Thinking about how I'm going to expand the Lair of the Lamb.
You don't have to read it you haven't already. Just know that the adventure starts with the White Temple sacrificing the PCs to the Lamb and (probably) ends with the players escaping. It's possible that they release a demon named Davok in the process.
The Rulers of Lon Barago
The Duke and Duchess are are in the capitol of Bospero, attempting to curry favor with the queen and her four mad sons.
Their son, the Dorcheso, can usually be found in his pleasure barge upriver, asleep between a lotus cloud and a breast.
There are several knights with households nearby--you may meet them. The only interesting one is Sir Beloram, who married a fairy-woman.
For everyday matters, the White Temple is the real power in the city.
The White Temple
They worship Dormin, the god of wisdom and mathematics. They have their fingers in many pies, but importantly, they control the only court in Lon Barago.
The Lamb is not something they summoned. (It's more of a happy accident.) They became interested in it once they discovered it could grow lambfruit, which shows the future. (And unless the PCs killed both the Lamb and the Little Lambs, the possibility of lambfruit is still on the table.O
Sister Aloss tends the flowers. She's convinced that they are sending him messages. She is desperate for someone who can decode them.
Father Dibulus runs the court. The dead are allowed to speak in Lon Barago, and a windchime in the window of the courtroom gives them voice. (Father Dibulus interprets.)
Father Saffron is legitimately the nicest dude you will ever meet in Lon Barago. He loves helping people almost as much as he loves his church. Knowledgeable about diseases and curses. He runs the charity kitchen.
High Priestess Leshavela can read your character sheet by looking in your eyes. Best avoided.
Brother Alabaster is an astronomer who wears bulky, concealing robes. He is the fraternal twin brother to the Lamb. (He resembles their late mother, while the Lamb resembles their father.)
Sister Omsa tends to the Lamb. She noticed that the lambfruits improved when the Lambs diet was switched from grains to mutton. She was the first to feed the Lamb a human. Energetic, cheerful, absentminded, always intensely focused on one project at a time. Right now it is the Lamb. Before that, she was trying to improve the pie. Before that, she was attempting to discover how eggs were made.
Father Welton is not a member of the White Temple, but instead the representative of the Church. He collects the tithes. Whenever someone brings a cow to be sacrificed at the White Temple, they must bring two cows. Father Welton will pick the nicer one for the Church (himself) then turn around and sell it in the marketplace. He is contemptuous of Father Sprat.
Quests of the White Temple:
- Bring Omus captured people to help feed the lamb.
- Obviously impossible if the lamb is dead, but I still want this module to be flexible.
- Weaken the Heavy Temple.
- Take this tiny mummy and put it under Oxenbrand's bed.
- Take this little worm thing and throw it in their well.
- Find out how they get so strong. (Secret: they're eating Davok's body.)
- Embarrass them when the bishop visits.
- One suggestion: Get Grell out of there.
- Another suggestion: get them drunk.
The Heavy Temple
Worship Parshekkis, whose prime virtue is HUGENESS. Kindness and discipline are also in there. They lack the subtlety of the White Temple and will probably lose the power struggle on a long enough timeline. They are friendly and popular with people. Every brother and sister is buff. (This is where you can learn to be a muscle wizard.)
Oxenbrand, the Prime. The strongest man alive. Good natured. So disciplined that he's actually pretty boring. Just talks about his training program and how many eggs to eat per day. ("Some say it's twelve, but I've found better results with sixteen.")
Miss Greff, the cook and medic of the Heavy Temple. Mid-thirties, former adventurer. The brains of the operation. No real title, but she is universally respected.
Mordin, the Eldest. First among equals, and the only monk with any weapon training.
Dansfurion, the Eagle. Good at jumping. Wants to train you and will not stop talking about it.
Loktar, the Demon. The bad boy. Competitive. Wants to wrestle you. Will probably win. Can easily become an enemy or a friend, depending on how it goes. Prime henchman material.
