Posts in Dungeons & Dragons
Jack in the Dungeon #3: The Soul Collector
demongo_minions.jpg

The latest creature inspired by the great Samurai Jack comes from episode XXIII: Jack vs. Demongo, the Soul Collector. The main villain of the episode, Demongo, is one of the most dangerous that Aku has sent against Samurai Jack to this point. The interesting thing about Demongo is that while he himself is not so dangerous he commands a vast host of defeated warriors and creatures perfectly under his control. Each time he defeats another warrior he adds their soul to his army.

In the episode, Jack tears through Demongo's warriors again and again but because upon death the souls return to Demongo's control he can just send them back at Jack no matter how many times he kills them. Eventually Jack realizes the only way to defeat Demongo is to enter into Demongos soul prison by latching onto one of the defeated warriors souls before Demongo recollects it. Once inside he finds a ethereal-like soul prison, with all of Demongo's warriors kept in a kind of stasis until he calls upon them.

As a one off villain for an episode he's kind of cool. But as a potential recurring villain in Dungeons and Dragons? I think he's absolutely terrifying and awesome. With a few tweaks to keep him from being completely overpowered and a DM to balance his captured warriors strength against the party, a Soul Collector can be a painful thorn in the side to any level of adventurer.

demongo_stats.png

The key to making this guy a lot of fun in your campaign is getting creative with the Soul Prison. A Soul Collector could have literally anything in it's bag of souls to toss at the player. Dinosaurs. Devils. An old friend of the party it hunted down just to spite them. Centaurs. Minotaurs. Anything else that ends in -taurs. Did I mention dinosaurs? The key to making it compelling as a side villain over the long term is variety and scaling up with the party.

I've compiled a few examples of a Soul Prison that scales in challenge a few steps at a time. A Soul Collector could have just one of these sets of creatures or all of them, or literally whatever you want. The Soul Collector can be every monster in one. Have a blast.

Soul Prison 1 - 
2 Kenku (1/4)
2 Winged Kobold (1/4)
2 Bullywug (1/4)
2 Pseudo Dragon (1/4) (50)
1 Mephit Ice  (1/2)
1 Mephit Dust (1/2)

Monsters: 10 (gang)
XP to award: 600 XP (150 XP each)
Difficulty multiplier: 2.5
Adjusted Difficulty Rating: 1500 XP
Encounter Challenge Rating: 4

Soul Prison 2 - 
Centaur (2)
Quaggoth (2)
Minotaur (3)
Were-Tiger (4)

Monsters: 4 (group)
XP to award: 2700 XP (675 XP each)
Difficulty multiplier: 2
Adjusted Difficulty Rating: 5400 XP
Encounter Challenge Rating: 9

Soul Prison 3 -
Gnoll, Fang of Yeenoghu (4)
Cambion Devil (5)
Cyclops (6)
Tyranasaurus Rex (8)

Monsters: 4 (group)
XP to award: 9100 XP (2275 XP each)
Difficulty multiplier: 2
Adjusted Difficulty Rating: 18200 XP
Encounter Challenge Rating: 17

Painting White Plume Mountain

I had to keep most of these hidden away from my player's long enough to try and surprise them when we ran White Plume Mountain, but now I thought I'd show off some of the paint jobs. I'm particularly happy with the pewter ogre with his big tree trunk club modeled after the art in the 3rd edition Monster Manual. 

White Plume Mountain in the Realms

I recently ran White Plume Mountain over a weekend D&D bender for my regular play group. It's a very short and brutally designed puzzle dungeon that has a long history in D&D, one of the few modules for the original edition of the game that has been updated for damn near every edition since including 5th edition. The compilation book Tales from the Yawning Portal has seven classic adventures including of course, White Plume Mountain.

While Tales does include gorgeous new art of the mountain and updated traps and monsters it doesn't do much more besides replicate the sparse introductory text used in the original modules to try and give hooks for player characters. When White Plume Mountain was first published stories and cohesive world building wasn't something TSR thought players or DMs cared much about - or if they did they would do that on their own. Fair enough.  Tales itself doesn't bother to give the DM much help bringing the adventure into Faerun, the 'default' setting for 5th edition. In fact it provides exactly one sentence:

Forgotten Realms. The mountain can be placed near Mount Hotenow in the region of Neverwinter.
— Tales from the Yawning Portal, pg. 95

Sounds like a tale from the yaaaaaawning portal amirite?

