Jungle D&D – alternate Chult campaigns

In the Tomb of Annihilation adventure you have to find a lost city in the middle of the jungle in order to lift a terrible curse created by the Archlich Acererak. I mean, it’s a perfectly fine premise. A terrible adventure as written but a fine premise.

But here’s a few more campaign ideas that would be great for such a setting as Chult:

Claws & Teeth & Ultima

(Image: James Gurney – dinotopia)

The dinosaurs, long domesticated by Chultans for all sort of uses, spectacle not the least, have recently started to manifest dangerous magical powers! What sinister power is behind this source of mayhem? Or is it rather linked with the long neglected primordial Ubtao, the so-called Father of the Dinosaurs?

Extinction: the Elemental Evil’s Meteor

Spewing volcanoes, tumultous seas, devastating earthquakes and toxic mists, all at the same time and getting worse! And a new, angry star has appeared in the sky. It’s the end of the world. Unless you defeat the four elemental cults that together are summoning Elemental Evil.

The Crash of the Star Princess

(image: yuchenhgong)

Of the surviving Netherese ancient artefacts, few are more precious or sought-after than the Airships. There’s only a handful in the world and now one of them have fallen from the sky and woe! of all places it fell on thrice-accursed Chult! The race to be the first to find it (and to get it to fly again) is on!

Tombs of the Slumbering Sorcerers

(image: The mud sorcerer’s tomb – paizo)

Centuries ago, a group of aristocratic Mezroan sorcerers foresaw the demise of their city and its empire. One of them, Piyyat the Unscrutable, proposed a plan so they could come back after the disastrous events had come to pass. And so the sorcerers each prepared their own tomb where they could slumber undisturbed. And they hid their riches with them…

Session 3 – Along the Coast

This time was a rare 10+ hours session, with players going in and out along the way. It served also as an introduction for a good friend and his 10 y-o son who’s just beginning  tabletop gaming. Ah, the innocence!


  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Varis, Drow Rogue (scout), Far traveller; exiled scion of a noble family on the losing side of a feud
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid, Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, lost his mind, he’s a loony
  • Lucky, Half-Elf Cleric of Tymora, Street Urchin; the lowly will be exalted
  • Phileas, Half-Elf Bard, Archeologist; “it’s not tomb-robbing if you do it respectfully”
  • Shin, Tabaxi Fighter (arcane archer), Outlander; big-game hunter, has no patience for weakness

Smuggler’s Cove

  • (Flyzuz, Varis)


Flyzus and Varis had to secure some illegal stash hidden inside a cave not far from where they had beached. They could see some giant crabs that fortunately didn’t look too aggressive but the axe beak nearby was another matter. Coming out of the trees it made short work of one the crustacean. F and V  did a bit of climbing to evade the large  bird. A few minutes and a dead poisonous snake later and F and V arrived at the entrance of the cave. Flyzus spotted some carnivorous vines dangling in front but a simple oil fire solved the problem. Inside the cave they could see a pond and, understandably, that aroused their suspicion. Varis threw the dead snake near it and a long tentacle quickly snatched it. F and V decided to feed something bulkier to the aquatic thing so it would be busy eating whilst they did what they were there for. So a few arrows and crossbow bolts later, a freshly slain axe beak joined the snake in the water. The plan worked. Further in the cave, a darkened leather hid a passage leading to another area, with a little light coming from a natural chimney above and further, to the smuggler’s stash of goods. There was also a swarm of bats that they chased off, not without receiving a few painful bites.

Back in town, they enlist at the Coliseum:

Arena: The Mercenaries vs the Skeletal Horde

  • Flyzus, Varis, Droidoc and Shin


6 skeletons with rusty spears. The PCs barely survived. There’s a long way to go before they’re called heroes!

Arena: The Mercenaries vs the Gladiator

  • Flyzus, Varis, Droidoc ans Shin

The PCs were offered to replace a gladiator who was sick. Hum, he had severe diarrhea okay? They didn’t have to win, just show up against his opponent, a hardened veteran of the Grand Coliseum. They indeed did not win, but it was a close call…

Along the coast

  • Flyzus, Varis, Droidoc ans Shin

Shin had a proposition for his battered new friends. His employer offered 250 gp for cleaning a newly acquired mine from its critters. They accepted and paid a fisherman to drop them 30 miles northward. They had a few more miles to walk  along the rocky beaches and high cliffs. As they progressed, they began to hear singing, the lure of harpies! Fortunately, none of them succumbed and Shin let loose an arrow from 300′ and hit! The two harpies, noticing that their song had no effect, took to the air and closed the distance on the PCs. Only one came close but was put down easily.

