encounter

Grick Attack


Grick Attack

This is a short EL5 encounter for four 4th-level player characters (PCs). The encounter takes place in a low natural cavern.

The encounter can be placed in any underground area of your campaign world. Ideally, this is a lightly traveled corridor in which some gricks can lie in ambush and wait for prey. As always, feel free to adapt the material presented here as you see fit to make it work with your campaign.

The treasure described below follows the standard guidelines for wealth by encounter level. The gricks presented in this encounter are slightly advanced; yet still remain within the guidelines for a CR3 creature. A party with no access to magical weapons, offensive spells, or damaging alchemical items will find themselves in serious peril. A party so poorly equipped should probably also not be adventuring in dangerous underground areas to begin with!

This natural tunnel has a low ceiling, only about 6 feet high, any large biped navigating the corridor must squeeze down low, suffering a -4 penalty on attack rolls and a -4 penalty to AC. Movement while squeezed is at half speed.

The ground is covered with broken pieces of stalactites, broken rock, and other dense rubble. It costs 2 squares to enter a square with dense rubble. Dense rubble adds 5 to the DC of Balance and Tumble checks, and it adds 2 to the DC of Move Silently checks.

A Spot check (DC 10) reveals bones, scraps of clothing, and pieces of large vermin carapaces mixed in with the rubble on the floor. A Spot check (DC 27) reveals a pair of gricks hiding in small cubbyholes in the ceiling. The gricks are located at each position "G" on the map (see below). (The spot check for the gricks assumes they have taken a 10 on their hide check).

The walls are rough-hewn stone (Climb DC 15). A medium-size creature can brace itself while climbing in the cubbyholes (Climb DC 5). A grick has a natural climb speed and is able to maintain its Dex bonus to AC while climbing above.

Advanced Gricks (2): CR 3; SZ M Aberration; HD 4d8+4; hp 22 each; Init +6; Spd 30 ft., climb 20 ft.; AC 16 (+2 Dex, +4 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 14; BAB/Grap +3/+5; Atk +6 melee (1d4+2 tentacle); Full Atk +6 melee (1d4+2 x4 tentacles) and +0 melee (1d3+1 bite); Space/Reach 5 ft./5 ft.; SQ Damage reduction 10/magic, darkvision 60 ft., scent; AL N; SV Fort +2 (1 base, +1 Con), Ref +3 (1 base, +2 Dex), Will +5 (4 base, +1 Wis); Str 14, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 3, Wis 14, Cha 5.
Skills: Climb +10, Hide +17, Listen +1, Spot +1. Feats: Improved Initiative, Track(b), Weapon Focus (tentacle).

Tactics: The gricks wait until the bulk of the party has passed before attacking. If they have not been spotted, they have a surprise round. They attempt to attack at a time in which both gricks can reach a foe while remaining in their cubbyholes in the ceiling. (A grick can reach into any adjacent square while still hiding in the cubby.) The gricks that remain in the cubbyholes above get a +1 bonus on melee attacks for being on higher ground. The higher ground bonus is not included in the stat block above. If a grick cannot reach a foe, it drops to the floor (as a free action) and scurries to position itself within reach of an opponent. If a grick drops an opponent and is not currently threatened, it picks up the corpse and retreats high into its cubbyhole to feed. If a grick is injured to single-digit hit points, it withdraws to the upper reaches of its cubbyhole and then delays, preparing to attack anyone who tries to climb up after it.

Treasure: Buried amid the rubble on the floor (Search DC 15) is a masterwork throwing axe and a small leather belt-pouch containing 4 tiger-eye agates (10 gp each) and three rose quartz (50 gp each) gemstones. Someone who climbs up into the cubbyholes in search of treasure finds a partial gnome skeleton and a small +1 chain shirt.

Scaling the Encounter: For a level 2 or 3 party, remove one of the gricks and all of the treasure except for the +1 chain shirt. For a level 5-6 party, add two additional gricks and include a wand of magic missile (5th level, 21 charges) with the gnome remains.

Stormy Skies


Stormy Skies

The Story
Aust Liadon was old. Even his elven blood could not shake the fact that he'd seen his hundred and sixtieth birthday this year. That however did not stop him from facing a marauding orc band bearing down on his town. A wave of his hand once, twice, was all it took to decimate their ranks and send the survivors fleeing down the hillside.

As he inspected the wreckage of the war wagons, wondering how he was going to clean up the impressive mess he'd made, he heard a sniffle and a rustle. In the middle of a burned out wagon he found two human children stuffed into a cage that would have been too small for either of them. He cursed his carelessness for not considering the orcs might have already been to other villages and taken slaves. But the girls remained untouched by the flames: some force had protected them.

Out of their cage, for a moment all the girls did was stare at him. Aust immediately noticed each of their eyes in turn, eyes practically bursting with hope, and eyes full of quiet relief. At a loss for words he blurted out "Orcs stink don't they?” The first girl giggled and the second gave a half smile, and then Aust found his arms full of crying children.

