull out all your d30s and go crazy.

And make your players go crazy.

2d30-1 -Noises in the Dark-
  1. Water rushing through pipes.
  2. A sudden, single scream in the distance that cuts off abruptly.
  3. An animal’s roar.
  4. A child giggling.
  5. The skittering of insects. Large insects.
  6. The sound of a stone skipping across the floor.
  7. Eerie and strangely familiar music.
  8. The sound of wings flapping.
  9. A voice counting, a number each second.
  10. Electricity crackling.
  11. A loud explosion.
  12. The sound of a baby crying.
  13. A twig snapping.
  14. A door slamming shut.
  15. Rats squeaking. Lots of squeaking.
  16. The sound of vomiting.
  17. A whip cracking.
  18. A ticking clock.
  19. A rumbling, like a cave-in or stone-fall.
  20. Glass breaking.
  21. Rustling cloth.
  22. Moaning.
  23. The tapping of a small hammer against stone.
  24. Whistling.
  25. A large bell pealing.
  26. A voice reciting what seems to be a nursery rhyme in an unknown arcane language.
  27. A wolf howling.
  28. A metal gate clanging shut.
  29. A haunting voice singing.
  30. The sound of shovels digging.
  31. Ripping paper.
  32. An almost-audible hum.
  33. Maniacal laughter interspersed with sobbing.
  34. The sound of clanking machinery.
  35. A creaking door that clicks shut.
  36. Bubbling liquid.
  37. An axe chopping wood.
  38. Wind.
  39. A braying mule.
  40. Fire crackling.
  41. An argument in Orcish.
  42. Claws scraping a piece of slate.
  43. Footsteps.
  44. Coughing.
  45. Musical scales played on a harp.
  46. The sound of children playing.
  47. Croaking frogs. Large ones.
  48. Heavy breathing.
  49. A low, steady, constant drumbeat.
  50. The sound of large stone machinery.
  51. A small dog barking...non-stop.
  52. A beer-drinking song in Gnomish.
  53. Wood being struck against wood.
  54. The sound of dragging chains.
  55. A squealing pig.
  56. Bones crunching.
  57. Numerous voices chanting in an unknown language.
  58. A cat yowling.
  59. A whetsone rubbing against a metal tool.

Last year's "N": N is for Nano-dice

14 April 2012

[A to Z April] M is for Myth Voice (feat)

“What exactly is he doing?” the dwarf whispered to the halfling.

“Shhh. Oh...that’s right. You’ve never seen this, have you? Well, just watch, Alakin. Noatil may not have a lot going for him, but he has his high points.”

“High points? What do you mean, Shiloru?”

“I said just watch.” She nodded her head toward the tall human male as she stuck her fingers in her ears.

Noatil crept forward slowly toward the band of orcs. He began to chant something; Alakin realized it was in Orcish. The human was speaking to the beasts in their own tongue and was speaking words of calming and peace. Alakin shook his head: there were very few words of calming and peace in the language as it was, and they weren’t well known. The six beasts–each one uglier than the last–jumped to their feet at the sound of his voice. Then they stopped. And they listened.

So did Alakin. There was something...odd...about Noatil’s voice. First, it was deeper. But that wasn’t all; there was a different quality. It wasn’t a vibrato, it wasn’t an echo.... It was just...different, somehow. More forceful, more powerful, filled with authority. The orcs began to nod and then slowly turned and started to walk away from Noatil. Alakin felt a hand grab his and pull hard. He looked down and saw his hand in Shiloru’s; that was when he realized that he had started to follow the orcs as they walked away. He looked at the halfling, his eyes wide. Whatever it was about Noatil’s voice had affected him as well. “What a dangerous power to face,” he thought.

Almost as if she had read his mind, Shiloru smiled and nodded. “That’s why...with the fingers,” she said, sticking her fingers in her ears again and then removing them.

Myth Voice, Lesser [General]
You have learned the manner of speaking used by ancient epic poets and use it to enhance the effects of your vocal powers.

Prerequisite: Bard; ability to inspire competence
Benefit: Adds a +2 to a Perform check for purposes of countersong, distraction, and versatile performance. The effect also adds a +1 to the DC for purposes of fascinate, suggestion, frightening tune, mass suggestion, and deadly performance In addition, it wil reduce the time necessary for an effective soothing performance by 1 round.

