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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Welcome, contestants, judges, and guests to Kitchen Crashers. Like in many others Iron Chef challenges, contestants will compete against each other to make the most out of the presented Secret Ingredient, but unlike all others here at Kitchen Crashers they won't cook no dish... they'll build the kitchen! Fancy characters and treacherous creatures bear no reason to exist in a vacuum, so let's be sure to give them a proper stage.

    Contestants: You will need to present a one-shot adventure taking for your entry, for an expected duration of 4 to 6 hours. Your entry should include the following elements: a working title, an original and compelling plot, a detailed description of five scenes or encounters of your own choice that take part during the adventure (hereinafter referred to as "snapshots"), including full stats for one "kingpin encounter" of your choice, a summary of any other foe, levels and types of characters for which the adventure is meant, and any significant reward they are expected to acquire over the course of the adventure.
    The purpose of the snapshots is to showcase the adventure as PCs go through it and to help setting its tone, whereas the kingpin encounter is intended as the encounter players will most likely remember and look back after completing the adventure. While in many cases the kingpin encounter will probably be a boss of sort, this is not a necessity. You are only required to provide complete stats for the kingpin encounter. Should you include full stats for other foes or NPCs, please specify which is the kingpin encounter. In the summary, specify name, race, and classes of each creature (i.e. four half-orcs Rogue 3; Ur'Gul the hill giant; a half-fiend dire boar).

    Secret Ingredient: The "Secret Ingredient" is a prompt randomly generated through the TV Tropes Story Generator. Each prompt consists of seven random tropes which are to be used by each contestant as source of inspiration in writing his or her adventure. Remember that tropes are very flexible.

    Type Description
    Setting The time, place and/or circumstances of the narrative. It doesn't have to be the only place the adventure takes place in, but it has to be a location of some significance to the plot.
    Plot A series of events that have some connection. It can be the spark that starts your adventure, an event in the middle of it, or even what happens in the grand finale. Your choice.
    Narrative Device Something that moves the story forward or organizes a scene or sequence.
    Hero Strictly speaking, the PCs should be the focus of your adventure, whatever their alignment may be. As such, you could draw inspiration from this trope to create an important NPC in your adventure: the quest giver, a henchman, a rival, or anything else really. Alternatively, it could be part of a plot hook and the reason the PCs are having this specific adventure.
    Villain The bad guy(s).
    Character As Device In service to the plot, characters (heroes, villains, and passersby alike) are often given roles, sometimes making them just plot devices with lines. This is one of those roles.
    Characterization Device Not too different from the previous one, this is another set of traits you can use to flesh out one or more NPCs in your adventure.
    All seven tropes must be featured in each entry, in one way or another.

    Sources: Any official 3.5e rulebook is fair game. Unupdated 3.0 materials, as well as web-exclusives by WotC, are expressely allowed, but take care to verify that an updated version did not appear in print elsewhere, as this could penalize your Mechanics score at the judges' discretion. Dragon Magazine is disallowed, but Dragon Compendium is fine. Unearthed Arcana is allowed, but alternate rule systems from it such as gestalt or generic classes are not. Item familiars, taint and Leadership are also disallowed.

    Deadlines: Contestants will have until 07:59 GMT on Friday, May 18th, 2018 07:59 GMT on Sunday, May 20th, 2018 to create their adventures and PM them to the Chairman, Uncle Pine. The adventures will be then posted simultaneously, to avoid copying. Judges will have until 07:59 GMT on Friday, June 1st, 2018 07:59 GMT on Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 to judge the adventures and submit their scores.

    Judging: Judging will be based on the following criteria, with each adventure rated on a scale from 1 (very poor) to 5 (exemplary) in each area: Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetic, Use of the Secret Ingredient. As most of them could bear a little elaboration, please stick with me for a few more paragraphs:

    Mechanics measures how skillfully you put your adventure together from a mechanical point of view. Are the encounters balanced for the expected amount of characters at the given level? Is there a good mixture and variety of encounters, both in terms of their nature and difficulty? Is the flow of the action mantained? Is the pacing of the adventure coherent with the allotted runtime? In a way, Mechanics encompasses concepts that in other Iron Chef competitions would fall under "Elegance", but applied to the adventure as a whole. A legal source's relative obscurity should not be considered as penalizing Mechanics.
    Dynamics values the quality of your story, as well as its originality (or lack thereof). A good story should be memorable and void of plot holes.
    Aesthetics could be summarized as "how much of a pain would be for another DM to pick up your adventure?". It covers the ease of adapting the adventure to a campaign world, for example by making use of the plot hooks provided by the contestant, as well as the adventure's resilience to PCs doing PC things by means other than extreme railroading. Finally, Aesthetics values basics such as good layout, organization, and readability of the entry. A high score in this category means a DM would have little to no problems making use of the adventure. Including more fully statted encounters than the amount required shouldn't warrant an increase in the Aesthetics score, but failure to include an appropriate summary (as detailed under Contestants) could cause a deduction at the judges' discretion.
    Use of the Secret Ingredient is self-explanatory.

    Presentation: Builds will be posted anonymously, in order to avoid the potential of bias towards a particular competitor. For this reason, please don't put your name in the build, as I'm likely to miss it when reviewing the entries!

    Speculation: Please don't post or speculate on possible takes on the given SI until the "reveal," in order to avoid spoiling the surprise if a particular competitor is producing an adventure along those lines. Browse TV Tropes instead.


    Without further ado... HERE BE YOUR SECRET INGREDIENT!

    Type Description
    Setting Another Dimension
    Plot The Evils of Free Will
    Narrative Device Unseen Audience
    Hero Lord Error-Prone
    Villain The Corruption
    Character As Device Temporary Scrappy
    Characterization Device Backstory Index


    The contest is open to any number of participants. Alternatively, if you want to be a judge just say so. Have fun everyone!


    List of entries:
    Protocol for Peace, by Tonymitsu - [1] [2]
    Last edited by Uncle Pine; 2018-05-21 at 08:02 AM.
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    Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef - First edition running 20/04/18-18/05/18.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    FAQs:

    Q: One of the tropes in the Secret Ingredient is actually an Index! What do I do?
    A: Jackpot! You can choose any of the tropes listed in that particular index and use that in your adventure. Sometime a client doesn't care if you put a blue cupboard, blue appliances, or blue cutlery in a kitchen: he just really wants to have something blue in his kitchen. Remember to specify which trope you picked from the index.

    (If you have any question or suggestions for future rounds feel free to PM me, or write in the thread as long as it doesn't violate the guidelines under Speculation)
    Last edited by Uncle Pine; 2018-04-20 at 01:54 PM.
    Extended signature here. Contains: 2 avatars, 3 quotes, a doggo and his friends.

    Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef - First edition running 20/04/18-18/05/18.

