From Valar Publishing's Book of Erotic Fantasy.
This cloud of naked, glowing lavender faeries the size of a man’s pinkie finger titters and squeals as it flits about in an erratic manner.
Bliss Mote Swarm [CR 2]
Wreck of the Mastrien Slash
Vindar Salashi did not bat an eye when a mysterious foreigner began wooing his daughter. He did not shed a tear when he learned of their hasty elopement. But, when he discovered that they had made off with his most prized ship, the Mastrien Slash, the merchant lord cried for blood. Now, the pair of young lovers have run aground in the necromanctic realm of Geb, and the man asking the heroes to mount a rescue cares more about recovering his lost property than he does about the fate of his only offspring.
Wreck of the Mastrien Slash is a tropical wilderness adventure for 8th-level Pathfinder Roleplaying Game characters, who should be well into 9th-level by the adventure’s conclusion. The PCs sail out of Jalmeray, but the adventure itself takes place in the southernmost part of Geb and includes encounters in the Bay of Mermaid’s Tears, a tidal salt marsh complete with grounded shipwreck, the plantation and manor house of a Gebite aristocrat, and a tangled ruin deep within a mangrove swamp.
Several generations removed from his infamous ancestor, the half-elven Vudrani guilder Vindar Salashi has lived a life of ease made possible by riches acquired through smuggling, blockade running, and trade with Geb. Content to give his only daughter, Mihalyi, anything she wanted, Salashi thought nothing of her tryst with a visiting Minkai dignitary until he was informed one morning that the two of them had disappeared.
More important than the loss of his daughter, at least to Salashi, is the fact that she took the key to his success as a smuggler—she stole his folding boat, the Mastrien Slash. Built from darkwood and enhanced to sail twice as fast as a usual craft of its kind, this folding boat can be recognized by its prominent, untarnished nameplate (written in Vudrani) regardless of the shape it takes. So angered was he by this theft that Salashi did not stop to think that the culprits might not know the folding boat was anything more than a fancy darkwood coffer full of silken flags.
Well-payed diviners kept Salashi appraised of his daughter’s passage south, and of the storm that drove her ship ashore amid the salt marshes and mangroves of the Bay of Mermaid’s Tears. As a good number of his personal treasures disappeared at the same time as his daughter and her lover, it took him nearly a week to call in enough favors to find the PCs and mount a mission to return his stolen ship to him.
What Salashi has not discovered is that the man who ran off with his daughter and his ship is no man at all, but an ogre mage calling himself Lord Utsuro. Having been banished from Tian Xia, this crafty oni has spent years wandering from court to court posing as a foreign emissary. Utsuro was just as put off by the undead of Geb as most other visitors, but has taken to the gloomy mangrove swamp and marauding the nearby plantation with the usual zeal of his kind.
The plantation just west of the salt marsh where Salashi’s ship wrecked and north of the mangrove swamp now claimed by Utsuro is owned by Sawba az-Zarqa. A swaggering, loutish aristocrat, az-Zarqa was given his lands as much as a reward for his services to the Harlot Queen as to simply get him away from Mechitar. The growing of sugar cane and manufacture of syrup, molasses, and rum do not interest this skeletal grandee in the least; he would rather be pursuing the favors of his kyton bodyguard (or any beautiful woman, for that matter). However, the recent attacks by the sly oni have grown to a point where even az-Zarqa can no longer turn a blind eye.
The captain of the ship that Vindar Salashi has provided the party as means of transport will not approach to within more than a mile of the coast of Geb, and so the PCs will need to either fly, swim, or row a ship’s boat across the last of the bay—the later two choices resulting in a confrontation with a number of hungry sharks. Beyond the ocean waters, the shore of the Bay of Mermaid’s Tears is a large crescent of salt marsh, home to swarms of crabs, leeches, and gebflies.
Description: Known to scholars as Axanir flies after the forest where they are believed to have originated, each gebfly is a translucent, silvery insect about half the size of a human’s thumb with a distinctive skull-like marking on its back. Loud-buzzing clouds of these dangerous magical beasts plague the veldts, coastal salt marshes, and river valleys of southern Geb. Their scimitar-like mandibles easily tear the flesh of both the living and the dead, and thanks to their supernatural abilities, they can often be found in symbiotic relationships with sentient undead.
