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A Trip To The Bookstore: The Writings of Andre Bellamont
In the literary circles around the Core, there is a name on everyone's lips. To some, he is a true master, capable of pouring tales of the purest horror from his pen as one would pour water from a jug. To others, he is a hack who produces little more than sensational trash. Andre Bellamont cares little about what others say about him. What he does care about is the fact that he is the one being discussed.
Two years ago, Bellamont began to publish short stories and novels. Each was a tale of murder, written from the point of view of the victim. Filled with terror, gore, and vengeful ghosts from beyond the grave, Bellamont's works have been selling throughout the Core in record numbers. The fact that each chapter only costs two coppers helps the matter greatly. The materials used in printing might be shoddy, but none can gainsay the quality of the writing.
Few actually believe that the son of a poor clerk from Richemulot could possibly write such vivid tales, and Andre is often the first to agree. He claims that he does little more than records of his dreams and dark fancies. Andre explains that the realism comes from the inspiration of his muse, though he refuses to explain who, or what, that is. He has weathered several accusations of dark magic because of this, but there has never been any proof behind them.
Then, one month ago, the circus that surrounded Bellamont became even wilder. A particularly savage monster had been stalking peasants in a hamlet near Ste. Ronges. Many thought that there would be no stopping it, until a group of adventurers showed up carrying its head. Having recently slain the creature, they gave the credit for their success to a text of Bellamont's they had recently acquired. The victim in the story had fallen to the beast, and through careful study they had been able to discover the secret to the it's identity. Demand for Bellamont's latest "copper copies" has skyrocketed and several publishers are clamouring to get the rights to a collection of his works.
So why is Andre Bellamont such a popular author? For one thing, his tales do capture something primal, encapulsing the reader in the final moments of the narrator's life. In game terms, several of his tales require minor fear and horror checks (DC of no more than 5). A reader who succeeds in this check gets a +1 competence bonus to their next check (Fear if they succeeded in a Fear check, Horror for Horror) for the next week. Though few know it, he has begun work on his masterpiece, one that promises to be a heart stopper. Literally.
As a person, Andre is charming but shallow. He is quite egotistical and takes every chance he gets to turn the conversation towards how great he is. He would sell his mother for a silver and give back 99 coppers in change if he had the chance. In short, he is a blatant opportunist who seems to have a talent for writing what sells.
Andre Bellamont (male Human Exp3/Rog2)
The exact reasons behind Andre's success is left up to the DM. Here area few ideas:
The Works of Andre Bellamont:
The Life and Death of Leon Valneur - This story in fifteen chapters describes the death of a noble from Ste. Ronges who found himself devoured alive by a horde of rats beneath the streets of Pont-a-Muse. It begins slowly, after he kills a rat that had gotten into his food stores. As more and more rats rise to torment him, he runs, only to end up trapped in a pit in the sewers. The narration sticks with him until the last of his bones has been picked clean. More than one critic has called it gratuitous and lacking any subtly. The description of Valneur's tongue being devoured from inside his mouth is a favourite among the rebellious Renier youth, who often evoke the scene as a subtle threat to those that annoy them.
This tale requires a Fear check (DC 5) and a Horror check (DC 4).
The Final Visitations of Natalia Eliade - At thirteen chapters in length, this story is about the wasting and death of a Barovian villager. As her body slowly fails her, her dreams are haunted by the sinful visitation of a beautiful man. It is only near the end that she realizes what fate awaits her and begins to struggle. By then it is far too late and it is only the brutal actions of her brother that prevents her from a fate worse than death.
This tale requires a Horror check (DC 3).
The Horrifying Tale of the Encounter in the Alley - Bellamont's latest work, sitting at twenty chapters, the narrator of this story enters into a darkened alley in a large city, having heard a young girl crying. The result is capture, torture, and an eventual slow death at the hands of a madman.
This tale requires three Horror checks as the descriptions get progressively worse (DC 3, DC 4, DC 5).
Sweet shops, and evil candymenI saw this creature in the d&d forums, and well it looks as though it would fit perfect in a victorian town in Ravenloft.
Maybe in charge of an old sweet shop, and instead of the clothes said in the description. More a suit, with a ragged top hat on his brow.
Lol what about Uncle Crackerjack the self styled candy cane king.
