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Domain of the Month


Adventure Hooks


Another month, another domain! The land where the noise in the night is numerous tiny gnawing teeth...

Third edition: RL3E / RLPH, Gaz 3, LotB
Second edition: Black Box (Realm of Terror), Red Box (RL Campaign Setting), Domains of Dread
Adventure: Dungeon #64 (Last Dance)

Novels: Scholar of Decay, Tales of Ravenloft (Nocturne)

Other selected interesting source: Dragon # 264 (The Cult of Simon Audaire), Lonesome Rd website (Ricoba)

Part of the Core.

Darklord: Jacqueline Renier


ScS of the Fraternity

It’s a buyers market for real estate, with so many abandoned manors in Richemulot. In fact, houses are open to just about anyone who chooses to move in. But what happens when the old owners leave something behind?

Some of the nouveau rich have moved into an old crumbling manor on the edge of the city. They have moved into a temporary quarters in a tower, while servants refurbish the house. There are strange scratching noises that come from the walls, but the Richemoulese are used to hearing rats. While expanding the wine cellar, the workmen knock down what appeared to be an extraneous wall, and find a chamber beyond. There they find a maze of halls and chambers, which might once have been a dungeon. Inside they find a grizzly discovery - a pile of bones. The remains are humanoid, though grossly disfigured. Some parts appear child-like, while others are grossly enlarged - especially the left hand, which is weighed with claw-like digits more than a foot in length. The bones were found beneath what appeared to be a trap door in the ceiling (which was concealed by fake floor boards in the floor above). Throughout the halls and chambers of the prison are numerous messages, carved in huge letters into the solid stone: "Please let me out" Soon after the discovery, the disturbances begin. Animals become panicked without reason, mysterious accidents occur, food and other objects are found shredded. At first the family believed it to be rats, but then they found the writing... inside their own rooms. The family is under siege from the mysterious spirit, and with each night the haunting becomes more violent. Though the family publicly disavows any rumours of ghosts - instead blaming rats and villainous labourers, in private, they are seeking help.


The Family:

The Uncle is a very influential Wererat aristocrat & criminal guildmaster. He controls the family, a criminal organization of wererats.

The family is composed of:

  • The Uncle: The guildmaster
  • The Aunt: The lieutenant guildmaster
  • The Cousins: natural wererat members
  • The Nephews: Infected wererat members
  • The Distant: Wererat associates that don't know much (or anything at all) for the Family. Either not trusted wererats or the pool by which the Cousins are recruited.
  • The relatives-in-law: non-wererat associates that don't know that the Family is composed by wererats and most of the time don't even realize that they work for some monster or whole criminal organization. Expendable without a second thought. The pool by which the Nephews are recruited.

The Family members are after luxurious lives among the humans and power in the human Richemulot society. They are more distant from their sewer-delving kin. Many wererats don't like them because they become haughty and superiors. The Family members use theft to acquire what they want, secrets, bribes and blackmail to gain influence and assassination when it suits them.

The Uncle has built a large spy network of relatives-in-law and has placed many Nephews and cousins in key positions. He is a cunning manipulator and strategist of the battles of the court. His true power is that he knows much. He is very wealthy and can pay dearly for secrets and feared enough for spies to not betray him or the Family.

On the other hand, all Nephews and cousins are accomplished rogues (At least 3rd level rogues, usually have 1-2 levels or aristocrat or expert).

The uncle: male Wererat aristocrat 2/rogue 7/wiz 3

Hooks: - The powerful PCs come to town. The Uncle learns of their exploits and tries to find a dark secret in their past or even create one so that he can later manipulate them. He tries to trick and manipulate the PCs to go against someone powerful or unwittingly commit a crime without their knowledge.

  • The PCs come in town with a great treasure. A powerful magic item, or a very expensive jewel. The family tries to steal it. They will use prostitutes to separate the PCs to make the fight easier. They will try to blackmail them, to assassinate them, poison them etc. In this case, the PCs will find things going wrong at impossible times. Innkeepers suddenly throw them out in the street for no reason (forcing them to stay in a place where the family has easier access), beautiful women approach them, seduce them and then try to assassinate them when they are in their underwear. Friends, relatives and loved ones all become endangered at the worst time forcing the party to split up (their house on fire, lethal accidents that need immediate cleric assistance etc). If played right, the PCs will curse the time they put hands on the jewel or treasure the Uncle covets as the Family strikes from the shadows and disappears before the PCs can either pinpoint their enemy.
  • Something or someone (another villain) becomes a thorn in the Uncle's side. He will try to draw the PCs in the fight (as relatives-in-law). In that case, the PCs will suddenly find clues where they don't expect them, allies out of nowhere etc.


The cities of Richemulot all straddle the Musarde. To understand these places one must understand the great artery of the Western Core.

For the wererats the ultimate avenue of attack is up out of, and of retreat is down beneath, the dark, torpid waters of the river. No human is safe at night in Richemulot within reach of the Musarde and the river seems to do its best to hold as much of the population as possible close at hand.

Strictly speaking the water is not even safe for the wererats, especially a lone wererat, although no effort is spared by them to hunt down and destroy a menace once it has been identified. Marauding creatures typically do not last very long. But subtler, cunning creatures, with a determination and a capacity to evade identification, endure. Noteworthy among these latter are a sea hag and a sea zombie in Pont-a-Museau, a freshwater troll shaman and a trapper (which on foggy nights is often joined by a will o'wisp) in St. Ronges, and a serial killer wererat with a ring of water breathing in Montigny. The Musarde in Richemulot is also home to a bogeyman called the Pied Piper who lures with his music young wererat offspring who are too trusting of others into his grasps to be drowned. And very infrequently there are attacks by an intelligent undead corrupt water elemental (see below) that roams the length of the river, riding both the high tides that swell through the Musarde Delta and the run off of spring and of prodigious storms.

The three cities have river pilots that must be taken upon each vessel that would ply the urban waterways, supposedly for its own safety. In addition to the coin won by charging for this service, these pilots are a chief defence of Richemulot against rivals and enemies. The docks and shipping in Richemulot are dominated by wererats and those willing to pay to be left alone by them. This latter courtesy is never extended to other lycanthropes or to shapechangers generally however. They are set upon and murdered to their last at the first convenient occasion. The dominance of the werewolf captains of Verbrek up river ends well before the Richemulot frontier and indeed Borca is host to a usually cold but sometimes hot war between lycanthropes. The wererat captains seek to dominate the trade downriver but are somewhat constrained by Falkovnia and are increasingly challenged in the lower Musarde by seawolf captains. Human captains alone, if they can afford the bribes and taxes, may sail from the Sea of Sorrows to Karina in relative safety so far as politics goes. Evidently such is not the case for demi-humans with Falkovnia blocking the way below Richemulot. And needless to say ships passing out of Falkovnia are closely inspected as a matter of military security

The bog below St Ronges has an especially foul reputation, first for the grounding of ships in the shallow, shifting water beside it and second for will o'wisps, to say nothing of more mundane dangers such as leaches. Ironically, where river pilots would be most useful, navigating the uncertain waters between the three cities with the menacing bogs close at hand, their services are not obligatory and are usually prohibitively expensive. Organised attacks by humans or wererats are rare so long as a boat remains in open water. A stuck or beached craft is quite another matter and is likely to draw fell attention by night at the very least. There are few wrecked hulls that attest to this however, as bandit leaders by night are likely to name themselves captains by day, at least once necessary repairs are made. Other notable dangers are vampiric mists and even a crimson death.

It should be stressed that a lycanthropic presence upon the docks and upon the river is not something that is discussed. There are individuals and families that must be paid and people unwilling to do this typically disappear or even more disturbingly end up working for those they previously scorned. And when there is an undisguised attack by wererats it is calculated to leave no witnesses free to recount the matter.