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I'll probably cook. I do want to point out that you might want to change the last trope though, as it links to a trope index :P
    Jasnah avatar by Zea Mays

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Quote Originally Posted by Randuir View Post
    I'll probably cook. I do want to point out that you might want to change the last trope though, as it links to a trope index :P
    That's intended. Sometime a client doesn't care if you put a blue cupboard, blue appliances, or blue cutlery in a kitchen: he just really wants to have something blue in his kitchen. You'll be fine as long as someone's backstory is featured in a relevant way in your adventure.
    Extended signature here. Contains: 2 avatars, 3 quotes, a doggo and his friends.

    Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef - First edition running 20/04/18-18/05/18.

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Came here to post that this is a fascinating - and ambitious - contest. And also to point out that the last Trope is more a collection of all backstory tropes.


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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Quote Originally Posted by AvatarVecna View Post
    Came here to post that this is a fascinating - and ambitious - contest. And also to point out that the last Trope is more a collection of all backstory tropes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Randuir View Post
    I'll probably cook. I do want to point out that you might want to change the last trope though, as it links to a trope index :P
    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Pine View Post
    That's intended. Sometime a client doesn't care if you put a blue cupboard, blue appliances, or blue cutlery in a kitchen: he just really wants to have something blue in his kitchen. You'll be fine as long as someone's backstory is featured in a relevant way in your adventure.


    and some more letters
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    An ambitious project for sure. I won't be participating (at least anytime soon) but I await the results with great interest.

    Gotta get inspiration wherever I can ;D
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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    This seems like a super ambitious build contest for only a two week timeframe. I have a hard enough time getting a build together for Iron Chef sometimes, let alone an entire adventure. I won't be participating, but will be watching with keen interest.
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    Nerdomancer in the Playground Moderator
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadline View Post
    This seems like a super ambitious build contest for only a two week timeframe. I have a hard enough time getting a build together for Iron Chef sometimes, let alone an entire adventure. I won't be participating, but will be watching with keen interest.
    He gave a month to build, and 2 weeks to judge.

    I agree with your sentiment though, even with a month, it seems like a very aggressive time frame to create an entire world essentially. I'll definately be following to see how it turns out :)
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I'll try to fit it into my schedule, but I need to create my entries for several other competitions first!
    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I feel like telling the ghost of Gary Gygax to hold your beer is a good way to suddenly stop being the GM, but I have to admit that this would probably be remarkably effective. At what, I dunno, but effective.
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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I have to say, well done with the title and the categories.

    I don't think I will have time to cook. With spring finally around the corner, the call of the outdoors will be strong in the coming week. But I may be up to judge if there aren't too many complex entries and if I'm not too cuaght up with real life.

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Wow. That's a lot of secret ingredients.

    If there are people interested in playing and I can figure out the streaming software, I'd be willing to DM the adventures live on stream to showcase them.

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Since a couple people already wondered about what to do with Backstory Index as part of the SI, I've decided to address it in the FAQs*.

    *Which are considered RAW this time, so be sure to check them!

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadline View Post
    This seems like a super ambitious build contest for only a two week timeframe. I have a hard enough time getting a build together for Iron Chef sometimes, let alone an entire adventure. I won't be participating, but will be watching with keen interest.
    As jdizzlean correctly pointed out the deadline is actually a month, so if you think you could make it with two extra weeks we'd be glad to have you aboard.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdizzlean View Post
    He gave a month to build, and 2 weeks to judge.

    I agree with your sentiment though, even with a month, it seems like a very aggressive time frame to create an entire world essentially. I'll definately be following to see how it turns out :)
    It wasn't easy to decide on the time for the contest. In the end, I decided I'd rather avoid to drag it for an eternity and cut down the scope of the competition from "any adventure" down to "one-shot" to drastically reduce the amount of work each contestant would have to go through. The nature itself of a one-shot means that it's more of a self-contained microcosm rather than an entire world, which makes it far faster to generate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Falontani View Post
    I'll try to fit it into my schedule, but I need to create my entries for several other competitions first!
    Good luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by Long_shanks View Post
    I have to say, well done with the title and the categories.

    I don't think I will have time to cook. With spring finally around the corner, the call of the outdoors will be strong in the coming week. But I may be up to judge if there aren't too many complex entries and if I'm not too caught up with real life.
    Thank you and don't worry too much about deciding immediately whether to be a judge, there's time for that.
    Extended signature here. Contains: 2 avatars, 3 quotes, a doggo and his friends.

    Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef - First edition running 20/04/18-18/05/18.

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I'm gonna start working on mine later tonight! Thanks Uncle, I think this is gonna be a lot of fun

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Thumbs up Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    There’s basically zero chance that I’ll have the time/energy to participate in this, but I approve of it and I want it to succeed.
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    1) How long should a typical one-shot be, such as how many planned encounters before the boss, etc?
    2) No level restriction?
    3) How should it be presented? (Sample format appreciated!)

    I'm itching to create some flavor of a planar adventure, so this is a good place to do it.
    Last edited by Goaty14; 2018-04-21 at 04:41 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    killing and eating a bag of rats is probably kosher.
    Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking), and your humility is stunning

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    1) How long should a typical one-shot be, such as how many planned encounters before the boss, etc?
    2) No level restriction?
    1) The rules state:
    You will need to present a one-shot adventure taking for your entry, for an expected duration of 4 to 6 hours. Your entry should include the following elements: a working title, an original and compelling plot, a detailed description of five scenes or encounters of your own choice that take part during the adventure (hereinafter referred to as "snapshots"), including full stats for one "kingpin encounter" of your choice, a summary of any other foe, levels and types of characters for which the adventure is meant, and any significant reward they are expected to acquire over the course of the adventure.
    2) It doesn't seem there is a level restriction. The adventure as a whole has to be appropriate for your chosen level, but that's about it.
    Last edited by DeTess; 2018-04-21 at 04:42 PM.
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I stand corrected on the timeline, but it doesn't change much for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    There’s basically zero chance that I’ll have the time/energy to participate in this, but I approve of it and I want it to succeed.
    Zaq expressed my main sentiment better here than I could.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I guess I'll do this then

    One last question: Where do I submit it when it's done?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venger View Post
    killing and eating a bag of rats is probably kosher.
    Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking), and your humility is stunning

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    1) How long should a typical one-shot be, such as how many planned encounters before the boss, etc?
    The ideal runtime is considered 4-6 hours, as that's what most d&d session tend to last for. Of course in practice a typical one-shot will sometime turn into a two-shot for any number of reason either unrelated to the one-shot (players arriving slightly late, distractions, pizza, etc.) or due to players having a particularly good time and taking interest in the one-shot to the point they decide to explore it meticulously in every tiny detail, but you should still aim for 4-6 hours.
    There is no hard cap on the number of encounters (both combat, social, puzzle, and so on) your adventure can have, although you're only required 5 snapshots in your entry so I expect many of the entries to have exactly 5.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    2) No level restriction?
    Nope. As long as your entry is internally consistent and appropriate for a level of your choice, it's all good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    3) How should it be presented? (Sample format appreciated!)
    You're required to name your adventure and present the plot, five snapshots, one kingpin encounter, what is basically a bestiary of every other opponent in the adventure, as well as info on the kind of group(s) you expect to go through the adventure and rewards, so at least one section for each of these make sense. If the kingpin encounter is encountered as part of one of the snapshot you can put it there to avoid having to go back and forth between different sections.
    I expect the average adventure will also have a section dedicated to character hooks, maybe split the plot section in "Adventure Background" and "Adventure Synopsis" or something similar and if for example the adventure is set in a dungeon with many different rooms a brief rundown of each of them would be nice. Imagine visiting a brand new house because you want to move and to find out it's huge with lots of corridors and features you didn't even think about, wouldn't you expect your estate agent to give you a walkthrough of the house's nooks and crannies?
    Maps are never expressely required, but if you have a specific idea for an encounter involving taking advantage of terrain features and the like it might be a good idea to include a map of where the encounter takes part. Map Maker is rather spartan but extremely handy for this sort of things.

