T.H. Lain Shares His Thoughts on 3rd Edition Rules Used in His Latest Novel
Caution: This article contains spoilers. Readers are encouraged to ignore these notes until they have finished the entire novel or, at the very least, the appropriate chapter.
LAUD-ABLE? Wayne Reynolds depiction of archvillain and archprelate Laud from Dragon #303s Prying Eyes provides a suitable introduction the power behind the villain in The Bloody Eye.
In order to tell a story, it is sometimes necessary to fudge rules and game mechanics in order to make sure that the story is not lost in the details. As much as possible, the magic and battles described in The Bloody Eye were played out on the table. On occasion, I omitted battle rounds where both sides missed in order to speed along to the conclusion. Otherwise, I have tried to describe in this appendix the game mechanics and assumptions I was using in a given chapter. Also, since I dont like to use the specific names of spells in the narrative, I have tried to list them in this article.
I decided to use Latin or pseudo-Latin words or phrases to suggest Celestial and Infernal power words. This was not to tie Jozan into any particular religious tradition in the real word. Latin has merely seemed like a magical language to me since I was first introduced to it. I also added the colors to the magical glows, beams and auras to reflect the relationship to various gods in the pantheon: green for Gruumsh, gold for Pelor and white for Heironeous. I probably lifted this subconsciously from the idea of colored light sabers in Star Wars, but I didnt realize it until I was writing this appendix. The colors are not part of D&D canon.
I wanted to have a character that was much weaker than the three iconic characters I was developing in the book. If Yddith had been stronger than she was, I wouldnt have been able to put such a powerful artifact in her possession. She is of the sorcerer class, but we dont know that at the beginning of the book. Neither does she. She picked up a couple of spells by watching them performed and she uses them. Without the intervention of the artifact, those are the only two spells she would have known in the entire game. In this chapter, she uses mage hand and ghost sound.
Calmets summoning does not conform to the game rules unless it is a combination of teleport and summon monster. My assumption was that Calmet and Laud had access to tons of arcane lore and, with the sacrifice of a left eye, they could accomplish what they wanted. The reason for using this non-canonical spell was to tie the boar attack to Calmet and show the relationship between Jozan and Calmet. Note that Jozan uses summon monster II in order to summon two celestial hounds from Table I, and that Jozan is such low level that they dont stick around long. Jozan also uses cure light wounds on himself and the boar exhibits the trait of ferocity described in the Monster Manual. Naturally, Alhandra uses detect evil to determine if Jozan is trustworthy.
The priests of Pelor turn undead according to the rules in the Players Handbook. They also use light, summon monster I and cure light wounds. The turning point in this chapter is when the zombie thespian casts a charm person spell on the toughest of the priests.
Krusk uses a masterwork longbow and barbarian rage, precisely as described in the Players Handbook. He also uses alchemical fire as described in the Dungeon Master's Guide.
The only magic in the chapter is when Alhandra detects evil on the soothsayer.
Calmet casts blindness/deafness on the greedy orc warlord. Then, he creates extra havoc by casting giant vermin on the lice that infested his mount.
Once again, Alhandra uses her power as a paladin to detect evil. She already knows Krusk from City of Fire, but she explains that she wanted to make sure it was the same Krusk she knew. The druid priest, Hassq, casts barkskin on himself before entering the battle.
Jozan uses command and the instruction to run against one of the troglodyte soldiers, while Yddith reprises her ghost sound spell to cause further distraction. Jozan follows up with a hold person spell, straight out of the Players Handbook and complete with the iron piece as spell component. Natually, Yddith uses mage hand to move the road apples and the tide of battle seems to turn until the druid casts unholy blight on Krusk. When, the druid realizes he is losing the battle, he wild shapes into a wolf and escapes into the forest.
Calmet casts bulls strength on the guard. Then, he casts light on the infernal symbol.
Alhandra finally gets to use her Power Attack and Cleave feats (smiting hip and thigh is obviously the Cleave feat) in fighting the hydra. She also lays on hands to heal Jozan at the end of the struggle with the hydra. In this battle, the heroes use plenty of resources. Jozan uses summon monster I to call a celestial eagle. Yddith has started to feel the power of the artifact and attempts to cast flare as a distraction on the hydra. She also tries to pull back the hydras neck using a rope and mage hand, but it didnt work either.