A minor but especially unsavoury business, chiefly in Pont-a-Museau, but occasionally reaching into St Ronges or even Mortigny, is the kidnapping of demi-humans who are sold into slavery and shipped to Falkovnia. The trade does not enjoy official sanction but little real effort is made to eradicate it as the wererats involved make the necessary payments to their brothers. Direct involvement by Falkovnians is also kept to an absolute minimum. Efforts by Falkovnian agents themselves to repatriate the living property of Vlad Drakov, or at least to kill notable escapees, have had a marked tendancy to end badly in very public failure. Indeed the two things that no captain wants to be caught smuggling are Falkovnian agents and weapons from or to Falkovnia.

New monsters:

The Musarde and its tributaries are home to unusual dangers. Three of these, which may be ill met together or separately, are detailed below. The first, Old Bones, is a unique undead created in the Il-Aluk disaster and obsessed with the collection of bones. The second, Restless Ivory, is a spawn of Old Bones but may also arise spontaneously in the right conditions and possesses a wealth of unlikely, odd and disturbing facts, knowledge and lore. The third, Old Bone’s Skeletons, are, when free-willed, tragic spawns of Old Bones that would gladly welcome assistance in the destruction of their creator.

Old Bones

Corrupted Water Necromental

Type: Large Undead (Augmented Elemental, Water, Mists)
Hit Dice: 9d12 (59 hp)
Initiative: +2
Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares), swim 90 ft.
Armour Class: 22 (–1 size, +2 Dex, +11 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 20
Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+15
Attack: Slam +11 melee (2d8+5 plus energy drain)
Full Attack: 2 slams +11 melee (2d8+5 plus energy drain)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Drench, Vortex, Water Mastery, Energy Drain, Animate Bone
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/--, Darkvision 60 ft., Bone Sense, Organic Decay, Elemental Traits, Undead Traits, +2 bonus to resist Turning, Fast Healing 3
Saves: Fort +6 Ref +5, Will +3
Abilities: Str 20, Dex 14, Con --, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 11
Skills: Listen +5, Spot +6, Hide +1, Survival +1
Feats: Cleave, Great Cleave, Power Attack, Ability Focus (resist Turning)
Languages: Aquan & Darkonese
Environment: Musarde River & its tributaries
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 7
Treasure: None
Alignment: Neutral evil
Signature Possessions: Restless Ivory (see below), 5 Old Bone’s Skeletons (see below)


Old Bones is typically identified as hundreds of ivory white bones carried along on the surface by a current and clinking together like wind chimes. Of the bones it may be noticed (DC 15 Intelligence check) that not a few are broken and that many hold together to form partial or even whole members. The ivory mass when spread out (400 square feet) provides improved cover (+10 Hide) and when packed closely provides total cover to the 2d4 skeletons that typically lurk beneath it. Though the undead elemental is not in fact bound to the bones it carries with it, it values greatly its collection and may command those members that were animated through its energy drain attack.


The story of Old Bones begins in the sewers of Il-Aluk where a water elemental, with a curious habit of collecting bones, was imprisoned by Azalin Rex. The wave of negative energy that reduced the capital of Darkon to the City of the Slain on the winter solstice of 750, transformed the creature, already twisted by its entry into the Demiplane of Dread (see Corrupted Elemental Template in New Monsters by John W Mangrum), into an intelligent variant of a necromental and, directly or indirectly, set it free. In the near decade since Old Bones has put into practice its philosophy of leaving no bone behind.

Current Sketch

The Musarde and its tributaries are the haunt of Old Bones. The entity never ventures more than 180 feet on to land or into the Sea of Sorrows and is circumscribed in the tributaries by water falls or rapidly dwindling water volume. Rarely is it to be found in the Vulchar River and never near Darkon or in caves or sewers. The passions of the entity are fresh bones, strong eddies, whirlpools, swelling or surging waters and the storms that promise these. Spring lures Old Bones upriver and often into the tributaries, rushing water whetting its appetite for fresh bones. The stillness of winter induces near torpor, it being roused from its repose in the Musarde Delta chiefly by the high tides of the full and new moons, the surges of sea borne storms, and its appetite. At other times Old Bones chases after hints of gathering storms and in its haste may ignore prey not directly in its path. When fine weather is promised in all directions the entity broods in the Musarde Delta or in the eddies or whirlpools at river confluences, and is prone to attack whatever ventures by.

Human constructions impeding the flow of water such as locks, dams, mills, or even large crafts in shallow channels, risk the ire of Old Bones. Any individual within 10 feet of the water’s edge or surface is a very tempting target. Any individual within 40 feet of shore, especially if alone, is a tempting target. But any individual beyond 180 feet is safe. A boat whose occupants are out of sight and that is drifting or even sailing is likely to be ignored. Whereas a craft loaded with revelers heading for carnival in Karina or a paddle-wheeler awash with light and passengers is begging for fell attention. Swimmers and those wading in water are irresistible targets. When the Musarde or a tributary bursts its banks, Old Bones revels in the slaughter of individuals who have suddenly found themselves knee deep, or worse, in water.

The many depredations of Old Bones, most recently during flooding in Kartakass, have not been traced back to a unique source. Rather they have nourished and spawned disparate rumours and tales. The exception to this rule is in Lamordia, where the destruction of shipping in the Musarde Delta has yielded more serious questions than speculative answers, and in Richemulot, where two significant attacks upon Montigny and one minor attack upon Pont-au-Museau were widely witnessed as the cover of night is no proof against the spying eyes of rats and their more intelligent kin. The most widely circulated account in Richemulot holds that the phenomenon, which was dubbed Old Bones by a Mordentish survivor, surges violently into businesses and homes during the hour of peak flooding, that it consists of bones from Borcan peasants dumped into the Musarde for want of money for burial, that the restless spirits form and reform their bones into skeletons that avenge themselves upon the living, that the mere sight of the vengeance breaks the will and unhinges the mind, and that the attack is not so much thrown back as survived, for salvation comes with the receding of the flood or the arrival of the dawn. Certain individuals well versed in the teachings of Ezra, among them church fathers in Levkarest, connect the phenomenon to a prophesised Time of Unparalleled Darkness and shutter. A wandering and probably mad priest of the Morninglord hunts the phenomenon, proclaiming it to be the work of Count Strahd von Zarovich XI. The patrons of the Truite ivre in Montigny and the rabble of that city generally accuse a Kartakan skald dressed in black of calling the doom into existence as retribution for some terrible loss unjustly suffered.


The undead elemental has no fear of attacking in broad day light but pursues large scale efforts under the cover of fog, mist, or darkness. The entity knows when to leave a fight and will abandon its bones to save itself. It does not distinguish between classes and consequently has no preferred targets in a fight, save for any one perceived to be attempting to command it. It has never had sufficient reason to answer any attempt to communicate with it. Mercy is alien to Old Bones. It does, however, have a taste for the macabre and arguably a perverse sense of humour. When in a playful mood the entity may have a newly animated skeleton make a public display of tearing its own flesh from its bones, ending with its smiling lips. (DC 15 Horror check).

In its proper person the undead elemental is formidable. In addition, the skeletons animated by its energy drain give it both reach and means of creating diversions and striking from behind on land. Finally, the remains of those skeletons when collected and integrated into an animated swarm of bone can be even deadlier.

