Giving Life to a Wormy Cohort

Now, before I delve into this I would like to assure my DM that I do not want my character's cohort pre-infected with those zombie worms we've been dealing with! That would be gross...and mean.

This write-up was actually easier than Cameron's, but is for that character's cohort, Dairon val Eite, a minor noble scion well versed in matters of court who hopes to serve a boon to his master in helping the man return to greatness that he may rise to equal prominence as a knight in his own right.
1. What do you look like?
Dairon is, perhaps, the last person one would expect to find on a battlefield, as his lithe build is more suited to sporting fields and his aquiline features bear a look found only in the noble's court. His armor and rapier slung low on his hip make him look more a rake or fop than the warrior-poet that he styles himself as.
2. Where is your family, if any?
The val Eite family remain in Eltirr, safe in their castles and hosting their grand parties in sycophantic fashion for House Torquaan..

3. For whom or what would you make sacrifices for?
Elise, above all. Cameron, Eltirr and The Northern Kingdom follow closely, but he leaves off his family and their House Torquaan allies, since he feels he was betrayed by them when sent to Cameron's side when they knew he understood the circumstances of the knight's landing.

4. What is your greatest regret?
Not letting Cameron in on the fact that he was being duped when given his own holdings. That, or not marrying his childhood love, Elise, before he was sent off to join Cameron in his lands.

5. What are your greatest dislikes?
Those who stammer or seem ill at ease with themselves when speaking. Further, he has developed great distaste for those who abuse any substance.

6. What topics or activities fascinate you?
The histories of aristocracy and nobility, as well as warfare and those who have been key parts of both, so as to find what made them so memorable.

7. What habits do you possess?
Dairon knows his strengths as a speech-maker, and thus constantly is reciting or refining some statement or another so that one day, his words may carry on in posterity. Thus, it sounds like he's constantly muttering to himself.

8. What secrets do you harbor?
Dairon shamefully hides the fact that he was complicit in Cameron's exile, but in knowledge only. His family helped set up the young noble in the fief he was given as a bait to see how strong Delglath's forces really were.

9. Are you rational or passionate about your feelings?
Dairon is very passionate, but in a different way than his master. Where Cameron has, when sober, the demeanor of a Saint - reveling in the emotions and sharing them through example - the squire is much more overtly emotive, not just sharing his own emotions, but using his gifts as a bard to make others feel the same, ranging from quiet peacefulness to raging anger.

10. Are you superstitious or sophisticated beyond superstition?
One can hardly be sophisticated beyond superstition when he has witnessed the terrible powers of the dead. (A recycled answer, yes, but one that rings no less true for Dairon as it does Cameron.)

11. How strong is your faith in your patron deity?
Dairon's family were always the type hosting grand parties, galas, and balls, and put much faith into Zilchus, the god of wealth. Since his passing to Sir Cameron as page, Dairon has found that wealth is a privilege that must be won, and has begun to lean toward loose teachings of Heironeus.

12. How self-confident are you?
Though born into his role to serve as page and squire, Dairon has had his resolve shaken and feels that he will not attain the rank of knight, himself, if he cannot conquer the same fears that he secretly shares with Cameron.

13. What drives you to adventure?
Dairon's only real drive right now, as he is a dutiful squire, is to see the wrongs heaped on his knight and master righted, and to help destroy and put an end to the predations of Delglath's legions.

Khardthan Kritters: The Climatog


This humanoid, looking like an odd breeding of a goblin and a frog, has skin that mirrors the colors of the sky and clouds above almost perfectly.