Posted on WotC board by
Candy Man- A bizarre urban-dwelling spirit creature (fey, I guess) Candy Men are corrupt fey creatures who delight in luring children away to become "ingredients" in their candies. Candy Men, resemble skinny, malnourished human men with wild eyes in strange unnatural colors, and mouths full of rotten teeth, they often dress in garish, colorful clothes. Candy Men wander around cities offering candy to children (which is laced with mind altering poisons making them more susceptible to their mind control powers) If cornered, candy men are tough opponents, possessing a charming gaze, a wide variety of spell like abilities (including dimension door or blink which they make liberal use of) and wielding knives coated on various poisons
Hit Dice: 8d6+16 (34hp)
Speed: 30ft, Climb 10ft
AC: 19(+6 Dex, +3 Leather Armour(+1)), 13 Flatfooted, 16 Touch
Base Attack/Grapple: +4 / +6
Attack: Masterwork Dagger +11 melee (1d4+2/19-20 plus poison) or Masterwork Dagger +11 Ranged(1d4+2/19-20 plus poison)
Full Attack: Masterwork Dagger +11 melee (1d4+2/19-20 plus poison) and Masterwork Dagger +11 melee (1d4+2/19-20 plus poison) or Masterwork Dagger +11 Ranged(1d4+2/19-20 plus poison) and Masterwork Dagger +11 Ranged(1d4+2/19-20 plus poison)
Face/Reach: 5ft x 5ft / 5ft
Special Attacks: Dagger Mastery, Poison, Enticing Gaze
Special Qualities: Damage Reduciton 10/Cold Iron, Heat and Cold resistance 10, Low Light Vision, Spell-like Abilities, Strange Candy
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +12, Wil +8
Abilities: Str 15, Dex 22, Con 15, Int 15, Wis 14, Cha 25
Skills: Bluff +18, Disguise +18, Diplomacy +18, Hide +21, Move Silently +21, Perform +18, Slight of Hand +17, Tumble +17
Feats: Weapon Finesse, Improved Iniative, Quicken Spell-like Ability(Dimension Door)
Treasure: Standard plus Gear
Alignment: Always Neutral Evil
Advancement: By Character Class
Come 'ere, little one, come 'ere.... do nae be afraid. I've gots me a goodie for ye in me pockets, I does... Tha's right, little 'un. Eat it... eat it and join all tha' others...
Candymen are unscrupulous unseelie fey who use lies, trickery and deception to spirit away children to make into evil magic candies they call "sweetmeats".
Candymen appear to be humanoid males, though painfully emaciated and gaunt. Thier skin is pale and waxy, pockmarked by horrible acne and sores. Their mouths are full of diseased, blackened teeth, though their breath(and indeed the air all around them) has a sweet, minty tang. When not disguised their ears, long and pointed with ragged slits along the underside, or their eyes, which are jewel bright colors of crimson, brilliant green, sapphire blue and swirled, can give them away, but otherwise they generally appear to be human. Most Candymen wear garish and bright outfits like those of jesters and harlequins, playing at being buffoons to ingratiate themselves into festivals and celebrations to find thier prey.
Candymen target young children(less than 10 years old), enticing them with candy. They'll use bluff and diplomacy checks to earn their trust. Those that prove difficult to tame, or who appear to be the "leader" of a group of children are fed special Unseelie Sweets(see below) then Charmed by their Enticeing Gaze so they they'll follow without question.
Candymen generally choose to avoid combat if they can. They'll use thier bluff or diplomacy in an attempt to diffuse the situation. If they feel threatened, they'll use their spell-like abilities to confuse their opponents and escape. If forced to fight, they usually try to charm as many opponents as they can. In melee they lash out with wicked flurries of dagger thrusts and throws
Dagger Mastery(Ex): Candymen fight with a dizzying myriad of daggers, the wicked blades almost like extensions of the Candyman himself. A Candyman can strike with a dagger in either hand in both melee or ranged combat with no penalty. Additionally, they suffer no penalty to damage when using a dagger in thier offhand. A candyman can draw daggers, even hidden daggers, as a free action. Most Candymen carry 10 or more masterwork blades on them at all times, hidden in recessed pockets in their garish outfits.
Poison(Su): A Candyman's waxy skin exudes a thin sheen of magic poison that they can modify at will. As a standard action(that provokes attacks of opportunity) they can change the poison's effect to be 1d6 Initial, 2d6 secondary Int, Wis, or Cha damage, 2d4 Initial and Secondary Str or Dex damage, Or Initial 1d6 Con, Secondary Sleep(4 hours). They can coat any weapon they have in hand with this poison as a free action. The save DC for all of these poisons is 21. This save is Cha based.
Enticeing Gaze(Su): A candyman's gaze can beguile if they want it too. As a standard action(that provokes attacks of opportunity) they can attempt to charm anyone that looks at them, save DC 21. Anyone who succeeds their save is immune to that Candyman's Enticing Gaze ability for 24 hours, those who fail remain under the Candyman's thrall for one day. This is otherwise identical to a regular gaze attack.
Spell-like Abilities: At will: Blink, Dimension Door, Mirror Image; 3/day: Deep Slumber, Hideous Laughter, Minor Image Caster level 16th.
