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Kærwynn - a Fierce & Feuding Feast - a Strange & Fantastical Location for your Game

A lone songbird comes to rest atop a crumbling, ruined wall of granite and blood-mossed shale, where dawn's fresh dew enchants the rising sun.
This mile-long stack of stone most ancient, most holy, shall soon sing with every honour 'pon this annual feast of fury.
Listen well, now, o'er from low-slung hill to meagre field beyond most unassuming, as the distant thunder of weathered war-drums escorts its peasant legions proud.
To the chime of pike and mace, of mail and plate, two armies now ascend, awash with eager incantations whose well-spring spoils most nobly.
For to Kærwynn they have come, to the Wall of Empires fallen. For sport and skirmish, to honour and afoul, to fill the summer sky with burnished standards bold and shimmering.
To sing again that fiery, transcendent song of flailing fist and elbow, where spill and shear their blood and flesh 'pon this most merry, handsome day!
Come, friends, come enthralled! For the time of our Field & Feast has come! For glory, then, to Kærwynn, called! Onwards, Onwards, Onwards, All!

What is Kærwynn?

The site of an ancient, barely remembered siege, where once stood a Hill-Top Fort.
All that remains now is a vague stone wall, cutting through the centre of a wide, grassy plateau.
Every year, two towns send forth a peasant rabble to partake in a sporting tournament of indiscriminate chaos, violence and brutality.
The rules - though often wildly flouted and prone to spur many a disagreement - are fairly simple.
The two opposing Village "armies" attempt to hold, and carry, a nettle-stuffed goat-bladder - coated in grease and set alight - back and forth across the remains of Kaerwynn's crumbling wall.
Weapons are strictly prohibited, as is the use of magic.
Should the ball be at any point transported across this bygone bloodstone stack, a point is scored, signalled to the crowds by a screaming arrow loosed above Kærwynn.
None in living memory have heard this sound.
The contest begins just as the sun is most high, and the first star seen near sunlight's fall brings the game to its end. The feasting, music, and merrymaking continues for many days thereafter.

Sights, Sounds, & Smells

Use this section as a quick reference during play, or at the start of a Session to refresh your GM senses!

- Huge roaming crowds of bawdy, bruised, drunken, brash, jolly folk of all manner & persuasion.
- Horses and oxen, Barrows and carts, bundled and stacked with produce and wares for sale.
- Fires, encampments, tents & bivouacs.
- A great and misty field upon a downland plateau.

- Cheers, whoops, hollers, yawls, screams, & songs.
- The thundering of many hundreds of pairs of booted feet upon turf and crumbling wall.
- The jig of fiddles, lyres, banjos, dulcimers, & drums.
- Peddler yells & calls as the many merchants and stall-holders hawk their produce.

- Bonfires.
- Mead, Ale, Wine & all manner of distilled spirits.
- Sweat, urine, vomit, faeces, dung, blood.
- Roasting meats, stews, soups, pies, etc, etc.

Local Economy

The grand contest's festivities are rich with attendant trade, and the sheer enormity of the gathering offers a banquet of financial opportunity.
A sizeable portion of coin is passed back and forth among the many gamblers and their ilk. Fortunes are said to have been made at Kærwynn, betting on everything to knock-outs to teeth declared.
Merchants grand and small use the Feast as a time not only to sell, but to make alliances, forge partnerships, sign contracts, and host grand spectacles to show off their wealth.
All is abuzz with capital - from the meagrest, dirt stained copper purchasing sweet hot-loaves, to the coin-purses stuffed with precious jewels thrown to the swivel-headed bookmakers.


Aside from the large number of onlookers, participants and their parties, the Feast of Kaerwynn brings all manner of trades-folk and wily entrepreneurs.
Cooks, ale-makers, luck-charmers, souvenir-hawkers, armourers, blacksmiths, clerics, herbalists, and more, arrive with barrows teetering and tents stuffed to bursting with varied wares and services.
For many come to gawp and cheer, to behold the chaos and rejoice in the keeping (and settling) of many a-score.
Among the crowds, too, are those who attend to cherry-pick the best fighters, those of brawn and brain, to offer to them expedition and adventure of a far more dangerous kind.


Legends! Tales! Stories for the fireplace and the ale-house! Far and wide do such things go, to the horror of some, and the pride of many more!
Champions, too, go forth into the world, and it is enough to bend the ear of many a tavern-goer should a Kærwynnian sup of an ale 'pon a nearby stool.

Lodgings & Shelter

The fields about Kaerwynn become something of a makeshift village during the Feast, and lodging may be found beneath any number of comfortable canvases here and there, if one is willing to part with a sizeable weight of coin.
The Traveller would be wiser to bring a tent or bed-roll of their own, and to arrive early to secure a good pitch.
In truth, not a great deal of sleep is to be had, as the festivities roll far either side of the Feast Day, with naught much to discern day from night beside moon and sun.

Hierarchy & Political Structure

At dusk upon the eve of each Feast, each "army" elects a Kærwynn "King" or "Queen"; tradition dictates this be a child, crowned with what remains of the charred, nettle-stuffed goat's bladder of the previous year's contest.
Throughout the day, they are seated on a high platform so that they might view the entire field of play, and enjoy tribute and honours from all around.
Most years, this King or Queen is the orphaned child of a parent lost the previous year; for though Kaerwynn be a sporting feast, it feeds 'pon broken bones and blood and bile and - often - lives.
Second to this "royal" figurehead are the many Captains; veterans, all, of the Feast of Kaerwynn, and fierce in the discharge of their duties.
Some are drunkards delighting in the occasion, some barbarians who come for glory, some shrewd tacticians keen to turn the screw upon their opponents, or to weaken them far beyond the fields of this noble Hill.
A clutch of Elders adjudicate general infractions, dispensing any rulings as necessary. These are wizened old-hands of the Feast, though frequently taken more by plum-wine, gambling and cavorting than by their duties to the Field of Play.
The Elders are also charged with official scoring, although none have managed a point in recent memory.
Despite random (and frequent) acts of petty crime, there is no law in attendance; no constable, nor guard, nor sheriff wanders Kærwynn.


Kærwynn's origins being lost to time, it is known now only for its festivities. Many see opportunities to settle debts or quash grudges, others a chance to gain notoriety and renown, or to profit handsomely in coin.
Despite arriving with all manner of edged and mêlée weapons, participants are forbidden from using such tools of war during the Feast.
It is to be remembered that the use of weapons and magic is strictly prohibited upon the Field.
Various articles are smuggled into play, however; knuckle-dusters and various steel and iron toe accoutrements being highly favoured, along with hempen hand-wraps dipped in honey, broken glass, and thistle-thorns.
Bucklers (smuggled onto the Field as belt and boot buckles) are also popular choice, their use being two-fold; defensive and offensive.
Many a bard's tale mentions the spirit of ingenuity alive at Kærwynn!
One such tale is of a farmer being removed from the field for employing a stout and heavy cast iron frying pan pilfered from a canteen. Another story tells of a villager clothing a wild black-bear in the garb of a human, and setting it loose upon the field.
Rare are they who enter play seeking to murder, and an unruly equilibrium tempers the chaos, ensuring the brutality teeters at the edge of death's grip.
That mighty end being everywhere, however, it makes no exceptions for Kærwynn; injuries abound, much blood is spilled, and it is not unusual for a handful of people to lose their lives variously to unforeseen accidents and innocent incidents each year somewhere upon the Field.
Indeed, this is where many even dream of meeting their end.

Residents of Note:

ancestries have not been allocated, allowing the GM to assign as appropriate.

Kesh Fallewarr - Village Captain

Long, silver hair pinned tidily up; Dressed in stained, rough grey flannel, with a large, billowing black neck-scarf tied about the collar of a coarse blouse.
Their hands are greasy and darkly stained from polishing armour.
They smoke a curved yellow clay-pipe, and speak calmly, flatly, employing the most foul language as though it were seasoning the air.

Toradim Hallowmeer - Village Captain

A shaved head that shows many scars, and a single eye-glass through which they squint up at the sky, as though forever expecting rain.
They speak several languages fluently, and are keen to engage any in their native tongue.
From time to time they might be spied smearing mud from the ground across their leather armour, and muttering to themselves; whether prayers or curses, who could say?

Puk Snursbok - Elder

Dressed in black buttoned, woollen shirt rolled to the elbows, brown woollen trousers, and oversized boots without laces. Their black hair, smartly slicked with short back and sides, glistens above their bright blue skin.
Always rolling three small black pebbles about in their hand which, from time to time, are shaken and slammed down upon the nearest surface. Delighted or disappointed at the result, their purpose remains unclear.
They seem to know much about a great many people, and they enjoy the whispering and hoarding of secrets.

Shesd Arweka - Elder

Dressed in old leathers and worn chain-mail, they sit upon a goat-skin stool, chewing on a long-stemmed root, and squinting out at all before them.
They're known for liberally yelling foul curses and proclamations at attendants, and for throwing generous gifts of unusual coin to those who fight well or tell a good joke as they pass.
Over the years, they have come to believe that folk generally keep their distance out of some great respect, but - in truth - t’is their utterly foul body odours, along with the increasingly wild rumours of their involvement in the brutal slaying of a party of several Feast-goers during the previous year’s contest.

Skrouch Affaladeer

An affable, and popular, wandering seller of baked potatoes.
Skrouch moves with a heavy limp, and is almost impossibly broad, and tall.
Their wheezy, guttural laugh is heard long before they're seen, their fire-blackened hands endlessly greeting and bidding fondness and farewells to their many customers.
They are accompanied, as they go, by a small horde of children, each adept in juggling and tomfoolery.

Pishon Poewalder

A scruffy, rake-thin pick-pocket and ne'er-do-well on the look out for whatever slim opportunities fall before them.
They seem never to sleep, eat, nor drink, and are alert to a great many things.
They are accompanied by a blind squirrel, and the pair whisper back and forth all manner of sour curses and spit-speckled oaths.

Some Adventure Hook Ideas

This list is by no means exhaustive, and is intended simply to stir the pot of your own imagination.
Use what follows as starting-points, or ignore them entirely in favour of your own Adventure Hooks!
1 - a detestable Mage has poisoned the waters of the nearby streams with a curse that will place all under their control; in essence : instant army, just add water.
2 - the spirits of the Dead of the ancient battle of Kærwynn, having had their fill of this yearly cacophony, and finding their memory thoroughly bespoiled, rise up to smite these ungodly invaders!
3 - One of the Residents of Note has been murdered, seemingly for several hours before being discovered. Their large hoard of coin is untouched.
4 - a Noble family’s heir/heiress has snuck to Kærwynn, seeking adventure and glory! The Party have been hired to find, and return them home.
5 - one of the Party has familial ties to one of the Peasant Armies, and are called upon to fulfil their duties via participation.
6 - the Party have been hired to protect a vast prize of Coin being offered - for the very first time - to the victors of this year's Feast! Every corner of the field is abuzz with rumours of it, and the threat of thievery pervades.

Random Kærwynn Encounters

Roll 1d8 for a Kærwynnian Encounter!
1 - An explosion rings out, blasting a crater into the field of play, sending participants flying in all directions.
2 - A herd of rampaging creatures enters the field.
3 - All around, Villagers are doubled over, vomiting a vile and acrid liquid.
4 - A “potion” seller sets up shop selling flavoured waters, convincing people it’ll enhance their physical prowess during the Contest.
5 - A farmer hands out heavy, fist-sized bags of seed, encouraging folk to use them as weapons. Unbeknownst to all, the seeds are under an enchantment, and will sprout as soon as they hit the dirt.
6 - Several Villagers with sleeply-poison tipped blades secreted in the tip of their boot are causing a sharp and chaotic havoc in sections of the onlooking crowd.
7 - A mysterious shower consisting of marbles and ball bearings rains down from above; none seem sure of their origin or cause.
8 - A Dragon makes itself known upon the Field, demanding an end to this noisily unruly Festival once and for all.

Kærwynnian Foods Roll-Table

Roll 1d10 for a tasty Kærwynn Snack
1 - Kings/Queens Fingers - a spiced parsnip on a stick, surrounded by a cake like substance, and dipped into a strawberry jam. Created in homage to the Kærwynn King & Queen, and one of the Feast’s oldest known attendant traditions.
2 - Liver & Radishes - a coarse, pale stew seasoned with peppery shredded radish, served with stale bread and apple sauce.
3 - Stuffed Pine Mushrooms - large, easy to find mushrooms that have been stuffed with hard cheese that has been melted to be softer, along with some small roasted pine nuts.
4 - Grey Light Garnish - a salad-like meal consisting of a local grey moss that glows dimly with an ingredient rumoured to enhance one’s strength; widely believed but never proved.
5 - Chug-Knuckles - small hazel-type nuts; boiled, smashed, spiced, and served in small deep-fried balls. Wonderful projectiles once cooled and hardened, but also excellent with rice and chilli jam.
6 - Posst - a wooden skewer onto which various vegetables chunks have been strung, before the entire thing is dripped in pigeon fat and roasted over an open fire.
(Albyon’s note : the name of this simple culinary pleasure derives from the noise the dripping bird fat makes upon the flames of an open campfire)
7 - Pickled Toad Spawn - something of an acquired taste, and mostly enjoyed by the inebriated, this unusual delicacy clears the sinuses and invigorates the lungs.
8 - Squab Pie - small, yet hearty, pies seen as something of a delicacy. The outside edge of the pastry is decorated with the marks of rooks' feet.
9 - Collops - slices of steamed meat served with boiled eggs, all wrapped up in a sweet, caraway seeded flatbread.
10 - Crab-Apple Toffees - a sweet and simple pleasure enjoyed by all ages that forever pins their memory to Kærwynn.

Trinket Roll-Table

Roll 1d20 for a Kærwynn Trinket!
1 - A child's rib wrapped in red-woollen thread.
2 - A rusted prick spur decorated with the letters R.H.
3 - A crimson velvet covered brigandine, partially set ablaze and abandoned.
4 - A short-sword’s pommel decorated with a family coat of arms in faded enamel.
5 - a pouch of teeth, and teeth fragments, collected by children post battle, often sold to spell slingers.
6 - Woollen finger puppets of various heroic competitors of the past.
7 - Fox-fur mittens, stuffed and padded at the knuckles.
8 - A wooden club studded with beaver teeth.
9 - A pocket-sized handbook detailing impact and injury points.
10 - A sackful of stones, each one painted to look like a chunk of bread.
11 - Arrow heads dipped in tar-like poisons.
12 - A silken neckerchief that seems to weigh nothing at all, yet is heavy with the scent of honeysuckle.
13 - A small sacking-cloth pouch full of Wheatear beaks.
14 - A live Hare, tied up in a sack filled with the mist of some unknown spell(s).
15 - A large Haddock, and as though freshly plucked from the sea only moments ago.
16 - A small sack of potatoes that seem to explode into variously coloured powders when thrown.
17 - A pair of dark metal eye-goggles, the lenses of which appear to reveal metal objects upon any person.
18 - A large wheel of cheese that rolls along behind its owner.
19 - A wooden bucket full of a thick, flammable paste.
20 - A pale silver arrow sporting a rather finely carved whistling-tip.

Albyon’s Final Notes for the GM ~

pull apart this location so fantastically strange,
toss aside all that irks to better rearrange
the unspooling of inspirations, the pearls of this trade,
to stitch anew an Adventure, a Quest freshly made,
t’wards a tale of your party's own Kærwynn!

For the best experience deploying our strange & fantastical locations in your game, we highly recommend utilising our free wondrous website, with its easy-to-use drop down menus, and simple navigational aids to steer you towards spectacular adventures!

You may also enjoy these previous Reddit posts from Albyon Absey's Geographical Almanac A-Z :

Aeodreyal (an inter-planar astral pirate cove)

Baron Arcadia's Circus Fortuna (a dizzying carnival of delights)

Caevieyeriva (a trading post hidden within an iceberg obscuring a giant octopus)

Drunstowr (a blackwater swamp home to a death cult and forgotten gods)

Elithyr (a fey-cursed doll's house in the window of a fire-ravaged toy shop)

Folly of Sorrows (a crumbling tower of lovelorn curses and vengeful cults)

Hirathaya (two villages, unknown to one another, separated by a ravine full of mycelial mists)

Imbruustafal (a shattered sky-scrapingtower of monsters and mayhem)

Jaittura (a trading post inside the hollowed eye-socket of a wandering titan)

Littlewind (a coastal village of blue sand, bioluminescent mosses and unusual customs)

Meadowmont (a snowy-mountainous vale hiding strange orchards, meadows, and a vast arcane bestiary)

Nesteropetes (a flying log piloted by talking squirrels)

Odonata (a giant dragonfly housing 4 clans and their strange trading post)

Rusthollow(an ancient, future battlefield littered with arcane technologies and strange magic)

Sternwater (a were-rat infested village of muck and mire)

Tuulinen (a wind battered plain of death and spirits sat above an abandoned salt-mine)

Uurastalt (a demonic wasteland of obsidian fire)

Vosgadh (a desert trading post locked within a deadly sandstorm)

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17:30 UTC


These Demonic Angels Want to Feast on Your Emotions - Lore & History of the Sorrowsworn

Gaze in terror at these shadow beasts on Dump Stat


Part demon, part servant, and part emotion, the Sorrowsworn are creatures of despair and, you guessed it, sorrow. They are foul creatures who are terrifying to face, incredibly strong, and feed off the mental anguish of others.

Before we dive into this very messed-up demon, we just want to put a warning out there. Sorrowsworn delight in the misery and failures of others, so if topics of depression and misery aren’t exactly your thing right now, we recommend checking out a happier monster, like the Faerie Dragon!


3e/3.5e - Demon, Sorrowsworn

Large Outsider (Chaotic, Evil, Extraplanar, Tanar’ri)

Hit Dice: 18d8+216 (297 hp)

Initiative: +7

Speed: 40 ft (8 squares), fly 80 ft. (poor)

Armor Class: 28 (–1 size, +3 Dex, +16 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 25

Base Attack/Grapple: +18/+31

Attacks: +2 glaive +23 melee (2d8+25)* or bite +21 melee (1d8+14 plus 1 Con)*

Full Attack: +2 glaive +23/+18/+13/+8 melee (2d8+25)* and bite +16 melee (1d8+9 plus 1 Con)* or 2 claws +21 melee (1d6+14)* and bite +16 melee (1d8+9 plus 1 Con)*

Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft. (glaive 15–20 ft. only)

Special Attacks: Aura of loss, spell-like abilities, whispers of loss

Special Qualities: Damage reduction 10/cold iron and good, darkvision 60 ft., immunity to electricity and poison, mind reading, outsider traits, resistance to acid 10, cold 10, and fire 10, spell resistance 25, strong willed, telepathy 100 ft.

Saves: Fort +22, Ref +14, Will +17 (+21 against mind-affecting spells and abilities

Abilities: Str 29, Dex 17, Con 32, Int 20, Wis 22, Cha 21

Skills: Bluff +26, Concentration +32, Diplomacy +9, Hide +28, Intimidate +28, Knowledge (arcana) +26, Knowledge (geography) +26, Knowledge (the planes) +26, Listen +29, Move Silently +32, Sense Motive +27, Spellcraft +28, Spot +29, Survival +35 (+37 on other planes, +37 avoiding getting lost and hazards)

Feats: Ability Focus (aura of loss), Alertness, Cleave, Combat Reflexes, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Improved Toughness, Power Attack

Climate/Terrain: Infinite Layers of the Abyss

Organization: Solitary

Challenge Rating: 17

Treasure: Standard coins; double goods; standard items, plus +2 glaive

Alignment: Always chaotic evil

Advancement: 19–36 HD (Large); 37–72 HD (Huge)

Level Adjustment: -

A sickly thin demon standing 15 feet tall with bat wings, this creature of sadness and pain, the Sorrowsworn, first appears in Monster Manual III (2004). Twisted horns protrude from the top of its head, and the creature has a wide mouth and hooked claws as hands. While it may look like a sad and severely depressed demon, it appears this way to mock the pain and suffering that its victims feel. If you feel happy because you just killed a dragon and have multiple bags of holding filled with its hoard, you're not safe from the creature. They will force you to remember everything painful you have felt in your life and even suffer through the pain of things that have not, and may not, happen to you.

How does the Sorrowsworn go about this? It has several abilities that allow it to eat your pain and suffering, just like those bullies in high school. It's a sneaky bastard and will hide, waiting for the right moment to strike and when you are at your emotional weakest. Though, if you expect to see it trying to hide its 15-foot frame behind a bush, you are going to be disappointed since it has access to spells like invisibility and nondetection.

Once it is ready to strike, this gaunt demon of sorrow will first cast greater dispel magic on whoever has the most buffs or auras, like your cleric. This is followed by it casting mind fog, which causes Will saves to tank while in the spell’s effect. On the third round, it then casts feeblemind on the most powerful spell caster, like your wizard, and then teleports into the thick of things and begins tearing with claws, biting with teeth, or slashing with their magical glaive.

Once you are surrounded, or well, you have the Sorrowsworn surrounded, it then activates its aura of loss ability. All creatures near the horrid demon start getting very sad and must make a Will save or find spellcasting to be far more challenging than it ever was before as now you have to contend with your inner demons telling you that you aren’t good enough. If your mind telling you that your father will never be proud of you isn’t enough to make you want to leave the fight and cry in a corner, good news is that the Sorrowsworn will also be talking about how you were always a disappointment and how no one could ever possibly love you. It can even access the most vulnerable parts that you keep locked up tight since it can read your thoughts and will capitalize on your mental weakness.

Once you are an emotional wreck - well, even more so than usual - the Sorrowsworn can then begin targeting creatures that are very sad with its whispers of loss ability that will make you sob like a baby with three different flavors of depression: Future Sorrow, Great Emptiness, and Past Losses. Future Sorrow fills your head with bad things to come, and you'll wonder why you even try to prevent them from happening, and you get to be stunned for two rounds. Great Emptiness shows that all great battles or wars result in nothing changing and that the greater good is a fallacy, so you should abandon trying to make a better world, leaving you confused for five rounds. The last, Past Losses, is the opposite of Future Sorrow, with the death of your friends and family crushing your heart and soul, leaving you dazed for three rounds.

While you’re crying and wondering why you should even go on, the Sorrowsworn then takes the opportunity to use more of its offensive spells, use its glaive, teeth, claws, or maybe even more mental anguish to overwhelm you and your party, leaving you in need of an owlbear plush to cry into.


4e - Sorrowsworn Soulripper

Level 25 Skirmisher

Medium shadow humanoid / XP 7,000

Initiative +27

Senses Perception +27; darkvision

HP 236; Bloodied 118

AC 39; Fortitude 35, Reflex 39, Will 36; see also Bleak Visage

Speed 10; see also Sorrow’s Rush

Claw (standard; at-will) Psychic +30 vs. AC; 2d8 + 7 plus 2d8 psychic damage.

Flutter and Strike (standard; recharge 4-6) Psychic, Teleportation The sorrowsworn soulripper teleports 10 squares and makes a claw attack, gaining combat advantage against its target.

Sorrow’s Rush (standard; encounter) Psychic The sorrowsworn soulripper moves up to 10 squares and makes three claw attacks at any points during its move. Each attack must be made against a different target.

Bleak Visage Fear Melee and ranged attacks made against the sorrowsworn soulripper take a –2 penalty to the attack roll.

Combat Advantage The sorrowsworn soulripper deals an extra 3d6 damage on attacks against any target it has combat advantage against.

Alignment Unaligned / Languages Common

Skills Insight +27, Stealth +30

Str 24 (+19) Dex 36 (+25) Wis 31 (22) Con 28 (+21) Int 18 (+16) Cha 22 (+18)

Because this edition wants you to continue feeling emotional pain and misery, there are now three Sworrowsworn, all found in the Monster Manual (2008) with the Sorrowsworn Soulripper, Sorrowsworn Reaper, and Sorrowsworn Deathlord. Each still preys on your guilt of those who died and the impending deaths of those you love, but now they aren’t quite as horrific as before. While they still look like demons, they are in fact not demonic or fiends. Instead, they are death incarnate itself, basically twisted angels of the Shadowfell who track down mortals who refuse to die, like liches or vampires.

As one might guess for twisted angels of shadow, they are under the employ of the Raven Queen and many shadar-kai crave to one day ascend and become a Sorrowsworn. The shadar-kai see this ascension as a way to obtain their desperately desired immortality, which we guess means that the Raven Queen is cool if her favorite servants get to live forever, but everyone else needs to die.

Looking at the Sorrowsworn, the Soulripper is a sneaky death angel, stalking its target and surprising them from the shadows. It can move quickly into battle, and then ripping through large hordes of creatures as it moves, like a swirling hurricane of death, claws, and sorrow. After them are the Reapers who target a single creature to inflict as much pain as possible. We all know it hopes that all that pain results in your death, and we're sure it will bring the Sorrowsworn some sick sense of pleasure. It utilizes a scythe, just like a real angel of death, and attempts to rip your very soul out. If it can reduce you to 0 hit points, not only does that put you pretty close to absolute death, but it also heals the Sorrowsworn, restoring some lost hit points every time it brings a creature to death. If this happens, just know your party will experience a mix of emotions. They’ll be sad to see your broken corpse on the ground, but also very angry with you since you now just healed the enemy you selfish jerk!

The Deathlord is the most powerful of the bunch. It can phase in and out of the walls between attacks, all the while it rips you apart, which is beyond frustrating to fight. Even if you do manage to hit the Deathlord, more than likely it’ll be insubstantial, allowing it to ignore part of your damage. If you think those three are particularly annoying to fight, wait until you have to face a swarm of Sorrowsworn with the Shadowraven Swarm. They look like ravens, but when they gather into a swarm, they are almost as powerful as a Deathlord and only get more painful to fight the more damage you deal to it.

In the Manual of the Planes (2008), the Sorrowsworn hunt nightwalkers and death giants, seeing such creatures as contaminating the Shadowfell. Nightwalkers are creatures made out of shadow, undead who live on the fringes of the Shadowfell. The text gives us information about the Sorrowsworn who reside in the Shadowfell, most of which we've discussed already. We find out that a truly impressive Sorrowsworn can rise to become a Raven Knight, the foremost soldier in the Raven Queen's army with even more information on the Raven Knight found in Open Grave: Secrets of the Undead (2009).

If you are wondering if all Sorrowsworn are content to serve Raven Queen, well we are here to burst your bubble with the adventure Winter of the Witch by Stephen Radney-MacFarland in Dungeon #162 (Jan. 2009). This Deathlord, Morthalat, is a renegade and serves as a chief agent for Orcus. If you know anything about Orcus, then you know that Orcus believes that life continues into undeath and is the biggest enemy of the Raven Queen. It’s a shame Morthalat decided to turn from the Raven Queen, especially since your group of adventurers get to take the Sorrowsworn down.

In the adventure E1 - Death's Reach (2009), we are introduced to the Sorrowsworn Fleshripper and Sorrowsworn Doomguard. The Fleshripper is armed with spiked gauntlets. They move around the battlefield quickly, punching you repeatedly in the face while you remember better days of not being punched in the face. The Doomguard wields a scythe and can teleport, which is kind of like cosplaying as Death itself. If you are hit by the scythe, prepare to be immobilized by Shadow Reap, which will heal the Doomguard if you are reduced to 0 hit points by the attack.

The adventure E2 - Kingdom of Ghouls (2009) brings us the Sorrowsworn Dread Wraith and Sorrowsorn Blade. The Sorrowsworn Blade is charged with the psychic energy of their wielder, dealing slashing and psychic damage to any who get too close. The Dread Wraith is truly frightening. It regenerates and has an aura that reduces bright light to dim light called Shroud of Night. In addition, it can teleport, daze you, and eventually raise you as a Spawn Wraith when, not if, it kills you.

Not surprisingly, the Sorrowsworn are brought up throughout the sourcebook The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond (2011). It tells us about Vorkesis, considered the first of the Sorrowsworn and the current exarch of the Raven Queen. Being born without eyes doesn't impede his sight, as he can see far and wide. He also only has one hand, in which he wields a black longspear.

Vorkesis primary responsibility is to guard the souls of epic heroes. He does so with a variety of abilities and his deadly longspear. He is a powerful warrior, as befits an exarch’s position, and is a skirmisher without equal. He can turn invisible, launch his spear with ferocity, and deal tons of damage against single-target creatures, making him quite the dangerous enemy to have.

In addition, Vorkesis is also known as the Master of Fate and knows the fate of every creature that has lived, is currently living, or is dead. If you're curious about this and behave yourself in his presence, Vorkesis will happily regale you with stories, for being around mortals lets him experience what everyday life is like. Maybe if you are really unlucky, he’ll even let you know how you’ll die, giving you a firsthand experience with his longspear.


5e - The Angry / Angry Sorrowsworn

Medium Monstrosity, Neutral Evil

Armor Class 18 (natural armor)

Hit Points 255 (30d8 + 120)

Speed 30 ft.

Str 17 (+3) Dex 10 (+0) Con 19 (+4) Int 8 (-1) Wis 13 (+1) Cha 6 (-2)

Skills Perception +11

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing while in dim light or darkness

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 21

Languages Common

Challenge 13 (10,000 XP) Proficiency Bonus +5

Two Heads. The sorrowsworn has advantage on saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned, or knocked unconscious.

Rising Anger. If another creature deals damage to the sorrowsworn, the sorrowsworn’s attack rolls have advantage until the end of its next turn, and the first time it hits with a Hook attack on its next turn, the attack’s target takes an extra 19 (3d12) psychic damage.

On its turn, the sorrowsworn has disadvantage on attack rolls if no other creature has dealt damage to it since the end of its last turn.

Multiattack. The sorrowsworn makes two Hook attacks.

Hook. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d12 + 3) piercing damage.

Five Sorrowsworn are first found in Morkenkainen's Tome of Foes (2018) before being reprinted in Morkenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse (2022). The five are The Angry, The Hungry, The Lost, The Lonely, and The Wretched, though in Monsters of the Multiverse they drop the definite article and add Sorrowsworn to the end.

They get a lot of changes in this edition and are completely different from both previous editions. They are now monstrosities when they were demons or shadow beasts before, and have a much lower Challenge Rating, so not quite as dangerous. In addition, they are the embodiment of emotions in the Shadowfell, only forming when intense emotions are felt in the plane of shadow.

We start with the super-weak Wretched Sorrowsworn that only clocks in at a Challenge Rating of 1/4, far weaker than any true Sorrowsworn should be. These small creatures travel in packs, biting and attaching themselves to you on a successful attack. They wander the Shadowfell, feeding on their victim's life force to stay alive. Far, far above them are the CR 7 Lost Sorrowsworn who twist their victims all around in the Shadowfell until they have no idea where they are, causing the rising fear of being lost to become their primary emotion. The Lost have five long spikes for arms, stabbing and grappling you when these arms pierce your flesh.

Next up is the Lonely Sorrowsworn, who prove that you are never truly alone while you are lost. They hunt those who feel alone and abandoned. When you are up close and personal, they drain you of your mental energy, though if you try to get away from them, they’ll launch their harpoon arm at you, and reel you back in since they’re probably scared of the dark and don’t want to be alone. Of course, they aren’t quite as horrifying as the Hungry Sorrowspawn who has a huge maw, eating everything in sight. They are forever hungry and can unhinge their jaws to fill it with whatever they can find. If you decide that fighting these creatures is starting to hurt, and you regain hit points, the Hungry gets incredibly upset that you didn’t feed it too, and gains bonuses to attacks and damage.

The last Sorrowsworn are the CR 13 Angry Sorrowsworn, and we don’t mean that they are just upset. We literally mean they are the essence of anger, though you’d be forgiven if you just thought they were a weird, malformed albino hook horror. They feature two heads, hooks for arms and hands, and an anger problem that you won’t be able to help them with. If you do fight them, you just made a horrible mistake as they get stronger when they are attacked, so we guess the best strategy is to run away as fast as possible… or maybe that would also make them angry? Maybe the best thing to do is just let the barbarian and the Angry figure out their anger issues between them.


So there we have it, the Sorrowsworn. They've been demons, shadow beasts, and monstrosities. They've fed off your anguish, been guards of the Shadowfell, and attempted to eat you. No matter what edition you play, they are creatures to be feared and approached with caution.