Being the sort of person who can't be content to not know how and why White Plume Mountain exists in Faerun instead of Greyhawk (where it was first published) I had to explain where Keraptis and his mad lair came from. So let me present to you how I would have written this section of Tales and how I made this mad adventure slot into my personal Faerun campaign.

Step 1) Re-Write the Legend

The module has always come with a "The Legend of Keraptis" page which can be given to the players to provide them with what the general hearsay about this Keraptis character is. Since this adventure is published in Tales from the Yawning Portal and the Yawning Portal is an actual tavern in Waterdeep with a great bar tender I re-wrote the Legend as if he was telling it with some extra Faerunian flavor.

Take a seat by the fire my friends. Mind the well in the center of the floor now, unless ye wish to be facing the Undermountain. But that’s a  tale for another day.

You’re here to listen to my tale of the mountain. White plume mountain.  They say it sits on the land like a boil, somewhere in the mere of dead men south of Neverwinter - ever smoking a white cloud from its peak into the swampy air. It is the lair of the mad wizard Keraptis… or so I’ve been told.

He was once one of the mages of Netheril before it’s fall into ruin. He was known even among the extravagant Netherese magi as a cruel eccentric. He delighted in magically creating new monstrous creatures as well as diabolical magical traps to test them against. But after the collapse of his society, Keraptis had nowhere to indulge his sadistic magical research.

He searched Faerun for a desolate place he would not be disturbed. After a time he retreated into the mere of dead men where he found White Plume Mountain. He burrowed within its rock, accompanied only by his cohort of enslaved gnomes - using them to tunnel out the mountain to his insane desires.

That was over 1800 years ago. Keraptis had long since faded into legend and then into a faint memory, only remembered by the most learned sages of ancient history when the Lord’s of some of the most powerful cities in Faerun received a strange letter recently.

It informed them that one of the most valuable artifacts in each of their royal treasuries had already been stolen. They had been taken into the heart of the mountain and if they wished to have them back they must send a champion - one from each city. The letter wasn’t signed except for a with a large K covered in writhing snakes.

And so each of the lord’s contacted each other and learned of their shared predicament and each in turn elected champions to retrieve their prized possessions. Know that if you too step foot into the mountain in search of those legendary artifacts, you will be merely playing a game devised by a demented 1800 year old wizard for his sick entertainment. Of course if you won, you would be extraordinarily rich… and could maybe pay back your bar tab with a few extra gold dragons for your old friend Durnan.
— Durnan Dryndilstann, Owner of the Yawning Portal

Step 2) Keraptis and the Mountain in Faerun

Next I fleshed out a bit of the historical background for this wizard and where he ended up. He's supposed to be old, even the original adventure has him over a millennia old. In Faerun this lines up pretty well with the fall of Netheril, which happened to be filled with powerful wizards.

Keraptis in the Realms

Keraptis was a Netherese wizard who survived Karsus’ Folly, having already left their floating cities by the time the disaster occurred. Keraptis cared little for the fate of Netheril, only interested in furthering his own magical experimentation. He was particularly fond of magical items, a good number of which “disappeared” when Keraptis left his floating city for good. He fled into the mere of dead men and isolated himself within the lone mountain that rose from the miles of swampland around it.

Keraptis grew sadistic in his isolation. The gnomes he hired to carve the dungeon became it’s first slave denizens. He delights in luring powerful monsters and adventurers into the mountain and trapping them there forever as it’s new protectors.

When Keraptis approached death he undertook the final ritual to become a demi-lich. Keraptis had spent centuries learning every rock and gemstone that made up the interior of the mountain. He placed his soul into those gems, diffuse throughout the mountain making the very earth around his dungeon his body and phylactery. He has absolute dominion over the dungeon and still directs and mentally dominates his minions within it, able to cast spells within at will and even shape new rooms. Keraptis however takes great pride in his current dungeon layout, having used it to sadistically kill and enslave great monsters and heroes alike.

It has been over a millenia since any powerful adventurers have wandered in for Keraptis to play with and he grows bored. So in the year 1493 DR he decided to insight some chaos. He stole 3 magical artifacts, one from each of the largest civilized settlements near him. He took Whelm the Warhammer from Mithral Hall. He stole Wave the Trident from Waterdeep. Blackrazor the Sword was taken from Westgate.