Strange Candy: Candymen seek out children and entice them away to use them as the ingredient in their evil "sweetmeats", as they call them. These disgusting(to most humans) candies are potent magical items that the Candymen, and their unseelie allies, use to enhance themselves and create havoc among humanoids. Any candymand is likely to have at least 4 Unseelie Sweets, and 1d4+1 randomly selected other sweetmeats from the following list:
Unseelie Sweets: The most common of the Candymen's corrupt confections, Unseelie Sweets appear to be simple white and red taffies. When consumed, their magical essences disorient their victims. Anyone who eats an Unseelie Sweet suffers -1 to all saving throws(and -4 to saving throws against Mind Affecting Effects) and skill checks for one hour.
Sonambulant Drops: These yellow-green citris drops cause anyone who consumes them to sink into a strange state of sleep. The subject falls asleep for up to 8 hours, however they can be commanded to perform actions in a sort of sleepwalking haze. The first voice they hear while asleep becomes their master, and they will follow their master's orders as though each was a Suggestion. Their movements, however, are jerky and clumsy, suffering a -4 penalty to all attack and damage rolls, skill and ability checks, and saving throws. Additionally, they can take only partial actions.
Blood Taffy: These sickly red, sticky sweets smell faintly of old blood. When chewed and consumed they allow thier eater to spit a goody, blood-dripping mass of fibres as a standard action, duplicating a Web spell, with an additional effect. Anyone caught within the bloody strands must succeed an additional Willpower saving throw (DC 15) or become nauseated. This ability must be used within one hour, or it is lost.
Black Brittle: These thin candy sheets, looking like blackened peanut brittle, grant anyone who consumes them DR 3/Cold Iron for one hour.
Cinderous Jawbreaker: These hot ginger and cinnamon jawbreakers grant anyone who sucks on them the ability to spit a firey jet (a ranged touch attack dealing 1d8 points of fire damage) as a standard action. Its effects last for 1 hour or up to 10 bursts.
Gelid Mints: These cooling mint candies grant their consumer the ability to spit icy needles at their foes. These small darts deal 1d4 points of piercing damage and 1d4 points of cold damage as a ranged touch attack. Firing a dart is a standard action. This effect lasts for 1 hour or up to 10 darts.
Psychadelicacies: These brilliantly colored lollipops cause anyone who eats them to hallucinate vividly, suffering the effects of the Insanity spell for 1 hour.
Honeyed Spider: Appearing to be a jelly or caramel in the shape of a spider, these candies give their eater the power to vomit forth a swarm of spiders (see the Monster Manual for details) as a standard action. The candy does not, however, give its consumer any control over the spiders once they are summoned. The spiders will dry up into dust 1d6+4 rounds after they are summoned. Once consumed, the eater must summon the spiders within one hour the effect is lost.
Trouble Gum: Appearing to be a rubbery chewing gum, Trouble Gum allows it's consumer to blow forth bubbles of ropy, adhesive goo. As a standard action, they can blow a bubble and pop it against any foe within 5ft, entangling them and forcing them to make a DC 15 reflex save or be stuck fast to the floor. The goo is resilient and resists cutting and burning, though if it(or the creature it's entangling) takes 10 or more points of cold damage, the gooey bonds break free and fall off. A subject remains entangled for 2d4 rounds before the material looses its adhesive properties and falls off. Once a subject begins chewing Trouble Gum they can use this power up to 3 times, but lose any unused portion after one hour.
Because these are all created by the murder of children, they are inherently evil (they register as Strong Evil to a Detect Evil spell) and eating them by choice (once recognized) is always an inherently evil act. Consuming any of these items is standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity.
* Candymen have a +4 racial bonus to Hide and Move Silently checks.
BigBadQDaddy adds:That would be pretty sweet!(pun intended). I think if I where to use him though, I would have his true nature disguised so he wouldn't look so disturbing at a casual glance. Another neat application of a creature like this would have him be an opium lord or something. Turning the people who visit his opium den into something disturbing.
Brandi adds:I'd be tempted to use him as the basis of a unique boogeyman, along the lines of creatures like the Croquemitaines.
Jester of the FoS:That was my first thought. Someone luring kids into his store kinda like a twisted and evil Willy Wonka. A small shop with a large warehouse in the back he uses as a twisted factory. Ooooo that would be fun.
WolfKook:Well... I have to admit that the original "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" used to scare the hell out of me when I was younger... Specially when "Violet" turned into a giant purple balloon...
Jester of the FoS :Gene Wilder ruled in that movie.
Is it raining? Is it snowing?