###Past Deep Dives #####Creatures: Aarakocra / Aboleth / Ankheg / Balhannoth / Banshee / Beholder / Berbalang / Blink Dog / Bulette / Bullywug / Chain Devil / Chimera / Chuul / Cockatrice / Couatl / Displacer Beast / Djinni / Doppelganger / Dracolich / Dragon Turtle / Dragonborn / Drow / Dryad / Faerie Dragon / Flumph / Formian / Frost Giant / Gelatinous Cube / Genasi / Ghoul / Giant Space Hamster / Gibbering Mouther / Giff / Gith / Gnoll / Goliath / Grell / Grippli / Grisgol / Grung / Hag / Harpy / Hell Hound / Hobgoblin / Hook Horror / Invisible Stalker / Kappa / Ki-rin / Kobold / Kraken / Kuo-Toa / Lich / Lizardfolk / Manticore / Medusa / Mercane (Arcane) / Mimic / Mind Flayer / Modron / Naga / Neogi / Nothic / Oni / Otyugh / Owlbear / Rakshasa / Redcap / Revenant / Rust Monster / Sahuagin / Scarecrow / Seawolf / Shadar-Kai / Shardmind / Shield Guardian / Star Spawn / Storm Giant / Slaadi / Tabaxi / Tarrasque / Thought Eater / Tiefling / Tirapheg / Umber Hulk / Vampire / Werewolf / Wyvern / Xorn / Xvart

Class: Barbarian Class / Cleric Class / Wizard Class

#####Spells: Fireball Spell / Lost Spells / Named Spells / Quest Spells / Wish Spell #####Other: The History of Bigby / The History of the Blood War / The History of the Raven Queen / The History of the Red Wizards / The History of Vecna

13:57 UTC


Changes to Our Rule 7 (No Advertising)

Hi All,

We started allowing people linking to their Patreon accounts about 2 years ago, in an effort to be more community-minded, which started off to great success.

However, as you may have noticed, recently we have a noticed a trend where contributors are not just linking to a PDF of the resource (our original intent when the rule was changed), but including multiple links to their Patreon splash page, and spending a significant portion of their post talking about their Patreon and the other resources that they contain. Many of those resources being hyped up are not free, and are treating the subreddit as a store front.

We have made the decision that going forward, we are no longer going to allow Patreon accounts to be linked. This is not an easy choice, but we feel it is best for the health of the subreddit going forward.

You may still continue to post PWYW and free resources that are linked to a cloud-storage site, or a blog.

This does not change any of our other advertising rules, which you can read in full here.


17:55 UTC


On July 1st, Reddit Will Kill 3rd Party Apps. Will DNDBTS Join the Site-Wide Blackout Protest?

Hi All,

We wanted to make this announcement to get the community's feedback on what we, as a subreddit, should do in response. As some of you may already know, in its lead up to an IPO in the second half of this year, Reddit is making some significant changes to its website.

What's happening?

API Pricing Changes

Reddit recently announced major pricing changes to their API, which is the software interface that all major 3rd party applications and bots rely upon to function. These pricing changes are so extreme that all major apps will be forced to cease operating as they cannot bear the costs. As an example, the developer of Apollo revealed they would be forced to pay reddit upwards of $20 million USD/year just to continue operating under the new pricing scheme. Apollo's developer compares this to $166 for the same number of calls to Imgur, which is lower by two orders of magnitude.

The consensus from the developers behind these apps is that reddit is trying to price them out of existence in order to force users to switch to the official reddit mobile app. Not only will they be forced to pay ridiculous sums (which they cannot cover) to maintain access to the API, changes to the ToS also prohibit these apps from using ad revenue to offset the new costs.

You can find some of their statements below:

How will this affect me?

Any users who rely on 3rd party applications (like those above) to browse reddit will find that the apps will cease to function after July 1st, when the pricing change goes into effect.

While it has never been explicitly stated by reddit, there is also a large concern that this move to consolidate mobile users to the official app could be a sign that they are planning to fully deprecate the old version of their desktop site (old.reddit.com) in order to consolidate users on the redesign as well.

What can we do to stop this?

Moderators from hundreds of communities across reddit have drafted and signed an open letter to reddit, asking them to reconsider the pricing scheme and to recognize the role that 3rd party apps have played in reddit's ongoing success. You can read the open letter here:

Should the open letter fall on deaf ears, many communities are also preparing subreddit blackouts in protest. This type of protest has been used to great effect in the past, however it is also highly disruptive to the communities participating.

As the mod team for this great community our primary goal is to make sure we are serving you all to the best of our ability. We feel strongly that this is a worthy cause and that the outcome will have a massive effect on the future viability and success of the entire platform. We want to join the 500+ communities that have already committed to this action and demonstrate that our community answers the call in times of need. The mod team is planning on signing the open letter at the very least.

Our moderation team does 95% of its moderating via mobile. If Reddit decides to go through with this, our subreddit's content stream will slow down considerably, and on weekends it may take awhile to approve posts due to being away from our computers.

However, we won't do the blackout without you. This subreddit should not be made by the mod team alone. Please share your thoughts, ask your questions, and let us know if you feel this is something we should be a part of. The mod team will do our best to answer any questions we can and we promise that any action we take (or don't) will be based on the will of our community.

The Site-Wide blackout is scheduled to take place during the 48 hours of June 12th and June 13th. EDIT - WE MAY GO LONGER THAN THIS - If we agree to do this, the subreddit will be set to Private and no one will be able to see any posts and we will not accept any submissions to the sub. Please let us know your thoughts and UPVOTE THIS POST IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT THE ACTION. If this post remains above a certain percentage of upvotes, we will consider the community in support. Thank you for your participation!

The DndBehindTheScreen Moderation Team

17:42 UTC


The Flaying Course - A nasty supernatural curse for your game

Bhelrath the Flayed King

In the times of the endless wars fought among the Monarchs of Altland, each sign of weakness was an opening for the strong to exploit. Even in the rare times of relative peace, all it took was a small misfortune to serve as a signal for others to break the peace and strike. It was common wisdom that a true monarch needs to project strength and resolution to their people and the world to maintain peace and sovereignty, lest you will be consumed by rivals.

King Bhelrath was no stranger to this wisdom. To project strength to his people and enemies alike, the King took to grand examples of uncompromising harshness. In public displays of brutality King Bhelrath would dispense retribution upon his foes. Flaying would prove to be a most effective method of execution, due to its gruesome spectacle and drawn out agony. The King felt no joy when issuing these executions, but no one could deny their effectiveness. The Kingdom of Bhelrath was feared across its neighbours and realms would go to great lengths to foster good relations to avoid the kingdom’s wrath. But while Bhelrath was feared among his enemies, he enjoyed the trust and adoration of his people who saw him as a strict, but just ruler who provided peace and safety. Content with his position, the Kingdom of Bhelrath flourished for years to come.

Alas, it was the nature of the reverence that gave the King his power that would change him. As reverence stems not just from respect and adoration, it also is infused with fear and scorn. Due to the fostered image of a ruthless and cruel tyrant that the King projected towards his neighbouring Kingdoms, the number of souls believing him to be a merciless monster outweigh the number of his own subjects.

The change came slowly. It started with King Bhelrath finding a fascination for the bloodshed he ordered. Continuously he demanded to be the one to exact the sentences each flaying performed by the King would surpass the last one in depravity. He then decreed that the same methods he showed his foes would be extended to his people. These acts began to sway the balance of his image further, as his very people now feared him as well. This only proliferated the King’s descent and his name became equal to the very idea of cruelty.

In his bloodlust, the King would seek reasons to exact his unique justice. Small sleights against the King in his court were seen as grave crimes, laws were tightened to unreasonable lengths, and raids against neighbouring lands were issued. Anything to fill his dungeons and for the bloodshed to never end. And as the King’s desire for torment and blood grew, so too his taste became more refined. To match his demands he built extensive halls underneath the castle’s dungeon. A place where he could frivolously follow his passion for cruelty.

Trapped in this downward spiral by his obsession, the King was now the very monster he sought to project to his foes. But this monster would prove to be the downfall of his very own Kingdom and become a cautionary tale of the modern times.

The Flaying Curse

As the tragedy of King Bhelrath’s tyranny was in full motion, an outsider arrived at the kingdom’s capital; a witch of the wild and a daughter of the hag Ethel, With Spiders In Her Hair. The daughter knew the Kingdom from the time in which the ruler was just, and expected to meet him on behalf of her mother. When she was brought before the King she found no King anymore. All that was left was a monster bearing a King’s skin.

The King was not interested in her proposition. The only thing he could see in her was skin yearning to be released from its flesh. The daughter warned the King to not harm her, lest he would feel the wrath of her mother. But the King was deaf to her warnings and had her led to his sanctum underneath his castle. Within his crimson halls, the King would flay the daughter like the rest.

Ethel’s fury struck the Kingdom at the next full moon. Her curse consumed the King, his court, and his castle. King Bhelrath would suffer the same pain that he and his decrees had inflicted upon others. Every moment, every heartbeat of suffering would have to be reexperienced by the King, one at a time, as the King’s very skin peeled away. The Hag took his skin and until the King had not served his sentence, the curse would bind him to the crimson halls that witnessed the most deprived of the King’s acts.

The King’s now exposed flesh burned with the lifetimes of suffering he had inflicted. And as his court and knights were bound to him, they too, were ravaged by the curse, each of them flayed and subjected to an existence of suffering. The cursed castle was now a den of creeping horrors that converged around their fallen King. Without a rightful monarch to lead, the Kingdom of Bhelrath would soon fall as the neighbouring realms had no King to fear anymore. The only thing that would be left from the once proud kingdom was a single, decrepit castle, brought low by the Flaying Curse.

Spreading the Curse

Experiencing entire lifetimes of agony flung the cursed King Bhelrath into delirium that flayed any shed of humanity the King once had and the legend of the Flayed King is all that remains. The only relief the King could find from the pain, or at least so he thought, was the touch of skin upon his flayed body. The poor unfortunate servants that were trapped within his castle became his prey. Soon though the King found himself out of skins after salvaging all that he could. Skins would rot away, while he and his agony would remain. The King tried to break the curse again and again with all of his regal power, but it was to no avail. Too much of his once magnificent power had left him, as reverence faded long ago and changed to an image of a defeated monarch.

While the King was unable to break the curse, he learned more about it and was able to change parts of its nature, with a malicious goal to either end the curse or himself in due time. It is not known whether the King was aware of the conditions of his curse. It was uncertain whether he was aware that his actions would just add more to the suffering he had to bear to be free from the curse. Too great was the agony for the King to endure any longer. The King split his curse to be spread from beyond his castle to the world outside and the Flaying Curse was released.

The Flaying curse can affect a humanoid creature in a variety of ways. Infection by fighting other creatures that bear the curse, ingestion of corrupted blood, or exploration of corrupted lands can all lead to an affliction of the curse.

The Flaying Curse (Mechanics)

The Flaying Curse is a growing curse, starting at stage 1 and progressing to stage 5, each stage representing a more severe state of the curse. Commonly when a creature becomes afflicted with the Flaying Curse, it starts at stage 1. A creature suffering from the Flaying Curse rolls a Constitution saving throw at the dawn of every morning. The DC for the saving throw is equal to the saving throw rolled when the creature initially contracted the curse. On a successful save, the curse does not progress and remains at the current stage. On a failed save the curse progresses to the next stage and the new effects of the curse are immediately effective. Each mechanical effect from the previous stage of the curse’s progression still affects the creature at later stages until the creature is cured or dies.

Stage 1. The afflicted creature’s skin shows spots of irritation and discoloration. The creature experiences discomfort and itching. This will cause the creature to scratch itself at a high frequency, causing sore spots or even bleeding to occur on some parts of its body. At this point of the curse, the creature suffers from no additional effects.

Stage 2. The afflicted creature’s skin begins to become loose on its flesh. Some spots of skin, especially in the face area, appear drooping while the itching and discomfort intensifies, to the point that the creature feels like parts of its skin do not belong. These parts of skin are veiny and are sensitive to the touch. The creature’s entire skin breaks easily, causing the creature to be covered in many scabs due to the itching. A creature at this stage of the curse has disadvantage on Charisma (Persuation) checks if the other party can see the creature, due to the cursed creature’s unsettling appearance and involuntary scratching. Additionally, because of involuntary self harm, the creature takes damage equal to its character level (or hit dice) when it finishes a long rest. This damage cannot be prevented, but can be healed.

Stage 3. A singular line of irritated skin begins to manifest over the cursed creature’s entire body. Some parts of this discolored skin features bloody scabs along the line. The creature’s hair begins to fall out and its fingernails bleed frequently The cursed creature’s body becomes frail. It’s maximum hit points are reduced by an amount equal to the creature’s character level (or hit dice). Greater Restoration can reduce the lost hit point maximum for 24 hours or until the creature finishes a long rest.

Stage 4. The red line along the creature’s body is pronounced and constantly bleeding. Some parts of the creature’s skin are peeling off along the line, causing heavy bleeding. The creature’s entire body is now incredibly sensitive and touching can cause excruciating pain to the creature. The creature’s hair and fingernails have fallen off the creature and no longer grow. Whenever the creature takes damage it has disadvantage on the next ability check or attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.

Stage 5. The cursed creature’s skin peels itself off as it splits open along the red line on its body and magically takes flight towards the Castle Bhelrath, leaving behind the creature completely flayed. The creature must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save the creature immediately dies of shock. On a successful save the creature is reduced to 1 hit point and is left without skin. No spell short of regeneration or wish can restore its skin. Until the creature’s skin is recovered or the curse is broken, the creature must whenever it takes damage succeed a Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of its next turn. The DC is equal to 15, or half of the damage taken, whichever is higher.

Treating the Curse

  • While the Flaying Curse is at stage 1 and 2, it can be broken with the use of the Remove Curse or Wish spell. Once the Flaying Curse moves to stage 3 and beyond, the spell Remove Curse can only break the spell when a creature expends a 5th level spell slot in addition to casting the spell and uses a white pearl that is worth 1000 gold as additional material component, which the spell consumes. At stage 5, the curse can only be broken if the lost skin is reattached to the creature, or its skin has been restored by other means.
  • A creature can also break the curse by transferring it. To do so the creature must use the entirety of a humanoid’s skin that has been removed no longer than 24 hours ago and etch a hag incantation into the new skin. The curse will then transfer to the skin and it will fly off to Castle Bhelrath. A character can learn the secret incantation to transfer the curse from a hag, or another source of occult knowledge.
  • When King Bhelrath is slain, the curse on each affected creature is lifted.
13:04 UTC


Community Q&A - Get Your Questions Answered!

Hi All,

This thread is for all of your D&D and DMing questions. We as a community are here to lend a helping hand, so reach out if you see someone who needs one.

Remember you can always join our Discord and if you have any questions, you can always message the moderators.

12:00 UTC


The Nine Hells: Nessus

I literally sit beneath eight tiers of scheming ambitious entities that represent primal law suffused with evil. The path from this realm leads to an infinite pit of chaos and evil. Now, tell me again how you and your ilk are the victims in this eternal struggle. - Asmodeus (Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes)

The plane of Nessus is incredibly unique compared to the other planes of the Nine Hells. This plane floats in a swirling crimson void that encompasses them from all directions. The plane itself is flat in its surface, devoid of trees or changes in elevation. The desolate plane, unlike any other plane of Baator, is finite in its size. It stretches 2,500 miles from east to west and 1,100 miles from north to south. The flatness of the plane leaves no place for any creature to hide.

A system of crisscrossing gorge and canyons marks the only true changes in elevation in the plane. In these gorges, canyons, and the network of caves that connect them, live the billions of devils of Nessus. These structures have an infinite amount of space even given the finite nature of the plane. These gorges and canyons often cross, forming towering plateaus.

The canyons and gorges are each distinct and travel to specific locations. However, they all look exactly alike. More importantly, most of these canyons are missing from most maps of the plane. A few maps that were drawn by suicidal or brave adventurers can be found but tend to be extremely pricey. A map of a square mile section of Nessus can easily cost as much as a small castle.

A few of these canyons have bridges that span them. These few bridges are heavily guarded by Asmodeus's elite guards and a host of traps. Rare unguarded bridges are death traps that will inevitably break and send any crosser to their death. The shallowest canyon is 200 feet deep, and the remaining canyons and gorges are usually deeper. Devils in Nessus who cannot fly are encouraged to stick close to the caves and crevasses. In emergency situations, the devils must climb the walls using some sparse handholds or frayed ropes. It is not uncommon for devils to fall to their deaths as a result.

Directions in Baator are unlike the directions of the Material Plane. The strange nature of these planes makes the standard compass rose useless. Most Archdukes simply established the standard compass as a means of travel and mapping for their own planes, arbitrarily assigning a point as north. Asmodeus however, decrees that his own castle should be the northern most point despite its central location on the plane. The strange decree further complicates maps of Nessus making navigating the plane even harder.


Nessus was the first layer of Baator to be created and was the original plane of Hell to be created when the Gods of Celestia signed the Pact Primeval. The plane was granted to Asmodeus and his ilk by the Gods so they would not have to witness the punishment rendered to mortal souls. On the plane, the devils first began their plans to corrupt mortals. It was on this original plane that these devils, still somewhat angelic in nature, worked with the Ancient Baatorians to administer their justice. The plane, bleak and barren, was slowly built up and expanded into a tiered infinite plane. The plane was rapidly built into a major factory for manufacturing more devils and harvesting divine energy from the mortal souls that the devils corrupted. The only brief delay in construction of the plane came during a short, but vicious, war between Mephistopheles, the former right hand of Asmodeus, and the Arch-Devil. After the war ended, the construction began anew and the two made amends.

When the Gods discovered that Asmodeus and his devils were luring mortals into disobedience and corruption, they once again put Asmodeus on trial. When the trial proved useless and Asmodeus was acquitted of the charges, the Gods were furious. They threw the devil back to Baator, sending him hurling from the tip of Celestia.

When Asmodeus crashed into Baator, the force of the impact tore a stretch of the initial plane and killed many of the plane's original inhabitants and mutilated many of the others who were not powerful enough to withstand the impact. As the devil continued to fall with his stretch of the original Baatorian plane, the devil carved new planes. Eight new planes formed before the devil and the plane he had rent from the original stopped falling. Asmodeus continued to fall deep into the plane till he came to rest under a massive pile of rubble, bleeding and badly hurt, in the deepest part of Nessus, which came to be known as the Pit.

When the devil eventually recovered, he made this deepest, finite plane his home as a reminder of his fall. From Nessus, the Arch-Devil slowly retook control of the remainder of Baator and resumed his lawful duties.

The creation of the plane of Nessus was not known to the mortal races for millennium. Asmodeus is a jealous guard of his plane and entrance to Nessus requires a letter of permission from the Arch-Devil himself. The first documentation of the plane of Nessus for the Prime Material Plane comes from the philosopher, Philogestes. Philogestes sold his own soul to Asmodeus for the opportunity to document information about Baator. Though, he was given permission to observe and record details about the plane of Nessus, Philogestes could not detail everything. Much of Nessus remains a mystery to those who dwell on the Material Plane.


The easiest way to travel to Nessus is to be invited by the Arch-Devil onto the plane. Very few mortals have ever received this privilege.

For those who have not received a personal invitation, the only way to enter the plane would be through the plane prior to it, Cania. From Cania, adventurers could sail along the River Styx into Nessus. This path is extremely perilous. For starters, the river is incredibly difficult to navigate. Directions in the Nine Hells are confusing. It is just as likely that sailing along the river could lead to Maladomini. Additionally, the river’s currents are unpredictable, forming whirlpools, eddies, and undertows that can challenge even the most experienced sailors. Moreover, the Styx is guarded by roaming bands of devils as well as undead which are drawn to any sources of life. The river is also known to create illusions and mirages which can mislead travelers. It would be advisable to hire a devil in Cania to act as a guide on the waters.


Nessus is different from the other layers of Baator because it has a much higher proportion of the greater devils compared with the lesser devils. The most common kind of devil that is found on Nessus is the pit fiend, though horned devils are a close second. In addition to devils, a few other creatures traverse the planes of Nessus. While hellhounds are a common beast in Nessus, a special breed of hellhound known as the Nessian hellhound roams the plane. These are far more vicious and deadly than the original hellhound. The Nessian hell-hounds form packs with the regular hellhounds and hunt the plane for intruders or lesser devils. There are a few other fiendish beasts that are not devils on Nessus, but there are no mortals who live here.

Asmodeus, a tall, red-skinned devil, with dark horns and elegant clothing is the Lord of Nessus. Known as the Dark One, the Lord of Lies, and the Prince of Evil, Asmodeus is the Arch-Devil of Baator. He rules the plane with an iron fist of law and conducts himself in a soft-spoken, articulate, and ruthlessly logically. Those who look closely at the Arch-Devil will notice that though the devil holds himself with poise and elegance, he is covered in injuries that have not healed. These injuries were sustained by Asmodeus when he was thrown from Celestia. Asmodeus carries himself in public as though the injuries no longer affect him, however they still hurt tremendously, and Asmodeus focuses much of his energy on recovering from the injuries.

Asmodeus is the undisputed master of Baator and exercises complete control over the plane. The Arch-Devil can alter any of the planes at will and can also alter the forms of any of the other Archdukes of Baator. In some cases, he can also kill the others, which causes some of the Archdukes to fear him greatly. With his dominance over Baator, Asmodeus spends much of his time focused on the conquest of other planes, especially the Prime Material Plane and Celestia. Asmodeus receives the energy from any soul collected by any devil or Duke of Baator. For the time being, He spends his time using the energy to heal his own wounds. Once his wounds have healed, Asmodeus intends to use the collected Divine Energy to forge a temporary truce with the Demons and use the truce to destroy the forces of Good once and for all.

Asmodeus is a schemer in every sense. The devil is a smooth talker who only engages with non-devils to corrupt them. One example of such a corruption is the corruption of Zariel, a celestial, into the once Archduke of Avernus. Asmodeus is one of the few devils to never father any Cambion, considering himself far superior to any such creature. A few tieflings also receive the blessing of Asmodeus. These tieflings are far more intelligent than any other and are given a superior mastery over fire. These tieflings are resistant to flames from any creature except those commanded directly by Asmodeus.

In addition to his unsurpassed intellect and charm, Asmodeus is an unmatched combatant, well-versed in both magic and weapon-craft. Asmodeus earned his fame when prior to the creation of Baator, the then-angel was ambushed by a demon invasion without his troops. The Gods sent an army of angels to defend the invasion, believing Asmodeus to have been overwhelmed. The angels arrived too late, however. Instead of finding an army of demons, the angels found that Asmodeus kept the invasion at bay and even pushed the defense into an offense into the Abyss, bolstered by their reinforcement. Though the Archdevil has not fought at the front lines of the Blood Wars, his combat prowess has not decreased.

Once a year, the Arch-Devil holds a feast at his palace in Nessus's Pit, Malsheem. To this feast, the Arch-Devil invites the other Archdukes, devils who have earned a seat of honor, and a few select mortals that have earned his respect or interest (for better or worse). The feast is an enormous affair, and the only time of the year when the pathway to the palace becomes available for creatures other than the Dukes of Nessus to traverse, though it is still heavily guarded to prevent intruders from reaching the palace. The purpose of the Feast is to serve to touch base with the dukes to ensure that Asmodeus's plans are going according to plan, to ensure Hell's superiority in the Blood War, reward devils who have performed exceptionally enough to gain the Lord of the Nine's attention, and to contract mortals who may be useful to himself. These feast feature extravagant performances, a plethora of delicious food and drink, and as much vice as any being could desire.

Adramalech is the right-hand of Asmodeus and serves as the Arch-Devil’s chancellor. His preferred form is that of an elderly human man with a gray beard. His eyes change color to reflect his mood, green when he’s happy and orange when upset and black all other times. In this form, the only features to identify him as a devil are two small, crimson horns that protrude from his head and a single forked tail. He prefers to dress in hues of green and purple.

This devil is tasked with maintaining all records regarding the Nine Hells. In this role, he constantly updates the number of souls collected, the various contracts that exist between devils and mortals, and presides over the court of Devils which settle disputes regarding contracts. Adramalech also tracks every torment caused to devils and the names and locations of any devils not in the Nine Hells. Somehow, despite this busy schedule, Adramalech also finds time to maintain an extensive spy network among the pit fiends which collect information. Adramalech stores this information and the true names of all devils in a tome he calls “The Infernal Record” which is colloquially known to mortals as the “Book of Fire”. Adramalech finds stress relief by torturing the souls of mortals in an extensive dungeon network which lies below Fortress Nessus. He especially despises Humans and Elves and takes special joy in causing them pain.

Adramalech has full authority to give orders to devils. This power was given to Adramalech because he is the only devil in the Nine Hells who shows no desire to usurp the Asmodeus. As a notably weak devil, Adramalech understands that even if he were to somehow become an Arch-Duke or Arch-Devil he would be easily overthrown. Instead, he enjoys the power and control he wields over the Nine Hells from the safety of Asmodeus’s right hand. Adramalech enjoys a small cult of followers in the Prime Material Plane who kidnap and sacrifice human and elf children to him. Because Adramalech is so physically weak, he is constantly guarded by a legion of Pit Fiends.

Phongor is the left-hand of Asmodeus and a rival of Adramalech. This devil usually resembles a human male with pink skin and eyes which glitter even in the shadows. He has oily black hair, two small twisting black horns, and red hooves for feet with a similarly colored tail.

Phongor serves as Asmodeus’s Chief Inquisitor. It is his duty to uncover secrets or to find information that Asmodeus wishes to find. Phongor is considered the most feared devil in Baator after Asmodeus because of his penchant for torture, his prowess in combat with a wickedly sharp whip, and his ability to sniff out secrets.

Phongor’s rivalry with Adramalech is because he knows that the Record Keeper does not know his true name. Adramalech frequently sends spies to try to find Phongor’s true name as it is the only one, he does not know. In response, Phongor sniffs out these spies and viciously kills them because he knows that his secret allows him to maintain an even position of power in Nessus with the Chancellor. His prowess at finding information for Asmodeus means that he holds equal value currently for the Arch-Devil. Phongor spends much of his time ensuring that Asmodeus is well informed regarding the events of every plane. To do so, he has enlisted some of Adramalech’s spies to work for him and tortures information out of other creatures as he needs.

While Adramalech and Phongor serve as Asmodeus’s right and left-hand respectively, his favorite servant is his executioner, Alastor the Grim. A horrifically scarred and broken winged pit fiend, Alastor is considered the strongest of the Pit Fiends. Rumored to be one of the first devils born from Asmodeus’s blood, Alastor the Grim does not speak or act independently of his master. He always accompanies the Arch-Devil acting as a bodyguard and as the executioner for whomever displeases Asmodeus. It is a common belief that if the Nine Hells were destroyed and Asmodeus could only save one creature other than himself, he would choose Alastor the Grim. Alastor the Grim also commands the personal armies of Asmodeus.

There are always six generals in Nessus for Asmodeus’s armies. These generals are constantly changing as the devils vie for power and control.


There are two types of notable locations on the plane of Nessus: geographical features and infernal constructions.

The first major geographical feature of Nessus is the river Styx, which enters Nessus through a hidden (and heavily guarded) location from Cania. The river reaches its lowest point in Nessus in a lake known as the “Forgotten Lake”. From here, it sinks into the plain and drips into Gehenna (an outer plane not connected to the Nine Hells).

The Forgotten Lake is rumored to be the place that beautiful memories go to die. When mortal souls are first brough to the Nine Hells, their memories are stripped from them and sent here. Here, the thoughts are broken down and destroyed. Should a creature look into the waters, they will see beautiful memories that slowly corrupt into fiendish nightmares.

Several other rivers also off shoot from the river Styx to fill the rest of Nessus. One of these, indistinguishable from the others, is the river Lethe whose waters are known to cause complete memory loss.

Several notable gorges are also spread throughout the plane. Reaper’s Canyon is Nessus’s canyon of death. Here, no injuries heal, and death finds creatures twice as quickly as elsewhere. Sicknesses and disease are far more powerful. Another canyon is known as Hell’s Lips and is the epitome of gluttony. Mortals that find themselves here may become overcome with insatiable thirst and hunger. One fissure that travels from north to south on the plane is “The Nest”, which houses hundreds of nests for fiendish wasps.

The most noticeable geographic location in Nessus is the large winding canyon that sinks deeper and deeper into the plane, The Serpent’s Pass. This canyon, carved from Asmodeus’s fall, carves to the deepest point of Nessus, which in unknown even to most devils.

At the center, and northern most point, of the plane is a large pit which houses the city of Malsheem. Built from stone and Baatorian green steel, the city stretches in multiple layers along the gorge. Over time, the ever-expanding city has slowly begun to form tunnels into the walls and floor of the pit. This large structure, designed by Asmodeus, is home to millions of devils, perhaps the strongest in the nine hells. Here, Asmodeus keeps his personal army, waiting to conquer the planes with it. At the center of the city of Malsheem is the Fortress Nessus.

Fortress Nessus sits at the deepest point of the Serpent’s Coil but rises far above the rest of the plane. Decadent and bleak, the fortress seems to be a failed recreation of the home of the Gods. Here, Asmodeus resides and rules. The fortress has not been mapped previously and seems uninhabited at all times of the day. Despite its appearance, the fortress is teeming with devils and dangers. Below the fortress is an extensive dungeon which houses the souls of humans and elves for Adramalech to torture. Fortress Nessus also houses the Infernal Records.

The last location of note for Nessus is Tabjari, which lies in Reaper Canyon. Tabjari is a copper citadel which serves as the library, vault, and armory for Asmodeus. Tabjari is nearly impossible to enter. Its entrance is a highly guarded secret. The entire structure is heavily guarded by traps, magic, and devils. The security of Tabjari is even greater than the security in Fortress Nessus because it houses Asmodeus’s greatest treasure, one of the original copies of the Pact Primeval.


There are many mysteries with the plane of Nessus for the curious adventurer to find, though at great personal risk. Many of these mysteries remain because adventurers who chose to explore the plane did not return.

The first great mystery of Nessus is how to enter the plane. Though there is an entrance via the river Styx, this passage would require that adventurers travel through the other 8 planes of Baator to find their way into Nessus. Still, this river entrance is hidden and extremely well-guarded. Finding and mapping this location would make one rich beyond definition.

Another great mystery of Nessus comes from a rumor that Asmodeus is still greatly weakened by his wounds. A common rumor within the Outer Planes is that Asmodeus’s true form lies still broken and beaten within Fortress Nessus. Many of the other Archdukes and the Demon Princes of the Abyss spend a significant amount of time trying to find out if the rumor is true (and the location of Asmodeus’s true form) with the hopes of conquering the 9 hells.

The fortress Nessus hold many other secrets, such as information about the weaknesses of the Archdukes, that could hold much value for any being that could find them.

Tabjari holds one of the original copies of the Pact Primeval, which provides the place around it with enormous power. In this place, magic is said to achieve feats that would be otherwise impossible. For this reason, its location is deeply sought. Additionally, the copy itself provides significant strength to the devils. If it were to be stolen, it would greatly turn the tide of the Blood War in favor of the Abyss.


Surviving Nessus is horrendously difficult for those that have not been personally invited by Asmodeus. Travelers should equip themselves with means of surviving some of the hottest temperatures in the planes, second perhaps only to the plane of fire. Likewise, they should equip themselves to survive frigid temperatures that exist in some of the gorges. Because Nessus is finite, it can be more easily mapped than any other planes. Perhaps a daring adventuring group would be able to find some enemy of Asmodeus who has a map of the plane. Another duke of the nine hells may have such a map and forming a pact with one may be wise for finding a way through Nessus without Asmodeus’s permission. If not, the safest way to traverse the plane would be to make some pact with the Arch-Devil.

For those who attempt to sneak onto Nessus, stealth is the best option. The plane teems with a seemingly infinite number of the deadliest devils in the nine hells. Direct confrontation with a small group will only draw more of them towards a party. Additionally, it would be wise to find some way to carry provision onto the plane because food is sparse. Nessus is also covered in a dense fog of noxious fumes which make breathing difficult. Adventurers should account for this trait and find some way to filter their breathing as needed.


||Nessian Hell-Hound||

Large fiend, neutral evil

Armor Class: 17 (natural armor)

Hit Points: 129 (13d10 + 52)

Speed: 50ft., fly 50ft.

CR: 10 (5,900 XP)

Saving Throws: DEX +6, CON +8
Skills: Perception +4, Stealth +6
Damage Resistances: Cold, Fire
Damage Immunities: Poison
Damage Vulnerabilities: Radiant
Condition Immunities: Poisoned, Sleep
Senses: Darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 14
Languages: Infernal, Common


Devils Sight. Magical darkness does not impede the hell hound.


Multiattack. The hell hound makes two attacks: one with its bite and one with its claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 17 (2d10 + 6) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 13 (2d6 + 6) slashing damage.

Hellfire Breath: (Recharges 5-6). The Nessian Hell-Hound unleashes a 10 ft cone of fire that deals 40 (9d8) fire damage. Creatures caught in the cone must make a DC17 dex save, taking half damage on a successful save.

