Author Archives: wrathofzombie

About wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

5e Session 1 Recap- Into the River Kingdoms

I mentioned the other day that I was about to kick off my mini-campaign using the new D&D 5e rules.  I am also play-testing the hackability of my Hubris campaign book.  I am using the Bogwood Swamp territory info of the Lay of the Land and Encounters and see how well they fit in a campaign that isn’t Hubris.  So far, so good.

The River Kingdoms

The River Kingdoms

The River Kingdoms

 

Background- I’m going super-lite on the fluff because I’m not sure how long we’ll play this.  I told my players that if they want a longer break from Hubris, I totally understand and we can keep playing this (new stuff refreshes the old- also Hubris is gritty and dangerous, and I understand them wanting to branch out a lil and be heroic for once).

I decided that the northern kingdom has been in civil war for 10 years after the Grand King died and his four children are fighting for power.  The constant shifting in territory borders, changes in laws, conscription, and other various reasons- people are fleeing their homes in the northern kingdom and going else where.  Many deserters and others are going south through the mountains to the River Kingdoms.  Each “kingdom” has it’s own set of laws and there is no over-arching form of government (I’m using inspiration here from the Civil War and the Old West).  The only one law is that everyone is free.  There is no slavery.  The moment a slave enters the River Kingdoms, they are instantly free.  Anyone attempting to capture others and make them slaves is arrested and put to death.  However government is nothing without hypocrisy, so there are forms of indentured servitude…  just slavery that’s more PC.

So that’s the backdrop of the campaign- a soggy, sodden, rainy territory filled with ancient ruins, dangerous monsters, and the various kingdoms trying to etch out their own ways, while proclaiming freedom, etc.

I did give a little fluff to the elves.  I said that the elves were banished from their ancient kingdom over a thousand years ago.  In that realm they are immortal, however the “Nemesis” attacked and was conquering everything- so the elves fled to the mortal realm.  Here they are mortal and can die.  This, and the loss of their kingdom has made them bitter and feeling isolated.

T0 give them strength, High elves latched onto the magics of the material plane.  Wood elves have latched onto nature to give them strength and power.

The drow were a splinter group of high elves, led by Lillith, who desired to regain their immortality.  They were banished and fled to the underdark.  Lillith began practicing dark rites, contaminating her own people (thus transforming them into the drow we all know) and eventually was transformed into Lolth, the drow spider goddess.  Now her people worship her, continuing to practice their dark rites in the hopes of joining her.  (Aside: However they do not realize that when they die, Lolth consumes their souls to give herself even more power.  Also she fears any form of competition that might remover her from her demi-god status).

So that’s the fluff I’ve given the setting…  and it’s enough.

Players

Fletch- Dwarf barbarian

Liam- Gnome paladin

Nate- Human fighter

Stephen- Halfling barbarian

Lisa- Human ranger

Chuck- High elf sorcerer

John- Wood elf rogue

Emerging into the Swamp

The group came out of the mountain pass, guarding a old fat human merchant who is retiring and moving to Saltmarsh.  He offered to pay the group 50gp each to get him there.

The flat area of the River Kingdoms stretched before them.  The group could see various trees dotting the landscape.  However they couldn’t see the ground… a thick white fog blanketed the ground (ankle deep).

After walking in the swamp for about 40 minutes the group stumbled across an overturned canoe made of reed and straw.  Four dead lizardmen were around the craft, as were two dead humans.  The humans had been looted of their gear and goods.

As the group was walking around surveying the area they heard a panting and splashing coming towards them.  A wounded female lizardfolk  stumbled towards them.  After a moment of them all staring at one another she begged for help.  Stating that humans were attacking her village and killing her clansmen.

The group debated for a few minutes on whether or not they should get involved or that this creature was telling the truth.  Eventually the lizardfolk offered reward for help and all (including the retiring merchant) agreed.  The group set off as fast as they could with the merchants wagons slowing them down.

Who’s the Bad Guy?  Who Can We Kill?

The group formed a plan that they would see who actually was the aggressor and culprit of the supposed attack and then act accordingly.  The group saw the smoke and flames of the sacked lizardfolk village from a distance.  As they were walking up they saw a man with a longsword and an eye patch holding a dead lizardman, “Kill them all!  Don’t forget to skin them!  We can get up to 20 gold for each of their hides!”

Someone in the party said, “Ah crap, now I HAVE to kill them.”

Stephen was first into combat and cleaved one with his short sword and threw a hand axe into another nearby raider, dropping both of them.  Stephen then shouted, “You can definitely tell this isn’t Hubris!  I’m killing stuff and not afraid to just run into combat.”  This was a compliment, because that was EXACTLY what I was aiming for with Hubris.

