Most of my limited writing time has gone into the upcoming campaign, as I develop the entries in my Commonplace book. Incidentally, this is something I recommend every DM do; carry a small notebook and a pen with you pretty much everywhere, because Inspiration likes to sneak up on you and cockslap you on the bus and/or at three in the AM. Jot down the most inspiring bit of the idea in a quick sentence or two.
My Tribal class, for example, started as the sentence “Replace Dwarf and elf with archetypes. Noble Savage (last/mohicans, pacte de loups etc? Magical Dilletante (Johnathan x Mummy)?”. (The latter is where the Occultism skill came from)
Another just below it reads simply “The Feast of Poisons”.
Then there’s this: “Mad princess, tea party, elaborate (and valuable) place settings.”
Spoilers below the break. None of my players past this point.
Type: Unique/Rare Wandering Monster (occurs once, cannot “run into” party)
Note: disregard the monster’s surprise roll. She will always cede initiative to the players if she’s aware of them at all. Modify the Reaction roll by the charisma of the first character to speak aloud. Hostile results will result in the “maiden” fleeing as noted below
Basic description: The players discover a room/glade/courtyard (bonus points if it contains a ruinous structure of great antiquity) to find three elegantly dressed women, in the latest fashions, engaged in an animated evening tea. A dignified redhead is pouring tea from a very ornate silver pot with a leather-wrapped handle into fine china cups, and will invite one or more of the PCs to join her. The table will usually have space for 4 or 6 place settings, and she is carrying additional sweetmeats and dishes in a picnic basket.
If attacked, she has several options, depending on her mood. First, she can dispel the basic illusions, whirling into her tea-pot with the enslaved as a wisp of smoke. She finds this extremely unpleasant, but has been known to do it to masquerade as a bound Djinn. When the pot’s rubbed, of course, she will theatrically whirl out and drive a bargain involving drinking from the pot. She may also (with a more negative reaction) simply scream, snatch up her skirts and flee at considerable speed (treat her as lightly encumbered: the clothing is restrictive and bulky) – leaving the pot behind, in the hopes that a character might use it. The other guests will similarly scream and flee, but disappear as soon as they round a corner; they may also seem to fly through walls, sink into the floor, etc. She will stalk the party, and steal back the ewer (possibly by manifesting a ghost from it) if they suspect its true nature. If caught, she will again gleefully tell any lie to get a player to drink.
This encounter is a study in deception and proper Weirdness. There are many clues that something is wrong here; answer players’ questions honestly and as completely as seems reasonable.
• The ewer is made of polished, pure silver. As such, it reflects the guests in their true guises should someone examine it.
• The handle is wrapped in mismatched leather, so the demon doesn’t have to touch it.
• Who has a tea party in a dungeon?
• The Ewer is NOT the correct instrument for serving tea, and there is no immediately obvious heat source in the area, yet it’s still steaming.
• The fashions are modern, NOT archaic, as one would expect with a ghost or pre-programmed illusion, and the demon will make small talk as though she is a modern individual.
• She cannot outright lie in response to a direct question but can tell half-truths or evade the question. She will demur on any attempt to discuss religion, magic, or morality (“Not proper Tea-time conversation, is it?”..), but will quickly reveal her utter amorality and malicious nature when on other topics. If directly and firmly confronted by someone asking if she is a demonic entity, she will immediately flee – by teleportation or flight, as appropriate – calling back all of the dust to the ewer. She can claim to persons from an Arabic or Arab-like culture to be a “Djinn”, however, and let their own cultural perceptions do the rest of the deceiving.
• None of her powers, other than her shapeshifting (it’s an actual change), will work on a true and faithful, Baptized Cleric, or one under direct Divine protection. The waters of the pot will turn to dust on their lips, and a foul stench of corruption and brimstone will emanate from the liquid. Likewise, they will not see other guests, and may move through them freely.
In reality, the redheaded woman is a succubic demon with crimson skin and smouldering eyes. The “guests” are trapped, corrupted souls. As a spiritual entity, she is not mortal, and cannot be killed. She turns as a 4HD monster, and can be Banished for a year and a day.
Powers: Can grant permanent wishes of perception to anyone within her power. Which is to say, anything that can “come true” as far as you can tell with mortal senses. Want to be stronger? You’ll think you are. Want to be handsomer? You’ll see every woman gaze on you with a tad bit more admiration in their eyes – and a bit more jealousy in every man’s.
She can also weave local illusions, valid to all the senses. She uses these to disguise the pot’s contents.
Pure silver causes her great pain, as do blessed instruments (clue: wrapped handle on the ewer)
She cannot directly harm any individual, and is incapable of fighting back
The Ewer of Lost Souls:
Inside the pot are the mortal remains of every person she has successfully tempted into drinking from it. This takes the form of an extremely fine silvery dust or sand, reeking of the grave. She can reconstitute these individuals as ghosts; True Sight will show them as they appeared at the moment of their deaths. The dust can also be used to corrupt holy water or poison food and water supplies. Although it loses its soul-trapping power swiftly, the food or water will still taste as though there is a corpse within, and proffers the same chances of disease.
Anyone who drinks from the pot or eats of the food (it’s laced with the dust) has not only committed the sin of cannibalism, but is now subject to a potent Curse. When the character dies, their body will, in one round, decay into the same silver sand, then whirl off at an insane speed in the current direction of the pot. The only way to avoid this fate is obtaining absolution/atonement for the cannibalism, followed by a Remove Curse spell or equivalent.
The powers of the pot may be destroyed by completely cleansing it, then sanctifying and burying the dust in holy ground, and afterwards fully immersing it in holy water and removing its Curse. If the ritual is correctly performed, the demon will be (relatively) permanently Banished, and all souls under her sway will be freed to find their true reward.