November 2013, Design A Horrible... (Submission)

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Fixxxer
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November 2013, Design A Horrible... (Submission)

Design A Horrible...

It's been quite a while since we had a competition. We've seen a lot of changes in the industry, as well as changes here at The Dungeons and Dragons Archive. But we'd hate to see the creative juices stagnate. So here we are.

In this competition, you will design... whatever you want. That's right, we're not going to restrict your writing to any one type of entry; you are free to create whatever your heart may desire. The only three stipulations we're placing on this competition are:

1: The entry must fit into the category of one of the D&D Archive's resources. Thus, it must be an adventure, a campaign setting, an encounter, a location, a class (core class, variant core class or prestige class, it doesn't matter), equipment, a feat, a race/creature, a magic spell, a psionic power or an NPC.

2: While the entry must be one of the above, it must also somehow incorporate a second example from the above categories into it. Thus, it can be a location that includes an NPC, an NPC that includes a new spell, a campaign setting that includes a new feat, etc.

3: In the spirit of this time of year, we'd very much like to see a horror theme, so the entry must have a general theme of scariness. For a good score, this theme should show through in an obvious way. For example, simply presenting a new undead monster is not a general theme of scariness, no matter how scary the reader's ideas of how to use that undead monster might be. Presenting a new NPC that stalks and murders people in order to stitch the victims up into a new undead monster, though... well that sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Please note that a larger entry will not necessarily score higher than a smaller entry. We're looking for quality, not quantity. It's just as likely that a 1,500 word entry will score as highly as a 32,000 word entry, so long as it's interesting and well-written. At the same time, however, don't make an entry so simple that it wastes the judges' time. An entry that is only two feats, one requiring the other as a prerequisite, is technically allowed under the letter of the rules, but is not likely to score very high on its own.

This competition includes no optional elements. Anything that requires a stat block (NPC, monster, trap, etc.) must utilize the full stat block. As per usual, the rules used in this competition are to be D&D 3.5 compatible and should be drawn from the core rulebooks (Player's Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual), Expanded Psionics Handbook, Unearthed Arcana, [url="http://www.d20srd.org/"]The SRD[/url] and material from The Dungeons and Dragons Archive.

Submitting Your Entry
Please submit your entry directly to this thread. Participants are encouraged to enter their submission well before the deadline. While a subsequent entry may be inspired by an earlier entry, the scoring takes into account originality, and the earlier entry may well score better simply as a result of being submitted first.

Final Details
The judge for this competition will be Fixxxer. Questions about the competition can be asked and will be answered in the Questions thread. The judges will provide such answer as they deem appropriate. Anything not prohibited in the above instructions is permissible.

The competition will run through the entire month of November. Entries will be scored and feedback (if any) will be provided [strike]before the end of December[/strike] whenever the hell I get around to it. The winners will be announced in this thread.

Good luck!

Darker

Designer's notes: I had orignally wanted to also include a detailed setting (actually have all the villages made and a rough map) and a list of character hooks, but time was not with me.  I figured that leaving the setting more vague was actually good, as it can be dropped in anywhere with the way it was.  Its suppose to be a new NPC - Aurellia Ravendark and a new monster - the Faceless Handmaiden.  Anyway, enjoy.

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There’s talk about a creature from a chain of fishing villages that rips off the faces of its victims and wears the stolen flesh as a mask to disguises itself so it can walk among the living. The local legend among the people is that the creature is the unliving remnants of a long dead aristocrat that used to rule over the region. It is believed the once living Lady was a witch, who in her waning years became so envious of the beauty of youth that she removed the the faces of her handmaidens and used them in dark rituals to make herself young again. The creature is known by many names, but the most common whispers refer to her as the Green Lady, The Lady of Envy, or simply, The Face Stealer.

The villagers look fearfully on any outsiders, particularly ones that are traveling with comely, young woman. They believe that anyone beautiful enough will attract the wrath of the the Green Lady and seek to avoid her attention at all costs. In the past, the villages have found themselves under attack from undead hordes or the victims of sudden outbreaks of disease and pestilence when an attractive girl comes of age or travels to the village. The mere presence of beauty seems to anger the monster and she rains terror on the villages before finally killing the girl, leaving a faceless, mutilated corpse behind.

Occasionally the Lady of Envy will use a different approach. Fishermen have been known to complain how their daughter or wife suddenly started acting differently and in less than a day other villagers will find the unlucky fishmen murdered with the rest of this family -- all but his wife or daughter. Its surmised that the Green Lady likes to play a particularly wicked game where she steals the face of a loved one, teases the family before killing them all and then absconds with the body that she copied.

After night PC’s arrive, the village they are staying in is attacked by a horde of undead consisting of 14 skeletons and 9 zombies. They aren’t meant to kill the PC’s, but merely test their strength. The Green Lady enjoys visiting the gravesites of the villagers and forcing them to rise up to serve her again and often builds up a horde to attack the village for her amusement. She usually watches the attack from nearby, using invisibility to hide her presence.

After that night, and each day after, the PC’s will discover villagers that come down with cackle fever -- a contagion that the Green Lady likes to use because its easily spread with a cough and has a fast incubation period. She loves to hear the hideous laughter that comes from those infected and knows as numbers increased, the chorus of insane cackles also serves to unnerve those that survive.