Climatog                             CR 3
XP 800
CE Small monstrous humanoid
Init +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +4
AC 13, touch 11, flat-footed 12 (+1 Dex, +2 natural)
hp 25 (3d10+3)
Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +4
Resist acid 5, cold 5, electricity 5
Speed 20 ft., fly 30 ft. (average)
Melee bite +5 (d6+1)
Special Attacks entropic weather, growing storm,
over-sized mouth
Spell-like Abilities (CL 3rd; concentration +5)
3/day - obscuring mist
1/day - gust of wind (DC 14)  
Str 12, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 15
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 14
Feats Improved Initiative, Toughness
Skills Fly +4, Perception +4, Survival +4 (+12 weather related)
Racial Modifiers Survival +8
Languages Atog
SQ weather attunement, wind riding
Environment any outdoors
Organization solitary, pair, gust (3-5), storm (5-20)
Treasure standard (items only)
Entropic Weather (Su) The presence of a (or many) climatog
causes the weather to worsen gradually over time until acid rain,
dangerous lightning storms, or whatever other weather condition 
might be appropriate to the area occurs.
Growing Storm (Su) As the number of climatogs grows in any
given area, their synchronicity with weather also grows, allowing
them the ability to cast more weather-based magic. At the GM's
discretion, they may add an additional 1/day casting of a weather-
themed spell for every three climatogs in the area. The spell can be
an additional level above 1st for every three climatogs in the area.
The climatogs can be no further than 30' apart for this ability to
Some recommended spells include Frostbite or Fog Cloud.
Over-sized Mouth (Ex) A climatog makes bite attacks as if it
were one size category larger.
Weather Attunement (Ex) A climatog gets a +4 on saves against
any ability or natural hazard that could be considered a weather-
related effect, such as extreme heat or the effects of a gust of wind
spell.  This includes spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities.
Wind Riding (Ex) Climatogs may, if able to catch a draft, launch them-
selves into the air and ride the wind currents. This ability is not flight, and
the climatog must have some form of current or updraft to ride to remain
aloft. If no such currents exist, the climatog cannot use this ability and
remains grounded or, if in the air when the wind ceases, will descend for
one round under its own movement, then will begin to fall.
The climatog can use its own gust of wind spell-like ability to rocket
itself or others of its kind into the air.

Mean spirited and manic, climatogs live their lives in the toil of generating as much entropy in the local climatology and biosphere as possible. Resembling nothing more than the horrible union of a giant, warty toad and a goblin, which then caught the mange (looks shared by all atogs), these creature's skin takes on a chameleon mein, mirroring exactly the color of the sky and passage of clouds, snow, or ash overhead.

Legends on Khardtha relate tales of the atogs, in the guise of a halfling-like race from far distant lands, as the once-great masters and innovators of crafts both magic and mundane, and that those of their ilk who were first wronged by or had become jealous of these gifts twisted into the abominations now known as atogs, each only able to focus on the downfall and/or destruction of the thing they once held dear.

After reading the myths and legends surrounding the race, climatogs, it is reasoned, were once associated with powerful machines or magics that dealt with the weather in some capacity. One atog of any type in an area is enough of a problem for anyone nearby, but the particular sympathetic relationship that climatogs have with the weather can be disastrous for local farmers, as the longer climatogs are in a region, the worse the weather gradually gets, until you have once-fertile valleys wracked with drought or flooding, or continuously damaging acid rain storms.

Though often associated with gremlins due to their destructive natures, even one of those fey will take time out of their depredations to correct anyone on the matter.

Climatogs typically stand at a hunched 1-1/2 feet tall, but can rise up to 3 feet tall and usually weigh in at around 35 pounds.

Climatogs in Eberron
Climatogs can be found, perhaps not so strangely, dwelling in areas close to House Lyrandar conclaves, perhaps drawn by the House's own sympathy with the weather. Some have even said that powerful Lyrandar mages and druids keep company with climatogs, using them as familiars and companions, though this is unconfirmed.
Further, rumor has it that the choppy seas and horrible storms in and around Xen'drik are caused by mass populations of climatogs. Again, this is unconfirmed. 

Climatogs in GolarionClimatogs were once a productive race, in fact they were the First Ones, who settled the planet Aballon and made use of its energies from the proximity of the sun and the vast mineral wealth to form a wondrous society and forge great discoveries from this bounty. Then, something changed. What it was is unknown. A breakdown of cooperation and progress fueled by rivalries and petty jealousy? A failure of some of their great technologies? A discovery the likes that should not be known?

Now, all that remains of their once-great civilization is the ruins of their cities. The droves of robots turned loose to do their last operative over and over. Some of the atogs escaped, scattering throughout the solar system, but there are still others left on Aballon. Perhaps some even remember their former glory.

