View Full Version : DM Help D&D into Madness

2014-10-14, 10:42 PM
I have a D&D4 campaign that is spiralling into madness. It is too hilarious/messed-up to reset, but I am kind of lost.

I am running a derailed Seekers of the Ashen Crown (Eberron) game. The players weren't liking the game (info below), so they broke free. The now visibly evil party (Taint rules from Legends of 5 rings) have a book called the Necronomicon, that gives them sanity damage (homebrew mash of WH40k DH rules), but is about to be decrypted. The ᛉ-files division of the Federal Paladins of Investigation are after them now, but I am sure they will manage.

I have made a table for them to roll to see what they summon from the Far realm:

0. Mi-Go (PF Wake of Watcher)
1. Failed summoning… Mindflayer (MM I p. 188)
2. Failed summoning… Derro (MM III p. 48)
3. Failed summoning… Meenlock (MM III p. 138).
4. Failed summoning… Intellect devourers (MM III p. 118)
5. Failed summoning… Beholder ()
6. Mimic (p. 134 MM III)
7. Foulspawn (MM III p. 88)
8. Nothic (MM II p. 168)
9. Foulspawn (MM p. 112)
10. Aboleth (MM p. 8)
11. Gibbering beast (MM p. 126)
12. Fell taint (MM II p. 104)
13. Painted up Kraken (MM III p. 122)
14. Star Spawn (MM III p. 184)
15. Colour from Out of Space (PF:WoW)
16. Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath (PF:WoW)
17. Moit of Shub-Niggurath (PF:WoW)
18. Dimensional Shambler (PF:WoW)
19. Elder Thing (PF:WoW)
20. Star-Spawn of Cthlhu (PF:WoW)

Anyway, my main problem is what is required to summon them. I don't want a satanic cliché and was hoping for logically insane paradox if played RAW.
My best idea is terrible: While inside an Antimagic field, scrunch up and place a Bag of holding inside a Bag of holding. Repeat the process. As the bag is not spatially transcendental inside an AM field it will do nothing. The catch is that there is no AM in 4e…

With the release of 5e, my friends and I decided to give the neglected 4e a go. As the instigator, I ended up DMing, even though I am used to D&D3.5 (and WH40K Dark Heresy), but not 4e, and I didn't have too much spare time; So I decided for a pregen campaign: Seekers of the Ashen Crown (Eberron). It starts with a dungeon crawl (clear a kruthik infestation), where by chance a macguffin is found. The party consists of an artificer, rogue, bard and wizard, so not balanced, but the monsters weren't a challenge; so I buffed them up and played more tactically than a Int 1 creature would. When the party found the McGuffin they leave it and don't tell anyone of it.
I didn't want to railroad them, so I let them do. They went to the lightnining rail station in Sharn, where they managed skillfully to avoid a band of goblins who was after them. A young dragon, allied with the goblins, assaults the train —they were planning on switching trains at the next station—, wrecks it and the elemental containment was breached. Against all odds, they managed to survive.
Along the way, I kept giving slips of paper with 3.5 mundane item, plain useless items and funny items. One example were MTG boosters, where they roll to find mythic rares and foils —in a PF game a PvP fight broke out due to a foil mythic rare. One item was a book called the Necronomicon, which "felt cold to the touch and cannot be opened". As a houserule, Hero points are given for gameplay (similarly to Mutants and Masterminds) and the players have spiced up their characters. As a result, Taint (=evilness) rules from Legend of the 5 rings are in play (sacrificing the innocent, children as meat shields, human flesh as a disguise for the warforged etc) and are working nicely. Insanity rules from WH40k DH mixed with those from PF Wake of the Watcher mean that the wizard is a pyromanic/hydrophobiac, the warforged believes himself human and the rogue is an alcoholic (using non-PG house rules for drugs and intoxication)…

2014-10-14, 11:47 PM
Assistance will come once we all finish laughing.

2014-10-15, 04:37 PM
Assistance will come once we all finish laughing.

I told myself when I started that the game will not end up Diskworld-like as it always does with the group… I think I failed.
In a pathfinder game there was an NPC with plot armour called Tony, who wore a pinstriped suit and carried a violin case; the rogue rolled a 20 for a gypsy switch and ended up with a d20 modern tommy gun. Luckily I had David Goldstein, level 20 lawyer (after OotS's lawyers), who I had planned as a part of a joke encounter to deplete spells after the munchkin spellcasters took a nap in the middle of the day (which they always do). Namely, as displacer beasts are WotC copyrighted, I had planned them as level inappropriate encounter (=use up all the magic) where just before TPK, the beast would be tasered and brought away by the lawyer. David Goldstein was level 20 expert, but he got robbed dry by a party of level 5 doing a multiplayer grapple aided by Players doing Limoncello shots for an action/hero point (House rule). I should have learnt then that artefacts from other multiverses are not a good idea.