Against a lone individual within 15 feet of water, the undead elemental leaves its bones a short distance up river and attempts to surge up from the water either (with surprise) in a charge or (without surprise) past the target to initiate from behind a Bull Rush intended to drive the victim into the water. Against two or more individuals within 15 feet of the shore, it leaves its bones a short distance up river and attempts either (with surprise) a charge or (without surprise) a full attack divided among its opposition. Confronted with a lone individual within 40 feet of the shore, it leaves its bones a short distance up river and attempts a charge. If opposition is not quickly overwhelmed it may as a free action audibly command in Aquan (Intelligence check DC 25 to recognise the sound, which is vaguely reminiscent of whale song, as meaningful) its skeletons to quit the water and to rush to its assistance from the side or to attack from behind. The swarm, once it has drifted into place, may be likewise ordered to drag itself up out of the water and attack. The swarm is likely to cast Obscuring Mist in the round prior to entering combat. Old Bones will strike at an individual up to 180 feet from the shore if there is cover for the skeletons to get behind the target and to initiate the attack.

A lone individual in the water will be charged by the entity with its bones in tow, permitting the skeletons and the animated swarm of bone to attack too. Before unleashing its vortex attack against multiple individuals in the water, Old Bones will bring its swarm of animated bone to bear against one or more targets, attack with its Haunting Sound, do the same with its skeletons, again attack with its Haunting Sound, and make at least one successful energy drain attack.

Old Bones will put itself and its bones in the path of a targeted boat or ship and begin its assault with its Haunting Sound. Thereafter crafts up to forty-five feet in length may be capsized. Against larger ships the entity will hurl itself and its bones aboard, will leave the skeletons and the swarm of animated bone to their vile work, and will return to the water to attack the hull or to drive the craft onto waiting rocks. In forlorn sections of the Musarde, especially in foggy conditions, and against the largest ships, a far subtler campaign may be waged. The paddle-wheel will be ‘accidentally’ broken with the assistance of a log, and then the craft will be brought to a halt mid-river on a ‘sand bar.’ With the coming of night any lone individuals setting foot on deck vanish as do any lifeboats. This will be followed by lightning raids by the skeletons against small and vulnerable groups of targets. Next the skeletons will be sent to launch a major diversion as the hull is breeched from below. Finally the skeletons, the swarm of animated bones and the undead elemental will be waiting as the rising water forces everyone onto the decks. Light sources will be extinguished, Obscuring Mist summoned, and the Haunting Sound attack employed to make the most of the moment.

When mopping up opposition Old Bones attempts energy drain attacks so as to create new undead under its control. The skeletons and the swarm of animated bones may be ordered to attempt a grapple to this same ultimate end and for the sheer wrongness of it (DC 15 Horror check).

Animate Bone (Su): Humanoids killed by the energy draining of the undead elemental must make a Will Save or rise immediately as skeletons with a slight surviving intelligence and HD equal to their levels in life. The skeletons are subject to the commands of the undead elemental. When these skeletons are defeated their remains, unless reduced to powder, are collected and spontaneously form a swarm of animated bone, again with a slight intelligence and subject to the commands of the undead elemental. A total of 32 HD of undead may be commanded. Commands are audible not mental, are free actions, and must be kept simple. Undead separated from Old Bones for six hours become free willed and hostile to their creator.

Bonesense (Su): The corrupted elemental can sense the bone marrow of creatures out to 60 feet. It can see the fresh bones and any living or recently living creature with bones, regardless of darkness, fog, invisibility, or other concealing visual effects. It readily distinguishes between living and recently living marrow. The ability can be activated or suppressed at will as a free action. Its activation is accompanied by a slight creaking of all bones within range.

Energy Drain (Su): Living creatures hit by the undead elemental's natural weapon attack gain one negative level. It can use its energy drain ability only once per round. The save DC to remove the negative level 24 hours later is 14. When a negative level is bestowed on a victim, the undead elemental gains 5 temporary hit points (10 on a critical hit). These temporary hit points last for 1 hour.

Haunting Cry (Su): Old Bones can issue at will a forlorn cry, vaguely reminiscent of a cross between whale song and water booming under ice, that necessitates a DC 14 Will save from anyone within 180 feet to resist being shaken (-2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks) for 5d6 rounds. Anyone who succeeds in a DC 20 Will save is immune for 24 hours.

Organic Decay (Su): Formerly living material is rapidly drained of its remaining positive energy and decays at 100 times the normal rate within 10 feet of the undead elemental. Unless infused with negative energy, flesh rots away within hours and wood, leather, vellum, and bone become brittle and disintegrate within a year.

Adventure Hooks

  • The adventurers are in a seedy dive named the Truite ivre in Montigny early one beautiful midsummer evening when a black clad skald (see the Black Skald in Van Ritchen’s Guide to the Mists, p. 14) makes his entrance and the locals begin making their exit, with the staff and barkeep soon slipping out the backdoor. Undeterred, the skald, manifestly among the greatest of Kartakass, plays on, his repertoire being at once powerful, gripping, and tragic. Mean while pandemonium begins to sweep the poorest streets as the rabble of the city are convinced that their doom is at hand. When this fact is brought to the attention of the mist cursed skald he is pleased beyond measure, for at last one of his warnings of impending disaster has been heeded. His previous two cryptic warnings in this very venue in the springs of 751 and 755 of flood waters and the evil that they bore were not understood. Sadly, the rabble are a fatalistic lot and are never heeded themselves, so few are doing anything so practical as fleeing the city and none has succeeded in raising the general alarm. It is up to the adventurers - with the assistance of a mad priest of the Morninglord who recognizes the hand of Count Strahd von Zarovich XI and apocalyptic followers of Ezra who recognise the Time of Unparalleled Darkness - to unravel what the appearance of the Black Skald forebodes, to carry that news to the authorities, and to defend the city. The ‘association’ of the adventurers in the eyes of the rabble with the Black Skald complicates the task enormously. Should they fail to act, Old Bones is coming to their door in any case.
  • The adventurers are heading upriver on the Etoile Filiante bound for Karina. The paddle-wheel is damaged by a log and the ship drifts aground midriver on a sand bar in a forlorn section of the Musarde. As twilight descends and mists gather, the sight of bones upon the water appears to drive a priest of the Morninglord mad. He raves incoherently about the doom that Count Strahd von Zarovich XI has prepared for them all. The captain has the priest locked up and all is well until darkness falls and people begin to go missing . . .
  • On a midsummer evening the adventurers are camped a short distance back from and above the Luna river which they are following on foot towards a small Barovian village in the lee of Mount Baratak where a storm is clearly building. Suddenly a mass of ivory bone slashes through the water at an incredible speed, with a terrible rattle, and against the strong current. In a couple of hours the river begins to swell dangerously. An hour later the same rattle, only at a much higher pitch and headed downriver, rings out above the roar of the raging water. Subsequently, the adventurers arrive at their destination only to discover that the village has been largely washed away by flood waters and not a single body is to be found. Any inquiries in the neighbouring community that hint at supernatural forces provoke extreme xenophobia from the peasants, a day time visit from a mad priest of the Morninglord who sees the hand of the Lord of the Land behind the thing in the river, and a night time visit from Lord Vasili von Holtz who wishes to know what the adventurers witnessed and promises them great rewards from Count Strahd von Zarovich XI himself for tracking down and destroying the thing responsible for the massacre of his beloved peasantry.
Restless Ivory
Tiny Undead (Swarm)
Hit Dice: 9d12 (59 hp)
Initiative: +0
Speed: 15 ft., swim 5 ft.
Armor Class: 14 (+2 size, +2 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 14
Base Attack/Grapple: +5/+10
Attack: Swarm (2d6 + Swap memory)
Full Attack: Swarm (2d6 + Swap memory)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./0 ft.
Special Attacks: Distraction (Ex), Mass Grapple, Swap Memory
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/bludgeoning, half damage from slashing and piercing weapons, Immunity to cold, Darkvision 60 ft., Scent of the grave, Swarm Traits, Undead Traits, Turning susceptibility, Bardic Knowledge
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5
Abilities: Str 5, Dex 11, Con —, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 1
Feats: Improved Grapple, Misted Ability, Redhead (Obscuring Mists), Misted Courting
Skills: Heal +1, Hide +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +3, Spot +4, Survival +1
Languages: 1d6+3
Challenge Rating: 6
Alignment: Neutral evil (Chaotic evil exceptionally)


A restless ivory is generally encountered as hundreds of ivory white humanoid bones either floating lifelessly on water or lying motionlessly on ground. The mass may be spread out (400 square feet) but is typically packed closely (100 square feet). Of the bones it may be noticed (DC 15 Intelligence check) that many hold together to form partial or even whole members. Without warning the bones can snap into a riving mass capable of not only grappling targets but of drowning them in as little as knee deep water. Victims of the entity are stripped clean of their flesh.


