Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Monsterize Me! Beholder (all editions of D&D)

I've been getting a few requests over at Pelgrane Press' forums regarding the conversion of monsters from other systems to 13th Age.  While I've already given my guidelines in the thread, I think it's appropriate that I  dedicate a portion of my blog to converting monsters as well, using information found in Pelgrane Press' archives and, from time to time, my own creative twist to them. 

The monster featured today is the Beholder.  Actually I've already posted this in the Google+ community site as part of a community project last July on converting iconic monsters, and there's at least one alternative by +David Eglinton that's available for other DMs to use, but for the sake of keeping everything in one place, I'll post this here.

GM NOTE: Because of how this monster is designed, this creature plus its eyestalks is an average fight for four level 6 PCs.


An anomaly created from one of the Archmage's efforts to create an all-seeing ward, the oculi are floating mass of eyeballs, with a giant eyeball and a large set of teeth for its central body.  It's known to fire a kaleidoscope of rays that spell death to those affected by them; an awesome sight to behold, thus they have eventually earned the nickname "Beholder".
Level 7 Large (Double-Strength) Caster (Aberrant)
Initiative +10
Gaping Maw, one engaged enemy: +12 vs AC, 28 damage. On a natural 20, make one eyestalk attack as a free action.
Levitation: the dread oculus floats a few inches off the ground, and can fly to a nearby location as a move action, falling back to its normal levitation height at the end of its movement.
Central Eye: When an enemy targets the dread oculus with a spell, the dread oculus can roll a save; success means the spell has no effect on the oculus. If the level of the spell is lower than the dread oculus' level, it’s a normal save (11+). Against an equal or higher-level spell, the save is a hard save (16+). If the dread oculus is staggered, the save target increases by +5 (normal becomes hard, hard becomes 21+: impossible unless the dread oculus has a save bonus from some other source).
Self-Preservation: Once per round as a reaction to an attack while staggered, the dread oculus can redirect the damage it takes to its eyestalks instead.
Eye Rays: As a standard action, cause one eyestalk (chosen at random) to attack a nearby enemy.  On a natural even with that eyestalk's attack, make a second eyestalk (chosen at random) attack as a free action.  On a 6+ with the second eyestalk's attack while the dread oculus is staggered, make a third and fourth eyestalk (both chosen at random) attack as a free action.  You cannot use the same stalk for each attack, and if the oculus has less than four eyestalks, all subsequent attacks after the last stalk that hasn't attacked will automatically fail to trigger.
Nastier Specials
Eye for Carnage: After the last eye rays attack has been resolved, make a number of eyestalks equal to the escalation die attack as a free action.
Eye for an Eye: When reduced to 0 HP the dread oculus can cause all remaining eyestalks to become unstuck as a free action.  Once per day the dread oculus can also cause one eyestalk to become unstuck as a standard action while staggered.  The surviving eyestalks all retain the memory of the last creature that the dread oculus faced.
GM Note: While this does nothing for the current session, after 1d4+1 sessions (or whenever you feel is appropriate), the eyestalks that survive that long would grow back to full-fledged dread oculi, and would take vengeance on the creatures whose memory they hold on to with utmost hatred.
AC 21
PD 18HP 216
MD 22

Oculus Eyestalk

Typically oculi have a total of 10 eyestalks, each one having a bit of sentience, although all are under the will of the main eye of the oculus. Each stalk has its own effect and in the face of multiple enemies the eyestalks will collectively try to attack as many as possible.
Level 7 Large (Double-Strength) Caster (Aberrant)
Initiative +10, or immediately before or after the oculus
Eye Ray Blast (close-quarters), one nearby enemy: +12 to hit, target defense and other effects depends on which of the stalks attack.
Searing: vs. PD, 18 positive energy damage
Withering: vs. PD, ongoing 18 negative damage and weakened (save ends both)
Sleep: vs. MD, if the target is staggered, they are unconscious (hard save ends), effect also ends when target takes 10+ damage.  Otherwise they are hampered, weakened and take a -4 penalty to disengage checks (save ends all).
Telekinesis: vs. PD, target pops free if engaged, and they are forcibly moved to a nearby location
Hold: vs. PD, target is stuck (save ends)
Confusion: vs. MD, the target is confused until the end of their next turn
Fear: vs. MD, 18 psychic damage, and the target is afraid (under fear condition) until they move far away from the dread oculus
Petrify: vs. PD, the target must start making last gasp saves as they turn to stone
Death: vs. PD, 18 negative energy damage, and the target must start making last gasp saves as they fight for their life
Disintegrate: vs. PD, 36 damage and 56 ongoing damage.
Unique Eye Blasts: For each eyestalk killed, disable one random type of eye ray blast
Attached: Oculus eyestalks are stuck to the dread oculus, until unstuck. Once unstuck, they gain the oculus' levitation ability.
AC 19
PD 19HP 27 (mook)
MD 23
Mook: Kill one eyestalk mook for every 27 damage

Eldritch Knight Options

Class Options allow you to add particular classes into 13th Age without the need of extensive reinventing of the wheel, so to speak. Instead of having to make an entirely new class, re-flavoring and adding of a few talents and powers here and there would allow you to faithfully render the class you want, with less effort.

That's what usually happens; However, because the Eldritch Knight — written by yours truly — is technically an amalgamation as well as a conversion of D&D "gish" classes, I'm going to make an exception to the goal, and simply provide additional options that would allow you to still faithfully render the character you want, but not necessarily with a particular D&D class in mind.

New Talents

Sigil Mastery

You gain one sigil of your level or lower.  In addition, you can use sigils against nearby targets instead of engaged targets.
(Adventurer Feat): You gain an additional sigil of your level or lower.
(Champion Feat): You can now use sigils against far away enemies, but at -2 to hit
(Epic Feat): Increase your crit range against enemies imbued with your sigils by 2 (usually 18+).

Weapon Finesse

You can use Dexterity for melee attacks with one-handed weapons in place of Strength.  In addition, whenever you roll a natural even on an attack during your turn, you gain a bonus to disengage checks equal to the current escalation die until the start of your next turn.
(Champion Feat): One battle per day, you can also add the bonus to disengage checks on a natural odd attack roll during your turn.
(Epic Feat): Once per round, when an enemy attempts to intercept you, describe how you'll be dodging, parrying, feinting, or using a magical incantation to get past that enemy, then roll a normal save.  Succeeding the save prevents that enemy from intercepting you.

New Feats


These are feats that anyone who has at least one sigil known can take.
(Adventurer Feat): After each daily heal-up, choose up to two sigils that you know.  Until your next daily heal-up, they become close quarters spells.
(Champion Feat): All sigils that you know are now close quarter spells.
(Epic Feat): Whenever you crit with a sigil spell, you can release it as a quick action instead of a standard action.

Arcane Archery

(Adventurer Feat): Whenever you roll a natural odd with a ranged weapon attack, you can cast a sigil at a nearby target instead of an engaged target.
(Champion Feat): Whenever you roll a natural odd weapon attack, casting spells before the end of your next turn does not provoke opportunity attacks.

Burning Sigil

(Adventurer Feat): Weapons or ammunition that you use this sigil on will inflict ongoing fire damage equal to your Intelligence modifier each time you hit with it.
(Champion Feat): When you use this sigil on an object then release it, the resulting explosion can affect 1d3+1 nearby enemies.  Instead of making the attack roll to imbue the sigil, you now make the attack roll to hit with the released spell.
<<begin sidebar>>
GMs, feel free to have this blow a hole in a wall if players use this in such a manner. You lose the at-will ability to inflict ongoing fire damage, but you can instead damage multiple foes with the released spell.
<<end sidebar>>
(Epic Feat): Critting with this sigil doubles the ongoing damage.

Shocking Sigil

(Adventurer Feat): Imbuing this sigil on a weapon or ammunition will force targets they hit to make a normal save.  Failing to make the save causes them to be weakened until the start of your next turn.
(Champion Feat): Creatures damaged by this sigil when released also become weakened (save ends)

Warding Sigil

(Adventurer Feat): While you are not staggered, increase the AC bonus from this sigil by 1.
(Champion Feat): The AC bonus also applies to PD.
(Epic Feat): The AC bonus also applies to MD.

Dueling Sigil

(Adventurer Feat): Once per round while you have not released this sigil, when the escalation die is even and the target rolls a natural odd on his attack roll, you can make an attack against the target as a free action, dealing half damage on a hit.
(Champion Feat): When you release the sigil, the target also takes 10 damage at the end of his turn whenever he does not end his turn engaged with you.

Vampire's Sigil

(Champion Feat): The target gains additional hit points equal to your level for both the imbued and released effects of the sigil.
(Epic Feat): The target gains temporary hit points equal to three times your Intelligence modifier for both the imbued and released effects of the sigil.

Chaos Sigil

(Champion Feat): When you crit with the imbuing of this sigil, you can repeat the attack against a nearby enemy. [ This can potentially imbue both opponents with the same sigil. ]
(Epic Feat): All save ends effects of this sigil are now hard save ends.

Death Sigil

(Epic Feat): When the target of this sigil dies, the sigil can no longer be saved against, and lasts until it is removed. Until it's removed, it does not count to your normal limit of active sigils, and at the end of each daily heal-up you can choose to give up a recovery to gain one use of Death Sigil.
<<begin sidebar>>
This way, as long as your character is alive and able to maintain the sigils, you can keep the dead from coming back.  Eldritch Knights who have this sigil are of particular interest to the Lich King himself, and may attract unwanted attention from him, as this could potentially keep him from using his phylactery to full effect, and prevent him from amassing his necessary armies.  In a future installment of this class I plan on including a sigil that the Lich King might have created himself as a counter to, or a perversion of, this sigil.
<<end sidebar>>

Life Sigil

(Epic Feat): You can now use this sigil's release ability as if it were a Raise Dead Cleric spell.
13th Age and the Icons [plus other elements that might be in the article] are trademarks of Fire Opal Media. This article published by agreement with Pelgrane Press Ltd.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Artifacts of the 13th Age (Tales of the 13th Age Report)

So far I've run & played a total of two sessions for Tales of the 13th Age, and each one was pretty cool in their own right, and funny enough both were tied in to magic items.

I'll have to be honest about these sessions:

  • out of all the players I invited during the first session, only one actually arrived.  Rather than turn this lone trooper away — who, by the way, was actually so sleepy at the time that I had him indulge in a cup of coffee just so we can play — we agreed that A) I temporarily increase the level of the characters involved, and B) include my own DMPC, so that I could run the game originally designed for a minimum of three PCs with two PCs instead.  To avoid boredom on his part, I also had him roll for the DMPC and her animal companion, with me only intervening when it made sense for both him and myself
  • because the aforementioned lone trooper was so swamped with work the following week, that in spite of his insistence that he'll be able to make it on time he never got to show up at all, even though I had two new players that should've started with the second part of the tale as planned, I ended up re-running the first session (which had surprisingly different results) with the lone trooper's PC as the NPC of the day
  • I consider these adjustments as drastic (only for games that have 1-2 players) and would immediately avoid the use of DMPCs if a better solution is presented
  • hopefully next week I can have at least 3 players on board
Alright, on with the game reports! :)

The first game involved Fariq Al-Quadim, half-human prince of the Brass City and his guide, Janneris Tamerikos.  In a series of pre-Tales games that happened weeks before Tales of the 13th Age [ToT13A] was even announced, they had acquired a staff that was stolen from the Golden Order, which (tying it to ToT13A) was revealed to be used for a ritual that would help bring down the Lich King's power.  Once the ritual was complete, it opened a portal to Roachdale, a cockroach-infested ruins where Jont Urner, a half-orc living dungeon delver who knew about the Necropolis, was last seen; apparently the staff was linked to him in some way.

After dealing with the cockroaches and the demons with arrows and lightning, we stumbled upon a Helm of the Undaunted Hero, and eventually found ourselves gunning down the Vrock while Jont Urner — who was alive in this game — watched helplessly in one of the cages.  After a long and arduous fight, where Janneris' steed shielded Fariq and Janneris from the worst of the Vrock's attacks (targets were assigned randomly, dice gods chose horse), they were finally acquired the map from Jont Urner, who explained that the staff was missing some dragon teeth, which was needed for the party to actually understand and use the map.

