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Allis
2008-04-08, 04:25 AM
Hi all,

At this moment, I'm trying to design a campaign for a few friends of mine. It's a bit special, I'll be DMing two groups (on different days) who are working towards the same goal, but with different information. As soon as they both reach point "Boom!" I will mix the two groups and then they will have to come up with their solution to the problem. If they exchange info, and do it right, the outcome is really good. But if they don't, and start murdering about, the sh*t will ultimately hit the fan.

problem is, I don't have that much experience designing D&D campaigns. I'm not worried about the DMing, I've done that before, just not DnD much. The storyline/world is not a problem eighter. The stats are, and the way things are called. I need help translating my ideas into dnd terms.

Story in short: Both groups set out to find an artifact called the King's Horn. One group is sent by the current king, the other by his angry half-brother. The first group is told to bring the horn back, so the king can blow it and call upon help from his ancestor. They must be sure not to break it, for doing that will raise the dead king and his army and they will turn on the living. The other group is asked to find the horn and destroy it, for blowing it will raise the dead which will raise the dead king and his army and they will turn on the living.

It is both true, the ancient king did not trust anyone with his kingdom and so has designed a method to return and take charge in times of need. Even bringing the horn to the castle will raise dead soldiers all around and the king eventually in the throne room.

But now, the DnD terms. What kind of monster is a long-dead king brought back by an artifact? What schools of magic are on the artifact. What kind of monsters are the raised soldiers?

And what kind of havoc do I use when the players are sensible enough to leave the thing where they found it?

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-04-08, 04:34 AM
What schools of magic are on the artifact.Necromancy. Maybe conjuration, too, if the soldiers are just being summoned instead of having their bodies reanimated.
What kind of monsters are the raised soldiers?Probably skeletons, large numbers of them. If the game is significantly high-power, you can also toss in some ghosts and the like.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-04-08, 05:17 AM
But now, the DnD terms. What kind of monster is a long-dead king brought back by an artifact? What schools of magic are on the artifact. What kind of monsters are the raised soldiers?

King: Ton of options here. Mummy (or advanced mummy), vampire, wight (or advanced wight), or just apply the lich template (and if the King's not a spellcasting type, ignore the phylactery and spellcasting requirement; or maybe make destroying the artifact a requirement to stop him from returning).

Dead soldiers: Skeletons and zombies; ghouls and ghasts; wights;

Artifact: Sounds like Necromancy (animating dead corpses), although if the item actually summons things from the netherworld, it's Conjuration. If it summons the dead king from the netherworld and animates some dead soldier corpses, it's both.

If the players don't touch the artifact, have someone else claim it. Basically, their options will be to either decide what to do with it, or to let someone else do something possibly destructive and foolish with it.

It'd generally help if you said what books you have available - and what levels the PCs are going to be. The above assumes the SRD.

If you've got other books available, then...

King

Death Knight (Monster Manual II)
Huecuva (Fiend Folio)
Bone or Corpse Creature (Book of Vile Darkness)


Dead soldiers

Bone or Corpse Creature (Book of Vile Darkness)
Dread Warrior (Monsters of Faerūn / Unapproachable East / some other FR books)
Swordwraith (Fiend Folio)



Edit:

Additional help since you're new to the system...

If both parties are about 4 people, and they're expected to fight the king personally, the king and his retinue should form an encounter of about EL X+6, where X is the party level; and the king himself should be CR X, +/- 2 or so.

Google for "encounter level calculator" or use this (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/ELCALC/Welcome.asp) to help.

Individual undead soldiers should probably be of low CR; maybe X-4 to X-6 or so, with regular skeletons and zombies the minimum. If the party is 10th-level, using armed ghouls, ghasts, or wights may work out better than trivially weak skeletons and zombies.

Personally, I'd go with death knight or huecuva for the king, and dread warrior for the dead soldiers, but those are not SRD monsters, so it might be impossible.

Grynning
2008-04-08, 05:51 AM
If you're statting these monsters out, it sounds like you expect that someone will end up blowing the horn or bringing it to the castle (i.e., party A will succeed and Party B will not succeed in simply destroying the thing).

If you're sure that the king will get summoned, you do need to consider the ECL of your party and what an appropriate encounter will be for them. The king, as a big bad, should have a CR of ECL+3 or 4, and the horde of soldiers should be relatively low level monsters that combined make a similar CR (look in the DMG for the CR rules). You can just add class levels or hit dice to the existing undead if you need to power them up, or just use the lower level ones (Skeletons, Zombies) if they need to be weak. For the king, the ideas already given are great, but if they're too complicated, the Libris Mortis book has the Necropolitan template, which is easy to apply to a human. Just build the king as a human character (aristocrat/fighter or whatever) and slap it on, and you're done. (Tossing the flavor of the template out, of course, but who cares...)