With this, I have finally finished an entry for each of the Nine Hells for the Atlas project. I started writing about the Nine Hells in 2018, five years ago. After 4 years of writing and rewriting this article, it’s finally done which is a weird feeling. Nessus was especially hard to write about because I wanted it to feel dangerous, mysterious, and hard to understand. Hopefully, this is useful to some people. Moving forward, I’m planning to update the older entries with better information.

Check out my previous entry for the Atlas of the Planes project: Cania

Write Your Own Atlas Entry!

08:51 UTC


The Winds of Aetherhelm : two turbulent encounters to send your players flying !

Hey there ! I'm Axel, aka BigDud, a passionate DM who produces all kinds of third party content for your enjoyment.

I'm back with some encounters for you to enjoy ! These are part of the adventure I'm currently working on, The Winds of Aetherhelm, which will release next Friday in full.

Just like most of my adventures, they were made to be ran with no prep : just read the page once before running it and you're good to go !

In "The Winds of Aetherhelm", your players explore the city of the same name, which recently re-appeared on the Material Plane after having been gone for decades. Floating above fields and forests, the city is ravaged by elemental magics after the spell meant to make it fly went wrong ; elementals and large chunks of debris descend and fall from above, causing heavy damage to the surrounding land, and the weather keeps getting stranger as Aetherhelm comes closer and closer to major cities. The party must find what is causing this disturbance, and stop it before it's too late !

These encounters represent our party making their way to the city itself, where they'll find the secrets of the Astromagi ; to do so, they'll have to traverse dangerous floating platforms and deal with the elementals constantly summoned around the city. Can they make it in one piece, or will they end up as a mere red stain on a rock below ?

Platforming challenges, beautiful vistas and objective-based combat awaits you in this gusty adventure that's easy to modify and adapt to your own campaign setting.

You can find the PDF of the encounters, the battlemap (128 PPI), and the token for the monsters at the bottom of the post.

For the mods : all art in the adventure was made by me using Midjourney and image editing software like GIMP and Krita. The adventure itself was tested by my players.


The winds of Aetherhelm

The city of Aetherhelm, jewel of the Astromagi, and long lost to time, has returned. Hundreds of years ago, the society of powerful magi disappeared suddenly, following a particularly ambitious ritual they were attempting.

Finally, their goal is revealed : the spell was intended to make the city fly. Unfortunately for both them and our adventurers, it worked too well. Now, the city is halfway between the Material Plane and the Elemental Plane of Air, floating in the skies while ravaged by tornadoes and powerful winds. Its ruins fall over the fields, destroying homes and harvests, while elementals descend from above, threatening to invade nearby villages.

As the local heroes, our party has been tasked to head towards the city, find what has been causing the incursions from the Elemental Plane of Air, and end the phenomenon for the safety of all.

EDIT : Fixed the links.


The party knows the following information at the start of the aventure :

  • Aetherhelm, a city of powerful mages has been missing for the centuries, after disappearing suddenly during one of their rituals.

  • It has reappeared a few weeks ago without warning and since floats in the sky, slowly moving across the landscape.

  • Its presence has been causing tornadoes, strong winds, falls of dangerous debris, and even the attacks of some elementals in its vicinity. They need to be stopped for the safety of neighboring villages.

  • According to what is known about Aetherhelm, its center, the Palace of Zephyrs, is likely where the strongest magic will be present. Reaching it should be the party's focus.


Due to the difficult environment the party will be in, they've been given a number of scrolls to allow them to traverse the city and reach its center.

The party starts with two scrolls of Fly and four scrolls of Feather Fall.

Flying, featherfall and challenges

The adventure is heavily based on its terrain to make it challenging and fun for our players. The initial scrolls the party is given will allow them to bypass or make some of the challenges a lot easier : that is intended !

The choice of which encounter to make easier is theirs, and if the more they use early, the less they'll have later. Keep in mind that since the adventure is happening on a floating city, falling off without a contingency plan is almost certain death. Make this clear to your players !

Part 1: The Floating Ruins

The party travels to the floating city, reaching the fields above which it's slowly traveling. Above them, a dangerous path presents itself along the ruins, as the bridge that allowed entrance to the city now hangs in the air, its parts spread like stepping stones to the city.

They'll need to climb the ruins to access the city, but beware of what remains within : the influence of the Elemental Plane can be felt even there.

Encounter 1: The Climb

The path upwards is made of disconnected ruins each floating from a dozen to a few hundred feet apart. The challenge for them to traverse the landscape while avoiding the strong winds and moving tornadoes that could toss them off the platforms.

Skill challenge : ascension

In this challenge, the party needs to acquire as many successes as there are players to reach the next part.

To acquire successes, one party member takes the lead and must explain how they help traversing from one piece of ruins to the other. They can then make an appropriate skill check. If it beats the DC, they add one success to the counter !

The DC for these skill checks should be between 15 and 25, but can change based on how difficult you think their strategy would make the traversal. Using tools such as rope or one of their Fly scrolls can give advantage on the check or simply offer an automatic success ; limited resources give stronger bonuses.

If the check fails, the party member's strategy fails, and a consequence occurs. Here are a few ideas for consequences :

  • The piece of ruins the party is standing on crumbles, forcing them to dangerously catch another piece of ruins as they fall. The party takes 3d6 bludgeoning damage from the fall.

  • The party accidentally damages the next set of ruins. The skill check of the next party member is made at disadvantage.

  • The party has made some noise and attracted the attention of a nearby air elemental. For now, it hasn't noticed them, but if they fail again, it'll engage in combat.

Keep in mind that the party can use their scrolls to either provide help, or to negate the consequences of bad skill checks.

They might also find a scroll or two amidst the ruins if they look hard enough !

Encounter 2: Tumbling Tornadoes

The party is getting closer to the city, now reaching its outskirts. Their goal, the Palace of Zephyrs, is still far in the distance, but the presence of elementals is starting to be felt more and more.

The last platforms until they arrive on the floating city proper are all formed from a long bridge that used to connect the city to the landscape around it. Now, the bridge is broken in multiple parts, each floating not too far from each other, but distant enough to form a challenge.

Worse, small elementals have appeared all along the bridge, threatening to push any passersby off to their deaths.

Tumbling tempests : (map in appendix)

The party's goal is to cross the bridge. Once they're successfully on the other side of it, they're out of danger, and the encounter is finished.

Traversing the bridge would be difficult, even in normal circumstances. just like for the previous part, the party will need to advance using their skills and tools to traverse the bridge.

However, this time, they're in a hurry : small, tumbling air elementals patrol the bridge, and are hostile to passing creatures. As the party crosses more of the bridge, more tumbling tempests notice their presence.

Falling off the bridge

Tumbling tempests are weak fighters, and do little damage. The main threat they pose is pushing party members off the bridge, which forces them to use their scrolls or other resources if they want to avoid falling damage.

A creature that falls from the bridge can make a DC 10 Acrobatics check to catch ruins below to save themselves, but they'll take some damage based on the height fallen, and will need time to climb back up and get back in the action !

The encounter is ran like a combat except that the goal isn't to take down the elementals : they'll reappear a round after they're taken down a bit further from the bridge, and make their way back as soon as they can.

Each round, the party can use their movement to go through traversable portions of the bridge. There will be sections that can't be crossed with normal movement : the party will either need to use their tools, their skills or even the ruins themselves to fashion themselves a passage or jump over large chasms. They might even be able to use the tumbling tempests to push them in the right direction !

In addition, additional tumbling tempests appear as the party makes their way further and further onto the bridge, increasing the tension until they are finally safe.

Tumbling Tempest

Small Elemental, neutral

  • Armor Class 14
  • Hit Points 14 (4d6)
  • Speed 0 ft., fly 30 ft. (hover)

11 (+0)18 (+4)10 (+0)6 (-2)10 (+0)6 (-2)
  • Damage Resistances lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
  • Damage Immunities poison
  • Condition Immunities exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, unconscious
  • Senses passive Perception 10
  • Languages Auran
  • Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
  • Proficiency Bonus +2

Air Form. The elemental can enter a hostile creature's space and stop there. It can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.


Tumble. The elemental moves up to half its speed, then pushes a creature within 5 ft of it. The creature must make a DC 10 Strength saving throw. On a failure, they take 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage are pushed 10 ft back in the opposite direction of the elemental. On a success, they are unaffected by the push. A creature can willingly fail this saving throw.

Enemy locations
  • Beginning of the bridge : 1 tumbling tempest per PC.
  • Middle of the bridge : 3 additional tumbling tempests.
  • End of the bridge : 1 additional tumbling tempest per PC.
Making the encounter more challenging

If you feel like the encounter is too easy and your players are breezing through it, you can add a number of additional challenges to keep them on their toes ! Choose one or several of the following effects to add to the battlefield :

  • On initiative 30 every round, choose a piece of the bridge and point it out to your players. On initiative 10, a tornado passes by, destroying the chosen piece of the bridge. Characters on the chosen piece must make a DC 15 Strength saving throw or take 4d6 bludgeoning damage and be knocked back 15 ft in a random direction (roll 1d8).
  • On initiative 30 every round, each piece of bridge moves either up or down 15 ft. Characters on pieces that move down must make a DC 10 Acrobatics check or take 3d6 bludgeoning damage from falling. Traversal DCs between bridge pieces at different elevations have a +2 to their difficulty.
  • On initiative 30 every round, a 20 ft wide current of strong winds forms on the battlefield in a random direction and location. The current crosses from one edge of the battlefield to the other. Roll 1d4 for direction (left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top). Characters inside the current are pushed 15 ft in the direction of the current for each 5 ft they move.

Once the party has reached the end of the bridge, the remaining tumbling tempests are caught in the winds and disappear. Our heroes have reached the edge of the city proper, and are now ready to step on Aetherhelm !

###PDF, battlemap, and supporting me I've copied the text of the encounters in here, but I personally think it's much easier to read as a separate PDF.

You can download the PDF here : PDF

And the battlemap here (it's 128 PPI for VTTs) : Battlemap or Battlemap (if the other one doesn't work)

And the token here : Token

If you want to run this in a different environment, you can also use this transparent version of the battlemap and change the background : Bridge without background

I hope you enjoy the encounters ! If you did and you'd like to not only support me, but get some more content for yourself, I invite you to go check out my Patreon at www.patreon.com/bdhb ! I post content every single month including full adventures, standalone encounters, new game mechanics, magic items, and much more.

Have a great day and I'll be back soon with more content !

19:50 UTC


Monster Swap - Take a monster, leave a monster

This repeating event is for you to share a monster that you have made that you think others would like. Include as much detail as you wish, but you must include a statblock and some lore (see sample monster below). Statblocks can be presented in the comment itself, or linked to on a freely accessible cloud storage site.

Creatures that do not have a statblock and some lore will be removed.

Sample Monster

Bullywug Mage


Bullywug are arrogant, self-destructive, greedy and vacillate between aggressive posturing and obsequious pandering, depending on with whom they are dealing with. Bullywug warriors attempt to capture intruders rather than simply slaying them. Captives are dragged before a chieftain - a bullywug of unusually large size - and forced to beg for mercy. Bribes, treasure, and flattery can trick the bullywug ruler into letting its captives go, but not before it tries to impress its "guests" with the majesty of its treasure and its realm. Mages are rare, thankfully, and usually rise to the position of chief. They show the same powers as humanoid Wizards.

12:00 UTC


Welcome To Green Valley: 4 Level 1 Adventures in a Ridiculous Rural Village

Welcome to Green Valley

Four Merry Jaunts Through the Bumpkin Quest Campaign

CHAPTER 1: Green Tide Spring Cleaning time! This includes a parade, a festival, and a temple ceremony. These events are haunted by and angry goose hating enchanted broom.

CHAPTER 2: A Cartload of Chickens Folks need to eat. And round here they like to eat massive angry chickens. Somebody's gotta deliver them, and that somebody is your players!

CHAPTER 3: Marvin the Magnificent Simple problems require convoluted solutions. Help Marvin enchant a plow that can pass through stones. What could go wrong?

CHAPTER 4: High Society After earning some respect the players get invited to a high falutin social dilly do. But not as guests. As the help. And this party is gonna need it! The entertainment is about to become a mesmerizing problem.


  • Target Character Level: Commoners or Level 1
  • Target Party Size: Four Players
  • Average Adventure Playtime: 2ish Hours
  • Tone: Rural Mayhem and Foolishness

Grab the Free PDF Here. https://www.patreon.com/posts/adventure-to-83830560

I’ve also put these adventures into our *Bumpkin Quest: Campaign Guide https://www.patreon.com/posts/guide-bumpkin-to-80202231 The guide fills in the details of Green Valley pretty thoroughly. The quests are simple enough to be run in any setting you choose, but if you're interested in more the Guide has about two dozen Custom Maps, 70+ NPCs, Location Descriptions, 20+ Local Legends, and Scores of Adventure and Event Ideas. You can grab the PDF Free at the link above.

Hills Furrow

At the center of the Valley sits a patch of small grassy hills, through which the Slow Water meanders through. Built into these hills is the Village of Hills Furrow. Celebrated by everyone living in The Valley and boasting a whopping population of almost 150, Hills Furrow is the center of commerce and social importance. Well, at least as far as the locals are concerned. Realistically it would be less than a blip on the grand scale of things, a mere kernel of wheat in the silo of civilization, but to those who live here, there is nothing quite like living in the “city”.

The Village itself, like the Valley, is predominantly Halfling, and their fancy dwellings are burrowed into the hillsides as often as possible. These dwellings have been family owned for generations only becomeing available if there are no heirs to pass them along to. Other folk live in well kept two story shingled buildings, most of which house a business on the lower floor and house the Shopkeepers and their families above their workplaces, though a few live in nearby homes. There aren’t many “rental” spaces in town, as property is usually bought up quickly by the Halfling Families, but there are long term options at either of the Inns in town.

Hills Furrow: Locations

  1. The Crocked Crow (Inn and Tavern)
  2. The Dancing Lamb (Inn and Tavern)
  3. The Moaning Toad (Tavern)
  4. Granny's Groceries (General Market)
  5. Get Nailed (Hardware and Distilery)
  6. Gimdurh's Hammer (Smithy)
  7. Brenra's Mechanicals (Tinker)
  8. Hjoldren's Home Goods (Carpenter)
  9. Standard Industries (Office)
  10. Fit to be Dyed (Tailor)
  11. The Last Loaf (Baker)
  12. The Cloudy Cleaver (Butcher)
  13. Nature's Medecine (Apothecary)
  14. Sheriff's Office
  15. Green Valley School House
  16. The Waterwheel
  17. The Windmill
  18. The Undercloak Estate
  19. Truefoot Burrow
  20. The Meadows Family Hill

The locals are hospitable and friendly enough, but they do not really trust outsiders. Folks from foreign places are good for trade, news, and little else. Those that come through are treated well enough as long as they don’t wear out their welcome. Locals, well, that’s a bit of a different story. The city and area doesn’t operate under a written caste system or social structure, but there is clearly a pecking order, and family heritage matters a great deal to folks in Hills Furrow. Most locals, whether they’ve gotten an education or not, can easily be classified as simple. It isn’t that they are slow of mind or unintelligent, but more that they are unconcerned with matters the outside world considers important. This sentiment has created a general, but friendly, dislike between those that consider themselves Highfalutin and those that clearly are not.

Well now that I've given you the fifty cent tour. Shall we get on to adventure?

CHAPTER 1: Green Tide

We will open our journeys in the Green Valley at Green Tide, the annual celebration of Winter’s End. This adventure is designed to give a tour of Hills Furrow and introduce them to the locals. It will begin with some chores around their house to prepare for the festival and end with a battle involving an enchanted broom. If you did not do Session Zero, this chapter may take a bit longer as we get to know everyone and their characters.

ACT 1: Pre-Festival

The locals spend the week cleaning out their houses and farms. They gather old junk and unused items to be used later in the festival. They also begin preparing what food is left from winter to be used in a celebration and feasts.

Things to do!

  • Have the Players clean up junk around the house
  • Have them Find something strange (Perhaps used for a later mystery?)
  • Have them Decorate their Broom
  • Have them run a Household Errand (Meet an NPC)

ACT 2: Sweeping Day

A merry festival celebrating Spring cleaning and putting the past behind them. They form a parade, with one member from each house carrying a brightly decorated broom and using it to symbolically “Sweep Away Winter”. The rest of the family marches their winter’s trash and unused goods down to the Fairgrounds. The goods are often traded, while the trash is piled in the fire pit to await burning later. The entire day is filled with fun outdoor activities. Households also symbolically bring their problems to the bonfires to burn them later.

Things to do!

  • March in the Parade
  • Carry Junk to the Bonfire
  • Meet more of the Locals

EVENT: I Love a Parade

The parade will march North from near the Cross Roads in the South up around the hill and back again to the South where it will head for the Fairgrounds. There isn’t anything particularly challenging about this event, but it would be a wonderful place to start leaning into or building local rivalries.

EVENT: Never Seen a Broom Do That… As they come into the home stretch of the Parade one of the local’s Brooms will animate and take off. It will chase folks around the parade. The players can attempt to stop it, but the broom will flee soon after being attacked. It will fly up into the air, attack a flock of geese, and chase them off until it can’t be seen anymore. They can go and collect a fallen goose if they wish. I highly recommend giving it a motorcycle type sound as it flies around hitting folks. Maybe even going as far as giving it a rough gravel angry voice and letting it insult people.

ACT 3: Winter’s End

Winter’s End is a Combination of Groundhog’s Day and Fasnacht, this day gets a little wild. The Festival kicks off at dawn with the Great Gopher Hunt. Gophers are well known spies for The Voice of Winter and thus need to be hunted before they can tell The Voice to delay Spring. Gophers themselves are quite tasty, and are notoriously bad for crops, so this works out economically all around. Throughout the rest of the day families continue to contribute to the Bonfire Pile which often gets quite large. At dusk a large effigy of The Voice of Winter is placed on top of the pile. Once the sun has fully set they light the fire and burn the Effigy. Folk usually dress darkly during the day and brightly at night. After the burning they feast on sweets and treats that were made from goods saved up from winter storage.

Things to do!

  • The Great Gopher Hunt
  • Carry Junk to the Bonfire
  • Meet more of the Locals
  • The Fairground’s Activities

EVENT: The Great Gopher Hunt The Hunt begins at dawn and takes place all over the Valley. Locals race to collect as many Gophers as possible. It is easiest to kill the Gopher, but there are some that find that distasteful. Instead they live trap the critters. It is a bit tougher to do so, but an option should your players wish. This is most easily played out as a series of appropriate Skill Checks, in which the higher they score the more gophers they obtain.

EVENT: Trash Removal They may find some locals willing to pay them to help cart junk down to the bonfire pile. Not a lot of skill involved in this, but it is a great opportunity to meet locals, and you could throw a runaway cart at them.

Fair Activities They will probably want to take part in Fairground Activities. Players love these types of challenges. Here are a few ideas you can build on.

  • Axe Throwin: Basic attack rolls on a Round Target. Higher scores equal Higher points.
  • Bow Shootin: Basic attack rolls on Moving Targets. Higher scores equal Higher points.
  • Pig Chasin: Catch the greased Pig! Medium DC Challenge requiring three success before three Failures.
  • Mud Wrastlin: Nothing says bumpkin like a good Mud Wrastlin Pit. Contested Skill Challenges.
  • Sausage Eating Contest: Increasingly difficult DC Challenge. Eat till you puke! Can also be Pies or Ribs or Little Fish… you know whatever someone wants to stuff dozens of in their gullet.
  • Tug O’War: Team Strength Challenge. Three to Five Contested Rolls with opposing teams.
  • Gopher BBQ Cook Off: A Hard Culinary Challenge to see who can BBQ the best Gopher!
  • Races: Foot and Mount Races based on Three to Five Contested Rolls. I usually include a few odd mounts like a Giant Chicken or some such nonsense.

ACT 4: Day of Ashes

The Day of Ashes is a day of rest, recovery, and reflection. Locals take the ashes from the bonfires and rub their hands in them to symbolize the end of a hard year’s work and hardships of the past. The day ends with a large family feast, typically Pork. Activities this day are light, but many folks head to the Temple for the Calling of Spring Blessings. They put on their fancies and head down to ask forgiveness for over-indulging in the festival and for worship. Well sort of…

Unfortunately, a lot of folks take this as an opportunity to peacock about and practice their one-upmanship over other locals. If you’re looking for inspiration for their outfits look to older photos of the Kentucky Derby. Over the years this troubling practice has caused more than one fight to break out after the service.

**Things to do! **

  • Go to Temple and Meet More Locals
  • Pick a Local Patron!

EVENT: Temple Services The majority of the town comes to Temple on this day. The service is usually longer, and a bit more “Where have most of you been all year?” But otherwise it is a call for the Divine Blessings to touch their crops and protect their lives. It ends with a ceremony in which the locals put their hands into the ashes from yesterday’s bonfire. Once services end they will head outside, where the trouble will begin. Two of the wealthier families will get into it with each other. Starting with a couple of veiled insults, probably before service and continuing afterward. If one of your players is from a local Rich Folk family then they can be right in the middle of it all, otherwise they will have to pick a side. This choice will determine their house Patron moving forward. Tension will increase until folks start drawing up sides, and then someone will throw a rotten tomato at one of the House Matrons. That will blow the lid off the incident and a yokel brawl will break out. For comedy purposes I recommend the instant appearance of several food carts filled with expired products, and maybe a six year old hustler selling big sticks for wacking folks with. As the locals brawl call for perception checks. Who ever rolls highest begins to hear… The Broom returning!

ENCOUNTER: Stick In The Eye The broom returns ready to whoop some ash. It will be absolutely bent on cleaning anyone and everyone who is even the slightest bit dirty! If it successfully attacks a character they will have to make a Strength Saving throw or be knocked to the ground and swept clean by the broom. As this would be an awful omen for the year folks are terrified and will be running around screaming. Absolute mass hysteria. If the players were lucky enough to hear it coming they can avoid being surprised by the broom. Otherwise the broom will get a full round to attack before they have a chance to do anything. They’ll have to beat the broom into submission any way they can before it sweeps the whole town into chaos!


After defeating the broom things will settle back down again. Bumpkins are quick to return to normal when things go awry. However, they will have gotten the attention of one of the Wealthy Families in the area and be offered jobs. Which family is really, based on what will work best for them and you as the DM. For gags you might be tempted to have the Yokels pick them up, but that is a hard bit to sustain, and you may be better served keeping them on the side as a comic foil rather than up front. Completely up to you. The session should end with them being invited to meet their new patron tomorrow someplace important.

CHAPTER 2: A Cartload of Chickens

After successfully defeating the Enchanted Broom, our Bumpkins have gained the attention of a possible local Patron. This individual has summoned them to a nearby farm to discuss future work. That work includes proving themselves capable and not just lucky.

ACT 1: Meet the Boss

In this Act the players will meet with their new patron, one of the Family Heads, who that is entirely depends on their choices from the last game. This entire side branch is designed to flavor the background of the campaign, but if you’d rather just have them stay freelancing and independent that’s fine as well. There is also the possibility of “competing” offers should they have second thoughts for any reason. Once they arrive at the meeting spot their Patron will ask them some questions about their ambitions (Class Goals), they will then hand them off to their new “boss” who will assign them their task. They will take them to a nearby barn.

NPC: “Boss” Needs a fitting name for the Family they work for... Character wise, what we got here is a standard “Ranch Foreman” character. They’re tough, A little mean, and completely loyal to their employer. They almost certainly chew tobacco (by the handful), have a tattoo of the Ranch’s Brand, and know where all the bodies are buried. They also have a huge and obvious scar on the side of their head where a Giant Chicken pecked a hole in their skull, so they’re not as bright as they used to be, not at all truthfully. Nor are they actually the Foreman anymore, but no one has a heart to tell them. They’ve been quietly downgraded to Chicken Handler, which is something they seem to remember quite well, but the brain damage keeps them from realizing all that. They can be found wandering the Farm giving strange orders to other Hands. These Hands nod politely and then go back to what they are doing.

Things To Do!

  • Meet Their Patron
  • Discuss Their Future
  • Meet Their New “Boss”

ACT 2: Chicken Dance

Boss will lead them into the odd looking barn. This building is filled with Giant Chickens. These two-three foot fouls have extremely exaggerated features, spiky looking beaks with sharp tooth like edges, big darting eyes, bumpy cracked skin, long gnarled talons, and dirty mottled feathers. They’re more beast than bird. But, they’re good for eatin! These creatures should have a stat block similar to an Axe Beak. When the players enter into the Barn the Chickens will go nuts, obviously deeply bothered by the intrusion. Boss will throw in some deer haunches and the birds will tear them apart in a feeding frenzy. They will then put on a Chicken Suit and begin a flapping dance. (Google Magnificent Riflebird) It should be absolutely captivating and the chickens will become mesmerized, watching every move. Boss will then load two dozen chickens onto a large wagon and lock it. They will have the players push the wagon out while he keeps the Chickens calm. Once outside they’ll hang heavy tarps on the sides of the wagon, and remove the suit. He will then explain to them that they need to keep the tarps on the wagon, and keep the birds well fed, or the chickens will get restless and become violent. When they do need to interact with them someone will have to wear the suit and dance to keep them calm. The bigger the person in the suit the better. Boss will then give them a Map of Green Valley and instruct them to drop off two chickens at each of the outer settlements. They have two days to get this done.

Things To Do!

  • Head into the barn
  • Witness The Dance of The Chicken
  • Push the Wagon out
  • Get the Costume and Delivery Instructions

ACT 3: Bumpy Roads

They will be off to deliver the Chickens to various locations. There is no specific order to this delivery, they just need to pick a route and go. If they’re short on time they can take the country roads that lead between the outer settlements, but these aren’t as well kept as the main roads are. Whatever road they take and wherever they decide to stop for the night there are problems they will encounter along the way. You can make them random or pick the ones that best suit your players. Most of these should at some point require someone putting on the suit and dancing for the chickens to keep them calm. I would also increase the difficulty of each event. If they fail a dance the Chickens will become restless and start attacking the cart until they are calmed down. Too many failures and the wagon’s cage will break and the remaining chickens escape. They will then have to be rounded up and the cage repaired.

Things to Do!

  • Decide the delivery route
  • Deliver the chickens
  • Keep the Chickens calm

Possible Road Events

  1. Rough roads cause problems
  2. Yokels attempt to see what’s in the cart
  3. Bad Weather swamps the road or scares the chickens
  4. Pack of Coyotes causes trouble.
  5. Chicken Rustlers! Protect the Flock!
  6. Wagon breaks and needs repair
  7. Cows in the road, someone’s herd is out.
  8. Broken Bridge, not gone, just broken

ACT 4: Final Delivery

They’re now closing in on the final delivery. Something needs to happen here to cause them to put the suit on. Or maybe they never took it off! I love that idea, that one of your players just loves the suit and wants to be a chicken… lol… Anyway I’m a fan of having them need to get out of the suit for some reason, maybe a bathroom break, or they stand on a fire ant hill, or a snake slithers up their leg. You know something silly and fun. BUT the zipper is stuck! So they’ll have to try and unstick it and fast! Whatever happens they’re going to get shot at by some hunters looking for a big score who have mistaken the flailing caused by the stuck zipper to be the chicken attacking. After dealing with the Hunters they can go ahead and make the final drop. And head home.

Things to Do!

  • Head for the final delivery
  • Get shot at!
  • Deliver the last chickens

ENCOUNTER: That’s a BIG Chicken! Having two hunters in the field is more than enough to cause a problem for the players. The hunters will almost certainly surprise the players, but you can allow them a perception check, if they succeed they’ll see the hunters just before the muskets go off. It would be OK to down the Chicken Player here if the hunters successfully hit it. They’ll have healer’s kits on hand because, well, this seems to happen to them a lot out here. After the initial attack the players can decide to attack back or try and talk the hunters down. A basic Bandit or Scout stat block should do will for the hunters. If you’re looking for a bit more mayhem, if the hunters miss the players you could have them hit the cage, and you know, bust it open. This may be especially tempting if they

POSSIBLE ENCOUNTER: Big Ol' Frog So there is a giant frog hiding in the mud down in the creek. If a player takes cover behind the banks there is a good chance that the frog will attempt to nab the player as a snack. If it is successful in grabbing a player with its tongue it will immediately head down river, and they'll have to chase it to get their friend back.


When they return, Boss will reward them. How much will depend on how successful they were delivering the birds. If they did a descent job, they will be paid two day’s wages each. If they were completely successful they can have a bonus. However, if the wagon is in bad shape they might have some money deducted. After they’re paid out, they will be dismissed, and told to expect a new assignment next week.

CHAPTER 3: Marvin the Magnificent

After successfully delivering chickens Boss is going to trust them with a more important task. Their employer has requested an item to be created by Marvin the Magnificent. This is a farming community so having enchanted Farming Equipment is extremely desirable. Marvin has done a lot of basic enchantments over the years, but this new one, an The Stone Skipper, a plough whose blade goes ethereal while in contact with stones too large to push away, has really put him to the test. He needs some help with the final enchantments. The players will have to travel to the Ethereal Plane and hit the Blade of the plow with large rocks. But there’s a problem, they’re going to have mischievous Ethereal Sprites attempting to stop them! If they’re successful, which they should be, they get to take the plough for a test drive, and deal with the strange side effects of the enchantment. Angry goats that blink in and out of existence.

ACT 1: To the Tower

They’ll be summoned out to the Ranch where they’ll meet with Boss again. Once there they will notice a large pile of bent and dinged up plows. Boss will explain to them that a recent land acquisition has become problematic. The Fields are filled with large stones just under the topsoil and they’ve damaged a lot of Plow Blades. The Smithing costs are getting out of hand and so their Patron is looking for an alternate solution to the problem. He is sending them to help Marvin the Magnificent, who has taken the job, but run into some complications and needs some help. They may ask about Marvin. Or perhaps the fields that were purchased, so be ready to answer these types of questions. Once they’re done here they can head to Marvin’s Tower, which is just north of town.

Things to Do!

  • Meet Boss again
  • Ask some Informational Questions
  • Head for the Tower

NPC: Marvin the Magnificent Marvin Boudenbaum, AKA Marvin the Magnificent, has lived in town a good number of years, he wasn’t born here but is considered local by most folk. He is a mage of some skill, having mastered spells up to level 3 spells, and is frequently hired by locals to use his magic for anything and everything that their bumpkin brains can cook up. Thing is… Marvin has extraordinary bad luck, so bad in fact that his spellwork has a tendency to go wrong. Typically, it doesn’t go wrong in a dangerous fashion, but there was that time little Timmy Proudfoot was flung into the Astral Sea. Marvin was about to be sentenced for Negligent Magic Murdering when Timmy was suddenly returned by Captain Jinny Steampipe of the Atomic Dustbin (An Astral Spell Ship). Timmy was ok and Jinny and crew spent a few weeks spending some money and telling everyone in town amazing stories of the Astral Sea, so all was forgiven. Marvin, has since taken to having anyone who hires him sign liability waivers, you know just in case. He lives in a small tower just outside of town to the North.

ACT 2: Marvin the Magnificent

As they approach the tower they should see an explosion at the peak of the structure. It should look similar to a fireworks mishap. When it clears there will be no visible damage to the tower, But Marvin will plummet to the earth just off to the side of them, landing in a small pond. He will then come charging out of the pond, laughing hysterically, and riding on a large turtle. Once he gets a few feet away from the pond the turtle will disappear and he will tumble to the ground right in front of the players. He will leap up quickly and turn toward the players. “Behold Travelers, You stand in the presence of Marvin the Magnificent! And everything you have witness was mostly intended!” He will then strike a cool pose with his wand pointed to the sky! “Now why do you approach my tower!?”

Once Marvin finds out they’ve been sent about the plow he will become more nervous looking. “I see, well follow me. We have work to do.” He will then start walking toward the tower… his boots squishing out water. This should give them a little time to ask a few questions. Marvin will be a little subversive about what they need to do. He will attempt to frame it very mysteriously, saying things like “All will be revealed soon.” and “Save your questions! All Answers await us… in the future!” If they ask him about what they witnessed outside, he will tell them he was working on a mount summoning spell designed for lakes and rivers.

Things to Do!

  • Head toward the Tower
  • Meet Marvin
  • Ask Questions

ACT 3: The Cabinet of Mysteries

The inside of the Wizard’s Tower will be far more mundane than they likely expect. At least on the first floor. It will have a sitting room, dining room, and kitchen, as well as a few odds and ends about. Nothing special at all. The second floor, are Marvin’s personal quarters and some room for study, but it is the third floor, where Marvin will lead them, and it will be more of what one would expect in a Wizard’s tower. There will be books shelves, arcane equipment, and storage for components. In the middle of the room will be a tall cabinet.