Aust speaks about his children:

"Watching the girls grow up was like a dream, Pai-pahn and Vau-pahn became my joy in life. Their youth and energy brought new vigor to my tired body. I decided to adopt them and teach them my craft. At first I tried the traditional means of study and hard work, but this proved to be unnecessary and a waste of time. I count this among my greatest blessings; the girls were able to find their magic intuitively through the experiences of growing up.

I endeavored to fill their lives with wonder and expand their horizons with each passing day. We traveled and I told them tales of my adventuring days. With each moment that their hearts leapt, the arcane words and gestures came to them like a song. In teaching them magic this way I did not become their master, I became their father." The old man chuckles and speaks again "Perhaps grandfather would be more appropriate..."

It was no surprise to Aust that his daughters would take up careers as adventurers. He didn't mind their being gone, and they returned frequently and told him of their adventures together. He noticed however that they acted less and less like sisters every time they came back. He waved it away as inconsequential since it didn't seem to affect the quality of their relationship; even as children they knew they weren't blood relatives. He instead focused on enjoying the rest of his life with his daughters and improving his collection of terrible orc jokes.

Meeting Pai-pahn:

The girl before you is both wonderful and painful to watch. Her radiant beauty catches the eyes of all around and her smile warms your soul. Drawn to her you find she is easy going and fun to talk to, quick to make a joke and quicker to laugh. This is the type of girl who you simply can’t have. Not because she is unattainable; but because obtaining her, tying her down, would destroy part of what makes her beautiful. She is one who you look at and wonder what makes her eyes sparkle with so much life.

Pai-pahn trembled with fear and anticipation, she'd done it and there was no turning back. She'd confessed her love to Vau. Not sisterly love, not platonic love, real romantic affection. Vau looked as if she'd been struck, and the seconds passed by like hours to Pai-pahn as she waited to hear if Vau returned her feelings.

"Pai...I'm sorry..." This was all too fast, a relationship with a woman, with her sister? Vau’s mind reeled from the thought of it all.

Pai-pahn hung her head.

"Wait! Please that's not it, give me time to think, I'll come to you and give you my answer." Vau told herself she was just considering Pai-pahn’s feelings; she wanted to hurt her sister as little as possible. Of course she couldn’t accept, but she couldn’t reject her sister either. The implications of that realization terrified her.

Meeting Vau-pahn:

Her eyes shimmer in the moonlight as she looks out at the sky quietly; like a beautiful ghost longing for days long past. The mist makes the distance between you unclear, and the forest forms a frame, as if the entire scene were a painting on a wall. Her lips move, silently speaking... or is it singing? Her quiet song escapes your ears, and the sounds of night seem deafening in contras. After a time, she stops singing, and tilts her head, as if listening. Gathering her cloak about her, she moves silently down the hill and vanishes into the mist.

“Vau wait!” Pai didn't want to lose her sister over something she wasn't entirely sure of herself. So she'd hunted her down after a time to make things right.

“I told you Pai, I don't want to talk about it right now, I'm leaving.” Vau-pahn turned to leave and Pai grabbed her wrist with both hands, holding her back. “Let go Pai.”

“No! It's okay! I take back! Please let's just forget it and go back to the way things were!” Vau-pahn was angry now. I've just started to get used to the idea, she thought as she pulled her hand away.

Pai grabbed her harder than ever. “No!”

“...LET GO!” Vau-pahn reacted reflexively, and when the spell left her lips neither was prepared for it. Vau-pahn fell to the ground and Pai stood there, her arms shaking. Vau-pahn looked on in horror at what she'd done, the emotions played across Pai's face too quickly to recount. Pai eventually cast a spell that would carry her far away. Vau-pahn, who had been too stunned by her own actions to speak, curled up and began sobbing softly.

Aust Liadon's Last Wish:

“Travelers, I hope you will indulge an old man in his final request. My only regret is that I did not sooner see the true nature of the changes happening between my adopted daughters. Find them and help them find their love for one another, and then please bring them to me. I don't want to die without seeing them truly in love, as they should be.”

The Current Situation Things are bad between Pai and Vau, both struggling with emotions that are difficult to deal with and neither ready to handle them. As anyone who has been in a relationship knows, when emotions flare up, logic and reason go out the window. Every time they try to talk, something happens and it just turns into a screaming match until one of them gives up and leaves.

Pai has accepted the fact that she loves Vau. However, she still has hang-ups about the relationship. She now regrets her confession, and is afraid she has destroyed her relationship with Vau. She previously had tossed aside the notion that wanting a romantic relationship with Vau was wrong, but the recent events have her questioning her own judgment. She is hurt, upset, and confused, especially after Vau attacked her with a shocking grasp. She is currently staying with her friend Miles, a local town guard.