Geography of the Mountain

White Plume Mountain is located deep in the Mere of Dead Men on the Sword Coast, between Neverwinter and Waterdeep.

From Faerun Wiki: “The Mere itself was full of trees, vines, quicksand, and hidden islands, and it was generally covered in fog, making visibility very poor. The bones of fallen creatures were clearly visible throughout the Mere. The water was deep enough that it could be navigated on a flat-bottomed boat, but the dark water and hidden obstructions made that choice dangerous.”

Tales of the mountain and its eternal geyser occasionally make their way out of the Mere by the rare adventurer or lost merchant who goes deeper into the swamp and lives to tell of it. Rumors of a fierce tribe of Bullywug who inhabit the stretches of swampland surrounding the mountain’s base have kept people away - not to mention the will-o-wisps, trolls, giant vermin, lizardfolk, hydras, and doppelgangers that infest the heart of the Mere.

Only the rare sage still know that it houses inside the ancient lair of Keraptis of Netheril.

Step 3) Re-Write the Letter

The final part that I felt needed to be updated was the poetic letter Keraptis sends to taunt the lords he has stolen from. I decided to edit some of the opening stanzas in order to hint at the location of the mountain within the mere of dead men. I have a digital hand out version with a background and a printable version with only text. Printing it on some parchment paper made a great handout at the table. 

So there it is. Hopefully you have a clearer picture of how this dungeon could fit into the Forgotten Realms or maybe it sparked some ideas for how you would do it completely differently. That's the fun of Dungeon Mastering, happy gaming!

Tenser's Tapping Stick

The 10-foot-pole is one of those weird artifacts left over from the original days of D&D. Given the way the game is played today one could be forgiven for not understanding why such a mundane and unwieldy object finds itself in the 5e Player's Handbook adventuring equipment section. Listed simply as "Pole (10-foot), 5 copper, 7lbs" the pole doesn't even get its own description in the more detailed explanation of some adventuring gear. In fact, the only other mention of a 10-foot pole in the PHB is on page 190 where it is mentioned that tapping a 10-foot pole counts as a type of incidental action not requiring an action (like opening or closing a door).

In the old days of Dungeons and Dragons, long before the coming of the 3rd age and the d20 system, skill checks weren't a thing. Traps were dealt with on a less game mechanical basis and tended to have their mechanisms described in clearer detail. For player's to get past these traps, a great deal of careful poking and prodding could be helpful.  The first edition of the game is also notorious for its insta-death traps, deadly caustic slimes lurking out of sight, spheres of annihilation casually hanging out in statues, etc. Hence the 10-foot-pole was found to have boundless uses for the first wave of players in the game.

Due in part to 3rd edition and its "disable device" skill, this style of playing out traps fell out of favor with gamers who didn't want to tediously tap their way forward to avoid trip wires. I think 5e further improves on the streamlining of traps in gameplay with the addition of passive perception to avoid exactly that type of scenario.

And even though I began the game in the 3rd edition era and never dealt with much 10-foot-poling myself, I do have a soft spot for gaming traditions. To honor that tradition and to further play around with the D&D beyond homebrew tools, I bring to you my first spell to be added to D&D Beyond.

Tenser's Tapping Stick

Converting Mage Knight Minis for Dungeons & Dragons!

I've been preparing myself to run the classic adventure White Plume Mountain for some friends over the upcoming holidays in December. White Plume Mountain is a puzzle dungeon or what Matt Colville calls a "Funhouse Dungeon". Being the over achieving kind of DM that I am I want to get accurate miniatures for all of the weird creatures that prowl the tunnels of the mountain.

One of the puzzle rooms makes use of five flesh golems. I'm trying to save time and only hand paint the major monsters and characters in the dungeon, using pre-painted miniatures for the more common dungeon monsters. Well, painting five flesh golems would certainly set me back some time that I could be better using on more interesting minis. The problem for me was those darn flesh golem miniatures are freakin' expensive.

What is a Dungeon Master short on time and money to do? Find some Mage Knight miniatures that would get the job done is the answer! A lot of Mage Knight miniatures are super cheap compared to D&D due to the comparative popularity of the two games. These flesh golems were 99 cents. If you can find a Mage Knight miniature for the D&D monster you want to represent, it's a very simple matter to re-base them and save some cash.

