Spelljammer – If I did it

My Ruins of Chult campaign has been sputtering for a while (curst ye thrice gloomhaven) and now is on hold with summer finally upon us (time for garden luv). I say there’s nothing more pathetic in life than a campaignless DM. Alone. Adrift. Aimless.

And so:


Hey, that’s out of the blue, isn’t it?

Well, not totally (for me, at least) as I read Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun a few months ago and it struck a swordsspaceships chord I didn’t know I had.


Anyway, loosely based on something mentioned on this book (it’s so packed with amazing ideas, it’s incredible!):

  • there’s only one spaceship, of unknown origin and it’s absolutely gigantic
  • it sometimes encounters other spaceships
  • they’re, in fact, alternate, and sometimes very weird, versions of the one spaceship
  • because the spaceship can go beyond the speed of light, as a result, SPACE AND TIME ARE BADLY FUCK*D UP AND WEIRD SHIT HAPPENS (I mean, who cares)

The main idea is that the PCs (humans, elves, dwarves and whatnot) awaken, pandorum-like, aboard the eternal spaceship and, you know, proceed to explore, or die trying. Once in a while, the spaceship temporarily halts its mysterious course, as it crosses the path of an alternate, different (subtly or not) version, and, well, things get interesting…

The best thing? All the weird monsters I never use (looking at you intellect devourer)? You bet they’d be there!


Clockwork Cove, Oozing Grove,Vermling Nest, Payment Due

Four random side scenarios in a row. I’ll make it short & sweet as it’s been several weeks and I’m going on hazy memory now.

Oh, and:

The Rat is Back, Baby!

Scenario 66

Goal: Activate pressure plate e

Team: Brute (lvl 6), Elementalist (lvl 6),  Mindthief (lvl 5) Soothsinger (lvl 6)

Set difficulty: 3


We’ve cleared the oozes without much sweat but the ancient artilleries in next room are another matter. The mindthief takes control of the Elite and make it move in the first room just as we release the pressure plate, trapping it behind the door! Nicely done!


Next, we had to manoeuver uncomfortably between stone golems, oozes and artilleries. Add to this living spirits, once we got to open two more rooms (with treasures!). The Elementalist stood ready to step on the last pressure plate as we’re finishing a last xp & gold grab.

Scenario 72

Goal: Destroy all trees

Team: Brute (lvl 6), Elementalist (lvl 6),  Mindthief (lvl 5) Soothsinger (lvl 6)

Set difficulty: 3


Our first encounter with forest imps and aren’t they lil’ motherfuckers?! Ranged attacks that do curses? Annoying. Anyway, with the first few rounds that seemed like we weren’t doing anything useful, we managed to cut down the tree in the central area. I then split off to get to the tree to the right, as the Elementalist had mostly cleared the way for me, while the rest of the group went for the tree to the left.

Borborygm, joyfully swinging his axe at the oozing tree

Scenario 94

Goal: Kill all monsters

Team: Brute (lvl 6), Elementalist (lvl 6),  Mindthief (lvl 5) Soothsinger (lvl 6)

Set difficulty: 3

Hey, we’ve unlocked a scenario with vermlings, at last!

The hounds facilitate our job by getting all bunched together
Elementalist: I’ll leave the rats for you, I swear! *Kill 2 vermlings” Mindthief: “GrrrRRRrr”
Brute: “Hey, I need some back up!” 6 attacks later with a grand total of 4 damage “Oh, nevermind.”

Scenario 95

Goal: Kill the Prime Lieutnant

Team: Brute (lvl 6), Elementalist (lvl 7),  Scoundrel (lvl 5) Soothsinger (lvl 7)

Set difficulty: 4

The completion of Vermling Nest unlocked Payment Due. We have to find tokens dissiminated in two areas, one with damaging difficult terrain, and the other full of obstacles and deep terrors. Meanwhile, flame and earth demons keep popping up in the hallway so, no fooling around…

Scoundrel: “I’m melting!”

Our new member, the fast-moving scoundrel, takes on her to get the 3 tokens in the acid-filled room.

Brute: “What the hell are those things?!”

Deep terrors are brutal monsters. They’ve got range, annoying effects, and have retaliate to boot. The large room is difficult to navigate: rocks, columns, puddles, traps… The Cragheart would have done marvels, ahhh… The nimble Soothsinger gets the 2 tokens in the back while I get the other, not without taking many hits. Damn those tentacles!

Scoundrel: “Huh, guys?”

Once we got the tokens, we could open the hallway’s door and fight the Prime Lieutnant. This fight was a pushover, really. He wasn’t even a true Boss, c’mon! It’s not even deserving of a pic (my phone’s battery died just before the final fight, oops)!


Isaac’s adventures VI

We’ve defeated the third Evil Ninja Boss in an epic mecha fight. The ENB used a giant serpent-robot that threathened to crush us in its coils but we had the perfect counter, with our patented hedgehog defense!

