The Fun in Fungus (magic: the gathering)

A few weeks ago I tried MtG for the first time. I’d never played in my youth (it seems like you choose either tabletop gaming or card gaming, rarely both). My good friend, who was nostalgic about his own gaming past, introduced me to this famous money pit (what a friend hey!). He explained me the basics and we had time to play twice The first time, and most interesting from my pov, was with bare-minimum dominaria decks.

I had a black and green deck, with not much going on with the notable exception of FUNGUS!

Here’s some cards I had:

 

That sufficed to make me like the game as I’ve been quite fascinated by anything mycology-related for a while now. In fiction, since I read the Ambergris books from Jeff Vandermeer and before that in gastronomy, when my wife and I became wild mushrooms enthusiasts.

The M:tG Thallids (how the fungus creatures are called) seems to have much more impactful art and concepts than their D&D Myconids counterpart and I will certainly steal a few things for my Ruins of Chult campaign!

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Sadly I don’t own this big guy… Yet!

 

Ruins of Chult: Session 7- River journey -day 2 & 3

Characters

  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the land), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

Day 2

Is it still waste?

Ambiance

After slaying (most of) the gnolls, the victorious PCs entered the river and a few hours later come upon a grisly scene: an entire herd of hadrosaurs had been decimated. It wasn’t hard to guess that the gnolls had killed the beasts, taking meat and leaving most  to rot.

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A dozen velociraptors were doing the best they could before something bigger got there. The PCs didn’t stay to see what it would be…

 

Friendly Frogs- Portage

Combat>>defused

The party had to get out of the water for a portage, unfortunately 2 giant frogs were in the way. Unfazed, the Halfling druid cast the animal friendship spell and the two dangerous beasts let them pass without harm.

Uneventful first night in the outside on a small island in the middle of the river that was indicated by a fisherman earlier

Day 3

In Shallow Territory

Social (1)

Eblis

Paddling for a few hours in the morning, the PCs were met by an eblis who advised to take a side affluent, saying that it would be impossible to go further on the main river. He asked for “shiny things” for his well-timed advice.

After a moment of hesitation, the PCs did choose to follow the eblis’ advice and got on shallow waters full of reeds. Not much further, another eblis proposed to sell them “beautiful and magical feathers” and Varis fell for it.

Deeper in what look more like a marsh, a third eblis whispered an offer to raid a nearby nest while he did a diversion and split the content between them. The PCs declined and forged ahead.

By then, Droidoc had had enough of the shady eblis and when yet another one approached, he threw a javelin at it! (2)

Combat: 1 eblis

The eblis cast a Hypnotic Pattern spell, it briefly affected Flyzus. It then attempted to fly away but was instead shot down. The PCs then cut through the dense vegetation to get back on the main river and away from those damn birds!

Octopus vs Plesiosaur!

Combat: 1 plesiosaur

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A river plesiosaur broke the surface of the water and savagely mauled the surprised Varis. Droidoc shapeshifted once more into a giant octopus and grappled the marine reptile while the elves slashed at it with swords. The severely wounded beast tried to get away but the octopus did not let go until it was dead.

Uneventful night on the pebble river bank

DM’s notes.

  1.  My eblis were more akin to peddlers. Neutral evil peddlers.
  2. Sometimes violence is indeed the solution!
  3. The fisherman’s tip and the animal friendship both removed a combat situation and that’s perfectly okay, the PCs got xp for it.

 

Ruins of Chult: Session 7- River journey

Characters

  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the land), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, quite insane now

Prelude: We’ve been waiting for you…

Combat: 6 thugs

Last session saw the Seven associates capture a pirate ship, the infamous Stirge. Now back in Port Nyanzaru, Flyzus and Varis went to the open market in Tiriky’s Anchorage to spend some hard-earned money. Ennemies were waiting for them: Bridgerunners. The gang members wanted revenge against the two elves for raiding their den in Malar’s Throat. Outnumbered 3 to 1, the situation seemed dire as the thugs approached on two sides. However, Varis, ever the sly one, spotted Purple Stranglers nearby (members of a rival gang affiliated to dye works). He convinced them easily of the outrage! that the presence of these rivals in this part of town meant… Also, for some undisclosed reason, one-time partner Droidoc was following the Purple Stranglers and quickly joined the fun. The Bridgerunners should have taken the cue, but… they didn’t.  The fight was  one-sided and bloody affair. The two elves and halfling were rather merciless, shooting the fleeing thugs in the back and finishing another helpless entangled  one.