Miles for his part is at a loss for what to do; he understands Pai’s desire to keep this a secret, but he feels they need to turn to someone better qualified to give relationship advice. His own failed relationship with Pai has convinced him that he has no worthy advice to give, especially on a wildly unconventional relationship such as theirs. He offers the only advice he can&that she needs to talk to her sister. That suggestion however always upsets Pai in one way or another.

Vau is still in shock. Ever since Pai confessed, Vau can’t stop dreaming about her. She feels aberrant for having these dreams and the accompanying emotions. Worse still, she is afraid for what she did to Pai. Surely her sister hates her now. She’s been spending her time camping at her favorite spot in a nearby forest, trying to have some alone time. She isn’t exactly getting the peace of mind she wants though: at night she finds herself dreaming again, then during the day she can’t relax because of a paranoid feeling of being watched.

To compound the issue, since they both feel scared and alone and need time to sort out their feelings, neither wants to go home to find the other there and start a scene around Aust. Unfortunately time is not on their side. Unknown to either of them Aust is on his deathbed; he doesn't even have the strength to prepare and cast spells to send a message to his daughters. He knew initially only that they were fighting but has now put all the pieces together. That's when he signals the PCs from his tower with a hand mirror and asks them to help his daughters. Aust used to be the lone wizard type, so his tower staff consists of permanent unseen servants that can’t leave the building.

Gathering Information
Some of the following Gather Information results have multiple NPCs chatting at each other. If you as DM aren’t comfortable talking to yourself in front of players, get one or two to help you. But I suggest you learn to play two sides of a conversation, it gets fun actually.

All of these have something that happens if the PCs inform the NPC of the situation between Vau and Pai. For the sake of convenience I assume they give the NPC the whole story unless interrupted.

DC 10: The rowdy-rough girls (N Human Exp 2)
Read aloud:
The barkeep looks a bit surprised. "The Liadons? Yeah they're the local adventurers. Gotten the city out of quite a few scrapes actually. Heh, gotten some citizens into a few scrapes once or twice. If I had an ounce of that power..." He looks off at nothing "...well I wouldn't be working in this dump."

If told of the situation:
"Yeesh, what a mess. If I were you I wouldn't let them get angry, I've seen one of them in action, it was pretty scary. As for helping out, I can't personally, but I know there are a few people around who are close to them. I think one of them was a town guard." (Lower the DC to find Miles by 2)

DC 15: A local nobleman is opinionated (Lord Adonis; LE Human Exp 3):
Read aloud:

“You ever know some siblings who were too close? That’s the Liadon girls, Vau’s hand would have been mine if it weren’t for that nosy sister of hers. Really, learn to let your sister go, it’s going to happen eventually anyway.”

If told the situation read aloud:
He interrupts you as soon as you mention that they are in love. “Oh my god! That’s disgusting! I won’t stand for this! Incest between women in my city, what is this world coming to?! I’m going to do something about this! Guards!” He signals to his guards to escort you out and he stomps off into another room.

DC 20: A country family quarrel. (Mist; Nat Weretiger Exp 3 & Raine; Nat Weretiger)
Read aloud:
Teenager Raine:” I thought you’d understand me! You haven’t remarried since dad left!”

Mother Mist: “I most certainly am not responsible for your disgusting habits! And just because I haven’t remarried doesn’t mean I have given up men!”
Raine: “slut.”
*SLAP*
Raine: “I HATE YOU!!!! “

Raine runs off, Mist slams the door behind her and you are surprised to hear a loud roar come from inside the house.

If told of the situation:
Mist: “Ugh, I don’t want to hear about it, or help a pair of perverts. I have my own to worry about.”

Raine: “That’s so sad!” She sniffles a bit. “I wouldn’t tell people about that however... most would react like my mom or worse.”

DC 23: The maid has an axe to grind. (LN Halfling Exp 2)
Read aloud:
This attractive woman’s clothing is not modest; in fact it is downright ridiculous. You might describe it as a typical maid uniform but&modified. She’s about to spill her assets out of the top, and the bottom stretches the limits of public decency. “Lord Adonis deserved what he got with Miss Vau-pahn, I may not be able to resist the pay for working here, but promises of all the riches in the world wouldn’t convince me to marry him either. Good for Pai for showing him he can’t treat women like cattle to be bought! The fury with which those two defend each other is something I find refreshing, that’s real sibling love.”

If told the situation read aloud:
How many times will people interrupt you when you say that they’re lesbians? “Oh my goodness! I had no idea Miss Vau-pahn was so upset as to resort to that! Lord Adonis has really done it now! I’ve decided, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind, I don’t care if he fires me!” She stomps off muttering something about traumatizing young girls.

DC 28: The mayor thinks public figures should behave better. (LN Human Exp 6):
Read aloud:
“To be honest, those two are a royal pain. I honestly wish they would retire; they’ve become public figures, heroes actually now but still act like they’re out in the wild. So what if some drunk gets too fresh with you? You have every right to be angry, but you don’t need to set him on fire! Now I’m taking heat for giving them special treatment. You adventurers really make things tough on us.” He runs his fingers through his graying hair, worry plain on his face. “Honestly, what could happen next?”