The next ENB can be found in a hotel (I think Isaac has only a vague idea of what is an hotel ha! ha!) and has a peculiar “power”, his left arm is mechanical and he can remove his thumb, which is in fact a mini-bomb, so that he can throw it and blast his enemies!


But NukeThumb-Guy, after we’ve killed all his minions, doesn’t go nuclear on us but choose instead to parley.

How about One million dollars to let him live?


My son: “One million dollars and two diamonds. Two big diamonds!”

Not too bad for a day’s work, my corruptible son, not too bad…


Papua New Guinea arrows (for D&D)


Papuan traditionnal hunters use a variety of arrows, each specialized to hunt specific preys (birds, wild pigs, etc.). And then there are arrows for warfare, for humans…

Those are serrated, barbed, jagged, lined with porcupine quills, so that they do gruesome damage when they’re removed. And there’s more: orchid fiber is laced on the arrows, bits stay inside the wound leading to infection.

Papuans are badasses


Jagged Arrows for D&D

  • typically used with a short bow
  • range 10′ less
  • 1d4 damage
  • 1 damage each round until removed (per arrow), unless victim is prone
  • to remove:  Wisdom (medicine)  DC 13 (as an action)
  • advantage on check with expanditure of 1 use of healer kit
  • success: 1d4 damage and arrow is removed
  • failure: 1d4 damage and arrow still stuck


  • orchid fiber causes 1 level of exhaustion next dawn unless medicine check was succeeded by +5 or more (note that another try could be attempted IF someone has any idea what’s going on)


Session 15c – Zotzilaha’s Guardians

The PCs doing the HSoT in “reverse” (from top to bottom) meant, in my mind, that the final scene would be with Zotzilaha himself. Accordingly, I wanted the last few encounters before the finale to have a more otherworldly feel. Also, the PCs had the choice to fight Zotzilaha, or not…


  • Shin (level 5), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Phileas (level 4), Half-Elf Bard (College of Swords), Archeologist; “it’s not tomb-robbing if you do it respectfully”
  • Kalohan (level 3>>4), High Elf Wizard (Evoker), Inheritor; noble Elf, ill-suited for adventuring life
  • Flyzus (level 6), Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb (level 6), Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory
  • Vorn, Shield Guardian, found masterless by the party, beside a gaping hole in the ground

I’m no botanist but I don’t think it’s a tree


In a water-filled basin stood a twisted, unnatural-looking tree. Phileas approached to read the bronze plaque at the base of the basin. This triggered a reaction from the “tree” as it threw a tendril-branch to grab the Half-Elf. Phileas cut the tendril with one deft move of his rapier and his companions jumped into action. Rufb, knee-deep into the turpid water, hacked at the tree-thing with his greataxe while the others kept their distance, trying to evade the numerous flailing tendrils. They vanquished the creature and found some valuables as they searched the basin (2).

Drowning Kiss

The PCs then went to the deepest level of the hidden shrine, finally ready to enter Zotzilaha’s acrid sanctuary. Turning right, in a flooded passage, they heard  cries for help. In a vast cavern (3), with the nearest two-third also flooded, a woman was seemingly drowning. Without a thought, Phileas swam frantically to get to her, albeit his companions tried to dissuade him. Surely something was amiss! He reached for the distressed, strikingly beautiful woman and she thanked him with a kiss.

Phileas started suffocating, his lungs suddenly filled with acidic water. His dismayed companions went into the water but were assaulted by a giant electric eel while the woman, who was in fact a water-spirit nereid, laughed an evil laugh (4).

The adventurers killed the eel, but they couldn’t save Phileas in time. The nereid proved an elusive foe and she almost got Flyzus too before she was slain. She dissolved into water, only her silky shawl remained.

The Lord Snail was a Pervert

After the nereid’s cave, the PCs got into another area where the ground was muddy and  uneven. There were many bowls littering the place too but most unusual, in front of them stood a strange hunched old man with a large snail shell on his back. He welcomed the adventurers, first in olman and then in common language, and presented himself as Zotzilaha’s seneschal.

“The Great Zoztzilaha, after being neglected for so long, is in dire need of offerings!” he said, as several giant crabs popped out of the ground, approaching the adventurers with threathening pincers.

The PCs determined that crab meat would have to do as an offering and proceeded to massacre the crustaceans. In the heat of the battle, wand-waiving Kalohan sent a lightning bolt directly at the Lord Snail. This angered greatly the seneschal and he transformed into a Humongous Snail! The viscous creature spat a stream of acid at the levitating Elf Wizard, sending her crashing to the ground, nearly dead. A shadow arrow from Shin softened the beast as Rufb, Flyzus and Vorn got in melee to finish the job.

