Timeless

So it’s been just over a year since I started this website. In that time I’ve put up over 44 unique encounters, all with stories, maps, new monsters, combat hooks, and, hopefully, some cool ideas to inspire your game. Not exactly the 1 per week quota I was aiming for, but close enough I suppose.

I’ve thought several times about abandoning the site, since the traffic is nothing impressive and I wasn’t sure people were finding any use from the content here. This was originally supposed to be a year-long experiment, and I have other projects to take up my time. That being said, I’m going to try and keep it going and add to the encounters and class designs. I have plans to start an epic, long campaign in the next few months, so it’s possible that the content might follow a larger story – with a new addition each week or so – level by level. I’ve yet to decide exactly what to do. Until then, I’ll do my best to update regularly.

Now, on with it!

Timeless is a short adventure designed for five 6th to 8th-level players. The Tower of Temporus is under attack from within by a chronomancer’s rogue apprentice, Huductis. The players must enter the tower and put an end to the chronomancer’s plans, traveling through time as the fight progresses.

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)

Time has always been the one immutable stricture of the world; the one truth on which all others gain purchase. Even the sun must obey the power of time, rising and falling with rigid consistency; indeed, nothing escapes the grasp of passing days, months, or years. However, some disagree. The brave few, familiar with dire need and urgency, know better than to trust the rules of the world, and declare–with absolute certainty–that time is instead a fickle beast, pandering to chaos and unrest. When most desired, it evaporates into nothing–gone in an instant–leaving behind regrets and missed opportunities. If willed to pass, it mocks with a cruel ubiquity; time slows its pace to a near halt. Some speak of relativity, of an unchanging phenomenon experienced by stressed minds­, but others know better than to accept such a simple explanation for lost moments and lost lives.

Exploring these mysteries of time is an order of chronomancers called the Ageless. Such mages are found within the Tower of Temporus, a magic structure that is able to contain the temporal anomalies within its impossibly ancient walls. Here, the Ageless bend the rules of time and space to peer into the future and, sometimes, attempt to correct the past. Such acts can have disastrous consequences; a conservative mind and steady will are irreplaceable for time mages looking to breach and transcend beyond the invisible limits of the universe; a seemingly meaningless mistake can ripple throughout history in less than an instant. Because of this, those wishing to learn the secrets of chronomancy must under the most rigorous tests and trials­—if even one malicious apprentice gained knowledge of the order’s magic, kingdoms would fall and lives would cease to ever exist.

Though they do their best to defend against evil intentions, any member of the order would say that time is, at its heart, a wait for the inevitabilities of life. As if to prove their point, an apprentice of the order­—a particularly powerful and ambitious chronomancer named Huductis—suddenly unleashed a serious of attacks on the other mages in an attempt to seize control of the tower. Though suffering heavy losses, the Ageless was able to eventually fight off Huductis and, sealing the young chronomancer in a temporal prison deep within the tower. But Huductis, not to be forgotten, retained control of many of the order’s most powerful artifacts and been growing in power; he has begun breaking down the chronomancers’ spells, threatening to tear the tower and the Ageless apart with his escape. It appears, ironically, that it is only a matter of time before Huductis is released, and there’s no telling where­—or when—he will unleash his wrath.


The Loremaster’s Curse

This week’s adventure is a tribute to Matt James and his website, loremaster.org. Matt regularly creates new and interesting D&D content for DMs and players alike, and his website name inspired an easy encounter based on his exploits. Visit his site and contribute to the forums, or follow him on twitter.

The Loremaster’s Curse is a standalone encounter designed for five 12th to 14th-level adventurers. The soul of an ancient dragon has cursed a scholar, forcing him to release monsters contained within the books of a long lost library. The players must fight back several waves of legendary creatures before taking on the dragon in an attempt to release the loremaster from the library’s grasp.

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)

The winding canyons of Jemas hold many secrets, but even more dangers. Built long before history could remember, the canyon walls give way to intricate sculptures and ornately-crafted temples, carved into the canyons and leading deep into the surrounding mountains. Those brave—or foolish—enough to enter these ancient buildings will tread through the tunnels and hallways left by a forgotten culture; there are few answers as to why the temples are now vacant, or why they were ever there at all. Each room holds antiquities, history, and treasure for the taking, though local tribes warn against such thievery—those who do remove items often disappear without a trace.

Many scholars are drawn to the temple to learn from its history and artifacts, hoping to gain more knowledge and understanding of the past. One such visitor is a scholar known as Mathas, a prominent mind in the world of ancient lore and history. Using his keen mind and experience, it wasn’t long before Mathas discovered a secret chamber within the canyons—an expansive library known as the Halls of Knowledge. Within these annals are seemingly endless scrolls of history, chronicles of ancient battles, and archives about Jemas, years ago, under the rule of a cruel group of dragonkin known as the Pantheon of Urlux.

Entranced by his magnificent find, Mathas began to digest the knowledge within the books and scrolls, eventually stumbling upon an ancient book adorned with draconic emblems. The book, somehow free of dust and the decay of time, seemed to speak to Mathas, intimately guiding him through the history of Jemas and the Pantheon of Urlux and leading the unsuspecting loremaster through a series of magical phrases and rituals that released a soul fragment of one of the pantheon’s malicious leaders—General Xaldraxis.

Freed from the book, Xaldraxis possessed the body of Mathas, using his magical prowess and knowledge to release the legendary monsters contained within the pages of the library. Now, beset upon by the mythical creatures of the cursed loremaster, the people of Jemas look to others for help. Each day, Mathas discovers more powerful entities within the annals; the canyons won’t be able to hold them back for long. It’s only a matter of time before the future of Jemas becomes lost to its own history.


The Golden Hand

This week’s post is a 3-encounter adventure based on the first post I made here back in January. I’m a little embarrassed by the writing/mechanics/damage errors I made before, so I had been planning to update this one for a while. Enjoy!

The Golden Hand is a short adventure designed for five 9th to 11th-level adventurers. The city of Macetol is a paragon of peace, a shining example of justice and order. But beneath its golden streets lies a terrible secret; a violent past that threatens to reclaim power and return the city to tyranny.

The players will descend below the city to stop the ghosts of an order of fanatical knights, fighting off restless souls, a cabal of conspiring clerics, and finally the spirits of the knights and their zealous leader.

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)

Led by a dedicated order of paladins following the will of Bahamut, the city of Macetol is a paragon of peace, justice, and order in a world rife with chaos. But things were not always so calm inside the golden walls. Long ago, during a period of civil unrest, a paladin named Arturius was given absolute power to deal with the rampant crime and corruption.

Calling themselves the Order of the Golden Hand, Arturius and his council of knights decreed a state of martial law upon the city, believing the only way to bring back peace and order was through controlling the population and destroying those that opposed their rule. Serving a perverted sense of order, Arturius and his knights ruled from an ornately decorated table, perfectly round­—indicating that all men are equally accountable to the laws of Macetol.

The Order of the Golden Hand ruled the city without tolerance; those accused of dissent and sedition were executed, and the smallest crimes given excessive sentencing without a trial. After years of oppression, the denizens of the city fought back against Arturius and his council, subduing them. As a punishment for their atrocities, a group of wizards bound their souls to the round table, imprisoning Arturius and his council within. The temple itself was buried, and a new temple of Bahamut built on the remains.

Centuries passed, and the people of Macetol began to create a fiction in order to forget their darkest hour—a virtuous story of Arturius and his noble order, who defended the city during its golden age and now rest in a sacred chamber beneath their beloved temple. There are few left who know the truth of Arturius, and they dare not mar the memory of the city’s greatest hero.

But now, the past threatens to return. After a devastating earthquake, the entrance to the temple below was unearthed, the table broken, and the knights released. Those brave enough to investigate have been lost, and those above speak of a dark presence—whispers heralding the city’s return to true order.


Dragoon Paragon Paths

I’ve updated the Dragoon class with 4 Paragon Paths and 10 class feats, as well as updating and tweaking a lot of the damage and abilities. I’ve been doing a lot of testing with it lately, and all of that has finally been implemented. I’m especially proud of the Cloudwalker path and Super Jump (FF tactics fans will appreciate it), so hope you all enjoy it. I have many of the paragon and heroic powers finished, but I’ll post them when testing is complete.

Download: PDF

Major changes were:

  • With Skysoul Focus, you can jump an additional 2 squares with Leap the first time you use it in an encounter. This makes it easier to initiate combat and still have momentum.
  • All of the non-weapon attacks now target non-AC, as it was harder to hit with those attacks without the weapon bonuses and feats.
  • Drake hit points and damage have been adjusted.
  • One of the paragon paths allows you to dump the drake companion. In exchange, you can reroll 1s and 2s on the Momentum damage dice and jump farther.
  • Coupled Strikes has been adjusted so as not to be as ridiculously overpowered as the Ranger’s Twin Strike.

By Skin & Teeth

By Skin & Teeth is a standalone encounter designed for five 4th to 6th-level adventurers. A horrible curse has returned, transforming the residents of Remulos into monstrous werewolves. The players must fight off the monsters and bring an end to the horror, while trying to resist the curse’s power.

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)

The town of Remulos has a dark past. A century ago, as legend tells it, a strange disease crept over the city’s residents, triggered by moonlight and transforming many people into fearsome monsters. These abominations slaughtered most of the population, flaying the skin from their victims and devouring the rest. The townsfolk fought back and killed all of the monsters, burning the bodies and dumping the remains into a nearby chasm, condemning the monsters, and the memory of them, to the depths of the abyss.

