My daughter loves rabbits. To those of you who know her, this is no surprise. She wears rabbit clothes every day, cuddles rabbit stuffed animals, plays with rabbit toys, reads rabbit books, wears a rabbit toque, has rabbit costumes, and makes drawing after drawing of rabbits. When she says goodbye to my husband every morning she puts her fingers up in a peace sign and says “Rabbit, Dad!” possibly followed by the words “Boing” or “Hop, hop!” This is because peace signs are NOT peace signs. They are rabbit ears. And in addition to being an adorable animal, apparently ‘Rabbit’ is a perfectly acceptable greeting, conversation starter, and farewell.
She. Loves. Rabbits.
It will come as no surprise then, that when she’s making characters for Pathfinder they almost always involve rabbits. She’s had rabbit familiars, rabbit-demon familiars, rabbit non-combat pets, insisted on having a massive rabbit as a mount instead of a pony, and even played an almiraj sorceress who took up adventuring in order to protect her warren of baby almiraj. When she buys gear you can bet it’s not just a tent, it’s a tent with a rabbit painted on the side, or a backpack stitched with a rabbit face, or a cold weather outfit with fake rabbit ears on the hood. She has no problem paying extra to add a rabbit motif to her equipment.
Eventually, since my son was tired of my daughter constantly trying to play an awakened bunny rabbit whose combat tactics only involved running away, we decided to make her a race for Pathfinder: Rabbitfolk.
The Advanced Race Guide for the Pathfinder RPG has a TON of new races inside (in addition to old favourites) as well as alternate race traits, archetypes, feats, spells, and gear–all intended to be used with a single specific race found inside. Probably one of the most used books in my household, Advanced Race Guide is a bunch of awesome stuffed between hard covers.
But we wouldn’t be using any of that to make our Rabbitfolk, we would be heading straight to the back.
The final chapter of the Advanced Race Guide is entitled ‘Race Builder,’ and that’s exactly what it is. A series of short easy steps and decisions to make any kind of race you want. The system runs on points (called race points, or RP), which makes it easy to use, and easy to compare to other races to help determine how powerful yours is. With these rules we would make our Rabbitfolk.
To start with you need a race concept–for us that was pretty straightforward–and then you need to determine their category. Standard (which uses 1-10 RP), Advanced (which uses 11-20 RP) and Monstrous (which uses over 20 RP). Using the point system in the race builder, the core races vary in strength from 9 to 11 RP, with a few other commonly used races: the tiefling and the assimar, coming in at 13 and 15 respectively. Deciding there’s no way a rabbitfolk should be stronger than an aasimar, I gave her a hard limit of 15 points, placing her in either the standard or advanced category depending on how many RP she actually used, and let her get to work.
Once you know the category you’re aiming for and the concept for your race you need to determine their racial qualities. This is a fancy way of saying their type and subtype, speed, size, and ability modifiers.
First we chose the type. Humanoids are the baseline for this and cost 0 points to select. Other types cost more depending on how powerful their extra qualities are. For example, fey costs only 2 RP to select while giving your race the plant type would cost 10 RP and the construct type would cost 20 RP. Rabbitfolk are clearly humanoids with the rabbitfolk subtype.
From there you choose your race’s size, then speed. My daughter decided rabbitfolk would be small, which costs 0 points, and be really fast. She chose normal speed, which is 30 ft. and costs 0 points. However, she was adamant that they be even faster, so we modified it with racial traits, bringing their total base speed to 40 ft. (more details on this later).
Finally it was time for the ability scores. For this you choose what kind of modifiers you’ll get by selecting an array, and then you choose what abilities will receive those modifiers afterwards. Deciding to keep her rabbitfolk on par with most of the core races she gave them the standard array, which costs 0 race points. The standard array grants +2 to a physical ability score, +2 to a mental ability score and -2 to any other ability score. My daughter decided rabbitfolk are very nimble and clever, but not very strong. They get +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, and -2 Strength.
Finally, you select a language quality. She chose standard for 0 RP, allowing rabbit folk to begin the game speaking Common and Rabbitfolk. You then choose up to seven languages that they can choose to learn from having a high intelligence modifier. She selected Sylvan, Halfling, Gnome and Elven for these optional languages, deciding that rabbitfolk would feel most comfortable with these small or nature loving races, as well as Terran, the elemental language of the earth.