Nathan of the FoS :If you don't mind going to kids movies for inspiration--the Child-catcher from Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang strikes me as really good basis for a character along these lines. (The city the Child-catcher lives in would be a good domain, come to that.)
cureMonster Summons and Summon Nature's Ally
I present the following as a beginning of a comprehensive list of tables for Monster Summons and Summon Nature's Ally. This is not a project that I am going to do all by myself so your assistance is solicited.
In particular there is a table for creatures with the Mists subtype that can be summoned anywhere, a table of creatures with the Dream subtype that can be summoned in dreamscapes, and a table for Falkovnia which also includes the creatures of the previous two subtypes.
I have followed the PHB tables where applicable, have followed the fauna table for Falkovnia from Gazetteer 2 where applicable, have substituted within the limits of atmosphere creatures from Denizen's of Dread and like sources, and have tried to avoid as much as possible using generic monsters from the d20 universe to fill in empty wholes. There are no undead. There are neither constructs nor oozes (at least for the Falkovnian table). Outsiders with reality wrinkles and hence capable of spiriting casters across closed borders are and are to be excluded. Monstrous humanoids and aberrations are mostly if not entirely excluded. Indeed most moderately to highly intelligent and individuated monsters are excluded. This last condition seems to summarize the spirit of the PHB tables, at least at low levels. Hence no kobolds, or humans, or shadow fey for example.
An asterisk indicates a Denizens of Dread monster.
A question mark before an entry indicates that I am a little uncertain of its appropriateness either at that particular spell level or in its entirety. For example, the paralyzing screech and the petrifying gaze of the Carrion Bat and the Basilisk perhaps make them inappropriate at any level?
There are other dream creatures that could be added to the dreamscape table but I am unsure of their appropriateness. But turning that around, I wonder if any creature at all of the PHB of which a caster has a reasonably good idea should not be summonable within a dreamscape.
SUMMONING TABLE OF MIST SUBTYPE CREATURE:*
Summon Monster III Elemental, small [NE, Mists] ?Heath fiend* [CE, Mists, Fire] Shadow Asp* [Mists] Summon Monster V Corrupted Thoqqua [NE, Mists] Elemental, medium [NE, Mists] Summon Monster VI Elemental, large [NE, Mists] Summon Monster VII Elemental, huge [NE, Mists] Mist ferryman* [NE, Mists] Summon Monster VIII Elemental, greater [NE, Mists] ?Grim Reaper* [Mists] Mist horror* [NE, Mists] Summon Monster IX Elemental, elder [NE, Mists] Summon Nature's Ally II Elemental, small [NE, Mists] Summon Nature's Ally IV Elemental, medium [NE, Mists] Summon Nature's Ally V Elemental, large [NE, Mists] Summon Nature's Ally VI Elemental, huge [NE, Mists] Summon Nature's Ally VII Elemental, greater [NE, Mists] Summon Nature's Ally IX Elemental, elder [NE, Mists]SUMMONING TABLE OF DREAM SUBTYPE CREATURE:*
*These creatures can be summoned in dreamscapes and within the Nightmare Lands.
Summon Monster II Pale Morph [LE, Dream Elemental, only summonable with a dreamscape] Summon Monster IV Gray Morph* [LE, Dream Elemental, only summonable within a dreamscape] Summon Monster VII Shadow morph* [LE, Dream Elemental, only summonable within a dreamscape] Summon Monster VIII Ennui* [LE, Dream Elemental, only summonable within a dreamscape]SUMMONING TABLE FOR FALKOVNIA
Summon Monster I Badger Dire porcupine Dire rat Dog Hawk Lizard Owl Raven Viper, small Weasel Summon Monster II ?Bat, carrion* Dire raven* Dog, riding Hound, mastiff* Eagle Germishka* Pale Morph [LE, Dream Elemental, only summonable with a dreamscape] Razorback* Wolf Viper, medium Summon Monster III Bear, black Boar Dire badger Dire bat Dire hawk Dire weasel Elemental, small [NE, Mists] ?Head hunter* [NE] ?Heath fiend* [CE, Mists, Fire] Hippogriff Lizard, giant Shadow Asp* [Mists] Viper, large Wolverine Worg [NE] Zweifalk [CN] Summon Monster IV ?Broken one* [NE] Dire deer Drownling* [CE] Eagle, giant [NG] Owl, giant [NG] Gray Morph* [LE, Dream Elemental, only summonable within a dreamscape] Spite, Boabhan sith* [CE] Summon Monster V Bear, brown Corrupted Thoqqua [NE, Mists] Dire boar Griffon Elemental, medium [NE, Mists] Shadow Mastiff [NE] Summon Monster VI ?Basilisk Dire moose Elemental, large [NE, Mists] Manticore [LE] Summon Monster VII Dire elk Elemental, huge [NE, Mists] Mist