View Full Version : [Org]{Item} The Catalysts

2006-08-18, 05:12 AM
The Catalysts

"Sometimes progress requires a little grease on the floor and a firm shove to the back."
-Barnaby Perceival

The Catalysts are a loosely-knit secret society of sages, spies, and saboteurs dedicated to birthing new social orders by burning down the old ones. They research radical new inventions and magic for their revolutions, but rely on the summer heat for their main tactics: arson and unrest.

Tear down outdated societies through sabotage, rebellion, and assassination, paving the way for radical new societies.

Fluid is an understatement. Rank and position are changed, superiors are swapped, and underlings are shuffled monthly. Members might not even have a superior for months.

The most stable groups in the Catalysts are the regions. Each region targets a particular city, state, or kingdom for reform. Regions start small as a few agents establish themselves on both sides of the law and escalate the conflict between the government and the people. Once a region is ready for ignition, numerous agents swarm in to prepare assassinations, arson, and sabotage. All of these go off simultaneously, crippling the government within hours. The region is then disbanded as a new government is set up.

Since the Catalysts rely on searing summer heat for "maximum effect", many of their agents have seasonal schedules, establishing regions during the winter months and igniting them during the summer.

Alignment: CN (any non-Lawful)
Each region leans from Chaotic Good to Neutral Evil, depending on their target.

The Catalysts demand self-sufficient members; agents purchase their supplies themselves. (It also cuts down on the paper trail should one be caught.) The Catalysts can devote 80,000 gold to each region, up to 200,000 gold if it's particularly important. Most of this support comes in the form of magic items instead of cold cash.

The Catalysts also have an array of cutting-edge equipment they loan out for special missions, ranging from the subtle to the explosive. Much of it is baffling. Most of it is tested. All of it is scarily effective.

Most members are recruited by agents working in the field. Rebels and outcasts that show cunning, a knack for sabotage or spying, and wanderlust are recommended for recruitment after three months of observation. If they are still alive after the region ignites, the agent tells them about a rebellion nearby that could use their help. If they accept, the agent leads them to the next region and passes them along to another agent for training.

Authority Figure:

Durgashan, CG Gnome Expert 7/Wizard 5: The iconic leader of the Catalysts. Nicknamed after an ancient Dwarven word for "resmelting". No one (besides himself) knows his true identity, home, or whether he really exists. His only contact with his agents are papers on technology, philosophy, government, and magic penned by him and distributed throughout the Catalysts. (These papers are worth top coin to sages and inquisitors alike.)

Other Important Figures:

The Transmuter, CN Doppleganger Rogue 4/Wizard 5/Arcane Trickster 7: The Catalysts' top agent. He was originally hired to infiltrate them, but quickly decided he would rather work for the Catalysts and switched sides. Since then, he has merrily incited rebellions, riots, and fires across the continent.

It's rumored he ignited the overthrow of the Earl of Westhampton with just three statements, was the true identity of the Unkillable Seer of Armont, ended the bloodline of the Rutherans by burning all of the family's manors simultaneously, and started half of the rumors about himself because "they weren't getting enough of them right". He usually takes the form of a traveling gnome bard.

Bolvar the Clanless, NE Dwarven Sorcerer 9: Bolvar was exiled from his clan when he studied the forbidden magic arts instead of joining the family line of engineers. Ever since, he's devoted himself to razing dwarven society to the ground, forcing them to embrace magical studies to rebuild it. His comrades are concerned about his radical plans, worrying that weakening the dwarves so much would expose the surface to an unprecedented Underdark invasion. He hasn't been drummed out yet because his skill in combining mundane and magical sabotage is unsurpassed.

Elithis Morromer, CG Elven Ranger 5/Rogue 3: Elithian is the Catalysts' ambassador to the druidic orders. Elithis argues that man's encroachment on nature stems from the use of land as a sign of wealth; abolishing feudal lords and improving farming techniques would reduce the demand for land. It has a few holes in its logic, but many druids think its a better idea than "wait until they bother us, then kill them". Druid support has been vital for many rural regions, and Elithis is currently developing plans to use druid agents in large cities. His comrades think it's just crazy enough to work.