Father Sprat, the Church representative. Collects tithes, hates Father Welton.
Their dark secret: Davok's headless body sits in their basement. They carve flesh from his still-living body, and eat it. The body regenerates slowly. This is the secret to their inhuman strength. In the meantime, the body seeps malice into the surrounding area, causes nightmares and mental illness. (Note: Davok's chains are enchanted for use against demons. Savvy PCs might want to hang on to them.)
Quests of the Heavy Temple
- Secure a source of cheap, reliable protein. This is their main problem. Only Greff is astute enough to give other quests.
- Kill the Lamb.
- Figure out where the Lamb came from. (Sister Omsa is exactly half a beer from telling you everything.)
- If they find out about Alabaster, then kill him, too.
- Fuck up the White Temple.
- Make copies of the High Priestess' letters.
- Recover the Anvil of Parshekkis.
- Burn down their library.
- Make the White Temple look bad when the bishop gets here.
- Suggestion 1: Stage events in the streets to show how popular the Heavy Temple is in the streets.
- Suggestion 2: reveal the Lamb sacrifices. (The sacrifices aren't illegal, but every sacrifice to a lesser god needs to be matched with an equal-or-better sacrifice to Zulin. The White temple has been dodging taxes, in a way. The White Temple will argue that they're just feeding livestock, so there will probably be a trial.
Here's here to oversee the festival, but also to check on how the two temples are doing. He wants things running smoothly--no fighting.
He's also looking for some brave souls to investigate the Crawling Castle. (It started moving again.)
He does not yet know that the Maggot is stirring.
Twenty years ago, a street urchin named Gallenty crept into a little stone house to find shelter from the rain. She had discovered the long-abandoned altar of Shendormu, a small god of mushrooms and mold.
Mossybump is about half a mile out of town. It's a weird little hill with a bunch of rare plants growing on it, often just singular examples of rare species. Visitors think that it's a clever garden, but it's not.
Inside are two rooms. The first room seats about 12 people and the priestess. Behind a sacred door is a small, moldy room, where a big mushroom grows. The mushroom doesn't seem to do anything, but it's wearing some jewelry.
(DM Secret: the mushroom is just a mushroom. The mold is the actual avatar of Shendormu.)
Gallenty sleeps in a tent outside, where she makes a living selling drugs. She'll happily tell that Shendormu is more of a metaphor than anything else.
Her only regular visitors are the two gangs of Lon Barago, for whom the Mossybump is truce territory. The Tigersnakes visit during the day, while the Razorcocks visit at night.
She will be surprised when the bishop shows up to bless the shrine.
The Tiger Snakes are the premier child gang of Lon Barago. They buy drugs from Gallenty and resell them. Don't underestimate them--they'll still fuck you up. They also sell treasure maps (some of which are even genuine). Their leader is Power Wolf. He rides a huge dog named Power Dog (Lvl 3).
The Razorcocks organize cockfights on their boat. They're friendly as long as you are spending money, but they're also quick to stab you. They know no one will miss the weirdos from out of town. Their roosters (Lvl 0 Def none Razors 1d10) are trained to go for your throat.
The two gangs are technically rivals, but c'mon, adults can't beat children in the street. And so true violence rarely breaks out.
Befriending the Temples
Should be easy. They're both involved in all the aspects of Lon Barago.
If you're starting out with the Lvl 0 funnel in Lair of the Lamb and the players have just escaped, both temples are looking to hire some deniable assets.
If the PCs advertise the fact that they killed the Lamb, the White Temple will try to have they reclaimed as escaped slaves (which I guess is legal?) and the Heavy Temple will try to shelter them. There might be a trial, money will probably have to change hands, and the PCs will have a debt that they need to pay immediately. (The White Temple will send Father Saffron to parlay with the PCs. He's very nice, and appropriately contrite.)
If the PCs are starting out in town, then the same thing is true.