ferryman* [NE, Mists] Shadow morph* [LE, Dream Elemental, only summonable within a dreamscape] Summon Monster VIII Dire bear Dire elk Elemental, greater [NE, Mists] Ennui* [LE, Dream Elemental, only summonable within a dreamscape] ?Grim Reaper* [Mists] Mist horror* [NE, Mists] Wyvern Summon Monster IX Elemental, elder [NE, Mists] Shadow Fiend* [CE, Outsider with neither pylactery nor reality wrinkle] Summon Nature's Ally I Badger Dire porcupine Dire rat Eagle Hawk Owl Raven Viper, small Weasel Wolf Summon Nature's Ally II Bear, black Dire badger Dire bat Dire hawk Dire raven* Elemental, small [NE, Mists] Hippogriff Lizard, giant Razorback* Viper, medium Wolverine Zweifalk* [CN] Summon Nature's Ally III 11 Boar Dire Deer Dire weasel Eagle, giant [NG] Owl, giant [NG] Satyr [CN; not armed with pipes] Viper, large Worg [NE] Summon Nature's Ally IV Bear, brown Dire boar Elemental, medium [NE, Mists] Unicorn, dappled* [CG] Summon Nature's Ally V Dire moose Elemental, large [NE, Mists] Griffon Sprite, nixie Unicorn, shadowed* [CE] Summon Nature's Ally VI Dire bear Dire elk Elemental, huge [NE, Mists] Sprite, pixie [NG; not armed with special arrows] Summon Nature's Ally VII Elemental, greater [NE, Mists] Sprite, pixie [NG; armed with sleep arrows] Summon Nature's Ally VIII Warped Treant* [NE] Summon Nature's Ally IX Elemental, elder [NE, Mists] Sprite, pixie [NG; armed with sleep & memory loss arrows & capable of casting irresistible dance]
ASSASSINS IN THE MISTSA NPC that I am creating is an assassin and thus, by the criteria of the class, must have joined an assassins’ guild. Hence I have been thinking about what lands and places could support such guilds. My research, some conclusions about the profession, and some organization (old and new) engaged in the practice follow.
DEMOGRAPHICS: Now according to the DMG villages (401-900) are only going to harbour, at most, 1 expert and 1 rogue of sufficient level to be assassins. And on average villages would harbour 1 expert of sufficient level to be an assassin.
Small towns (901-2000) are only going to harbour, at most, 1 bard, 3 experts and 1 rogue of sufficient level to be assassins. And on average small towns would harbour 1 expert of sufficient level to be an assassin.
Large towns (2,001-5,000) are only going to harbour, at most, 3 rogues, 3 experts, 1 bard and 1 ranger of sufficient level to be assassins. On average large towns would harbour 1 bard, 1 expert, 1 rogue and 1 ranger of sufficient level to be assassins.
Because of the skill requirements no other classes will have individuals of sufficient level in towns or smaller places.
In Barovia then, with two large towns, although not of Barovian origin, three small towns, and one village there would be, at most, an upper possible limit of 33 assassins consisting of 16 experts, 10 rogues, 5 bards and 2 rangers. And there will be, on average, an upper possible limit of 12 assassins consisting of 6 experts, 2 rogues, 2 bards and 2 rangers. Practically, 1d3 experts, 1d3 rogues, 1d2-1 bards and 1d3-2 rangers would be imaginable, for an average of 4.8 assassins. That squares well enough with a handful of Ba’al Verzi. But it makes for a tiny guild. And assumes, not unreasonably, that Strahd doesn’t keep any assassins on staff, having the Boem of the Vistani to turn to in case of need.
Small cities (5,001-12,000) could, at most, harbour 6 bards, 6 experts, 2 fighters, 2 rangers, 2 rogues and 2 warriors of sufficient level to be assassins. There would be an upper possible limit of 24 assassins. On average small cities would harbour 2 bards, 2 experts, 2 rangers and 2 rogues of sufficient level to be assassins. This would yield a upper limit of 12 possible assassins. Practically, 1d3-2 bards, 1d3-2 experts, 1d4-3 rangers, 1d2 rogues, 1d6-5 fighters and 1d6d-5 warriors would be imaginable, for an average of 2.75 assassins. That is probably below the critical density needed for a guild. Which is to say that most of the largest population centres in Ravenloft, save for places where assassins are over-represented, are too small to have guilds exclusive to themselves.
Large cities (12,001+) would harbor on average 2 adepts, 9 bards, 2 clerics, 9 experts, 3 fighters, 9 rangers, 9 rogues and 3 warriors of sufficient level to be assassins. At the maximum that would be 46 possible assassins. Practically, 1d6-5 adepts, 1d2 bards, 1d6-5 clerics, 1d2-1 experts, 1d4-3 fighters, 1d3-2 rangers, 1d3 rogues, and 1d4-3 warriors, for an average of 5.75 assassins, would be imaginable. That makes for tiny guilds in Lekar, Il-Aluk, Pont-au-Museau and Kantora.