Racial Makeup:
35% Humans
21% Gnomes
20% Halflings
13% Elves
6% Dwarves
5% Other (savage humanoids, dopplegangers, etc.)

Class Make-Up*:
27% Rogues
21% Fighters
18% Sorcerers
13% Bards
12% Wizards
9% Other (clerics, rangers, etc.)
*This breakdown just covers the PC classes. Half of the Catalysts' members are sages, traitorous nobles, gypsy spies, researchers, and other NPC roles.

*This documents the first proof of the Catalysts' existence. Their actual origin is still unknown.

The first official reports of The Catalysts' existance date back 80 years, when the theocracy ruling Delonia collapsed. Initial reports stated revolutionaries stormed the palace temple, killed two of the heads of state, and set the place on fire. Months later, the sage Pirus held an investigation into the event. He argued that not only was the temple on fire before the mob arrived, but the nobles' fatal wounds looked like they were caused by lightning bolts and backstabs, not fire and swords. Reeves also stated the cause was not high taxes and a new state religion, but the theocracy's attempts to gain control of the capital's College of Illusions and Magics. His main piece of evidence was the disappearance of Professor Shalin, a renowned enchantress, just before the storming of the palace. (Previous reports suggested she was caught off-guard by the carnage and killed.) He suggested that Shalin aided the revolution and went into hiding afterwards to avoid reparations.

More revolutions followed in nearby kingdoms, carrying the same trademarks as the Delonia Revolt: unrest exploding into anarchy, simultaneous strikes against the state, and attacks on noblemen by elite rogues and wizards. Pirus investigated each, claiming that a secret society called the Catalysts had influenced each one. His main link between them was reported sightings of someone resembling Shalin. Most sages regarded it as pure bunk.

Halfway through his fifth investigation, Pirus disappeared from a crowded inn without a trace. No one remembered him leaving or talking to anyone.

Thirty-six years later, special forces under King Edmund the IV launched a surprise attack on a secret revolutionary outpost. They were surprised to discover three skilled mages among the rebellers. Edmund's advisors were surprised to learn, following the successful raid, that two of them were Shalin and Pirus.

Since then, nations have looked for Catalyst influence in any internal dissent against the government. Even as more plots are foiled and Catalyst agents are interrogated, their loose structure has kept info spotty, conflicting, and prone to exaggeration.

Adventure Hooks:
1. A (secret Catalyst) revolutionary fought the PCs while they were quelling a rebellion in their homeland. Now, when they are infiltrating an enemy kingdom halfway across the continent, they meet him again. This time, he offers to aid them in their quest. How did he get here? Will he really help them? What is his true motive here?

2. During an insufferable drought, a fire spreads through the poor district of the capital. The government thinks it has the fire under control until one tongue of flame miraculously leaps across the river, igniting the noble district. The PCs see a suspicious group of men leaving the scene. Can they track them through a burning city on the verge of anarchy and prevent them from causing any more damage?

3. A hated marquis was giving a public speech when "a spurt of blood erupted from his forehead, followed by a thunderous crack echoing through the street". The clerics examining the wound discovered a small iron pellet embedded a half-foot into his brain. Although it doesn't radiate magic, it managed to get through the marquis's protection spells. The city's nobles barricade themselves in until the killer is found. Will the PCs aid the city's search for the killer or retrieve the mysterious weapon for themselves?

4. Some drow (Catalysts) are attempting to cripple their Underdark brethren by- get this!- digging a large tunnel into the empire and focusing sunlight into it! And they want to pay us to help them! What a stupid plan! It'll never work!

2006-08-18, 05:12 AM
Item: Golem Cube

"If only all magic items were this much fun to drop down a chimney."
-The Transmuter

The golem cube is quick and compact support for elite Catalyst agents. Initially a dense 6" cube of a reddish clay-like substance, igniting it starts a reaction that turns it into a foam golem by the next round. (See below.) Cheaply constructed and easily concealed, Catalyst agents have used them for assassinations, diversions, support, traps, and gifts to pesky nobles and investigators.