    Quote Originally Posted by Goaty14 View Post
    I guess I'll do this then

    One last question: Where do I submit it when it's done?
    Submissions are to be sent to the Chairman, aka me.


    EDIT: For more info about formatting, you can take inspiration from published pre-written modules or have a look at the back of any Dungeon Magazine issue, which has a rather in-depth guide about the qualities of a good module. I started writing the opening post for this contest with the idea of including a Format section with lots of guidelines, but then decided it would've been better to hammer down just a few key requirements and then see the length to which contestants are willing to go to rather than make a much bigger and comprehensive list that would've scared potential participants. We'll see how this first round go and then I'll decide whether to compile a Format section for the next one and what to include in it.
    Of course, if any contestant has any kind of question about formatting I'll be eager to provide an answer.
    Last edited by Uncle Pine; 2018-04-22 at 02:19 AM.
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    A little bump to remind everyone that the contest is due in three weeks, which is still plenty of time for anyone who Missed the Call to jump in and make something. Have fun!
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    Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef - First edition running 20/04/18-18/05/18.

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Last call for the contestants: Kitchen Crashers is due next week. I know there were a bunch of eager people who PMed me with a few questions when this all started, so remember to actually turn your submission in. Good luck with the last sprint.
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    Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef - First edition running 20/04/18-18/05/18.

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Pine View Post
    [...] evils of free will [...]
    I'm in.


    Seriously, this is one of my favorite tropes, and seeing it get featured in a GitP competition? No way that I'm not going to be participating.
    Have you had enough of unreasonably high LA's and unplayable monsters in 3.5? Then check out the LA-assignment thread! Don't hesitate to give feedback!

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Interested, though not sure I'll be ready for the deadline. I'll give it a go though!
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I've been asked about a two day extension for the deadline by Tonymitsu (whose name I only mention because I believe these requests should have a name publicly attached to them). I'm personally not against this, because it's only two days and it's the first Kitchen Crashers so I'd like to be as inclusive as possible, but feel free to voice your opinion.

    If a 48 hour extension doesn't particularly bother anyone, I'll edit this message and the OP tomorrow morning to reflect the changes to the schedule in order to avoid additional spamming.

    EDIT: The deadline has been postponed to 07:59 GMT on Sunday, May 20th, 2018.
    Last edited by Uncle Pine; 2018-05-18 at 01:12 AM.
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Rats. This is what I get for not looking in on the forums properly for a while
    I look forward to the finished products! This is set to be a lot of fun

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I'll reiterate my offer to run and stream the adventures online if there is interest.

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    Quote Originally Posted by Troacctid View Post
    I'll reiterate my offer to run and stream the adventures online if there is interest.
    would it be possible to also post them on youtube? I will never have time to watch a live stream, but watching a video at a random different time is within the realm of possiblities
    Quote Originally Posted by Zaq View Post
    I feel like telling the ghost of Gary Gygax to hold your beer is a good way to suddenly stop being the GM, but I have to admit that this would probably be remarkably effective. At what, I dunno, but effective.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zombulian View Post
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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    I ended up getting only a single submission even after waiting a whole extra day after the extended deadline, but worry not! We can still have fun looking at this piece of work and comment on it, or even playtest it if you so choose (ask Troacctid about that).

    I'd skim over the usual demand of avoid posting until all the reveals are posted since there's only one, but I'm actually not sure if it can fit in a single post so please wait until I'm finished.
    Extended signature here. Contains: 2 avatars, 3 quotes, a doggo and his friends.

    Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef - First edition running 20/04/18-18/05/18.

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    Default Re: Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef

    It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... a modron!

    Quote Originally Posted by Protocol for Peace
    Protocol for Peace

    Introduction
    The Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus, the outer plane of ultimate law, is said to be the source of every rule in the multiverse. It is all at once home to the simplest of directives to complex machinations that span the whole of existence. But even in a place where the rules are paramount, nothing is as it first seems. From deep within the regimented city of Regulus, a being of terrible power sets for a plan that threatens the stability of reality itself.

    Protocol for Peace is an adventure intended for a party of four 12th-level characters. It is set mostly in the Forgotten Realms, however it can be adapted to suit almost any setting. Simply substitute Helm for an appropriate Lawful Neutral deity, or have Argus draw his power from the ideals of order and stability. Before beginning, you should thoroughly read and familiarize yourself with the NPC’s and their abilities. This book utilizes material found in the 3.5 Edition Core rulebooks (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual), the Complete series, Dungeonscape, as well spells and items found in the Magic Item Compendium and the Spell Compendium, and material adapted from the Modron Web Supplement found here: http://archive.wizards.com/default.a...d/we/20010921a

    Adventure Background
    On the Outer Plane of Mechanus, the strange race of beings known as modrons have constructed a vast network of cities that occupy exactly sixty-four cogs. A fiercely hierarchical race, they are rigidly divided into strict castes whose numbers never change. Whenever a modron dies, a member of the caste below is immediately promoted to replace them, and so on all the way to the lowest levels of modron society. They are lead by Primus, a lesser deity who issues orders to his immediate inferiors, known individually as secundus. These in turn pass the orders on to the next caste down, until they reach the intended receiver. Through this chain of command the will of Primus is distributed to the entire rest of the modron race.

    A lesser-known aspect of modron society, is that the process of promotions also includes Primus. It is very rare, but whenever Primus dies it is replaced immediately by one of the four secundi. Even though the power of Primus is transferred, its memories and plans are not. What follows is a period of disruption in all of modron society that lasts until the new Primus is able to comprehend the current state of the planes as well as the goals and machinations of its predecessor.

    It was during this period of adjustment that an unexplained planar instability had led to a series of breaches to the plane of Limbo opening up in one section of the city. A local septon was charged with a simple directive: “find a solution to the encroaching chaos”. When no additional orders came after its work was completed, it continued to ponder the meaning of the directive. After a period of research, it reached the conclusion that emotion was the source of all conflict. Thus in order to permanently resolve conflict and chaos, it must remove emotion.

    The septon soon became what modron society would refer to as a rogue, taking on a sense of individuality and the name Imperitus. Secreted away in his stronghold in the modron city of Regulus, his experiments in suppressing emotion have begun to bear fruit. Currently he is making preparations to proceed to the next stage: an incremental invasion of the Prime Material plane, with the help of his ally, a human priest of Helm named Argus Delryn.

