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Sunday, October 21, 2018

White Plume Mountain!

So, I felt like running a nostalgic game with my childhood friends (some of whom have children of their own by now...).

Here is how it went:


The Cast:

  • A druid with a knack for troubleshooting
  • A paladin who likes to sing... but really shouldn't
  • A cleric who makes Ned Flanders look mean
  • A monk bounty hunter with a personal grudge against Sir Bluto


Big toys for big boys...
White Plume report #1

  • Met a gnome witch in a hut near Gnometown and paid her a handsome sum to curse Sir Bluto the PedoKnight with impotence, penile bleeding and nightmares.
  • Befriended the Sphinx and promised to get her shampoo and cosmetics next time they meet, and find her a nicer dungeon to riddle after they are done with this one.
  • Passed the heat metal room by casting dispel magic. Boring but effective. Paladin learned an important lesson about metal underwear.
  • Used a pile of dead ghouls to fill in the pits in the frictionless room then skidded over to victory. The word "corpse" was uttered so many times in this conversation it was decided to say "resources" instead.
  • Solved the inverse ziggurat by dropping a miniaturized magic tower on it, ant-man style. Two manticores survived only to be hacked to death seconds later.
  • The oni guarding blackrazor saw this display of maniacal power and decided to parlay instead of fighting. In return for granting his safe passage and dispelling the spell compelling him to serve Karaptis, he told the PCs where he hid the sword.
  • The PCs decided the sword was too evil to return to the city. The cleric shifted to a random plane to throw away the evil sword. The plane happened to be third layer of hell. He got a thorough beating for his trouble, but did succeed in getting rid of the sword... by giving it to a random devil... victory?
  • Feeling they've had enough, the PCs decided to take a break and return to get the other items on the following day.
It's a very civil sort of sphinx...


White Plume report #2


  • Had morning tea and cake with the sphinx. Breakfast threatened to consume the whole day until a gentle but stern rebuke from the monk reminded the party they had a mission and that this mission wasn't throwing the best tea party ever. Finally free of the curse of the singing paladin, the gnomes thanked him profusely. 
  • poked all the way through the corridor until discovering green slime by poking it with a 10-foot pole, which subsequently became a 7-foot pole that smells funny. Passed over by freezing the water.
  • saw a dead elf in the globes room, decided to give it a pass because they were sent to retrieve magic weapons, not dead elves. Cleric quoted an obscure Tolkien quote to honor the dead elf.
  • ran into a group of math golems. Answered their riddle before the golem had time to finish speaking. In appreciation of the party's academic skills, one golem came along in the role of a clay bulldozer. Druid tried to make small talk with the walking statue. Failed.
  • monk saw a metal thingy in the corridor, asked golem to smash it.
  • reached the cavern of boiling mud and hanging chains. The paladin crossed first to form a rope bridge for his comrades. He nearly fell into the boiling mud, but fortune spared him.
  • vampire tried to charm the paladin as soon as the latter reached the far end of the cavern, only to discover that the paladin is immune to charming. Disappointed, the vampire simply pushed the paladin into the boiling mud. This time the paladin was less fortunate.
  • paladin was cooked to single digit hp but saved his life by using his shield as a surfing board and consuming every healing thing in his possession. With the help of his good friends and the moral support of his less good friends, he defeated the vampire and retrieved the magic talking hammer Whelm. Speaking with a thick German accent, the hammer stated that it's time to commence the final solution of the greenskin problem.
  • cleric prepared to throw the hammer into another plane just as he did with the evil talking sword Blackrazor, because apparently this is what clerics do now. Party stopped him. It was explained to him that not every item he finds needs to be thrown into a different dimension. Cleric found the concept puzzling and decided to consult the commentaries.
  • druid excused himself and made a quick foray into the vampire's lair to answer a call of nature. He noticed the vampire reformed inside a coffin so he did unto the vampire as the lord god commandeth before doing the original thing he planned to do in the lair.
  • armed with a magic talking hammer and a pale hot chick they found in the vampire's lair (and who is totally not a vampire), the party headed back to gnome town for some well deserved R&R.
  • Now rich on gold and gems, the PCs started creating jobs and opportunities for the local community. They hired another witch to curse Sir Bulto the Knight Pedophile some more, and payed young men to guard the tavern where the PCs sleep, and others to build a makeshift prison. Monk explained that this proves that trickle down economy works.
Okay, maybe not THAT giant...
White Plume Report #3

  • The next morning the party returned to the dungeon and went north until they reached the kelpie pool.
  • The paladin gave the kelpies the most terrifying speech ever after they failed to charm him. Following this, the kelpies reduced their hostilities to whining and nagging and so the room was traversed without casualties.
  • As the party started down the corridor, Bucket the evil fighter spotted the monk, starting a long exchange of PG-13 insults. Enraged, the monk set the corridor on fire, charged, slipped on the oil (just as the corridor began to revolve) and caught on fire. The invisible werewolf wizard joined the fray by throwing a fireball and setting the rest of the party on fire. The paladin charged, slipped on the oil and caught on fire as well.
  • The cleric sighed and used stone shape to arrest the revolving corridor. The druid sighed and summoned a pack of wolves to ravage the evil fighter. The wizard turned into a werewolf and attempted to command the wolves to stop eating her boyfriend. Sadly, the druid pointed out that the wolves aren't really wolves, but wolf-shaped spirits. Confused, the wolves/ wolf-shaped spirited decided to just go on eating the fighter. 
  • The cleric used remove curse to de-wolf the wizard on account of remove curse having no saving throw. Naked, embarrassed and with her hp in the single digits, she surrendered. Her boyfriend is nothing more than wolf burps at this point. Paladin starts lecturing her about the RICO act and how it applies to her situation.
  • Drained and cooked, the PCs decided to rest in the wizard and fighter's room. A soldier sent by Bulto arrives to discuss the knight's terms of surrender. Having suffered increasingly horrifying curses for a whole week, the evil knight desires to forsake all earthly wealth, convert to the one true faith, and live out the rest of his days as a humble monk. The party accepts. Monk refuses a duel with the knight on the grounds of duels being stupid.
  • The party proceeded to the final encounter with the huge, giant, ludicrously big, very huge crab. The druid sent in the bears. The crab sliced them to ribbons. The druid then sent in the wolves. They were cooked alive as the crab made a small tear in the force bubble. Horrified, the party retreated and used stone shape to bypass the seals as the bubble started to collapse (the cleric made many more holes in it, you see...) 
  • The doors bend under the pressure, but hold as millions of tons of boiling water shoot the crab and the last sentient item outside the mountain. The party leaves the dungeon, giving cakes to any surviving monsters they meet on the way. The cleric takes the magic talking trident Wave to Mount Celestia and hands it to a random angel because he's fucking insane like that.  
  • Armed with Whelm, two penitent prisoners, and one friendly sphinx (the kelpies decided to stay in their pool and the soldiers just went home to mommy), the party started on the journey home, discussing how RICO legislation applies to dungeon monsters and considering viable investment venues for their newfound wealth.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Spirit Journey Adventure

This metaphysical spirit quest to save a young princess from a misguided spirit is very loosely inspired by the peoples of the Pacific Ocean. However, it can easily be adapted to almost any setting that includes small islands and big spirits. I have run it many times with players aged 9-12, most of which have actually managed to complete it in 90 minutes. I think that of all the mini-games I ran last year, this one was the most popular.

Background
The king of a small island has found a way to ensure survival and prosperity of his beleaguered kingdom. Through supreme diplomatic efforts, he’s arranged for his daughter to marry the king of a much larger and stronger island that will protect his subject from their predatory neighbors. The preparations for a lavish wedding flotilla are underway and the whole island is rejoicing. However, there is a small problem: just one day shy of the wedding, the girl went to sleep and didn’t wake up. The king’s physicians found nothing wrong with her body and so the best shamans of the land were summoned to save her spirit.

Enter the PCs.

Preliminary Investigation
The following information can be learned from the physical world:

  • Examination of the Princess will reveal that she is in perfect health.
  • Journeying into her dreams will reveal a terrified little child cowering in the corner from a shadowy figure with a sword. The figure is mostly concealed in darkness, but when lightning strikes, an observant shaman will notice that it has a yellow beard and is dressed in a blue coat.
  • Speaking with the elders will reveal that the only person with yellow beard they have ever seen was an outlander who was killed forty years ago when his party landed on the shore.
  • Going to the monument for the slain foreigners will reveal a considerable thinning of the veil in that location, as if a spirit forced its way between the worlds time and again.
  • Questioning anyone of the princess’ relative will reveal that she’s gone to bed quite morose and angry. They assume that the cause for her bad mood is the fact that she is engaged to a man older than her father and with a dozen children her age or older. This may cause the PCs to think that she’s done something to herself. However, this isn’t the case: The Princess a dutiful islander and wouldn’t dare to put her own dreams and ambitions ahead of those of her people. Furthermore, she told her friends that she was very excited about marrying a great king from another island. The man may not be young, but his courage and wisdom are the stuff of legends.
  • Speaking to her friends will be more helpful. They will reveal she’d been seeing a terrible man with a yellow beard lately both in dreams and in reality. However, since no one else has seen the man, her fears were dismissed as a childish fancy.

The Antagonist
The princess is possessed by the ghost of a sailor from a doomed expedition. He was killed on the beach almost forty years ago after a member of his crew foolishly attacked the islanders who came to greet the newcomers. His restless spirit wondered the land for decades, causing children to cry at night and adults to wake up covered in cold sweat. Finally, the king consulted a wise shaman who told him that a proper burial would appease the spirit. During the ceremony, the princess had placed a wreath on the monument erected to appease the restless dead. This act of genuine kindness created a one sided connection between the living girl and the dead sailor. For years, the spirit has protected the child from minor mishaps. However, when it learned that she was to be wed to another man and leave the island, he flew into a rage and trapped her in a tower of smoke and doubt.

The Protagonists
The power of a shaman stems from his mana. Mana can be gained in three ways: violence, love and contact with lava.
Violence: killing a foe restores 1-3 mana, based on how hard the fight was.
Love: gestures of love restore 1-3 mana, based on how passionate they are.
Volcano: touch the lava. It hurts. Each wound restores 1 mana.

All shamans can cast the following spells. The number that follows each spell is its mana cost:
True Sight (3): understand the true form and function of a single object or person.
Attack Spirit (2): use a physical attack with one extra die to hurt a spirit.
Spirit Journey (3): enter a person’s dream or journey to the spirit world.
Control Weather (7): cause any natural phenomenon to occur within 1d6 rounds. This can be anything ranging from a light breeze to a moderate tsunami.
Conjure Animal (3): summon a single power animal to help you. In addition to providing physical help, the animal can also bestow one of its aspects on the shaman. For example: the eagle can grant great eyesight, the boar can grant superb sense of smell, the turtle can grant patience and wisdom and so forth. You may only have one power animal at a time.
Speak with Dead (3): Ask three yes-or-no questions of a corpse that still has a mouth and a larynx.
Speak with Spirits (2): Ask three yes-or-no questions of any animal, nature or elemental spirit. It is compelled to answer truthfully.
Cure Wounds (5): restore 1d6+1 wounds to a single injured creature.

The System
Each shaman starts with ten mana and ten traits to be shared between body, mind, spirit, and one skill of their choice (1 min, 6 max). All tests are 1d6+trait+special skill-wound traits vs. DC of GM’s choice (usually 3-12). Each time a character is injured, he replaces one trait of their choice with a wound trait. A character with ten or more wound traits dies.
Attacks are opposed tests. A successful attack inflicts a number of wounds equal to the sum of the attacker’s roll after the defenders roll was distracted from it. To this number, the attack may add a weapon rating and the defender may subtract his armor rating. Shamans are usually armed with clubs (+2 dmg) or spears (-1 atk/ +3 dmg) and protected with wicker shields (+2 def).

Spirit Quest
In order to reach the spirit world where the princess is held by the sailor, the players must go on a journey through four intermediary worlds. Each world contains a gate to the next world that can only be unlocked by completing a quest. Since it can be very frustrating to get stuck facing the same riddle for ages, each world has a built in clue system GMs can use to help stuck players.

The World of Man
This is the physical plane. To leave it, a soul must leave its flesh behind and transcend into the spiritual. Any shaman can easily do this by casting Spirit Journey.



The World of Self Deception
This world looks exactly like ours, expect that all the works of Man are absent from it. People behave like mindless beasts. Animals can talk and think. Trees are the wisest of all beings. They are so wise, in fact, that the only words in their language a mortal can comprehend are “yes” and “no”. There are doors everywhere that lead to random spots on the island or nowhere at all. Water hurts like fire while flames are cool and refreshing. The Princess can be glimpsed often, but she is but an illusion. To solve this world, a shaman must jump into the crater of an active volcano.
Flavor: A boar and a gazelle are taking their morning constitutional on the beach. There is a door leading into a random spot in the jungle on the side of the boar. The boar is melodramatic and posh, feigning extreme outrage at the very mention of going through the door. The gazelle is a cynic who makes light of the situation. Both are urbane and sophisticated to the point of parody. If they are attacked, they call the whale who walks to the beach. The whale arrives in 1d6 rounds, brandishing a massive club and fully intent on murdering the PCs. There is nothing funny about that.
Reward: The first person to jump into the crater finds a key-shaped knife in their pocket as they emerge into the next world.
Clues: A tree can suggest the PCs to do something dangerous as surely it would be healthy for them in this world. A PC can notice that the illusionary princess smells of fire and brimstone.



The World of Fiery Wrath
This world appears like ours except that everything is on fire. The unbearable heat inflicts one wound on each PC who isn’t protected from the heat in some way. Dressed in fire and hate, a spirit that looks like the princess instantly attacks the party, intent to burn them to a crisp. She is insane with fury and pyromania and cannot be reasoned with. The only way to leave this world is to kill her and tear open her belly to reveal the gate to the next world. She can be defeated in a fight or instantly destroyed by cold or water effects (for example, calling a large wave or torrential rain to drench her).

Reward: A beautiful white pearl.
Clues: The PCs won’t have time to get bored since they don’t solve this world quickly, they will all die terribly in fire and hate.
Note: cutting open dead people might be a bit too dark for younger players. I suggest that instead of killing the Princess, the attacks of the players will cause her to become younger and younger until she disappears and a gate to the next world appears in her location instead.

Fire Princess
Body 3 Mind 1 Spirit 3 Fighting 3
Special: breath fire for 1d6+1 damage once per 1d6+1 rounds


The World of Endless Haggling
This is an underground market where translucent spirits buy and sell everything one can imagine. There are water people who sell gorgeous seashells and pearls, men of fire who sell fierce weapons, women of colorful feathers who sell gorgeous dresses and delightful perfumes and so forth. Toward the end of the cavern, there is a heart-shaped door. A massive key hangs from a rope high above the market. It’s owner is a giant who’d gladly sell it for just three pearls. The PCs can either trade and run small errands until the can afford the key, or try to steal it. The giant is way too powerful for them to defeat with violence. However, he can be easily distracted by funny or exciting stories.
Flavor: Sea spirits are selling the souls of the drowned as slaves. They’d gladly exchange the soul of any player for one or more pearls (depending on how well the players haggle). Alternatively, they will agree to trade drowned slaves for items from the World of Man. These in turn can be traded for pearls vis-a-vis other spirits. A mother cat has an important appointment, but can’t go because there is no one to watch her kittens. If the PCs agree to watch after the mischievous bunch, they will be reward three balls of yarn that can be traded for at least one pearl.
Reward: A sheet of paper with strange signs on it. This is the death certificate of the sailor, a fact that can only be deduced by using True Sight. If the optional sorrow world is used, the PCs are given a small hammer instead.
Clues: Mention that the giant appears to constantly be distracted by every little thing that happens in the market. Have minor spirits and talking animals offer the PCs to perform small errands in return for paltry compensation.



The World of Perpetual Sorrow (Optional)
This world is nothing but a long and narrow tunnel without start or end. Sounds of bitter complains and self pity come from the walls. If the PCs try to speak with them, the walls respond by belittling and insulting the PCs. The spirits of this world can teach the PCs nothing. Speaking with them is purely a negative experience. To leave the room, the players must break one of the walls and just step into the next world.
Flavor: None. This place is as boring as it is depressing.
Reward: A sheet of paper with strange signs on it. This is the death certificate of the sailor, a fact that can only be deduced by using True Sight.
Note: If you’re running this adventure as a 90 minute challenge, only use this world if the PCs have solved all other world in less than an hour. While simple, it has the potential to consume a lot of time.



The Spirit Sanctum
A world of swirling mists, odd echoes and feeble light that serves to befuddle rather than illuminate. One thing is clear, however: a scruffy looking sailor with a cracked skull is holding the princess hostage. He can be reasoned or he can be killed. The result will be the same.
The sailor is miserable and belligerent, but not malicious. If the PCs patiently explain to him that he’s died decades ago and that now he’s tormenting the only person who showed him an iota of kindness, he will let the girl be and dissolve into the mists.
Flavor: This world is a massive ship sailing the sea. It’s crew consists of only one man: the spirit. The Princess is trying to let him know that she wants to go home, but he cannot understand her. No matter what she says or does, the spirit only hears what he wants to hear: words of admiration and encouragement. If any of the PCs cast True Sight on the spirit, it will realize how deeply mistaken it was and let the girl go, albeit with a deep sense of sorrow, loss and shame.
Reward: A rope that can be used to climb back to the World of Man without wasting mana. Also riches bestowed by the king, the adoration of the islanders, a place in the legends of the future and so forth and so forth…

Adaptation
I ran the adventure in an ancient hawaii setting, using the following names:
King: Ali’i Mainulani Naloiaehuokalani (Mani)
Princess: Luli’u Loloku Kamaka’eha (Lili)
Shaman: Kahuna
Sailor: Guy Neville, killed along with Captain Cook

Monday, August 6, 2018

Status Update

So, it's been a while since I posted anything on this blog, so I thought I'd run a quick reality check.

First, I've written a book. It's a light science fiction novel published by WordFire press. They're awesome because they also publish Dune.

Here is a summary:

In a universe where corporate scions hold aristocratic titles and wield absolute power, a young princess embarks on a mission of mercy to find a new home for the refugees created by her father’s many wars. To her dismay, an invitation to an isolated planetoid that could serve as the perfect home for the poor exiles turns out to be a ploy by the infamous Baron Von Schmidt to add yet another outrage to his repertoire. What starts as an exclusive party in her honor is soon revealed to be something far more sinister: a depraved auction where the item on sale is her royal highness and the bidders are a who’s who of the galaxy’s worst scoundrels! With only enemies in sight and no way to call for help, the young princess has no choice but to rescue herself. This will not be easy. Her foes include a Chinese space pirate, a young Russian duelist, a high-tech samurai, a Venusian Mafiosi, two expert French poisoners recently returned from the horror vacui, a floating Swiss banker of unimaginable wealth, and a British gentleman who also happens to be a pterodactyl. Her arsenal consists of vague memories from classes she mostly slept through, a pile of gadgets for which she’s never read the user manual, and a ferret.


Secondly, there are two cool 90 minute adventures coming soon. One is a spirit quest inspired by ancient Hawaiian mythology. The second is a Star Trek style moral quandary with a twist, inspired by a science fiction radio play from the 50s.

Lastly, I'm not dead. I know the smell coming from my home is suspicious, but this isn't me.

That's all for now. See you very soon!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Young Superheroes

I have decided to try a superheroes game with one of my groups. To that end, I've told the kids that each superhero has the following traits: a mundane identity/ job, a heroic identity/ theme, powers, a tragic background, a heroic inspiration and a secret weakness. This is a summary of the characters they came up with.