Myth Voice, Greater [General]
You have honed your vocal skills and uncovered many of the ancient poets’ secrets.

Prerequisite: Myth voice, ability to inspire greatness
Benefit: As with myth voice but grants an additional +2 to the Perform check, an additional +1 to the DC, and reduces soothing performance by an additional round. These modifiers are cumulative with those granted by myth voice, lesser.

**Many thanks to my buddy Simonathi Starym for a bit of game testing.

Last year's "M": M is for Maerl Dardar

13 April 2012

[A to Z April] L is for Lung Leech Swarm (monster)


“Wow, Noatil. You sound horrible. Those coughs, they sound painful...and whatever that is you’re sicking up? Ugh.” The halfling punctuated his comments with a full body shudder.

From outside the ring of light cast by the small campfire, a hand reached out of the darkness and fell on the halfling’s shoulder. “Leave him alone, Dillil. The poor man took a blast right in the face from a lung leech larval sac. He couldn’t help but breathe some of those in. Give him a break; Alakin’s done what he can to cure him. With enough time, Noatil will cough them all up and be back on his feet.”

“That’s all well and good to say, Seandi. I’m willing to be patient, but his coughing and vomiting? He sounds like a small dog trying to throw up the equal of a small ox. Everything in these caverns for at least a mile around is going to hear it and is going to come see. Then we’re going to have more on our hands than Noatil’s stomach contents.” Dillil shuddered again and gagged. “Plus, well.... It’s disgusting and the smell is utterly vile.”

“Peace, Dillil. Alakin is standing watch with Flakim. Shiloru has set wards all around us...unless you do not trust your sister’s magic?” The halfling shrugged in response. “No answer? Hmm. That is telling, indeed. Consider this, then. It is better that Noatil spends a little time making you feel queasy than to have those vermin spawn inside him and infect us all.”

-cough, cough-

The duo looked over at the sick human just in time to witness a particularly spectacular vomiting event. Seandi’s mouth turned downward in a moue. She held up a hand as the halfling opened his mouth to speak. “Deal with it, Dillil. You have the next watch.”

Lung Leech Swarm

Size/TypeFine Vermin (Swarm)
Hit Dice: 9d10 (51 HP)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 5 ft.
Armor Class: 22 (+8 size, +2 natural, +2 Dex) touch 20, flat-footed 20
Base Attack/Grapple: +8/--
Attack: Swarm (2d6)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Distraction, incubation, wounding
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., immune to weapon damage, swarm traits, tremorsense 30 ft., vermin traits
Saves:Fort 5, Ref 6, Will 3
Abilities: Str 1, Dex 14, Con 10, Int –, Wis 10, Cha 2
Skills: --
Feats: --
Environment: Any warm or temperate
Organization: Solitary, tangle (2-4 swarms), or colony (7-12 swarms)
Challenge Rating: 6
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: --
Level Adjustment: --

The bane of all underground dwelling creatures, lung leeches begin their life in a larval sac, usually attached to the wall of a cavern or passageway, although they have been found rarely on ceilings and floors. The larval sacs are patterned similar to a turtle shell, with a thin carapace covering a slightly pulsating, gel-filled sac.

Any unsuspecting creature that brushes against a larval sac, or an adventurer who dares to deal damage to the sac, quickly regret their carelessness. Upon any contact with a living creature, the larval sac will violently explode sending releasing thousands of wriggling lung leeches into the air in a swarm. If two sacs rest side by side, the act of one swarm being released will release the swarm from the adjoining sac, so long as the sacs are within 5 ft. of each other. Where a colony of lung leeches resides, this may cause a chain reaction of numerous swarms, sometimes as many as a dozen swarms at once. Any creature within 5 ft. of the swarm becomes a victim.

Victims of a lung leech swarm must make a Reflex save (DC 16) upon being engulfed by a swarm. A successful save means that the victim sustains only 1d6 damage per round that she remains within the swarm; this damage comes from the swarm’s vicious bites as they attach to the victim. A failed save, however, indicates that the victim has inhaled lung leeches; the lung leeches will then quickly begin to incubate in the victim’s lungs. In the initial round, upon a failed save, the victim will take 1d6 hit points of damage as the inhaled leeches attach to the victim’s lungs, as well as 1d2 points of Constitution damage. As the lung leeches eat their way through the lungs and chest cavity, the victim will suffer 1d2 points of Constitution damage per hour until she is either cured or dies. Upon a victim’s death, the lung leeches will continue feeding on their siblings until only a few of the leeches survive to metamorphose into their adult stage and burst forth from the victim’s chest. A small creature will spawn only 1 adult leech, a medium creature 1d3 leeches, a large creature 1d6 leeches. For each size category greater than large, an additional swarm is required for a successful incubation (two, three, and four swarms respectively) which will re-spawn an additional 1d6 leeches (2d6, 3d6, and 4d6 respectively).