If told of the situation:
He throws his arms up. “That’s just fantastic. Now the city will be split in two, we’ll have angry mobs wanting to burn the perverts, and angrier mobs insisting you can love whomever you like. Finally, the girls at the center of it all are about to lose their father. Damn I can’t be mad at them anymore. Wait, yes I can, they need to learn that their problems can affect more than themselves. Do me a favor and keep a tight lid on this; also, go see this man from the town guard. His name is Miles and he should know where at least one of the girls is.”

DC 30: This poor guy never had a chance. (Miles; LG Human Mnk 4):

Read aloud:
“Yes I courted Pai for a time, yes I know where she is, I’m sorry but she wants to be alone now and I intend to respect that wish. If you want me to give her a message, I can do that.” His serious expression says he’s trying to accommodate you while honoring her wishes.

If told of the situation:
“I will arrange something. You get in touch with Vau, I will tell Pai that this feud needs to stop, now. Meet me here later tonight.”

DC 35: The twinkle in his eye bothers you. (Ryan Adonis; CN Human Rog 1):
Read aloud:
“Oh! Pai and Vau! Yeah they’ve been fighting really badly lately. I hope things patch up between them, I always thought they were cool. Vau always looks depressed now, I miss her singing.”

If told the situation read aloud:

“Oh man, that’s bad, I saw their fights but I didn’t know about their dad... Okay I’ll help you out, Vau is usually in this clearing of the forest west of here during the evening. If you go during the day, you can find her tent but she’s usually off on a long walk. I don’t know where Pai went to, but I’ll tell you anything else I find out. I’ll get our house doctor to check up on the old man too, though I don’t know if he could do anything if it’s as bad as you say.” Ryan runs off and you realize that was way too much information.

Note: If the PCs stop Ryan or meet him again later, they can find out what was said during the girl’s fights.

Patching Things Up
If things are left as is, Aust will die without his daughters at his side, and their fight will take a turn for the worst. Emotionally unstable and used to solving problems with evocations, the blame game resulting from Aust's death will likely turn things violent.

The most straightforward way to patch things between them is to have a talk with both of them individually, and then get the two of them to meet and do some serious soul searching together without dissolving into too heated an argument (they need to argue a little). If the DM wishes this can be done with two diplomacy checks (DC 30) and then six more DC 25 checks over at least an hour(likely more) with both girls together. A calm emotions spell will stop a fight, but also dulls their affections for one another, which they need to come to terms with in order to progress.

An interesting approach would be to pretend to be “bad guys” and attack one of the girls in front of the other one. The resulting dramatic tension would cause the second girl to come to the aid of her love and do a lot to clear the girl's heads. The obvious downside is that this might result in a dead PC.

Aust would prefer the girls not need to make him a deathbed promise to get along and he'll tell the PCs so. Still, if the girls have made progress but need a final push, the PCs could drop the bomb that their father is dying and wants to see them.

Two NPCs will readily help the PCs if asked, those being Miles and Ryan from the Gathering Information section above. Miles is a friend of the girls, and his presence gives the PCs a +2 bonus on diplomacy checks with respect to the girls. Ryan is only thirteen but he will do anything the PCs ask short of murder to get the girls together. He has quite a talent for thieving and stalking.

Aftermath
Changing the fate of the Liadons is entirely up to the PCs, without them as a sort of chaos factor, things will not go well.

If things go well and the girls make up and see their father before he dies, he will be elated and give the PCs treasure worth a CR 12 encounter. However he will die of old age a few days later, and if the PCs are still around they will be invited to the funeral. The girls will be sad of course, but there will be obvious signs that things are better now and they will move forward with their lives.

If things turn out badly it could result in the entire Liadon family perishing in a real tragedy. The PCs don't get anything unless they feel like looting their bodies/home.

Playing Vau and Pai

Vau

Look off into the distance a lot, in fact, look through people when you talk to them. Speak in a soft, calm voice. Smile softly, show anger with your words rather than actions. When sad or depressed, act a bit like a limp doll (I said a bit... no zombie motions). Keep a comfortable distance between you and others, if cornered, ask politely for space.

Pai
Speak with your hands, yell, laugh, and smile with teeth. Everything is interesting, ask questions of people who speak to you, but don’t pay too much attention to any one thing because everything is interesting. Sadness is crushing, when depressed, act like your light has gone out, and be a bit of a drama queen.

Pai & Vau together (as sisters)

Pai will orbit Vau like a comet, occasionally running off to investigate something, but always coming back to her sister with news or something to show. If Vau is particularly stationary, Pai might physically drag her along. Unlike with anyone else, Vau doesn’t as much as blink when Pai gets into her personal space. Their faces will gravitate together when speaking to each other privately.

