4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 404

  • Humal (level 5 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 5 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 5 elf rogue/ranger)

After recovering their equipment, the characters learned from the surviving doppelganger that Filge had been captured by them (answering the question as to whether he had betrayed the characters), and that he was currently imprisoned somewhere beneath the warehouse while their boss experimented on him.

Initially they were going to spare the doppelganger's life, but changed their mind when it became clear he wouldn't let them leave with the other prisoner, a wealthy woman that one of them was impersonating because money. Whoever she was, she was unconscious due to a steady supply of drugs: they'd have to return for her after rescuing Filge.

The floor of the room beyond the makeshift prison had almost completely rotted away and/or collapsed, revealing water from which numerous rusted spear- and sword-blades jutted forth. Long, narrow planks of wood were arranged about, offering several treacherous paths across the water. To make matters worse, the doppelganger warned them that there was something invisible guarding the room.

After carefully examining the boards, Corzale realized that some were much flimsier than others. She was testing out a path, because if they could support her then Sumia and Humal would have no problem, when something struck her, hard. Unable to maintain her balance, she leaped for shore; while she didn't completely make it, she did manage to avoid getting impaled on the blades in the water.

While Humal helped Corzale up, Sumia raced across the planks and scattered the contents of a few acid vials about where she thought that whatever attacked Corzale would be. The acid splashed harmlessly into the water, and then the invisible creature swatted Sumia off of her plank.

Corzale went to help, but before she could hoist Sumia out of the water she was again struck, but this time she was able to maintain her balance. Corzale whirled about and swung her hammer at the seemingly empty space: there was some resistance, though she couldn't be sure how much harm, if any, she had inflicted on the creature.

Humal wasn't sure what to do, until Sumia surfaced and shouted to him that there were numerous skeletons in the water: He reached out with his magic and animated four of them. They hauled themselves up using the very spears that impaled them, snapped them off near the tips, and crawled onto the planks. Since the invisible creature seemed to still be in front of Corzale, that's where he directed them to attack.

The good news was that his guess was correct. The bad news was that this drew the creature's attention, and there were two of them: one flew towards Humal and cornered him, probably hoping that the skeletons would collapse if he was slain, while the other inadvertently shielded it from Corzale's thrown axes and Sumia's arrows. Luckily Sumia's arrows didn't turn invisible when lodged into the creature, which made it easier for Corzale to target it with her hammer even if it moved.

After a few good whacks Corzale heard a soft puffing noise, which she assumed meant that the creature was dead. She didn't have long to deliberate, as Humal's skeletons weren't proving very effective against the remaining creature: she raced back to shore, and just barely finishing it off before it pummeled Humal to death.

Even dead the creatures remained invisible, and their "corpses" felt light and spongy. Humal wondered if their remains could have some alchemical, or even possibly magical application, so stuffed both of them into a sack: once they rescued Filge he'd visit the mage's guild again and see.

The only other door led to a much smaller room, which contained a square shaft. Some thirty feet below they could see water, in which bobbed an open barrel. A rope ladder was set into one of the shaft's walls: Sumia used it to descend into the barrel, and discovered that a rope had been tied to it. The other end of the rope trailed off into the water, and when Sumia tugged at it found that it was solidly attached to something else.

Sumia offered to dive into the water, figure out where the rope led to, and return to tell them. Corzale and Humal reluctantly agreed, as she was the best suited for both swimming and keeping out of sight, but also the most likely to find herself in trouble. Just in case, Humal instructed his skeletons to follow and protect her.

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Design Notes
First time I've used invisible critters in FrankenFourth. The characters initially had a very slim chance to figure out where the invisible stalkers were, because they were moving very slowly, waiting for someone to get on the wooden planks (I think I pegged the Perception Difficulty at 25, which is effectively impossible for a character without a good Wisdom and/or Perception ranks).

But, after an invisible stalker attacked the players asked where the attack came from, which allowed them to make an educated guess as to where the invisible stalker was. If they guessed right, they got to make an attack without any penalties, unlike 3rd Edition, which imposes both an attack penalty and 50% miss chance even if you do "hit": I figured having to essentially wait and get hit was bad enough.

Here's the stat block for the invisible stalker (as quickly bullshitted together during the game):

Invisible Stalker
Level 5 Large Elemental (Air)

Ability Scores 
STR +4 DEX +4 WIS +2
CON +2 INT +0 CHA +0

Perception +5, Stealth +7

Invisible: Always invisible, even when attacking, and cannot be dispelled.
Initiative +4
Speed 10 feet/30 feet; flying (hover)
Fort 14 Ref 14 Will 12
Armor 1
Wounds 26 Vitality 16 Total 42

Slam +5 to hit; 2d6+4 damage

2d6 x 100 sp of invisible stalker substance

Invisible stalker substance can be sold to an alchemist or some other wizard, allowing you to just cash it in as you would gems or art objects that you don't wanna keep. It can also be used for oils and potions (it's value in sp lets you determine how many you can make using item crafting costs), and possibly magic items (ultimately up to the GM).

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Beastmaster is also out, and we're working on a cleric and paladin class next. If there's anything you want/don't want to see in those classes, let us know!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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