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
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.
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.
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