Wherever the adult forms land they each have a 1-in-3 chance of attaching to a nearby surface and cocooning themselves. They are essentially born pregnant; within the cocoon, the infant forms will eat their way out from the parent form to become larvae. The cocoon thus forms a new larval sac within one week.

A lung leech incubation can be cured only by a heal spell, and even then the heal spell will only stop the infestation. For the eight hours following the heal spell, a victim will cough almost continuously in order to cough out the remains of the lung leeches. During this period of time the victim will be effectively sickened. Contrary to the spell’s normal description, when curing a lung leech incubation, a heal spell will only stop the incubation. It will not restore any lost hit points from the swarm attack; neither will it cure the sickened condition. The ability damage can only be recovered through use of a greater restoration spell.

The larval form of the lung leech looks nearly identical to a normal leech, but much smaller. The lung leech also has a slight carapace encircling the front quarter of its body, just behind the mouth parts.

Last year's "L": L is for Lehman Caves

12 April 2012

[A to Z April] K is for Kel, Scokin

Scokin Kel knows very little about his past, aside from the fact that he was born of an unholy alliance between his father and a succubus. Both his father and the fiend were killed by a Paladin of Tyr shortly after Scokin’s birth. Immediately after.

The newborn Scokin was taken by the paladin to a monastery where he was raised by clerics of Tyr, high in the Drol Mountains on a peak overlooking Craer Falls. He learned from the clerics: he learned forest craft; he learned how to fight; and he learned how to hate fiends and devils.

Scokin has worked for years to overcome his fiendish heritage. Despite the fact that he has many inherited attributes and abilities from his fiendish mother, he steadfastly refuses to use any of those abilities for any reason. He believes that do do so he would damn his soul for eternity. The only way he believes he can guarantee his soul’s safety is to work tirelessly against evil and corruption.

It was this fight that drove him to join with a caravan as it traveled past the Drol Mountains on its way to Coldtreath. Mid-journey the caravan was attacked by an enormous, vicious summoned monster. This demon quickly tore through most of the hired guards and armed escorts. Then it started on the civilians, the women and the children first. Only two people stepped forward to stand against the evil beast: Scokin Kel and an elf named D’leth Inemas. The two of them fought valiantly and cunningly, finally defeating the creature and banishing it.

Just before it vanished, the demon told the pair that it had been summoned by the lead cleric of the Church of Nynder in Coldtreath. The cleric anticipated the arrival of his main rival with the caravan; the man had actually never joined the caravan. The attack and all the bloodshed was for naught. Upon arriving in Coldtreath with the broken caravan, Scokin headed directly for the Shrine of Nynder, D’leth in tow. Together they challenged the church’s elders, optimistic and starry-eyed about their chances. After all, right and truth were on their side.

Instead, they were labeled heretics, blasphemers, and demon-consorts. They were accused of raising the demon. The citizens of Coldtreath chased them from the city, citing Scokin Kel’s fiendish background as evidence of the truth of the church’s charges. Scokin’s faith in organized religion was shaken by this event. D’leth’s beliefs fell further. Both of them strengthened their resolve to stamp out demon-kind.

Scokin stayed with D’leth at first to keep her from taking drastic measures. They became friends and then lovers. The two traveled across the country stamping out demon-kind and evil wherever they found it. After several decades, they found themselves still friends but growing apart. D’leth returned to Coldtreath to live in the shadows. Scokin now lives in Griefbeet Town, a week’s travel away from Coldtreath. From the small village, Scokin manages a vast web of intelligence, still devoted to defeating evil. He was crippled in battle by the loss of his left leg and he is now approaching sixty-five years old. As part of his intelligence network he traffics in exotic creatures and uses his contacts with intelligent monstrous creatures to further his campaign against fiends. From time to time he still has contact with D’leth, but has never again crossed through the gates of Coldtreath.

