Jäällätaudin – Icetongue

This ancient blade’s full history is known only to the most studious Dwarven sages of the Dunheng Kingdoms. In its centuries of existence it has appeared in the hands of many heroes only to be lost again with their passing. Most recently it was wielded by Jak, a King of the Fridon people who in tales is called the Giant Slayer. He was a king of the Fridon many years ago, when his people were attacked by the giants from the Danor Mountains. He fought against them wearing the hide of a dragon and wielding Jäällätaudin, and drove them back to their burning peaks.

Icetongue – Paragon Level
Icetongue is a +4 mithrail fullblade (Adventurer’s Vault – superior weapon, +3 profeciency, 1d12 damage, high crit (+2d12 on crit))
Critical: +4d6 cold damage
Power (At-Will ✦ Cold): Free Action. All damage dealt by this weapon is cold damage. Another free action returns the damage to normal.
Power (Daily ✦ Cold): Free Action. Use this power when you hit with the weapon. The target takes an extra 2d8 cold damage and is slowed until the end of your next turn.

Cold forged of mithrail, Icetongue was made by the Dwarves of Danor to slay fire giants and all their thrall. Any creature with the fire subtype is an enemy to Icetongue, be it azer, elemental, or dragon, and it will demand their death without consideration.

Roleplaying Icetongue
Icetongue speaks in a clear, ringing voice.  It speaks Common, Dwarven, Giant and Draconic.

Flame and passion are anathma to Icetongue, and its will is as deliberate and as implacable as a glacier. It will calculatedly drive its wielder to confrontation with its hated foes.  Patient, unforgiving and heartless, Icetongue does not care what cost must be paid for victory.

Starting Score 5
Wielder gains a level: +1d6
Wielder kills a creature with the fire subtype (max 1 / day) +1
Wielder refuses to fight a creature with the fire subtype -3
Wielder refuses to obey Icetongue’s command -1

Pleased (16-20)
Icetongue becomes a +6 weapon that deals +6d6 cold damage on a critical.
Power (Daily ✦ Cold): Free Action. Use this power when you hit with the weapon. The target takes an extra 4d8 cold damage and is restrained until the end of your next turn.
Power (Encounter ✦ Cold): Standard Action, Melee 1.  Thrust Icetongue into any normal fire to douse it.  If the fire is magical in nature, such as a zone or conjuration of fire, make a weapon attack against the caster’s Will defense to end the effect.

Satisfied (12-15)
Icetongue becomes a +5 weapon that deals +5d6 cold damage on a critical.
Power (Daily ✦ Cold): Free Action. Use this power when you hit with the weapon. The target takes an extra 3d8 cold damage and is immobilized until the end of your next turn.
Property: The wielder gains Icewalk, the ability to move through difficult icy or snowy terrain at normal speed.

Normal (5-11)
Icetongue’s statistics are as listed above (+4 weapon, +4d6 cold on a critical).

Unsatisfied (1-4)
Icetongue becomes a +2 weapon that deals +2d6 cold damage on a critical.
Icetongue will not use its daily slow power.
The wielder gains vulnerable 5 cold.

Angered (0 or lower)
Icetongue is considered a non-magical weapon for the purposes of attack and damage.
If Icetongue’s wielder rolls a 1 on an attack roll, they take 2d8 cold damage and are slowed for one turn.

Moving On
When Icetongue has defeated the fiery menace that it arose to battle it will leave the stage again.  Typically it is buried with the corpse of whatever hero it chose to wield it for that battle, as Icetongue’s heartless drive often causes the death of its bearer even as they slay its foes.  If by terrific fortitude or cunning they win Icetongue’s epic battle with their life intact he will either make them seek out a new fiery foe or else make them leave him in a desolate, icy location, such as thrust into the ice atop a glacier or hurled into a mountaintop lake.

Posted in 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Magic Item and tagged by with 3 comments.

The Ruins of Soguer – The Mages’s Guild Tower, Part 1

Once again we return to the adventure The Ruins of Old Soguer, being posted piece-by-piece here on Tailslap.  Today’s post details the first two floors of the Mage’s Guild Tower in the central portion of the ruins.  There, a figure from the past languishes under a mysterious curse.

Previous sections of the adventure can be found here:
The Ruins of Soguer – Introduction
The Ruins of Soguer – Start of the Adventure in Aguies Town & Castle
The Ruins of Soguer – River Journey to the Ruins
The Ruins of Soguer – The Western Ruins
The Ruins of Soguer – the Central Ruins

5 – The Mage’s Guild Tower, A reclusive old mage named Alidol lives within this tower, trapped by a curse.

Standing here among the ruins of the city is a tall square tower with smooth, windowless, slightly tapered sides. The once-fine facade is cracked and crumbling and vines crawl up the walls. A single wide doorway stands open, the door long gone. You see an old man in tattered clothes and with long, tangled beard and hair peering at you from the doorway.

If the players apprach, the old man greets them cautiously. If not threatened, he will converse with them, telling them that his name is Alidol, and that he was the Master of the Mage’s Guild of Soguer before the fall, and that he has lived in the tower since then. He is hesitant to reveal more detail then that, though he can be convinced to reveal some of his secrets with a skill challange (below).

What he cannot reveal are the details of the curse that he languishes under.

Skill challenge – xp 200 (4 successes before 3 failures)
DC – 14 Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate and Arcana skill checks to learn the old man’s history – that when he was young the pleasures of the flesh and his ambition consumed him and he pledged his soul to Grazz’t. After he amassed great power he became the high mage of the guild, and that then he used forbidden magic to share his soul to make simmalacrum of himself (magical copies who share his soul – and therefore his pact with Grazz’t). He goes on to tell that when the city was attacked he used up all of his power to ward the tower against the demon god that rose up out of the sea and now has no more magic in him.

He then tries to say “With my power gone my simmalacrum were free to act as they willed. They made separate deals with Grazz’t, I believe, then betrayed and cu… cur…” (as part of his curse he is unable to say that they cursed him and left him here to die, and will become angry at this point and begin tearing at his hair and beard in frustration. Once he calms down a bit he will implore the players to help him, though he is unable to say anything about the curse or its nature – he can’t even say that he can’t speak about it.

If asked about creatures in the tower, he will mention his shield guardian, but will say it should not be hostile – it will just protect him, though that’s useless since it is trapped above, where he cannot reach due to the stairs having fallen apart.

If asked about his past and his pact with Grazz’t, the old man will sadly relate that he once burned with ambition and lust, but that after spending forty years alone in the tower he has repented those things and now just wishes to live out the rest of his days in peace.

If the players try to leave the tower, Alidol warns them about the hezrou (toad demon) that stalks the ruins. He will go on to say that his final spell – a ward against demons – still protects the tower and that the Hezrou cannot enter.

Minor Quest (Level 10 – xp 500 for each player): Free the guildmaster from his tower.
The curse laid on Alidol prevents him from leaving the tower until he has died there. It also prohibits him from helping anyone lift his curse in any way. If the players kill his simmalacrum he has technically died in the tower and is then free to leave.

Success – If the players free Alidol from the tower, he will thank them gratefully and promise to assist them any way he can. If the subject of the inquisition comes up he will inquire about it, and if the church of Baccob is mentioned he will let them know that one of his simmalacrum was working to join the church of Boccob many years ago. He will accompany them out of the ruins if they will allow him to join them, eventaully making his way back to Aguies with them. While with the party, he will happily share his vast knowledge of the arcane, making Arcana skill checks to identify creatures and help with arcane skill challanges at +30.

Tower Locations

Much of the tower is shrouded with patches of dense fog, all corridors are filled with fog, all doors are Arcane Locked (DC 21 Theivery or Strength to open), and there are some illusionary features thoroughout. The entire tower is also warded by a spell that protects against demons – Alidol’s ward from the fall of Soguer – that keeps the hezrou out.

Ground Floor

A – Main Hall

A chair stands alone near the door in this large open room. The floor is littered with dirt and bits of wood and fallen masonry. Pillars support the ceiling twenty feet above, which shows cracks and some dark holes where pieces of stone are missing. A door leads to a hallway with smaller chambers – also with long-rotted chairs and tables. At the end of the hall is a spiral staircase leading up. Empty sconces and burned out torches line the walls.

B – Meeting Rooms – These chambers contain only the broken remains of tables and chairs.

C – Guest Chambers – Here three bedrooms hold simple furniture that looks fragile with age – a bed, chair, table, and empty chest.

D – Kitchen – This kitchen features a large rusty stove, and some tables and shelves still stand among the debris.

A simple wooden spoon lies on the table, next to a worn wooden bowl. The spoon is magical – if it is placed in the bowl or any container it fills with plain-tasting but nutritious gruel (as Everlastng Provisions – it provides food and water for up to 5 people a day). If Alidol sees the players examining with the spoon – his only source of food – he becomes agitated and takes it away from them.

Novice’s Chambers

E – Warded Door (Arcane Locked – DC 21 Theivery or Strength to open) – The password is “korth” (draconic for danger), but Alidol’s curse prevents him from telling them what it is.

F – Scribe’s Workshop

Two long tables with benches and a bookshelf fill this chamber. Scraps of paper and a set of quills sit on the tables. Some books stand on the shelves. A few small vials, bits of paper and a few books sit among the thick dust that coats the floor.

This is where books and documents were copied and some scrolls were made – a search of the papers on the floor (easy perception check – DC 10) will turn up a complete scroll of water breathing. The books on the shelves that have survived the ages and vermin cover arcane and mundane topics, history “Wars of the Fridon”, philosophy “Natural Science of the Rivers”, “On Rulership”, religion “Tracts of Truth and Guidance”, fiction “There and Back Again”, erotica “Ten Tales of Romance”. There are 10 salvagable books all told.

G – Novice’s Dormotories

These simple rooms hold a single bed, a footlocker, a small table and a chair in various stages of decay.

The rooms are empty, the novices having taken their posessions with them as they left the city after the fall.

H – Unstable Masonry – Hazard

Level 10 Lurker – XP 500

Small debris litter the dusty staircase here.

Hazard – These crumbling stairs could collapse at any moment – plunging the unwary down to the hall below and leaving a pit that must be climbed or jumped over.

Perception – A DC 21 Perception or Dungeoneering notices the cracked and dangerous stonework on the stairs.

Trigger – The first creature to climb the stairs causes them to crumble under them. The stairs make the following attack.

Attack – immedeate interrupt
Target – the first creature climbing the stairs
+13 vs Reflex
Hit – 2d10 falling damage and secondary attack from falling stones
-Secondary Attack – +13 vs Fortitide, 1d10+5 damage
-Effect – the staircase crumbles, opening up a pit that looks down into the Main Hall (area A). Once the pit opens, a DC 21 Athletics or Acrobatics check is required to cross it.

– DC 16 Acrobatics check to carefully cross the stairs one at a time without triggering the stairs to collapse (player is attacked as above on failure).
– DC 16 Athletics check to run and jump over the stairs without triggering the collapse (player is attacked as above on failure).
– DC 21 Athletics or Acrobatics check to cross once the stairs have collapsed (player falls for 2d10 damage on failure).

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Worship of Scahrossar

Sometimes, when a person who worships the lower powers feels that they have been given a mortal insult, they will offer up a prayer to Scahrossar, Mistress of Exquisite Pain, that their foe will suffer deep and bitter pain. And every so often an individual arises who is so twisted that he devotes his worship to Scahrossar, goddess of cruelty and pain.

Scahrossar’s clerics dress as their mistress does, preferring to hide their identities with leather or iron masks. They are all sadists and/or masochists who prefer to cause pain rather than actually kill. Scahrossar’s sacrificial victims often take days to die as they’re slowly tortured to death.

Alignment: Lawful Evil

Domains: cruelty, death, evil, pain

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New Structures for Skill Challanges

Skill challenges are a great addition to Dungeons & Dragons.  They take those non-combat obstacles that players face and turn them into legitimate encounters with clear criteria and consequences for success and failure.  Perhaps more importantly for the players they also provide experience point rewards for overcoming the challenges.

However, I have found that when I’m DMing the structure presented in the DMG for skill challenges doesn’t always make a lot of sense for the encounter I’m presenting the players.  Sometimes I present a challenge that requires a single skill check – one success or failure right there and the challenge is over – like climbing over a wall or jumping a chasm.  Other times the skill challenges I present have a clear chain of skill checks that need to be performed in the correct order, and the traditional skill challenge structure doesn’t make sense for those challenges.  For example, if the players fail their Perception skill check to notice the scrap of parchment in the top branches of a tree, there’s no reason for them to make Athletics checks to climb up there.  Some puzzles and trap skill challenges benefit from this structure as well.

Because of these structural differences in how skill challenges can be played, I came up with two new structures for skill challenges that I run: minion skill challenges and chain skill challenges.

Minion Skill Challenges


As mentioned above, some skill challenges are a simple yes or no, success of failure on one skill check.  Can the party sneak past the napping guard dog?  Can they bribe the watchman?  Can they swing on the rope across the chasm?  One skill check is all it takes, and if they succeed, they pass the challenge and move on to the next one.  If they fail, there are consequences.  The watchman rejects their bribe and shouts the alarm.  The guard dog wakes up and begins barking.  They lose their grip on the rope and plunge into the chasm.

The minion skill challenge is also useful when playing in a more free-form fashion.  The players may be at court on a diplomatic mission, trying to win over allies to their side.  I may be presenting the players with NPCs that they meet, but I don’t have any specific goals in mind for most of them.  But I know that they players are going to find some hook about some NPCs interesting and try to win them over as allies, or stymie their plans if they become enemies.  So I let them make skill checks as they want, treating each as a minion skill challenge: if they succeed they impress the NPC, if they fail they make a bad impression and likely an enemy.  The minion skill challenge structure lets me DM this scene in a nice free-form fashion, awarding XP for success and consequences for failure as I go.

As mentioned in the DMG, every skill check does not qualify as a minion skill challenge.  Only when there are consequences for failure should a skill check be considered a minion skill challenge.

Skill challenge DCs for minion skill challenges should be set by level, using the DCs by level chart in the DMG.


For each successful minion skill challenge, award experience points for a minion of the level used to set the skill challenge’s DC.

Chain Skill Challenges


Chain skill challenges are designed for situations where skills have to be used in a certain order in order to successfully complete the whole challenge.  Often, these skill challenges might be part of overcoming a trap or a hazard.

An example of this might be a magically protected, hidden wall safe.  Step one of the skill challenge would be a Perception skill check to determine if any of the party members notices the hidden safe.  If no one makes that check the challenge can’t proceed and ends.  If someone notices the safe, they then must overcome the magical ward protecting it.  This might be an arcana check to disable the Glyph of Warding, or a Strength or Thievery check to bypass the Arcane Lock placed on the safe.  If they can open the safe they get experience and whatever valuables are in the safe.  If not they might get blasted, or else are just unable to open the safe.  If they spend a lot of time retrying their Thievery checks, a monster is likely to come to investigate the noise.  Either way the skill challenge fails and there are consequences.

Skill challenge DCs for chain skill challenges should be set by level, using the DCs by level chart in the DMG.


To award experience points for a chain skill challenge, count up the total number of successful skill checks needed to complete the challenge and compare them to the following chart:

Complexity Successes      XP
1                4-5           1 monster worth
2                6-7           2 monsters worth
3                8-9           3 monsters worth
4                10-11       4 monsters worth
5                12-13       5 monsters worth

Award XP for successfully completed chain skill challenges by handing out XP for a number of monsters of the skill challenge’s level equal to the complexity of the challenge. For example, if a 10th level chain skill challange requires 7 sucessful skill checks to complete, award 1000 XP for the challange upon success.

If the chain skill challenge requires less than 4 successes, award experience for a number of minion monsters equal to the number of successes required.

Other Thoughts on Running Skill Challanges

For more on different ways to handle skill challanges in your game, check out this post at At-Will.

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