More locations for Jungle/Chult hexcrawl

Dinosaur Boneyard

Miles upon miles of massive bones with no vegetation whatsoever. Somewhere in the middle is the ancient mansion of a necromancer. But first you’d have to get past the carrion critters and various undead dinosaurs.

Pit of the Broken Idols

A cave where a long-lost civilization have thrown offensive statues down the 60′ deep shaft. Their residual power has taken shape as a powerful Eidolon.

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Treant Permaculture

A spectacular array of flowers and rare medicinal plants amongst the tallest trees of the jungle. This is the works of a cigar-smoking treant that doesn’t take kindly to trespassers. Sometimes, he does need help to get a rare plant he wants to add to his domain or to eradicate something particularly bothersome.

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Plateau of the Aarakocra

A rocky promontory that serves as a place of commerce for Aarakocra traders of the Mistcliffs and their partners. Huge quetzacoatlus are used to bring goods from afar.

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Ubtao’s Tooth

Rogue, evil Aarakocra, have made their lair atop this lonely peak. They’re given to banditry. They have tongueless harpies as their wretched slaves.

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Sacred Cenote

A very ancient site of worship, originally to some obscure amphibian deity. Glittering precious stones can be seen in the pristine water of the pool. Evil winds are always present as well as more tangible threats.

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Tunnel Cave (Mistcliffs)

A several miles long cave makes the link from dense, batiri-infested jungles to the coast, through the mistcliffs mountains. There’s many divergent paths and a lot of dangerous critters along the way.

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Jagged Summit (Mistcliffs)

The greatest aarakocra « nest » of the mistcliffs, the numerous sentinels patrolling the air don’t miss much. Only rare visitors are considered trustworthy enough to be allowed further.

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Sunken Firefinger

One of several rock tower that served to guard the border of the now defunct mezroan empire. This one has sunken below ground, only the uppermost tip remains. The lower part is now in the middle of a cave system inhabited by strange creatures.

Seashore House

Along the eastern coast, this lonely house is inhabited by a friendly hermit. Friendly unless you’re a pirate, if so you better give a wide berth to his house.

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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. 

Characters:

  • 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 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.

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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 a room they had opened but had chose not to enter before. A room with two slabs of stone with shed serpent skins… waitaminute… 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 (of course it did) to come back…

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 sprinting away from them. The Barbarian, the fastest runner of the PCs, 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).

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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

We start inside the Hidden Shrine of Tamaochan with a scene of my own design and then a few things happen while they get out temporarily.

Characters:

  • 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 Cyclops. Psyclops?

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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 cyclops 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 imp-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…

Session 14a – The Hidden Shrine

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan in Chult

Disclaimer: This play report is my own take on The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (the 5e version from TofYP). Lots of spoilers below but it’s not  a « standard » playthrough of this classic module by any margin.

Characters (1):

  • Shin (level 4), 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”
  • 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

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Shin, Kalohan, Corpos and Phileas had been at the site for many days, collecting clues  while evading Batiri patrols when Flyzus and Rufb unexpectedly joined them for the venture. As for Lucky, he had left, having received a disquieting omen from his goddess Tymora.

Vorn, the Shield Guardian (2)

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The Tabaxi had climbed down through the large hole in the ground, next to the Shield Guardian. The automaton’s master, a non-chultan wizard, had fallen to his death, his body laid broken at the bottom. Fortunately, Shin found  the amulet that controlled the construct and it was still intact. He also found the wizard’s spellbook, a decent amount of gold and some exploration gears. A quick inspection of the room below revealed a locked door and many statuettes that evoked meaningful scenes from this lost civilization.

Beware Defilers! Your Genitals Will Shrivel and Fall Off

Atop the impressive ziggurat stood a temple dedicated to the cult of a scary demon-bat thing/god/mighty Jungle Spirit: Zotzilaha. Inside the half-collapsed temple, a trapdoor was visible, but glyphs on it indicated that a powerful curse would befall any would-be defilers that entered that way. The PCs also found out a hole inside the mouth of the Zotzilaha statue. It certainly looked like a trap. They resolved the matter with their first use of the Shield Guardian as Shin ordered it to grab whatever was inside the hole (a lever). The statue’s jaws did closed on the construct’s arm but to no great effect (3). This revealed another entry, one apparently without threat of a curse…

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Ziggurat’s Upper Tier (4)

Mummy Rot

After going down the stairway and taking a few turns and removing a block of basalt (put in a way so it fell on invaders), the PCs, accompanied by Vorn, entered a large room with a tomb guardian on the central dais: a Crocodile Mummy (5).