The fight was fairly quick.  Two of the raiders fled immediately.  The leader was nearly killed by a ray of frost from Chuck, and then stabbed to death by John.  The rest of the raiders went down easily.  One surrendered and Liam tied him up to be dealt with later.

Stephen and Lisa decided to give chase on the two that ran away.  I rolled for a chance of a random encounter during the fight and, sure enough- got one.  I rolled on my Bogwood Swamp encounter list and got 2d6 Deep Ones.  I rolled 7.

Stephen and Lisa weren’t surprised by the hideous creatures jumping out of the small stream, but they were overwhelmed by their attacks and were soon unconscious and being dragged away.  The rest of the group decided to look for the group.  Stephen and Lisa succeeded at their three death saves.  The third round was when the rest of the group caught up with the Deep Ones.

Deep One

The Deep Ones all threw javelins at the party, formed a V-shaped attack pattern and began to run at the group.  At the last minute they all fell into the fog and disappeared.  The group revived Stephen and Lisa and waited for battle.  Eventually Lisa was grabbed by a Deep One and drug under the water.  John and Stephen valiantly helped her get back to the surface.

The group made quick work of these 7 hideous creatures and headed back to the Lizardfolk village.

Our Many Thanksssssss

The group offered a place to sleep at the remains of the Lizardfolk village and given a hemp necklace with a small pressed reed pendant.  Burned into the front was the symbol of the Riptooth clan.  Wearing that displayed their frienship with this clan of Lizardfolk.  They were also given a large ruby the size of a fist, called the Dragon’s Heart, and a silver short sword.

The group asked about the surrounding area and found out that there was a grouping of four stone statues (of beasts) and that the clan stayed away from it, one day to the east.  There was also a fungal forest of large mushrooms about 1 day NE of Saltmarsh.  Those who made it out were not right in the head for several days after.

The Lizardfolk said Saltmarsh was one day south from their village.  Saltmarsh is the second largest kingdom in the River Kingdoms, Graltron being the first.

The group rested up and we ended there.

Next session- To Saltmarsh

Bogwood Village

 

 

 


A Review: Grandpappy Cromdar’s Whizbang Zoo Monster Manual and Adventure!

First off I was given the book by Dave to review.  Second I am partial to Dave.  He’s done excellent artwork for my Hubris campaign setting, and he’s from Mon-fucking-tana!

Not this kind of Montanan

Not this kind of Montanan

 

But this kind of HAPPY Montanan!

But this kind of HAPPY Montanan!

 

Anyways- I digress… I’m not here to explain or examine how sexy Dave is…

We’re here to talk about Dave’s recent release of Grandpappy Cromdar’s Whizbang Zoo!  Summary- I recommend this book.  A) It’s only $5! B) It’s a happy addition to the DIY RPG community! C) It’s chock-full of tasty and fun monsters! D) There’s an awesome adventure at the end of the book!

welcometothezoo

First thing I’ll get out of the way is this is not a “serious” monster manual…  Dave states right on the first page that this is a beer and pretzel RPG book.  In this book you’ll find monsters that sling insults and warn adventurers of their presence by playing kick the can, another monster that has the favorite pastime of digesting whole sharks and turn offs include mammals, music, and waking up, or another that sounds like Winston Churchill on autotune…  If you want a serious monster manual that is also awesome, I recommend Teratic Tome by R. Chandler.  That’s not to say you can’t use this book seriously, but I think that would be missing the point and joy of Grandpappy Cromdar’s Whizbang Zoo.

Grandpappy Cromdar's Whizbang Zoo!-page017

The format of the book is easy to understand and follow.  I really dig Dave’s humor and it shows throughout this book.  His artwork is top notch and fun!  I love that his has a “as big as” in the monster info- that is PERFECT for a descriptor of a monster and gets the point across to your players quickly.  The favorite pastime and turnoffs are hilarious and, again, something that makes this book a delight and fun!

Grandpappy Cromdar's Whizbang Zoo!-page010

All in all there are 21 monsters in this book, all illustrated, and follow the same 1 page format (which I love).

After monsters you will find a HUGE 3 level dungeon with over 100 rooms!  The dungeon has a straight forward format familiar to anyone who has ever ran a dungeoncrawl before.  Level 1 has a 1 page map and then 6 pages of information, the same is said for level 2.  Level 3 has a 1 page map and 4 pages of information.