When I first created Khardtha back when I was in high school, quite a lot of the setting was informed by Magic: The Gathering, since it was actually the fantasy game (as well as novel line) I was most familiar with before I got into tabletop rpgs. This monster is an offshoot of the atog race featured in M:tG, and holds the basic premise of those kinds of creatures in that they exist simply to destroy something, be that the timestream (Chronatog), the mind (Psychatog), or even other atogs (Atogatog).

This is something new. I'd not created it back then, I created it yesterday, and I think it can definitely find a place in my campaign, should I ever revisit my homebrew.

Now that I've completed the monster, I'm not so certain I got it right. It has a lot of abilities, some of which are ill-defined and hard to do at the table, and having more of them create the power scale increase instead of having to destroy or sacrifice something isn't truly keeping with the spirit of what a Climatog card (which their isn't one) would do, but I feel like their abilities give a GM a chance to build a story around the creature, and sometimes that can be hard to do with only a one page writeup.

If anyone spots a mistake in my math, or otherwise has questions or comments, please share. Sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself here.


Giving Life to The Age of Worms Again!

For those of you playing along at home, you may have noticed that I put another character through the grinder in Angela's Age of Worms game. While it saddens me to see Sagt go (especially as he was my longest-lived character in the game), I had another character ready - mostly, see the recap for more - for the very next session.

The new guy is Cameron val Dane, Knight-in-Exile of The Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy. I don't expect his backstory to come up during the course of play because Angela is running an adventure path and I'll not hijack her game, but I'm going to make a point of discussing it in-character to add flavor and use as roleplay hooks.

1. What do you look like?
Cameron is a man of large build, standing around six feet tall, with wide shoulders and chest. His hair is a prematurely graying chestnut cut somewhat short and he wears the ragged and reddened facial features of a drunk, with heavy stubble  and drooping eyes. If he could be convinced to clean up, or were to ever sober up, he holds a regal bearing and an intense look suited both for the battlefield and the noble's court.
2. Where is your family, if any?
Cameron has lost most of his family to clashes with Delglath "the Undying" and his hordes of undead, as well as seeing some scattered in exile like he was, or fleeing the area before the undead or crown took their turns. While searching for some family that fled, he was led to Blackwall to establish connections with the battle-mage, Marzena, whom had fought under another House Torquann-allied banner. Considers Dairon his family, but treats him somewhat poorly in his current drunken state, mostly out of misplaced anger at his own failures.

3. For whom or what would you make sacrifices for?
Those he has already lost. His family, the people of his fief, and the soldiers lost under his command all share a common fate in his eyes, and he would give anything to give them back the ability to live their lives. Dairon, though he is Cameron's squire, is someone else he would make sacrifices for, now seeing the young man as his only family.

4. What is your greatest regret?
Allowing hubris to rule his decision to take the post appointed by Prince Elkerst near the fallen city of Rinloru in place of the Torquaan knight that should have been given the fief. This eventually led to the destruction of all of Cameron's holdings and the death of most of the people under his rulership, as well as the slaughter of all but a handfull of troops that he led in a disastrous crusade into enemy territory.

5. What are your greatest dislikes?
Unjust rulership and the undead.

6. What topics or activities fascinate you?
Warfare, heraldry, and the history of The Great Kingdom...that is, when he isn't drunk. In recent times, his interests mostly lie at the bottom of a bottle.

7. What habits do you possess?
Cursing when entering battle, drinking. When sober, Cameron usually says a short prayer any time that one of the sacred weapons are drawn or displayed (one of Hextor's six favored weapons).

8. What secrets do you harbor?
Though it's the worst kept secret about him, Cameron would like to think that his reliance on his squire, Dairon, is masked well enough that most don't notice.

9. Are you rational or passionate about your feelings?
Cameron is a passionate man, and part of the reason he drinks heavily is to mask the despair and sorrow that comes to the surface. In better times, his mirth and resolve took the place of those feelings.