2014-10-17, 01:07 AM
Is Bag of Holding + Portable Hole = Hilarity still true in 4e? If so you could start from there.

2014-10-17, 03:31 PM
The PCs must locate a 30gp note and take it to the local market. Once they have handed it over and received a legal copy of the sourcebook the PCs may begin the summoning.

More serious idea:
The conditions for the ritual change, all the book happens to be is a guide to reading the stars.
As a "quick ritual generator", how about:
1. Midnight
2. A specific time between midnight and midday.
3. Any time the sun is in the sky.
4. During the day. Inside, in a dim/well lit room.
5. During a solar/lunar eclipse.
6. On the characters birthday.

1. Sacrifice.
2. Create.
3. Hunt.
4. Anoint.

1. A maiden.
2. A housecat, shaved.
3. Your Liege's personal banner.
4. A body part, given willingly/unwillingly.
5. 137gp of potatoes.
6. A padlock.
7. Pelor's holy symbol in obsidian.
8. Your last neighbour's pet.

Yes, a ritual where you have to eat 137gp of potatoes in a well lit room during the day is silly, but also kind of fits with chaos.

2014-10-17, 05:08 PM
Yes, a ritual where you have to eat 137gp of potatoes in a well lit room during the day is silly, but also kind of fits with chaos.

Needs more unnecessarily-complex geometric diagrams.

2014-10-17, 05:25 PM
Needs more unnecessarily-complex geometric diagrams.

You fool, those are the unspeakable horror's phone number! The ritual is just to convince them to come after they have picked up :smalltongue:

The general idea is, that if the summonss are vaguely lovecraftian (the impression) then specific rituals that make sense are sort of the wrong way to go about it. If a being's eye is drawn to pentacles for whatever reason, you do not want to do anything in them if you can help it.

2014-10-20, 06:17 PM
Ops…*The rogue already has a copy of the PHB as a result of his growing insanity and it's hilarious. 30gp? I payed $50 for mine. :,-(

In case they managed I just wrote that they (as proxies for their characters) had to hold the book and do certain moves to unlock it (namely the Tomb Raider 2 cheat code for weapons), but they haven't yet.

That random ritual table is really nice idea —as 5e shows, everyone loves random tables!—, especially the potato eating contest as it happens to tie in with an in-joke (i.e. rotten potatoes caused zombieness in an All Flesh Must Be Eaten and the GM kept giving us potatoes as loot).
I might tweak the sacrificial cat entry to make it a Schrödinger's cat thanks to a bag of holding (either asphyxiation issue or bag in a bag problem).

Regarding the geometric symbols, in d20 CoC rulebook there is a picture of a nerdy investigator drawing a pattern with his index and pinky. I am tempted to make the players act out the symbols likewise —describing 3D motions is a pain.

Game update:

Hook: The most insane member of the party (I switched to Call of Cthulhu sanity rules) has a horrendous and peternatural dream where he saw the future: a chap in the Mornlands, called Henry Armitage, gave his a parchment telling him how to open the book, as it contains, among other things, a temporal gate ritual, which he urges them to use to go back in time to same Cyre (now the Mornlands) from doom.
What the party does: They hunt down a military base where all other-realmish artifacts are stored (cf. Indiana Jones movies…) and through no end of subterfuge ransack it:
First, find authorised carpenter in tavern, kill him, loot him, escape from window —the metagaming rogue's growing insanity means he knows clichès—, chase scene with FPI, explosions
Then buy a cart (to hide the warforged (covered in human flesh and with kruthik wings) and the wizard (taint: deadly pallor), bluff checks after bluff check get into the base, ask a guard to help, kill him, steal his clothes, enter the research block, kill some more guards, kill scientists in hazmat suits, pick a weapon each from the d20 modern weapons locker (houseruling: armor AC is only half if more advanced weapons (PL2/3 vs. PL5) are used, after WH40K Dark Heresy rules, which makes more sense that the touch attack in Pathfinder for guns), sound the firealarm alarm, exit the building, rock up to a war zeppelin (Pathfinder: Pure Steam —it's 3.5 steampunk, okay, but it has more flavour than 4e Eberron), bluff an evacuation of the ship while wearing hazmat suits, kill (via dirty tactics) the obstinate Rakshasa captain (and OP) who does not believe them, badly pilot away the zeppelin, rogue recited Han Solo's star wars line from the cell block, but succeeded the bluff check. After failing to navigate and burning a forest, the War Zepellin, gyrocycles (also PF: pure steam) and a sniper rifle (with bipod and laser sight) meant that the next encounter with the FPI was a slaughter.
Henry Armitage was actually lost in an gate (showed them the travel scene from Bednobs and Broomsticks and the players themselves took sanity damage) and now they are in room with subjective gravity (box with green grip paper glued on it… recycled from a tron battle) along with a few Mi-Gos and Henry Armitage…