Rotipher of the FoS:FWIW, even if you can argue that there are enough people in the Core to provide personnel for a classic "assassin's guild", I'm not convinced there are enough viable targets to make assassination a lucrative line of work. Most of the powerful figures in Ravenloft are pretty much immune to assassination, and the lower ranks don't generally require that kind of firepower to take out. Plus, is it really that smart to make your living by attacking people who might turn out to have lycanthropy or vampirism or a toxic touch...? IRL hitmen can get away with murder because they only need one bullet, but that's not always going to work in a world of monsters that pass for human, Death Attack ability or not.
"Assassins' guilds" in Ravenloft are more likely to be fanatical death-cults or secret societies that kill to cover up their activities, IMO, not thugs-for-hire. (That's what those outlander adventurers are for! ) Instead of guessing at what regions could sustain a conventional fantasy-style assassin's guild, I'd look for organizations that could take advantage of the assassin class's abilities -- whether or not they actually call themselves "assassins" -- and let the NPC have worked for one of those.
Cure:This is why I did not try to stuff guilds into a lot of places. There would not be enough work in Mordent, Sithicus, even Dementlieu by itself as opposed to it covered by Le coeur empalé which is based in Richemulot.
This is also why in some highly lawful places I suggested a very limited guild presence with money for murder being a secondary rather than primary motivation. In Nova Vaasa the Gelders are proud to enforce cruel justice on those scheming against the law and the state & in Hazlan Afrbrand does likewise in Ravenloft's version of the KKK.
Finally, this is why I tied up as many guilds as possible with at least secondary goals and preferably a primary goal other than money. Le coeur empalé are men-haters, Les frères de morts are an experiment by Azalin, the Ministry of Intelligence (Falkovnia) has wars to prepare and to help win, Lustmorde loves murder for its own sake, the (Night) Talons want vengeance on their former masters, Garras is about vengeance, Lee-due anvo is about pleasure, power and security, as is the Kargat and the League of Nine, the Gundarakite rebels want liberation, and the Ba'al Verzi are now as much or more about blood as money.
Purely for money guilds are limited to the Red Vardo Traders (as a side business), Nachte Naakter (but its members don't depend on assassinations to live) and Vexjensi (for whom assassination is but a crime among others that they commit).
Consequently some of the guilds are monstrous themselves, especially where need be. In Richemulot the Le coeur empalé are afflicted wererats and Les frères de la mort are constructs who are consequently immune to the dread disease. In Barovia the Ba'al Verzi is increasingly populated by vampires. Others are squarely aimed at human targets: the Gelders in Nova Vaasa, Afrbrand in Hazlan, the Paka generally. Of course surprises are always possible. But a gang led by the Darkling of Vexjensi or a Vistani asssassin from Nachte Naakter should be able to handle most surprises and certainly will have effective escape plans should flight prove necessary.
Thus for the vast majority of the organisations that I described murder for money is not the only goal and often is but a secondary goal. The organisations were intended to be of interest not because they were conventional fantasy-style guilds, but rather were to be of interest in and of themselves, hopefully fitting the style of Ravenloft, and were to be sufficiently committed to the asssasin's art, engaging at least two assassins of the class, that a would-be assassin could join them and learn the art himself/herself by making the rules and the professionalism that at least some of the members practice his/her own. I make no attempt to list everyone and/or every organisation who/that might have AN assassin on staff, rather only those where one might learn the art. Even among the demon crazed Falkovnians of Lustmonde there are some members who care about standards and take pride in doing the job right.
cpt_machine:This touches on a topic that has bugged for some time and I tried to mention it with the size thing but failed, I think you hit the nail on the head. Theres not enough people to maintain a sense of terror. While the idea of a vampire living above a small village is a classic sterotype, the vampire would quickly wipe out the population without any difficulty. Then why is it scary? I personally cant stand the idea of small domains as for some of the darklords, a constant supply of victims is needed to maintain the status quo.
To get back to the original topic I feel there are enough targets for assassins as the humans outnumber the creepiness of RL easily.
Archedius:I personally prefer to keep the number of assassins with the actual class low in number- but not the same for 'assassins'. What I mean is historically you can see that not all assassins are actually professionals. Many are clever individuals that simply have the opportunity to take the life of their target by many means- such as the Black Hand using explosives and eventually handguns to kill Archduke Ferdinand. Yet you do also see average people being hired to kill- such as the attempt on Fidel Castros life; a person making his favorite Chocolate milkshake was tasked with putting a poison pill in the mix- it froze to the freezer, saving Castro's life. But then again there are professional assassins such as the historic assassins the word is based off of- or modern day mercenaries/death squads/hitmen. What I'm trying to say that I think in RL the commoner is as likely to be an assassin as the 'assassin' class itself. Unlike most settings, we can actually account for all types of killings whether through violence, opportunity or subterfuge.
