Sunday 19 June 2016

Magic Item: The Wand of Death

The Wand of Death is one of the fabled Artefacts of Evil. It is the simplest of these devices created by some unknown god or gods in the lost past of the universe. The user simply points the wand and states the correct trigger word and a black bolt of negative energy springs forth, draining the life from everything it strikes, to a maximum of 12" (treat the beam as ½" wide).

The trigger word is chosen from among 20 combinations of syllables and each combination drains a different amount of energy from along the line, from 1 to 20 d6. This number is rolled immediately and applied to every living thing along the deadly ray's path starting with those things nearest the user. Each possible unsurprised target gets a saving throw, with those further than 1" away getting the benefit of any DEX bonus. Beyond 6", victims get +2 to their save and beyond 9" +5.

Trigger syllables will not be easily determined and the twisted black hawthorn wand may remain a mystery until Legend Lore or a sage are consulted. Even then, such work will only reveal one syllable at a time. Of course, alert characters may hear trigger words being used by whoever owned it before them.

As each victim is drained of hp, the total remaining in the ray is likewise reduced until it is completely used up or the maximum range is reached.

Any victim drained to 0 or less hit points is disintegrated.

The hit points of those creatures struck only by magical weapons are augmented such that "+1 or better to hit" are drained at a ratio of 1:2, "+3 or better to hit" at 1:4 and so on. Thus a 50 point beam which struck a solar would drain it of only 8hp.

When found the wand will have 1-100 charges and each d6 damage done will drain 1 charge. There is no way short of a wish for a mortal to determine the number of charges remaining. Any evil creature struck only by magical weapons will be able to read the number of charges by holding the wand by the handle end and concentrating for a round.

Unliving things such as walls do not block the path of the beam, although a globe of invulnerability or anti-magic sphere will. A wall of force will not.

If operation of the wand would reduce the number of charges to less than 1, the extra charges so needed are removed from the operator's levels. Thus, a 7th level cleric who summoned 10 dice of damage from the wand while it had 4 charges remaining would be reduced to a 1st level cleric, leaving the wand with 1 charge - the minimum possible.

If the operator is reduced to less than 0-level by the wand they become a formless mist (treat as invisible) which will reform in 1d6 days as a wraith.

The wand's effect on the undead is somewhat different. If an undead creature is struck by the beam then it is drained of hit points as normal, but every 4 hit points adds a charge to the wand. The remaining damage in the beam is still reduced as normal.

For example, a beam of 14 damage strikes a zombie with 9hp. The zombie is destroyed, 2 charges are restored to the wand, and 5 points of damage remain in the beam.

Although using the wand is not itself an evil act (it is an excellent weapon against the undead, for example), it is indiscriminate and accidental killing of innocents and allies is easy, leading to possible alignment drift.

Use of the wand additionally causes fear (save applies) in any being under 4th level within its range who sees it, no matter whether they are allied with the user or not.

The wand operates at 18th level (9th level spell) for the purposes of magic resistance.

The wand is an artefact and thus not subject to normal destruction; the DM should determine the single method of destroying the wand using the list on DMG p164 as inspiration.

Sale Value: 20000gp
Experience point value: 8,000xp

Saturday 11 June 2016

Monster: Stone Trolls

Stone Trolls

Frequency Uncommon
No. Appearing 2-12
Armour Class 3
Move 12"
Hit Dice 4
% in lair 70%
Treasure type Qx2,X
No. of attacks 1
Damage/attack 1d8+2, or by weapon
Special Attacks None
Special Defenses See below
Magic Resistance 5%
Intelligence Low
Alignment CN(E)
Size L (8' tall)
Psionic Ability Nil
Psionic Attack/defense modes Nil
Level V
XP 175+6/hp


Stone trolls are large, unpleasant humanoids. Not exactly evil, they do tend to be violent and are xenophobic to an extreme degree. They like meat and will cause mayhem in farming areas but rarely resort to eating the farmers themselves. They will react very aggressively to any attempt by another race (such as humans) to punish them for breaking "stupid laws".

Stone trolls normally wield large tree branches or smaller stone clubs and axes doing 1d8+2 damage. If they use other weapons such as discarded bastard or two-handed swords or polearms then they do normal damage with +2 for their strength and mass.

They are very hardy and resist magic, heat, and cold. The first is represented by 5% magic resistance against wizard-level magic, and against heat and cold they automatically take half damage, with a save indicating no damage at all. They can survive in any environment where stone is solid, but they dislike ice and will avoid walking on it if possible.

Weapon Vs Armour, Speed

The trolls' skin should be treated as field plate -1 (ie, AT 2-1) if using UA tables (or my own), and as platemail/AT 2 if using the PHB tables.

Their own weapons use the modifiers for a footman's mace, but are somewhat faster with a speed factor of 5.



They are grey and their skin resembles schist or flaky slate. Blunt weapons do half damage against them but cutting and piercing ones do normal damage. However, non-magical, non-blunt weapons which strike a stone troll must make a saving throw against crushing blow or break.

Dress is basic "caveman" style and barefooted.


In lair will be twice as many females, which fight as 2HD monsters and will generally use improvised weapons such as thrown stones (treat as sling bullets with range of 1"/2"/4") or pots and pans (clubs, successful strike breaks item on a 1-4/d6).

Young will number half the adults -1d4. They will reluctantly fight as 1-1HD monsters AC6, using improvised weapons and grappling.

Lairs are invariably underground and reached from cave entrances or sinkholes. Stone trolls are excellent climbers and are capable of hunting mountain goats.


Society is "Big Man" based, with the largest male running the show. Each lair represents one extended family and when the Big Man's eldest son reaches maturity he is expected to go and capture a mate from some other cave-dwelling family and head off into the wilds to start a new family along with any of his brothers, sisters etc. who will join them.

The only really civil relationship stone trolls have is with stone giants whom they revere as demi-gods. The giant's taciturn lack of appreciation for this respect only seems to make the trolls more fervent.

A child is considered an adult when they can light a fire from tinder by clicking their fingers, indicating that their skin has hardened.

Monster: The Deathwright

Art: Eddie Campbell


Frequency Very rare
No. Appearing 1
Armour Class 7
Move 9"
Hit Dice 8
% in lair 10%
Treasure type I
No. of attacks 1 + special
Damage/attack 2d4
Special Attacks See below
Special Defenses Undead
Magic Resistance Normal for Undead
Intelligence Low
Alignment NE
Size M
Psionic Ability nil
Psionic Attack/defense modes nil
Level VII
XP 1100+10/hp

The deathwright is the result of a failed mummification-type grab for immortality but compared to a "normal" undead mummy, the touch of the deathwright is even more sinister.

A single successful "to-hit" roll by the deathwright causes the listed damage from the impact of its unnaturally tough and strong flesh (this toughness also gives it its base AC of 7). Immediately on making such a strike, a second such roll is made and if this is successful then the creature has managed to grasp its target with both hands and the evil nature of its vitality begins to suck the life from the victim in the feared "death grip".

On each subsequent round the monster may choose to drain one level from the grasped opponent, or to let go and roll a new attack (doing 2-8 damage) against that, or another, figure.

The deathwright is turned as if it were a mummy and is immune to the things which undead are normally immune to, such as charm, cure/cause/heal etc.

The Death Grip

The hit points lost by any opponent as a result of level draining (not the normal 2d4 attack) is transferred to the deathwright, to a maximum of 64hp (the given HD is for generating the monster's state when encountered). Thus, if it drains a level from a cleric it will gain the 1 to 8hp (and CON bonus) that the cleric gained for that level; if it drains a kobold it gains 1d4 etc.

The level draining ability only works on living opponents which are native to the Inner Planes and which can be struck by +2 or lesser weapons.

The Curse of the Deathwright

Any creature which dies as a result of the level drain will return from the dead as a zombie/monster zombie within 1d10 rounds and will be automatically under the control of the deathwright.

The deathwright may turn other undead to its control in a similar way as if it were an 8th level cleric. It may also attempt to influence demons, devils, daemons, and other creatures of the lower outer planes which fit within the normal limitations of "special". It has no power over paladins of any level.

Weapon Vs Armour Rules

The deathwright's initial attack should be treated as a club and the second roll for the death grip should be treated as open hand. The monster's basic armour type is 10+3 (ie, attacks against it gain the bonuses appropriate for a target with no armour).

The thing may wear any other human armour, although this is unusual due to its intelligence and general lack of elan. If it uses anything, it is most likely to wear some magical item which has caught its eye from a victim. It will never use a shield since that would interfere with its attack method.
If it does done armour it receives an effective +2 to any armour type due to its unnaturally preserved flesh.


The deathwright appears to be a normal human with dark, weather-beaten skin and it is quite capable of blending in with human crowds, although its knowledge of languages are likely to be either unusual or antiquated as it is never encountered in its original homeland, whose gods have shunned and banished it from their sight.

Its general appearance and slightly stiff movements may give the impression of, for example, an aged farm worker or fishing folk.

Whether there is but a single deathwright which roams the world or several similar abominations is unknown but no one has ever encountered more than one

Some memory of the royalty it once was still burns inside the mind of the creature and it will occasionally take over a lair from some monster which reminds it of the opulence it once enjoyed, hence the % in lair and treasure values. Such lairs are generally in ruined palaces or lost and abandoned underground treasure vaults.

If encountered in lair, there is a 30% chance that it will be accompanied by 1d6 skeletons, the remains of zombies it has made out of some previous encountered party. Each skeleton adds a 50% chance of a single magic item of any type, which it may still be wearing if appropriate.