If you're running the level 0 funnel, the party will exit the dungeon with one of three conditions.
- Davok is controlling one of the party members.
- Davok is free, but not controlling anyone.
- Davok is still in his box.
If the PCs are approaching Lon Barago as Level 1 characters, then Davok is still in his box.
If Davok is someone's warlock patron, he'll want them to locate Drivian.
If Davok is free, he'll eventually possess some poor White Temple monk, and then locate Drivian.
If he's in the box, he's probably going to stay in the box. If the players locate Drivian, they might be convinced to go free Davok. Or, much later, Shinedown might have them do the same.
Demons vs Devils
Demons are the rebellious hellspawn who fled the Nine Circles after the Church conquered hell
. Their interests are mostly abyssal, but occasionally you get a sociopath who likes
it on the surface world, despite it's noxious mein
Devils are chuchgoers. They can be recognized by the shackles that they wear. They serve the Church-In-Hell (which is the same as the Church? Everyone hopes so.) The devils that travel to the surface world do so to tempt us and harm us. For example, succubi are here to ensure that all humans have equal opportunities to damn themselves, not just the pretty ones.
He's the first demon that the party will encounter, and the second most powerful. He's a beast demon, and the souls of a thousand hunted animals swim in his heart, crying for release. (If he encounters a hunter, he has a hard time not killing them immediately.) He also allows a character to start taking levels in warlock.
He is clever, more clever than any man, but this intelligence is dulled by the brute emotions that slosh in Davok like an overfilled bucket. Still, the PCs should never underestimate him.
If Davok recovers his body, he will be whole again (see statblock below). He will want to become the patron of one (or more) of the PCs, so that they can bind themselves to each other. Patrons and clients cannot act overtly against each other. The spells he bestows do not come from him, but from his master.
Existing in his full form is exhausting, however. If the PCs agree to work for him, he will shrink down into a tiny elephant (6" tall) and demand to be taken along with them. When he is not giving orders, he will sleep, turning into a stone elephant figurine. Davok sleeps a lot.
His goals: find Drivian and/or Fuckload, figure out what happened, then link up with his master.
Davok will avoid helping you in his full demon form, or even in his adorable tiny elephant form. He's very drained. In a true life-or-death emergency, he might deign to help, but only at a terrible cost (e.g. another PC pledges their soul to him).
Like all demons, Davok cannot be easily killed. If he is killed through mundane violence, he will return in 1d20 hours as a spirit. Once he possesses someone (Save to resist) he gains control of them. Every day, one Level of Davok will be invested in them until they are Davok. (Davok can choose to suppress this effect.) At this point, the possession cannot be reversed.
Lvl 6 Def leather Bite 1d10
Move as human Str as ogre Dis goal-oriented, irritable
Spells (3 MD): ignite, shattershield, extinguish
Explosive Polycephaly - Whenever Davok takes damage, a new animal head explodes out of the wound giving him a new bite attack that does 1d6 damage. Davok can have up to 6 of these heads, but only two of them can attack the same target. When combat is done, Davok will rip them off and eat them (too noisy).
Banishment - Davok can only be permanently killed if the killing blow is performed by a rodent.
Ignite: Target takes [sum] damage and catches on fire. Save for half, and doesn't catch on fire.
Shattershield: Castable as a reaction when you are attacked. [Least] +4 Def. [Better] +4 Def and opponent weapon is damaged. [Best] +4 Def and opponent weapon is shattered.
Extinguish: light source is extinguished. 1 MD for a torch, 2 MD for a campfire, etc.
Least, Better, Best
Have I talked about this spell format yet? Basically your roll all of your MD, look at the highest result among your dice, and then index the result below. The more dice you roll, the better your chance for stronger results.
Pretty sure Chris came up with this mechanic, but I can't find the exact post.
A lowly spider demon, no bigger than a dog. He lives in the abandoned windmill where he considers himself a spymaster.
