AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming: Yig Snake Grandaddy, Part 2

Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread!  Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into.  Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.

This week, I’m going to take a look another new subclass, the Warlock’s Undead Patron from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft. Not to be confused with the Undying Patron,1 these Warlocks get their powers from powerful liches, vampire or mummy lords, or even a dracolich, creatures that have shaken off the bonds of mortality in order to pursue their dark ambitions. These beings might grant their knowledge and power to those who work their will among the living.

Like all Warlock patrons, the Undead offers an Expanded Spell List, adding a handful of spells to the list of options a Warlock can choose whenever they learn a new spell. This list includes 1st level spells, Bane and False Life, 2nd level spells Blindness/Deafness and Phantasmal Force, 3rd level spells Phantom Steed and Speak With Dead, 4th level spells Death Ward and Greater Invisibility, and 5th level spells Antilife Shell and Cloudkill. Note that these spells are not automatically learned, they’re just additional options you can choose from at the appropriate level.

Starting at 1st level, your Undead Patron allows you take on a Form of Dread for 1 minute as a bonus action. When you transform you gain temporary hit points equal to 1d10 plus your Warlock level, and are immune to being frightened for the duration. In addition, while transformed, once per turn when you hit a creature with an attack, you can force to make a WIS save or become frightened of you until the end of your next turn. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, regaining expended uses with a long rest.

When you reach level 6, the effect of your patron’s powers leaves you Grave Touched. You no longer need to eat, sleep, or breathe. Also, once per turn, when you hit with an attack roll you can change the type of damage you deal to necrotic damage. If you use this ability while in your Form of Dread, you also add an additional damage die to the amount of necrotic damage the creature takes (ie, an extra 1d10 if you hit with Eldritch Blast, or 1d8 if you hit with a longsword, etc).

At 10th level, the necrotic energy of your patron saturates your body, turning you into a Necrotic Husk. You are resistant to all necrotic damage, and while your Form of Dread is active you are immune to necrotic damage instead. In addition, if you are reduced to zero hit points, you can use your reaction to drop to 1 hit point instead and cause deathly energy to erupt out of your body. Creatures of your choice within 30 feet of you take necrotic damage equal to 2d10 plus your warlock level, and you suffer one level of exhaustion. You can’t use this reaction again until you have completed 1d4 long rests.

Finally, at level 14, your patron teaches you the technique of Spirit Projection, allowing your untether your spirit from your physical form for a short time. As an action, you can leave your body behind in a state of unconsciousness and suspended animation. Your spirit can remain outside of your body for up to 1 hour, but it takes your concentration to do so. While outside of your body, your spirit retains all of your game statistics, but none of your possessions. In addition, both your spirit and body gain resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. Your spirit can cast spells of the conjuration or necromancy schools without using any verbal or somatic components or material components that don’t have a gold value. Your spirit has a flying speed equal to your walking speed and can move through solid objects and creatures, though you do take 1d10 force damage if you end your turn inside a creature or object. And while using for Form of Dread, once per turn, when you deal necrotic damage to a creature, you can regain hit points equal to half the damage dealt. When your Spirit Projection ends, you choose whether your spirit returns to the space your body is in or your body teleports to the space that your spirit is. You can only use this ability once per long rest.


Players and Characters

Wafflicious is in the DM’s seat for this 5e Cthulhu Mythos adventure. Our players include:

  • JosephusBrown as Anton Illinois (Human Fighter/Rogue), a disgraced archaeology professor who has turned to seeking arcane rituals
  • CleverGuy as Bastian Updelver (Deep Gnome Artificer), an eccentric local potionmaker
  • TheHayesCode as Hazel Green (Dhampir Bard), a flapper, séance MC, and aspiring spiritualist
  • Spiny Creature as Ku (Kenku Twilight Cleric), a local priestess of Bastet, goddess of protection
  • The Wasp as Leah Zann (Tiefling Great Old One Warlock), a professor from Miskatonic University who accepted a deal with Yog Sothoth to get an advantage over her male colleagues
  • Otto as Minty Rocksmasher (Dwarf Barbarian), survivor of an eldritch accident which decimated her tribe
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On the Road Again

Excerpts from the journal of Bastian Updelver…

Well, traveling in the company of Gehir Greencloak is certainly never boring. Especially with the strange assortment of folks he’s managed to attract with his promises of 1000 gold pieces. Myself included of course–that much gold could fund my experiments for quite some time. We’ve been on the road for a couple of weeks, and have already encountered more than a few exotic flora and fauna. I even found time to give my bow-gun a small upgrade or two. I need to find a better name for it though, something more punchy… I’ve got it! The Upshot! Yes, I quite like that. It uses the same kind of ammunition as a standard crossbow, but its more compact and the chemical reaction that I harness to fire the bolt is more powerful than those spring-based mechanisms…

We made it into the country of Yilan without too much trouble. There was the occasional landslide or washout that we had to navigate Greencloak’s wagon over, but thankfully that party of dwarves accompanying us proved to be worth more than just their good cooking. Along the way, we kept running into the aftermath some very large creature’s meals–like the half of the giant badger in the clearing. Strange footprints around too, very large three-toed prints…

Greencloak organized a duty rotation for the party, so that some of us would be scouting, hunting, or foraging, while the rest stayed nearby to protect the cart. While scouting today, my friends Leah, Ku, and Hazel were attacked by a giant centipede! I wasn’t there, but they said Leah blew it to pieces with an blast or eldritch magic–she’s a bit of a strange one, that Tiefling. Never a dull moment with this group! They brought some of the pieces back, but alas none of it was in good enough condition to be useful, not even the poison sacs…

I had some better luck foraging–managed to find some interesting reptile eggs along with some wild onions and grains. The real prize, to me, was the poisonous mushrooms someone brought unknowingly brought back. Unfortunately, I was too late to stop Ku from praying over the gathered food and purifying the poison away. Oh well, at least we had a pretty good stew that night…

Today, Leah, Hazel and I went out hunting rabbits and were attacked by an awakened tree! I need to find more incendiary materials to work with–the corrosives I have on me just don’t pack enough punch. Leah and Hazel were able to get into the tree’s head (or wherever a tree keeps its brain) with their magic and drive it off, though not before it gave Leah a good walloping. As I tended to Leah’s bruises with an ointment of my own invention, Anton, Minty and Ku arrived dragging three full deer carcasses behind them. Ku just cast some kind of spell on them to make them sleep, which allowed Minty and Anton to simply walk up and start butchering right there! Very clever…

After wading across a wide, but shallow river, the scouts discovered an abandoned campsite near a cliff face with some huge fossilized bones embedded in it. Anton said it looked like the site was left around a year ago. I managed to pull some teeth from the fossil in the cliffside, and Anton and Minty pried up some stone near the camp where they found a scrap of paper inside a glass vial. It looked a scrap of journal from someone named Dagmar (which was also carved on the trees nearby), but on the other side, written in some dark ink were the words “The Snakes Are Watching.” We asked Greencloak about this Dagmar, and he said he was one the of the party with him on his last failed expedition. I think that’s when I really started to suspect that Greencloak wasn’t telling us everything about this journey of his…

Found an abandoned goblin village today, probably the home of those poor goblins that passed us by last week. Part of the wall caved in and some half-eaten goblin corpses left. Ku found some of those same large footprints in the ground, along with some smaller ones in a similar three-toed formation. As we investigated the town, Hazel said she saw someone watching us from a hilltop, riding on a horse-sized lizard of some kind, but they disappeared before anyone else could get a good look…

We’ve reached the Yilani River. It’s far too wide and deep and strong to cross, though, especially with the cart. Greencloak said we should build a raft, but I recalled seeing a pair of canoes at the goblin village that would probably help, so my group headed back to grab them. It took a better part of the day, and on our way back an angry griffon descended on us from the trees. Luckily, we saw it before it was right on top of us. While Anton and Minty kept the beast distracted, I took cover behind one of the canoes and fired off the Upshot at it. Before it could fly off, Ku hit it with a Guiding Bolt, which made it a nice easy target for the Upshot. My bolt took it in the throat and it was dead. I even managed to gather some of its blood and feathers and such…

Made it across the river, but it wasn’t easy. While we were off getting the canoes, the rest of the group was busy building a raft big enough to carry Greencloak’s wagon. Ku and some of the other folks guided the horses through the water first, and we ferried some of our other goods using the canoes. Then the rest of us used punt poles and oars to steer the raft through. Halfway across a large tree came floating the river toward us, luckily we managed to push it off to the side. But then a gigantic crocodile started bearing down on toward us. I tried to distract it with some of the griffon’s blood, and it started to back off, but I think it had more to do with Leah’s muttering at it than anything I did. Then it dove under the water, I gave up rowing and readied the Upshot to shoot the croc when it resurfaced, but the croc just slammed us from underneath. I tried to shore up the raft, but the croc hit us again and the whole thing came apart. We managed to drive the crocodile off before it ate anyone at least, and we eventually recovered the wagon, but we lost most of the food and stores in the river…

Shorty, the Dwarven cook, said we should have a feast as a way of boosting morale after the river crossing fiasco. My group was on hunting duty again, so we headed out to look for something large enough to feed everyone. We soon found an area of the jungle with some very strange-looking trees, some that looked like pine cones with fern-like leaves, and scaly bark. Nothing I’d ever seen before. Then we stumbled across a giant statue of a snake carved from red stone, with a humanoid skeleton hanging from it. Some kind of sacrificial idol I guess. We couldn’t really make heads or tails of it, though Minty seemed very much afraid of the thing. Good thing that there was a large pile of dung nearby that would certainly be from a creature big enough for a feast, because it took our minds off the idol. We were able to track the creature to a clearing on the edge of a high cliff, but it was a creature none of us had ever seen. Enormous, with sort of knobbly skin, a beaked mouth, and three huge horns on its frilled head. It was quietly munching on some of the plantlife, and didn’t seem to take any notice of us. So, we all climbed some trees and got ready to launch a coordinated strike. Hazel called a spirit to surround the beast with mystical light, and we all shot at it, but it was much tougher than we thought. It was then that I realized Minty hadn’t climbed a tree and was charging at the beast instead. Luckily the monster wasn’t really interested in attacking and just tried to run through the trees, moving much fast than I anticipated. I knew the group was determined to have a feast though, so I lobbed a Grease bomb on the ground in front of the charging beast to slow it down. It worked perfectly, allowing Anton and Minty finish the monster off. Dragging it bac to camp was no easy feat, but the feast that Shorty prepared was marvelous. Maybe a little too marvelous, because it also attracted an uninvited guest. A gargantuan lizard, with three-toed feet and small useless arms was helping itself to the remains of our kill with dagger-like teeth nearly as big as me! As we saw it, it let out a road, then Greencloak distracted it with some sparks as we all piled onto the wagon and started driving as fast as possible. The monster chased for a short distance, but then gave up and went back, presumably to finish its meal…

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