Marvin will explain to them that the Cabinet is a transportation device, and that he will need them to enter into it with a plow that he has recently enchanted. They will be taken to the Ethereal Plane, and once there they’ll need to take the plow outside and begin hitting it with large field stones. There is a large pile of stones just on the north edge of the tower. They’ll have to do this quickly, before the “others” show up. Who are the others? Hard to say, but there are things that live in the Ethereal Plane that don’t like intruders. The idea is to imbue the Plow with Ethereal Powers so it can pass through large stones while plowing fields. Once they return with the Enchanted Plow, Marvin will have them load it on a cart, pulled by a very smart Donkey, and send them on their way.

Skill Challenge: Enchant the Plow This skill challenge will require five successes before they’re incapacitated by the others. However they decide to do it, they’ll have to successfully hit the plow with five large stones. Failures will result in strange indiscernible entities attacking them. They do minimal damage but could knock people out if there are enough failures.

Things to Do!

  • Move Through Marvin’s Tower
  • Enter the Cabinet
  • Enchant the Plow

ACT 4: Blinking Goats

Upon returning to Boss with the Plow they will be happily greet and paid. Their Patron will be there and will be very pleased with their success. He will ask them to demonstrate the plow’s abilities. Once they get set up out in the field and begin plowing something weird will happen. Every time they hit a stone and the plow’s power activates an Ethereal Goat will manifest and kick or ram the plow, and then disappear. It will feel very similar to what they encountered in the Ethereal Plane. They’ll have to find a way to deal with the manifestations.

ENCOUNTER: Ethereal Goats These goats should function very similarly to Blink Dogs, but I would trim the HP and AC a little to put them in line with the party’s. They will be intent on breaking the Plow not the party, although they will attack the party if they can’t get to the Plow.

Things to Do!

  • Deliver the Plow
  • Drive the Plow
  • Defeat the Ethereal Goats


Once defeated the Boss will come over to yell at them, but the Patron will find the entire thing amusing and more importantly, another impressive demonstration of the player’s skills. He will invite them to the “House” for an important party next week.

CHAPTER 4: High Society

They've definitely been noticed now and have impressed with their ability, unconventional as it may be. They are invited to their patron's home, but not as guests. Though, they might think they were actually invited as guests! They have been brought in to help work the event held out at the Party Field. They will have to gather party supplies, help put up the tent, and then serve the actual guests. During the evening’s entertainment a hypnotist “The Great Dr Hypnotika” will mesmerize the crowd and attempt to rob them all. Hopefully the players don’t fall victim to her schemes. And if they do oh well, they’ll be entertained all the same.

ACT 1: Special Delivery

The players arrive at the Patron’s very nice property. They will be greeted by a properly dressed servant with a clipboard, the Party Planner. The Planner will be rigid and direct. They will immediately begin tasking them about. If they mention that they were invited to the party the servant will laugh “You didn’t think you were a guest? Oh dear, how embarrassing. You’re the help! It is still a great honor to be tasked to help at the Party, but you’re not guests. Now as for your current task. Head into town and gather these supplies. Bring them to the field by noon.” After the instructions are given the servant will go back to their tasks and expect the players to do the same. They will have three stops; The Crocked Crow for Food and Beer, Get Nailed for the Tent and Spirits, and Shalana Proud-Breed’s Tailor Shop to pick up the Dry Cleaning. Feel free to make any and all of these go sideways! Its a good place to toss in some shenanigans as well! They should also be introduced to Dr Hypnotika and her associates.

Things To do!

  • Go to their Patron’s Home
  • Meet the Party Planner and Dr Hypnotika
  • Run their Errands

NPC: Dr Hypnotika Dr Hypnotika and her group will perform for the party. Hypnotica is a Tiefling Mezmerist and illusionist. She has an obnoxiously high charisma and some pretty serious skills to back up her claims. However, she uses those skills to beguile her guests, robbing them blind while they are under her spells. She wears a fine robe with a bedazzled headwrap. She has dark upward spiraling horns, light purple skin, and matching eyes. She wears a monocle and walks with a ceremonially carved staff depicting the "Struggles of the Universe". She is extremely persuasive and even more deceptive. Even if someone were to grow suspicious she can easily talk her way out of trouble.

NPCs: Clapper and Bob Hypnotika brings with her two assistants. Clapper the suit wearing Kenku who will perform wondrous displays of mimicry and slight of hand, and her strongman Bob the Kobold. Bob wears a leopard print strongman's outfit and is amazingly swole, particularly for a kobold, and capable of lifting upwards of 400lbs. Bob doesn't do much else other than get hit with things. in the act.

ACT 2: Put up the Tent

After they finish running their errands they will be tasked with putting up a large party tent. This Act is an ongoing Skill Challenge and should have a constantly distracted feel to it. First they have to unpack the tent. Then they have to realize some pieces are missing, they’ll have to form a solution to that problem. After that wind should cause some problems as the tent is at least being pulled up. This is a great moment for some wondrous tom-foolery.

Things To do!

  • Unpack the tent
  • Deal with missing parts
  • Secure the tent during the wind gusts

ACT 3: Put These On

After they finish putting up the tent they’ll be sent to the Servant’s Quarters to bathe and change. They’ll get a little time to explore and snoop if they wish. Afterward they’ll be tasked with helping in the kitchen, but unfortunately the cooks are going to have been playing a drinking game all afternoon and are no longer fully capable of doing their jobs. This would make a great moment for some sort of mini-game where the players have to determine whether or not the cooks are doing the right things. Once the dinner has been completed they will have to serve the guests. This is a good place to insert gossip and help them meet a few other folks.

Things To do!

  • Get changed for the party
  • Deal with the drunk cooks
  • Serve the guests drinks and food

ACT 4: An Evening to Remember

At some point in the evening things are going to start sliding downhill. Some of the locals will have become extremely inebriated and will need to be encouraged to leave, or just moved off to the side as they’ve already passed out, before the show begins. Once the show begins the locals will become fixated on the goings on. “The Great Dr Hypnotika” will have put an additive in the drinks for the that will make everyone more susceptible to her powers of persuasion. Once the show starts she will have them all doing silly things, those who drank have disadvantage on saves against her powers. She will end the show asking the guests to display their most valuable treasure, a with a hypnotic pattern and then send her assistants out to collect those treasures. The players will have to “do something” about the thieves.

Things To do!

  • Deal with Drunks
  • Watch the Show
  • Stop the Criminals

ENCOUNTER: Hypnotika's Gang This encounter doesn't have to be a fight. If Hypnotika is caught she may claim it was all part of the act and simple return the valuables with a "no harm, no foul" type attitude. This will be he go to in an attempt to avoid a fight, but if the character persist in some kind of retribution or punishment the situation will devolve into a combat. Hypnotica herself is an Illusionist Wizard but is low on spells after the show. Clapper is a low level rogue and Bob a Barbarian, and should play out as such. Even with Skills they are combat adverse and will be looking for an opportunity to flee rather than fight. They do have a getaway wagon out front that they'll be headed for if things go south.


We’re assuming the Bumpkins at least attempted to stop the robbery. This will draw a lot of attention to them. Their Patron will be well pleased with them, and let them know they will be getting much more important jobs in the future. The guests will also take note and will begin treating them all a bit better. They’re all essentially Folk Heroes at this point for secondary backgrounds. Their Patron should reward them with something very nice as the party kicks back in. They will need to finish out the nights work of course.


Congratulations! Your Players have completed their first Quest-line! Hopefully it was a delightful experience. But now that they've finished what comes next? Well, here are some ideas.

Reward Them! They've been doing some rather Adventurous things lately, and therefore should now have a Class Level under their belt, so the real D&D world now opens to them! Maybe it is time for some real adventuring gear. No more sticks, stones, and burlap sack armor.

Folk Heroes? There's a good chance that the Valley is Speaking the News about them and their exploits while drinking in the taverns. They may have even earned the actual Folk Hero Feat! Maybe someone would be interested in giving them a task!

Simply Go Exploring! There are a lot of places in Green Valley that we only dipped our toes into. You could have them head down to Stinkmarsh, or maybe climb up the cliffs of Longridge. The world (Well, the Valley) is wholly open to them.

Explore Local Legends There are lots of local legends they can look into! Hopefully they search out something that isn't too far over their heads!

Continue Working for their Patron It would be an easy DM go to simply to have them continue working for their current Patron. They've probably been impressive enough for a family to be interested in keeping them on.

Establish Themselves as Adventurers! Maybe they want to set up a Adventurers for Hire business? This "Heroes Guild" approach is really appealing to a lot of players and absolutely plays into Bumpkin Quest. Just remember, this is a place of low key problems that locals make really big deals out of. So the idea of slaying dragons shouldn't really be on the table... that is until an actual dragon shows up! Which one day absolutely should.

13:26 UTC


Community Q&A - Get Your Questions Answered!

Hi All,

This thread is for all of your D&D and DMing questions. We as a community are here to lend a helping hand, so reach out if you see someone who needs one.

Remember you can always join our Discord and if you have any questions, you can always message the moderators.

12:00 UTC


A Wild Magic Zone system I have had a lot of success running with 2 parties thus far

I have ran this wild magic zone twice now, once for a 5-people level 7 party, and once for a two-member level 5 party. It worked great both times.

This wild magic zone requires a fair bit of improv on the DM side, but it has also resulted in some of the best roleplay I have seen from the players.

The general structure is as such: there are 4 decks of 12 cards. The first deck contains 'Area' cards, which describe the physical environment; the second deck contains 'People' cards, which describe the inhabitants of an environment; the third deck contains 'Goal' cards, which give the player a goal they must achieve in this section to move onto the next one; and the fourth deck contains 'Wild magic' cards, which mess up everything with a (occasionally undeclared) rule. (Ive posted the current 48 cards below)

The rules of the wild magic zone:

  1. When the players first enter the Wild Magic Zone, draw 1 card from each deck, this is their current situation.
  2. To exit the Wild Magic Zone, they must succeed in 4-6 zones (succeeding a 'goal' card counts as succeeding in a zone) - perhaps to reach a McGuffin at the centre of the Wild Magic Zone ? (this is what Ive done before)
  3. As an action, a player may 'discard' one card from any one deck and draw the next one. It immediately goes into effect. Discarded cards do NOT return to the deck but remain discarded forever
  4. Upon achieving a Goal, all four cards from all four decks are replaced immediately with new cards.
  5. If a deck runs out of cards before the players succeed in their assigned Goal number, the players los (ejected from the Wild Magic Zone ? This never happened during my plays - this is not the purpose of the Wild Magic Zone, it is merely a theoretical warning against changing the cards too much)

To give an example, here is a random 4 card setup I just drew up randomly (12, 12, 3, 4)

Area: Statues of Gods long since forgotten surround you and coloured light passes through coloured glass. You find yourself in a temple to a religion you do not recognize

People: A panopticon-style prison

Goal: Capture a flaming bird

Wild Magic: All objects the players touch become animals

I would play this as: the players find themselves at the bottom of alarge panopticon-style prison complex ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon ), where there are no guards but instead many statues who look at you with great intensity. Somewhere, near the middle-to-top floor they see a glow of bright flames, this, they instinctively know, is where the flaming bird resides

The statues are found at all pathway junctions and in front of all prison doors. The statues are (weakened, depending on player level) effectively beholders, but who shoot only 1 eye beam at offending payers they can sense someway

The challenge for the payers becomes to pass 3-4 sets of statues unseen, and open the prison door (maybe there's a key in a guard room ? or maybe the can lockpick or force their way in )

Both my groups have had alot of fun running this gauntlet, and maybe your group can have this fun as well :)



  1. Beach

    1. a lush beach area, with a white forest on the east side and a quiet sunset over a friendly, warm ocean on the west
  2. Forest

    1. a rich temperate forest littered everywhere with old trees, little groves, and meandering, lightly-trodden paths seeming leading to nowhere
  3. Desert

    1. Endless sand, canyons, and wadis, like a semi-arid desert that has not yet had rain this season
  4. Mountains

    1. ever-expanding mountains with permafrost at the top and pine forest at the bottom. There are many caves and hidden pathways to those who look
  5. Space

    1. Far below there is a great plane of many colours, above there are infinite stars. Around you there are many asteroids of various sizes gently floating. Some of these could only hold a few houses, others which could house an entire city. (you can breathe just fine).
  6. Underwater

    1. You are deep below the surface, swimming over corals are many-coloured fish. To your right there is a great sloping wall leading to a surface you cannot sea, to your left there is an eternity of deep, blue ocean. (you can breathe just fine)
  7. Pure light

    1. You are standing on land you cannot see, as both the ground and the sky are made of pure light. The brightness blinds you for a second, but once you're used to it, you can see as you could normally
  8. Pure darkness

    1. You are standing on land you cannot see, as both the ground and the sky are made of pure darkness. After a few seconds your eyes adapt, and you can see, but only half as far as normally
  9. Yggdrassil

    1. An enormous tree stands before you, the roots of which extend in every direction further than you can see. The trunk is almost 100 meters across, and extends well beyond the clouds above. There are many branches of every width and colour at all levels.
  10. Endlessly tall treetops

    1. You find yourself atop a tree, and as far as the eye can see there are more trees in every direction. You cannot see the ground below, but find easy methods of moving from tree to tree
  11. Caves

    1. Damp and rot assault your senses as you find yourself underground in a large hall with cave tunnels leading out in 8 directions
  12. Statues of Gods long since forgotten surround you and coloured light passes through coloured glass. You find yourself in a temple to a religion you do not recognize


  1. An ancient red dragon and a dracolich are battling, whilst many people huddle away in various corners far away, watching the fight

  2. A mystical castle shrouded in purple mist, with strange creatures of all shapes and oddities move in and out DM note: this is a fairy castle :)

  3. A small, little village of no more than 50 people, most of whom seem occupied in preparing for a festival

  4. Endless rows of monoliths in every direction with text written on them in every conceivable (and inconceivable) language. There is a short, elderly woman walking between them

  5. a large colloseum, with people streaming in and out. Inside the loud cheers of audiences and the grunts of battle can be heard DM note: to reach the Lord, the players must roll 1d6, and are accepted on a 6+. If they enter the arena, they can fight a number of monsters, each of whcih will add +1 to their eventual roll (adjust to suit level of party, this was for 2 level 6 chars):

     1. [Giant Boar](https://5thsrd.org/gamemaster_rules/monsters/giant_boar/) 
     2. [Centaur](https://5thsrd.org/gamemaster_rules/monsters/centaur/)
     3. [Berserker](https://5thsrd.org/gamemaster_rules/monsters/berserker/) 
     4. [Bandit Captain](https://5thsrd.org/gamemaster_rules/monsters/bandit_captain/) 
     5. [Hyppogriph](https://5thsrd.org/gamemaster_rules/monsters/hippogriff/) 
     6. [Dire wolf](https://5thsrd.org/gamemaster_rules/monsters/dire_wolf/) 
  6. Faceless voids are wandering about, with scared people and animals hiding wherever they may

  7. 2 magic circles, each surrounded by either blue or red mages, each summoning monsters to attack the other DM note: each circle is headed by 1 Mage

( https://www.dndbeyond.com/monsters/16947-mage) (adjust to suit level of party, this was for 2 level 6 players (mages would lose spellslots 4 & 5))

  1. A lost caravan, but the carts and the clothes all seem odd DM NOTE: they're from the future :)

  2. an eternal armies of zombies, marching in from the north and exiting from the south

  3. A large city of steam and steal, occupied only by robots DM note:they're scared of fleshy things - the concept of rot and decay is lovecraftian to them

  4. A grand palace, but everyone inside and out is frozen in place, not moving or responding to any prompt

  5. A panopticon-style prison


  1. Find a blue goat and feed him

  2. there is a bomb somwhere, dismantle it DM note: the players have 1h real-time to accomplish this

  3. Capture a flaming bird

  4. Kill the Lord of the system

  5. Attend a wedding (between sentient creatures)

  6. Win a competition

  7. Make the world go dark

  8. Create a fire 80 meters tall

  9. Introduce a new festival to the denizens of the region

  10. Swim in a pool of blood

  11. Survive DM note: this one's fun, but bery DM dependent

  12. learn 10 new recipes


  1. The players become the size of mice

  2. The players can speak only lies

  3. NPC's recognize the players (1d6 on attitude):

    1. happy
    2. angry
    3. sad
    4. neutral
    5. seeking revenge
    6. afraid
  4. All objects the players touch become animals

  5. 2 previously used wild magics are activated simultaneously (if fewer than 2 have been used so far, instead reveal 1 or 2 wild magics as needed plus any previously used ones)

  6. The edge of the region is on fire. The fire is slowly closing in

  7. The players keep changing places with each other DM note: whenever they roll a die, on below a 5 they change places with the player the number rolled

  8. Players are 6 years old again

  9. Whenever a player rolls a 1-5 on a d20, a random spell of that level / 2 (1-2: 1; 3-4: 2; 5: 3) is cast centered on the player

  10. the stars are falling

  11. There is an assassin in the world, whose sole purpose is to kill the players

  12. every player rolls a 1d6, they feel super:

    1. happy
    2. angry
    3. sad
    4. depressed / hopeless
    5. jealous
    6. overconfident
10:29 UTC


This Shadow Predator Will Warp Your Reality And Devour Your Magic Items - Lore & History of the Balhannoth

Gaze in terror at this aberration before it devours you on Dump Stat

An aberration that’s been around since the 3rd edition, the Balhannoth is a creature of the dark, lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike when you least expect it. While the editions might disagree about what exactly its abilities are, just watch out for those writhing tentacles. If it grabs onto you, there is no escape as it quickly devours you and hunts the surviving members of your party.


3e/3.5e - Balhannoth

Usually CN Large aberration, CR 10

Initiative +7; Senses blind, dweomersight 120 ft.; Listen +6

Languages -

Aura dimensional lock

Armor Class 21, touch 12, flat-footed 18 (–1 size, +3 Dex., +9 natural)

Hit Points 147 (14 HD); DR 15/magic

Immune gaze attacks, illusions, visual effects

SR 18

Fort +10, Ref +9, Will +12

Speed 50 ft. (10 squares), climb 50 ft.

Melee 2 slams +18 each (2d6+9/19–20) and bite +13 (1d8+4)

Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (15 ft. with tentacles)

Base Atk +10; Grp +23

Atk Options Power Attack, constrict +1d8, improved grab, magic strike

Special Actions antimagic grapple

Abilities Str 28, Dex 17, Con 23, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 8

SQ camouflage

Feats Improved Critical (slam), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack

Skills Climb +17, Hide +16, Jump +17, Listen +6, Move Silently +13

Advancement 15–20 HD (Large); 21–30 HD (Huge)

Dweomersight (Su) A balhannoth can sense the presence and position of magic auras within 120 feet of itself, and knows the strength and school of each one. It can pinpoint the location of any creature with ongoing spells cast on it, carrying magic items, or otherwise using magic, and it can notice anything within the area of a magic effect (including its own dimensional lock aura). This otherwise functions like blindsense.

The Balhannoth is first found in the Monster Manual IV (2006) and is the worst nightmare of wizards everywhere. Barbarians, rogues, and everyone in between shouldn't think they are safe either, as the Balhannoth is a dangerous predator that stalks the Underdark and subterranean world, hunting down anyone who likes magic or uses magical items. We imagine that’s just about everyone that lives in a fantasy world where magic is as common as breathing.

Before we talk about how this creature is going to rip you apart and devour you and all your magical goodies, let’s just go ahead and get you ready for what it will look like. It is described as having an ovoid body, which means it kind of looks like an egg… with six tentacles and a large mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth. It’s a strange-looking egg, but the Underdark is a strange place. It uses its tentacles to help it climb quickly, often lurking along ceilings where it then causes its skin to morph and change color, giving it almost perfect camouflage no matter where it is hiding.

As you may have guessed by our description above, these solitary creatures are another in a long line of creatures that take great pleasure in munching on your bones and devouring your flesh. What makes them worse than the rest of their flesh-eating friends is they also enjoy feeding on the magical aura of all your precious magic items. The Balhannoth's natural attunement to all things magical allows them to sense your coveted magic items as if the Balhannoth was under the constant effects of a detect magic spell, and we assume that this innate sense somehow plays into their need to feed on magic.

In addition, they are far more interested in powerful magic items than a piddling magical coin that always lands heads-up. The more powerful the item, the longer that a Balhannoth can feed off of it, with the weakest items only lasting for a day, while more powerful items could feed them for a whole month. It’s even thought that artifact-level items could feed a Balhannoth for its entire lifetime, though we aren’t sure that a Balhannoth will get much of an opportunity.

Of course, don’t think you could just capture a Balhannoth and feed it a few rings of protection and it will be your friend. After a while, they grow bored with the flavor of specific magic items and will cast it aside in search of a new delicacy to feed on. We do wonder what magical auras taste like; are evocation magic items spicy? Is illusion ephemeral? Transmutation like eating a magic fruit and everything sour is now sweet? Luckily for you, though, if a Balhannoth does feed on your item, you just have to wipe off the slobber as the item is undamaged from being fed on by these creatures.

If you do end up carrying way too many magical items in the Underdark, and draw the attention of these hungry, hungry aberrant hippos, then we wish you all the luck. These large creatures don't even have the common courtesy to fight you head-on. The Balhannoth prefers to lurk in the shadows, blending in with the surrounding underground terrain, ambushing you and your friends as you pass by. It may not see you from its hiding spot, but the Balhannoth can pinpoint your location through its dweomersight, which is kind of like blindsight but for magical auras. If you and your magic items are deemed tasty enough, the Balhannoth will strike out with its tentacles, attempting to slam you with these limbs. If successful, the Balhannoth will grapple you, and your day will have suddenly become much worse.

Once it has grappled its foe, the Balhannoth will begin to squeeze the life out of you as it begins constricting. Now we know what the fighter is thinking; I'll just hit it with my fancy magic weapon and lop that tentacle right off. Well, you can certainly hit it with the sword, but any and all of its magical properties are suppressed thanks to the Balhannoth's antimagic grapple ability. The same goes for any spells or innate spell-like skills you may have, or any ongoing magical effects you’d cast on yourself like mage armor or please-don’t-let-me-die-to-this-horrific-monster.

Fleeing is always an option, but you can forget about magically whisking yourself away due to the Balhannoth's dimensional lock trait. This trait does precisely what it sounds like it would do. It prevents extradimensional travel, rendering astral projection, blink, dimension door, ethereal jaunt, etherealness, gate, plane shift, shadow walk, teleport, and similar spell-like or psionic abilities useless. You'll still be able to run away manually, and besides, when was the last time your wizard got a good jog in?

Once the Balhannoth emerges from battle victorious, it will drag your corpse and all your delectable magical stuff back to its lair. If you are still breathing, taking a few of your last gasps, you might be lucky enough to see a single Balhannoth egg waiting to hatch. Balhannoths get pregnant easily; a simple touch between two Balhannoth tentacles produces a large egg in each of the hippo-monsters. Once their egg is produced, the proud parent will slide a powerful magic item next to their egg and allow the egg to gestate for one year before it hatches.

Just for you, we'll leave on a positive note. If you manage to kill the Balhannoth and find its lair, you can be confident of scoring some good magical loot.


4e - Balhannoth

Level 13 Elite Lurker

Large aberrant magical beast (blind); XP 1,500

Initiative +18; Senses Perception +16; blindsight 10

HP 216; Bloodied 108

AC 28; Fortitude 27, Reflex 26, Will 24

Immune gaze, illusion

Saving Throws +2

Speed 4, climb 4 (spider climb); see also reality shift

Action Points 1

Tentacle (standard; at-will) Reach 3; +17 vs. AC; 1d8 + 9 damage.

Whipping Tentacles (standard; at-will) Close burst 3; targets enemies; +17 vs. AC; 1d8 + 9 damage, and the target slides to any other square of the balhannoth’s choosing within the burst area.

Combat Advantage The balhannoth deals an extra 2d8 damage against any target it has combat advantage against.

Invisibility (minor; at-will) Illusion The balhannoth can turn invisible until the end of its next turn. It turns visible if it takes a standard action.

Reality Shift (move; at-will) Teleportation The balhannoth can teleport 10 squares. Enemies adjacent to the balhannoth before it teleports are dazed until the end of its next turn. The balhannoth automatically gains combat advantage against creatures it teleports adjacent to.

Alignment Chaotic Evil; Languages Deep Speech

Skills Stealth +19

Str 29 (+15) Dex 27 (+14) Wis 20 (+11) Con 24 (+13) Int 3 (+2) Cha 8 (+5)

The Balhannoth found in the Monster Manual (2008) is a far cry from the apex magic-eating predator we came to fear in the previous edition. There's little to no discussion for this slug monster as it is given less than a page of descriptive information. Even the art goes in a new direction, as the creature now appears as a cross between a giant green slug and a roper. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, the Balhannoth undergoes a radical change in its abilities, so we have something to write about.

The Balhannoth still stalks its prey and will ambush them when given a chance, attacking with its long tentacles. It can no longer sense your magical stuff, instead just utilizing basic blindsight to find its target and rip them apart with gusto. Add to that the Balhannoths ability to go invisible, and there's a good chance you'll never see a Balhannoth until it's too late. It doesn't use its appendages to grapple you, instead pushing you and your friends around the battlefield with its whipping tentacles ability. This way, it can pick and choose which of your friends it’ll eat first while flinging the smellier adventurers away so their stench doesn’t ruin its appetite.

Forget about all the Balhannoth's magic suppression traits because they have been tossed into the trash. What it gains instead is the ability to reality shift at will. The Balhannoth can blink up to 50 feet away from its present location. This is no regular teleportation, however. When it disappears, creatures next to the Balhannoth are dazed for a round. Seeing stars and being out of it isn't great, but the poor soul the Balhannoth teleported next to has it worse because the Balhannoth now has combat advantage against it and deals even more damage with its tentacles.

We didn't mention it before, but the Balhannoth now and then can be charmed, trained, or otherwise coerced into guarding a location. In 3rd edition, the mind flayer loved to take advantage of our land octopus, but now, creatures such as the kuo-toa, aboleth, and drow have all been known to raise and train Balhannoths to do their bidding. While Balhannoths can’t talk, they can learn languages to follow commands and the like, but they really only like it when people use telepathy to command them. If you aren’t telepathically inclined, you really should train these creatures from birth so they don’t realize what they are missing. We guess that telepathy just tickles their brain.

It’s not all bad news as the Balhannoth does appear in Dungeon #204 (July 2012) in the adventure The Sword Collector by Michael E. Shea. We’ve previously mentioned this adventure with the hook horror, though don’t get your hopes too high. The Balhannoth in this adventure is actually an Ancient Balhannoth, which has all the same abilities as a regular Balhannoth, but stronger at level 25 instead of just level 13. Though it does gain an acidic maw attack and has an easier time overcoming the dazed, stunned, and dominated condition. Other than that, it is a one-off monster that doesn’t come with new information and just attempts to eat a party of adventurers with nothing else for it to do.


5e - Balhannoth

Large Aberration, Chaotic Evil

Armor Class 17 (natural armor)

Hit Points 114 (12d10 + 48)

Speed 25 ft., climb 25 ft.

Str 17 (+3) Dex 8 (-1) Con 18 (+4) Int 6 (-2) Wis 15 (+2) Cha 8 (-1)

Saving Throws Con +8

Skills Perception +6

Senses blindsight 500 ft. (blind beyond this radius), passive Perception 16

Languages understands Deep Speech, telepathy 1 mile

Challenge 11 (7,200 XP); Proficiency Bonus +4

Legendary Resistance (2/Day). If the balhannoth fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Multiattack. The balhannoth makes a bite attack and up to two tentacle attacks, or it makes up to four tentacle attacks.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 25 (4d10 + 3) piercing damage.

Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15) and is moved up to 5 feet toward the balhannoth. Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the balhannoth can’t use this tentacle against other targets. The balhannoth has four tentacles.

Legendary Actions The balhannoth can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The balhannoth regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Bite. The balhannoth makes one bite attack against one creature it has grappled.

Teleport. The balhannoth teleports, along with any equipment it is wearing or carrying and any creatures it has grappled, up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space it can see.

Vanish. The balhannoth magically becomes invisible for up to 10 minutes or until immediately after it makes an attack roll.

First found in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes (2018) and updated in Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse (2022), the Balhannoth continues to ignore its original lore in favor of being a reality-warping creature, this time an inhabitant from the Shadowfell. It keeps many of its powers and abilities from the previous edition, as well as gaining a few new ones to trick and ambush its prey.

They say that home is where your heart is, and a Balhannoth's lair could very well house your heart, liver, spleen, and other tasty organs if you aren't careful. Balhannoths make their lairs close to the locations of creatures they like to eat. Some creatures still use them as guardians, with their refuge near passages and roads that guard their master's home. What makes them such great guardians is that they have several unique abilities that allow them to transform their lair into the desires of whatever creature happens to stumble into their homes, making you an easily distracted meal.

The land by the Balhannoth's home is deeply affected by the aberration, twisting it and creating two different effects. First, the Balhannoth can look into your heart and discover your happy place. The sense desires ability can be used on any humanoid within 1 mile of the creature and allows the Balhannoth to learn your desires and determine if those desires involve a specific location or place. It doesn't seem important to know this, but wait until we get to the lair actions, and you'll understand why this sucks for you. The second effect is a supernatural lure. When you're within 1 mile of the Balhannoth's lair, you'll feel a rush of excitement as if you are getting closer to whatever you desire the most in the multiverse. The closer your get, the strong the sensation. Somehow we doubt what you desire the most is to be wrapped up in the tentacles of a Balhannoth, so the joke's on you.

If you do stumble into their lair, get ready to see the thing you most desire. The Balhannoth can reshape the appearance of its lair based on the desires of a creature it is sensing within a mile of it, crafting an almost perfect trap. Of course, this isn’t a perfect trap as it doesn’t do great on details, but you won’t be noticing those details while having to fight for your life. Just know that if it creates a book in its lair because you are really obsessed with libraries, all those books will be empty cause details don’t matter in its trap. It only needs to create a location that is good enough to draw you into its deadly tentacles.

If you do stumble into a room that is your heart’s desire in the Underdark, you are in a lot of trouble. First, they’ll teleport you about, getting you far from your allies but close to the Balhannoth. Next, the Balhannoth will start lashing out with tentacles, grappling you and dragging you close to its big maw, ready to give you a big chomp. If your party tries to help you, they might have a very difficult time when it turns invisible and starts teleporting away with you grasped in its tentacles. All the while, you'll be unable to flee as it begins eating its very squirmy snack, a bamboozled adventurer. Even if the party can keep up with this fleeing tentacled-hippo-monster, they’ll have a hard time bringing it down since it has two legendary resistances it can use every day to just shrug off damaging or controlling effects.

Luckily for you, Balhannoths are natives of the Shadowfell, so it is very rare for you to stumble across them on your homeworld. Drow raiding parties do sometimes head off into the plane of shadows to capture a Balhannoth to help guard their homes, important locations, and lairs but that’s pretty rare and we can only imagine that the Balhannoth eats a few drow before it can be properly captured and transported across the planes.

If you go to the Shadowfell, like everything else there, it feeds on pain, suffering, and horror. It likes terrorizing its prey with its reality-warping powers and probably plays with its food like a giant octopoidal cat. You’ll know if you are about to become a Balhannoth’s plaything because it will breathe false hope into your mind, and then rip it away as you realize that there is no hope. There is only Balhannoth.


Add another monster to the list of creatures that wants nothing more than to eat you, savoring your horror as it devours your corpse. The Balhannoth is not a creature to be taken lightly, and one best to avoid when your characters are lower level. Unfortunately, that may prove difficult since they live to ambush you from the cold darkness of their surroundings. Once that happens, we wish you the best of luck. Just be thankful that now your magic items will still work… unless your characters are flung across the editions and land in the lap of a magic-hungry Balhannoth.