HuManBing:To comment on Rotipher's comment: It is true that the published materials do not mention all that many positions of power. They're by definition limited in how much they can fit in, even in the case of the exceedingly dense and comprehensive Gazetteers. But just because positions aren't mentioned in canon doesn't mean they don't exist altogether. Think of Borca or Dementlieu, with their advanced civic structure. There could be hundreds of "fairly important people" (would they be called FIPs?) whom somebody might want to bump off in their neverending Rat Race. It just takes an enterprising DM to place them. Roti is definitely correct in saying the REALLY powerful people are going to shrug off most assassination attempts (Azalin, Strahd, and various members of the Kargat). But it's also a mistake to assume all powerful people are somehow immune to assassination. Nothing exists in canon to suggest Ivana Boritsi or Ivan Dilisnya would be immune, for example. Even the mighty Vlad Drakov has nothing in his profile to suggest that he'd survive being hit repeatedly until his hp fell to -10 or below. While killing any of these would be a massive seismic shift in the Core's political influence (and thus I'd caution any DM strongly against doing so unless they've thought it through thoroughly), it's definitely possible. So go one lower. Send somebody to poison Mikhail Drakov. Or stick a blade into the heart of Nostalia Romaine. Even in the magic-intensive and fantasy-rich domain of Darkon, a baron should have no compunctions about sending an unwelcome knife-bearing guest into the bedroom of a rival, if it would help raise him in King Azalin's eyes... Assassination is highly useful. Like Terry Pratchett said, it's like war, only quieter. Have fun with it!
cure:I think Richemulot most of all and Borca as a not distant second would be rich hunting grounds for assassins. Ray in Dementlieu and its smaller size makes me less sure about about that land. The poverty of Nova Vaasa and the nature of Malken make me think that simple thuggish murder would there too often pass for assassination at least among the locals. But anyone engaged in undermining Nova Vaasan interests should be worried about the Gelders. Just as any one doing the same in Darkon should be worried about the Kargat.
Archedius:I would hardly consider these assassins to be professional, as they missed plenty of opportunities to kill the Archduke prior during the parade- but they were assassins nonetheless. I expect most assassinations in RL to probably be committed by similarly non-professional people. To be honest- where would one learn to professionally kill people in most domains? It is not a common thing to learn- sure there are plenty of places to learn how to fight and killing someone with force works well, but there are nuances to it. How do you infiltrate into the sleeping chambers? Where do you strike with the knife to drain blood into the windpipe? How do you poison the duke without being seen? How do you sabotage the coach to leave its passengers stuck in the countryside? How do you shaodw your target or learn more about them? It's things like this and countless others that separate professional assassins from everyday ones. Thus the access to this knowledge is rarer- sources such as the Kargat or creatures of the night or even rarer - outlanders. So I'm still sticking with low numbers of professionals here.
Joël of the FoS
I just saw that movie last weekend, I found it had fun ideas for RL. Once you are afflicted by this “thing”, you 1) stop whatever you were doing, 2) act (or speak) confused and 3) suicide with whatever is at hand (slit your wrists with keys, jump from a building, push something sharp in your neck, run your car on a tree, etc.), the whole process taking less than a minute.
Forget the movie explanation as it wasn’t really Ravenlofty. And I suggest the “less than a minute” should perhaps be extended to let players time to react.
Now what in RL could cause this? A new RL virus? A new monster salient power?
Amicus : Something in the water, maybe? Tiny worms that lay their eggs in carrion, and so drive the victim to kill themselves to ensure an immediate supply. Fish throw themselves onto land; animals drown themselves or leap off cliffs.
I like this image, of fish jumping out of the water.
Could also be some kind of ritual, where the performers collect hairs found on the seat where the audience had their head. Those whose hairs are colllected are affected during the ritual. Could be fun to have a bald man say, "no can't be as what you say, since I was there and wasn't affected". But PCs can't interrogate as the performers also commited suicide in this ritual. Goal of the adventure is to limit damage through the audience and find what happened and to prevent it from happening again.
On the monster salient ability path, here's a try on this power:
End your days (Su): Living creatures touched by the creature using this power, whether by a hit or a simple touch, must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the creature’s HD + the creature’s charisma bonus) or be affected by an indomitable resolve to commit suicide, in whatever way is quicker to achieve that result (jump from a cliff or in a torrent, drink poisonous substance, or by self mutilation or hits, etc.). The onset timing is set by the creature, and should be anytime between now and 24 hours. Before onset time, the victim behaves normally. When the power is set to start, the victim will suddenly stop whatever he was doing, then act confused or say confusing things for 2-8 rounds, after which he commits suicide in the quickest and most effective way.
