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Brews out of the Box 4: Baron of Shadows

Baron of Shadows

Description: Even as you approach, he continues to chant, low in his throat. He is a tall man, his skeletal thinness emphasized by the mask designed to look like a skull covering the top portion of his face. His clothing is black, or perhaps a very dark purple, but clearly of good quality and cut. The flickering light cast by the torched burning to either side of him make all the shadows in the room jump and dance… But, as you watch, you realize that his moves more than any others. Before you can cry out warning, his shadow flows across the floor towards you and attacks.

Idea: I’ve written before about different ways to make boss fights more interesting than a one-sided slug fest, and the Baron came out of that. He was a caster (an Oracle of the Dark Tapestry, in Pathfinder) of a sufficient level to challenge the party. But on top of that he had extra abilities. His shadow could reach out and interact with the players, getting one free Combat Maneuver per round, with a bonus based on the Baron’s charisma. I contemplated allowing the shadow more actions, but I didn’t want to make it too powerful. If you’d like to make it more of a challenge, the shadow could attack or perform other actions.

And, yes, if any of you are wondering, I did get a fair amount of inspiration from Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog. Hecks, even his cultist chanting when my party encountered him was based on the “are you ready” refrain from Facilier’s “Friend’s on the Other Side.”

Mechanics: Obviously, the main flavour of the Baron comes from his shadow. Mechanically, the Baron himself functioned as an Oracle. His shadow, however, acted on his turn independently of him. It had a reach of 15 ft. and could perform on Combat Maneuver per round, without a penalty for failing (you can’t trip a shadow, after all). The shadow didn’t have to worry about things like difficult terrain or attacks of opportunity. If, however, all of the sources of light were extinguished, the shadow could no longer attack. Similarly, the shadow could not go through solid barriers that prevent light.

Statistics: Because the Baron of Shadows is almost more like a template that you would add to a creature rather than a full creature, I’m going to write it’s stats that way.

Template can only be added to a spell-casting creature.

CR: Same as base creature +1

HP: Same as base creature, + HD equal to 1/2 base creatures class HD.

Special Rule:

-Shadow: Once per turn, Baron of Shadows can make one combat maneuver attempt against a creature within 15 feet. These maneuvers have a CMB equal to the Baron’s base attack bonus + relevant spell casting ability (charisma for sorcerers, oracles, and bards, intelligence for wizards, etc.). These attempts do not provoke attacks of opportunity. Failed attempts do not allow retaliatory attempts against the shadow.

If, at any point, there is no source of light in the same area as the Baron to cast a shadow, the Baron loses this ability. The shadow cannot pass through any objects that block light, though it can travel around such objects, as long as it does not travel more than 15 feet from the Baron in total.

 

 

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Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Homebrews, Role-Playing Games

 

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Brews out of the Box 3: Bleeders

Bleeders

Description: They are heard before they can be seen. A droning buzz, wings beating impossibly fast. By the time their prey sees them, it’s too late for them to run. Carried aloft on four gossamer wings, they stand barely six inches tall, like tiny humans made of shining black stone. Their smooth, eyeless faces are split widely across the middle, a maw of tiny, needle-like teeth. In one hand, they carry a small rapier, with a tip so fine it’s practically invisible. The sting of the blades are almost painless… But they leave wounds the won’t stop bleeding. A swarm of Bleeders can leave a full grown man dead in a pool of his own blood in moments.

Idea: One of my biggest problems with Pathfinder and D&D monsters is the lack of powerful creatures that aren’t really big. Past a certain challenge rating, every monster seems to be Large sized or bigger. With the amount of Pathfinder classes that focus on attacking touch armor (I’m looking at you, Alchemists and Gunslingers), big creatures can sometimes prove… underwhelming. So I wanted a small creature that could prove a challenge. The flaw in such a plan, of course, is that while small creatures may be harder to hit, they can’t deal as much damage. Solution? Bleed damage that stacks, so that opponents end up taking damage from several sources at once.

Thematically, these were small creatures created in a pocket prison dimension, made from the same stuff that formed the building itself and the much larger construct guardians. That’s why they looked like stone; they were constructs. It was more flavor that function, though, and Bleeders could just as easily be magical creatures or fey.