    Argus
    A pious and quiet cleric in the service of Helm, Argus Delryn was given the impossible task of acting magistrate in an anomaly in Mechanus: small village in a nondescript cog utterly consumed by vicious infighting. He prayed day and night to his god for an answer to the violence. Imperitus peered into his mind with his telepathy, and offered him a solution: specially crafted amulets to be distributed to the townspeople. As they donned them, their emotions steadily began to drain away, and with them the desire for conflict. It wasn’t long before the petty fighting all but stopped. Argus was overjoyed and hailed Imperitus as a prophet of Helm, and quickly agreed to work with the septon to spread his work all across the Prime Material plane.

    Adventure Synopsis
    The PC’s become aware of situation involving the wealthy half-janni merchant Yaztromo who is known to frequent the city of Sigil: his son, Milner, has recently gone missing, and he is looking for skilled adventurers to find him. Upon arriving to speak with the merchant, he is grateful they answered his call, but that Eleran Drakestinger, the famous “Wandering Duke” has already agreed to help, and he considers the matter as good as handled. Upon encountering Eleran, the party quickly learns that not everything about the legends surrounding Eleran are as they appear to be.

    With some convincing on behalf of Willow, the Duke’s ever-present valet, the party agrees to accompany Eleran in solving the problem of the missing merchant’s son. Willow reveals that her investigation so far has suggested a potential planar breach to Mechanus. Rumors within the city of Delon-Estin Oti quickly point to a small village on one of the nearby cogs. Upon visiting the village, they are greeted by Argus, who introduces them to the Milner, at which point they learn that he has taken up permanent residence, as well as the worship of Helm and no longer wishes to leave.

    While Eleran and the party contemplate what they should do next, the village is suddenly raided by a nearby formian hive. After driving off the invaders, Argus implores the party to pursue them to find their nest. The party is met on the way by a delegation from the formian queen, who wish only to talk. The queen informs the party that her hive only attacked the town to rescue two formian workers who had been abducted, and reveals the nature of the amulets worn by Argus’s “faithful”. Eleran resolves to confront the priest, and returns to the town, alone if necessary.

    Seeing the party as a threat to the stability he has worked so hard to achieve, Argus attacks. He remains steadfast in his defiance of the party even in defeat, and happily reveals the details of his arrangement with Imperitus, as well as his location within Regulus. Milner has been rescued, but the stakes are much bigger than the life of one merchant’s son now. In spite of the danger, Willow makes the point that defeating the modron is the only way to ensure his designs do not come to fruition.

    The PC’s must enter the city of Regulus and confront Imperitus in his stronghold in order to stop him once and for all.

    The Wandering Duke
    Eleran Drakestinger, the “Wandering Duke” is something of a folk tale amongst adventurers, and it is rare to find one who has not at least heard of him. Depending upon whom you ask, he is either a respected nobleman, incredibly skilled duelist, and the finest example of what an adventurer can aspire to be or the most idiotic egomaniac to ever grace the surface of Toril.

    The truly amazing thing is that all of the stories are true.

    Eleran is truly horrendous with a blade-- and bad at most everything else-- yet he still carries himself with the poise and dignity of a true master swordsman. He will march happily into any encounter, regardless of the odds, confident that his skills and years of experience will see him through. He speaks to ladies as though he were a silver-tongued bard of less than half his actual age. He makes outrageous wagers to prospective opponents, and then justify his inevitable loss as the result of a “bad meal” or as a means of actually teaching his opponent a “valuable lesson”.

    However, it is also true that he was not always this way. A fine adventurer and a peerless swordsman in his youth, Eleran took it upon himself to retire and accept a minor title of nobility as a reward for one of his many deeds of heroism. It was also his idea to come out of retirement several years later, accompanied on further adventures by Willow, his tireless valet, and a scribe who would chronicle his new adventures in a series of novels. These novels grew incredibly popular, and the money raised by selling them went a long way towards filling the Duke’s coffers, and bringing prosperity to the small kingdom he is charged with.

    His current state is the result of diabolical maneuverings from one of Eleran’s political rivals, who employed the resources of a powerful mage to curse the Duke to “never realize his true potential”. However the mage intended the vaguely worded curse to actually work, fate seized the opportunity and ran with it. Despite his age, Eleran still believes he is the best swordsman he could possibly be. He has stopped training because, why would he need to? How much better could he possibly get? This attitude has since carried over into other aspects of his life.

    The chief reason why he is still among the living is Willow, a young woman whom he rescued from a life of slavery many years prior and has been his devoted servant ever since. She is a valet beyond compare, adept at steering Eleran away from situations where he could get into serious trouble, and then cleaning up the fallout when Eleran gets in trouble anyway. She has defused dozens of ruinous situations through conversation, reason, bribery, blackmail, distraction, and, when necessary, food poisoning. She is practiced in countless different methods of combat, both of the martial and arcane variety. Despite her best efforts, the curse resists all efforts to break it, and so she remains devoted to preserving the image of the “Wandering Duke”, both for his sake and the sake of the people of his small kingdom.

    Adventure Hooks
    The easiest way to get the PC’s involved in this adventure is to use an established contact of theirs to pass the information regarding Yaztromo to them directly. Someone whom they know who could owe a wealthy merchant a favor (or is looking to acquire a favor from the merchant) and passes the PC’s names along to him. If the PC’s do not have any specific individual upon whom they rely, then the message can be delivered via an organization that they belong to-- such as a church, a mages guild, or other formal organization-- or to an establishment, such as a tavern, that they frequent. Consider a friendly bartender who makes mention of someone that was asking about them specifically.

    Alternatively, you can inflict Eleran up them directly, and have them learn of the merchant through him. In this case, you can skip most of the first chapter.

    Chapter 1: The Missing Son
    The PC’s obtain information that a merchant named Yaztromo is seeking the expertise of capable adventurers for a most important matter. Anyone who succeeds at a DC 20 Knowledge (the planes) check, recognizes the name as that of a wealthy half-janni merchant who operates on the Outer Planes and has a reputation for trafficking in exotic and hard-to-come-by goods. If that fact and the implicit promise of an extensive reward does not pique their interest, consider making a special plea that it might be a deeply personal family matter he needs help resolving. If the party agrees to his request, he asks that they meet him in the Festhall in Sigil. If necessary, Yaztromo will provide them with the location of a portal as well as the key to access it.

    A. Meeting the Merchant.
    The city of Sigil, located in the Concordant Doman of the Outlands and the hub of the multiverse, functions much like the Prime Material plane; it has normal gravity, time, lacks any elemental or energy traits, and does not favor any specific alignment. Once the party adjusts to the nature of being inside a gigantic hallow ring, they should have no more difficulty functioning than normal.
    When the PC’s arrive at the Festhall and meet with Yaztromo, he acts surprised to see them. Read or paraphrase the following:
    “Well, there’s a capable group if I have ever seen it! And believe me, I’ve seen many! I thank you for your response, but I do apologize for wasting your time. For you see, none other than the ‘Wandering Duke’ himself has already agreed to help find my missing son. I’m sure you can agree that means he is as good as found!”