A restless ivory is an intelligent undead swarm of animated bone with a hatred of humanoid life and a wealth of dark secrets.

When certain catalysts are present bones with trace amounts of residual life and of negative energy animate spontaneously as a restless ivory. Should the presence of a powerful undead creature be the decisive factor the swarm is subject to its commands. When separated from its master for six hours or when arising in the absence of such a being, animated bone swarms become free-willed. They desire to destroy what brought them into existence, but as this is rarely possible or evident, they generally turn to the annihilation of humanoid life. Exceptionally, a dark goal may be adopted from the past life of a constituent member. Typically restless ivories understand many languages (perhaps even secret or dead) depending upon the backgrounds of their constituent bones. They are incapable of audible communication, but they can physically gesture or even write if given good reason to do so.

From specimen to specimen powers differ significantly. Each restless ivory begins with the feats Misted Ability (sometimes replaced with Jack of All Trades), Misted Memory, Scent of the Grave (sometimes replaced with Misted Memory), and Improved Grapple and with a minimum of one rank in Heal, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, and Survival, 6 additional skill points to be assigned immediately, and 9 extra skill points to be assigned at apt moments. Feats and Skills connected with Misted Memory and Misted Ability manifest themselves as revealed latencies of the entity’s bones. Feats especially worthy of consideration are Mist Courting and Redhead. Other potentially interesting feats include: Ability Focus (Resist Turning), Alertness, Dabbler, Darkness Within, Godless, Indomitable, Jack of All Trades, Lunatic, Reincarnated, Second Sight, Self-Sufficient, Sharp Eyes, Skill Focus, Stealthy, Sworn Enemy, Temporal Fugue, Track, University Education, and Unseen. Any ancestral requirements are met by presuming a bone of the relevant line is present. A restless ivory with influence or control over animals through the Animal Handling skill or spells granted by the Redhead feat will not have the Scent of the Grave feat. Powers are typically used creatively to achieve as many of the following ends as possible: hide, distract, lure, defend, and attack.

A restless ivory is a repository of unlikely, odd, and disturbing facts, knowledge and lore thanks to memories attached to its bones and to its memory swapping attack. The entity has the equivalent of Bardic Knowledge. Extracting useful information from a restless ivory, even if it is willing, is not easy however. The most promising means, a Speak with dead spell, affords some clarity, but with a +4 penalty to the requisite Madness check. Half of any information gained should be mistaken or mixed up in some important detail as a consequence of the entity’s limited intelligence.

Current Sketch

Restless Ivories are poor swimmers, but the shallows suit them well, and, to the extent that they are known, they are associated with rivers. In particular they have only been found in or near the Arden and its tributaries, the Vulchar below Il-Aluk, and the lower reaches of the Musarde and its delta. Rumours from time to time place them further up the Musarde too. Their appearance is often tied to swollen waters resulting from a great storm or exceptional spring run off. It is speculated in Mordant that they arise when a cemetery is swept away. The Falkovnian military deems them to be a recent invention of Azalin Rex intended to spy and harass. Lamordians in the Musarde Delta encounter them occasionally but rare is the individual who survives and whose macabre tale is believed.


Restless ivories have a great preference for locations facilitating surprising against a target, hindering the escape of that target, aiding in the quiet dispatch of the target through drowning, and affording protection from fire. Shallows, marshes, swamps, bogs, and mud holes are all promising locations. Although restless ivories have the patience of the dead, they will try to draw victims to them and will move on to other locations if no victims are forthcoming. Ideally the entity snaps to life all around a target, tears into it, grapples it, pins it, and drowns it, all within a few rounds. When a victim escapes or when an attack is witnessed, the restless ivory departs, a river current being the perfect means of quietly slipping away.

Distraction (Ex): Any living creature vulnerable to a swarm's damage that begins its turn with the swarm in its square is nauseated for 1 round; a DC 14 Fortitude save negates the effect. Spellcasting or concentrating on spells within the area of a swarm requires a Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level). Using skills that involve patience and concentration requires a DC 20 Concentration check.

Hive Mind (Ex): A restless ivory has a hive mind with an Intelligence of 6, but the swarm becomes mindless should it be reduced below 8 hp.

Mass Grapple (Ex): Unlike most swarm creatures, a Restless Ivory can grapple opponents, though it cannot be grappled. For the purposes of grappling, the entity is considered to be a Large creature. In order to grapple an opponent, it has to be in the same space as that opponent, provoking an attack of opportunity if it moved into that space. A successful attack of opportunity against the swarm does not prevent it from proceeding with the grapple. When grappling an opponent, whether successful or not, a Restless Ivory does its swarm damage. In water a pinned victim begins drowning.

Swap Memory (Sp): Restless ivories upon doing its swarm damage also steals a memory significant to its victim of up to one hour in length and substitutes in its place a traumatic phantom memory taken from one of its bones. In game terms, a significant event deemed to be consistent with the victim’s past and to have been observed by someone else is cited (sooner or later) whether directly by the witness or indirectly by other means. The citation rather than calling up the memory of the event, which has been stolen, causes the traumatic phantom memory to well up and to be experienced as though lived for the first time. This memory is often of death or even worse and may be grounds for terror, horror, and madness checks. This is also a game mechanism for planting information that the players would not normally have access to. A Will save DC 14 foils the attempted swap. A separate save is necessary each time swarm damage is taken.

Swarm Attack: A restless ivory doesn’t make standard melee attacks. Instead, it deals automatic damage to any creature whose space it occupies at the end of their move, with no attack roll needed. Its attacks are not subject to a miss chance for concealment or cover. It does not threaten creatures in its square, and does not make attacks of opportunity with its swarm attack.

Swarm Traits: Unlike other creatures with a 10-foot space, a restless ivory is shapeable. It can occupy any 4 contiguous squares, and it can squeeze through any space large enough for a skeletal arm or leg. The entity has no clear front or back and no discernable anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. It takes half damage from slashing and piercing weapons. Reducing the entity to 0 hit points or lower causes it to break up and cease all activity, though damage taken until that point does not degrade its ability to attack or resist attack. It is never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, it cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed. The entity is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate). It takes a -10 penalty on saving throws against spells or abilities that effect an area, such as many evocation spells. If the area attack does not allow a saving throw the swarm takes double damage instead. Only on land a lit torch swung as an improvised weapon would deal 1d3 points of fire damage per hit; a weapon with a special ability deals its full energy damage (excluding cold) with each hit; and a lit lantern can be used as a thrown weapon, dealing 1d4 points of fire damage in squares adjacent to where it breaks.

Turning Susceptibility: Turned as a 4HD creature.