Step 1) Grab your mini by the foot with a pair of pliers and apply some gentle twisting. The cheap glue on these separated without much effort at all.

Step 2) Get distracted taking apart the Mage Knight clicky base.

Step 3) Glue those suckers to an appropriate D&D sized base.

There you have it. Get yourself some Mage Knight minis, re-base them, and bask in the glory of your new collection of cheap miniatures.

The Journal of Fawkes Hamelain #4

Mirtul 4, 1480 DR

Western Heartlands, Town of Daggerford

at The Dragonback Inn

Our cups run over with ale this night! Despite the initially gloomy reception we received upon our arrival in Daggerford, the Dragonback Inn has proved a welcoming oasis in this town. We are hosted by Thali Orespeaker, a red nosed bald headed dwarf who keeps a damned fine stock of ale. He has good reason to keep us happy. It seems that aside from the local drunk, we are the first customers poor Thali has had in quite some time.

The rumors of the blight cursing the town have turned out to be more than true. No citizens of Daggerford walk the common streets openly for fear of catching the disease. When our boat first made way past the town we feared the entire population had been killed. The only sign of life was the distinct stench of an active tannery at the western edge of Daggerford by the river. We disembarked and after I knocked a few times we were met by a man who introduced himself as Arvil.

Windows boarded, doors closed, no lamp light. The eerily quiet streets of Daggerford.

He seemed shocked to see us - or anybody - coming to visit him. When we explained to him we were adventurers and here to help the town, he told us the nature of this blight which has come over Daggerford and the surrounding farmlands. They call it the burning plague. First a fever develops, the skin turns red, and finally the victim is covered in boils as the fever burns them up from the inside. It affects plants as well as men and beasts, killing much of the spring crop and cattle which was needed to feed the town. He assured us that all were not dead however, they merely sheltered in there homes only moving when absolutely necessary.

We thanked him for the information and brought our boat up river to the proper docks. It seems we had been spotted on our earlier scouting pass of the town as now a small man stood at the end of the docks waiting to greet us. At first I mistook the fellow for a halfling but upon closer inspection he was in matter of fact a gnome! His name is Raffin and he was hoping we might be traders with a boat of stocked goods ready to relieve the town. We told him what we had told Arvil: we are here to help.

He was disappointed at first, but we assured him that while we did not have food stuffs we did at least have gold to trade which he said would please the merchants in town who have not had customers since word of the blight first got out. We were able to discard our haphazard orc equipment for newly smithed gear. I am once again armored in scale and armed with my preferred weapon: the flail.

I offered to Raffin that perhaps we ought speak with the Duke of Daggerford and Raffin appeared hesitant to discuss the Duke who has barricaded himself inside and not left his manor since the burning plague began. Instead, he offered to take us to his friend Ariana Tungstan. While we walked through the quiet town to her house, Raffin explained that most of the day to day affairs of the town are not managed by the Duke but rather a council of Guild members who command prominent businesses in town. Mrs. Tungstan and her husband are heavily invested in the silver trade themselves.

Raffin also told us the sad account of the high priest of Lathander who's temple was the largest building in Daggerford. The priest had poured all of his divine magic into trying to cure the blighted men and women who came to him but no spell he could conjure could remove the burning plague. The priest himself eventually succumbed to the blight.

The priestess of Chuntea at the temple graciously accepted my offer and honored me with a prayer of favor in her name.

Speaking of the goodly gods, this town also houses a lovely temple to the great mother Chauntea. It reminded me of the shrine we keep in Goldshire, though nearly twice it's size, and before I came to rest here at the Dragonback I stopped into the temple to offer prayer and gold to the priestess there. Chauntea has always provided a bountiful and healthy harvest to the families under my protection in the dale and I mean to become the instrument of her will here to repay the debt. We must find the source of this blight and root it out.

Where was I? Ah, yes.

When we arrived at Ariana Tungstan's house she welcomed us inside once Raffin explained whom we were and why we had come. She did not know how we might help with the blight generally but her largest concern was for her husband. Mrs. Tungstan recounted how no communications have been heard from a new mine which Mr. Tungstan was scouting for their silver business. At the time he and his miners entered the tunnels they were not afflicted with blight and were regular in communication with the town via couriers until 15 days prior to our arrival.

