Tag Archives: dnd 4th edition

Threat Assessment: The Night Hag

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.


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The Living World

In lieu of all the interest from people at DragonFest and Gamers Club meetings about the upcoming game, I’ve opted to try a different approach to the game. I’m going to take a page from the Living Forgotten Realms campaign through the RPGA, and run it with a “Living” feeling to it. It won’t be a traditional “living” game, just because the logistics are just not there right now. I’ve got the world more or less fleshed out, and what I’ll be doing is writing a set of modules taking place at different points with different goals. Some may be traditional dungeon crawls looking for a magic item to help the besieged forces of the living beings to fighting a battle at the mountain pass against the undead hordes, to exploring the island of Godshead to find out if there’s anything there that can help, to infiltrating the Empire as members of the Inquisition and taking the fight to the Undying King. There won’t be any real cohesion at this poitn and I’ll be creating sets of pregens for each adventure, which will take place at different levels. This allows me to run games when I have the interest and the time and keep the time of each adventure down to a reasonable time so I can get to work and let everyone else enjoy the rest of game night.

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A World At Their Fingertips

After a short drafting session, I have a preliminary map of the game world for the 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons game. It is a large, single continent with a small island off of the northeast coast. The Empire of Bassidia sits in the middle of the continent, their reach and influence stretching out over almost the whole continent. I decided that by making the last few stretches of free land separated from each other by ocean travel or through the Empire itself, I would make the plight of humanity all the more dire. A mountain range runs across the northern part of the land, underneath a major isthmus dividing the top part of the continent after a great event years ago known as “the wounding.” Two small passes in the mountain ranges on the extreme edges of the two peninsulas formed by the isthmus mark the only thing between the undead hordes of the Bassidian Empire and the holdings of free men on the peninsulas.

The island of Godshead sits a few miles off the coast of the northeastern peninsula. Still not much is known about this island to this day. Only a few formal expeditions have been sent, and those back when living beings still ruled the Empire. None of those expeditions ever returned. A few brave (or foolhardy, the line seems to blur a lot around that point) explorers have gone there to see if they could find something to help them in their fight against the Undying King, but no one has seen, or heard back from any of them.

A small peninsula on the eastern part of the continent holds another small group of the living, and marks the the home of the Radiant Church. The small pass is protected by the strongly fortified Radiant Towers on either side of the land bridge.

The last bastion of humanity sits on the southwest, past what is known as the Forest of the Primeval, which sits mostly inside the lands of the Empire, but were never quite tamed while living beings still held the throne. Now, who knows what breed of monster and undead make the forest their home?

The only river on the continent has it’s source, now a few miles underwater. It used to sit high in the mountains, which thanks to the active volcano in the middle, were a great source of natural hot springs. Now the river flows from the southern point of the isthmus. It runs in a southeasterly direction, through the Forest of the Primeval, and out into the sea off the eastern coast of the bottom peninsula. A natural tributary branches off about midway through the river’s run, flowing into the sea off the southern coast of the continent. A man-made tributary runs off the main river a few miles before it spills out into the eastern seafront. This tributary leads to a man-made lake, dubbed the Well of Humanity, which is one of the only sources of fresh water that is traded at great risk to between the humans. So far the undead have contented themselves with attacking the ships carrying the water supplies instead of damming up the river, wanting to wipe humanity out by direct means.

That is a basic description of the major geological and geographical features of the land.

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Shadows of Bassidia

Well, since I realized the other day that it’s been weeks since I got off my butt and made a blog post, I decided that I should probably get back on it.

A while back, I decided that in order to properly write and create classes and powers for Chrono d20, I would need to finally run a 4th Edition game in order to try and get my head around some of the math. So, I decided that, at least this semester, possibly next, I would be running a 4th Edition game for a few hours each Tuesday or Wednesday. Despite that fact that this is going to be a test bed campaign, I really also wanted it to be interesting, so my mind began working to come up with an interesting campaign hook.

I finally settled on tweaking the idea of the “holy inquisition,’ which I think everyone is familiar with: a powerful Empire has a small, highly militaristic and oftentimes highly religious group in place in order to root out potential enemies to their power and keep the rest of the society in line. Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars had the Imperial Inquisitorious and the ISB in place in order to deal with Jedi that survived the Clone Wars as well as to keep the rest of the galaxy in line through fear tactics. Real world examples include groups as diverse as the Spanish Inquisition to the Brownshirts and Blackshirts from the facist regimes of the late thirties and early forties.

I decided to take that idea and twist it slightly. Instead of the inquisition being the bad guys working for the Empire, let’s make them the good guys working against an evil and corrupt Empire? Okay, there’s hook one. Now let’s decide just why this Empire is evil. I could go with the whole corrupt regime ruled by a mad man, but that just doesn’t strike me at this current point. Well, then I started thinking about famous villains in DND history, past or present. One of the major villains that most people (well, those that played back when Ravenloft was still big) is Count Strahd, a vampire lord. I started looking through the Monster Manual and at some of the products available to me, and noticed a good deal of love for the undead, especially with the Open Grave monster compendium in print. That got my brain working.

Interlligent undead ruling over an Empire they took over, using powerful undead beasts and ghosts as soldiers in an army that mortal men just can’t destroy. Living beings are decimated and fractious, living in small, mobile communities outside of the ever expanding area of rule of the ancient Empire of Bassidia that has now become a perversion of what it once was. This undead Empire also gives a likely enemy for an Inquisition, especially one religious nature, working to keep hope alive in the hearts of the remaining living races.

Anyway, that’s the general overview of the campaign setting. I’m looking to fill out some more things here in the next few days.

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Project Chrono: 4th Edition

A while back while I was playing through Chrono Trigger for the millionth and a half time, I got the idea to try and reconcile it into a pen and paper and quickly settled on the d20 system and quickly moved from basic d20 rules to the Saga rule set. The game was progressing nicely and even featured a free form, skill based magic system designed to let all characters build and cast their own spells, using the same template for the “techs” they developed over the course of their adventuring careers. It made it through it’s alpha test, with very few hiccups on the character spectrum, though I wasn’t quite happy with the way combat worked.

Fast forward to about a week and a half ago. I’m at work catching up on my backlog of podcasts, working my way through some episodes of Radio Free Hommlet (the d20 radio hosted DND 4th Edition podcast) when it hits me. This system is absolutely perfect for a game like Chrono.

Consider this a teaser and an official announcement of one of my many pet projects. I’ll hopefully be looking at dissecting the 4th Edition system and math and working on building classes and abilities to fit the feel of the Chrono Trigger world. I’ll keep you posted here as developments happen.

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