Skills: With a successful DC 15 Heal check and the remains of an animated skeleton, a restless ivory can heal itself of 1d2 hp. This is possible, however, only so long as its hive mind is still intact.

Adventure Hooks

  • A party seeking obscure knowledge from the Vistani is directed by the raunie to the nearest restless ivory.
  • A message in a bottle of recent vintage was found on the edge of the Musarde Delta in Larmordia at a place called Leidenheim and is addressed to the party from an old acquaintance presumed drowned when the Etoile filiante out of Dementlieu went missing on the way to Karina. The sender does not seem to be quite himself and the missive is scribbled on the back of a page that appears to be torn from the log of a ship that was lost in the Musarde Delta. The letter contains only the request that adventurers seek out the common source of the terrible loss of life in four seemingly unrelated disasters: the sinking of the Etoile filiante in Verbrek, the wreck of the Lady Blue in the Musarde Delta, and the flooding in Kartakass last October and of Montigny recently. The sender is now part of a restless ivory that became free-willed when Old Bones was driven from Montigny by adventurers. The restless ivory ended up in the Musarde Delta where it plots the destruction of its creator.
Old Bone's Skeletons
Medium Undead
Hit Dice: 2d12 (6 hp) / 3d12 (14 hp) / 4d12 (25hp) / 5d12 (30 hp) / 7d12 (38 hp)
Initiative: +5 (+1 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)
Speed: 30 ft. Armor Class: 13 (+1 Dex, +2 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 12
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+2 / +1/+6 / +2/+7 / +2/+7 / +3/+8
Attack: Claw +2 melee (1d4+1) / Claw +2 melee (1d4+1) / Claw +3 melee (1d4+1) / Claw +3 melee (1d4+1) / Claw +5 melee (1d4+1)
Full Attack: 2 Claws +2 melee (1d4+1) / 2Claws +2 melee (1d4+1) / 2 Claws +3 melee (1d4+1) / 2 Claws +3 melee (1d4+1) / 2 Claws +5 melee (1d4+1)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: -
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/bludgeoning, Darkvision 60 ft., Immunity to Cold, Undead Traits
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +3 / Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +3 / Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +4 / Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +4 / Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +5
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 13, Con —, Int 3, Wis 10, Cha 1
Skills: Hide +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +2, Spot +1, Swim -2 / Hide +2, Listen +1, Move Silently +3, Spot +1, Swim -2 / Hide +3, Listen +1, Move Silently +3, Spot +1, Swim -2 / Hide +3, Listen +1, Move Silently +4, Spot +1, Swim -2 / Climb +1, Hide +3, Listen +1, Move Silently +4, Spot +2, Swim -2
Feats: Improved Initiative / Improved Initiative, Improved Grapple/ Improved Initiative, Improved Grapple/ Improved Initiative, Improved Grapple / Improved Initiative, Improved Grapple, Weapon Focus
Languages: Aquan, Darkonese, Mordentish
Challenge Rating: 1 / 1 / 2 / 2 / 3
Alignment: Neutral evil


The bones of Old Bone’s skeletons are never covered by clothing, are picked clean of all flesh within days of their creation, and are generally a near gleaming ivory white, although mud camouflage may be applied when attempting to remain unseen on land. Attacks are made not with weapons but rather with claws.


Old Bone’s Skeletons are notable for the lingering intelligence that in theory makes them dangerous but that in practice makes them tragic.

These skeletons are created as a consequence of the energy drain attack of Old Bones and they answer to its audible commands. When separated from the undead elemental for six hours, they become free-willed. Thereafter they accept gladly any offered assistance in avenging themselves upon their creator, but they do not have plans or strategies of their own to offer. Careful questioning might reveal something useful however. No deed is too black for them to contemplate or to accept to this end.

They understand Aquan, Darkonese, and any languages they knew in life. They cannot speak but can write for the most part. Freed of their creator, they spend their time out of sight, near the shore or just beneath the surface of the Musarde, always watching for the return of their nemesis. An air of tragedy hangs about them. They are usually not long for this world. And their freedom to begin with is a rare gift.

Current Sketch

The five skeletons under Old Bone’s command can be deemed to have passed out of its control and be placed anywhere along the Musarde and its tributaries. The plight of these individuals and of those who preceded them has gone unnoticed save for in a little known song titled The Watchers by a band of bards from Mordant (see the Morts-qui-dancent in the Book of Sacrifices, p. 73) who began touring the Core for as long as anyone living can remember.


When under the command of Old Bone’s, the actions of these skeletons are under its strict control. When free-willed, they do not seek out the living. They do, however, defend themselves if attacked and fight intelligently, if minimally so, as a group. If they do not feel seriously threatened, they may grapple rather than kill, disarming opponents before slipping away beneath the waters of the Musarde.

Adventure Hooks

  • A neophyte party is set on the trail of 5 free-willed Old Bone’s skeletons. If the adventurers are careful and intelligent, they should realise that all is not as it seems with these supposed mindless murderers. With effort the party may learn from the skeletons themselves their tale, which would be excellent material for a bard. Should the skeletons be attacked, the party will be badly overmatched but inexplicably will be left alive by the skeletons who will shake their heads, walk away, and disappear into the Musarde.
  • A powerful party has come to a mysterious band of travelling bards seeking critical information. The price of that information turns out to be bringing peace to 5 free-willed Old Bone’s skeletons by locating these creatures and assisting them in their otherwise hopeless quest to destroy their creator.

Drinnik Shoehorn

Sister, Sister, Oh so fair...

Jacqueline contracts a disease that weakens her, but doesn't kill her. Louise, eager to grab the reigns, tries to wrest control of the domain from her sister. Unfortunately, Louise doesn't reckon on Jacqueline's political clout, so settles for being her sister's proxy.

As Jacqueline's condition worsens, Louise takes it on herself to play nursemaid. Rather than help her sister, she uses the situation to torture her psychologically.

After leaving the remains of on of Jacqueline's trained rat-spies for a meal, Jacqueline decides enough is enough. Using her mist form, she steals away from Chateau Delanuit each night, trying to find a cure.

One night she discovers that a rare root found in Borca is the answer. Fortunately, she discovers this information the very night that she hears a group of adventurers are in town...


A mysterious noblewoman, newly arrived from the Mists and set up in [some domain other than Richemulot] enlists the PC's because she is beset by spies, thieves and gossips at all angles. The conspiracy is powerful but its aims are not clear; they don't want to destroy her, but seem more directed at thwarting "plots" that the woman isn't actually planning.

Digging deeper reveals the twisted truth: the woman is Louise Renier, but she's suffering from a variation of amnesia called "dissociative fugue," wherein a person moves to a new place, creates a new life and completely forgets their old one. Louise is sincerely confused about what's going on, but her sister isn't buying it. The agents that Jackie's sent to harass her sister are jumping at shadows, seeing dire plots and plans where none exist--after all, there's got to be some good reason for Louise to enact such a risky deception!

Meanwhile, Jacqueline's phobias are crushing her, and her "solution" is only making things worse: she's taken to impersonating her sister so often that no one knows that Louise has fled. This has exposed some of Louise's network, but Jackie is quickly spiraling into such paranoid madness that she's in no position to take any real advantage from what she's learning. If Louise does not return soon, the people of Richemulot will discover how mad their ruler is, and the result could be a cascade of scheming and backstabbing and manipulating on par with a civil war.

Of course, if Louise is cured and returns, most of her local contacts will have been exposed, and while she rebuilds them she'll probably have to rely on foreign agents from her foster country. Either way, Richemulot may never be the same again.

Oh, and the reason Louise went mad? She can't remember. That's the problem with dissociative disorders, you know. But maybe she'll get an upper hand on her sister again if she uses her new magical device that allows her to read her Jackie's thoughts. She only had it for a day or so before she disappeared, and she doesn't recall using it before she left....