Drivian has a genius intellect that is spoiled by his reductionist mindset and crippling biases. He sees so many trees, but he cannot conceive of the forest.
His voice is wet and gurgling, full of hisses and pops. He has befriended the Tiger Snakes, and has enlisted them as his spy minions. His many ensorcelled spiders also gather information on his behalf. He often has the Tiger Snakes perform missions for him. ("Yessss. YESSSS! You must put these spiders on the priest's cat! Then I will learn the secrets of the White Temple! AHAHAHA!")
From his army of spiders and alcoholic children, he has learned a great deal of gossip. ("Yesss. YESSSS! Soon Elanda will discover that Marcel is cheating on her with their daughter's tutor! AHAHAHAHA!")
He's also learned that Santa Claus exists, spicy things are gross, and that dogs cannot look up.
He asks the children to sacrifice babies to him, but he doesn't actually know what babies look like (he doesn't leave his windmill--all his knowledge is verbal). And so the children have been happily sacrificing stray kittens and other small animals, much to the maniac delight of Drivian.
The children, in return, have been happily subsisting on Drivian's stories. What 10-year-old boy wouldn't want to hear about the flensing of the damned, or the endless oceans of blood, or how it sounds when the needle-hounds devour themselves on the peaks of the Apocalypse Mount?
Way better stories than Pappo tells.
If you were thinking that Drivian was harmless, you would be correct. Without Davok to motivate him, he is.
Lvl 3 Agility plate+2 Bite 1d6+poison (1d6)
Move quick Int high Wis execrable Dis Zim
Possession - Drivian is too weak to possess humans. He can possess spiders, though.
Banishment - Drivian must be bound in a cloth or net woven by a virgin. Then he must be drowned in holy water.
Spit Web (1/day) - 20' diameter. Dex or become entangled and rooted.
Summon Spiders - Swarm of spiders arrives 1 round later. (Lvl 2, immune to most forms of damage)
The Demons as Enemies
If left unattended, the PCs will eventually hear of a murder at the Heavy Temple. Although no one outside of the Heavy Temple knows it, Davok has reclaimed his body. At this point, Davok will locate Drivian and learn what happened.
Davok will probably try to possess someone (ideally a monk from the White Temple) and set him up as a prophet. Suspicion will be allayed as Davok-monk's proclamations are revealed to be true. Marcel was cheating on Elanda.
He will preach, and he will become popular. At some point he will start prophesying.
He will locate a missing child. (One of the Tiger Snakes, obeying Drivian.)
He will predict a fire. (Started by one of the Tiger Snakes. This one is suspicious, since it looks like arson. The demons almost bungle it.)
He will predict a spider bite (one of Drivian's minions spiders) and arrive with an antidote, just in time.
This sort of thing gets the Church's attention very quickly. In a few months, expect a retinue of priests and paladins to show up to meet and welcome the new saint (or eliminate him, if he is genuine). The demons expect to have the business wrapped up very quickly.
While all of this is going on, the Davok-priest will fund expeditions into the Light Collector, attempting to free (or at least contact) their master.
If the demons remain unattended, they will probably succeed at all of their goals, eventually evacuating the village to the stone circle under false pretenses, where 500 of them will die and their bodies filled by the Perilous Company.
The Demons as Allies
If Drivian is encountered first, he will try to get the PCs to seek out Davok. He knows one of the temples has him, but not which one. The PCs will probably encounter Drivian eventually. The cackling spider-thing in the old windmill is a secret, but not much of one.
When Davok and Drivian meet again, they will spend a good chunk of time cursing each other out.
"May beetles copulate in your brain, that you may have an excuse for your stupidity! You were captured! I alone evaded!"
"Worthless insect anus! Would that you had a thousand testicles and I, a hammer!"
But they'll eventually calm down and cooperate. They need to find their master.
Davok has no clue about what happened, but Drivian can fill him in. The story is simple: Fuckload betrayed them all.