Once you’ve got your racial qualities completed, it’s time to move on to the final step: spending RP to purchase racial traits. Racial Traits are split into categories, including: Ability Score, Defence, Feat and Skill, Magical, Movement, Offence, Senses and Weakness. Each of these categories is further divided into tiers: Standard, Advanced and Monstrous. These tiers coincide to the race’s total RP, as mentioned back in step one. If you are a standard race you can only select racial traits from the standard tier and can have no more than three traits from each category. Advanced races can select from standard or advanced traits and may have up to four from each category, while Monstrous races can select from any tier and may have no more than five from each category.
Depending on what traits my daughter chose she would either be placing her rabbitfolk in the standard or advanced category. To decide where she would end up I asked her what she wanted the rabbitfolk to be able to do the most. If any of those abilities fell into the advanced category we would be spending between 11 and 15 RP so that she could select it, and if they all fell into the standard category then which category rabbitfolk ended up in would depend solely on how many points she spent.
She decided she wanted her rabbitfolk to be even faster, and to be able to burrow. After looking through the options we discovered both of these abilities were in the Movement category under Advanced Traits. Now we knew we’d be in the Advanced category for sure. She selected the Burrow ability for 3 RP, and the Fast ability for 1 RP, granting her a burrow speed of 20 feet, and increasing the base speed to 40 feet.
Having spent only 4 RP total so far, she had plenty of room to add on other abilities if she was going to make it into the Advanced races. My daughter decided she didn’t want the rabbitfolk to have flashy powers. No magical spells or exotic abilities here! She wanted them to rely on their natural, physical advantages. They were alert, nimble, quick, quiet and have great hearing. We gave the abilities a read and came up with list of options. In the end, she decided to give them Quick Reactions, an advanced feat and skill trait that grants them Improved Initiative as a bonus feat at a cost of 2 RP and Skill Bonus, a standard feat and skill trait that gives them a +2 racial bonus on a single skill check at a cost of 2 RP. She decided to select skill bonus three times, for a total of 6 RP, granting the rabbitfolk a +2 racial bonus on acrobatics, perception and stealth. Finally, she gave the rabbit folk their flashiest ability of all (and no, it’s not very flashy, haha): Cat’s Luck. Renaming this standard defence racial trait Hare’s Luck (as a play on those lucky rabbit feet people sometimes use as keychains) this ability is usable once per day and lets them roll a single reflex save twice and keep the better result. With a cost of 2 RP, that brought the rabbitfolk’s abilities up to 13 RP, and made our rabbitfolk complete.
Now all there was left to do was write it down and keep it somewhere safe. But where would that be?
We taped it to the inside cover of the Advanced Race Guide, so rabbitfolk could sit alongside the other races of Golarion, right where they belonged.
So without further ado:
Quick, clever and quiet, the skittish rabbitfolk keep careful watch on their warrens. More likely to wait in silence and hope enemies pass them by than to needlessly provoke danger, rabbitfolk are cautious and rarely seen. When roused to defend themselves, rabbitfolk prefer ambushes and fast-paced skirmishes, attacking from hiding with lightning fast movements before darting out of sight, only to repeat the process all over again.
+2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -2 Strength: Rabbitfolk are physically weak, but nimble and clever. (0 RP) Small: Rabbitfolk are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a -1 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defence, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks. (0 RP) Fast Speed: Rabbitfolk are incredibly fast, with a base speed of 40 feet. (1 RP) Burrow: Rabbitfolk have a burrow speed of 20 feet. (3 RP) Agile: Rabbitfolk receive a +2 racial bonus on acrobatics checks. (2 RP)
Hare’s Luck (Ex): Once per day when a rabbitfolk makes a Reflex saving throw, she can roll the saving throw twice and take the better result. She must decide to use this ability before the saving throw is attempted. (1 RP)
Keen Senses: Rabbitfolk receive a +2 racial bonus on perception checks. (2 RP) Quick Reactions: Rabbitfolk gain Improved Initiative as a bonus feat. (2 RP) Stealthy: Rabbitfolk receive a +2 racial bonus on stealth checks. (2 RP) Languages: Rabbitfolk begin plays speaking Common and Rabbitfolk. Rabbitfolk with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Elven, Gnome, Halfling, Sylvan and Terran.
Total RP: 13
Thanks for checking out Rabbitfolk today! My daughter and I hope you enjoy it!
For more images of rabbitfolk, check out our Pinterest board, here.
Welcome back to d20 diaries! I hope you had a great weekend. With the start of this new week also comes a return to school for my children, a return to normalcy to many of my play-by-post campaigns and for us… a return to Wati.
That’s right! Our second game supplement is here!
Mummy’s Mask is a six part adventure path for Pathfinder, published by Paizo. Throughout the course of the the first two books, The Half-Dead City and Empty Graves, Wati acts as the players home base. This city is a colourful, quirky, fun locale, and I highly recommend making the most of it. Players who become invested in this city, and who make connections with its citizens right from book one will get much more enjoyment when Empty Graves comes around, than those who don’t.