Scot Storm: Deep Shadow, Did you get that information from Legacy of the Blood: Great Families of the Core. Because I was looking into Louise Reiner and I can't find the reference to that story.

DeepShadow: That's because I made it up. That's what this thread is for, making up stories and plot hooks relevant to particular domains.

The elements of canon that I used in that story were: Jackie and Louise's rivalry; Jackie's monophobia; Louise's desire to leave Richemulot; their continual plots against each other.

The new elements that I added were: a helm of telepathy (or equivalent magic item), with which Louise spies on her sister; a failed Madness check for Louise for telepathic contact with a Darklord; the specific madness effect of a dissociative fugue--which seemed appropriate to Louise's desire to leave (see above); Jackie's heightened Madness effect from losing her sister.


The Flood of 758

The adventurers are in a seedy dive named the Truite ivre in Montigny early one beautiful midsummer evening when a black clad skald (see the Black Skald in Van Ritchen’s Guide to the Mists, p. 14) makes his entrance and the locals begin making their exit, with the staff and barkeep soon slipping out the backdoor.

Undeterred, the skald, manifestly among the greatest of Kartakass, plays on, his repertoire being at once powerful, gripping, and tragic.

Mean while pandemonium begins to sweep the poorest streets as the rabble of the city are convinced that their doom is at hand. When this fact is brought to the attention of the mist cursed skald he will be pleased beyond measure, for at last one of his warnings of impending disaster has been heeded. His previous two cryptic warnings in this very venue in the springs of 751 and 755 of flood waters and the evil (see new monsters above) that they bear were not understood.

Sadly, the rabble are a fatalistic lot and are never heeded themselves, so few are doing anything so practical as fleeing the city and none has succeeded in raising the general alarm.

It is up to the adventurers - with the assistance of a mad priest of the Morninglord who recognizes the hand of Count Strahd von Zarovich XI and apocalyptic followers of Ezra who recognise the Time of Unparalleled Darkness - to unravel what the appearance of the Black Skald forebodes, to carry that news to the authorities, and to defend the city. The ‘association’ of the adventurers in the eyes of the rabble with the Black Skald complicates enormously the task.

Should the adventurers fail to act, the threat is coming to their door in any case.


Campaign Journal - "The Becoming Plague"

The campaign was based on the dread possibility "The Becoming Plague". I attempted to keep it as canon as possible, and most of the NPCs are canon. The story, however, was designed to be as loose as possible. I created an overall story arc, and a few plot hooks, and pretty much let the players do whatever they wished. All players started the campaign at fifth level, and finished at seventh level.

Setting: Richemulot

Year: 759

The Cast

  • Jacqueline Renier - Ruler of Richemulot.
  • Louise Renier - Jacqueline's twin sister and chief rival. (Legacy of Blood)
  • Javier Renier - Jacqueline's distant cousin. (Legacy of Blood)
  • Narcis deVeyrines - Wererat hunter in Pont-a-Museau. (Gaz. III)

The Players

  • The Gentleman Bandit - a highwayman fleeing the law gets taken by the Mists and arrives in Mordent, where he meets and joins forces with...
  • William Sharpe - an ex-military fighter, who has recently found himself in Mordent, courtesy of the Mists. Together, they travel to Pont-a-Museau where they meet...
  • Renee' - a local bard and informant of...
  • Leon - a local knowledge trader and espionage specialist who sometimes trades information with...
  • Sylvian Renier - a local merchant, nobleman and rumormonger, who is good friends with the famous recruiter, Javier Renier.

The Setup

In time, all the party members come know each other, and all are now currently trusted friends of Javier Renier.

The Hook

Javier Renier discovers that a new strain of lycanthropy is being developed, and believes Louise Renier to be the mastermind. He needs to warn Jacqueline about her sister's plot, but is unable to (Legacy of Blood). Fearing for the safety of his family, now that he has uncovered this plot, he sends them, along with some of his most trusted soliders, to Darkon. Next, he writes and seals letters to his next most-trusted group of allies in the city, asking them to meet with him on a certain date, at a certain time, at a certain tavern.

Each member of the party, except for Leon and Renee', receive the letters from Javier and meet at the tavern (which is owned by Sylvian). The letters specifically stated that other letters had been sent to the other members of the party, and that no one else was to be present at this meeting. The party wonders why Leon and Renee' haven't shown up. Not to mention, Javier hasn't shown up either, and he's never late. After a lengthy wait, a barmaid brings over a round of ale and note that she was asked to give them. The party, believing the note to be from Javier and the ale to be a gesture of apology for being late or unable to make the meeting, opens it.

The note says,

"Javier Renier is dead, and all those that conspire with him will meet the same fate."

The Story

Now believing Javier Renier to be dead, the party is now concerned for Leon and Renee'. They leave the tavern and head out into the night, planning to get their things and locate their two missing friends. Once their equipment has been gathered from their respective homes, they find their friends Leon and Renee' and fill them in on the situation. As a group, they head to Renee's house to retrieve his equipment, while Leon travels to his own home. It is agreed that they will all flee the city and Leon will catch up with them later. Leon returns home to find his house broken into, yet left undisturbed. The only evidence of a break-in is a stain outside of his water closet. Leon grabs his gear and sets off to track the party.

The party makes it very clear and public that they are leaving the city for a wine festival in Mordent. They then travel across the Silent Fields to Sylvian's secluded manor, where they can decide their next course of action. They arrive at the manor early the next morning where they are shortly joined by Leon. Everyone in the group is obviously shaken by the news that their friend and employer, Javier Renier, is dead. However, it is decided that since they haven't seen his body, they can't confirm or deny his alleged fate. They also realise that it might be a better idea to hide in public, rather than wait to be killed in seclusion. Everyone rests at the manor for the day and returns to Pont-a-Museau later that evening. Meanwhile, those responsible for Javier's alleged death have watched their note succeed wonderfully. At first, they did not know all the identities of those Javier was working with, even after intercepting the letters addressed to Leon and Renee'. They had decided to deliver their threat and watch who ran.

After returning to Pont-a-Museau, the party decides to do some detective work. However, they are unable to confirm or deny Javier's death. Sylvian decides to go to a popular local tavern called The Black Rat, and receives a message: 

I regret that I was unable to meet with you last night. There was an attempt on my life and I need your help. Please meet me at the following location and I will explain more. - J. Renier

Sylvian relays this information to the rest of the party and, after long deliberation, they decide to meet Javier. However, the only one who will make contact with him will be Sylvian. The rest will hide themselves near the isolated corner in Pont-a-Museau where Javier has requested they meet.

Later that evening, after the rest of the party has hidden themselves, Sylvian feigns drunkeness and stumbles to the corner. Ahead of him, he sees Javier and what appears to be a hardened mercenary waiting for him. Sylvian approaches them and Javier greets him warmly, but with sobering news. He tells Sylvian of the coming plague, reveals that he has allied himself with one of the local wererat clans who oppose it, and asks for his assistance. Sylvian agrees and signals the rest of the party who come out of hiding, to Javier's delight.

Javier insists that the surface of the city is not safe, and asks Sylvian and his friends to follow him and his guardian into the sewers where they will be safe in his ally's warren. The party agrees, and they decend into the depths. Upon entering the sewers, Javier instructs the party to follow him while the mercenary keeps watch from the rear of the group. The party agrees. They travel a few feet before the party realises that it is too dark to continue further and a few members light torches. Javier continues walking.

