Attack of the Killer Fungi

Amid the Big Baddies of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, Zuggtmoy, Demon Queen of Fungi, seems a little out of place. It’s obvious that she was put there more to respect previous D&D lore than anything else. What’s her goal? To make subservient slaves out of infected people… Do we need Zuggtmoy at all (as something that embodies a concept)?

Zuggtmoy
That’s incredible art though!

Check out the real deal:

That’s truly the stuff of nigthmare!

But, as Attenborough explains, cordyceps, despite causing insect hecatombs, have overall a positive effect on the ecosystem. Indeed, fungus is so integral a part of nature that making it “demonic” seems a bit too  much, even for D&D.

Tellingly, neither the vegepygmies and myconids, two fungus-themed creatures, are linked with Zuggtmoy in any way  (compare this with the drow and Lolth say) and are not even evil. The MM tells us that they’re both of neutral alignment: they don’t attack unless they are harassed.

These fungus creatures can easily be used in a silly way (Gygax’s Expedition at the Barrier Peaks) or in a much more creepy mode, as the incomprehensible so often leads to horror (VanderMeer’s books).

Personnally I would use some of Zuggtmoy’s regional effects (MToF), which are suitably creepy, whenever there is a large colony of either vegepygmies or myconids in an area. As for Zuggtmoy herself, I think she would be more interesting as a Lovecraftian Great Old One and as such, she would make more sense as an unfathomable warlock Patron.

Magic Items – Chult – II

Matteba Leaf Garment

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Wondrous Item, uncommon (requires attunement)

This garment is the Chult equivalent of a Cloak of Elvenkind.

Sahuagin Shark Teeth Sword

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Weapon (any sword that deals slashing damage), uncommon

When you attack a creature with this weapon and roll a 20 on the attack roll, that target takes an extra 7 slashing damage.

Velociraptor Feather Cloak

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Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this cloak add 5′ to your base speed.

Chultan Diaspora

I felt the need to correct many things in ToA, one of it is the Chultan people being so ridiculously enclaved. Of course, Chult is a very dangerous place and there’s this whole bizarre thing with the spellplague and Mezro the city in Heaven (ugh!) but still, where are the Chultans? Apart from Port Nyanzaru, not a single village?

Anyway, this has all been said far better than I could by POC Gamer:

https://pocgamer.com/2017/10/13/tomb-of-annihilation-review-part-1-chult-in-5e/#more-573

My own solution is to introduce a diaspora. Chultans that left Chult generations ago when disaster struck and (lets keep it simple) the earth shook and spat fire… But now, with the disaster long behind and the recent successful ousting of the invaders, things are looking less grim. Maybe it’s time for the exiles to return?

As Port Nyanzaru doesn’t look like a city that can be expanded easily, another site have to be found.  That’s a mission for a Chultan PC!

 

Reputation Chart: the 7As and Port Nyanzaru’s factions

In the Renown option the DMG tells us that it cannot get lower than zero. I disagree, I think it can reflect an increasing enmity. As I see it, a -5 renown score would lead to a NPC/faction actively trying to hinder the PCs. A +5 renown would be the opposite, helping the PCs as they can.

Here’s how the 7As renown stands after a few dealings & side quest with Port Nyanzaru’s denizens:

Zhanti: +6

  • defended the Amnian Fop (+1)
  • Pokor asked for support on behalf of the Chultan Diaspora (common goal: +3)
  • played an important part in capturing the pirate ship The Stirge along with its captain (main interest: +2)

Ekene-Afa: +2

  • have freed a spy working for Captain Soshen that had been held prisonner by the Bridgerunners in Malar’s Throat (took side: +2)

Kwayoté: +1

  • exterminated the critters in newly acquired mine (+1)

Jobal: -3

  • have freed a spy working for Captain Soshen that had been held prisonner by the Bridgerunners in Malar’s Throat (took side: -2)
  • the meddling of Pokor in an arena fight, from his spectator seat, led to a scuffle with a pair of affiliated hooligans (-1)

A note on Jungle Dwarves

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I’m going against the Tomb of Annihilation lore, again.