The Mine

  • Flyzus, Varis, Phileas, Lucky and Shin

Having found the mine, the PCs saw that giant wasps seemed to inhabit the place as they saw them come and go constantly. They also noticed that one of the giant wasp was strangely infected by some sort of fungus. The PCs decided to smoke the wasps, collecting all the wood pieces they could before sunset and then they made a fire. A few groggy wasps tried to get out but were easily dispatched. After the smoke had cleared, the PCs entered the mine. They found quite a few dead wasps near the entrance and, also, the rotten carcass of a crocodilian a little further. Something ran off before they could see it clearly.

They went deeper and that’s when the real fun began…


The Tabaxi was in front, and was the target of a thrown rock, hurting him lightly. The next few rounds were surprisingly testing for the PCs as they received a LOT of rocks from the angry vegepygmies while a thorny kept them tied in melee from the other side. They were downright anxious when they found out that the little fungi men could regenerate and did not stay down. Finally, they managed to prevail, using oil and torches to burn the vegepygmies but one of them escaped and the PCs badly needed a rest. That’s what they did before going into the deepest level of the mine.

The first trouble below was an encounter with the surviving giant wasp queen which succeeded in stinging the young cleric of Tymora. The poison nearly did him but once the queen was dead he healed himself with his goddess’ magic.

Soon after, the final battle was against the vegepygmy that had escaped earlier and his chief who was busy absorbing… nutrients? in a pit, with some tendrils jutting from his arms.

The peak of the battle was when the vegepygmy chief released his spores, poisoning Flyzus and Varis. Lucky saved Varis’ life with a merciful spare the dying and did the same a moment later when Phileas was grievously wounded by claw attacks.

Shin found a few gems carefully placed on a rock, with a delicate mushroom in the middle. He didn’t take the mushroom.

Arena: The Mercenaries vs Mr Sticky and his Darling

  • Flyzus, Varis, Phileas, Lucky and Shin

Back in Port Nyanzaru, the PCs received their reward for clearing the mine and after a well-earned rest they were back in the arena! This time they were against something of an infamous gladiator: Mr Sticky the Ettercap. 

Mr Sticky had a large cloak on when he entered the arena and while he moved to meet the PCs in battle, he removed it releasing his pet giant spider Darling that was hidden underHe then restrained Lucky with a web. Phileas played tricks on the ettercap’s mind with a dissonant whisper- Mr Sticky was convinced by the spell that the crowd was booing him–  forcing him to flee in shame while Flyzus, Varis and Shin killed Darling. The ettercap was rather mad at this point as he came back but the combined attacks of the PCs proved too much for him, he surrendered.

DM notes

  • The group of PCs was missing frontliners badly. Most of them are good at range but they had problems when it was time to engage in melee.
  • The vegepygmies, with their skirmish tactics were way harder than I tought they would be.
  • This session was really heavy on combat, perhaps a bit too much.
  • The vegepygmies could have been persuaded to leave the mine if diplomacy had been tried. The players were a little freaked out with some of my descriptions by the time they met them. I think that’s why it didn’t occur to them.
  • Arena battles are a little silly but we’re having a lot of fun doing them.

Session 2- Gambling & Fighting in P-N

The ToA’s sidequests are all pretty much pointless and boring so I had to invent  my own (except chasing pirates, that’s perfectly fine to me). Not only that but if you’re actually following the main plot of ToA (unlike me), doing the sidequests is actually detrimental to accomplishing the main quest! Talk about bad design… I did run the dinosaur race (but that was already an idea in the Jungles of Chult supplement (1993)). 


  • Shin, Tabaxi Fighter, Outlander; Big-game hunter
  • Lucky, Half-Elf Cleric of Tymora, Street Urchin; the lowly will be exalted
  • Pocor, Human Druid, Outlander; Traveller of chultan descent
  • Phileas, Half-Elf Bard, Archeologist; “it’s not tomb-robbing if you do it respectfully”
  • Corpos, Forest Gnome Wizard, Archeologist; antiquary, strange fixation on the undead

Tomb of Annihilation, WoTC, really nice art!

And now what’s the plan?