Scokin Kel
Human Half Fiend
Ranger 6 / Rogue 11
HP: 82
Init.: +6
Speed: 30 ft., fly 60 ft.
AC:23, Touch 16, flat-footed 17 (Leather) (+6 Dex, +1 Natural, +6 armor)
Base Attack: +14
Grapple: +17
Attack: Trident (+22) 1d8+7 or Crossbow, Hand (+25) 1d4+5 Crit (19-20) x2 range 30
Full Attack: Trident (+22/17/12); Bite (+16) 1d6+1; Chain, Spiked (+11) 2d4+1; or Crossbow, Hand (+23/23) 1d4+5 Crit (19-20) x2 range 30
Alignment: CG
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60; Listen +15; Spot +15; Damage reduction 1- 10 HD 5/magic, Damage reduction 10/magic, Immunity to poison, Resistance to Acid 10, Cold 10, Electricity 10, Fire 10, Spell Resistance HD + 10
Special Abilities: Evasion; Improved Uncanny Dodge; Slippery Mind; Trapfinding; Trap Sense; Uncanny Dodge; Wild Empathy
Special Attacks: Smite good 1/day; Favored Enemy (Outsider (evil, chaotic)); Sneak Attack
Spell-like Abilities:Darkness 1/day DC 14; Desecrate 1/day DC 14; Unholy Blight 1/day DC 16; Poison 1/day DC 16; Contagion 1/day DC 16; Unhallow 1/day DC 17; Blasphemy 1/day DC 19; Unholy Aura 3/day DC 20; Horrid Wilting 1/day DC 20; Summon Monster IX (fiends) 1/day DC 21
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +14, Will +4
Abilities: Str 16, Dex 23, Con 13, Int 18, Wis 9, Chr 15
Skills: Appraise 4, Climb 18, Concentration 5, Disable Device 24, Gather Information 15, Handle Animal 6, Hide 31, Know Geography 8, Know Nature 10, Listen 15, Move Silently 26, Open Lock 26, Ride 10, Search 24, Sleight of Hand 6, Spot 15, Survival 14, Swim 3, Tumble 26, Use Magic Device 15, Use Rope 20
Feats: Crippling Strike; Dodge; Endurance; Evasion; Exotic Weapon Proficiency; Light Armor Proficiency; Many Shot; Martial Weapon Proficiency; Mobility; Point Blank Shot; Precise Shot; Rapid Shot; Shield Proficiency; Shot on the Run; Simple Weapon Proficiency; Track; Weapon Focus (trident); Weapon Focus (crossbow, hand)
Languages: Common, Abyssal, Celestial, Elven

CR 19

Bag of Holding (IV)
Boots of Levitation
Cloak of the Bat
Crossbow, Hand, +4 Holy
Leather Armor, +4 spell resistance
Medallion of Thoughts
Ring of Freedom of Movement
Trident, +4 Bane (outsider)

**Many thanks to WotC's "PC Portraits" Archive for the image.

Last year's "K": K is for Key, Skeleton

11 April 2012

[A to Z April] J is for Jalbion's Liquid Jewel (spell)

Jalbion’s Liquid Jewel

Level: Brd 3, Sor/Wiz 3
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Touch
Target: 1 gemstone of 100 gp/2 caster levels
Duration: Permanent, see text
Saving Throw: Will negates (object)
Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

When cast, this spell transforms a stone, gemstone, or jewel (either precious or semi-precious) into a puddle of liquid that closely resembles tar. The stone, gemstone, or jewel can be worth no more than 100 gp per 2 caster levels. The spell is usually cast after placing the stone, jewel, or gemstone atop the open mouth of a glass bottle or flask. As the spell takes effect, the stone is liquified and flows into the container. The container must thereafter be sealed to prevent the premature restoration of the stone. The stone remains in that form until it has been exposed to air for a number of rounds equal to the caster’s level. At that time it returns to its exact original form and condition, so long as the volume of the liquid has not been reduced. If the volume of the liquid is reduced in any way, the jewel is destroyed and the liquid transforms instead to useless, worthless dust.

This spell was originally created by a brilliant bard, highly skilled in magic. Jalbion Royalrouge seemed to be a magnet for attracting highwaymen. He suffered humiliation and theft at the hands of highwaymen nearly every time he traveled to a new town. With every theft he lost several costly jewels – jewels intended for spell components and his own financial support. After considerable research and much trial and error, Jalbion discovered the means to transform precious stones into worthless liquid, thus disguising the jewels from potential theft and thwarting highwaymen.

