Monday, October 30, 2017

Welcome to the Jungle, Baby ... You're Gonna Die!

Over the past few months, we here at Outlaw D&D have dabbled with jungle adventures in Chult in great anticipation of Tomb of Annihilation. As resources for the jungle were a little scant at the time (The Jungles of Chult 2nd Edition Source Book and a few DMsGuild Items,) as DM, I did a little cut and paste from another source to begin our adventures - The Fabulous Razor Coast setting from Frog God Games.

Using the map in DMsGuild's fantastic Jungles of Chult Factbook by Mike? as a base, I added hexes hexes and The Razor Coast material ... yeah ... it's down and dirty as photoshopping goes, but it's a great DMs map for what it is.

The area between The Razor Coast and Chult proper is what I have called the Green Hell,  As swiped and modified from the Jungle Ruins of Madaro-Shanti module by Frog God Games as well, and the setting for our initial dabblings in Chult. Most of the new areas are Halruuan settlements, or at least have such a heritage, as some have become the domain of pirates. Basically, I didn't want to interfere with anything ToA would introduce, but we were all pumped to play in the jungle.

I don't know if the above cobbled together map will be of any use to you and your game, but I posted it here for those that follow this blog as a reference for where the next series of posts will take place.


Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Song of The Masked Minstrel of Waterdeep - 10th of Mirtul, Year of the Ageless One; 447 North Reckoning

A gathering of witches in the Moonwoods north,
Inspired the Company of the Whistling Stag to venture forth,
to the High Forest where the treants tread,
to seek the Lady of the Coven, so Coridella said.

The Fey Witch descended from Selune's tears,
And danced with the party among elfling peers.
When The Court was gathered so she did say,
That Evil was growing in the Elemental way.

The Balance was disrupted on the Spirit Plane,
And the powers of Light were on a dying wane.
The High-Witch told them to go South at a quickened march,
And investigate the doings and goings on in old Red Larch.

Harp on ye Harpers, tell me a tale,
The Sword Coast is churning - shall good prevail?

Deep below the Sunless Citadel was found,
A nest of vipers where villains abound,
Parishioners of old Tiamat were busy that day,
Fending off the Blacksnake and keeping him at bay.

The Cult was diminished and a maiden was saved,
Ol' Finster was a hero - despite how odd he behaved.
So back they journeyed to The City of Skilled Hands,
Where the Company would rest where the Fallen Tower stands.

Harp on ye Harpers, tell me a tale,
The Netherese are returning - shall good prevail?

In Daggerford an expedition unfolded with a hanged man,
Whose art was quite fearful – he was of The Red Wizard's clan.
And then a shout came forward through the driving rain,
A dragon had sacked Cromm's Hold and was begging to be slain.

The Paladins Three had set out on Sir Istaval's command,
To seek out – yet not engage the beast – deep in the marshland.
The dragon's breath was mighty and armor could it melt,
Great Knights would need be rallied before vengeance's hand be dealt.

So off rode Morlan Torch-holder, a knight from far off Cormyr,
And at his side rode Braddok, an Aasimar Chevalier,
Jarvis Reeves, a Tiefling knight, rounded out The Paladins Three,
Who lead a band into Lizard Marsh; what heroes they would be!

A hag, Old Gretchen, harassed the group seeking rare treasure,
As one of the party, a thri-kreen by birth, had fascinating measure.
She cast abyssal magic and tried to convince the Three,
to give up those eyes, that she did prize, then she would leave them be.

Harp on ye Harpers, tell me a tale,
Old Gretchen, she is yearning - shall good prevail?

The Paladins stood fast, the Thri-kreen fought for his sight,
and although dark Denirete was swayed, Gretchen fled into the night.
T'was faith, not might, that repelled the Hag, each Paladin on a knee,
But Old Gretchen bellowed from afar, “You've not seen the last of me.”

Onward into the wetland, an abandoned temple was found,
It had seen much better days and was sunken into the ground.
It was decorated in carvings from vaulted ceiling to tiled floor,
The Bard, Buck Dharma, guessed t'was in honor of Amaunator.