Once the foam golem is killed or burns itself out, the cube is used up, leaving behind a large pool of what looks like hardened blood-red wax. A DC 30 Knowledge (arcana) or Craft (alchemy) check reveals its similar to material used to construct golems.

The golem cube is constructed from a specially-prepared, highly-compressed reagant. Creating the cube requires a DC 20 Craft (alchemy) check and 500 gp worth of reagents.
Moderate transmutation; CL 9th; Craft Construct, fireball, transmute rock to mud, caster must be at least 9th level; Price 4100 gp; Cost 2300 gp + 144 xp

Monster: Foam Golem

"How is this bubbling muck supposed to scare m-GET IT OFF, GET IT OFF MMMPH!"
-Last words of Elan Rutheran

Medium (and growing) Construct
HD: 12d10+20 (86 hp)
Initiative: +2/+1/0*
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
AC: 16/16/15 (+2 dex, +4 natural at Medium size), touch 12/10/8, flat-footed 14/15/15
Base Attack, Grapple: +9, +13/21/29
Attack: Slam +9/12/15 melee (d4/d6+4/d8+8 plus 1d6 fire)
Full Attack: 3 slams +9/12/15 melee (d4/d6+4/d8+8 plus 1d6 fire)
Space, Reach: 5 ft, 5 ft / 10 ft, 10 ft / 15 ft, 15 ft
Special Attacks: Engulf, foam spit, burn
Special Qualities: Construct traits, damage reduction 10/bludgeoning, fast healing 5, growth, burnout, immunity to fire, blindsight, immunity to sight-reliant spells
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +7/6/5, Will +4
Abilities: Str 10/18/26, Dex 16/14/12, Con --, Int --, Wis 11, Cha 1
Skills: --
Feats: --
Environment: Any
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: None
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: See below
Level Adjustment: --

*Statistics in #/#/# format are for the Medium, Large, and Huge forms of the foam golem respectively, as determined by the Changes to Statistics by Size table on p.291 of the MM.

What starts as a small red clay cube turns into a lethal opponent when lit on fire. The heat causes a chain reaction, combining the clay and air into a rapidly-expanding, flaming foam. The flames also ignite a spark of life within the goo, animating it. It bursts into action, slamming, engulfing, and searing opponents as it continues growing. The reaction quickly burns itself out; within a minute the golem loses all form, collapsing into an inert puddle of ooze. Its opponents rarely outlast it, though.

The foam golem tears into combat with a zeal normally not found in constructs; it relentlessly attacks any creatures nearby. It tries to engulf one or more before switching to slams and spits, keeping allies busy while it incinerates the trapped victims within.

Its chemical reactions rapidly build it up to several times its original size. It grows from Medium to Large to Huge within rounds. Luckily for its opponents, the same reactions eventually run out of reactants, "killing" the golem before it can grow to Gargantuan. The typical foam golem lifespan is:
Round 0: Reaction ignited.
Rounds 1-2: Medium size
Rounds 3-4: Large size
Rounds 5-6: Huge size
Round 7: Reaction ceases; golem destroys itself.
This lifespan can be accelerated through fire damage to the golem; one of the few occasions you can fight fire with fire.

Fast healing (Ex): The chemical reaction fueling the foam golem constantly builds itself up. It gains 5 hit points each round; these can raise its total hp above its max.

Growth (Ex): For each 10 hp it gains through fast healing and its fire immunity (see below), it grows to the next larger size. It can grow in the direction it chooses, potentially engulfing opponents next to it. (See below.)

Burnout (Ex): The reaction eventually runs out of reactants, though; once it gains 30 hp through fast healing and its fire immunity, it loses all form and collapses into a bubbling puddle of muck. It is essentially destroyed. Engulfed victims are immediately freed. (Note: Sages theorize that larger, longer-lasting, advanced foam golems could be created. Fortunately, no one's run into a foam golem that grew to Gargantuan or Colossal size... yet.)

Immunity to fire (Ex): The foam golem's reaction is accelerated by fire damage. For every 3 points of fire damage the golem would've taken, it gains 1 hit point as if through fast healing. Hit points gained this way count towards its growth and burnout. (Note: Cunning PCs could make it quickly burn itself out by accelerating its growth this way.)