After some deliberation it was decided among the party that our next course of action should be to investigate the mine. Not only had communication with Mr. Tungstan and his companions gone dark, we later heard from Thali that some of the first to be afflicted by the disease were in fact miners working the surrounding silver veins. I suspect we will learn the answers we seek in those dark tunnels.

For additional caution, I have commissioned an alchemist who resides in this town to silver my battle axe and flail with pure ore I obtained from Mrs. Tungstan. I once heard from a man who described himself as a monster hunter passing through the dale that a silvered blade was almost as good as a magic one for some supernatural beasts.

Let us hope that is true! We set off for the mines at the break of dawn.

~Fawkes Hamelain~

The Journal of Fawkes Hamelain #3

Mirtull (?), 1480 DR

OFF THE EASTERN COAST OF THE MOONSHAE ISLES

Nearly 24 hours have passed since I last wrote. The night did not conclude peacefully after my encounter with Selûne. It seems that our bard, Thunderfist, dozed off when he was supposed to be keeping watch. The next thing I know I was being roused into action - Barendd was missing.

Not soon after we took up the search within the temple was Elias ambushed from behind by some wretched undead creature. What had been a man was now a beast of claw, teeth, and pallid grey flesh. When the surprise of the sudden assault had worn off, Genos and I were able to dispatch the creature easily in combat. Several of the creatures we discovered roaming what had once been the food stores of the temple until we came upon a gristly sight.

A map of the manor Keestake drew for us.

Barendd, still alive thank Ilmater - but impaled upon one of the meat hooks meant for cattle, a fresh meal for the ghouls. Genos and I tried to remove him as painlessly as possible from his torment on the hooks and Genos was able to stabilize his wounds. By morning, he had healed. While I do not doubt Genos' ability to field dress a wound the seriousness of Barendd's injuries cannot be understated. I have no doubt that the lady Selûne sped along his healing that his good Dwarvish soul could escape this doomed island. Were it not for her help, Thunderfist's carelessness may have gotten Barendd killed. There is no time to brook the subject now but his irresponsibility will need to be addressed by Adventurer's Anonymous. I never tolerated such laziness as falling asleep during a watch in the Goldshire militia and I will not tolerate such laziness in my adventuring team.

The approach to the Sea King's manor was treacherous. Not due to any terrain, but simply the constant patrols of both orc and goblin pirates that had come to raid the manor made approaching it without being filled with black goblin arrows difficult. Something I've managed to avoid so far in life. We spotted a natural trench in the earth that ran east to west approaching the manor. Our party was able to quickly and quietly make our way almost entirely to the manor wall without being spotted.

I say "almost" because even as Elias used his illusory rocks (I really must get him to teach me that trick) to hide us from the closest orc patrols Thunderfist felt it necessary to 'distract' them and 'lure them away'. What he really meant was he intended to leap out of the trench and get himself spotted like a damned fool. Yet another dangerous display of the lack of discipline in that half-man.

Once our furry footed friend was spotted by the orc patrollers Genos leaped into action. I saw the man run along the wall of a trench as if it was the very floor we stood on (another trick I wouldn't mind learning) before landing a kick square into the orc's face. In contrast to Thunderfist, I would take this strange warrior Genos on any campaign. I saw him trade blows with the orc until Elias saw an opening and roasted the bastard with a bolt of fire produced from thin air. As for me, I was never so happy to have a crossbow as that moment. The second orc patrolman was well on his way back to camp sprinting to warn his allies before I was able to cut him down with a bolt at a distance of near 30 yards.

After the commotion with the patrolling orcs I was glad when Elias was able to scurry up to the windows and help pull the rest of us inside. Of course, we were still charged with protecting the Lady Melisana and Keestake. Poor Keestake, the fellow nearly went into shock when he saw the state the interior of the manor was in. It had been his job for who can say how many years to keep the place tidy, a task the orcs and goblins made quick work of undoing. We managed to console him and rather than try to quietly move over half a dozen people through the halls, it was decided that Elias and Thunderfist scout out the manor while we secured the entry room.

Of course by now I should have learned my lesson.