Near a sconce lit altar swarmed snakes and splattered gore,
Something had defiled this place, yet onward they'd explore,
Creeping through the stench of death and the lingering of mold,
soon they'd run across the inhabitants of this den untold.

From the shadows, trapdoors, and hidey-holes, Lizard Men abounded,
The party did slay many a Lizard that day, despite being surrounded,
'Till finally they found a dank passage further underground,
And down, down, down they went when suddenly there was sound.

Before they knew the dragon was upon them it expelled it's burning breath,
And a wanderer named Groo that day had met an untimely death.
The Dragon Fear upon them, blood drained from each face,
And as fast as their booted feet could move they fled this subterranean place.

Harp on ye Harpers, tell me a tale,
Sounds in the dark are disconcerting - shall good prevail?

In a forested camp, Nine from Neverwinter had all settled in and regrouped,
A scream in the night was a young maiden, whose attackers they swiftly rebuked.
Amandia joined the party that evening with only a dead bandit's sword in her grasp,
Meager clothes poorly adorned her, aside her father's fur cloak and gold clasp.

She told of the woes of Mirabar, and how Many-Arrow Orcs burned it down,
So terrible was the onslaught, that survivors had fled underground.
Her father tried to flee the city, loading his family onto wagon and horse,
But the same said orcs hunted her family down and killed them as a matter of course.

Together they journeyed onward to the mine called Wave Echo Cave,
With thoughts of riches driving them, little did they suspect it a grave.
Ghouls polluted it's corridors, skeletons wandered it's halls,
A mad spectator continued its lifetimes long duty, ignoring the sanist of calls.

The Nine spoke to the eye-thing until they were quite out of breath,
When a specter ambushed the party and Stormcaller met a foul death.
Packs of ghouls assailed them, and drove them from the dark cold mine.
They carried their fallen with them, leaving nothing upon which the ghouls could dine.

Back to Phandalin they trudged, seeking a priest whom the dead he could raise,
But the fee was steep and Hanzo paid it with a new deity to praise.
Hanzo of Lathander was born as a freshly ordained acolyte,
And Stormcaller breathed again, but something wasn't quite right,

Harp on ye Harpers, tell me a tale,
Of The Death Curse we are learning - shall good prevail?

Word had reached Phandalin that Neverwinter'd been besieged,
And to Gizig and Azun who'd pledged their oaths, such words were hard to be believed.
The Many-Arrow Orcs were on the march; razing all where they would roam,
The Dragonborn and the Elf set off at once to defend their northern home.

Oh, the Jewel of the North - hear you of the attack,
Many-Arrow Orcs burrowed up from the crack,
Above the Chasm the sky glowed red,
as many burning fires spread.

To arms, to arms, General Sabine did call,
from the battlefield below the defensive wall,
The Blacksnake and his motley crew,
Hefted swords and axes too.

Many as one joined swords that day,
As the Many-Arrow Orcs would have their way,
Skyward, Gizig soared as the city burned,
While clutching Azun, many arrows he returned.

Harp on ye Harpers, tell me a tale,
The Jewel of the North is burning - shall good prevail?

Landing Azun on the battlements, Gizig took the field,
With his might of sword and Azun's aim, he hoped the orcs would yield.
The Dragonborn lead twenty men onto the streets of fire,
But striding through the ruins was a form of undesire.

Sir Bluto of Luskan had joined the fray and with a sword so mean,
He'd mowed down some thirty men alone, his presence had been unforeseen.
Together The Blacksnake and Gizig met him Together their attacks were shredded,
Together they fell in defeat and Blacksnake was unceremoniously beheaded.

To arms, to arms, General Sabine did rally,
from every burning street to every orc-filled alley,
The Blacksnake's trail was ended,
Yet the city was surely defended.

Many men had died, the cost was high, but the orcs were finally routed,
Back into the Chasm they and Bluto fled, our number of heroes now diluted.
But Sabine commanded they must be pursued, less they regroup and gather muster,
Heroes gather 'round Neverwinter's banner, and let not our Jewel know lackluster
Harp on ye Harpers, tell me a tale,
Could Sabine turn the tides - shall good prevail?