Fuckload is a legion demon. The last time that Drivian saw him, he was possessing a herd of about 100 pigs.
When he jumped ship, the ensuing cascade of disasters ultimately killed the Light Collector and trapped the eldest demon in a geas that was impossible to fulfill. It was a shitstorm that ruined everyone's plans. Even Fuckload regrets it.
Because let's get one thing straight: Fuckload is an absolute idiot.
Quick, think of the tactics and planning that a violent, distracted six-year-old would choose. That's how Fuckload thinks.
He swears constantly. He shouts constantly. He wants to break things and get drunk (and it takes a lot of beer to get 100 pigs drunk.) He constantly fornicates with himself (pig on pig on pig on pig on pig).
This made everyone uncomfortable. It even made the other demons uncomfortable, although for different reasons.
Fuckload is actually hiding out at Glinden Dairy, but that's a whole separate blog post.
Banishment: All of the pigs must be killed except one. There must be no other pig or farm animal within a mile. The last pig must be seasoned, stuffed, and roasted alive. Then he must be eaten by his captors--all of them.
Finding Fuckload: The PCs will probably get their hook for that place when someone sensitive (Davok, Drivian, paladin, priest) takes a sip of a glass of milk and declares "Glech! This milk tastes like it came from the teat of a demon!".
Which is true--it did.
Shinedown is the master of the other two demons. He is currently trapped somewhere in the bottom of the Light Collector. (The dungeon, and the wizard who made it, are both called the Light Collector.)
Unlike the others, Shinedown is a chilling instrument of surgical malice. She is ruthless and utterly pragmatic, although she can be urbane and charming when the need arises.
She is currently trapped inside a dead oak tree somewhere on the bottom levels. She's a big, grimy tree. Around her are three aspects of her personality that she has isolated from the rest of her mind. Compassion, Playfulness, and Trust. They look and behave like children, and rarely stray too far from the tree.
If she is freed, she can pull herself from the ground and actually start doing stuff. She looks like siren-head with a tree atop her shoulders. As she takes damage, the wood of the tree will flake away, revealing her real face--a bloody nest of skulls and far, far too many teeth.
She can also transform into a human with a red scarf and red gloves. Anyone who removes it from her has power over her.
Shinedown is also capable of extracting oaths. Most people die when they break a promise to her. Combined with her willingness to threaten people's lives and families, she's capable of collecting a lot of servants very quickly.
Lvl 9 Defense plate Slam 2d8 + shatter
Move fast Int high Wis high Dis cold pragmatism
Spells (4 MD): raise zombie, charm, teleport, control teeth
Possession - Shinedown can possess anything taller than a child.
Banishment - Shinedown must be crushed by something really, really heavy.
Shatter - One piece of armor or held item shatters. Magical items get a save.
True Magic - This is basically just a small version of wish. Twice as many MD must be invested as normal. So to get an effect comparable to a 1 MD spell, 2 MD must be expelled. The high cost is offset by the extreme versatility of this ability. Effects are permanent whenever 4 MD are used.
Demon Magic - Whenever a mishap is rolled, a lesser demon is summoned. Whenever a catastrophe is rolled, a similar demon is summoned.
Teleport: Max distance is 5 ft / 50 ft / 500 ft / 5000 ft. You can bring yourself and 0/1/2/3 other creatures. Unwilling creatures get a save, and must be touched.
Control Teeth: Can be used to push or pull things with teeth, hold jaws closed, etc (Str bonus = [sum]). Can also be used to rip out [sum] teeth if they fail a save (dealing [sum]) damage, and breaking their jaw if more than 10 points of damage are dealt. As part of the same spell effect, teeth removed this way can be fired at a target for [sum] damage, although this requires an attack roll.
Shinedown's dramatic executions are typically performed by pulling someone's teeth down their throat, through the arteries of their neck, and into their heart.