Powers and Abilities: In addition to painful bites and the spread of disease, the area covered by a gebfly swarm constantly acts as if under the effects of a desecrate spell. Finally, the swarm can channel negative energy like a cleric, and is healed by negative energy as per the death’s embrace ability (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 43).
It is in the salt marsh that the PCs can find the wreck of the ship which brought Mihalyi Salashi and Utsuro to Geb. This wreck is not, in fact, the Mastrien Slash, but a Nexian merchantman comandeered in Niswan by Utsuro. The PCs can find evidence of the crew’s murder, and with some successful skill checks, can determine that two people escaped the wreck about a day before a second group showed up to pick through the ship. The survivors were the oni and Salashi’s daughter, while the group that showed up a day later were the servants of the local plantation owner, az-Zarqa. No corpses can be found, as they were all taken by az-Zarqa’s people to be animated.
From the salt marsh and shipwreck, the party must either make its way up a small escarpment to the sugar cane plantation of az-Zarqa or deep into the flooded mangrove tangle now claimed by Lord Utsuro. The plantation is on alert, due to the oni’s week of troublesome attacks, and will likely take the PCs to be the perpetrators. Unless they use clever bluffs, disguises, or diplomacy, a party exploring the fields of sugar cane on their way to the main house will be set upon by giant glitterscale geckos, yellow-musk zombie field-hands, and the plantation’s Gebite overseers (druid/necromancers).
At the main house, the adventure can go one of two ways. Kick-in-the-door combat can ensue if az-Zarqa is not dissuaded in his belief that the PCs have been behind the attacks on his people. Even though he is only an aristocrat, the skeletal champion’s guile, traps, high ranks in Use Magic Device, and skilled kyton bodyguard can provide a fine combat challenge. On the otherhand, for those who take the more challenging route of diplomatic interaction, quick use of the proper skills can turn the meeting with az-Zarga into an invitation to dinner and the offer of a safe place to spend the night and heal up as honored guests. It is also here, within az-Zarqa’s abode, that the folding boat the PCs seek can be found amid other loot taken from the Nexian ship.
Should the PCs have dinner with az-Zarqa, each course will provide its own minor culinary dangers (posion, disease, traps, unliving foods, and the like) with an equally minor reward for those who manage to make it through. Sometime during the meal, az-Zarqa will try to get the PCs to solve his mysterious marauder problem. At the conclusion of the meal, the plantation’s owner will present the party with a full bottle of his finest Second Soul rum. Parties who opt to do battle with the plantation’s denizens can find this magical liquor secreted in the main house.
Second Soul Rum:
Second Soul Rum
Aura moderate necromancy; CL 10th
Slot —; Price 2,500 gp; Weight —
This distinctive Gebite gold rum spiced with cinnamon and pepper is typically found in small earthenware jars holding up to four doses. Fermented with a touch of spirit moss and distilled through a bound soul, second soul rum grants its drinker 1d10+10 temporary hit points for 10 hours. So long as the drinker has any of these temporary hit points left, he suffers only half the normal result of any ability damage, ability drain, or energy drain attack he is subjected to.
An investigation of the mangrove swamp proves at least as difficult as the journey through the salt marsh. Hungry and venomous reptiles make up the majority of the tangle’s lesser threats, while a handful of will o’wisps will try to lure the PCs towards a deadly giant flytrap. If the party survives to reach the lair of Lord Utsuro, they find that the oni has settled in the ruins of some ancient building, so cracked and decrepit that it is hard to say where building ends and the swamp’s largest mangrove begins.
Battle here will have to take into account the deep bog and crocodiles below the thick roots (upon which a successful DC 16 Acrobatics check will allow movement at half speed and a DC 21 check allows full speed), cover from ancient stone walls, and flight limited by the overhanging branches wherein dwell numerous cat-eyed mangrove vipers (advanced venemous snakes). It is here that Utsuro is holding and tormenting Mihalyi Salashi, manacled to a tree with her legs dangling within easy reach of the crocodiles’ jaws. Once he tires of taking the form of her Minkai lover to regale her with tales of his most recent attacks, the oni plans to remove the pearly white spindle ioun stone he forced on Mihalyi, thereby depriving his new pets of plentiful snacks.