###Past Deep Dives #####Creatures: Aarakocra / Aboleth / Ankheg / Banshee / Beholder / Berbalang / Blink Dog / Bulette / Bullywug / Chain Devil / Chimera / Chuul / Cockatrice / Couatl / Displacer Beast / Djinni / Doppelganger / Dracolich / Dragon Turtle / Dragonborn / Drow / Dryad / Faerie Dragon / Flumph / Formian / Frost Giant / Gelatinous Cube / Genasi / Ghoul / Giant Space Hamster / Gibbering Mouther / Giff / Gith / Gnoll / Goliath / Grell / Grippli / Grisgol / Grung / Hag / Harpy / Hell Hound / Hobgoblin / Hook Horror / Invisible Stalker / Kappa / Ki-rin / Kobold / Kraken / Kuo-Toa / Lich / Lizardfolk / Manticore / Medusa / Mercane (Arcane) / Mimic / Mind Flayer / Modron / Naga / Neogi / Nothic / Oni / Otyugh / Owlbear / Rakshasa / Redcap / Revenant / Rust Monster / Sahuagin / Scarecrow / Seawolf / Shadar-Kai / Shardmind / Shield Guardian / Star Spawn / Storm Giant / Slaadi / Tabaxi / Tarrasque / Thought Eater / Tiefling / Tirapheg / Umber Hulk / Vampire / Werewolf / Wyvern / Xorn / Xvart

Class: Barbarian Class / Cleric Class / Wizard Class

#####Spells: Fireball Spell / Lost Spells / Named Spells / Quest Spells / Wish Spell #####Other: The History of Bigby / The History of the Blood War / The History of the Raven Queen / The History of the Red Wizards / The History of Vecna

13:19 UTC


Magic Item Swap - Take a magic item, leave a magic item

Hi All!

This repeating event is for you to share a magic item that you have made that you think others would like. Please include as much detail as possible in order for these magic items to be useful and helpful to others. At a minimum the item should include a name and a description of its abilities, powers, and uses.

Please use the template provided below. Items that do not use this template will be removed.

Magic Item Name

Type, Rarity (attunement?)

Physical description of the item

Information about what the item does.

14:30 UTC


What The Flock - Can You Save a Tiefling's Sheep Mount Dealership From Going Belly Up?

In the far reaches of [insert world here] the party stumbles along a mount dealership on the side of the road. There are large gaudy signs talking about “low, low prices” with wacky inflatable flailing arm rats dancing in the breeze.

Approaching the storefront, a sharp-dressed tiefling introduces herself as Ovi Saries. Ovi is a mount saleswoman and she has been in business for only a short time, taking over the business after her late father. His death was a suspicious one, but Ovi hasn’t had time to mourn nor delve deeper because she is losing all of her business to a competing mount lot down the street.

As she explains the complications of her business, the party begins to notice they are surrounded by sheep. Too many to count, Ovi notes that she specializes in sheep mounts for the neighboring gnome communities. Her top of the line sheep have been bred year over year to produce the most rugged, durable sheep offspring, further increasing their product line. Walking the party through the lot, she begins slapping sheep on the side or butt, noting “these here make of the Sheep Grand Cherokee, which continues to set the standard for full-size SUVs, or Sheep Utility Vehicles.”

She continues, “you see, when we lash eight of these sheep together, you can go anywhere, see anything, all from the comfort of the backs of these sheep. In fact, it feels like you’re on a cloud.” The sheep baa in agreement as she walks further into the lot, citing the following “vehicles”:

  • The Sheep Wagoneer - Two hefty sheep pulling a makeshift wagon
  • The Sheep Renegade - A sheep standing on two legs, folding his arms and chewing on a long piece of grass
  • The Sheep Gladiator - An extremely musclebound sheep pulling a chariot
  • The Sheep Wrangler - This is just a human named Gary who yells “yahhh” at the sheep and passersby

Finishing the product line, Ovi breaks down (between fits of sadness, anger, and deeper rage) and says she is nearing bankruptcy if she can’t figure out how to offload most of her stock in the next few days. Before the party can learn what she needs from them they hear a growl from behind them.

The Competition Is Fleecing His Customers

The growl is a smug half-elf man, draped in a gigantic wolf coat, riding into the lot on a shoddily made wood “vehicle” which appears to be fifteen sheep covered in a strange bright yellow box. A low growl from the man emanates as the vehicle stops, he opens up what can most closely be called a car door, and exits the vehicle.

“Well, well, well,” he says. “If you’re done annoying my customers, you can go Ovi.”

Ovi snarls at the man, but retreats, kneeing a sheep on her way past her signs and into her office.

“If you’re looking for a real vehicle, I’ve got what you’re looking for. Nothing says style and class like one of Tristan Hunter’s Lamb Ore-guini’s.”

One of the sheep baa’s and Tristan kicks the wooden exterior. Tristan will proceed to discuss why his vehicles are top-of-the-line and offer a test drive if the party is interested. As they look toward Tristan’s lot, they can see folks from the gnome communities running their hands down the slick exterior of the vehicles. One gets a splinter stuck in his hand and yelps.

Tristan will continue to poo-poo on Ovi’s lot, saying she doesn’t have what it takes to properly sell mounts and neither did her bum of a father. He is a little too proud of his lot, and if the party takes a test drive, they might notice something suspicious about the vehicle. It turns out that while Tristan touts the Lamb Ore-guini or LAMB-bow, as Tristan calls it, as a sheep-propelled vehicle, if the party looks closely, they will notice it is actually several badgers that have been tied together, but given prosthetic sheep legs and sheep leg coverings to make appear as though the vehicle is sheep-powered.

Revealing the badgers will result in them hissing at the party and potentially attacking them if they attempt to dislodge or call out any of the badgers.

Helping Ovi Saries

When thinking about how to help Ovi and how to increase her sales, the DM should think of the situation as a sliding scale, with Ovi starting at 3 and Tristan starting at 7.

If Tristan gets to 10 or Ovi goes to 0, he wins the sales for the weekend, bankrupting Ovi.

If Ovi gets to 10 or Tristan goes to 0, Tristan will be revealed as a fraud and be laughed out of the area (or murdered, depending on the type of world your party is in).

Some different tactics for improving Ovi’s score:

  • Take to the lot and work on selling the cars to individuals. +0.5 for each person convinced, max of 3 points. There can be six attempts in total and will require a Persuasion check of 15 or more to succeed. DM can choose to award advantage if the sales pitch is well done. For every failure, Tristan gets those points. Each pitch must be unique.
  • The party can make signs attracting more customers to the lot. DM’s discretion, with the best signs gaining Ovi +0.5 for each clever sign, max of 2 points. There is no downside for this particular tactic, unless the sign is horrendous and the DM can give the +0.5 to Tristan.
  • If someone in the party has Suggestion or is able to Charm folks into checking out Ovi’s mounts, Ovi gets a +1 bump. There is no downside to this tactic if it fails.
  • Sign-spinning contest. If the party is interested, they can perform a sign-off against Tristan and his assistants. Two representatives from each side can participate, winner giving +1 to their side. There are two waves to the sign-off, each a best-of-three Acrobatics check against the opponent. If the rounds split between the two sides, each side will choose their favorite competitor for a final best of three. The winning side gets +2.

Some different tactics for reducing Tristan’s score:

  • Using stealth, the party could uncover evidence that Tristan was responsible for Ovi’s father’s death. The murder weapon is entirely up to the DM, though it’s more fun if it’s sheep-themed. Even without physical evidence, a compelling frame job could inflict damage to his reputation. This will reduce Tristan’s score by 3.
  • Somehow unleashing all of the badgers within the Lamb Ore-guini’s will also reduce Tristan’s score by 3, as the badgers will likely begin attacking the customers on his lot. He will calm the situation but will lose a chunk of his score.
  • This is a hidden tactic, but the party could go full nuclear and set Tristan’s lot on fire. Doing so will give a -1 to Ovi, but will be -3 for Tristan. He is capable of putting the fire out with some of his assistants, but half of the vehicles will be burnt to a crisp.

If all options are exhausted, and neither Tristan nor Ovi is at 10, the DM should call it and review the scores.

The Resolution

Depending on how the competition goes, the party will reach one of two resolutions.

  • If Ovi wins, she will thank the party, stay in business and offer them any two of the mounts that she has on the lot. Up to the DM as to whether they are leased or not and if the party will need to return them at the next town or further along in their adventure. The mounts will double their travel speed, taking half the time to get to any location.
  • If Tristan wins, he will continue to be smug and rub Ovi’s horns in the loss. Upset, Ovi will collect her sheep and head off down the road, unsure of where to go or what to do with her life. If the party offers for her to tag along, she will follow them to the nearest town and sell off her flock, using the earnings to concoct a revenge plot against Tristan.

Remember, the more sheep puns throughout, the better!

More encounters like this one can be found at https://dumbestdnd.com/. Free daily encounters, items, NPCs and more!

20:38 UTC


Community Q&A - Get Your Questions Answered!

Hi All,

This thread is for all of your D&D and DMing questions. We as a community are here to lend a helping hand, so reach out if you see someone who needs one.

Remember you can always join our Discord and if you have any questions, you can always message the moderators.

12:00 UTC


New Print and Play Auto-Fill 5e Spellbook

Hi y'all. A few months back I published here a Self completing Spell Book for easy print and play.

Now I have a new version, with better formulas, clearer instructions and more spells!It includes a table with all of the OGL/Creative Commons spells, you can organize and filter this table by School, Level, Class, Components, Contentration and more.

Additionally, it comes with a pre formated Spell Book in which, by just adding a Spell's name, the rest of it's information shows up. Then you can export it as a PDF, print it, and get a spell book, just like that.

You can find it here: https://camiloramospaiva.gumroad.com/l/imuhtb

Thanks to everyone for the support to the previous book, I now it may not seem like a lot of money for some of you, but in my part of the world, it's a lot. More important that that tho, all the people writing to me saying how much you enjoyed the book really brightened the last few months!

17:20 UTC


Along Came the Spider: A Touch of Black: Chapter 8

Along Came the Spider: A Touch of Black: Chapter 8

When the favors are done and prices paid there is an awkward span of time where one waits to see the horror filled manner in which a Hag fulfills her promises. That is the position our players find themselves in. They’ve completed the tasks and fulfilled the debts, and now put their own plans into motion in a desperate attempt to turn the tables.

Story Flow

Persephone has been physically restored, thanks to the deal with Cynthia, but she doesn’t believe herself free of the Hag’s machinations. Still there is little else she can do but move forward with her plan. She intends to put herself in the open as bait. She understands the danger, but is relying on the players to take care of anything that goes wrong. When is a better word. When something goes wrong… Her plans are so bold in fact, that she plans on holding a public wedding next week as bait.

In the meantime she has the players tasked with preparation work. They’ll be doing everything from running mundane errands to making sure that important security measures are in place. The wedding will be held at her fiancé’s country estate just outside of town to the West. The area is fairly exposed and will need some work to be defended well. Furthermore, the guest list is extensive and likely to expand. Cynthia is not going to take that particular bait, although she and her sisters will be in attendance, but in alternate forms. She is there to close a deal with another individual. Marsilia. Who should be acting strange for the past week. It will be easy to pass this off as her “reacting” to Persephone gaining back her health, which leaves Marsilia in a strange place. But the truth is the Hand Maid made a deal of her own before Persephone was even aware of Cynthia the Hag.

She is about to bear the full weight of that agreement. Marsilia wants her family back, and made an earlier deal with Cynthia to resurrect them. They died in the same pox that took Persephone’s eyes and left her crippled. She has done her best to keep Cynthia from hurting Persephone in the deal, and Cynthia has played into that game. However, Marsilia’s house of cards is about to come tumbling down. The real problems will begin before the ceremony and culminate after the Reception, once guests have settled in for the night. The adventure will close with a showdown between Marsilia, her undead family, and the party.

You can get the Free PDF here!

You can get the previous Chapters Here!

Town of Tragedies Guidebook

This adventure is part 8 of 12 and put your players on a collision course with an Elder Being. It is designed to be used with the Town of Tragedies Guide, which isn’t necessary, but referenced often. A TOWN OF TRAGEDIES GUIDE


Story Arcs

This arc leads us to the tragic end of Marsilia and sets the stage for Persephone’s. A few other Arcs could come into play here if you’ve built them up. But that’s entirely up to you. They’ve met a lot of people by now and likely made some enemies. These NPCs could be at the wedding. The final encounter is designed to be extremely taxing, and if you think it will be too much you could have someone come to the rescue, as it is likely that the Gray Griffons, The Guivere Family, will be in attendance.

Persephone should trust the players by now, unless they’ve been extremely difficult. Either way, Pre-Game she will explain to the deal for her to be healed was to offer up her first born child. So that leaves them nine months, if she gets pregnant right away, but she hopes to stop the Hag at her wedding. Cynthia arranged the marriage afterall, so Persephone doesn’t believe for a moment that she will be far away. I will leave Aberant Black out of this episode, but will be very present for Persephone tragic conclusion in the next chapters.

Retcons: A couple of things I’ve noticed in hindsight. As of writing this chapter I really feel like I didn’t encourage you enough to hint at Marsilia’s unraveling. It’s a hard thing though, too much and there is no surprise. Not enough, and it will feel forced. I’m also changing the connections back with Aberrant Black and the child as well as Cynthia’s motivations for rescuing the infant. They will be much more entangled moving forward. A quick rewrite of parts of the last episode will flesh some of that out. If you missed out on that then you may have to do some creative reworking in that regard. Or just drop the hammer and blame me.

Tier of Play

The players should be Level 5 (Tier Two or “Skilled Adventurers”), They will need that power bump before starting this adventure if they didn’t get it last time. The Vamp-Spiders at the end of this adventure are serious Business. Also, make sure they are properly geared at this point. If they’re lacking in equipment have Don Galvini reward them for protecting Persephone thus far.


"The large hairy spider scurries across the cavern ceiling. It pauses and attaches a web to the ceiling before spinning a line and descending toward a hooded figure working over a table strewn with several macabre looking arcane ingredients. In the center of those ingredients is a Baby’s Rattle. The wholesome looking toy feels woefully out of place surrounded by skulls, bat wings, and bowls of vile liquids. The figure is uncomfortably shaped with odd protrusions in wrong places. Humanoid by the look but there is an unusual bulk to their figure and an oddness to their movements. The spider, with the grace of a skilled ballerina crawls onto the figure’s shoulder, who seems not to notice. It creeps toward the cowl of the cloak and slips inside."

ACT 1: Preparation

It’s wedding week! Persephone and crew will be traveling to Vaemond’s family home west of town. Once there the players will engage in whatever mundane tasks you see fit. This is a great opportunity to weave a little fun into the story, which is always a welcome reprieve, and since this is about to get real dark real fast, they’re going to need it. I recommend them having to secure drinks and food from weird local vendors, as well as forcing them to help decorate the area. Afterward they will need to make certain that the area is secure. Once the preparations are made the guest will begin to arrive. Persephone’s mobster family will certainly be here, and hopefully the players will have some personal backstory connections to NPCs that would be invited. Particularly if those connections are dysfunctional and messy. After any uncomfortable interactions have played out, the chapter ends with guests being seated.

DESCRIPTION: The Grounds - You arrive at the Maloris Estate early in the morning. The sun has only crested the Stolregards by a half hour. As the carriages clamber up the cobbled driveway you take note of the grounds. A large manor house some three stories with gargoyle guarded high peaked rooflines. There numerous trees some likely centuries old planted around the yard in a cultivated pattern. The grounds are well kept and the Manor House is in fair condition. A Carriage House sits off in the Southwest corner and a tall stone wall topped with iron spikes encircles the grounds giving a sense of security. Several wagons laden with goods and outdoor furnishings sit under the trees along the Western wall. You’re going to have a lot to do over the next few days.

SKILL CHALLENGE: Unpack And Set Up - This challenge is designed to last the next few days. In many ways it only exists to make the area look really special and get the players to relax their guard a little.

EVENT: Security Protocols - The players will be able to set up any security they see fit. To some degree this is a moot issue as there won’t be any real dangers till later in the adventure. However, you never know what they’re going to do, so if you can find a way to make their security measures useful, that’ll be rewarding for them. Being that their efforts are likely to not be real fruitful I wouldn’t spend a lot of time here.

SKILL CHALLENGE: Deal With Guests - Relatable Sidebar… I’ve conducted almost 100 weddings at this point in my life. Guests are the worst, and sadly often have minimal priority consideration for the couple or the other guests. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to have someone remove drunk people from the reserved seating sections. So we’re going to lean into some of that behavior for this skill challenge. There will be several rude and entitled people causing whatever problems you can create. The players will have to succeed in dealing with them before they cause a scene.

ACT 2: Covenants

Weddings are funny things. They never ever go perfectly. What makes them perfect is the couple getting married. Not any bells or whistles and definitely not the guests. Almost no one other than the Bride and Groom ever notice anything amiss about the day. This wedding ceremony will be no different, and will go off without any easily noticeable hitches. But there are absolutely minor hitches. Several things will happen throughout the event that the players might pick up on. Overall though, it will be a lovely ceremony and the bride will refuse to let anything ruin her day.

EVENT: The Imperfect Ceremony - The event will play out in a typical wedding format, with a few tweaks just to add some flair to make the Ceremony part feel more unique. During the ceremony the players may notice odd things. I have listed these below. In my imagination the wedding will begin with a typical processional and bride give away. There will be a small fire burning at the altar around which the couple and priest will gather. The Priest will do a blessing and the couple will make vows and exchange rings. They will then be given a lantern and some lighting sticks by Marisila (Maid of Honor Role) the couple will then light the lantern which will be held aloft by the priest during the final blessings. Once that blessing has been completed the crowd will sing a hymn. At the conclusion of the song the couple will hold hands and circle the fire ten times. They are then considered married, and the recessional will begin. Everyone will clap.

Things they may notice.

  • Before the ceremony while the Guests are being Seated / Hard DC Perception Check to spot Marsilia speaking far off to the side, Very Hard Insight Check to see that she looks scared.
  • They may notice, with a Medium Perception Check, that three women do not rise when the Bride comes down the isle. If they noticed Marsilia interacting with the woman above they will recognize one of the three as that woman.
  • During the Bride Giveaway / Hard Religion Check can be made to notice that Don Giovani says “Her mother and I do as Agreed” in response to “Who gives these young people to be married to one another.” The Fiance’s Parents simply say “His Mother and I” as is tradition.
  • During the exchange of Rings, a Very Hard Insight Check will catch a sad glance between the Groom and another man in the crowd.
  • As the Priest holds up the Lantern the white candle will slowly turn black and smoke more than expected. A Hard Perception Check will reveal this during the ceremony, afterward no check is necessary if they mention they want to look at the lantern for some reason.
  • They may notice with another Medium Perception Check, that those three women three women, again do not rise when the couple walks down from the altar area. If they noticed Marsilia interacting with the woman above they will recognize one of the three as that woman.
  • They may also notice, with a Hard Insight Check, Don Galvini casting a look of disdain toward the father of the Groom after the ceremony.
  • As the reception begins they may notice with an easy Perception Check that Marisila is not around.
  • If they go looking for the woman Marsilia was talking to earlier, she too will be nowhere to be found.

EVENT: Rowdy Guests - There is always some sort of “disruption” at a wedding. Most are mild. A cousin calls the Bride by the Groom’s old girlfriend’s name. A family member has way to much to drink and needs to be encouraged to call it a night. A fight breaks out. Some morons get engaged at someone else’s wedding. (Super rude Faux Pas, don’t do it. If you did it and didn’t know… now you do, so go apologize) So go ahead and pick a few episodes that they need to help resolve.

ACT 3: Entanglements

Eventually the party will die down, and guests will either begin to leave and head home or they will retire to the interior of the estate. Weddings here are daytime affairs, as most people do not like being outside once the sun sets. The Bride and Groom will head off to the interior with their immediate families for the evening meal and then to their room to do wedding night things! The Party will be able to post up outside the dining room of the estate and will be served there. This will happen very calmly and should all be played out without danger in order to remove tensions from earlier. They may be very concerned with Marsilia’s absence. If they question Persephone about it, she will share their concern, but also tell them that Marsilia struggles with weddings due to her own personal losses. She may simply be alone somewhere working through her feelings. But she is not…

Marsilia has gone to the attic to receive her “reward” from Cynthia. Her son and husband have been returned to her, unfortunately they’ve been restored as Spidery Vampire-like undead and not as the people they once were. Marsilia went to meet with them and was attacked and turned. To put them closer to this trail, some passing servants will be talking about how someone has lit a candle in the attic window. Or if they’re out and about they can spot it themselves.

DESCRIPTION: The Steadiness of Time - The hour has grown quite late. You’ve settled into the nightly rhythm of watches and patrols. The other house guards make the job easier in some ways, but more complicated in others. They’re another set of eyes and ears, but they’re obviously not up to the dangers you know are lurking out there. Creaking floors and the scurrying of small rodents behind walls form the core words of a language spoken by older homes that seem to come alive in the late hours. Everything here feels antique, even the obviously newer furnishings, walking the halls is like a stroll through the past. It lulls you into a sense of longevity. A feeling that things never really end. It is peaceful despite the struggles around you.

  • It is late at night, most are sleeping. They will begin to hear screaming from the attic
  • They will find Marsilia's body entangled in Webs and drained of blood. There will also be two corpses wrapped up in webs. A Man and a Child.
  • She will be covered in Spiders and there will be a Black Candle being held by Marsilia’s ghost.

DESCRIPTION: Screams in the Night - That peace is short lived, and shattered during the second watch of the evening, just past midnight. The candle in the window. Cynthia. You race upstairs. A scream pierces the air. It comes from somewhere above you. You meet Persephone and Veamond in the Hall peeking from their chambers. You wave her back in as another scream this one far more guttural pierces the air. Two household guards race toward you down the hallway asking for direction. There is a heavy thud on the floor above you.

DESCRIPTION: Marsilia - Before you is a blizzard of webwork. The entire area of the attic is choked with the spinnings of spiders. Hanging half cocooned in webbing just beyond the doorway is the body of Marisilia. Her mouth hangs open in a vissage of terror as dozens of spiders crawl about her emaciated looking corpse. Hundreds more skitter about the attic thickening the area with more webbing. Just beyond Marsilia are two more humanoid shaped cocoons, one adult sized and the other half that. Just beyond them, through a small tunnel in the webs, almost as if it were designed to create a window to it, is a black candle being held aloft by a twisted apparition of Marisilia.

ACT 4: Reunions

They've spotted the ghost of Marsilia standing with the candle screaming. It will be much louder than it should be. She will then fade and the candle will float to a window sill. Looking at Marsilia, she is webbed up and covered in thousands of spiders which have all been feeding on her. She is very much dead. They will also spot two web-like cocoons, the hiding places of the other Vamp-Spiders. The scream will have attracted Persephone to the attic and who will arrive once the players begin to examine Marsilia. When Persephone arrives Marsilia’s eyes, as well as a dozen spider-like ones that form in this moment, will pop open. She will leap to attack Persephone. The Candle will flair brightly and an old woman’s raspy voice will be heard laughing from somewhere. When the combat resolves itself the attackers will turn into webs and thousands of little spiders and scurry away. As the fighting ends the candle will go out.

ENCOUNTER: Vamp-Spiders - Using the stat block of a Lesser Vampire or Vampire Spawn as a base we’re going to add some spider powers to these creatures and swap their damage type to poison. They can spray a 15’ line of web as a bonus action which recharges on a 5-6 on a d6. There webs restrain those who are in the stream. A Medium Difficulty Strength Save to avoid being restrained. When dropped to 0hp these creatures explode into webs in a 10’ radius and thousands of miniature spiders. The area will become difficult terrain as the spiders scurry away back to their new lair… Cynthia’s lair. Tactically, these creatures will be driven to attack/capture Persephone. Marsila in particular will be screaming things like “Betrayer”, “Murderer”, and “This is your doing!” type stuff. If they cannot reach her, they will attack anything in their way.


There will obviously be a great amount of uneasiness. Persephone will have recognized Marsilia’s husband and son and so the party may strongly press her for answers. She will tell them all she knows except that it was her first deal with Cynthia that got Aunt Zatanna killed. They may also want to track down Cynthia and end her, but that is going to have to wait… there are other matters to attend to. Persephone is going to fall ill almost immediately afterward. They may attribute it to the stress of the situation and of the ordeal with Marsilia, but there is more to it, much more. They won’t know it until next episode but she is supernaturally pregnant and the baby is coming… soon.


This chapter ends very abruptly and will immediately flow into the next one. They will hardly have a moment for a Short Rest let alone to worry about rewards. Still, They will deserve something. Don Galvini could arrive shortly after the battle and give the players some boons to aid them in whatever is coming next. The rebirth of the avatar prepared for Aberrant Black.

The End: The Story Will Continue in “Aberrant Born”


  • My son and I are armchair content creators who donate our work to the hobby at large for their home use. We run a Patreon which I run like a D&D Magazine, posting mostly Maps and Full Adventures. I dabble into other areas like stories, and thoughts on the game. We use any donations to fund an afterschool TTRPG Club and of course our own hobbies and pizza. If you would like to make some requests or support the work, you can check us out at AMPLUS ORDO GAMES



  • To the Long History of Open Gaming that allows our adventures to be written system neutral.
  • Original story written by Amplus Ordo Games
  • All Maps and Handouts were done by Designers at AOG using Inkarnate
  • PDF Formatting done using The Homebrewery
13:10 UTC


Map Swap - Take a map, leave a map

Hi All!

This repeating event is for you to share a map that you have created. It can be hand-drawn, digital, or whatever, but it must be free, and in a cloud storage site!


12:00 UTC


Drinking Rules that are Actually Fun


I’ve run many bar crawls in my time as a GM, but not all of them have lived up to expectations. The first couple of times I just let people roleplay being drunk, and that’s a lot of fun! But I felt like something was missing in the experience by not having any mechanics to support the fiction. So I made the common mistake of having PCs roll Constitution saves after a certain number of drinks or gain the Poisoned condition. It seemed like the most logical solution using the existing rules, but suddenly nobody wanted to drink anymore! It turns out mechanical punishment incentivise not doing the punished behaviour. Go figure. So I went back to just roleplaying being drunk, but some part of me still wondered if there was a better way. And I think I’ve found it!

Getting Buzzed

Whenever you have a drink (a shot of whiskey, a glass of wine, a pint of ale), a creature must make a Constitution ability check. The DC is 10 + the number of drinks that they’ve had, -1 for each hour since they’ve started drinking. On a success, nothing happens. On a failure, they gain a level of Buzz as shown in the table below. A creature that rolls 10 below the DC throws up in addition to gaining a level of Buzz.

Level of BuzzEffect
0 – SoberNo effect
1 – Tipsy1d4 Grog Die
2 – Drunk1d6 Grog Die
3 – Sloshed1d8 Grog Die
4 - Plastered1d10 Grog Die
5 – WastedUnconscious; 1d12 Grog Die

When a creature with any levels of Buzz makes an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, they must roll their Grog Die at the same time. If the Grog Die rolls an odd number, they must subtract it from their roll. If it rolls an even number, they instead add it to the roll. Players are encouraged to roleplay how their drunkenness effected the roll, especially if the Grog Die makes a roll succeed that would’ve otherwise failed, or vice versa.

A creature that spends an hour ingesting food and drink without drinking alcohol loses a level of Buzz. Finishing a long rest also removes all levels of Buzz. When a creature that was Plastered or Wasted becomes sober again, they throw up.

A creature that falls unconscious from drinking stays unconscious for 1d4 hours, at which point they wake up and lose a level of Buzz. A creature that takes damage while unconscious in this way wakes up, but must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw each minute or fall unconscious again until the 1d4 hours have passed.


This mechanic is obviously meant for low-stakes social scenes, not a regular day of adventuring. Mechanically it’s almost even, with only a slight average bonus to the roll, but the swinginess could theoretically be abused by Players that are expecting to face checks that they’d only have a small chance of succeeding at, such as an enemy with a super high AC or save DC. That seems pretty unlikely to me, but if it’s a problem for you then just have people “sober up” when things become life-or-death.

I made it a Constitution check instead of a save because I think getting drunk is the whole fun of this mechanic, and save proficiencies and things like a Paladin’s aura kinda get in the way of that fun. For throwing up, I purposely didn’t have natural 1s cause you to throw up, because then everyone would have a 5% chance of throwing up on the first drink, which doesn’t feel right.

Lastly, I avoided getting bogged down in the semantics of advantage on saving throws versus poison, resistance and immunity to poison damage, size differences, spells that remove poison/exhaustion etc. If you want that to play a part, then pass out advantages and disadvantages for features that make sense, let spells remove levels of Buzz or the entire Buzzed condition as makes sense, and if a creature has multiple features that would effect this then you can also change the DC for that creature so it goes up by 2 every drink, or 1 every second drink.


00:58 UTC


Why You Should Consider Running Your Campaign in a Village and Never Leave

World Building: Creating a Village That Matters

Don’t let world Building intimidate you. While every Fantasy World is different, often enough, once we’re past the few wonderfully unique bits, they all share nearly everything in common.

Today I’m going to talk about villages and why they’re important. In fact I’m going to outright encourage you to run an entire campaign in a Singular Location. What? Why? Well, the Village as a location is often one of the most overused and under utilized settings in the TTRPG universe. They are usually nothing more than starting points for Adventurers that become quick stopping points for them later as they bounce from quest to quest whooshing through both bringing and leaving chaos in their wake. But they don’t have to be! In fact if done right a well crafted village can make a much larger sandboxy world feel empty and lonely. (I've included a sample village complete with adventure hooks, locations, and npcs below.)

Functionally, villages are usually constructed around obtaining a specific resource, managing its processing, and distributing it in trade. Examples would be Farming villages, Mining Towns, Lumber Camps, things of that nature. Smaller villages tend to turn that process internally, producing what the settlement needs to survive, while larger ones often become a part of a regional economy, partnering with other nearby locales to support one another. They don’t necessarily have to be self-sufficient for basic needs, such as food and water, and can rely on trade for goods, but they generally attempt to take care of themselves. Villages typically are too small to have much in the way of local government, but there is usually an elder or two in charge. They also struggle to muster any sort of permanent security or military forces and so will often trade goods and services to larger nearby settlements in return for protection. This leaves a lot of opportunity for Adventurers to make a Village more than just a point on a map or a small part of a quest. And I want you to seize that opportunity!

Why would I want to do that? Let me give you three compelling reasons to do so.

  1. Well, for starters they have a baked in, easy entry, and low prep plot hook available to you that is highly flexible in theme. The Village Resource. Depending on what resource the Village specializes in you have instant plot hooks by putting that resource in trouble. You can double down on that avenue with branches that deal with supply and production as well as trade and economics. Pests in the fields, Kobolds in the mines, Fey in the Lumber Camps, etc. Chain those problems into other problems and you have a natural series of adventures that build on one another, and at the same time can be spaced out, leaving room for other adventures. And that is something every DM wants, even needs.

  2. Second, a small village and surrounding area comes with easy to connect with and recognizable Lore, Locations, and NPCs. Villages have their own History, Secrets, and People. Furthermore, just like most small towns, those born there often don’t leave. Which means, there is plenty of gossip, locals know what skeletons are in people’s closets, and family rivalries are pretty common. This grows out of the natural interconnection and social structures that can not be achieved as easily in a large scale setting. This creates an environment where the players get to know everyone in the town quickly and naturally, and builds into them a deep seeded need to be protective of what they now see as their Village. People live in a city, but they are part of a village. Give them a home, an actual house they can upgrade, and they’ll knit themselves completely into the culture. This opens the door to the wonderful opportunity for a DM to really flesh out the characters and background in their game. It is a place that naturally spawns connection with your players which is a gift. A gift that in turn spawns Adventures.

  3. Finally! Less Prep Time! For most DMs they spend more time getting ready for a game than they actually do running a game. Running a Village helps trim this time by building on familiarity. In a “grand adventure” you’re constantly coming up with new locations and characters for your players to interact with, which if we’re honest, are mostly just reskins of characters and locations we’ve probably already used before. But in a Village once you know the NPCs and the frequented locations then you move into the interesting place of adding to them. Your people and places gain a depth that is really hard to achieve in a world hopping adventure, and here it comes naturally, often without a lot of pre-prepping. In fact there is a good chance your players will do a lot of this work for you naturally while playing the game. The same goes for your locations. We often feel the need to branch out into different environments in order to create something “special”, but the secret to special isn’t in a certain style, it’s in connectivity. Caverns that have secret doors that won’t open until a family heirloom is found. Treasure Maps that seemed to lead one place, but a local tells you it actually leads somewhere else nearby. Fey Touched Groves that don’t interact with the players until after they’ve helped a Dryad. Ancient site buried under farm fields and only recently uncovered. A grotto discovered in the mines leads to deep and dangerous places. Tie these to the Players and Local NPC’s backgrounds and your players will never want to leave their little village again!

Still on board? Great! Let’s plan a Village!