Pai & Vau fighting
Couples fight because they care... strangers simply wouldn’t bother. The same is true for Pai and Vau. Pai is angry about their last encounter and Vau’s indecision, Vau is angry that Pai didn’t give her enough time, and for Pai’s inconsideration of the public’s eye. A horde of other minor things keep the fires burning, but these are typical lover/sibling issues and are not the true source of the argument. Their fighting, if done in front of the PCs, should be bewildering. One moment one of them wants to be sisters and the other wants to be lovers, then it reverses and the first wants to be lovers but now the other is angry and wants to leave. The chaotic and hypocritical nature of the argument should be obvious to any observer besides the girls, who are too caught up to notice. The multiple diplomacy checks mentioned above will get the girls on the same wavelength, which eventually would have happened naturally were it not for Aust’s impending death.

Pai & Vau together (as lovers)
When around comfortable company (The PCs, Aust, Miles, and possibly Ryan), the two will act like teenagers in their first relationship ever. Everything is new and exciting and they are simultaneously shy and gratuitous. Pai will shower Vau with kisses, hugs, and other public displays of affection. Vau will speak softly to her and they will occasionally both giggle about something. If one were to sum up the scene, you could call it “teeth rotting”.

When around company who may not be comfortable with a homosexual relationship (everyone else), the girls act infinitely more reserved. In this case the girls will sit together, but the only large sign of affection will be that at some point, Vau moves her hand to Pai’s and takes it, holding it softly as a calm reassurance. They will stay like this for as long as is convenient.

Stat Blocks

Pai-pahn Liadon
Human Female Sor10
Size/Type:
Medium Humanoid (Human)

Hit Dice: 10d4 + 20 (45 hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 16 (+2 Dex, +4 mage armor), touch 12, flat-footed 14

Base Attack/Grapple: +5/+5
Attack: dagger +5 melee (1d4) or +7 ranged (1d4)
Full Attack: dagger +5 melee (1d4) or +7 ranged (1d4)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.

Special Attacks: Spells
Special Qualities: -
Saves: Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +8
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 18

Skills: Bluff +17, Concentration +15, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Perform(dance) +7, Spellcraft +14
Feats: Spell Focus(Evocation), Spell Penetration, Empower Spell, Heighten Spell, Eschew Materials
Challenge Rating: 10
Treasure: Cloak of resistance +2, dust of appearance, ribbon of charisma +2 (hat slot), ring of counterspells (empty), ring of feather falling

Alignment: Neutral Good
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/6*/7/7/6/3; save DC 14 + spell level)
0th-arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, disrupt undead, flare (DC 15), mage hand, mending, prestidigitation, read magic; 1st-charm person, color spray, jump, mage armor, magic missle; 2nd-glitterdust, scorching ray, shatter (DC 17), Tasha's hideous laughter; 3rd-fireball (DC 18), fly, lightning bolt (DC 18); 4th-dimension door, shout (DC 19); 5th-telekinesis

*mage armor has already been cast. If the duration runs out while awake, cast again

Vau-pahn Liadon
Human Female Sor10
Size/Type: Medium Humanoid (Human)
Hit Dice:
10d4 (25 hp)

Initiative: +2
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
Armor Class: 16 (+2 Dex, +4 mage armor), touch 12, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +5/+4

Attack: dagger +4 melee (1d4-1) or +7 ranged (1d4-1)
Full Attack: dagger +4 melee (1d4-1) or +7 ranged (1d4-1)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Spells

Special Qualities: -
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +10
Abilities: Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 18
Skills: Bluff +12, Concentration +13, Knowledge (arcana) +15, Knowledge (geography, history, local, nature, religion, and the planes) +3, Move Silently + 7, Perform (sing) +7, Spellcraft +15

Feats: Blind-fight, Improved Counterspell, Craft Wondrous Item, Heighten Spell, Spell Penetration
Challenge Rating: 10
Treasure: Boots of elvenkind, cloak of resistance +2, pearl of power (1st-level spell), ribbon of charisma +2 (hat slot), ring of counterspells (empty); 500 gp

Alignment: Neutral Good
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/6*/7/7/6/3; save DC 14 + spell level)
0th-acid splash, arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, disrupt undead, mage hand, mending, prestidigitation, read magic; 1st-disguise self, obscuring mist, mage armor, shocking grasp, silent image; 2nd-invisibility, mirror image, resist energy, touch of idiocy; 3rd-dispel magic, major image, nondetection; 4th-ice storm, Evard's black tentacles; 5th-dominate person

* mage armor has already been cast. If the duration runs out while awake, go ahead and cast again

Aust Liadon is a venerable 10th level half-elf wizard, but is basically a noncombatant.

Combat
Round 1: Pai and Vau both will back away if possible and use their crowd control spells glitterdust and Evard’s black tentacles.