The only Jungle/Albino Dwarf NPC in ToA is Musharib, a guide who will forgo his pay if the PCs help him reclaim the dwarven forge of Hrakhamar. And what would he do with the damn place? I mean,  come on Musharib, that’s not who you are anymore!

Here we have Dwarves radically different than the usual tolkienesque cliché. What’s the point to sorta get them back on track? Fuck it. In my campaign, the Jungle Dwarves don’t want anything to do with their past. Indeed, it’s taboo for them.

The Earth Shook and Spat Fire

The ancient way of life led to apocalyptic disaster. Better forget about it. And better make sure nobody sneak around  and mess with the sites and artefacts of the ancient ones!

So yeah, the PCs will have to deal with that particular prejudice…

Ruins of Chult: session 6

Characters (Seven Associates)

  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (Hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Elf Rogue (Thief), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Lucky, Half-Elf Cleric of Tymora (Trickery), Street Urchin; the lowly will be exalted
  • Shin, Tabaxi Fighter (Arcane Archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness
  • Pocor, Human Druid (Circle of Spores), Outlander; member of Chultan Diaspora, returned to his roots, literally

Back to the adventure…

Against the Pirates

Both “Prince” Zhanti and her son Shago had a strong interest in defeating the pirates that scourged the Seas around Port Nyanzaru which after all, is a MARITIME city. They had a plan to inflict a first blow and, of course, it involved using the Seven Associates. The PCs would accompany a selected force on board of a seemingly vulnerable merchant ship.

Hidden in the cargo hold, they waited for the pirates to find them, cramped quarters being the main foe in the meantime.

Goals

  • Capture at least a few pirates
  • Capture the Captain
  • Capture the pirate ship

Capturing a Stirge

The pirates did showed up, who would’ve thought (how boring would it have been otherwise!)? The pirate ship had a kind of giant mosquito on its flag revealing that they were the prey of the Stirge!

The false merchant ship did try a token escape tentative so it wouldn’t look too suspicious. The pirates boarded as the crew on deck seemingly surrendered. Half a dozen men were sent below to take a look on the merchandises. The Cleric of Tymora had prepared a nice trick of his own: a Zone of silence, so that when the hidden ambushers jumped on the surprised pirates, it did not alert their comrades above. Next, the pirates’ second in command, a burly Orc, went below to see what took so long. He had time to swing his large cleaver at Flyzus once, wounding the Wood Elf, before he was cut down too.

The already suspicious pirate captain, still oblivious to what happened, decided then to listen to his instincts and called a retreat, dashing back to his own ship. The PCs and their allies rushed at once, throwing grappling hooks as the pirates tried to cut free. Two planks were still in place and fierce fighting ensued. The pirates were now outnumbered but a priest of Umberlee amongst them managed to summon a water elemental in the hope of turning the tide (!).

With the Tabaxi firing arrows after arrows from the crow’s nest and the battle for the planks going in favor of his opponents, despite the water elemental’s fierce contribution, the pirate captain decided to surrender.

The priest of Umberlee jumped in the water, disappearing under the waves.

DM’s notes

  • The Stirge and its crew comes from ToA
  • The PCs found some valuables, including an old Omuan tapestry
  • reward: 2000 gp or a first payment if the PCs want to keep the ship

Magic items – Chult

African inspired magic items for my Ruins of Chult setting:

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Ivory Armband of Ferocity

Wondrous item, uncommon

When you hit with a weapon attack, you inflict +1 damage

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Amulet of Power

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

Choose a spell you know, when you cast this spell you cast it at one higher spell slot than the one you spend. You can change the spell only after a long rest.

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Headrest of Repose

Wondrous item, uncommon

Using the Headrest of Repose while you sleep, you can recover from one additional level of exhaustion with a long rest. Additionally, you are immune to the Dream spell for the day.

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Ivory Cup of Purity

Wondrous item, common

Anything you drink with the Ivory Cup of Purity is under the effect of a Purify food and drink.