Aurellia Ravendark, The Green Lady CR 10
CE Medium Unique Undead
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +13, Spot +13
Languages Common.
AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 16
hp 58 (9 HD); DR 15/magic and good
Immune cold, poison
Resist None; SR 18
Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +9
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee Claw +8 melee (1d6+3 plus 1d6 charisma drain)
Melee 2 Claws +8 melee (1d6+3 plus 1d6 charisma drain)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +4; Grp +7
Atk Options Steal Face
Special Actions Assume Identify
Abilities Str 16, Dex 18, Con -, Int 13, Wis 17, Cha 16
SQ Turn Resistance, Spells, Undead Traits
Feats Alertness, Improved Initiative, Brew Potion, Eschew Materials, Craft Wand, Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff +11, Concentration +11, Diplomacy +5, Gather Information +5, Hide +12, Knowledge (Local) +9, Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) +9, Knowledge (History) +9, Knowledge (Arcana) +9, Listen +13, Move Silently +12, Search +9, Sense Motive +11, Spellcraft +11, Spot +13
Possessions Wand of Lightning Bolt (41 charges)
Turn Resistance (Ex): Aurellia has a +4 turn resistance.
Charisma Drain (Su): Aurellia’s touch drains 1d6 Charisma points from living opponents. When she drains a victim's Charisma, it gains 5 temporary hit points, no matter how many points she drains. These temporary hit points last for up to 1 hour.
Spells: Aurellia casts spells as a 9th-level adept.
Typical Adept Spells Prepared (3/4/3/2; Save DC 13 + spell level): 0--detect magic, guidance, touch of fatigue; 1st--burning hands, command, obscuring mist, protection from good; 2nd--cat’s grace, darkness, invisibility; 3rd--animate dead, contagion.
Steal Face (Ex): Once Aurellia has reduced a victim to 0 charisma, she can remove her opponent’s face as a standard action. This action kills the opponent instantly.
Assume Identity (Su): Aurellia can, as a free action, take on the form of someone she has killed by stealing their face. She gains a +20 bonus on Bluff and Disguise checks made to pass as the victim. The effect last for 24 hours, though Aurellia can dismiss it at anytime. She can only assume someone’s identify one time, so once she uses someone’s face, she may never do so again.
Create Spawn (Su): Any living female who has their face stolen by Aurellia rises as a faceless maiden under Aurellia’s control at dusk on the following night.
Rejuvenation (Su): As a cursed creature, Aurellia is very difficult to permanently destroy. After being “destroyed”, Aurellia restores herself in 2d4 days, reappearing on the grounds of her ruined keep.

Centuries ago, Lady Aurellia Ravendark was a living, breathing lady who ruled over a small coastal region. At the time, the roads that passed through several small but thriving fishing villages were the only access point for merchants traveling around the mountains and the Ravendark’s had always prospered from taxing any goods entering and exiting their domain. However, the dwarves in the mountains eventually dug a tunnel (and charged a flat toll, something much prefered by the merchants) that provided a much shorter and direct route for those traveling and the wealth and power enjoyed for ages by the Ravendark’s withered away.

Lady Aurellia had never been “quite right” by those that cared for her as a child and it was long suspected by other members of the household that she had somehow murdered her father in order to take his place after she came of age (he died of a particularly nasty case of cackle fever). She was also rumored to be a witch, practicing dark magic and studying endless tomes regarding the outer planes and the many denizens that inhabited them. As she aged, she never married (though she “played” with suiters through the years, some who went missing and never were found) and it was evident that she would most likely die without an heir.

As Aurellia grew older and her beauty started to fade, she became even more cruel and irrational. It was at this time that merchants started to use the dwarven tunnels and her coffers were quickly draining away along with her life and youth. Out of desperation to hold on to what she had, she used her magic and dark rituals to summon a devil with whom to strike a deal. As part of the ritual, she murdered four of her closest handmaidens, using their blood to open a gateway to the nine hells. She told the demon that she wanted to be the ruler of her lands forever and always have a young face.

The demon laughed and granted her request, striking her down and turning her into the monster she is now. Through terror and fear, she’ll be able to rule the region for all time and she’ll be able to steal and wear the face of anyone she desires (though only for a short time before it rots, forcing her to seek another). The four handmaidens were transformed as well, into the first four faceless handmaidens to serve Aurellia in undeath. In a rage, Aurellia murdered the other members of her household and anyone else that had remained after the merchant routes had changed.

Faceless Handmaiden CR 2
LE medium Undead
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +2, Spot +2
Languages Common.
AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 12
hp 26 (4 HD); DR none
Immune cold, poison
Resist None; SR none
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +7
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee Claw +4 melee (1d6+1)
Melee 2 Claws +4 melee (1d6+1)
Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +2; Grp +3
Atk Options None
Special Actions Shield Other
Abilities Str 13, Dex 15, Con -, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 12
SQ Turn Resistance, Undead Traits
Feats Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse
Skills Balance +6, Climb +5, Hide +8, Jump +5, Listen +7, Move Silently +8, Spot +8
Possessions None
Turn Resistance (Ex): Faceless handmaidens have a +2 turn resistance.
Shield Other (Su): Handmaidens were always expected to give their life in service for their lady and Aurellia’s handmaidens continue with this task in undeath. Any handmaiden can activate this ability if they are within 100 feet of Aurellia as a free action, transferring half of the damage her mistress would be dealt to themselves. This ability does not grant the additional deflection or resistance bonuses, but otherwise works like the spell of the same name.