If you think your players will be smart enough not to set it off, you should work harder on the stuff leading up to the horn and the aftermath of its destruction. Worst case scenario, you can use the basic undead monsters from the SRD/MM in whatever combination for the big fight if it happens.

Allis
2008-04-08, 07:50 AM
thanks for all the great ideas! I do have the MM 2 (and 1, and probaby can borrow the other books) Thing with borrowing is, I don't want the players to know right away it's me who's hosting the campaign. Tey'll get an invitation in their mail, with in- and outgame info. I'll ask them to roughly sketch two characters of different classes (so that I don't end up with 4 rogues, three druids and a mage) from wich I will choose. i'll start at 5th level and let them level twice during the adventure. It's not meant to be an ongoing campaign, I don't have time to do that.

If they break it, the king will apear as well. It's a lose lose situation, but hey, what dnd character would pass on the chance to kill thing that are already dead? It will take them a while to discover where the item is located, and how to reach it. There will be jungle fights, dungeon crawling, priest bribing, puzzle solving and traps setting involved. I'm guessing it will take them about two or three evenings adventuring to get to the point where the two groups meet. Then we'll have a weekend session in which they can determine the faith of the island-kingdom they're on. The idea is, that the priest/sorcerer who designed the horn for the old king got remorse. he know he can't destroy it, so he burries it deep inside an old temple on a small island. Being slightly paranoia and highly gifted, he surrounds the temple with all sorts of protection, including traps, monsters and the like. [can a summoner use summoned creatures to do the building work?] While it's a hassle to get In the place, it's hell to get out. I'm guessing the whole structure will come down if you remove the horn... Am I being a sadistic DM?

Allis
2008-04-08, 07:57 AM
oh I'm not worried about things being too complicated. Because the campaign hasn't started yet, I have all the time in the world to prepare and try out the stuff I've come up with. If anyone's interested, I could mail the invitation-story text. I'd like some remarks on that as well but it's quite long to post here.

Allis
2008-04-09, 01:38 AM
does anyone have some ideas for the creatures guarding the island? It has to be something that was set there a long time ago, and is triggered by the arrival of the party. I'd like to make the trouble get worse while they get closer to the ruined temple. so first some druid has probably ust enforced the growth of plants, making it hard to enter the jungle. But I'd like some jungle constructs or temple statues to rise and fight them. Possibly some jungle creatures bred long ago to guard the temple, now they are feral and aggressive toward any human...

Dannoth
2008-04-09, 07:12 AM
It's gotta make sense - How did the King's Horn end up on an island where guradians "happen" to have lived for quite some time?

Might be better to have the object guarded by something that was drawn to the Horn's power (Lich or Crazy Shaman).

As for the natural guardians ... nothing says random encounter like a tiger with enhanced HD. Maybe a gimped version of a stone golem (Statues that attack what could be more fun?) or some gargoyles around the ruins.

GL with the campaign

Allis
2008-04-17, 08:19 AM
wow, totally missed that last answer, sorry.

here's one of the posters i made for the adventures.

http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c18/Ilsuh/PARCHMENT.jpg

i do like the idea of fat stone golems at the entrance. Like the statues you see at bhudist temples, with the big bare bellies. It's a good idea to have som evil drawn to the horn, eighter in the cavern under the temple or when they take it out of there.

chevalier
2008-04-17, 09:42 AM
But now, the DnD terms. What kind of monster is a long-dead king brought back by an artifact?

What if the King is not a monster after all? What if it's just him, i.e., a high-level PC brought back to life--the horn could be a "Horn of True Resurrection" or some such?

Allis
2008-04-17, 10:10 AM
Hmmz, that might be a good idea. would a true resurrection heal any body malformations a character may have? Of diseases? Missing limbs? insanity?

chevalier
2008-04-17, 10:54 AM
Hmmz, that might be a good idea. would a true resurrection heal any body malformations a character may have? Of diseases? Missing limbs? insanity?

From the SRD:

"This spell functions like raise dead, except that you can resurrect a creature that has been dead for as long as 10 years per caster level. This spell can even bring back creatures whose bodies have been destroyed, provided that you unambiguously identify the deceased in some fashion (reciting the deceased’s time and place of birth or death is the most common method).

