Campaign Diary: The story so far… Part II

Session 4-7 of my Broken Spine campaign. Kobold shenanigans and traveling south.

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Send on a mission by the king the party begins its journey towards Throm. Even with horses provided it would take at least 40 days of travel to reach the destination. The first part would be easy, the northern part of the Broken Spine should be a relatively save place even during winter.

Broken Spine pre timeskip

All goes well until they reach the border town Pallem. During the night a kobold raid takes place. The guards were overwhelmed and there are just to many for the party to take on so they decided to wait out the attack.

The next day the party decides to investigate the kobolds and follow their tracks. It led all the way to Coppernight Hold a small mining operation that the kobolds took over. The players spot a big group of them on the surface.

I mainly used the first dungeon from 4e book Dungeon Delve.

To much to take on they decide to spy on them for a while. They soon find out that there are two groups of kobolds originating from different tribes. So they use this knowledge to set them up against each other. Some of the kobolds start fighting each other and when they are done the party swoops in to clean them up.

Then descending into the mine they get ambushed by another kobold group, the rest of the small dungeon they are fighting kobolds and their traps. Untill they reach the final room. Apart from kobolds in the last room they find a small white dragon sitting on a crude made throne.

The fight was not an easy one, but in the end the hero’s stood victorious. Instead of killing the drake they decide to remove his fire-breathing organs and capture him as a pet. During the looting of the room they also find a hidden cell with three Dwarves in it. Brunn knew these guys from before they had to flee their home. It turns out they were building their new home here, just a week ago the dragon claimed it as his new lair and captured him.

The party returned back to Pallem, a feast was held for their celebration and the mayor always wanted a dragon so the party sold their new pet to him.

The next day they continued their journey towards Throm. Pallem was the last town in the Northern sanction so now they have to cross the Maw.

stairway snow

The Maw is a ravine running through the Broken Spine Mountains. It is the easiest way to go from the Northern Sanction to the Southern Sanction. The East side of the mountain range is overrun with Duergar the West with Drow. Even with guards passing by every few days it should be one of the most dangerous parts of the journey.

The travel through the maw took the party 6 days, on their way they were ambushed by Drow, 15 vs 5 they still won rather easy using an effective choke point combined with Fog Cloud. The day after a group of knights raced passed them. Apparently there was some big disaster in one of the southern towns.

Knights of Enel: Elite special guard of king Cyric the Grey. Six warriors/clerics sworn to the god of justice and the king. Their leader Mohan ‘Shield of Justice’ is a kind man, but unmatched in his skills with the sword. Almost just as famous is his second in command, Eldrick ‘eye of the storm’. It is said he is the fastest man in the land. That’s maybe why he does not ride a horse while traveling.

Interested in what’s going one the party makes extra haste to reach the Southern Sanction. They arrive safely in Spineguard keep and find out what’s the deal with the knights and the disaster. If its true what they heard the whole country could be in danger!

To be continued…

Thanks for reading, campaign diary will appear every Monday. Next part will be all about the disaster threatening the lands and how to party tries to save the day.

DrBackflip

Part I

Ankheg: Dead From Below

Ankhegs, what are they and how to use them.

Imagine being  snapped in half by an ant the size of a cow. That is what you get when you step on a Ankheg’s burrow. – The Gnomes Guide To Gardening

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Ankheg from Monster Manuel by Devon Cade-Lee

The Ankheg is an enormous insect who hunts grasslands and forests. Laying an ambush for its prey it attacks from below using its sharp hooks to grapple his opponent. Once it has you in its grasp it secretes acidic digestive enzymes dissolving its victim thus making the remaining body easier to swallow.

It is not unheard of that a farmer uses an Ankheg to help its land stay fertile. Adapt armorers can even make armor from its shell that almost matches the protection of full plate armor. Armor like that is expensive, rich nobles pay as much as 20.000 GP for an Ankheg armor set. Seems a bit much? Well if you provide the shell yourself the craftsmen might give you a nice discount.

Below you’ll find an Ankheg encounter for every tier of play, enjoy.