    Succeeding on a DC 15 Knowledge (local) or DC 10 Knowledge (nobility and royalty) check is enough for a PC to recognize the title and at least be familiar with the exploits of Eleran Drakestinger. If the PC’s ask for more information, Yaztromo happily obliges. His son, Milner, was on a routine tip to the Prime Material plane when his caravan suddenly vanished. As soon as Yaztromo realized something was wrong, he began sending out personal requests to hire someone to locate him. He had heard of the PC’s exploits and has requested them and several other famous adventurers by name, wishing to trust the matter to a proven and capable group.
    It then occurs to him that surely the Duke would welcome their assistance if they were still interested in helping. He promises an equal share of the reward between the two groups. All he wants is his son returned to him, or, he admits somberly, to know of his fate for certain should the worst have happened.

    Assuming the PC’s agree to help, Yaztromo tells them that Eleran should still be in the city. It doesn’t take long (or very much effort) to track him down. A successful DC 10 Gather Information check returns his exact location in 1d4 minutes, rather than hours.
    Read the following text aloud:
    One look in the merchant’s eyes was all I needed to convince me of the rightness of this quest. And so I assured him he had nothing to fear, that his missing son would soon be returned to him safely. Little did I know, then, of the true extent of the adventure in front of me... and of the companions I would meet along the way.

    The PC’s find Eleran and his two companions being accosted by a well-armed and seedy-looking group of adventurers in a side alley. If they decide to watch and listen for a while, have them roll Hide checks. They can overhear the group demanding that Eleran back away from finding the son, as the reward is too good to pass up, even to someone like him, and Eleran refusing them in the most smug way possible. Eventually his stubbornness causes the group to attack. If the PC’s are are spotted, or if they choose to intervene right away, the fight breaks out immediately, with one of the thugs announcing to his fellows to “Leave no witnesses!”
    Use the stats for NPC’s found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide starting on page 113. There should be one enemy for each party member, plus an additional two for Eleran and his group, but no enemy higher than level 8 or 9. This should be a trivial encounter for the PC’s. Allow them periodic Spot checks to observe that Eleran flounders near constantly in combat (see his statistic block for details).
    Once more than half of their number are defeated or killed, the rest of the assailants will flee. Eleran thanks the PC’s for their assistance, though he pointedly notes that it was hardly needed. He will then immediately begin criticizing the technique of the most prominent melee PC. If at any point a one of the PC’s begins to note Eleran’s sloppy performance, Willow will immediately intervene to cut them off, suggesting that perhaps as a thank you they should treat their rescuers to a meal, where they can continue to “Discuss their respective techniques. In private.”
    Any PC’s that succeeds at a DC 10 Sense Motive can note both her tone and the knowing look she gives them.

    B. Simple Negotiations.
    Upon entering the nearest tavern, Willow waits until Eleran goes to negotiate the “special food entries reserved for visiting celebrities which are not listed on the menu” with the tavern owner, and then suggests that the young scribe stay with him so as to not miss a moment that might be worth detailing later. This provides an opportunity for the PC’s to question her about Eleran’s supposed martial prowess. After much prodding, she will admit the the details of Eleran’s condition, that Eleran is not personally aware of the curse, and that she has been unable to convince him otherwise. She will additionally describe the novels and the scribe’s purpose in accompanying them on adventures. Willow then asks if the PC’s will join them in the search for Milner, and keep up the ruse along the way. She will begin by appealing to the PC’s better nature, noting that Eleran is a good man who has always done the right thing, and that she knows deep down he still wants to. If the PC’s remain unconvinced, she will plead on behalf of the kingdom that his adventures support. She assures them that he will not be in their way, and that she has kept him safe on many previous such missions.
    If, on the other hand, the PC’s seem inclined to expose him for more petty reasons, she drops the pretense and instead offers them more substantial means of persuasion. These books are very popular, she notes, and asks if a portion of the proceeds from the latest sale would change their minds. Allow the PC’s to negotiate if they are so inclined, with opposed Diplomacy checks to haggle over the exact amount. Willow is no stranger to such negotiations, and she will do whatever it takes to ensure Eleran’s well-being. She will also leverage the information she and Eleran have uncovered so far regarding the missing son to get the PC’s to agree to her terms.
    Once the PC’s have agreed, she shares the information she has uncovered so far: evidence of a planar breach that leads to Mechanus, an infinite plane of interlocking cogs. She also has knowledge of a portal in Sigil that can take everyone to the city of Delon-Estin Oti which is probably the best place to begin their search for Milner.
    At this point Eleran should return to the table triumphant in his “negotiations”.

    Read the following text:
    The Duke looks at you all and smiles, “Yes, yes, there’s no need to say it. My dear Willow was no doubt using this opportunity to talk all of you out of accompanying me on such a dangerous quest. But I can see the hunger for adventure and excitement in you as though I was looking into a mirror! Worry not, friends, for you shall be under the protection of Eleran Drakestinger himself. And who knows? You might just learn a thing or two besides. So what say you? Will you join us?”

    Allow the party to respond however they wish. They automatically succeed on a Spot check to notice Willow rubbing her temples in an effort to fight off a migraine.

    Chapter 2: To Mechanus
    Read the following text:
    We quickly made our way towards the portal-- my new companions and I. It was interesting to be traveling with such able fellows once again. Not since my early days had I traveled with such a determined group of fellow adventurers. Their unpolished skills could not hide their obvious talent from trained eyes like mine. I knew it would only be a matter of time before their experience brought them to heights that would rival my own. All too soon, their skills, and mine own, would be put to the test...

    The portal key brings Eleran, Willow, the scribe, and the PC’s to the Clockwork Nirvana of Mechanus, the plane of ultimate law. They are greeted by the daunting sight of countless spinning cogs, all interconnected a various angles, ranging in size from roughly a small island to several thousand miles across. Players who are not familiar with Mechanus can make a Knowledge (the planes) check. A result of 20 or higher reveals the following traits:
    • Objective Directional Gravity: Gravity is the same as on the Material Plane, but the direction is oriented to the face of each individual cog.
    • Normal Time.
    • Infinite Size: The void in which the gears hang is infinite.
    • Divinely Morphic: Lesser deities can alter their immediate surroundings with a thought.
    • No Elemental or Energy Traits.
    • Strongly Law-Aligned: Non-lawful characters suffer a -2 penalty on all Charisma-, Wisdom-, and Intelligence-based checks
    • Normal Magic.


    Willow can also supply this information if necessary. She also alerts the PC’s and Eleran (especially Eleran) to the nature of one of the plane’s native inhabitants, the inevitables: constructs that exist solely to enforce the laws of the universe. Once the party arrives at the city of Delon-Estin Oti, allow them a Gather Information check. On a DC 10, they learn of a small village on a nearby cog that seems to have just appeared one day, and no one can clearly recall precisely when. A man fitting Milner’s description was seen with a group who visited the city a few days ago to trade for supplies.
    The party can find Eleran and his two companions in the center of town, where Willow is doing her best to convince the Duke that the fountain statue in the square in not, in fact, a stone golem in disguise. Once the party has had enough fun (or when everyone starts to get too annoyed) you can proceed to the village of Equilibrium.

