Sunday, November 30, 2008

M&M character 1.2 - Enigma

HeroLab 2.3 doesn't like Enigma, so he/she has been reworked again - Confuse 18 has been reduced to 10 to match the power level (since Confuse doesn't have an attack roll, the attack of +0 doesn't make the 18 legal, I guess), and the extra points went into making the contagious and aura save DCs tougher, losing the unreliability of the aura and adding yet another flavor of confuse to screw with anyone who tries to read or control Enigma's enigmatic mind.

A mystery wrapped in an enigma masked in a mystification camouflaged in a conundrum circled in a secret encased in a puzzle cloaked in a riddle concealed in an illusion...

Enigma, PL 10, 150 points
Gender unknown, Age unknown, Height ~5'6", Weight ~150

STR 8, DEX 10, CON 10, INT 16, WIS 14, CHA 14
Tough +0, Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +6
Attack +0, Grapple -1, Defense +8, Init +12

Bluff +6, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +6
Evasion 2, Improved Initiative 3, Luck 5, Seize Initiative, Ultimate Save (Toughness, Fortitude, Reflex, Will)

Mindwarp (Confuse 10) - DC 20
- Feat: Subtle 2
- Extra: Area: Shapeable 10
- Feat: Progression 2 (50 5-ft cubes)
- Feat: Reversible
- Extra: Contagious 10

Shroud of Mystery (Confuse 10) - DC 20
- Feat: Subtle 2
- Extra: Duration 2 (Sustained)
- Flaw: Range 2 (Touch)
- Extra: Aura, Permanent
- Feat: Reversible

Mental Interference (Confuse 10) - DC 20
- Feat: Subtle 2
- Feat: Triggered 1 (when someone tries to use a mental power on Enigma)
- Flaw: Limited 5 (ONLY when someone tries to use a mental power on Enigma)

Mind Blank (Immunity 10, mental effects)
I really hope this is the final version of this character...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why, that's a Snake Mahjicocl!

The final comments are in from last week's "Weekly What the Heck". The result is the snake mahjicocl, a yuan-ti creation with some truly evil moves.

I'd like to thank Jeff, Reverend Mike and wyattsalazar for their ideas, all of which have been mashed together to create:
Snake Mahjicocl
Snake mahjicocls are sinuous creatures bred by the yuan-ti to overwhelm their enemies with hypnotic dances. The word mahjicocl means "dancing man" in the ancient yuan-ti language.

Level 9 Controller
Snake Mahjicocl Soloist
XP 400
Medium natural humanoid (reptile)
Initiative +7 Senses Perception +8
HP 97; Bloodied 48
AC 23; Fortitude 21, Reflex 21, Will 23
Speed 7
mBite It (standard; at-will)
+14 vs. AC; 1d8 + 2 damage, and ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends).
CThriller (standard; recharge 5 6) * Necrotic, Psychic
Close burst 2; targets enemies; +11 vs. Will; 1d8 + 5 necrotic and psychic damage, and the target is dazed (save ends).
Each Failed Save: The snake mahjicocl soloist slides the target two squares.
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (immediate reaction, when missed by a melee attack; at-will)
The snake mahjicocl soloist and up to two allies adjacent to the attacker shift 2 squares.
Alignment Evil Languages Common, Draconic
Skills Arcana +10, Bluff +14, History +10, Insight +13
Str 15 (+6) Dex 17 (+7) Wis 18 (+8)
Con 17 (+7) Int 13 (+5) Cha 20 (+9)

Snake Mahjicocl Soloist Tactics
The snake mahjicocl soloist uses wanna be startin' somethin' to slide in and out of melee. While in melee it uses thriller as often as possible.

Level 14 Skirmisher
Snake Mahjicocl Principal
XP 1,000
Medium natural humanoid (reptile)
Initiative +14 Senses Perception +11
HP 140; Bloodied 70
AC 28; Fortitude 26, Reflex 26, Will 27
Speed 7
mBad Bite (standard; at-will)
+19 vs. AC; 2d8 + 4 damage, and ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends).
CThriller (standard; recharge 5 6) * Psychic
Close burst 2; targets enemies; +15 vs. Will; 1d8 + 6 necrotic and psychic damage, and the target is dazed (save ends).
Each Failed Save: The snake mahjicocl principal slides the target two squares.
Speed Demon (minor; recharges when first bloodied)
The snake mahjicocl principal gains +4 speed until the end of its next turn.
Smooth Criminal
If a snake mahjicocl principal moves at least 4 squares on its turn and ends its move 4 squares away from its previous position, it gains concealment until the end of its next turn.
Alignment Evil Languages Common, Draconic
Skills Arcana +15, Bluff +18, History +15, Insight +16
Str 18 (+11) Dex 20 (+12) Wis 19 (+11)
Con 21 (+12) Int 16 (+10) Cha 23 (+13)

Snake Mahjicocl Principal Tactics
A snake mahjicocl principal prefers to keep moving around the battlefield to take advantage of its smooth criminal ability. Like the soloist, it uses thriller as often as possible.

Snake Mahjicocl Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Nature check.
DC 20: Snake mahjicocls are charismatic creatures created by the yuan-ti. Their dancing is deadly, bombarding onlookers with necrotic energy and dazing them as they ponder how cool it would be to be a zombie back-up dancer.

Encounter Groups
Snake mahjicocls are almost always found in the company of yuan-ti and their cultists.
Level 8 Encounter (XP 1,750)
* 1 snake mahjicocl soloist (level 9 controller)
* 1 snaketongue assassin (level 9 lurker)
* 1 snaketongue warrior (level 8 brute)
* 8 snaketongue initiates (level 7 minion)
Level 11 Encounter (XP 3,200)
* 1 snake mahjicocl principal (level 14 skirmisher)
* 1 snake mahjicocl soloist (level 9 controller)
* 1 yuan-ti abomination (level 14 soldier)
* 1 yuan-ti malison sharp-eye (level 13 artillery)
Level 16 Encounter (XP 7,000)
* 2 snake mahjicocl principals (level 14 skirmisher)
* 1 yuan-ti malison disciple of Zehir (level 17 controller)
* 2 yuan-ti malison incanters (level 15 artillery)
* 1 yuan-ti abomination (level 14 soldier)
You guys asked for it with all the "Thriller" comments...