Round 2: If more than one person has not been caught by the tentacles, Vau will simply cast it again. If only one person is outside of the tentacles or there isn’t enough room to cast it again, she will blanket the area with ice storm. If threatened by a close range opponent, she will attempt a dominate person spell. Pai, if threatened, will retreat to a safe distance with dimension door or fly. If there is no immediate threat to herself or Vau, Pai will nuke as many opponents as possible with fireball or lightning bolt.

Round 3+: Specific threats should have been identified by now. Fighter types get hit with dominate person and telekinesis. Casters receive touch of idiocy and Pai will ready an action to hit them with an attack spell. Skirmishers like rogues will get scorching rays and dominate person. In the event of a monk being present, fly and mirror image will be used as defense, and black tentacles and magic missile will be used for offense.

Material Breakdown
Themes for this scenario include acceptance, anxiety, change, incest, loss, and of course love. When relationships between people change, there is always the threat of total destruction. Moving from friendship to love can be hard enough; one has to end before the other can really exist, and the transition is prone to failure. Vau and Pai’s relationship as sisters is ending and nothing can stop it. Whether they can build a romantic relationship from here is the question.

There is also a bit of a celestial theme. Pai is the sun, whose brilliance is amazing and sometimes painful. Vau is the moon, who cannot shine on her own, but does so beautifully with the help of the sun. Less obvious are the boy’s roles. Miles is like a comet; he once came close to the sun but has since moved on. Ryan is the stars, always watching from far away. Aust, with his lonely habits and theme of death, is the void of space itself. His death sets the scene for the coming tragedy.

A large number of details in this entry are left abstract in order to let the reader’s imagination run wild. Pai and Vau are never described physically and their age is never given. They are described as beautiful, but no specifics are given. The girls are in fact beautiful because they are in love. It is a similar situation to how people find themselves being hit on when they are in a relationship; their affections actually make them more desirable to others.

Similarly, the entry is almost devoid of any sense of time. The DM is encouraged to use whatever timeframe he or she feels is appropriate. Adjusting the time frame allows the DM to change the mood of the entry as desired. For instance, did Pai really give Vau enough time to think before she tried to take back her words? Is Pai being too anxious or is Vau dragging her feet? Also, if Aust’s death is months away, a more smooth transition is desirable and the entry makes for a good long roleplaying session. If it is only a matter of days, the threat is urgent and suddenly the “attack one of the girls to get them to make up” option has much more weight.

More Adventure

1: A little pervert
Vau and Pai’s sex life hasn’t been good lately, not through any fault of theirs but because Ryan’s constant peeping has them seriously creeped out. Rogues are hard to keep out of places, even with magical traps. In order to teach him a lesson they tricked him into accepting a polymorph spell from a scroll their father had. Thinking that some time as a woman would horrify a 13 year old boy, they turned him into a girl. Ryan was instead fascinated and delighted, and he met Raine shortly thereafter and the two started a very public relationship. Raine’s mother and Ryan’s father were furious, and now the town is in the throes of a witch-hunt: Lord Adonis has everyone in an uproar about deviant witches corrupting the young.

2: A big pervert

A young adult red dragon has come to town demanding virgins or else he’ll burn the place down. In a bid for time, Pai and Vau offered a two for one deal if he would put his demands off for a bit. They send word to the PCs, asking for their help. The dragon however is now correctly expecting a trap. He intends to slaughter the village in front of the two girls while they are tied to their posts and then make off with them as his prize.

The Coming of the Dragon

The Coming of the Dragon

On and on we fought, growing ever more desperate the closer our steady fallback brought us to the city square. When once we all arrived at our destination, we placed our backs to the central dais and resigned ourselves to bloody death as we made our peace with the gods. The enemy was almost upon us when first I spied the glint of sun on metallic scales. The earth shook as the beast landed violently upon the dais and roared a bellowing challenge to any that would dare approach us. In an instant we knew to a man that the battle had just been won.
- Excerpt from the writings of village elder Al-Radoh Rashid -

History:
The village of Wellspring has stood for almost three hundred years as the last watering hole before entering the harsh desert. In that time, there have been countless attempts to usurp control of the area’s water source from the villagers. Most of these attempts have come in the form of desert raiders, though more often than not, these raiding tribes are so small and unorganized that the village’s adobe walls and scant militia are able easily to turn them back. Roughly a century ago, however, a particularly charismatic tribal leader named He’ta Nagish united a dozen desert tribes under a single banner and launched an all out assault on the village of Wellspring. His forces were particularly successful at tearing down the walls and forcing their way into the village. Unfortunately for him, a copper dragon showed up unexpectedly to ruin his plans for conquest. Many of the invaders were disarmed and allowed to leave, but He’ta Nagish was eaten by the dragon before their eyes to serve as a warning against future incursions.

