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Enter the Dragon’s Lair Finalist: The Black Crater of Blinder’s Keep by Chris Lockey

Enter the Dragon’s Lair Finalist: The Black Crater of Blinder’s Keep by Chris Lockey

Dragon LairOur expert judges have conferred, and we have our five finalists for the Enter the Dragon’s Lair contest! Each day this week, we’ll post one of the finalists, and then we’ll set up a voting process so that you, our readers, can vote for your favorite entry. Today’s entry comes from Christopher Lockey—congratulations, Chris, for being another of our finalists!

The Black Crater of Blinder’s Keep (CR 14)

Rumors surrounding a mysterious calamity at Blinder’s Keep have surfaced in the streets of Zobeck. And travelers from each corner of the Crossroads share tales of a terrible wind northwest of Runkelstad, where the forlorn Keep and its haunted hamlet have sat in ruin for generations. Something stirs in the shadows of Blinder’s Keep. And whatever it is, it spells doom for the fair folk of Midgard…

For nearly a century, Blinder’s Keep has remained an undisturbed antiquity of a previous age. The Lords and Ladies who once held sway here have long since faded from memory. And as time waxed ever-onward, and trade routes between Runkelstad and Zobeck widened, an eponymous settlement sprang up around the ancient edifice. Over the years, the village of Blinder’s Keep has grown and withered along with the ebb and flow of free trade. But a recent unnatural disaster has forced the folk of Blinder’s Keep to flee for their lives.

By the light of the last full moon, a huge meteorite crashed into the Keep proper from beyond the heavens above. And though the simple minds of the Crossroads people no doubt view it as an act of the gods, this unholy slab of alien stone actually was produced from a fissure in the sky – a rampant portal to The Yawning Void. Exactly how the sky was torn remains a mystery. But the arrival of the meteorite swiftly destroyed the crumbling tower of the keep, sent the villagers fleeing in panic, and no doubt attracted the attention of local sages and doomsayers.

There are a number of reasons the party would venture to Blinder’s Keep:
—A refugee from Blinder’s Keep rambles on about a “fire in the sky” and a “sickening death” that surrounds the land.
—The party is hired by a local merchant house to investigate delays on the trade route.
—A holy man enlists the party to rid the ancient site of a new evil. An NPC related to one of the PCs is from Blinder’s Keep and has sent word for relief.

And while the meteorite has no doubt raised many curious brows of Crossroads sages, it also attracted the attentions of a particularly menacing Black Dragon named Vor’astrix. Nesting in the nearby swamplands of the River Argent, Vor’astrix was lured to Blinder’s Keep by curiosity. And this curiosity, it seems, got the better of Vor’astrix – for the meteorite itself is a radioactive harbinger of a unique Darakhul fever from beyond The Yawning Void.

The Black Meteorite: The meteorite itself is made of an unidentifiable Magnetized Ore (CR 4) XP 1200 (Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide), and features a 20 ft. radius of Medium radiation (Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars). This “void radiation” also exudes the properties of Darakhul fever – those unfortunate enough to perish in the meteorite’s area of effect must save accordingly or succumb to the fever’s ill influence and (potentially) rise from their untimely grave as undead.

The Black Meteorite resides in a huge crater inside the Keep itself, where Vor’astrix has nested and dutifully studies its power from beyond the grave. At the time of this encounter, most of the locals have moved on. Those who remain avoid the area for fear of whatever foul essence lurks within. Of course, if you’re feeling particularly sinister, a few villagers may very well serve Vor’astrix as undead thralls. The former dragon guards the meteorite to her final death.

Vor’astrix the Vile, Adult Black Dragon Darakhul (CR 13)
XP  25,600 [Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 92-93, Midgard Bestiary for Pathfinder RPG 29]
CE Large undead (augmented dragon)
Init +5, Senses dragon senses, darkvision 120 ft.; Perception +24
Aura frightful presence (180 ft., DC 19)

AC 34, touch 10, flat-footed 31 (+3 Dex, +22 natural, -1 size)
hp 140 (14d8+70)
Fort +9, Ref +14, Will +16
Defensive Abilities channel resistance +4
DR 5/magic and daylight; Immune acid, paralysis, sleep, undead traits; SR 22
Weaknesses daylight weakness

Speed 60 ft., fly 200 ft. (clumsy), swim 60 ft., burrow 30 ft.
Melee bite +21 (2d8+13), 2 claws +20 (1d10+10), 2 wings +15 (1d6+6), tail +15 (1d8+13)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (80-ft. live, DC 22, 12d6 acid), corrupt water, disease (Darakhul fever: bite-injury; save Fortitude DC 10 + 1/2 HD + Cha modifier; onset 1 day; effect 1d6 Con and 1d3 Dex damage; cure 2 consecutive saves), paralysis (those hit by a darakhul’s natural weapons must on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 HD + Charisma ability modifier) or be paralyzed for 1d4+1 rounds. Elves are immune to this paralysis)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 14th)
At will – darkness (60 ft. radius)
Spells Known (CL 3rd)
1st (6/day) – alarm, mage armor, obscuring mist
0 (at will) – dancing lights, detect magic, mending, message, read magic

Str 31, Dex 16, Con 0, Int 18, Wis 21, Cha 20
Base Atk +14; CMB +25; CMD 38 (42 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Improved Initiative, Improved Vital Strike, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Stealth), Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (bite), Iron Will, Multiattack, Lightning Reflexes
Skills Fly +12, Handle Animal +16, Intimidate +27, Knowledge (arcana) +19, Perception +24, Spellcraft +19, Stealth +20, Swim +32
Languages Common, Draconic, Giant
SQ speak with reptiles, swamp stride, water breathing, +8 racial bonus on Climb, Intimidate, and Knowledge (dungeoneering) skill checks

Treasure: As several adventuring parties have no doubt fallen prey to Vor’astrix and her evil ways, award treasure according to the tables as described in the Pathfinder Core Rulebook and Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide.

6 thoughts on “Enter the Dragon’s Lair Finalist: The Black Crater of Blinder’s Keep by Chris Lockey”

  1. I think the prose is fine, but the stat block is a little messy. Why is the frightful presence DC so low? Why is the touch AC 10 instead of 12? The formulae for special attacks inside the stat block shouldn’t exist—just give us the DCs. Undead have “—” Con, not “0” Con. There are other mistakes in the stat block, making this a fun read, but as an encounter, there’s extra work required on the part of the GM.

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