Weekly What the Heck

Welcome to the eighth installment of my regular feature here at the Near TPK. With continuing apologies to one of my favorite blogs, the Daily WTF, I present... The Weekly What The Heck.

Each Saturday at 10 AM Central Time I'll post one of Jen's drawings of some kind of whacked-out creature, and ask my readers: "What the heck IS that?"

I hope my readers will approach the challenge in the spirit of "Yes, and ..." - building on previous responses so everyone's ideas can be used in the final writeup. Comments are now closed on last week's entry, and I hope to have the final writeup posted tonight. Comments will be accepted on this week's entry until I post next week's entry.

So... What the heck is that? What should it do? Does it even have a body or just that freaky big head?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why, that's a Turkatrice!

The final comments are in from the Thanksgiving Bonus What the Heck (the current Weekly What the Heck is still taking comments for 15 more hours). The result is the turkatrice, the strange spawn of Baba Yaga's hut.

I'd like to thank rcarbol, Reverend Mike, jermwar and wyattsalazar (with special thanks to jermwar for the name) for their ideas, all of which have been mashed together to create:
Turkatrice
Turkatrices are large beasts that hatch from eggs laid by Baba Yaga's hut. Their touch softens the flesh of their victims with necrotic energy, making it easy to peck apart. This necrotic aura also attracts zombies, especially bestial ones like gravehounds and the feared undead chicken.
They eat the entire corpse of anything they kill: flesh, bones and even equipment. Cutting open a turkatrice's gizzard often exposes a treasure trove of small (and even not-so-small) items.

Level 5 Brute
Turkatrice
XP 200
Medium natural beast
Initiative +4 Senses Perception +2
HP 78; Bloodied 39
AC 17; Fortitude 19, Reflex 17, Will 17
Speed 6
mVery Painful Peck (standard; at-will) * Necrotic
+8 vs. AC; 1d10 + 4 damage, and the turkatrice makes a secondary attack against the same target. Secondary Attack: +6 vs. Fortitude; 1d6 + 4 necrotic damage, and the target gains vulnerable 5 to necrotic damage (save ends).
Alignment Unaligned Languages -
Str 19 (+6) Dex 15 (+4) Wis 10 (+2)
Con 18 (+6) Int 2 (-2) Cha 14 (+4)

Turkatrice Tactics
A turkatrice spreads its peck attacks around and lets its undead friends mop up enemies while they are vulnerable.

Level 4 Skirmisher
Undead Chicken
XP 175
Small natural animate (undead)
Initiative +8 Senses Perception +3; darkvision
HP 54; Bloodied 27
Immune disease, poison; Resist 10 necrotic; Vulnerable 5 radiant
AC 31; Fortitude 25, Reflex 29, Will 27
Speed 4, fly 4 (clumsy)
mDeath Peck (standard; at-will) * Necrotic
+9 vs. AC; 1d10 + 1 necrotic damage.
Death Peck From Above
When flying, the undead chicken deals an extra 2d6 damage on a successful charge attack.
Zombie Weakness
Any critical hit to the undead chicken reduces it to 0 hit points instantly.
Alignment Unaligned Languages -
Str 12 (+3) Dex 18 (+6) Wis 12 (+3)
Con 14 (+4) Int 1 (-3) Cha 3 (-2)

Undead Chicken Tactics
An undead chicken prefers to swoop down and use death peck from above against the nearest enemy.

Turkatrice Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Nature check.
DC 15: Turkatrices are not undead, but are often accompanied by undead that feast on skin and flesh made soft by the bird's very painful peck.
DC 20: Turkatrice flesh is savory and nourishing, but also mildly poisonous.

Level 5 Poison
Turkatrice Flesh
Deceptively savory, this poultry is actually infused with necrotic energy.
Poison 250 gp
Attack: +8 vs. Fortitude; weakened (save ends).
First Failed Save: The target is slowed and weakened (save ends both).
Second Failed Save: Target unconscious for 1d4 hours.
Special: Turkatrice flesh can be delivered only by being ingested as food. It makes its first attack 3d6 minutes after its victim consumes it. All saving throws against this poison are made with a –2 penalty.

Encounter Groups
Turkatrices are almost always found in the company of undead, especially bestial zombies.
Level 4 Encounter (XP 875)
* 1 turkatrice (level 5 brute)
* 3 undead chickens (level 4 skirmisher)
* 1 gravehound (level 3 brute)
When I asked for a picture that included undead chickens, Jen snickered and muttered something about the Sledgehammer video...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

You Know You're a Gamer...

...when this picture makes you think "The elementary school is having a Magic: the Gathering tournament on December 1st at 6? Huh. That's kinda cool."

...and the wife has to point out that the Parent Teacher Organization is having a MeeTinG.

Obligatory plug: Less than one day left to add an idea to the Thanksgiving Bonus What the Heck and less than two days to add one to the current Weekly What the Heck.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why, that's a Merhog!

First a short note: the silence on the blog for the past week (except for the two WWTH posts, which I scheduled last weekend) was due to a business trip combined with a severe case of laptop (main posting computer) death. The former is over, but the latter is still causing problems. My current plan is that the Weekly What the Heck will soldier on with no interruption (since I currently have WWTH posts scheduled out to Valentine's Day and I can do the writeups without the laptop now that I've salvaged some critical files). However, posts on other topics may be few and far between while I try to figure out what to do about the laptop situation. Anyway, without further ado...

The final comments are in from last week's "Weekly What the Heck". The result is the merhog, the merfolk equivalent to man's best friend.

I'd like to thank wyattsalazar, Reverend Mike and ChaoticBlackSheep (with special thanks to Reverend Mike for the name) for their ideas, all of which have been mashed together to create:
Merhog
Merhogs are aquatic companions to underwater hunters everywhere. They are typically not dangerous unless trained to be or unless feral and hungry. However, when deprived of water, for example if stranded when the tide changes, a merhog will excrete an excessive amount of drool to create a wallow in which it can wait. A wallowing merhog feels very vulnerable and is likely to lash out at anything (and anyone) that comes near.