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The creature proved hard to slay (6) but they eventually prevailed, with the opportune help of the powerful Shield Guardian (7). Flyzus was bitten in the course of the fight and he could feel that something was very wrong with his wound… The PCs looted some urns in the back and found some trinkets.

Hostile Fountain

In the next room, three fountains could be seen, one still had water, one was filled with grime and the other cracked and empty. Rufb took the mummy’s pike to search through the grime and managed to fish a chained platinum key.

Approaching the water-filled fountain incited the resident Water Weird to attack. It pummeled Rufb and tried to pull him in the water but the strong Barbarian resisted the attempt easily. Yet again, the Ranger was inefficient with his (non-magic slashing) attacks but the combined might of the party still proved more than enough, splashing the walls as they bashed the Water Weird (8).

The empty fountain could be slid, revealing a vertical shaft going deeper into the ziggurat. And down they went.

Spider Sympathy

Rufb, descending first (9), put a foot on something sticky: spider webbing. A mere second later, a Giant Spider got out of its lair (a hole in the shaft). It would have attacked Rufb – he would have had a hard time defending in such a place – but for the timely intervention of Shin. Using his Hat of the Spider, the latter convinced the Giant Spider to let them pass and so, they all got on the next tier without further complications.

DM’s notes:

  1. I had hoped that most of my players and the archeologists in particular, would be there for the first « true » ruin of my Ruins of Chult Campaign but life got in the way and it was not to be…
  2. The PCs stumbled into those ruins while searching for the Shield Guardian in the jungle.
  3. Phileas insisted that they put (animal) blood inside the statue’s mouth as demanded by the proper ritual. Interesting
  4. The party, with all the missing players, would have been too weak for this dungeon without some help.  They also badly lacked utility spells/abilities…
  5. Instead of the Centaur mummy, because I had this cool looking mini.
  6. Félix/Flyzus learned the hard way that he should have spent some of his gold to have at least one magic weapon!
  7. My 6 y-o son, Isaac, happily rolled the dice for Vorn!
  8. If I remember correctly, Shin shot an explosive arrow at it too
  9. Vorn is too large to follow down the hole.

Dual Ubtao?

Chult is a special land (dinosaurs!) and so, apparently, it also deserves its own unique religion in the margin of the faerunian’s pantheon. Ubtao is the god of Chult. Or was. And, in fact, he’s not a god but a primordial, but whatever, it’s all very confusing. In Tomb of Annihilation, the module designers took the easy way out and Ubtao is simply not there. To be fair, the FR’s lore concerning him is a mess, as it often happens when the primary source is a (bad) novel (and several editions of retconning doesn’t help either).

But what is, maybe, the most mind-boggling thing about Ubtao is that he’s both the Father of the Dinosaurs AND the one who invited humans to settle in Chult. I mean, how did that go? « Come to my land, I built a great city just for you. But, uh, don’t you wander too much outside its walls ’cause my beloved children will eat your guts… »

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(Also, I’m putting aside the Shadow Giant, Dendar the Night Serpent, all the Maze stuff and, most of all, Mezro the City in Heaven. Less confusion this way.)

If I were to use Ubtao (still not sure its a good idea), here’s how I’d describe him:

Let’s just say that he’s a dual entity (like Janus or Hoar in Faerun), with a cycle where he’s active towards helping civilization, followed by a cycle where he’s more dissipated and all about claws and teeth and no pity for the weak.

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What’s interesting with this take is: what if his devoted followers can nudge him, just a little maybe – with appropriate behavior, ritual, quest and whatnot – towards his next phase, whichever it is?

Session 11 – The Hanged Man

Short session. Sadly, both my brother and sister couldn’t make it. That changed my plans. That, and we started awfully late. It is what it is…

Characters:

  • Lucky, Half-Elf Cleric of Tymora (Trickery Domain), Street Urchin; the lowly will be exalted
  • Phileas, Half-Elf Bard (College of Swords), Archeologist; “it’s not tomb-robbing if you do it respectfully”
  • Corpos, High Elf Wizard (School of Necromancy) , Archeologist; antiquary, strange fixation with the undead

Reinforcement

Corpos and Lucky were recuperating from their previous ordeals inside the ruined Camp Righteous and a supply convoy heading to Camp Vengeance made a quick stop. They were happy to see Phileas disembark to join them. The half-elf was spying on the Pick & Axe Company and had a few intel bits to share.