Like most Pathfinder Adventure Paths, the back of The Half-Dead City has a great primer on its urban locale–in this case, Wati (of course). This article has all kinds of great locations, personalities and plot hooks. As is the case with any good adventure, there’s a ton of cool stuff! Unfortunately, that mean there’s not enough room to explore all the locations mentioned in the primer on Wati with any kind of detail. That is the job of the GM, and one I highly recommend GMs embrace. In order to help out with this, I’ll be posting a list of short social encounters and sights for your players to see throughout the city in the future, but today, we’re just going to focus on one: The Shrine of Wadjet.
After returning from their final foray into the Necropolis during Wati’s tomb lottery, my players were left with a stone tablet that makes mention of an ancient relic hidden in the ‘new city where the Asp and Crook join.’ Identifying this city and the age of the tablet was easy for them. Wati is the city where the Asp and Crook rivers join, mingling together to birth a new river, the Sphinx, the life-blood of Osirion. In fact, that’s why Wati was founded. To mark the birthplace of this holy river. As for the age, since the city is referred to as ‘new,’ clearly it’s referring to Wati’s founding, long before disaster struck the city.
Not content to assume that the location they found the tablet in was also the location of the ancient relic, my players rightly asked me a question: “What in Wati that survives today was part of its original construction?”
The answer? Lots.
With the lottery coming to a close, my players will no longer have access to the Necropolis. And it’s the Necropolis which contains Old Wati. The historic parts, the ancient parts… That’s all in the Necropolis.
Ammending the question to include only what they can access at the moment, they were left with only three locations: The Shrine of Wadjet, Ubet’s Folly, and the Whispering Stone. Knowing that two of the locations–the Shrine of Wadjet and Ubet’s Folly–are located on the banks of the River Sphinx itself, they seemed to be prioritizing these two locales.
Now, all three locations are mentioned in the primer on Wati, but none are detailed fully, leaving me with an opportunity to fill in these quirky locations.
So today we’re going to take a look at one of them, The Shrine of Wadjet.
The Shrine of Wadjet
Located upon the riverbank, just past the bustling Sunrise Market, is a small stone shrine with a single gold brick at it’s centre. Stairs lead from the shrine down into the river itself, disappearing underwater at the place where the Asp and Crook rivers conjoin, to birth the river Sphinx. Here you’ll find people from across Osirion bathing and praying, while countless locals draw their water from this site. Though faded and worn with age, ancient carvings of birds, snakes, scales and feathers can be seen upon this humble shrine, hidden beneath the grime of centuries.
Any of the locals nearby can provide your players with the following information:
This Shrine is ancient, and marks a holy site.
The River Sphinx is considered holy by citizens of Osirion. It’s birthplace–here, at the confluence of the Asp and Crook Rivers–is doubly so.
Locals of Wati draw their water from the base of the Shrine, if they live close enough.
Pilgrims come from all over Osirion to visit this holy site.
Unfortunately, more details on this Shrine are harder to come by. The following information can be discovered with the appropriate skill checks.
Knowledge (local) or Diplomacy to gather information:
DC 12 – All festivals in Wati begin or end at this shrine.
DC 15 – Wati’s temples all draw their water from the shrine and use it to make holy water.
DC 20 – Although created to celebrate the birthplace of the River Sphinx, this shrine is dedicated to an ancient river goddess, long since fallen into obscurity. Whoever she was, no priests in Wati remember her, and no clergy tends her holy shrine. Apparently her holy animals were birds and snakes.
DC 15 – No incidents of crocodile or snake attacks have ever been reported near the ancient shrine.
DC 20 – When Pharaoh Djedert II ordered Wati’s construction he laid a gold brick where the Asp and Crook meet to form the holy Sphinx River. The Shrine was built around this brick, by the cult of Wadjet.
DC 15 – Water drawn from the base of the shrine’s stairs under the sun of the summer solstice is said to have healing properties.
DC 20 – The shrine is holy to an ancient river goddess known as Wadjet.
DC 25 – Wadjet was worshipped in ancient Osirion and was considered to be the living embodiment of the River Sphinx. She was a teacher, a giver of wisdom and a protector of all peoples–from Pharaohs to commoners, and everyone in between. She was depicted in art as a snake-headed woman with wings. Her holy symbol was a uraeus, a two-headed cobra with feathered wings.
Players who pass this knowledge check can attempt to learn more about uraeus with a knowledge (arcana) check, the results of which are found later in this article.