The snail’s body disappeared, leaving behind it’s shell. Inside was a few of the seneschal personnal items, amongst them a lot of erotic drawings of the aforementionned nereid

Zotzilaha’s Offer


As the PCs placed (5) crab meat in the offering bowls, the surrounding acrid mist coalesced into a fearsome presence: Zotzilaha! (6) Its initial shape rapidly shrinked, reflecting the fact that it was worship-starved. Notwithstanding his somewhat vulnerable, weakened state, Zotzilaha was still frightful to behold. As he spoke, voicelessly, Zotzilaha explained that he had lost control over his subordinate spirits, three of whom the PCs had defeated in battle (the Cyclop, the Nereid and Lord Snail) and the fourth had left the Hidden Shrine not that long ago. If the adventurers would so endeavor to slay the treacherous Sting of Decay, Zotziloha would be grateful and reward them accordingly. As an act of good faith, they could have one artefact for now: the Axe of the Cyclop (7). 

Surprised by this turn event, the PCs accepted the offer, at least for now…

DM’s notes:

  1. Phileas’ player was in rather reckless mood this session.
  2. And a  wand of lighning bolt for my power-crazed sister…
  3. I’ve enlarged the original room a lot.
  4. A nereid, played with her strengths, can be a surprisingly tough encounter, I discovered.
  5. Nothing forced them to do so at that point ^^
  6. Zotzilaha makes no appearance in the original module, is barely mentionned in fact, I thought it strange.
  7. The berzerk axe, an ambivalent item, powerful but cursed, fittingly I think.

Session 15b – Serpent-Skinned Monks

The PCs could not afford to take another long rest if they wished to be away from Tamaochan before the arrival of the Pick & Axe co. 


  • Shin (level 4>>5), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Flyzus (level 5>>6), Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb (level 5>>6), Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory
  • Vorn, Shield Guardian, found masterless beside a gaping hole in the ground

Stay Still Forever

In a part of the dungeon yet unexplored – the PCs had successfully avoided a sand-filling trap – a few turns later they got almost in the middle of two rows of skeletons, a sort of honor guard by the look of it, standing on a ledge each side of a passage. The 15 skeletons jumped down and attacked (1)…

The adventurers kept their calm, even after seeing a skeleton still fighting after receiving a killing blow, what should have been a killing blow anyway. It helped that they could  now count on the powerful Vorn to back them up. An exploding magic arrow from Shin did a lot to soften the undead warriors. It took some time but they managed to prevail with only a few light wounds in return (2).

You don’t see any traps

At the end of another passage they could see a golden bat statuette. Rufb took it from its pedestal and got shot in the back by several crossbow bolts. Wounded and angry, Rufb smashed the statuette under his foot. This released a creature made of light, a will o’ wisp they knew from previous experience,  that quickly got away along another passage.


Shed Skin

Now, for some reason, having a will o’ wisp on the loose didn’t sit well with the PCs (3) so they tried to find it, backtracking a little doing so. Flyzus ordered his pseudodragon pet to follow the evil light but the poor creature got zapped and… died (4). Next, the PCs got into an room they had opened but had chose to ignore earlier, a room with two slabs of stone with shed serpent skins… wait a minute… weren’t there bodies the first time around? Darn! More things roaming free…

Stuck in the Middle with You

To go further in this area, the PCs had to move a heavy block of stone on some rail mechanism up a ramp, the Shield Guardian was put to the task. They were halfway when things got complicated… First, there was sudden resistance against the block, something was pushing back… Second, bats. Lots of bats. Third, the will o’ wisp chose this moment to reappear…

Vorn proved more than strong enough to keep the block from crushing them. The Ranger got rid of the bats around him quickly and then attacked the will o’ wisp. He was joined soon after by Rufb (Shin was still swarmed by bats) and the two successfully avenged the pseudodragon.

No Escape

Finally out of this passage, the PCs saw two nimble figures sprint away from them. The Barbarian, the fastest runner, caught up with them in the central room of the ziggurat’s lower tier. Attempting to communicate  proved fruitless, as Rufb could not understand a word they said. Resigned, the two mysterious sleepers-no-longer assumed fighting stances (5).


Rufb wasn’t in full combat shape at all, so facing these two adversaries with unknown abilities was daunting. He chose to use one charge of his gem of mud elemental summoning, a reward he had received from the Three Cascades’ frogmen. This proved a wise move as the mud elemental pummeled and mired in mud one serpent-skinned monk. Rufb then finished her with one massive blow of his greataxe. The surviving monk shrieked in anguish and attacked Rufb, sweeping his legs from under him.

Flyzus and Shin now got at the scene too. The outnumbered monk turned his back and fled once more. Shin shot an arrow at him but amazingly, he catched it middair without even looking!