Rotipher of the FoS : Sea spawn minions eventually do something like that to their hosts already, IIRC, although they usually look for someone else to chuck into the water for Mommy to eat at first. Of course, by the point at which they'd sacrifice their hosts, the parasites have already eaten so much of the hosts' brains that the victims can just barely stagger out into the waves.
I know it's over the top! But I thought it would make a cool villain power for a unique foe. And a DM tool to provide a deadly atmosphere.
Gonzoron of the FoS : I was just reading EtCR and saw the Caller in Darkness, which has a similar ability, but the result is simply that you take a full attack against yourself, with automatic critical hits for 1 round. And that's a CR9 monster. Maybe not as dramatic, but perhaps more balanced.Interesting path there. That's more ghastly that way. The ability should still define what normal (i.e. without weapon) would do.
But I'm not interested in creating a new monster, as it would be too unbalanced indeed, but just a fun "one shot" creature ability as a DM tool.
Gonzoron of the FoS : yeah, in that case, it hardly needs rules at all. Just have to walk the fine line of when to use it on PCs. If they are somehow immune, it loses a bit of its terror, but if they aren't, you can lose as bunch of PCs pretty quickly. The Caller's ability has the benefit that most PCs over level 2 or 3 can survive a round or two of their own full attack, even with criticals. (Note that the ability doesn't say to include sneak attack, or to use spells if it would be more suicidal.)
Archedius : First thing I though of was a ghost salient ability, especially if the person had committed suicide.
PALTASH - a Ravenloft dart game
The origin of this formerly children dart game comes from inhabitants of Invidia. It is not know exactly how the name of the game was created, but for sure was neither from Balok nor Vistani jargon. Probably the name Paltash is a kind of garble; it may even be merged of two odd words.
Travelling of Vistani nation helped to spread the game through and through the Core and even in distant oversea domains.
Naturally, players may use ordinary self-made darts. Through the years, however, the ownership of excellent darts made by one of specialized craftsmen became a matter of prestige in some areas. Each keen and/or wealthy player now desires to possess his or her own, unique darts. Such a set of 3 unusual darts is then jealously guarded by the owner. Some obsessed player keep their dart sets with them permanently, ready for any immediate challenge. Recently the most famous and sought-after dartmaker has been Morten – an oddity among half-elves, may be he is one of the few half-elf who ever won a significant respect among people of lands of the mists.
Paltash is a game either for two players or for two teams. The rules are very simple: each of duelists prepares his „army“ – he draws three to five human figures of the same size (10 – 15 cm) on a sheet or some board. The duelist then stand against the opponent’s „army“ to the negotiated distance and a battle can start. The challenger has a first throw and consecutive throws switches between both teams one by one.
The shot to the head of a drawn „soldier“ means an immediate death and eliminates him from the battle. If a player hits only a body of „soldier“ then he needs three body-hits to eliminate him from the battle. (Again, doesn’t matter how much hits the soldier got to his body, the head-shot eliminates him from game immediately.) The player/team that lost all his soldiers looses the game. Normally the game continues with at least one revenge game, that starts the other player/team.
In the course of time this simple game developed to really long-running tournaments. The duelists prepare a map cut halves; each half again divided to the same number of „lands“. One land declares a war to the neighbouring land of the opponent and this way the game may go on through days, week and months.
When you play in a room, most probably there is not an opportunity to throw the darts. In order to ginger up the playing session with Paltash, the DM has two other variations to choose. The base of both indoor variations is the same: players has available numbers from 1 to 100 and have to pick several pentads of numbers (each number can be used just once). The first number of each pentad is encircled and represents the head of a soldier, four other numbers make his body. Both players/teams can use negotiated number from 3 to 5 soldiers, thus they use at least fifteen numbers and no more than 25 numbers of the hundred. The other numbers are not hits. Understandably both of players prepare his „army“ out of opponent’s sight!
The first variation simulates a dart game better; players roll the percentage dies. First player make a roll, announce the result and the rival tells the good hit, useless shot, possibly knocking out his soldier. Then both players change their roles and die roll is made by the other player. That continues till the end of the match.
For the second variation you need neither darts nor dies. However the game is very simplified. The players assign the numbers to their „soldiers“ as in first case (out of opponent’s sight) and instead of rolling the dies they guess the opponent’s numbers. The advantages are that players can note the used numbers and avoid a useless guess of the same number later on and secondly the game has a faster progress.
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