Lastly, as the adventure location is close to the Field of Maidens, it is likely that the PCs will discover some of the pirate queen Mastrien Slash’s scouts and skirmishers who were not with her main army at the time that Geb transformed them all into statues. Most of these statues have not weathered the years well, and several of the trapped warriors’ spirits have gone mad. Found in numerous places throughout the salt marsh and the mangrove swamp, these statues now house allips (Pathfinder Bonus Bestiary 4) that leak from cracks in the stone, though az-Zarqa also has a fairly intact “maiden” in his bedchamber that houses a ghost. While these encounters are likely to be purely combat, characters who discover the few patches of spirit moss growing in the northern reaches of the mangrove swamp can attempt to calm the spirits, converse with them, and possibly gain their aid or work out a way to release them.
Vindar Salashi (CN male half-elf rogue 8)
Salashi is motivated heavily by greed and self-interest, but he is not a cruel man. If he is made aware that his daughter was seduced by a monster, and told of what Mihalyi suffered at the oni’s hands, Salashi welcomes her return (or is reduced to tears by word of her death). Whatever the situation, the Vudrani half-elf never fails to put on his best manners in front of those who could further his desires.
While he can tell the PCs all about his daughter and the mysterious emissary from Minkai with whom she ran away, Salashi is loathe to say anything about what he knows of the lands of Geb for fear that someone my connect him with those who run the periodic blockades to trade with the Domain of the Dead.
Mihalyi Salashi (N female half-elf expert 4)
Though she does not have his substantial experience, Mihalyi knows almost as much about the spice trade in Jalmeray as does her father. It was this knowledge of Salashi’s business and Niswan’s docks that allowed Mihalyi and her would-be lover to make off with the Mastrien Slash in the first place. She sees her current predicament as yet one more terrible effect of her father’s greed, rather than something her own naïveté got her into.
Mihalyi tends to put on a stoic, self-sufficient face when in over her head, and her stubborn refusal to ask for help and tendency to take credit for the actions of others can be a bit off-putting. She also tends to whistle absentmindedly when nothing is holding her immediate attention. Having endured the marshlands and the torments of Lord Utsuro for a week now, Mihalyi is well versed in all the dangers in the area.
Lord Utsuro (LE male ogre mage)
While his usual powers of trickery and charm will not work for him among the undead masters of Geb, the land is rich with opportunities for pillage and destruction. He has ceased using his charm monster ability on Mihalyi, instead using it to convince the nastier beasts of the local marshes to attack az-Zarqa’s plantation. Ursuro is unlikely to give up such easy pickings without a fight, though only a challenge to his personal honor is likely to get him to play fair.
If he discovers the party before they learn of him, Utsuro will follow them invisibly, using his spell-like abilities to further the plantation’s residents’ mistrust of the PCs. If discovered, he will try to convince the party that az-Zarqa has captured or killed Mihalyi and ask for their aid in destroying the skeletal champion. Should the party surprise Utsuro in his lair, he will make parley as difficult as possible, demanding costly and humiliating offerings for even the privilege of talking with him.
Sawba az-Zarqa (NE male human skeletal champion aristocrat 10)
Competent enough to run his large estate, az-Zarqa leaves the everyday duties of the plantation to his numerous overseers. He prefers to spend his endless hours dabbling in all sorts of magic, planning grand parties that few of his fellow nobles deign to attend, and making a play for any young lady that does not know his reputation well enough to stay well away. Deep down, az-Zarqa is miserable with his lot (both as plantation owner and as an undead), simply going through the motions to keep up appearances. But, his pride will not let him back down from any perceived affront.
The plantation’s master is quick to jump to the conclusion that the PCs are to blame for Utsuro’s recent depredations, but just as quick to apologize and offer the hospitality of his home should the party be patient enough to explain things to him. Should they take him up on this, az-Zarqa is happy to expound upon his own history and tell them all he knows about the shipwreck and the surrounding marshes (especially if one of the PCs is an attractive woman).
Cloister of Saint Bethaene
In 4665 AR, a band of adventurers in league with the church of Calistria in Woodsedge cleared the hill fort of its unwanted denizens and rededicated it as the Cloister of Saint Bethaene the Double-Jointed in honor of their temple’s head hetaera. When Bethaene died in the Red Revolution two years later, her body was interred in the Cloister. And, while the mortal servants of the Sacred Sting died or moved on, Saint Bethaene’s final resting place was watched over by the goddess’s more otherworldly servitors—vicious ardorwesps and hedonistic fey.