They were apparently successful in locating one of the magic artifacts Selûne told us about. They were apparently also located a pack of hounds bred for war and their goblin masters. Not a moment longer than I had finally begun to enjoy the peace and quiet afforded by the half-man's absence did I hear the fast footfalls of our companions sprinting past the room we were in - followed by a pack of hounds baying for their blood whipped on by a goblin pack master. Fortunately for us, in their frenzy they paid us no heed as they chased our would be scouts. With our fleeing friends on one end and myself, Barendd, and Genos hitting them from the rear we made swift work of the pirates.

A fine blade that feels extremely light in the hand.

When the blood was done spilling we got a look at the prize the goblins were after. A strange rod clutched in Thunderfist's hand which glows with a magic of divination (or so Barendd said upon examining it), seemingly pointing the way to other sources of magic on the island. We followed that magical glow deeper into the manor. It lead us first to Viledal's room where we found some old potions and a magical dagger engraved with dwarven runes.

Onward we went, down into the manor towards the crypts where Keestake said the old escape ship would be. Our luck at avoiding the majority of pirates roaming the manor ran out when a particularly vicious looking orc wielding a spiked chain was able to trap us in a pincer maneuver with orcs closing from front and back.

The final hall which approached the crypts became a bloody scene in seconds. I rushed forward to take the leading orc myself nearly splitting the beasts chest in two with a single axe blow. With the greatest threat removed I took defensive positions to protect Lady Melisana and Keestake holding the guard with Elias while Barendd and Genos took the offensive. It was the first close quarters combat our group has seen and I am proud to say everyone held together, even Thunderfist.

When we finally made it to the crypts we emerged into a large chamber with piles of crates, some marked as containing weapons and armor. Non-orcish armor and weapons? Praise Tempus.

As the crates toppled down on my head, triggered by the thin line of wire I nearly tripped over in my excitement at being properly armed and armored, I realized that the Sea King Viledel was a fan of traps. I clawed myself out and emerged to the sound of roaring laughter from both Keestake and Thunderfist.

"To the abyss with this cursed island!" I cried out kicking splintered planks aside and massaging my fresh bruises. The island held another twist of the knife for us before we could leave. Keestake's mental state seemed to be slipping the closer we got to actually reaching the boat. Even though he had acknowledged our necessity in acquiring the magical arms and equipment of the late Viledel, here at the final moment he reverted back to the loyal right hand man he had once been. He could not see us leave the island with Viledel's treasure. In truth, I believe he has been on this island for decades at least and I don't think his mind could take the idea of finally leaving. In a sudden betrayal he revealed that the hidden passage we had entered into the crypt by was now sealed.

In Memory of Keestake - May Kelemvor guide your soul to a peaceful rest.

Not only that, but the map he had drawn us of this floor was inaccurate. Unfortunately, we were forced to knock the pitiful old man unconscious and find the way out ourselves. I regret that he could not complete the journey with us as without him we truly could not have escaped with our lives. I know in my heart though that it could have been no other way, it is the destiny of older men to die carving a path for younger men since the beginning of the ages.

Not knowing the way and hoping the ship or something nearby it contained magic we continued to follow glow of the magic rod Thunderfist took from the upper manor. Thank all the gods - it worked. We saw the ship and though I have not seen many I knew right away this was a fine vessel, even for its age. But one final obstacle rested in the path between us and salvation. The final resting place of Viledal the Sea King and his family, still entombed in the stone coffins where they were meant to be loaded upon the beautiful funeral ship we were now escaping with.

They... did not stay resting. I do not wish to describe the horror of what they had become. It is not my place to tarnish the final moments of their lives and I will not recount it here.

Lady Melisana showed us how to take the ship out of the cove and to the open sea. We had barely reached the edge of the storm clouds covering the island when Selûne's wrath was made manifest. Never have I witnessed such a thing and never do I wish to again. The island cracked and sundered like clay, sloughing into the sea piece by piece until nothing but the ocean remained.

And now? Now I get to sleep in an actual bunk. For a few hours at least.

~Fawkes Hamelain~

Jack & The Dungeon #2 - The Minions of Set

Samurai Jack the TV show may have finally reached its epic conclusion but I have only begun to turn Aku's minions into terrors of the tabletop battlefield!

Today's offering comes from Samurai Jack Episode XXXI: Jack In Egypt. During the prologue of the episode we see Jack as a child playing with some other students in an Egyptian temple. He falls through a weakened floor into a secret chamber where he reads about 3 minions of the evil Egyptian deity Set who have been imprisoned there. When we cut back to the future, Aku has released these 3 demonic entities from their imprisonment as Samurai Jack approaches the now ancient ruins of the temple he once played in as a child. There the minions of Set await him.