2014-10-20, 06:24 PM
Oh. About the Game update note, I am throwing them tough adversaries and I have had to pull off a few TPK-preventing GM fiat (the arrow misses, but hits a barrel of compressed phlogiston) during the campaign. It is that they are veterans…

2014-10-20, 08:29 PM
...Do you really want to stop it? Honestly, I'd say they'll eventually run out of steam, so keep on and let us know how it goes :smallbiggrin:.

As for advice, all I can say is that group probably wants to cause some REAL chaos; give them a new kind of toy, the army vs them. Make the army level 0 (or just pitiful level 1s), but give them a LOT of troops, so many your baby deathspawn have to get creative. That seems to be the kind of thing they want, after all.

The Oni
2014-10-20, 09:19 PM
"Create a maiden" sounds like it would be a terribly time-intensive ritual...

2014-10-20, 11:07 PM
Create a maiden would be an easy task: the flesh-clad warforged artificer is getting really good at stitching dead bodies together…

Yes, the players and I are enjoying the madness: I think it is in reaction to (a) the railroading of the Ashen Crown campaign, (b) the excessively high monster hp and (c) the genericity of 4e Eberron (Pathfinder Puresteam is a bit too light in some parts (such as equipment), but 4e Eberron is painfully engorged with generic fluff (with the exception of warforged)).

give them a new kind of toy, the army vs them.

The rogue had a field day sniping a platoon of paladins from 400 ft, the pyromanic wizard enjoyed steering the zeppelin and burning a forest and the psycho warforged got himself a cohort of sorts (without Leadership, just simply torturing a prisoner —a few intimidate checks and very graphic descriptions). So they have had a fair share of unstructured mayhem.
However, I could make it worse: I once made an item, which sounds sensible, but could break the game, namely a crossbow that could shoot throw walls (based off the Star Trek TR-116 rifle):

This +5 heavy crossbow can fire through solid objects. Firstly the aiming mechanism of this heavy crossbow features a crystalline lens that allows the viewer to see and aim through solid objects (cf. Ring of X-ray vision). Secondly, the tiller ends in a black orb, into which the fired bolts disappear before reappearing in front of the intended target by teleporting across any obstacle. Shooting across armor is a tricky shot (-5), but is a touch attack (flatfooted touch attack if surprise round). Magic darts can be used and are unaffected by the process.
Imbued with teleport, true seeing
Making cost ~50,000 gp (lvl 5+6 spells)

It never did appear in any game, but I think I might make it appear in this along with a quiver full of "special" bolts, say custom bolts imbued with power word kill?. Maybe not that bad, I want the Mi-Go (CR 6 from PF:Wake of Watcher as opposed to CR 2 in d20 CoC) with 10 levels in wizard to have a chance…

2014-10-21, 12:04 AM
Dear Mastocles

Psycho warforged? I'll have you know the Good Doctor is perfectly sane by any Far Realms standards. I think you should include the army idea as I need more test subjects so I can make a Fleshforged Army that can be stored in drop pods on our War Zeppelin and then rained down on enemies...muahahaha.

Originally Posted byJBPuffin

...Do you really want to stop it? Honestly, I'd say they'll eventually run out of steam, so keep on and let us know how it goes .

Eberron is but a stepping stone to the Conquest of the Multiverse.


There is nothing wrong (by Far Realms/Xoriat standards) with making one's minions more loyal with a bit of brain surgery and then tying their life force to the War Zeppelin even if by minion I mean some guy we kidnapped.

Originally Posted byThe Oni

"Create a maiden" sounds like it would be a terribly time-intensive ritual...

I am working on the "Maiden Manufacturing Device" as we speak (or type).

But seriously that Ashen Crown campaign was rather fairly dull and on tighter rails than the Lightning Rail. Do they ever write campaigns for experienced players? Eberron itself is somewhat sleep inducing so you can't blame us for spicing it up by say...setting a forest on fire and turning Sharn into a hive for hideous insectoid creatures.

-Dr_Chaos (the player of the warforged "psycho")

PS. Your character in the upcoming 5th edition game can expect "fun times"....muahahaha.

2014-10-21, 12:20 AM
"Create a maiden" sounds like it would be a terribly time-intensive ritual...

Only about nine months, give or take.

2014-10-21, 01:21 AM
Eberron itself is somewhat sleep inducing so you can't blame us for spicing it up

I agree, Eberron is full of fluff, but no results.
It is interesting comparing Pathfinder Pure Steam, Eberron and 3.0's Dragonstar. All three have more advanced technology base (I've ignore spell): using Alternity/d20 modern terms, I'd say Progress level 4 (idustrial age), 4 and 6 (Fusion age) respectively versus PL 2 (middle ages). I didn't mention Spelljammer as the PL is still 2.
> Dragonstar has technology that works independently of magic, yet there are a smattering of "technomancy" spells (e.g. magically fix a computer). There are some okay new races (and mediocre classes), but tons and tons of new equipment.
> Pure Steam works on technology blended with magic (stuff runs on "pure steam", which is like æther or phlogiston) and has some great vehicles (gyrocopter, gyrocycle, zeppelins and so forth), but there is bugger all equipment and most of the book is dedicated to changes to classes, which are terribly boring —I do see why they felt compelled to make modernised archetypes of the classes however.
> Eberron is technology purely by magical means. It has a lot of cool fluff explaining how pervasive magical items are, such as public illumination and the lightning rail, but it boils down to nothing as there are no new items or vehicles —while there's a (nerdgasmic) ornithopter in the Adventure's vault!— and campaigns don't start off with PCs with one or two magical items —heavily begadgeted PCs are a nightmare, but little things don't hurt. The politics of the continent is cool, but excessive and each nation has no speciality —not even a +2 to cooking pasta vs. a +2 to cooking potatoes.
The fact that the map of the lightning rail cabins is a 3rd party thing tells it all. The only saving feature are the warforged, because everyone wants to play a robot.

But seriously that Ashen Crown campaign was rather fairly dull and on tighter rails than the Lightning Rail. Do they ever write campaigns for experienced players?
I agree. DMing needs both Prep time and winging it. I can do the latter, but the former is limited.
I went for the campaign as I didn't have time to stat up each barmaid*, especially as I am not well versed in 4e, and it is the campaign that gets the best reviews. Ironically, I've spent more time than I would have otherwise.
Dear doctor, you may recall the WH40k one day campaign Shattered Hope. That was made for beginners and I spiced it up: drew a map of the encampment, printed the list of generals from the battle of waterloo, bookmarked tanks in Only War manual, and then during the game I made the Commisar say no and made you find a way out —it was hilarious. With the exception of the tanks (oh, and that Ogryn PC), that could have been easily been in the book, saving me the two hours plus of extra prep.

(* Pet peeve, Pathfinder has a NPC codex: you need a barman, a guard or a high level bounty hunter? Done.)

2014-10-23, 09:22 PM
So for those interested in how the plot ended… They had a happy ending!

Once through the gate they kill two psion 5 PF Mi-Go (CR6 from PF CC:WotW, restatted for 1/2 level) in a subjective gravity cube demiplane (cardonboard box). They gate home. They open the Necronomicon (viz. above) and open a temporal gate 100 years in the past. As I could not remember the catalyst of the great war, I made up there was an heirless emperor of Khorvaire that gets assassinated and the generals and regional governors rebel. They got their 3 days before. Eberron a century prior is regular tech, like Forgotten Realms. They checked their history books and knew who the killer was in order to stop him, but also impersonate the emperor. They befriend the killer's gang, rigged the crossbow of the killer. Even though when they were asked to sneak in to a wharehouse to place the crossbow they notice there was ink on the side of the case leaving fingerprints and were suspicious of the boss, who is unknown in history, the forget about him. On the day they gassed the king and the guards, did a switch with the Changeling rogue, kill Oswald (the shooter from the warehouse), but did not kill the leader who was the second shooter from a hill. They had camouflaged the zeppelin in smoke and the onlooking crowd assumed the gods were saving the Emperor against the shooter. After a few bluff checks, the rogue is the emperor, blessed by the gods.
During the closing narrative the following is decided:
He uses future knowledge and is fallible. The warforged studies Mi-Go technology, assimilates all the prisoners and makes them go through the time gate —some get eaten by hounds of tindalos— and eventually he makes a giant positronic Mind. Gains +20 to mental stats (sanity from 20 goes to 120). Make the time gate into a temporal quantum computer. He develops Dragonstar technology. He becomes the omniscient Shadow God, who advises the infallible God-Emperor…

2014-10-26, 11:42 PM
He becomes the omniscient Shadow God, who advises the infallible God-Emperor…

A funny way to end the campaign and hey it's the first time I have had a character turned into an "omniscient Shadow God" , although the character would see himself more as a Space-time Reality Manager :smallwink: