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One Scary Monster

As the weather grows cool and the leaves start to change color, the excitement for Halloween starts to build. The holidays eat up a lot of free time, so me and my friends try to squeeze in as much gaming as we can in October to offset the dearth of gaming around Christmas and New Year’s. In honor of Halloween, I’m going to run the first official Ravenloft adventure released for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Feast of Goblyns.

However, I have no intention of refreshing myself on the rules for 2nd edition D&D. Instead I’m converting the adventure to 4E. I briefly toyed with the idea of using the D&D Next rules, but without any clear guidelines for creating creatures, I didn’t feel comfortable modding what few monsters the playtest provided. So I turned to the edition the Greeneville Gaming Group currently plays and will likely continue to play until D&D Next is finally released.

Feast of Goblyns is a beautiful adventure. Set in the domains of Kartakass and Gundarak, it takes the characters on a tour of memorable locales, introducing them to interesting characters and building up a clear vision for what Ravenloft was supposed to represent – classic horror. There are werewolves, there are vampires, there are skeletons and zombies. There are betrayals and secret allies, gypsy fortune tellers, and a great prize for the taking; in short, a perfect Halloween-themed adventure.

The adventure’s namesake, the goblyn, is an important part of preserving and maintaining the feeling of horror that gaming in Ravenloft is supposed to evoke. Goblyns are humans cursed by a magic item called the crown of souls. They appear as broad, squat humanoids with stringy hair, wide eyes, and impossibly huge mouths filled with sharp teeth. They strangle their victims with clawed hands and eat their faces at the same time. They are quick and silent, telepathically linked to each other and their master. A scary, scary creature.
View attachment 59161
I spent a lot of time combing through monsters, looking for the right combination of powers to reflect the goblyn from 2E. I borrowed pieces and parts from the feywild choker and boggle sight stealer, made some changes based on the descriptions from the module, and came up with the following 4E creature.

Goblyn Level 5 Soldier
Medium aberrant humanoid (human) XP 200
HP 63; Bloodied 31 Initiative +8
AC 21 Senses Perception +2
Fortitude 16; Reflex 18; Will 16 low-light vision
Speed 8
Immune disease, fear, poison
Resist 5 necrotic
Vulnerable 5 radiant
Standard Actions
M Choking Claws * At-Will
Attack: Melee (one creature); +12 vs. AC
Hit: 1d6+4 damage, and the target is grabbed (escape DC 22). Until the grab ends, the target takes ongoing 5 damage.
m Face Bite * At-Will
Attack: Melee (one grabbed creature); +10 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d6+8 damage.
Miss: Half damage.
Triggered Actions
m Face Rip * At-Will
Trigger: A creature grabbed by the goblyn escapes the grab.
Effect (Immediate Reaction): The triggering creature takes 1d8+5 damage, and the goblyn shifts 3 squares.
Body Shield * Recharge when the goblyn hits with choking claws
Requirement: The goblyn must have a creature grabbed.
Trigger: The goblyn is hit by a melee or ranged attack from an enemy other than the grabbed creature.
Effect (Immediate Interrupt): The triggering attack targets the grabbed creature instead of the goblyn.
Skills Athletics +8, Stealth +11, Thievery +11
Str 12 (+3) Dex 18 (+6) Wis 10 (+2)
Con 15 (+4) Int 8 (+1) Cha 15 (+4)
Alignment Chaotic Evil Languages telepathy 10 (with master and other
goblyns)

Another important element of the adventure is the nature of the secret rulers of Kartakass; they aren’t werewolves, but wolfweres. The distinction is important only insomuch as wolfweres don’t infect their victims with lycanthropy, so combat isn’t quite so deadly. Another distinction is that wolfweres are harmed by iron instead of silver, and the more powerful greater wolfweres are harmed only by gold. And since wolfweres are wolves that take on humanoid form, rather than humans who turn into wolves, their behavior is somewhat strange and disturbing to those not in the know. Finally, wolfweres have bardic abilities, so they have a few powers to reflect their love and mastery of music.

Wolfwere Level 6 Controller
Medium fey magical beast (shapechanger) XP 250
HP 70; Bloodied 35 Initiative +6
AC 20 Senses Perception +12
Fortitude 17; Reflex 19; Will 18 low-light vision
Speed 8 (6 in humanoid or hybrid form)
Traits
Regeneration
The wolfwere regains 5 hit points whenever it starts its turn and has at least 1 hit point. When it takes damage from an iron weapon, its regeneration does not function on its next turn.
Standard Actions
M Bite * At-Will
Requirement: The wolfwere must be in wolf or hybrid form.
Attack: Melee (one creature); +11 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6+7 damage.
R Tumultuous Ballad (thunder) * At-Will
Requirement: The wolfwere must be in human or hybrid form.
Attack: Ranged 5 (one creature); +10 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d6+7 thunder damage, and the target takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls until the end of the wolfwere’s next turn.
c Blinding Word (thunder) * Encounter
Requirement: The wolfwere must be bloodied and in human or hybrid form.
Attack: Close burst 2 (enemies in burst); +9 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d6+4 thunder damage, and the target is blinded until the end of the wolfwere’s next turn.
Minor Actions
Change Shape (polymorph) * At-Will
Effect: The wolfwere alters its form to appear as a Medium wolf, unique human, or hybrid until it uses change shape again or until it drops to 0 hit points. The wolfwere retains its statistics in its new form. Its clothing, armor, and other possessions do not change.
Skills Nature +12
Str 12 (+4) Dex 16 (+6) Wis 19 (+7)
Con 14 (+5) Int 12 (+4) Cha 10 (+3)
Alignment Unaligned Languages Common, Elven
Equipment hide armor

The final element that forms the basis for the adventure is the crown of souls itself. It needed to be powerful, but with enough of a drawback that the heroes wouldn’t want to keep it. Here’s what I came up with.

Crown of Souls Level 16
This jagged iron crown seems remarkably unaffected by the ravages of time.
Head Slot 45,000 gp
Properties

  • You gain resist 10 poison and are immune to diseases.
  • You do not age naturally.
  • Creatures that regain hit points within 10 squares of you contract goblynism.

Goblynism Level 10 Curse
The creature’s mouth widens, its eyes enlarge, and it takes on a dank, green coloration.

  • Stage 0: The target recovers from the curse.
  • Stage 1: The target takes a -2 penalty to Fortitude.
  • Stage 2: The target takes a -2 penalty to Fortitude. In addition, the target regains only half the normal number of hit points from spending a healing surge, and the target’s hit point total cannot exceed its bloodied value.
  • Stage 3: The target suffers the effects of stage 1 and stage 2, and also has an aura 2 (poison) that cannot be deactivated. Any creature that ends its turn in the aura loses a healing surge.
  • Stage 4: The target becomes a goblyn.
Check: At the end of each extended rest, the target makes an Endurance check if it is at stage 1, 2, or 3.

  • 12 or Lower: The stage of the curse increases by one.
  • 13-17: No change.
  • 18 or Higher: The stage of the curse decreases by one.

So, there you have the elements I’m using for a Halloween-inspired D&D game this year. What elements are you using? Do you have a special adventure you’ve saved for just such an occasion? Or a special monster? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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