Laud uses a whispering wind scroll to summon Calmet to his den. When Calmet goes to meet him, he stills the shrieker with a silence spell. More importantly, he clears up the cave-in by summoning small earth elementals with a summon monster IV spell, using Table III. He also solves another problem by using a stone shape spell to demonstrate his plan and to use multiple stone shape spells until the end of the novel. He is out of some of his best spells in the final battle because of using so many stone shape spells to break through into the shrine.
Jozan uses cure light wounds to heal himself and relies on a potion of cure light wounds to try to stay alive. The druid, Hassq, wild shapes into an eagle in order to accomplish his nefarious task.
Hassq uses charm person to cause Krusk to turn against Jozan. He also attempts to wild shape into the eagle and escape. Yddith uses mage hand to loop the rope around Krusks axe.
Laud uses a scry spell with the shiny metal plate on the cavern floor. At this time, the spell is powerful enough that even Calmet sees green shadowy figures moving on the plate. Of course, a strict interpretation of the rules would suggest that bystanders dont see what the person scrying sees. In this case, I fudged the situation and let Calmet see the shadows of what Laud was observing in order to suggest that Lauds scrying was more powerful than that of the average cleric, druid or wizard.
Although Yddith doesnt know the break enchantment spell, she intuitively uses the spell with the aid of the gem. Alhandras detect evil ability shows a small taint coming over Yddith as she uses the gems power, but the same innate ability allows her to see that their prisoner Qorrgs aura is not as evil as she had expected.
There is really no pure D&D mechanism to account for Lauds monstrous experiments. I had Laud use a mixture of necromancy, transmutation, and primitive surgery to create his mutants. I adhered to Monster Manual rules in using the special qualities of the monsters. These special troops/atrocities combined the powers of dsplacer beasts, umber hulks, krenshars, and gorgons into encounters that I hoped would read just a bit differently than your average dungeon crawl.
It is also obvious that Jozan uses silence to allow the armored members of the party to sneak up to the outcropping. Of course, the party discovers there are disadvantages to silence, as well. They cannot communicate and they are surprised by the otyugh. Yddith displays a new spell in this combat and it serves her well. The spell power is still a pale green, but it appears to be getting darker. Twice she uses a grease spell in this combat and the dice told me that the effects were better than I would have expected. Note that Yddith uses the proper pork rind spell component to tip off alert readers to the spell she has used, again with the aid of the gem. Also, Balor, Calmets shadow mastiff ally, uses his howling attack as per the Monster Manual. Since I played this out, I was amused to discover that there were far fewer saving throws than I expected.
Calmet uses stone shape to enter the cavern of the desecrated shrine. When Laud arrives, he indicates that he has used scry to survey the tunnels and that he knows that the heroes are on their way.
There is nothing very remarkable in this chapter. Jozan uses a light spell to aid their exploration, but circumstances prevent other magic from being cast. Fortunately for Alhandra, she had a +1 longsword to use against the gargoyle or she would have had to inflict more that 15 points of damage at a time in order to hurt it at all. At the end, Jozan does have to use cure moderate wounds on Alhandra.
Yddith is the primary spellcaster in this chapter. She casts a light spell on the emerald after Jozans light spell has faded. She uses a flare to reduce the effectiveness of one of the construct/hybrid monstrosities. She also manages to cast another grease spell, but the law of averages catches up with her and the monstrosities are not affected. By the time this chapter is over, Jozan has swapped out enough spell slots to cure light wounds and cure moderate wounds that he only has a few spells left.
Calmet uses stone shape and Laud uses the Craft Wondrous Item feat to renew the power of the desecrated shrine. Laud uses air walk to reach the stones blocking the chimney shaft. During the battle, the krenshar solider frightens several with his skull mask and the gorgon uses his breath weapon to turn Alhandra to stone. Calmet casts darkness on a stone and throws it into the midst of the fray. He also casts unholy blight on Jozan and catches Krusk for collateral damage. Fortunately, Calmet failed to save on Jozans hold person spell. This left the heroes free to go after Laud for 5 combat rounds. Jozan cast searing light on the archprelate and Laud returned the favor by using an inflict serious wounds on Krusk. Ironically, Lauds last action is to dispel magic on Jozans hold person spell. Calmet was freed to accomplish his surprising action. After the battle, Calmet uses cure moderate wounds and refers to a stone to flesh scroll.
Calmet uses a stone to flesh scroll to return Alhandra to her normal self. Then, when the others believe he is going to cast a cure serious wounds spell, he reads a word of recall scroll and escapes to the location of Provincial Prior Cause, an adventure in Dungeon #96.