Players who choose to inspect the shrine can discover the following with a perception check.
DC 15 – In addition to bird and snake imagery, there’s a strange symbol shown repeatedly in the shrine’s carvings–a two-headed cobra with feathered wings.
DC 20 – The gold brick that lays near the water line is covered in ancient hieroglyphs.
Players who speak Ancient Osiriani can read that the heiroglyphs are prayers marking the birth of the River Sphinx at the joining of the Crook and the Asp, invocations to Wadjet, and requests for Wadjet to bless the city founded in her honour at this holy site–the city of Wati. They also can see Pharaoh Djederet II’s name on the brick and the date it was placed: ’10th year of the rule of Pharaoh Djederet II, Summer of the Boiling Lake, Summer Solstice.’ This equates to the year -1608 AR, which is the year Wati was founded.
DC 25 – Within the shrine, directly above the golden brick, is a particularly prominent winged-snake carving. This carving conceals a hidden compartment. By pressing in the wings of the carving and succeeding at a DC 10 strength check, the entire snake body pops up a few inches. This twenty pound, thirteen inch long piece of stone can then be lifted up and out of the floor of the shrine. Inside is a hollow cavity that is four inches wide, two feet deep and shaped like the stone which was removed. Forgotten for centuries at the bottom of this hidden compartment is a magical amulet holy to the faith of Wadjet–a Uraeus Amulet.
Spellcasters using detect magic cannot discern the aura of the amulet while the compartment is closed, as there is more than one foot of stone surrounding the object on all sides.
Knowledge (arcana) can be used to learn more about uraeus’ after any player discovers carvings of them, discovers the amulet, or learns about them from the knowledge religion check found earlier in this post.
DC 15 – A uraeus is a magical beast native to Osirion’s rivers. They are intelligent and quite rare. They measure seven feet long and have a wingspan of approximately the same length. They weigh 150 pounds.
DC 20 – Both heads of the uraeus can spit venom from their mouths at a range of thirty feet and are particularly fond of aiming for their enemies’ eyes. This same venom is injected into their victims through their bite.
DC 25 – Uraeus are capable of speaking Aquan, Celestial, Common and Osiriani. They speak with a single voice that emanates from both heads at once. It is said that with proper offerings and a dedicated disposition a uraeus will take a supplicant on as a student, teaching them how to use the river’s bounty and serve their society.
DC 25 – Uraeus are protectors of rivers and waterways said to be birthed by the Ancient Osirion goddess Wadjet herself. They are highly territorial and protect their rivers from those who would harm them or make them unsafe for travellers.
The Uraeus Amulet Aura moderate abjuration; CL 6th; Slot neck; Price 5,500 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Attached to a gold chain, this gold and blue glass amulet is cast in the form of a uraeus–a two headed winged cobra. Whenever its wearer is affected by a fear effect, she may attempt a new saving throw at the end of her turn each round to end that effect. Furthermore, once per day on command, the amulet grants its wearer an aura of courage that lasts for 1 minute. This aura is otherwise identical to the aura of a 3rd level paladin. Construction Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, bless, remove fearCost 2,750 gp
NOTE: The uraeus amulet was originally published in Wayfinder: Volume 12: Osirion: Ancient Sands as the ‘djed pillar amulet’ in an article entitled ‘Heroe’s Hoard: Bajaba’s Beetles and Reeds,’ by Joe Kondrak. Wayfinder is a fanzine available as a free pdf download on Paizo’s website (some are available in print but are no longer free). Volume 12 is available here. I highly recommend downloading this one if you’re going to be running Mummy’s Mask, as there are plenty of useful articles, items, and even a few short adventures that can be easily added into the campaign. And if you’re not running Mummy’s Mask? Download it anyway! It’s free and a great read.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our little trip into Wati today. We’ll visit again in the future.
I love to GM. As mentioned already on this blog, I do it a lot, but mostly for my children. Playing d20 games with a five and six year old is considerably different than playing with a group of adults. Currently, there’s only two games I play face-to-face that do not involve my kids: Mummy’s Mask and Reign of Winter. I GM both.
It’s been weeks since we’ve played, but that’s understandable. November and December are a time full of birthdays and holiday events in my family. Add to that all of us suffering through a weeks-long illness and it’s no wonder my beloved games have been put on a bit of a pause.
We play on Friday nights: Reign of Winter when my brother’s free to join my husband and I, or Mummy’s Mask when both he and his wife are available. Our kids spend the evening playing and watching a movie before heading to bed for the night, and we have a few rare hours of adults-only d20 gaming.