Level 5 Elite Brute
Wallowing Merhog
XP 400
Large natural magical beast (aquatic)
Initiative +2 Senses Perception +3
Wallow aura 3; all creatures treat the area within the aura as difficult terrain.
HP 156; Bloodied 78
AC 19; Fortitude 22, Reflex 15, Will 18
Saving Throws +2
Speed 1, swim 8
Action Points 1
mBite (standard; at-will)
+9 vs. AC; 2d8 + 5 damage.
MSticky Lick (minor; at-will)
Reach 2; +6 vs. Reflex; the target is pushed one square and immobilized (save ends).
CFrenzy of Rough Licking (standard; recharges when bloodied)
Close Burst 2; +4 vs. Reflex; 1d8 + 5 damage and the target is pushed two squares and immobilized (save ends).
Alignment Unaligned Languages Elven
Str 21 (+7) Dex 11 (+2) Wis 13 (+3)
Con 18 (+6) Int 6 (+0) Cha 8 (+1)

Wallowing Merhog Tactics
Wallowing merhogs are frightened and lash out wildly at anything (and anyone) that comes near. They use sticky lick every round to keep opponents away and try to move toward the nearest open water, if possible. If pressed by more than two opponents, they use frenzy of rough licking.

Level 12 Soldier
Merhog Steed
XP 700
Large natural magical beast (aquatic, mount)
Initiative +10 Senses Perception +9
HP 126; Bloodied 63
AC 28; Fortitude 27, Reflex 22, Will 23
Speed 1, swim 8
mBite (standard; at-will)
+20 vs. AC; 2d6 + 7 damage.
MSticky Lick (minor; at-will)
Reach 2; +17 vs. Reflex; the target is pushed two squares and immobilized (save ends).
Drooling Attack (while mounted by a friendly rider of 12th level or higher; at-will) * Mount
When the merhog steed’s rider makes a melee attack, the merhog steed makes a sticky lick attack as a free action against the same target.
Alignment Unaligned Languages as rider
Skills Endurance +17
Str 25 (+13) Dex 15 (+8) Wis 17 (+9)
Con 22 (+12) Int 7 (+4) Cha 12 (+7)

Merhog Steed Tactics
Merhog steeds are trained for battle by their underwater masters. When ridden, they charge into battle, biting foes who resist their drooling attack and sticky lick.

Merhog Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Nature check.
DC 15: When deprived of water, for example if stranded when the tide changes, a merhog will excrete an excessive amount of drool to create a wallow in which it can wait. The area surrounding this wallow has the consistency of sticky mud. A wallowing merhog feels very vulnerable and is likely to lash out at anything (and anyone) that comes near.
DC 20: Most think it odd that the merhog's tongue drips even underwater, but it excretes a powerful adhesive that immobilizes targets where they stand. Although this ability can be trained by its master to be used for malicious intent, the adhesive is more likely intended to keep merfolk stationary so the merhog can continue to lick them.
DC 25: If an individual or party has a means of communicating with or calming a wallowing merhog, they may be able to help it and return it to the water. If they do, it will be extremely grateful and may help them if it can do so.

Encounter Groups
Wallowing merhogs are sometimes watched from afar by opportunistic aquatic hunters, who try to pick off creatures immobilized by the sticky lick. Merhog steeds are ridden by many kinds of aquatic humanoids.
Level 6 Encounter (XP 1,250)
* 1 wallowing merhog (level 5 elite brute)
* 1 sahuagin priest (level 8 artillery)
* 2 sahuagin raiders (level 6 soldier)
Level 14 Encounter (XP 4,900)
* 3 merhog steeds (level 12 soldier)
* 2 kuo-toa marauders (level 12 skirmisher)
* 1 kuo-toa whip (level 16 controller)
Fear the drool and the frenzy of rough licking!

Weekly What the Heck

Welcome to the seventh installment of my regular feature here at the Near TPK. With continuing apologies to one of my favorite blogs, the Daily WTF, I present... The Weekly What The Heck.

Each Saturday at 10 AM Central Time I'll post one of Jen's drawings of some kind of whacked-out creature, and ask my readers: "What the heck IS that?"

I hope my readers will approach the challenge in the spirit of "Yes, and ..." - building on previous responses so everyone's ideas can be used in the final writeup. Comments are now closed on last week's entry, and I hope to have the final writeup posted tonight. Comments will be accepted on this week's entry until I post next week's entry.

So... What the heck is that? What should it do? Is it dancing or doing a magic trick or what?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Bonus What the Heck

Since I have a long weekend next weekend, and thus more time available to write up the result, I present... The Thanksgiving Bonus What The Heck!

For this special bonus edition of the Weekly What the Heck, Jen has provided us with a Thanksgiving-themed bonus creature drawing. So as per normal I ask everyone: "What the heck IS that?"

I hope my readers will approach the challenge in the spirit of "Yes, and ..." - building on previous responses so everyone's ideas can be used in the final writeup. Comments will still be accepted on last Saturday's entry for one more day, and there will still be an entry as normal tomorrow. Comments will be accepted on this entry until 10 AM Central Time on November 28th.

So... What the heck is that? What should it do? Isn't just being a big angry turkey enough for it?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why, that's a Treefling!

The final comments are in from last week's "Weekly What the Heck". The result is the treefling, the six inch tall result of a fey pact with the immortal trees who carry Leaves of Despair.

I'd like to thank Reverend Mike, greywulf, wyattsalazar, Scott and Bartoneus (with special thanks to greywulf for the name) for their ideas, all of which have been mashed together to create:
Treefling
Treeflings are tiny fey who trace their horns and woody skin back to an ancient bargain with treant mystics deep in the forest primeval. Unlike Tieflings, the pact turned out pretty okay, and they are rather chummy fellows unless you annoy them. Treeflings typically have horns on their chins, horns as their fingers, and some even have horns as feet! They are quite charismatic, due to their excessive hornyness, and are excellent climbers who often make their nests (and lay their eggs) in the highest trees of the forest.

Level 10 Artillery
Treefling Leafwielder
XP 500
Tiny fey humanoid (plant)
Initiative +10 Senses Perception +7
Despair (Psychic) aura 5; enemies within the aura take a –2 penalty to attack rolls against the treefling.
HP 84; Bloodied 42
AC 24; Fortitude 21, Reflex 25, Will 21
Speed 4, climb 4
mHorn (standard; at-will)
+17 vs. AC; 1d6 + 2 damage.
RLeaf of Gloom (standard; at-will) * Psychic
Ranged 10; +15 vs. Will; 2d6 + 4 psychic damage.
ALeaf of Despair (standard; recharge 5 6) * Psychic
Area burst 2 within 5; +13 vs. Will; 2d6 + 4 psychic damage, and the target is immobilized.
Horny Touch (minor; encounter) * Healing
An adjacent ally can spend a healing surge or make a saving throw against one effect that a save can end.
Alignment Unaligned Languages Elven
Skills Nature +12, Stealth +15
Str 14 (+7) Dex 21 (+10) Wis 14 (+7)
Con 18 (+9) Int 16 (+8) Cha 18 (+9)

Treefling Leafwielder Tactics
Treefling Leafwielders prefer to stay in the trees, out of reach of their foes. They climb lower to use leaf of despair when they can, then retreat higher into their tree until it recharges.

Level 15 Controller
Treefling Leafmaster
XP 1,200
Tiny fey humanoid (plant)
Initiative +12 Senses Perception +11
Despair (Psychic) aura 5; enemies within the aura take a –2 penalty to attack rolls against the treefling.
HP 149; Bloodied 74
AC 31; Fortitude 25, Reflex 29, Will 27
Speed 4, climb 4
mHorn (standard; at-will)
+20 vs. AC; 1d8 + 3 damage.
RLeaf of Sorrow (standard; at-will) * Psychic
Ranged 10; +19 vs. Will; 2d8 + 7 psychic damage.
ALeaf of Crushing Despair (standard; recharge 6) * Psychic
Area burst 2 within 10; +17 vs. Will; 2d8 + 7 psychic damage, and the target is immobilized (save ends).
ATreant Chant (standard; sustain minor; encounter) * Zone
Area burst 2 within 5; trees come alive and attack the treefling’s enemies within the zone; +18 vs. AC; 1d10 + 6 damage. The treefling makes new attack rolls when it sustains the zone.
Horny Touch (minor; encounter) * Healing
An adjacent ally can spend a healing surge or make a saving throw against one effect that a save can end.
Alignment Unaligned Languages Elven
Skills Nature +16, Stealth +17
Str 16 (+10) Dex 21 (+12) Wis 18 (+11)
Con 21 (+12) Int 17 (+10) Cha 24 (+14)

Treefling Leafmaster Tactics
A treefling leafmaster prefers to stay in the trees, out of reach of its foes. It uses treant chant at the start of battle and spends a minor action each round thereafter to maintain it while using leaf of crushing despair as often as possible.

Treefling Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Arcana check.
DC 20: Treeflings are quite charismatic, due to their excessive hornyness, and are excellent climbers. Each one carries a Leaf of Despair. Little is known of the Leaf's properties, but one thing is certain... everyone who has ever encountered the Leaf has been stricken with Despair!

Encounter Groups
Treeflings are almost always found in the company of other fey, especially dryads and unicorns.
Level 9 Encounter (XP 2,100)
* 2 treefling leafwielders (level 10 artillery)
* 1 eladrin fey knight (level 7 soldier)
* 1 dryad (level 9 skirmisher)
* 1 unicorn (level 9 skirmisher)
Level 16 Encounter (XP 6,600)
* 2 treefling leafmasters (level 15 controller)
* 2 stone-eye basilisks (level 12 soldier)
* 1 treant (level 16 elite controller)
"Horny Touch". *snort*

Weekly What the Heck

Welcome to the sixth installment of my regular feature here at the Near TPK. With continuing apologies to one of my favorite blogs, the Daily WTF, I present... The Weekly What The Heck.

Each Saturday at 10 AM Central Time I'll post one of Jen's drawings of some kind of whacked-out creature, and ask my readers: "What the heck IS that?"

I hope my readers will approach the challenge in the spirit of "Yes, and ..." - building on previous responses so everyone's ideas can be used in the final writeup. Comments are now closed on last week's entry, and I hope to have the final writeup posted tonight. Comments will be accepted on this week's entry until I post next week's entry.

So... What the heck is that? What should it do? Does it drown hapless PCs in all that slobber?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Battle Journal of Kain Gaa'zaith - Tactical Analysis

So far the drawn-out narrative of the Battle Journal bores even me. I think I want to try boiling it down to what Kain really cares about: optimizing his weird little cadre. So this post will be in-character notes on effective combos, areas for improvement and synergies that warrant further evaluation and/or modification...

Tactical Analysis - First Foray

Close Blasts
Both the wizard and the dragonborn have short-range area-effect blasting attacks. It has been difficult to get them in position to use these effectively without either catching other cadre members (typically Marun) in the area or isolating them too completely, thus allowing the enemy to surround them. Further evaluation is required. Perhaps the fighter's expertise at covering her allies' retreats could be of use here.

Hobb
The rogue's knack for catching foes off balance and pushing them around the field shows great promise. In one battle in particular he shoved a kobold slinger across the entire room, leaving it in a position where it was too threatened to fire upon us and within reach of Marun's falchion. I need to find a way to combine this ability with one or two of the others in the cadre to maximize its potential.

Adincari
The warlock is tricky to manage. Some of his powers are most effective when he is close to the enemy, but out of all the members of the cadre he is the most effective at long range. This dichotomy is exacerbated by certain of his other abilities which are most effective if he keeps moving around. It seems that no matter what he does on the battlefield, he is performing suboptimally in some area.

Telekinetic Leap
My own racial power is slightly problematic. I am simply unable to use it as often as I would like. In many battles there are two or even three allies in a position to quickly turn the tide if I could get both or all of them behind the enemy's front line. So far I have been making quick appraisals of the situation and attempting to select the cadre member who will strike the most decisive blow against our opponents, but this approach feels too haphazard. I need a system or methodology to guide my choice.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Battle Journal of Kain Gaa'zaith - Blasts

Campaign Day 2 continued

From the second courtyard cavern, there was a single door back into what we had come to think of as "inside". When Marun opened it, there was a small square room full of fire beetles. The spellcasters loosed their spells into the room, injuring some of the beetles, then Marun quickly closed the door. We listened for a moment to the sounds of scuttling and scratching as the brainless vermin tried to escape. When they quieted down Marun opened the door and we did it again. We continued in this manner until most of the insects were destroyed, then I ordered the cadre into the room to mop up the last one.

With that room cleared, we proceeded to the final available avenue of exploration: the door on the other side of the T that the kobold had been running toward. Reasoning that he had intended to warn some large force beyond the door, everyone readied their most potent attacks and we approached the door quietly. After Hobb checked for traps, Marun threw the door open and charged.

We were confronted by two more large scorpions and nearly a dozen kobolds. The kobolds arrayed themselves to employ their usual tactic of hiding behind the scorpions and throwing sling bullets at us. I decided to attempt to break this tactic quickly. I ordered the wizard to use his thundering blast to force the enemy back and make some room, then I myself leaped into the breach.

My fervor nearly cost me. One of the scorpions lashed out and got a tight grip on me. Fortunately I remained calm and threw Hobb over it. Together we quickly pulverized the thing. Behind me the rest of the cadre did the same to the other. Without their clawed guardians, the kobolds were no match for us.

The dungeon cleared, Hobb and the wizard departed, returning an hour later with the old woman who hired us. She and the elf became very interested in the blackened ruin of an altar in the last room, and talked about it in
anxious tones for quite a while. They even went back out into one of the courtyard areas to examine something else. Finally the elf announced that we needed to seek out an elven scholar who might know something about something dangerous about this altar. I wasn't paying much attention, as I was busy sketching notes for the important part of this journal, my tactical analysis of the performance of my cadre.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Battle Journal of Kain Gaa'zaith - Violence and Vines

Campaign Day 2 continued

With no other way to proceed, we returned to the room where we had camped and tried the other door. Hobb discovered and disabled a similar trap behind this door involving two urns. This time we successfully and silently managed to move them out of the hallway into the room. Adincari, the only one of us who can see in the dark, then crept ahead into the passage.

When he returned, the drow reported a T in the corridor with a closed door in one direction and an open room full of kobolds in the other. As we spoke we heard a kobold run past the T, headed for the door. The wizard raced into the passage and conjured a cloud of flying daggers in the kobold's path. The rest of the cadre charged toward the room full of foes. The kobolds fell before our assault like wheat before the scythe. Hobb in particular performed commendably, tripping and shoving a slinger into range of Marun's falchion.

The single door out of this room opened into another courtyard area. This one also contained dead trees, but two of them were wrapped with huge vines. There were also a half dozen enormous rats in the area, which charged us. Calibraxis slew a number of them with fire breath, and the halfling used the same maneuver on one that he had just used on the slinger, but shoved it toward one of the vine-wrapped trees.

The vine immediately reached out and attacked the rat, which barely managed to escape. Apparently the elf was amused by this, as he proceeded to use his blast spell to force the hapless creature back again. This time the vine strangled the rat to death. The battle appeared to be over, but the drow got too close to the vines while chasing a straggling rat. The vines uncoiled themselves from around the trees and moved to surround and grab him. It required a coordinated attack from the entire cadre, along with a carefully planned use of his own power to turn into mist, to free him.

to be continued...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Battle Journal of Kain Gaa'zaith - Bugs and Bats

Campaign Day 2 continued

Marun opened the single door out of the room, which led into a strange underground courtyard. Walls of worked stone surrounded it to a height of around 15 feet, but above the walls was nothing but open darkness. We had little time to study the area, as eight of the bloodsucking batlike creatures that had attacked us before we even entered the dungeon flew at us. Calibraxis killed a few with a blast of his fiery breath while I covered Marun's retreat back into the room before they could surround her. Once we were back inside, using the door as a choke point, we made short work of the beasts.

The courtyard was a peculiar area, containing seven dead oak trees, a well, and a single living plant. Hobb discovered a secret door in one wall, but wanted to investigate the well before proceeding. Marun champed at the delay, but I stalled her long enough for the others to determine that neither the well nor the plant posed any threat.

The secret door opened into some kind of storeroom. The ancient shelves had been mostly demolished and the only inhabitants were a pair of fire beetles. Not wanting to contend with their fiery breath I ordered a quick, highly coordinated attack. The cadre performed admirably, slaying both insects before they could attack.

In the rubble Hobb discovered an old bag full of gold, a belt, a dagger and some kind of potion. This find raised morale noticeably, as it appeared to be a larger sum than has been lost due to the kobolds breaking the urns we are charged with safeguarding for the old woman.

to be continued...

M&M character 4 - Vulkyrion

Our final Mutants and Masterminds character is done. This one should be a blast. I'm sure when the idea of basing a character on the 1980 Flash Gordon movie Prince Vultan style hawk-man* was suggested, the vision was of just a beefy bearded dude with hawk wings. But where would Vultan be without his legions of loyal hawkmen? Nowhere! DIIIIIVE!!

Vulkyrion is actually the immortal son of a valkyrie and a human viking. When he was born male (a one in ten thousand chance for the offspring of a valkyrie), he found himself an outcast in two worlds. There is no place for him in Valhalla, and he was too obviously an outsider to wander the earth. However, when superhumans started to turn up on earth, he finally saw a chance to fit in and do good at the same time.

Vulkyrion, PL 10, 150 points
Gender male, Age thousands of years, Height 6'2", Weight 250

STR 26, DEX 16, CON 24, INT 14, WIS 20, CHA 22
Tough +7/+12, Fort +8, Ref +6, Will +5
Attack +8, Grapple +16, Defense +5, Init +3

Acrobatics +7, Bluff +14, Notice +9, Search +6, Sense Motive +9
Fearless, Inspire 5, Leadership, Luck 5, Set Up, Teamwork 3, Equipment 5
Plate Mail, Battleaxe, Blaster Rifle (how did he get a blaster rifle? I dunno, but come on, it's cooler than Fonzie. Maybe it's really a magic staff of blasty power or something)

Flight 4 (100 mph, winged, power loss 2 - if wings bound)

Luck Control 1 (spend hero point for another)

Immortal (Immunity 2: aging, disease)

Host of Viking Angels (Summon (Minion) 2)
- Fanatical
- Horde
- Free action
- Continuous
- Mental Link
- Progression 4 (25 minions)
- Sacrifice
S18 D10 Co15 I10 W10 Ch10
Tough +2/+7 Fort +2 Ref +0 Will +0
Atk +4 Def +0 Grp +8
Plate Mail, Battleaxe, Blaster Rifle (well, yeah, they all have blaster rifles, didn't you see the movie clip?)
Flight 3 (50 mph, winged, power loss 2 - if wings bound)

Oh yeah, as a free action, call down a holy host of 25 fanatically loyal pissed off flying vikings with blaster rifles. They don't care if they die for the cause - they go right back to Valhalla and show up to do it again tomorrow. If I really wanted to min-max I think I would have amped Cha as much as possible to give as many of them the Inspire bonus as I could. As it stands I can use a hero point to make six of them more accurate with their blaster rifles than I am with my own for a round.

* I've been informed that the real inspiration for suggesting this character was this, starting at around the 16:45 mark.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Battle Journal of Kain Gaa'zaith - Slingers and Stingers

Campaign Day 2

Our rest was, surprisingly, uninterrupted, though the elf reported hearing some scraping sounds during his watch. Hobb examined both doors leading out of the large room in which we camped and reported that they had been trapped. When we opened the door to the left, we discovered that an urn had been moved to block the passage behind it. A thin rope (which Hobb cut before opening the door more than a crack) had been tied around the top of the urn and affixed to the knob. The intent was obviously that we would topple the urn, and the sound of it breaking would serve as an alarm.

Unfortunately, we had to move the urn out of the way to proceed, and discovered that the cursed things truly are ridiculously fragile. When Marun tried to move it she slipped and the clumsy efforts of the entire cadre could not keep it from shattering on the stone floor. Assuming the element of surprise was lost, I ordered the cadre quickly down the hallway. My suspicions were confirmed when a glue-filled missile was hurled at us from the room ahead.

Hobb raced ahead to take the fight to the enemy, but was set upon and grabbed by three more of the bothersome scorpions. I spied the kobold that was slinging projectiles at us and threw Calibraxis at him. I tried to encourage Hobb while the elf tried to get the scorpions away from him with a thunderous blast. The blast also opened enough room for Marun to enter, and she and Hobb made short work of the stinging things.

Once the scorpions were defeated we turned our attention to the three kobolds, all of whom were by this time trying to surround and carve up the dragonborn. Hobb and Marun charged to his rescue, crushing the enemy in a flurry of slashing, stabbing and goring.

There was one door out of the room.

to be continued...

M&M character 3 - ALICE

Here she is... the really creepy one.

ALICE was an alien technology that was found in a reported crash site with no memory or recollection of what she was created to do. She was rescued due to precognitive abilities by a well-intentioned psychic before being named and trained in espionage by the government agency for which he worked (based on the BPRD, Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, from Hellboy).

ALICE (Artificial Lifeform for Infiltration and Covert Espionage), PL 10, 150 points
Gender -, Age unknown, Height 3'5", Weight 250

STR 12, DEX 14, CON 24, INT 26, WIS 8, CHA 8
Tough +7, Fort +9, Ref +5, Will +0
Attack +3, Grapple +3?, Defense +5, Init +2

Computers +23, Concentration +7, Craft Electronic +12, Craft Mechanical +10, Disable Device +12, Investigate +12, Knowledge Technology +12, Knowledge Physical Science +12, Knowledge Life Science +12, Notice +7, Search +23, Stealth +14
Diehard, Eidetic Memory, Hide in Plain Sight, Improvise Tools, Inventor, Master Plan, Skill Mastery (Computers, Craft Electronic, Craft Mechanical, Knowledge Technology)

Alternate Form (swarm - robot insects) 5
- Immunity 5 (entrapment)
- AP: Robobug Blast (Blast 2, 20 ft. range, DC 17)
- Super-Movement 3 (slithering, wall-crawling 2)

Immunity 28 (Aging, Life Support, Critical Hits, Mental, Fatigue, Starvation/Thirst)

Datalink 2 (radio)
- Machine Control

Super Senses 13
- Radio (accurate, acute)
- Infravision
- Time Sense
- Microscopic Vision 1
- Tremorsense
- Ultrahearing
- Direction
- Distance

Shrinking 4 (small size, permanent, normal strength)

Our master planning non-combatant. Next up, the hawk-dude, Valkyrion.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

M&M character 1.1 - Enigma

Thanks partly to greywulf and his expert advice Enigma has been reworked - the overly-pumped toughness and saves are gone (the high defense stayed - he/she is surrounded by an aura of misdirection or displacement or something), replaced by a more crazy-powerful and contagious attack, and an aura of the same for anyone who gets too close.

A mystery wrapped in an enigma masked in a mystification camouflaged in a conundrum circled in a secret encased in a puzzle cloaked in a riddle concealed in an illusion...

Enigma, PL 10, 150 points
Gender unknown, Age unknown, Height ~5'6", Weight ~150

STR 8, DEX 10, CON 10, INT 16, WIS 14, CHA 14
Tough +0, Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +6
Attack +0, Grapple -1, Defense +8, Init +20

Bluff +6, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +6
Evasion 2, Improved Initiative 5, Luck 5, Seize Initiative, Ultimate Save (Toughness, Fortitude, Reflex, Will)

AP: Shroud of Mystery (Confuse 18) - DC 28
- Subtle 2
- Area: Shapeable 10
- Progression 2 (50 5-ft cubes)
- Reversible
- Contagious 7

Confuse 7
- Subtle 1
- Duration Sustained
- Range Touch
- Aura, Continuous
- Reversible
- Unreliable (Roll)

Mind Blank (Immunity 10, mental effects)

Another one-trick pony, but wow, what a trick this one has.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why, that's a Toothnip!

The final comments are in from last week's "Weekly What the Heck". The result is the toothnip, a mutant turnip bred by beholders with vestigial wings, powerful legs for leaping, and a mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth.

I'd like to thank Reverend Mike, Scott, wyattsalazar and Gomez for their ideas, all of which have been mashed together to create:
Toothnip
Teethnip are an attempt by beholders to create guardians for their lairs that look like them, thus catering to their self-aggrandizing vanity. These creatures are cultivated in dirt-floored caves deep in the underdark. They emerge from the soil ready to eat anything that walks.