    A. Village Outskirts.
    At first glance, the Equilibrium is not all that unusual for a village in Mechanus, down to the types and placements of buildings. Even the eclectic mix of inhabitants won’t seem out of place for a group of travelers fresh from a visit to Delon-Estin Oti. However, the apparent harmony between the various races is far more extreme than what the PC’s might have come to expect. As they wander the town in search of information, some of the more unusual interactions they can observe include:
    • A dwarf operating a blacksmith shop with the help of an ogre apprentice.
    • A drow wizard and a high elf sorcerer jointly running a magic shop.
    • Two formian workers assisting a dryad in harvesting crops a small farm.
    • An illithid tending to an apothecary taking a delivery of herbs from a githzeri.
    • A leonal tending bar at the tavern, with a tiefling waiting on customers and two xill clearing the tables.

    Any inquiries made about any subject not related to the particular villager’s area of expertise are directed to the magistrate, whom they are told can be found in the great temple of Helm at the center of the village.
    If the PC’s think to check if any of the inhabitants are dominated, a successful Sense Motive check (DC 15) suggests that they are not. It does, however, reveal a strange sense of detachment present in every single villager they speak with. The detect magic spell, and similar divinations, reveal the presence of an enchantment effect. One other clue that observant characters are likely to notice is a necklace worn by every single inhabitant they meet, all of which sport an identical pendant. A successful DC 10 Knowledge (religion) check identifies it as the holy symbol of Helm. On a result of 25 or higher the PC can recall that Helm’s doctrine does not required such jewelry, nor is anything like it common amongst worshippers on the Material Plane, a fact of which Willow is also keenly aware. If asked, the villagers will simply remark about wanting an outward symbol of their faith to display openly, but are unwilling to part with the pendant for a closer inspection (and indeed, they cannot. See the new item in the appendix for details).

    B. Temple of Helm
    The Temple to Helm in the center of the village is an impressive structure; a stone building roughly 100 feet square, with a turrets at each of the four corners that rise to a height of 80 feet. A plaque on the center above the main double-doors bears Helm’s holy symbol. When the PC’s first enter the building, read the following text:
    The floor of this semi-circular is lined with pews arranged in a theater style seating leading down to an altar at the back. The vaulted ceiling above you rising to a height of 60 feet at the center, with chandeliers bearing candles hanging from the center. At the back of the room is a massive metal statue done in the affectation of Helm. In front of the altar you see a human male dressed in the regalia of a high priest of helm, praying at an altar accompanied by two elves both dressed acolyte robes. The priest rises from his prayer and turns to face you as you enter, “Welcome, travelers. How might this servant of the Vigilant One assist you today?”


    The “statue” in the back of the room is actually a shield guardian under orders to remain inert unless called upon by Argus defend him. The acolytes are really a pair of nimblewrights using their alter self spell-like ability to disguise themselves as elves. Both Argus and the acolytes also wear identical pendants as the villagers, though the priest’s case it is not the amulet noted in the appendix, but is instead the control amulet for the shield guardian and his holy symbol divine focus.

    If present, Willow remains quiet and observant, allowing Eleran to take the lead. Should one or more of the PC’s wish to entreat with Argus, the Duke will grin and nod, eager to “see their own attempts at negotiation firsthand”. If none of the PC’s volunteer to do so in his stead, Eleran will step forward and proudly introduce himself in the most grandiose way possible, noting Willow and the rest of the PC’s as his “capable assistants”. He tells Argus they are searching for a boy named Milner, and have it on good authority that he might be found in this village. Argus will confirm this, and inform them that he is currently tending to a nearby field. If the PC’s ask to speak with him, he will send one of the acolytes to fetch him, inviting everyone to wait in the temple. During the wait he will ask what business they have with Milner. If the party answers truthfully, he will nod in understanding, apologizing for any undue worry that Yaztromo may have suffered, and add that, regretfully, they may have come all this way for nothing.
    Argus is very cordial to the party and will politely answer answer any questions his visitors might have. He will explain to them that his village is a quiet place for those seeking refuge from conflict, and that everyone here has come to understand the true harmony that comes when one is free from all desire for conflict. He will relate to them the horrors of the petty squabbles that beset the village when he first arrived, and invites the PC’s to “merely look around at the village to see what can be accomplished when one “rises above the base emotions that inevitably lead to conflict and true balance is achieved”.
    Milner and the acolyte return in short order. The PC’s can observe in him the same emotionless detachment they have seen in every villager they have met so far. He tells the PC’s in simple terms that Argus saved him from a bandit attack, and invited him to stay at the village while he recovered. In the time spent here, he has taken up the worship of Helm at Argus’s suggestion, and has since come to see the truth of his words. He tells the PC’s to inform his father that he is perfectly fine, and has no desire to leave.
    This might put the PC’s in a quandary. On one hand, Yaztromo explicitly said he wanted his son returned to him if he was alive. Reporting back without Milner might cause him to refuse any reward. On the other hand, Milner made it clear he doesn’t wish to leave. Eleran will admit that removing him by force might constitute kidnapping him, and Willow notes that such an act will almost certainly incur the wrath of the inevitables. The PC’s might suspect some sort of trickery, but likely have no way of proving this just yet. Before the party can reach a decision (or as soon as they decide one way or another but before they can move to put their plan into action), a loud alarm bell begins to chime. The village is under attack!

    Chapter 3: Formian Assault
    Read the following text out loud:
    One of the many things a lifetime of experience will teach you is that rarely is any mission as simple as it seems. My stalwart companions and I found the merchant’s son. Though they stumbled a bit in their initial negotiations, with my assistance we ingratiated ourselves to the leader of this strange village and its even more peculiar inhabitants. But now faced with our dilemma, we struggled to plot our next course. However, it wasn’t long before the winds of Fate soon steered us in the proper direction...

    A. Battle in the village
    Creatures: 12 Formian Warriors, 4 Formian Taskmasters, 2 Greater Barghests, 2 Hound Archons
    Tactics: For this encounter, draw a map of a village outsirkts including one farming field roughly fifty feet across, at least four buildings arranged at the intersection of two streets. Divide the enemies into four distinct groups each consisting of three warriors, one taskmaster, and either a greater barghest or a hound archon, and placed them near the edge of the map about 60 feet away from a building. The barghests and hound archons are under the command of one of taskmasters, and should that taskmaster be slain, the respective creature will be freed. The barghest will randomly attack either the PC’s or the remaining formians, while the hound archon will either turn on the formians or use it’s greater teleport ability to flee. Additionally, the hive has taken the extraordinary measure of moving it’s queen within 50 miles of the edge of the village, and so the formians all benefit from their Hive Mind ability. They will move with precision to try and flank the party, while the taskmaster’s in charge of the barghests order them to use their mass bull’s strength to buff them and their allies, while attempting to dominate the most obvious melee threat amongst the PC’s.
    Eleran will charge head-first into the fray. Willow will do her best to remain adjacent to him at all times, in case he might need to be healed. She will be hesitant to provide any direct support to the players if Eleran is in any significant danger.
    Additionally, over the course of the battle, the PC’s might be alarmed to note that many of the villagers come out to join in defense of the village, several of whom are grievously injured in the process. They will continue to fight until they are slain, in spite of being clearly outmatched and heedless of any wounds they might suffer in the process.
    After five rounds of combat, or after more than one third of their forces are slain, the formians break off the attack and retreat.