Also, Corpos, anticipating the difficulties ahead, managed to hire a fearsome-looking Chultan named Goro-T’so (1) with promises of gold and tej.

The Canopy Drummers

As to be expected in Batiri territory, the PCs saw that they were tailed by goblin hunters, with trained velociraptors.

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With Tymora’s opportune help, Lucky managed to spot more batiri ambushers further ahead. Acting on this knowledge the PCs started the hostilities before the trap could be fully sprung on them.  A well-placed Sleep  from the Elf wizard put the small but ferocious velociraptors out of combat early on. The bard charged one of the raptors’ handlers while Goro-T’so went the other way to attack 4 Batiri archers, with Lucky firing his crossbow at them too.

The Chultan hireling got severely wounded but he also skewered 2 Batiri, with Lucky finishing a third. The fourth managed to flee. Phileas dodged several poisoned arrows and killed 2 more Batiris with the help of Corpos flinging spells from behind.

Corpos, after the fight, decided to keep one of the sleeping velociraptor (tied up) with the idea to try to befriend the diminutive dinosaur in time.

The Hanged Man

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The PCs walked at a brisk pace, wishing to put distance from themselves and a tree platform batiri village they had spotted after their skirmish. A few hours later they saw an unusual sight, a man, or what looked like a man anyway, was hanged with a rope by the feet, some 10′ in the air. Closing in, with a horrible stench now assailing them, they could see that the man was in fact a ghoul!

The undead creature, a non-chultan male, immediately started to plead with them to let it go, offering information in exchange of its freedom.

After some back-and-forth (2), the ghoul, going with the name of Scavo, revealed many things:

  • an old creature, sporting a blue triangle on its forehead, was responsible for his present state
  • he was a Flaming Fist mercenary prior to his demise
  • he had overheard a meeting between Pick & Axe members and Batiri goblins to cement a deal against a rival tribe

The PCs finally cut the rope and let him go, suggesting that he should make himself useful and go eat some goblins nearby…

DM’s notes

  1. promises doesn’t make for loyal henchmen when they’re not kept
  2. including some unsavory methods of intimidation

Batiri Goblins: tribes and tactics

Most intelligent creatures in Chult fear the
Batiri. They are relentless trackers, skilled in
jungle lore and the use of the bow and spear.

That comes from the Jungles of Chult (1998). That makes sense, I mean, the Batiri have been in Chult for a long time, in the middle of friggin‘ Dinosaurland! They have to be some tough little buggers!

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Art: Raph Lomotan

They’ll have some annoying tricks too!

  • poisoned arrows
  • jagged arrows
  • snares, nets, exploding spores, etc.
  • steeds & pets: giant wasps, troodons, giant mantis, spiders, bats, etc.
  • shoot & hide tactics (hide as a bonus action) is PERFECT for jungle warfare

Canopy Drummers

Live on tree platforms, at least 100′ above ground. They have an alliance with the Dwarves of the Pick & Axe co.

Steeds/Pets: Giant Spiders, Spider Swarms,

Favorite tricks: poisoned javlins, spider riders, spider swarm descending from trees, poisoned arrows, velociraptor ambush, snares, pits

Batiri Tribes (homebrewed)

Black Stripes (Tasloï)

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Live in dug hole and giant hollow trees. The Black Stripes have an alliance with treants, for their mutual benefits.

Steeds & Pets: Giant Wasps

Favorite tricks: poisoned javlins, waspriders, pits

Wandering Tremors

Live on top of large dinosaurs. No fixed territory. Constant warfare with other tribes which they bully for tribute.

Steeds & Pets: all kind of dinosaurs

Favorite tricks: triceratop charger, brontosaur « fortress » with 20 batiri on it

Mystic Creepers (Kuro)

Live in round wood and hay huts. Have a long and strong tradition of shamanism. Learned magic long ago from a wizard with his soul trapped in a gem.

Steeds & Pets: Giant Centipedes, Giant Ants

Favorite tricks: entangle spell, ensnaring strike spell, shoot immobilized foes from distance, spore bombs

Egg Stealers

Live in temporary huts. Far ranging hunter-gatherers. Even more adept than other batiri at stealth.

