View Full Version : A new relic

2005-08-04, 01:29 PM
I threw a group of cannon-fodder goblins at a couple of my fourth-level characters in the course of a side-quest.

Our ranger, Elias, had no luck with his dice that day and seemed incapable of hitting the AC14 goblin. So I, tired and whimsical, started trash-talking through the goblin.

"Oh, nice swing, you mook. I'm a CR 1/2 creature! I'm not even strictly worth XP, and I'm still standing here! Yeah, bring it on, tough man!"

Finally, Elias killed it on a critical, striking the Goblin's head from its shoulders. Thing was, the head wouldn't shut up. So Elias, curious, grabbed the foul mouthed thing and stuffed it in his pack.

After the adventure, he took it to a taxidermist, who rendered off all the soft matter. To his surprise, the goblin's skull was made of solid gold, with ruby eyes and ivory teeth (much like a demilich), with the tongue of a demon. Even more surprising, the thing kept talking.

I decided that once per day, the skull could use the ability "Litany of Curses," a la Morte from Planescape: Torment.

I forgot exactly what the ability did in Planescape, so I ruled that the skull's constant stream of smack-talk operated like the opposite of the 15th level bard ability Inspire Heroics. (-4AC/-4 all saves)

Now, is it overpowered to allow it to use it once a day or should it be once a week? Should I use the lower-level bard ability (-2AC/-2 all saves)?

Or does Litany of Curses do something else?

2005-08-04, 01:31 PM
(Sorry - further information)

In honour of the game, I called it the "Skull of Torment," an evil artifact.

The skull belonged to a Tanar'ri who was taken prisoner by Baatezu. The Devils struck off the Demon's head and placed it in the Pillar of Skulls.

Through fast talk and sorcery, the skull escaped, hiding in the skin of a hapless Goblin warrior.

This could lead to some interesting side quests in which the forces of the Nine Hells come after the party to get their head back.

Yuki Akuma
2005-08-04, 01:51 PM
Morte's "Litany of Curses" special abilities causes the target creature to ignore everything else and move to engage Morte in melee. No ranged attacks. No spells. No attacking someone else. Just melee attacking Morte.

Very useful against mages. Useless against most other enemies.

2005-08-04, 03:31 PM
In that case I would say don't use Litany of Curses. I love the item and the back story though thats awesome. I think the 15th level bard ability is fine, but I don't think any good or neutral character should be able to activate it. If carried by a non evil character it should randomly activate once ever 24 hours and effect one random PC or NPC. This can be in or out of combat and effect anyone. If at a bar trying to gather info, the skull mimics the PCs voice and insults the one they are dealing with. In the woods the ettin they are hiding from just got told where to stick it. I am definetly introducing this into my game.

2005-08-04, 04:08 PM
Thanks, man. That's a really nice compliment. And a really good idea, too.

It should introduce some interesting tension. Maybe even start wheedling them into doing its bidding.

"Come on, you poofy shirt-wearing Nancy, I'm sure there's going to be some gold in it for you... You know you want to get me the Tongue of Vecna... it'll be GREAT, man."

Now, I thought that it was "Taunt" that caused people to melee attack Morte. But that's a minor thing. I think I'll still steal the name "Litany of Curses," since "Demon's Barbed Tongue" might be giving too much away.

2005-08-05, 01:14 AM
I wouldn't call Litany useless against melee...Morte ignored 75% of all damage from any melee source.

Anyway, it looks pretty neat 8)

Yuki Akuma
2005-08-05, 09:36 AM
Morte had two special abilities... "Litany of Curses" and "Skull Mob". Skull Mob was funny. Litany of Curses was even more funny (as he had so many different taunts her could say when you activated it)...

One of them was even "Woah, I'm not taunting THAT!"

2005-08-05, 10:21 AM
You should do up a creature stat block for it and post it in the thread. Some sort of Demon or Devil Outsider with sorceror like abilities. Perhaps a levitate or "fly" spell allowing limited mobility and once a day it can manifest an incoporeal body. I don't know, I'm just babbling at this point.

2005-08-05, 11:22 AM
IIRC, Morte's Litany of curses forced them to attack him, and gave them a -2 to hit and a -2 to AC.

Nordom: "Attention: Morte. I have a question. Do you have a destiny? A purpose?"
Morte: "Is Annah still wearing clothes?"
Nordom: "Affirmatory."
Morte: "Then the answer is yes."

2005-08-06, 03:17 AM
Something like:

Skull of Torment
Diminutive Outsider (Chaotic/Evil/Extraplanar/Undead/Construct)

Hit Dice: 10d8 (40hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 0 (can only be carried)
AC: 20 (10+ 3 Dex +4 Size +3 Natural)
Base Attack/Grapple: +3/+3
Attack: Bite +6 Melee (1d6+3)
Full attack: Bite +6 Melee (1d6+3)
Special Attacks: Litany of Curses, Skulljack, Spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Damage Reduction 10/good or adamantine,
Saves: Fort -. Ref 16. Will 13
Abilities: Str 10, Dex 16, Con -, Int 18, Wis 10, Cha 20
Skills: Bluff +14, Diplomacy +9, Disguise +12*, Hide +9, Move Silently +9
Feats: Deceitful, Persuasive
Environment: Any (The Skull can take residence in any creature)
Alignment: Always Chaotic Evil
Advancement: -

*When not inhabiting another creature, the Skull of Torment may only use its disguise check to mimic the voice of any creature.

You see a small humanoid skull wrought from solid gold. It grins through pointed teeth of ivory, and regards you with glittering eyes of ruby.

(Back story as before)

When held by an evil character, the Skull seems content to hold its tongue, offering aid in battle and sometimes sage advice. The skull, however, has its own agenda, and will often twist its advice to coerce its holder to fulfill its own ends.

When held by a good character, the Skull can be forced to employ its special abilities (DC 15 Persuade check), but will often try to thwart its holder, often mimicking the holder's voice and hurling insults in delicate social situations.

Special Attacks:

Tongues: At will, the Skull can use Tongues as a spell-like ability.

Litany of Curses: In battle, the skull hurls streams of stinging invective. So hurtful are the skull's cries that foes find themselves instantly demoralized. This ability works as the opposite of the 15th level Bard ability Inspire Heroics, and imposes a -4 morale penalty on any foe in earshot (provided the foes all understand the same language, if not, only foes that speak the language are affected), as well as a -4 morale penalty to all saves.

The ability affects any intelligent creature because of the Skull's Tongues ability. The effects can be negated with a DC20 Will save.

Souljack: The Skull will often take residence inside the head of an intelligent creature (Int 3 or higher) to disguise itself and evade capture by the Devils that seek it. It may do this up to once a month.

To do this, the skull must make a Diplomacy check at a -4 penalty to effectively persuade the creature to allow the Skull to occupy its head-skin.

The Skull then forces itself inside the creature's mouth, expelling the old skull and instantly killing the creature. The Skull then changes its size and chape to match the old skull and takes the creature's place amongst its comrades.

Dark past: (Addition) The skull was once part of a powerful Tanar'ri, smashed asunder by rivals in the Abyss. The demon's other parts: Four arms, two legs, a tail, and a torso, were scattered across the Prime Material plane. Should all the parts be assembled in a certain location (to which the skull will guide the party), the demon will be reborn. This would be a bad thing.

Any additions/subtractions?

2005-08-07, 04:17 PM
Its looks really good, I love the skulljack ability, especially the title. I think that your supposed to have another feat in there. I think I'd go with Imp. Init. Now the skull can't move on its own, so I don't think it should get its dex to its AC. Thats not to say its always flat footed, but its only going to do so much flopping around by flapping its jaw. Where did the +3 to the bite damage come from? It doesn't have a str bonus. You could even switch its Dex and Str scores. If its in a body, does it gain any of the stats or saves of its host? Fort save? Str, Dex and/or Con? I got to say, I was playing around with this and those are the same two feats I thought about first. The only other thing I'm curious about would be what CR you think it appropriate. I'm looking at 2-4, which would bring the HD down. I'd say its real CR comes from the host and the use of LoC. The skulljack ability does have one issue. A diplomacy check to convince a creature to let this thing in its skull. I think it should be a supernatural ability force intself into a host. Perhaps the host is charmed or or asleep. This would make undead and constructs immune to the Skull amoung other things. All in all though, very nice. Bravo!

2005-08-07, 11:06 PM
Since the skull is extremely magical, the teeth are a +3 magic weapon.

Secondly, the skull will never take an undead host. For the simple reason that skeletal creatures don't offer it any camouflage, and undead with skin can't communicate.

Stuff I'm probably forgetting, like the nightwalker or vampires are too high-profile.

Maybe I need to tweak Skulljack a little. Maybe the skull can only take living, corporeal creatures. Or add a DC 25 Fortitude save. No matter how persuasive the skull is, the host creature is going to know something's up when the skull tries to burrow inside its head.

Or it's a supernatural ability requiring a diplomacy check. If it wins, the target it stunned for 1d4 rounds. Entering the head is a full-round action, and the skull is immobile for 1d4 rounds as it tries to figure out how the body works.

The Fortitude save would be good because it could conceivably out-persuade a dragon, and that would be too much.

And it loses all special abilities when in a host, gaining instead all special abilities of the host creature. Making the CR 4 or as host creature.

2005-08-07, 11:32 PM
There should simply be a size limit to what the skull can inhabit. A dragon with a head the size and shape of a goblin? That would be silly.

2005-08-08, 01:02 AM
A good point, but:

The Skull then forces itself inside the creature's mouth, expelling the old skull and instantly killing the creature. The Skull then changes its size and chape to match the old skull and takes the creature's place amongst its comrades.

I don't see any problem with the skull taking a giant or ogre as a host. I just don't see a dragon falling for "Come on, let me just look inside your mouth for a second. It won't hurt..."

2005-08-08, 01:35 AM
I just don't see a dragon falling for "Come on, let me just look inside your mouth for a second. It won't hurt..."
Just keep making Suggestions until it rolls a natural one. :D

2005-08-08, 06:02 PM
Beh heh heh. Disintegrate!

2005-08-08, 11:56 PM
Then again, the skull fained to remember its low hit points...

2005-08-09, 03:25 PM
I just don't see a dragon falling for "Come on, let me just look inside your mouth for a second. It won't hurt..."I believe K said it in "Men in Black"

"Come on you ugly mother, EAT ME! EAT! ME!!"