Now, after years of peace, the Cloister is once more beset by troublesome and prying foes. While the aristocratic treasure seekers of Taldor have begun covertly sending parties of adventurers across the Galtan border to “rescue” relics of old, an even more sinister threat looms over the Cloister of Saint Bethaene. Members of a Nocticulan Slayer’s Guild in Woodsedge discovered the location of the Cloister, and have sent agents to claim the fort to further their machinations and holdings upon Golarion. Subtlety and seduction being key, the cult has sent a succubus assassin to pervert the current guardians and gather a following whose guile can reach into decadent Taldor.
The Cloister of Saint Bethaene is a cluster of nine underground chambers buried within a manmade hill. The steep, crescent-shaped slope rises to about 20 feet above the level of the surrounding forested plain. The walls within are all magically treated superior masonry (hardness 16, hp 180, break DC 55), beyond which is the hard packed earth of the hill. Unless otherwise noted, ceilings are 8 feet high in the hallways and 10 feet high in the Cloister’s rooms. Surprisingly dry and comfortable for such an old structure, the temperature is moderate and the air is fresh.
1. Meditation Garden
Even steeper than the slope of the outer hill, the 20 foot high sides of the courtyard here act as a cliff, and can be scaled with a DC 15 Climb check. The oak (see massive trees under Forest Terrain, Pathfinder Core Rulebook 425) has been branded with a well-hidden symbol of the demon lord Nocticula, which can be discovered with a DC 25 Perception check. The gardens act as light undergrowth, though some of the plants are slightly more hazardous (see below).
The stone benches can provide cover for Small creatures and high ground for attackers that stand upon them. They, like the posts and lintels of the doors are adorned with symbols of Calistria and carved with scenes of scantily clad maidens frolicking with satyrs. Closer inspection, and a DC 20 Perception check, reveals that the maidens all have cruel visages, the satyrs are fiends, and the religious iconography has all been slightly cracked.
The eastern door (leading to area 2) is jammed, requiring a DC 28 Strength check to open. The Cloister’s current inhabitants do not use the rooms beyond this door, and the lack of tracks to or from this area is readily apparent to anyone making a DC 15 Survival check.
Creatures: The oak is the bonded tree of a dryad, now twisted by the foul seductions of Nocticula’s servants. She serves as the first line of defense for the Cloister’s current master, though can often be found shirking such duty in favor of dalliances with one or more of the satyr guards from area 5. When present, the fiendish dryad is likely to surprise intruders, thanks to her tree meld ability. Upon noticing the PCs will she will step out of her tree on the far side from the party, using it as cover to hide, and use entangle to make the most out of the area’s hazard.
The ardorwesps that nest beneath the oak attack immediately upon spotting intruders, though PCs with visible symbols of Calistria will be treated with indifference rather than hostility. Loosely allied with the dryad, they will defer to her commands in battle. These creatures will readily follow PCs who flee, returning to this area only after having successfully used their implant ability. If any ardorwesp is killed here, the remaining creatures use their telepathy the next round to alert the entire complex to the intruders’ presence.
Ardorwesp (4) CR 3
Fiendish Dryad CR 4
Hazard: Mixed in with the more common herbs and flowering plants of the gardens here are several tangles of pale nettleweed (Pathfinder Chronicles: Campaign Setting 216). A PC can identify these plants before stumbling into them with a DC 10 Knowledge (nature) check, but this will not help those who are bull rushed into these areas.
Development: Should a PC notice the symbol of Nocticula burned into the dryad’s tree, a DC 20 Knowledge (religion) or Knowledge (planes) check will confirm that this is some sort of demonic binding, and the cause of the dryad's fiendish powers. If the tree is splashed with six flasks of holy water (one for each HD of the dryad) or targeted with a consecrate or dispel evil spell, the dryad will lose the fiendish template and be freed of Nocticula’s influence. If this occurs, she likely uses tree stride to flee deep into the forest and lament what she had become unless a PC can quickly adjust her attitude to friendly. If they free the dryad from damnation, award the party XP as if they defeated her in regular combat.
If the ardorwesps send out their telepathic alarm, the entire Cloister goes on alert. This causes the satyr guards (from area 5) to arm themselves and move to the library (area 6). Should the fiendish dryad have been with them, she immediately returns to the garden to ensure the safety of her tree. All of the Cloister’s other inhabitants ready themselves to greet the PCs as described in their encounter areas.
A thousand metallic bugs fill the air, their metal stingers dripping the same emerald extract that glows from within their glass abdomens.
Chymick Swarm CR 2
Typically found in groups of several hundreds, an individual chymick resembles nothing so much as a foot long, copper bee complete with stinger, segmented body, and tiny antennae. The creatures are hollow, with blown glass serving for both protruding eyes and bulbous abdomen. A glowing alchemical extract within both powers the swarm and provides for its acidic defenses.
They can speak common with a thousand echoing voices, but Chymic swarms rarely converse on topics other than the quality of various reagents and the location of the nearest expert glassier.
Chymick swarms are built to serve as both laboratory and assistant to powerful alchemists and potion makers. Dungeons in sandy deserts and crystal-rich areas make excellent lairs for those who use chymicks, and swarms that outlive or escape their creators can usually be found in such regions. Unfortunately, those swarms which become uncontrolled closer to civilization have been known to devour windows, glassware, and jewelry like locusts do wheat.
Scapular of True Devotion
Whenever the wearer uses the channel energy ability to heal, those affected gain energy resistance 1 for every die of damage healed. For example, a 5th-level cleric who channels positive energy to heal 3d6 hit points of damage would provide energy resistance 3. This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the wearer’s Charisma bonus (minimum 1 round). The type of energy the scapular protects from—acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic—is chosen during the item’s creation and cannot be changed.
If the wearer channels energy to harm his opponents, the scapular of true devotion adds 1 point of energy damage (of the same sort it otherwise protects from) to the normal damage done by the channel energy ability. This extra damage is not affected by a successful Will saving throw.
Rumors persist of scapulars which deal alignment damage, similar to holy or anarchic weapons, but if true, these items must be incredibly rare.
I see that the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play lists the available equipment from Elves of Golarion as "clustershot, healer’s sorrow, and sparkfly crystal arrow weapon qualities."
My question is, are the mundane, alchemical arrows such as pheromone and splintercloud also available for PFS play?
Would gaining the Scion of Geb ability at the end of Scenario #26: Lost at Bitter End count as "Geb affinity" when trying to qualify for the Necromantic Resistance feat from page 77 of the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting?
(See my profile for a full description of Scion of Geb)
I, Arazni, Harlot Queen of Geb have had a brilliant idea for a party. But, my darlings, I need your help, because who wants a party when they could instead have an adventure?
I'm holding a masquerade ball in the capital of Golarion's favorite necromantic realm, but instead of wearing costumes, my arcanist nobles and the powerful undead aristocracy will be wearing the most interesting and beautiful people by way of magic jar spells.
But, my question to you is, what else can I have going on? Hmm...
The question has come up in my game that shouldn't humans also have weapon familiarity? Shouldn't Shoanti treat their bolas as martial weapons? Varisians their bladed scarfs? Taldorans their falcatas? And Tiens their shuriken?
I may simply be wondering this since my Pathfinder RPG cleric is the son of a Taldoran diplomat and I'd like to take proficiency with the falcata for my bonus racial weapon proficiency...
That's reasonable, right?
A cleric in my game who follows the Whispering Way philosophy wanted to get a hold of a copy of Whispers of the Immortals (detailed in the adventure Hungry Are The Dead), and this got me wondering: How much would a dark text such as this go for? I know he couldn't pick one up in Sandpoint, but places like Riddleport, Geb, or Katapesh are sure to have places that sell such things.
This, of course, got me to thinking on what other like tomes would be available on Golarion. The Great Old Ones love to have gnarly old books written about them, don't they? And what of outlawed anatomical codexes (and does Golarion have an Anti-Hypocratic Society?) of the sort found in 2nd Edition's Complete Book of Necromancers?
Any help on these topis, offical or not, would be greatly appreciated.
I am a fan of the armored kilt from the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, but a question has come up in our game. Can an armored kilt be magically enhanced?
I would assume that any armor enhancement bonus on a kilt would not stack with the armor enhancement bonus of one's primary suit of armor, but is there anything preventing someone from putting special abilities (such as shadow or ghost touch) on an armored kilt?
A question has come up as my group are making PRPG characters to playtest through Entombed With The Pharaohs: Leadership in the D&D PHB has a prerequisite of 6th level. Since Pathfinder characters don't get a feat at 6th, should such characters get it at 5th (which would be the third feat availavle) or at 7th (which would be the next feat after 6th).