So what does a great one look like? Start with that resource and tie it to a neat location. A fertile river valley for farms, rocky hills for mining, a forest for logging, things like that. Then add a little flair to the area and diversify it some. Forests have ponds and glades, hills have crags and canyons, river valley’s have cliffs and maybe a waterfall, those kinds of things. Now you have an area to play in. Drop your village into a spot that makes sense. Now add some NPCs. I usually start with shop and business owners. Begin with the Resource Operations in the area. These are the main reasons the village exists, and then follow that with important secondary resources that produce basic needs like food. Next, we’ll need some places like a General Store, an Inn, a Smithy, a Miller, a Temple, and maybe one or two other shops. You don’t want much more than that, maybe even less. If they start looking for more exotic or expensive goods, have the General Store order them in the next shipment. Now each of those stores needs an owner. I usually make this a family affair and build out a whole household here. The wealthiest families will be tied to the resource, followed by the business owners, and then the common folk. You may even want to toss in a local Noble who lives up on a hillside overlooking town. Now these folks should fill in a stereotype common to small settlements. You’ll want people like the town drunk, a shady dealer, that overly religious family, the other family that hates them, the recluse, that gang of naughty kids, the grouchy get off my lawn elder, and the kindly old folk that just want the kids to become heroes, and of course the tavern server who wants to become a bard.

But wait, you cry! This feels just like every other village! Yup, because this is only where you start. Now you introduce the players to the town, or even have them born there. (I like the second option better) and we do this so that they know things about where they are. Players don’t connect with your world because they don’t know your world, and let’s be honest it is extremely rare that any of them are going to invest time into knowing it. That hurts as a World Builder, but it is the honest to goodness truth. So if everything starts out so trope-ish that everyone knows what’s going on, then they know your world. But the thing is, they only think they do. Truth is, they don’t because you haven’t started adding flavor and mystery. The shopkeeper has a Fairy that has been harassing her for years. One of the Miller’s kids contracted Lycanthropy. The Inn Keep is in debt to the wrong people. One of the local farm hands is actually a Noble in hiding due to a misunderstanding with another Noble’s wife. Someone in town is a Night Witch. Another had their daughter taken by a Hag when she was an infant and is soon to turn. Better still is when it is one of your players who hides the secret! Suddenly you have all these interconnected people, all with problems of their own, living in a place that is just begging for someone to come along and help or take charge!

And no one ever has to travel more than ten miles from home to experience it all.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts on Creating A Village That Matters.

I posted this on /r/DMAcademy and some responded, quite aggressively, that this idea is only for early levels. To prove otherwise I sat down this morning and came up with 40+ Hooks, a few locations, and several NPCs for a village that will take a party from level 1-20 and never leave the area. This isn’t an effort to say you can’t have a world traveling epic campaign, but the notion that you have to do so is absolute poppy-cock. I'm also including a link to a free PDF of my current run - Bumpkin Quest! in which I apply this concept. It's a little bigger than a small village but the core concepts are the same. It is completely different than the sample listed below. I am also aways adding to this one.

The Village of Iron Falls

This small hamlet is positioned at the mouth of a deep box canyon in the eastern foothills of the nearby mountains. A large waterfall spills over the far edge of the canyon creating a large cold pool of water before the river rushes outward. Years ago some local dwarves discovered a rich veins of iron in the hills and some copper as well. A small mining town formed shortly afterward. Beyond the canyon there are a number of farms that have been carved out of the nearby forests, which aren’t overly thick but are old and have a mysterious feel to them.

Shops and Owners

  • The Iron Fist Mines: The mines are owned by Garist Iron-Fist the VII, who inherited them from his Grandfather who founded the village. The mines employ several dozen workers. Garist is young for a Dwarf and has yet to marry. Some say that is due to his foul disposition.
  • The Rusty Pick, Inn and Tavern: Run by Belgrund and Holdra Gravel-Boot, a kindly older dwarven couple. The Inn has been here as long a s
  • Lamp Lighter’s General Store: Run by Jakran and Wendlin Granite-Back, a younger dwarven couple moved more recently to the village. They took the store over from its previous owner Willa Green Bough, a Halfling woman who passed from old age.
  • Blackscale’s Hammer and Tongs: The local Smithy, much to the surprise of travelers, is run not by a Dwarf but by a Lizard Folk by the Moniker of Blackscale. They are an odd individual but do exceptional metalwork.
  • Login Camp: Willard Childer: Human woodsmith. Runs a logging and hunting camp out in the forest. Lots of odd stories surrounding this man.

The Water Mill: Gillin and Nedra Miller, local halflings run the local Water Mill. They’re about as normal as normal can be. They have a son, Petey who gets into all kinds of trouble.

  • The Temple of Moradin: Parson Kurlor Silver-Shield, is a stern but fair old dwarf and has run this temple for nearly as long as the village as been here. It was the second building constructed. The tavern was first of course.


  • Robeur Jensen: Local Pig Farmer, unmarried human. Dirty
  • Celamor and Youlidai Wildermoun: Elven Farmers. These two High Elves run a good sized farm that grows a lot of different fruits for the locals. They are aloof but friendly.
  • Bert and Patty Long Furrow: Halfling farmers who grow most of the areas vegetables and grains.
  • Morris and Jenn Lancastle: Local cattle ranchers. Typical big mustache cowboy and Rancher’s wife.

Notable Folk

  • Thomas “Gunny” Worth: Local human drunk, happy singing fella. Sings too late into the evening. Lost a leg in a war.
  • Betsy “Bottoms Up” Brenar: Local human barmaid and Bard. Wants to be more Bard than Barmaid.
  • Oliver Trudeau: Human fella who is the guy who gets folks what they “need”. Oliver runs a lot of shady side hustles.
  • Morrit Hammer-Clang: Morrit is an elderly Dwarf. The oldest member of the village and in a lot of ways the town Mayor although there has never been an election or appointment for such a thing.
  • Bennik Grey-Stone: Is a retired adventurer who volunteers as the town constable. (Level 5 Fighter)
  • Old Yelena: This ancient human can be described as a Swamp Witch. She works in medicines and potions.
  • Quodly: Quodly is a Dwarven Hermit. Really old and haggard. He gets supplies dropped off to his “land” once a month but is rarely seen.
  • Tripod: Three Legged Dog that runs around town.


  • Level 1: The Farmers Crops / Protect a farmstead from a variety of pests
  • Level 1: Miner annoyances / A group of Kobolds are harassing the local Miners
  • Level 2: Bandit Problems / Stop a group of Bandits from raiding the local Farms
  • Level 2: Missing Child / One of the locals Children has gone missing
  • Level 3: Encroaching Dangers / A Warbad of Orcs is massing Nearby Stop them
  • Level 3: Would Be Wizard / The apprentice needs some help gathering dangerous components
  • Level 4: The Cavern / A forgotten cavern is discovered nearby and begs to be explored
  • Level 4: Keeper of the Grove / A Dryad begins harassing local lumber jacks
  • Level 4: Spooky H.O.A. / The village gives them a house… it’s haunted
  • Level 5: Old Secrets / One of the elders tells the party there is a Hag in the woods
  • Level 5: What Lies Below / The town is built on top of an ancient cultic cavern and it is not empty
  • Level 6: Predators and Prey / Something is hunting the local’s livestock. Something big.
  • Level 6: The Cure / Someone needs to be cured of Lycanthropy the cure will be hard to obtain
  • Level 7: The Patron / A Mythical Being guards the village and recruits the party to deal with a problem
  • Level 7: Miner Problems / The Kobolds have returned with help and have swarmed the mine
  • Level 8: Murdered / A local has been brutally murdered. Who did it?
  • Level 8: The Deal / A Fiend has come to collect on a deal. Someone need a lot of help
  • Level 9: Bounty / Bounty Hunters come looking for a local hermit. But do they have the right target?
  • Level 9: Giant Problems / A clan of Giants stakes out territory nearby and that’s trouble
  • Level 10: Winter is Coming / While away something freezes the town solid. Save it!
  • Level 10: Growing Pains / They party’s fame has drawn newcomers. Are they all on the level? Nope.
  • Level 10: Patron’s End / Something has killed the town guardian. What could it be!?
  • Level 11: Protectors / The Party assumes the role of the Village Guardian
  • Level 11: Fortifications / The Army arrives to fortify against an invading army they recruit the party
  • Level 11: Siege / The village comes under attack from invaders
  • Level 12: Miner Catastrophe / The mine has opened a hole into a large cavern… something lives there.

Level 12: Into the Deep / The Party further explores the massive cavern

  • Level 13: Ruined / A ruin has been discovered in the woods. A powerful Fey is insulted by the trespass
  • Level 13: Transported / The Fey have moved the village into the Fey version of the area.
  • Level 14: Wild / The players must find the Fey Lord and convince it to return them
  • Level 15: Deals / The Fey Lord proposes a deal. Capture a “beast” for it and they will return the village.
  • Level 16: In your Absence / Invaders have taken the village’s territory while it was missing. Fight Back!
  • Level 16: General Bad Ass / The fight comes to a head as the players due battle with the enemy
  • Level 17: Court and Castle / The players are given land and title. They can build a castle!
  • Level 17: Walking Corpse / The battle has awakened a Lich to the area. It animates the dead
  • Level 17: Long Forgotten / The players must hunt down the Lich’s lair in the wilderness
  • Level 18: Sanctum of Death / Into the Lair they go. Prepare for a multi-session dungeon crawl.
  • Level 18: The Court of the Corpse King / Battle the Lich
  • Level 19: Rulers / The players begin to rule their growing village but other Nobles are jealous
  • Level 19: Nightmares / The village is plagued by nightmares. Enter the dreams to stop them.
  • Level 19: Trade Dispute / The other Nobles have employed a powerful Druid to wipe the village out.
  • Level 20: Wrath / A cult seeks to summon a Demon Lord from the ancient site under the village.
  • Level 20: Miner Cataclysm / A Mother Lode of mythical ore draws the attention of a Legendary Dragon


  • My son and I are armchair content creators who donate our work to the hobby at large. We run a Patreon which I run like a D&D Magazine, posting mostly Maps and Full Adventures. I dabble into other areas like stories, and thoughts on the game. We use any donations to fund an afterschool TTRPG Club and of course our own hobbies and pizza. If you would like to make some requests or support the work you can check us out at AMPLUS ORDO GAMES


15:37 UTC


Mounting Revamped : Improved rules for mounting (includes 11 custom mounts !)

Hey there ! I'm Axel, aka BigDud, a passionate DM who produces all kinds of third party content for your enjoyment.

I come to you again today with rules for mounting !

The problem to solve

Simply put, I personally think the current implementation of mounted combat and mounting in general is lackluster : they're hard to understand, hard to use, and just as importantly, pretty boring.

From my experience, mounts aren't used very frequently, and when they do, they lack the cool factor that I want to see in them. The Lord of the Rings (to take a classic example) has plenty of amazing scenes of mounted combat, or moments that use mounts to improve the epic factor. Remember Gandalf scaring off the Nazgûls as he rides across a field on his mighty steed ? The mûmakil trampling through the ranks of men, or the Nazgûls attacking Theoden's army on the Pelennor Fields ? I definitely do !

This is what we want for our mounts.

Design goals

What are the goals of this revamp then ? There are three factors to take into account :

  • Mounts need to be easy to run : the DM or players need to have a streamlined experience playing with a mount. No more checking the book when taking actions, managing a mount that acts at different moments during the turn, reading a complex statblock.
  • Mounts need to have the "wow" factor : whatever the mount used, it should be able to do something cool that's more than just attacking or dashing. (This needs to be simple to use as well).
  • Mounts need to be unique : we want each mount to really feel different, so that our players have actual reasons to want to have cool mounts. They each have their own lore, so they should each have not only abilities that feel different, but also different impacts on how the world sees each player.

My solution

To fix those problems, I did a few things :

  • I modified the existing rules to make them smoother to run : mounts act on your turn, at any point during your turn. Their movement can be split without a problem, and you can dismount and mount whenever you want.
  • I simplified the statblocks used : unless a mount has a particular ability that uses their Perception (like the griffon, check it out), no need for the mount's Perception on the statblock. The player's Perception will nearly always be higher. No more languages either, challenge rating, anything of that kind that isn't useful to run the mount.
  • I added a special "Maneuver" action : each mount has their own, particular abilities that can be used as "maneuvers". The maneuvers a creature can use are based on its type and training. It has a certain amount at base, and can learn others with time. Some maneuvers are offensive, others defensive : that helps make the choice of the players' mounts more meaningful. Do they want a fast, offensive mount like a tiger, or a slower, bulkier mount like an elephant ?

Through my testing, I've found that this feels a lot easier to run, and you can end up with some really cool mounts that feel like an actual part of your character rather than tacked-on statblocks.

Without further ado, here are the rules, and 11 mounts I made just for you (and myself) !

I had to remove the Donkey mount to fit everything in the post. If you want to see everything, I highly recommend checking out the PDF for a better layout, some cool art, and to have everything in the same place.

You can find the PDF here : Mounting Revamped

And the art of the PDF here : Mounting Revamped - Art

For the mods : All art is made by myself using Midjourney, GIMP and Krita.

Aaaaand here's the text below :

Mounting Rules

Why use a mount?

It's not infrequent for adventurers to have to travel long distances during their perilous journeys. During exploration, they might need to reach the tall peaks of freezing mountains ; during combat, they might need to charge a distant foe to eliminate them quickly.

While most adventurers have means to do so by their own powers, these means are often either difficult to use or limited in their scope, with most of them additionally costing some kind of resource to use. In some cases, adventurers might need a solution to allow them to move without spending these precious resources, and must resort to a solution as old as time : using other creatures as mounts.

What can be a mount ?

Many creatures can act as such a mount, from horses to elephants to magical creatures like griffons and hippogriffs. Depending on the setting of your campaign or adventure, each creature might be more or less difficult to acquire ; in some, even trained horses might be a pricy luxury, while in another, normal citizens might run their errands on their bonded dragon.

In general, a creature needs to fit three criteria to be able to be used as a mount :

  • It must have a body suitable to be used as such. For example, creatures with flexible bodies like jellyfish or creatures with innate etherealness might not be able to accomplish their role.

  • It must have an incentive that makes it willing to act as such. Simple creatures might only require food, while a mount such as an intelligent dragon might require something more in exchange.


To be used as a mount, a creature must :

  • Be at least one size larger than its rider, or the same size if the mount has the "Powerful Build" feature.
  • Have an intelligence of at least 2 to understand its riders' instructions, or have another means of communicating with their rider, e. g telepathy.

Mounting and dismounting

During your turn, you can get on your mount if it is within 5 feet of you, or dismount it. Doing so costs an amount of movement equal to half your speed. You can't mount or dismount a creature if you don't have enough movement left or if your speed is 0. You can choose to mount or dismount a creature at any point during your turn, regardless of the amount of movement it has used.

For example, you can have your mount approach 20 feet on your turn, climb on it, and have it move an additional 30 feet before dismounting again. You can also take your action to dash, move your normal movement range, climb on your mount, have it move 50 feet, then dismount.

Movement and falling prone

If an effect moves your mount against its will while you're on it, you must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw (the DM will tell you the DC depending on the circumstances) or fall off the mount, landing prone in a space within 5 feet of it. If you're knocked prone while mounted, you must make the same saving throw.

If your mount is knocked prone, you can use your reaction to dismount it as it falls and land on your feet. Otherwise, you are dismounted and fall prone in a space within 5 feet it.

Attacks of opportunity

If you or your mount provoke an attack of opportunity while you're mounted, the attacker can target either you or the mount with the attack.

Mounted actions

While you're mounted, your mount acts on your turn, copying your initiative. You can control your mount even on the turn that you mount it.

You can use your mount's movement at any point during your turn, partially or in its entirety ; in addition, as a free action during your turn, you can direct it to take one of the following actions :

  • Dash
  • Disengage : applies to you and the mount as long as you're on it. If you dismount after your mount uses Disengage, only your mount remains affected.
  • Dodge : applies to the mount only.
  • Hide : applies to both you and the mount. Uses the mount's Stealth (since it's usually much harder to hide than you).
  • Maneuver : the creature uses one of its special abilities. Some creatures might be able to use multiple abilities when they use Maneuver, and some maneuvers might be able to be used as reactions.

As an action, you can additionally direct your mount to take the Attack action, as well as any other appropriate actions for the type of creature they are.


I. Mundane Mounts

Many tales have been told of heroes and villains soaring through the skies on the backs of mighty griffons, terrifying dragons and other strange creatures, fighting in grandiose battles that no ordinary soldier would survive.

Fewer are told about mounts of lesser importance and rarity, those not born from a lair but from a stable but wise men know the world could not do without them.

Riding Horse

Riding horses are the quintessential mounts in both the real world and fantasy worlds, widely used by adventurers, merchants, and messengers alike. Bred for centuries to provide a comfortable ride and carry heavy loads over long distances, these horses are fast, reliable, and able to traverse a wide variety of terrain.

Their easy handling and docile nature make them popular among riders of all skill levels, while their speed and agility make them ideal for courier missions, scouting, and even battle.

Various breeds of horses have, over time, acquired certain characteristics that make them different from each other, while still keeping an array of similar traits. For example, mountain horses tend to have thicker fur and be slower than those used on the coast, but tend to be sturdier and more tolerant of rough weather.


Due to the multitudes of different species of horses, as well as the variations of their training and uses, riding horses have access to several maneuvers.

When you acquire a riding horse, choose one of the following maneuvers. Your horse gains access to that maneuver. You can spend two weeks of downtime training your horse to gain access to another maneuver from this list.

Emergency pick-up

The riding horse moves up to half its speed, picks up a willing Medium or smaller creature on its back, then moves up to half its speed again. During this maneuver, other creatures have disadvantage on attacks against the riding horse and its mounted creatures.

Evasive movement

The riding horse starts running in a quick and unpredictable manner. Until the start of the rider's next turn, ranged attacks against the rider and the horse are made at disadvantage.

Dash and spring

The riding horse moves up to its speed, then makes a jump up to 25 ft in length and 8 ft in height. If it would take falling damage as a result of that jump, the damage is reduced by 2d6.

Riding Horse

Large Beast, unaligned

  • Armor Class 10
  • Hit Points 13 (2d10 + 2)
  • Speed 60 ft.
16 (+3)10 (+0)12 (+1)2 (-4)11 (+0)7 (-2)
### Actions
Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d4 + 3) bludgeoning damage.


Warhorses are the backbone of the cavalry, essential to any military force that seeks to dominate its enemies on the battlefield. Trained from birth for combat, they are bred for strength, endurance, and courage.

Contrarily to other horses, warhorses are made for combat : they are taught to remain calm in the midst of chaos, to charge through crowds of enemy soldiers, and to ignore the noise and confusion of battle to deliver devastating charges that can easily turn the tide of battle by themselves. Due to the requirements of training and bonding with their masters, warhorses are generally very expensive mounts to obtain, but remain loyal companions until their lives end, by the blade on the battlefield, or from old age after many long campaigns.


Charge !

The riding horse picks up momentum, moving up to its speed in a straight line. Each Medium or smaller creature on its path must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and take 11 (2d6+4) bludgeoning damage.


Large Beast, unaligned

  • Armor Class 10 (higher with barding)
  • Hit Points 25 (4d10 + 3)
  • Speed 60 ft.
18 (+4)12 (+1)13 (+1)2 (-4)12 (+1)7 (-2)


Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage.

II. Exotic mounts

A step up from the normality of horses, ox and donkeys, exotic mounts are creatures that are not often tamed, requiring significant risk in their capture or having particular traits that make them difficult to create a bond with.

From elephants to various other giant creatures, they generally have unique abilities that make them powerful assets for travel, combat, or infiltration ; some exotic mounts even offer benefits for crafters or artisans.

In most places, exotic mounts are considered symbols of status, showing either financial wealth or extraordinary skill. Due to their uniqueness and the danger they often bring with them, not all exotic mounts are seen favorable in villages and cities.


Of massive size and strength, elephants are often used as mounts in warmer climate regions to transport goods from one place to another. They are highly intelligent and can be trained to perform a variety of tasks from pulling carts or siege engines to charging into battle as battering rams.

In battle, they are capable of trampling through enemy lines and creating a path for their allies. They are often outfitted with armor or spikes on their tusks, making them even more formidable opponents that prove to be a danger to even some of the most ferocious magical creatures. However, their size can also be a disadvantage : they struggle to fit in tight passages, and essentially cannot be hidden from sight, making them easy to spot across natural landscapes.


Elephants can not only be used as mounts, but can also help their masters with other tasks like moving heavy weights or triggering simple mechanisms.


The elephant executes a simple command, moving a Large or smaller object up to 30 ft,, or activating a mechanism.

Swiping trample

The elephant charges forward, using its tusks to clear a path. It moves up to its speed in a 25 ft. wide straight line (with the elephant in the middle), making a Gore against each creature in the line. Creatures hit by the attack are knocked back 10 ft. in the opposite direction of the attack. Creatures directly in the path of the elephant must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and take 22 (3d10+6) bludgeoning damage.


Huge Beast, unaligned

  • Armor Class 12 (natural armor, higher with barding)
  • Hit Points 76 (8d12 + 24)
  • Speed 40 ft.
22 (+6)9 (-1)17 (+3)3 (-4)11 (+0)6 (-2)


Gore. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (3d8 + 6) piercing damage.

Sabertooth Tiger / Giant Tiger

Sabertooth tigers and other large felines are uncommon but formidable mounts, usually only seen with heroes that have proven their connection to nature such as rangers and druids. They can be very difficult to tame, but their ferocity and agility make them highly prized by experienced riders.

They're generally used to hunt prey or engage in hit-and-run attacks during battles, taking advantage of their speed and sharp claws ; while they are not as strong as other large animals like elephants, their maneuverability make them a valuable asset on the battlefield to quickly eliminate important targets.

Despite their fearsome reputation, large tigers can be loyal and affectionate to their riders, forming strong bonds with them over time. However, their predatory instincts can never be fully suppressed, and riders must always be cautious when approaching potential prey, lest they want their death on their conscience.


Pouncing flurry

The tiger pounces onto a target within 20 ft. The target must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. The tiger then makes one bite attack and two claw attacks against the target.

Sabertooth Tiger

Large Beast, unaligned

  • Armor Class 12 (higher with barding)
  • Hit Points 52 (7d10 + 14)
  • Speed 40 ft.
18 (+4)14 (+2)15 (+2)3 (-4)12 (+1)8 (-1)


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10 + 5) piercing damage.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) slashing damage.

Giant spider

Found in the dark depths of caves or directly in the underworld, giant spiders and other insectoid mounts of large size are usually reserved for those with few preservation instincts.

Their ability to climb walls, spin webs, and inject deadly venom in their prey makes them extremely valuable creatures for stealthy expeditions in dark and confined places like caverns and underground cities ; however, their appearance and the sounds they emit can make them repulsive to many, causing them to be forbidden in most above-ground settlements at best, and hunted down at worst. They also lack the speed to maneuver quickly above ground.

While some arachnids can become loyal companions, most retain some level of treachery, and only remain allies until they feel threatened or provoked.



The spider shoots web towards a target within 60 ft. They must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, they are restrained by webbing (escape DC 13). Huge or larger creatures are not restrained, but have their speed slowed by half instead.

You cannot use this maneuver two rounds in a row.

Inject Venom

The spider moves half its speed towards a creature that's restrained or from which it is hidden, then makes a Bite attack against them. If the target is reduced to 0 hit points by this effect, the target becomes stable, as well as paralyzed for the next hour.

Giant Spider

Large Beast, unaligned

  • Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 26 (4d10 + 4)
  • Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

14 (+2)16 (+3)12 (+1)2 (-4)11 (+0)4 (-3)
  • Skills Stealth +7

Spider Climb. The spider can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Web Sense. While in contact with a web, the spider knows the exact location of any other creature in contact with the same web.

Web Walker. The spider ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage, and 9 (2d8) poison damage.


Giant Bat

A unique and fearsome mount, usually used by tribes of the underworld or roamers of the darkness such as vampires. Their speed and agility makes them ideal for navigating treacherous terrain, like forests and caves, in which their echolocation senses allow them to identify obstacles before they come up.

Evidently, giant bats have the ability to fly, giving them a distinct advantage in avoiding danger on the ground. However, they require a skilled rider to handle their flight, as their sharp turns and sudden dives can disorient even the most experienced adventurer.

Moreover, just like spiders or other generally repulsive creatures, they are unwelcome in cities : their diet consists mostly of insects and small creatures, which unless well-trained, -- which most aren't, -- tends to cause frequent accidents with unwatched pets and, in some terrible circumstances, small children.



The bat flies up to half its speed towards a creature and makes a bite attack against it. It then flies up to half its speed again without provoking attacks of opportunity.

The bat's rider can take actions at any point during this maneuver.

Deafening Screech

The bat lets out a high-pitched sonic screech to disorient nearby creatures. Each creature within 30 ft. of the bat must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be disoriented until the end of their next turn. While disoriented, creatures must remove 1d6 from attack rolls and ability checks they make.

The rider has advantage on this saving throw. You cannot use this maneuver two rounds in a row.

Giant Bat

Large Beast, unaligned

  • Armor Class 13
  • Hit Points 22 (4d10)
  • Speed 10 ft., fly 60 ft.
15 (+2)16 (+3)11 (+0)2 (-4)12 (+1)6 (-2)


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.

Giant Boar

These fierce and powerful beasts are usually only used by tribal warriors with a connection to nature, or by ill-intentioned bandits with few choices remaining.

Much larger and stronger than horses or other mundane mounts of that caliber, giant boars are powerhouses on the battlefield, able to not only gore enemies with their sharp tusks, but also execute near-unstoppable charges through enemy ranks. In some circumstances, giant boars have even been seen used as living battering rams against crude fortifications.

Their training and taming requires both a skilled hand and the patience of a saint, as they are notoriously stubborn and difficult to control. Most often, an abundance of food is used as treats to get a boar to follow orders, but this type of conditioning doesn't usually last long : with their acute sense of smell, giant boars can detect food from miles away, and will simply leave if they find their efforts aren't rewarded enough.

Despite their gruff exterior, giant boars can be loyal and affectionate, but only to those they consider their own : for that reason, they're generally raised from birth by their future masters. When such a master is in danger, giant boars are extremely protective ; tales talk of some who fought for several days in a row, protecting their wounded friends until their enemies gave up, or the last drop of blood left their body.



The giant boar charges in a straight line up to its speed until it reaches the end of the movement or collides a Large or larger creature or object. Each creature in its path must make a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and take 7 (2d6) slashing damage and 7 (2d6) blugeoning damage. Objects take double damage from this maneuver.

Unrelenting Protector (passive)

While its master is unconscious as a result of falling to 0 hit points, the giant boar postures protectively around them, blocking any potential attacks. Any attack made against the master is instead made against the giant boar, and the giant boar gains resistance to all damage as long as the master is unconscious.

If its master dies, the giant boar goes on a rampage, fighting until its death or the death of all its enemies. While rampaging, if it would be reduced to 0 hit points, it instead makes a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a success, it is reduced to 1 hit point instead.

Giant Seahorse

Rare and exotic, only found in the depths of the ocean and near tropical archipelagos, seahorses are one of the only aquatic mounts able to be ridden by species without water-breathing.

Just like land horses, seahorses are mostly used as transport mounts to traverse the ocean quickly ; while they can be used in combat, they are both fragile and terribly equipped for offense, making them a choice usually reserved to skirmishers and stealthier combatants.

Seahorses are relatively simple to train : their diet of small crustaceans and other sea creatures makes finding food for them a walk in the aquapark, while their temperament makes them docile and gentle.

They are incredibly agile swimmers, able to navigate through tight spaces with ease, and are almost silent due to their large dorsal fin. In addition, they can temporarily increase their mobility by releasing gas from their swim bladder, giving them a burst of speed to escape from predators or disappear in patches of coral.


Gas Burst

The seahorse releases a burst of gas from its swim bladder, propelling it forward up to twice its speed. During this movement, attacks are made at disadvantage against the seahorse and its mounted creature.

You cannot use this maneuver two rounds in a row.

Giant Sea Horse

Large Beast, unaligned

  • Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 16 (3d10)
  • Speed 0 ft., swim 40 ft.
12 (+1)15 (+2)11 (+0)2 (-4)12 (+1)5 (-3)
  • Skills Stealth +6

Mimicry. The seahorse has advantage on Stealth checks while in its home environment.


Ram. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) bludgeoning damage.


Magical Mounts

Even rarer than exotic mounts, magical mounts are creature which not only are difficult to find, but also tend to be extremely dangerous and infused with magic. They are creatures of legend and myth, set apart from their mundane counterparts by their unnatural abilities and origins.

These mounts are often associated with the stories of great heroes, epic battles and adventures beyond the mortal realms ; they're not only symbols of one's power, but also of one's inner traits. Indeed, most of these magical creatures are highly intelligent, and do not follow a master unless they have chosen to do so.

The process of obtaining such a magical mount almost always involves great feats of strength and courage to intimidate or impress the beast, but none of it can work without a great deal of trust between the master and the mount.


These mythical winged horses are the subjects of many legends and stories, repeated by children with the hope of learning enough to one day ride one themselves.

Recognizing only those pure of heart and noble of spirit, pegasi are symbols of good ; they only carry those who intend to provide their help to those in need, and those who would fight for peace and happiness.

These creatures are highly intelligent and tend to associate themselves with a rider depending on their personality. While they cannot talk, they communicate telepathically with them, creating a bond with them as friends rather than a master and their mount. Loyal and brave, they will fight fiercely in times of danger, but are also very proud and willful : they will not hesitate to rebel against a rider they feel is unworthy.

Those lucky enough to ride a pegasus are seen as heroic figures themselves, highly respected and admired by their peers for their purity of heart.


Wing Gust

The pegasus moves half its speed, then flaps its wings. Each creature in a 30 ft. cone emanating from the pegasus must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked back 15 ft. and take 18 (4d8) bludgeoning damage.

You cannot use this maneuver two rounds in a row.

Healing Presence

The pegasus releases a burst of holy energy towards all creatures of its choosing within 15 ft. They regain 4d8 hit points and are cured from non-magical poisons and diseases.

Once you've used this ability, you cannot use it again until your mount's next long rest.


Large Celestial, chaotic good

  • Armor Class 12
  • Hit Points 59 (7d10 + 21)
  • Speed 60 ft., fly 90 ft.

18 (+4)15 (+2)16 (+3)10 (+0)15 (+2)13 (+1)
  • Saving Throws Dex +4, Wis +4, Cha +3
  • Skills Perception +6


Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage.


Beaked and covered in fur, griffons are majestic creatures living on the tallest mountain peaks and in distant, secluded valleys. They possess the body of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and the grace and power of both.

Contrarily to most other creatures used as such, a griffon is a warrior's mount. They can move with incredible speed, often used to dive on their prey from above, and are ferocious combatants that can scare off even the most dangerous of creatures ; according to the stories, some griffons have even repelled the attacks of small dragons and young rocs. They are most often used as mounts for elite squadrons of expert warriors, as quick modes of transportation through dangerous regions, or as scouts, sent by themselves to look for signs of trouble.

Griffons vary in intelligence, generally being quick-thinking creatures while retaining a mostly animal behavior. The ones that are tamed are usually the smartest of the bunch, those who show signs of understanding when communicated with, and can be approached. Taming a griffon is a daunting task that requires skill, patience, but most of all, the power to resist them. Indeed, the bond between a griffon and its rider is formed through mutual trust and respect : a griffon will never accept a rider it deems weak. However, once such a bond is formed, and a griffon has accepted a rider, their bond is lifelong.

Griffons are rarely seen around cities, except for specialized groups allowed to mount them. Their nature as predators, as well as the potential danger they present, makes most parents and farmers jumpy. Moreover, many farms near mountains have had their livestock devoured by griffons in the past, and do not trust the creatures even supervision.

Seeing a mounted griffon in a city or nearby one usually means one is close to seats of power or something so valuable it really needs the protection.


Dive Bomb

The griffon moves up to its speed directly upwards, then dives downwards towards a creature within 200 ft, making a beak attack against it. On a hit, the creature takes an additional 1d8 piercing damage for each 20 ft of altitude the griffon dove during the attack (up to a maximum of 10d8).

After you use this maneuver, the griffon's speed is halved until the end of your next turn.

You cannot use this maneuver two rounds in a row.

Eagle's Gaze

The griffon uses its incredible eyesight to spot any creatures that are visible, even behind partial cover. It makes a Perception check with advantage, ignoring the cover bonuses to stealth of half cover and three-quarters cover.

Until the end of your next turn, when the griffon uses Dive Bomb, it has advantage on the attack against any spotted creatures.


Large Monstrosity, unaligned

  • Armor Class 12
  • Hit Points 59 (7d10 + 21)
  • Speed 30 ft., fly 80 ft.