Upon completion of the spell, the creature is immediately restored to full hit points, vigor, and health, with no loss of level (or Constitution points) or prepared spells. "

So I guess it could, depending on what you interpret "full hit points, vigor, and health" to mean. If this is the effect you desire, you could have the horn cast heal, restoration or even a wish spell to bring the King back to whatever condition you want. This horn could be a major artifact that not only resurrects, but fully heals and restores the named party. It's your campaign and your magic item!

Hmmm...long dead king...I might gank this for my own campaign...

C.

chevalier
2008-04-17, 11:18 AM
What if the King is not a monster after all? What if it's just him, i.e., a high-level PC brought back to life--the horn could be a "Horn of True Resurrection" or some such?

Further thought: maybe someone cast Peaceful Repose and Permantized it on the King, and the horn is just a regular raise dead?

elliott20
2008-04-17, 11:27 AM
really though, I don't think the actual mechanics of it is THAT important beyond some of the stuff people have already said. Quite honestly, it's your campaign, your McGuffin artifact. You can decide what you want to do with it.

what difference does it make if it casts true res or just raise dead? I say don't worry about it too much and just focus on the adventure and all that. sounds to me you already have a good idea as to what to do anyway.

oh yeah, I'm putting in my bid for "sect/cult existing for the sole purpose of protecting the horn"

Allis
2008-04-17, 11:39 AM
would you then like the rest of the fluff as well? It does need some tweaking though. I could PM the introduction emails to you, the text I used to invite my players to this game.

I have them play two groups, one working for the current king, the other for his half brother. The king is paranoia, and thinks his kingdom is about to be invaded by the mainland. The brother is sent into exile long ago but has managed to stay on the island (it's about the size of madagascar). Both send a party forth to find the horn. The king wants to blow it so the old king comes under his controll (false, but what does he know), the brother wants it utterly destroyed for he thinks no good can come of it (trouble is, same thing will happen). In both cases, the old king rises to claim the throne again.

I want the old king to be absolutely totally and visibly evil. I want minor undead rising in a 50 ft circle around the horn, from the graveyard, out of the sea and from peoples backyards if nessecary, to form an undead army. What I need is a way the king has had this artifact made, a reason it's hidden, a reason that it's not blatently discribed in the history books (someone tore it out, but why?)

I'm guessing one of the priests that helped him make it wanted it gone after all. But how and why would he destroy all the evidence of its and his own existence? He can't destroy it because that will bring forth the king. But why would the King agree to this strange artifact? Maybe because it's the only way it will grant him an army as soon as he rises? In that case I guess the King has to be as dead as the rest of them.

sure, the party can't fight hundreds of undead. So I need some kind of emergency switch. The undead are eighter really slow and kinda harmless, or there is a way to destroy many of them really fast. If they would break the horn in the city the **** would hit the fan really quick. I might need the king to meet them somewhere secluded, if they decide to bring it home.

It might be nice flavour to have the dead rise if the horn comes close, even without the presence of the king. The undead would drop dead again if they are no longer in the vincinity. It would explain loads of dead priests and tigers and whatdoyouknows on the island running around undead.

How many simple undead people could a 8th level party handle? I'm guessing an undead peasant is still a peasant, only reeking.

chevalier
2008-04-17, 12:40 PM
How many simple undead people could a 8th level party handle? I'm guessing an undead peasant is still a peasant, only reeking.

Well, simple undead to my mind means "zombie", so just use the commoner zombie stat block and a challenge rating generator to figure out how many.

C.


really though, I don't think the actual mechanics of it is THAT important beyond some of the stuff people have already said. Quite honestly, it's your campaign, your McGuffin artifact. You can decide what you want to do with it.

what difference does it make if it casts true res or just raise dead? I say don't worry about it too much and just focus on the adventure and all that. sounds to me you already have a good idea as to what to do anyway.



Yeppers! He can call it a "Horn of just raising this particular dead king from the dead with this stat block" if he wants" :)


oh yeah, I'm putting in my bid for "sect/cult existing for the sole purpose of protecting the horn"

Cool idea.

batsofchaos
2008-04-17, 12:49 PM
Conceivably, an eighth-level party could handle over 100 human commoner zombies, and potentially twice as many skeletons. Doing so would be very difficult; they'd be taking an awful lot of hits even if the undead can only hit them on a natural 20, but a turn undead from a Cleric will always be able to affect them (a result of 0 or lower on a turning check is cleric's level - 4 number of hit dice can be affected, so lowest possibility is 4 hit dice. Skeletons have 1 and zombies have 2, so if that's all they're fighting you don't even need to roll). On an average turning damage roll from a cleric with average charisma would result in 14 hit dice being turned, ie 7 zombies or 14 skeletons, and since the cleric is level 8 they'd be destroyed outright. And even with an average charisma a cleric can destroy this many three times in one day, so on average 21 zombies or 42 skeletons. If the cleric rolls really well and has a high charisma, they could potentially destroy over 100 zombies/200 skeletons with turning attempts.