TORQUIL WIESEL, GHOST OF THE STONEBURG CR 15 [level 13, +2 template]
Male human ghost bard 13
AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 18
Spd Fly 30 ft.
Before Combat While he prefers to use others to do his fighting for him, Torquil will use his malevolence ability to "ride" a living body into combat if he thinks he must. If he has time he will also cast mirror image, summon monster, and animal messenger to send for reinforcements.
Str 10, Dex 13, Con ¾, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 26 [base 15, +4 cloak of charisma, +3 level, +4 template]
Draining Touch (Su): Torquil's incorporeal touch attack drains 1d4 points of Charisma from any living target he hits. On each such successful attack, the ghost heals 5 points of damage to itself. Against ethereal opponents, Torquil adds his Strength modifier to attack rolls only. Against nonethereal opponents, he adds his Dexterity modifier to attack rolls only.
"I swear, I have seen the ghost of the Stoneburg! At first, I was scared to death, but when he just grinned at me, winked like a rake, and disappeared, I warmed up to him quite a bit." - A chambermaid in the service of Lord Hermelin
In life, Torquil Weisel loved the finest clothing, the most delicious food, the softest sheets, and the most beautiful women; in undeath, few things have changed. Now translucent and slightly luminescent, Torquil's ghost still appears as a plump but handsome man in his late twenties. He tends to smile quite often, but his smile rarely reaches his piercing, violet eyes. Torquil wears an aristocratic hunter's outfit (that a DC 20 Knowledge [nobility and royalty] check can determine was the height of fashion about a hundred years ago).
"Life is as valueless and common as sand. It is only when a person makes something of their life that they attain value, as when a stained glass window is formed from common sand." - Torquil Wiesel
Until someone proves themselves exceptional in some way to him, Torquil thinks of people in the vague term of the "unwashed masses." He has a condescending sort pity for such people, but is more than willing to throw away their lives to further his goals. Once someone has shown themselves to be of interest or use to him, Torquil will treat that person as an equal - always acting cultured, polite, and interested.
"It is said that the first Baron Hermelin had many children, not all of them by his lady-wife." - From a banned history of the Stoneburg
Torquil was born a bastard child of the first Baron of Stoneburg. Since the name Hermelin means "ermine," upon reaching maturity, Torquil took the surname Weisel (meaning "weasel"). Raised by bards and druids so that he wouldn't pose a threat to his warlord father's holdings, the charming young man quickly gained a reputation as wastrel and a dandy. Few realized that Torquil was planning to overthrow his half-brother before he was mauled to death by a dire bear.
A hundred years later, the current lord has built a new castle over the site of the menhir circle where Torquil's followers buried him. This act, coupled with the baron's mild decrees, unimaginative spending projects, and the fact that Kalter Hermelin recently signed a peace treaty with the barony's traditional enemies across the Feissel Sea has raised both the ire and the spirit of Torquil Weisel.
"I fear I may be going mad. Yesterday, at dinner, I swore my son's eyes turned the brightest violet and he was no longer himself." - Baron Kalter Hermelin
Torquil has three simple desires. Firstly, to foment violence throughout the barony to raise one of his own descendants (preferably a PC) to the status of hero. Second, to marry that descendant into the Hermelin family. And, finally, to kill off the current baron and any other remaining heirs so that the bloodline of Torquil Weisel has no challenger.
Freeholds of Karistynia
History: Named for an imperial consort, the port city of Karistynia was founded a century ago by the now-destroyed Empire of Mör-Kreln. Originally meant to be nothing more than an agricultural venture, the colony's lord saw an opportunity for himself as his homeland was overrun only twenty years after the city's founding. He declared Karistynia an independent city-state, and sent out trade ambassadors to the far reaches of the world, even as he readied the remnants of Mör-Kreln's fleet to defend his new realm.
The anticipated attack never came, but something far more deadly struck the new nation -- a terrible plague borne from the dark interior of the Great Umbral Swamp. It was this event, more than any other, that had the most profound effect on the current nature of the Freeholds. With several new trade contracts to fulfill, and most of their population laid to waste by the plague, the lords and aristocrats of Karistynia used necromantic magic to animate thousands of dead peasants and used them to continue working the land.