10. Are you superstitious or sophisticated beyond superstition?
One can hardly be sophisticated beyond superstition when he has witnessed the terrible powers of the dead.

11. How strong is your faith in your patron deity?
Though he once had a kind heart and looked upon the world with hopeful eyes, Cameron has always been a pious devotee of Hextor in his guise as patron of warriors, combat, and rulers.

12. How self-confident are you?
Cameron's self-confidence was nearly utterly destroyed when his people were massacred and he and his family were exiled for failure to protect the Principality of Atirr and the North Kingdom.

13. What drives you to adventure?
Cameron's current adventuring is as much by accident as anything else. After leaving his home under exile, he traveled to Blackwall Keep to seek out a former comrade-in-arms, the mage Marzena, in order to possibly recruit her and any possible followers she might have to aid him in his quest to defeat Delglath and his minions, reclaim his former lands, and restore face to his family. In his current situation, having met others with no small amount of power, Cameron is pondering if he can leverage a deal with these new adventurers wherein he will aid them on their quest if they agree to join his crusade against the undead at Rinloru.

If anyone is reading this who is a Greyhawk canonist, I'm sorry. I'm simply not up on much in Gary's playground, and any flubs I may have made when it comes to place names, etc. is merely just me doing what I can with maybe five minutes worth of searching, and is done merely to add flavor to my character. Having said that, I did actually fret a little over naming conventions. Obviously, it's my character, and I can name him Fiddlecake if I want, but the val part of the name stuck with me from concept, though I've never seen naming conventions that include anything like that in Greyhawk official products.

It's apparent from the name of Cameron's cohort, Dairon val Eite, that I used val as a noble honorific, or something of the sort, but I honestly have no precedent for it, as stated above.

I might do this exercise for Dairon, as well, at some point, but I actually do have a few things I want to cover...if I even get to those. Sometimes, just the APs are hard enough for me to remember to post.


Age of Worms, Session 19

After a few weeks of not gaming, we jumped back in with The Age of Worms where we left off, with Mullins and Able negotiating safe passage and release of prisoners with the lizardfolk shaman. He bargains the disposal of the king's lieutenant for the betterment of his tribe, and upon agreement, leads the party to him, which swiftly leads to the start and end of combat and the PCs triumphant (with aid from a sneaky pseudodragon).

With that done, the group tends to the prisoners they have come to rescue, and secures their possessions from the lizardfolk. Further talks (I could be wrong, please correct me if so, Angela!) led to a discussion on the security of the eggs of the tribe, and Able decided to go check on the state of the hatchery, but the kobold guardians of the place attacked him and the lizardfolk shaman, prompting a call for reinforcements, where the party tried to join the fray, but the corridors were cramped, making things more difficult.

Once seeing that they were compromised, one of the kobolds split open a dragon egg (from the tribe's patron), allowing worms to spill forth and wriggle away. Quick thinking from Rosebud quelled their spread with precision magic that wouldn't hurt the lizardfolk eggs, stopping the spread of apparent zombie plague and earning more respect from the lizardfolk. Taking the victory with them, and given a boon in the form of an otyugh mount for the small members of the party while trekking the swamp, the group began their trek back to Blackwall Keep with Marzena and her band.

Once there, however, things were not as joyous as had been hoped, because the lower levels had been blocked off due to an infected inhabitant that they had held there in hopes of healing having further infected others. The quarantined area was delved by the party and though there were a couple of scares of possible worm-infection in the party, the group was able to put down the menace of the three worm-zombies.

Here, we left off for the night after a short discussion of plans to head to the Free City of Greyhawk!

Notes: I probably got some of this wrong. I did a slight no-no and got last-minute approval for Leadership at the table and spent some time making my cohort, so I wasn't the most attentive. Having distracted myself with that, it was hard for me to get into the groove of the second half of the session, but I was having fun by the end.

Having said that, my new character is a drunk, and he, his apologetic cohort, and the other characters had a good rp vibe going as soon as he was introduced. Also, it's kind of nice to have a child-like persona in the form of Tami's pseudodragon to play off the various amounts of stoicism and such in the party.