The dragon introduced himself as Ch’klichi’n’ah, but given that most of the population couldn’t understand the name, much less pronounce it, he was dubbed H’loo, the draconic word for “Savior.” A three-day celebration was thrown in H’loo’s honor. There were feasts, plays, and games, many of which, much to H’loo’s delight, were riddle games. After the third day, H’loo announced his intention to leave, but promised he would be back the next year. The villagers waited with anticipation, all the while planning a celebration to top the one before. True to his word, H’loo returned fifteen months later and the villagers were ready for him. Such a celebration had not been seen on this side of the desert for many years.

The Coming of the Dragon:
H’loo has come and gone every year since then, having returned more than a hundred times. Each year, a celebration begins the moment he lands on the dais in the central courtyard. Since the time of his visits vary within the year, the villagers begin planning the next celebration almost immediately after H’loo leaves. As a result, each celebration has been larger and more luxurious than the last and each is ready to kick off at a moment’s notice.

During the Coming of the Dragon celebration, many shops and the town hall building are closed for the holiday. Most workers and apprentices are given a day or two off to enjoy the celebration. The local constabulary isn’t so lucky, however, as the police force needs to be beefed up to deal with the unusually high volume of pickpockets and drunks that seem to appear during the festivities. Except for law enforcement personnel, obvious weapons are not allowed without peacebonds outside of the various contests. This includes obvious spellcasters, who must peacebond their index and middle fingers together. Anyone is welcome in the village during the celebration, though the guards are extra careful to look for known criminals trying to sneak in with the crowds.

During the three-day celebration, there is a 25% chance that a business will be closed on the first day, a 50% chance on the second day and a 25% chance on the third day. Town hall is always closed during the celebration and aside from making public speeches related to the festival, the mayor and his staff generally take a vacation to join in the celebration. Food and lodging-based businesses do not close for the festival.

Activities:
Over the years, many different types of games have debuted during the Coming of the Dragon celebration. The camel joust, where jousters ride camels over loose desert sand is a favorite. A melee, where competitors fight with blunted weapons in a mob until only one is left standing is always a crowd pleaser. Wrestling and archery have inspired many related contests. In recent years, a magical melee has become popular as well, where spellcasters use magic in a situation not unlike the warriors’ melee.

The most popular contest, however, is still H’loo’s riddle contest. For a small fee, H’loo will ask the competitor a riddle. If the competitor answers correctly, he gets double his investment in return. Alternately, the competitor may ask H’loo a riddle, which he must answer by the end of the festival. If the dragon cannot do so, H’loo will grudgingly provide them with a magical trinket, gem or other valuable piece from his hoard (which he will bring with him to the next celebration). The only rule of the riddle contest is that the answer must be something tangible that can be found within the city or the area surrounding (therefore “arrow,” “bread,” “the desert” or “Sparky, the mayor’s dog” are all legal, but “the Western Sea” or “the Red Moon” are not).

The second day of the celebration culminates with a reenactment of the day that H’loo showed up and saved the day. H’loo always plays the part of himself and he enjoys it when his roaring bellow actually frightens the villagers playing the part of the desert raiders. The reenactment is completed when a man-sized pastry cake is brought out and carved up. The cake is meant to represent the barbarian leader He’ta Nagish. The villagers that are lucky enough get a piece, as does H’loo.

The reenactment event takes place on the very same dais that H’loo perched upon during the battle the festival celebrates. With one notable exception, the dais has changed little since H’loo first came to Wellspring. It is a simple light brown platform made from several large blocks of sandstone that forms a 40ft circle in the center of the village’s central courtyard. The only major change to the dais over the years has been the addition of a carved representation of H’loo bellowing a rage-filled challenge towards the largest open space in the courtyard. Created to match the dais itself, this statue is carved from a single block of sandstone and stands as high as the carver’s shoulder (roughly 5ft) and as long as a hitched wagon (roughly 15ft).

The Dragon H’loo:
H’loo has never revealed why it was that he stopped to help the people of Wellspring. Many speculate that he was sent by the gods. Others claim that he had a beef with the raiders. Still others whisper that H’loo himself is a sort of guardian spirit that protects the village. Whatever the reason is, H’loo is not talking.

Though there is much speculation regarding the mysteries that surround the dragon, H’loo is extremely well-loved by the people of Wellspring. He is considered to be a paragon member of their village and is extended every courtesy. In turn, he treats the villagers respectfully, although he certainly isn’t above playing a friendly joke or two on them. H’loo genuinely loves the celebration and he thoroughly enjoys having a sort of “home away from home” to come to when he feels like interacting.