Shall good prevail?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Current Clack - 10th of Mirtul, Year of the Ageless One; 447 North Reckoning

  • Sages claim that something evil is trapping the souls of the dead and  draining life from all who have been raised from  death by magic. This worldwide “death curse” not  only prevents the raising of the dead, but also causes  creatures that were previously raised from the dead  to wither and die.
  • Ordalf, High Lady of Sarifal, has issued strong and bitter words concerning the Amnish activity in Tethyr, citing how similar their tactics sound to the Lady Erliza  Daressin's tactics for conquering Snowdown and it's territory.
  • The Eldreth Veluuthra seem to be gaining strength in Neverwinter Woods, as a logging party was recently slain and made examples of in the Woods, their limbs pinned to trees with red fletched black arrows, along the forest entrance. With Neverwinter besieged by Many Arrows Orcs, little can be done but grant the elves their forest and forbid her residents from traveling there.

Just Some Quick News ...

Just had a great session with old friends I've not seen in years which has expanded our Chult campaign (Can't wait on ToA!!!) These friends had to go home after a few days, but we are going to continue to game with the aid of technology ... I used to laugh at the idea of virtual presences but, by golly, we are gonna make this happen!

 Oh, by the way, I know vidblogs are all the rage right now, and we may or may not expand into that territory, but really guys, don't be afraid to publicly follow this blog or leave comments - positive or negative - all feedback is good.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Music to Game By - Track 10

Hotter than Hell - Pic 3

Thoughts on Random Encounters ...

I know a lot of players both new and old don't like them, but as a DM, I like random encounters. They add an element of realism to a game. - the unexpected and unplanned for. I've read in various places that some folks bemoan any sort of randomness in encounters because they introduce the potential for unbalancing a game. Well, sometimes in life, shit happens. Deal with it – the option to run away or hide from an unbalanced encounter may not seem heroic to some, but I submit to you that heroic hardly means stupid.

I live in a rural area. Walks in the woods are fairly common around here – Hell, in every direction I look in town, I see trees, so one could argue that our town is situated in the woods. You just can't plan what you're going to see or run into when you step into the wilds. Might be squirrels, might be rabbits, might be deer, could be a bear – there have been bear sightings in this area as close to civilization as our local park. Just a few days ago, fellow Outlaw D&D contributor and member, DM Brett Swigert, ran into a Bard Owl in fairly close proximity to himself. Naturally he took pictures but did not approach the huge bird.

Not all Random Encounters need be a fight. The 5E DMG literally defines this concept, which I have no problem with. What I have issues with is everything being so darned balanced. If I walk into my woods, I could very well run into a bear, and that's pretty unbalanced and unfair, but I am in no way obligated to fight the bear. Remember, the distance of the encountered (See older editions – they still have much to contribute to a 5E gaming experience) … it may not be right on top of you .. it could be far away enough to avoid.

The frequency of encounters – 18+ on a D20 - seemed pretty rare to me at first until I did the math (ugh) … that's a 15% chance compared to the 16.6% chance on a 1-6 from the old school. That's not too bad. But I wonder if the upcoming Tomb of Annihilation, based in the Jungles of Chult, will alter the method of rolling for random encounters. I think it should, to reflect the enormous amount of life – and undead - scurrying around in the place. 1 on a D4 seems about right in such an untamed environment to me, but time will tell on that.

For those of us who run hexcrawls, like I am in our current Chult Expedition – no, we couldn't wait for Tomb of Annihilation to get a Jungle Adventure going – The lack of official Random Encounter Tables puts undue extra work on a DM. So far, this is the only place I find 5E to be lacking. I quickly fixed the problem by utilizing a chapter of Kellri's fantastic supplement for 1E, Classic Dungeon Designer's Netbook #4 - Encounters Reference, which is available through a link on our download page. It's a fine start, covering just about every terrain type out there and, of course, begs to be customized by clever Dms as well.

Anyways, I've tossed my two coppers into the pot. I hope my ramblings might help someone, but as always, YMMV.

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