And tomorrow, FINALLY, we’re playing Mummy’s Mask! Needless to say I’m excited.
One of the things I enjoy about GMing and playing is the environments you can create. With a simple description and a series of short social interactions it’s easy to make each city and town feel different and memorable. But a city’s not just buildings and climate, it’s also the is people who live there. Not just the few NPCs who hold plot-hooks, but all of them. From the lowly baker to the mayor’s foppish cousin, I love making an eclectic cast of NPCs for my players to interact with. Shopkeeps have names and families, minor social encounters occur when travelling through cities, and even that random urchin who tries to con you out of a few coppers has a name and a friend or two. I don’t expect the group to interact, befriend, or get into deep conversations with all of them, but I find it’s enriching for them to be able to. To know that they can. Every once in a while there’s an NPC who becomes special to them. Maybe it’s the baker’s daughter who’s been dumped by her boyfriend, the crime-lord’s bodyguard who they try to entice into switching sides, or the down on his luck priest whose temple is in need of repairs. And nothing makes side characters more memorable than a few lines of dialogue and an image to represent them.
Mummy’s Mask is a campaign bursting with opportunity for NPCs. Right at the beginning of the campaign the group stays at a local inn, the Tooth and Hookah. Run by a husband and wife duo, this hookah bar and watering hole is also home to tables staffed by merchants, and a tiny crocodile who lives in the well named Toothy. Now, what player’s NOT going to want to talk to the innkeeper when he’s got a croc in his well? Answer: none.
Beyond their base of operations, the PCs join a lottery put on by the church of Pharasma. Run by it’s High Priestess, a woman with green painted lips known as Sebti the Crocodile, even this distant personality is bursting with interesting quirks. There’s also gate guards and patrols of Voices of the Spire, militant Pharasmins who patrol the Necropolis the tombs are found within.
And the most fun, exciting NPCs to make in the early days of this campaign? The other lottery entrants. See, this campaign is special. Your players join a lottery where the right to explore ancient tombs is handed out to registered groups of adventurers by draw. Some of these groups have a chance to interact with your PCs. And what’s more fun than making a bunch of adventuring parties for them to socialize with?
Playing, obviously, but making adventuring parties is pretty cool, too.
Which brings me to the purpose of this post: GM Aids.
Periodically I’ll post supplementary information, images, encounters, locations and side-trek adventures intended to be used in published campaigns. Today’s focuses on the many NPCs–especially the rival adventuring groups–found in the first book of Mummy’s Mask. Please note that none of the following images are my property. Some belong to Paizo Publishing, and others were discovered on Pinterest and belong to the artists who created them (signatures are on many of the images).
So without further ado: let’s get rolling!
Mummy’s Mask is an adventure path printed by Paizo Publishing which takes place in the town of Wati, within the desert nation of Osirion. A six-part adventure path, the first of these volumes is entitled The Half-Dead City and is written by Jim Groves. Additional details on the city of Wati are included in this book, written by Crystal Frasier, while a short story in the back of the book that uses the Tooth and Hookah as a backdrop is written by Amber E. Scott. A player’s guide for this campaign is available as a free download on Paizo’s website here.
The Tooth and Hookah
One of the places players of Mummy’s Mask are going to visit most often is the Tooth and Hookah. This affordable little establishment will become their temporary home. A place for them to sleep, eat, rest, get out of the sun and to plan. Owned by a Garundi fellow named Farhaan, the Tooth and Hookah, its owner, and it’s delightful little crocodile mascot, Toothy, are given a bit more detail in the short story found at the back of the Half-Dead City. For my version of this campaign we gave Farhaan a wife, Maatkare, a meek but hardworking woman who busies herself around the Tooth and Hookash as a cook and waitress.
Along one wall of the Tooth and Hookah are a few tables available for rent by merchants and peddlers. These merchants aren’t detailed, so I got to make some additions. At the start of the campaign these tables are staffed by Mila Ansretti, a friendly Varisian traveller who loves the vast deserts of Osirion and makes a living selling maps, books, herbs and scarves of all kinds; and Ishpi, an awkward young man who (poorly) sells hand beaded jewelry created by his ailing grandmother. Later in the book Jarha Psenmin joins the merchants here, loudly shouting at patrons and acting like your typical pushy, market haggler–though this one deals in potions! Jarha doesn’t last long at the Hookah, and moves on to the Sunburst Market after only a single evening. If no one’s given Mila a reason to stay at the Hookah, she moves on by the end of this book, finding a new location to sell things in Wati.
For entertainment, the Tooth and Hookah features performances by Wahka, a sleazy half-elven bard who secretly lusts after Maatkare, and Senja Messeniah, a streetwise, lesbian belly-dancer who is good friends with Farhaan.