One really cool thing is that Dave includes the stats of monsters mentioned in the rooms in a single line format, which saves you from having to flip back and forth in the book (unless you want to, so you can show your players the picture).  I really appreciate this.  It’s such a small thing, but it’s a nice touch and makes me happy.  I know many modules/adventures do the same thing, but there are also many that have the “well we mentioned this creature elsewhere and now we’ll just give a page number to refer to” attitude, and that doesn’t make the book user-friendly at the table.  Dave didn’t have to do this, but he did and it shows that he has that keep shit simple, keep shit moving at the table attitude!

This book is awesome and I can’t recommend it enough, especially for the price point!  I will definitely insert this dungeon into either my Hubris campaign or my 5e mini-campaign I’ve just started running.  Seriously, get the book, run it, hack it, hug it!


Thoughts on My 5e D&D Mini-Campaign and a Plethora of Inspirational Pictures

A few weeks ago we saw the release of 5e Dungeons and Dragons, and I was pleasantly surprised with the system (for my reviews- Part One and Part Two)!  So of course with the big new shiny to play with I asked my players if they would like to take a break from our Hubris campaign (which we are about to hit the one year mark of play) and do a mini-campaign to try out 5e.  No big surprise that all my players were chomping at the bit to try out the system.

I started pondering where I would want to run the game, and of course, I started getting too carried away- thinking of a whole campaign and world building rather than just realizing that this campaign will most likely only be 4-5 sessions before we go back into Hubris.

At first I was pondering running in in Planescape, but nixed that idea when I realized how much work I’d have to put into getting everything set up to run it…  I’m too busy editing Hubris and writing notes on my next RPG book to read through a whole campaign setting right now…  So, that’s out.

So I started thinking about just mashing a bunch of things together… I also decided that this was a perfect opportunity to test one of my designs of Hubris.

When I started Hubris I wanted it to be a full campaign setting, but I also wanted it to be able to be hacked to whatever setting you wanted to use.  Maybe you don’t want to run a game in my fucked up and gritty world, but you do like the Land of Perpetual Stone and Mire, perfect- just take that land…  It’s perfectly stand alone and hackable!

So I decided I wanted to use the River Kingdoms from the Pathfinder world, Golarion (or whatever it’s called)- however, make it a bit darker and twisted (because that’s what I like to do).

The_River_Kingdomspublish

I also decided that since 5e had some serious nods to the older versions of D&D and to the OSR, I’d run an older module.  I decided to go with the Sinister Secrets of Saltmarsh since I was already decided to start this campaign in a swamp area.  This also got me excited because it meant I could run the awesome Scenic Dunnsmouth (one of the best modules/adventures ever, btw) as well!

 

This is a pretty cool old module.

This is a pretty cool old module.

 

How I see Saltmarsh

How I see Saltmarsh

Also I decided to use a swamp because it allows me to test Hubris.  I created my own swamp territory in my setting called the Bogwood Swamp.  I’m not going to use the locations in it, but I AM going to use the Lay of the Land chart and the Encounters chart to see how well they translate to a completely different setting/world.  I know it’ll be fine, but I just want to see for myself.

I plan to start with the player emerging from the mountains with a man they are escorting to Saltmarsh.  I plan to have this be a sandbox (contained within the River Kingdoms, since it’ll be a short campaign), and we’ll see where they go.  I’ll do a session write up with thoughts of 5e mechanics after we play on 9/14 and 9/21.

Inspirational Pictures

I love looking at pictures to generate ideas and use them as a reference point.  I also think it is fun and easy to show them to my players and say “this” and them get the jist rather than constant use of descriptors that can be confusing.  I also tend to use pictures to give my players a sense of the campaign rather than a huge wall of text that I know they’ll never read.

 

Here are a bunch of pics!  Enjoy!

Zxyldon 2 Wizard corruption to Deep One Servant of the Castle Sahaugin Deep One Bog Witches Beastman 2 Beastman 1 Swamp Troll Swamp thing River_Kingdoms Lizardfolk2 Lizardfolk 1

Awesome 2 Baby Doll Black Dragon Giant Gnoll Goddess of Pain and Corruption Hair Monster Hang Man Monster Necromancer Old Witch 1 Possessed Child Spider man Terror 1 Terror 2 Terror 3 Terror 4 Terror 5 Weird Horror Wood Golum WraithCreepy Town mapRed VampireBogwood 1Bogwood Swamp artBogwood SwampBogwood VillageBogwood WarriorSaltmarshSwamp CathedralNaomie HarrisWitches

 


Santicore Has Returned!!!

santicorelogo4

 

Go here!!  Read the rules!!  Submit your request!!!  Do it!!!