Low Tier (levels 1-4):

ankheg_fight_by_guzboroda-d2zi3eg.jpg
Ankheg fight by GuzBoroda

Ambush: As the party is travelling through the forest the character walking in front feels his foot sinking into the ground  make a dexterity DC 12 save. On a success he pulls back in time. On a fail he falls prone 5 feet below into a tunnel, in front of you stands a giant insect ready to attack roll for initiative. If the characters don’t fall in the tunnel the Ankheg will attack a few moments later on the DM’s queue. If the characters did not prepare themselves he gets a surprise round.

This encounter can be very deadly for first (and second) level characters. An average bite attack does 12 damage and grapples its foe. For this reason I do not give a surprise round when someone falls into the Ankhegs burrow. If you use it on a higher level group you can punish your players a bit harder.


Mid Tier (levels 5-10):

Mating ground: As the party is travelling through the woods they hear strange noises coming from over the hill in front of them. If the characters just keep on walking they will find themselves interrupting a mating ceremony. Seven male Ankheg are dancing around a female and guess what they don’t like to be interrupted. If they come within 60 feet the party is spotted and they attack. If they stay further away let them make a stealth check.

This encounter can be completely be avoided by going around the mating ground. Be aware 8 enemies can be overwhelming for some parties but you can always increase their numbers to make it more challenging. 

If you are running a realistic campaign this encounter can only happen in autumn 

High Tier (levels 11-16):

IT’S IN THE BASEMENT: During the night the building (inn/farm) the party is sleeping in partially sinks into a tunnel. The owner knew of the Ankheg but kept him there to fertilize his grounds. What the owner did not know is that Ankheg can brood up to 12 young a year. The lower floor of the building is infested with the mother and its young. If some guests or patrons were sleeping they are in danger!

If you use this encounter remember that they probably don’t wear their armor at night. Three Ankheg per PC should be a big enough challenge.

If you want to make it a bit easier for the PC’s you can let the pass a farm on the road where this attack has just started.

Epic Tier (levels 17-20):

Hive Mind: For a few weeks there has been no news from the towns to the south. Scouts send there have not returned so someone hires/ask’s the PC’s to investigated (or maybe they know a NPC in one of the towns).

Upon arrival in the town they find it totally abandoned. Investigation leads to believe all the villagers were taken. Tracks can be found leading into the forest (or any other place that fits your world). When they follow the tracks they might encounter a small group of Ankheg. The end of the trail brings them tho a giant pile of dirt. An ant hill for Ankheg.

Ankheg Lair

The colony is filled with Ankheg, since the queen lays about 10 eggs a day which hatch after only 1 week its population grows at an immense speed. The queen uses her children to protect her, once a week she can lay a special egg to hatch a royal guard. Currently there are 3 royal guards in the lair, at least one of them stays at the queens side at all times.

 

At epic tier the PC’s should not just have small encounters so here I present a way you could do it. If they do not solve this problem the colony will only expand. The queen might hatch a king who can create more queens in his turn and so on.

In the lair make sure the trow a lot of Ankheg at the PC’s but not all at the same time. It should be a battle from the way in until they kill the queen. Once she is dead most of the surviving Ankheg will flee or just go into a deep rage.

I hope you enjoyed my first encounter compendium post, please let me know what you think and where I could improve.

Cheers!
Sources:

Ecology of the Ankheg

Ankheg – Forgotten Realms Wikia

Ankheg – Wikipedia

Monster Manual p 21 Ankheg

Campaign Diary: The story so far… Part I

A synopsis of the first few sessions of my “Broken Spine” campaign.

Hooray the first entry in my campaign diary. Thanks for coming to my dungeon where I’ll talk about one of the campaigns I run. Instead of dropping you all into a year of gameplay I think its best to give some background information about the world and story so far.

The campaign I ran before this one just came to an end around the time Matthew Colville decided to make a map/setting for his community called Collabris. I liked the result a lot, and having a professional writer make up some of the lore and intrigue of the world doesn’t hurt either. So I used Collabris as a base for my new campaign and mashed it up with some lore and references to the hero’s from last campaign.

Our group decided to play a sandboxy style of game so I integrated a lot from their backstory in the world as well. The characters didn’t know each other at the start of the game so we needed an excuse to get them together.