The Perilous Company
All of the demons are trapped here until they can fulfil their oath, which is to resurrect the extracted souls of a mercenary group called the Perilous Company.
If Fuckload hadn't fucked everything up, Shinedown would have helped the Light Collector instill the souls of the Perilous Company into immortal war-bodies. But that's all gone now. By now, containment has failed and the war-bodies have probably all been eaten by rats.
For what it's worth, the Perilous Company agreed to all this. Or at least, the part where they agreed to get paid in exchange for godlike strength and invulnerability. The part where their souls were trapped in some dungeon while their bodies rotted wasn't part of the plan. Neither was all of their loved ones dying without ever knowing their fate.
Shinedown, Davok, and Drivian will probably work together to install the Perilous Company in the bodies of whatever peasants and bystanders they can get their hands on. They want to go home, and there's no other options. This may be a peasant or two in the beginning, but if left unattended, they'll eventually try to capture the whole town of Lon Barago (or at least, 500 of them).
The Perilous Company is probably alloyed to the same cause, but expect some anger when they wake up in the body of a random rancher. Most will want to resurrect their battle-brothers immediately. Other goals include finding their living descendants (if any), destroying the Light Collector, and/or trying to see if they can still get immortal warbodies.
I like how the three initial demons are all hard to take seriously to some extent (Davok is a tiny helpful elephant! Drivian hangs out with ten-year-olds and collects petty gossip! Fuckload is literally named Fuckload!) but then you get to their boss...and you realise that they may be funny or cute or bumbling, but they're still very much demons.ReplyDelete
Demonic menace increases exponentially with more demons acting cohesively.Delete
I love the dynamic of three comic relief villains, who are made more dangerous when under the command of their more evil, more serious boss.Delete
Unrelated note, I like the implication that Compassion, Trust, and Playfulness are all qualities that demons can have. To the point where Shinedown needed to cast these parts of herself out, to become the cold, ruthless girlboss she is.
Agreed, it's a nice touch. Can't remember the specifics of Centerra's hell but I'm guessing that these guys are operating outside the paladins' hierarchy? Also nice job indeed Chris. The sum thing was already elegant and worse/better/best is a fitting addition.ReplyDelete
Demons = rogue hellspawn.Delete
Devils = devout hellspawn. Like, succubus are here to tempt us so that we all have equal odds at damnation, not just the pretty people.
High Priestess Leshavela is such a delight! Isn't it fantastic applying some of your godlike DM powers and giving it to an NPC?ReplyDelete
[AMESTRIS MILITARY MARCH INTENSIFIES IN THE DISTANCE]ReplyDelete
How you are able to consistently post bangers like this always amazes. Every entry overflows with flavor.
Love the little mention of the Crawling Castle!
Was the crawling castle mentioned before? The closest thing I could think of was the growing finger from the apocalypse maggot dungeon or the house of hours, but that was for eldritch americana.ReplyDelete
Oh, it's the House of Hours, repurposed.Delete
Great post! Loved the four demons and Father Alabaster (I am sure there is nothing eldrich going on under the robes).ReplyDelete
Is there a published Warlock class for the GLOG?
Do I spot a Dunwich Horror reference or two here?ReplyDelete
Is the Light Collector the evolution of the Telescope Dungeon from your 'How I Write an Adventure' post a while back? I'm really interested to find out more about the Light Collector (both wizard & dungeon) and how Fuckload betrayed the others.ReplyDelete
I assume that the Red Temple described in the Lair of the Lamb has been replaced with The Mossybump here?
It's a shuffle. Red Temple dwindled into Mossybump. And yes, the Light Collector is the evolution of the same telescope dungeon idea.Delete
And rest assured, Fuckload betrayed all his friends in the dumbest possible way.
Excellent stuff man. Thank you for sharing. What is Davok's true form exactly? Or did I miss it?ReplyDelete
Sort of like an elephant man with a fucked up head and an asymmetrical body--one big arm. Too many tusks.Delete