Mechanics: The most obvious thing going for the Bleeders is their size. As small creatures, they have a much higher armor class (specifically touch armor) than their bigger counterparts. They also have an attach mechanic, clinging to the bodies of their enemies, automatically dealing damage every turn. And that damage inflicts Bleed, hurting more through blood loss, making them much more dangerous than they could even hope to be through the little normal damage they could inflict with their tiny weapons.

Statistics:

100 hp. 1-ft space, 0-ft reach. AC: 23 (t23 ff19). Initiative: 8. Fort: 4 Ref: 10 Will: 4. Speed: 30 (fly). Damage Reduction: 10/adamantine. Spell Resistance: Perfect (see below).

Melee Attack: Rapier (+26/+21/+16, 1d4 + bleed + attach).

Special Rules:

-Attach (Successful hit automatically succeeds as if a grapple; Bleeders can still attack while grappling; as long as Bleeder is attached, its attacks resolve v. touch and target takes -2 on all roles)

-Bleed (Wounded target takes extra 1d4 damage per round at start of their turn; this effect stacks; Magical healing or heal skill stops blood loss)

-Spell Immunity (Immune to any spell that grants Spell Resistance; “Transmute Rock to Mud” slows it for 2d6 rounds, no save; “Transmute Mud to Rock” heals it; “Stone to Flesh” gets rid of Damage Immunity and Spell Resistance for 1 round).

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2016 in Homebrews, Role-Playing Games

 

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Brews out the Box 2: Aspect of the Old One

Aspect of the Old One

Description: An Aspect of the Old One is a being of madness and horror. Not the true form of a god from the darkness beyond the stars – to look upon that is to invite insanity and death. An Aspect is only a small piece of it’s true power, which has managed to leak through the locks that hold the greater being at bay and into our world. A massive, writhing ball of razor sharp tentacles undulating around an unseen core some thirty feet across, it seems to suck in the light from the area around it. At it’s center, seen through glimpses between it’s limbs, is a great eye burning with a hunger to consume… everything.

Idea: The Aspect was the Big Boss of one of my more recent campaigns. The bad guys had been working to summon the Old Ones and Outer Gods to our world, to destroy it (they think) in order to rebuild it in their image. Surprise surprise, the crazy cultists got double crossed. Turns out, they weren’t getting anything. They were stopped before they could open the gate to the Outer Gods fully, but an Aspect managed to bleed through.

The party facing the boss was a big one, and I had been having trouble finding a balance for bosses. Anything tough enough to survive a few rounds with all six of them was also dangerous enough to crush some of them, so I wanted to try something different. I wanted to force them to fight in a way other than “I hit it, it hits me, repeat” sort of brawl.

Mechanics: While it was one big thing, the Aspect fought almost like 11 distinct creatures. There was the core of it, and then 10 tentacles. The core was big, but stationary. The tentacles were smaller, and could move (though part of them always had to be touching the base). To beat the monster, the players had to kill the core… But it had huge defenses. Every tentacle they killed, however, would lower the defense of the core. The tentacles would come back, though, so the players had to jump between damaging the tentacles to make the core easier to fight, but then getting some swings at the core before the tentacles respawned. It led to the party making better teamwork decisions than the usually did, so I called it a win.

Statistics: (Made for Pathfinder). There were really two stats blocks for the Aspect, one for the core and one for each of the ten tentacles connected to it.

Aspect Core:

250 hp. 30-ft space, 0-ft reach. AC: 30 (t10 ff20). Initiative: 0. Fort: 20 Ref: 14 W: 30. CMB: 30. CMD: 40. Speed: 0. Damage Reduction: 100/-. Resist: Elements 100. SR: 100.

Melee Attack: Consume (+20 Attack, 4d6+15). Ranged Attack: Chaos Blast (60-ft line, 4d6+15 negative energy, Ref 25 halves).

Special Rules:

-Tentacle Guarded (each time a tentacle connected to the Aspect Core is destroyed, the Aspect Core’s Damange Reduction, Elemental Resistance, and Spell Resistance are reduced by 10).