Engulf (Ex): A foam golem can mow down creatures of its size or smaller as a standard action. It cannot make any slam or spit attacks during a round in which it engulfs. The foam golem merely has to move over the opponents, affecting as many as it can cover. Opponents can make opportunity attacks against the golem, but if they do so they are not entitled to a saving throw. Those who do not attempt attacks of opportunity must succeed on a DC 16/20/24 Reflex save or be engulfed; on a success, they are pushed back or aside (opponent's choice) as the creature moves forward. Engulfed creates take 2d6 fire damage each round they're engulfed, are considered to be grappled and trapped within its body, and automatically catch on fire when they finally escape. (See above.) The save DC is Strength-based. (See the Gelatinous Cube's Engulf on p.202 of the MM.)

If the foam golem grows into a space occupied by opponents, it counts as a free Engulf attempt against those opponents. The foam golem doesn't use any actions or lose its attacks when it Engulfs in this method.

Foam Spit (Su): A foam golem can spit a wad of flaming foam as a ranged attack. (Each foam spit replaces one of its slams for that round.) The foam spit is treated as a thrown weapon with a range of 10'; its attack bonus is +11/10/9 and it does the same damage as the slam attack.

Burn (Ex): A foam golem's attacks add fire damage from the foam golem's flaming body. Those hit by a foam golem's attacks must succeed on a DC 11 Reflex save or catch on fire. Those engulfed by a foam golem automatically catch on fire once they escape. The flame burns for 1d4 rounds. The save DC is Charisma-based. (See the Fire Elemental's Burn on p.98 of the MM.)

Blindsight, immunity to sight-reliant spells (Ex): Foam golems are blind (but have the blindsight special quality) as if they had the ooze type. (See p.313 of the MM.)

2006-08-18, 05:12 AM
Item: Dust of Incineration

This fine white dust immediately bursts into flames when heated or lit by a fire. It has 4 primary uses, depending on how it's distributed:

1. If it's in a tightly-packed clump when it ignites, it explodes, causing 5d6 fire damage in a 5' radius. (Reflex DC 14 to halve)

2. If it's tossed up, it diffuses and hangs in the air, forming an invisible cloud with a 10'-radius. If it's ignited, it flares like a pocket of swamp gas, causing 1d6 fire damage and igniting flammable materials within its radius. (Reflex DC 14 to negate)

3. If it's spread in a line on any surface (such as a floor or wall), it acts as a fuse. When ignited, flames travel down the line at 20' per round. One packet of dust can form a line 50' long.

4. If it's hurled through the air in the slitted bag, the dust hangs in the air, forming a suspended fuse. When ignited, flames travel down its trajectory at 20' per round. The dust lines the first 50' of the trajectory.

Dust suspended in the air dissipates in two hours or less, depending on the wind.

Faint transmutation; CL 5th; Craft Wondrous Item, pyrotechnics, levitate; Price 800gp

The Vorpal Tribble
2006-09-08, 09:22 AM
Hehehehe, love the 'Add water and watch it grow!' golem. It got my vote for best item.

They need immunity to magic though however. Just something all golems have.

2006-09-08, 11:15 AM
Yes, I was considering that. My reasoning is that the mages constructing it cut corners. "It's only going to last six rounds; why cast an extra spell to immunize it against magic, which a target may not have, when this is much cheaper?" All named golems may have insane spell immunities, but there are other constructs that don't. (Ex: Shield guardians)

Despite its lack of spell immunities, the Catalysts insist on calling it a golem. They say it confuses meddling adventurers. ("It's a golem! Quick, figure out which obscure spell might actually damage it!")

For those "special" targets, however, you can add spell immunity to a foam golem by adding Lesser Globe of Invulnerability to its cube's construction. If so, it is immune to any resistance-allowing spell or spell-like ability except:
-A magical attack that deals fire damage heals it, as described above.
-A Transmute Lava to Rock spell cast directly at it causes 8d10 points of damage and stops it from acting on its next turn.

Adding spell immunity to a foam golem bumps its golem cube's cost to 3700 gp + 200 xp.