Steeds & Pets: troodon mounts

Favorite tricks: jagged arrows, ambushed archers, hit & run troodon lancer

Session 10c – Ossuary of the Eyeless Ones

The rogue would have been useful in the first true trap-filled dungeon of the campaign but he’s dead now…

Characters

  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb, Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory
  • NPC: Leioppe, Grung, Martial Artist (Volo’s: template); level-headed frogman, member of the Order of the Infinite Leap

Twisted Tricks of Blind Racists

Into the crypts of a long-dead culture of eyeless humanoids (1), the main gimmick was that the traps were all clearly visible to the PCs. How to evade them though, that was way less clear. A room where they had to step on the pressure plates on the floor. A room where their own shadows attacked them until they closed their eyes. Stuff like that.

Hall of Bones and Statues

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A long hall bordered with rows of ominous, eyeless statues at either side. The floor is littered with countless bones. When the PCs step in, skeletons get up and attack. More and more of them. They had to get past the dark-energy filled statues with their eyes closed while fending off the waves of living bones. Not an easy feat but they managed to do it with only a few light wounds.

Exit

After some enthusiastic grave-robbing and mummy-killing the PCs arrived at the end of the dungeon. A door, with a sliver of light coming through, was barely visible amidst a wall made of bones. The central piece of the wall, a girallon skeleton, detached itself and attacked them but they didn’t have much trouble dispatching the monster.

Forbidden Valley

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While the PCs had a well-earned rest, Flyzus’ new pseudodragon pet (2) was put to good use as it surveyed the enclosed valley from the air (3). With a good idea of where to go, the refreshed adventurers were happy to leave the crypts and explore the lush valley. The signs that an ancient civilization once flourished in the valley were almost erased, with the most visible being the central pyramid now little more than a big mound covered in vegetation. They found a few dead gripplis, presumably those that were sent to collect the cure before them. And they were found too, by a creature that seeked to accomplish its purpose even now that it was masterless: a chuul.

The cheap-d&d-version-of-some-well-known-lovecraftian-entity grabbed Leioppe but succumbed before the repeated assaults of Flyzus and Rufb.

Time to Collect

Collecting the medicinal plant after that could be done without further hassle (4).  The PCs had saved the frogmen and the pottery deal could now be respected. The Mud Shaman was chastised for his ill-fated bid for power and had to compensate the PCs for their troubles with some of his magic (5).

DM’s notes

  1. morlock/grimlock style
  2. homework: Félix will have to come up with a name for next session
  3. I rushed this part of this day-long session a lot so we could finish in time…
  4. return to Three Cascade, the grippli village, was conveniently fast-forwarded
  5. 3 gems of mud elemental summoning

Session 10a – Endangered Frogs

Onward Heroic Flyzus with your new brutish buddy (who conveniently replace your dead, half-eaten companion) onward and don’t worry too much about your missing cannibal Halfling friend (who may eat you too one day), onward I say,  your world-shaking quest (of getting a shipment of pottery ) awaits!

Characters

  • Flyzus, Wood Elf Ranger (hunter), Outlander; sole survivor of his tribe after an orc invasion
  • Rufb, Half-Orc Barbarian (berserker), Mercenary Veteran; captured by pterafolks, his fellow mercenaries killed, seeks riches and glory

Of Preys and Predators

Flyzus and Rufb have a few days of travel across the jungle before arriving at the grung village. En route, Flyzus’ ranger senses told him many things:

  • they were being followed by 5 deinonychus
  • the raptors were first attracted by the scent of dead meat
  • a stegosaurus corpse laid nearby
  •  a giant (large) centipede was already feasting on the carcass

Thus began a complex ballet of circling around the monstrous centipede, the PCs and raptors trying to outmaneuver each other.

At one point, one raptor got too near the centipede and fled after being bitten and poisoned.

The 4 remaining raptors finally rushed the duo and a brutal fight ensued. Flyzus got severely wounded by a pouncing raptor but his new companion proved quite unabashed of the many wounds he himself sported.

A few hours later, the PCs were content to lay low when a herd of juvenile diplodocus was being pursued by 3 allosaurus.

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Next, they finally arrived at the grippli village of Three Cascades which was accessible only by an arduous climb. (1)

Endangered Frogs

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The PCs were clearly unwelcome. They soon discovered that many of the frogmen suffered from some kind of severe skin disease. Furthermore, the plague and its consequences had split the tribe into two rival factions, almost at war with each other.

The disease was not only fatal and highly contagious, the victims were ultimately transformed into horrible mold-monsters. A quarantine of sort was in operation, those with advanced symptoms were forcefully sent into « The Pit ».