Material components: a lump of tar.

Last year's "J": J is for Juniper Ale

10 April 2012

[A to Z April] I is for Iron Hide Zombie (monster)

Iron Hide Zombie




“Um. Flakim?” The heavily-armored dwarf reached one hand up to grasp the human’s elbow. A quick shrug of his shoulder and Flakim threw off the hand to take another swing at an encroaching zombie.


“Leave me alone, Alakin. There are only two more of these monstrous germ-bags left. And they can only come through this door one at a time. They have me right where I want them.” The human took yet another swing.

-Squish.- Flakim’s longsword finally sliced through the zombie’s neck.
-Sclitch.- The rotten head fell to the stone floor and split open like a melon.
-Thud.- The undead body followed the head to the ground.
-Sigh.- The human wiped his brow with the back of his leather glove.

Another diseased walking corpse stepped over several fallen zombies and through the doorway toward the human and dwarf.

“Yeah, umm.... Flakim, ‘bout that.... It’s takin’ y’quite a while t’slice through ‘em.” Alakin gestured toward the oncoming undead. “An’ it’s a lot noisier than usual.”

“Take a step back, friend Dwarf. The task has fallen to me and I am doing it, I am doing it. I will be victorious. I am, after all, the bearer of Mithlos Crotch-mangler.” Flakim held up his jeweled longsword in front of the dwarf as emphasis. “Mithlos will get us through this. ‘Tis just a matter of time until these evil cretins fall to the might of my God.” Flakim thrust the ornate sword toward the ceiling, just as the latest zombie reached out and slammed his hand down on Flakim’s helm with a loud ‘CLANG’.

The human’s eyes rolled up into the back of his head and he sagged to the floor. This time the sigh came from the dwarf as he hefted his greatclub to his shoulder and readied his first swing.


Iron hide zombies are sturdier than the normal zombie template and more difficult to kill. The recipe to create this type of undead has been lost to antiquity. There are many guesses, but none who can tell which story is the truth. However, the manner of creation has been newly recovered, having been found scrawled on a tattered piece of parchment in the back of a tome in the Coldtreath Library’s stacks. The tome was a rare copy of How to Sound Smart About Rune Magic, by Galamedes, Mage of the Orange Chaos. It is unknown why the parchment would have been in this tome, other than a bookmark, as the tome has nothing whatsoever to do with necromantic magic.

One of the key elements of this modified template is the use of a suite of full plate armor, which is entirely consumed in the creation of the zombie. The cost of this armor severely limits the number of zombies that can be created at once, as each zombie requires an entire suit of armor to create. It is believed that the armor adds the element of strength and invulnerability to the undead.

Practically, the effect of adding the armor to the zombie’s creation process adds a +3 to the natural armor bonus for a zombie of similar size category. In addition, the damage from the zombie’s slam attack is increased as if the zombie were actually one size category larger. This change also increases the CR of the particular zombie by +1.

SizeArmor ClassDamage

Last year's "I": I is for Inkeeper

09 April 2012

[A to Z April] H is for Happy Birthday!

By a happy coincidence today marks the second anniversary of the Stronghold's construction!

It's been a fast two years. While I don't necessarily have a large number of blog posts to commemmorate that time period, I am proud of what I do have. I feel that I have made a lot of personal progress, both in my creativity for my game as well as my map-making skills (looking back at my first map is an excercise in cringing for me).

I've had a lot of personal struggles and growth this past two years as well. I've lost some of those who were closest to me. Our family dynamic has changed and grown. I think I'm more fortunate than many; I know that all of these struggles and trials are for my own personal growth and strengthening.

I've grown from nothing to having 35 followers, for all of whom I am grateful. (Although I must confess I would dearly like to know who you "anonymous" followers are. You know who you are; yeah, right there...you. I'm looking at you, buddy.) All of you readers who have not followed but who drop in on a regular basis, I am grateful for all of you, too. I'm especially grateful to you all for sticking close to me during my depression; I'm feeling a bit better, even though I still do have my down days.

[Intensely personal section]

More than anything else, I feel that I have been blessed by my Heavenly Father and my Savior: I have a wonderful family; I have a roof over their head; there's food on the table; we all have our relative good health. I know, I don't normally get this deep here, I suppose I was more aware and more reflective this Easter season than I have been in years past. I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude for still being here and still being in a good place after these past two years. I know that my Redeemer lives and cares about me. It is by His grace and love that I am still here today. Everything I have today has come from my Heavenly Father.

[/Intensely personal section]

Hopefully I can maintain a more regular posting schedule; I'd like to try and post at least two to three times per week. We'll have to see--you may have to tolerate some more posting about my kids and the family games. I'd like to start painting minis again and share some of that work with you. I'd also like to do some more reviews. If you all have any suggestions of something you'd like to see, feel free to throw out the suggestion for consideration. Or you may just have to tolerate my random ramblings. It all depends.

Anyway, thanks to all of you for making this grumpy dwarf feel a little bit better these past two years--I know the rest of the Stronghold appreciates it too! And here's to 200 more!

Last year's "H": H is for Hargrim, the Soulhammer

07 April 2012

[A to Z April] G is for Green, Mage (item)

Mage Green
"Can it be true, that I hold here in my mortal hand a nugget of purest green?"

"Indeed you do...except, of course, it’s not really a nugget. It’s more of a splat."
~Blackadder II, “Money” © BBC

This alchemical creation resembles nothing more than a lump of hard green material and is a by-product of an alchemist’s failed attempt at converting a turnip into gold. However, it was discovered that this material could be used effectively as a replacement for certain other materials in spell casting as material components.

Specifically, mage green can be used in place of any precious metal or precious stone (or mixture of the same) up to a 500 gp value. The nugget of mage green is consumed upon the casting of a spell. The caster’s hands are colored with a fine green coating which is impervious to any type of mundane or magical cleansing. The coloring will wear off naturally in 1d6 days. While a caster’s hands are discolored by mage green, no additional nugget of mage green may be successfully used. If a caster attempts to use a nugget of mage green while his hands remain discolored by a previous use, the new nugget is consumed, an additional 1d6 days are added to the duration of the discoloration of the caster’s hands, and the attempted spell fails.

Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, polymorph any object, Craft (alchemy) 5 ranks.
Cost to create: 450 gp, 5 XP, 1 turnip, 2 days.

**Image property of and copyright held by the BBC. No copyright infringement or violation is intended by its use.

Last year's "G": G is for Grick

06 April 2012

[A to Z April] F is for Flesh Alliance (spell)

Flesh Alliance

Level: Sor/Wiz 8
Components: V,S,M
Casting Time: 1 round
Range: Touch
Target: 2 creatures
Duration: 1 round per caster level
Saving Throw: Will negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

This spell was created by Minden Bonebrood, the ancient Necromancer, and has only been found in his spellbook, and the spellbooks of his disciples. Minden’s spellbook has been lost for several centuries. It is not necessarily an evil spell, however; that depends upon its use and the caster’s goals.

The caster of this spell causes two willing humanoid creatures (DC 14 Will save) to join into one amalgam creature. The process requires one full round to cast and the newly-created creature is finished by the beginning of the following round; at that time the new creature may take a single move action. The casting of this spell is horrific to observe and may cause those in close range (25 ft. + 5 ft. per 2 caster levels) witnessing the action (both friend and foe) to make a Will save or be sickened for 1d3 rounds (DC 18).

The amalgam creature takes the stats of the more-powerful of the two individuals as its base stats. Add to that one-half of the lesser individual’s statistics to the base; e.g., the base creature has a 16 Strength while the lesser individual has a 12 Strength. The amalgam creature will have a 22 Strength for the duration of its existence. Only one-half of the lesser individual’s feats may be added into the amalgam creature, and only one-half of the skill levels may be added in. Any supernatural, spell-like, or extraordinary abilities of the lesser individual will not be factored into the new creature. Likewise, any spell-casting abilities from the lesser individual’s will be factored into the new creature at one-half the lesser individual’s caster level.

The amalgam creature thinks for itself, although internal mental conflicts may arise if the two individuals are not in agreement on a particular action. At the cessation of the spell, the two individuals are violently expelled from each other; they will land between 5 ft. and 10 ft. apart from each other. They will also each take 1d12 HP damage from the violent separation and a temporary 1d2 negative modifier to their Intelligence scores. This negative modifier lasts until the individual can have 8 hours of uninterrupted rest; no magical means of healing or restoration will restore this Intelligence modifer. Only actual, physical rest will accomplish this restoration. The two individuals may not voluntarily separate prior to the termination of the flesh alliance spell.