River Journey

Mission

Having seen firtshand their martial prowesses and ruthlessness in display, the local leader of the Purple Stranglers offered the PCs a job. Their boss, “prince” Jessamine had a lucrative deal with a tribe of Grungs. In exchange for their high quality pottery and rare jungle herbs, she provided the Grungs with goods they didn’t produce (i.e iron knives). But now, the last shipment was two weeks overdue. Would the PCs like to go see what the f*** is going on?

(Payment (1) includes 400gp each and 25% discount on herbal decoctions on Jessamine’s stock) Upon agreeing, the PCs have to go up the Tiriki river for a weeklong journey before arriving into the grungs’s territory.

 

Saving the Little Mermaid (2)

Combat: 2 thugs, 1 veteran

A canoe was prepaid for them at the anchorage but once they got there the PCs saw an unusual scene, 3 Flaming Fists were harassing a captured female merfolk.

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The PCs immediately proceeded to attack the mercenary scumbags, a spike growth softening them up before Flyzus and Droidoc got into brutal melee (with the sneaky drow shooting his crossbow from the side). They killed and looted the mercenaries, untied the emotional and grateful merfolk and then happily got aboard their canoe.

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Something Fishy

Combat: 3 sahuagins

The PCs had been on the river (the bay at this point) for a few hours when they saw a derelict fishing boat farther away. Upon closing in they could see a limp arm dangling from the side of the boat. Still closer (they decided to inspect), they could see obvious signs of a struggle, the arm was in fact severed, the sail was all ripped, blood smears everywhere and 2 shark teeth oddly embedded in the mast.

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They didn’t have time to reflect on this as 3 sahuagins surprised them (still on their canoe). 2 sahuagins embarked on the fishing boat, one holding a spear, the other a shark tooth sword. The third one stayed underwater and shook the PCs’s canoe violently, sending an unbalanced Flyzus in the water. Droidoc shapeshifted into a giant octopus (3) and went against the other sahuagins while Varis helped Flyzus get back onboard. Overcoming the initial surprise, Flyzus and Varis killed on opponent with their combined projectiles as Octopus/Droidoc turned the waters red with another. The surviving sahuagin tried to flee but the Octo-Doom quickly overcame him too.

Loot: obsidian knife, shark tooth sword, 4 silver earrings, seashell necklace

One less War Canoe

Combat: 4 witherlings, 13 gnolls, 1 Gnoll Pack Lord

The PCs had heard from local rumors in town about a gnoll camp being erected on the eastern side of the river, and sure enough they saw it, bustling with activity, and worst still, they could smell the horrible emanations of putrescent meat, dejections, etc. , as they passed by and away. What they didn’t expect was to come head to head with an incoming war canoe as they got out of the bay in the river proper. The leader, a Gnoll Pack Lord, shouted some orders and set his crew on an interception trajectory, tireless witherlings rowing in cadence (4).

Far from panicking from the sight of ravenous gnolls approaching, the PCs quickly planned a lethal strategy that started with the halfling casting a spike growth directly on the war canoe (5). Droidoc then got busy, jumping underwater and shapeshifting once more into a giant barksinned octopus while the elves rowed to the shore, so they could defend themselves more efficiently. Some gnolls were good archers and Varis was severely wounded as a result. The 4 witherlings got destroyed by the magical thorns while they rowed. the Pack Lord have had enough and ordered his crew to abandon ship and swin for the shore. Do I have to say that it gave great pleasure to the Eight-Armed Droidoc? He spotted the Pack Lord and completely owned him while his clueless packmates were being shot by the elves as they swam.

Only 6 gnolls got ashore but it could still have meant the end for the two Elves but they managed to prevail with brilliant swordplay (6). Two gnolls managed to flee (7).

Loot: Ivory Armband, bag of precious stones, dinosaur meat

Tej House

Social

The PCs reached their first planned stop, a well-protected tej house. The clients, mostly chultan fishermen, were happy to learn of the gnoll’s débâcle and offered free drinks and a few good tips to the would-be explorers.

TBC…

DM’s notes

  1. Varis’s player could have bargained a much better reward, he messed up with his maths… Ha! ha!
  2. Saw that image on pinterest and immediately thought about putting it in play
  3. I said half-jokingly later in the session that the giant octopus was the star of the day! This rarely seen beast-form performed AMAZINGLY well.
  4. For this planned encounter, I was guessing that the PCs would flee (with quick-thinking and a few athletics checks) the 18 strong war canoe… But no! Ultra Chaotic Droidoc went full aggro as soon as he could!
  5. I was somewhat lenient with the spell, ruling that the gnolls couldn’t properly manoeuver their war canoe without “moving” so about half of them took damage each round.
  6. Flyzus hunter’s feature: horde breaker,  is ideal in ta fight like this
  7. They are on the wrong side of the river if they wish to get back at their camp so there’s no short-term menace.

magic items – Chult- III

Mask of the Oracle

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Carved from the mythic Gboga Tree.

Wondrous item, very rare (requires attunement)

Once per day, while wearing this mask, you can use an action to cast the scrying spell.

Ikakalaka Sword +1

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Weapon (short or longsword), rare

An Ikakalaka sword can do both slashing and piercing (your choice).

Bonehead Helmet

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Wondrous Item (requires attunement)

While wearing this helmet, you cannot be stunned. Additionnally, you have advantage on your check when you attempt to shove a creature.

Wand of the Su-Monster

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Wand, rare (requires attunement)

The wand has 7 charges. While holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 charge to inflict 5d6 psychic damage on 1 target, 30′ range, stunned for 1 round (Wisdom saving throw DC  15).

The wand regains 1d6+1 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the wand’s last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the wand crumbles into ash and is destroyed.

Shotel Sword +1

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Weapon (scimitar), rare

A shotel sword can bypass an opponent’s shield (ignore AC from shield).

Mu-Ngyengyue Bracelet

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Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

While wearing this bracelet, you have advantage on saving throw to resist an entangle or ensnaring strike cast against you.

Maze Earrings

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Wondrous Item, rare (requires attunement)

Once a day, while wearing the maze earrings, you can use a bonus action to gain advantage on an Intelligence (Religion) skill check.

Chultan Armors

Scuta Leather Armor

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Best leather armor comes from Chult. Because dinosaurs!

  • 135 gp
  • Armor class: 13 + dex modifier
  • Weight: 17 lb

Zorbo Hide Armor

Zorbo

The bad-tempered, Koala-like Zorbo, possesses the peculiar ability to transform his skin into whatever he’s standing on. Some clever leatherworker have figured out a way to craft an armor that keeps this amazing power.

  • As leather armor but if you attach (bonus action) a special pin (comes with armor) it transforms into a (metal) breastplate.
  • 600 gp
  • you can buy an adamantine pin for 300 gp more (protection vs critical hits)
  • Weight: 10 lb

Ankylo Breastplate

Astutely assembled from ridges, crests and bone-plates, this heavy apparel has the distinct advantage of being a lot less heat-inducing than its metal equivalent.

  • 350 gp

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Elderlings are Dragonborns well done

I recently read the amazing Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb and one thing that leapt to my mind is how much more interesting the Elderlings are compared to D&D Dragonborns.

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In my actual (Chult) campaign, to contrast with my human-only previous one, I’ve let the players choose any race, “even the dumb ones” I said. I was kind of relieved when none of them chose to play a Dragonborn as, for me, this race is certainly one of the dumbest fantasy race out there.

 Shaped by draconic gods or the dragons themselves, dragonborn originally hatched from dragon eggs as a unique race, combining the best attributes of dragons and humanoids.

A cop-out if there ever was. At least there’s no sexually deviant dragons copulating with puny humanoids, oh wait, that’s where Half-dragons come from! Sigh…

Dragonlance’s  Draconians were not much better (I mean, how much stolen dragon eggs you need to make whole armies?!) but at least they replaced the overly used orcs.

Now, what about Hobb’s Elderlings?

They were ancient Humans that pretty much lived side by side in a symbiotic society with dragons. Because of their proximity with these powerful beings’ essence and the occasional use of special rituals, they have acquired variable degrees of draconic traits: scaling, greater height, bright eyes, longevity and so forth. The culture of the Elderlings, what few glimpses we have of it, is also quite intriguing.