One group, led by Nesu the Skinless, had sent its best warriors in the hope of finding a rare medicinal plant, to cure the disease. It had been many days, things did not bode well.

The other group, led by Bufo the Mud Shaman, had benefited from having the last reserve of the cure and hoped to seize power even if it meant the death of more than half the tribe.

Needless to say, the merchant’s pottery deal was now far in the list of priority of the Gripplis.

Communication between the Gripplis and the PCs was problematic, until Nesu the Skinless, some sort of magic-user, provided some « Speech-Ferns ». They looked kinda funny with the ferns on their head but at least they could understand each other.

Flyzus and Rufb decided to help the Gripplis, they would go see if they could fetch the medicinal plant they so badly needed. Nesu gave them a clay tablet that portrayed it and a grippli named Leioppe would go with them. The only way for non-jumping folks was beneath the mountain and the only entrance was (of course) through the Pit, to reach the Forbidden City where the remedy was hopefully to be found…

DM’s notes

  1. I ditched the silly Dungrunglung location with it’s incredibly dumb scenario (ToA)

Session 9 – Firefinger

This location, the Firefinger, is from Tomb of Annihilation. I used it (almost) as is. It’s one of the few good locations in the module.

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  (1)
  • Droidoc, Halfling Druid (circle of the moon), Outlander; was there when Camp Righteous fell, now he’s a cannibalistic loony

Inside a dead explorer’s backpack, the PCs had found a map with scribbled notes on it, about some sort of signal tower . They had decided to look for this « Firefinger » as it wasn’t very far from their destination.

The Firefinger

Cautiously approaching the impressive structure (it didn’t look man-made), they could see two holes, entrances really, on one of its square side, with the lower one a good 60′ above ground and the other almost as high as the canopy. A flimsy rope & wood ladder dangled from a ledge, not exactly confidence-inspiring, up to the lower entrance.

A pile of corpses and a crude net-trap indicated that the place was inhabited by more than critters.

Droidoc shapeshifted into a Giant Badass Spider and rapidly climbed to the first ledge.

Varis tried the rope but fell and almost killed himself in the process (2). Hands shaking, he drank a potion of healing and hid, whimpering amidst the ferns, as a pterafolk flew over.

The second attempt was more fortunate for Varis and he was joined by Flyzus on the precarious ledge soon after. Meanwhile Spider-Droidoc bullied his way through the webs of giant spiders (albeit a lot smaller than him) and found a dead explorer wrapped in a cocoon.

The PCs cleansed the level of its critters and got to the next climbing up a chimney. 9 dead stirges and another duly searched corpse later, the PCs continued their ascension.

No pity for the elderly

Level 3, above the trees, was home to 4 old pterafolks, 2 of them cooking with a fire under a large cauldron, one (badly) sculpting a piece of wood and a fourth poking something in a small makeshift cage with a stick. The whole lot noisily bickering, as the elderly are wont to do.

300px-Pterafolk-5e

The PCs attacked the frail pterafolks but that soon attracted the healthier ones from above. Two pterafolks, started flinging javelins at them from outside. Another, the apparent leader, big and scarred, clutched a wand.

With half the pterafolks dead (3), the combat was fierce but the PCs were mostly in  control despite magic missiles hurled at them many times.

And that’s when disaster struck.

A pterafolk inside the tower saw the opportunity to shove one of the wingless invader out to let him fall to his doom. Varis, the would-be victim, saw it coming but attempted a risky manoeuver, hoping that it would turn to his advantage. He failed miserably and, indeed, fell to the ground, 200′ below (4).

He died, the outlander, far, far from home.

Bittersweet victory

The wand-enthusiast leader (5) of the pterafolks and one of his underling, both severely wounded, fled to safer skies. Flyzus and Droidoc looted the place and looted the body of their fallen comrade.

Droidoc may have eaten part of him and he may, have kept some for later.

They found an half-orc prisoner on the highest level of the Firefinger. They also found a sad, badly malnourished pseudodragon in the makeshift cage.

DM’s notes

  1. First casualty of the Ruins of Chult campaign, I’m definitely a Lenient Dm… That and also, the « pop tart effect » of 5e is very forgiving
  2. The whole climbing and falling off a ladder thing was sooo unheroic. Would have been better skipping the checks, I think.
  3. even the elder with the pestle
  4. A last check as he fell through tree branches resulted in a 1…
  5. I wanted it to be more like Clark Ashton Smith’s pterosaurs or some such