People: Karistynia has no lower class. Its capital, towns, and all of the villages that cluster near the fortified manors of the plantation-fiefs are full of craftsmen, artisans, and the like. The citizens' higher quality of life comes at the expense of their good reputation outside of their homeland. Many good nations, whether lawful or chaotic, will have nothing to do with the Freeholders, thanks entirely to the country's use of skeletons and zombies to work their fields, clean their streets, and butcher their livestock.
However, the skill of the druid-necromancer Overseers trained in Karistynia's universities ensures that the plantation-fiefs crops are always abundant and of the highest quality. This in turn ensures that a profit can be made somewhere along the realm's lengthy trade routes.
The upper classes of Karistynia have generally turned to one of two pursuits. The first is the quest for undeath, laughingly referred to as "going into politics," as every aristocratic family in the Freeholds is headed by a powerful, intelligent undead of some sort or another. In fact, the current Autumnal Lord is actually the original head of the Mör-Krelnian colony from a hundred years ago.
The other path Freeholder aristocrats are likely to follow is the rakish life of the dandy. Intrigue, decadence, fashion, scathing wit, and a flashing blade all mingle and clash in the manors and streets of this realm. It is hard to say whether dueling here has become more of an art or a science in the years since Karistynia's founding; either way, more rakes and duelists are said to be found in the Freeholds than anywhere else in the civilized world.
Holdings: The Freeholds of Karistynia are made up of thirteen plantation-fiefs, each roughly twenty-five miles wide. Five of these -- including the lands around the port capital -- cover a wide, central area of grasslands. Peanuts, cotton, corn, and sweet potatoes are all grown here, and a good deal of fishing is done beyond the three barrier islands (known as the Shield Maidens) that protect the port from bad weather.
The remainder of the lands are split fairly evenly between the Freeholds' other terrain. The hill country to the north lacks rich deposits of metal, but does provide lime, sulfur, and feldspar, as well as grazing for the pigs and cows that have led to the region's fine leatherworking tradition. Moderate forests along the country's western border provide pine, oak, maple, and a surprising amount of darkwood. Pecan and peach orchards have been planted there as well, and much of the lumber from the forest makes its way to the shipyards of Karistynia and Malloven.
The wetlands and salt marshes at the edges of the Great Umbral Swamp to the south of Karistynia have only recently been dominated, though are not yet tamed. They grudgingly yield up rice, sugarcane, tea, and crawfish, while salt and eels are gathered from the coastal areas.
DM Secrets: Rumors are brewing in the hill town of Karre that the industrious hobgoblins that live in the barrens to the north of Karistynia have recently been united under a new leader who apparently cannot stand the unnatural ways of the Freeholds. This feeling, coupled with his obvious desire for his neighbor's wealth, will likely lead to an invasion within the next year.
As if family prestige, lustful desire, and personal honor were not enough to cause the Freeholds' aristocrats to draw steel, several young rakes have gotten it into their heads that the prestige of the elite, female archers of the Shield Maidens needs defending. For some reason unfathomable to the Twilight Council, these dandies are being countered by those proclaiming the superiority of the mostly-male Overseers. Whether the tension will rise or the fad will blow over has yet to be seen.
Finally, a number of good-aligned nations, as well as a few neutral and evil nations, have begun secret talks regarding the Freeholds of Karistynia. Many do not believe that simple agriculture, regardless of the nation's use of undead, could lead to the sort of wealth enjoyed by the living here. Perhaps, they say, Karistynia's fleet contains privateers and raiders in addition to the ever-present trade vessels. And, perhaps, something should be done about it...
A Malleus Maleficarum grants anyone who can spend 1d4 rounds purusing its pages a +2 circumstance bonus on Knowledge (arcana) checks, and the book itself can be wielded in combat as if it were a cold iron +1 warhammer.
Finally, three times per day, anyone who understands Infernal can command a Malleus Maleficarum to reveal nearby witches. This causes chaotic or evil spellcasters within 30 ft. to glow (as if affected by faerie fire) in the eyes of the book’s wielder. The language requirement of this last power has gaven rise to the rumor that it was Asmodeus himself who penned the first copy of the Hammer of Witches.
I need a little help.
I remember a certain construct that appeared in DRAGON Magazine since 3.0, but can't seem to find it. It was a scimitar-wielding, man-like construct built to guard harems, and may have been an Al'Quadim monster originally.
Anyone know the beastie I'm talking about? Anyone know which issue it was in?