    When the formians flee, Argus will emerge and thank the PC’s profusely for coming to the defense of the village. If questioned about the nature of the attack, he will respond that the formians are an aggressive species that have long sought to conquer all of Mechanus. He will also inform them that this is not the first time the village has suffered such an attack, and that the two formian villagers have been taken by the invaders, and ask the PC’s to find and rescue them, as Argus wants to stay behind to tend to the injuries of the villagers. Eleran quickly agrees before the party can respond, and implores the PC’s to join him.

    B. Parley with the queen.
    Treat the pursuit of the fleeing formians as a new encounter. For this encounter, draw a large cog edge, with the teeth 15 feet across and a 10-foot gap between them. Connect this with a second identical cog at a perpendicular angle, making certain to note the transition between the two.
    What is left of the formian company is not difficult to follow, and the party will catch up to them at the edge of the cog on which Equilibrium sits, a fair distance from the edge of the village. It is connected to a much larger cog at a 90-degree angle, like the edge of a cliff, and half of the formian company has already crossed. The remaining formians will fight to defend the taskmaster’s until they have crossed the over to the adjoining cog, and then retreat to do so themselves. Any PC’s who wish to traverse between the two cogs must make a DC 10 Balance check to step over from one cog to the other. Failure indicates they cannot proceed. Failing this check by 5 or more will cause the character to fall between the cogs, dealing 20d6 points of damage every round. It takes a Climb check (DC 20) to emerge from the grinding teeth. Flying or teleporting through the void from one cog to the other also works.
    After an additional five rounds or combat, or when half the remaining company is slain, a formian myrmarch teleports in with reinforcements: two additional taskmasters (each with a dominated celestial giant eagle), and another eight warriors. Before they engage however, the taskmasters will attempt to initiate telepathic contact with the PC’s. Read the following text:
    “Strangers! Lower your weapons. The hive would speak with you!”

    If any of the PC’s ask why, simply say that the queen wishes to speak with them directly and again calls for a temporary truce. If the PC’s agree, the remaining formains lower their weapons and immediately back away. In the following round, a second myrmarch arrives bringing the formian hive queen with them. She speaks telepathically to each of the PC’s in turn, saying the following:
    “You are not of the village-hive. Why do you pursue and kill our hive-members?”


    Allow the PC’s to respond however they wish. As soon as they mention the two kidnapped formian workers, the queen has a warrior escort them forward. She then proclaims them to be originally of her hive-city, and that she lost contact with them abruptly one day when a strange being used great magic to remove them. Even now, she proclaims, they do not obey her commands, remaining dull and seemingly uninterested in their surroundings. If none of the PC’s mention it first, Willow will suggest that perhaps the amulets are somehow responsible. The queen inspects the amulet closely, and then after a few moments casts a break enchantment spell upon it. The amulet unclasps itself and falls to the ground, and the worker immediately regains his sense of emotion and place in the formian hive.
    In exchange for being allowed to leave without any further aggression, the queen will relay the true nature of the amulet to the PC’s, as well as all the information she has gleaned about the village. Argus is not the creator of the amulet, but he did distribute them to the villager’s. She also knows he is not working alone, and that everything he has done has been in service to something else, though she does not know what precisely it is. Once she has finished relaying the information, the myrmarch’s will teleport the queen and all the surviving formian’s back to the safety of their hive, leaving the PC’s and Eleran to ponder their next course of action. Eleran is resolute that they must return to Argus for answers. When the PC’s agree to follow him, proceed to Chapter 4.

    Chapter 4: Return to the Temple of Helm
    Read the following text out loud:
    I did warn you earlier about the ever-changing nature of an adventurer’s quests. A stalwart ally one day could turn into a bitter enemy the next. When ideologies clash, the conflict that follows is more terrible than any other. What terrible wrong could have been done to set such a pious man on his current path, I do not know. At the time, all I did know was that my companions and I had no choice but to stop him...

    The PC’s encounter no resistance when they return to Equilibrium. The villager’s pay them no mind, merely milling about as they repair the damage done by the formian’s latest attack. They might be tempted to go about freeing the villager’s from the amulets at this point, but Willow advises against it. At the moment, she notes, the villager’s are safe, and if Argus’s story about the conflicts is true then they have no idea how the inhabitants would react (particularly the more monstrous ones). Once he and his mysterious benefactor are dealt with, Eleran suggests that he can employ his kingdom’s resources to send the villager’s wherever they wish to go.

    A. The Temple of Helm
    Creatures: Argus Delryn, 2 nimblewrights, 1 advanced shield guardian
    Draw a map consisting of roughly one-third of a circle that is eighty feet across, line the center with three columns of pews (5 ft. by 15 ft. long), six rows each spaced 5 ft. apart. Each pew counts as a low wall. Any damage dealt to a pew destroys it, but the debris it leaves turns the square into rough terrain instead.
    Argus is alone with his two “acolytes”, and will ask how their pursuit of the formians went. If the PC’s attempt to approach closer than the back two rows of pews, he will ask them to stop and state their intentions. Otherwise he will converse with the PC’s until they bring up his “benefactor” or confront him directly about the amulets. At that point read or paraphrase the following text, and then have everyone roll initiative:
    “I see. I should have expected those who have not been enlightened would fail to understand. I am sorry, but I cannot allow you to disrupt my work.”
    Tactics: The two nimblewrights will cast haste on themselves, Argus and the shield guardian, followed by cat’s grace on themselves and then move to engage to closest PC’s in melee combat. Argus will order the shield guardian into action against any obvious spellcaster. If he is threatened by a melee opponent, he speaks the command word that triggers the dimension door spell stored within, and immediately bring the shield guardian to an adjacent square to him. Argus will begin by casting antilife shell to provide him with the time needed to cast death ward, freedom of movement, mass shield of faith, magic circle against chaos, and prayer, as well as activate his Protection Devotion ability which will provide a +4 sacred bonus to all of his allies within 30 feet. If the PC’s still cannot approach him after that, he follows up with hold monster, flame strike, and then casts divine power and righteous might on himself before engaging in melee, making use of Law Devotion for a +5 sacred bonus on attack rolls. So long as Argus wears the control amulet, half of all damage he receives is taken by the shield guardian instead. The golems will fight until destroyed. After that occurs, Argus will accept any offer of surrender if he is reduced to less than half his remaining hit points. If none of the PC’s think to make one, Eleran will, once the last of the three golems is gone.
    Throughout the entirety of the encounter Argus will plead with the PC’s the righteousness of his cause, asking them if they did not see the benefits of his approach: a village of such disparate races, normally bitter enemies, living and working together in peace, free of conflict and hatred.