Level 11 Lurker
Green Toothnip
XP 600
Small aberrant beast (plant)
Initiative +13 Senses Perception +7; darkvision, tremorsense 10
HP 93; Bloodied 46
AC 25; Fortitude 24, Reflex 23, Will 23; see also swirling maw of toothy pain and field of greens
Speed 5, burrow 2
mBite (standard; at-will)
Before it bites, the green toothnip can make a standing long jump (as a free action) without provoking opportunity attacks; +16 vs. AC; 2d8 + 4 damage.
MSwirling Maw of Toothy Pain (standard; recharge 5 6)
+16 vs. AC; 4d8 + 4 damage, and the target is grabbed and takes ongoing 10 damage (until escape). A green toothnip doesn’t make attack rolls while grabbing a target and gains a +5 bonus to its AC and Reflex defenses.
Field of Greens
The green toothnip gains a +2 bonus to its AC and Reflex defense if it has one other toothnip adjacent to it, or a +4 bonus if two or more teethnip are adjacent to it.
Alignment Unaligned Languages -
Skills Athletics +14
Str 19 (+9) Dex 18 (+9) Wis 14 (+7)
Con 21 (+10) Int 2 (+1) Cha 18 (+9)

Green Toothnip Tactics
Green teethnip hide in the ground, their leafy topknots barely visible above the surface. When anything walks near them they leap out and attack.

Level 17 Soldier
Ripe Toothnip
XP 1,600
Medium aberrant beast (plant)
Initiative +15 Senses Perception +11; darkvision
HP 168; Bloodied 84
AC 33; Fortitude 31, Reflex 29, Will 29
Speed 6, burrow 4
mBite (standard; at-will)
Before it bites, the ripe toothnip can make a standing long jump (as a free action) without provoking opportunity attacks; +24 vs. AC; 2d8 + 7 damage.
MSwirling Maw of Toothy Pain (standard; recharge 3 4 5 6)
+24 vs. AC; 4d12 + 7 damage.
Alignment Unaligned Languages -
Skills Athletics +20
Str 24 (+15) Dex 21 (+13) Wis 17 (+11)
Con 24 (+15) Int 4 (+5) Cha 21 (+13)

Ripe Toothnip Tactics
A ripe toothnip leaps into combat without hesitation, using its swirling maw of toothy pain as often as possible.

Toothnip Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Dungeoneering check.
DC 20: Teethnip are cultivated in strange underground gardens by beholders. They are bred to see anything that walks on the ground as food. Toothnip mouths have more teeth than a shark's and can shred flesh in seconds.

Encounter Groups
Teethnip are almost always found guarding the lairs of beholders.
Level 13 Encounter (XP 4,200)
* 3 green teethnip (level 11 lurker)
* 1 beholder eye of flame (level 13 elite artillery)
* 1 hill giant (level 13 brute)
Level 20 Encounter (XP 14,200)
* 1 ripe toothnip (level 17 soldier)
* 1 green toothnip (level 11 lurker)
* 1 beholder eye tyrant (level 19 solo artillery)
Toothnip - the toothy turnip.

Weekly What the Heck

Welcome to the fifth installment of my regular feature here at the Near TPK. With continuing apologies to one of my favorite blogs, the Daily WTF, I present... The Weekly What The Heck.

Each Saturday at 10 AM Central Time I'll post one of Jen's drawings of some kind of whacked-out creature, and ask my readers: "What the heck IS that?"

I hope my readers will approach the challenge in the spirit of "Yes, and ..." - building on previous responses so everyone's ideas can be used in the final writeup. Comments are now closed on last week's entry, and I hope to have the final writeup posted tonight. Comments will be accepted on this week's entry until I post next week's entry.

So... What the heck is that? What should it do? What is it carrying?

Friday, November 7, 2008

M&M character 2 - Hwacha!

Thanks partly to the HeroLab demo but even more to greywulf and his expert advice... our second Mutants and Masterminds character, the incredibly-one-dimensional-yet-amusing-to-me Hwacha! is ready.

He throws explosive fiery infernos from his hands and... well... I guess that's basically it. But that's cool, right?

Hwacha!, PL 10, 150 points (120 in powers)
Gender male, Age young, Height 5'8", Weight 170

STR 10, DEX 15, CON 14, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 10
Tough +2, Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +2
Attack +2, Grapple +2, Defense +2, Init +2

Computers +2, Drive +4, Notice +3, Search +3, Stealth +2

AP: Fire Blast (Blast 18) - DC 33
- Improved Range 2 (900 ft.)
- Area: Explosion 6 (60-ft radius)
- Penetrating 18
- Affects Insubstantial 2

Absorption 20
- Boost Fire Blast
- Energy Storage
- Limited: Fire
- Limited: Personal

Smoke Screen (Obscure 4, 40 ft range, 50 ft radius)
- Visual
- Free action

Hey, if you're gonna be a one-trick pony it might as well be a good trick. I don't know how he will play, really - my expectation is that he will be pretty fragile, but able to knock down boatloads of mooks if he can keep them at range. Hwacha! coming on the scene might look something like this (without the flying away at the end). Next up: ALICE

Thursday, November 6, 2008

M&M character 1 - Enigma

Here we go... our first Mutants and Masterminds character ever, thanks to the HeroLab demo (without which we never would have gotten the numbers crunched).

A mystery wrapped in an enigma masked in a mystification camouflaged in a conundrum circled in a secret encased in a puzzle cloaked in a riddle concealed in an illusion...

Enigma, PL 10, 150 points
Gender unknown, Age unknown, Height ~5'6", Weight ~150

STR 8, DEX 10, CON 10, INT 16, WIS 14, CHA 14
Tough +10, Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +12
Attack +8, Grapple +7, Defense +10, Init +20

Bluff +6, Concentration +10, Diplomacy +6
Evasion 2, Improved Initiative 5, Luck 5, Seize Initiative, Ultimate Save (Toughness, Fortitude, Reflex, Will)

AP: Shroud of Mystery (Confuse 12) - DC 22
- Subtle 2, Reversible, Area: Shapeable, Progression 2 (60 5-ft cubes)

Protection 10

Mind Blank (Immunity 10, mental effects)

I have no idea how he/she/it will play - there are places where I know we have no idea what we're doing. Did Toughness and Defense really need to be cranked to +10? Is Attack +8 good enough, will cutting it back hinder the Confuse attack, or does it not matter for an area attack?