Ever since, the ancient mine shafts leading to the abyss have released a ghostly wind, howling incessantly as it swirls through the tunnels below. There are few alive who believe the story, though even the skeptics were unwilling to enter the howling mines of Remulos, and, when the moon is full, the streets are empty—doors locked and windows bolted.

Now, a hundred years after the events supposedly transpired, strange things have started happening. Bodies have been found, partially-eaten, the skin removed. People have become ill, often disappearing within days of the sickness. Rumors of monsters­—giant wolf-like creatures—prowling in the forest surrounding Remulos, have been spreading throughout the houses of the terrified townsfolk—rumors that are all too familiar. And a full moon shines so very bright.


Cragos the Godslayer

Cragos the Godslayer is a standalone encounter designed for five 10th to 12th-level adventurers. The people of Coltaris are under attack by an elder dragon named Colytariaz, who has sent her champion, Cragos the Godslayer, to disable the city’s magical defenses. The players must fight off Cragos and reset the city’s shield in a multi-phase solo encounter.

Download: PDF | PDF (nomap)

The city of Coltaris is a mysterious place. Resting between snowy mountain peaks and serving as home to a seclusive culture of elves, the city has a reputation for a strange and pervasive form of lightning magic. Present throughout the whole city as a low, crackling hum and faint, blue glow, this lightning magic serves as a power source for lights, carriages, heaters, and many other everyday devices; there are few homes or shops not powered by this magical essence; it has been the standard for living in Coltaris for over a century, and most of the residents have little or no idea as to the source of its power­­—which may be for the best.

Buried deep below the city of Coltaris, an elder blue dragon of the same name lies dormant, suspended in stasis and held hostage by the city’s residents. Weak and near death, the dragon Coltaris had returned to its cave to finish out its last few hours, when a group of elves, searching for some relief from a passing blizzard, stumbled upon the dying dragon and panicked. Long familiar with magic, the elves managed to subdue Coltaris in his frail state, harnessing the dragon’s essence and discovering its power. Now, held in place by advanced rituals and magical runes, the dragon is helpless, its essence ever-so-slowly being drained to power the city above through the residents’ twisted lightning magic.

However, their actions did not go unnoticed. A younger dragon of the same bloodline, Colytariaz, has learned the fate of Coltaris and come to end the perversion of her clan. Showering the city with relentless attacks, halting only long enough to gather more minions and regain her strength, Colytariaz refuses to end her assault on the people of Coltaris until the elder dragon is released. To stop her attacks, the sorcerers of Coltaris have erected an enormous dome of magical energy, attuned from the essence of the elder dragon Coltaris and capable of affecting any dragons of the same bloodline. This magical field covers the entire city, repelling the attacks and magic of Colytariaz and preventing her from entering the city and massacring the people inside.

Determined to breach the city’s perimeter, Colytariaz has summoned the help of a notorious mercenary, Cragos the Godslayer, a bluespawn dragonkin with a love for causing havoc and pain. Promising Cragos her entire stash of treasure if he can bring down the city’s shield and grant her entry, Colytariaz has marked the people of Coltaris for death—and Cragos shall carry out her wish.


Mind & Iron

I ended up expanding A Life, Deconstructed into a full short adventure of three unique encounters for my own group, so I thought I’d fix it up and share–I’m really happy with how this came out. Also, this is the second 3-encounter adventure in two weeks, which means I’m caught up with my missed weeks. Hooray, self-imposed quotas!

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)

Mind & Iron is a short adventure designed for five 7th to 9th-level adventurers. The rural farming village of Casai was not prepared for Movasi and his Magnificent Mechanicals of Mind and Iron, automated mechanisms that have begun replacing the villagers, one by one. The players will fight off a pride of hungry lions, then follow the clues to Movasi’s shop, where they will fight some of the new mechanicals he has created, then confront Movasi himself, fighting him in the heart of his factory.

I won’t post the story again, since you can find it in another post, but here’s a summary of the adventure’s encounters:

Though they are presented in a particular order, the encounters can vary or be used wherever they might fit within your narrative. There are several hooks provided to move the adventure along, and each encounter includes flavor text to transition into the next area.

Encounter 1: The Plains of Casai
The players stumble upon a small pride of lions that have just killed a young girl; the beasts attack the intruders to defend their prey.

Encounter 2: The Showroom
The players enter Movasi’s shop, and are attacked by an assortment of mechanicals from the artificer’s display area.

Encounter 3: The Assembly Line
The players corner Movasi in the assembly line of his shop, and must defeat him and the mechanicals defending him.

Updated Wheel of Fate

Thanks for all the feedback on the Wheel of Fate! A lot of people weren’t happy with the effects and thought many of them were either unclear, hard to narrate, or just plain terrible. ;) I compiled suggestions from everyone and remade the wheel to be a little more consistent (though equally evil).