Our first game started in the middle of winter in a small lake village called Stolver. Grand bonfires fill the town square and melt the snow away. It’s the town’s yearly Feast of Ancestors. Village elders tell stories about long-lost hero’s. Travelers share their own adventures, and guess what by coincidence our hero’s are sitting next to each other.

Brunn Redcask, a dwarven brewer forced to flee from the dwarven city Kalanzanbaar from invading drow. After some year’s of fleeing, drinking and working for a mercenary company he is now ready to find his old gang and revenge his family, but where does he begin?

Querion V’ael, an elven prince away from home looking for a reason the magical mist in his land does not work on him anymore. Maybe the wizards in the north can help him?

Zhu Raines, a farmers boy who after training with the orc’s in the mountains is now looking for the meaning of life.

Nadar Kerrhylon, a dragonborn clock maker on the run for accusations of murder. Not planning on returning to Ziris anytime soon maybe he can find rumored crystals that would help him build the most accurate clockwork ever.

Dr.Chen, a doctor/cleric raised by yuan-ti on a quest to better understand his fate and inner struggles.

 

The Feast of Ancestors is interrupted by a woman who is worried about her husband and sons. They should have been back with wood a few hours ago but they are still missing…

The hero’s offer to look for him only to find a pack of wolves feeding on one of the sons and the body of a yeti. The tracks make clear there were two yeti’s so they follow its footprints to his makeshift lair. The missing father and son are trapped and killing the yeti seems like to only solution to save them.

Yeti_-_FB-C.png

The battle was a close one for Brunn. Locked in place by its chilling gaze the yeti did not have problems hitting him. But in the end the hero’s stood victorious and during combat by magical means they discovered the yeti’s fled the mountains running from a white drake. Very disturbing news but for today the hero’s did what they could.

Upon returning the burgomaster gave them a small reward and asked them to deliver a message the king from him. Dragon’s so far north is not a thing to take lightly.

Meeting the king and earning some coin in the progress is a chance none of the characters want to miss so the next day the leave towards Haldrim’s capital Grey’s Keep. Travelling during the winter is not the most pleasant thing but apart from Brunn almost dying from a quickling attack they reach Grey’s Keep safely.

Atmosphere in the capital is tense. King Cyric the Grey recently made a truce with the Kreshnik orc tribe allowing them to live and work inside of the city. Recent riots against opposing the decision calmed down but it only a small spark is needed to light those fires up again.

 

Certainly closer to his end than his beginning, the people fear what will happen when the king passes. His daughter Princess Elise will be Queen, she lost her husband to the Orc Warfather Valkun. If she becomes Queen the peace with the orcs will quickly convert to war. A vocal, traditional minority would like this very much, and in spite of her hawkish sensibilities, the majority of the people of Haldrim love Princess Elise, and remember her as a girl. The alternative is princess Miranda, a powerful enchantress who rather than play the political game perfects her magic.

During their stay in Grey’s Keep the party meets Miranda. Querion offers to pay her well if she finds out what’s the deal with him and the magic mist in his lands. It is clear if she is paid well she could be a resourceful ally.

After delivering the message of the dragon sighting the party asks if they could be of service to the king (and his money). To test their worth he allows him to be the bodyguards of Arzu an important diplomat preparing an economic mission to the recent discovered village of Throm.

To be continued…

Part II

 

Let’s get rolling!

Starting the dungeon…

Hi all!

For a while I’ve been looking for a way to contribute to the Dungeons and Dragons community. This blog will be my humble attempt while I work on a bigger project in the background.

So what can you expect to find here?

In the first place I’m going to use part of this blog to talk about the campaigns I run. Stories, things I learnt running those games, advice or just stuff that I need to get out of my mind.

An other thing I would like to do is providing you all with some extra resources for your own games. There are many ways to do this, for now I’m planning to make an encounter compendium. A collection of interesting encounters for the monsters of the Monster Manual.

These things are all just idea’s and might change in the future, it’s the first time I’m trying something like this. But we all have to start somewhere!

Let’s get this blog rolling!

DrBackflip

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Artwork Dragon Magazine Issue #417