    If Argus is taken alive, he remains defiant in capture. He will tell the PC’s about how he was approached in prayer by one of Helm’s prophets who explained to him the root of all conflict, and provided the means of ending it once and for all. This village was an experiment, and it has succeeded. Even now, Imperitus has plans in motion to distribute the amulets to the rest of Helm’s faithful, and other like-minded individuals all across the Material Plane. He tells the party that should they dare confront a servant of Helm in his own dominion, Imperitus can be found in the city of Regulus. If Argus is killed in the battle, all of this information can be obtained via a journal found in his private chambers. In this case, the party will have to deduce the nature of Imperitus through the description given, as well as his probable location within the modron city. Willow can be of great help in this area.
    Though the party has, at this point, more than fulfilled their obligation to Yaztromo, the stakes are now much bigger than they could have imagined. The only way to be certain that this plan is not carried through to fruition is to confront the rogue modron directly. Eleran is determined to put a stop to these plans, and Willow all but begs the PC’s to accompany them to Regulus. When they agree to stop Imperitus, proceed to Chapter 5.

    Chapter 5: The Imperitus Directive
    Read the following text out loud:
    A great man once said, “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.” What price is worth being paid to see all such conflict end? What part of ourselves is worth giving up to ensure peace and stability? And what else do we lose along the way? These thoughts were my only other companions as we made our way across that strange landscape of grinding gears that were ever turning towards our destiny...

    However the party proceeds to Regulus, the journey should be uneventful. The denizens of Mechanus generally steer clear of the modron-controlled cogs-- even the formians have yet to attempt a direct challenge to them. Along the way, Willow can recount to the players everything she knows about the modrons. That they are the other natives to the plane of Mechanus, and that their society is a hierarchy divided into strict castes, with each level of modron taking orders from the ones above them. It is also unusual that a modron would take an identity as individuality is a foreign concept to them. She can only speculate as to what would drive such action, but it is possible that the modron has become a rogue, following only its own orders.
    Upon entering the city proper, the PC’s find that the resolutely ordered society they were expecting is not present. Everything, from the lowest levels of monodromes, to even the lowest order of heirarchs seem to be flitting about in a mostly directionless haze. None of the modrons they attempt to interact with respond in any significant way, and the players are able to move through the city undisturbed provided they avoid the more sensitive areas (such as the Modron Cathedral, which is still fiercely guarded by the modrons who were given only that single directive).
    The only clues the PC’s will have to their destination are from Argus, which directs them to a specific sector of the city. The moment they enter, Imperitus becomes aware of their trespass on account of the enormous reach of his telepathy. Each PC hears his voice in their head, demanding to know why they have come. He continually makes demands of them as they proceed to his stronghold-- a perfectly cube-shaped building with four identical spires at each corner-- asking their intentions, ordering them to leave lest their own lives be forfeit. Imperitus is single-minded in his goal and cannot be reasoned with. Appeals to emotion will not work, and his logic is unassailable.

    The Hall of Imperitus
    Creatures: Imperitus, 2 octons
    The building that serves as Imperitus’s stronghold has only one entrance and it is not locked. When the PC’s first open the door, read the following text out loud:
    The inside of the building is exactly eighty feet square, and the ceiling rises to a height of seventy feet, supported by four columns each roughly ten feet in diameter. Inscribed on the walls are an endless patchwork of strange geometric patterns that seem to defy comprehension. Several sputtering torches on the wall provide scant illumination of the bizarre seven-armed humanoid figure that hovers off the ground behind a circular dais.

    Draw a map matching the description of the building. Have the PC’s place themselves anywhere outside the 15 ft. double doors at the entrance. Place Imperitues towards the back of the room, 20 ft. from the back wall. The two Octons are currently hovering near the ceiling, and will descend once combat begins.
    The dais in the center of this room is the subject of a hallow spell that fills the entire chamber. A freedom of movement spell is keyed to it that applies its effects only to worshippers of Primus. Additionally, the entire inside of the chamber is covered in a forbiddance effect, which prevents teleportation effects, ethereal travel, and other forms of planar travel entering the area and from functioning within it. It also deals 6d6 damage to all non-lawful creatures they first time they enter the chamber. A successful WIll save (DC 19) halves the damage, and it can be negated entirely if it fails to overcome the creatures spell resistance (1d20+16).

    Tactics: In anticipation of a battle with these strange visitors, Imperitus has cast an array of defensive spells on himself consisting of arcane sight, true seeing, shield, greater mage armor, scintillating scales, superior resistance, and air walk before the party sets foot in his room. He orders both octons to cast shield other on themselves with him as the target, so that any damage he receives is halved twice. With one of them taking half the original mount each time, and Imperitus and the other taking only one quarter each.
    During the battle he will use his wall of force spell-like ability to place invisible barriers throughout the field, attempting to limit mobility and prevent the PC’s from reaching him. He will attack mostly with offensive spells, using arcane fusion to fire off several of them each round at once.
    One of the octons will cast divine power and righteous might on itself before wading into melee combat, using its enormous reach to threaten spellcasters.
    The other octon is under orders to remain within reach of Imperitus, and heal him as necessary. Otherwise it attempts to cast dispel magic targeted on individual PC’s, and offensive spells as often as it can.
    Should the PC’s attempt to take the fight outside, Imperitus will quickly cast dictum and attempt to banish them all back to the Material Plane. Remaining within the space warded by forbiddance prevents this aspect of dictum from functioning, though they are still subject to its other effects.

    The battle ends as soon as Imperitus is slain. If one of the two octons is still alive, it is immediately promoted to fill the gap created by the death of the septon. It undergoes a disturbing and wrenching transformation until it assumes a form similar to Imperitus, and then, if necessary, orders the other octon to cease its attacks immediately. The new Primus itself will arrive in the wake of the battle, bathing the room in its radiance, having at last gained enough of an understanding of its new position to act directly.
    Read the following text out loud:
    The being before you walks moves with an uncertain gait, as though still adjusting its limbs to functionality that they did not previously possesses. It slowly casts a glance amongst you before speaking in a slow, deliberate tone, “Gratitude for your acts in defense of the modron society. As a reward for your efforts, your trespass shall be forgiven, and you shall be permitted to leave the city unharmed. Do so now.”

    Despite the seemingly harsh nature of this directive, Primus is open to answering a few of their questions. It will explain the nature of the order that drove Imperitus to becoming rogue, and declare that “we have corrected this flaw and it will not repeat itself.” It will also explain the loss of the previous Primus that caused the lapse in order the PC’s observed on their arrival. It will not explain anything related to nature of the modrons themselves, or goals of the Primus itself, nor will it permit the PC’s to explore the rest of the city at this time. However, should they wish to make a return visit in the future through the proper bureaucratic channels, special consideration might be afforded them. A contingent of pentadrone troops will greet the party outside the building and escort them to the city limits without a word.
    Extended signature here. Contains: 2 avatars, 3 quotes, a doggo and his friends.

    Kitchen Crashers: an adventure building Iron Chef - First edition running 20/04/18-18/05/18.

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