Friday, December 10, 2010

Beauty and the Beast - Antharosk and Caulaxin Revised

The idea of two controllers whose abilities mostly overlap didn't excite me, and I couldn't really envision how that should play out.  The way the encounter is described in the module, it is clearly intended that one is more of a lurker, engaging a round after the other has gotten the party's attention.  Running with that, I decided to remake Antharosk, the male, as a brute, while his slightly younger, slightly smaller partner, Caulaxin prefers hit-and-run tactics.

The scenario I envision is Antharosk confronting the party, and then standing before them to fight and hold their attention, using claw and breath attacks, while Caulaxin makes use of her flyby attack to bite at opponents adjacent to her lover from a flanking position.  With combat advantage, her bite attacks become precise and potent.  At the same time, Antharosk's claws, while not as accurate, still pack a powerful punch, and the annoyance of his weakening breath weapon is sure to raise an eyebrow or two.

How should the party handle it?  Try to dodge Antharosk and take out the sniping Caulaxin first, or try to stand toe-to-toe with the brute while weathering his mistress' acrobatic assaults?


Antharosk, Adult Green Dragon
Level 10 Solo Brute
Large natural magical beast (dragon)
XP 2,500
HP 428; Bloodied 214
AC 24; Fortitude 24; Reflex 20; Will 22
Speed 8, fly 12 (hover), overland flight 15
Resist 20 poison
Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2
Initiative +10
Perception +13
Darkvision
Traits
Lashing Tail • Aura 1
All creatures other than Antharosk treat the area within the aura as difficult terrain. Antharosk loses this aura while airborne.
Standard Actions
Bite (poison) • At-Will • Melee Basic Attack
Attack: Reach 2; +13 vs. AC
Hit: 3d6 + 5 and ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends).
Claw • At-Will • Melee Basic Attack
Attack: Reach 2; +13 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6 + 5 damage.
Double Attack • At-Will
Effect: The dragon makes two claw attacks.
Flyby Attack • Recharge 5, 6
Effect: Antharosk flies up to 12 squares and makes a bite attack at any point during the move without provoking opportunity attacks from the target.
Breath Weapon (poison) • Recharge 5, 6
Attack: Close blast 5; all creatures in blast; +11 vs. Fortitude.
Hit: 1d10 + 4 poison damage, and the target is weakened (save ends).
  Aftereffect: The target is weakened (save ends).
Frightful Presence (fear) • Encounter
Attack: Close burst 5 (targets enemies); +11 vs. Will
Hit: The target is stunned until the end of the dragon’s next turn.
Aftereffect: The target takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls (save ends).
Triggered Actions
Tail Sweep • At-Will
Trigger: If an adjacent enemy does not move on its turn.
Attack (Immediate Reaction): +11 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d6 + 5 damage, and the target is knocked prone.
Bloodied Breath (poison) • Encounter
Trigger: When first bloodied.
Effect (Free): Antharosk’s breath weapon recharges , and he uses it immediately.
Skills Bluff +19, Diplomacy +14, Insight +18, Intimidate +14
Str 20 (+9)
Dex 17 (+8)
Wis 17 (+8)
Con 19 (+9)
Int 16 (+8)
Cha 18 (+9)
Alignment evil     Languages Common, Draconic


Caulaxin, Adult Green Dragon
Level 9 Solo Lurker
Large natural magical beast (dragon)
XP 2,000
HP 396; Bloodied 198
AC 23; Fortitude 22; Reflex 22; Will 22
Speed 8, fly 12 (hover), overland flight 15
Resist 20 poison
Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2
Initiative +14
Perception +13
Darkvision
Traits
Lashing Tail • Aura 1
All creatures other than Caulaxin treat the area within the aura as difficult terrain. Caulaxin loses this aura while airborne.
Combat Advantage
Caulaxin deals an additional 1d6 on all attacks against opponents over whom she has combat advantage.
Standard Actions
Bite (poison) • At-Will • Melee Basic Attack
Attack: Reach 2; +14 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6 + 5 and ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends).
Claw • At-Will • Melee Basic Attack
Attack: Reach 2; +14 vs. AC
Hit: 1d8 + 5 damage.
Double Attack • At-Will
Effect: The dragon makes two claw attacks.
Flyby Attack • Recharge 5, 6
Effect: Caulaxin flies up to 12 squares and makes a bite attack at any point during the move without provoking opportunity attacks from the target.
Breath Weapon (poison) • Recharge 5, 6
Attack: Close blast 5; all creatures in blast; +12 vs. Fortitude.
Hit: 1d10 + 4 poison damage, and the target takes ongoing 5 poison damage (save ends).
Frightful Presence (fear) • Encounter
Attack: Close burst 5 (targets enemies); +12 vs. Will
Hit: The target is stunned until the end of the dragon’s next turn.
Aftereffect: The target takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls (save ends).
Triggered Actions
Bloodied Breath (poison) • Encounter
Trigger: When first bloodied.
Effect (Free): Caulaxin’s breath weapon recharges , and she uses it immediately.
Skills Bluff +19, Diplomacy +14, Insight +18, Stealth +14
Str 16 (+8)
Dex 20 (+10)
Wis 17 (+8)
Con 19 (+9)
Int 16 (+8)
Cha 18 (+9)
Alignment evil     Languages Common, Draconic

The Chaos Forged Juggernaut

I intend to change the Crusher Room encounter, to instead use a Guardian Naga, and this:


