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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Khepri and the Black Oak Bugbears

A while back I did an RMA about Araneae. One of my readers, Cullen, suggested the spider could be a sort of sage. I liked the idea so much I added it to my BX campaign. The PCs recently encountered her and are off on a mission to "pay" for the information they're after. 

I thought I'd share the writeup for the encounter as one way to set such a thing up. The map is from my Roll20.

DEEP IN THE FOREST LIVES a clan of wily bugbears known as the Black Oaks. They live by hunting and periodically raiding travelers along nearby trade routes.

The bugbears also have an alliance with a clever aranea named Khepri who lives in the trees above their huts (see the "webby" tree in the upper left). She provides them with potions and advice in return for their protection and retrieving certain materials she wants for her magical studies. Khepri’s invisibility potions are much prized, as they allow the bugbears to be even more effective at ambushes.

Recently, Khepri has finished researching and learning the spell charm person and used it on the Black Oak chieftain, Brugdhaz. She is careful to only nudge his behavior in ways that don’t potentially shake her hold over him, but that may have to change.

Having Skrag as their shaman is a source of status and pride for the Black Oaks. He is a powerful magician by bugbear standards (Casts 1st level clerical and magic-user spells). Brugdhaz has always been somewhat jealous of Skrag’s standing within the clan, but the shaman has wisely avoided stepping on the chieftain’s toes, confining himself to magical and spiritual matters. The difficulty arises from the fact that Khepri wants Skrag’s secrets. The shaman mistrusts the aranea and  is unwilling to share knowledge with a non-bugbear. Skrag’s mind is very strong and her charm spell is unlikely to work against him. Also Bugbear shamans don’t have spell-books. Generations of magical wisdom is recorded on Skrag’s very skin in the form of runic tattoos. While a few tattoos are visible on his arms and legs, he covers the rest with his cloak when Khepri is around. In order to access all of the runes, Skrag must summon his fetch. A spirit ally that allows him to see through its “eyes” and read the tattoos. In order to learn his magics, Khepri will need to study his skin.

Skrag is older and not as strong as the other bugbears. He receives no damage bonus to melee attacks. He is still 2+1 HD, but only has 11hp and AC 8 (no armor).

Skrag’s Spells:
  • Detect Magic
  • Cure Light Wounds
  • Shield
  • Read Languages
  • Hold Portal
  • Magic Missile
  • Protection from Evil
  • Light

He can have any three prepared at a time.

Brugdhaz is a 5HD bugbear (33hp). He also possesses a Shield +1, granting him AC 3 with his normal armor.

All others are normal bugbears (18hp), armed with maces and axes.

Khepri has an “errand” she would like performed. In exchange for this service, she is more than happy to help the PCs with information about what they seek. She wants a vial of giant’s blood. The type of giant does not matter.

If -after successfully completing the first errand- the PCs come back to her again, Khepri will be favorably disposed toward them, and happily enter an arrangement with them again. The next task will likely be more difficult (higher level).

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