The Grand Mausoleum
Wati’s temple of Pharasma is incredibly large and has a lot of political power. It’s called the Grand Mausoleum, and is the organizer of Wati’s Necropolis lottery. Each day of the lottery sites are drawn and announced by High Priestess Sebti, pictured in the sidebar. Sebti is detailed thoroughly in the Half-Dead City adventure and the article on Wati later in the book. She’s helped by some acolytes which are undetailed. In my campaign these acolytes are Henna, a scribe who handles all the lottery’s record keeping and can sometimes be found working as a secretary at the Grand Mausoleum, and Ammon, a charismatic mysterious fellow who handles inquiries and explains the details of the lottery and their site with the PCs while Sebti continues with the lottery.
Other NPCs added into the Grand Mausoleum are Elder Neferaba, one of the oldest and most respected clerics in the temple, and Inet, a young woman with no formal education who works as Sebti’s personal secretary.
There’s one more member of the Grand Mausoleum who is written directly into Mummy’s Mask. Introduced with full character art and given a thorough backstory, Ptemenib is found in the second book of this adventure path, Empty Graves, he’s a colourful character your players are bound to love. I highly recommend introducing him right from the start. In addition to being found at the Grand Mausoleum, Ptemenib could also be spotted at the Tooth and Hookah spying on a suspicious patron he suspects of being a member of the Silver Chain (a local gang of smuggler’s who operate within Wati and it’s Necropolis). Ptemenib is joined by his (invisible) friend, a nosoi psychopomp by the name of Qasin.
The Voices of the Spire
The Necropolis is under the control of the Voices of the Spire, a militant wing of the Church of Pharasma, led by the Commander of Voices, Nakht Shepses. Nakht is a character written into books one and two of Mummy’s Mask (though no art was provided for him), and is destined to butt heads with Sebti and the player characters in book two, Empty Graves.
Only one member of the Voices is given a name and artwork, Bal Themm, a woman who guards the front gates to the Necropolis and is introduced in book two, Empty Graves. Bal is easy to include right from the start, as the players walk right by the gate guards twice a day while they’re in the lottery. Starting professional, Bal can grow to respect the group for their accomplishments in the Lottery and even become a friend and source of information. By the time she needs their aid in the second book she’ll already be a companion–or at least remembered–and her fate will have more of an effect on the group.
The Half-Dead City makes mention of Voices of the Spire patrolling the Necropolis and performing inspections during the lottery. However, no other Voices are detailed. In my campaign we added in Shenanda, an experienced Voice who is professional and serious. She’s also Bal’s superior, and Nakht’s lover. Working with Shenanda is a nervous new recruit to the Voices, Menes. Although Menes looks up to Shenanda, he thinks that Commander Shepses is too proud, and needs to treat his lower-class subordinates better. Other Voices on patrol in the Necropolis include the young dwarf Ankhet, the stern female oread Faiza, and the charming and flirtatious Sebkay (Sebkay’s art is from a soldier token in Magic: The Gathering’s Amonkhet set, available in booster packs here.).
The Scorched Hand
There’s a lot of adventuring parties mentioned in the Half-Dead City. Most are little more than a title and a sentence or two of information, but one of them, the Scorched Hand, are destined to play a major role in this adventure. A group consisting of three followers of Nethys and their sword for hire, the Scorched Hand are introduced in a scripted social encounter that takes place after the first day spent in the Necropolis. I recommend utilizing them at least once more, either before or after that encounter as a social interaction. Make Velriana brush against them while passing by your players in the streets and demand they apologize to her for the insult! Or have them show up at a market stall while your players are trying to purchase an item and insist upon buying that same object–for a bit more coin. Small clashes like this will make the Scorched Hand a group to remember. By the time your players spot Velriana’s feathered hat in the final part of this adventure, they’ll know exactly who they’re about to butt heads with–again.
The Scorched Hand is lead by a pompous, Taldan noble who worships Nethys, Velriana Hypaxes, a wizardess with attitude to spare and ostentatious fashion sense. Her second in command is Khelru, a cleric of Nethys who began life as a peasant and slowly worked his way through the clergy. Khelru’s the only member of the Scorched Hand that Velriana respects. Khelru’s lover is a spoiled, nobleman by the name of Azaz Arafe. Azaz is infatuated with Khelru and converted to Nethys’ faith in order to impress the clergyman. Azaz is a wizard–a poor one–and has a scorpion familiar. Velriana thinks he’s useless–and isn’t shy about showing her feelings. Idorii is a half-elf mercenary hired by Velriana to protect her, then the rest of the Scorched Hand. Idorii sympathizes with Azaz, and thinks Velriana’s stuck-up, but business is business, and Velriana’s the one paying her.