Chaos Forged Juggernaut
Level 12 Elite Soldier
Huge natural animate (construct)
XP 1,400
HP 250; Bloodied 125
AC 28; Fortitude 29; Reflex 24; Will 22
Speed 6 (cannot shift)
Immune disease, poison, sleep; Resist 20 acid, 20 fire
Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1
Initiative +8
Perception +4
Darkvision
Traits
Blood Chaos Spray (fire, acid) • Aura 2
While the Chaos Forged Juggernaut is bloodied, each creature that enters the aura or starts its turn there takes 10 fire and acid damage.
Standard Actions
Iron Blade • At-Will • Melee Basic Attack
Attack: Reach 3; +19 vs. AC
Hit: 2d10 + 3 damage, and the target is marked (save ends).
Cleave • At-Will
Effect: The Chaos Forged Juggernaut makes two iron blade attacks, each against a different target.
Blood Chaos Breath (fire, acid) • Recharge 6
Attack: Close blast 5; +17 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 3d8 + 5 fire and acid damage, and ongoing 5 fire and acid damage (save ends).
Triggered Actions
Dazing Fist • At-Will
Trigger: When a creature marked by the Chaos Forged Juggernaut and within its reach moves or shifts.
Attack (Immediate Interrupt): Reach 3 (targets the triggering creature); +17 vs. Fortitude
Hit: The target is dazed (save ends).
Blood Chaos Burst (fire, acid)
Trigger: When first bloodied, and again when reduced to 0 hit points.
Attack: Close burst 3; +17 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d10 fire and acid damage, and ongoing 10 fire and acid damage (save ends).
Str 23 (+12)
Dex 11 (+6)
Wis 7 (+4)
Con 21 (+11)
Int -4 (–1)
Cha -4 (–1)
Alignment unaligned     Languages
Equipment longsword


Suggested Mini:  Iron Golem Juggernaut

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beyond the Mottled Tower

Suspense of disbelief has always been a huge issue for me, both inside and outside of the game.  As a Dungeon Master, it manifests itself in my frustration with dungeons or adventures that are comprised of a series of unrelated (and often illogical) encounters.  Back in first edition, for instance, it was not uncommon to find adventures that were lengthy dungeon crawls where monsters existed as if in stasis: frozen in time, waiting for the adventurers to enter the room, never leaving their lair to eat or go to the bathroom, but then, no such bathroom existed.  Kobold warrens might have a single entrance to a series of elaborately-trapped caves, but with no water, kitchen, bedding, or children anywhere to be seen.  It drove me mad.

Over the past 20 years (starting, I think, with Rod of Seven Parts treating a dungeon as an ecosystem), it's gotten considerably better, with adventures more often being cohesive stories, complete with sensible explanations for the presence of various enemies, and a more dynamic environment.  That said, from time to time I still come across something that feels a little like a hastily thrown-together mishmash of encounters that could best be described as "monster of the week", and leaving you with a feeling that someone wanted to justify the use of a rather unfortunate random miniature in a recent purchase (to which I can completely relate, admittedly).


My group has just finished The Temple Between, of the Scales of War Adventure Path.  The module was excellent, from start to finish, and I thoroughly enjoyed running it.  Next up is likely Beyond the Mottled Tower.  I've begun prepping the adventure, including my rewrite (and subsequent and possibly not yet finished) rewrites of Sarshan as a three-stage "boss monster".  In examining the module now, I'm finding it to have a strong start and a strong finish, but with a bit of that "monster of the week" feel through the middle encounters.

Ergo, I'll be re-writing much of it.  After mulling over a couple of possible plans (and discovering warforged minis are overpriced for their low versatility), I've decided on a direction:

Following Zithiruun's fall and the failure of the invasion of Overlook, Sarshan's growing disappointment with the unreliability of humanoid armies, his anger over the betrayal of Modra and others, and the corruption of his mind as a consequence of his dangerous dabblings with Blood Chaos have all led him deeper into madness and paranoia.  With the exception of a small handful of loyal Shadar-Kai and Githyanki, and a few select servants, Sarshan has decided that rather than make weapons for armies, he will make armiesThrough the power of the Blood Chaos, along with his experience with undead in his past life in the Shadowfell, Sarshan has begun constructing his latest forces primarily out of elemental automatons and undead.  But his mastery of the Blood Chaos is far from complete.

Throughout the module, I'm replacing all the minions (Chaos Maulers, Troglodyte Warriors, and Cyclops Guards) with my new Blood Chaos Wretch:


Blood Chaos Wretch
Level 14 Minion Lurker
Medium elemental animate
XP 250
HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minion
AC 28; Fortitude 26; Reflex 27; Will 26
Speed 6
Immune fire, acid
Initiative +15
Perception +12
Darkvision
Traits
Liquid Body
The Blood Chaos Wretch is perfectly adapted to living in blood chaos. It can move through blood chaos without penalty and takes no damage from contact with blood chaos.
Standard Actions
Touch of Chaos (fire, acid) • At-Will • Melee Basic Attack
Attack: +19 vs. AC
Hit: 7 fire and acid damage, and ongoing 3 fire and acid damage.
Free Actions
Blood Chaos Meld • At-Will
Effect: Can be used only while in Blood Chaos.  The Blood Chaos Wretch falls prone and gains total concealment from all enemies as long as it remains within Blood Chaos, and can make an immediate Stealth check to hide.
Triggered Actions
Return to the Blood Chaos • At-Will
Trigger: Blood Chaos Wretch is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points.
Effect (No Action): The Blood Chaos Wretch looses its form, and the square it previously occupied becomes Blood Chaos terrain.
Skills Stealth +20
Str 18 (+11)
Dex 26 (+15)
Wis 8 (+6)
Con 17 (+10)
Int 4 (+4)
Cha 18 (+11)
Alignment evil     Languages


Suggested mini:  Corruption Corpse (painted red/black)