Cast of Characters
Cameron val Dane, Human Knight 6 - Me
Dairon val Eite, Human Bard 4 - Me (cohort)
Mullins, Gnome Rogue 3/Wizard 3 - Paul
Rosebud, Gnome Warmage 6 - Paul (secondary)
Able Nightengale, Human Healer 6 - David
Caine Smithe, Human Marshal 4 - David (cohort)
Katain, Pseudodragon Warlock 1 - Tami


A Hopeful Solution to New Character Levels

For quite some time, I have been mulling over how, exactly, I wanted to handle levels of new characters in my game, which I focused on in two posts here on the blog.  Funnily enough, through my readings, I discovered that over at Save or Die, Nathan was thinking about the same things pretty close to the same time, and dedicated two posts of his own to the topic.

Like Nathan, my instinct is to begin new characters at level 1, especially since the 3.x/Pathfinder experience system is self-correcting, and that new character would catch up eventually, allowing the player to organically develop their character in-game and give a basis for roleplay for the other players, instead of just slapping in a fully developed character who should have probably already been on the PC's radar, if they are on par with the group's abilities (which usually outstrip almost everyone in a region fairly quickly).

As he also pointed out, and of primary concern to me because I'm currently running an adventure path, however, is that it's simply not feasible to put a 1st level character in a story-driven campaign (one with scaled encounters, as I spoke about before). In those types of games, sadly, the power curve is a meat grinder for low-level characters.

Similar to Nathan's way of doing things, I usually start new characters at 1 level below the lowest level member in the party. This chart-based system, however, will allow players the opportunity to begin play in my games (or replace their fallen characters) with characters of up to the highest PC's level.

For this, I think there's no reason to fix something that isn't broke, so I will make very few changes to what is presented on Save or Die. Characters, of course, have first level as a given and then will roll for each additional possible level on the following chart, making additional rolls and completing level-specific tasks rolled as necessary until they can no longer progress.

The mechanics are as follows:

For each level, roll once on the following table.

Roll - Encounter Type
1-3 - Easy Combat (CR -1)
4-10 -  Medium Combat (Equal CR)
11-13 - Difficult Combat (CR +1)
14-15 - Easy Skill Challenge (DC 10+PC level)
16-18 - Medium Skill Challenge (DC 15+PC level)
19-20 - Difficult Skill Challenge (DC 20+PC level)
If combat is rolled, check current level and randomize an encounter from the particular CR/EL rolled. Check the following chart for the result of this combat. Treasure gained is determined randomly for the EL of the opponent.

Result - Reward
PC loses battle - Nothing
PC wins, but has lost over half hit points - 50% chance of level gain or treasure (player’s choice)
PC wins, but is wounded - Level gain, 50% chance of treasure
PC wins without being harmed - level gain and treasure 

Skill Challenges consist of a test of three skills, each determined randomly. The success or failure of any of these checks determines the possible rewards, as noted below.

Result - Reward
PC fails all three skill checks - Nothing
PC makes one skill check - 50% chance of level gain or treasure (player’s choice)
PC makes two skill checks - Level gain, 50% chance of treasure
PC makes all skill checks - Level gain and treasure

Please note that this could land any character made stuck at 1st or 2nd level, but it gives a fair chance at moderate advancement, and has the added bonus of treasures that a character made at the flat level might have, as these are in addition to the gold allowance at the character's starting level.

I realize that the treasure being in addition is not really the spirit of what is presented with this system, but I like the possible character it could present for some campaigns, like my Wilderlands, where having anything scavenged from dungeons makes you a veritable badass.

All in all, I find this to be a pretty good system, and I hope some of my players will chime in on their thoughts, as well.


Fifteen Games In Fifteen Minutes

Though I know I have posted my "Appendix N" before, the truth is that before I began playing D&D in '96, I hadn't had any experience with tabletop roleplaying games in the least.

This meme, stolen from here, is a more accurate depiction of my strongest game-to-game influences when I delved into tabletop rpgs.