It might have helped if we'd read the book first, but that sounds boring. Next up: Hwacha!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mutants & Masterminds

Apparently reading Greywulf's M&M mania for the past few weeks has gotten to me. Jason offered to GM some Mutants & Masterminds sessions and I jumped at the chance. Jen and I started making characters tonight.

Have I mentioned how it's five flavors of awesome having gaming prep time count as quality husband/wife together time? I probably have.

We're making two characters each since we have just the two of us playing. I, of course, am making Hwacha! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name), the long-range area-effect flame-throwing hero. Out of the blue in an IM conversation today Jason posited that it would be cool to have a 1980 Flash Gordon movie Prince Vultan style hawk-man. I jumped on that idea for my second character. DIIIIIIIIVE!!! Now I have to find that soundtrack on CD...

After getting our hands on the M&M core manual earlier this evening and going through the powers section, Jen has come up with (and already discarded one potential character sketch for) The Swarm, a little girl who is actually a pile of one-eyed robotic insects. She's looking to take Alternate Form (Swarm), Burrowing, Passive Concealment, Datalink (machine control) and Enhanced Ability (touch, Tremorsense). Jen's other character might be The Contagion, a sickness inducing hero with Drain, Nauseate, Regeneration, and maybe Confuse. Or she might create a character named Enigma who is all about Confuse.

I think Jen is now six for six in coming up with "heroes" in superhero games that would probably make better villains (or at least are unnecessarily creepy for my taste).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Why, that's a Xenomoeba!

The final comments are in from last week's "Weekly What the Heck". The result is the larval form of a gibbering mouther, a disgusting, smelly creature that eats the flesh of the living, the dead and the undead.

I'd like to thank Reverend Mike, wyattsalazar and Doctor Checkmate for their ideas, all of which have been mashed together to create:
Xenomoeba
xenomoebas are the larval form of gibbering mouthers. They eat any flesh, living or dead, and are prized by evil spellcasters, especially necromancers, both as sources of alchemical reagents and natural garbage disposals. Those used by necromancers to eat undead flesh sometimes become infused with necrotic energy.

Level 4 Brute
Xenomoeba Larva
XP 175
Small aberrant magical beast
Initiative +4 Senses Perception +0; all-around vision, darkvision
HP 68; Bloodied 34
AC 16; Fortitude 18, Reflex 16, Will 16
Speed 4, swim 5
mSlam (standard; at-will)
+7 vs. AC; 2d8 + 3 damage.
MThrash and Grab (standard; recharge 5 6)
+7 vs. AC; 3d8 + 3 damage, and the target is grabbed and takes ongoing 5 acid damage (until escape).
Alignment Unaligned Languages -
Str 16 (+5) Dex 15 (+4) Wis 6 (+0)
Con 18 (+6) Int 3 (-2) Cha 15 (+4)

Xenomoeba Larva Tactics
Xenomoeba larvae wade mindlessly into melee, using thrash and grab as often as possible.

Level 7 Elite Brute
Necrotic Xenomoeba
XP 600
Small aberrant magical beast
Initiative +6 Senses Perception +1; all-around vision, darkvision
Sepulchral Halitosis aura 2; enemies that start their turns in the aura take a –2 penalty to attack rolls.
HP 198; Bloodied 99
AC 21; Fortitude 22, Reflex 19, Will 21
Saving Throws +2
Speed 4, swim 5
Action Points 1
mSlam (standard; at-will)
+10 vs. AC; 2d8 + 5 damage.
MNecrotic Grab (standard; recharge 5 6)
+10 vs. AC; 3d8 + 5 damage, and the target is grabbed and takes ongoing 5 acid and necrotic damage (until escape).
MFrenzied Thrash (free, when first bloodied; encounter)
The necrotic xenomoeba makes four slam attacks immediately.
MDeath Throes (when reduced to 0 hit points)
The necrotic xenomoeba makes two slam attacks.
Alignment Unaligned Languages -
Str 20 (+11) Dex 18 (+10) Wis 20 (+11)
Con 20 (+11) Int 2 (+2) Cha 22 (+12)

Necrotic Xenomoeba Tactics
A necrotic xenomoeba uses the same tactics as the xenomoeba larva.

Xenomoeba Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Dungeoneering check.
DC 15: Xenomoebas spontaneously arise when creatures, especially magical beasts, die in a place touched by the Far Realm. If fed enough living flesh, they eventually grow into gibbering beasts.
DC 20: Xenomoebas that eat undead flesh develop a foul stench and fight with the tirelessness of the undead.

Encounter Groups
Xenomoebae are sometimes found living among fully formed gibbering mouthers. Necrotic xenomoebae are often found among undead in the dungeons beneath necromancers' towers.
Level 7 Encounter (XP 1,425)
* 3 xenomoeba larvae (level 4 brute)
* 1 gibbering mouther (level 10 controller)
* 1 foulspawn berserker (level 9 soldier)
Level 8 Encounter (XP 1,700)
* 1 necrotic xenomoeba (level 7 elite brute)
* 1 zombie hulk (level 8 brute)
* 1 corruption corpse (level 4 artillery)
* 1 rotwing zombie (level 4 skirmisher)
* 2 ghouls (level 5 soldier)
Xenomoeba - from the hacked-up greek meaning "strange blob".

Weekly What the Heck

Welcome to the fourth installment of my regular feature here at the Near TPK. With continuing apologies to one of my favorite blogs, the Daily WTF, I present... The Weekly What The Heck.

Each Saturday at 10 AM Central Time I'll post one of Jen's drawings of some kind of whacked-out creature, and ask my readers: "What the heck IS that?"

I hope my readers will approach the challenge in the spirit of "Yes, and ..." - building on previous responses so everyone's ideas can be used in the final writeup. Comments are now closed on last week's entry, and I hope to have the final writeup posted tonight. Comments will be accepted on this week's entry until I post next week's entry.

So... What the heck is that? What should it do? Why do its teeth point in opposite directions?