Later, still in the sewers, Javier signals everyone to stop and extinguish their lights. Ahead in the darkness, a lone figure can been heard approaching.  Javier and the mercenary both sniff the air, and draw their weapons. After a brief battle in the darkness, the party re-lights their torches to see Javier and the mercenary standing over the corpse of a dead wererat. Javier explains that it is just a sentry from a rival clan and continues moving.  Later, the party arrives at the wererats' warren. It is a rather large sewer chamber covered with straw and filth, and several large tables and a multitude of wererats are present. Several wererats are guarding something in the corner. Javier asks them politely to sit down so that he may explain what's going on. The party does as he asks, and Javier asks them a few questions - What do they know about the plague? Have they told anyone else? His memory is a little foggy, and he asks them what he has already told them so that he might continue his explaination where he left off.

Previous to this encounter, Javier has mentioned nothing of a plague.  The party realises this. Shortly afterward, they hear Javier's voice ask from the corner, "Sylvian, is that you?!" The wererats move away from the corner to reveal a bloody and beaten Javier Renier and draw their weapons. His ruse destroyed, the pretender allows his illusion to drop, revealing a staff-wielding, filth-covered rat. The mercenary draws his swords and the party begins to fight for their lives.

Vastly outnumbered, the party is not fairing well. The Gentleman Bandit and his comrade William have been separated in the middle of the battle, and the two bards Leon and Renee' are also in separate corners of the warren. It is all Renee' can to do keep himself and The Gentleman Bandit alive with what little healing magic he has. Leon, however, remembers that Javier is an excellent fighter, and tumbles away from his attackers so that he might heal the wounded Javier. That done, Javier stumbles to his feet and says, "Leon, give me your sword." Leon tosses his rapier to Javier, and the tide of the battle turns.

With Javier's help, the party manages to defeat the mercenary and his wererat companions. However, the pretender manages to escape near the end of the battle. Everyone is severely wounded, and both bards are exhausted from their spell-casting. Everyone kills the fallen wererats that are still living and decides to find a way out of the sewers. After hours of trekking through filth and grime, the party decides it is time to take a rest. During their break, Javier explains that he was poisoned and ambushed on his way to meet them two nights ago. He also tells them what he knows of the plague that Louise is masterminding and asks for their help to get a message to Jacqueline, should they reach the surface alive. Luckily for the group, they come across and subdue another wandering wererat sentry and force it to lead them to an exit. They emerge, exhausted and wounded, several yards away from the city near the Musarde river. They knock the wererat unconscious and return to Pont-a-Museau.

Part Two

Upon returning to the city, Sylvian remembers that tonight is Jacqueline's bi-monthly ball. The party decides that it could be a good opportunity to gather some information. Only Sylvian, Renee' and Leon have invitations to the ball. The other party members will have to go as their guests. Unfortunately, everyone is still injured from their battle in the sewers, and no one smells very pleasant, either. It is almost sundown, so the party will have to rush to get ready for the ball. They also will not have slept for more than a day. Luckily for them, Javier has some restorative potions available at his manor and invites his rescuers to join him for dinner after they have gotten cleaned up and changed. Sylvian decides to accompany Javier to his manor because he has a plan.

After much discussion, Javier and Sylvian arrive at the following conclusion: Since Sylvian and the rest of the party had spread rumors about Javier's death before entering the sewers, it is now more likely that any word of his death will be believed. Javier is also the only one to have information about the plague, other than those directly involved in its creation. If Javier is believed to be dead, then it might take some of the heat off of the party and allow them a better chance at stopping it. Additionally, it might also make it easier for him or another member of the group to deliver a message to Jacqueline about her sister's plotting.

That decided, they come up with the following plan: They are going to fake Javier's death. To do this, they are going to go to one of the more uninhabited parts of the city and try to find one of the countless numbers of murdered people or bandits that have strayed away from the general populace. Once done, they will dress the body in Javier's clothing that he wore in the sewers, place a few notable possessions on the body that could be identified as Javier's (signet ring, etc.) and with the help of Leon's disguising skills, mangle it beyond recognition. That done, Sylvian will give his hat of disguise (allows the wearer to use the disguise spell at will...one minor magical item was rolled randomly, per person, before the campaign) to Javier so he may attend the ball without being recognised.

While the rest of the group attends the ball, Sylvian (who was left slightly wounded from the sewers) will call for the guards and inform them that he and Javier had been attacked and that Javier was killed. He will generally make a big scene and try to use this to stir up some commotion in the city. Once that is done, Sylvian will clean up, attend the ball, and deliver a message to Jacqueline from Javier - informing her that he is, in fact, alive.

(not finished)

gonzoron :I'm liking this a lot so far. (I always had trouble coming up with ideas for Richemulot.) But those are some very trusting PC's. "Come with me to a friendly were-rat den." "OK!"

Rhys: Thanks for the compliments! I've always liked Richemulot, and I finally had a chance to run a campaign there, albeit only for three games. The PCs are very trusting. While almost all of them are experienced players, they can be tricked pretty easily. To their credit, though, after this experience they were all extremely careful.

I should also mention that not all dialogue and story elements have been recorded here, simply due to time and available space. When I explained the situation through the fake Javier, it was very logical and convincing. The players also knew that they could trust Javier, since they had known him to be an upstanding citizen and a friend of theirs. Also, the party did not have a true magic user at the time, so their means of combating magical effects were fairly limited. A detect magic spell would have revealed the illusion present on the fake Javier, and even a simple handshake could have given the player a good chance at breaking the illusion.

Generally, when I run campaigns, I tend to throw more situational encounters at the party rather than combat. I create the situation that I want, give it an encounter level, and see if the party is able to solve the problem without having to enter much combat, if any. This way, players are rewarded for thinking, rather than stats and munchkin tactics, and it leaves more time for story and roleplaying since combat can take hours. The story presented thus far occurred during the first of three games.


Kaitou Kage

For those that are unaware, cranium rats are a particularly nasty type of rat that tends to come in packs. Individually, a cranium rat is not much more of a threat than an ordinary rat. However, as the cranium rats come together, their minds connect, establishing a collective that becomes more intelligent as more rats join it. As even a small pack, cranium rats have enough intelligence to cast powerful spells and psionic abilities (memories of dealing with cranium rats throwing Ball Lightning around come to mind). In large throngs, they become more than a match for most mortals. Anyone who has played Planescape: Torment will remember Many-As-One, a hugely powerful collective mind of hundreds, maybe thousands of cranium rats. The game doesn't really let you fight Many-As-One. You can, but you can never actually defeat it.

Now, as far as Nathan's aware during our discussion, cranium rats don't actually exist in Ravenloft (though after thinking about it, a domain run secretly by cranium rats could be fun!). However, assuming they did exist, and happened to get into Richemulot, how would they interact with Jackie? Intelligent rats, let alone spellcasting seems to be a pretty unprecedented matter in her domain, so could she actually control creatures that can collectively develop very powerful minds?

Nathan and I were thinking that she can't exert her influence on a pre-existing collective, but she could seize individual rats and maintain control over small collectives that form after she takes control. However, as the cranium rats get more and more powerful, she has to start making Wisdom checks against their Wisdom to maintain control -- After all, a large enough cranium rat collective develops an extremely powerful mind.

What do you think? And what could be the implications of dealing with cranium rats in Jackie's domain?

NeoTiamat : Well.... Ravenloft tradition holds that just about nothing other than another Darklord, the Mists, or possibly Vistani or Fiends can hold off a Darklord's influence in their chosen demesnes (so, nobody can beat Jackie at the rat-control).

That said, Ravenloft tradition also gives us I'Cath.