Another group conceptualized in the book but lacking details are the Cryptfinders. They’re a group who met in Absalom, the City at the Centre of the World, and joined up specifically for the purpose of entering Wati’s lottery. Including members from throughout the world, the Cryptfinders are lead by a roguish, womanizing bravo by the name of Falto. Falto is joined by Ilpatrus Nexonus, a Nexian summoner who looks down on other magic users (and barely notices non-magic users). Hesham ibn Gathbiyya is a Qadiran cleric of Sarenrae and the group’s healer. He hates undead and tries to convert everyone he meets to his faith–an unpopular habit in a town so controlled by the Pharasmin clergy. Their final member is Vittoria Etrovain, a Chelaxian cavalier that worships Asmodeus and despises every woman Falto interacts with. The Cryptfinders are present at a single scripted social encounter and, like the Scorched Hand, benefit from additional social interactions. A fellow wizard could study alongside Ilpatrus, the players could come across Falto making a scene as he duels a few local men over his recent dalliance with their sister, or they can help Hesham talk his way out of an angry crowd of locals that he’s tried to convert to his faith.
Daughters of the Desert
This entirely female adventuring party is led by Sigrun Firehair, an Ulfen skald from the Land of the Linnorm Kings who claims to be descended from a genie. Joined by Firadora Fal-Shiek, a paladin of Iomedae exiled from Rahadoum for daring to have (and spread) faith; Sati, a Thuvian desert nomad with no tongue who looks fierce and is constantly splattered with blood stains; and The Twins, Rua and Naat, mysterious Osirian witches who refuse to speak or socialize with outsiders and seem to communicate with glances. These adventurous women make their sole appearance in the same scripted social encounter that the Scorched Hand and the Crytfinders appear in. Sigrun takes the lead for this group, telling epic tales of their adventures in the Necropolis. These women, Sigrun especially, are incredibly easy to add to the campaign further. Sigrun can often be found boasting about her many accomplishments at a variety of drinking establishments, hawking her newly acquired treasures in a market and haggling with the best of them. My favourite location to add them is immediately outside the Necropolis, Sigrun works up the crowd, telling tales about their adventures that day and waving around the treasures they acquired. She then immediately attempts to sell the goods to the crowd. The Twins stand by mysteriously silent, Sati roars and brandishes her bloody blade for the crowd and Firadora poses dramatically. Sigrun is also a great choice to use again in book two, representing the Daughters of the Desert alongside the Twins at the auction at the Canny Jackal.
The Dog Soldiers are an all halfling adventuring group whose obnoxious leader, Mad Dog Marrn, fights alongside his pack of trained Katapeshi hunting dogs. Joined by his ‘bitches:’ Rita, a flirtatious and curvaceous warrior; Madge, a trapsmith who doesn’t care at all what you think of her; and Ninette, a sorceress who’s quite likely insane. The Dog Soldiers are scheduled to appear in the same scripted social encounter as the previously mentioned groups. Unfortunately, half of Marrn’s dogs die that day fighting a gelatinous cube. I highly recommend making the Dog Soldiers stay at the Tooth and Hookah in a suite upstairs, alongside the PCs. This gives your players plenty of time to interact with the bombastic group before Mad Dog and the girls are in mourning over their dogs. The next morning be sure to place Mad Dog in the Sunburst Market, sadly trying to find replacements to join his remaining pack.
It’s noted in the next book that not all of the groups who entered the lottery return. Some lose members to death, while others never return at all. I chose to make the Dog Soldiers one of these unfortunate groups. Tasked with clearing out Tahetep’s Dance Hall the day after losing most of his dogs, Marrn, Rita and Madge were all killed in the haunted ruin, while Ninette survived, driven mad by her experiences. Have the players go through dinner that evening, then breakfast the next day, without any sign of the noisy halflings at the Tooth and Hookah. That evening Farhaan can ask if you’ve seen any sign of them. After hearing they haven’t Farhaan sighs and remarks ominously “They’ve still got a bit of time.” After another day with no word from the Dog Soldiers Farhaan places their personal possessions out for sale at his merchant’s tables. This can be a poignant sign to the group that their line of work is more than just dangerous, it’s deadly. The next time the players are in the Necropolis they should discover something of the Dog Soldiers–perhaps it’s Mad Dog’s medium +1 longsword engraved with his name or, if you’re feeling really cruel, they can discover one of his dogs–now an undead ghoul hound–gnawing on Mad Dog’s rotting arm. During the second book, while the players are in the Necropolis on other business they can discover that not all of the Dog Soldiers are dead–the insane wreck that Ninette’s become still resides in the haunted dance hall. Mute, deaf and blind, she dances to a song that only she can hear.