 

Aspect Tentacle:

66 hp. 5-ft space (special), 10-ft reach (special). AC: 19 (t9 ff18). Initiative: 1. Fort: 7. Ref: 3. Will: 10. CMB: 16. CMD: 27. Speed: 30. Damage Reduction: 5/slashing. Immune: Cold, mind effects, breath effects, poison. Resist: Acid 10, fire 10.

Melee Attack: Tentacle (+12, 2d6+13+grab).

Special Rules:

-Constrict (every successful grapple check deals 2d6+13)

-Move (every successful grapple check moves target up to 15 feet towards Aspect Core)

-Unending (when a tentacle is destroyed, a new one grows to replace it from the core in 1d6 rounds)

-Connected (the tentacle space measures it’s tip; it can only attack from it’s tip; however, when it moves, it always has a “body” that connects it to the core, which has a space composed of 5-ft sections in a line from core to tip. Its “body” can be targeted)

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2016 in Homebrews, Role-Playing Games

 

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Brews outside the Box 1: Explination and Shadow Men

I’ll be straight with you, I’m not great at home-brewing (that is to say, creating new content following the rules of a given RPG system). What’s lucky for me is that the internet exists, and there are lots of people who are really good at homebrewing interesting classes and monsters and such… So I don’t have to.

The reason I’m not great at it is, I think, because of the rules. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m not a big fan of rules. They get… finicky. Fun is more important to me than rules. I don’t mean I cheat, I just selectively ignore some things to make sure I, and anyone playing with me, has a better time. It’s not a system that would work for everyone, but it works for me and mine.

Anyways, my casual disregard for rules led me to occasionally want monsters to do something that existing monsters just… can’t. So I would make up new monsters, to fit what I needed. Starting with a general idea of it, I would eventually work my way towards some mechanics, even if that meant having to make up new mechanics to do it.

This leads me to this “Brew outside the Box” series. In it, I’ll be giving you some examples of monsters I created to have a specific effect or impact. It’ll look something like this:

Monster Name

Description: [What characters see.]

Idea: [What I wanted the monster to be.]

Mechanics: [Any unique or invented mechanics of the monster.]

Statistics: [If I have stats for the example monster, I’ll list them here.]

Make sense? Of course it does, it’s simple. Let’s try.

***

The Shadow Men

Description: Shadow Men are humanoid creatures of pure darkness. The height of a human, but with all the wrong proportions: too-long legs and arms splay from a bulbous, round body, with a head set forward on a neck that looks too thin to support it. More than anything, though, what stands out are the faces: white masks, like some mockery of old theatrical costume pieces, hover an inch or so in front of where their faces should be. Wide eye-holes and gaping mouths, stretched into grotesque smiles and frowns, open to the black void beneath the mask. As they glide towards you, feet just above the ground, a sickening, giggling chortle rolls from the darkness beneath their masks.

Idea: Shadow Men were created to fill a very specific void: agents of a greater power of darkness and destruction (called The Null), shadow men were physically weak but could inhabit and possess other beings. Incapable of speech in their natural form, Shadow Men could perform any actions that their possessed host was capable of while in their body, and so could mimic them nearly perfectly. In that way, Shadow Men were infiltrators, spies, and (when in possession of an appropriate host) shock troops.

Mechanics: The most notable aspect of the Shadow Men was their possession abilities. For the sake of story, they could possess non-player characters off-screen fairly easily. If the character is more powerful, or if it was a player, the Shadow Men need to make physical contact with the character, who would then get to make an appropriate attempt to resist (I created them for D&D 3.5, so it was a Will save).

They were also, as beings of darkness, weak to light. In their natural forms, they would be destroyed if exposed to direct sunlight. Though they could stand the light for longer (minutes at a time) while possessing someone, prolonged exposure to natural light would eventually burn them out of their hosts (it was one of the only way, aside from appropriately power magic spells, to get them out of a host).

Stats: Since they tended to only fight while in possession of a host, I never created a full set of stats for the Shadow Men (and instead used their host stats). In their natural form, they had very little health, and their only attack was a touch possession attempt, with a Will save to resist.

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Posted by on December 5, 2015 in Homebrews, Role-Playing Games

 

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