18 (+4)15 (+2)16 (+3)2 (-4)13 (+1)8 (-1)
  • Skills Perception +5
  • Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 15

Keen Sight. The griffon has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.


Multiattack. The griffon makes two attacks: one with its beak and one with its claws.

Beak. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage.

Pyroscales (aka Pyroscale Gekkos)

Pyroscale Gekkos are born in volcanic and fiery lands, where they've adapted to the extreme heat and rugged terrain. According to the stories, they are born from the very essence of molten earth, as hybrids between beasts and elementals.

They are very large creatures, generally around 20 ft long, 5 ft tall and 10 ft wide. Their appearance matches that of lizards, their scales shimmering with fiery hues, ranging from a deep crimson to a vibrant orange that becomes brighter around the stomach and the mouth.

In their natural environmments, they are omnivores : they feed off volcanic minerals, charred vegetation, and the occasional prey that wander foolishly into their molten territory. They consider everything their prey, and are quite fierce in defending their homes, for good reason : pyroscales need to maintain their warmth or perish.

Contrarily to many other cold-blooded reptiles, pyroscales are naturally heated from an internal fire that they must feed to keep going. Studies on their life expectancy have shown that pyroscales are potentially immortal if they can sustain their heat, but quickly fade away when that is taken away. As such, they are completely unable to live in frozen climates unless other sources of heat are present, like natural hot springs or more magical phenomenon.

Pyroscales are extremely difficult to tame, both because of their size, physical abilities, and temperament. Only a handful of tribes possess the technique necessary to approach pyroscales with respect and earn their neutrality ; only a few within those tribes are able to create a bond with the beasts. Indeed, their process of taming involves intricate rituals conducted within their homes -- usually volcanoes --, a fearless handling of fire, and an incredible physical resilience. Even then, the most skilled of trainers bear many scars of their hard-earned connection with the fiery beings.

Once such a connection is established, though, pyroscales are formidable mounts, able to single-handedly defeat dozens of soldiers and scare off the toughest beasts, sometimes even young dragons. Their body emanates a constant heat, unbearable for the untrained, and they can unleash devastating torrents of fire or spit large balls of molten rock at their enemies. Their scales are tough, and they regenerate quickly when in contact with heat ; this makes them not only powerful creatures, but also durable ones.

In spite of that, and mostly actually because of their abilities, pyroscales are complicated to manage and seen negatively by most. Their instincts, as well as their nature, makes them nuisances to most environments but their own. When misused, they can set fires to forests, burn miles of fields, devour heds of cattle and sheep and melt the roads on which they travel. As such, while they are a form of prestige and a show of strength, they also mark those who mount them as irresponsible, foolish individuals.


Heated Body (passive)

The pyroscale's body always emanates intense heat around it. Each creature or object (not being worn or carried) starting its turn within 5 ft of the pyroscale takes 1d4 point of fire damage, apart from its rider.

In addition, the pyroscale's body gains a point of heat whenever it takes 10 or more damage from a single attack, spell or effect, and when it successfully kills a creature. It can have a maximum of 4 points of heat. Heat decreases by various amounts when using maneuvers (see below), and by 1 at the start of each of the rider's turn if it did not increase during the last round.

For every point of heat, the heated aura's damage increases by 1d4 (up to 5d4 total). At heat 3 or above, the pyroscale automatically ignites flammable objects within 10 ft of it.

Glob Lob (Costs 1 heat)

The pyroscale moves up to half its speed, then lobs a thick molten glob towards a target within 60 ft. They must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving thrown, taking 3d6 bludgeoning and 3d6 fire damage on a failure, and half on a success.

When you use this ability, the pyroscale's heat decreases by 1.

Molten Hail (Costs 4 heat)

The pyroscale moves up to half its speed, then unleashes a hail of molten globs over a 15 ft wide circle, up to 60 ft away from it. Each creature within the area must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, they take 6d6 bludgeoning and 6d6 fire damage, and are set on fire. On a success, they take half damage and are not set on fire.

Creatures on fire take 1d10 fire damage at the beginning of their turn. A creature can extinguish the fire on themselves or another creature with an action.

When you use this ability, the pyroscale's heat decreases by 4.

Pyroscale Gekko

Huge Monstrosity (Lizard), unaligned

  • Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
  • Hit Points 123 (13d12 + 39)
  • Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft., swim 30 ft.

19 (+4)16 (+3)17 (+3)4 (-3)13 (+1)11 (+0)
  • Saving Throws Str +7, Con +6
  • Damage Vulnerabilities cold
  • Damage Immunities fire


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (3d10 + 4) piercing damage and 15 (3d10) fire damage.

Asking for feedback and future content

I hope the system looks interesting to you and you enjoy the mounts !

I have big plans for the future, but I also want to get your feedback to see how you all feel about these new rules. Do you think they make it easier to run mounts ? Do you think they achieved the goals I set out to achieve ?

You might have noticed there are no rules on acquiring these mounts yet. I'm working on that ! I'll be posting a follow-up to this post in the coming week with rules for creating your own mounts, training new maneuvers, as well as tables about how each mount can be acquired and smaller sets of rules like feeding them and their social impact. Keep your eyes out of that !
Additionally, I'm wondering if you all would be interested in a larger compendium of mounts (I'm thinking 50 or so with the ideas I have in mind, from mundane to magical). It would likely be paid content (with previews) seeing the amount of work it would be, but I'd be glad to deliver if I see people are interested in it. Tell me in a comment if you are, or send me a DM directly !

####Finally, let me plug the rest of my content :

You can find other adventures I made on my Gumroad, including 4 of my most recent adventures and other stand-alone encounters :

I also recommend checking out my Patreon ! I post content every single month including, for the past 6 months, a 30-40 page adventure complete with battlemaps, special magical items, custom boons, monsters, and much more. You get access to everything the moment you become a patron, so now's the moment to get value out of your purse (or your wallet if you're not a grandma). You even get access to all the adventures above !

That's it for now ! I'm looking forward to hearing your feedback and chatting with you.

Have a great day,

Axel / BigDud

20:58 UTC


Stranger than Fiction VII: Time, and how you are Missing it in your Campaign


It has been a little while since I posted one of these, been through a bit personally which got me thinking about Time. So, I am here to tell you that almost all of you are completely missing out on using Time to its maximum potential in your games. Not in the ‘make a calendar’ sense nor in the ‘put a doomsday clock on to prevent long rests’ sense, but making your party feel time in a historical, philosophical, and truly adversarial sense.

Time as Flavor

There was a time in history, in fact quite a bit of it, where people were not accustomed to living life on the clock. It was maybe only about 400 years ago when clocks became part of life for even a fraction of people, and maybe 300 since people started carrying pocket watches. So, I want to go over the flavor of how people talked and lived without clocks, and maybe it will get you thinking about how to add that flavor to your setting.

First, just because people did not have clocks did not make them entirely unaware of time. They had a complex understanding of time different than our own, equally as real and important to them and how they interacted with their world. People were aware of the changing periods of daylight in summer and winter, the position of the stars across the year, the pull of the moon on tides… they just did not see these things in mechanically precise hours and minutes.

So how did people see time? How did they measure it? How did they get things done?

Measuring Time without Clocks

The best lesson I can tell you for your D&D games about places without clocks is that people tended to measure time based on what was important to their culture. That is an easy lesson because you can very easily substitute language about hours and minutes for flavorful language that expresses the unique world, culture, and person that the PCs are interacting with. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of ideas.

  • Cooking: all around the world, one of the most common and culturally significant tasks performed is preparing food. As it is both often a communal activity and one where you need a sense of time so as to not burn things, people develop pretty precise instinctual understandings of time based around food. For example, a society based around rice farming knows exactly how long it takes to cook a pot of rice and use that as a frame of reference to talk about the length of other tasks. Rather than a second, they might say ‘like frying a stirge.’
  • Religion: a person’s beliefs have often been central to their understanding of the world, especially in settings where there is definitive proof of the existence of God(s), and that can inform their view and expression of time. I’m sure there can be fantasy examples which suit your world; in the real world pre-clocks short tasks were described in some places as ‘as long as saying a rosary.’
  • Tasks: in the end, people orient their time around the work that needs to be done. Across a community that participates in similar tasks, there develops an understanding of how long each should generally take, and that becomes a frame of reference. Half an hour might be as long as it takes to bring the goats to pasture, while a full hour might be milking a barn of cows. Your dwarves might measure time in feet mined through rock or how long to heat iron before you can pour it, and halflings might measure in intervals of meals, like you might clear the cave before supper but probably not before dinner.
  • Travel and Locality: an area with many small, connected villages might best understand time in the difference it takes to travel from one to the other. From here, getting to Neverwinter takes as much time as it does to get to Luskan and back, or maybe about three times as long as walking to Raven Rock. None of those are useful unless you have walked those paths enough times before to understand how long that takes. Here distances are also meaningless, Raven Rock is closer but up a mountain, so it shows not just a lack of precise measurement across multiple mediums, but a more instinctive understanding of the land.
  • Body: I actually can’t think of too many examples or uses for this, but in my research, I did find reference to people saying, “A pissing while” as a measurement of time, which is incredibly evocative and universally useful, and I just wanted to include that. How long does it take to cast Symbol? Oh, a pissing while.

Goal Orientation

This started coming up with the examples above, but people used to measure time not in minutes and hours, but in the time it takes to accomplish things. This isn’t just flavor to replace units of time, but informs how people understood the world: life was goal-oriented rather than time focused. I will get a little more into what that means philosophically later, but for the moment I want to sort of give you the tools to flavorfully showcase what a goal-oriented life might look like to help describe your settings.

When life is oriented around the tasks that need performing, the time it takes to complete those is less relevant than getting them done. The only deadlines are imposed by nature and the tides of life, not by clocks or managers. This can make life look relaxed in comparison. If the only thing which really needs doing today only takes a little bit, then that can be put off until later.

Which isn’t to say folks are naturally lazy when not on the clock (though I am regardless of clock or not), you can be very industrious and busy, but the cadence of life is dictated more by necessity than by timing. Nature says the best time for physical work is when it is colder out, a person has lots of other, simpler, less sweaty things they could be doing when the sun is at zenith. The best fishing follows the tides, so a person might have finished their entire day before dawn and go to sleep until the afternoon. Farming life is punctuated by periods of intense activity dictated by the seasons; one must reap before the storms and sow quickly after the frosts. Enchanters might get the best work done during certain moon phases and work all 24 hours that day. Between there is time to do other things. In a goal-oriented society, tasks present themselves and are dealt with as necessary, and productivity or the grind is just not really the mindset. I think using this as a base will help you to describe village life and make it feel more real and engaging within your fantasy.

A Completely Self-Indulgent Rant Off to the Side About Time and the Advent of Capitalism with Reference to Marx’s Theory of the Alienation of Labor

Ok, quick aside, allow me this tangential rant. The measurement of time has played a key role in the growth of capitalism and is a motivating factor in the alienation of labor. First off, the first people to get access to time keeping methods were the rich who employed people. Precise measurements of time gave them more control over their employees’ schedules and lives; it made production more reliable so that economies of scale and factories with complex supply chains could function and develop into industrialization. Second, people may know intrinsically through practice roughly how long it takes to harvest an acre of corn, but that may differ depending on the quality of the soil, how long they’ve had to grow, the skill of the worker, it gets complicated so that you really couldn’t know exactly how long goals might take to accomplish. Measuring by time was an easier way to track the employment of labor (and still generally is, except for the perverse tax incentives of the gig economy). Time equals money is a truism now, but it was a novel concept at first that was forced onto people unfamiliar with wages and the 9-5 by those rich folks on top. Finally, the reverse, then, is also true; money equals time, in that the employer’s money creates ownership over the employee’s time. The employee’s only real product is time, their life, divorcing the employee from the goal-oriented and fulfilling life of seeing tasks completed for their own sake according to their own schedule. Instead, they live by the clock, they are as much a product as what they produce. Time is all the laborer has, and it does not belong to them. This is, according to Marx, why modern jobs feel meaningless, why managers are cruel and uncaring, why labor is alienated from meaning.

Uh………………. back on track then.

Philosophic and Religious Interpretations of Time

I think I have given ample examples of how to describe people’s relationship with time prior to clocks. ‘Describe’ in the sense that it gives you words for your NPCs to say and asides to cram into your pre-written blocks of text setting the scene of the village when your PCs walk into it for the first time. But these can be more than just fluff text; people used those flavor words and acted those flavorful ways because of their alternative understanding of time, and that radically influenced their view of the world. So, I want to dive deeper into the various ways people have interpreted the meaning of time, where it comes from, where it is going, what is one person’s place in time, to hopefully give you some food for thought in worldbuilding at a larger level.

Cyclical Time

If you take nothing else from this post, I want you to take away the concept of Cyclical Time, because most D&D settings are implicitly built around this concept of time and understanding it will help you better master these settings.

It is easy to take progress for granted nowadays. I mean, there were people who read about the first flight of the Wright Brothers in the news who later watched the first moon landing live on TV. We are pretty accustomed to rapid, monumental change. But what changed for the average Chinese peasant family in the five to seven generations say between 800 and 1000 CE? About nothing.

For much of human history across the world, most people saw time as a circle. The beginning of one cycle was the end of another; the Han dynasty fell and things sucked for a while, but eventually there was the Tang, and when that ended it sucked but then there was the Song. There was a sense of order to the universe in that human lives tended to be the same and repeating across generations, so too should the bigger lives of civilizations with the end of one leading to another not so different. Early Buddhists saw the cycle of the Buddha as taking as long as it would take the feathers of a bird to wear the highest mountain down to nothing, essentially envisioning time revolving in circles longer than the age of the Universe.

How does this view of the world impact how they interact with their time given to live? In general, it means that people see that there is nothing ever truly new. There are eras of golden ages where things are good, where people are moral and right in their lives and wisdom was common. All one can do then is to preserve that wisdom to try and keep the golden age going. Once things inevitably fall into the dark ages and the wisdom is lost, the goal of society is to rediscover lost wisdom and begin the cycle over again and start the next golden age.

As I said at the start, I would argue that this is the default understanding of time for D&D. The idea that people are living in a lesser world, where ruins of great civilizations dot the land, where objects of great power exist but cannot be recreated, that is a cyclical view of the world from the point of a dark age. Knowing that, we can build the context, worldviews, and cultures that understand that where the world exists in time is temporary, that the key is to rediscover lost truths and rebuild a golden age. Quests and story lines should be about recovering the past and reaching the previous highs of the world. Or you can better understand how to throw a wrench into this traditional approach by taking up, instead, Linear Time.

Linear Time

One of the better and most recognizable expressions of Linear Time comes from MLK, who suggested that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” There are so many assumptions about the nature of time and the universe contained within how we read this little quote, that it is a good jumping off point to discuss Linear Time. ^

Most people today live holding onto the idea of Linear Time. As noted earlier, seeing rapid changes across even our own lives, to say nothing of generations, has had a major impact on how we understand the world. But the concept of Linear Time is not dependent on technological progress to exist, groups across history have understood time as beginning, ending, and moving progressively and unstoppably between those two points along a predictable path.

An arc presumes that there is a beginning and an end. Rather than seeing life and time as cyclical where ends and beginnings are the same, an arc presumes that the end cannot be the beginning. Ends are then final. One can easily blame Christianity for the prevalence of this worldview, which isn’t what I mean to do, but that religion certainly is a handy example. Plenty of other religions have creation myths, but Christianity also has an end of times myth, where (excuse my oversimplification) the creator comes back and ends history. Nothing after the end of times counts, that is the end of anything consequential, there are no new developments or beginnings. The end is truly the end. Your apocalyptic cult who want to end the world not only has an evil demon lord leading them, but also an alternative view of time compared to the rest of the setting.

Moreover, an arc is measured by its progress and change over time. We aim to leave a better world for our descendants and the future should be better than the past. This puts a focus on the new and innovative, rather than the rediscovered and timeless which was the focus on Cyclical Time. This is why most modern cultures value youth and newness, while traditional ones value age and wisdom, because they view time and its meaning differently.

Finally, MLK’s arc is inevitable, predetermined by the universe, long but unstoppable. This is where both these concepts of time agree, because time is knowable to both. They might disagree on what they know, but in Linear Time too, people know where time is going and base their worldview around it. A lot of conflict can occur based on what final goal different ideologies holding the same view of Linear Time envision. And it can be why a third approach to time can be so challenging, because if time is not knowable, all the structures that have built around it, all the meanings that have been cultivated in life, feel like they are under attack.

Queer Time

Both other concepts of time see predicable patterns and provide an order to human life which feels as natural and inevitable as the passing of the seasons and change of the years. People are born, learn through childhood, become adults and traditionally marry, produce the next generation, and then pass from history leaving it to their progeny to then carry on towards the future. Maybe those descendants will exceed you, maybe they will bear the curse of dark times you did not experience, but time is nevertheless predictable and oriented towards ensuring the future.

Academic literature on Queer Time studied queer lives to find that many experienced lives disconnected from both past and future. For example, in many queer lives, there was no marriage, children, or inheritance. In many cases, either through persecution or epidemics, queer lives could not even safely assume there was any future. The past is questionable as well, in this worldview. Trans lives are a great example of this because they do not experience an orderly past, instead repeating or elongating the stages of life. A trans person is in many ways reborn, discarding their deadname and prior life, experiencing puberty twice under different hormones, growing up twice. Time is not just able to be repeated, redone, but stretched long and flexibly like taffy. Under such circumstances, life instead focuses on what you can control in the present. Queer time is grounded in the here and now because the future is unknowable and the past may be meaningless.

I think this is a useful perspective for fantasy worlds, because there are plenty people who do not conform to time as us Earth-bound mortals experience it; the powerful undead, the gods, immortal races, wizards and clerics bringing people back from the dead, and more. Why did the Greek Gods constantly get into crazy fights and do petty things and muck around with people just for funsies? Because time was meaningless to them. Why do most all time-loop stories involve people being incredibly reckless? There’s no future anyway so there’s nothing to fear.

So, I am not authorized to tell you that Vecna is a Queer Icon… but he could be. What do seasons and the traditional cadence of life (youth and learning, marriage and family, death and leaving to the next generation) mean to someone who has transcended death? What do the cyclical rise and fall of empires mean to someone who gets to see multiple of them? What would Vecna care about the progress of the world leaving him behind when he can burn it all down? Time, as usually measured, experienced, and interpreted means nothing to someone like Vecna. So be rash and reckless, death means nothing to him; studying ancient tomes for 100 years is a slight diversion.

And it’s not just gods or evil undead. An immortal elf would probably have no fears about dropping their old life entirely to follow a new whim. A King who knows that he’s being followed by a cleric with Revivify might very easily value battlefield honor and reputation beyond his life. A cultist who sees the end of the world everywhere and is an outlaw throughout the world has nothing left to lose in a fight with the PCs. The simple lesson is anytime you have people free of consequences (either because there are none, or because all consequences are equally brutal), that shifts their entire worldview such that there is only the present.

Time as an Enemy

Time does not make a great enemy by itself, in the real world it is undefeated after all. But an understanding of Time, using the fluff words and those conflicts between differing perceptions of Time, can really help you to define the conflict. We want to be able to add some character to make it feel unique, meaningful, and impacting your world in some unique and historically appropriate ways.

Timekeeping and the Growth of Capitalism

Did I say that the rant into Marxism and the Alienation of Labor was entirely off-topic? Well, I lied. As Brennan Lee Mulligan put it, Capitalism is always the enemy. I don’t think it’s my place to tell you to that you should make capitalism the villain, or really how to do it in a good way. But if you are inclined that way anyway, putting some Time in there will help make it feel more real, draw some perceptible lines, and provide additional unique impacts on your world than a generic BBEG.

If you are running a story where industrialization is the enemy, then adding the flavor of Time can go a long way in showing the conflict in lifestyles. People in the villages measure hours in pots of rice cooked and are used to taking long siestas, yet the bells of the BBEG’s new factory summon people to work at precisely 7 AM each morning. Time can be a sign of change and a way you can make this enemy feel foreign, confronting, and wrong.

Capitalism is also, inherently, an ideology of Linear Time; innovation must occur, profits must increase, time cannot afford to be a circle. By understanding that most D&D settings are implicitly Cyclical, we better see why capitalism can be an enemy since it challenges the assumptions of the world. Going and finding a mcguffin from an ancient civilization to defeat the capitalist BBEG isn’t just a fetch quest, but a battle between alternative understandings of Time. Basically, I will award inspiration to any DM that sets up a battle between the BBEG’s new industrial orbital space laser and the good guys’ ancient magical ether beam.

The Appeal of Millenarianism

I covered this some in STF IV: What Even Are Cults (which, humble brag, was 2020 winner for Best Worldbuilding on this sub), but the end of the world can be a really, really appealing idea. And as a very astute commenter on that post pointed out, in our fantasy worlds, they can even be right. So that’s what I want to really follow up here; why people might desire the end of the world, how they usually expect that to mean something good for themselves, and how a doomsday cult could imperil time.

Millenarianism is the belief that the world is ending soon, and that this will in fact be pretty great for some people and punish others. It is at the core of many cults because the ‘some people’ are defined as members of that cult and the ‘others’ to punish includes everyone who ever doubted or persecuted the cultists. I’d say most millenarian movements are religious in nature, but there are some outliers, and that doesn’t have to be true in fantasy, but it’s generally true because they must believe in some greater power intervening to give everyone their just desserts.

But the key is the End of Time. Because time sucks. Time is full of people more powerful oppressing those below, its full of unjust death, and its full of groceries and taxes and the mundane. An end to Cyclical time is to break the cycle, this unending, unchanging repetition and settle into (fingers crossed!) an eternal golden age. An end to Linear time is a utopia, the pot at the end of the rainbow where progress has finally finished. Millenarianism appeals to those punished by the normative with the promise that this era ends, and the next will finally reward them forever.

And in fantasy, they can be right. Millenarian movements are zero for a lot here on Earth, but in your fantasy there might well be beings who can end Time to the benefit of any adherents willing to get behind that idea. Maybe they’re devils who will manifest an unending plane of torment on the prime material plane, maybe it is a primeval force outside of Time who just wants to stop everything to get an infinite moment’s peace, or maybe it is just a charismatic leader with a cult who wants a revolution to reverse the experience of who gets power and who gets oppressed and your party have to deal with that giant moral mess. Or maybe, they’re just so sick of it all, so tired of one evil coming after another, that just ending it all for everyone, a final release to everybody stuck in a hopeless cycle, an end to all pain and suffering forever, that they just want time to end period.

The Clockwork Universe

Despite how evident it is when you say it out loud, it may be surprising to hear that before clocks were invented and popularized, people did not talk about the universe or its creator in mechanical terms very often. Both scientists and theologians today often talk about the precision and complexity of the universe in terms of the infinitely spinning, delicate wheels of clockwork. This view sees the universe, whether naturally occurring or created, as a grand design of perfect mathematical complexity spinning according to precise and immutable rules. This point of view can easily accord with either Cyclical or Linear time.

This is more of a random thought than anything I want to flesh out too far, but that’s not always how people described the universe. Many now and in the past before the imagery of clockwork viewed Time and the universe as messy and unfocused, the rules frequently broken, the inevitable spinning far from actually inevitable. I think that this is not only true in our world, but doubly so for a world of fantasy where magic can break the rules of physics and gods. An interesting lawful BBEG goal might be to put order to the universe, to eliminate all those annoying complications like magic and volition that gum up the perfect spinning gears which their god/philosophy want to place over the universe.


Time is such a familiar experience, so precisely measured with no variations, that we forget that it was not always like that. I hope that a bit of a look at history shows that not only was time measured differently, but thought about in ways that seem completely alien to lives regimented by clocks and capitalism. How we understand time is not natural, but created, and my goal was to open your minds up to expressing some of these alternative understandings in your games. I picked Time specifically because it is such a common and vital part of how we understand that world, that by challenging it, maybe it launches you off to explore some completely new ways to approach the people, cultures, and settings of your fantasy worlds.

I have tried to keep this short and to the point of D&D, looking back my posts in this series (linked here, Villains, Thieves’ Guilds, Fantasy Law, Cults, The Succession Game, and Secret Police), I can see that they keep getting longer and less obviously tied to D&D. I think I’ve generally failed those goals, but I hope you enjoyed the read anyway. Below are the sources I used to help research and write this up, though some does just come from my general academic background in Chinese history.


Julian Baggini, How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy

Frederic J. Baumgartner, Longing for the End: A History of Millennialism in Western Civilization

Judith Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives

Karl Marx, Estranged Labour, in "Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844"

E. P. Thompson, Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism, in "Past and Present" #38

^ Please don’t @ me about MLK, I get that the quote is frequently taken out of context and his views were far more nuanced. In fact, I do completely understand that quotes like exactly this one are intentionally used to undermine his legacy by taking his words out of their original context. But that more common understanding is what I am trying to pick at, not at MLK himself.

18:53 UTC


Special announcement from /r/BehindTheTables: Random Tables Compendium (50+ page PDF)

I know this is an unusual post, but please bear with me...

A little while back, the links to all he PDF cheat sheets I had created expired. Rather than updating the links everywhere (/r/BehindTheTables posts, the BehindTheTables wiki, and even the old /r/DnDBehindTheScreen posts) to 50+ different documents, I have assembled the cheat sheets all into a single document. I have also added two new cheat sheets (Dockside Taverns [p51] and Thieves & Pickpocket Loot [p53]).

-- The link to the RANDOM TABLES: COMPENDIUM is here. --

Thanks to all who are using and enjoying these. I have some ideas for further building out and expanding this compendium in the future. So stay tuned!

And, of course, there are MANY MANY more tables on The Table of Tables than I have printable cheat sheets for ... yet.

Update: v1.1, now at the link, fixing minor error.

16:09 UTC


Community Q&A - Get Your Questions Answered!

Hi All,

This thread is for all of your D&D and DMing questions. We as a community are here to lend a helping hand, so reach out if you see someone who needs one.

Remember you can always join our Discord and if you have any questions, you can always message the moderators.

12:00 UTC


NPC Swap - Take an NPC, leave an NPC

Hi All!

This repeating event is for you to share an NPC that you have made that you think others would like. Please use the template below and include enough detail to make the NPC useful to other DMs.


Name: Self-explanatory (hopefully!)

Appearance: 1-2 sentences

Personality: Personality traits, but also includes information like Bonds, Flaws, and Ideals.

Background/History: Be sure that this information is not just exposition, but instead is information that will be relevant to the players interacting with this NPC.

Secrets: What is this person hiding?

12:00 UTC


Anyone interested in a full excel download of Monsters, size, CR, and where to find? I have this in my Monster Generator, free for you to use or just extract the monsters.

After trying out dozens of random monster generators, I finally decided I had to make my own to get what I wanted.
This generator will spawn 1-2 monsters that are within the CR range that you determine. To determine the CR range you would like, you can either fill out the players and their levels, or you can simply override the yellow values.
The generator will always make a main enemy and sometimes will have a random weaker minion.
The monsters will not always be the most logical for the environment you are in, which can actually be quite fun to go with, or you can choose to respawn.
The easiest way to generate monsters is to click a random cell, e.g. H1, and hit the DEL key. This will trigger the sheet to recalculate.


20:34 UTC


These Red-Cloaked Mages Seek World Domination - Lore & History of the Red Wizards of Thay

See Their Red-Cloaks on Dump Stat


The Red Wizards of Thay have been thrust back into the limelight with the release of Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023). But who are these wizards? We know they make the bold fashion choice of only wearing red, all seem to suffer from hair loss, and can cast spells like nobody’s business. To find out where they came from, what they are all about, and what they are doing now, follow us down the rabbit hole as we dive into the Red Wizards of Thay.


1e - Red Wizards of Thay

Zulkir Szass Tam


24th level Magic-User, School of Necromancy, Red Wizard of Thay

NE Myrkul

Lich Male

from Dreams of the Red Wizard (1988)

In the Forgotten Realms: Campaign Setting (1987) and Dreams of the Red Wizard (1988), the Red Wizards of Thay are introduced to the world of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. The two books are mainly concerned with the region of Thay, but you can only talk about Thay if you also talk about the Red Wizards. The Red Wizards liberated Thay from Mulhorand, set up the government, and plunged Thay into countless ill-advised attacks that always ended in failure. There isn’t a ton of information, but it serves as a fairly good primer for what is to come.


2e - Red Wizards of Thay

Zulkir Szass Tam

(Lich Male Necromancer 29)

Str 11; Dex 14; Con 0; Int 19; Wis 16; Cha 18

Armor Class: 0

Move: 6

Hit Points: 64

Number of Attacks: 1

Damage: 1d10 + paralysis or by spell

THAC0: 9

Alignment: NE

Special Attacks: Spells

Special Defenses: + 1 or better magical weapon to hit; immune to charm, sleep, enfeeblement, polymorph, cold, electricity, insanity, and death spells.

Special Weakness: Can be turned by priest.

Weapon Proficiencies: Dagger, staff, whip

Magical Items: Many (see below)

Age: 264, Ht: 60, Wt: 98 lbs. Hair: Black, Eyes: Gray

Spells: 10/10/10/10/9/9/9/9/9 (includes bonus spells)

from Spellbound (1995)

The Red Wizards of Thay first appear in Forgotten Realms Adventures (1990). In the early days of the campaign setting, the Red Wizards wielded massive power, way more than their modern-day counterparts do now. This power was derived from a powerful unnamed artifact. Unfortunately for our red-cloaked mages, unknown forces destroyed, turned off, or stole the artifact during the Godswar. Regardless of what happened to the artifact, it stripped the Red Wizards of their near-godlike magical powers when its power ceased.

Thay is a breakaway principality of Mulhorand, and the wizards in charge wanted only to make their newly independent country the most powerful in the world, who wouldn't in their situation? The Red Wizards are a cabal of powerful wizards, described here as an evil magocracy from across the Sea of Fallen Stars. Thay is a slaver nation, and the government is run by evil wizards. What could go wrong? Well, let's just say that very little gets done, there is little to no cooperation between the wizards, and each one is more interested in advancing their own agenda than working towards a common goal. Sadly, sometimes, fantasy is the same as reality.

The Red Wizards are arrogant and dismissive and have no qualms about killing you or anyone else that gets in their way. This attitude has prevented them from becoming the powerful nation they want to be, as it applies to friends, foes, and their fellow Red Wizards. You'd think that when you have a country filled with super-powerful wizards, they could easily steamroll across the land, conquering anyone who stands in their way. Unfortunately, each wizard truly believes they are the smartest of the bunch, which makes working together nearly impossible. In fact, the Red Wizards would rather kill one another than give up their plans for world domination, for they truly believe everyone else's ideas are inferior and doomed to fail.

In the sourcebook Old Empires (1990), we are provided with a bit of backstory about the land of Thay. Turns out the Red Wizards tried twice to break away from Mulhorand. A thousand years before their successful rebellion, the archmage Thayd and an army of powerful wizards attempted to overthrow the god-kings that ruled Mulhorand. They failed but, in doing so, weakened Mulhorand so much that they were defeated by orcs in the Orgate Wars in -1076 DR. Nearly two thousand years later, the Red Wizards gained independence from Mulhorand at the Battle of Thazalhar in 922 DR.

New and updated information about The Red Wizards can be located in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1993). As usual, before we can talk about the vilest bad guys in the Forgotten Realms, we can now provide you, dear reader, with a much more detailed description of precisely where Thay is located. Tucked between Aglarond and Thesk in the west, Thay is also surrounded by Rashemen in the north, the Inner Sea in the south, Sunrise Mountains, and Endless Waste in the east. It is a magic land filled with exotic items and people who wield mighty power within its borders. It is still a magic-based society, and at the top of the food chain are those evil magic spellcasters, the Red Wizards.

Thay is ruled by several zulkirs, and all of these leaders are chosen from the ranks of the Red Wizards. Under the zulkirs is the noble class of Thay. These tharchions and tharchionesses rule the eight provinces in Thay, doing the bidding of the zulkir under which they serve. The only zulkir that we know anything about is Zulkir Szass Tam. We'll discuss him in a little bit but just know that he's not the friendliest fellow you'll ever meet.

The Red Wizards rule Thay but in a disjointed and chaotic manner. Those that have left Thay and travel throughout the world of Toril act as spies for Thay. Of course, these Red Wizards make the worst spies ever, for the evil spellcasters are arrogant, self-centered jerks who think they know better than everyone else, including their fellow Red Wizards. You can never know if a Red Wizard is working with the best interests of Thay, themselves, or merely to dishonor a fellow Red Wizard who they are pissed at… or maybe all of the above.