Material components: a hair from each participant and two soft clay humanoid figures.

Last year's "F": F is for Found Items

05 April 2012

[A to Z April] E is for Elder Oath (spell)

Elder Oath

Level: Clr 9, Drd 9
Components: V,S,F,DF
Casting Time: 1 minute/target
Range: Touch
Target: 1 target/caster level (max. 20)
Duration: Permanent until triggered, then instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes

When cast, this spell binds the recipients to a specific oath. This can be an oath of brotherhood, of silence, or of protection, for example. It is used to seal important pacts or pledges, it is typically a sign of friendship and devotion, although some clerics may use it for binding unwitting participants to an evil deed.

The ceremony must be performed by a cleric who approves of the oath to be sworn. A cleric cannot successfully perform this ritual while under coercion or control, whether physical or magical, including charm or other mind-effect spells. In order to perform the ritual, a drop of blood from each participant must be poured over the cleric’s holy symbol while he speaks the words of the prayers for the binding to take hold.

Normally such oaths are undertaken between participants who are willing. However, evil clerics can force such oaths upon an unwilling participant or participants. In order to do so, the unwilling participant must first fail a DC 16 Will save.

Once this spell is cast, the oath remains dormant, but in effect unless any of the participants knowingly and wilfully breaks the oath. At that time, that individual is struck by a flamestrike spell. At the same moment, all other participants and the oath-binding cleric know of the oath-breaking.

A participant may only be party to one single oath at any time. Any secondary oath constitutes an oath-breaking and the individual suffers the consequences. In addition, each participant is marked on the forehead with an invisible arcane symbol which is only visible to another participant or the oath-binding cleric. In addition, that symbol cannot be masked by any means, physical or magical, including any polymorph or other shape-changing effect or illusion. Likewise, the arcane symbol cannot be duplicated or copied by any illusory effect or magical effect.

Last year's "E": E is for Erol Otus

04 April 2012

[A to Z April] D is for D'leth Inemas

Both of D’leth’s parents died when she was very young and she was raised in a far away village by human friends of her parents. Even though it was one of the founding families of the village, her step-family was viewed with suspicion by others for the adoption, as elves in general were disliked and distrusted by the villagers. The villagers’ feelings influenced the family’s six other children who resented and distrusted her elvish blood and used to bully and harass her, unbeknownst to her adoptive parents. Her upbringing has left her with a soft spot for the downtrodden and orphans.

Her elvish background means that she has already outlived both of her adoptive parents, her step-siblings, and most of her nieces and nephews. The youngest of her brothers called her to his death-bed hours before he passed; at that time he apologized to her for how she had been treated and let her know that he had talked to all the nieces and nephews as well as the grandchildren. He knew that D’leth was struggling to know what to do with her life; he spent the last few hours of his life sharing his wisdom and stories with D’leth, as he was an aged campaigner and bounty hunter, until he finally fell silent and slipped into eternity. D’leth was holding his hand as he passed. The tales and lessons he shared in the last hours have stuck with D’leth throughout the years, and she has a story suitable for nearly every occasion. His discussions with the children has made her the favorite grand-aunt to the now-widespread family, always welcome where- and whenever she happens to visit.

D’leth’s path was chosen for her as she was accompanying a caravan heading to the city of Coldtreath. The caravan was attacked by a demon, who quickly dispatched several of those who were hired to lead and defend the caravan. D’leth was forced to take hold of her fear and convert it to a determination to protect not just the members of the caravan, but also those who had fallen in its defense. With the help of a young male human, Scokin Kel, D’leth brought down the monster. The exposure to danger and death D’leth felt left her aware of the living’s tenuous link to life and the importance of protecting the weak and innocent.

With its last breath, the demon implicated the Church of Nynder in Coldtreath with summoning it and instigating the attack for the Church’s benefit. When the caravan limped into the city, D’leth and Scokin immediately went to the Shrine of Nynder to confront the church’s elders and leaders. They found themselves quickly ostracized and forced to leave Coldtreath, labeled trouble-makers, heretics, and blasphemers. They themselves were accused of raising the demon to attack the caravan for the elevation of their own reputations; Scokin Kel’s own half-demonic background was pointed to as evidence of their wrong-doing. As a result of this experience, D’leth now doubts the integrity of any organized religion or its followers. She also seeks to root out injustice and unfairness, as well as the destruction of demon-kind.