H’loo, Savior of Wellspring
Mature adult male copper dragon:
CR 16; Huge dragon (earth); Hit Dice 23d12+115; 295 hp; Init +0; Spd 40 ft. (6 squares), fly 150ft (poor); AC 30 (-2 size, +22 natural), 8 touch, 30 flat-footed; BAB/Grapple +23/+39; Atk +29 melee (2d8+8, bite); Full atk +29 melee (2d8+8, bite) and +27 melee (2d6+4, 2 claws) and +27 melee (1d8+4, 2 wings) and +27 melee (2d6+12, tail slap); SA breath weapon, crush, frightful presence, spell-like abilities, spells; SQ blindsense 60 ft., damage reduction 10/magic, darkvision 120 ft., dragon immunities, immune to acid, keen senses, spell resistance 23; AL NG; SV Fort +18, Reflex +13, Will +17; Str 27, Dex 10, Con 21, Int 18, Wis 19, Cha 18.
Skills and Feats: Appraise +20, Bluff +35, Diplomacy +19, Escape Artist +10, Hide +15, Intimidate +26, Jump +28, Knowledge (local) +16, Listen +31, Search +31, Sense Motive +19, Speak Language (Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Giant, Terran), Spot +31 Use Magic Device +24; Combat Reflexes, Flyby Attack, Multiattack, Persuasive, Power Attack, Skill Focus: Appraise, Skill Focus: Bluff, Snatch.

Breath Weapon (Su): 100 ft. line, damage 14d4 acid, Reflex DC 26; or 50 ft. cone, slow 1d6+7 rounds, Fort DC 26 negates.
Crush (Ex): area 15 ft. by 15 ft.; Small or smaller opponents take 2d8+12 of bludgeoning damage and must succeed on a DC 26 Reflex save or be pinned; grapple bonus +39.
Frightful Presence (Ex): 210-ft. radius, HD 22 or less, Will DC 25 negates.
Spider Climb (Ex): H’loo can climb on stone surfaces as though using the spider climb spell.

Spells: As a 9th level sorcerer.
Sorcerer Spells Known: (6/7/7/7/5; save DC 14 + spell level): 0— - dancing lights, daze, detect magic, flare, ghost sound, mage hand, prestidigitation, message; 1st - alarm, hypnotism, identify, silent image, ventriloquism; 2nd - blur, invisibility, minor image, scare; 3rd - blink, dispel magic, major image; 4th - greater invisibility, hallucinatory terrain.

Spell-like Abilities: 2/day -stone shape; caster level 9th.
Possessions: H’loo does not carry any possessions. His hoard contains 30,000 cp, 10,000 sp, 20,000 gp, 1,000 pp, 6,000 gp worth of random gems, 2,000 gp worth of art objects, 23 minor magical items, 8 medium magical items and 3 major magical items.

How To Use The Coming of the Dragon:

The Coming of the Dragon presents a DM with many potential uses.

I’ve Come To See A Man About A Dragon. The PCs need a powerful magic item that is rumored to be in the hoard of the dragon known locally as H’loo. Unfortunately for them, H’loo has never disclosed the location of his lair to anyone in the village, so the PCs must either wait for the inevitable Coming of the Dragon celebration or try to find the lair on their own. Asking around town might provide a clue in the form of a few residents that say the dragon always seems to come from the west, towards the mountains (Gather Information DC 12).

I’m The Greatest Fighter of All Time. One of the PCs is well known as a paragon of his trade. He’s a great wrestler or magician or entertainer&something for which an event exists during the Coming of the Dragon celebration. While there, H’loo recognizes the PC by reputation and compliments him on his abilities. This generates a profound amount of respect from the townspeople, who practically treat that PC like royalty for the duration of his stay.

H’loo, H’loo, Where Are You, H’loo? It has been almost a year and a half since H’loo graced Wellspring with his presence. The villagers are beginning to get extremely worried about “their” dragon. The mayor of Wellspring hires the PCs to investigate and find out if H’loo is alright. To make matters worse, a few weeks ago, a villager reported seeing a red dragon flying in the western sky.

What In The Nine Hells??? The PCs stop in the village of Wellspring during their travels. Interestingly enough, they just happen to wander into town the day that H’loo returns for the year. How will the PCs react to seeing a dragon land in the middle of town like it owns the place?

You’s The Mangy Dogs What Killed My Pa! The PCs are enjoying the festivities during the celebration when an angry bellow from the dragon stops the entire village in its tracks. The dragon has recognized (mistakenly or not) the PCs as a group that broke into his lair and stole items from his hoard. The PCs will have to think and act quickly to avoid getting eaten by the dragon or lynched by the villagers.

Roadside Ambush

This is a short EL13 encounter for four to six player characters (PCs) of 10th-12th level. The encounter takes place on a road cut through a heavily wooded area. It may take place in any type of area or climate. While a map is provided, the DM is encouraged to add his or her own flair to the encounter, perhaps by adding rough terrain to the map or by altering the positions of some of the antagonists.

The orc archers and berserkers in this encounter are not carrying any treasure except for their gear. If the PCs survive the encounter and wish to rid the area of orcs completely, they can track fleeing survivors or pick up the orcs’ arriving trail to a war camp four miles into the forest. The DM is encouraged to populate this camp as he or she sees fit, but may want to add an additional 2d4x100gp worth of looted treasure to the area to make up for the lack of treasure carried by the orc archers and berserkers.

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