Cranium Rats always struck me as being one of Planescape's creepiest elements. As a practical matter, a powerful collection of Cranium Rats could act as a more metaphysical foil for Jacqueline Renier. So in elements of politics and family squabbles, she spars with Louise. But at a more elevated level, in discussions of planar dominance and destiny of the Plane and so forth, an entity such as Many-As-One could be a powerful foe. And really, dueling villains always make for nice storylines.

As an alternative, Jacqueline could try and ally with a collective in her domain. After all, Jacqueline is a political/social leader, but she's not actually that powerful in the combat sense. A Cranium Rat collective could be useful.

I love the cranium rat concept ever since I first ran across the buggers in Planescape and after my chat with Nathan, this is something I thought of, too. Many-As-One itself wouldn't have much place in Ravenloft proper, but if it could somehow develop a way to influence things in Ravenloft, it could make a foil.

Alternatively, a smaller, though still powerful cranium rat collective mind could be introduced to Richemulot as a foil for control over ratkind. Some creature that challenges the idea that Jacqueline should be able to control rats and wants that power for itself -- or at the very least, believes Jacqueline should be subordinate to the collective mind. Remember, Many-as-One had many wererat servants and slaves under its control, so there is a certain arrogance a hive of cranium rats might universally assume if the pack's intelligence surprasses humanity (as is the case with Many-as-One). That arrogance could lead to the hive seeing itself as better, more powerful, and more deserving than Jacqueline and thus a better fit for control of Richemulot's rats. And it could well be magically and mentally more powerful, though in the political sphere, such a hive would have to work from the underground (literally!) through agents and thralls.

I think even for Jacqueline, an alliance with a collective would be tenuous at best, largely because of the likely arrogance I mentioned above. The hive certainly wouldn't acknowledge her as a master unless her supernatural influence could force them to do so (and it would be kind of boring, imo, if she could), but they might sense either the kinship or a mutual benefit to be gained from an alliance.

I do agree, though. Cranium rats are one of the more frightening (and extremely interesting!) nasties that a body can encounter in Sigil. Small wonder there're folks that regularly give bounties for cranium rat tails.

High Priest Mikhal : The mind vermin are an idea I toyed with introducing to Ravenloft once, but in the hands of a darklord that's too powerful. A hive of them in opposition to Jaqueline does make for interesting plots and adventures. The more their numbers grow the more intelligent they become--and considering how quickly rats reproduce...

Moon rats are a less overpowered idea for minions and give the Richemuloise as much reason to fear the full moon as Verbrekers.

Rotipher of the FoS : Rather than imports from Sigil, perhaps cranium rats are something that one of Ravenloft's mad scientists concocted in a lab? Maybe Drakov's Ministry of Science came up with the critters specifically to undermine the authority that Richemulot's wererats hold over rodents. (We know Vlad's aware of the lycanthropes, since the Reneirs were driven out of Falkovnia decades ago as carriers of the dread disease.) The scientists might not suspect just how powerful their creations can become in large numbers, and could've turned them loose in Richemulot without realizing how great a threat they've unleashed.

These man-made cranium rats might have the ability to incorporate mundane rodents into their colonies, gradually transforming the "new blood" into their own kind through prolonged psychic influence. Depending on how gruesome the DM wants to play it, they might look no different from ordinary rats -- in which case, every rat that PCs catch a glimpse of would become a suspected hive-mind member -- or they might take on their exposed-brain appearance bit by bit as they get smarter.

cure : Horstman, my favourite Mad scientist, rubs his rubbery hands with glee. At last, a (demented) 'cure' for lycanthropy!. Use rats to get rid of the infected rat problem. Of course what if the new rats are not as immune to lycanthropy as he thinks . . .

Incidently, if the Type of creature was changed in the process, it would credibly fall outside the control of Jacqueline. I suppose that in part is the point of a swarm. But I am suggesting that individuals become, for example, abberations so she can not simply pick the swarm apart.

The Giamarga : As Cranium rats are the creations of the illithid god Ilsensine, maybe they hail from Bluetspur ?

Here are some links to planewalker on them:
http://www.planewalker.com/040101/cranium-rat-0 (stats)
http://www.planewalker.com/040101/cranium-rat (stats)
http://www.planewalker.com/040101/cranium-rats-pack (stats)

And here's a psionic rewrite:

artemis wands : They're also in the 3.5 Fiend Folio, pp. 167-169.

Bluetspur rats sound interesting (the illithids keep pets!), though I am personally more fond of the idea that they came out of a lab experiment. Everyone knows mad scientists keep rats in their labs for testing things. Except Walter Bishop -- he keeps a cow. But anyhow, some scientist ended up making cranium rats by accident in his lab, the rats' minds banded together and killed the scientist, then the hive escaped into the world at large. Once out there, they could do all sorts of things.

Thanks for posting the links to the stats. I'd had the impression there were also stats in some WotC book (Fiend Folio, I had thought) but when I looked for the buggers, I couldn't find them. Would the fact that they're magical beasts instead of vermin have anything to do with Jackie's powers? I admit to knowing rather little about her abilities other than "I control rats!"

Rotipher of the FoS : Perhaps lone cranium rats would be susceptible to her orders, but ones that are part of a hive-mind whose Intelligence equals or exceeds her Charisma would become immune. A ticking time bomb, if she takes over their colony at first, but makes the mistake of allowing them to breed....

That has the potential to make life very, very difficult for Jackie if she doesn't learn how to keep them under control before they can get a big enough collective to toss her off. That could be what really sets off some conflict between her and the rats. The collective becomes incensed at the fact that a "lesser mind" took control of its members for any length of time and begins working to try and undermine and defeat Jackie.

What's the current verdict on darklords' ability to influence (non-dread) familiars? If Jackie can control an outlander wizard's rat familiar -- also a magical beast -- then cranium rats shouldn't be immune to her influence on that basis, alone.

Gonzoron of the FoS: That's pretty much all there is. Her most recent stats (Gaz III) say she "controls all rats and dire rats in Richmulot." Read strictly, that would only apply to actual rats and actual dire rats. Read broadly, it could apply to any type of rat. But we know for a fact it does not apply to wererats, as that would remove the family backstabbing and politicking that the domain is based on. I would probably read it strictly and say she can't control them at all.

There are a lot of interesting ideas here, but I have to admit my first thought was, wouldn't it be more fun if Jackie's nemesis was not other rats, but something cat-related? A pity Valachan and NV are so far away. Werepanthers or Sekhma cultists anyone?

Rotipher of the FoS : Except cats aren't much use against normal adult rats, never mind dire rats. (IRL "ratters" mostly catch half-grown juveniles.) Plus, IIRC, there's a scene in Scholar of Decay which shows that Jackie scares the hell out of cats. Terriers are better for rat control.

Gonzoron of the FoS : Hmm... well that's normal cats, though. Werepanthers would be a different story!

As I mentioned before, large hives like Many-as-One keep wererats as "retainers." Suppose a hive in Richemulot got ahold of a Renier wererat? Could that turn things on their heads a little bit?

Rotipher of the FoS : Or the mad scientist could have implanted nervous tissue from an alcohol-preserved illithid head into a laboratory rat. That would account for the cranium rats' psionic abilities, without their creator having to know much about (or even believe in) such mental powers. The head could be an adventurer's recent trophy, or a dusty old museum-piece dating back to the Thaani exodus from Bluetspur.

Daisu : I thought of a plot that would go well with the scientist angle, the idea was a group of scientists that all have studied together and now moved apart but still keep intouched all received a vial of supposed illithid byproduct to test on lab specimen from their old professor(who might not actual been who sent it), and seemed to increased intelligence and longevity of the rat. When three of the students decided to meet with their specimens, the rats gained enough group mind to thwart the students and dominate one of them to now travel across the domains to gather the rest of the pack.


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