Electrowizard is a mechanic who became a superhero after he accidentally electrocuted his family to death in their home pool, only to learn too late that he can also use electric shocks to save lives. He is hydrophobic, but still dedicated to saving lives.

Black Mask is a super hacker who can summon a deadly digital axe and zap his enemies through the internet. He swore to hunt and destroy evil hackers after his family was driven to poverty and disgrace and he was framed for a crime he didn't commit through identity theft.

Ring Man is a pilot who became a hero after meteor fell on his home and killed his family. Inside, he found a ring that allows him to create mobile power fields. Despite being a coward, he swore to use the ring in the cause of justice.

Lightning Bolt is a scientist who became a speedster who can pass through walls after he ran into a power line and was possessed by a sentient lightning bolt. He now seeks to understand his condition for the betterment of all mankind.

Cydog is a cybernetic dog from another dimension who has the ability to turn into a drone in the service of an evil, extradimensional computer. He was originally evil, but Lightning Bolt captured him and reprogrammed him to be good. Despite his great intellect a thrown stick or a whistle would still cause him to run and fetch any week of the day.

Super Smiley is a comedian with the power to make everyone laugh or cry, but sadly no ability to control his own emotions. The smallest mishap will cause him to laugh hysterically or weep bitterly. After being mocked and bullied his entire life, he now just wants to make others happy.

Craft is a football player with a giant brain who can erase and replace memories from a distance. His sister was poisoned by the villainous Doctor Hnanah, which also caused Craft to lose the game and ruined his career. He now lives for one purpose only -- to destroy Doctor Hnanah.

***

On an unrelated note, if you enjoy my occasional posts and my regular webcomic, please consider dropping a few pennies down my patreon. Even if you don't, come and take a look. We have a cool video and everything. Thanks!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Mini Adventure -- DNDkids vs. Frankenstein

With all the excitement of our new webcomic, I've neglected to post a 90-minute-adventure for far too long. We will remedy this presently.

Frankenstain. We all know the story. We all know it ended very poorly for all parties involved. Tonight, we find out what happens if we let a bunch of murderhobos into thsi classic story of hubris and damnation. Perhaps the tragedy will be averted. More likely, it will be increased by an order of magnitude. 

Wanna know what happened when I actually ran it for a dozen fifth graders? Stay put. Oh, and one last thing. Don't use the word "Frankenstein" at any point. Let the players figure out what novel they're inside themselves. It' much more fun that way. For you.

Source: Dave Rapoza

Background
William, the young son of Alphonse was found in the woods with a broken neck. His nanny Justine is arrested after his locket is found in her pocket. She claims she is innocent, but things don't look good for her.  The PCs are hired by Alphonese to investigate the murder and find the true killer before she is hung for a crime she did not commit.
Alphonse has another son named Victor and an adopted daughter named Elizabeth, to whom Victor is engaged. A friend named Henry is staying in the house as well.
A short time after the murder, Victor disappears, taking with him a rifle and hunting equipment. He didn’t confess to the murder, but he did say it was his fault.

Clues
  • Near the site of the murder there are footprints too large for a human being. They lead to a small burned hut. Asking around will reveal it was the home of a blind man (Gaston) who lived with his son (Felix), daughter (Agatha) and Arab daughter-in-law (Safie). They have moved to Geneva after their hut was burned to the ground. If located, Felix can tell that the night before his hut burned, he chased away a giant who attacked his father. The old man, however, says the creature was articulate and pleading rather than aggressive.
  • If the PCs choose to follow Victor's tracks in the woods. They find him half mad in the wilderness. He claims to be guilty for his brother's murder but refuses to give any information. If the PCs pressure him or secretly follow him, they discover he is building a giant woman in a cave. Victor started working on her to appease the monster, but now has second thoughts. What if the two reproduce and create a race of giants that will challenge humanity?
  • If a PC goes alone in the dark, he will see a giant shade that will tell him he didn't mean to kill the child, but he will kill more of Victor's family if not given what he wanted. The shade will then disappear, leaving no tracks. This only happens if a lone PC moves at least 100 meters from any other PC.
  • Victor has a room in his house with some notes related to chemical science, the notes imply the possibility of creating life, but provide no further information. If the players visit his home in Geneva, however, they find detailed documentation related to the creation of artificial life and a final note about the creation being hideous and escaping into the mountains.
  • The giant lives in a desolate cave in the mountains. He is strong and fast, but not invincible. He generally avoids combat, but he will fight to the death if the half-made female is destroyed.
Source: Garry Brown
Timeline
Day    Event
-3       Hut burned
-2       William killed
-1       Justine arrested
2       Justine executed
5       Henry killed
11     Elizabeth killed
17     Alphonse killed