This all-rogue group of adventurers is on the hunt for an arcane combatant to assist them before the lottery starts, but by the morning of the first draw they’ve filled that role. To best showcase this I highly recommend making the Sand Scorpions the second adventuring party to stay at the Tooth and Hookah. This group is led by Black Kiss, an assassin who specializes in poisons that I made mysterious, aloof and literally deadly–her skin is coated in a paralytic poison that she’s immune to. Joined by Briggs, a trapsmith party girl who’s secretly in love with her best friend and other member of the group: Tama. Tama’s a gruff, half-orc locksmith who–along with Briggs–lives in the floating slums of Bargetown. Their newest member is Atticus Bant, a magus who tries his best to get along with all his new female companions, and is failing horribly. He’s terrified of Black Kiss and attracted to Tama. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of letting Briggs seduce him after the first day in the Necropolis and he’s only recently realized she’s both conniving and manipulative. Briggs soon spends her free time bad mouthing Atticus to Tama, while Atticus tries to woo Tama, and Tama poorly ignores the both of them. Desperate for less needy companionship, Tama’s very likely to try to socialize with the player’s characters. An act which is guaranteed to draw both Briggs and Atticus to the conversation in short order. Allowing your players to get involved in the drama of this catty, dysfunctional group can be amusing, and can drive home how important teamwork is. Near the end of the lottery, have fun showcasing Atticus’ desperate final attempts to get Tama to go on a date with him–only to find him later, drunk and mournful at the bar, wailing about his unrequited ‘love.’ Tama and Briggs are also good choices to use as contacts in the second book of Mummy’s Mask, when the players are looking for information about Bargetown and the Veins.
One of my players got obsessed Black Kiss, insisting that his character was destined to be with her (he’s a firm believer in fate). A chubby catfolk who looks like an overgrown housecat, the many, many ways he tried to prove his love to the toxic, aloof woman provided endless entertainment for us. Even more so were her challenges–the most daring of which was taking shots of poisoned drinks with her at the bar. Unfortunately for the smitten catfolk, he was so busy playing coy with her that he missed his chance to say goodbye. After the lottery, Black Kiss heads off to Tephu on the search for ancient alchemical secrets. They’ll have a chance to meet her again in book three.
This adventuring party is detailed in the random encounters section of the Half-Dead City. Consisting of an Osirion enchantress, Melu, and her charmed companions, each of the men in this group vies for her attention and would give their lives for her. Originally consisting of Ahotep, a warrior who’s been charmed so long he can’t imagine life without her; Djaal Sidrim, a young and inexperienced ranger; and Karem Afir, a streetwise cutpurse; this group’s membership is destined to be shuffled around a bit. The first time you meet the Amethyst Dragons, Melu attempts to charm the strongest looking player’s character, while the other members of the Amethyst Dragons sit jealously by. If Melu survives this encounter, be sure to show her a few days later with all new companions–she had to replace them after they gave their lives to allow her to escape the dangers of the Archives of the Ibis.
This adventuring party is also detailed in the random encounters section of the Half-Dead City. Intended to be encountered in the Necropolis, they’re found sitting outside a tomb. Their leader, a halfling sorcerer by the name of Fergrim Flame, toys with a ball of fire, while their studious wizard, Verichi Denger, studies a few tomes on the side of the road. Verichi is wary, but claims that the group needs to wait just a while longer while he memorizes some necessary spells. Lirgana Ahmose, an optimistic half-elf bard, tries to pass the time happily, while the group’s half-orc fighter, Kha, loudly complains about Verichi’s obvious cowardice and picks apart Lirgana’s every suggestion and comment. Verichi is a great choice to use in book two, representing the group alongside Lirgana during the auction at the Canny Jackal.
There’s plenty of other colourful characters kicking around Wati. Patrons of the Tooth and Hookah, the Abadaran Marketwives, merchants, students of the Hall of Blessed Rebirth, and even a thief or two, but those will come in time. For now, I hope you enjoyed–or even better: make use of–the colourful characters I’ve shared today.
Our next Mummy’s Mask game aids will be entirely different. Featuring details on the Shrine of Wadjet, Ubet’s Folly and the tattered remains of a drug-addled cult found within, as well as the lots up for auction at the Canny Jackal in book two.
Until then, have fun, and keep gaming. I wish you plenty of criticals!