Long live the Santicore!!


The Magical Item Alphabet!!- W- The Wondrous Bag of Holding

The Wondrous Bag of Holding*-

Bag

This 60 pound thick tattered leather backpack is a highly sought after treasure.  It has the ability to hold an immeasurable amount of objects.  The mouth of the bag is wide enough to fit a canoe or similarly sized objects or smaller.  When someone attempts to retrieve something they must stick their hand into the bag and concentrate on the object for one round.  The person then must succeed at a Luck roll to find it.  Failure means that the object is swirling in the nether of the bag for 24 hours.  Burning a point of Luck will immediately bring the object to the person’s hand.

vortex21

Should the inside of the bag ever been torn by a sharp object, calamity will ensue.  The ripped inside of the bag opens a powerful vortex to the Void and begins sucking everything in within 96,000 square feet (roughly 2 ¼ acres).  There is no save.  There is no escape.  Once the bag has been sucked into the Void, the vortex dissipates, leaving a huge bowl shaped crater in the area.

*- This item is from the Hubris campaign setting.


The Magical Item Alphabet!!- V- The Violin of the Lamented Exile

The Violin of the Lamented Exile- Isaac Thamuel, a once a renowned and celebrated musician, fled his beloved nation after he wrote a symphony of such passion and heartbreak it caused all in the audience to go insane, many dying of a seemingly broken heart.

Violin

As the years in isolation and exile passed Isaac became more engrossed in his grief and torment.  He played his violin at many inns and taverns along his travels, and the result was nearly always the same… chaos, crushing sadness, insanity, and death.

 

Eventually Isaac was killed by a frenzied mob as he wandered into a new town, but his violin survived.  This violin is fueled with the energies of sadness, bitterness, and chaos that coursed through Isaac’s soul.

 

Should a person play a song of sadness and loss on the violin, all within a 100’ radius must make a successful save DC 18 Will save or be driven mad, suffering a permanent 2d3 Wisdom loss.  Each day the target must make another Will save at the same DC or lose a further 2d3 points of Wisdom.  Once a target has dropped to 3 or below Wisdom, they are permanently insane, lost in the prison of their own mind.  A successful Will save causes the target to snap back to reality, but does not recover the lost points.

 

Each time a person plays this violin they permanently lose a point of Charisma as their become a more surly, moody, and tortured soul.


The Magical Alphabet!!- U- Ulgarg’s Bag of Belly Buttons

The ancient and shriveled goblin shaman Ulgrag kept a bag of victim’s belly buttons as a trophy.  He would gladly take them out and show them to the other members of his clan at a moments notice. After an unfortunate incident where Ulgrag’s head ran into a knights war mace, the bag was collected and sold off to a mysterious pawn shop, simply known as “The Emporium.”  Now the shop keeper has a deal for you…

Goblin

In the bag at any given time are the belly buttons of:

Virgins (There are 10 of these)- they can be put on the fingers of a person (like black olives) and become suction cups that allow the wearer to climb sheer surfaces.  Lasts for 2d10 minutes before shriveling up and crumbling to dust.

Children (1d4 of these)- Throw at a target and it acts like the Phantasmal Killer (Wizard, lvl 4) spell.

Old People (2d4 of these)- These shriveled and nasty belly buttons can be crushed into a fine powder and blown in the eyes of a target.  The target must make a DC 14 Fort save or be blinded for 2d10 minutes and being to have horrible, violent hallucinations.  Alternatively the user can crush up four at a time and throw them at an area, which acts as the Web spell (Wizard, lvl 2).

Goblin (3d6 of these)- Ah how Ulgrag liked to carve out the belly buttons of naughty lil goblins of his clan!  Each one of these thrown summons a loyal goblin soldier (2 HP, +1 attack, AC 12, 1d4-1 dmg- rusted dagger).  These lil bastards giggle, cause mayhem, and last for 2d10 rounds or until killed.

Women (1d3 of these)- The owner can stretch this belly button out and lower it around their head.  They will be transformed into a beautiful woman (Charisma 18, +4).  The perfect disguise… or just something to do on a lonely Friday night.

Men (1d4 of these)- This can be thrown on the ground and a level 1d4 fighter will appear and serve your will.  This is a mindless husk, but very capable with a blade.  Only one of these belly buttons can be used at a time.  The fighter lasts for 2d3 rounds before disappearing.

Once all these belly buttons have been used the bag will sit empty for 1 month.  After 1 month the bag must be set under the full moon and bathed in the blood of a yak, the venom of a spider, and the spit of a whore.  Once these rites have occurred the bag will refill.

 


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