Armed with black weapons that glow with an evil fire, unbelievably fast and strong, and protected by powerful regeneration abilities. These 3 anthropomorphic badasses can only be defeated by "summoning the protector and calling the sun". The sun is of course the egyptian god Ra who gets a sweet cameo at the backend of this episode once Jack manages to summon him. In the show this is accomplished by Jack searching out 3 pieces of a scarab hidden around the temple complex. Each piece contains a clue pointing to the next.

When statting these guys out I decided to go all out. Jack flat out states that these are the strongest enemies he has faced to date in the episode - which takes place in Season 3 after Jack has faced incredibly powerful enemies in the future already. They are Challenge Rating 20. Each of them. If you want to use these fiendish warriors in your game I think there are two ways to do it.

One way is to put them up against a party of very high level players and make the fight more of a straight duke out. Somewhat boring, but as these are some of the most powerful warrior of an ancient god, maybe context could lend some weight to the combat. I think the better way is to throw them at a group of lower level ("low" as in 12-16) and include this concept of an item designed to banish them. Playing out a high stakes chase in an ancient pyramid trying to find the pieces of the scarab before the minions bring the players down.

One of the neat things about Faerun is that because of TSR's idea to import the mythology of the worlds various cultures into the Forgotten Realms, Set the Egyptian god pretty much already exists whole cloth as a member of the Mulhorandi pantheon. Mulhorand is known as one of the "Old Kingdoms" of Faerun, along with Unther (which has more of a Mesopotamian vibe). It's to the south and east of the sea of fallen stars and is a land of god-king pharoahs, pyramids, and bizarre fantastical creatures. Dropping in an ancient pyramid dedicated to Set, with these 3 minions locked away inside doesn't take a lot of envelope pushing for the Forgotten Realms.

The thing to remember about the stats I've drawn up here is these guys are not intended to be fought head on. Just like in the episode, make your players run for their lives! This should be an absolutely desperate encounter at high levels with the minions beating on the players at every turn. To make this fun it will require some creative DMing and players, allow them to come up with ways to slow them down. Jack spends some of the episode hiding, sometimes he's knocking buildings down into their path, etc. A deadly game of jackal-fiend and mouse!

Placing the pieces of the scarab of Ra in hidden places with clues is the second part of making the encounter work. Once assembled, adventurers will be able to turn the tide on the Minions. I didn't include anything about a gigantic avatar of Ra coming down like at the end of the episode but don't let that stop you.

Shadow Spawned Kobolds

In the deep black of the lowerdark where no light has ever touched, dark portals and strange magic lead to the twisted nether-realm of the Shadowfell. It is where the most evil of dragons take on the twisted form of a shadow dragon and where their legions of shadow kobolds are spawned...

Ahh, yes. The lowly kobold. They have been a staple of D&D since before I ever picked up the game. They're typically craftier than goblins or orcs and love to put clever little traps in their lairs, proving a fun challenge for adventurers just starting out. With a challenge rating of 1/8 however, they very quickly stop being much of a menace unless they're met in excruciatingly large numbers. I say excruciatingly large because they stop being threatening unless you throw them in such large numbers you risk bogging the game down in boring combat.

I recently picked up my copy of Volo's Guide to Monsters and really became enamored of the little buggers, but presented as is they have almost no chance of seeing play after the first few levels of a campaign. The shadow spawned kobold is my attempt at kicking the basic kobold up a notch. I wanted a kobold that was more cunning, sneakier, and with a hint of supernatural flavor that would throw more experienced adventurers off their guard.

The shadow kobolds are bred in the Shadowfell by their shadow dragon masters, the few of which exist in Faerun stay in the darkest deepest crevices of the earth where their power is strongest. Like any dragon worth his scales shadow dragons want minions to gather them gold and information. In the dangerous and wild underdark, standard kobolds simply don't make the cut for a mighty shadow dragon's needs. Given the natural respect and awe that kobolds hold dragons in, it wouldn't take any coercion at all for a shadow dragon to lead a tribe into the shadowfell and twist it's new minions to the shadows.

Sneaking in from the shadows come these fierce new kobolds: