It’s certainly been a while since I’ve done one of these. I’m back with a new installment of Threat Assessment, Gamer Nation, and with a slightly different focus on this one. I’m going to talk about how to use an existing monster in a new and interesting way to get the most out of them. And I’m switching gaming systems this time around. That’s right; I’m not working within the constraints of Star Wars Saga Edition this time. I’m throwing a bone to Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, which is something that I haven’t done nearly enough on this blog (among lots of other great systems). So, since I’ve already rambled on for 100 words or so, I’ll cut off the rest of this preamble and get to the meat:
The Night Hag
When looking at the Night Hag, the first thing you’ll probably notice is the level. At a level 14, and with some nasty abilities, this may seem like a monster that you can’t drop into a low-level game without some severe level and power reduction, but I’m going to show you how this monster can be used effectively, even at 1st level – all the while putting the PCs in no direct harm (well, at least from the Night Hag). Take a look at the following scenario if you don’t believe me:
People in the major city of your campaign world have been winding up dead. At first, people don’t pay this much mind – though the whisperings and rumors are still there – as the people dying are those that aren’t much missed, beggars and others living in the poorest areas of the city. However, as the PCs increase in power and status, so too does the status of the murder victims, starting to include skilled tradesmen, merchants, and small politicians and city officials. Eventually, as the PCs hit Paragon, they are contacted by an official who is afraid for his life and hires the PCs as night time security detail. As the PCs watch the manor over the night, they encounter and unmask a Night Hag, killing her in battle. It turns out the Night Hag has been using her ability to disguise herself to hide in the slums of the city as just another beggar woman, honing her skills on the people there and slowly working her way towards the city leadership. She sneaks into their dwellings at night, coupling her ability to cause unconsciousness in people and then slip into their minds to kill them. Unfortunately, the motives are still unknown at this point, though the official believes the threat now ended.
However, the murders don’t stop. This launches an investigation for the PCs where they are able uncover the Hag’s coven, finding out their motives for killing the high ranking city officials and then stepping into the power vacuum to rule the city with several other forces.
As you can see, this is a fairly versatile scenario, that you can use as either a backdrop and an aside to the main plot, or you can weave this into the main plot and introduce other elements of the Hag’s coven and a much larger threat to the city. Either way, this is best started slowly, with the PCs just getting vague whisperings about the murders going on at low levels until they can handle themselves against the coven. If they decide to become virtuous vigilantes and strike out at this hook right away, it isn’t hard to keep them out of the city. After all, the life of an adventurer isn’t complete unless he’s out slaying monsters and looting dungeons, and there’s lots of places they can be sent, through red herrings placed by the coven or otherwise. For the other beasts involved in the coven take a look at other monsters that can change their shape, or ones that could eke out an existence in a large city (or underneath said city).
There you go, Gamer Nation. Have at it. Have fun with this one, and if you decide to use it in your game, let me know how it works out for you. We’ll see you next time.