D’leth and Scokin Kel wandered through the wilds for the next few years. In spite of Scokin’s half-demonic background (after all, it was not his fault), they become lovers and comrades-in-arms. Over time, they grew apart while still maintaining great affection for each other. They now live separately: D’leth in the wilds around Coldtreath and Scokin Kel in Griefbeet Town (a week’s travel distant). Scokin Kel, crippled by the loss of his left leg in battle and approaching his sixty-fifth year, now traffics in exotic creatures for his living. In his business, he is known to have dealings with several intelligent monstrous creatures. D’leth has occasionally called upon Scokin’s connections to aid her in her fight to protect the weak and innocent.

D’leth’s life experiences have made her quite serious; most of her companions and friends have never seen her laugh. Her dourness and constant warring have left her physically unattractive. Her green eyes are striking and piercing, made even more so by the scarring and weathering of her face and body. She is slightly taller than the average human with dark brown hair cut in a sever, short style framing her face and well above her neck and shoulders. Her arms are covered by unusual tattoos; given to her by a sorcerous artist, the thin inked lines swirl and move around her arms. While obviously magical, these tattoos appear to have no significant effect and seem to be no more than odd. D’leth usually wears her tunic or cloak to conceal these strange tattoos.

D’leth Inemas
Elf (Medium Humanoid)
Fighter 15
HP: 82
Init: +5
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 18, Touch 14, Flat footed 14
Base Attack: +15
Grapple: +18
Attack: Longsword (+19) 1d8+3 Crit(19-20)x2 or Longbow (+23) 1d8+5 Crit(19-20)x3
Full Attack: Longsword (+19/14/9) 1d8+3 Crit(19-20)x2; Dagger (+12) 1d4+1 Crit(19-20)x2; or Longbow (+21/21/16/11) 1d8+5 Crit(19-20)x3 range 150
Alignment: CE
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +10, Will +5
Abilities: Str 16, Dex 20, Con 10, Int 13, Wis 11, Chr 10
Skills: Climb 12, Craft Bowyer 1, Handle Animal 0, Hide 22, Intimidate 0, Listen 2, Move Silently 8, Ride 5, Search 3, Spot 9
Languages: Common, Elven, Abyssal
Feats: Dodge; Far Shot; Greater Weapon Focus (Ranged); Greater Weapon Spec (Ranged); Heavy Armor Proficiency; Improved Critical (Ranged); Light Armor Proficiency; Many Shot; Martial Weapon Proficiency; Medium Armor Proficiency; Mobility; Point Blank Shot; Precise Shot; Rapid Shot; Shield Proficiency; Shot on the Run; Simple Weapon Proficiency; Tower Shield Proficiency; Weapon Focus; Weapon Focus (Ranged); Weapon Specialization (Ranged)

Boots of elvenkind
Cloak of displacement (minor)
Longbow, mighty (+1 Str) composite, +1 seeking
Longsword, +1 demonbane
Mithral Chain Shirt, +1 improved shadow

CR 15

**Many thanks to WotC's "PC Portraits" Archive for the image.

Last year's "D": D is for Drake, Carrion

03 April 2012

[A to Z April] C is for Charred Brimstone Mist (Beverage)

Charred Brimstone Mist

This brew is believed to have first been fermented by a half-elf mage-turned-barkeep named Ji’avan, but no-one knows for sure. When asked about its source, Ji’avan would simply respond with an inscrutable smile and silence. The brew is not common, but can be found across the realm.

The brew itself is a dark brown color with a syrupy texture. It smells vaguely of burning mint and tastes metallic. When imbibed, it will stain the tongue and teeth for several hours. After drinking, it has been known to cause tingling and numbness in one’s extremities. These are side effects; when one drinks from the bottle, one receives the benefit of a resist energy spell (fire) (10) for five minutes.

The typical bottle is brass and multi-faceted with a screw-on lid. The body of the bottle itself is often wrapped in fine cord. These bottles, when new, each contain three doses of the brew, although the effects of multiple drinks will not stack.

Charred Brimstone Mist, 500 gp, Craft (alchemy) DC 25

**Many thanks to Dyson Logos and his Random Table of Potion Containers, used to create the bottle for this particular brew.

Last year's "C": C is for Chiala Ereand
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