- - - - -
Second game involved Fariq again (this time in passive mode, since the player was missing at the time and there were only two players as mentioned earlier), as well as Darren Soulsteel the Loup Garou (a werewolf that didn't need moonlight to transform) and a bard whose name escapes me at the moment (will edit this later to add his name), who was once saved by the Prince of Shadow from being captured by slavers.  The premise of the adventure was drastically different: the bard is a frequent performer at The Fighting Pawn, where one of his clients, a noble who has connections with the Court of Stars, hired him to help with an endeavor linked with Darren: according to Darren's player, there are a number of dangerous artifacts that, when gathered together by the wrong hands, could spell disaster for the world, and it was up to the Mystic's Guild (whose members include the first Elf Queen and the Great Gold Wyrm) to make sure that these artifacts are kept safe.  With this in mind, I explained that the current Elf Queen has learned that one of the artifacts — a crown — had found its way to one of the Lich King's barons who decided to use it for his own personal endeavors against the Lich King.  So it fell upon the PCs to retrieve said artifact, but first they had to figure out how to navigate through the Necropolis.

First stop: Roachdale, a rustic town that was almost devastated during the Great War that inevitably broke out during the 12th Age (caused by the plague that wiped out crops and caused rampant starvation throughout all of the Dragon Empire and beyond).  After a bit of a chit-chat with residences, they eventually got into Jont Urner's room in the tavern (with permission from the innkeeper), where they eventually found sketches and notes pointing at a ruins northwest of Roachdale, as well as a rusted, yet finely crafted ancient elven dagger, which they took.

As they headed to the ruins, they stumbled upon a river-moat of insects... which later turned out to be carnivorous insects as their horses were slowly consumed by the swarm (I wonder how they'll get out of the ruins later on...).  Once they got past that, they found the demon guards who were eventually confused by Darren's sudden declaration (and attempt at intimidation) that he was their new boss.  In the midst of the chaos, Darren threw his chakram at one of them, initiating combat, where Fariq gathered power and used Lightning Fork on the mob, and the bard started firing his arrows.  Darren used his claws, spiked shield and L-shaped sword to hack and slash through the demons until the only one who hesitated to attacked them (a sorry-looking dretch) was left.  There they got a clue as to who the "Big Boss" really was (the demon had on him a feather that he claims was from the Big Boss), took a silver key from him, and knocked him unconscious.

When they entered the maze, the bard was the one responsible for finding a secret passageway in what looked like a dead end, which led them through a shortcut that had a chest in it (which was just where the silver key fit).  In it they got a Chain Armor of Iron Will that was forged by human hands but was endowed with pixie dust to make it light (making it light armor instead of heavy armor); there was even some leftover pixie dust that Darren picked up for use in the future (which caused the pouch to float a lot).  Darren was responsible for helping the group bypass a set of lightning-shooting motes, by throwing stuff that would make the fragile rocks break.

At the center of the living dungeon, Jont Urner lay dead, and eventually a Vrock crashed through the walls and proceeded to attack the party.  Darren's first instinct was to pull out all seven of his throwing knives and fling them all at once at the Vrock, but he failed to pull off this very difficult stunt properly.  Rather than say "he failed to hit", I had a few throwing knives hit (improvised damage halved) and the rest hit the walls which, unfortunately for the group, caused a bunch of undead to wriggle free from the walls that imprisoned them (yes, the entire complex had imprisoned undead for walls [because of his rolls]).Before the Vrock could get at them however, the bard attempted to use the environment against the Vrock, shooting his arrows at the chain links that kept the cages above the ground.

That lucky 19 caused the cages to crash down onto the Vrock, knocking it on the head and stunning it!

The Vrock was soon mincemeat to blade, claw, lightning and arrows, and while the ghouls were busy feasting on what was once an obstacle and is now a newfound meal, the party tried to get at Jont Urner, and once he was brought out of the cage he was skinned by the bard for the map.

- - - - -
Hopefully this coming session I can run adventures 2 and 3 back-to-back (to catch up with the regular ToT13A schedule) and hopefully I get a proper number of players as well as PCs, because as you can see it's much more interesting to play with more than one player at the table.

The players in both sessions are D&D veterans but only Fariq's player has been properly acquainted with 13th Age prior to ToT13A, so it was a new experience for the second group, who enjoyed everything that the system offered to them.  They've been asking me over at Facebook when the next game would be, and I do plan on running ToT13A with my regular D&D group, fully booking my weekend with mostly 13th Age in mind :)