Special thanks to enworld for the always-useful criticism, and Chris Sims, who helped redesign a lot of the effects and clarify the language of the effects.

The links have all been updated, but here’s the download: PDF

Notable changes:

Two tiles grant combat advantage until the end of your next turn.

Two smaller tiles have been added: one lets you reroll the original attack, and the other loses a healing surge.

Fall Prone has been changed to Move 1d4 Squares or Fall Prone.

Blind or Slowed (player’s choice) was basically slowed, since that’s all players would choose. Updated to reflect that.

End Your Turn has changed to No Actions until You Spend a Minor, which is basically just losing a minor action.

Reroll Attack Against Nearest Ally in Range was meant to only be a basic attack, and though I mentioned it in the post, it wasn’t clear on the wheel; this has been changed to a static 5 damage per tier to the nearest ally.

Take Damage Equal to Your Level is now just a static 5 damage per tier.

Wheel of Fate

The Wheel of Fate is a fun way for your players to deal with critical misses when attacking. If the DM can’t think of anything particularly fitting that should happen, then the player spins the Wheel of Fate to determine the effect.

Download: PDF

A lot of people prefer not to penalize their players for critical attack misses, but I think it adds a little fun and challenge to a game routinely dominated by powerful PC synergy. If you do use critical misses and want to give the Wheel a try, I’d recommend not applying it to dailies, as many dailies still deal damage and effects on misses (and missing a daily is punishment enough most of the time). If you want to use the Wheel for encounter or daily critical misses and it lands on the “Reroll attack against nearest player in range” effect, just have the player reroll a melee or ranged basic attack instead – this was the original intent, I just couldn’t fit it on the wheel tile. :P

Most of the time as a DM there’s some obvious effect for a critical miss; if they’re balancing on a beam while attacking, they fall; if they’re throwing something, it hits someone else; and so on. The Wheel is primarily for when, as a DM, you really can’t come up with anything that seems to fit. Tell the player to give it a spin and then narrate the effect into your game.

Besides being fun to spin and watch, I had a super secret reason for making the Wheel: to reduce stress, irritation, and animosity at the table. When a player rolls a critical 1, they often expect a punishment from the DM, who has to come up with an effect on the fly – one that usually is ill-received and often argued. The player can often feel like the DM is picking on them personally, and the DM deals with a little bit of stress while determining whether to take it easy or not. When the player spins the wheel themselves, they 1) have a chance of landing on “No Effect”, and 2) inflict their own punishment – they don’t get upset or angry at the DM for singling them out or ‘screwing them over’.

Unmasked

I’ve been busy lately and missed the past two weeks, but this week’s adventure has 3 full encounters and 5 quick and easy skill challenges, all wound together in a thrilling chase. Each encounter has a full map to cut out and use, and there is full flavor text for every scene, skill challenge, and chase contingency. Enjoy!

Unmasked is a short adventure for five 3rd to 5th-level players, taking place during a masquerade festival in a crowded city. The players will engage in a fast-paced chase through the city’s streets, facing a series of short skill challenges and quick encounters in an attempt to keep up with and apprehend a masked villain.

The city of Illodaunt has always been a strange town, shrouded in mystery. Founded centuries ago by an assortment of exiled magical folk and creatures, the city quickly exploded into a haven for exiled or displaced wizards, sorcerers, and unusual creatures. Nothing is quite what it seems when traveling through Illodaunt, and that’s how its residents like it.

The crooked streets and winding alleys reflect the features of such inhabitants; arcane-powered lamps float above the cobbled roads, buildings twist and turn as they move and change each day, and alleys seem to vanish as fast as new ones appear. Accompanying these oddities is an assortment of illustrious and mysterious merchants known as the bazaar; no magical item is too rare or expensive for them to offer.

But for all its wonders, the city is rarely visited by the curious folk that might most appreciate it. The majority of Illodaunt’s residents were ostracized or discriminated against by non-magical beings, and are quite unfriendly toward such visitors; those stubborn enough to ignore the warnings and enter the city have often been attacked, killed, or disappeared entirely.

However, once a year, Illodaunt opens its gates to the whole world, inviting both magic and non-magic folk into its streets for a week-long celebration known as A Thousand Masks. For one short week, everyone in the city is considered equal; both residents and visitors are given festive masks and together they revel in the streets with drink, dance, and—of course—magic.

During this time, the outsiders are permitted to buy and trade with the bazaar, a privilege that draws in all manner of interested parties. The bazaar, aware of this, saves many of its best items for the festival; its carts line the streets, offering a taste of magic to the eager buyers. One can find nearly anything among their wares, though—more often than not—they will wish they hadn’t.

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)