The PCs disembarked in Port Nyanzaru at dusk and their first move was, unsurprisingly, to find shelter for the night. They opted for Kaya’s House of Repose, a cozy inn located inside the walls feeling confident that their meagre funds would soon be replenished. Puzzled by the lack of other customers they asked around and learned that everybody (except the staff) went to see an unusual sight: a Halruaan airship had landed in town! Joining the crowd in the plaza, the soon-to-be explorers could only marvel at this efficient way of locomotion. Young Lucky, accustomed to city life, quickly became aware that wily pickpockets were taking full advantage of the diversion. Fortunately, targeted Pocor was vigilant enough to evade theft.

With so much people around, the PCs  heard some interesting rumors they could benefit from.

Let’s talk money

In their first couple of days in Chult, the PCs have found out of a few ways to earn some gps before leaving Port Nyanzaru for their dangerous jungle expeditions:

  • Arena Fun: The Mercenaries vs the Velociraptors
  • Arena Fun: The Mercenaries vs the Skeletal Horde!
  • Middleman Mboka have a job: Cleaning a Mine from critters (coast, two days away)
  • Captain Shago have a job: find a certain M’panzu thought to be in league with the pirates  and bring him to the captain.

Arena Fun

Shin, Corpos and Phileas happily enlisted, whilst Pocor and Lucky had some mischievous plans of their own.

Mercenaries VS Velociraptors!

From his spectator seat, Pocor cast an entangle spell at one of the two porticullis where were kept the raptors, effectively blocking it.  Two raptors entered the arena from the other side and advanced rapidly to the center of the arena, where Phileas and Corpos were ready for action. As for the Tabaxi, he climbed with celerity on one of the spike jutting from the encircling wall, intent on using his bow on the beasts.

Corpos’ mage hand threw sand in the eyes of one raptor and Phileas attempted to skewer the other with a fancy move of his rapier but only lightly wounded it. The savage bite and claw attack against him nearly put an end to his barely-started adventuring career, but for the help of Pocor’s healing powers.

As Corpos, Phileas and Shin finished the two raptors, yet another magical intervention from Pocor triggered an angry reaction from two young hooligans seated nearby. If he was so intent on helping the “mercenaries” they told him, he might as well join them in the arena below! A short scuffle ensued and Pocor got the upper hand (but not without losing his concentration on his entangle spell).

Below the two remaining raptors were finally free and Phileas, quite the crowd-pleaser, made a loud cracking noise with his whip that sent a magical Thunderwave, killing one raptor and wounding the other. A flame bolt from Corpos finished the poor beast.

(Shin’s player wasn’t too lucky with his dice throughout the combat. I think he hit once with an arrow?)

Meanwhile, Lucky tried to gain money another way. Feigning intoxication, he attempted to pickpocket a richly attired Chultan but got his greedy hand stung and was poisoned. He felt ill for an hour or so for his troubles. The locals aren’t the easiest of targets it seems.

Dinosaur Racing!


A dinosaur race was announced for the evening. Two contenders: the ill-tempered allosaurus Bonecruncher was a 2:1 betting favorite against the young ankylosaurus Grung Stomper!

Of course it occurred almost immediately to Phileas to mess with the race and try to win against the odds! Corpos and Lucky were both convinced by the bard’s greedy enthusiasm and put a sum on Grung Stomper.

Phileas’ plan was to wait somewhere further on the circuit and play tricks on the allosaurus’ mind with a well placed Dissonant Whisper spell. And oh my! How it worked! The ill-tempered Bonecruncher failed spectacularly  (rolled a 1! botches do count in my game) to resist the mind intrusion and went berzerk, losing precious time before his handler managed to steer him back on track. The race was still close but it was enough so Grung Stomper won!

DM notes:

  • With Pocor’s player agreement, I’ve decided that his character’s ancestors were from Chult.
  • I did some foreshadowing for the Halruaan airship before it become, huh, a jungle location?
  • This session was rather short with 3 hours of play. I had thought that a lot more would be accomplished but it’s ok, the players have learned a lot of stuff about the setting and had some ideas how to tackle it.
  • Last campaign finished with lvl 20 characters, beginning anew at lvl 1 is so different!
  • Phileas’ player loves when his PC shines and has fame! That’s certainly a good way to keep his interest in the campaign.
  • Both in the Arena and dinosaurs race, the players cheated their way to victory. That was a lot of fun. But hey, they are not the only crooks in town! I have to keep this in mind…