FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 503

  • Humal (level 8 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 8 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 8 elf rogue/ranger)
  • Kuhnja'bi (level 8 human w/ devil-in-the-details fighter)

The party, going by the title Wayward Four, and three other teams—Arcane Auriga (elves with bows), Badland's Revenge (a human and a few gnolls), and Sapphire Squad (just humans, yawn)—were brought up to the now bustling arena, and spaced a hundred or so feet apart from each other.

This worked out great for Arcane Auriga: when the gong sounded they started loosing arrows at Badlands Revenge, who lacked any ranged capabilities. With both teams sufficiently occupied Sapphire Guard turned their attention to the party, charging them on steeds that their leader, Korush, conjured from rock and dust.

Humal ordered his chimera and cockatrice skeletons to move forward and shield the party, but Korush exhaled a great cloud of sand, which both blinded the party and scoured their exposed flesh. This allowed the other two riders to maneuver around the skeletons and strike, but despite these advantages Corzale and Kuhnja'bi were able to knock them from their horses. They surrendered, but their horses continued to attack.

Corzale managed to scramble on top of one, and while she struggled to stay on and smash it Kuhnja'bi easily destroyed the other, before staggering out of the billowing sand cloud. He stumbled across Sumia, who was clearly fighting a losing battle against the still-mounted and unwounded Korush. Kuhnja'bi charged into the fray, quicky knocking Korush from his horse and forcing a surrender, dispersing both the sand cloud and horses.

When the dust settled the party saw that Badlands Revenge's dire badger had been impaled by several arrows, and was now lying lifelessly on the ground. Joren was nowhere to be found, but one of Arcane Auriga's members had been literally torn apart by a bulette, and the remaining three elves had surrendered to the blood-thirsty gnolls' disappointment. With only one target left, the gnolls hooked their halberds onto the bulette's tail plates, and it dragged them along as it burrowed its way towards the party.

Suspecting that the bulette would try to emerge beneath one of them, the party spaced themselves apart and Humal commanded his cockatrice skeleton to start stomping on the ground. He hoped that the bulette would only be able to sense its presence and attack, but after a minute of relative calm they began nervously looking about until their eyes fell upon the dire badger at the other side of the arena.

To their shock it was now staring intently at them, but before they could react the bulette burst forth from the earth behind Kuhnja'bi, snatching him up in jaws that tore through his armor and flesh with ease. As it landed it flicked its tail, hurling the gnolls towards Sumia and Corzale.

Kuhnja'bi managed to wrest himself free, and Humal's chimera was able to pin it in place, preventing it from grasping another party member. Sumia and Corzale were able to render the gnolls unconscious, and just before Kuhnja'bi could drive his sword through the bulette's head it dwindled back into Joren, who promptly surrendered.

Some of the audience cheered, others were visibly dismayed at the likely costly results, but as they were being rewarded with a small box filled with gold coins and a bronze bull trophy, Raknian stood from his chair, eyes wide with recognition. He jabbed a finger towards the party, and in a booming voice loudly proclaimed, "You!"

Design Notes
So a few things came up this session. First, adventure changes.

Since FrankenFourth doesn't assume magic items, I scrapped pretty much all of them on the opposing teams (not like the characters would get to loot them, anyway), with the exception of Rennida's bow. In the original adventure it's basically a longbow that deals bonus cold damage, but I felt that was boring so changed it so that it dealt cold damage, but if she rolled a 15+ the target was also slowed from being partially encased in ice. Fortunately, it didn't come up for the party.

Unfortunately, I also changed what Sapphire Squad and Joren could do, both of which affected the party. Korush, the leader of Sapphire Squad, is a janni. I think in 3rd Edition that was a kind of half-genie. He had access to spell-like abilities that let him turn invisible and do some boring stuff like create food and speak with animals, so I gave him some sand/wind powers, including the ability to summon elemental horses because that sounded cooler than normal warhorses.

Joren was supposed to change into a crocodile, but I figured a bulette would be cooler because this is Dungeons & Dragons goddamn it and I have a really awesome bulette from Reaper (certainly cooler than all the D&D bulettes I own). It also let him burrow, which further monkey-wrenched the party's plans.

Now, game mechanics changes.

Kuhnja'bi, Maria's fighter, was built specifically to kill shit asap. She started with the specialized ability score array, which gave her a +3 that she put into Strength. Her human stat bump and stat bump you gain from being level 5 both sent into Strength, making it +5.

She then chose Devil in the Details, which allowed her to take the Wrath sin, giving her +1 damage with melee weapons. This was further supplemented with three ranks in Slayer (+6 damage but only with two-handed weapons) and the fighter's Weapon Focus class feature (+1d6 damage with all weapons at 4th-level), for a grand total of 3d6+12 damage.

Oh, did I mention he also gets two attacks?

Compare this to Corzale, a war cleric that is only dealing something like 2d6+3 damage I think, and only gets one attack (though she can spend Favor to reroll missed attacks).

So, fighters are getting a pretty big overhaul.

First, no fighting style talent at 1st-level: I think being able to wear most armors without a problem, and +1 to hit and damage with all weapons is fine. Second, Slayer is going to only give you +1 damage every Rank (maxes out at +3). Finally, the +1d6 damage thing is going to get reduced to another +1 damage with all weapons, meaning that Kuhnja'bi's damage is going to be reduced to "only" 2d6+10 damage.

Still much better than the war cleric, and she gets to make two attacks to boot, so I'll need to give war clerics a boost (or advise war clerics to multiclass into fighter a bit).

The cleric's Favor points might get changed to a kind-of per day thing. My current thought is that you choose when you pray to your god (sunrise, noon, or sunset), and when you do you get your Favor maxed out. Talents that use Favor will get bumped up, and this will let me have a cleric that can use healing magic (instead of reducing damage that people take, which feels more like a Protection Domain thing).

To help offset this, clerics will be able to make sacrifices at any part of the day to regain spent Favor points, and I'm going to noodle on a talent or ability that will let you try to invoke your god for aid, so if your cleric is out of Favor and about to bite it you might be able to squeeze out something extra.

On the upside, regardless as to whether Favor gets changed, clerics will get to choose two Domain talents at 1st-level instead of one, so you'll have something else to spend Favor on (or, if you want to be better at something you can further specialize).

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is finally out!

If you're looking for a class that lets you play almost any were-thing you want (plus a bunch of related extra content), then check out The Therianthrope. There's also The Dragon, a class that lets you play almost any dragon-ish thing you could think of.

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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