The priest may have hidden the horn because he didn't want it to be used, but then sabotaged the information about its existence (thus weakening a chance of it staying hidden) because of a vain desire to be remembered in a positive light. Since he had a hand in creating it, he didn't want that blood on his soul in the eyes of his descendants. People can do things that are dumb/not in the best interest of others for selfish reasons. Even if the priest responsible didn't tear the pages out, someone else might have to "preserve the dignity of the kingdom and avoid a scandal."

Mewtarthio
2008-04-17, 01:05 PM
=The priest may have hidden the horn because he didn't want it to be used, but then sabotaged the information about its existence (thus weakening a chance of it staying hidden) because of a vain desire to be remembered in a positive light. Since he had a hand in creating it, he didn't want that blood on his soul in the eyes of his descendants. People can do things that are dumb/not in the best interest of others for selfish reasons. Even if the priest responsible didn't tear the pages out, someone else might have to "preserve the dignity of the kingdom and avoid a scandal."

Alternatively, he could have simply been hiding it and suppressing all knowledge of it to assuage his own guilty conscience, without actually considering the implications of his act. In other words, he's just sweeping the horn under the rug and trying to forget about it.

Another option is that there were powerful devils involved in its creation. They have sequestered it away because they know that, in the future, the king will become little more than a legend, and all knowledge of the horn will be limited to a select few who don't even know the whole story (ie the current king and his brother). That way, nobody will be prepared when the king returns with his army to enslave the land again.

As for why the king built this thing in the first place:
Maybe it's a "subverted wish" trick. Just once, as a contingency, the horn may be blown or shattered, and "the true king will shake off all wounds and hardships. No enchantment shall compel him, nor shall pain dissuade him, from reclaiming his throne. At the sound of the horn, loyalties will be renewed, and his soldiers will rise up to obey the king's commands." The king mistakenly believed that he could blow the horn if he were ever exiled, thereby healing any wounds and geases he may have suffered, and lead a coup against his usurper. Of course, this pretty much requires that powerful devils are involved.

Allis
2008-04-17, 01:52 PM
I'm getting more and more great ideas. The reason why I'm so anal on the mechanics, is that I don't want to spoil the fun of the more experienced players (former DM's and such) by creating something obviously impossible.

The characters will have a glimpse of the priest that has hidden the horn. In the palace room they meet the king in is a huge painting. it's a painting of the old king seated on a high chair somewhere outside. behind him are a few advisors of some sort, and a man in foreign armor is handing him the reigns of a white mare. This mare represents the Kingdom Romilla, which the king has gained back from the mainland Emperor. One of the advisors in the back is a priest. All his clothing is done in great detail and he stands really close to the king, but his face is completely carved and burned away...

The new king could have half a salvaged page from the old chronicles, in which a hint to the horn is given. I want them to go searching for the old priest cult, where they find a really old man who is really rambling, a bit of a prophet but then reciting the past. He can tell them something about the lost cult on a remote island.

... I like posting here, it gives me fresh ideas!

elliott20
2008-04-17, 02:26 PM
well, we can pretty much write up a simple flow of events.

King, for whatever reason, wants the ability to live forever.

Priest was convinced or tricked into constructing this horn. Perhaps somewhere through the process, the priest through some event chose to subvert the actual nature of the horn. (instead of granting immortality or healing wounds, it only serves to raise the king from the grave to become some unholy version of itself)

Priest suffers remorse for having built the damn thing

King dies, the power of the horn was never activated

King's men tried to use the horn, only to have the priest thwart their attempt
fearing that the horn will be discovered again, the priest tries his best to destroy all documentation of the existence of the horn and have it hidden in some remote place

fearing that future generations might stumble upon it, he creates the Brotherhood of Sacred Silence, a cult whose sole purpose is to ensure this island remains forgotten in history along with the horn. And anyone who steps onto the island in search of it dies.

The very ruins that the horn rests in was cleverly disguised to be nothing more than an empty tomb that was robbed of it's contents years ago by scavengers, hiding the REAL entrance to the actual tomb. The ruins are surrounded by a small village populated entirely of progenies of this cult. Many of them have only the dimmest awareness as to what they are guarding.