Try to dodge that

He then started to cross the passage to the north, the one with spikes at the bottom, swinging from bar to bar. Rufb got back to his feet and jumped right beside his foe and started grappling him. He easily outmuscled the monk and sent him crashing through the spikes. Flyzus put an end to his life with precise sword thrusts (6).

The PCs finally felt comfortable enough to get down below, to the Hidden Shrine.

DM’s notes

  1. I had described them as skeletons but they were statted as zombies, with the undead fortitude that do a lot for their durability. But this fight was meh.
  2. Too easy! Would have been better if they had to be smart about it…
  3. Players paranoia!
  4. Félix kept forgetting that it existed, so… no big deal, I guess?
  5. The monks tried their best to escape, the PCs, the barbarian in particular, just wouldn’t let them.
  6. This proved to be a really good fight, with a lot of cool, cinematic manoeuvers.




Session 15a – No Stone Unturned

Third session inside the Hidden Shrine of Tamaochan. I had kept it relatively faithful to the module (70% maybe?). But now? Less so…


  • Shin (level 4), Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Flyzus (level 5), Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb (level 5), Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory
  • Vorn, Shield Guardian, found masterless beside a gaping hole in the ground

Psychic Cyclop. Psyclop? huh


After a well-earned rest outside the PCs got right back to exploring the ancient ziggurat. They went  to a room they had passed the first time, in the second tier (1). The bronze door had a strange engraving on it, a couatl and a cyclop locked in a fierce struggle. Rufb pushed the heavy door and, to his surprise, found himself in the middle of the jungle in front of the very same cyclop warrior, now coming wildly at him with a greataxe! That was all in his head, of course, but the imaginary combat was taking a very real toll on him. Shin ignored his companion’s plight and went straight into the room and got into troubles of his own as a set of giant antique armor assaulted him. Meanwhile, Flyzus was at a loss as to what he could do to save Rufb, as smacking the Half-Orc behind the head did not look like it helped that much… Finally, with scrambled brains and bleeding nose, Rufb managed to overcome the psychic invasion by himself and the three defeated the helmed horror together. This activated some kind of magic from the (avenged) crystal couatl statue that was in the middle of the dais, as they were rewarded a Tray of the Ages (2).

Terror from Above

Nrak, the Firefinger’s ertswhile pterafolk leader, had apparently found a way to track down Flyzus in a vain attempt to avenge himself for the attack on his lair. One of his underling let drop something in the middle of the ruined temple where the PCs were  resting. The package, wrapped in leaves, exploded as it touched the floor, releasing some kind of poisonous pollen. Other pterafolks then dived and hurled javelins at the PCs, some blocked by the Shield Guardian. Mostly unfazed by the surprise attack,  the adventurers responded with projectiles of their own. The Tabaxi Arcane Archer, as always, was utterly deadly with his bow, but the decisive blow was delivered by Flyzus as he hurled back a javelin, powered with an ensnaring strike, that sent Nrak crashing to the ground to his death (3). The few surviving pterafolks had had enough and flew away.

A Sticky Situation (4)


A few hours after the doomed pterafolk attack, the Ranger could see a giant spider coming their way. Using his hat of the spider the Tabaxi had a quick conversation with it, he learned that the giant spider was upset about being followed and, uh, aggressively courted… Said courter arrived a moment later, it was Mister Sticky the ettercap, who had lost his precious Darling at the hand of the party a while ago. Mister Sticky pleaded to give crucial information if only the PCs stopped besmirching him in front of this “magnificient specimen” of a spider. And so the party learned that members of the Pick & Axe co were on their way towards Tamaochan. The PCs accepted to pay the Ettercap to learn more:

  • P&A group is made up of  seasoned, armored and very sweaty dwarves
  • they have an ankylosaurus
  • the leader have a flying monkey (the PCs had spotted it flying around their camp earlier)
  • they are armed to the teeth, all have crossbows
  • they are half a day’s walk from Tamaochan

Another Way In

As the previous foray in the shrine had proved almost fatal for Rufb, the PCs sought a way to get the mighty (and large) Vorn in the lower tiers with them. They resolved the matter using a scroll of shape stone on a part of the cliff that connected to a room below the ziggurat. The magic scroll enlarged a small hole already there, but getting inside, the party disturbed a family of stone-skinned zorbos. The PCs dispatched the cute but ferocious beasts and had another go at exploring the ancient ruins.

DM’s notes:

  1. I’ve kept the couatl, phantasmal force and helmed horror but changed about everything else in this room
  2. The original treasure is a Balance of Harmony but an item to detect good and evil is rather useless in my game. The Tray of Ages (homebrewed) is me being generous, as the PCs can cast identify as a ritual with it, so they don’t have to wait to be in town (like in 3 sessions) to know what their items do.
  3. Being a large creature, Nrak had advantage on his str save to resist the ensnaring strike and still failed!
  4. That part was, hmm, maybe a little too much on the silly side…