Threats of Dead Man’s Land

Fauna

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Dead Man’s Land includes some unique fauna that should be used to make your game stand out. Thematically, the setting isn’t heavy fantasy, and most threats should be humanoid, but occasionally, something bigger is called for. 

Cactaurs: As the region was not a desert prior to the Arcanowar, there is a lot of debate as to the source of the Cactaurs. Did the Arcanowar somehow create them from nothing? Did the Cactaur plant all those cacti? Or did the war make cacti which then became the Cactaur? Either way, the Cactaur are solitary creatures, with a love for the cacti. They spend their days wandering the desert, planting fields and nurturing their growth. (Use Sandstorm – Saguaro Sentinel stats, and add an Awaken Cactus power.

  • Awaken Cactus: A Cactaur can animate cacti within 180 feet at will, controlling up to two at a time. It takes 1 full round for a normal cactus to uproot itself. Thereafter it moves at a speed of 10 feet and fights as a Cactaur in all respects, except that it cannot then awaken more cacti. Animated cacti lose their ability to move if the Cactaur that animated them is incapacitated or moves out of range. The ability is otherwise similar to liveoak (caster level 12th). 

Constructs: As remnants of the arcanowar, a wide variety of constructs can be found meandering throughout the desert with some unfinished task, or orders to protect some long abandoned outpost. Only the Cardonians had the technology to build true magical golems, but the MTU has a variety of mechanical steam and coal powered automatons in their employ. 

Devils: No one will admit to summoning them. Heck, maybe the rumors are true and it was the Cardonians, but someone opened a rift to Hell deep within Dead Man’s Land. Regardless of who is at fault, the devils lurk around every corner, and insert themselves into any community they can. They can be divided into three general types.

  1. Contract Signers: Contract signers are in Pimera for one purpose. To collect souls. They have some quota to reach, and if they do, their infernal masters have promised great rewards. These devils generally work alone, and avoid other devils, who would poach their deal. If slain, they return to Hell, are punished, and probably sent back to finish the job. 
  2. Deal Makers: Deal makers are similar to contract signers in that they often want an agreement of some sort. The prime difference here, is that a deal maker has no quota, and has no infernal master directing their actions. They have set out to pave their own fortune in Pimera, without authorization or approval from their boss. These deal makers sew themselves into frontier society as mayors, judges, sheriffs, madames, tavern keepers, or other authority figures and promise their followers a better life in exchange for power. If slain, they return to Hell and, well punishment doesn’t seem like an adequate word.
  3. Warlords: Warlords are the most straightforward of the devils. They have come to Pimera to conquer. They usually have a band of devils, but are more than happy to recruit locals as well. They set themselves up as feudal warlords demanding fealty and protection from frontier towns in exchange for less pillaging. If slain, they return to Hell and get a response in accordance with how well a job they did. The resulting post-death punishment can be anything from a well deserved vacation to years of torture. 

Dire Animals: Much like the gigantic insects, many relatively mundane creatures are magically enhanced. These highly aggressive beasts are known as Dire Animals. 

Dragons: Dragons were one of the few ancient beings of power and could be found plentifully in historical battles. With the invention of magitech, and specifically magicarms, they were systematically hunted to extinction. If any dragons do still exist, they should be rare indeed. (Use the Outer Dragons from Pathfinders Bestiary 4, but they do not have the Starflight ability)

Genie: During the Arcanowar, a common source of wealth and power was the binding and harnessing of genies. Once the up front costs were paid, a bound genie was essentially a limitless source of power. Some genies have managed to break free. Unfortunately, as a side effect of being bound for that long, their plane shift ability no longer functions. The only way for them to return home is through other means, and many have given up. It’s not uncommon to find a genie using their magical might to foster small towns, totally in service to themselves. Other genies are not so lucky, and are still bound in bottles, or even just binding circles, trapped below ground, or on shelves in ruins, waiting to be set free. 

Giant Insects: Giant scorpions, spiders, beetles, ants, termites, and centipedes abound. Whether they were magically enhanced by the Arcanowar, or magical creations of the Cardonians is unclear. What is clear, is that they have quickly surged in population and are one of the more dominant forms of life in the wasteland. 

Monstrous Beasts: Something happened during the Arcanowar. No longer are the grizzly bear, mountain lion, or wolves the apex predators of the region. Now, a variety of monstrous beasts have been discovered, and are presumably a byproduct of the war. These creatures appear to breed true, but with the Arcanowar finishing less than 100 years ago, many of the sentient ones are the first of their kind.

  • Usable as written: Owlbears, Manticores, Ankheg, Basilisk, Bulette, Chimera, Griffon, Pyrohydra, Nightmare, Wyvern. 
  • Achaierai: No longer have the extraplanar subtype, instead native. They also have their int set to 2. These tall bird creatures make excellent mounts. 
  • Sphinx: Rare and mystical, the few Sphinx spotted have all been physically unique, and possessing great wisdom. Each sphinx should be a unique creature, and in total there are under 10 of them known in the world. If you need additional ideas for new Sphinx, consider Sandstorm for alternatives.

Oozes: Oozes crawl from the Thaumaturgic Zones frequently, and can be found dotting the landscape. A wide variety of Oozes can be found, and almost any from any book are appropriate in some way. 

Undead: The wasteland is filled with roaming, uncontrolled undead. Has been ever since the war ended. Generally, the belief is that a necromancer was slain in the wastes, and his band of uncontrolled zombies found their way into an undefined source of arcanotech. Now there are hundreds of thousands of them. Even more than a normal zombie, you do not want to let them near you. If a creature wounded by an Arcanozombie’s natural attacks is slain within 24 hours of the wound, they will rise as a new, uncontrolled, Arcanozombie. They do not seem to target animals, but will swarm humanoids if they are within line of sight. Arcanozombies do not have the Single Actions Only restriction, and their blood and eyes glow with a sickly yellow green. 

Weather

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Arcanos: An unnatural phenomenon of unknown origin, these violent tornadoes cackle with arcane energy. In addition to functioning as a normal tornado, an arcano fires a non stop barrage of prismatic rays. Any creature within 120ft, has a 25% chance of being struck by a random ray each round. A creature in the eye of the arcano is struck by one ray of each color. Each ray has the effects of being struck by a random ray from the prismatic spray spell. The saving throw for the effect is DC 20, with a caster level of 10.

Manastorms: Massive thunderclouds that arise from nowhere, and disperse just as suddenly. These prismatic clouds cause havoc across Dead Man’s Land when they roll up. Manastorms function as fog, with the additional challenge that entering or exiting them triggers an effect similar to a color spray. Will save DC 14. 

Thaumaturgic Zones: Scattered throughout Dead Man’s Land are pockets of residual magical energy, left over from the great battles of the Arcanowar. For the first few years, these zones were instantly lethal, but as time passes their strength dissipates more and more. Originally believed to be the spawning pits of many of the new monstrous beasts that wander the wasteland, now they give birth to nothing but crawling oozes. 

To follow along with this project as it goes on, entries have been tagged with the Dead Man’s Land Tag.

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