I wouldn't worry too much about the actual mechanics of the horn itself, since you've already established it as an artifact, which means you basically get to call the rules on that one. If your players really must know, just tell them it's some variation of necromancy + conjuration and leave it be. I don't think this horn was ever meant to be used in any other fashion anyway.

Yakk
2008-04-17, 02:51 PM
Idea:
The Undead King is in two parts.

A non-physical ghost that animates a body.

The two are tied to the same location.

Ghost: Cleric 6, Ghost template, CR 8
Body: Ranger 6, Lich template, CR 8

The Ghost is bound to the Body. While the Body is animated, all Move actions taken by the Body must also be taken by the Ghost, and the Ghost may not manifest, but is still visible as a ghostly aura around the body (typically mistaken for part of the lich)

It can cast spells, use it's gaze attack, and moan, while the body engages in attacks.

The Body is fully controlled by the Ghost. It considers the Ghost to be it's Phylactery.

There is a Shield Other (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/shieldother.htm) like effect that transfers 1/4 of the damage dealt to the body or ghost to the other.

If the Body is destroyed, the Ghost immediately is forced to Manifest, and is bound to stay near the Body. The gear on the body becomes ghostly, and joins the Ghost. When the Ghost is killed, the gear falls to the ground.

If the Ghost is destroyed, the Body goes berzerk (rages as a Barbarian equal in level to it's HD, gaining temporary HP equal to 3 times it's HD) until slain or the Ghost returns.

They add their turning HD to each other, making them 16 HD when both are present. Once one is down, a relatively small 8 HD remains.

...

This is roughly two CR 8 monsters, producing a single ECL 10 encounter.

...

Minions: Blowing/destroying the horn causes undead to rise, and ghostly armor and weapons to be conjured into existence.

The horn is encased in a whirling ectoplasmic display, and forlorn howling is heard.

1d4 rounds after the horn is blown, 2d6 skeletons equipped with ghostly armor (Full Plate+1) and weapons (Large Shield+1 with Spike+3, Long Spear+5 Ghost Touch) appear, clawing their way out of the ground. (If slain, the weapons dissipate). They can use the Longspear one handed with shield.

These skeletons have max HP per HD (ie, 12), SR of (10+number of skeletons effected by the spell), and are Bolstered to 3 HD for turning purposes. They also have a +6 enhancement bonus to str and dex. (CR set to 2)

Frighteningly, this happens roughly 100' away in each compass direction as well, over a square with "radius" of 1000'. That's a total of 8000 of these Undead, btw.

Each round afterwards, another 1d6 appear, until 20 are gathered.

When 20 have gathered, the Undead start attacking nearby mortals (they remain however "in their zone"). Dead undead are slowly replaced.

1 minute later, a Blasphemy (Caster Level 9) goes off at the location of the Horn, and the King comes back (see above) along with an Honor guard of 8 Elite Skeletons that appear larger.

These are 3 HD skeletons with 5 HD for turning purposes, and it's armor and shield are both considered +3, but otherwise identical to the above warriors. (CR ~3 each. 8 of them ~ECL 9 encounter. With the King, ~ECL 11 encounter.)

The King must take time to bring the army under his control, which hopefully the PCs don't allow the King. The King's Ghost may take a single round to boost a single skeleton up to Elite status, to a max of 8 at any one time.

Killing the Body of the King makes all of the Skeletons collapse (which is what makes this doable).

...

How is that? The force produced is enough to take over the kingdom and perhaps more, yet I suspect a group of 4 level 7 PCs could kill the King before the kingdom falls into darkness.

Standard Skeleton:
10' reach with Spear for 1d8+9 damage at +8 to hit
5' reach with Shield for 1d6+7 damage at +6 to hit
12 HP
Saves:
Fort: +0 Reflex: +4 Will: +2
AC: 26, touch 11, flat-footed 25
Special: 3 HD for turning, SR 10+1 per skeleton hit by the spell
Otherwise standard

Elite Skeleton:
10' reach with Spear for 1d8+9 damage at +9 to hit
5' reach with Shield for 1d6+7 damage at +7 to hit
36 HP
Saves:
Fort +1 Reflex +5 Will +3
AC: 30, Touch: 11, Flat: 33
Special: 6 HD for turning, SR 10+1 per skeleton hit by the spell

...

That work? AC might be a little high on the mooks.

Allis
2008-04-17, 03:23 PM
That does look like a good idea. I might wat to upgrade him a bit because once both groups get on the island and become aware of each other, they might form a big group.

I wonder if I should railroad guide them to that decision. I don't want half of my players to be knocked out of the weekend campaign 20 minutes after meeting.

I could make playable undead characters (the kigs former bodyguard) and let them play that if one party kills the other?