Magic: The Gathering
Zelda games (most notably A Link to the Past) (NES/SNES/Gameboy)
Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SNES)
Illusion of Gaia (SNES)
Zork gamebooks (I honestly didn't know anything about the text-based pc game at the time)
Dungeon! boardgame
Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Eye of the Beholder (SNES)
Secret of Mana (SNES)
Shadowrun (SNES)
Breath of Fire (SNES)
Crystalis (NES)
Castlevania games (NES/SNES)
Altered Beast (Arcade/Genesis)
Golden Axe games (Genesis/Arcade)


King Ghidora, Grant Me The Ability To Smite My Enemies!

In my readings of game blogs both active and defunct, I ran across a really cool resource. Over on Toho Kingdom, they have a page specifically for integrating Godzilla and his many frienemies into your D&D campaign.

Each kaiju is fully detailed with stats, short ecology, and detail of their worshipers and the domains associated with them. The site also features various other monsters, new spells, and equipment specific to the Tohoverse.

Rise of the Runelords, Session 10: The Skinsaw Murders

This session had Paul and Tami out, but we continued on with our heroes' triumphant return to Sandpoint after defeating Nualia and stopping the ritual to release the goblin demigod Malfeshnekor.

Once in town, Orik heading to The Rusty Dragon on recommendation while Walt went to report to Naffer Vosk and Father Zantus, and Elspeth did...elfy wizardy things. *handwave away absences!* Vic and Rissi went straight to Sheriff Hemlock to report their doings. After making their report and receiving their weekly pay for guard duty, the Sheriff began to describe to them a gruesome crime scene down at the sawmill, explaining that two people were murdered and detailing evidence of earlier murderers he had discovered on his return to Magnimar, and re-deputized all but Vic (since he's a guardsman) to begin investigations on the case, urging them to keep things as tightly under wraps as they can so as to avoid panic that another serial killer is loose in Sandpoint.

The two of them quickly made their way to the sawmill and found the bodies of Katrine Vinder and Banny Harker mutilated and grotesquely slain inside. Further investigation led them to believe an undead of some sort played a part since their was evidence that someone walked on the walls, tread underwater while crossing the river, and a distinct rotting stench that was uncharacteristic for the crime scene, being as fresh as it was, permeated everything. Investigating the sawmill and the opposite bank thoroughly, the pair then went back to the Garrison and questioned Vin Vinder, Katrine's father, and Ibor Thorn, Banny's business partner at the sawmill, but deemed them both innocent.

Here we left off, since I called it early, but this murder mystery is shaping up to be a nice change of pace from the standard fantasy fare.

Cast of Characters
Rissi Scuttle, Ratfolk Alchemist 6 - Angela
Vic Alvaraz, Varisian Human Fighter (Mobile Fighter) 6 - David


Age of Worms, Session 18

In search of the missing battlemage and her cadre, we traveled for what seemed like several days into the Mistmarsh, encountering predators both natural and unnatural, with the last, a group of ghouls and a ghast tearing Sagt to pieces once successfully paralyzing him.

The rest of the group won the day and escaped with their lives, pressing on to continue their mission after conducting hasty rites over the goblinoid, and before too much longer, were rewarded with finally founding the lair of the lizardfolk, which they entered without hesitation.

Therein, the group managed to quickly fight their way to the back of the enclave and find the chamber of the king of this tribe, a large lizardfolk with a trident enchanted to return to its owner's hand when hurled. The battle with him was fierce, but again, our heroes triumphed and claimed his magic weapon for themselves!

Shortly, a lizardfolk approached them, claiming to be the tribe's shaman, and offering to assist them if they would act against the king's lieutenant so that the tribe would not have to suffer under his rule. The PCs agreed, and had set off to find him when the session closed.

Cast of Characters
Sagt, Varag 5 (Racial levels) - Me (deceased)
Mullins, Gnome Rogue 3/Wizard 3 - Paul
Rosebud, Gnome Warmage 5 - Paul (secondary)
Able Nightengale, Human Healer 6 - David

Notes: This session report is short because it was fairly combat intensive, with a few random encounters, and then fighting the way through the lizardfolk compound. The brevity also stems from the fact that I wasn't the most attentive after Sagt died, as I was trying to construct a character that I have since decided not to play.