4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 401

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

While Humal was at the garrison, Sumia and Corzale learned from Allustan that Balabar had been linked to the Ebon Triad cults that were operating beneath the Dourstone mine.

This, coupled with the rapidly growing reports of Kyuss zombies in the region, drew the long overdue attention and intervention of the garrison: soldiers rounded up anyone suspected of cult activity, imprisoning, torturing, and ultimately executing most of them.

This included Balabar and his associates, which to Sumia's relief also included Kullen, leaving a power vacuum that the garrison commander was all too happy to fill. And so, in some ways Diamond Lake had improved, but in many others it had somehow gotten worse.

Given the party's history, as well as Humal's heritage and arcane...preferences, Allustan suggested that they travel east to Dovin, the Free City. Not only did the city boast a library of considerable size, but Eligos, a former associate and fellow sage, also lived there: Allustan was confident that they'd be able to learn more about Kyuss and the Age of Worms.

The characters stayed the night at Allustan's home. The next day Humal purchased a couple of cheap coffins to store and conceal his minions, and both he and Sumia went in half-and-half on a pair of mules and a cart: it would make it easier to transport the coffins and cockatrice skeleton, as well as any treasure they might find.

On the third day of their five-day trek to Dovin they passed Blackwall Keep. In the handful of days since they'd left, it had been melted down by what Humal surmised was a very big, very angry black dragon, and the corpses that had been scattered about were ominously gone. They continued on, increasing their speed to put as much distance as they could between them and the ruined keep before nightfall.

Soon after the sun set, they came across several wagons circled about a large campfire. The travelers were for the most part nondescript, but seemed very friendly: they invited the characters to stay with them for the night, offering food and shelter. The characters were grateful, up until they realized that they were worshipers of Kyuss on a pilgrimage, at which point Humal and Corzale began plotting how best to murder the lot of them.

Sumia was opposed to this, because despite worshiping a horrible god-like entity bent on destroying the world, the cultists were both kind and trusting. Plus, they'd divulged their plan to head north and wait for further visions from Kyuss, which was bereft of any noteworthy settlements. Humal and Corzale pressed the matter, and Sumia agreed to help slaughter them all if she could find evidence that they'd committed horrible deeds.

Since none of the wagons were noticeably different, Sumia chose a pair at random. The first contained nothing of note, while the second contained a suspicious barrel that oozed green slime. When Sumia went to open it, a Kyuss zombie emerged from the shadows, grabbed her, and heaved her out of the wagon. The commotion woke the cultists, and the elder ordered the zombie to stop, get back in the wagon, and close the door behind it.

The zombie did as instructed and, after the elder was certain that Sumia wasn't infested with any Kyuss worms, asked what she was doing. Sumia claimed to have heard a groan coming from within the wagon, and to everyone's surprise the elder believed her, apologized, and offered to pay her for her troubles. He explained that the zombie normally didn't make any noise, so he didn't think to tell her about it.

Sumia declined the money, and once the cultists returned to their wagons and bedrolls the characters again debated as to whether they should murder them. Eventually they decided to just continue on through the night to Dovin, and hope that the cultists didn't try hunting them down, or cause any harm before arriving at whatever amounted to Kyuss's version of a promised land.

Design Notes
First things first, if you're interested in reading/playtesting FrankenFourthyou can see the current alpha here: if you've seen the first one we've added some new classes, crafting rules, treasure tables, magic items, monsters, and a bunch of other things.

I rolled the random encounters before we started. One of the results was pilgrims, and on a whim I decided to make them Kyuss cultists, with a note to "make them seem nice". It was really entertaining to listen to the players debate about whether they should kill them, which they wouldn't have done if the cultists were all crazy evil, and trying to capture and sacrifice them.

We talked about adjusting the cleric so that it was more dependent on Wisdom. A number of talents not featured in the public alpha rely on Wisdom (like the Fire and Storm domain), and divine rites will also require it, but we're going to see if adding your Wisdom to your base Favor points is too much.

I need to at least make a notecard for Cenric, one of the soldiers from Blackwall Keep that's teamed up with them, because I keep forgetting that he exists. I'm going to give him actual fighter levels, because then we can playtest fighter exploits and see how well they work in actual, extended play.

If you're curious about Dungeons & Delvers, our other tabletop role-playing game that's in the works, you can find public alpha adventure here.

Throughout the month of May, everything in our DriveThruRPG store is 13% off. If you want something and don't use DriveThru, hit us up and we can work something out. We've also added most of our stuff to Tabletop Library and Payhip.

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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