One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Lake Tower of Vara Ristk

I've been playing quite a bit of Magic: The Gathering these past few weeks. Theres been a few things about the game that have got me thinking about Magic and the relation to D&D.

Magic is the saviour of D&D. When TSR was floundering it was Wizards of the Coast that swooped in with the money from the wildly successful card game, bought the company and revived D&D with 3e, created the OGL and created a renaissance in gaming history.

Here we are roughly 14 years later and D&D has been replaced by Pathfinder and self published old school enthusiasts. While Magic still rakes in huge amounts of money, and is perhaps even more successful than it was when it first went mainstream.  

I can see the parallels between D&D 3e and later edition rules and Magic. Both games attempted to makes the rules clear and precise with key words and standardized abilities.  If you look at the Monster Manuals of 4e you can see how the creatures have more evocative names like the creature cards of Magic.

Ultimately I find it sad that the D&D design team hasn't come up with adventures or campaign settings like the evocative settings and ideas that the Magic team does. Every year Magic comes out with what is the equivalent of a unique campaign setting with an over arching storyline, filled with unique monsters, NPCs, magic items and treasures. Yet D&Ds adventures pale in comparison. Other 3rd party companies, Pathfinder in particular have stolen the show because of this. I firmly believe that Paizo's success lies partially in the fact that they didn't alienate the 3.x player base, but mostly in the fact that instead of focusing so much on a rules system they pumped out adventure after adventure.  

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Heres a little Swords & Wizardry encounter inspired by some random Magic cards.

The Lake Tower of Vara Ristk

The wizard Vara Ristk, like many of her profession is a little off her rocker. She lives in a lonely tower that rises directly from the waters of an island strewn lake. An ever present mist obscures and cloaks the tower from view from the mainland. The tower can only be accessed from deep below the water, and the approach is protected by Isle-back Krakens. Vara can not be bothered with menial tasks and her lair is filled with a variety of homunculus. Worst among them, for spellcasters at least, is the Oculus.

Isle-back Kraken

At rest these Kraken look like rocky small islands. As prey gets within attack range they rise up an attack with their tentacles. One can sometimes spot an Isle-back Kraken in advance when it uses one of its tentacles to grab an unfortunate bird that has mistaken the monster for a true island and landed on one for a rest.  

Isle-back Kraken: HD 20; AC 0[19]; Atk 6 tentacles (2d6), bite (3d6); Move (Swim 3) (Jet 21); Save 3; CL/XP 24/5600; Special: Ink cloud, constriction, control weather, create lights.

Oculus Homunculus 

This creature has a powerful gaze attack that can suck the magic out of another wizard and then either transfer it to its master or use it himself depending on how it was programmed. On a successful gaze attack the wizard makes a saving throw. On a failure the Homunculus absorbs a random spell from the caster.   

Oculus: HD 2; AC 6[13]; Atk 1 Gaze (1d3 + spell loss); Move 6 (Fly 20); Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Spell-loss Gaze.  

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