How the Kids Solved This?
I thought this was actually quite brilliant. It's a wonder no one thought about it before. The kids told Victor to finish the female but to plant an explosive device inside her. Boom. Problem solved.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Hunting the Hunters

I ran this adventure many times with both young and mature players in a variety of settings ranging from a gothic version of the modern world to native american fantasy. Each time it failed, but each time it failed in a fun way. However, maybe it will work for you. Who know? Stranger things have happened...

This is a 5e Ravenloft version suitable for 4th level characters. At least one of the characters should be able to cast darkness as a spell or ability.

Premise
A group of vampires are sent to an ancient forest to find our why vampires routinely disappear in the area. They discover that the forest is inhabited by a spirit that is to vampries what vampires are to people. To keep the dangerous spirit away from themselves, elder vampires routinely send fledgling vampires to investigate the “mysterious disappearances” in the forest, promising great rewards since they never expect to see the youngsters again.

Locations

Karg
A large human city where gothic high fashion meets poverty and oppression.

General Kazandra ("The Lady") invites the PCs to a meeting at the Black Unicorn club in Karg. The evening is a vampire party where each guest must come accompanied by a mortal and an animal companion. Lone vampires are banned from entering, even if they bear letters of invitation from the Lady.

The Lady is in her office with a dominated maid she uses as a mobile, living blood bottle and a pet fox (actually a werefox). She tells the party that this is a "community" meeting rather than an official meeting. Several members of the "community" both native and foreign have gone missing in the Vale of Tears. One of them was her apprentice, Vyx, who she sent to return an agent who went missing while performing a secret mission from Azalin himself. She'd like the heroes to find out what's causing vampires to disappear and deal with it. She is especially anxious about the fate of Vyx, of whom she is very fond.

Kazandra is aware of the following victims, though she suspects the actual number of undead destroyed in the forest is much higher:

Tavia (Kargat exile, sent to forest to live in exile for taking bribes)
Marius (Falkvonia vampyre, Ludzig’s agent, purpose unknown)
Valentine (Falkvonian vampyre, was en route to nova vaasa)
Onyx (Darkonian free vampire, went to search for Marius)
Avernus  (Kargat agent, sent to scout for dragon ebb, killed by hunters)
Vyx (Kargat agent, sent to retrieve Avernus) sent a week ago, last seen in Delagia three days ago, room 6

Delagia
A Halfling town of cheerful fishermen and traders.
Two human siblings with a foreign accent occasionally come to purchase supplies. They are brooding and have a condescending attitude towards the Halflings. No one knows where they live or what do they do for a living, so everyone assumes they’re staying in Sidnar.
Vyx has also been to the town. She made a few expeditions to the mountains, before going to the forest, never to be seen again. She is remembered fondly as a very charming woman who used to sing songs and entertain the kids.

Sidnar
A hamlet of snobbish elf astronomers and philosophers
The elves have seen odd siblings who boasted of hunting the most dangerous game in the forest. They asked a lot of questions about a fox woman and when no one could answer them, they went away, never to be seen again. Investigation will reveal that many of the houses in the town have images of a fox that shines like the sun. Interviewing locals will reveal that these are traditional marks against evil. No one remembers their origins.
Two kids saw Vyx approaching the village before suddenly turning around and fleeing with an expression of abject terror.