Small cabals of Red Wizards have been known to work together, but these alliances are short-lived. Often, a group of Red Wizards will put forth an invasion plan, only to see their plans derailed when they start to squabble amongst themselves, and by squabble, we mean kill one another. It's one of the reasons no one knows how many Red Wizards there are. By this point, it should seem clear that the Red Wizards could have had an actual shot at ruling the Forgotten Realms setting if they could get over their petty squabbles and believe in something greater than themselves. But alas, these paranoid crimson mages have never been able to get their act together, so they have to settle for the province of Thay while dreaming of conquering the world.

There are a few other interesting bits of information scattered throughout the text. Regardless of where or how they are discussed, it is always in the context of them being one of the main evil forces in Faerun. Badge Heraldry was a big thing in the Forgotten Realms, and the Red Wizards of Thay's gold-touched flame was feared throughout the lands. Religion is secondary to the Red Wizardry, but that doesn't mean they don't pray to some evil god. The lucky deity is Cyric, a Greater Power of Death, Murder, & Lies. Also known as the Prince of Lies, it is the god of plotting and scheming, who came into existence after devouring the powers of three elder evil gods. Seems like the perfect god for the Red Wizards to pray to.

Before we dive into the next primary sourcebook on the Red Wizards, there are a few mentions in more obscure books we'd be remiss if we didn't mention. In Volo's Guide to the Dalelands (1993), there is the magic item, The Crown of Dracandros, an object of immense power unique to the Red Wizards. It's not a crown exactly, but rather a large electrum circlet one wears around their waist, which, when activated, turns slowly as it floats in midair, chiming softly as tiny motes of light play about it. It can detect invisibility and detect magic constantly and has a 1 in 6 chance of casting one of twelve spells, including animate dead, flaming sphere, fireball, and web; all at max level. In the book The Code of the Harpers (1993), we are introduced to the Harpers, a group of bards and rangers who aim to root out and eliminate all evil in Toril. On the top of their list are the Red Wizards. In Pages from the Mages (1995), the Red Wizards are credited with creating the fire gate spell, which allows the caster to teleport themselves via a bonfire. They are also credited for the murder of Agannazar, who is said to have died when they laid waste to the School of Wizardry at Neverwinter.

One of our last sourcebooks, Spellbound (1995), provides us with our next trove of information on the Red Wizards. It's a book on the realms of Thay, Aglarons, and Rashemen, so of course, the Red Wizards feature prominently in the chapters about Thay. Citizens of Thay are most commonly from the Mulan or Rashemi, and custom dictates that only those of Mulan heritage become a Red Wizard apprentice. This custom is often ignored if someone shows enough magical aptitude and is met with indifference by other Wizards. One thing the Red Wizards do care about is their outfits. If you want to make a fashion statement and where red robes, you can expect to meet a swift and painful death.

We learn more about the governing system through which the Red Wizards rule Thay. There are eleven provinces within Thay and eight zulkirs that rule over them. Why eight instead of eleven? Because they are the most powerful wizard from each school of magic. Once installed, they have the position for life, so as you can imagine, the competition for the role is extremely fierce. Life may not be the proper term since the most powerful zulkir is the lich, Szass Tam. The actual law states that a zulkir can only be removed if they are completely obliterated, beyond hope of resurrection or existence as a member of the undead.

Speaking of Szass Tam, you can find him and the other seven Zulkir's stat blocks in the back of the book. Szass Tam is the most powerful of all the zulkirs and has been attempting to unify the ever-warring wizards under his rule. When you live for over 200 years, you get sick of listening to the constant bickering and seeing every single plan for world domination fail because you can't get your shit together. To consolidate power, Tam has pulled wizards from the two factions within Red Wizard society; Imperialists and the Researchers. The Imperialists want to rule the world while the isolationist Researchers wish to stay safely behind the country's walls and work on their spells. Tam's plans for one lich rule forced the other Zulkirs to choose whether to be with him, against him, or to play Switzerland and stay neutral in all upcoming internal conflicts.

We learn about the Faerun's other big bad group of evil-doers in Cult of the Dragon (1998). Why do we bring this up? Because every group of bad guys wants to be the only bad guy in town, putting the cult and the Red Wizards at odds. We guess them sharing Toril is out of the question.


3e - Red Wizards of Thay

Szass Tam

Male Lich Necromancer 10/Red Wizard 17/Archmage 2

Medium-Size Undead

Hit Dice: 29d12+25; hp 211

Initiative: +2

Speed: 30 ft.

Armor Class: 31, touch 16, flat-footed 29

Immunities: Immune to cold, electricity, polymorph, and mind-affecting attacks.

Attacks/Damage: +17/+12 melee (1d6+2, staff of power) or +15 melee (1d8+5 plus paralysis, lich touch) or +17/+12 ranged touch (by spell)

Space/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.

Special Attacks: Paralyzing touch, fear aura

Special Qualities: Arcane reach, spell power +2, immunities, turn resistance +8, DR 15/+1, Specialist defense (Necromancy) +4, spell power (Necromancy) +8, circle leader, Scribe Tattoo, great circle leader, undead traits

Saves: Fort +12, Ref +14, Will +25

Abilities: Str 11, Dex 14, Con —, Int 22, Wis 20, Cha 20

Skills: Alchemy +26, Concentration +25, Craft (gemcutting) + 16, Diplomacy +7, Heal +9, Hide +10, Intimidate + 11, Knowledge (arcana) +26, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +11, Knowledge (Thayan history) +16, Knowledge (religion) +11, Listen +15, Move Silently +10, Profession (herbalist) +9, Profession (sailor) +9, Scry +26, Search +20, Sense Motive +13, Spellcraft +32, Spot + 15, Swim +2, Wilderness Lore +7

Feats: Craft Staff, Craft Wand, Craft Wondrous Item, Improved Spell Capacity (10th), Improved Spell Capacity (11th), Increased Turn Resistance, Maximize Spell, Mind Over Body, Quicken Spell, Scribe Scroll, Signature Spell (animate dead), Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Spell Focus (Evocation), Spell Focus (Necromancy), Spell Mastery (animate dead, cone of cold, control undead, magic missile, teleport), Tattoo Focus (Necromancy)

Challenge Rating: 31

Alignment: Neutral evil

Advancement: 27–52 HD (Medium-size)

Wizard Spells Per Day: 5/7/7/6/6/6/6/3/5/5/1/1; base DC 18 + spell level, 20 + spell level for Evocation, 31 + spell level for Necromancy. Caster level 29th.

Equipment: Staff of power, bracers of armor +10, ring of three wishes, hand of glory, a ring of spell storing, a +2 ring of protection, a wand of ray of enfeeblement (heightened to 4th level), and a darkskull.

from the Epic Level Handbook (2002)

When we first look at the Red Wizard in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001), we are presented with much of the same lore and background of both the wizards and Thay. By now, we are sure you are wondering what it may be like to play an evil wizard cloaked in all red and on the path to world domination. Today is your lucky day because now you can not only think about it but play a Red Wizard too!

Presented as a prestige class, the Red Wizard is the way to go if you want to play a self-centered, arrogant spellcaster of immense power. You’ll need to start by obtaining the Tattoo focus so that you can bear the tattoo of Red Wizards everywhere. Not only does this give you the ability to become a Red Wizard, but you get a +1 to all saving throws against spells from your specialized school of magic and a +1 bonus on caster-level checks to beat a creature’s spell resistance when casting spells from that school.

The Red Wizard prestige class also comes with a range of abilities, mostly centered around making you a spell-casting force to be reckoned with. The Red Wizard’s class skills include Alchemy, Concentration, Intimidate, Scry, and Spellcraft, to name a few. Your spell power in your Red Wizard’s specialist school increases as you level up, increasing your DC for saving throws and to caster-level checks to overcome spell resistance based on your specialized school of magic. You also gain a bonus creation feat. This all comes at a cost, though. When you take the Red Wizard prestige class, you must forgo learning magic from an additional prohibited school of magic, no longer being able to learn spells from those banned schools. There is a silver lining, though, as you can still use the prohibited spells you already know.

A book about the bad guys in the Forgotten Realms would only be complete with the Red Wizards of Thay, which is why they are a featured group in Lords of Darkness (2001). We all know they are evil human wizards, feared and hated, wear red from head to toe, and have an unmatched lust for power. So what new information can we find? How about the non-threatening face of the Red Wizards outside the realm of Thay known as the Guild of Foreign Trade? This guild runs and monitors small Thayian outposts set up in faraway lands.

Why are they tolerated when everyone knows the Red Wizard would take over their country in a split second if they could? These enclaves sell powerful magic items, many of which were created by the Red Wizards. Say what you want about them, but the wizards can craft a mean wand or ring.

Red Wizard spells, magic items, and monster creations can be found in the book Unapproachable East (2003). A spell unique to apprentices of Szass Tam is animate dread warrior, which allows you to transform the corpse of a skilled warrior into an undead monster under your command. Leave it to a lich to give you a way to create an unbeatable undead army. When in combat, Red Wizards like to use the spells Nymbor’s gentle reminder and Nybor’s stern reproof. Where the first spell dazes an opponent, the latter can kill the target instantly if they fail their save. Yep, seems perfect for the Red Wizards.

Red Wizard magic items usually involve inflicting pain. The ebon lash, which delivers burning agony to anyone it hits, is a vicious whip favored by the wizards. Another choice weapon is the flamelance, a +1 flaming burst lance that doubles as a spear if you’re not riding a horse. You can use the lance to fire a jet of white-hot flame as if you had cast Aganazzar’s scorcher as a 6th-level sorcerer. Considering the Red Wizards were the ones that killed Aganazzar, we figure he is turning over in his grave every time a lance is used to melt someone’s face off.

Like all evil wizards, the Red Wizards are responsible for creating terrifying creatures. The Blooded Ones are orcs baptized in magically enhanced blood, are more robust than their standard orc brethren, and are utterly loyal to the Red Wizards and Thay. Attacking with a heavy flail, a blooded one can let loose a fearsome war cry, granting their allies a bonus to their attack and damage rolls.


4e - Red Wizards of Thay

Szass Tam

Human wizard lich

Level 30 Elite Artillery (Leader)

Medium natural humanoid (undead) / XP 38,000

Initiative +17 / Senses Perception +23; darkvision

Necromantic Aura (Necrotic) aura 5; any living creature that enters or starts its turn in the aura takes 5 necrotic damage.

Second Wind (standard; encounter) Healing Szass Tam spends a healing surge and heals 100 hit points. He gains a +2 bonus to all defenses until the start of his next turn. Regeneration 10 (If Szass Tam takes radiant damage, his regeneration doesn’t function on his next turn.)

HP 388; Bloodied 194; see also Indestructible

AC 45; Fortitude 45, Reflex 43, Will 46

Immune disease, fear, poison; Resist 20 necrotic

Saving Throws +2 (+5 against charm effects)

Speed 6, fly 8 (hover)

Action Point 1

Claw (standard; at-will) Necrotic +34 vs. AC; 1d6 + 10 damage, and 10 ongoing necrotic damage (save ends).

Soul Strike (standard; daily) Necrotic Close burst 10; targets enemies; +35 vs. Reflex; 5d10 + 11 necrotic damage. Miss: Half damage.

Necrotic Master Szass Tam can convert any attack power he has to necrotic. Change a power’s energy keyword to necrotic, or add necrotic energy to an attack power that doesn’t normally deal energy damage.

Flensing (standard; sustain minor; encounter) Fear, Necrotic Ranged 20; +35 vs. Fortitude; 3d6 + 11 necrotic damage, and the target is stunned (save ends). All allies of the target within line of sight take a –2 penalty to attack rolls (save ends). Szass Tam must make a new attack roll against the target when he sustains this eff ect. He can change the target as a standard action.

Resistance (minor; daily) Ranged 10; Szass Tam or 1 ally within range gains resist 10 against one type of damage until the end of the encounter. Choose from acid, cold, fi re, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, psychic, radiant, or thunder damage.

Time Stop (minor; daily) Szass Tam gains two extra standard actions, which he cannot use to attack other creatures.

Shadowflow (minor; encounter) Illusion Szass Tam uses the power contained in his robes to become invisible until the start of his next turn.

Spellmaster (minor; recharge) Szass Tam regains the use of an expended encounter power.

Indestructible When Szass Tam is reduced to 0 hit points, his body and possessions crumble into dust, but he is not destroyed. He reappears (along with his possessions) in 1d10 days within 1 square of his phylactery, unless the phylactery is also found and destroyed.

Alignment Evil / Languages Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Elven, Infernal, Mulhorandi

Skills Arcana +31, Dungeoneering +28, History +31, Nature +28, Stealth +22

Str 12 (+16) Dex 14 (+17) Wis 27 (+23) Con 28 (+24) Int 32 (+26) Cha 30 (+25)

Equipment orb

from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (2008)

There is little information about the Red Wizards in this edition, but what there is advances their storyline. In the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide (2008), The Red Wizards have been united under Szass Tam, now known as the Regent of Thay. We wish we could tell you there was a glorious mage fight, with fireballs flying all around and armies of undead going up against legions of apprentice Red Wizards.

Alas, this was not the case, as the Spellplague laid waste to Thay, and Szass Tam was able to harness the power of the Spellplague, bringing him one step closer to becoming a god. This, in turn, made it relatively easy to install himself as ruler. Removing the other Zulkirs from power - whether they wanted to step down or not - Szass Tam installed his undead sycophants in those positions of power. Those few Red Wizards that still opposed him were scattered throughout Toril, hiding lest they be killed by Thay's new lich god ruler.

The land now has just as many undead as it does living inhabitants. Life is hard for the living, and the undead serve as Tam's army, defending Thay against anyone foolish enough to attack Thay. During this time, Tam spent decades preparing a terrible ritual that would strengthen his power even more, but before he could complete the ceremony, the remaining exiled zulkirs gathered what forces they could and prevented his twisted plan from happening.


5e - Red Wizards of Thay

It may surprise many who have only recently started playing Dungeons & Dragons, but the Red Wizards have always been the main bad guy right out of the gate. There may not be a single sourcebook dedicated to the crimson-cloaked mages, but their lore and impact on the Forgotten Realms continue to evolve. When you start to connect the dots, you realize their mark as an evil force in this edition.

Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle (2013) is a D&D Next playtest adventure. The Red Wizards of Thay return and have a base with four netherese portals that each lead to powerful elemental nodes. The nodes need keys, and the party has been tasked to retrieve one of the keys before the Wizards can access the node.

In Scourge of the Sword Coast (2014), another D&D Next adventure, we deal with the repercussions of the portal opening briefly, as the shade of the pit fiend Baazka can pass through into Faerun. He joins up with the Red Wizards where Szass Tam had made their base in Bloodgate Keep. Baazka gives the Red Wizards the scoop on a series of portals that wizards hope to use to bring in reinforcements to continue their assault on the Coast. The follow-up adventure is Dead in Thay (2014), where the adventurers are tasked with finding the phylacteries of the demi-lich Kazit Gul so they can destroy the vassal of Szass Tam, destroy the portals, and put an end to the Red Wizards and their Bloodgate stronghold.

Even getting into the actual edition, you can stumble across the Red Wizards causing all manner of mischief. In Lost Mine of Phandelver (2014), you encounter the Red Wizard Hamun Kost. He may help you, but deep in his heart, we're sure he'd rather snatch the soul from your body. In Hoard of the Dragon Queen (2014), an unlikely alliance is forged between the rebel Red Wizard Rath Modar and the cult of the dragon. Their common enemy? Szass Tam, of course, and the plan is for Rath Modar to unseat Tam as the ruler of Thay. All he needs to do to secure the cult's support is help free Tiamat. No biggie.

The culmination of this adventure series is the Rise of Tiamat (2014), where the Red Wizard and the cult of the dragon work feverishly to release Tiamat. In another strange twist, the adventurers travel to Thay and try to forge an alliance with Szass Tam. Tam's hatred for the rebel Red Wizard knows no bounds, so he will assist lesser creatures like yourself in crushing them. There is a glimmer of insight into what's happening in everyone's favorite undead landscape Thay. Szass Tam's rule has been slipping recently. Turns out living creatures don't enjoy living in a desolate wasteland filled with dead creatures enforcing an evil lich's rule of law. It's called a quiet civil war since neither side wants to risk the outside world finding out about the power struggles within the borders. Both sides worry that external forces will use this strife to their advantage, conquer Thay, and depose the Red Wizards for good. Living under the bootheel of a crazed lich is better than being dead, we guess.

The Red Wizards are up to no good again in Tomb of Annihilation (2017). Szass Tam wants the soulmonger for himself or, barring that, destroyed. There's not much new information about the Red Wizards, so know that our favorite evil spellcasters are alive and well, and still causing all manner of trouble for our brave band of adventurers. Of course, if you thought that might be the last you hear of them, they get brief mentions in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (2018), Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (2018), Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (2018), and Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden (2020), with our wizard friends always up to no good.


While we haven't heard much from the Red Wizards of late (outside of being the BBEG in the Dungeons & Dragons movie), we hope that the Red Wizards are brought back as a major enemy soon. Maybe one day we can have an adventure where Thay can be saved, or at least less screwed over by the powerful lich Szass Tam. It would be nice to finally get the story of the Red Wizards to move forward, perhaps under a kinder, gentler red-cloaked wizard… Then again, probably not.

###Past Deep Dives #####Creatures: Aarakocra / Aboleth / Ankheg / Banshee / Beholder / Berbalang / Blink Dog / Bulette / Bullywug / Chain Devil / Chimera / Chuul / Cockatrice / Couatl / Displacer Beast / Djinni / Doppelganger / Dracolich / Dragon Turtle / Dragonborn / Drow / Dryad / Faerie Dragon / Flumph / Formian / Frost Giant / Gelatinous Cube / Genasi / Ghoul / Giant Space Hamster / Gibbering Mouther / Giff / Gith / Gnoll / Goliath / Grell / Grippli / Grisgol / Grung / Hag / Harpy / Hell Hound / Hobgoblin / Hook Horror / Invisible Stalker / Kappa / Ki-rin / Kobold / Kraken / Kuo-Toa / Lich / Lizardfolk / Manticore / Medusa / Mercane (Arcane) / Mimic / Mind Flayer / Modron / Naga / Neogi / Nothic / Oni / Otyugh / Owlbear / Rakshasa / Redcap / Revenant / Rust Monster / Sahuagin / Scarecrow / Seawolf / Shadar-Kai / Shardmind / Shield Guardian / Star Spawn / Storm Giant / Slaadi / Tabaxi / Tarrasque / Thought Eater / Tiefling / Tirapheg / Umber Hulk / Vampire / Werewolf / Wyvern / Xorn / Xvart

Class: Barbarian Class / Cleric Class / Wizard Class

#####Spells: Fireball Spell / Lost Spells / Named Spells / Quest Spells / Wish Spell #####Other: The History of Bigby / The History of the Blood War / The History of the Raven Queen / The History of Vecna

13:54 UTC


It's Totally Safe to Go Alone - (Mostly) Non-Violent Encounters for Safe Roads, Peaceful Cities, and Other Chill Places

Sometimes the party has a long trek down a relatively safe route where bandits, monsters, and other typical encounters are rare. Sometimes you want players to return to a familiar place with one specific thing clearly out of place. Sometimes you want to introduce an encounter that doesn’t require violence to resolve it.

Whatever the reason, you need a unique and engaging event that fits into a peaceful setting.

For those times, here’s a collection of plot hooks, encounters, and events that can occur while traveling through relatively safe places such as well-traveled roads, peaceful cities, and more.


(Thanks, u/alienleprechaun for letting me repost when it did a whoops)

Raw text for those who don't want to click:

1. The Party Finds a Party

The party arrives at an inn to see Brother Dan throwing an absolute rager of a party. Drinks are on Brother Dan, and the town is in an uproar having a good time.

Brother Dan is a man traveling the world with the intent to ascend to godhood by becoming the God of Partying. Wherever he goes, he spends all of his money buying food and drinks for all as well as other festivities (including but not limited to bounce houses, bands, decorations, dancers, performers, etc.).

If Brother Dan is already in your pantheon as the God of Partying (as he should be), the party can be a celebration and offering to Brother Dan. Great parties thrown in his name mean good times in the future for those who were good hosts and inclusive guests. When Brother Dan is pleased with a party thrown in his name, he often bestows his blessing on those who threw it. And sometimes even blesses those who attended and partied by his code.

2. Mid-Journey Mystery

Upon returning to a familiar place, someone the party knows (and was possibly close to) is missing, but no one in town wants to talk about it.

The goal of this is to create a mystery by having someone the party knows or cares about be missing with no explanation. It can be a relatively low-stakes person. Perhaps a chatty tavern owner or a kind farmer who let them stay in their house once when it was raining and they were passing through. You can add stakes by making it someone they’re very familiar with, but having it be someone they barely know but know of can make it feel more natural and less like a plot point.

Perhaps the person was murdered. Perhaps a memory-altering monster ate them. Perhaps they’re not who they said they were when the party met them. There are many ways to play up this mystery.

3. A Littering Problem

A litter of stray, baby animals approaches the party. There’s no sign of the parents, and the babies look like they haven’t eaten in days.

While these animals can be something cute and easily adoptable like kittens, otters, or pangolins, you can make it more complicated by making them animals that will grow up to likely become unmanageable. Creatures such as crocodiles, hippos, or hydras.

The point is to give the players something wholly dependent on them that’s a drain on their resources (money, time, and attention) that will likely become even more of an issue later. That hippo is going to need its shots. And just because the bobcat is nice as a kitten doesn’t mean it will grow up to be anything less than a wild animal.

4. Old Man Zordla

An old man in a cave flags the party down, insisting it’s dangerous to go alone and that they need to buy the items he sells to protect them (the items are mostly useless).

Zordla doesn’t have to be evil or a complete snake oil salesman. Perhaps he’s a man down on his luck and is willing to sell stuff that has sentimental value to keep his home or to support his spouse who is injured. There are many ways to play off a strange old man trying to sell random, mostly mundane items.

5. Laws(uit) of the Jungle

A small creature follows the party, incessantly chittering at them. If approached, it runs away but returns later, even more upset.

The goal of this encounter is to get the party to engage in litigation with an animal, or find a way to resolve the situation. If able to understand the creature, the creature is threatening the party with legal action for frivolous reasons. Whether they understand the creature or not, if they continue to do what it is complaining about, it will come back with another creature who will act as a lawyer. This creature also chitters at them, though with a more even tone rather than an annoyed one. Small, speedy creatures like birds and squirrels work well for this, though any mundane or fantasy creature could work.

If the party talks to the creature and doesn’t want to comply, they can go to court, which is also run by animals.

If the party continues to “break the law” and doesn’t go to court, the critter will hire muscle to take out the problem. The party may find themselves fighting a bear, a manticore, and an elk who are all working together to fight them. All while the chittering critter cheers them on.

6. Fae-tally Lost

The party stumbles upon a fae. They are confused by how this strange reality works and doesn’t know how to get back home.

The goal of this is to get players to think outside the box and explain how logic and things like cause-and-effect work for a creature born and raised in a realm of chaos.

The fae knows at home if they stay put, the world around them will change and they’ll eventually find something they recognize. But in our world, staying still keeps you in the same place. In their home, walking the same direction can lead to different places. How can the party explain how the world works to them and get them home?

7. Estate Sale!

The party finds an estate sale for a recently deceased owner. They had some great stuff and the prices are cheap. However, the ghost of the owner haunts the items.

The ghost of the previous owner of the home and all items within it haunts them. The ghost can teleport to each item at will but can only be in one place at a time, so it has to choose which item to haunt at any time. The ghost favors specific items of value and spends more time with them. However, the ghost cannot interact with any physical objects.

The ghost could be antagonistic, friendly, curious, cautious, or something else. Exactly what it wants and how it goes about getting it is up to you. Perhaps players can find a way to bribe it to keep watch for them at night or relay messages between folks who have different items. Perhaps it just enjoys dropping in at inopportune moments to tease them.

8. Princess for a Day

A group of woodland critters decides to give a party member the Magical Princess Treatment. When they wake up, any clothing they weren’t wearing is missing and replaced with a “lavish” ballgown made of twigs, leaves, grass, and other natural material.

The critters are friendly toward the person they give the princess treatment to. They do small tasks (if able to understand what they want and are able) for the princess and will aid them if possible. However, the language barrier will likely limit their effectiveness in understanding and doing the correct task.

The princess’ equipment is replaced with “lavish” items as well. A jewel-encrusted sword might be a stick with sea glass lashed to it with vines. Armor might be peeled tree bark in a vaguely similar shape with ivy straps and uneven clay pauldrons.

If you want to turn it into a small side quest to get the stuff back, it could be stolen by a mage who magically tricks animals into thinking a person is a princess and makes them “better” clothing and items, while the mage who tricked them uses or sells the items they replaced. If the animals learn the princess they serve isn’t really a magical princess, they will be devastated since they truly wanted to aid the person.

9. Watchful Eyes

Every night, a doll shows up next to someone’s bed. If they get rid of it or place it somewhere else, it shows up next to the same person every night.

It doesn’t matter if they leave it where they found it, stuff it in a bag, or destroy it. The doll will appear next to the same person the following night.

The doll doesn’t have to be haunted, possessed, or otherwise a danger. The doll could have a harmless magical effect like “teleports to (attribute of the person it always appears next to) whenever they dream.” If they can get over the creep factor, they might even be able to use it to their advantage.

10. Dire News

Someone a party member is close to (sibling, relative, teacher, etc.) shows up with an urgent message of bad news.

Perhaps a massive investment has tanked. Perhaps their village was burned. Perhaps a family member has passed. Whatever the case, a relatively uneventful trip is interrupted by dire news.

The news could force them to make a choice: deal with the event the person is telling them about or continue on their previous path. Add a bit of consequence whichever they choose.

11. Wedding Day Delay

A small caravan of sharply-dressed guests for a wedding broke down. They need help getting to the event since the folks getting married are waiting on them and will be crushed if they don’t show.

The wedding is a ways further down the road and deep into the woods, taking place in a secluded area with a gorgeous waterfall as the backdrop of the ceremony.

If the party can’t fix the carts, they can aid the partygoers in carrying all of the presents and supplies down the road and through the woods. The party and guests will be filthy when they arrive, covered in dirt and sweat from the long hike with the supplies. However, the folks getting married will be so happy to see their guests; no matter what condition they’re in. The folks getting married will insist on the party staying for the ceremony and celebrating with food and dancing.

12. Countdown

A pack of woodland creatures stares at the party at night from a distance. Every night, there’s one less creature in the pack.

This is clearly a countdown. But to what?

The creatures are skittish, always running long before a party member can get close.

13. A Deep, Dark Slumber

The party finds themselves in increasingly bizarre situations, however, they always feel happy for some reason. They eventually discover they are sharing a dream and likely have been for days.

An oneiromancer (a mage who deals in dreams) has cast a spell on the party while they slept, putting them in a collective dream the oneiromancer controls. They need to find a way to wake up or they’ll die in their sleep.

Upon waking up, a pack of scavengers is guarding their bodies, making sure nothing disturbs their slumber. The scavengers are under the influence of the oneiromancer, guarding the sleepers and then eating the dreamers after they pass.

If they fight the scavengers after waking up, the party does so in a weakened state since they’ve been asleep for days. The longer they slept, the weaker they are.

This also means they’re several days behind schedule which could have consequences to their plans.

14. Delivery Difficulties

A cart full of labeled packages and letters sits abandoned on the side of the road. No sign of the driver or the animal that pulled it.

This is a low-stakes moral dilemma. Should they take the time to deliver these packages? Rummage through it and take what’s interesting? Report it to someone?

You can use this to plant seeds for future plot points, having them remember they saw an undelivered letter or package to that person on the mail cart.

15. Good Fortune?

Off the road, there’s a gold coin. When approaching it, they see another gold coin just a bit further. It turns into a trail of gold coins that leads deeper into the wilderness. At the end of the trail is a small bag of gold coins.

There’s no twist or curse. It’s just here to make players paranoid about what it could mean, perhaps even assuming future events happened because one (or all of them) took the coins. But honestly, it was just a prankster with money who wanted to create a situation someone would never forget.

16. Sweet Tooth, Sharp Tooth

A group of dinosaurs is selling girl scout cookies. It’s unsure if they are made with real girl scouts.

3-5 dinosaurs have placed a popup tent just off the road and are selling boxes of delicious cookies. Only a few of them can speak the common tongue, and they’re not great at it, with plenty of things to misinterpret.

Each of the dinosaurs was magically given self-awareness, though some are more sentient than others. Whoever gave it to them is long gone. The only folk-like thing they feel skilled at doing is bartering, so they started a traveling cookie sales gig. Results have been mixed.

17. 3 Days, 2 Nights

A sign advertises a convention focusing on an interest one of the party members has. There will be merch, panels with knowledgeable folk on the topic, and celebrity (for the field) guests.

This could be a comic convention, a rock and gem show, a music festival, or some other convention. The point is to sidetrack the party into a fun situation, at least for one of them. The contacts they make could come in handy later, and conventions are a great place to drop bits of information.

Even if the convention is focused on the interests of one character, there should be something for everyone. The social party members could get invited to room parties. The curious could find someone else who’s knowledgeable and shares their interests. Someone finds an expert player in a game they enjoy. Everyone should find something to do there, even if it isn’t directly related to the theme of the convention.

18. Mystery Box

Warriors in outlandish armor, walking in a strange, rhythmic lockstep sing in a foreign tongue as they carry a massive chest down the road.

The chest has ornate metal patterns engraved on its surface. Anyone who senses magic can tell it is magical, though attempting to decipher what kind reveals an unnatural void of any information as if they were carrying a small black hole.

The warriors do not need to be immediately hostile but will protect their cargo. They’re suspicious of folk who approach. They do not speak any tongue the party speaks, and they must find another way to communicate if they try.

19. Overstepping

The heads of several folks sit on pikes on the side of the road. A crudely written placard identifies them as locals related to a noble family who attempted to illegally raise taxes.

The once peaceful town is now in a nervous state of unease. Who killed the noble’s extended family? Will the noble family retaliate? Will they care? Is it true they even tried to raise taxes?

The mystery can be solved or ignored by the party, but either way, you can use the noble family, the town, or key figures in the town as notable NPCs later that your players already have a memory of. Whatever the answer is, the heads certainly weren’t there last time the party passed through.

20. A Lost Pet

A well-trained and house-broken manticore rushes toward the party with a ball in its mouth. It wants to play, but its actions may appear threatening as it bounds toward the party.

The manticore belongs to a traveling performer. However, a few nights ago, the manticore ate too much sugar, got excited, grabbed its ball, and ran to chase some animals at night. It got lost in the dark and didn’t know how to get back.

While not hostile, the manticore is not trained for combat and will not aid the players in a fight. It will avoid conflict or run away.

Players may see “lost pet” signs for the manticore or run directly into the owner, but will they return the well-trained and potentially valuable pet?

21. Peasants in Need

While passing through town, a wealthy noble throws a handful of gold coins at the party. If questioned, the noble says they thought they were homeless and needed aid.

This is a great way to get the party annoyed by a noble, royal family, or a particular group. This person or group disrespecting the party and those they care about is a good way to build an antagonist relationship where any violent action would be unjustified. This may be their first of many interactions.

22. Puppets in the Park

While walking through a town, the party passes a children’s puppet show that quickly turns as the puppets curse at the children, jump off the hands of the performers, and start running amok around the village.

The puppets are terrorizing people. Punching children in the shins. Breaking people’s belongings. Terrifying animals. They don’t feel pain and even if the puppets themselves take enough damage to no longer function, the spirit possessing them still exists. How can the party resolve this?

The surly puppets don’t directly want to kill anyone, but they will cause much harm through destruction and (mostly) non-lethal physical violence. Though if someone died from their actions, the puppets wouldn’t care.

23. The Traveling Sick

A caravan of sick people traveling on foot move off the road to avoid direct contact with the party. If asked, they say they’re going to see a witch to get cured. The next day, a group of knights on horseback pass the party and ask if they’ve seen a group of diseased people and which way they went. The knights say the sick people are an epidemiological risk.

The group of sick people just wants to find a cure, but the knights want to contain them. The knights aren’t doctors and are only taking orders, they don’t know how contagious the sick truly are. Likewise, the sick don’t know how contagious their illness is. The party will need to understand the disease on their own to know about it.

Since the knights are on horseback, they will quickly catch up to the sick if they know which way they went. Do the players side with the knights and tell them where the sick folks are going, or side with the sick and lead the knights in the wrong direction?

11:05 UTC


Community Q&A - Get Your Questions Answered!

Hi All,

This thread is for all of your D&D and DMing questions. We as a community are here to lend a helping hand, so reach out if you see someone who needs one.

Remember you can always join our Discord and if you have any questions, you can always message the moderators.

12:00 UTC

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