Mistlands
A vast forest crisscrossed by rivers and streams

The Sun Fox is not interested in material possessions, so small piles of ash with clothing and personal belonging can be found in various spots in the forest.  One includes a message carved in bark (see below).
There is a sect of maniacal Halfling cannibal bandits who prey on strangers, always eating half and leaving the other half as a warning. They never attack Sidnari and Delagians and in return the locals leave tools in the forest. While critical of their methods, the locals value the red walkers since they keep foreigners away.

Mount Nyad
Desolate mountains where nothing lives or grows

The Shadow Dragon Ebb lives in a giant cave inside the mountain. She is quite fond of polite visitors as long as they don’t touch her treasure. She sleeps most of the time, but doesn’t get angry if woken up with due reverence.
Ebb knows of more than a hundred undead creatures who’ve been destroyed in the forest over the last 300 years. Most committed suicide at sunrise. She has always assumed they did it because of self-loathing, although if questioned, she will point out she recalls feeling a strong force of light in the area about the time of their destruction.
Her latest observation was a naked young woman looking defiantly at the sun before catching on fire and turning to dust. She can direct the PCs to the spot, but she will not bother to leave the cave.

Dramatis Personae

Funny and Sunny
A brother-sister pair of undead slayers – Sunny is a 5th level paladin and Funny is a 5th level cleric. The pair have killed many minor undead and one vampire —Avernus. Presently, they’re looking for the Sun Fox in the hopes of joining forces with it. They are refugees from Nova Vaasa and speak with a strong Vaasi accent.

The Sun Fox
The Sun Fox feeds by devouring a vampire's life essence when it's destroyed by the light of the rising sun. It has two forms – a gorgeous fox that shines like the sun, or a wild woman dressed in hides and bones. It has been part of the forest for as long as the forest has existed. Just like the vale, its past is lost in the mists.
AC 16 (+2 leather)
HP 100
Speed 40
Saves str +2, dex +7, con +7, int +0, wis +6, cha +4
Every time a vampire is damaged in the forest, the spirit heals as many hit points
Sunlight at will (darkness negates)
Fox shape
Fist +7 (1d6+2 and 1d6 radiant)
DC 15 Dominate attack that only affects vampires and can only affect one vampire at a time. While dominated, the vampire is free to speak, but must move however the fox instructs it.
Tree stride
Weakness: None of its powers work in magical darkness. Also, should it ever leave the forest, it will become sick and die soon.

Random Vampire Powers
1 Animate Dead (short rest)
2 Misty Step (60')
3 Beast Form (CR 1 or less)
4 Fire Resistance (20)
5 Mist Form (long rest)
6 Invisibility (short rest)
7 Darkness (at will)
8 Sharp Senses (scent, blindsight)
9 Enhanced Ability (+4, roll which)
10 Turn and Radiant Resistance (+4/20)

Message
The players can either find it at on the cliff where Vyx died or see it in Ebb’s collection, whichever comes first. I recommend printing the letter in handsome cursive and then burning its edges to give it the appearance of something recovered from a fire.

To: The Lady of the Black Unicorn

For the past few days I have wrestled with an increasing desire to see the sunrise from a cliff overlooking Lake Korst. It has now become clear to me that it is a battle that I cannot win on my own. Noble Kazandra, please come quickly for I fear that without your deliverance I am doomed.

All my attempts to flee these accursed woodlands or to contact my friends at Krag via magical or mundane means have been frustrated by the spirit that haunts me. Yes, I am now convinced that what I at first took to be my own mind betraying me in this lovely wilderness is in fact the work of a powerful spirit that works towards my destruction. My sole hope now lies with a halfling woodsman whom I’ve paid handsomely to deliver this message. I hope he does not lose it for I don’t have much ink left and no parchment save this sheet.

The scoundrel has discarded my letter but has kept my gold! Though my heart cries for Karg, my feet march to Sidnar. The elves are now my only hope and it is a slim hope indeed.

The  lake is beautiful and I expect the sun rising from the misty trees should be beautiful as well. I will find solace in the beauty that surrounds me and of which, I fancy, I will now forever be a part. I will face my end with pride and courage. Oh happy traveler who finds this message in a pile of ash and dust and discarded clothing – tell my mistress that I did not disgrace her. Tell her that